The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
(1 Peter 1:7)

More Precious Than Gold

Dear Friends,

Greetings! Events in the world certainly do seem to be moving at a tumultuous pace. We have posted several articles of late concerning the European Union, the Euro, and related material.

Below are three articles “The Gold Standard vs. Fiat Money”, “Greeces Lenders Have The Right To Seize National Gold Reserves”, and “The Euro – Designed To Fail?”. If these articles are correct and you connect the dots then we may be about to witness possibly the greatest scam in world history.

If this comes to pass we will see entire nations trading their gold reserves for worthless paper currencies. See what you think.

The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.” (Revelation 17:4) Economics

From the article: What Was The Gold Standard?

The Gold Standard vs. Fiat Money

From Mike Moffatt

Almost every country, including the United States, is on a system of fiat money, which the glossary defines as "money that is intrinsically useless; is used only as a medium of exchange".

(From Wikipedia)Fiat money is money that derives its value from government regulation or law. The term derives from the Latin fiat, meaning "let it be done" or "it shall be [money]", as such money is established by government decree. Where fiat money is used as currency, the term fiat currency is used.

Fiat money originated in 11th century China, and its use became widespread during the Yuan and Ming dynasties. The Nixon Shock of 1971 ended the direct convertibility of the United States dollar to gold. Since then all reserve currencies have been fiat currencies, including the dollar and the euro.

In monetary economics, fiat money is an intrinsically useless product, used as a means of payment.

Gold Core (Edited from longer article.)

Greece's Lenders Have The Right To Seize National Gold Reserves

Published in Market Update  Precious Metals

23 February 2012

The current economic environment is good for gold. As long as governments continue to print money in an attempt to pull us out of this downturn, gold will continue to shine.

The New York Times reports that Greece's lenders may have the right to seize the Bank of Greece's gold reserves.

Ancient Greek Gold Coin of Alexander the Great

"Ms. Katseli, an economist who was labor minister in the government of George Papandreou until she left in a cabinet reshuffle last June, was also upset that Greece's lenders will have the right to seize the gold reserves in the Bank of Greece under the terms of the new deal."

The Reuters Global Gold Forum confirms that in the small print of the Greek "bailout" is a provision for the creditors to seize Greek national gold reserves. Reuters correspondents in Athens have not got confirmation that this is the case so they are, as ever, working hard to pin that down.

Greece owns just some 100 tonnes of gold. According to IMF data, for some reason over the last few months Greece has bought and sold the odd 1,000 ounce lot of its gold bullion reserves. A Reuter's correspondent notes that "these amounts are so tiny that it could well be a rounding issue, rather than holdings really rising or falling."

While many market participants would expect that Greece's gold reserves would be on the table in the debt agreement, it is the somewhat covert and untransparent way that this is being done that is of concern to Greeks and to people who believe in the rule of law.

Recent months have seen many senior German government officials calling for so called "PIIGS" nations gold reserves to be used as collateral. Such as Angela Merkel's budget speaker and his opposition counterpart who urged Portugal to consider selling their gold. 

Norbert Barthle, Germany's governing coalition budget speaker and his counterpart Carsten Schneider from the Social Democrats, the biggest opposition party, urged Portugal to consider selling some of its gold reserves to ease its debt problems. They called for a review of Portugal's request for financial aid to include gold and other potential asset sales.

The Irish Times reported in November that EU finance ministers' discussed a wider strategy by the ECB to sound out the possibility of gaining control over the gold reserves of the euro zone's central banks.

Senior German politician, Gunther Krichbaum, a lawmaker in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition and Chairman of the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union of the German Bundestag has proposed late last year that Italy sell its sizeable gold reserves in order to lower its debt. 

Gold's importance as debt and third party risk free collateral and as the ultimate form of money is increasing by the day.

While Greece's gold reserves are very small - Greece's creditors and senior German and EU financial officials clearly understand the value and monetary and strategic importance of Greece and the other heavily indebted European nations gold reserves. 

("He that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. Your riches are corrupted." Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God." Haggai 1:6, 2 Timothy 3:13, Proverbs 23:5, Psalms 118:8, James 5:2, 1 Timothy 6:1)


How Stuff Works

If you took all of the gold in the world and put it in one place how much would there be?

How much is "all the money in the world"? Spinning Garbage into Gold

­It is amazing, but the total amount of gold in the world is a surprisingly small q­uantity. Here's how you can calculate the total amount that is available.

If you look at a page like this one, or if you look it up in an encyclopedia, you will find that the annual worldwide production of gold is something like 50 million troy ounces per year. Gold has a specific gravity of 19.3, meaning that it is 19.3 times heavier than water. So gold weighs 19.3 kilograms per liter. A liter is a cube that measures 10 centimeters (about 4 inches) on a side. There are 32.15 troy ounces in a kilogram. Therefore, the world produces a cube of gold that is about 4.3 meters (about 14 feet) on each side every year. In other words, all of the gold produced worldwide in one year could just about fit in the average person's living room!

