As soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
(Luke 1:44)

Leaped For Joy

Dear Friends,

Greetings! The baby, who was John the Baptist, was able to experience an emotion- joy, even before his birth. God even told the prophet Jeremiah, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)


As though abortion were not evil enough the first article below reveals how so called “after-birth abortion” is now being promoted,-- infanticide.

Killing newborns: Paper stirs debate, death threats” starts out with: “Killing newborn babies should be allowed if the mother wishes, two Australian academics have argued in the British Medical Journals.”

The report's authors, Dr Francesca Minerva, from the University of Melbourne and Dr Alberto Giubilini, from the University of Milan, say, “After-birth abortion should be considered late-term abortion because there isn't much of a difference between them biologically.”

Now what kind of a depraved mind would have such a morally corrupt indifference to a helpless newborn baby?

Herod, is an example of that kind of person. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under.” (Matthew 2:16)

What was Herod's reason for wanting to find the baby Jesus? “Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:13) And why did Herod want to destroy Jesus? Jesus was prophesied to be a king, a direct threat to Herod the king, pure and utter selfishness!

Another example is the sacrificing of children to Moloch:

"Moloch is the name of an ancient Ammonite god. Moloch worship was practiced by the Canaanites, Phoenician and related cultures in North Africa and the Levant.

As a god worshipped by cults of the Phoenicians and Canaanites, Moloch had associations with a particular kind of propitiatory child sacrifice by parents. Moloch figures in the Book of Deuteronomy and in the Book of Leviticus as a form of idolatry (Leviticus 18:21–23: “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Moloch”). In the Hebrew Bible, Gehenna was initially where apostate Israelites and followers of various Ba'als and Canaanite gods, including Moloch, sacrificed their children by fire." Wikipedia

The word “propitiatory” has several synonyms including; appeasing, conciliating, conciliatory, disarming, mollifying, pacifying, peacemaking, placating, etc.

Once again, the underling reason,-- selfishness.

Why does the older generation send its sons and daughters to fight and die in war after war, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have.” (James 4:1-2)

No matter how they try to dress it up with university degrees, patriotism etc. it is selfishness. That's one of the main reasons for population control and certain individuals that would like to eliminate up to ninety percent of the worlds population. They want to make sure there is enough for themselves.

The second article, “Euthanasia squads offer death by delivery”, relates how the Dutch are now willing to send “six specialized roving medical teams door-to-door to help patients end their lives free of charge in their own homes.”

Isn't it just like a typical bully to pick on the weaker, in this case the most defenseless among us, newborns and the sick and elderly.

But God is not mocked, in whose image we are created.

"In thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle. Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents.

They have deeply corrupted themselves, therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins. Double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double." (Jeremiah 2:34, Jeremiah 19:3-4, Hosea 9:9, Revelation 18:6)

Their cup of iniquity must surely be about full. Unless they change their thinking they are looking at “certain fearful looking for of judgment”. (Hebrews 10:27)

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nzherald.co.nz

Killing newborns: Paper stirs debate, death threats

By Nicky Park

Mar 2, 2012

- Killing newborn babies should be allowed if the mother wishes, two Australian academics have argued in the British Medical Journals.

The report's authors, Dr Francesca Minerva, from the University of Melbourne and Dr Alberto Giubilini, from the University of Milan, say after-birth abortion should be considered late-term abortion because there isn't much of a difference between them biologically.

In New Zealand, pregnancies under 12 weeks can be terminated in a licensed clinic. After this they must be carried out in a licensed hospital, according to The Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act. There is a formal procedure that must be followed and the woman must obtain the approval of two certifying consultants, one of whom must have experience in obstetrics. - - The authors of the paper After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? argue that foetuses and babies that are hours old don't have the same "moral status as actual persons".

Dr Minerva says there are characteristics that define a person: "The ability to attribute a certain value to your own life, the ability to make plans for the future, the ability to appreciate and value that you are actually alive."

"These are things that can occur very early in life. We don't deny this, but that's why we talk about the very few days after birth. And that's the difference from infanticide - because an infant is different from a newborn." - - The paper reads: "Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the foetus' health.

"By showing that (1) both foetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call 'after-birth abortion' (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled."

Dr Minerva says people don't usually have their baby terminated without good reason.

