both these kings' hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall
speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end
shall be at the time appointed.”
Lies At One Table
Greetings! The above verse is of course referring to the rise of the antichrist in Daniel, chapter eleven. If the third article below, Nuclear Deal With Iran Prelude to War, Not “Breakthrough”, turns out to be true, it will reveal with stark duplicity what pervades the world of politics in today's world.
As we have said before, the real battle that rages is in the unseen world of spiritual realities.
“Our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against principalities, against authorities, against the universal lords of this darkness, against spiritual power of wickedness in the heavenlies.” Darby Bible Translation
In taking on Iran, (Persia) it would be well to know that the western powers are taking on extremely strong spiritual entities.
“And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.
Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.
And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.” Daniel 10:10-15,20
The Prince of Persia, the spiritual entity that rules Persia, was so powerful that he withstood the angel that was sent to show Daniel “what shall befall thy people in the latter days”.
The Prince of Persia withstood the angel from delivering an End Time message to Daniel for twenty one days, until it came to the point where the angel had to call Michael, one of the greatest and most powerful of all the archangels, to help him and enable him to deliver the message.
Must have been a pretty important message. You can read the message and the interpretation in the “Studies” section on this web site.
Even after the message was delivered it was not the end because the angel tells Daniel; “...now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia”, and also mentions how the prince of Grecia would be coming.
This is all taking place in the real world, the spirit world.
It would also do well for the powers that be, in dealing with Persia, to understand Persia is the first ally mentioned in Ezekiel 38: “Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet.”
It may also be noteworthy that Medo-Persia was the fourth empire to completely rule the world after Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon.
Also, interesting to note is the angel who delivered the End Time message to Daniel also told him “...when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.” Could the struggle with the Prince of Persia by Michael and the angel have weakened the Prince of Persia sufficiently to allow the spiritual entity, the Prince of Greece, to also overcome him as Greece eventually subdued Persia to become the fifth world empire, followed by Rome and the soon to be world empire of the antichrist.
We wrestle not against flesh and blood!
Have a great week ahead.
3-decade gridlock broken: The nuclear deal with Iran in Geneva
By Jim Sciutto and Ben Brumfield, CNN
November 24, 2013 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
Diplomacy leads to Iran nuclear deal
The diplomatic gridlock between Iran and the West seemed immovable for decades. But on Sunday diplomats made history, when Iran and six world powers came together on an agreement over Iran's nuclear program.
The deal dials back Iran's ability to work towards a nuclear weapon and at the same time loosens the choke hold of international sanctions on Iran's economy.
The two sides now have six months to find out how historic the breakthrough is. That's how long the preliminary agreement hammered out in Geneva, Switzerland, by Iran and the P5+1 -- the five members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany -- lasts.
The foreign policy chiefs from the nations making up the group had traveled to Geneva from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany on Saturday to pound out the last key points of deal.
Iran has stumbled from one economic crisis to the next under the sanctions, and unemployment currently runs over 24%.
The breathing room is intended to buy Iran and the negotiating powers time to arrive at a more comprehensive agreement. But it represents an opportunity, not a guarantee.
"It's a little too early to break open champagne bottles and put on the party hats on this one," said Middle East diplomatic expert Aaron David Miller. Its success hinges on whether or not it leads to a bigger agreement to "puts Iran's nuclear weapons program to rest."
That the diplomats came to any accord at all represents a momentous budge in a nearly 35-year-long deadlock marked by distrust, suspicion and open animosity between the United States and Iran, which broke off diplomatic relations after Iran's revolution in 1979.
It was the first such agreement in 10 years of negotiation attempts over Iran's nuclear program.
"What happened over the last several weeks is by any standard extraordinary," Miller said.
Success or setback?
Reactions to the breakthrough ran the gamut from joy in Tehran to dismay in Jerusalem.
In a televised speech, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani sold it as a win for his negotiators.
"We are pleased after 10 years that an agreement on this level has been reached," he said.
He played up that it allows Iran to enrich uranium to a level making it usable as nuclear fuel. During the six months of the agreement, major facilities in Iran will continue doing so, he said.
It also marks the beginning of the end of sanctions, he said. In the end, Iran's claim that it has never sought nuclear weapons will be vindicated, he said.
That notion will go down as "historical joke," he said.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, traditionally very distrustful of Western powers, seemed pleased. This could be the basis of intelligent actions of the future, he said.
President Barack Obama took to live television to announce the deal as a success that includes "substantial limitations that will help prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapon."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has stressed that Iran will not be permitted to produce bomb-grade enriched uranium.
But decades of mistrust run deep.
Obama's Republican opponents in Washington scorned the deal, and key ally Israel frowned upon it.
Both say it will have the opposite effect, advancing Iran's alleged quest for a bomb.
"This agreement shows other rogue states that wish to go nuclear that you can obfuscate, cheat, and lie for a decade, and eventually the United States will tire and drop key demands," said freshman Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Rubio has been touted as a presidential hopeful in the 2016 elections.
Israel: obligation to defend
Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu adamantly distrusts Iran and decried the agreement as a "historic mistake" on Sunday.
For decades, he has listened to Iranian leaders threaten the Jewish state, even saying Israel should be wiped off the map.
During the negotiations in Geneva, Khamenei responded to passionate Israeli skepticism by saying Israeli officials "cannot be even called humans" and referred to Netanyahu as "the rabid dog of the region."
Now that sanctions are working, Netanyahu wants to see the thumbscrews tightened, not loosened, until Iran deconstructs much of its nuclear capabilities, which Tehran claims it will only use for peaceful purposes.
The agreement does not apply to Israel, he said Sunday. If need be, Israel will take matters into its own hands, he said.
"The regime in Iran is dedicated to destroying Israel, and Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself with its own forces against every threat. I want to make clear as the Prime minister of Israel, Israel will not let Iran develop a nuclear military capability."
In the weeks before the start of the negotiations, U.S. legislators appeared to be obliging Netanyahu, as they considered loading new sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
If this happens, Obama may have to veto them, Kerry said. New sanctions would torpedo the deal.
But Kerry said he will assure Congress the deal supports its goal of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The President has said that the agreement only involves some of the sanctions, leaving the toughest ones in place. The agreement is not about trusting Iran. It is about being able to verify the country's compliance, a Whitehouse official said.
If things go sour, all options are still on the table, Obama has said, including military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Obama understands how Israel in particular feels about Iran, a senior administration official said. "You can be sure that President Obama will speak to Prime Minister Netanyahu" on Sunday.
He may also have to have a conversation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Iran's neighbor across the Persian Gulf, which has lasting tensions with Tehran and has been at odds with Obama over much of his Middle East policy.
The government expressed displeasure Sunday with the preliminary deal.
"The Saudi government has been very concerned about these negotiations with Iran and unhappy at the prospect of a deal with Iran," a Saudi government official who is not authorized to speak to the media told CNN.
All about enrichment
The White House and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif both insist that the agreement meets their expectations on issue of uranium enrichment.
Iran has consistently said it's enriching uranium and building nuclear reactors only for peaceful civilian energy needs. Nuclear power plants use uranium that is enriched to 5%. It's the fuel that the plants use to generate electricity.
The White House has said enrichment may not go above that.
Iran must also dilute to below 5% or convert to a form not suitable for further enrichment its entire stockpile of near-20% enriched uranium before the end of the initial phase of the deal.
It may also not bring certain centrifuges on line, the devices used to enrich uranium, that have not yet been turned on.
This is in line with the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which Iran has signed onto. It requires Tehran not to create nuclear weapons or enable other countries to obtain them.
Iran has also agreed to what Kerry described as "unprecedented international monitoring" of its nuclear program.
The Rouhani difference
This final round of negotiations in Geneva stretched on for four days but began months ago in secrecy, shortly after Rouhani replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's President earlier this year.
Caustic jabs at the United States and bellicose threats toward Israel were a hallmark of Ahmadinejad's foreign policy rhetoric. He railed against economic sanctions and drove the advancement of nuclear technology.
Rouhani has struck up a more conciliatory tone and made the lifting sanctions against his country a priority.
U.S. and Iranian officials for months have been holding private, previously secret discussions to generate ideas for the wider nuclear negotiations, a senior Obama administration official confirmed Saturday.
The Americans briefed their P5+1 colleagues. It led to formal negotiations in Geneva.
Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, led the working negotiations to their near conclusion Saturday night.
Then, to pound out difficult details, she called in the heavy lifters on Saturday: Kerry, his British counterpart William Hague, France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russia's foreign policy chief, Sergey Lavrov.
Shortly after 3:00 a.m. local time Sunday, a Tweet from a European diplomat let on that there was a deal, and an hour later, an Iranian colleague followed suite.
Minutes later, Ashton made the official announcement.
A diplomatic mountain had been moved.