This cube weighs 1,555,210 kilograms (3,110,420 pounds). A recent spot price for gold was $256.10 U.S. -- using that number, all of the gold produced in a year is worth $12,805,000,000. That's a lot of money, but not an unimaginable amount. For example, that's about how much the Pentagon spent launching the GPS satellite system. NASA's budget in 1998 was $13.6 billion.

Figuring out the total amount of gold that has been produced by man is a little harder. To get at some kind of estimate, let's figure that the world has been producing gold at 50 million ounces a year for 200 years. That number is probably a little high, but when you figure that the Aztecs and the Egyptians produced a fair amount of gold for a long time, it's probably not too far off. Fifty million ounces * 200 years = 10 billion ounces. Ten billion ounces of gold would fit into a cube roughly 25 meters (about 82 feet) on a side. Consider that the Washington Monument measures 55 feet by 55 feet at its base and is 555 feet tall (17 x 17 x 170 m). That means that if you could somehow gather every scrap of gold that man has ever mined into one place, you could only build about one-third of the Washington Monument.




The Euro - Designed to fail?

Jack Napier

Mar 2011

Not so long ago, the like of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and many more, all had their own individual currencies.

Then along came the Euro, and removed all of that.

The Euro was more than a currency. It was a brand. A brand that heralded a new age that was moving toward more centralisation of power, and thus, power being in the hands of fewer numbers of people.

Like all brands, the Euro has served it's purpose, if it's purpose was to bring all those that signed into it, under more central control.

And now you see it failing.

Why is it failing? Maybe it was designed to play it's part, then 'fail'?

Because you can bet that the given answer to the 'failing Euro' will be....even more centralisation, into even fewer hands.

The Euro was not the end game. It, imo, is just a step in the way to a World currency, with a Central World Bank. I think that is the end game, and brands like the Euro, they are just logical steps to getting there.

And, in keeping with technology, I would imagine the end game is not merely a World currency, and a World Bank, but to make that currency almost exclusively electronic.

Now, to the naive, this may actually sound nice and neat.

One currency - less 'hassle'?

Electronic? - Hey, don't we already make millions of online payments?

One World Bank - What is the threat there?

I would propose to you that it would be a grotesque destination for all of mankind, and it would enslave us, more so than any other has tried to enslave any other.

Even today, while more and more of our domestic freedoms are being eroded, under a false pretext, that same old pattern of many of the victims of it actually welcoming being abused, is evident.

Many sit and wonder how an increasing number of very questionable foreign policies are being inacted, and how the masses can sit passively, no matter the fact that what they are seeing should insult them as human beings.


Silencing The Critics

Paul Craig Roberts

February 20, 2012

Silencing The Critics--Pat Buchanan, Judge Napolitano, And Others

By Paul Craig Roberts on February 19, 2012 at 5:45pm

In 2010 the FBI invaded the homes of peace activists in several states and seized personal possessions in what the FBI--the lead orchestrator of fake "terrorist plots"--called an investigation of "activities concerning the material support of terrorism."

Subpoenas were issued to compel antiwar protestors to testify before grand juries as prosecutors set about building their case that opposing Washington's wars of aggression constitutes giving aid and comfort to terrorists. The purpose of the raids and grand jury subpoenas was to chill the anti-war movement into inaction.

Last week in one fell swoop the last two remaining critics of Washington/Tel Aviv imperialism were removed from the mainstream media. Judge Napolitano's popular program, Freedom Watch, was cancelled by Fox TV, and Pat Buchanan was fired by MSNBC. Both pundits had wide followings and were appreciated for speaking frankly.

Many suspect that the Israel Lobby used its clout with TV advertisers to silence critics of the Israeli government's efforts to lead Washington to war with Iran. Regardless, the point before us is that the voice of the mainstream media is now uniform. Americans hear one voice, one message, and the message is propaganda. Dissent is tolerated only on such issues as to whether employer-paid health benefits should pay for contraceptive devices. Constitutional rights have been replaced with rights to free condoms.

The western media demonizes those at whom Washington points a finger. The lies pour forth to justify Washington's naked aggression: the Taliban are conflated with al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, Gaddafi is a terrorist and, even worse, fortified his troops with Viagra in order to commit mass rape against Libyan women.

President Obama and members of Congress along with Tel Aviv continue to assert that Iran is making a nuclear weapon despite public contradiction by the US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the CIA's National Intelligence Estimate. According to news reports, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta told members of the House of Representatives on February 16 that "Tehran has not made a decision to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon." However, in Washington facts don't count. Only the material interests of powerful interest groups matter.

At the moment the American Ministry of Truth is splitting its time between lying about Iran and lying about Syria. Recently, there were some explosions in far away Thailand, and the explosions were blamed on Iran. Last October the FBI announced that the bureau had uncovered an Iranian plot to pay a used car salesman to hire a Mexican drug gang to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US. The White House idiot professed to believe the unbelievable plot and declared that he had "strong evidence," but no evidence was ever released. The purpose for announcing the non-existent plot was to justify Obama's sanctions, which amount to an embargo--an act of war--against Iran for developing nuclear energy.

