I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”
(John 15:15)
I Have Called You Friends

What Does It Mean to Be Human?
A compilation

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness...” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them.—Genesis 1:26–271

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You are a letter from Christ … written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.—2 Corinthians 3:3

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The Christian story presents Christ as the truly human Son of God in whom and for whom all creation was made. Stepping into creation, Christ has come to restore the image of true humanity, drying the tears of a broken world, reviving the image of God within us, overcoming the enemies of sin and death.

In the company of [philosophers] Pascal and Solzhenitsyn, I find Christ to provide the only grounding that offers hope for the contradictions within us. Far more than a hope merely for the future or an escape vehicle from present reality, Christ redeems the tension within us, the tension between my identity as a child of God and a daughter of humanity. We are assured that the promise is ours: “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.” For Christ is not only at work redeeming a fallen humanity, resuscitating our nature with his own, standing as the mediator who lifts us to God; Christ came to unite humanity with God so that we can be truly human as He is human.—Jill Carattini

Human value

While God created us along with all other things, He made us different from all other created things by making us in His image. He created us as unique beings and intimately breathed life into us.

He made us personal beings, able to enter a relationship with Him and other humans. He made us a combined physical and spiritual being by giving us body and spirit. And even though all humans have sinned against Him, He loves us so much that He made a way for humanity to become reconciled with Him through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

God loves His image-bearing creatures, and He values us. Because God values human beings, each has intrinsic, essential value. This should cause us to value each human being. All humans, no matter what their gender, race, skin tone, or creed, are created equal. Each person bears God’s image and should be respected and treated as such. Neither one’s place nor one’s value in society diminishes a person’s intrinsic value.

Newborns, children, the elderly, the infirm, the disabled, the unborn, the hungry, widows, and prisoners, those you disagree with, even enemies—every human being, no matter what their condition, circumstance, or religious belief—has the dignity of being God’s image bearer, and deserves—and should be granted—equal honor and respect by all other human beings. Seeing others as God’s image bearers should rid us of racial, religious, and all other prejudices. It should cause us, as individuals, to view and treat others with respect, regardless of our differences.

It should also cause us to look at ourselves with respect and dignity. To realize that God loves and values us should help us to value ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually. It should cause us to view ourselves positively, to take care of ourselves physically, to nurture our spirits with positive and godly input. It should remind us of the sanctity of our own lives, thus keeping us from harming ourselves in any way. We should recognize that despite any personal weaknesses or failures, how we may perceive our own worth, how we view our physical appearance or our education or mental abilities, we are valued by God and thus should value ourselves.

Realizing that God values human beings, that He loves and cares for us, should cause us to value humanity, to recognize the worth of every person, ourselves included, and to do what we can to live in harmony and peace with others.—Peter Amsterdam

Irreducible personhood

If a computer could be programmed so thoroughly with the strategies involved in chess that it could defeat our brightest champion, would we then say that this computer is more human than the world’s greatest chess player? Not likely, for to do so would reduce intelligence to computational efficiency, memory, and physical components.

Personhood, according to the Christian understanding, cannot be reduced to form or function. Indeed, our identity is sacred by definition, for we have been created by God to bear God’s image. We have been endowed with a moral nature, with the capacity to give love and to understand goodness. A child, then, does not find her worth in physical beauty or mental prowess, but in reflecting the beauty of her creator. There is a transcendent value to being human, rooted in the very being of God.

As we wade our way through the morass of bio-ethics, we must not look at the face and IQ of a human, but instead, to the face and mind of God. Only then can we truly understand what it means to be human.—Ravi Zacharias

God sent His Son

There have been many startling and significant moments in recorded history. In more recent history, for example, certain events stand out like the Reformation, the first heart transplant in 1967, or the first steps by man on the moon (1969). These are just three events that came to my mind among the scores of others that are studied in history.

But most important of all and from which all of these derive their date is one found in Galatians 4:4: “When the right time came, God sent forth his Son.” The Bible teaches that time and eternity collided when the God-man came among us, born of a virgin. The creator of time and Lord of eternity became a human being. Humanity and divinity collided (they did not become identical), and history would never be the same again!—Michael Suderman

Conceived in personhood

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.—Psalm 139:13–16

Created for righteousness

The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.—Proverbs 4:182

This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it. The process is not yet finished, but it is going on. This is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.—Martin Luther

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We also wanted to thank all those who have continued sending donations for the video project. God bless you. We sure appreciate it. We are still in need of a little more for this trip so we are again including a mailing address. If you can send anything large or small it would sure be a help and blessing. Thank you. You can also donate via Paypal on the web site. We are getting close to our goal.

Thank you again for your help concerning this project.

The mailing address is:

Norman Cochran
2617c West Holcombe Blvd. #491
Houston Texas, 77025

Att: POTK

For more information concerning this project click here

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COLD - CASE CHRISTIANITY

Lessons for Today’s Church from the Life of the Early Church

WITH J. WARNER WALLACE

The first Christians were revolutionaries. The group they formed was, in many ways, very different from what we know as the Church today. According to the Book of Acts, they met in their homes and devoted themselves to God’s Word. As a result, these early Christians brought about the most amazing and powerful transformation the world has ever known. Think about it for a minute. Christians emerged in the midst a tremendously diverse Roman melting pot of social and religious ideas, and through purely peaceful means completely changed the Empire and united it under the banner of Christianity. And they did it without a single mega-church, television program or website. They simply opened their homes, spoke the truth fearlessly and trusted God for the results. Long before Christianity became a dominant political power, it was a divine movement of God. Long before Christianity found a comfortable home in church buildings, it was an active body of passionate believers:

1. Christians Were Bound and United By A Common Truth


Early observers of the movement recognized the first believers were committed to an important objective truth claim: Jesus Christ is God Himself and the only way to enter into a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe. This common truth and relationship to Christ became the unifying force behind the movement of God. Look at what Tertullian (a church scholar who lived in North Africa c. 160-225AD) had to say as he described the young Christian believers:

We are a body knit together as such by a common religious profession, by unity of discipline, and by the bond of a common hope. We meet together as an assembly and congregation, that, offering up prayer to God as with united force, we may wrestle with Him in our supplications. This strong exertion God delights in. We pray, too, for the emperors, for their ministers and for all in authority, for the welfare of the world, for the prevalence of peace, for the delay of the final consummation.”

    2. Christians Were Characterized by Uncommon Joy


    In the midst of terrible persecution and hardship, these early believers were able to stay focused on God instead of their own situation. As a result, regardless of their personal circumstances, they were able to live with joy. Read these words from unknown author of the Epistle to Diognetes (written c. 130AD):

They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.”

Aristides presented a letter to the Emperor Hadrian (c. 117-138AD) and described the uncommon joy of early believers:

Every morning and all hours on account of the goodness of God toward them, they render praise and laud Him over their food and their drink; they render Him thanks. And if any righteous person of their number passes away from this world, they rejoice and give thanks to God and they follow his body as though he were moving from one place to another. And when a child is born to them, they praise God, and if again it chances to die in its infancy, they praise God mightily, as for one who has passed through the world without sins.”

    3. Christians Were a Fearless and Animated People, Not a Passive Church


    Early Christians did not go to church, they were the church; they did not attend church services, they impacted their culture as the people of God. They assembled not as the end goal, but as a way to equip themselves to be the people God intended them to be and do the work God intended them to do. Listen again to Tertullian:

We assemble to read our sacred writings . . . and with the sacred words we nourish our faith, we animate our hope, we make our confidence more steadfast; and no less by inculcations of God’s precepts we confirm good habits…

    4. Christians Were Known By Their Love


    Because they had surrendered so completely to God’s call on their lives, they began to live asthe children of God. The world took notice. Again from Tertullian:

But it is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. ‘See’, they say, ‘how they love one another’, for they themselves are animated by mutual hatred. ‘See’, they say about us, ‘how they are ready even to die for one another’, for they themselves would sooner kill.”

And again from the Apology of Aristides

They abstain from all impurity in the hope of the recompense that is to come in another world. As for their servants or handmaids or children, they persuade them to become Christians by the love they have for them; and when they become so, they call them without distinction, brothers. They do not worship strange gods; and they walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another. When they see the stranger they bring him to their homes and rejoice over him as over a true brother; for they do not call those who are after the flesh, but those who are in the Spirit and in God.”

    5. Christians Gave Sacrificially to the Needy

    These early believers understood why God had given them the limited wealth they had. They did not have the burden of having to support programs or pay for a church building. Meeting in homes, and led by regular men of character, these first believers were able to pour all of their financial gifts into the care of the needy. In fact, over and over again in scripture, this is the only thing offerings were used for. Listen to Tertullian:

“Though we have our treasure-chest, it is not made up of purchase-money, as of a religion that has its price. On the monthly day, if he likes, each puts in a small donation; but only if it be his pleasure, and only if he be able: for there is no compulsion; all is voluntary. These gifts are . . . not spent on feasts, and drinking-bouts, and eating-houses, but to support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of means and parents, and of old persons confined now to the house; such, too, as have suffered shipwreck; and if there happen to be any in the mines or banished to the islands or shut up in the prisons, for nothing but their fidelity to the cause of God’s Church, they become the nurslings of their confession.”

And from the Apology of Aristides:

And there is among them a man that is poor and needy and if they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days, that they may supply the needy with the necessary food.”

    6. Laymen of Character Led the Movement


    The New Testament repeatedly describes small groups of believers lead by laypeople called elders. These elders were not paid staff, but simply men of character who rose to leadership based on their passion and gifting. Look at what Tertullian observed:

The tried men of our elders preside over us, obtaining that honour not by purchase but by established character. There is no buying and selling of any sort in the things of God.”