The Jerusalem Post
Netanyahu says Iran nuclear deal is 'historic mistake'
By HERB KEINON , REUTERS
Premier tells cabinet the world has become more dangerous as a result of agreement; Bennett: "Israel does not see itself as bound by this bad, this very bad agreement that has been signed."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu characterized the agreement signed with Iran early Sunday morning as a historic mistake.
Directly contrasting US President Barack Obama who praised the agreement as opening a "new path toward a world that is more secure,"Netanyahu – speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting -- said the world has become more dangerous as a result.
"What was agreed last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake," he said. "Today the world has become much more dangerous because the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step to getting the most dangerous weapon in the world."
For the first time, he said, the leading powers of the world agreed to uranium enrichment in Iran, while removing sanctions that it has taken years to build up in exchange for "cosmetic Iranian concession that are possible to do away with in a matter of weeks."
Netanyahu said the consequences of this deal threaten many countries, including Israel. He reiterated what he has said in the past, that Israel is not obligated by the agreement.
"Iran is committed to Israel's destruction, and Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself by itself against any threat" he said. "I want to make clear as the prime minister of Israel, Israel will not allow Iran develop a military nuclear capability."
Netanyahu's government denounced world powers' nuclear agreement with Iran on Sunday as a "bad deal" to which Israel would not be bound.
Yet Israeli officials stopped short of threatening unilateral military action that could further isolate the Jewish state and imperil its bedrock alliance with Washington, saying more time was needed to assess the agreement.
"This is a bad deal. It grants Iran exactly what it wanted - both a significant easing in sanctions and preservation of the most significant parts of its nuclear program," an official in Netanyahu's office said.
Aimed at ending a dangerous standoff, the agreement between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia was nailed down after more than four days of negotiations in the Swiss city of Geneva.
A senior US official said the agreement halted progress on Iran's nuclear program, including construction of the Arak research reactor, which is of special concern for the West as it can yield potential bomb material.
It would neutralize Iran's stockpile of uranium refined to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, which is a close step away from the level needed for weapons, and calls for intrusive UN nuclear inspections, the official said.
The Islamic republic - which denies its nuclear program has hostile designs - has also committed to stop uranium enrichment above a fissile purity of 5 percent, a US fact sheet said.
But that still appeared to fall far short of Netanyahu's demand for a total rollback of the Iranian nuclear program.
"You stand and shout out until you're blue in the face, and you try to understand why they're not listening. The world wanted an agreement," Finance Minister Yair Lapid, a member of Netanyahu's security cabinet, told Israel's Army Radio.
"We also said that a diplomatic accord would be good. A diplomatic accord is certainly better than war, a diplomatic accord is better than a situation of permanent confrontation - just not this agreement."
Lapid said that in the Israel had to pore over the deal: "For example, we still don't understand exactly what stepping up the monitoring (on Iran's facilities) means. This is a detailed matter. God really is in the small details."
Economic Minister Naftali Bennett, another security cabinet member, told Army Radio in a separate interview: "Israel does not see itself as bound by this bad, this very bad agreement that has been signed."
Neither minister would be drawn on how Israel might respond. Israel, which is widely assumed to have the Middle East's sole atomic arsenal, sees a mortal menace in a nuclear-armed Iran and has at times threatened to launch a preemptive war against its arch-foe.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Geneva deal required the Netanyahu government to conduct a strategic review.
Asked on Israel Radio whether he felt cheated by the United States for its role in the deal, Lieberman said: "Heaven forbid."
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On on Sunday praised the agreement while criticizing the Israeli government for overlooking important components of the deal.
“The Israeli government ministers’ assault on the agreement takes attention away from the fact that clauses of the deal include the most important goal which was the dismantling and rolling back of the fast track to the bomb,” she said.
“The main sanctions that will remain imposed on Iran and the tight supervision by IAEA inspectors who will visit nuclear sites daily are indicative of the fact that this is not just an American achievement, but also an Israeli achievement,” the Meretz chief said. “This is because the goal of supervision, similar to sanctions, is to encumber the race to the bomb and remove the possibility that Iran could fool the international community without anyone taking notice.”
The deputy speaker of parliament, Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, said on Saturday the interim agreement signed between Iran and the Western powers was tantamount to the Munich Agreement of the late 1930s.
“Like Czechoslovakia at that time, which was not party to the discussions that effectively sentenced it to death, Israel today watches from the sidelines how its existential interest is being sacrificed by the Western powers,” Feiglin said.
“Any rational person understands that we are in the midst of a process leads to a nuclear-armed Iran,” he said. “For years I have warned about the dangers of the strategy adopted by Israel towards the Iranian nuclear threat.”
Feiglin said that entrusting foreign powers to secure Israel’s defense interests is “disastrous” and “much worse than that which led to the Yom Kippur War.”
The lawmaker called on the Israeli government to declare an immediate end to all contacts with the West over the Iranian question and to make clear that it would not be bound by the agreement signed.
Knesset member Eli Yishai reacted Sunday morning to the deal: "the world's countries only saw the economic interests of the deal, and not their obligation to the security of Israel."
He stressed that Israel "has to no one to trust besides god and ourselves".
Nuclear Deal With Iran Prelude to War, Not “Breakthrough”
November 27, 2013
“…any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it.
The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer—one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.”
-Brookings Institution’s 2009 “Which Path to Persia?” report, page 52.
Written years ago, as the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel were already plotting to overrun Iran’s neighbor and ally Syria with Al Qaeda to weaken the Islamic Republic before inevitable war, this quote exposes fully the current charade that is the “Iran nuclear deal.”
The West has no intention of striking any lasting deal with Iran, as nuclear capabilities, even the acquirement of nuclear weapons by Iran was never truly an existential threat to Western nations or their regional partners. The West’s issue with Iran is its sovereignty and its ability to project its interests into spheres traditionally monopolized by the US and UK across the Middle East. Unless Iran plans on turning over its sovereignty and regional influence along with its right to develop and use nuclear technology, betrayal of any “nuclear deal” is all but inevitable, as is the war that is to shortly follow.
Exposing the duplicity that accompanies Western “efforts” to strike a deal will severely undermine their attempt to then use the deal as leverage to justify military operations against Iran. For Iran and its allies, they must be prepared for war, more so when the West feigns interest in peace. Libya serves as a perfect example of the fate that awaits nations reproached by the West who let down their guard – it literally is a matter of life and death both for leaders, and for nations as a whole.
‘Day of rage’: UK protests Israeli plan to remove 70,000 Bedouins
November 30, 2013
Bedouin demonstrators clash with Israeli security during a protest against the Prawer plan in the southern village of Hura on November 30, 2013. (AFP Photo / David Buimovitch)
Across the UK Britons are to take to the streets to protest an Israeli plan to forcibly remove 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their homes. The proposal has triggered accusations of “ethnic cleansing” and “discrimination” from activists groups.
The Prawer Plan will see between 40,000 and 70,000 Bedouin citizens removed from their homes in South Israel. The Israeli government has said the Bedouins will be re-homed and granted compensation for the move. However, UK-based charity the Palestine Solidarity Campaign says the plan heralds “the forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation.”
The group published a letter in the Guardian on November 29 condemning the plan and urging the UK government to act. The letter contains the signatures of 50 public figures supporting the cause.
The document calls for immediate action from the British government, urging harsh measures rather than the usual diplomatic rhetoric.
“There can be no ‘business as usual’ with a state which is preparing to ethnically cleanse 70,000 people. It’s time to start challenging Israel’s racism and apartheid policies,” the activist group wrote in the letter.
In support of the letter mass protests have been planned across the United Kingdom on Saturday. The “Day of Rage” demonstrations will be held in Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Lambeth, as well as a number of locations in central London. In addition, Palestinians in Israel are staging mass demonstrations against the Prawer Plan to draw international attention.
Despite opposition to the plan, the Israeli government is pushing ahead and is expected to vote on the initiative before the end of the year.
Some Israeli media has also condemned the plan on the basis that the Bedouins are Israel citizens who were granted citizenship in the 1950s.
“These are Israeli citizens – citizens in a ‘democratic’ state, some of whom have even served the country militarily – who are now having their homes destroyed,” David Harris-Gershon wrote in his blog for the Tikkun Daily.
“The plan [is] to regularize Bedouin settlement in the Negev’, but it does nothing to solve problems and regularize our settlements – it stipulates only destruction,” said Fadi El-Obra, a 29-year-old from Rahat, speaking against the Prawer Plan to the International Solidarity Movement.
The UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People calling for Israel to call off plans to expand building in the settlements. Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to restart peace talks this summer after a three-year diplomatic stalemate. In spite of the revival of negotiations, very little headway has been made on some of the most pressing issues obstructing a peace agreement.
The Palestinian Authority has slammed Israel’s plans to continue expanding settlements, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the Palestinian side of purposely “inciting artificial crises.”
Israel “will not be subjected to any restrictions concerning settlement,” Netanyahu recently vowed at a meeting with the Israeli right-wing Likud bloc, stressing that the Palestinians are well aware of that.
Could Putin-Pope Francis visit mark beginning of end of centuries-old rift?