As a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy. IAEA inspectors are permanently in Iran and report no diversion of nuclear material to a weapons program.

In other words, according to the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the US National Intelligence Estimate, and the current Secretary of Defense, there is no evidence that Iran has nukes or is making nukes. Yet, Obama has placed illegal sanctions on Iran and continues to threaten Iran with military attack on the basis of an accusation that is contradicted by all known evidence.

How can such a thing happen? It can happen because there is no Helen Thomas, who also was eliminated by the Israel Lobby, to question, as a member of the White House press, President Obama why he placed war-like sanctions on Iran when his own CIA and his own Secretary of Defense, along with the IAEA, report that there is no basis for the sanctions.

The idea that the US is a democracy when it most definitely does not have a free watchdog press is laughable. But the media is not laughing. It is lying. Just like the government, every time the US mainstream media opens its mouth or writes one word, it is lying. Indeed, its corporate masters pay its employees to tell lies. That is their job. Tell the truth, and you are history like Buchanan and Napolitano and Helen Thomas.

What the Ministry of Truth calls "peaceful protesters brutalized by Assad's military" are in fact rebels armed and financed by Washington. Washington has fomented a civil war. Washington claims its intention is to rescue the oppressed and abused Syrian people from Assad, just as Washington rescued the oppressed and abused Libyan people from Gaddafi. Today "liberated" Libya is a shell of its former self terrorized by clashing militias. Thanks to Obama, another country has been destroyed.

Reports of atrocities committed against Syrian civilians by the military could be true, but the reports come from the rebels who desire Western intervention to put them into power. Moreover, how would these civilian casualties differ from the ones inflicted on Bahraini civilians by the US supported Bahraini government, the military of which was fortified by Saudi Arabian troops? There is no outcry in the western press about Washington's blind eye to civilian atrocities committed by its puppet states.

How do the Syrian atrocities, if they are real, differ from Washington's atrocities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo prison, and secret CIA prison sites? Why is the American Ministry of Truth silent about these massive, unprecedented, violations of human rights?

Remember also the reports of Serbian atrocities in Kosovo that Washington and Germany used to justify NATO and US bombing of Serbian civilians, including the Chinese consulate, dismissed as another collateral damage. Now 13 years later, a prominent German TV program has revealed that the photographs that ignited the atrocity campaign were grossly misrepresented and were not photographs of atrocities committed by Serbs, but of Albanian separatists killed in a firefight between armed Albanians and Serbians. Serbian casualties were not shown.

The problem that truth faces is that the western media continually lies. On the rare instances when the lies are corrected, it is always long after the event and, therefore, the crimes enabled by the media have been accomplished.

Washington set its puppet Arab League upon Syria in order to establish Syria's isolation among its own kind, the better to attack Syria. Assad forestalled Washington's set-up of Syria for destruction by calling a nationwide referendum on February 26 to establish a new constitution that would extend the prospect of rule beyond the Ba'athists (Assad's party).

One might think that, if Washington and its Ministry of Truth really wanted democracy in Syria, Washington would get behind this gesture of good will by the ruling party and endorse the referendum. But Washington does not want a democratic Syrian government. Washington wants a puppet state. Washington's response is that the dastardly Assad has outwitted Washington by taking steps toward Syrian democracy before Washington can obliterate Syria and install a puppet.

Here is Obama's response to Assad's move toward democracy: "It's actually quite laughable--it makes a mockery of the Syrian revolution," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Obama, the neoconservatives, and Tel Aviv are really pissed. If Washington and Tel Aviv can figure out how to get around Russia and China and overthrow Assad, Washington and Tel Aviv will put Assad on trial as a war criminal for proposing a democratic referendum.

Assad was an eye doctor in England until his father died, and he was called back to head the troubled government. Washington and Tel Aviv have demonized Assad for refusing to be their puppet. Another sore point is the Russian naval base at Tartus. Washington is desperate to evict the Russians from their only Mediterranean base in order to make the Mediterranean an American lake. Washington, inculcated with neocon visions of world empire, wants its own mare nostrum.

If the Soviet Union were still extant, Washington's designs on Tartus would be suicidal. However, Russia is politically and militarily weaker than the Soviet Union. Washington has infiltrated Russia with NGOs that work against Russia's interests and will disrupt the upcoming elections. Moreover, Washington-funded "color revolutions" have turned former constituent parts of the Soviet Union into Washington's puppet states. Shorn of communist ideology, Washington does not expect Russia to push the nuclear button. Thus, Russia is there for the taking.

China is a more difficult problem. Washington's plan is to cut China off from independent sources of energy. China's oil investment in eastern Libya is the reason

Gaddafi was overthrown, and oil is one of the main reasons that Washington has targeted Iran. China has large oil investments in Iran and gets 20% of its oil from Iran. Closing down Iran, or converting it into Washington's puppet state, closes down 20% of the Chinese economy.

