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: Whom having
not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing,
ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
(1 Peter 1:7-8)
More Precious Than Of Gold
Don’t Pity Us’:
The Surprising Courage of North Korea’s Christians
By Clare BruceTuesday 25 Oct 2016
If the TV’s your only source of news about North Korea, it’d be easy to assume that it’s hell on earth for Christians—a place where faith is crushed, and believers are silenced, hopeless and miserable.
But Reverend Dr Eric Foley paints a very different picture.
He’s the head of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, an organisation based in Seoul, that quietly works to support the North Korean underground church. When he first set out on this mission with his family 16 years ago, he decided to look for ways to befriend North Korean Christians and hearing their stories.
North Korea Not Quite as ‘Closed’ as You Think
First, he built friendships with North Korean defectors living in South Korea (there’s now 30,000 there). Next, he met North Korean refugees living illegally in China, followed by North Koreans working for the government in other countries.
In fact, Dr Foley didn’t have any trouble finding North Korean people to befriend.
“People tend to think about North Korea as a country with a big barbed wire fence around it, where nobody goes in, and nobody comes out,” Dr Foley said. “And that’s not a very accurate picture. There’s over half a million North Korean workers that are sent out by the North Korean government, to make money for the regime. There are 250,000 refugees in China, there’s 30,000 North Korean defectors in South Korea.”
Eventually, he came into contact with genuine North Korean underground Christians—and started to hear what it’s really like to be a Jesus-follower under the North’s mysterious, harsh dictatorship.
Kim Jong Un’s Policy of Hunting Down Evangelists
Since Kim Jong Un came to power in December 2011, the number of public executions of ‘criminals’ against the state in North Korea has increased, and no-one is safe, even elite government officials.
And as for Christians, the regime has become downright aggressive towards them, equating their missionary work to terrorism.
Christianity is considered “one of the most heinous crimes against the state”, Bibles and prayer are illegal, and an estimated 30,000 Jesus-believers are currently living in concentration camps for their faith.
In fact the government now hunts down missionaries who support North Korean Christians— even if they’re sheltering in other countries.
Pastor and Friend of VOM Brutally Murdered
Case in point; in April this year Voice of the Martyrs lost a long-time friend when evangelist and pastor Han Chung-Ryeol, 49, was brutally murdered by Kim Jong Un’s regime. He was chased down in China and stabbed to death through the heart and head.
And currently there are three missionaries detained in North Korea’s capital Pyongyang, who were sought out and kidnapped in China.
Even Dr Foley, who’s as white and Western as they come, is constantly being warned by US authorities that he and his family aren’t safe.
“The North Korean ideology ‘Juche’ is, in many ways, a corruption of Christianity,” said Dr Foley. “North Korea has a hymnal of 600 songs of praise to Kim Il Sung. They have weekly ‘self-criticism’ meetings in which someone stands up and sings from the hymnal, then reads from the writings of Kim Il Sung, then preaches on it, like in a church.
“The reason why North Korea’s so threatened by Christians, is that Christianity is able to unmask Juche as a fraud. Christianity really is considered a subversive ideology, because it gives a different way of thinking about the value and purpose of human life.”
The Courageous Faith of Christians in North Korea
And yet, as horrific as all of this sounds, Christians living in North Korea aren’t timid people hiding in corners, longing for a Western government to come and rescue them.
According to Dr Foley, after 120 years of oppression Christians in North Korea have developed very unique ways of keeping their faith alive. It’s a faith he’s written about in his book, These Are The Generations.
“For example, when praying together, North Korean Christians look at each other with their eyes open, as if they were having a conversation,” says Dr Foley. “Their ‘conversation’ draws upon the fact that in North Korea, the official ideology is the worship of the Kim family, who are known by titles like ‘Dear Leader’ and ‘Young General’.
“I could look at you and pray like this:
‘I’m so thankful that in our country, the Dear Leader watches over us so carefully and shows us such love. I’m so thankful for that, because my brother is really in a lot of pain with his stomach problem, and I know in calling out to the Dear Leader that he will hear my cry and answer, and alleviate that pain’.
“That’s how North Koreans pray. And they could do it with a North Korean security agent sitting right next to them reading a newspaper, completely oblivious.
“These kinds of activities have allowed the North Korean church to not simply ‘wait for a better situation’ but continue to have a robust faith, and to spread that faith, now moving into the fourth generation.”
There’s No Sneaking Out at Night, Either
While some stories have circulated over the years of North Korean believers sneaking into the forest at night for prayer meetings, Dr Foley said that’s an inaccurate and “fanciful” picture of North Korean church life.
“Everyone is required to spy on everyone within two homes of their own, so if someone did try to sneak out at night, the first thing you’d do is report them, even if you like them,” he said. “If you don’t report them and they’re found to be guilty, then you would be considered guilty of the same offense—and everyone in your family, for three generations, would bear that stigma.”
Yet within the confines of the communist regime, believers have found creative ways to share their faith, learn about God, and disciple one another too.
Gloom and Doom a Limited View of North Korea
Dr Foley now travels the world trying to present an accurate picture of the North Korean church. And it’s not all about gloom, doom, and a robotic army bowing down to one of the nation’s 40,000 statues of Kim Il Sung. While that’s definitely part of life in North Korea, it’s not the only picture.
“North Korean people face great difficulties, but it’s not as if there is a black cloud hanging over the people of this nation,” Dr Foley said. “They have joys and strengths and hopes also.
“Unfortunately, the only thing people want to write about is how terrible life in North Korea is. On the one hand it is, but on the other hand it’s still home for 21 million people. And they talk about the beauty of the mountains, the deep relationships that they miss, the food that they like to eat.
“Their lives don’t have to be defined simply by tragedy.”
Don’t Pity North Korean Christians, But Join Them in Prayer
Part of Dr Foley’s mission as a voice for the North Korean church, is to urge Westerners not to pity North Korean believers.
“Often radio hosts will introduce me by saying ‘this is the worst place in the world to be a Christian’,” he said, “but I’ve never heard a North Korean Christian say that. Not because their life isn’t difficult, but because they believe that God has drawn close to them in a real way, that the rest of us may not even be able to imagine fully.”
Dr Foley first learnt this lesson when he patronisingly asked a North Korean defector how he could help and pray for him.
“He looked amused by that,” Dr Foley recalls. “He said, ‘You pray for us? We pray for you! That’s the problem with you American Christians and South Korean Christians! You have so much, you put your faith in your money and in your freedom. In North Korea we have neither money nor freedom, but we have Christ and we’ve found He’s sufficient.’ ”
The conversation changed how Dr Foley viewed his work.
“I realised, we’re not there to help North Korean Christians,” he said. “We really are there to learn from them, as their junior partners. Freedom in Christ is something that can’t be granted or taken away by a government. So North Korean Christians are some of the most free people I’ve ever seen.”
What Can We Pray For North Korea?
What Dr Foley’s discovered from his believing North Korean friends, is that they don’t envy Western Christians.
“We should never simply pray ‘Lord make their life like mine so they can have money and freedom too’,” he said. “Because they see that in many ways, we lack happiness, because money and freedom can’t bring that.”
He advises Australian and American Christians to not pray for North Koreans with pity, but instead pray that they will simply be strong in their faith.
“What they say is, ‘Don’t pray for us. Pray with us. Pray that God finds us each faithful in the circumstances in which He has placed us.’
“They don’t pray for a regime change. They don’t pray for freedom and money. They pray for more of Christ and to mirror more of Christ in their life. That’s what we should be praying for ourselves as well.”
Why Western Christians Must Care for Persecuted Believers
To Dr Foley, taking risks to stand with fellow believers is a normal part of Christian life, and he encourages others to do the same.
“There is one body in Christ, there’s not a ‘persecuted church in North Korea’ and a ‘free church in Australia’, there’s one body,” he said, “and we’re commanded [by the Bible] to remember those who are in prison, as if we were in prison also.”
JUDGE MOORE AND TODAY'S AMERICAN 'KULAKS'
Exclusive: Alan Keyes warns Christians against elite who reject the Lord's sovereignty
November 24, 2017
Because I am standing with Judge Roy Moore I find myself within the circle of malice now focused on him by the forces of evil that are moving inexorably to procure the complete destruction of the Constitution and identity of the people of the United States. Their greatest enemy is God, of course, as He has shared Himself, in Spirit and Truth, in and through Jesus Christ. Their enmity naturally extends (as Christ said it would) to anyone willing faithfully to bear witness to God’s authority over the universe created by and through His Word. This includes, of course, His authority over all the determinations and conceptions that define human existence; the bonds of material, moral and spiritual obligation that allow for human action and choice, according to the Providence by which He makes good the promising nature on which our continued existence depends.
I have received a slew of responses to my articles presenting the reasoning that obliges me, for the sake of God and the common good of our nation, to stand firmly with Judge Roy Moore during this time of unjust and malicious trial. Many of those responses encourage and give thanks for the work people are doing to detoxify the stream of incoherent accusation and abusive epithets most of Moore’s opponents substitute for coherent reasoning. However, a glimmer of truth consistently blinks out, revealing their contempt for him (and folks like me) because we believe in God and the logic of the American Declaration of Independence, which defines right and justice in terms of God’s rule.
Moore’s uncompromised insistence upon this logic is the reason his detractors are attempting to immerse his name and reputation in an acid bath of corrosive allegations. Like the good communists some of them are, they viciously accuse their opponents of the sins they have blithely ignored or encouraged among themselves. To this extent their behavior reflects the truth of God’s overruling presence in the universe of our experience – in that they understand that the ultimate issue is not a matter of this or that factual misdeed; it’s a matter of standing for or against God, of remembering or discarding His universal sovereignty.
They weaponize allegations of misconduct, even though in other respects they deny every standard that permits us to distinguish right doing from wrong. But the only sin they eagerly acknowledge and implacably condemn is the sin against their God-hatred, the sin that rejects their rejection of God. So, they seek to annihilate anyone who seeks mercy and forgiveness from God and Christ, where it may be found, and who disdains to seek it where it will never be accorded to anyone who offends their pitiless pride. In this the God-haters are like Lamech, the offspring of Cain. They promise unremittingly merciless civil death to those who prefer God’s just and self-contained authority to their sickly arrogant, overreaching, lawless and irresponsible power. This preference grievously wounds their vainglorious pride.
The record of mass murder associated with the atheistic political cults of the twentieth century attests to the fact that the God-haters will not long content themselves with inflicting civic death. Already they move to deprive faithful witnesses to God’s authority of their livelihoods and imprison them for using words that reject the rejection of God, or refusing to use terms that submit to it. Already they offer human sacrifice on the altars of abortion and make a hecatomb of natural family life. They make mock of humanity’s self-perpetuation with rituals of self-obsessed self-negation, wherein individuals deny and disparage God-endowed natural right.