Mikhail Klimentyev / Kremlin pool via EPA
Russian President Vladimir Putin is welcomed by Pope Francis as he arrives for a private audience at the Vatican on Monday.
By Claudio Lavanga, NBC News Producer
ROME — Pope Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin met Monday amid high expectations that their visit could mark the beginning of the end of the centuries-old rift between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
Since becoming pontiff in March, Francis has met with more than a dozen heads of state, and Putin met with both of his predecessors Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II.
But this meeting comes at a unique time.
“What's making (this visit) different this time is who he will meet: a pope, Francis, who for the first time is not from Europe,” said Andrea Tornielli, a Vatican expert who writes for the Italian daily “La Stampa.”
"And [Francis] therefore has a more independent approach on international issues such as the relations between Orthodox and Catholics. Being from Argentina, (Francis) is not tied to the old idea of Western Christianity, so this could play in [Putin’s] favor,” Tornielli added.
Francis has ushered in a period of reform at the Vatican, but the timing is right for a thawing of relations between the Eastern and Westerns Churches for other reasons, too: full diplomatic ties between Russia and the Holy See were only re-established in 2009.
But despite numerous visits by Russian leaders to the Vatican, the head of the Rome Catholic Church has never been allowed to repay the favor and travel to Moscow.
The pope has had a standing invitation to the Kremlin since Mikhail Gorbachev formally invited Pope John Paul II in 1989, but the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church never shared the government’s enthusiasm. Afraid of Catholic evangelization in Eastern Europe, the patriarch never opened the doors of the Orthodox Church to the pope.
That may soon change.
Francis showed that reaching out to the Orthodox Church was at the top of his agenda from day one of his pontificate when he invited Patriarch Bartholomew, the Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, to his installation mass. He was the first Orthodox leader to attend a papal inaugural Mass since the Great Schism split Eastern and Western Christianity in 1054.
Still, Putin’s personal style couldn’t be more different from the low-key Francis
Putin traveled to Rome followed by a delegation of 11 ministers and countless delegates who sped towards the Vatican in 50 cars that sent Rome into a massive gridlock — and he was still 50 minutes late to the meeting.
The Vatican did not offer any comment after the meeting that lasted 35 minutes.
But it was expected to be dominated by at least one major foreign policy issue on which the two have found common ground: Syria. The two leaders agree that a non-military response to the Syrian conflict is best course of action.
Still, could a historic papal visit to Russia also come out of the meeting?
Not unless the ultimate blessing comes from Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Although, Tornielli, the Vatican expert, pointed out that Kirill “doesn't really need Putin to mediate. He is capable of doing that himself.”
“So I think what will happen next is that he and the pope will meet, but in neutral territory, neither in Rome or Moscow... And they'll go from there.”
Pope Francis: No more business as usual
November 26th, 2013
By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) - Pope Francis on Tuesday called for big changes in the Roman Catholic Church – including at the very top – saying he knows it will be a messy business but he expects his flock to dive in feet first.
"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security," the Pope said in a major new statement.
"I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures."
The Pope's address, called an "apostolic exhortation," is basically a pep talk from the throne of St. Peter. But Francis' bold language and sweeping call for change are likely to surprise even those who've become accustomed to his unconventional papacy.
"Not everyone will like this document," said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author in New York. "For it poses a fierce challenge to the status quo."
Officially known in Latin as "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), the 85-page document is the first official papal document written entirely by Francis. (An earlier document was co-written by Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.)
Although Francis sprinkles the statement with citations of previous popes and Catholic luminaries like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, the new pontiff makes a bold call for the church to rethink even long-held traditions.
"In her ongoing discernment, the Church can also come to see that certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some which have deep historical roots, are no longer properly understood and appreciated," the Pope said.
"Some of these customs may be beautiful, but they no longer serve as means of communicating the Gospel. We should not be afraid to re-examine them. At the same time, the Church has rules or precepts which may have been quite effective in their time, but no longer have the same usefulness for directing and shaping people’s lives."
Such statements mark a sharp break from Benedict XVI, a more tradition-bound pope who focused on cleaning up cobwebs of unorthodoxy in the church.
By contrast, in "Evangelii" Francis repeats his calls for Catholics to stop "obsessing" about culture war issues and enforcing church rules, and to focus more on spreading the Gospel, especially to the poor and marginalized.
The church, he said, should not be afraid to "get its shoes soiled by the mud of the street."
The Pope also hinted that he wants to see an end to the so-called "wafer wars," in which Catholic politicians who support abortion rights are denied Holy Communion. His comments could also be taken as another sign that he plans to reform church rules that prevent divorced Catholics from receiving the Eucharist.
"Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason," Francis said.
"The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak."
Even so, Francis reiterated the church's traditional stand against abortion, defending that position against critics who call it "ideological, obscurantist and conservative."
"Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question," Francis said.
The Pope also reiterated that the possibility of ordaining women is "not open for discussion." But that doesn't mean the church values men more than women, he said.
"We need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church," the Pope said.
Francis also said he expects other parts of the church to change, and called on Catholics to be unafraid of trying new things.
"More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving."
Francis didn't mention specific changes, but made it clear he expects them to start at the top and include even long-held Catholic practices.
"Since I am called to put into practice what I ask of others, I too must think about a conversion of the papacy," he said.
The church's centralization, where all roads lead to Rome, and the "we've always done it this way" type of thinking have hindered Catholics' ability to minister to local people in far-flung places, Francis suggested.
"I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities," the Pope said.
The outside world didn't escape Francis' notice either.
In a section of "Evangelii" entitled "some challenges to today's world," he sharply criticized what he called an "idolatry of money" and "the inequality that spawns violence."
"Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric," the Pope wrote.
Martin, the Jesuit priest, said, "I cannot remember ever reading a papal document that was so thought-provoking, surprising and invigorating."
"The document’s main message is that Catholics should be unafraid of new ways of proclaiming the Gospel and new ways of thinking about the church," said Martin, who is also an editor-at-large at America Magazine in New York.
Europe in shock as Ukraine kills integration plan, says 'mission is over'
Published time: November 22, 2013 01:56
Edited time: November 22, 2013 16:34
The EU is utterly disappointed by Ukraine’s decision to align itself closer to Russia and halt its preparations for signing a European trade and political agreement, effectively killing the country’s chances to eventually join the bloc.
“This is a disappointment not just for the EU but, we believe, for the people of Ukraine,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement, claiming that “the most ambitious” pact ever offered to a partner by the EU would have helped the country’s economy.
The decree signed by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov's government on Thursday orders the “halt of the process of preparing the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.”
The decision was taken to “ensure the national security of Ukraine” and “restore lost trade volumes with the Russian Federation” after considering the effects on trade relations with Moscow, legislators said.
The announcement follows the Ukraine parliament's earlier refusal to pass a bill that would see jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko allowed to travel abroad for treatment - a key EU deal condition for the summit that was scheduled in Vilnius, Lithuania, next week.
The EU envoy at the negotiations, Polish politician Aleksander Kwasniewski confirmed that the deal would not go ahead saying the “mission is over… The accord will not be signed in Vilnius.”
Many European politicians as well as Ukraine’s own opposition have already slammed Kiev’s decision.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt critcized Ukraine's decision, saying the “Ukraine government suddenly bows deeply to the Kremlin” due to the Russian “politics of brutal pressure.”
A “deep disappointment at the unilateral decision” was also voiced in a statement by EU envoys Aleksander Kwasniewski and Pat Cox, who highlighted what they call a “dramatically increased pressure from Russia in recent weeks.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague in the meantime called the decision a “missed opportunity.”
Not all European countries however have adopted such a critical approach. It was Ukraine's “sovereign right to make a decision which path she wants to follow,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.
Call to impeach
Arseniy Yatsenyuk Ukrainian opposition leader and a former Minister of Economy called for President Viktor Yanukovych to step down.
"If Yanukovych is refusing to sign the agreement, then it is not only state treason but also grounds for the impeachment of the president and the dismissal of the government," he said in parliament.
People have begun flocking to Kiev’s main Square and home of 2004 Orange revolution. More than 1500 protesters with banners gathered in the Maidan Square to voice their opposition to the government’s decision, local media reports. A number of MPs have also joined the protests, more are planned for this Sunday.
Police have cordoned off the presidential administration building as more security vans arrive at the scene.
EU integration roadblock
After the cabinet's decision, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele canceled his Friday trip to Kiev. President Yanukovych, however said that despite “difficulties” his country would continue towards European integration.
Russia welcomed Ukraine's decision to actively develop ties with Moscow, while President Putin said he wasn't completely against Ukraine's association with EU. But trilateral trade talks should take place before Ukraine signs an agreement with the EU.
“We favor this, but only before decisions are made,” Putin said.“How can we hold negotiations on issues that have already been agreed upon and endorsed?”