    7. Christians Were God’s Holy Ambassadors in a Dying World


    The world also quickly recognized there was something very different about these Christians. They represented something noble and pure, and were influential in their communities. Read these words from the Epistle to Diognetes (c. 130AD) as this ancient letter describes how powerfully Christians reflected God’s nature in the world:

For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life…” “…They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives.” “…To sum up all in one word–what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world. The invisible soul is guarded by the visible body, and Christians are known indeed to be in the world, but their godliness remains invisible. The flesh hates the soul, and wars against it, though itself suffering no injury, because it is prevented from enjoying pleasures; the world also hates the Christians, though in nowise injured, because they abjure pleasures. The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and [loves also] the members; Christians likewise love those that hate them. The soul is imprisoned in the body, yet preserves that very body; and Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are the preservers of the world. The immortal soul dwells in a mortal tabernacle; and Christians dwell as sojourners in corruptible [bodies], looking for an incorruptible dwelling in the heavens. The soul, when but ill-provided with food and drink, becomes better; in like manner, the Christians, though subjected day by day to punishment, increase the more in number. God has assigned them this illustrious position, which it were unlawful for them to forsake.”

Early Christians stood apart from the world because they had been transformed by the power of God and had surrendered themselves to their Lord in both word and deed. From the Apology of Aristides:

They observe scrupulously the commandment of their Messiah; they live honestly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them.

Clearly the early believers were living their faith, and not merely going to church. In fact, there was no institutional church to go to, even if they wanted to. Yet the movement was impossible to stop, and it eventually encompassed the known world. Where did these early believers come up with this notion of the Christian life that is not dependent on buildings, paid staff, or programs? They got the model from their predecessors as described in the scriptures:

Acts 2:42-47

And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The first community of saints reflected the power and design of God in their lives as a family of believers. This early history of the church simply reflected the teaching of the Bible as it recorded the nature and essence of the very first community of saints in this passage in the Book of Acts. The early Christians didn’t attend church, they were the Church; an active, energized body of believers equipped to change the world. Today’s Church can learn something from the Early Church.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity

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AmericanMinute.com

NAPOLEON: 'EVERYTHING IN CHRIST ASTONISHES ME'

French influence on America's development

Napoleon crowning Josephine

Spain claimed most of North America by virtue of first discovery by Desoto and Coronado. Since the area had little gold, it was of little use to the Spanish empire, and thus was sparsely settled for centuries.

Beginning in 1673, the French missionary priest Jacque Marquette and French explorer Louis Joliet, came down from Canada to Lake Michigan to the Fox River to the Mississippi, as far south as Arkansas. In 1699, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, started the first French settlement, at Fort Maurepas (now Ocean Springs, Mississippi). France claimed Canada and the land west of the Appalachian Mountains, across the Mississippi River valley to the beginning of the Great Plains.

The Louisiana Territory was named after Louis XIV, “the Sun King,” the longest-reigning monarch in European history. Louis XIV had a global empire stretching from the Far East to the Caribbean, Africa to America. Centralizing power, Louis XIV was reputed to have said “L’État, c’est moi” (“I am the state”) and “It is legal because I wish it.”

In 1702, Sieur de Bienville settled the Mobile, Alabama, area. In 1718, Sieur de Bienville started construction of New Orleans. In 1723, he moved the capital of French Louisiana there from its previous locations of Dauphin Island and Biloxi.

Beginning in 1755 the British drove the French out of Acadia, Canada, in the Great Expulsion. Thousands of French sailed to the Caribbean Islands and other colonies, most notably Louisiana, where the name “acadian” came to be pronounced “cajun.” Describing the expulsion, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem “Evangeline.”

Louis XIV’s grandson was Louis XV, who lost the French and Indian War in 1763. This gave Britain control of all of America east of the Mississippi, with the exception of Spanish Florida.

As the war was ending, France ceded the Louisiana Territory west of the Mississippi to Spain in the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau, 1762, to keep Britain from getting it.

French settlers fled the the British-controlled land and crossed the Mississippi, founding the city of St. Louis, Missouri, in 1764, even though the land was nominally under Spanish control. In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, the British and Indians led a failed attack on St. Louis.

France’s new King, Louis XVI, sent his navy to help America win the Battle of Yorktown, resulting in America’s independence from Britain. Ironically, France’s enormous accumulated war debt weakened the monarchy.

The French Revolution began in 1789, and on January 21, 1793, a mob beheaded 38-year-old Louis XVI. A reign of rerror began in France with 40,000 beheaded in Paris by the Committee of Public Safety, and hundreds of thousands killed across France who refused to embrace the new secular government.

Out of this chaos, Napoleon staged a coup d’état in 1799 and installed himself as First Consul of France. Napoleon pressured Spain to sign the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1800, giving the Louisian Territory back to France.

In 1802, Jefferson sent James Monroe and Robert Livingston to France to purchase land in New Orleans to dock ships. Needing cash to fight Britain and the other European countries, Napoleon offered to sell the entire 828,000 square miles of Louisiana Territory to the United States for $15 million dollars.

President Thomas Jefferson agreed to the purchase and the size of the U.S. doubled on April 30, 1803, with the Louisiana Purchase. 828,000 square miles were purchased at less than three cents an acre – it was the greatest real estate deal in history! Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to explore it.

Not everyone in America was happy. The state of Massachusetts threatened to secede from the Union, arguing that the adding of so large a territory would dilute the influence of existing states.

Jefferson brokered a compromise with Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, commenting in his second inaugural address, March 4, 1805: “I know that the acquisition of Louisiana has been disapproved by some from a candid apprehension that the enlargement of our territory would endanger the union, but who can limit the extent to which the Federative principle may operate effectively?”

The rush to turn the Louisiana Purchase into new states, either slave or free, was a factor leading up to the Civil War.

Another contributing factor influencing Napoleon to sell the Louisiana Territory was the slave rebellion in Haiti. Christopher Columbus discovered Haiti, calling the island Hispanola, with the capital city of Santo Domingo named for Columbus’ father, Dominic.

The French took half of the island in the year 1660, and calling it Saint-Domingue, and later Haiti. It was one of the wealthiest colonies in the world, producing sugar, indigo, cotton and coffee. Plantations deplorably used slave labor. While the French Revolution abolished slavery in France, they let it continue in Haiti.

Slave revolts from 1791-1804 resulted in tens of thousands French, mulattos, blacks, and even Polish, dying with horrible brutality on all sides. After losing Haiti, France wanted another tropical colony so Napoleon invaded Egypt, 1798-1801. Napoleon’s fear that Haiti’s slave rebellion might spread to the Louisiana Territory was a contributing factor in his rush to sell it.

During his career, Napoleon fought in over 100 battles, conquering large areas of Europe.

When Napoleon put his brother Joseph on Spain’s throne in 1808, Venezuela declared independence in 1810, followed by Central American countries of Chili, Argentina and eventually Mexico.

On June 23, 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia with nearly a half million men. Six months later he retreated with less than 50,000. This disastrous loss forced him to abdicate the throne and he was exiled to the Mediterranean Island of Elba. Napoleon escaped Elba on February 26, 1815, and returned to rule France for 100 days.

After losing the Battle of Waterloo, June 18, 1815, Napoleon was permanently banished to the tiny South Atlantic island of St. Helena. The Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) had caused an estimated 6 million deaths from battle and related diseases, starvation and exposure.

On the island of St. Helena, Napoleon began to reflect on his life and even began reading the Bible.

A few years before dying at the age of 52, Napoleon commented to General H.G. Bertrand, as recorded in “On St. Helena,” 1816: “The Gospel possesses a secret virtue, a mysterious efficacy, a warmth which penetrates and soothes the heart. One finds in meditating upon it that which one experiences in contemplating the heavens. The Gospel is not a book; it is a living being, with an action, a power, which invades everything that opposes its extension. Behold it upon this table, this book surpassing all others (here the Emperor solemnly placed his hand upon it): I never omit to read it, and every day with new pleasure. Nowhere is to be found such a series of beautiful ideas, and admirable moral maxims, which pass before us like the battalions of a celestial army. … The soul can never go astray with this book for its guide …”

Napoleon continued: “Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me. Between Him and whoever else in the world there is no possible term of comparison; He is truly a Being by Himself. His ideas and His sentiments, the truth which He announces, His manner of convincing, are not explained either by human organization or by the nature of things. Truth should embrace the universe. Such is Christianity, the only religion which destroys sectional prejudices, the only one which proclaims the unity and the absolute brotherhood of the whole human family, the only one which is purely spiritual; in fine, the only one which assigns to all, without distinction, for a true country, the bosom of the Creator, God.”

Napoleon concluded: “Christ proved that He was the Son of the Eternal by His disregard of time. All His doctrines signify one only and the same thing – eternity. What a proof of the divinity of Christ! With an empire so absolute, he has but one single end – the spiritual melioration of individuals, the purity of the conscience, the union to that which is true, the holiness of the soul …

“Not only is our mind absorbed, it is controlled; and the soul can never go astray with this book for its guide. Once master of our spirit, the faithful Gospel loves us. God even is our friend, our father, and truly our God. The mother has no greater care for the infant whom she nurses. …”

Napoleon ended by telling General H.G. Bertrand: “If you do not perceive that Jesus Christ is God, very well: then I did wrong to make you a general.”