People who hold to the premises of God-acknowledging liberty that historically ground and enable the success of republican self-government in the United States, need to consider the destructive consequences of the relaxation of constitutional precautions against the abuse of our government’s national security powers since Sept. 11, 2001. This change is ostensibly directed, in large part, against foreign-inspired terrorists, mostly spawned by Islamist imperialism (which is principally responsible for the acts of terror that have proliferated since then).
Now, however, the country’s corrupt and corrupting entertainment sector is being mined for examples of sexual crime and misconduct, for use in fomenting an environment of outraged passion that fosters a presumption of credibility for accusations of predatory sexual behavior. Meanwhile, in products of that same industry, people of good faith who reject the God-haters are being routinely portrayed in a way that encourages the assumption that Christian faith in God is an incubator of domestic terrorism.
Is this intended to justify a presumption of guilt when the refusal to accept the rejection of God is construed as an intimidating crime, deserving harsh punishment for the terror it supposedly inflicts upon adherents of the deadly cults of abortion and sexual licentiousness? By discarding constitutional constraints, predicated upon natural right and respect for God-endowed justice and fair play (due process), we are already being moved toward an environment of unbridled government power. It begins to resemble the condition that permitted totalitarian governments in the 20th century to commit massive atrocities, in the name of History and the untrammeled power of supposedly “progressive” governments.
As we are being goaded toward the same condition of totalitarian government by fear and force, isn’t it naïve to believe we will escape the murderous results foreshadowed time and again by the record of such governments in the last century? Will people of good faith become the Kulaks of 21st century America, sacrificed by the millions once the theology of liberty is openly outlawed? Forbid it, Almighty God.
We must not meekly surrender ourselves or the political champions of our faith to the God-hating new order of things. We must never contemn as fools brave and God-believing leaders, like Judge Roy Moore, who are faithful unto civic and even corporeal death. Instead we must unite behind them, trusting in God for the hope of humanity that was, and ought always to be, uplifted as the bond and purpose of our existence as a free people.
"We Russians are a people ... who have passed through the difficult stages of denial of God's existence and ... have now turned to God - and what we see is wonderful."
November 21, 2017
This short excerpt is a particularly good example of the almost daily sermons the head of the Russian church, Kirill, gives as he travels around Russia. They are all broadcast on Russian Christian TV channels and on the internet and reach a wide audience.
Kirill is a remarkably good speaker. Here, he puts into a nutshell the stark spiritual divergence of Russia and the West.
Very interesting, and very revealing.
We are not sure of the date of this recording, but it is relatively recent.
Full transcript follows below:
We know that some developed and powerful countries, using their wealth and power, are trying to uproot faith from their societies.
That does not mean that the people of these countries no longer have faith, rather it is just harder and harder for them to confess it.
We are a people, Holy Rus, Russia, who have passed through the difficult stages of full denial of God's existence and any presence of God in people's lives, have now turned to God and what we see is wonderful.
We see big changes, including in our young people's consciousness. No generation of young people was subjected to such temptations which distort moral nature as this generation. It is God's miracle that more and more people link their lives to God.
They have hope in him and are forming ways and methods of resisting the Devil's temptations and build their lives according to God's law. It's a manifestation of God's mightiness.
And when people who trust more in human ability look at our trust in God with a condescending and ironic smile, we respond to them with prayer for the whole world, not with irony or malice, because we understand that prayer is stronger than money, stronger than power, and stronger than weapons.
Fellowship of the Minds
Vatican threatens to excommunicate priest for criticizing Pope Francis
Posted on November 24, 2017 by Dr. Eowyn
About two weeks ago, I posted about Cardinal Gerhard Müller sounding the alarm that there is a “pervading sense of fear” in Pope Francis’ Curia — the administrative body of the Holy See in Vatican City, Rome. Müller had served five years as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith until this July, when Pope Francis decided not to renew his term for reasons Müller said were never explained to him.
Müller wasn’t exaggerating or being a false alarmist. Nearly two years ago, I’d posted about the sorry situation of the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, wherein critics are censored and threatened with excommunication.
Alessandro Maria Minutella, 44, a priest in Sicily nationally known for his open criticism of Pope Francis’ controversial Amoris Laetitia “apostalic exhortation” and what Minutella calls “the false Church of modernism”.
Because of his outspoken defense of the traditional Catholic faith, Minutella was officially removed from his parish and forbidden to celebrate Mass, administer the Sacraments, or preach. He was ordered to remain silent for nine months, which he obeyed, although he was attacked and vilified by the Italian media, especially by the satirical TV show, The Hyenas.
After observing silence for 9 months, Minutella was threatened by the Curia that he would receive a “double excommunication” (whatever that means) if he did not make two public acts of fidelity to Pope Francis on social networks. Never mind the fact that pedophile and openly homosexual priests are not excommunicated. (See “Pope Francis’ Vatican: a cesspool of pedophiles and homosexuals“)
On November 9, 2017, sitting at a desk with a statue of St. Michael the Archangel, Alessandro Minutella recorded this video as his impassioned response, which was broadcast on Radio Domina Nostra.
Some excerpts of Minutella’s speech:
“Since when on last June 26, 2017, my bishop, Corrado Lorefice, removed me from my role as parish priest, with immediate execution, I didn’t even have the chance to say goodbye to my parishioners and substantially was suspended . . . even though they continue to say ‘This is not a suspension! This is not a suspension!,’ when in fact it substantially is.”
Note: Corrado Lorefice was appointed Archbishop of Palermo, Sicily, by Pope Francis in October 2015. In June 2017 Lorefice donated a chapel to serve as a synagogue for the Jewish community of Naples. He has written favorably about the neo-Marxist liberation theology.
“Last March, I was obliged to remain silent on all social networks . . . for having spoken the truth on the false church. I have known moral persecution and have been practically reduced to being an exile” — his priesthood “unjustly scorned” and his reputation “ruined” and “derided”.
Minutella vows that he will continue “to raise my voice in defense of the Catholic faith which today is being jeopardized like never before,” and decries Pope Francis’ so-called “Church of Mercy” that “runs to all the Italian ports to welcome the poor immigrants, but then brings to the guillotine those who don’t adhere to its single line of thought of dictatorial nature. These people are not afraid of me who can easily be eliminated — I have no bodyguards and no defense . . . . Holy mother Church has been occupied, because we are speaking of a true invasion,” which Minutella calls a “heretical deception . . . that reevaluates Martin Luther to the point of considering him a holy reformer”.
Note: Pope Francis had declared 2016 to be a “Holy Year of Mercy”.
On the demand that he must make a public fidelity to Pope Francis on social networks or be “doubly excommunicated,” Minutella explains that in the past, he had expressed his “respect” for the pope’s “intellect” and “will,” but he cannot declare a public fidelity to “the Roman pontiff” because to do so is to go against his soul as “no one is above the Gospel”.
Using apocalyptic language, Minutella all but calls Pope Francis the False Prophet of the end days. He calls on Catholics to “all stand up” in “resistance until the end” because the battle is not “between the progressives who are in government and the ones who are suspended and excommunicated for being faithful to the Magisterium. This is the battle between the woman dressed in the sun and the infernal dragon that has launched its most subtle attack on the Church.”
Oh, Lord! Church of Sweden Drops Male God For the Sake of Inclusion
November 24, 2017
In a bid to become more inclusive, the Church of Sweden has voted to adopt a new handbook that advocates discarding masculine references to God, such as "he" and "Lord."
Amid scathing criticism, the Church of Sweden has approved the new controversial and gender-neutral handbook by a large majority. The new guidelines, which are a politically correct update of a more traditional 1986 handbook, are the centerpiece for the church's activities, as they explicate the rules for how it operates in terms of language and proceedings.
The most divisive proposal was to stop "unnecessarily" referring to God in a masculine way, such as "he," "Lord" and "Master" to make the church more inclusive. Another contentious instance of the church's politically correct newspeak is the notion of "sin" being replaced with "shortcoming."
Instead of the traditional way, God may thus be referred to as "Mother" in some prayers, according to the handbook.
"God, Holy Trinity, Father and Mother, Son — Sister and Brother, and Spirit — Lifeguard and Giver of Inspiration, lead us to your depths of wealth, wisdom and knowledge," an example quoted by the handbook said.
Archbishop Antje Jackelén thanked everyone who participated in the work.
"Let's show the world that we are a church that can embrace diversity," Jackelén said, as quoted by the Church of Sweden's mouthpiece Kyrkans Tidning.
The initiative, which has been in progress since 2009, triggered strong reactions, not least from within the church itself.
"I believe that some of these variants are in flagrant discord with great church tradition and the ecumenical consensus that exists between major churches," Church commissioner Mikael Löwegren in Ljungby, Småland County said, as quoted by the Sydsvenskan daily.
Löwegren argued that this decision signified that the Church of Sweden "ceased to exist as a coherent spiritual community."
"Under the guise of 'diversity', society is being broken down into different groups," Löwegren said, arguing that the new manual effectively dismantled church unity by allowing differences from parish to parish. He also argued that the gender-neutrality toward God "took the Church of Sweden further away from major churches instead of bringing it closer to them."
Priest Helena Edlund, who blasted the church for having shown "a total unwillingness to listen to criticism," expressed her concern over the development.
"If the Church of Sweden is to be a part of the world-wide Christian church, we cannot always choose the paths that tear us apart from the tree and its roots, we must choose unity instead of breaking away," Edlund told the Världen Idag news outlet last year.
However, Sofia Camnerin, the deputy chair of the Uniting Church of Sweden, defended the use of "inclusive language" in the church.
"Referring to God as 'Lord' consolidates gender hierarchies and the subordination of women in a white, Western feminist context," Camnerin argued in a blog earlier this year, claiming that legitimizing hierarchies led to violence and subordination.
In recent years, the Church of Sweden has been involved in a number of interfaith and inclusion projects. Since allowing the blessing same-sex marriage in 2009 in a stance for love in all its forms, the Church of Sweden has played a major part in the LGBT movement. Sweden's first female Archbishop Antje Jackelén infamously chose "God is Greater" as her motto, which many perceived as a direct reference to "Allakhu Akbar," a well-known Muslim expression of faith. Sweden's first openly lesbian Bishop of Stockholm Eva Brunne continued the trend by notoriously suggesting removing crosses from the local Seamen's Church in order to accommodate Muslim believers.
HAVE SODOM AND GOMORRAH BEEN FOUND?
Archaeologist calls discovery near Dead Sea a 'no-brainer'
November 26, 2017
Is the Bible’s account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah just a myth?
Not likely, says an archaeologist who believes, following 12 years of sifting sand near the Dead Sea in Jordan, that he has found the ruins of the largest twin cities in the area, one that fits all the criteria of the Bible account.