Aside from disease and disability, she says an after-birth abortion might be justified if a partner dies during pregnancy, leading to financial struggles, or if the parent fears giving up the baby for adoption. - - "You could prefer that your child actually has an after-birth abortion instead of giving your child to an orphanage... because you come from some remote area of the world where orphanages are really bad places."

The definition of "newborn" hasn't been addressed in the paper, but Dr Minerva asks: "What makes the difference in that day? What happens? That's the question of the paper."

"Nothing really happens in that day. These attributes (the characteristics that define a person) start to develop a little later. I don't know when exactly."

There has been global backlash to the topics of the report published in the Journal of Medical Ethics last week.

Dr Minerva says she's received "hundreds and hundreds" of death threats. She says the report was written for academic debate so she's found the negative response surprising.

"If you take this paper out of the context it's really easy to misunderstand what's written in it and that, I think, is what's happening," said Dr Minerva, who's based at the Centre For Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics in Victoria.

"I'm not angry about the reaction, I understand why people react this way, but it's annoying to get all these messages."

(Surely what we are witnessing is a case of 1Timothy 4:2 "Having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” They are beyond feeling.)

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The Independent

Euthanasia squads offer death by delivery

Dutch doctors start controversial scheme offering assisted suicide in patients' homes

TONY PATERSON

02 MARCH 2012

A highly controversial mobile euthanasia programme launched in the Netherlands yesterday, sending six specialised roving medical teams door-to-door to help patients end their lives free of charge in their own homes.

The project, which has provoked sharp criticism from doctors, is the brainchild of the Dutch largely donor-funded Right to Die NL. It follows the government's 2002 decision to legalise euthanasia, making the Netherlands the first country in the world to do so. Walburg de Jong, a spokeswoman for the organisation said that since the ruling some 3,100 assisted suicides had been carried out annually. The mobile euthanasia teams, she said, operated free of charge and were designed to make it easier for patients enduring interminable suffering to end their lives.

"Many doctors continue to be afraid of performing euthanasia. They claim that it is against their religion or they simply don't know the law regarding the issue," she said. "Our teams will carry out euthanasia at patients' homes should their normal doctor be unable or refuse to help them." Right to Die said it had received 70 phone calls from potential assisted suicide patients since the scheme was announced in early February. It said that the teams expected to receive around 1,000 requests each year.

The organisation stressed that its mobile units were comprised of doctors and nurses specially trained in performing assisted suicide at its clinic. It said the procedure involved injecting the patient first with a sleep-inducing drug and then with barbiturates to stop heart and lung function.

However, the concept met with criticism from the Royal Dutch Society of Doctors, which represents 53,000 physicians and medical students. It said it seriously doubted whether the euthanasia teams' mobile doctors could form a close enough relationship with the patients to decide whether assisted suicide should be carried out. "Euthanasia is a complicated process. It comes from the long-term treatment of a patient based on a relationship of trust," a society spokesman said. "We have serious doubts whether this can be done by a doctor who is only focused on performing euthanasia."

But Edith Schippers, the Dutch Health Minister, insisted that mobile euthanasia was in line with the government's 2002 decision to legalise assisted suicide and that she was confident that the new programme would comply fully with the strict guidelines.

Under Dutch law patients must be fully mentally alert when requesting assisted suicide. Two doctors must agree that there is no cure available and that the patient faces "unbearable and interminable suffering".

The right to die: Where it's legal

Belgium legalised euthanasia a month after the Netherlands in 2002. Switzerland, meanwhile, had allowed assisted suicide at home since the 1940s, but in 2005 a hospital allowed ill patients to be assisted to die on its premises. In the US, assisted suicide has been allowed in Oregan since 1997. Australia's outback Northern Territory became the first place in the world to legalise voluntary euthanasia in 1996, however the federal government vetoed the law in 1997.

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WND

HOMESCHOOLERS CAN'T BE TAUGHT 'GAY' SEX SINFUL

You won't believe latest intrusion by government

February 27, 2012

Homeschooling families will soon be forbidden from teaching that homosexual sex is sinful as part of their schooling program, according to the government of Alberta, Canada.

Under the province's Education Act, homeschoolers and religious schools will be banned from "disrespecting" people's differences, Alberta Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk's office told LifeSiteNews just last week.

"Whatever the nature of schooling - homeschool, private school, Catholic school - we do not tolerate disrespect for differences," said Donna McColl, Lukaszuk's assistant director of communications. "You can affirm the family's ideology in your family life, you just can't do it as part of your educational study and instruction."