EU’s ‘ridiculous’ plan to help Ukraine
The European Union has actually done nothing to convince Ukrainian leaders that association with the EU would actually solve its economic crisis, Polish MEP Pawel Zalewski stated earlier this week.
As compared to hundreds of billions of euros channeled into Greek, Spanish and Portuguese economies, he said, one billion offered to Ukraine was inadequate and "ridiculous."
"It's a ridiculous amount compared to the resources allocated to rescue Southern Europe from bankruptcy," Zalewski said as cited by PR Newswire.
Reuters / Gleb Garanich
In the meantime Russia has the “means and willingness” to offer Ukraine what the EU lacks, which is money, Eric Kraus, Managing Director of Anyatta Capital told RT, adding that Ukraine is a “vital part” of the European Russian speaking space.
“The European Union offers a lot of words,” Kraus said, implying that nothing tangible would have come out of the deal. “What they don’t offer is what Ukraine needs – and that’s money.”
“Ukraine is not vital to the EU,” Kraus explained. “It is a part of a geopolitical chess game and they’d like to take that piece. They are not going to spend a lot of money for it. They can’t, they’ve got Portugal, they’ve got Greece. Pretty soon they’ve got France.”
The financial analyst also explained the economic problems that Ukraine is facing.
“The problem is that Ukraine is in dire economic strains. Ukraine is 2-6 months from default. They cannot raise money in markets. They are running a deficit. They are having a lot of trouble keeping the currency stable.”
Putin victorious as Ukraine postpones ‘trade suicide’, halts talks with EU
Published time: November 21, 2013 16:03
Edited time: November 22, 2013 11:56
Presidents of Russia and Ukraine Vladimir Putin (L) and Viktor Yanukovych (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Klimentyev)
Facing its most important economic crossroads since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kiev has aligned itself closer to Russia, and has suspended preparations to sign an EU trade deal.
Ukraine will “restore an active dialogue” with the Customs Union and the CIS. Economic and foreign ministers have proposed that Ukraine, Russia, and the EU create a three-way commission to improve and strengthen trade relations.
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia welcomed Ukraine's desire to actively develop ties with Moscow, and Putin added he wasn't completely against Ukraine's association with EU.
Putin said he supports the idea of trilateral trade talks, but only up until Ukraine signs an association agreement with the EU.
"We favor this, but only before decisions are made. How can we hold negotiations on issues that have already been agreed upon and endorsed? What is our role in such negotiations? It's equal to zero, but we are surely prepared for such a discussion if it is substantial," Putin said Thursday in Moscow.
After the decision, thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets in protest, chanting ‘Ukraine is Europe’ and many have taken to social media, and are expressing their disappointment in the government's decision to pivot away from the EU.
Opposition parties are organizing a demonstration for November 24 in Kiev. The timing coincides with the ninth anniversary of the Orange Revolution of November 2004 to January 2005. Demonstrators then used the political cry of “westernize” Ukraine, and that eventually led to Yanukovych taking the presidency in an election many believe to have been rigged.
The EU called the landmark move away from Europe "a disappointment not just for the Union, but for the people of Ukraine." EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the signing of the pact "would have provided a unique opportunity to reverse the recent discouraging trend of decreasing foreign direct investment in Ukraine and would have given momentum to negotiations on a new standby arrangement with the IMF."
Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovych, said he still had his eye on integration with the EU, and he plans to attend the Vilnius summit on November 28.
“We still have a bit to go to the top. We do not fear difficulties and are confident that we will continue towards European integration,” Yanukovych said Thursday.
“If there is no deal in November, Putin will have won a resounding psychological victory – most everyone in the EU would want to prevent that, and Yanukovych counts on it,” Dmitry Trenin told RT ahead of the decision.
Tymoshenko prison deadline
The deadline for Ukraine to meet all criteria necessary to join the EU trade association was initially set for November 18, and then was later moved to November 21.
Initially, the signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and EU was scheduled to take place at the Vilnius summit on November 28, but on November 21 the parliament rejected a bill that would allow jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to travel abroad for treatment. Europe is unlikely to approve the deal as long as she remains in prison.
Experts say Ukraine hopes to act as a bridge between Russia and the EU, but Russia has made it clear there will be no bridge if Ukraine formalizes its relationship with the EU, and they would have to give up their "exclusive relationship" with Russia.
An EU envoy has been in Kiev all of November preparing conditions for Ukraine to enter the EU trade association at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius.
Tymoshenko was jailed in 2011 for a gas deal she brokered with Gazprom in 2009, a charge seen as politically motivated by the EU.
Putin’s Customs Union
Ukraine’s sizable economy (worth about $155 billion a year) and resource-rich land have both Moscow and Brussels eager to strike exclusive trade deals.
If Kiev chooses to pursue EU membership, it will foil Putin’s long-term ambition to create a trade bloc to rival the EU, which so far includes Belarus and Kazakhstan. Armenia has also expressed its intentions to join Russia’s trade orbit.
Russia has warned Ukraine that a step west toward joining the European Union would be "trade suicide" and result in billions in lost trade revenue - and that joining the Russia-led Customs Union is more beneficial.
Both deals are appealing to Ukraine. On one hand, by siding with Russia, Ukraine continues to foster good relations with its neighbor, which imports nearly 25 percent of Ukraine’s exports.
On the other hand, moving west to Europe would save Ukrainian exporters nearly $490 million over 10 years, as 95 percent of goods would have zero customs duties, according to the European Commission.
Europe has been courting Ukraine into an associate trade membership for the past four years, which has created a geopolitical battle with Russia.
All sides have employed much political brinkmanship in the period leading up to the trade deal. Ukraine threatened to stop buying Russian gas, and Moscow stoked speculation there would be another gas war between the two neighbors, which would leave Ukraine without enough heat to last the winter.
Over the last decade Ukraine and Russia have both been trying to sever their complicated gas relationship. Gazprom has been building a maze of pipelines to circumvent Ukraine to deliver gas to Europe, and Ukraine has been wooing foreign companies in joint ventures in shale and offshore reserves.
After Naftogas, Ukraine’s state-owned oil and gas company, said it was cutting ties with Gazprom, Yanukovych contradicted the statement saying he “hoped for a compromise” with Russia.
Former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko signed a ‘pre-pay’ contract with Gazprom in 2009 and was later jailed on charges of abuse of power.
Since the pre-pay contract was established, Ukraine has complained about expensive gas prices, which average around $400 per 1,000 cubic meters, one of the highest in Europe. Ukraine currently imports more than half of its gas from Russia, but both countries are making efforts to cut down on business.
Russia and Ukraine waged two gas wars over prices in the winters of 2006 and 2009 (which lasted 3 weeks) over a claim that Ukraine was late in paying.
Debt and downgrades
Ukraine’s depreciating currency reserves and massive deficit have brought it close to economic collapse, and an IMF bailout of between $10 billion and $15 billion could be needed in the near future.
Russia holds a significant portion of Ukraine’s sovereign national debt.
The at-risk currency has prompted the big three rating agencies to downgrade their outlook on Ukraine. Fitch downgraded Ukraine’s long-term foreign local currency issuer default rating to ‘B-‘ from ‘B’ following S&P’s downgrade of its debt rating to ‘B-‘ - the same junk level as Greece and Cyprus. Moody’s cut its rating to Caa1 from B3 in September putting them at “very high default risk.”
Ukraine’s government reserves are so depleted they may no longer be able to keep national energy company Naftogaz afloat, and may be forced to find a foreign buyer.
US money manager Franklin Templeton picked up $5 billion of Ukraine’s international debt, nearly a fifth, in August.
Expect Devastating Global Economic Changes In 2014
Brandon Smith Alt Market November 28, 2013
By any reasonable measure, I think it is safe to say that the last quarter of 2013 has been an insane game of economic Russian Roulette. Even more unsettling is the fact that most of the American population still has little to no clue that the U.S. was on the verge of a catastrophic catalyst event at least three times in the past three months alone, and that we face an even greater acceleration next year.
The first near miss was the Federal Reserve’s announcement of a possible “taper” of QE stimulus in early fall, which sent shivers through stock markets and proved what we have been saying all along – that the entire recovery is a facade built on an ever thinning balloon of fiat money. Today, markets function entirely on the expectation that the Fed will continue stimulus forever. If the Fed does cut QE in any way, the frail psychology of the markets will shatter, and the country will come crashing down with it.
The second near miss was the possible unilateral invasion of Syria demanded by the Obama Administration. As we have discussed here at Alt-Market for years, any invasion of Syria or Iran will bring detrimental consequences to the U.S. economy and energy markets, not to mention draw heavy opposition from Russia and China. Though the naïve shrug it off as a minor foreign policy bungle, Syria could have easily become WWIII, and I believe the only reason the establishment has not yet followed through with a strike in the region is because the alternative media has been so effective in warning the masses. The elites need a certain percentage of support from the general public and the military for any war action to be effective, which they did not receive. After all, no one wants to fight and die in support of CIA funded Al Qaeda terrorist cells on the other side of the world. The establishment tried to hide who the rebels were, and failed.