Steven Collins, a professor of biblical studies and apologetics at Trinity Southwest University, says a “monstrous” site in Tall el-Hammam in the southern Jordan Valley, which lies eight miles northeast of the Dead Sea, perfectly matches the biblical descriptions of the “city of sin,” destroyed in a day by fire and brimstone.
Collins began exploring the rubble in 2005 and eventually concluded that it is indeed the site inhabited by Lot who was saved by Abraham from judgment of the dominant city-state of the era.
“When we explored the area, the choice of Tall el-Hammam as the site of Sodom was virtually a no-brainer since it was at least five to 10 times larger than all the other Bronze Age sites in the entire region.”
The site is a large mound, or tel, that he believes represents the ruins of the two cities. The team of researchers has since found high and thick defensive walls, gates, towers, plazas and ramparts as well as a palace in the upper city.
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As one would expect, life in the city appears to have come to a sudden halt near the end of the Middle Bronze Age period before being abandoned for 700 years.
“Tall el-Hammam seemed to match every Sodom criterion demanded by the text,” said Collins.
Based on the excavated site, despite the heavily fortified defensive capabilities, the city seems to have come to a sudden, inexplicable end – just as the Genesis account in the Bible says.
For millennia, the ancient cities have been used as metaphors for vice and homosexuality.
Collins said the city was likely abandoned after an earthquake, while other experts suggested an asteroid may have been to blame.
In 2008, mysterious circular clay tablets were identified as a witness’ account of an asteroid that destroyed the cities. Two rocket scientists – Alan Bond and Mark Hempsell, who spent eight years trying to solve the mystery – believe that the tablet’s symbols give a detailed account of how a mile-long asteroid hit the region, causing thousands of deaths and devastating an area of more than 386,000 square miles. The impact, equivalent to more than 1,000 tons of TNT exploding, would have created one of the world’s biggest-ever landslides.
The clay tablet, called the Planisphere, was discovered by the Victorian archaeologist Henry Layard in the remains of the library of the Royal Palace at Nineveh.
The duo used computers to recreate the night sky thousands of years ago and pinpointed the sighting described on the tablet by a Sumerian astrologer, pinpointing the likely date to before dawn June 29 in the year 3,123 B.C.
What does the Bible say about Sodom and Gomorrah? There are references in Genesis and the New Testament as well.
Genesis 19 is a detailed account of two angels who visited the city in an effort to save Lot and his family and were confronted by a gang threatening to sexually assault them. The angels had been dispatched by God at the urging of Abraham, Lot’s uncle.
The angels gathered Lot’s family and took them out of the city, saying: “For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it.”
The angels cautioned Lot’s family not to look back once they had been safely removed from the cities.
“Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven,” it says in Genesis 19:24-26. “25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”
Genesis 13:13 explains that the people of Sodom “were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.”
The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos and Zephaniah all refer to the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Jesus referred to Sodom and Gomorrah in Matthew 10, explaining to His disciples that when they visited towns to share the good news and met resistance to shake the dust off their feet before leaving:
“Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city,” it says in verse 15.
Jesus is also quoted in Matthew 11:23 as pronouncing judgment on the Galilee town of Capernaum with a reference to Sodom. The ruins of Capernaum have since been excavated and it remains a popular tourist site today.
2 Peter 2:6 quotes the apostle as saying the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes remained as an example to “those that should live ungodly” in his day.
Likewise, Jude 7:7 says: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
OH, BABY! PROVOCATIVE 'GAY' NATIVITY ARRIVES FOR CHRISTMAS
'The birth of Jesus was definitely a miracle now'
November 28, 2017
Hold onto your crèches, America! Christmas is officially getting a “gay” makeover on Twitter.
The social media site is apparently exploding with support for “gaytivity” scenes after user Cameron Esposito, comedienne and host of Queery Podcast, posted an image of a Nativity scene featuring two Josephs wearing pink and kneeling beside baby Jesus.
In a Nov. 24 post, Esposito wrote: “Our neighbors’ two Joseph nativity is up & I’m beaming.”
The post has gone viral, receiving more than 3,300 retweets and 22,000 “likes.”
Twitter followers responded by posting messages of support and even including images of their own “gaytivity” scenes. Some comments included:
“Here come the three wise men. Now it’s a party.” – John Schember
“The Bible says that Jesus had two dads. I see nothing wrong with this.” – Hope
“We need to do this instead of stealing a baby Jesus this year.” – Marina
“Jesus, Marty & Joseph! I [love] this!” – Ruben Quesada
“Man the birth of Jesus was DEFINITELY a miracle now.” – Mary Magdalene Visaggio
“Immaculate conception and fabulous robes.” – Curtis Stigers
One person responded by posting an image of a lesbian “gaytivity” scene featuring two Marys:
The “gay” Nativity scenes received such a big reaction on Twitter that even talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh mentioned them during his Tuesday show.
“I’m told Twitter is blowing up,” Limbaugh said. “I’ll tell you folks, some of this stuff, I’m just getting sick of it. There’s apparently a children’s book depicting a gay Santa in a biracial marriage, and now a gay Nativity scene is being popularized called gaytivity, two Josephs kneeling over the baby Jesus.”
Limbaugh also pointed to an article in the feminist publication Refinery 29, which said of the two-Joseph “gaytivity” scene: “What if it wasn’t Mary and Joseph who met their child that night, but instead Murray and Joseph? Or Marty and Joseph?”
The talk-radio star continued:
[T]his is the kind of rot that’s permeating out there on social media that is further obscuring and blurring reality and tradition. It’s just this never-ending quest for people who don’t consider themselves to be normal to try to change that and be considered normal. And as I say, it’s blowing up Twitter, but I don’t know how. I don’t know if it’s being massively supported or not. I just wanted to alert you to the fact that it’s there and remember, we’re on the cutting edge here, and since it’s early on you might be seeing this or hearing about it later.
I wanted you to have some advance notice of it, ’cause it’s the kind of meme — remember back in the era of homelessness when it was a big, major political football for the left, Mitch Snyder and the Center for Creative Nonviolence in Washington, Martin Sheen and all these guys kicking homeless people off the sewer grates at night to sleep to show solidarity. Back then they imagined that Mary and Joseph were homeless, was a way of romanticizing and promoting homelessness. Mary and Joseph were homeless. They arrived and had to stay in a manger, sleep on the hay. I mean, people wouldn’t give a hotel room, what have you. It was just absurd.
And it is yet again another attack on aspects of Western civilization and decency that knows no bounds. So now the gaytivity scene, which, by the way, you know, more and more American cities for a while there banned nativity scenes because it was forcing Christianity on nonbelievers. It was a violation of the First Amendment, forcing your religion on people.
I guarantee you that no such objection will be made if your town decides to have a gaytivity scene with Jesus in the cradle and two fathers. And if you object to that, you’ll be the bigot. If you object to that, you will be the racist and whatever other name-calling gets into gear.
Arab Emirates Bring Pagan War Goddess to UN
By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz
November 28, 2017
“For he built again the high places which Chizkiyahu his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal.” II Kings 21:3 (The Israel Bible™)
A statue of the Roman goddess Athena on
display in Nashville, Tennessee. (Ron Cogswell/Flickr)
The same multinational group that recreated the Palmyra Victory Arch and sent it on a world tour has now recreated a statue of Athena, the Greek goddess of war, for an exhibit in the United Nations, an organization that claims to be working towards world peace but which one rabbi likens to modern-day paganism.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) officially inaugurated the Digital Archaeology Exhibition, “The Spirit in the Stone”, at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City last Thursday. The UAE, the Italian mission to the UN, and the Institute of Digital Archaeology (IDA) cooperated in re-creating a statue of the Greek goddess Athena for the exhibit.
The original Athena statue stood in Palmyra, Syria, until it was destroyed by ISIS in 2015. The UAE announcement described the goddess as “synonymous with reason, refuge and the rule of law, all of the same values on which that historic institution was built,” but the statue depicts Athena in her classic pose grasping a spear, belying her prominent role as the Greek goddess of war.
It is also believed that the Greek goddess Athena was based on the earlier Mesopotamian goddess Ashera and was later incorporated into early Islam as al-Lāt, worshipped in Saudi Arabia as the consort of Allah mentioned in the Koran. This would be consistent with the statue’s history at the site in Palmyra, which was used as a temple by the Mesopotamians, Romans, and Muslims in succession.
Rabbi Elad Dokow, the head rabbi and lecturer at Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology, was not surprised that the United Nations would feature a display of pagan symbols.
“There is currently an unmistakeable rise of paganism and idol worship in the world, more than any other religion, and it is naive to believe this display is disconnected from this phenomenon,” Rabbi Dokow told Breaking Israel News. “Paganism creates the ability for each man to create his own truth, as opposed to Judaism and Christianity, which state that there is an objective truth man must abide by. The UN, like paganism, is a place of subjective reality created by a vote.”
“What we are seeing in the world today is that every place Christianity grows weak, paganism and idolatry grow stronger, and where Christianity disappears, horrible things happen.”
Though an initiative bringing together the Muslim-majority UAE with Italy to recreate a Greek pagan idol seems incongruous, just such a union was described in Jewish prophecy, first alluded to in Psalms.
“For they have consulted together with one consent; against Thee do they make a covenant; The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moav, and the Hagrites.” Psalms 83:6-7
The first century Jewish sage Jonathan ben Uzziel described how this Biblical alliance between Ishmael and Esau would reappear in war at the End of Days.
“Great ships full of weapons will depart as a large fleet from Roman Italy and will join up with a legion that will depart from Constantine [this is Ishmael]. They will harm the inhabitants of other lands, and subjugate the descendants of Eber [a reference to Israel].”
The UAE has worked with the IDA in the past. Their first collaboration, the 3-D printed Arch of Palmyra, was prominently featured in the UN exhibit as a full-size projection onto a screen. The original Arch of Palmyra was a Roman victory arch that stood for 1,800 years in front of the temple to the pagan god Ba’al in Palmyra until, like the statue of Athena, it was destroyed by ISIS.
Ba’al was the form of idol worship frequently mentioned in the Bible as accompanying the worship of the female false goddess, Ashera.
“They rejected all the commandments of Hashem their God; they made molten idols for themselves—two calves—and they made a sacred post [Ashera] and they bowed down to all the host of heaven, and they worshiped Baal.” II Kings 17:16
The reproduction of the Arch was first presented in April last year at London’s Trafalgar Square for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Week. The unveiling coincided with the most important pagan holiday of the year, Beltane, ushering in a 13-day period known in the occult as “the Blood Sacrifice to the Beast”, which was traditionally celebrated with child sacrifice and bisexual orgies.
