Let not your spirit be troubled on account of the times; For the Holy and Great One has appointed days for all things.”
(Enoch 92:2-3)
Let Not Your Spirit Be Troubled

Above and Beyond

October 9, 2017

By Ricky and Heidi, Taiwan

To fully grasp the depth of this story about Heidi’s brother, Peter, you must first understand a little background about our personal situation and relationship with Heidi’s family and a little about Chinese culture.

Heidi, my wife, is Taiwanese, and has been actively engaged in Christian service with me since our marriage in 1999. My first wife, an American missionary and mother of 10 children (the last five of whom were born in Taiwan) passed away in 1998 after a short but aggressive fight with breast cancer. Shocking as it may be, I found myself living in a foreign country with 10 kids (the youngest being only four years old), living by faith as a missionary, and teaching English to supplement our family income. Thankfully, many sincere friends and the brethren from our area were more than supportive, with people immediately volunteering to help with the kids and home duties, offering financial support, etc. In short, God is good, and great is His faithfulness. “He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV).

Heidi was one of those who stepped in to help, and my personal situation with her soon became much more “personal.” In a relatively short period of time it became obvious to her that God was putting in her heart a special love for me and my children by giving her a calling to commit herself to me as my wife and a mother to my children. Without a doubt, the unselfish, sacrificial love this represented was nothing less than a miracle of God’s grace. One would expect that a love story such as this would be viewed as an incredible human interest story in any culture. But what do you suppose this would look like and be perceived as in a traditional Buddhist Chinese culture?

In only a few words, it’s impossible to explain how overwhelming the culture shock was to Heidi’s family when they received news of our engagement. Those who know and understand Chinese culture well find it extremely difficult to understand how something like this could ever happen. Prior to this time, Heidi had already been actively engaged in Christian volunteer service, and because of this, she was somewhat independent and distant in communications with her family and relatives, all of whom are very traditional Buddhists. Then, all of a sudden, one day Heidi calls her family with the news that she is getting married to a foreigner and the wedding date is soon. Not only that, but they soon learned that this foreigner had 10 kids! And, oh, did I mention I am also 14 years older than her?

So now that I’ve set the stage in relation to Heidi’s family, on to the story about Heidi’s younger brother, Peter, who passed away in June 2017 here in Taiwan.

You might say that Peter was the black sheep of the family. His unhealthy lifestyle choices along with alcohol abuse led to his being diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer.

From a previous marriage, Peter had a son. After a long separation period, this boy was left with Heidi’s mother. However, she was also separated and needed to support herself and was not able to properly care for a young child. As the situation became quite desperate, Heidi’s mother asked if we would be willing to take in the boy. Heidi’s brother was always gone and his previous wife (the mother of the boy) had remarried and started a new family. So we decided it was the right thing to do, and we took in Heidi’s then four-year-old nephew. Heidi had never been able to have children, so this boy was the closest thing to having a child of her own. We are so thankful and truly blessed to have him. That little boy graduated this year from junior high school as an honor student, and we feel so proud to have him as a member of our family.

Over the years we had given Peter the Bible and literature about Christianity, but he never showed much interest. Peter’s failing condition with late-stage liver cancer and approaching death brought a new desperation to our hearts for him to find God’s love, mercy, and peace. Finally, the news came of Peter’s imminent passing, and Heidi went to the hospital for her last farewell.

When Heidi arrived at the hospital she walked into Peter’s room, which was filled with family members. She went up to his bed, and what happened next is something that will always remain precious to our hearts. Peter had been in and out of a coma, so his communications at that point were limited. However, when Heidi entered the room, he sat up and with a big smile on his face and tears in his eyes he reached out to Heidi and gave her a big hug. In his final words on earth to Heidi he repeatedly said, faintly, but loud enough for others in the room to hear, “Sister, I accept, I accept.” This precious exchange was caught on camera by one of Heidi’s family members.

Never before in all his life had Peter hugged Heidi or shown such outward love, affection, or emotion like this for his sister. Traditional Chinese culture is such that outward display of affection is not the norm, especially for Chinese men, who tend to not show their emotions and try to appear strong. Heidi was so shocked that she started to cry. Barely believing what had happened and what she had just heard, she looked at her sister and asked, “Did you hear what he said?” And she repeated out loud for all in the room to hear, “Sister, I accept, I accept.”

In Peter’s final hours we believe Jesus answered our prayers. Heidi was able to see with her eyes and hear with her ears that her dear brother had made peace with his Creator. He embraced His love, mercy, and peace through his final farewell words, “Sister, I accept, I accept.”

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory” (Ephesians 3:20–21 NAS).

SPUTNIK

'Summoning the Demon,' 'Tower of Babel': Debate Over AI God Heating Up

October 10, 2017

While some Silicon Valley technologists and maverick Christians embrace former Google and Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski’s idea to create a god based on artificial intelligence to make human society better, many scientific experts and politicians are scared by the prospect of worshiping a “god bot.”

Anton Skripunov (RIA Novosti) — Anthony Levandowski has set up a religious nonprofit organization called Way of the Future and devoted to the worship of artificial intelligence (AI).

“Our mission is to develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society,” the organization’s founding documents say.

Support for AI

The new god is seen by US media as an almighty bot that will cater to all of its adherents’ wishes. What will make it different from biblical God, however, is that it will be genuinely kind and will not punish mortals.

Speaking about Levandowski’s idea, Pastor Christopher Benek, the Christian Transhumanist Association's leader, said that "I totally think that AI can participate in Christ’s redemptive purposes,” as quoted by the Guardian, by ensuring it is imbued with Christian values.

The Transhumanist Christians espouse the idea that people can and should use science and technology to make the world better.

Levandowski’s idea looks appealing to some of his Silicon Valley colleagues who believe that 25 years from now AI will catch up with human intelligence, and 50 years later will leave it behind.

“In the beginning all we had was just chat bots,” Facebook product manager Kemal El Moujahid wrote.

What they like most in Levandowski’s concept is that the new deity will be created by man. US media point to a notable religious drive now evident in Silicon Valley.

“We’re Summoning the Demon”

Not everyone in Silicon Valley is happy about the idea of a digital god though, above all Tesla CEO and Space X founder Elon Musk, who warns about the dangers of AI.

He and many other inventors and scientific experts argue that a “Terminator scenario” where machines rise against humans and unleash war is a real possibility.

“With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon,” Musk warned three years ago.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin then added to the debate by saying that even though artificial intellect holds the future for Russia and the whole world, it is also fraught with unpredictable threats.

“Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world,” Putin said during an open lesson with students on September 1, the start of the school year in Russia.