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ON THE PATH OF THE IMMORTALS–PART 9: What The Bible (And Science) Says About Portals & THEM

April 26, 2015 by SkyWatch Editor

CONTINUED FROM PARTS ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, and EIGHT

If we are correct that the book of Revelation is mostly a prophecy about the future, then very soon, Satan will be active on earth as never before. As that day grows near, we expect that these zones of strangeness will become increasingly active. There is a debate concerning the timing of Satan’s final purging from Heaven. Because the chapter refers to Jesus’ birth and death (Revelation 12:5–6), many have argued that Satan was thrown down by the atonement of the cross. That view is supported by Jesus’ statement just prior: “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). Jesus also said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18). Considered in isolation, a case can be made that the cross fulfilled Revelation 12:6. However, there are serious problems with that position.

A good case can be made that Satan falls three times in Scripture. First, Satan fell through vanity sometime before the incident in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1–14). Ezekiel 28 looks back to the garden when the “anointed Cherub” fell from grace. C. S. Lewis famously wrote, “It was through pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”[i] Although he had fallen, Satan was not barred from Heaven or Earth after his prideful defection.

Second, after the seventy disciples returned celebrating their discovery that “the devils [demons] are subject to us,” Jesus witnessed Satan “as lightning fall from heaven,” and He later said the devil was about to be “cast out” as He prepared for the cross and resurrection (Luke 10:18; John 12:31). These passages are the basis of the view that the Revelation 12 expulsion is a past event.

Third, as a result of the angelic war, Satan will be cast down to the Earth for a brief period of intensified suffering on Earth, during which Hell literally breaks loose, the Antichrist declares himself to be god, and the world is overrun by demons, Nephilim, elementals mistaken to be extraterrestrials, and transgenic monstrosities from the abyss. We believe a study of the circumstances leads to the conclusion that these three falls are distinct events—two are historical and the final one is future.

In Revelation, Satan is cast down as the result of Michael’s army’s triumph over their fallen adversaries, not the positional checkmate accomplished by the cross that “spoiled principalities and powers” (Colossians 2:15). On display is the “already but not yet” paradigm characteristic of New Testament theology. At the cross, the victory was secured in that sin was atoned for, but, in the sense of a geopolitical theocracy, the spoils of that victory have not yet been assumed in the “rod of iron” manner promised at Jesus’ return (Revelation 19:15). Of course, scores of messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Bible declare the resulting golden age of world peace (Isaiah 11:6, 62:25). However, that era will not occur until Satan is cast down and chained as predicted.

The Hebrew term satan means “adversary,” implying a prosecutorial role like the accuser in Revelation 12:10. How can he still be “your adversary the devil” (1 Peter 5:8), if he was cast from his accusing role two thousand years ago? The amillennialist should consider Satan’s active deceit of many nations in light of the millennium’s inaugural proclamation that “he should deceive the nations no more” (Revelation 20:3b). Finally, the fact that Jesus stands as our intercessor (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25) implies an ongoing prosecution by the adversary. The cumulative weight of these passages leads to the conclusion that Satan’s final expulsion from Heaven has not occurred.

John received the vision of the Great Red Dragon’s expulsion many decades after Jesus’ death on the cross, miraculous resurrection, and glorious ascension as a promise of Christ’s return to judge evil and redeem the earth. Any claim to a historical fulfillment of Satan’s angelic war expulsion (like the cross) must satisfy the conditions of the divine hymn sung in response:

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. (Revelation 12:10–12)

The hymn is proclaiming the impending return of Christ in power. The time is said to be short because, after a brief period no greater than three and one-half years, the Messiah will chain the devil in the pit for one thousand years (Revelation 20:3). The hymn’s celebrated events have not yet been fully accomplished, as New Testament scholar Robert Thomas pointed out:

To refer it to the present era would mean that the accusing work of Satan is over, according to the next line of the hymn. This can hardly be. The removal of Satan from heaven is in conjunction with the victory of Michael in heaven, not with the cross of Christ.[ii]

Many passages support the ongoing tempter/accuser role (Job 1:9–12; Matthew 4:1–11; Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–13, 22:31; 2 Corinthians 2:11; and 1 John 5:19). Consequently, one is hard pressed to remain consistent while contending that Satan’s expulsion in Revelation 12 is a past event. Of course, that implies the time is at hand when Satan and all the immortals aligned with him will be cast down upon the earth (Revelation 12:9). If so, then some of the people now holding this book will see the immortals on the earth for the battle of Armageddon.

Finally, a prophecy in the second chapter of the book of Joel with parallels in Amos 7 and Revelation 9 implies an end-times invasion of immortals and hybrids. While some expositors claim Joel was describing an army of locusts with phrases like “[They are] a great people and a strong” and “they shall run like mighty men [gibborim, a term associated with the Nephilim],” it is hard to accept these verses as talking about grasshoppers. We think this describes a demonic invasion that could possibly include Nephilim.

[They are] a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it…and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run….

They shall run like mighty men [gibbowr, gibborim]; they shall climb the wall like men of war.…

They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them.…

And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” (Joel 2:2–11)

Joel 2 is paralleled by a vision given to Amos of a similar locust army invasion. The LXX translation by Brenton renders, “Thus has the Lord God shewed me; and, behold, a swarm of locusts coming from the east; and, behold, one caterpillar, king Gog” (Amos 7:1).The thing that makes this use of Gog distinct is that it is not a variant translation from the Masoretic text, because the Masoretic uses no name at all. Missler draws significance from juxtaposing “locusts have no king” (Proverbs 30:27) against the “locusts” in Amos who do have a king, arguing that it implies Amos must not be talking about insects, but rather about immortals.

The locusts in Revelation 9 have a king, Apollyon or Abaddon, but Proverbs 30:27 says that locusts have no king. So these locusts in Amos and Revelation are not natural locusts; they are demon locusts. If that’s the case, then the Gog in Amos, who is the king of the locusts, is a demon king.[iii] The locust imagery also matches Revelation: “And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men” (Revelation 9:7). Taken at face value, these entities cannot be immaterial spirits. Scholars, those who take end-time prophecy seriously, invariably conclude that these end-time hordes of immortals manifest in mongrelized bodies. Arnold Fruchtenbaum also notes their hybrid nature:

The description of these “locust-scorpions” given in verses 7–10 clearly shows that they are something other than literal scorpions or locusts. Their origin being the Abyss further shows that they are demons. It is not unusual for demons and other angelic beings to have animal-like features.[iv]

The acclaimed Christian apologist and religion scholar Walter Martin believed that the UFO phenomenon could play a role in this end-time incursion.[v] He offered that UFOs might be instrumental in Jesus’ description of the events prior to His return: “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:26, emphasis added). “Things which are coming on the earth” implies that they themselves are not of the earth; rather, they are, by definition, extraterrestrial. In reference to the portal opening at the fifth trumpet judgment, the first woe, in the book of Revelation, Martin offered this novel hypothesis:

In addition to what is coming upon the earth, the book of Revelation speaks of the bottomless pit being opened (9:2). A bottomless pit does not have to be one that is down—it could very well be one that is up, since in space there is neither up nor down, but out from the earth. This could reveal that what comes upon earth is from space, and not from under the earth. The symbolic language may easily refer to the manifestations of the powers of darkness near the consummation of the age. It is biblically predicted that Antichrist will reveal himself with signs and lying wonders so that if it were possible, he would deceive the elect. (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Matthew 24:24)[vi]

We believe all of these immortals and hybrid monsters play key roles in the horror of the Great Tribulation and Battle of Armageddon. This finds support in the Qumran War Scroll (1QM) reveals it is Satan and his powers that are behind the final battle:

For this shall be a time of distress for Israel, [and of the summons] to war against all the nations. There shall be eternal deliverance for the company of God, but destruction for all the nations of wickedness. All those [who are ready] for battle shall march out and shall pitch their camp before the king of the Kittim and before all the host of Satan gathered about him for the Day [of Revenge] by the Sword of God.[vii]

The Qumran War Scroll corroborates the idea that the Battle of Armageddon is not merely a human war but a battle fought by humans and immortals. These immortals will manifest on the Earth at the conclusion of war in Heaven, and the locust armies will amass at opening of the portal to the abyss (Revelation 9:2). Finally, a prophecy from Enoch frames this as a last-days angelic struggle on par with the one in Revelation chapter 12:

Last struggle of heathen Powers against Israel

5 And in those days the angels shall return

And hurl themselves to the east upon the Parthians and Medes: They shall stir up the kings, so that a spirit of unrest shall come upon them,

And they shall rouse them from their thrones,

That they may break forth as lions from their lairs,

And as hungry wolves among their flocks.

6 And they shall go up and tread under foot the land of His elect ones,

[And the land of His elect ones shall be before them a threshing-floor and a highway]:

7 But the city of my righteous shall be a hindrance to their horses.

And they shall begin to fight among themselves,

And their right hand shall be strong against themselves,

And a man shall not know his brother,

Nor a son his father or his mother,

Till there be no number of the corpses through their slaughter,

And their punishment be not in vain.

8 In those days Sheol shall open its jaws,

And they shall be swallowed up therein,

And their destruction shall be at an end;

Sheol shall devour the sinners in the presence of the elect.[viii]

DOES SCIENCE SUPPORT THE BIBLICAL NOTION OF PORTALS?