Similar to the current display of Athena at the UN, the Palmyra Arch was also displayed at events associated with a world government. It was the centerpiece of the World Government Summit in Dubai last February, and appeared in Sarona, Italy in June, its display intentionally coinciding with the the G7 Summit of world leaders.
Editor’s note: This article incorrectly identified Athena as the Roman goddess of war. She is part of the Greek pantheon of gods, and was later associated with the Roman goddess of wisdom and war, Minerva.
What Happens When Culture Doesn’t Respect Life? Drive-Thru Suicide Machines
By Rebbecca Downs
November 21, 2017
It may sound—and look—a lot like a disturbing horrific novel. It’s very real, however, and it’s the latest in what has become the sad fallout of a culture becoming increasingly accepting and affirming of suicide.
This device takes assisted suicide a step further, removing the physician aspect of it. Now you can just hop in a little machine and end your life.
The machine, known as the sarco capsule, was developed by Dr. Philip Nitschke for the Netherlands, a nation filled with horror stories in physician assisted suicide. Michael Cook now reports it will be available in Australia, but it has also been promoted in Canada, at the Exit NuTech Conference, late last month.
The machine will allow anyone who has the access key to end their life by simply pressing a button. Developed in the Netherlands by Nitschke and an engineer, the machine can be 3D printed and assembled in any location. Access to the Sarco capsule will be by an on-line mental questionnaire which will provide a four-digit access code.
When the person lies in the capsule, he can activate it and liquid nitrogen will rapidly drop the oxygen level, leading to death a few minutes.
In addition to its feature to cause death in minutes, the pod can be detached to use as a coffin, with the base being re-usable.
Even worse than physician assisted suicide, the Sarco capsule will be free and available on the Internet:
Nitschke says that the world is now one step closer to the goal where any rational person can electively end their life in a peaceful and reliable way at the time of their choosing. “Sarco does not use any restricted drugs, or require any special expertise such as the insertion of an intravenous needle. Anyone who can pass the entry test, can enter the machine and legally end their life”.
There are extreme implications for such a product. As noted, issues with legalized suicide already exist, even when involving the presence of a physician. Live Action News has thoroughly followed incidents in the Netherlands for years, where this device was first developed. For instance, a doctor there early this year was cleared for ending the life of a woman against her will.
Thus, the idea of a “rational person” and “pass[ing] the entry test,” raise grave concerns. The woman previously mentioned allegedly wanted to go through with it, right up until the end when she struggled to fight for her life and had to be held down. At that point, those giving her ‘care’ decided she was “no longer capable of giving her approval.”
Those who would turn to ending their life in such a way must surely be suffering, and can hardly be described as “rational.” The answer to helping them, which is what the goal should be, is not death.
Advocates of legalized suicide will speak of “compassion,” “choices,” and “dignity,” but those are all misnomers and really just putting a friendly spin on the taking of a human life – known in popular culture as murder.
It is not even about those who are suffering going through so much to be thinking clearly. It may not even be their decision at all. In 2015, over 400 people were euthanized against their consent, which was an increase from the slightly over 300 in 2010. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has also highlighted issues in the Netherlands in a report, “Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: From Voluntary to Involuntary.”
Physicians are not the only ones who coerce or force a person into ending their life. Studies show that many feel pressure, or as if they are a burden, to their family members by continuing their lives. Who is to say that a person cannot be coerced or forced into entering the pod, with someone answering the questions for that person, or coaching them into such answers. The dangerous ramifications cannot be stated enough – especially when younger children are involved, or those who are depressed.
A culture which would accept this kind of device to end someone’s life is one which needs prayer for such a disregard of human life.
Divorcing the Diaspora: How Netanyahu Is Finally Writing Off U.S. Jews
The Israeli government's decision to suspend the Western Wall compromise is part of the growing evidence, observers say, that something fundamental has changed in the relationship
By Judy Maltz Nov 23, 2017
Until not long ago, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky was the go-to guy for anyone seeking assurance that Israel did, indeed, value its relationship with American Jews.
Every time it seemed the "Western Wall deal” – that promise to provide Reform and Conservative Jews with an egalitarian place of their own for prayer at the Jewish holy site – was off, Sharansky could be counted on to argue otherwise. I know Prime Minister Benjamin well, he would tell the skeptics, and no other Israeli leader understands, as he does, the strategic importance of the American Jewish community for Israel.
The former Soviet dissident is singing a different tune nowadays. That became profoundly evident during a special Knesset session held last week on the Western Wall controversy, attended by a delegation of world Jewish leaders.
Noting that the Israeli government had shown no inclination whatsoever to mend the growing rift with American Jewry since the deal was officially suspended more than four months ago, Sharansky warned the participants: “It is inevitable that the crisis will continue.”
Coming from the last of the true believers, his words reverberated loudly.
In a sense, Sharansky was echoing what many observers of Israel-Diaspora relations have been saying, both out loud and behind closed doors, in recent months: that Israel has concluded it no longer needs American Jews. Or at least two-thirds of them, as Dan Shapiro, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, pointed out recently, referring to the majority who vote Democrat, hold progressive views and tend to identify as Reform or Conservative Jews.
As Shapiro warned at a recent conference sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League: “There is an idea that has some currency in certain circles around the Israeli government that says, ‘You know what, we can write off that segment of American Jewry because in a couple of generations their children or grandchildren will assimilate. So let’s focus on the Orthodox who are an important constituency but smaller. Let’s focus on Evangelicals, and we can sustain our support from the American public by focusing on those populations and writing off and being dismissive of Jewish progressives.’”
The evidence supporting this theory has been piling up, the most obvious example being the Israeli government’s suspension of the Western Wall deal. Following three-and-a-half years of negotiations, in January 2016 the government approved the plan to expand and upgrade the temporary egalitarian prayer platform located at the southern side of the Western Wall.
The plan stipulated that the new and improved space would be visible to all visitors entering the holy site, and would share an entryway with the existing, gender-segregated prayer platforms on the northern side of the Western Wall. It also envisioned the creation of a new public authority that would administer the egalitarian prayer area, which would include representatives of the Conservative and Reform movements.
When the plan was approved, it was hailed as “historic” – the first time the Israeli government had ever provided official recognition to the non-Orthodox movements at the Western Wall. For close to a year and a half, though, the government refrained from implementing the plan, and in late June, under pressure from his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed through a vote to have it officially “frozen.”
As if that weren’t a big enough affront, the Israeli government voted on the very same day to advance legislation that would deny recognition of any conversions performed in Israel outside the state-sanctioned Orthodox system. In other words, Jews of choice converted by Conservative and Reform rabbis – and in some cases, even by Orthodox-ordained ones – would not be eligible for Israeli citizenship. This decision clearly did not take into consideration the fact that the overwhelming majority of affiliated Jews in the United States belong to the Reform and Conservative movements.
Diaspora Jews – particularly those in America – received another jolt just a few weeks later, when news broke that Israel maintains a blacklist of overseas rabbis. The list, compiled by the Chief Rabbinate, contained the names of 160 rabbis, most of them American, whose letters certifying the Jewishness of candidates for marriage in Israel have been rejected.
Topping all this off are the constant insults and barbs being hurled at Reform and Conservative Jews by well-known Orthodox rabbis in Israel, not to mention members of Netanyahu’s own Likud party. More often than not, the prime minister has let them get away with this name-calling.
Just as he isn’t standing up for America Jews in Israel, he isn’t standing up for them on their own turf either. Numerous incidents of anti-Semitism in the United States over the past year have left the American Jewish community feeling increasingly vulnerable. But they have drawn few, if any, responses from the Israeli prime minister.
If Israel is, indeed, experiencing a change of heart about American Jews, the signs were already evident a few years back. Many observers trace the shift to March 2015 when Netanyahu delivered his famous speech before the U.S. Congress against the Iranian nuclear deal, which was about to be finalized. Considering that 70 percent of American Jews had voted for Barack Obama, Netanyahu’s efforts to lead a revolt against him were seen by many in the Jewish community as unconscionable.
The election of Donald Trump, with whom Netanyahu is on much better terms, has naturally emboldened those who believe Israel owes nothing to American Jews and can make do without them.
With Netanyahu enjoying a direct line to the White House these days, there is much less dependency on the Jewish lobby in America. That is especially true considering the unconditional support he enjoys from Christian Evangelicals, a key base for the Trump administration. Indeed, on controversial issues like settlement expansion, Israel’s right-wing government gets much more support from Christian Evangelicals than it does from the largely progressive Jewish community in America.
Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States and now a Knesset member from the center-right Kulanu party, believes it would be a strategic mistake for Israel to write off American Jews. Yet at the same time, if growing numbers of Israelis view American Jews as a “lost cause,” he says, American Jews are also partly to blame.
“We went to American Jews and told them that the Iran deal endangers 6 million Jews in Israel, and that it’s not an American political issue, but rather, a matter of Jewish existence,” he recounts, “and I don’t need to tell you what happened.”
Nachman Shai, a member of the opposition Zionist Union, also considers the Iran nuclear deal a key turning point, but for different reasons than Oren. “For Bibi (Netanyahu) to come out like that against a Democratic president who enjoyed such huge support among American Jews was like a smack on the head for them,” he says.
Netanyahu will never declare out loud that he has written off American Jews, according to Shai, but his behavior seems to indicate otherwise. “Whether it’s the Iran deal or his lack of response to anti-Semitism in the United States, it’s clear that his top priority these days is to get Trump to reevaluate the Iran deal, so he doesn’t want to antagonize anyone in the administration,” says the lawmaker. “Everything Bibi does is motivated by what he believes to be in Israel’s best interests, which is not necessarily the best interests of the Jewish people.”
Leaders of the non-Orthodox movements agree that the signs are all there.
“What I can say is that the actions the government has been taking suggest very loudly and clearly to Jews in North America that we don’t matter and that we can be disrespected and delegitimized without serious consequence to strategic issues, whether it be security or some of the other many challenges Israel faces, and I think that’s incontrovertible,” says Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.
“Non-Orthodox Jews see this prime minister and his current decisions as either not finding our cause compelling or making a calculation that says, ‘You know what, we have enough support from other areas. It won’t be a disaster if we lose the overwhelming majority of American Jews.’”
Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, blames basic ignorance in Israel about Jewish life in America.
“Sure, we’re facing huge challenges like assimilation, acculturation and intermarriage,” he notes, “but at the same time, you’ve got 6 million Jews here, 94 percent of whom are proud to be Jewish and 4 million of whom are affiliated with a religious institution. To think that two-thirds of American Jews are going to disappear in the next 10 years is ridiculous. But astonishingly, many Israeli leaders seem to believe that to be the case and that somehow or other Israel’s strategic concerns can be carried by a very small Orthodox population, along with Evangelicals.”