Americans embrace many things that would have horrified their parents' generation - from easy divorce and unrestricted abortion to teaching homosexuality to grade-schoolers. Does that mean they're inherently more morally confused and depraved than previous generations? Find out in "The Marketing of Evil" and "How Evil Works" - at the WND Superstore.

Paul Faris, president of the Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada, told the news website the Ministry of Education is "clearly signaling that they are in fact planning to violate the private conversations families have in their own homes. A government that seeks that sort of control over our personal lives should be feared and opposed."

According to the report, a government spokesman said, "You can affirm the family's ideology in your family life. You just can't do it as part of your educational study and instruction."

HSLDA and other homeschool organizations have expressed concerns that the new Alberta Education Act would to force "diversity" education on all schools - including private and home schools.

The legislation, known as Bill 2 in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, requires that all schools "reflect the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta, promote understanding and respect for others and honour and respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Human Rights Act."

LifeSiteNews reports that the Human Rights Act has been used to target Christians and conservatives across the country, especially those who hold traditional beliefs about homosexuality.

McColl added that Christian homeschooling families can teach biblical lessons on homosexuality in their homes, "as long as it's not part of their academic program of studies and instructional materials."

"What they want to do about their ideology elsewhere, that's their family business," she said. "But a fundamental nature of our society is to respect diversity."

According to the report, when McColl was asked by LifeSiteNews to explain the distinction between homeschoolers' education and their family life, she replied that the question involved "real nuances" and said she would need to get back to reporter with specifics.

In a second interview, McColl explained that the government "won't speculate" about specific examples and said she hadn't been given a "straight answer" on what precisely constitutes "disrespect" - adding that families "can't be hatemongering, if you will."

The news site reports several Canadian provinces - including Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and now Alberta - have seen major battles in the last two years over "increasing normalization of homosexuality in the schools."

Patty Marler, government liaison for the Alberta Home Education Association, told the website she was astonished at the Ministry's candor. She wondered how the government would stipulate the difference between homeschoolers' school and family time.

"We educate our children all the time, and that's just the way we live. It's a lifestyle," she said. "Making that distinction between the times when we're homeschooling and when we're just living is really hard to do."

She added, "Throw in the fact that I do use the Bible as part of my curriculum, and now I'm very blatantly going to be teaching stuff that will be against [the Alberta Human Rights Act]."

In 2009, the Alberta Human Rights Act was amended to classify marriage as an institution between two "persons," rather than a man and a woman.

"When I read Genesis and it talks about marriage being one man in union with one woman, I am very, very clearly opposing the human rights act that says it's one person marrying another person," Marler said.

Faris noted that the most troubling issue is how government is attempting to control homeschoolers and how they teach their own children in their own homes.

He added that many homeschoolers have been receiving misleading information when they call the Minister's office, which has been saying, "'Look, there are no changes here. We're not going to do anything differently,' and other things like that."

"The long arm of the government wants to reach into family's homes and control what they teach to their own children in their own homes about religion, sexuality and morality," Faris said. "These are not the words of a government that is friendly to homeschooling or to parental freedom."

LifeSiteNews noted that the Progressive Conservative government has 67 of the 83 seats in the Alberta Legislature, so the bill is almost certain to pass. However, with an election coming up, the new right-wing Wildrose Alliance Party may have a strong showing.

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Old-Thinker News

The Scientists Take Over: C. S. Lewis Denounced Transhumanism in 1945

Daniel Taylor - -

March 1, 2012

"Dreams of the far future destiny of man were dragging up from its shallow and unquiet grave the old dream of man as god..." - C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, 1945

"No more gods, no more faith, no more timid holding back. Let us blast out of our old forms, our ignorance, our weakness, and our mortality. The future belongs to posthumanity." - Max More, On Becoming Posthuman, 1994

The fact that a technocratic system of government is being constructed is becoming clearer by the day. We see daily open proclamations for the earth to be geo-engineered, humanity to be medicated through the water supply, and the very genetic code of the planet re-written. As Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in his 1970 book Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technetronic Era, "The technetronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values."

George Orwell, C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley and H. G. Wells were all contemporaries. Each of them, through their various literary works, contributed to the debate - or lack thereof - on this rising power structure. In their lifetimes, the project for the technetronic era was set into motion.