However, the president said he would not like to see anyone “monopolize” the field.

Elon Musk responded to this by warning that a race toward "superiority" between countries over artificial intelligence could be the most likely cause of World War III.

Meanwhile, the Protestant clergy have doubts about artificial intelligence's ability to reach the heights of divinity, with Bishop Konstantin Bendas, the second in charge of Russia’s Evangelist Church, arguing that technological achievements are just an instrument of good or evil.

“Inventions do not bring people closer to God or take them away from Him. They do not make us better,” Bishop Bendas emphasized.

He compared the idea of creating a digital god to the biblical story about the Tower of Babel, which people ventured to erect to reach heaven, only to end up speaking different languages.

With the debate over Anthony Levandowski’s idea heating up, Silicon Valley could well repeat the fate of the biblical tower that was never built.

WND

AMERICANS WARNED: RECOGNIZE THE REALITY OF DEMONS

'People who love this world are going to burn like a Jimmy Dean pure pork sausage in hell if they don't get things right'

October 8, 2017

The world seems to be going crazy. Evil is on the march. Might there be supernatural forces at work?

Karl Payne, author of “Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization and Deliverance,” is convinced there are. In a recent interview on “Hagmann & Hagmann,” the former chaplain for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks explained why this time in history is so ominous.

“Just the whole thing with Satanism, occultism, demonism, it is so much more blatant … my goodness, just in the last decade even, you can’t even turn on the TV and not see this stuff,” he observed.

“And then we kind of wonder: ‘Why are people acting more bizarre? Why do they not value life?’ And I say it’s because they watch people get killed on videos all day long and on TV programs all day long and they glamorize that kind of stuff. And no one’s got the guts [to turn it off], including many of our parents, because they don’t want their kids to feel left out especially if they’re Christians. ‘We wouldn’t want them to feel odd, so let them watch this nonsense.'”

Payne argues it is time for Christians to start taking a stand against demonic influences in the culture by refusing to let their children consume spiritually destructive material. More importantly, he argues, it’s time for adult Christians to hold themselves to the same standard.

“I still believe that as a man thinks in his mind … so is he,” the pastor said. “The things I think about are the things sooner or later I start thinking are more reasonable. And so, yes, I think there’s a real strong correlation between the explosion of celebrating the occult, and demonism, and Satanism … and people where you really have to ask if they even have morals.

“It can’t all be blamed on demons … but a good part of it, you know we’ve opened a door to this, and we’re just kind of amused with it I guess. But I’m not amused. The people I work with are not amused.”

Even Christians, argued Payne, often dismiss the topic of spiritual warfare and the reality of the demonic. Payne, pastor of leadership development and Christian education at Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Washington, said that during his own Christian education the subject was “besmirched.”

“It was just something we were taught to ignore, ridicule at worst, ignore at best,” he recalled. “What we were never trained to do is how to identify what is real and what isn’t about spiritual warfare.”

However, things have changed.

“Many of those same graduate schools have been inviting me back, saying, ‘We laughed at this when you were here [but] we would really like some input.'”

Payne recounted how doctors thought he had cancer and might only have a few years to live. As he thought about what he wished he had accomplished, at the top of his list was releasing his book on spiritual warfare.

“I put that on kind of a high priority and turns out I didn’t have the cancer they thought I had,” he remembered. “In other words, it wasn’t something I tried to promote or push. I probably tried to ignore it like a lot of folks in my generation. But it’s real.

“And I tried to write it in such a way where I say, you don’t need me, you don’t need an umbilical cord stuck to me, the same God that lives in me lives in you, you just need a little bit of an understanding about how the whole thing works, how the demonic works. And then learning how to fight instead of run. Learning how to stand up instead of roll over.”

Payne said it takes discernment to understand whether or not a person’s problem is demonic, instead of physiologically or mentally oriented. He recognizes many people mock even the possibility the supernatural exists.

“When you’re in a world where we are told we’re empiricists, we’re rationalists, if you can’t put it in a tube and test it through the senses, it’s not real, it’s not meaningful, then when you start talking about anything supernatural or paranormal, whether it’s God or Satan or demons or angels, they just roll the eyes,” he said.

Payne says the inability of Christians to call supernatural evil for what it is comes from fear of mockery or social exclusion.

“Perfect love is supposed to cast out fear,” he noted, citing the Bible. “So why do you allow yourself to be controlled by fear?”

Instead, Payne urges Christians to educate themselves on the issue.

“When someone walks into your front room demonized, and you don’t have a clue, and you watch them on your floor, contorted, foam coming out of their mouth, screaming their name is something it isn’t, you can just say, ‘I just refuse to recognize this because I wouldn’t want someone to think I’m a whack if this is really going on.'”

Not only does Payne urge Christians to recognize the reality of demonization, he urges them to act to make sure demons and evil thoughts can’t find an open door. This means looking to a person’s own sins.

“When you don’t deal with sin … you potentially open up places of control to … the devil,” he said. “You play games long enough and you may find out that you’ve had a door kicked open. And all of a sudden it’s like you had to think about doing the wrong stuff, now I just kind of do it.”

Instead of dwelling on evil, Payne says Christians should actively meditate on what is good and true.

“One should start thinking on the things that are godly,” he said. “Start thinking the things Christ would think. I don’t care what the world thinks. People who love this world are going to burn like a Jimmy Dean pure pork sausage in hell one day if they don’t get things right, even if they feel good about what they were doing.

“So I want to see things the way Jesus sees them. I think about things the way Jesus did. … If I know my thinking is wrong, start challenging it and start replacing it with what biblically is true.”

Finally, Payne said, Christians should not overestimate the power of demons – and remember only they can open the doors to demonization.

“Demons are squatters, they’re created,” he said. “God is the Creator, He’s the owner. Demons are simply part of His creation, they’re squatters. But if you throw rooms open and doors open to squatters, it’s quite naïve to think they’re not going to say, ‘Hey, if you don’t mind me messing around with your life, I’m going to mess around with your life. Because if I can keep you distracted, I can’t keep you out of heaven but at least I can keep you from helping anyone else get there.'”

USAWatchdog

Deeply Embedded Satanic Cult in Control of Powerful Institutions

Rick Wiles

October 8, 2017

By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com (Early Sunday Release)

Reverend Rick Wiles thinks what’s happening in America is crystal clear. Wiles, who is also a Christian media sensation that has a huge following on Trunews.com, explains, “We have been telling our audience for 18 ½ years that this world, the governments, the corporations, the media are controlled at the top, not everybody, but at the top, there are people who are avowed satanic, Luciferian, devil worshipers. I know that sounds extreme and bizarre to people, but every day that goes by I am more convinced I’ve been right all these years. There is a deeply embedded satanic cult that has gained control of powerful institutions in this country and other nations. You can’t escape it. We are seeing this week, in the aftermath of the Mandalay massacre, people on network news saying this is evil. There is nothing else to call it. It is evil. If you are going to call it evil, then you have to ask where does evil come from? Evil comes from one source, one entity and that is Lucifer the devil. What’s happening is this whole world is racing towards its climax, toward the end.”