Russia and China are slow learners. However, when Washington and its NATO puppets abused the "no-fly" UN resolution concerning Libya and violated the UN resolution by turning it into armed military aggression against Libya's armed forces, which had every right to put down a CIA sponsored rebellion, Russia and China finally got the message that Washington could not be trusted.

This time Russia and China did not fall into Washington's trap. They vetoed the UN Security Council's set-up of Syria for military attack. Now Washington and Tel Aviv (it is not always clear which is the puppet and which is the puppet master) have to decide whether to proceed in the face of Russian and Chinese opposition.

The risks for Washington have multiplied. If Washington proceeds, the information that is conveyed to Russia and China is that they are next in line after Iran. Therefore, Russia and China, both being well-armed with nuclear weapons, are likely to put their foot down more firmly at the line drawn over Iran. If the crazed warmongers in Washington and Tel Aviv, with veins running strong with hubris and arrogance, again override Russian and Chinese opposition, the risk of a dangerous confrontation rises.

Why isn't the American media raising questions about these risks? Is it worth blowing up the world in order to stop Iran from having a nuclear energy program or even a nuclear weapon? Does Washington think China is unaware that Washington is taking aim at its energy supply? Does Washington think Russia is unaware that it is being encircled by hostile military bases?

Whose interests are being served by Washington's endless and multi-trillion dollar wars? Certainly not the interests of the 50 million Americans with no access to health care, nor by the 1,500,000 American children who are homeless, living in cars, rundown motel rooms, tent cities, and the storm sewers under Las Vegas, while huge amounts of public funds are used to bail out banks and squandered in wars of hegemony.

The US has no independent print and TV media. It has presstitutes who are paid for the lies that they tell. The US government in its pursuit of its immoral aims has attained the status of the most corrupt government in human history. Yet Obama speaks as if Washington is the font of human morality.

The US government does not represent Americans. It represents a few special interests and a foreign power. US citizens simply don't count, and certainly Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Somalians, Yemenis, and Pakistanis don't count. Washington regards truth, justice, and mercy as laughable values. Money, power, hegemony are all that count for Washington, the city upon the hill, the light unto nations, the example for the world.


The New Blacklist--Pat Buchanan On His MNSBC Firing

By Patrick J. Buchanan on February 16, 2012 at 7:05pm

My days as a political analyst at MSNBC have come to an end.

After 10 enjoyable years, I am departing, after an incessant clamor from the left that to permit me continued access to the microphones of MSNBC would be an outrage against decency, and dangerous.

The calls for my firing began almost immediately with the Oct. 18 publication of " Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"

A group called Color of Change, whose mission statement says that it "exists to strengthen Black America's political voice," claimed that my book espouses a "white supremacist ideology." Color of Change took particular umbrage at the title of Chapter 4, "The End of White America."

Media Matters parroted the party line: He has blasphemed!

A Human Rights Campaign that bills itself as America's leading voice for lesbians, bisexuals, gays and transgendered people said that Buchanan's "extremist ideas are incredibly harmful to millions of LBGT people around the world."

Their rage was triggered by a remark to NPR's Diane Rehm--that I believe homosexual acts to be "unnatural and immoral."

On Nov. 2, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who has sought to have me censored for 22 years, piled on.

"Buchanan has shown himself, time and again, to be a racist and an anti-Semite," said Foxman. Buchanan "bemoans the destruction of white Christian America" and says America's shrinking Jewish population is due to the "collective decision of Jews themselves."

Well, yes, I do bemoan what Newsweek's 2009 cover called "The Decline and Fall of Christian America" and editor Jon Meacham described as "The End of Christian America." After all, I am a Christian.

And what else explains the shrinkage of the U.S. Jewish population by 6 percent in the 1990s and its projected decline by another 50 percent by 2050, if not the "collective decision of Jews themselves"?

Let error be tolerated, said Thomas Jefferson, "so long as reason is left free to combat it." What Foxman and ADL are about in demanding that my voice be silenced is, in the Jeffersonian sense, intrinsically un-American.

Consider what it is these people are saying.

They are saying that a respected publisher, St. Martin's, colluded with me to produce a racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic book, and CNN, Fox News, C-SPAN, Fox Business News and the 150 radio shows on which I appeared failed to detect its evil and helped to promote a moral atrocity.

If my book is racist and anti-Semitic, how did Sean Hannity, Erin Burnett, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Megyn Kelly, Lou Dobbs and Ralph Nader miss that? How did Charles Payne, African-American host on Fox radio, who has interviewed me three times, fail to detect its racism?

How did Michael Medved miss its anti-Semitism?

In a 2009 cover story in the Atlantic, "The End of White America?" from which my chapter title was taken, professor Hua Hsu revels in the passing of America's white majority. At Portland State, President Clinton got a huge ovation when he told students that white Americans will be a minority in 2050.

Is this writer alone forbidden to broach the subject?

That homosexual acts are unnatural and immoral has been doctrine in the Catholic Church for 2,000 years.

Is it now hate speech to restate traditional Catholic beliefs?