The Ruderman Family Foundation has taken up the challenge in recent years of educating Israelis about the Jewish American community, often through delegation visits to the United States. That is why founder Jay Ruderman finds recent actions of the Israeli government especially frustrating.
“The current Israeli administration seems to be in the completely untenable situation of choosing between continuing to build strong ties to the American Jewish community or ensuring its political survival,” he notes, “and survival seems to be winning.”
The best proof, Ruderman continues, is its about-face on the Western Wall deal. “This backtracking may ensure the Israeli government’s political survival but threatens the vital relationship Israel has with American Jews,” he warns.
In July 2010, when Israel was considering yet another controversial conversion law, a group of Jewish American senators drafted a protest letter, warning that if passed, the legislation would harm the bilateral strategic relationship between the United States and Israel. “And guess what? The bill suddenly disappeared,” recalls Oren. “Compare that to what happened a couple of months ago when a group of Jewish senators sent a letter protesting the suspension of the Western Wall deal and the latest conversion law. It hardly made the news. And that, to me, is the entire story in a nutshell.”
Not all Orthodox Jews in America are happy with what’s going on either. At a recent Knesset session that addressed the growing rift between Israel and American Jewry, Jerry Silverman, president of the Jewish Federations of North America and an Orthodox Jew himself, gave voice to their concerns about the Western Wall deal. “What many Orthodox rabbis have said to me is, ‘Listen, we may not have been in agreement about the solution, but once there’s an agreement, and once it’s signed off, it should be implemented,’” he said.
Rabbi Ari Berman, the recently appointed president of Yeshiva University and a prominent figure in the Modern Orthodox world, stopped short of criticizing the Israeli government but suggested it could benefit by investing more in its relations with American Jewry.
“It is critical for Israel to consider the fate and fortunes of all Jews, whether in Israel or the Diaspora, no matter their ideological proclivities,” he wrote in an email. “At the most basic level, this is a matter of utility. Jews both in Israel and the Diaspora need each other’s support. But in a more profound sense, the very nature of the State of Israel is that it aspires to serve as a home for all Jews and as such must factor in the concerns of the broader Jewish populace in its decision-making.”
Avinoam Bar-Yosef, president of the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Institute, is still willing to give Netanyahu the benefit of the doubt. To be sure, he says, there are factions in the government, specifically the ultra-Orthodox, who would be delighted to issue a metaphorical writ of divorce to large segments of American Jewry. “But I really don’t think this is the position of the prime minister,” he insists. “If anything, my impression is that he is much more interested than any of his predecessors in Diaspora Jews.”
Jacobs, of the Reform movement, takes little comfort from these words and warns Israelis leaders not to downplay the crisis with American Jewry.
“They keep saying there’s not a deep division. To the contrary – it’s very real,” he argues. “We hear it nonstop. It’s real, it’s deep and it needs to be addressed, and the next move has to come from the government of Israel. There need to be concrete deeds that show that we matter.”
“Short of that,” he warns, “this division will grow stronger. “
Hezbollah chief to be assassination target in future war: Israeli army
November 28, 2017
Israeli soldiers train with paintball guns during a drill at an army base near Elyakim on March 29, 2017. The graffiti depicts Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. (Photo by AP)
The Israeli military has threatened that Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon’s resistance movement, will be a target of assassination in Tel Aviv’s next war against the Arab country.
“There won’t be a clear victory picture in the next war, though it’s clear that Nasrallah is a target,” the military’s chief spokesperson, Brigadier General Ronen Manelis, told a conference for journalists in the city of Eilat on Monday.
“It is clear that if he dies, it will influence the [military] campaign,” Manelis added.
Israel launched two wars on Lebanon in 2000 and 2006, in both of which the Hezbollah fighters inflicted heavy losses on the regime’s army.
Nasrallah has repeatedly warned the regime in Tel Aviv against going for another act of aggression against his country, vowing that Lebanese armed forces would give a crushing response to the regime in any future war.
The Hezbollah leader said last month that the Israelis “do not have a correct picture about what is awaiting them if they go to the idiocy of this war.”
Elsewhere in his Monday remarks, Manelis admitted that the Israeli army is engaged in psychological and media warfare against Hezbollah.
The Israeli military is “active” in the field of “transition from traditional media consumption to social media…. Just in the past few weeks, we’ve taken a great many actions that caused consternation on the other side," he added.
Manelis also claimed that the Israeli army “makes daily efforts, both overt and covert, in an effort to push back the next war.”
“However the next war will look different” given the Israeli military’s capabilities, he said, claiming that though the future confrontation is “difficult in Israel - in Lebanon it will be much worse.”
The comments come amid rising Israeli threats of a new war against Lebanon over the past months.
Earlier this month, Lebanon’s army chief Commander, General Joseph Aoun, ordered soldiers to stand fully ready on the southern frontier to respond to the Israeli military’s “threats and violations.”
Israel in September conducted its biggest military drill in almost two decades on the Lebanese border to simulate “the next confrontation with Hezbollah.”
Last week, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said his country reserved the right to resist and foil any Israeli aggression.
“Lebanon was able to face the Israeli aggression since 1978 until the 2006 war. It was able to liberate its land. Israeli threats are still ongoing; the Lebanese have the right to fight and thwart it with all available means,” he tweeted.
Aoun’s comments came after the Arab League accused Hezbollah of “supporting terrorism and extremist groups in Arab countries with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles.”
The resistance group is represented in the Lebanese parliament and is part of the unity government formed late last year.
Nasrallah said earlier this month that Saudi Arabia has appealed to the Israeli regime to launch a military onslaught against Lebanon in the name of fighting Hezbollah, and is ready to spend billions of dollars to attain this objective.
The developments come amid widespread reports of a plan by Israel and Saudi Arabia to make their longtime secret ties official and unite against their enemies.
In recent weeks, Lebanese officials have slammed Riyadh for seeking to provoke a political crisis in Lebanon by pressuring Prime Minister Saad Hariri to either take a confrontational approach towards Hezbollah or step down.
What is going on in our skies?
November 25, 2017
A strange phenomenon was captured by two friends returning from a boat hunt along the Missouri River. The sun was falling toward the sunset when they noticed a strange group of lights in the sky, and vertical rays falling from the setting sun during a few seconds!
The group of mysterious lights hovering in the sky and the strange crying sun.
The setting sun is just terrifying with filaments coming down and almost reaching to the ground…
What is this mysterious sky phenomenon again. I have no clues… Actually nobody has!
Putin crowned 'world's energy czar' with Saudis bowing to reality
© Aleksey Nikolskyi / Sputnik
24 November 2017
Russian President Vladimir Putin has become the most influential player in the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) since Russia agreed with the cartel to cap crude output nearly a year ago.
The Russian leader is currently “calling all the shots,” one senior OPEC official told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity. Russia, which is not even a member of the group, has reportedly stolen Saudi power which for many years was overwhelming when Riyadh could move crude prices with just a few words.
“Putin is now the world’s energy czar,” said Helima Croft, an analyst who directs global commodity strategy at New York-based RBC Capital Markets, as quoted by the media.
The Russian president’s comment on the possible extension of the oil deal between OPEC and non-OPEC producers evoked a brief spike in oil prices ahead of the visit of King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia to Moscow. At the time Putin said the agreement could be prolonged until at least the end of 2018.
The cartel’s 14 members are going to meet with independent producers such as Russia and Mexico next week in Vienna. Prices for crude were up at 10:47am GMT ahead of the meeting, with Brent Futures for January trading at $63.62 per barrel. American benchmark WTI was trading near a two-year high of $58.58.
“There are three scenarios we’re looking at, okay, that the OPEC cuts stop end of the year, end of March next year, or they continue throughout 2018,” said Eric Liron, Rosneft’s first vice president for upstream.
With the current oil prices, as well as geopolitical realities, the deal is likely to be extended, according to Edward Chow, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“It’s mutually beneficial. The Saudis need a large oil-producing partner to effectively influence the market and the potential for a greater geopolitical and economic role in the Middle East for Russia makes compliance with production cuts an expedient move for Moscow,” he said, as quoted by the media.
In December 2016, OPEC, Russia and other major producers agreed to curb production by 1.8 million barrels per day for six months from January 1 to support the market and push prices to $60 per barrel. In May, the agreement was extended by nine months.
Putin's 'Prince Vladimir' revealed: 'World's deadliest sub' can launch 20 nuclear warheads and destroy cities 6,000 miles away
The Borei II-class sub was launched at the Sevmash Shipyards in Severodvinsk in front of hundreds of workers
The Knyaz Vladimir, or Prince Vladimir, can launch 20 warheads at a time
It can dive to depths of 400 metres making it virtually undetectable to radar
A total of eight of the Borei class subs will be built by 2025 according to Russian military sources
By TIM COLLINS FOR MAILONLINE
A new class of Russian submarines that could decimate a city almost 6,000 miles (9,300 km) away has been unveiled.
The Knyaz Vladimir, or Prince Vladimir, can launch up to 20 nuclear warheads and dive to radar dodging depths of 400 metres, making it virtually undetectable.
A total of eight of the Borei class subs will be built by 2025, according to reports in state media, including five of the upgraded mark two vessels like the Vladimir.
They will be capable of launching 96 to 200 warheads yielding 100-150 kilotons apiece, ten times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
A new class of Russian submarines that could decimate a city up to 5,778 miles away has been unveiled. Construction began on the vessel in July 2012 and it is expected to be delivered to the Russian Navy next year.
The Borei II-class, or Borei-A, sub was launched during a float out ceremony at the Sevmash Shipyards in Severodvinsk in northern Russia.
Construction began on the vessel in July 2012 and it is expected to be delivered to the Russian Navy next year.
Once commissioned, it will be Russia’s most advanced ballistic missile submarine ever to conduct nuclear deterrence patrols.
In comparison to the Borei-class which has 16 missile tubes, Borei A submarines are fitted with four additional launchers, making a total of 20.
They also boast smaller hulls and cons, and feature improved acoustics and lower sound levels, as well as a number of other technical improvements.
Borei-class subs will be armed with Bulava RSM-56 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Although the Ohio-class sub, its US counterpart, is more heavily armed with 24 ICBMs, they only have a range of 4,846 miles (7,800 km).
The subs are also unable to plunge to the same depths.
Speaking to Russian news agency Tass, Russian navy commander-in-chief Admiral Vladimir Korolyov said: 'The development and the construction of the series of Project Borei-A strategic missile-carrying underwater cruisers is aimed at fulfilling the task of maintaining the armament and equipment of the groupings of strategic submarines in the Pacific and Northern Fleets at a high level.'
This is not the first news of escalating submarine armament to the hit the headlines in recent weeks.
According to a new report, the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) has tested the country’s first permanent system of this kind, paving the way for quieter and more elusive high-speed vessels.
