For thou art my hope, O Lord God.”
(Psalm 71:5)

My Hope

Dear Friends,

Greetings! We wanted to open this weeks introduction by broaching a subject we have rarely discussed in the past. If you are thinking 'finances' you would be thinking correctly.

'People of the Keys' has been posting and publishing for just over five years. During that five plus years all those who have been involved with the web site have done so on a voluntary basis, volunteering their time and talents to make 'People of the Keys' possible.

Over the years we have had various outside supporters who have contributed financially which also has helped to sustain and make the web site possible.

A problem has arisen over the past several months involving support. One of our main supporters has become critically ill and has not been able to help as in times past.

Another one of our primary supporters has also fallen on difficult times and has also not been able to help as much.

As we frequently post articles concerning the financial state of the world, we are very much aware of the crisis facing many countries and their citizens. We realize that for many, an offering of any kind of help could be very difficult in these days in which we live.

We, nevertheless, want to make an appeal for anyone who could and is able, to consider giving or even tithing to 'People of the Keys'.

We would also very much appreciate any one time donation, however big or small that you could give at this time.

Under the “Contact” tab there is a link to a PayPal account where you can send your tithe, gift, or donation.

Thank you so much for considering this request.

Yours in Jesus,

Robert for 'People of the Keys'

We begin this weeks articles once again with news of developments in the Middle East.

Have a great week ahead!

***

MEM

Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque and climb Dome of the Rock

Friday, 17 January 2014 16:37

This is the first incident where the settlers have climbed the Dome of the Rock Mosque [file photo of muslim worshippers outside the Dome of the Rock mosque, which resides within the Al-Aqsa compound]

This is the first incident where the settlers have climbed the Dome of the Rock Mosque [file photo of muslim worshippers outside the Dome of the Rock mosque, which resides within the Al-Aqsa compound]

Israeli settlers have stormed repeatedly Al-Aqsa Mosque compound over the last two days, and on Thursday even climbed the Dome of the Rock Mosque. The settlers were led by the radical Rabbi Yehuda Glick, who is the former head of the Temple Institute. He was accompanied by a journalist on Thursday who carried a camera to document the attack, while settlers reportedly engaged in verbal altercations with angry Muslim worshipers defending the mosque. Witnesses reported that Rabbi Glick returned to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque twice on Friday, joined by groups of Jewish settlers whom he lectured to about the alleged Temple.

The settlers have now become accustomed to storming the mosque regularly, usually touring around the yards starting from the Mughrabi Gate and then going to Al-Marwani Mosque, Rahma Gate, Al-Asbat Gate and King Faisal Gate until the Alqtanin Gate, exiting from Al-Selselah Gate. However, this is the first incident where the settlers have climbed the Dome of the Rock Mosque.

The General Director of Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs, Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, has condemned the incident and described it as a provocative and dangerous step. Meanwhile, the Islamic-Christian Committee to support Jerusalem and its holy sites issued a press statement affirming that the incident represents "a flagrant violation against places of worship" and pointing out that the Israeli occupation authorities have almost completed their efforts to Judaise Al-Aqsa Mosque and its surroundings and are preparing to announce it as a Jewish synagogue.

In related news, Israeli occupation forces arrested three young Palestinian men from inside Al-Aqsa Mosque on Thursday and took them to a police station in the occupied city of Jerusalem.

***

Buzz Feed Politics

New Evangelical Movement Seeks Split From Pro-Israel Line

Dissent within the fold. “This message is resonating with the rising generation,” says Brog.

posted on January 14, 2014 at 12:18pm EST

McKay Coppins

BuzzFeed Staff

A visitor places a cross in the snow as he prays for peace near the old city wall of Jerusalem. Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Figures with deep roots in America’s religious right have launched a quiet effort aimed at pushing evangelical Christians away from decades of growing loyalty to Israel and toward increased solidarity with the Palestinians.

The campaign by a coalition of religious leaders, international nonprofits, and activists has taken place in recent years largely behind the scenes and away from the prying eyes of the political press — and it’s being driven by a generation of Evangelicals alienated by the way their faith was yoked to Republican foreign policy during the Bush years. Now, organizations like the Telos Group and the large Christian nonprofit World Vision have joined a small army of ministers and Christian opinion-makers working to reorient Evangelicals’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — producing documentaries about the plight of Palestinian Christians, providing theological rationale for a more “balanced” view of the issue, and taking Evangelicals on trips to the Middle East.