The 2014 epic space adventure film Interstellar features a team of astronauts who leave a postapocalyptic earth and venture through a wormhole in search of a habitable planet to ensure the survival of humanity. In order to make certain the movie’s depictions of wormholes and relativity were as accurate as possible, one of the world’s leading experts on the astrophysical implications of Albert Einstein’s relativity equations, theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, was hired as a scientific consultant for the film. Setting a new precedent, Thorne states that this is the first Hollywood film to accurately portray black holes and wormholes the way they would actually appear. Thorne asserts, “This is the first time the depiction began with Einstein’s general relativity equations.”[ix] The visual effects supervisor, Paul Franklin, describes what a black hole looks like up close: “The gravity of a black hole draws in all matter from the surrounding universe and this spins out into a giant disk around the central sphere. As it whirls in towards the center, the gas gets hotter and hotter and the accretion disk around it shines brilliantly.”[x] (See illustration.) This chapter will explore these topics and much more, including a new study that suggests the stunning possibility that all black holes might be wormholes to untold realms.

The immortal’s path just went down the rabbit hole. As we send this manuscript to press inearly2015, Paolo Salucci, astrophysicist of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA), published a groundbreaking paper in Annals of Physics entitled “Possible Existence of Wormholes in the Central Regions of Halos.” The abstract is rather sensational:

An earlier study has demonstrated the possible existence of wormholes in the outer regions of the galactic halo, based on the Navarro-Frenk-White (NFW) density profile. This paper uses the Universal Rotation Curve (URC) dark matter model to obtain analogous results for the central parts of the halo. This result is an important compliment to the earlier result, thereby confirming the possible existence of wormholes in most of the spiral galaxies.[xii]

In other words, if this explanation of dark matter is correct, our spiral Milky Way galaxy likely contains a naturally occurring wormhole tunnel that traverses our entire galaxy. Note that this is specific to spiral galaxies. Salucci adds, “We could even travel through this tunnel, since, based on our calculations, it could be navigable. Just like the one we’ve all seen in the recent film Interstellar.”[xiii] Salucci adds, “Dark matter may be ‘another dimension,’ perhaps even a major galactic transport system.”[xiv] While this begs the question—“A transport system for whom?”—it adds considerable weight to the ideas in this book.

The science of portals may seem intimidating, like a topic only suited for science-fiction aficionados, but everyone is familiar with the “gateway to another realm” concept. Most of us learned it in kindergarten with Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz. Interestingly, the era of history (early twentieth century) that inspired those memorable tales was also when those realms moved from fantastic to scientifically plausible. However, the groundwork had been laid centuries before.

The Reverend John Michell and Schwarzschild’s Magic Sphere

British polymath John Michell (1724–1793) was rector of St. Michael’s Church of Thornhill, near Leeds, Yorkshire, England. A fellow of Queens’ College, Cambridge, he taught Greek, Hebrew, and was a Censor in theology. In addition to being a respected theologian, he was “the father of seismology,” the science of earthquakes. After the catastrophic Lisbon earthquake of 1755, Michell wrote a book that helped establish seismology as a science. He proposed that earthquakes spread out as waves through the solid earth and related to fault lines. This work earned him Royal Society membership in 1769. In fact, he provided pioneering insights in a wide range of scientific fields, including astronomy, optics, geology, and gravitation.[xv] Alasdair Wilkins writes, “A few specifics of Michell’s work really do sound like they are ripped from the pages of a twentieth century astronomy textbook.”[xvi] The American Physical Society has described Mitchell as being “so far ahead of his scientific contemporaries that his ideas languished in obscurity, until they were re-invented more than a century later.”[xvii] Michell’s prescience is nearly unmatched, and today he is heralded as one of the greatest unsung Christian heroes of science.

Extrapolating from the laws of physics, Michell even predicted the existence of the black hole. In 1783, he speculated about a star so massive that its gravitational pull would hold back its own light. He reasoned that because all objects have an escape velocity, the velocity required to escape its gravitational pull, then it follows that with super massive objects, like giant stars, very interesting things begin to happen. If the escape velocity equals the speed of light, then light cannot escape; it vanishes and is never to be seen again. It becomes a “dark star.”

Michell’s speculation was not taken very seriously at the time—that is, not until after 1916, when Karl Schwarzschild, a German physicist, found an exact solution to Einstein’s equations for a massive star that suggested Michell’s earlier hunch was right. From Einstein’s equations, Schwarzschild independently rediscovered Michell’s dark star. Schwarzschild conjectured that massive stars were surrounded by a theoretical “magic sphere”—a point of no return, even for light. In honor of his discovery, the radius of a black hole’s event horizon is known as the “Schwarzschild radius.”In 1939, J. Robert Oppenheimer (of atom bomb fame) proposed that black holes form when an old massive star uses up its nuclear fuel and implodes, compressing to within its Schwarzschild radius. However, how does one prove something that cannot be seen? We will pick it up there in the next entry.

[i] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (NY: Harper Collins, 2001) 122.

[ii]Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8–22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1995) 133.

[iii] Chuck Missler, “Hosea and Amos: Prophets to the Northern Kingdom,” http://www.khouse.org/articles/2011/962/ (accessed September 2, 2011).

[iv]Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003) 226.

[v] Walter Martin, “A Christian View: UFO Encounters,” audio recording, Sermon Audio http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=2190615720 (accessed January 15, 2013).

[vi] Dr. Walter Martin, Jill Martin Rische, and Kurt Van Gorden, The Kingdom of the Occult (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2008) 372–373.

[vii]Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Revised and extended 4th ed. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 141 [1 QM 15.2-3].

[viii] R. H. Charles and W. O. E. Oesterley, The Book of Enoch (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1917) Enoch 56:5–8.

[ix]Kip Throne, “The Science of Interstellar,” http://video.wired.com/watch/exclusive-the-science-of-interstellar-wired (00:50).

[x] Paul Franklin, “The Science of Interstellar,” http://video.wired.com/watch/exclusive-the-science-of-interstellar-wired ( 01:54–02:09).

[xi]From Interstellar, http://news.discovery.com/space/interstellar-black-hole-is-best-black-hole-in-sci-fi-141029.htm.

[xii]Farook Rahaman, Paolo Salucci, et al., “Possible Existence of Wormholes in the Central Regions of Halos,” Annals of Physics, Vol. 350, November 2014, 561–567, (http://arxiv.org/pdf/1501.00490v1.pdf).

[xiii]Milky Way Could Be a “Galactic Transport System,” http://scitechdaily.com/milky-way-galactic-transport-system/.

[xiv]Ibid.

[xv]Russell McCormmach, “Archimedes, New Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology,” vol. v.28, Weighing the World: The Reverend John Michell of Thornhill (Dordrecht: Springer, 2012), 177, http://public.eblib.com/eblpublic/publicview.do?ptiid=885997 (accessed August 6, 2014).

[xvi]Alasdair Wilkins, i09, December 23, 2012, The forgotten genius who discovered black holes. over 200 years ago (accessed August 6, 2014).

[xvii]“This Month in Physics History: November 27, 1783: John Michell Anticipates Black Holes,”http://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200911/physicshistory.cfm (accessed August 6, 2014).

***

EXPRESS

All over for God: Dominant life force in universe is AI super-being

FORGET God running the show, because the supreme being in the universe is almost certain to be a mind-blowingly intelligent super computer, according to a group of high-level research scientists and philosophers.

By PAUL BALDWIN

PUBLISHED: 13:18, Tue, Apr 28, 2015 | UPDATED: 14:20, Tue, Apr 28, 2015

And, because such a hyper-advanced organism would have no need of water, humanity may be looking in the wrong place for extra-terrestrial life.

Many scientists believe the human race is only decades away from being able to download and upload experience to and from human consciousness.

All seeing eye: VGER the ultimate hyper-intelligent being from 1979 Star Trek movie

This is essentially a game-changing and mind-bending shift moving the human race from a carbon-based organic life-form to silicon-based, probably electronic, one.

And the highly-respected group of boffins – which includes astronomers like Seth Shostak, director of NASA’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence program, NASA Astrobiologist Paul Davies, Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology Stephen Dick, and Susan Schneider, a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut – believes this is the first step towards the creation of a fully-fledged hyper advanced super-being.

And, as any other life-form is likely to be hundreds of millions of years more advanced than life on earth, this is expected to be the dominant being in the universe.

Some even liken the super-being to God.

Bizarrely, the now credible scientific theory was used as the premise for the first Star Trek movie in 1979 which saw NASA data collecting satellite Voyager becoming the supreme being.

Susan Schneider penned an academic paper called “Alien Minds," where she described why alien life forms are likely to be synthetic, and how such creatures might think.

She said: “Most people have an iconic idea of aliens as these biological creatures, but that doesn’t make any sense from a timescale argument.

“If we pick up an alien signal, it’ll be artificial life.

“There’s an important distinction here from just ‘artificial intelligence’. I’m not saying that we’re going to be running into IBM processors in outer space. In all likelihood, this intelligence will be way more sophisticated than anything humans can understand.

“Everything about their cognition—how their brains receive and process information, what their goals and incentives are—could be vastly different from our own.”

She added that there was a growing scientific belief that by the time any society learns to transmit radio signals, they’re also very close to upgrading their own biology – a concept which fans of the movie Matrix will be familiar with.

***

Aol.

Italian authorities: Terror suspects planned Vatican attack

COLLEEN BARRY

Apr 24th 2015 7:40AM

MILAN (AP) - Islamic extremists suspected in a bomb attack in a Pakistani market that killed more than 100 people had also planned an attack against the Vatican in 2010 that was never carried out, an Italian prosecutor said Friday.

Wiretaps collected as part of investigation into an Islamic terror network operating in Italy gave "signals of some preparation for a possible attack" at the Vatican, prosecutor Mauro Mura told a news conference in Cagliari, Sardinia. That included the arrival of a suicide bomber in Rome. He eventually left Italy, Mura said, although it wasn't clear why.