If America cannot shake off evil and turn back to God and Jesus Christ, then Wiles has a dire prediction. Wiles says, “At some point, moral men and women are going to have to stand up and say enough of this. We are returning to God. . . If we, as the American people, do not turn back to God soon, we will be conquered by the Chinese and the Russians. If you survive it, you will be a slave. That’s what’s coming. Those are your choices. Turn back to God, or become a slave to the Chinese and Russians. We are going to get conquered if we don’t clean up our act.”

Wiles also says, “God says make your ways moral and I will bless this land, but if you break my commandments, if you turn from me, you will become slaves to foreigners. They will own your houses and your farms. You will work for them. It doesn’t matter what issue we are talking about: political, social or economic. It all comes back to America’s rejection of Jesus Chris and the Bible. Until we go back and fix that problem, none of these other problems are going to go away. They are only going to get worse. It’s part of a judgment that is put on a rebellious people. I know the American people don’t want to hear it, but the American people are rebellious against God. There are a significant portion of people in this country that are in a state of rebellion against God, and it cannot last. It will not last.”

In closing, Wiles says, “As far as the two parties, I’ve said for years what we have is one party. It’s the perpetual war, corruption, sleaze and pedophilia party. That’s what’s running this country. It is a criminal cabal . . . these people that run this country are perverts. They’re criminals, and they are in both parties. They’re in the news media. They are in Hollywood. They are in the banking system. They are spread throughout this country. It’s an invisible network of Satanists that are in control of this country. You see the clash. They hate God. They hate Christians. They hate morality.”

***

en.news

Padre Pio: "Satan Will Come to Rule a False Church"

Around 1960 the famous Roman exorcist Gabriele Amorth met Padre Pio of Pietrelcina and talked with him about the third secret of Fatima. Amorth speaks about this in an interview from 2011, published only recently as a book entitled "The Best Kept Secret of Fatima".
Padre Pio told Father Amorth: "Satan has been introduced into the bosom of the Church and he will within a very short time come to rule a false Church." Amorth says that Padre Pio was "really tormented" by one issue that is "the great apostasy within the Church".

Natural News

Google pushing hard for national law to criminalize Christian beliefs and federalize “transgender rights”

Saturday, October 07, 2017 by: Ethan Huff

(Natural News) The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is pushing new legislation that would amend the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation.” But pro-family organizations like the Family Research Council (FRC) warn that the proposed changes could end up criminalizing Christians and other religious people whose convictions stand in opposition to non-traditional expressions of human sexuality.

House Resolution 2282 is simply about “letting Americans live their lives without fear of discrimination,” according to the HRC. But those outside of the LGBTQ fold see its implications differently, particularly as they pertain to religious freedom. If passed, HR 2282 would “expressly undermine,” to borrow the verbiage of the FRC, the liberty of faith-based folks who would rather not be forced to participate in same-sex “marriages” and other pronouncements of homosexual-bisexual-transgender “pride.”

Introduced by U.S. Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), an open homosexual, HR 2282 would prohibit employers with 15 or more employees from “discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity, subject to the same exceptions and conditions that currently apply to unlawful employment practices based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin,” according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS). But its tenets go well beyond this.

As pointed out by Life Site News, the bill’s far-reaching impact would greatly expand the potential for lawsuits to be filed against private individuals who choose of their own volition to not affirm behaviors that they believe to be immoral before God. This is already happening under state and local “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” laws that LGBTQ activists are taking full advantage of to persecute anyone who disagrees with them.

This has already been seen in places like Colorado, for instance, where a Court of Appeals back in 2015 decided that the demands of homosexuals trump the religious liberty and free speech rights of Christians. Wedding cake bakeries, photographers, t-shirt makers, bar owners, you name it – if a homosexual feels infringed by someone else, he or she (or it) will have new precedence under HR 2282 to throw a hissy fit within the legal system and win, causing all sorts of trouble for the non-LGBTQ community.

“If the ‘Inequality Act’ passes, attorneys will likely be required to represent homosexuals in dissolving their same-sex ‘marriages,’ Christian schools will likely be required to offer transgendered students the bathroom of their choice, and Christian homeless shelters will likely be required to accommodate same-sex couples,” warns the FRC, referring to the so-called “Equality Act” in colloquial terms that define its true intent.

Google, Target, American Airlines, Best Buy, and many others join hands to push for passage of HR 2282

As is to be expected, the push to pass HR 2282 is mostly coming from Democrats, some 194 of which have signed on as co-sponsors. There are also two Republicans onboard – Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Scott Taylor of Virginia. But the biggest push seems to be coming from corporate America.

As explained by HRC, HR 2282 probably will not pass without the help of some of the biggest names in consumerism. Search engine giant Google, for instance, is helping to lead the way in exerting its web dominance as a tool of influence and persuasion towards this end, as is big box giant Target, which has launched a “#takepride” campaign featuring rainbows on some of its clothing. American Airlines has also signed onto the agenda, as has Best Buy – both of these companies now acting as corporate mouthpieces for the homosexual lobby to push for special rights for members of the LGBTQ community at the potential expense of religious freedom.

Sources for this article include:
LifeSiteNews.com
NaturalNews.com
Congress.gov

***

CHURCH MILITANT

Declares it a "Christian duty" to resist financier's leftist, globalist agenda

by Stephen Wynne • ChurchMilitant.com • October 12, 2017

BUDAPEST (ChurchMilitant.com) - Hungarian government minister András Aradszki is savaging billionaire financier George Soros' alleged designs for Europe.

Speaking before Parliament Monday, Aradszki branded the "Soros Plan" (as his government terms it) "satanic" and declared every Christian has a moral obligation to fight against it.

Aradszki's address, "The Christian duty to fight against the Satan/Soros Plan," was as much theological as it was political, referencing the Three Secrets of Fatima and noting that Satan's final assault against the Church will manifest as an attack on marriage and the family:

We see this with abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and the forced politicization of gender theory. The Soros mercenaries do not cite the Holy Father's thoughts on this. We see the great European attacks against families, in which Soros and his comrades want to destroy the independence and values of nation states for the purpose of watering down the Christian spirit of Europe with the forced settlement of tens of millions of migrants. But the fight against Satan is a Christian duty. Yes, I speak of an attack by Satan, who is also the angel of denial, because they are denying what they are preparing to do — even when it is completely obvious. They frantically try to prove that there is no quota, there is no compulsory settlement and the Soros Plan does not exist.