The third near miss was, of course, the debt ceiling debate, which has been extended to next spring. America came within a razor’s edge of debt default, which many people rightly fear. What some do not yet grasp, though, is that debt default of the U.S. was NOT avoided last month, it is INEVITABLE. Debt default will ultimately result in the death of the dollar as the world reserve currency, and the petro-currency. This final gasp will lead to hyperstagflation within our financial system, and third world status for most of the citizenry. It is only a matter of time, and timing.
“Timing” is truly what we are all concerned about. Those of us in the field of alternative media and economics understand well that the U.S. is on a collision course with disaster; it is a mathematical certainty. We no longer think in terms of “if” it happens – we only question “when” it will happen. Our fiscal structure now hangs by the thinnest of threads, a thread which for all we know could be cut at a moments notice. However, economic and political storms appear to be brewing with the year 2014 as a target.
Globalists have been openly seeking the destabilization of U.S. sovereignty, and they have openly admitted that the destruction of the dollar and our economic foundations will aid them in their goal. It is important to never forget that international financiers WANT to absorb America into a new global economic structure, and that the U.S. must be debased before this can be accomplished. Here are a few reasons why I believe 2014 may be the year they make their final move…
Debt Debate On Steroids
Nothing concrete was decided during the highly publicized “battle” between Democrats and the GOP on what would be done to solve the U.S. debt addiction. Some people might assume that the fight will go on indefinitely, and that the “can” will be kicked down the road for years to come. This assumption is a dangerous one. If you thought the last debt debate was hair raising, the next is likely to give you a coronary. Think of 2013 as a practice run, a warm up to the main event in 2014. Why will next year be different? Because the motivations behind a debt ceiling freeze (and thus debt default) are now supported by the obvious failure of Obamacare.
Funding for Obamacare was the underlying issue that gave strength to the push for new debt ceiling extensions. The U.S. government has overreached financially in ever way imaginable. We have long running entitlement programs that have been technically bankrupt for years. But, Obamacare was so pervasive during the debt debate that we heard nothing of these existing liabilities. Ultimately, Obamacare is the primary reason why so many Americans on the “left” want unlimited spending and inflation, and why so many Americans on the “right” are actually seeking debt default.
We all know that at the top of the pyramid the debt debate itself is false left/right theater, but it is still theater with a purpose.
In my articles ‘The Socialization Of America Is Economically Impossible’ and ‘Obamacare: Is It A Divide And Conquer Distraction’, I discussed why universal healthcare could not be implemented in America, and I predicted in advance that Obamacare was actually a farce that was designed to fail. The program’s only purpose is to provide a vehicle by which divisions between the fake left and the fake right could be solidified in the minds of the common populace. A lot of cynicism was directed at the notion that the government might create a socialized healthcare initiative and then allow it to fail. Of course, we now know that is exactly what they had in mind.
During the last debt debate, Obamacare was just a policy waiting to be implemented; next debate, that policy will be rightly labeled a train wreck. Obamacare is falling apart at it’s very inception, and evidence makes clear that the White House KNEW in advance that this would occur. In the days before it’s launch, performance tests on the Obamacare website showed conclusively that the system could not handle more than 500 users.
Obama promised that preexisting healthcare plans would be retained by Americans and that the Affordable Care Act would not do damage to established insurance models. He made this promise knowing full well that he could not or would not keep it. This dishonesty has resulted in rebellion by Democrats who have sided with Republicans to pass a bill which obstructs the erasure of existing health coverage.
States once disturbingly loyal to the White House are now moving to limit the application of the Obamacare structure.
The White House had foreknowledge that the program was nowhere near ready, yet, they moved forward anyway. Why wouldn’t they stall? Why would Obama knowingly unleash his “opus” before it was finished? He had it in the bag, right? He won, right? All he had to do was build a functioning website and keep his promises at least long enough to sucker the majority of Americans into the system. Instead, he throws the fight and hits the canvas before he’s even punched? Why?
It all sounds rather insane if you aren’t aware of the bigger picture, and I’m sure the average Democrat out there is wide-eyed and bewildered. Some might blame it on “ego”, or “hubris”, but this makes little sense. Obamacare is an American socialist’s dream. With a simple working public interaction model, Obama would be worshiped by leftists for decades to come as the next Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Hubris should have ENSURED that the White House launch of Obamacare would be flawless.
Once you realize that this is not about Obama, and that Obama is nothing but a middle-man for the globalists, and that the actual implementation of Obamacare never mattered to the establishment, the fog begins to clear.
With Obamacare in shambles, the dynamic of the debt debate theater changes completely. Some Democrats may well show support for a hold on the debt ceiling, for, what reason do they have to champion more spending? Obama has already made fools of them all, and the Obamacare motivator is essentially out of the picture. The GOP will be energized and more unified than the last debate, giving more momentum to a debt ceiling lock. The argument will be made that a resulting debt default will not be harmful, and that the U.S. can carry the weight of existing liabilities until the budget is balanced. This is certainly a lie, but it is a fashionable lie that Americans will want to hear.
Americans do not want to hear that our economy is too far gone and that any motion, to spend, or to cut, will have the same result – currency collapse and fiscal implosion. They do not want to hear that pain must be suffered before a realistic solution can be applied. They do not want to hear the the system will have to be brought down before it can be rebuilt. And, they definitely do not want to hear that the system will be deliberately brought down and replaced with something even worse.
Will the next debt debate in Spring 2014 end in debt default and the collapse that globalists desire so much? It’s hard to say, but many insiders appear to be preparing for just such a scenario…
The Fed’s Buzz Kill
No one, and I mean no one, believes the private Federal Reserve will ever commit to a taper of fiat stimulus. Hell, I barely believe it’s possible, and I’m open to just about any scenario. That said, I have to ask a question which few analysts seem to be asking – why does the Fed keep pre-injecting the concept of taper into the mainstream if they never intend to implement it? When has the Fed ever pre-injected a plan into the MSM which it did not eventually implement?
The banksters have the markets in the palm of their hand, or at least they seem to. Stocks now rise and fall according to whatever meaningless press release the central bank happens to put out on any given morning. What do they have to gain by consistently shaking the confidence of investors around the world by suggesting that the fiat party they created will abruptly end?
The impending approval by the Senate of Janet Yellen, a champion of the printing press, would suggest to many that QE-infinity is assured. We know that the black hole generated by the derivatives implosion cannot be filled (debts still exist in the quadrillions of dollars), and that the Fed will have to print endlessly in order to slow the deterioration of the the banking sector. We know that none of the currency flows created by the Fed are trickling down to main street, which is why credit remains mostly frozen, real unemployment counting U-6 measurements remains at around 25%, food stamp recipients have risen to around 50 million, and the only sales boosts to property markets are those caused by big banks buying bankrupt houses and then reissuing them as rentals.
We know that it makes sense for the central bank to continue QE, if only to continue pumping up banks and the stock market and hide the truly dismal state of the overall system. But let’s forget about what we think “makes sense” for just a moment…
What if the Fed no longer WANTS to hide the true state of the system anymore? What if QE is now giving back diminishing returns, and will soon be no longer effective at hiding economic weakness?Central bankers surely don’t want to take the blame for a collapse, but what if the perfect patsy is already lined up? A patsy so hated and despised that no one would think twice about their guilt? I am, of course, talking about the Federal Government itself.
Think about it; the failure of Obamacare promises a debt debate in the Spring of 2014 that will rock the very foundations of the global economy. Both sides, Democrat and Republican, are ready to blame the other fully for any disastrous outcome, though “Tea Party” conservatives have been painted by the mainstream media as the lead culprits behind a financial catastrophe that began before the Tea Party was born. The idea of “gridlock” leading to impasse and calamity is already built into the country’s consciousness. The general public’s opinion of all areas of government has recently hit all time lows. In fact, our opinion of government could scarcely go any lower than it already has. Everyone HATES what government is, or what they think it is. Most Americans would be happy to place the brunt of the blame for an economic disaster on the shoulders of Washington DC.
The genius of it is, they deserve a large part of the blame. They helped to make possible all of the horrors the citizenry will face in the coming years. The problem is, the public may become so blinded with rage over the failure of the political system, that they may completely forget about the role of international and central banks and turn on each other instead.
Why is the Fed now discussing, just before the possible confirmation of Janet Yellen, a stimulus dove, the need for taper measures by 2014?
Is it just coincidence that the taper discussion is taking place parallel to the debt ceiling battle, or are these two things related? What if the Fed plans to apply QE cuts during or after the renewed debt debate in order to make the market effects even more negative? What if the Fed is timing the taper to give energy to a debt default? What if the Fed wants to reduce support, so that later, when all hell breaks loose, we’ll come begging them for support?