The revelation about the planned attack against the Vatican came Friday as police said they were arresting 18 suspected extremists, including two purported bodyguards for Osama bin Laden, accused of staging attacks in Pakistan aimed at stopping that government's actions against the Taliban.

At the time of the suspected plot to bomb the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI was still reeling from the effects in the Muslim world of a 2006 speech in Regensburg, Germany, in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith."

While relations with the Muslim world were eventually repaired, tensions flared again in 2011 when Cairo's al-Azhar institute, the pre-eminent theological school of Sunni Islam, suspended interfaith talks with the Vatican after Benedict called for greater protections for Egypt's minority Christians.

More recently, Italian officials have made clear they take seriously the threat of the Islamic State group to conquer Rome and the seat of Christianity. Security has been beefed up at the Vatican and the head of the Swiss Guards has said they are ready but that they have no information about an imminent threat.

Pope Francis himself has said he realizes he may be a target but that he fears mostly for the innocent crowds who come to see him every time he's in public.

The investigation was launched in 2005, but Mura said it was slowed when news of the investigation leaked to the media, alerting the suspects that they were being watched.

Authorities said some of the suspects sought in the probe were responsible for "numerous bloody acts of terrorism in Pakistan," including the October 2009 explosion in a market in Peshawar in which more than 100 people died. Telephone wiretaps indicated that two of the suspects were part of a network of people who protected bin Laden in Pakistan, a police statement said.

Police said the aim of the terror network was to create an insurrection against the Pakistani government.

___

Nicole Winfield contributed to this report from Rome.

***

NOW THE END BEGINS

HILLARY CLINTON SAYS CHRISTIANITY MUST CHANGE TO ACCOMMODATE ABORTION-ON-DEMAND

Geoffrey Grider | April 25, 2015

“DEEP-SEATED CULTURAL CODES, RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND STRUCTURAL BIASES HAVE TO BE CHANGED TO PROVIDE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL WOMEN”

“Thou shalt not kill.” Exodus 20:13 (KJV)

That Hillary Clinton is a lying, duplicitous, cold-as-ice political game player has long been established beyond discussion. She will say anything, do anything, and be anything she thinks you want her to be in order to win votes and fill the coffers of the Clinton Foundation.

But she also is an abortion-on-demand advocate who, if elected to president, will raise the number of babies killed in this country to never before seen levels of slaughter. About Abortion vs. Christianity, Clinton says that things must change. Drastically.

She told attendees at the sixth annual Women in The World Summit that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” for the sake of giving women access to “reproductive health care and safe childbirth.” “Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth, and laws don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper,” Clinton said.

“Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will,” she explained. “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed. As I have said and as I believe, the advancement of the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of their societies is the great unfinished business of the 21st century and not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

Whenever a woman talks about “reproductive rights” it is always about having access to abortion-on-demand. Make no mistake about it, she is not any type of Christian found in the bible. She loves to throw the label around, but she is as liberal and as apostate as they come.

When Hillary said that “religious beliefs and structural biases have to change”, that is nothing more than politician-speak to say that Biblical Christianity must step aside to allow for the killing of the unborn on demand. In any trimester, right up to the moment of birth. And why stop there?

No, if Hillary gets elected in 2016, you better prepare for the blood of the unborn to run in the streets with the ferocity of a summer storm. She is every bit as evil as Obama, and perhaps even more so.

***

WND

MEDIA BLITZ TO 'NORMALIZE' TRANSGENDERISM

Published: April 25, 2015

LEO HOHMANN

Jazz Jennings, a transgender teenager, wrote a book about having a “girl’s brain in a boy’s body.” It is now being used in schools.

The establishment media has suddenly gone ga-ga over transgenders.

Whether it’s Bruce Jenner’s prime-time interview with Diane Sawyer to discuss his “journey” from a 1976 Olympic decathlon stud to surgery- and drug-induced womanhood, or teary-eyed parents waxing softly about their child’s difficult but rewarding transformation from one sex to another, the American public is about to be inundated with journalistic stories, TV shows, books, movies and ads promoting transgenderism.

Sound off in today’s WND Poll: What’s your take on Bruce Jenner?

Like all good propaganda campaigns, it starts in the schools.

Parents of a child at an elementary school in Maine were outraged last week when they found out a guidance counselor had read “I Am Jazz” to a class of first-graders. The autobiographical picture book is based on the life of Jazz Jennings, a transgender teenager who talks of having a “girl’s brain in a boy’s body.”

“From the time she was 2 years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing,” reads the description on Amazon. But her family was confused because they always thought of Jazz as a boy.

The book describes how Jazz “flourished once she was allowed to be herself,” said one reviewer, E.M. Kokie, in a review for ThePirateTree.com, a site that focuses on “social justice and children’s literature.”

The children’s book has won myriad awards.

NBC reported this week a story about how California Congressman Mike Honda’s “transgender daughter makes him proud.”

The boy (now girl)’s father says he just wants his child to “be happy,” as a tear forms in his eye.

The NBC Today Show presented the stories of several sets of parents last week who have “struggled” with their young children’s gender confusion. Most decided to support their boys’ desire to be girls, and vise versa.

Not to be outdone, CBS did a story on a family celebrating their “5-year-old son’s transgender journey.”

This is the way CBS Boston reporter Ken McCleod began his story:

“A Massachusetts couple knew their child wasn’t happy. So they made the courageous and difficult decision to raise their daughter as a boy at his own request.”

The rest is predictable.

Then there is the new TV series “Transparent,” a comedy-drama television series produced for Amazon Studios Video that debuted last year. The series, created and directed by Jill Soloway, presents the story of a Los Angeles family and their lives following the discovery that the person they knew as their father Mort (Jeffrey Tambor) is transgender.

At the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 11, the show won the award for best television series.

Former model Tyra Banks has also produced a transgender TV series for VH1 called TransAmerica, starring transgender model/activist Carmen Carrera.

***

THE DAILY SIGNAL

State Says Bakers Should Pay $135,000 for Refusing to Bake Cake for Same-Sex Wedding

Kelsey Harkness / @kelseyjharkness / April 24, 2015

An Oregon administrative law judge recommended today that the bakers who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding should be fined $135,000.

“[T]he forum concludes that $75,000 and $60,000, are appropriate awards to compensate [the same-sex couple] for the emotional suffering they experienced,” wrote Alan McCullough, administrative law judge for Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries in his proposed order.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa located in Gresham, Ore., say the fine is enough to potentially bankrupt their family of seven.

The dispute began in January 2013, when Aaron denied Rachel Cryer a wedding cake after learning there would be two brides in her wedding.

Aaron and his wife Melissa are both Christians and believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

Rachel and her partner Laurel Bowman-Cryer, who are now married, filed a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries under the state’s public accommodation law, which bans discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries pursued charges against the Kleins on behalf of the same-sex couple.

In January 2015, an investigation by the bureau found the Kleins guilty of violating the state’s public accommodation law by denying Rachel and Laurel full and equal access to their bakery, which the state considers a place of public accommodation.

The Civil Rights Division of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries is responsible for enforcing the state’s public accommodation law, and the judge who issued today’s proposed order works for the bureau.

In order to reach $135,000, Rachel and Laurel submitted a long list of alleged physical, emotional and mental damages they claim to have experienced as a result of the Kleins’ unlawful conduct.

One of the women, whose name was redacted to protect her privacy, listed 88 symptoms as grounds for compensation. The other, whose name was also redacted, listed 90.

Examples of symptoms include “acute loss of confidence,” “doubt,” “excessive sleep,” “felt mentally raped, dirty and shameful,” “high blood pressure,” “impaired digestion,” “loss of appetite,” “migraine headaches,” “pale and sick at home after work,” “resumption of smoking habit,” “shock” “stunned,” “surprise,” “uncertainty,” “weight gain” and “worry.”

Harmon, the Kleins’ lawyer, told The Daily Signal that during the hearing “there was no expert testimony.”

The witnesses at the hearing were the two women who were requesting a cake, one of their mothers, one of their brothers and another family member. There was no doctor, there was no psychologist, no expert testimony at all.

In collecting the fine, Harmon said the state isn’t just pursuing the Kleins’ business assets, but their personal livelihood as well.

“An important thing to understand about the damages the state is claiming in this case is that the [fine] isn’t going to come from liquidating business assets,” she said.

Their business is gone. They don’t have business assets so when we talk about [the fine], it’s personal. It means that’s money they would have used to feed their children that they can’t use anymore.

In September 2013, after facing public backlash, the Kleins had to close their bakery.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries did not respond to The Daily Signal’s multiple requests for comment.

Paul Thompson, the attorney representing the lesbians, previously said he has “a policy of not discussing cases that are the subject of open litigation.”

Aaron, in an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal on Sunday, said the state of Oregon is attempting to “obliterate” his family.

“The state is now saying that we can award damages above and beyond what you have already suffered … and they have no qualms about doing this,” he said. “It is really showing the state is taking a stance on absolutely obliterating somebody that takes a different stance than the state has.”

The recommended fine will now go to to state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, who can either accept it or adjust the amount in issuing a final order.

***

WND

SENTENCING OF CHRISTIANS EXPLODES 10,000% IN CHINA

New report reveals 'harshest persecution seen in over a decade'

Published: April 25, 2015

BOB UNRUH

China’s sentencing of Christians exploded more than 10,000 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to a new report from China Aid Association, an organization that exposes religious freedom and human rights abuses.

The group’s annual report notes that it tracks six categories of religious persecution, and since it obtains information directly from Christians inside China, most of its information concerns the Christian house church movement.