C. S. Lewis' 1945 book That Hideous Strength ties in ideas that he put forth in another of his works titled The Abolition of Man. Hideous Strength is a work of fiction set amidst a supernatural battle between good and evil. However, as you will see, George Orwell himself saw "nothing outrageously improbable" in the mundane plot of an elite group of technocrats to seize control of life itself. Lewis' work is a classic example of art imitating life.

Lewis's thought as expressed in The Abolition of Man, as well as That Hideous Strength was clearly influenced by the rise of the so called "Science of Man" that took place during his lifetime. The same can be said for the other previously mentioned authors. This great work to discover the inner workings of man in order to better control him was initiated by the immense wealth of the Rockefeller empire in the early 20th Century

That Hideous Strength revolves around the National Institute for Coordinated Experiments (NICE) and the organization's plot to seize control of all life.

Lewis writes, "What should they [the elite] regard as too obscene, since they held that all morality was a mere subjective byproduct of the physical and economic situations of men?... From the point of view which is accepted in hell, the whole history of our earth had led up to this moment."

What exactly is this profound moment Lewis refers to? In short it is a time when mankind transcends biology. It is a revolution against the natural order. Interestingly, Lewis was one of the earliest writers to denounce transhumanist philosophy. He wrote in Hideous Strength (1945), that the elite of society will merge with technology and eliminate the masses which they call "dead-weight."

"A few centuries ago, a large agricultural population was essential; and war destroyed types which were then useful. But every advance in industry and agriculture reduces the number of work-people required. A large, unintelligent population is now a dead-weight. The importance of scientific war is that scientists have to be reserved. It was not the great technocrats of Koeingsberg or Moscow who supplied the causalities in the siege of Stalingrad. The effect of modern war is to eliminate retrogressive types, while sparing the technocracy and increasing its hold upon public affairs. In the new age, what has hitherto been merely the intellectual nucleus of the race is to become, by gradual stages, the race itself. You are to conceive the species as an animal which has discovered how to simplify nutrition and locomotion to such a point that the old complex organs and the large body which contained them are no longer necessary. The masses are therefore to disappear. The body is to become all head. The human race is to become all technology." p. 156-7

These ideas are ever more prescient today. Bill Joy, the cofounder of Sun Microsystems, published an article in 2000 titled "Why the future doesn't need us." A recent conference in Russia hosted the herald of the transhumanist era Ray Kurzweil. The Global Future 2045 Congress spoke of "The critical moment... when machines take on an artificial intelligence that matches or exceeds the brainpower of humans. No one in the academic community doubts that this will happen - the question is not if, but when." Eventually, scientists "...will focus on improving humans..."

The Global Future conference also discussed the rise of "new barbarians" that are "easily deceived." "Their video-game mentality means they could easily start to wreak havoc..." As Svetlana Smetanina reported from the conference, "If the proportion of people like this comes to encompass 50 percent of the Earth's population, then a new "middle ages" are almost guaranteed."  Are these individuals the "dead-weight" to be rid of?

George Orwell, famous for his stunningly accurate portrayal of a future police state in 1984, commented on Lewis' book Hideous Strength. His commentary was published in the Manchester Evening News in 1945 with the headline "THE SCIENTISTS TAKE OVER." Orwell wrote,

"All superfluous life is to be wiped out, all natural forces tamed, the common people are to be used as slaves and vivisection subjects by the ruling caste of scientists, who even see their way to conferring immortal life upon themselves. Man, in short, is to storm the heavens and overthrow the gods, or even to become a god himself.

There is nothing outrageously improbable in such a conspiracy. Indeed, at a moment when a single atomic bomb - of a type already pronounced "obsolete" - has just blown probably three hundred thousand people to fragments, it sounds all too topical. Plenty of people in our age do entertain the monstrous dreams of power that Mr. Lewis attributes to his characters, and we are within sight of the time when such dreams will be realisable."

Indeed we are living in a time when these dark dreams are completely realizable. To a great extent they have already become a vivid reality.

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The Telegraph

India begins use of Chabahar port in Iran despite international pressure

India remains undeterred by US and EU pressure to stop importing Iranian oil, indicating clearly that it would continue to be driven by its own domestic interests in the matter.

Vessels sail past Malta-flagged Iranian crude oil supertanker "Delvar" (L) anchoring off Singapore. Western trade sanctions against Iran are strangling its oil exports even before they go into effect. Photo: REUTERS/Tim Chong

By Rahul Bedi in New Delhi

01 Mar 2012

Reacting to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comments that the US was engaging in "very intense and very blunt" conversations with India and others like China and Turkey to stop importing oil from Iran in order to pressure Tehran over its covert nuclear programme, officials in New Delhi yesterday said they would not be "coerced" by any country.