Whether you believe a debt default will be deliberately induced or not, certain foreign investors have been preparing for such a U.S. breakdown for years, and once again, the apex investor, China, has made plans for dramatic economic policy changes to take place in 2014…
China Is Ready To File For Divorce
The economic marriage between China and the U.S. has been touted Ad nauseum as an invincible relationship chained in eternity by unassailable interdependency. I’ve just never bought this fanciful tale. For years I’ve written about the likelihood that China will decouple from the American dollar apparatus, and so far, most of my warnings have come to pass.
China has pushed forward with massive physical gold purchases despite all arguments by skeptics that gold is no longer necessary or prudent as a safe haven investment. Apparently, the Chinese know something they do not. China is on pace to become the largest holder of gold in the world as early as 2014.
China has now issued Yuan denominated bonds and other assets around the globe, and its central bank has expanded its total balance sheet to at least $24 Trillion, outmatching the reported increased balance sheets of all other central banks:
Now, some feel that this Chinese liquidity should be considered a massive bubble on the verge of exploding, and that it will be Chinese instability, not U.S. instability, that triggers renewed crisis. I would like to offer an alternative view…
I am not shocked at all by this incredible spike in Yuan circulation. In fact, I expected it. The fall back argument against China dumping the dollar as the world reserve has always been that there is no alternative currency that boasts as much liquidity as the dollar. Well, as we now know, China has been raining Yuan down on every continent. International banks like JP Morgan have been HELPING them do it.
China is not desperately attempting to prop up its own markets like we are in the U.S. China is DELIBERATELY generating massive liquidity because they seek to aid the IMF in its longtime plan to replace the greenback as the world reserve currency. These are not the activities of an investor that wants to stick with the U.S. or the dollar. These are not the activities of a nation that wishes to continue its limited role as a source of cheap industrial labor.
China, being the largest importer of petroleum surpassing the U.S., is now planning to price its crude oil futures in Yuan, instead of the dollar.
And, the Chinese central bank has announced that it now plans to stop all purchases of U.S. dollars for its reserves.
These decisions are part of a precision strategy, a formula which was finalized during a little discussed and very secretive economic policy meeting which took place in China this past month.
While much of the media was focused on China’s call for softer restrictions on its one-child policy, they ignored the thrust of the meeting, which was to establish Chinese consumption over exports, and internationalize the Yuan. All that is left is for China to “float” the Yuan’s value on the open market, which is an action the head of the PBOC, Zhou Xiaochuan, says he plans to expedite.
All of the reforms discussed at China’s Third Plenum meeting are supposed to begin taking shape in…that’s right…2014.
A Storm Of Septic Proportions
As I have always pointed out, economic collapse is not necessarily an event, it is a process. The most frightening elements of this process usually do not become visible until it is too late for common people to react in a productive way. All of the dangers covered in this article could very well set fires tomorrow, that is how close our nation is to the edge. However, the culmination of events so far seems to be setting the stage for something, an important something, in 2014. If the worst is possible, assume the worst is probable. The next leg down, or the next economic carpet bombing. Maybe slightly painful, maybe mortal. Sadly, as long as Americans continue to remain dependent on the existing corrupt system, global bankers can pull the plug at their leisure, and determine the depth of the wound with scientific precision.
Is your TV spying on YOU? It sounds like science fiction but many new TVs can watch you - telling advertisers your favourite shows or even filming you on the sofa. And there's no off switch!
By GUY ADAMS
PUBLISHED: 20:37 EST, 25 November 2013 | UPDATED: 04:37 EST, 26 November 2013
You are sitting in bed in your pyjamas, drinking a cup of cocoa. A loved one lies next to you, watching late-night television. Pillow talk is exchanged. An alarm clock is set. Eventually the lights are turned out.
Earlier, you sat on the living-room sofa eating supper, before loading the dishwasher and heading upstairs.
You have, in other words, just enjoyed a perfectly normal night, in a perfectly normal home. The curtains are drawn, the central heating turned up. It’s cosy, relaxing and, above all, completely private. Or so you thought.
The truth turns out to be quite the opposite. For on the other side of the world, people you didn’t know existed are keeping a beady eye on your every move.
On the other side of the world, people you didn't know existed are keeping a beady eye on your every move
These characters can see what clothes you have been wearing and what food you’ve eaten. They heard every word you said, and logged every TV show you watched. Some are criminals, others work for major corporations. And now they know your most intimate secrets.
It may sound like a plot summary for a futuristic science-fiction movie. But real-life versions of this Orwellian scenario are being played out every day in towns and cities across the globe — and in most cases the victims have no idea.
At fault is a common electronic device invented nearly a century ago and found in almost every modern household: the domestic television set.
Put simply, our TVs have started spying on us.
Last week, there was a high-profile case in point. An IT consultant called Jason Huntley, who lives in a village near Hull, uncovered evidence that a flat-screen television, which had been sitting in his living room since the summer, was secretly invading his family’s privacy.
He began investigating the £400 LG device after noticing that its home screen appeared to be showing him ‘targeted’ adverts — for cars, and Knorr stock cubes — based on programmes he’d just been watching.
Huntley decided to monitor information that the so-called smart TV — which connects to the internet — was sending and receiving. He did this by using his laptop effectively as a bridge between his television and the internet receiver, so the laptop was able to show all the data being sucked out of his set.
He soon discovered that details of not just every show he watched but every button he pressed on his remote control were being sent back to LG’s corporate headquarters in South Korea.
There, the electronics company appeared to be using its customers’ data to make money. A promotional video shown to commercial clients suggested that data was being used to provide ‘the ad experience you have always dreamed of’.
The information Huntley’s TV had sent — without his knowledge — included the contents of his private digital video collection, which he’d watched on the television. This included camcorder footage of family celebrations containing images of his wife and two young children.
Most worrying of all, the device continued sending such information to Korea even after Huntley had adjusted the television’s default settings to ‘opt out’ of data sharing.
Huntley wrote about the findings on his blog. After his case was picked up by mainstream news outlets, LG announced an investigation. ‘Customer privacy is a top priority,’ the firm said. ‘We are looking into reports that certain viewing information on LG smart TVs was shared without consent.’
LG has also removed its promotional video about targeted advertising from its website.
The Information Commissioner’s Office says it is now investigating the firm for a ‘possible breach’ of the Data Protection Act. Jason Huntley, meanwhile, tells me he is ‘very suspicious and also a little worried’ by the affair.
‘I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this. Who knows what else these televisions are doing that we don’t know about?’
It doesn’t take much digging to find out. Talk to any IT security expert and they will tell you that Huntley’s discovery is probably the tip of the iceberg.
What’s to blame is the continuing rise of smart televisions, which account for most new TV sets sold and are predicted to be in more than half of British homes by 2016. These high-tech devices differ from traditional televisions in that they are not just passive boxes that receive a signal and transfer it to a backlit screen.
Instead, they are essentially computers that connect to the internet — and so also send information back the other way.
In theory, this can be extremely useful. For example, many smart TVs have shopping ‘apps’ to access Amazon. They connect to iTunes. They allow us to watch YouTube, instantly download films via Netflix, stream BBC shows on iPlayer, and talk to friends using the video phone link Skype.
But in practice, like almost every type of computer, they can be all-too-easily hacked. And unlike PCs, almost all of which have fairly good anti-virus ‘firewalls’, smart TVs have little or no such software. Indeed, most have been designed so that outside software — including anti-virus programmes — can never be installed.
This year, Luigi Auriemma, an IT security researcher and computer programmer from Malta, demonstrated the risks that these devices pose when he showed it was possible to hack into several types of Samsung smart television.
Last week, IT consultant Jason Huntley uncovered evidence that his LG flat-screen television, which had been sitting in his living room since the summer, was secretly invading his family's privacy
After accessing the devices via the internet, Auriemma was able to control them: turning the TVs off and on, and secretly accessing data they held about a user’s viewing habits.
Had he been a criminal, he could also have obtained details of the credit cards that users had uploaded to access pay-per-view TV, download films or use shopping apps.
Other experts recently made the chilling discovery that it is possible to remotely access the video cameras built into the front of thousands of smart televisions, and spy on the users in their own home.
One such expert is Kurt Stammberger, who works for the IT security firm Mocana. He says the company was recently asked by a television manufacturer to do ‘penetration tests’ on its devices. ‘We weren’t just able to find out what someone was watching, and had watched,’ he says. ‘We could also install “spyware” that could, if they had a video camera, allow us to see through that camera — without even activating the little light that indicates it’s on.
‘It was a fairly straightforward thing to do. People who work in IT often place tape over their computer’s camera lens [in a laptop they are usually set into the inside of the lid] unless they want to actually use it, because it’s so common to hack them. We should all do the same with smart TVs.’
Such an attack, which Stammberger describes as ‘frighteningly easy’ to mount, could provide voyeuristic hackers with a chance to snoop on unsuspecting home-owners in their living rooms or bedrooms.
You have only to witness the extraordinary success of the critically acclaimed Channel 4 show Gogglebox, in which consenting families allow the viewing public to watch them watching television, to appreciate how enticing that prospect could be.