Documented in the 488 pages and 1,500 footnotes of "Suicide of a Superpower" is my thesis that America is Balkanizing, breaking down along the lines of religion, race, ethnicity, culture and ideology, and that Western peoples are facing demographic death by century's end.

Are such subjects taboo? Are they unfit for national debate?

So it would seem. MSNBC President Phil Griffin told reporters, "I don't think the ideas that (Buchanan) put forth (in his book) are appropriate for the national dialogue, much less on MSNBC." [ note:  Email Phil Griffin]

In the 10 years I have been at MSNBC, the network has taken heat for what I have written, and faithfully honored our contract.

Yet my four-months' absence from MSNBC and now my departure represent an undeniable victory for the blacklisters.

The modus operandi of these thought police at Color of Change and ADL is to brand as racists and anti-Semites any writer who dares to venture outside the narrow corral in which they seek to confine debate.

All the while prattling about their love of dissent and devotion to the First Amendment, they seek systematically to silence and censor dissent.

Without a hearing, they smear and stigmatize as racist, homophobic or anti-Semitic any who contradict what George Orwell once called their "smelly little orthodoxies." They then demand that the heretic recant, grovel, apologize, and pledge to go forth and sin no more.

Defy them, and they will go after the network where you work, the newspapers that carry your column, the conventions that invite you to speak. If all else fails, they go after the advertisers.

I know these blacklisters. They operate behind closed doors, with phone calls, mailed threats and off-the-record meetings. They work in the dark because, as Al Smith said, nothing un-American can live in the sunlight.

Patrick J. Buchanan needs no introduction to VDARE.COM readers; his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from His new book  -  Suicide Of A Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? was released in October 2011. His previous  book,  Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World,  was reviewed here by Paul Craig Roberts

The Telegraph

Irish social workers are horrified by their ruthless English counterparts

Families fleeing the interventions of social workers have been finding a far more humane approach across the water.

The number of children taken into care every month in the UK has reached a record level Photo: ALAMY

By Christopher Booker

18 Feb 2012

Such is the reign of terror now being imposed on innocent English families by social workers that scores of parents have been fleeing with their children to Ireland to escape their clutches. I have followed a dozen such stories over the past two years, and in all of them two things stand out. One is that the English social workers seem prepared to stop at nothing to get the children back. The other is the extraordinary contrast between them and the Irish social workers, who again and again have satisfied themselves that the children are at no risk from their loving parents and are astonished by the ruthless behaviour of their English counterparts.

Several of these stories I have reported more than once and they do not have happy endings. A mother and baby were pursued to Ireland by six social workers and police, who sat in Dublin for 10 days of court hearings, until a judge ruled in their favour (with the social workers seen giving "high fives" on emerging from the court). When the mother again escaped to a remote cottage, she was violently knocked down by a policeman, so that her baby could be taken back to England.

Vicky Haigh, a former racehorse trainer, managed to escape to Ireland before her daughter was born. But then she was brought to England to be quite bizarrely punished, in a case relating to her beloved older daughter, with a three-year prison sentence - leaving her baby to be looked after in Ireland.

A 14-year-old boy lived happily with his mother in Ireland for six months until, after an equally bizarre judgment based on evidence neither he nor his mother were allowed to see, he was deported miserably back to care in England.

Last week, another such story came my way. It concerns a respectable family which was hit with disaster last summer, after the semi-autistic 8-year-old son - who tends to make things up - had lashed out at his 13-year-old sister, leaving bruises. When these were investigated, the boy told the police that his father had done it. The girl denied this - and the boy admitted in video evidence what had really happened - but the police stuck with his earlier story and arrested the father. Although he was never charged, the interventions of social workers became so menacing that, last October, the family escaped to Ireland, where the father has his roots.

There they have happily settled, and the 13-year-old daughter has become a star pupil of the local school. But the social workers eventually tracked them down - after the children's grandmother, back in England, had been arrested by 10 police officers, handcuffed, held for three hours in a cell, and told she would be charged with perverting the course of justice unless she revealed their whereabouts. The English social workers pressed their Irish counterparts to co-operate in getting the children back to England (there are no court orders), but were told there was no reason for this because the children were in no danger.

The social workers then tried to lean on the school principal, saying that the children were "at risk of emotional harm". The sensible headmistress gave them very short shrift, saying that the English social workers had behaved deplorably in trying to destroy a perfectly normal family, and that England's loss was Ireland's gain, since the girl was a brilliant pupil, who was learning five languages. Thanks to their origins, the family will soon be safely confirmed as Irish citizens.

What is striking about these stories is how often the parents emphasise the contrast between the two countries' social workers. "In England," says this father, "we were treated like dangerous criminals. In Ireland the social workers could not be more different, warm, friendly, treating us like human beings." And of course it is in England that the number of children taken into care has soared to a record level, just having topped 900 a month. There is a phenomenon of group psychology here that deserves much wider attention than it is being given.

The myth of the eight-hour sleep

By Stephanie Hegarty, BBC World Service, 22 February 2012 - We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night--but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.

In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month.

It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep.