The “Year of ‘Persecution and Endurance’” report said persecution rose, sometimes dramatically, in all six categories studied.

For example, the number of citizens sentenced for their beliefs rose from 12 in 2013 to 1,274 in 2014, up 10,516.67 percent.

The organization collected information on 572 cases of religious persecution, an increase of 300 percent.

“Of the 17,884 people who were persecuted for their religion, more than 1,592 were church leaders, which represents a 140.89 percent increase over the previous year. The 2,994 people who were detained constituted an increase of 103.67 percent over the previous year. The CPC sentenced 1,274 people, a 10,516.67 percent jump over 2013.”

China Aid reported, “Comparing the data in the above six categories – total number of religious persecution cases, total number of people persecuted for their religion, number of people detained, number of people sentenced, total number of severe abuse cases, and the number of individuals in severe abuse cases — the overall situation of persecution can be statistically represented as being 152.74 percent worse than in 2013, 250.85 percent worse than in 2012, 296.64 percent worse than in 2011, 465.19 percent worse than in 2010, 549.48 percent worse than in 2009, 673.31 percent worse than in 2008 and 1,331.76 percent worse than in 2007.”

The mission organization’s report outlined factors that contributed to the intensifying of persecution, including a “demolition” campaign that inside one province targeted both house churches and government-registered Three-Self Patriotic Movement churches.

Claiming to seek to “eradicate ‘illegal structures,’” the campaign in reality “indiscriminately removed and demolished crosses on church buildings and, in many cases, demolished the entire church building, regardless of whether the building had been previously approved by the Chinese government.”

So-called “cult activities” also drew the wrath of the government.

“The heightened level of persecution” also can be blamed on President Xi’s “so-called political reforms, which appear to be a guise to persecute religious communities, non-governmental organizations, human rights lawyers, and other religious and political so-called ‘dissenters.’

“In response to the growth of Christianity in China, the Chinese government has instituted various campaigns to persecute both house churches and government-sanctioned TSPM churches throughout China by harassing, abusing, arresting, and, in many cases, sentencing pastors and church members to prison,” the report said.

China Aid’s analysis reported, “It appears clear that the [Communist Party of China] has entered into a ‘post-totalitarian era,’ no longer able to rely on ideology and authority to unite the party. Inevitably, the CPC has broken into various political factions as a result of competing interests amongst party members and escalating conflicts between local and central government officials. The downfall of government officials Bo Xilai in 2013 and Zhou Yongkang in 2014 reflect this power struggle between factions within the CPC. Furthermore, subsequent to global economic decline, China’s economic growth has also slowed considerably.”

The result is an increasing surge of “social conflict” incidents, so the government is focusing on trying to establish “stability” and eliminate dissent “both within and outside the party.”

Other crackdowns have targeted ministry efforts, free speech and the actions of human rights lawyers.

Arrests and convictions in those cases “can be viewed as tactics to intimidate Chinese citizens who may dare to criticize or challenge the Xi administration and the Communist party,” the report said.

Christians, therefore, have become a bull’s-eye.

“It is fair to say that the rapid increase in the number of Christians in China over the past decade as triggered a unique sense of crisis within the CPC. As the Christian faith continues to grow in China, so does the number of Chinese citizens who embrace rule of law, oppose totalitarian governance, and support the expansion of civil society. As ongoing growth of house churches in both rural and urban areas is perceived by the CPC as a serious threat, the CPC’s suppression of Tibetan Buddhism, Islam in Xinjiang and surrounding areas, and Falun Gong practitioners persists.

“In addition, several Catholic churches and bishops have been persecuted for their expressed discontent with the Chinese governments’ interference and harassment of the Catholic church.”

The government’s goal, the report said, is to install the bureaucracy of the government in control of churches, a fight that it might not be able to win.

“A conservative estimate suggests that the total number of Christians attending both Three-Self churches and house churches is approximately 70 million, which is growing. Dr. Yang Fenggang, a professor of religion and sociology at Purdue University, has estimated that by 2030, the number of Christians in China will exceed those in the United States, thus making China the largest Christian nation in the world.”

That growth in Christianity, the report said, “has triggered a unique sense of crisis” for Communist and government officials.

Activities during 2014, the report said, represented “the most severe suppressive measures since the Cultural Revolution.”

An estimated 100 church buildings were demolished and 1,000 crosses forcibly removed. One of the churches destroyed, in Zhejiang province, had cost $4.8 million to build.

In another situation, 600 SWAT officers were dispatched to the Salvation Church in Pingyang County to destroy the church’s cross.

***

Business Insider

The genetic engineering of human embryos done by Chinese researchers is technically legal in many countries

LAUREN F FRIEDMAN APR 24 2015, 3:33 AM 13


Doctor is silhouetted as he walks past a poster in a Rome fertility clinic.

News broke on Wednesday that a team of Chinese scientists had edited the genes of human embryos for the first time ever, confirming long-swirling rumours that such ethically dicey experiments were underway and flouting recent calls to put a stop to them.

Yet despite researchers urging caution — stating that this work needs to be “on hold pending a broader societal discussion of the scientific and ethical issues surrounding such use,” an inventor of the technology that made it possible told National Geographic — it seems that while the Chinese scientists ruffled some feathers, they did not actually break any laws.

Around the world, the laws governing what’s allowed when it comes to “editing the human germ line,” the technical name for what the Chinese scientists did, are a mixed bag.

In a study published in 2014, Motoko Araki and Tetsuya Ishii of Hokkaido University in Japan looked at the rules in 39 countries and found that 29 of them (lighter pink on the map below) had a ban on such research. Of those, 25 (darker pink) had legally binding bans; the other four, including China, had guidelines banning the practice but not exactly enforceable laws. In the remaining 10 countries (dark grey on the map), the rules were “ambiguous.” They set aside the US as a special case: no outright ban, but rules that are very restrictive. (The FDA and NIH have, at least for now, a moratorium on such research.)

The fact that the first published research showing the editing of an embryonic genome — an attempt to alter the DNA that would be passed on to future generations — happened in a country with an ostensible ban on such research should raise some alarm.

The complex regulatory environment that’s clear on the map above means there are plenty of loopholes — even in the countries that have tried to anticipate the coming wave of ethically questionable experimentation.

Was this research allowed?

In China, for example, the Guidelines on Human Assisted Reproductive Technologies say, according to Araki and Ishii, that “using human egg plasma and nuclear transfer technology for the purpose of reproduction, and manipulation of the genes in human gametes, zygotes or embryos for the purpose of reproduction are prohibited.”

There are at least two possible reasons the Chinese team, led by Junjiu Huang of Sun Yat-sen University, might have been able to undertake their research anyway.

First, and probably most importantly, their experiment was in non-viable embryos: eggs that had been fertilised by two sperm and so would never develop into humans, genetically modified or otherwise.

The Guidelines on Human Assisted Reproductive Technologies forbid “the manipulation of the genes in… embryos for the purpose of reproduction.” But these experiments were certainly for research, not for reproduction, which was not even a possibility with such embryos.

Second, as Araki and Ishii’s study makes clear, there is an important distinction between legal bans and guidelines.

A report from the Medical Research Council in the UK notes that China’s regulations governing research ethics “consist mostly of guidelines promulgated by the relevant ministries, which could be considered to constitute ‘soft law'” and that “the sanctions for breaching ministry guidelines are often unclear.” Researchers violating the Guidelines on Human Assisted Reproductive Technologies in particular have lost their licenses, the report notes, which would make it illegal for them to continue their research. But such enforcement appears to be inconsistent, as it’s left largely up to local governments.

Around the world

Internationally, most of these rules were drafted before the technology that made the recent Chinese experiment possible became widely available, and that technology is still too inaccurate and unpredictable to be used clinically on viable embryos that could become genetically modified people.

As for the rest of the world, there’s a patchwork of laws addressing the possibility of editing the genomes of human embryos. In Russia, the Japanese researchers note, “germline gene modification for reproduction is not considered” by the relevant legislation. In Canada and many European countries, the bans are quite strict; in Austria, for example, “any intervention involving the human germline is prohibited.”

Along with China, India, Ireland, and Japan also have guidelines that are not legally binding; those countries, as well as the US, “might permit it,” the researchers predict, once such techniques become safer.

Already, in China, a source told Nature News, “at least four groups… are pursuing gene editing in human embryos.”

***

New Scientist

Digital tattoo lets you control devices with mind power alone

23 April 2015 by Hal Hodson

Magazine issue 3018.

WHAT'S on your mind? For £79, anyone can buy a headset that reads the electrical activity of their brain. It's called an electroencephalogram, or EEG, and you can use it to control devices with the power of your mind. But there's a drawback: they don't work when the wearer is moving and they look silly, so no one wants to wear them.

The solution could be a kind of EEG system that does away with the cumbersome electrodes, annoying gels and wires of its predecessors, replacing them with a flexible electronic skin that conforms to the body. It promises to let us monitor our brains discreetly 24 hours a day, and can be worn continuously for two weeks, staying put whether you're swimming, running or sleeping.

John Rogers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign led the team that built the device, which is so light that it sticks to the skin through van der Waals force – the same mechanism that lets geckos' feet stick to surfaces. It only falls off when the build-up of dead skin beneath it makes it lose its grip.

Comprising just a small patch of gold electrodes on and behind the ear, it beats the existing tech, described by Rogers as a "rat's nest of wires attached to devices that interface to the skin with tape and gels and bulky metallic objects".

To test it, the team looked at their system's performance in tasks that clinical EEG devices usually handle. For example, volunteers were able to spell out the word "computer" on a screen in front of them using their brains' electrical activity.