More commercially minded hackers could use such an attack to steal commercial secrets. It could even be used to spy on foreign powers.
‘It’s a serious prospect and I would be very surprised if the Government ever puts in a big order for TVs from, for example, a Chinese manufacturer such as Huawei,’ adds Stammberger, referring to the giant corporation that has been banned in America because of fears over espionage.
‘But supply chains these days are so long and so complex that it’s very rare to buy an electronic device that doesn’t have some sort of Chinese component in it.’
Gangs based largely in Eastern Europe and Russia, meanwhile, are already using so-called ‘data-mining’ programmes to trawl the internet looking for smart TVs in which owners have entered their credit card details. A single search can yield thousands of results.
According to Roger Grimes, who has written eight books on IT security and worked in the field for 28 years, the gangs then sell lists of hacked credit card numbers to fellow criminals.
Card details that were obtained within the past 24 hours sell for around £2.20 each. Older ones are cheaper because there is more chance the cards could have been changed or stopped.
‘What we are starting to see now is really just a foretaste of what’s going to be happening in the next couple of decades,’ says Grimes.
‘Thanks firstly to mobile devices, and now smart TVs, we are entering a brave new world where there will be computers everywhere. Bad guys will take advantage of that.’
And we may not even be safe in our own living rooms.
Scotland independence plan shows 'position of strength,' government says
By Susannah Cullinane, CNN
November 26, 2013 -- Updated 1531 GMT (2331 HKT)
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond presents the White Paper for Scottish independence.
(CNN) -- An independent Scotland would retain Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, keep the pound sterling currency, and remain within the European Union, according to a policy document presented by Scotland's devolved government Tuesday.
The release of the draft plan -- known as a white paper -- comes ahead of next year's referendum on independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The September 18 2014 referendum will allow Scots a straight yes-or-no vote on staying in the union.
If they vote yes, the country's first independent election would be held on May 5, 2016, according to the white paper.
Releasing the "Scotland's Future" document in Glasgow, Scotland's First Minister and Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond said "Scotland's future is in Scotland's hands."
"This white paper is the most detailed blueprint that any people have ever been offered anywhere in the world as a basis for becoming an independent country," he said.
"It puts beyond doubt that an independent Scotland would start from a position of strength -- in fact become independent in more promising circumstances than virtually any other nation in history."
But Better Together campaign leader and former British finance minister Alistair Darling said it was "a fantasy" to say Scotland could leave the UK but keep all the benefits of UK membership.
"The white paper is a work of fiction. It is thick with false promises and meaningless assertions. Instead of a credible and costed plan, we have a wish-list of political promises without any answers on how Alex Salmond would pay for them," the Scottish lamaker said.
In his presentation, Salmond highlighted what he said was Scotland's "underlying economic strength."
"An independent Scotland could have the eighth-highest economic output and the tenth-highest national income per head of population in the whole of the developed world," he said.
The plan says over the past 32 years, Scotland has contributed more tax per head of population than the UK as a whole and on independence would continue to have healthier public finances than the UK.
But the country would retain the pound sterling as its currency as part of a "formal Sterling Area," it says.
Other key points outlined in the paper including maintaining Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as Scotland's official head of state.
It says an independent Scotland would have a points-based immigration system, targeted at Scotland's particular needs and would ensure that British citizens "habitually resident" in Scotland would automatically be considered Scottish citizens.
Existing Scottish citizens would have the right but not the obligation to hold a Scottish passport.
The paper says an independent Scotland would establish its own network of overseas embassies and consulates but would have a "close and constructive" relationship with the rest of the UK on many foreign policy issues.
The government's policy is to remain inside the European Union, the paper says.
"Following a vote for independence, the Scottish Government will immediately seek discussions with the Westminster Government and with the member states and institutions of the EU to agree the process whereby a smooth transition to full EU membership can take place on the day Scotland becomes an independent country."
An independent Scotland would make "an early agreement on the speediest safe removal of nuclear weapons a priority," the paper says.
"This would be with a view to the removal of (Britain's nuclear deterrent program) Trident within the first term of the Scottish Parliament following independence," the paper says.
Scotland would negotiate with NATO to become an independent and non-nuclear member of the defense alliance, it said and would commit to a £2.5 billion ($3.38B) defense budget, building to a total of 15,000 regular defense personnel.
"We are prepared to negotiate arrangements for the continued use of defense infrastructure in Scotland by UK forces and vice versa, at least for a transitional period," it added.
The Act of Union joined Scotland and England in 1707 and Scotland is currently governed under the umbrella of the British government in Westminster in London, alongside Wales and Northern Ireland.
Westminster returned some autonomy to the three nations, and gave them the right to form their own parliaments, in the late 1990s.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Salmond, signed a deal in October 2012 paving the way for Scots to vote on independence from the United Kingdom.
‘Fight Club,’ ‘Pretty Woman’ Producer Admits to Being Israeli Spy
Looks like someone forgot the first rule of Fight Club
By Laura Stampler @laurastamplerNov. 25, 2013
The Hollywood producer behind Fight Club forgot the first rule of fight club and admitted on Israeli prime time news that he is a former Israeli spy.
Although Arnon Milchan was rumored to be a spy for years — even Robert De Niro raised suspicions — it wasn’t until Monday that the “Pretty Woman” producer admitted to buying arms and assisting his country’s nuclear program to “Uvda,” a popular show in Israel.
“I did it for my country and I’m proud of it,” said Milchan, who also ran a fertilizer company in Israel before making his mark in Hollywood.
He also said other Hollywood bigwigs were involved.
Danish Royal Family
An official portrait of the Danish royal family, revealed on Wednesday, has drawn online criticism for being dark and "creepy". The painting was done by Danish artist Thomas Kluge.
An official portrait of the Danish royal family that took artist Thomas Kluge four years to create has drawn criticism for being dark, "creepy" and resembling the poster of a horror movie.
The Amalienborg Museum, which will exhibit the painting along with other royal portraits by Kluge, describes the work as “both a story of a modern family and a piece of royal history.”
In the painting, which was revealed to the public on Wednesday, the royal couple is depicted in a gilt rococo settee surrounded by their sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. Kluge’s style is described as “a kind of magic realism’’ by the museum.
“The present and future monarchs, H.M. The Queen, T.R.H. The Crown Prince and Prince Christian, all make eye contact with us, while their family members are portrayed in their own universe, unprovoked by the gaze of the spectator,’’ the painting’s description reads. “The children are at play with the exception of the upright and severe Prince Christian who seems aware of his future responsibilities.’
Prince Christian, 7, is second in the Danish line of succession. His “severe’’ look includes a macabre glow around his face and bags under his eyes. His depiction and the overall painting have left many online unsettled.
The Huffington Post (We do not necessarily endorse all the practices described below. Ed)
What The 1960s Got Right About Health, Happiness And Well-Being
By Carolyn Gregoire
Posted:11/22/2013 8:46 am EST|Updated:11/22/2013 4:58 pm EST
When we think about the 60s, we might conjure up a decade when chain-smoking and two-martini lunches were still in vogue. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, we may think of a time defined by acid-dropping, free-loving counterculture. But however you look at it, the decade of the cultural revolution was a time when our ideas about health, wellness and happiness were radically changing.
In some ways, the spirit of the 1960s counterculture has made a resurgence today: We've arguably returned to a time when many are questioning the value of ourrelentless pursuit of "success"(and the stress that comes along with it), asking whether our hard-driving lifestyles are causing us to miss out on some of the important things in life. Interest in yoga, meditation and Eastern spirituality -- which were all originally popularized in the West during the 60s -- have also peaked in recent years, becoming ingrained in our cultural lexicon and American lifestyles.
From Transcendental Meditation to family dinners, here are 10 tips from the 1960s on living well.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought Transcendental Meditation (TM) -- a type of mindfulness practice that uses the repetition of a mantra to clear the mind and promote relaxation -- to the U.S. in the late 1960s, and it spread like wildfire. The Beatles became followers of the Maharishi, spent time at his ashram in Rishikesh, India, and played an instrumental role in the popularization of the practice in the West. As a result, by the 1970s, "meditation moved from the counterculture to the mainstream, from weird to respectable, from youthful mind expansion to middle-age stress remedy," writes American Veda author Philip Goldberg.
And it works: TM has been associated with lower stress levels, improved academic performance, lower blood pressure, and reduced depression, among other physical and mental health benefits.
Get back to nature.
The counterculture moment revived many ideas from Transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, particularly the notion of getting back to nature as a way to reconnect with the self and with one's inner truth. Hippies of the 1960s spent time in nature, finding their own "Walden" spaces to reconnect with themselves through the power of nature.
“We need the tonic of wildness," Thoreau wrote in Walden. "At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
Pre-Internet and cell phones, and just as the TV was starting to make its way into American homes, sitting down with a good book was still a favorite pastime. Today, with constant digital distraction vying for our attention, it's certainly more difficult to find the time (and focus) to read at length. Nearly one in three Americans haven't read a book in the past year, according to a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll, whereas 25 percent of individuals in a 1964-1984 literacy poll said that they had read a book in the past day.