Though sleep scientists were impressed by the study, among the general public the idea that we must sleep for eight consecutive hours persists.

In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.

His book At Day's Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern--in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer's Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.

Much like the experience of Wehr's subjects, these references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.

"It's not just the number of references--it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge," Ekirch says.

During this waking period people were quite active. They often got up, went to the toilet or smoked tobacco and some even visited neighbours. Most people stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed. Countless prayer manuals from the late 15th Century offered special prayers for the hours in between sleeps.

And these hours weren't entirely solitary--people often chatted to bed-fellows or had sex.

A doctor's manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day's labour but "after the first sleep", when "they have more enjoyment" and "do it better".

Ekirch found that references to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century. This started among the urban upper classes in northern Europe and over the course of the next 200 years filtered down to the rest of Western society.

By the 1920s the idea of a first and second sleep had receded entirely from our social consciousness.

He attributes the initial shift to improvements in street lighting, domestic lighting and a surge in coffee houses--which were sometimes open all night. As the night became a place for legitimate activity and as that activity increased, the length of time people could dedicate to rest dwindled.

In his new book, Evening's Empire, historian Craig Koslofsky puts forward an account of how this happened.

"Associations with night before the 17th Century were not good," he says. The night was a place populated by people of disrepute--criminals, prostitutes and drunks.

"Even the wealthy, who could afford candlelight, had better things to spend their money on. There was no prestige or social value associated with staying up all night."

That changed in the wake of the Reformation and the counter-Reformation. Protestants and Catholics became accustomed to holding secret services at night, during periods of persecution. If earlier the night had belonged to reprobates, now respectable people became accustomed to exploiting the hours of darkness.

This trend migrated to the social sphere too, but only for those who could afford to live by candlelight. With the advent of street lighting, however, socialising at night began to filter down through the classes.

In 1667, Paris became the first city in the world to light its streets, using wax candles in glass lamps. It was followed by Lille in the same year and Amsterdam two years later, where a much more efficient oil-powered lamp was developed.

London didn't join their ranks until 1684 but by the end of the century, more than 50 of Europe's major towns and cities were lit at night.

Night became fashionable and spending hours lying in bed was considered a waste of time.

"People were becoming increasingly time-conscious and sensitive to efficiency, certainly before the 19th Century," says Roger Ekirch. "But the industrial revolution intensified that attitude by leaps and bounds."

Strong evidence of this shifting attitude is contained in a medical journal from 1829 which urged parents to force their children out of a pattern of first and second sleep.

"If no disease or accident there intervene, they will need no further repose than that obtained in their first sleep, which custom will have caused to terminate by itself just at the usual hour.

"And then, if they turn upon their ear to take a second nap, they will be taught to look upon it as an intemperance not at all redounding to their credit."

Today, most people seem to have adapted quite well to the eight-hour sleep, but Ekirch believes many sleeping problems may have roots in the human body's natural preference for segmented sleep as well as the ubiquity of artificial light.

This could be the root of a condition called sleep maintenance insomnia, where people wake during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep, he suggests.

The condition first appears in literature at the end of the 19th Century, at the same time as accounts of segmented sleep disappear.

"For most of recorded history we slept a certain way," says sleep psychologist Gregg Jacobs. "Waking up during the night is part of normal human physiology."

The idea that we must sleep in a consolidated block could be damaging, he says, if it makes people who wake up at night anxious, as this anxiety can itself prohibit sleeps and is likely to seep into waking life too.

Russell Foster, a professor of circadian [body clock] neuroscience at Oxford, shares this point of view.

"Many people wake up at night and panic," he says. "I tell them that what they are experiencing is a throwback to the bi-modal sleep pattern."

But the majority of doctors still fail to acknowledge that a consolidated eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.

"Over 30% of the medical problems that doctors are faced with stem directly or indirectly from sleep. But sleep has been ignored in medical training and there are very few centres where sleep is studied," he says.

Jacobs suggests that the waking period between sleeps, when people were forced into periods of rest and relaxation, could have played an important part in the human capacity to regulate stress naturally.

In many historic accounts, Ekirch found that people used the time to meditate on their dreams.

"Today we spend less time doing those things," says Dr Jacobs. "It's not a coincidence that, in modern life, the number of people who report anxiety, stress, depression, alcoholism and drug abuse has gone up."

So the next time you wake up in the middle of the night, think of your pre-industrial ancestors and relax. Lying awake could be good for you.


Around the world in 36 years: Couple who cast off rat race in 70s and embarked on a 100,000 mile odyssey finally drop anchor back in Blighty


Feb 19 2012 1

Abandoning the rat race and sailing off into the sunset is the stuff of daydreams for many.

But Bill Cooper and his wife Laurel actually did it - and, 36 years later, can say they have lived the dream.

Mr Cooper, 83, a former City broker who used to advise Harold Wilson, decided to cast off for good as he made his daily commute to work in 1974.