Aradszki warned that Satan is deceiving the West into embracing homosexuality and gender ideology by promoting a false notion of love and compassion.

"This is a sin against man," he said, adding that "this also makes it a sin against God."

The parliamentarian urged his countrymen to speak out against "Satan's Soros Plan" and to "make our opinions known about what we think of our homeland's thousand-year-old history, our national sovereignty, our freedom and our beloved Europe."

Aradszki's sentiments echoed those of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has long denounced Soros as a malignant influence on European civilization.

Speaking in Romania in July, Orbán warned that Soros and European Union political elite in Brussels are colluding to de-Christianize Europe and transform it into a "mixed, Islamicized" society.

According to the "Soros Plan," he said, migrants are to be brought into the European Union from the Muslim world by the hundreds of thousands annually and "distributed among the countries of Europe as part of a mandatory and permanent mechanism."

Through Soros' Open Society Foundations, the activist financier lavishes billions of dollars on Leftist, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world, promoting abortion, contraception, sterilization and LGBT ideology. Soros has funded anti-government protests in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Macedonia and Romania, attempting to manipulate national policy to suit his desired ends.

Aradszki's parliamentary address suggests he is looking beyond mere politics to prayer to help steer his country through the current age of crisis.

During his remarks, he shared that on October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, he travelled to his home district to take part in a Rosary pilgrimage held in conjunction with a much larger campaign to the north in Poland, where up to a million people flocked to the country's borders to pray the Rosary for the salvation of their country and the whole of Europe.

"[T]ogether with our Polish brothers," Aradszki told his colleagues, "we prayed to the Holy Virgin Mary for Hungary, for Christian Europe and its lack of freedom and for the disappearance of terrorism."

"We did this because — as believed by Popes John Paul and Benedict and other Satan-fighters — the Rosary is the strongest weapon against evil, and it is capable of changing history."

"George Soros," he added, "will also experience this."

Through Soros' Open Society Foundations, the activist financier lavishes billions of dollars on Leftist, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world, promoting abortion, contraception, sterilization and LGBT ideology. Soros has funded anti-government protests in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Macedonia and Romania, attempting to manipulate national policy to suit his desired ends.

Aradszki's parliamentary address suggests he is looking beyond mere politics to prayer to help steer his country through the current age of crisis.

During his remarks, he shared that on October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, he travelled to his home district to take part in a Rosary pilgrimage held in conjunction with a much larger campaign to the north in Poland, where up to a million people flocked to the country's borders to pray the Rosary for the salvation of their country and the whole of Europe.

"[T]ogether with our Polish brothers," Aradszki told his colleagues, "we prayed to the Holy Virgin Mary for Hungary, for Christian Europe and its lack of freedom and for the disappearance of terrorism."

"We did this because — as believed by Popes John Paul and Benedict and other Satan-fighters — the Rosary is the strongest weapon against evil, and it is capable of changing history."

"George Soros," he added, "will also experience this."

***

theguardian

'Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia

Google, Twitter and Facebook workers who helped make technology so addictive are disconnecting themselves from the internet. Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks alarmed by a race for human attention

by Paul Lewis in San Francisco

6 October, 2017

Justin Rosenstein had tweaked his laptop’s operating system to block Reddit, banned himself from Snapchat, which he compares to heroin, and imposed limits on his use of Facebook. But even that wasn’t enough. In August, the 34-year-old tech executive took a more radical step to restrict his use of social media and other addictive technologies.

Rosenstein purchased a new iPhone and instructed his assistant to set up a parental-control feature to prevent him from downloading any apps.

Sign up to the Media Briefing: news for the news-makers

He was particularly aware of the allure of Facebook “likes”, which he describes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” that can be as hollow as they are seductive. And Rosenstein should know: he was the Facebook engineer who created the “like” button in the first place.

A decade after he stayed up all night coding a prototype of what was then called an “awesome” button, Rosenstein belongs to a small but growing band of Silicon Valley heretics who complain about the rise of the so-called “attention economy”: an internet shaped around the demands of an advertising economy.

These refuseniks are rarely founders or chief executives, who have little incentive to deviate from the mantra that their companies are making the world a better place. Instead, they tend to have worked a rung or two down the corporate ladder: designers, engineers and product managers who, like Rosenstein, several years ago put in place the building blocks of a digital world from which they are now trying to disentangle themselves. “It is very common,” Rosenstein says, “for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences.”

Rosenstein, who also helped create Gchat during a stint at Google, and now leads a San Francisco-based company that improves office productivity, appears most concerned about the psychological effects on people who, research shows, touch, swipe or tap their phone 2,617 times a day.

There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off. “Everyone is distracted,” Rosenstein says. “All of the time.”

But those concerns are trivial compared with the devastating impact upon the political system that some of Rosenstein’s peers believe can be attributed to the rise of social media and the attention-based market that drives it.

Drawing a straight line between addiction to social media and political earthquakes like Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, they contend that digital forces have completely upended the political system and, left unchecked, could even render democracy as we know it obsolete.

In 2007, Rosenstein was one of a small group of Facebook employees who decided to create a path of least resistance – a single click – to “send little bits of positivity” across the platform. Facebook’s “like” feature was, Rosenstein says, “wildly” successful: engagement soared as people enjoyed the short-term boost they got from giving or receiving social affirmation, while Facebook harvested valuable data about the preferences of users that could be sold to advertisers. The idea was soon copied by Twitter, with its heart-shaped “likes” (previously star-shaped “favourites”), Instagram, and countless other apps and websites.

It was Rosenstein’s colleague, Leah Pearlman, then a product manager at Facebook and on the team that created the Facebook “like”, who announced the feature in a 2009 blogpost. Now 35 and an illustrator, Pearlman confirmed via email that she, too, has grown disaffected with Facebook “likes” and other addictive feedback loops. She has installed a web browser plug-in to eradicate her Facebook news feed, and hired a social media manager to monitor her Facebook page so that she doesn’t have to.

“One reason I think it is particularly important for us to talk about this now is that we may be the last generation that can remember life before,” Rosenstein says. It may or may not be relevant that Rosenstein, Pearlman and most of the tech insiders questioning today’s attention economy are in their 30s, members of the last generation that can remember a world in which telephones were plugged into walls.

It is revealing that many of these younger technologists are weaning themselves off their own products, sending their children to elite Silicon Valley schools where iPhones, iPads and even laptops are banned. They appear to be abiding by a Biggie Smalls lyric from their own youth about the perils of dealing crack cocaine: never get high on your own supply.