And reinforcing its stand defying Western sanctions, India recently used Chabahar port in southeastern Iran for the first time ever to transport 100,000 metric tons of wheat to Afghanistan as part of its humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.

India helped build Chabahar a decade ago to provide it access to Afghanistan and Central Asia- banned by neighbouring nuclear rival Pakistan- and is involved in constructing a 560-mile long rail line from the Zabul iron ore mines in southern Afghanistan to the Iranian port.

Along with Iran and Afghanistan it also has an agreement to accord Indian goods, headed for Central Asia and Afghanistan preferential treatment and tariff reductions at Chabahar, an arrangement it plans to exploit imminently.

A defiant India was also dispatching a large trade delegation to Iran later this month to explore business opportunities created by Western sanctions.

According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Delhi the Islamic republic offered massive potential for export of Indian products and commodities annually worth over $10 billion.

"The potential of trade and economic relations between India and Iran can touch $30 billion by 2015 from the current level of $13.7 billion" Association secretary general D S Rawat said.

Importing around 12 per cent of its oil and gas requirements from Iran for an estimated $12 billion, India maintains it will abide only by UN sanctions in this regard and not implement those imposed by individual nations or groupings.

Over the past few weeks it has also been examining ways to step up trade with Iran amid trouble in settling its oil bills as sanctions were closing down banking routes.

An Iranian Central Bank delegation is presently in Delhi to determine options for India to pay for crude imports and is negotiating to offset a proportion of this against acquiring oil refining machinery, heaving engineering goods and pharmaceuticals all of which the Islamic Republic badly needed.

Till recently Indian companies were routing route payments through Turkey's Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS after EU pressure forced German-based Europaisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG to stop handling the payments last year, but it remains uncertain how long this arrangement would continue.

Last month India's finance minister Pranab Mukherjee rejected pressure from the Obama administration to join the US-EU led sanctions against Tehran.

Speaking to reporters in Chicago he declared that it was "not possible" for India, the world's fourth largest hydrocarbons consumer to reduce its oil and gas imports from Iran as it desperately needed them to sustain economic growth.

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PressTV

US makes abrupt volte face on Iran

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Mar 1, 2012 2:37PM GMT

To deny Iran the 'capability' would almost surely require a war between the United States and Iran, a course that some neocons have been quietly desiring for at least the past decade."

Robert Parry, American award-winning investigative journalist and author.

The US has officially changed its policy regarding Iran's nuclear energy program, saying it is now adamant in preventing Tehran from allegedly achieving the "capability" of building nuclear weapons rather than actually producing one.

"It's absolutely clear that the president's (Barack Obama's) policy is to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons capability," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post reported.

On February 16, US Senator Joe Lieberman published a statement on his website, announcing that 32 senators - both Republicans and Democrats - had banded together to introduce a resolution urging action to prevent Iran from pushing "forward in its pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability."

"By rejecting any policy that would rely on containment of a nuclear-weapons capable Iran, this bi-partisan resolution sends a clear message to Iran's rulers that the United States will stop them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability," the statement said.

Commenting on the shift in the US policy regarding Iran's nuclear energy program, Robert Parry, an American award-winning investigative journalist and author, said the distinction between Iran's alleged "pursuit of a nuclear weapon" and its alleged "pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability" is a subtle but "important" one.

"The distinction is important because a 'capability' can mean almost anything, since peaceful nuclear research also can be applicable to bomb building," he noted.

"To deny Iran the 'capability' would almost surely require a war between the United States and Iran, a course that some neocons have been quietly desiring for at least the past decade," Parry added.

The United States, Israel, and some of their allies accuse Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program and have used this pretext to impose international and unilateral sanctions on the Islamic Republic and to call for a military strike against Tehran.

Iran has repeatedly refuted the Western allegations, arguing that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

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CNN

U.S. sees "no fracturing" of Assad regime

By Barbara Starr and Jamie Crawford

March 1st, 2012

After weeks of collecting intelligence on Syria and watching the attacks by the forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. sees "no fracturing" of the Syrian regime and assesses al-Assad could remain in power for some time to come if the situation does not change, according to a senior U.S. official.