The new magnetic drive, if successful, could bring the Chinese navy more on par with the US and other Western naval forces.
Engineers around the world have long been working to create reliable magnetic ship drives.
Such propulsion systems could vastly reduce the noise emitted by vessels.
The magnetic drive uses a superconducting magnet to force water through the submarine’s shaft, according to Motherboard.
It’s then funneled out the back.
With few moving parts, the magnetic drive is much quieter than conventional systems.
According to Chinese state media, the tests were conducted on October 18, and vessel achieved the designated speed.
In recent years, China has been ramping up its efforts to catch up to Western navies.
This past summer, it was revealed that the Chinese navy is developing submersible 'arsenal ships' that can fire missiles at the surface, or dip below the waves to attack from underwater.
Saudi Crown Prince calls Iran leader 'new Hitler': NYT
The Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran back rival sides in wars and political crises throughout the region
Tensions soared this month when Lebanon's Saudi-allied Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned
November 24, 2017
Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince called the Supreme Leader of Iran "the new Hitler of the Middle East" in an interview with the New York Times published on Thursday, sharply escalating the war of words between the arch-rivals.
The Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran back rival sides in wars and political crises throughout the region.
Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Saudi defense minister in the U.S.-allied oil giant kingdom, suggested the Islamic Republic's alleged expansion under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei needed to be confronted.
"But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn't work. We don't want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East," the paper quoted him as saying.
Tensions soared this month when Lebanon's Saudi-allied Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in a television broadcast from Riyadh, citing the influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon and risks to his life.
Hezbollah called the move an act of war engineered by Saudi authorities, an accusation they denied.
Hariri has since suspended his resignation.
Saudi Arabia has launched thousands of air strikes in a 2-1/2-year-old war in neighboring Yemen to defeat the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement that seized broad swaths of the country.
Salman told the Times that the war was going in its favor and that its allies controlled 85 percent of Yemen's territory.
The Houthis, however, still retain the main population centers despite the war effort by a Saudi-led military coalition which receives intelligence and refueling for its warplanes by the United States. Some 10,000 people have died in the conflict.
The group launched a ballistic missile toward Riyadh's main airport on Nov. 4, which Saudi Arabis decried as an act of war by Tehran.
Bin Salman said in May that the kingdom would make sure any future struggle between the two countries "is waged in Iran".
For his part, Khamenei has referred to the House of Saud as an "accursed tree", and Iranian officials have accused the kingdom of spreading terrorism.
Saudis ‘don’t give a damn’ about Palestinians, want Israel’s help with Iran – fmr Netanyahu adviser
28 November 2017
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud walks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas © Reuters
Riyadh, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in particular, would approve any kind of Israeli-Palestinian deal to finally get rid of this “PR obstacle” and unite with Tel Aviv against Tehran, a former security advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu believes.
While officially Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations, more than a decade ago Riyadh proposed an initiative which would see the normalization of relations between Arab nations and Israel. Among its demands, the Arab Peace Initiative, endorsed by the Arab League, calls on the Jewish state to withdraw from the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, and achieve “a just solution to the Palestinian Refugee problem.”
Despite the reinstatement of pre-1967 borders still being the primary reference point in any discussions for a peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia will likely accept any kind of deal between the rivals, believes Brig. Gen. Yaakov Nagel, who served as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security director from January 2016 until May 2017.
“Everyone knows that the Arab Peace Initiative doesn’t have any meaning. There are things inside that don’t hold water,” Nagel said this week. “They [Saudis] just have to say there’s an agreement between Israel and Palestine. They don’t care; they don’t give a damn what will be the agreement.”
But Saudi Arabia will face a PR problem if it seeks closer ties with Israel, so it is ready to endorse any piece of paper as a legitimate deal to claim that the Palestinian issue is resolved and it is time to move on, believes Nagel.
“They don’t like [the Palestinians] more than us or less than us. They need to say that there is an agreement in order to take next steps [toward normalization]. So this is still an obstacle,” Nagel said, adding that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading the country in the right direction.
Relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia have witnessed a seeming rapprochement this month, after Saudi Arabia accused Iran and its regional Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, of meddling in Middle Eastern affairs and arming the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Israel has long viewed Iran and Hezbollah along the same lines, and a threat to its own existence.
Just this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Israel is covertly cooperating with some Arab nations. Ties with the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia, were also confirmed recently by Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz. Earlier in November, IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot, told Saudi Arabia’s Alaf newspaper that his country was ready to share “intelligence information” with Riyadh on Tehran.
Viktor Orban's campaign against George Soros openly embroils the U.S.
November 28, 2017
Despite once being close friends there is no love-loss between Hungarian President Viktor Orban and billionaire regime-change champion George Soros. Orban, like Russian President Vladimir Putin, has taken up the mantle of defending eastern European interests against Soros as Putin has for Russia’s interests.
And this is precisely why they are both vilified in western media as neo-Hitlerian dictators. Of course, this characterization is pretty much nonsense but that’s the playing field we are dealing with today.
In recent months Orban has been on the re-election trail openly calling for Soros’ influence in Hungarian politics, education and government to be eradicated. And Soros has struck back with a snidely-written rebuttal which does a credible job of making Orban’s case.
None of this, however, is news.
Neither is the announcement last week that the U.S. State Department is preparing to spend $700,000 to work against the Orban’s re-election campaign news.
What is news is what this implies. The very public announcement by Charge d’Affaires David Kostelancik made about this. He did this in open opposition to Trump’s good relationship with Orban and put Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a bind.
It’s no secret that the U.S. Embassy in Budapest is still staffed with Obama Administration holdovers who continue in their posts because Congress refuses to confirm any of Trump's or Tillerson’s appointments in this area.
So, it’s obvious that this is a desperate move by Soros to activate his minions in the State Department. This is a blatant contravention of Trump’s stated policy to no longer engage in regime change. It's also the height of hypocrisy given the anti-Russia hysteria in the U.S. media over the 2016 election.
Soros’ influence in Europe is being outed across the board. Two weeks ago someone published the ‘Soros List’ of MEP and other European Union officials he’s contributed to and, presumably, has under his direct control. I’ve not heard of any rebuttal from him to that little number.
The lack of one can and should be taken as admission of truth.
And because of that the costs to continue influencing things behind the scenes just rose dramatically.
Remember also back in July, Israel, of all places, went out of its way to criticize Soros’ influence in Hungary. I reported on this then saying:
That changed when an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson, unbidden, denounced Soros in connection to Hungary’s policy. Then I see this report that Israel may be moving to declare Soros an “Enemy of the State” by introducing a similar law to Hungary’s and Russia’s severely hampering groups like OSF and Human Rights Watch (HRW) to operate behind the scenes.
This bill’s introduction would be in conjunction with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest this week.
This was an important turning point in the narrative about this man. The publishing of the Soros List is another. We can thank Orban for openly calling him out. And it will take a lot more than $700,000 of U.S. money to materially influence Orban’s re-election campaign.
But, Orban isn’t taking any chances, which is why he is openly courting the Transylvanian diaspora in Romania to register to vote. The response to which from Romanian officials, obviously covering for Soros and his minions in the EU, was nigh on to comical in their outrage.
What’s happening in Hungary is replicating itself across Eastern Europe. From Poland’s refusal to tow the EU line on immigration in line with Hungary’s very successful wall to the Czech President visiting Moscow, speaking Russian exclusively and saying that Russia is ’ten times more important’ than France is.
Players like Soros despise ethno-centrism in any form. Shared culture is something to be destroyed along with shared experience. The entire Progressive/Marxist mindset is to build communicative walls between generations and split groups off from one another in order to weaken them.
Russia under Putin has become the lantern-bearer for leading the way out of this mess. He has successfully integrated troubled territories like Chechnya into Russia without forcing a centralized cultural solution on them. In fact, it is the preservation of cultural imperatives that drives much of Putin's diplomatic and military success in the past sixteen years.
And no matter how much money people like Soros and his State Department proxies spend to change things eventually they will lose.
When I read a headline that says Poland’s nationalist and, heretofore, Russophobic leadership are getting tired of the nonsense emanating from Kiev, a government our State Department and Soros put into power to destabilize Russia, then you know it’s only a matter of time before this entire edifice comes crashing down.
Orban has raised Hungary’s international profile immensely in his time as President. And he has successfully followed Putin’s lead as a statesman which has had spillover effects into the Czech Republic, Austria and even Germany.
With Angela Merkel on the ropes, the Social Democrats in Germany are being bribed to accept a ‘grand coalition’ to keep the dream alive. Theresa May is losing support in her attempts to sabotage Brexit negotiations.
At some point all the billions of dollars buy is a big bucket-load of regret and a mess everyone else has to clean up.
FREE WEST MEDIA
European MP demands that SA farm murders be put at top of agenda
Janice Atkinson, an independent Member of the European Parliament for the South East England region, formerly representing the UK Independence Party (UKIP), demanded a parliamentary vote condemning farm murders in South Africa.
Published: November 14, 2017, 4:51 pm
Her motion against farm murders was rejected by a majority. She said in South Africa the “situation remains extremely serious”. She described how she had joined the protest against farm murders on #BlackMonday.
“Being a farmer in South Africa is one of the most dangerous professions in the world,” Atkinson pointed out. She added that there were “huge concerns about the functioning of the police” which “strangely enough does not seem to be an issue for the international community”.
She proposed a debate on the matter and demanded a statement from the EU Commission as well as the European Council. Atkinson proposed to have farm murders as the first item on the agenda.
The former Conservative party member, who was expelled from UKIP, joined the newly formed group in the European Parliament, Europe of Nations and Freedom in 2015. She put forward the motion at the sitting on Monday this week.
Europe of Nations and Freedom, is a political group in the European Parliament with 37 members, the smallest in the European Parliament. The largest party of the group by number of MEPs is the National Front representing almost half of ENL’s MEPs with 17 MEPs out of 40.
The ENF is the parliamentary group of the Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom although the Dutch PVV’s MEPs are members of the European Alliance for Freedom and other MEPs are without any European affiliations.
Marine Le Pen announced that a new group in the European Parliament would be launched with representation from seven different member states.
During the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party convention on 30 April 2016, it was announced that Marcus Pretzell, an MEP would join the ENL group.
Atkinson, who is also an associate of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), chided parliamentarians for not taking a stand against the gross human rights abuses currently taking place in South Africa.
Meanwhile South African Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said he was unaware of any demands for farm murder statistics to be made available, despite several requests being made.
“We must never give an impression that there are certain things we are running away from,” Mbalula said disingenuously. “If something has been agreed to, we must honour it.”
But briefing the media afterwards, Mbalula said such crime figures and debates about farm murders would amount to defending “useless things”.
“I don’t want to engage in useless fights,” he said, after the Freedom Front Plus Party castigated the police for failing to provide specific numbers of farm killings and attacks, as they had promised to do.