•••

One morning in April this year, designers, programmers and tech entrepreneurs from across the world gathered at a conference centre on the shore of the San Francisco Bay. They had each paid up to $1,700 to learn how to manipulate people into habitual use of their products, on a course curated by conference organiser Nir Eyal.

Eyal, 39, the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, has spent several years consulting for the tech industry, teaching techniques he developed by closely studying how the Silicon Valley giants operate.

Are smartphones really making our children sad?“The technologies we use have turned into compulsions, if not full-fledged addictions,” Eyal writes. “It’s the impulse to check a message notification. It’s the pull to visit YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter for just a few minutes, only to find yourself still tapping and scrolling an hour later.” None of this is an accident, he writes. It is all “just as their designers intended”.

He explains the subtle psychological tricks that can be used to make people develop habits, such as varying the rewards people receive to create “a craving”, or exploiting negative emotions that can act as “triggers”. “Feelings of boredom, loneliness, frustration, confusion and indecisiveness often instigate a slight pain or irritation and prompt an almost instantaneous and often mindless action to quell the negative sensation,” Eyal writes.

Attendees of the 2017 Habit Summit might have been surprised when Eyal walked on stage to announce that this year’s keynote speech was about “something a little different”. He wanted to address the growing concern that technological manipulation was somehow harmful or immoral. He told his audience that they should be careful not to abuse persuasive design, and wary of crossing a line into coercion.

But he was defensive of the techniques he teaches, and dismissive of those who compare tech addiction to drugs. “We’re not freebasing Facebook and injecting Instagram here,” he said. He flashed up a slide of a shelf filled with sugary baked goods. “Just as we shouldn’t blame the baker for making such delicious treats, we can’t blame tech makers for making their products so good we want to use them,” he said. “Of course that’s what tech companies will do. And frankly: do we want it any other way?”

Without irony, Eyal finished his talk with some personal tips for resisting the lure of technology. He told his audience he uses a Chrome extension, called DF YouTube, “which scrubs out a lot of those external triggers” he writes about in his book, and recommended an app called Pocket Points that “rewards you for staying off your phone when you need to focus”.

Finally, Eyal confided the lengths he goes to protect his own family. He has installed in his house an outlet timer connected to a router that cuts off access to the internet at a set time every day. “The idea is to remember that we are not powerless,” he said. “We are in control.”

But are we? If the people who built these technologies are taking such radical steps to wean themselves free, can the rest of us reasonably be expected to exercise our free will?

Not according to Tristan Harris, a 33-year-old former Google employee turned vocal critic of the tech industry. “All of us are jacked into this system,” he says. “All of our minds can be hijacked. Our choices are not as free as we think they are.”

Harris, who has been branded “the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience”, insists that billions of people have little choice over whether they use these now ubiquitous technologies, and are largely unaware of the invisible ways in which a small number of people in Silicon Valley are shaping their lives.

A graduate of Stanford University, Harris studied under BJ Fogg, a behavioural psychologist revered in tech circles for mastering the ways technological design can be used to persuade people. Many of his students, including Eyal, have gone on to prosperous careers in Silicon Valley.

Harris is the student who went rogue; a whistleblower of sorts, he is lifting the curtain on the vast powers accumulated by technology companies and the ways they are using that influence. “A handful of people, working at a handful of technology companies, through their choices will steer what a billion people are thinking today,” he said at a recent TED talk in Vancouver.

“I don’t know a more urgent problem than this,” Harris says. “It’s changing our democracy, and it’s changing our ability to have the conversations and relationships that we want with each other.” Harris went public – giving talks, writing papers, meeting lawmakers and campaigning for reform after three years struggling to effect change inside Google’s Mountain View headquarters.

It all began in 2013, when he was working as a product manager at Google, and circulated a thought-provoking memo, A Call To Minimise Distraction & Respect Users’ Attention, to 10 close colleagues. It struck a chord, spreading to some 5,000 Google employees, including senior executives who rewarded Harris with an impressive-sounding new job: he was to be Google’s in-house design ethicist and product philosopher.

Looking back, Harris sees that he was promoted into a marginal role. “I didn’t have a social support structure at all,” he says. Still, he adds: “I got to sit in a corner and think and read and understand.”

He explored how LinkedIn exploits a need for social reciprocity to widen its network; how YouTube and Netflix autoplay videos and next episodes, depriving users of a choice about whether or not they want to keep watching; how Snapchat created its addictive Snapstreaks feature, encouraging near-constant communication between its mostly teenage users.

The techniques these companies use are not always generic: they can be algorithmically tailored to each person. An internal Facebook report leaked this year, for example, revealed that the company can identify when teens feel “insecure”, “worthless” and “need a confidence boost”. Such granular information, Harris adds, is “a perfect model of what buttons you can push in a particular person”.

Tech companies can exploit such vulnerabilities to keep people hooked; manipulating, for example, when people receive “likes” for their posts, ensuring they arrive when an individual is likely to feel vulnerable, or in need of approval, or maybe just bored. And the very same techniques can be sold to the highest bidder. “There’s no ethics,” he says. A company paying Facebook to use its levers of persuasion could be a car business targeting tailored advertisements to different types of users who want a new vehicle. Or it could be a Moscow-based troll farm seeking to turn voters in a swing county in Wisconsin.

Harris believes that tech companies never deliberately set out to make their products addictive. They were responding to the incentives of an advertising economy, experimenting with techniques that might capture people’s attention, even stumbling across highly effective design by accident.

A friend at Facebook told Harris that designers initially decided the notification icon, which alerts people to new activity such as “friend requests” or “likes”, should be blue. It fit Facebook’s style and, the thinking went, would appear “subtle and innocuous”. “But no one used it,” Harris says. “Then they switched it to red and of course everyone used it.”

That red icon is now everywhere. When smartphone users glance at their phones, dozens or hundreds of times a day, they are confronted with small red dots beside their apps, pleading to be tapped. “Red is a trigger colour,” Harris says. “That’s why it is used as an alarm signal.”

The most seductive design, Harris explains, exploits the same psychological susceptibility that makes gambling so compulsive: variable rewards. When we tap those apps with red icons, we don’t know whether we’ll discover an interesting email, an avalanche of “likes”, or nothing at all. It is the possibility of disappointment that makes it so compulsive.

It’s this that explains how the pull-to-refresh mechanism, whereby users swipe down, pause and wait to see what content appears, rapidly became one of the most addictive and ubiquitous design features in modern technology. “Each time you’re swiping down, it’s like a slot machine,” Harris says. “You don’t know what’s coming next. Sometimes it’s a beautiful photo. Sometimes it’s just an ad.”