Bill and Laurel Cooper aboard their current and third boat Faraway, which they started building in 2005, now tied up at their final berth on the river Medway in Kent

On the high seas: Bill and Laurel on the Phoenix in 1954 before they decided to travel the world

He returned home from the railway station and asked Mrs Cooper to call his office and tell his colleagues he would not be coming in. Ever.

Over the next two years, they built a boat before selling their house, bidding farewell to family and friends, and setting sail for a life of adventure.

Now, after an odyssey spanning  more than three decades and 100,000 miles, berthing in 45 different countries, they have returned to drop anchor  back home.

Age and ill-health have brought their astonishing journey to an end, although they still plan to remain afloat - on the calmer waters of the River Medway in Rochester, Kent.

It is a well-deserved rest for a couple who have crossed seven seas, negotiated 22,000 miles of canals and rivers, and coped with storms bringing 25ft waves and 100mph winds.

Boat number one: The couple's first boat, called Fare Well, at sea in Spanish waters, in 1977

Boat number two: The couple's second vessel, 87ft barge Hosanna, in Moudros Bay, Greece, in 1993

Boat number three: The launching of the couple's third and current boat Faraway in 2007

Mr Cooper, a former Royal Navy officer, became disillusioned with his high-flying career as a gilts broker and government adviser in London.

He recalled how, on the day he changed the course of his life,  he set off for work and was half- way to the station in Chatham, Kent, when 'I said to myself, "I'm not going in today - I'm fed up with it" '.

He added: 'I said to Laurel, "I'm giving up, tell my partners I'm not coming in any more".

'I'd been working as an informal adviser to Harold Wilson and there came a point where I decided I couldn't get on with it.

'Swanning around the City with a top hat on is all very well, but you don't get much pleasure from it and I wanted a bit more from life.'

With Mr Cooper in charge of the woodwork and his wife taking care of the painting, the couple built a boat together, and in 1976 sold their detached, six-bedroom house and gave the money to their  children Shelley, now 58, and  Benedick, 54.

Funded by a Navy pension and the proceeds of selling Mr Cooper's partnership, they set sail on their 50ft steel ketch Fare Well and never looked back. The first ten years were spent sailing the Mediterranean and Caribbean, across the Atlantic and along the American Intracoastal Waterway from New York to Florida.

The happy couple on their wedding day in 1952, left, and Bill in the 1960s when he worked as a London broker

The pair, who once kept a one-eyed cat called Nelson on board, even received a medal for crewing the only vessel to survive the devastating Hurricane Alberto north of Bermuda in 1982 without calling a lifeboat for help.

In 1986, they bought a new vessel, an 87ft former industrial barge which they named Hosanna. They then spent the next two decades cruising around canals in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and sailing the Aegean.

The couple, who have three grandchildren, returned numerous times over the years for Christmases and other family occasions.

In 2005, they took on their  third and final boat, the 40ft  Faraway, which will continue to be their home.

But on its maiden sea voyage to North Africa in 2007, Mr Cooper began suffering eye problems and was forced to stop in France.

After several years of travelling back and forth to England for treatment for macular degeneration, he has now decided it's time to moor up for good.

He said: 'We've had a wonderful time but I'm afraid I have been overtaken by ill-health.

'When I got to about 78, I thought, "This isn't going to go on forever", so we built a boat we could manage when old age really strikes. We call it the geriatric boat.

'We will have to get used to the life here. I plan to write a book and decay gently.'

He added: 'I really think we have had the best of it.

'We've had modern materials to build the boats, but we did most of our sailing before health and safety really started up.

'Now I'm not walking as well as I used to when I was young, so we've had to come back to England.

'And why would we spend a quarter of a million pounds on a house that isn't built to our requirements? Everything on the boat fits us perfectly - even the galley is designed to be the perfect height for Laurel.'

Mrs Cooper, 82, said: 'I'm like  a cat, I can be comfortable anywhere - it's how I have survived all this time.

'Bill's a brilliant sailor. He was very much the captain and I was the mate - he would always steer and I dropped the anchor.

'We have had an absolutely amazing life. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

'I'm very happy looking back at all the wonderful places we've been, the people we've met and the adventures we've had.

'We have been very lucky, but  we always knew that it wouldn't last forever.'

The couple took this image of Mirina, in Limnos, during a visit in 1985

The couple travelled down canals as well as the on the high seas and took this picture of Bachausen Lock Rhein Donau Kanal in 1995


After sailing 100,000 nautical miles in boats they made themselves, Bill and Laurel have travelled to varied and unusual locations around the globe, taking in sights that many of us can only dream of.

The countries they have visited include:

Gibraltar, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Crete, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Sicily, Sardinia, Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Canary Islands, Caribbean islands, Rhode Island, the US coast, Portugal, Cadiz, Morocco, Greek islands, Monaco, Azores, Lowestoft, Corsica, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Tunisia and Cambrai





It's not a celebrity, or a politician, or ....

Guess who's been seen on YouTube some 8 million times...

It's not a politician and it's not a celebrity.

It's not staged and it's not rehearsed. Well, maybe a little bit.

It's not the super-rich and it's not some horrible but eye-catching tragedy.