Their stick-on EEG was wired up to a computer for the tests, but the team is working on wireless transmission of data and power, something they have already achieved in other devices.

The focus is on medical applications to begin with – "EEG is important in detecting seizures – particularly in premature babies," says Rogers. But the fact that it can sit discreetly behind an ear means that all kinds of other applications are feasible. No one wants to wear a headset constantly, but applying a hidden electronic tattoo once every two weeks is more acceptable.

Although Hidden EEG can't rival the precision of the keyboard and mouse from your desktop computer, it is good for controlling systems in a more passive manner. Instead, it might start a coffee pot brewing in the morning when your brain activity implies you're waking up. Or, if the device reads that you're in a highly focused state, it could tell your phone to silence any notifications.

"What we need is to measure EEG unobtrusively, invisibly," says Stefan Debener of the University of Oldenburg in Germany, whose lab has developed its own version of an in-ear EEG system. He says that in tests on his own system, half the subjects forgot they were wearing the sensors. "This is exactly what you want," he says. "You want tech that merges with the user."

Debener is working on a way to measure the attention of a hearing aid user through EEG, then tune the hearing aid in to the voice they are concentrating on. Modern hearing aids can already focus on a single source in a noisy environment, but with EEG, they would be able to detect what their wearer wants to listen to.

"The limitation of EEG so far has been that we didn't have the technology to study the brain in nature non-invasively," says Debener. "This is a huge limitation. It's very hard to tell how decisions are made in complex environments. If you could do this with EEG on the street, driving a car, that would make a big difference."

This article appeared in print under the headline "Digital tattoo behind the ear can read your mind"

***

Wisdom Daily

Global Climate Change: The Earth Has Shifted, Say Inuit Elders

A new warning has come to NASA from the Inuits. They are warning that the change in climate is not due to global warming but rather, because of the Earth shifting a bit.

The Inuits are local people that live in the Arctic regions of Canada, the United States and Greenland. They are excellent weather forecasters and so were their ancestors. Presently they are warning NASA that the cause of change in weather, earthquakes etc, are not due to global warming as the world thinks

They state that the earth has shifted or “wobbled”. “Their sky has changed!”

The elders declare that the sun rises at a different position now, not where it used to previously. They also have longer daylight to hunt now, the sun is much higher than earlier, and it gets warmer much quickly. Other elders across the north also confirmed the same thing about the sky changing when interviewed.

They also alleged that the position of sun, moon and stars have all changed causing changes in the temperature. This has also affected the wind and it is very difficult to predict the weather now and according to them predicting weather is necessary on Arctic.

All the elders confirmed that the Earth has shifted, wobbled or tilted toward the North.

This information provided by the Inuit Elders has caused a great concern in the NASA scientists.

A recent video provides tangible proof of what the Intuit Elders have been saying all along. Our magnetic north and south poles have been moving along very swiftly, especially in recent years. It is hypothesized that one of these poles will end up somewhere near the Bermuda Triangle and the South Atlantic anomaly when the flip occurs.

It is not yet understood what this means for humanity, but I’m quite sure this would, at the very least, affect all migratory animals and insects, along with all compasses and GPS systems and satellites, thus affecting all airlines, cars, and maps that rely on that technology.

Magnetic records have revealed that the last magnetic pole shift occurred approximately 780,000 years ago while a magnetic pole shift, on average, occurs once every 200,000 to 300,000 years.

When any animal or insect is affected by a major change or mass die off, we’re ALL affected.

One of the lessons we came here to experience is how to learn from the cycles of time. Unfortunately, we don’t have any records of what happened 780,000 years ago and how it affected mankind, along with all other living species on this planet.

It’s quite possible that we’re receiving extraterrestrial assistance in preventing a catastrophe from happening because the last pole shift should have occurred over 400,000 years ago. As evidenced by numerous paintings throughout history, our planet has been visited by extraterrestrials for thousands of years, if not longer.

source:in5d.com

***

BizLifes

Seven Volcanoes In Six Different Countries All Start Erupting Within Hours Of Each Other

A new island has appeared in the Pacific. A submarine eruption just off Nishino-Shima Island Japan has erupted for the first time in 40 years. The Japanese Navy noticed the explosions as boiling lava met sea water giving rise to plumes of steam and ash.

Almost 7,000 miles away in Mexico, the Colima volcano blew its top after a period of relative calm. A steam and ash cloud rose two miles into the sky and the grumbling of the mountain could be heard in towns a few miles away.

In Guatemala the ‘Fire Mountain’ belched out lava and sent up a moderate ash cloud causing an ash fall over nearby towns. The explosions and shock waves occurring in the volcano can be felt by residents over 6 miles away. Doors and windows are reported to be rattling, but there has been no damage so far.

In Vanuatu the Yasur volcano is giving some cause for concern. Although the explosions are quite weak the continuous ash that is coming from the mountain is starting to build up on farming land.

Over to Italy, Mount Etna is putting on quite a display. The current eruption started a few days ago and has been getting stronger as time moves on. A massive eruption lit up the sky and disturbed residents yesterday. The ash cloud was high enough to see flights canceled. The lava flow was the biggest in years, and the town of Zafferana which lay in its path saw some damage. Lava diverters were put into place, and most of the town escaped unscathed.

In Indonesia a four mile high ash cloud is making life hard for residents. Mount Sinabung came back to life in 2010 after dormancy of hundreds of years. Occasionally coming to life after its 2010 awakening, the rumbling of the volcano prompted the evacuation of over 6000 people as scientists feared a major eruption. There has been no lava flows so far but the ash cloud is growing.

Mount Sinabung ash cloud

Still in Indonesia but on the island of Java this time, Mount Merapi exploded yesterday. Hundreds of people were killed when it last erupted in 2010. There is no news of casualties at this point.

So, we have eruptions big enough to prompt evacuations. Flights are canceled, and a new island pops up off the coast of Japan. I would have called that newsworthy myself but obviously I’m wrong. If I was right it would have been common knowledge right? Reports may have been on the news right?

So many volcanoes throwing so much gas, ash and particulates into the air can have an effect on climate, this is a scientific fact. I’m not saying that these volcanoes herald the start of a new ice age but the planet certainly seems to be getting a bit more active of late.

Continued large eruptions put a huge amount of particulate matter into the atmosphere, and these particles reflect sunlight away from earth and when there is enough of them the temperatures can drop.

The Mount Pinatubo eruption lowered temperatures by around 0.5°C across the Northern Hemisphere.

Considering that we are in a cooling period anyway, having so many volcanoes going off at the same time is not good. Aside from the devastating effects the lava and ash can have on the lives of those living near to them, the global impacts can be enormous.

Lost crops due to ash fall and lower temperatures can lead to hunger and famine, as happened after the Tambora eruption in 1815.

Economic losses due to lost crops and canceled flights runs into millions of dollars a day, as with the Icelandic eruption of Eyjafjallojkull (pronounced: aya fiat la u cud la) in 2010.

The spasms of the earth come without warning, but at the same time those spasms should be a wake up call to all of us that change can happen in the blink of an eye.

Better be prepared for it.

***

NEW YORK POST

UFO buzzes NYC

By Tom Wilson and Kathianne Boniello

April 27, 2015 | 1:45am

A "flying spaceship" (the red light) was spotted soaring around The Bronx Saturday night.

Photo: Andres Morales

The truth is out there — and it’s hovering over The Bronx.

A mysterious light in the sky so freaked out some Hunts Points residents that they called authorities to report their only possible explanation: the arrival of aliens from outer space.

A “flying spaceship” is moving swiftly over East 149th Street and the Bruckner Expressway, one terrified woman told a 911 operator Saturday night, according to an FDNY source.

Juan Marrero said he, too, had a close encounter.

“I look up and see this fireball, ‘Whoosh!’ and then another, ‘Whoosh!’ ” said Marrero, 57, a pigeon fancier who was on the roof of his building at 11:30 p.m. when he saw two bright lights streaking across the sky. “From one side of the sky to the other, too fast for an airplane.”

Andres Morales, 25, said he also saw the speedy orb — and did his best to document his out-of-this-world experience.

“I stuck my hand out the car window and snapped like crazy,” he told The Post. “I don’t know what it was but it was moving crazy fast.”

It’s not the first time locals have said extraterrestrial immigrants boogied down from another galaxy to check out the neighborhood. Unusual lights in the sky were seen in the same area last year, and also in 2011, according to self-described “UFO journalist” Ryan Sprague.

“I definitely think we’re dealing with anomalies that could potentially be nonhuman,” Sprague said.

East 149th Street is close to La Guardia Airport, which could lead to “misidentifications,” Sprague conceded, though he said witnesses should not be discounted.

Those who saw the orb on Saturday, and the one last May, echoed the same description — a light that “just sort of hovered, stationary, and then shot off in the blink of an eye,” he stressed.

“The maneuvers these objects seem to be making don’t fit with any current technology that we’re aware of,” Sprague said.

“They’re not moving, then darting off at unbelievable speeds,” he explained. “I just don’t think that’s something a human could survive.”

***

Zero Hedge

Largest Bank In America Joins War On Cash

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/23/2015 23:44 -0400

The war on cash is escalating. Just a week ago, the infamous Willem Buiter, along with Ken Rogoff, voiced their support for a restriction (or ban altogether) on the use of cash (something that was already been implemented in Louisiana in 2011 for used goods). Today, as Mises' Jo Salerno reports, the war has acquired a powerful new ally in Chase, the largest bank in the U.S., which has enacted a policy restricting the use of cash in selected markets; bans cash payments for credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans; and disallows the storage of "any cash or coins" in safe deposit boxes.