INTELLIHUB

Las Vegas shooting victim, survivor, says 3-5 shooters, several in venue, FBI refusing to investigate

By Shepard Ambellas

October 8, 2017

“They just started getting closer and closer, louder and louder. […] I do believe that there were people [shooters] inside the venue.”

(INTELLIHUB) — One of last Sunday’s shooting victims Rocky Palermo who was shot in his pelvis told “The Blast” that after he had been shot he could tell that bullets were sweeping the venue from both elevated positions and from different trajectories horizontally and said that several other shooters were firing from inside the venue.

Palermo believes that 3-5 shooters carried out the massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on Oct. 1 killing 57 people.

“I definitely believe that there was 100% more than one shooter,” Palermo told The Blast. “Every other person that I talked to that, unfortunately, got hit as well have all said the same things.”

The brave man explained that he ran about 200 yards after being shot where he then hid behind a car. He said that he could hear the bullets whizzing by, horizontally, and could tell that a number of the shots were being fired from ground level which supports other eyewitness claims.

“We heard the gunfires approaching where we were,” he said. “They just started getting closer and closer, louder and louder. […] I do believe that there were people [shooters] inside the venue.”

Palermo also noticed that all of the gates to the concert facing Las Vegas Blvd. were always left open for the previous night’s show but were chained closed about ten minutes before the shooting started.

“At 10:00 they closed every exit on Las Vegas Blvd., every single one.,” he said. “They gated them all closed with chainlink fences […] the same entrances that we came in and left on Friday and Saturday night were definitely closed.”

Palermo said that cops were directing people to go the wrong way and said that there were a lot of things that occurred that night that ‘didn’t sit right’ with him.

“I believe that there were at least 3 to 5 shooters. One hundred percent there was not just one shooter firing from the 32nd-floor.”

Palermo said that he has tried to call the FBI on several occasions to offer them additional info but said that the FBI has not responded to his requests.

21stCENTURYWIRE

DOLLAR BLOW: China Launches New ‘Yuan-Ruble’ Payment Mechanism

OCTOBER 13, 2017

The US received a major blow to its global hegemony, and one which is sure to trigger more fighting talk from hawks in Washington.

This week it was announced that China has established a ‘payment versus payment‘ (PVP) system to clear Chinese yuan and Russian ruble transactions. The aim, we’re told, is to to “reduce risks and improve the efficiency” of its foreign exchange system.

The new mechanism, which could rival the long-held monopoly of the US SWIFT inter-bank payment system (allowing for simultaneous settlement of transactions in two different currencies) was launched on Monday after receiving approval from China’s central bank, according to a statement by the country’s foreign exchange trading system.

However, financial oligarchs in Wall Street will view this move as an act of aggression in challenging the preeminence of the US dollar as the planet’s global reserve currency – which is inextricably tied and nearly completely dependent on the US ‘Petrodollar’ to prop-up the value of the US fiat currency. Georgetown University scholars note here:

Since petrodollars and petrodollar surpluses are by definition denominated in U.S. dollars, then purchasing power is dependent on the U.S. rate of inflation and the rate at which the U.S. dollar is exchanged (whenever there is need for convertibility) by other currencies in international money markets. It follows that whenever economic or other factors affect the U.S. dollar, petrodollars will be affected to the same magnitude. The link, therefore, between the U.S. dollar and petrodollar surpluses, in particular, has significant economic, political, and other implications.

First, the placement of petrodollar surpluses of the Arab oil exporting nations in the United States may be regarded politically as hostage capital. In the event of a major political conflict between the United States and an Arab oil-exporting nation, the former with all its military power can confiscate or freeze these assets or otherwise limit their use.

China to Buy Saudi Oil in Yuan

This breaking development coincides with other recent moves, including news that China will “compel” Saudi Arabia to trade oil in yuan. If this happens, the rest of the global oil market could follow suit, which would spell catastrophy for the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

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CNBC

Apocalyptic images from the deadly fires in Northern California

Michael Sheetz

October 10, 2017

Article

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MailOnline

A boiling river of WINE flows through devastated California wine country as residents return to apocalyptic scenes after wildfires kill 21- while 5,000 flee another inferno in the home of Disneyland

  • Fires across California have killed 21 people in the north and forced 20,000 people to evacuate their homes

  • Nearly 150 people are still unaccounted for and some 2,000 buildings have been destroyed by the blazes

  • A series of fires that flared up north of San Francisco on Sunday are among the deadliest in the state's history

  • In Southern California, most evacuation orders were lifted after a fire destroyed 14 buildings, mostly homes

  • A monster Canyon 2 blaze cast an orange glow over the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim late Tuesday night

By Ruth Styles In Anaheim Hills, California, For Dailymail.com and Kelly Mclaughlin For Mailonline

PUBLISHED: 11:58, 11 October 2017 | UPDATED: 00:27, 12 October 2017

Article

EXPRESS

Volcano warning: Canary Islands panic as earthquakes hit La Palma – 40 tremors in 48 hours

FEARS of a volcano erupting on the Canary Islands has sparked panic as the Spanish archipelago was hit by more than 40 earthquake tremors in just 48 hours.

By REBECCA PERRING

October 11, 2017

Article

MOTHERBOARD

A Giant, Mysterious Hole Has Opened Up in Antarctica

We’re still trying to figure out what’s going on.”

Kate Lunau

Oct 10 2017, 5:55pm

A hole as large as Lake Superior or the state of Maine has opened up in Antarctica, and scientists aren't sure why it's there.

The gigantic, mysterious hole "is quite remarkable," atmospheric physicist Kent Moore, a professor at the University of Toronto's Mississauga campus, told me over the phone. "It looks like you just punched a hole in the ice."

Areas of open water surrounded by sea ice, such as this one, are known as polynias. They form in coastal regions of Antarctica, Moore told me. What's strange here, though, is that this polynia is "deep in the ice pack," he said, and must have formed through other processes that aren't understood.

"This is hundreds of kilometres from the ice edge. If we didn't have a satellite, we wouldn't know it was there." (It measured 80,000 kat its peak.)

A polynia was observed in the same location, in Antarctica's Weddell Sea, in the 1970s, according to Moore, who's been working with the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modelling (SOCCOM) group, based at Princeton University, to analyze what's going on. Back then, scientists' observation tools weren't nearly as good, so that hole remained largely unstudied. Then it went away for four decades, until last year, when it reopened for a few weeks. Now it's back again.

"This is now the second year in a row it's opened after 40 years of not being there," Moore said. (It opened around September 9.) "We're still trying to figure out what's going on."