It's two seniors, and a piano.

The Christian Institute in the United Kingdom identified the married couple as Frances Cowan, who is in her 80s, and her husband, Marlow, in his 90s.

The couple, from Iowa, repeatedly swap places during the piano duet of "Old Grey Bonnet," the report said.

The report said the couple spoke of how laughter has helped them keep their marriage alive for more than 60 years.

"We play together and we pray together and we have fun together," he said.

"I think God has a sense of humor," she added.

The comments on the YouTube page ran hundreds-to-one likes over dislikes.

"I hope my future husband and I are that cool when we get old. Now to find a man who can play piano," said one.

"This just makes me smile," said another. "God bless them."

"Some people (74) have disliked this? WOW. Just think of the wisdom this couple could give to the rest of us newly married couples. I've only been married for nine years and by our society's standards, that's a long time."

"This video just demonstrates joy and love, and I would assume that those who dislike it also dislike the values which it demonstrates."

And now, the main attraction:



Revealed: The occult obsessions of Britain's greatest scientist Sir Isaac Newton


16th February 2012

Broad interests: Sir Isaac Newton, whose studies included theology and the occult as well as physics, maths and astronomy

He laid the foundations of classical physics and is considered to be one of the greatest scientists of all time.

But Sir Isaac Newton was also deeply interested in the occult and applied a scientific approach to the study of scripture and Jewish mysticism.

Now Israel's national library, which contains a vast trove of Newton's esoteric writings, has digitised his occult collection and posted it online.

Among the yellowed texts is Newton's famous prediction of the apocalypse in 2060.

The quintessential scientist, Newton revolutionised the approach to physics, maths and astronomy in the 17th and 18th century.

He laid the foundations for most of classical mechanics, including the the principal of universal gravitation and the three laws of motion which bear his name.

However, the curator of Israel's national library's humanities collection said Newton was also a devout Christian who believed that scripture provided a 'code' to the natural world.

'Today, we tend to make a distinction between science and faith, but to Newton it was all part of the same world,' said Milka Levy-Rubin.

'He believed that careful study of holy texts was a type of science, that if analysed correctly could predict what was to come.'

To further his understanding, Newton learned Hebrew and delved into the study of esoteric Jewish philosophy, the mysticism of Kabbala and the Talmud.

For instance, he based his calculation on the end of days on information gleaned from the Book of Daniel, which projected the apocalypse 1,260 years later.

Newton figured that this count began from the crowning of Charlemagne as Roman emperor in the year 800.

He also believed that the geometry of Solomon's temple encoded ancient wisdom about proportions

Esoteric: The notes, held by Israel's national library, include Newton's notes on theology and myth

A depiction of the Coronation of Charlemagne as Roman Emperor on display in the Vatican: Newton used this event as the starting point for his calculations for the end of the world

The papers cover topics such as interpretations of the Bible, theology, the history of ancient cultures, the Tabernacle and the geometry of Solomon's Temple.

The collection also contains maps that Newton sketched to assist him in his calculations and his attempts to reveal the secret knowledge he believed was encrypted within.

He attempted to project what the end of days would look like, and the role Jews would play when it happened.

Newton's objective curiosity in Judaism and the Holy Land contrasted with the anti-Jewish sentiment expressed by many leading Christian scholars of the era, Levy-Rubin said.

'He took a great interest in the Jews, and we found no negative expressions toward Jews in his writing,' said Levy-Rubin. 'He said the Jews would ultimately return to their land.'

But the university rejected his nonscientific papers, so the family auctioned them off at Sotheby's in London in 1936.

As chance would have it, London's other main auction house - Christie's - was selling a collection of Impressionist art the same day that attracted far more attention.

Only two serious bidders arrived for the Newton collection that day. The first was renowned British economist John Maynard Keynes, who bought Newton's alchemy manuscripts.

The second was Abraham Shalom Yahuda - a Jewish Oriental Studies scholar - who got Newton's theological writings.

Mr Yahuda's collection was bequeathed to the National Library of Israel in 1969, some years after

They were originally owned by Oxford University, but were rejected by the institution and sold at auction

Treasure trove: The papers address a wide swathe of subjects including the geometry of Solomon's Temple

The library exhibited the papers for the first time in 2007, and now they are available for everyone to see - free of charge - on the internet.

The collection contains hundreds of pages of Newton's flowing handwriting on fraying parchment in 18th-century English.

Two versions in modern typeface are also available for easier reading.

A 'diplomatic' one includes changes and corrections Newton made in the original manuscript, and a 'clean' version incorporates the corrections.

All of the papers are linked to the Newton Project, which is hosted by the University of Sussex and includes other collections of Newton's writings.

The Israeli library says the manuscripts help illuminate Newton's science and well as his persona.

'As far as Newton was concerned, his approach was that history was as much a science as physics. His world view was that his "lab" for understanding history was the holy books,' said Levy-Rubin.

'His faith was no less important to him than his science.'



Until next week...

Almondtree Productions

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”
(Proverbs 16:16)