This the basic conclusion of top officials closely watching Syria, the official said. Unless something changes in the next several days, this will also be the message delivered to the Senate Armed Services Committee next week by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The hearing, called for Wednesday, is the first public hearing in which both men will be publicly questioned by Congress on the Syrian crisis.

Sen. John McCain, the senior Republican on the committee, has already called for arming rebel forces, something the defense secretary expects to be asked about, according to the official. The issue of U.S. military planning for options in Syria is also expected to arise, but officials say the secretary and the general may not be able to offer many specifics in an open session before the public.

Instead, they are likely to talk more about the current situation in Syria and how the U.S. views the al-Assad regime. - - "The assumption is Assad will continue to persevere until he and other regime leaders are sufficiently suppressed," the official said. While there have been a number of defections, it's not yet at the point of tipping al-Assad's grip on power.

As for al-Assad, "He's enjoying tactical survival. He can wait it out. He looks to be dug in" the official said. So far, al-Assad is believed to enjoy unhindered movements and communications. But the hope, he said, is that al-Assad is feeling the "strategic weight and pressure of outside critics."

The official's characterization matches the assessment given to Congress by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who told a Senate hearing in mid-February that all signs pointed to al-Assad holding on, including little indication of military desertions.

But the newer assessment, even as world condemnation grows louder, suggests al-Assad's regime is holding up the pressure. Last week at an international meeting on Syria held in Tunisia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the Syria military to disobey their orders.

"The longer you carry out its campaign of violence, the more it will stain your honor. But if you refuse to take part in attacks on your fellow citizens, your countrymen will hail you as heroes," Clinton said.

Clinton also said there were indications that his supporters are beginning to have doubts.

"We also know from many sources there are people around Assad now who are beginning to hedge their bets. They didn't sign up to slaughter people, and they are looking for ways out. We saw this happen in other settings in the last years. I think it is going to begin happening in Syria," Clinton said while in Tunisia for an international meeting on Syria.

But the latest U.S. assessment does not indicate that is happening yet.

The longer the conflict in Syria goes on and the regime holds out, the greater the chance for the country to descend into full-scale civil war, two senior State Department officials said Thursday.

Jeffrey Feltman, assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, said the United States is working with its allies to reach a "tipping point" whereby the regime falls, and a new government representative of all Syrian society takes over.

Time is of the essence, he said.

"The demise of the Assad regime is inevitable," Feltman told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "It's important that the tipping point for the regime be reached quickly because the longer the regime assaults the Syrian people, the greater the chances of all-out war and a failed state."

But the opposition is not as organized as it was in Libya and is "divided" and "fractious" the officials said.

"The opposition leadership recognizes those dangers," Feltman said, noting the importance of beginning a transition in Syria soon. "The longer this goes on, the deeper the sectarian divisions, the higher the risks of long-term sectarian conflict, the higher the risk of extremism."

The leading political organization, the Syrian National Council, and the rebel Free Syrian Army have organizational issues of their own.

"The two organizations are separate. There is not a hierarchy between them," Ambassador Robert Ford, who recently returned to Washington following the closure of the U.S. embassy, told the panel. "They are not organically linked," he said, but added the two groups do talk and coordinate at local levels within Syria.

Despite the lack of organization, Ford said there was still a unity of purpose from his perspective. "They want a country where people are treated with dignity, everybody is treated with dignity" he said. "They have a vision of a country ruled by law."

That vision did not sit well with a senator on the committee who attended a classified briefing on Syria earlier in the week. The hour-long session was conducted at the Capitol on Wednesday and was focused on discussing the Syrian opposition, CNN's Ted Barrett reported.

"We heard no words whatsoever about anything other than this being a conflict between one group of people that has been oppressed by another group of people, and their desire to change that equation," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, told Ford. "The people fighting, from what I understand, are fighting for, you know, power and government. They're not fighting under the banner of democracy," he said.

"Senator, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree," Ford said.

The United States supports a transition laid out by the Syrian National Council from which a post-Assad leadership would be chosen, Ford said. "The people who are doing the fighting say they are fighting to defend the protest movement," he said. "So there is a link even if you can't say that the fighters themselves claim they're fighting for democracy."

Last week in Tunis, Clinton, along with representatives from 70 other countries, discussed forging a united plan on how to get humanitarian aid into Syria and to develop a closer relationship with the Syrian National Council.