It's tempting to blame this strange hole on climate change, which is reshaping so much of the world, including Antarctica. But Moore said that's "premature." Scientists can say with certainty, though, that the polynia will have a wider impact on the oceans.

"Once the sea ice melts back, you have this huge temperature contrast between the ocean and the atmosphere," Moore explained. "It can start driving convection." Denser, colder water sinks to the bottom of the ocean, while warmer water comes to the surface, "which can keep the polynia open once it starts," he said.

Using observations from satellites and deep sea robots, Moore and his collaborators are working on as-yet-unpublished research that aims to answer some of these questions. "Compared to 40 years ago, the amount of data we have is amazing," he said.

Antarctica is undergoing massive changes right now, and figuring out why a gaping hole could suddenly open up will be key to understanding larger systems at play.

Los Angeles Times

Spain gives Catalan separatists deadline to back down on independence

Lauren Frayer and Laura King

Oct. 12, 2017

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday ordered Catalonia’s separatist leaders to stop their push for independence by next week or face being deposed, and moved toward assuming control of the northeastern region.

Rajoy sent Catalonia’s president, Carles Puigdemont, a letter telling him to cease “grave actions contrary to the general interest of Spain.”

The letter represented the first step in the process of invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, which allows Madrid to take control of any Spanish region, stripping it of autonomy. The Times obtained a copy of the letter.

The Catalan leader has until Monday morning to clarify whether he has formally declared independence–a subject of confusion after his seemingly contradictory speech to the regional Catalan parliament a day earlier.

If Puigdemont replies that he has not made such a declaration, Rajoy said he would drop Article 155 proceedings. If the Catalan leader replies that he did indeed declare independence, he then would have until Thursday morning to reverse course. If he doesn’t do so, or fails to reply, Rajoy said he would ask for the Spanish Senate’s approval to oust the regional government.

The warning marked a deepening of Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

Rajoy also gave a sharply worded speech in Madrid.

“One thing is absolutely clear: Our democracy is experiencing one of the gravest moments in its history,” he told Spanish lawmakers. Repeating the government’s contention that Catalonia alone cannot decide whether to secede, he declared that Spain “cannot be fragmented unless its citizens choose.”

Catalan leaders brushed aside the prime minister’s threat to invoke Article 155. Instead, they delivered a warning of their own: Imposing direct rule by Madrid would be a big mistake, and Spain stood to miss out on what might be a final chance for dialogue.

“Maybe it is the last opportunity we all have to reach a good solution for everyone,” said Carles Campuzano, the national parliament spokesman for the Catalan president’s party.

Puigdemont, in a closely watched address to Catalonia’s parliament on Tuesday, had sought to chart a middle course between declaring independence and backing away from it.

He said the outcome of the Oct. 1 vote in the region gave Catalonia the right to declare independence. But he then suspended applying the referendum result, which was overwhelmingly in favor of breaking away from Spain.

By Wednesday evening, Barcelona’s tapas bars were abuzz with discussions of Rajoy’s deadline, and what the region’s president had meant to say a day earlier.

“For me, it was not very straightforward. He’s just walking in circles,” said Eugenio Julia, 28, a Mexican-Spaniard who is worried the terms of his graduate school scholarship may change if Catalonia leaves Spain and thus the European Union.

In his speech, Rajoy left open the prospect of talks with Catalonia’s leaders, but not while any demand for independence remains active.

“Everything can be subject to dialogue, but not with parties who are espousing threats,” he told lawmakers.

Experts say international mediation–another of Puigdemont’s demands–has long been a red line for Madrid.

“There are many people offering themselves for mediation, but the central government has always refused, because it would imply that Mr. Puigdemont is more or less in the same position as the central government,” said constitutional law expert Xavier Arbos. “The idea of mediation will always be refused.”

The European Union has sided with Spain in its contention that the referendum was illegal, and neighboring European countries including France and Germany have said they would not recognize an independent Catalonia.

Rajoy seemed to evoke solidarity among the EU’s member states in his speech.

“What is happening in Catalonia has nothing to do with democracy as we know it in Europe,” the prime minister said. “We are faced with conduct, attitudes that are not part of civilized society.”

But an administrative takeover of Catalonia by the central Spanish government would be a drastic step. Article 155 has never been used in democratic Spain’s history.

Catalonia has its own parliament and police force and sets policy on matters like healthcare and education, but the central government handles matters such as tax collection, border security and external relations. Direct rule by Madrid could even involve arrest and prosecution of its separatist leaders.

A region of about 7.5 million people, Catalonia proudly clings to its own language and culture. It has become Spain’s richest region, with the tourist hub of Barcelona as its capital.

Some Catalans resent having their tax revenue subsidize poorer parts of Spain, and believe they would be even more prosperous as an independent country.

CNN

Rival Palestinian factions announce milestone reconciliation agreement

By Oren Liebermann, Euan McKirdy and Hamdi Alkhshali, CNN

October 12, 2017

A Palestinian security guard loyal to Hamas stands next to a billboard bearing the portrait of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi near the Palestinian government headquarters in Gaza.

Jerusalem (CNN)Hailed as the end of a "dark division," long-time Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas have reached a reconciliation agreement after a decade of failed attempts and often bitter acrimony, according to statements from the factions.

Hamas media spokesman Taher al-Nouno posted on social media that an agreement had been reached early Thursday morning.

"The head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, announced that an agreement was reached at dawn today between Fatah and Hamas," al-Nouno posted on his Facebook page.

Fatah Central Committee member Zakaria al-Agha posted on Facebook, "The dark division has ended. Thank God and our congratulations to our Palestinian people everywhere."

Fatah spokesman Usama Qawasmi confirmed a comprehensive reconciliation agreement had been reached between Fatah and Hamas "under Egyptian blessing."

The two groups had started reconciliation talks, mediated by the Egyptian government, in Cairo Tuesday.

The direct talks followed a round of Egyptian-led indirect talks in Cairo in mid-September.

Fatah, the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, governs the West Bank; Hamas runs Gaza.

Demands

Neither Fatah nor Hamas have released details of the reconciliation agreement, leaving an open question on how this agreement addresses points where previous reconciliation attempts are believed to have fallen apart before.

The Palestinian Authority had demanded, for example, that Hamas disband its military wing and relinquish security control to the Palestinian Authority, a point Hamas had refused to concede.

Control of Gaza's borders had also previously been an impassable disagreement between Fatah and Hamas.

One day before the latest round of talks began, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told a Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting that reconciliation was a "priority that we seek to achieve by all means possible."

He said the two sides were going to Cairo "resolved and determined to make it happen and achieve concrete results in that respect."