The Transvaal Agricultural Union SA (TAU SA) said the crime statistics compared badly with the situation over the same period last year.
Henry Geldenhuys, TAU SA deputy president, warned that the situation was spiralling out of control. “The situation on South African farms and small holdings is critical and it is clear that the SAPS’ rural safety strategy is not producing favourable results,” Geldenhuys said.
The TAU says that white farmers are disproportionately targeted in such attacks. The violence meted out is also often disproportionately brutal, with the victims sadistically tortured.
UK facing longest fall in living standards for over 60 years, finds think tank.
23 November 2017
The UK is on course for the longest period of falling living standards since records began, according to a leading think tank.
The Resolution Foundation said data released in the Budget showed British are families suffering the biggest squeeze in their finances since the 1950s.
It explained in a report published this morning that the UK economy will be £42bn smaller in 2022 than we thought it would be in March after official data indicated dismal growth forecasts in coming years.
The data was released by the Office for Budget Responsibility alongside Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget statement in the Commons, which saw him announce £25bn in extra spending to prop up the economy.
Director of the Resolution Foundation Torsten Bell, said: “Following years of incremental changes, yesterday the OBR handed down the mother of all economic downgrades pushing up borrowing for the Treasury.
“While Philip Hammond chose to take a relaxed approach to additional borrowing, families are unlikely to do so when it comes to the deeply troubling outlook for their living standards that the Budget numbers set out.
“Families are now projected to be in the early stages of the longest period of continuous falls in disposable incomes in over 60 years – longer even than that following the financial crisis.”
The Foundation said that the current income squeeze is set to be longer, albeit shallower, than the post-crash squeeze, with real household disposable incomes set to fall for an unprecedented 19 successive quarters between 2015 and 2020.
It went on to say that despite the Chancellor's small changes to improve universal credit, tax and benefit policies announced since 2015 will push living standards down and increase inequality.
It added that the poorest third of households are set for an average loss of £715 a year by the end of the parliament, while the richest third gain an average of £185.
Mr Bell added: "Faced with a grim economic backdrop the Chancellor will see this Budget as a political success. But that would be cold comfort for Britain’s families given the bleak outlook it paints for their living standards.
"Hopefully the OBR’s forecasts will prove to be wrong because, while the first sentence of the Budget document reads ‘the United Kingdom has a bright future’, the brutal truth is: not on these forecasts it doesn’t."
The Foundation also took a dim view of the Chancellor's plan to offer a stamp duty cut to young people trying to get on the housing ladder, which he argued could help a million people save on average more than a thousand pounds when buying a home.
The OBR said on Wednesday that it believed the number helped by the scheme would be closer to 3,500, and that it may have an upwards pressure on house prices, meaning the real beneficiaries of the policy would be existing homeowners.
The Resolution Foundation branded the move which was met with loud cheers in the Commons, "a very poor way to boost home ownership".
It said said the cumulative £3bn cost of the abolition of stamp duty for first time buyers could instead have supported the building of 40,000 social rented properties or around 140,000 homes through the government’s own Housing Infrastructure Fund.
Mr Hammond hailed some £15bn in money for new housing, which as well as the stamp duty cut, included a fund to free up land for development, investment in council housebuilding, “right to buy” for housing association tenants and allowing local authorities to apply a 100 per cent council tax premium on empty properties.
The Chancellor also addressed criticism that benefit claimants were suffering hardship waiting for the new universal credit payment, by reducing the wait to five weeks, costing £1.5bn.
He also announced £2.5bn of investment to kickstart the UK’s lacklustre productivity and invest over £500m in a range of initiatives from artificial intelligence, to 5G and full-fibre broadband.
The Sibiu Manuscript—a 500-year-old text that describes multi-stage rockets
The Sibiu manuscript discovered in 1961, is a collection of around 450 pages that include among many other things, details of three-stage rockets and manned rocket flight.
Most of us are unaware of the fact that there are countless ancient manuscripts scattered across the globe, describing what many consider as improbable achievements of the past.
What would you say If I told you that there is an ancient manuscript that dates back nearly 500 years, and describes liquid fuel, multi-stage rockets, and even manned rockets?
You’d either say I’m crazy, or it’s just fake news.
*Have you noticed how people these days call out as fake news anything that they find hard to believe or goes against their belief system?
Anyway, the Sibiu manuscript is real, it’s not fake news, and it does, in fact, describe—among other things— liquid fuel and multi-stage rockets, and it was officially published in the 16th century, although many believe it was written using texts that go back further in time.
The Sibiu Manuscript was found in 1961 by Doru Todericiu, a professor of Science and Technology at the University of Bucharest. The manuscript contained around 450 pages which were recovered from the archives of the city of Sibiu, in Romania.
To the surprise of Todericiu, the ancient text was flooded with drawings and technical data on artillery, ballistics and detailed descriptions of multistage rockets.
Referred to as the Sibiu manuscript ever since, the ancient text is believed to have been written by a man called Conrad Haas, between 1550 and 1570.
Conrad Haas is believed to have been a military engineer who worked for the Kingdom of Hungary and the Principality of Transylvania.
The ancient manuscript origins aren’t very clear, nor are the origins of its author who according to historians is believed to have been born in either Austrian or Transylvania and became the head of the arsenal of the Austrian Empire under King Ferdinand I.
Description of a rocket by Conrad Haas. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Sibiu manuscript, written entirely in German, was found to be a theoretical treatise on the construction of different types of weapons, including—for the first time in history—multistage rocket technology. It also includes details on the combination of fireworks with weapons, the design of fins in the shape of a hang glider as well as the creation of fuel mixtures with the use of liquid fuel.
It remains a mystery whether or not Haas managed to use his designs and put into practice, but there are some who claim that a rocket launch was carried out in Sibiu in 1550, but there is no documentary evidence to support these claims.
We do know from history that Johann Schmidlap, a 16th-century Bavarian fireworks maker, and rocket pioneer, was the first to experiment with two-stage and three-stage rockets around 1590.
Before the discovery of the Sibiu manuscript, the earliest details of a three-stage rocket was attributed to Kazimierz Siemienowicz, a Polish specialist in artillery, who published details about rocketry in his 1650 treatise Artis Magnae Artilleriae Pars Prima.
Conrad Haas wrote down a few interesting sentences in his manuscript in which he talks about the military use of rockets (translated):
“But my advice is for more peace and no war, leaving the rifles calmly in storage, so the bullet is not fired, the gunpowder is not burned or wet, so the prince keeps his money, the arsenal master his life; that is the advice Conrad Haas gives.”
Ivan is editor-in-chief at ancient-code.com, he also writes for Universe Explorers. You may have seen him appear on the Discovery and History Channel.
A farmer noticed the entrance to a cave - what he found amazes the world
A growing number of young Americans are leaving desk jobs to farm
By Caitlin Dewey
November 23, 2017
Liz Whitehurst dabbled in several careers before she ended up here, crating fistfuls of fresh-cut arugula in the early-November chill.
The hours were better at her nonprofit jobs. So were the benefits. But two years ago, the 32-year-old Whitehurst–who graduated from a liberal arts college and grew up in the Chicago suburbs–abandoned Washington for this three-acre farm in Upper Marlboro, Md.
She joined a growing movement of highly educated, ex-urban, first-time farmers who are capitalizing on booming consumer demand for local and sustainable foods and who, experts say, could have a broad impact on the food system.
For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Census of Agriculture. Sixty-nine percent of the surveyed young farmers had college degrees–significantly higher than the general population.
This new generation can’t hope to replace the numbers that farming is losing to age. But it is already contributing to the growth of the local-food movement and could help preserve the place of midsize farms in the rural landscape.
“We’re going to see a sea change in American agriculture as the next generation gets on the land,” said Kathleen Merrigan, the head of the Food Institute at George Washington University and a deputy secretary at the Department of Agriculture under President Barack Obama. “The only question is whether they’ll get on the land, given the challenges.”
The number of farmers age 25 to 34 grew 2.2 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the 2014 USDA census, a period when other groups of farmers–save the oldest–shrunk by double digits. In some states, such as California, Nebraska and South Dakota, the number of beginning farmers has grown by 20 percent or more.
A survey conducted by the National Young Farmers Coalition, an advocacy group, with Merrigan’s help shows that the majority of young farmers did not grow up in agricultural families.
They are also far more likely than the general farming population to grow organically, limit pesticide and fertilizer use, diversify their crops or animals, and be deeply involved in their local food systems via community supported agriculture (CSA) programs and farmers markets.
Today’s young farmers also tend to operate small farms of less than 50 acres, though that number increases with each successive year of experience.
Whitehurst bought her farm, Owl’s Nest, from a retiring farmer in 2015.
The farm sits at the end of a gravel road, a series of vegetable fields unfurling from a steep hill capped by her tiny white house. Like the farmer who worked this land before her, she leases the house and the fields from a neighboring couple in their 70s.
She grows organically certified peppers, cabbages, tomatoes and salad greens from baby kale to arugula, rotating her fields to enrich the soil and planting cover crops in the offseason.
On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, she and two longtime friends from Washington wake up in semidarkness to harvest by hand, kneeling in the mud to cut handfuls of greens before the sun can wilt them. All three young women, who also live on the farm, make their living off the produce Whitehurst sells, whether to restaurants, through CSA shares or at a D.C. farmers market.
Finances can be tight. The women admit they’ve given up higher standards of living to farm.
“I wanted to have a positive impact, and that just felt very distant in my other jobs out of college,” Whitehurst said. “In farming, on the other hand, you make a difference. Your impact is immediate.”
That impact could grow as young farmers scale up and become a larger part of the commercial food system, Merrigan said.
Already, several national grocery chains, including Walmart and SuperValu, have built out local-food-buying programs, according to AT Kearney, a management consulting firm.
Young farmers are also creating their own “food hubs,” allowing them to store, process and market food collectively, and supply grocery and restaurant chains at a price competitive with national suppliers.
There are hopes that the influx of young farmers could provide some counter to the aging of American agriculture.
The age of the average American farmer has crept toward 60 over several decades, risking the security of midsize family farms where children aren’t interested in succeeding their parents.
Between 1992 and 2012, the country lost more than 250,000 midsize and small commercial farms, according to the USDA. During that same period, more than 35,000 very large farms started up, and the large farms already in existence consolidated their acreage.
Midsize farms are critical to rural economies, generating jobs, spending and tax revenue. And while they’re large enough to supply mainstream markets, they’re also small enough to respond to environmental changes and consumer demand.
If today’s young farmers can continue to grow their operations, said Shoshanah Inwood, a rural sociologist at Ohio State University, they could bolster these sorts of farms–and in the process prevent the land from falling into the hands of large-scale industrial operations or residential developers.