And perhaps we should take an, er, page from their book: Research has shown thatreading a book (on paper, not on your iPad) may lower stress levels, improve sleep quality, keep your brain sharp and ward off Alzheimer's.
Bring music into your life.
It's almost impossible to imagine the 1960s in America without classic rock bands like The Beatles, The Doors and the Grateful Dead, and singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell. Music was a huge part of the cultural revolution, and many of the values of the time were expressed through songs. Not only did music bring people together (ever seen photos of Woodstock?), but it also may have paid off with health benefits. Playing and listening to music could lower stress levels, ease anxiety and boost heart health.
Tune in to your spiritual side.
The cultural revolution called into question the dogma of organized religion, and instead advocated a free-thinking, inward-facing spirituality. The famous 1966 "Is God Dead?" TIME magazine cover affirmed the decline of religion and the rise of the "spiritual but not religious" faith designation and the New Age movement. Spirituality (which has been linked with mental health benefits, in addition to the known health benefits of having faith) blossomed during this time, and gained further cultural traction as the New Age crystallized in the 1970s.
Take a holistic approach to health.
The 1960s saw a grassroots revival of holistic health and natural medicine, as mind-body practices including meditation and yoga began to gain traction. Food co-ops also started tore appear at this time, filling the demand for healthy, fresh foods. Many Americans, for the first time, started factoring diet, lifestyle and emotions into the health equation. We now know that lifestyle factors can play an enormous role in influencing health outcomes, in addition to more traditional treatments.
Go on a retreat.
Some of the most popular spiritual retreat centers in the country today were founded in the 1960s, a respite for those looking to escape the city to find peace, balance and like-minded individuals. The Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Calif., opened its doors in 1962 as a "birthplace of the human potential movement," while the Kripalu Center For Yoga And Health was created out of the Yoga Society of Pennsylvania, founded in 1966.
Eat dinner with your family.
Even after the television set worked its way into American homes in the early 1960s, tech-free family dinners were a nightly social custom in homes across America.
"One of the most important and memorable part of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s was my mother's requirement that we eat our meals together," historian Carl Hoffman wrote on his blog. "No such thing as sitting in front of the TV to eat a meal. We started each meal with prayer and then ate our meal over conversation, jokes and laughter. It was a great time to grow up and a fond memory of that time in my life."
Choose meaning over money.
Man's Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl's often-cited meditation on the meaning of life, was named by UC Berkeley as a historically significant book of 1962, and it became one of a handful of books that defined the decade. As Frankl wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
The 1960s cultural revolution was, at its core, a break from traditional ways of life and notions of success, allowing people to pursue unconventional lifestyles that placed a higher value on love and individual freedom. Science now tells us that pursuing lives of meaning might actually help us live longer. Recent research has shown that having a sense of purpose not only makes us happier, but could also make us healthier.
The College Fix
PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH IS RACIST, SAYS PORTLAND SCHOOL OFFICIAL
by NATHAN HARDEN - FIX EDITOR on NOVEMBER 21, 2013
Did you know that eating or even talking about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich could be considered racist?
Apparently, it’s because people in some cultures don’t eat sandwich bread. Verenice Gutierrez, principal of Harvey Scott K-8 School in Portland explained in and interview with the Portland Tribune:
“Take the peanut butter sandwich, a seemingly innocent example a teacher used in a lesson last school year,” the Tribune said.
“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” Gutierrez asked. “Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”
…The Tribune noted that the school started the new year with “intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives,” to help educators understand their own “white privilege,” in order to “change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance.”"Last Wednesday, the first day of the school year for staff, for example, the first item of business for teachers at Scott School was to have a Courageous Conversation — to examine a news article and discuss the ‘white privilege’ it conveys,” the Tribune added.
Gutierrez completed a week-long seminar called “Coaching for Educational Equity,” a program the Tribune says focuses “on race and how it affects life.” She also serves on an administrative committee that focuses on systematic racism.
“Our focus school and our Superintendent’s mandate that we improve education for students of color, particularly Black and Brown boys, will provide us with many opportunities to use the protocols of Courageous Conversations in data teams, team meetings, staff meetings, and conversations amongst one another,” she said in a letter to staff.
Next time you’re in the bread aisle at the grocery store, you may want to think twice. Sensitive liberal educators are now recommending the “torta” or the “pita” as a more culturally inclusive alternative.
Now that you’ve been made aware of the evil of PB&J, there’s only one question left to answer: Is white bread more racist than whole wheat?
Slate Writer: Racism Could Explain White Turkey Meat Preference
By P.J. Gladnick | November 26, 2012
Have you been enjoying your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers? Do you have a preference for the white meat? If you do, then racism could explain why you prefer the white meat to the dark meat.
In an article worthy of The Onion but published in all seriousness in Slate, writer Ron Rosenbaum plumbs the depths of absolute ridiculousness to explain his white meat racism theory. First he details why white meat is supposedly so horrible:
White meat turkey has no taste. Its slabs of dry, fibrous material are more like cardboard conveyances, useful only for transporting flavorsome food like stuffing and gravy from plate to mouth. It's less a foodstuff than a turkey app, simulated meat, a hyperlink to real food.
Perhaps Rosenbaum has no taste buds. Also there is the matter of the finer texture of white meat compared to the stringiness of dark meat. However, Rosenbaum sees dark overtones in why people are less than enthusiastic for dark meat despite becoming "enlightened" about the inferiority of white bread:
Why have we broken the chains of the whiteness that bound us to fatally tasteless white bread while still remaining imprisoned in the white-meat turkey ghetto?
...Despite its superior taste, dark meat has dark undertones for some. Dark meat evokes the color of earth, soil. Dark meat seems to summon up ancient fears of contamination and miscegenation as opposed to the supposed superior purity of white meat. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that white meat remains the choice of a holiday that celebrates Puritans.
Indeed, the connotations of the pale and darker parts of the turkey constitute a meaty metaphor for the Thanksgiving feast itself. The allegedly more refined and daintier white parts, the wings and breast, have never touched the ground the way the earthier darker legs have done. And you know how dirty dirt is.
And if you still can't figure out what Rosenbaum is suggesting, he spells it out for you:
It was enough to make me wonder whether there could be a racial, if not racist, subtext here.
The Atlantic (Edited from longer article.)
The Diet From God
The Daniel fast is growing in popularity, often prompted by Christians’ desire for a deeper form of prayer. Many are reporting lasting physical benefits, too.
NOV 26 2013, 9:05 AM ET
As a Baptist, January Rowe knew that tough times sometimes call for fasting. Purposefully going without food has long been a part of Judeo-Christian spiritual practice—David, Jesus, the disciples, and many other Biblical figures fasted regularly as a way to show obedience to God. For centuries, Christians have followed the Bible’s example by going hungry for stretches of time as a form of prayer.
In the summer of 2011, Rowe’s husband had just started a business, and “it was a major life change. I wanted to pray and do whatever I could to support him,” she said.
She thought about fasting, but she worried that not eating entirely for days would make it even harder to keep up with her two small children. The she remembered a relative mentioning a modified type of fast—she had called it “the Daniel Fast”—that involved eating only fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for 21 days. For Rowe, a self-described “sugar addict,” it seemed like a meaningful way to deny herself her favorite treats while attempting to channel God’s intentions for her family.
“It wasn't just me wanting to fit into a size 8, it was me committing to God,” Rowe, who lives near Dallas, explained.
After a few days, she no longer craved sugar, but more importantly, “I was closer to my husband and felt closer to God.”
In the Bible, the Jewish noble Daniel and his companions are captured by the Babylonians and inducted into the service of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonians offer Daniel and his men rich food (“the King’s meat” and wine), but Daniel was wary of God’s prohibition of “unclean foods.”
Daniel 1:8 states: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank...”
Daniel said he and his friends would eat a diet of only vegetables (“pulse”). After 10 days, they grew healthier and stronger than the Babylonians, and his diet became a small demonstration of his opposition to the King’s power.
This passage is occasionally used to encourage Christians to resist the corrupting influences of the outside world. But several years ago, some Protestant churches began to take the “diet” aspect of Daniel’s story literally.
Motivated by both faith and fitness, today many protestant Christians around the country are, like Daniel, occasionally limiting themselves to fruits and vegetables for 21-day increments. Several such believers told The Atlantic that while their intention for the initial fast was simply to enter a period of Lent-like self-denial in deference to their Lord, they have since found that the fast broke a life-long pattern of unhealthy eating and seems to have set them on a course toward better nutrition even after the 21 days ended.
Until next week...keep on
principal things for the whole use of man's life are water, fire,
iron, and salt, flour of wheat, honey, milk, and the blood of the
grape, and oil, and clothing.”
(Ecclesiasticus 39:26 from the Apocrypha)