Clinton said the group is emerging as an alternative to al-Assad's regime, and the consensus view of the Arab League and other governments is that the group is "credible representative of the Syrian people."

The United States has thus far resisted calls to arm the rebels, with Clinton, Clapper and others voicing caution over the uncertain composition of the group. There are concerns that elements of al Qaeda could take sides with the opposition to exploit the situation.

"We understand the earnest desire, the need, for people under siege in a place like Homs or in a place like Daraa - when their homes are being attacked by thugs - and people want to take up arms to defend themselves," Ford said. But working with regional governments and supporting the Arab League transition plan is still the best way forward, he said.

Ford also noted an increase in support from religious figures in Arab countries for the opposition to take up arms against the Syrian government.

"We have cautioned the opposition that if they declare some kind of big jihad, they will frighten many of the very fence-sitters still in places like Damascus, and it will make ultimately finding a solution to this, a durable solution, more difficult," Ford said.

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MailOnline

Petrol hits an all-time high: Cost of filling family car tops £96 today as pressure grows to freeze fuel duty... and AA warns it will get worse

Diesel fill-up is already more than £100 per tank

Unleaded prices 0.09p short of record following 1.25p rise in last week

Cost of filling 70-litre Ford Mondeo soars from £78.92 to £96.14 in two years

By RAY MASSEY

Petrol prices have hit an all-time high today as the cost of unleaded continues the march towards the £100 fill-up.

Prices at the pump have reached 137.44p, beating the previous record 137.43p - set in May last year - by 0.01p.

Diesel is up to 144.67p - another new record, said the AA.

Last night the AA warned that this figure could rise further, and today's figure means the average family have seen the cost of filling up their car soar by £18 to more than £96 over the past two years. A diesel fill-up has already exceeded the £100 mark.

The news increased pressure on Chancellor George Osborne to cut fuel duty again for the UK's 33million motorists - but all the signals from the Treasury are that he will not.

AA president Edmund King said: 'This new record for petrol and diesel just confirms what every family and business knows - fuel prices are hurting them badly and there seems no stopping them.

'We have asked the Chancellor to do what he can to protect the UK economy from fuel market volatility and record high prices which are stemming growth.'

Mr King went on: 'There is no more give in family and business budgets despite them cutting back on fuel purchase and other spending so they can get to work and go about their business.

'Britain cannot get back on its feet if fuel prices hold drivers and business to ransom every time market sentiment takes hold.'

It comes days after the Daily Mail revealed that the UK is the fuel tax capital of Europe. British motorists are shouldering the heaviest tax burden in the EU at the pumps, paying 60p in every pound in duty and VAT.

The AA said pump prices were being pushed up by soaring oil and wholesale prices which, in turn, were driven by instability in the Middle East and 'greedy speculators'.

It expects up to 3p more to be added by the summer, taking average prices to 140.43p a litre.

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GreenMedInfo.com

Is Barefoot Contact With the Earth Necessary For Health?

by Sayer Ji

February 21st 2012

photo by Lorenz Kerscher

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Feeling "grounded" is an increasingly uncommon experience in this day and age, and it should be, considering we no longer regularly touch the ground with our bare feet, as nature intended.

It is no great mystery that the human foot was designed, over countless millenia, to be in direct contact with the Earth, the literal and symbolic ground of our being. And the Earth is no inert substance, but rather a living and breathing entity (of which we are but a mere part) capable of infusing us with its life, 'singing the body electric,' as Walt Whitman once mused. 

Indeed, the Earth breathes life into us through a continual stream of free electrons...

It is well established, though not widely known, that the surface of the earth possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons as a consequence of a global atmospheric electron circuit. Wearing shoes with insulating soles and/or sleeping in beds that are isolated from the electrical ground plane of the earth have disconnected most people from the earth's electrical rhythms and free electrons to flow from the earth to the body.

--James L Oschman, Can electrons act as antioxidants? A review and commentary.

The effects of which James Oschman speaks are not simply theoretical.  There are a wide range of measurable changes in the body associated with this "grounding" including changes in pulse rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygenation, perfusion index, and skin conductance which have been clinically studied. 

Grounding has also been shown to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, lowers and synchronizes cortisol levels during sleep, reduce inflammation, modulates neurological function, and reduce oxidative stress. 

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Until next week...

Almondtree Productions

Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

(Luke 18:16)


http://www.missionarychristian.org