Buiter defended his "controversial" call for a ban on cash, as Bloomberg reports:

The world’s central banks have a problem. When economic conditions worsen, they react by reducing interest rates in order to stimulate the economy. But, as has happened across the world in recent years, there comes a point where those central banks run out of room to cut — they can bring interest rates to zero, but reducing them further below that is fraught with problems, the biggest of which is cash in the economy.

In a new piece, Citi’s Willem Buiter looks at this problem, which is known as the effective lower bound (ELB) on nominal interest rates. Fundamentally, the ELB problem comes down to cash. According to Buiter, the ELB only exists at all due to the existence of cash, which is a bearer instrument that pays zero nominal rates. Why have your money on deposit at a negative rate that reduces your wealth when you can have it in cash and suffer no reduction? Cash therefore gives people an easy and effective way of avoiding negative nominal rates. Buiter’s note suggests three ways to address this problem:

  • Abolish currency.

  • Tax currency.

  • Remove the fixed exchange rate between currency and central bank reserves/deposits.

    Yes, Buiter’s solution to cash’s ability to allow people to avoid negative deposit rates is to abolish cash altogether. (Note that he’s far from being the first to float this idea. Ken Rogoff has given his endorsement to the idea as well, as have others.)

Before looking at the practicalities of abolishing currency, we should first look at whether it could ever be necessary. Due to the costs of holding large amounts of cash, Buiter puts the actual nominal rate at which the move to cash makes sense as closer to -100bp. So, in order for a cash abolition to become necessary, central banks would need to be in a position where they wished to set nominal rates much lower than that.

Buiter does not have to go far to find an example of where a central bank may have wanted to set interest rates much lower to -100bp. He uses (a fairly aggressive) Taylor Rule to show that Federal Reserve rates should have been as low as -6 percent during the financial crisis.”

As mentioned above, no meddling by a central bank is ever too extreme or too crazy for Mr. Buiter.

But now the banks themselves are getting involved, (as Mises' Joseph Salerno notes),

The war against cash has, up to now, been waged almost exclusively by national governments and official international organizations, although there are exceptions. Now the war has acquired a powerful new ally in Chase, the largest bank in the U.S. and a subsidiary of JP Morgan Chase and Co., according to Forbes, the world's third largest public company.

Of course , it is hardly surprising that a crony capitalist fractional-reserve bank, which received $25 billion in bailout loans from the U.S. Treasury, should want to curry favor with its regulators and political masters and, in the process, ensure its own stability by helping to stamp out the use of cash. For the very existence of cash places the power over fractional-reserve banks squarely in the hands of their depositors who may withdraw their cash in any amount and at any time, bringing even the mightiest bank to its knees literally overnight (e.g., Washington Mutual).

What is a surprise is how little notice the rollout of Chase's new policy has received.

  • As of March, Chase began restricting the use of cash in selected markets, including Greater Cleveland.

  • The new policy restricts borrowers from using cash to make payments on credit cards, mortgages, equity lines, and auto loans.

  • Chase even goes as far as to prohibit the storage of cash in its safe deposit boxes . In a letter to its customers dated April 1, 2015 pertaining to its "Updated Safe Deposit Box Lease Agreement," one of the highlighted items reads: "You agree not to store any cash or coins other than those found to have a collectible value." Whether or not this pertains to gold and silver coins with no numismatic value is not explained.

As one observer commented:

This policy is unusual but, since Chase is the nation's largest bank, I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing more of this in this era of sensitivity about funding terrorists and other illegal causes.

Bet on it.

ENENEWS

Nuclear Engineer: I agree Fukushima can be ‘extinction event’; It’s a myth that disaster is being contained — Nuclear Expert: Radioactive material has “contaminated much of Pacific Coast of North America… Negative impacts of the accident have spread throughout world”

Interview with Chris Harris, former licensed Senior Reactor Operator & engineer, Apr 23, 2015.

  • Question: “Do you agree that this is, essentially — if it runs the next 20 years without anything happening — basically an extinction event for a good part of the human race and higher life forms?”

  • Chris Harris, former licensed Senior Reactor Operator & engineer: “I just jotted down some thoughts really quickly, these are myths of Fukushima: Containment – there isn’t any, even though today they started off probably another failed attempt at the ice walls; Cold shutdown is a myth at Fukushima — they declared it, but there is no cold shut down there; Cooling is a myth there, because you can’t tell that there is actual cooling going to where ever the fuel is; Waste processing… mountains of plastic bags, a mountain of them — that’s waste processing?; Decommissioning is a myth; Cleanup is a myth, it’s a waste generation facility; … There is no containment; Emergency planning there is also a myth, as we have seen because of the faulty electrical systems and everything else from the makeshift system they do have running. So, I am in agreement with your statement.“

Press Conference with Prof. Hiroaki Koide, Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute (retired), Apr 24, 2015, starting at 49:00 in: “The Tohoku region, and the Kanto great plain — where Tokyo rests — this area was very much contaminated. But you also have to take into account a world view… Japan is in an area where there are very strong winds blowing from the west, we call them the prevailing westerlies. So as you can see, the prevailing westerlies blew from the west very strong winds, and they blew the Cs-137 across the Pacific Ocean and contaminated much of the Pacific Coast of North America. And I believe also this is an example of why nuclear power plant accidents are different than any other kinds of events. It is not only the site itself that is severely contaminated… the negative impacts of the accident spread throughout the world.”

***

The Sydney Mornig Herald

Tokyo children's park closed over radiation

Date April 24, 2015

Workers of Tokyo's Toshima ward office carry away a container after it was dug up from the ground near playground equipment at a park in Toshima ward, Tokyo. Photo: TORU HANAI

class:cT-imageLandscape/cT-imagePortrait

Tokyo: Extremely high levels of radiation have been discovered in a playground in Tokyo, officials said on Friday, fanning fears for the health of children in the area.

Soil underneath a slide at the park in the north-west of the Japanese capital showed radiation readings of up to 480 microsieverts per hour, the local administrative office said.

Anyone directly exposed to this level would absorb in two hours the maximum dose of radiation Japan recommends in a year.

"Many children play in the park daily, so the ward office should explain the situation," Kyodo News quoted a 62-year-old local woman as saying.

The radiation level is over 2000 times that at which the national government requires soil cleaning in areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where reactors melted down after the March 2011 tsunami.

That standard, however, is for measurements taken at 0.5 to 1.0 metres above ground, while officials in Tokyo's Toshima ward checked the ground itself.

Officials were made aware of the contamination after a local resident reported it on Monday and say they do not think it is connected to the disaster at Fukushima.

"Because the area in which we detect radioactivity is very limited, and readings in surrounding parts are normal, we suspect radioactive materials of some kind are buried there," local mayor Yukio Takano said in a statement.

The park was built in 2013, two years after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, a local official said, on what was previously a parking lot for Tokyo's sanitation department.

Top soil at the lot was replaced before the land was turned into a park, said the Toshima official.

The park has been sealed.

***

YAHOO AUTOS

GM, Ford, And Others Want to Make Working on Your Own Car Illegal

BoldrideJeff Perez

April 22, 2015
One of the inherent rights of owning a vehicle is the ability to get on one’s backside — a wrench in one hand and a grease rag in the other, and just tinker to your little heart’s desire. Since the vehicle was invented, it’s been an important facet within the community of gearheads.

General Motors — the same company responsible for 87 deaths related to faulty ignition switches, FYI — wants to take that right away from you citing safety and security issues. Along with a few other big names.

It’s called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). It’s been around since 2000 and started as anti-Internet piracy legislation. But automakers want to use it to try and make working on your own car illegal. Yes, illegal. The general premise is that unlike cars of the past, today’s vehicles are so advanced and use such a large amount of software and coding in their general makeup, altering said code could be dangerous and possibly even malicious.

Listing the vehicle as a “mobile computing device,” the law would hypothetically protect automakers from pesky owners looking to alter any sort of technology in the vehicle that relates to the onboard computer. Flashing your ECU would be a big no no, which could also lead to all sorts of problems for aftermarket shops.

What GM, and even tractor companies like John Deere, argues is that you, as an owner, don’t actually own your car. Rather, you’re sort of just borrowing it for an extended amount of time and paying for the rights to use the technology. If it sounds ridiculous— it is. But it gets even more ludicrous.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, John Deere argued that “letting people modify car computer systems will result in them pirating music through the on-board entertainment system.”

That’s right— pirating music. Through a tractor.

DMCA does give a little bit of leeway, though. While the act could hypothetically lock customers out of key safety features, it would still allow owners the ability to repair other areas of the vehicle’s onboard computer as they see fit. It’s a slim compromise, but one that may be more closely based in reality.

As it currently sits, there are 13 (!) large automakers on the list supporting the DMCA. Want to know who they are? Of course you do:

General Motors Company

BMW Group

FCA US LLC

Ford Motor Company

Jaguar Land Rover

Mazda

Mercedes-Benz USA

Mitsubishi Motors

Porsche

Toyota

Volkswagen Group of America

Volvo Cars North America

Ironically, one of the brands that relies most on technology in its vehicles — Tesla Motors — in not in support of DMCA. While other American companies like GM, Ford and Chrysler all agree that working on your own vehicle should be punishable by law.

Funny how three brands that pride themselves on American ingenuity don’t want customers to work on their cars.

***

Until next week...keep on believing
Almondtree Productions

The rich will rule over the poor, and servants will lend to their own masters.”
(Proverbs 22:7)


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