The goal is to soften the bulletproof political alliance between American Evangelicals and Israel — forged over decades of successful courtship by Israeli governments and pro-Israel forces in the U.S. — and to make room on the religious right for Palestinian sympathies. If the movement is successful, it would represent a move toward mainline, politically liberal Christian denominations that have long been aligned with the Palestinian cause. The Presbyterian Church USA, for instance, briefly adopted a policy of divesting from some companies doing business in Israel.

The campaign has alarmed America’s most committed Christian supporters of Israel, who acknowledge their rivals’ message is gaining momentum within the church.

“This effort is being led by Palestinian Christians who, while not always Evangelicals, are quite adept at using evangelical language and imagery in their effort to blame Israel and Israel alone for Palestinian suffering,” said David Brog, executive director of Christians United For Israel, a key group in rallying American Christians to the Jewish state. “The movement has gotten louder because they have more money to spend. So we’re seeing more anti-Israel Christian films, speakers, and conferences. It’s very much grasstops, not grassroots.”

Brog said his rivals’ fledgling success should push Zionists to engage more actively in the evangelical debate over Israel.

“We’re also seeing some signs that this message is resonating with the rising generation of Evangelicals — the millennial Evangelicals,” Brog added. “So we can’t afford to wait. We must speak out and correct the record before more of our young people are led astray.”

One of the evangelical leaders calling for a more “nuanced” view of the conflict is Todd Deatherage, who spent five years in the Bush State Department before co-founding the Telos Group to expose Evangelicals to the complexities of the issue. He said their purpose is not to persuade Christians to turn against Israel, but rather “to affirm and support the dignity of all the people of the Holy Land, to be truly pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian at the same time.”

To achieve this, his group organizes about 15 trips to Israel every year, where American participants — mostly Evangelicals determined to be open-minded and influential in their respective communities — meet with peace activists, victims of violence on both sides of the conflict, and members of the Bethlehem Bible College, which trains Arab Christian pastors. The objective, Deatherage says, is to “change the conversation” among conservative Christians in the U.S.

“We want people to go on these trips and then go back and change others’ minds by talking about their own experience, taking the things they’ve learned and using them to help others understand what it means to be global citizens,” he said.

Lynne Hybels, an evangelical writer and minister heavily engaged in what she calls the “pro-peace” movement in Israel, was even more blunt about their intentions. She said they hope to “build a political constituency that supports peace and supports policymakers with the courage and commitment to work for peace.” As Hybels sees it, that means occasionally standing up for Palestinians — and not allowing Christian critics to get away with accusing them of “abandoning God’s chosen people.”

There has always been a small vocal minority of American evangelical provocateurs who rail against modern-day Israel at progressive political rallies and in the pages of Sojourners magazine. But the current campaign is attracting attention in large part because its leaders boast the kind of conservative Christian credentials even Mike Huckabee could appreciate.

For example, a 2010 documentary questioning the wisdom of Evangelicals’ unwavering commitment to Israel was endorsed by a top official at World Vision, one of the largest Christian humanitarian organizations in the world. The film has since been screened several times at World Vision events, and it received a favorable review in America’s leading evangelical magazine, Christianity Today, which declared, “Christian Zionism is officially on notice.”

Meanwhile, Gabe Lyons — a young evangelical organizer and graduate of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University — has put on series of Christian conferences aimed, in part, at promoting an “open, honest discussion” on the Middle East conflict. Like many of his peers, he believes the evangelical conversation on this topic has been hijacked by political activists — and he wants to reclaim it.

“The evangelical community has only heard one narrative on this issue. Part of the responsibility we have is to make sure they hear the rest of it,” said Lyons, who believes he’s witnessing a shift in opinion among “younger Evangelicals who are just getting full exposure to what’s really happening in the region.”

The foreign policy of the conservative Christian movement has long been defined by a fervent, often biblically inspired, devotion to Israel, with top Republican leaders frequently citing their faith as a driving force in their commitment to protecting the “Promised Land.” This dynamic was most visible during the presidency of George W. Bush, a political icon of Christian conservatism who often framed his agenda for the Middle East — which included an unwavering alliance with Israel — in terms of divine destiny. In the 2012 Republican primaries, Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared, “As a Christian, I have a clear directive to support Israel.”