Ray of hope

The detente between Fatah and the Islamist Hamas could mean the end of a decade-long rift between the West Bank and Gaza that started in 2007, after Hamas violently evicted the rival Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) from the coastal enclave.

Earlier in October, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, entering Gaza for the first time in two years, promised to heal divisions and improve the lives of Gazans, who have been living under an Israeli-Egyptian imposed blockade and failing infrastructure damaged after several wars with Israel.

Two weeks earlier, Hamas had announced it would disband its Gaza "administrative committee"-- established earlier this year and seen as a direct challenge to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA), allowing a Palestinian unity government to work in its place and move toward general elections.

The talks had their roots in a 2011 meeting aimed at reconciliation, also mediated by Cairo.

Crisis looming

The push for reunification comes as Gaza faces a mounting humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations warns the coastal enclave may be unlivable by 2020. Electricity is available for only a few hours a day.

Barely one in 10 residents has access to safe drinking water through the public water network, and the UN projects that Gaza's aquifer may become unusable at the end this year.

CNN's Abeer Salman and Ian Lee contributed to this report.

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SPUTNIK

If Netanyahu Steps Down 'There Would be an Earthquake'

06.10.2017

The Israeli police are set to interrogate the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over multiple abuses of power charges. He is accused of bribery and media manipulation. Israeli analyst Avraham Diskin told Sputnik what the consequences of such an investigation could be for the leader and his country.

“This to me looks like a new phase of an old investigation. A number of times before, Netanyahu was directly investigated for several hours by the police, so it is just another round of quite an old story,” said professor Avraham Diskin, an Israeli political analyst at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

According to the analyst, from a legal point of view, Netanyahu doesn’t have to step down as long as he is not convicted by the court. However, the precedence is that once there is an indictment, politicians of a lower degree are pushed by the court to resign.

“Netanyahu and his lawyers said that he is going to follow the law and he is not going to resign under indictment, and if there is an indictment it’s a matter of years,” Diskin said.

Talking about the political sphere the analyst said that almost everybody in his current government is quite satisfied with Netanyahu.

“I don’t know if there are any criminal offences and I don’t know how the court is going to behave, but the government is not very enthusiastic of getting rid of Netanyahu yet,” he said.

However, if Netanyahu steps down, “there would be an earthquake,” Diskin said.

It is possible that there would be new elections and “judgment of the public, but right now it doesn’t look like an alternative government will likely be formed,” the analyst added.

He further spoke about how the relations between the US and Israel would develop in light of the current events.

“Trump is a problematic personality but he is by far pro Israeli compared to the previous administration. We also have to remember the long history of the personal relationship between Netanyahu and Trump, so all in all the relations between the US and Israel are now better than they were before,” Diskin said.

Netanyahu stands accused of two major charges alleging the abuse of the power of office.

In "Case 1,000," Israeli billionaire Arnon Milchan gave Netanyahu lavish gifts in an alleged bribery scandal. The second charge, dubbed "Case 2,000," states that Netanyahu promised to help increase the readership of Israel's second-largest newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, in exchange for the publication easing up on its historically critical coverage of the prime minister.

Netanyahu has rejected allegations of wrongdoing, stating the "witch hunt" won't bear fruit, according to The Jerusalem Post. "It will fail for this simple reason: There will be nothing because there was nothing," he said.

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The Telegraph

French baker's crusade to save the 'genuine' croissant strikes national chord

    By Henry Samual

    October 11, 2017

A baker from Nice has launched a crusade to save France's "genuine" croissant from extinction amid claims that 85 per cent of the famous Gallic pastries bought in boulangeries are now "industrial".

Frédéric Roy, 46, who runs a humble bakery near the Riviera city's Promenade des anglais, struck a national chord after lamenting that the vast majority of croissants and pains au chocolat (chocolate pastries) sold in French boulangeries were, in his words, "de la merde" (crap).

"They barely look or taste like the real thing," he lamented. "A bad croissant gives a bad impression of our national heritage."

"I want the French to be able to buy a croissant knowing it is made with proper raw materials."

He is calling for a decree creating a special "traditional" label for the quintessential French pastries guaranteeing they are made from flour containing no additives, top-quality butter with a local appellation, or AOP, and baked on the premises.

Margarine is a total no-no and the pastries cannot be reheated or cooked from frozen.

After years working America, Mr Roy said: "Today it is probably easier to find a proper croissant in Los Angeles than it is in France, and yet it is a pillar of our gastronomy".

"There is simply no way of knowing whether you are eating an industrial croissant or one that has been properly made in situ," he told the Telegraph.

"To call yourself an artisan baker all you have to do is to bake bread on the premises. But not the croissants you sell as a result, only 15 per cent of artisan bakers bake their own croissants, he claimed citing unofficial industry figures.

"Customers are totally lost," he said. "Even I was fooled the other day on holiday and thought I had bought a traditional croissant until it was in my mouth.

"You only have to see how long industrial-made ones can be kept in the frozen - six months - to know they're stuffed full of additives. Mine go off after two weeks," he said.

In despair, last month he sent a letter to the French prime minister warning that the France's cherished crescent-shaped pastry was in grave danger.

Little did he know the extent to which his plea would fire the national imagination.

His call hit headlines and has been taken up by the government, which this week launched "la semaine du goût" - "taste week" in France to raise awareness over eating well. Many French have taken to social media to applaud his initiative and his local MP Eric Ciotti has pledged to take up the cause.

"I realised that with every passing year, less and less bakers make their own croissants because the production costs are rising faster than sale prices," said Mr Roy.

With the cost of butter alone having rocketed by 172 per cent in the past 20 months, the temptation to opt for cheaper, industrially-made fare has proved too much for many bakers, whose numbers have shrunk from 55,000 in the 1970s to 32,000 today.

"If this continues, in the future we are heading for no genuine croissants at all," he warned.

His blueprint for change is a 1993 government decree introducing a "traditional baguette" label baked with traditional flour and no additives, which he said led to a renaissance of the long loaf.

He is convinced that customers will be willing to pay a small premium for croissants whose quality is certified. "I intend to sell mine 10 centimes more expensive. It may not sound like much, but when you sell 300 croissants a day 300 days a year, it make's a difference.

"Otherwise they might as well buy one in Lidl for 35 centimes."

He described the perfect croissant as made from "leavened flakey pastry which is crusty on the outside and soft inside".

But given their rarity, many customers can barely tell what the real thing tastes like any more, he said.

"They need to be re-educated. I get customers in my bakery who declare: 'That has brought back the taste of my childhood.' That's what I'm fighting for."

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

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
(2 Peter 3:8-10)


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