“Multigenerational family farms are shrinking. And big farms are getting bigger,” Inwood said. “For the resiliency of the food system and of rural communities, we need more agriculture of the middle.”
It’s too early to say at this point whether young farmers will effect that sort of change.
Young farmers face formidable challenges to starting and scaling their businesses. The costs of farmland and farm equipment are prohibitive. Young farmers are frequently dependent on government programs, including child-care subsidies and public health insurance, to cover basic needs.
And student loan debt–which 46 percent of young farmers consider a “challenge,” according to the National Young Farmers Coalition–can strain already tight finances and disqualify them from receiving other forms of credit.
New Revelation Sugar Industry Covered Up Serious Disease Link 50 Years Ago
By Heather Callaghan, Editor
November 26, 2017
You may have heard of the sugar industry’s attempt to get dietary fat blamed for heart disease when it manipulated results to cover up sugar’s role in cardiovascular illness. There is more to the story…
Last year, three researchers turned heads everywhere when they uncoveredevidence that the sugar industry secretly funded studies on sugar’s effects on mammals, only to then cut off from the results when sugar’s links to life-threatening disease emerged.
Instead, the sugar industry emphasized the role of dietary fat and sat back while high-fat foods took all the blame and Americans unwittingly continued to consume a toxic, disease-causing, refined product. This propaganda stunt not only caused other Big Food sectors to kick their own PR games into high gear, but also inadvertently created a decades-old inflammatory, hydrogenated-oil monstrosity that continues today.
Now, a year later, the researchers are back at it! Science Daily reports*:
A U.S. sugar industry trade group appears to have pulled the plug on a study that was producing animal evidence linking sucrose to disease nearly 50 years ago, researchers argue in a paper publishing on November 21 in the open access journal PLOS Biology.
Researchers Cristin Kearns, Dorie Apollonio and Stanton Glantz from the University of California at San Francisco reviewed internal sugar industry documents and discovered that the Sugar Research Foundation (SRF) funded animal research to evaluate sucrose’s effects on cardiovascular health. When the evidence seemed to indicate that sucrose might be associated with heart disease and bladder cancer, they found, the foundation terminated the project without publishing the results.
Previously, it was discovered that the SRF had secretly funded a 1967 review article that downplayed evidence linking refined sugar consumption to coronary heart disease. That review noted that gut microbes may explain why rats fed sugar had higher cholesterol levels than those fed starch, but dismissed any relevance for humans.
In the new paper, however, published this week in PLOS Biology,
…the team reports that the following year, SRF (which had changed its name in 1968 to the International Sugar Research Foundation, or ISRF) launched a rat study called Project 259 ‘to measure the nutritional effects of the [bacterial] organisms in the intestinal tract’ when sucrose was consumed, compared to starch.
The ISRF-funded research on rats by W.R.F. Pover of the University of Birmingham suggested that gut bacteria help mediate sugar’s adverse cardiovascular effects. Pover also reported findings that might indicate an increased risk of bladder cancer. “This incidental finding of Project 259 demonstrated to ISRF that sucrose vs. starch consumption caused different metabolic effects,”Kearns and her colleagues argue, “and suggested that sucrose, by stimulating urinary beta-glucuronidase, may have a role in the pathogenesis of bladder cancer.”
The ISRF described the finding in a September 1969 internal document as “one of the first demonstrations of a biological difference between sucrose and starch fed rats.” But soon after ISRF learned about these results — and shortly before the research project was complete — the group terminated funding for the project, and no findings from the work were published.
Project 259 would have provided helpful evidence that there is a difference to human health between consuming refined sugar and starch which occurs abundantly in many nutritious vegetables, ancient grains and fruits. In the 1960s, scientists were debating the dietary cause of raised triglycerides…
As you can see, whole-food starches were unfairly demonized while the sugar industry sat back, reaping all the benefits from everyone’s ignorance. Even old magazine ads reveal the sugar industry making outrageous claims that sugary junk food could aid weight loss – that one could eat a chocolate bar or drink a cola before a meal to cut food consumption.
Today – cardiovascular disease remains the biggest killer in the world.
And cancer isn’t too far behind in first-world countries…
Bombshell report continues…
The results suggest that the current debate on the relative effects of sugar vs. starch may be rooted in more than 60 years of industry manipulation of science. Last year, the Sugar Association criticized a mouse study suggesting a link between sugar and increased tumor growth and metastasis, saying that “no credible link between ingested sugars and cancer has been established.”
The analysis by Kearns and her colleagues of the industry’s own documents, in contrast, suggests that the industry knew of animal research suggesting this link and halted funding to protect its commercial interests half a century ago.
Co-author Stanton Glantz said:
The kind of manipulation of research is similar what the tobacco industry does -This kind of behavior calls into question sugar industry-funded studies as a reliable source of information for public policy making.
The authors concluded that extending Project 259’s funding would have been detrimental to the sugar industry. Thus, the researchers successfully unearthed solid proof of industry manipulation of science and the disease link with sugar. How sad that this revelation took generations to finally surface.
MEET BIGGER KILLER THAN WARS OF 20TH CENTURY
Evidence suggests 1 cheap dietary supplement could save millions of lives a year
November 26, 2017
WASHINGTON – Between 1917 and 2017, there were an estimated 200 million deaths from war.
Yet, according to scientists, a simple, inexpensive mineral supplement added with water to the diet of the world’s population could save the lives of 450 million people from heart attacks and strokes.
It’s not a new discovery.
In fact, as early as 1977 – 40 years ago – the National Academy of Science reported that the combination of magnesium and water would prevent 150,000 U.S. deaths from strokes and heart attacks per year.In 2013, another researcher found the simple formula would prevent 4.5 million deaths worldwide.
Do the math – 150,000 times 100 equals 15 million; 4.5 million times 100 years equals 450 million.
In 2009, the World Health Organization collected and compiled research studies on the effects of calcium and magnesium in the diet, with consideration of adding the mineral supplements to drinking water supplies.
The best cures for today’s health problems? They’re identified in “The Bible Cure: A Renowned Physician Uncovers the Bible’s Hidden Health Secrets,” from the WND Superstore.
Professors Bella T. Altura and Burton M. Altura of the the State University of New York
Downstate Medical Center concluded in their contribution to the report that critical minerals, including magnesium, are deficient in water supplies and available foods in many parts of the world.
“One important issue that deserves attention is the low mineral intake from foods and water that are common in many parts of the world,” they wrote. “Today, subclinical deficiencies of iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium prevail in both the developed and developing worlds.”
They recommended that all drinking water in the world should contain at least 25-50 milligrams of magnesium per liter to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Adding minerals to water supplies can be a controversial matter, but the research shows the connection between magnesium and the incidence of heart problems.
In fact, there is broad consensus that a deficit of magnesium increases cardiovascular risk because it is linked to healthy control of blood vessel function, blood pressure regulation and normal heart contractions. It has been found that magnesium deficit increases risk of conditions such as endothelial dysfunction, hypertension and cardiacarrythmias as well as heart attacks and strokes.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, 50 to 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium, and the health consequences are significant.
He lists the following the following critical functions:
Creation of adenosine triphosphate, the energy currency of the body;
Relaxation of blood vessels;
Muscle and nerve function, including the action of heart muscles;
Proper formation of bones and teeth;
Regulation of blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, which is important for the prevention of type 2 diabetes;
“Insufficient magnesium tends to trigger muscle spasms, and this has consequences for your heart in particular,” he says. “This is especially true if you also have excessive calcium, as calcium causes muscle contractions. Magnesium also functions as an electrolyte, which is crucial for all electrical activity in your body. Without electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium and sodium, electrical signals cannot be sent or received, and without these signals, your heart cannot pump blood and your brain cannot function properly.”
According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of the seminal paper “Death by Medicine” in 2003 and the book, “The Magnesium Miracle,” your heart has the highest magnesium requirement of any organ, specifically your left ventricle.
A systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2013 found “circulating and dietary magnesium are inversely associated with cardio-vascular disease.” This means the lower your magnesium intake (and the lower the circulating magnesium in your body), the higher your risk.
The study, which combined information from more than 313,000 people, was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Other recent research also suggests magnesium may be a key component of blood pressure management.
Foods rich in magnesium include spinach, swiss chard. turnip greens, beet greens, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and romaine lettuce. Doctors recommend magnesium supplements, always taken with water, at levels of 420-900 milligrams. Though higher intake of magnesium is not considered dangerous, a proper balance with other minerals and vitamins is necessary.
For example, it’s important to maintain the proper balance between magnesium, calcium, vitamin K2 and vitamin D. Unfortunately, the science is uncertain about ideal ratios between all of these nutrients.
Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a popular cardiologist, also recommends magnesium supplements for his patients.
“People always ask me about my personal supplementation habits,” he has written. “And I always tell them that one supplement I take nightly – as regularly as brushing my teeth – is magnesium. Why? Among the top nutrients for heart health, the benefits of magnesium supplements really stand out. Magnesium is used in scores of enzymatic reactions, and it’s absolutely necessary for normal muscle function. Unfortunately for many people, they’re seriously low on this mineral.”
A shortage, he says, can cause or worsen congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis, chest pain, high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, heart muscle disease, heart attack and sudden cardiac death.
Paul Mason, the librarian for the Magnesium Online Library, maintains links to more than 300 articles on magnesium and magnesium deficiency.
His story is an interesting one.
He bought what he calls the most run-down Victorian property out in the middle of nowhere. He began restoring it and later found a spring on the property producing 117 million gallons of water a year. But the previous owner had dumped 6,000 tires at the top of the spring that needed to be cleaned out. It took him several years.
“In 1991, I took a water sample to a lab, to see if the tasty water was healthy, and the lab results showed 110 mg of magnesium per liter,” he told WND. “I asked the chemist, ‘Is that good or bad?’ He said, ‘Oh, that’s good, but very unusual.'”
He put the report out on the Internet and hydrologists and magnesium researchers began showing up explaining the benefits of magnesium.
“So, I started reading up on it, and started the Magnesium Online Library of medical journal articles,” he said. “Then magnesium researchers started sending me their articles to add to the library.”
But that was hardly the end of the story.
“I took a sample to Tony Varni, then president of Modesto 7-Up bottling company, and he immediately chose to start bottling it as Noah’s Spring Water,” Mason recalls. “A few years later, a very large bottled water company in the U.S., chose to use my water for their ‘mineral water,’ and bought 12 million gallons in 2016, which according to the researchers, saved about 100 lives per year. As money started flowing in, I started financing magnesium researchers, beginning about 2000, and I hosted a worldwide magnesium conference in San Francisco, paying every researcher’s air fare from all over the world.”
And, at 72, that remains his mission – saving lives.
next week...keep on believing.
know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is
in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
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