The case for Israel in American politics is hardly based solely on faith. Evangelicals, like other Americans, hear arguments about Israel’s place as a free-market democracy in a region that’s broadly hostile to American interests. But for many believers, the widespread evangelical view that modern-day Israel represents the fulfillment of God’s covenant with the Jewish people is rooted in the “dispensationalist” theories of 19th-century theologian John Nelson Darby. The idea was popularized among U.S. Christians over several decades, with books like the 1970 best-seller The Late Great Planet Earth — a sort of end-times catalog of world events that supposedly proved Armageddon was only a decade away — and the massively popular Left Behind series. For the vast majority of conservative Evangelicals, it has become an article of faith that Israel deserves the absolute support of America’s diplomatic efforts and military might.

If Evangelicals’ minds are beginning to change — as advocates on both sides of the church’s Israel divide contend — the trend has yet to be borne out in public polling. A Pew survey last year found that a staggering 82% of white Evangelicals believe God gave Israel to the Jewish people — more than twice the proportion of American Jews, and up 10 points from a similar poll in 2005.

Still, Deatherage says Evangelicals don’t need to abandon their theological beliefs about Israel in order to feel Christian sympathy for the suffering of the Palestinians. In fact, Deatherage said the most eye-opening experience for many of the people he takes on Telos trips is interacting with the Palestinian Christian community.

“The fact is that there is a church on the ground,” Deatherage said. “We imagine this conflict to be between Jews and Muslims, and so when people see that there are Christians there, and even Palestinian Evangelicals, they didn’t know that. I mean, there’s a Bible college in Bethlehem, where people talk about their faith the very same way they do, they read the same books, many of them studied in the same universities in the U.S.” 

And as several advocates pointed out, even a minor retreat from the religious right’s current hard-line position on Israel would give Republicans substantially more flexibility in their foreign policy. Already, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — whose frequent dustups with Israel hawks in his party have been well-documented — is emerging as a legitimate contender for the 2016 GOP nomination. What’s more, Rex Elsass, a Paul adviser with close ties to the conservative Christian movement, said the senator has managed make inroads with conservative Christian voters despite his mixed record on Israel.

“I love Israel. It’s a place I have a lot of passion for, and a lot of interest in personally,” said Elsass, who is making his third trip to the Holy Land, with Huckabee, later this year. “But obviously, Palestinian Christians need to be treated with respect, and their rights need to be respected… We always prefer that the weapons of war be beaten into ploughshares. And that is certainly something the Judeo-Christian faith is ultimately called to.”

***

Israel Today

ISRAEL LAWMAKER: CHRISTIAN 'ARABS' NEED UPGRADE

'I'm careful not to call them Arabs, because they are not Arabs'

Published: January 19, 2014

Is it possible to lessen the influence of the Muslim majority among Israel’s large Arab community? That is the aim of new legislation proposed by Knesset Member and coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud), who wants to separate and boost the status of local Christian Arabs.

In fact, Levin echoes what several Christian leaders from Nazareth have told Israel Today in the past: that local Christians aren’t really Arabs, anyway, as their presence in the land far predates the Muslim Arab conquest.

“My legislation would provide separate representation and a separate reference to the Christian public,” Levin told the Israeli newspaper Maariv. “This is a historic and important step that can help to balance the State of Israel and to further connect us and the Christians, and I’m careful not to call them Arabs, because they are not Arabs.”

Among the new laws proposed by Levin are:

The right for Christians to be registered in their national ID cards as “Christian,” rather than “Arab”;

Mechanisms recognizing Christians as a separate minority for the purpose of providing state benefits; and separate representation for Christians on regional and municipal councils.

Similar laws already exist for Israel’s Druze minority, and Levin said there is no reason the same should not be true for local Christians.

The Christians “have a different character” than the Muslims or Arabs, he noted. “They can identify with the state” and in so doing should receive the same recognition and benefits as the Druze.

Levin went on to point out that “we (Jews) have much in common with the Christians. They are our natural allies, and a counterweight to the Muslims who want to destroy the country from within.”

He believes that if Israel begins to show special recognition and grants preferred status to Christians, the effect will rub off on many Muslims who do not agree with the radical positions of their political leaders.

But, Levin said that unfortunately Israel has to date done too little to help Christians feel that the state has their back, in the same way that it does the Druze. Much of that stems from lumping all Arabs together when dealing with ethnic tensions and national security threats.

Levin hopes his new legislation recognizing Christians as a separate minority group will change all that, and help a growing number of local Christians take pride in their Israeli nationality.

***

GATEWAY PUNDIT

The Follies of Jack Ryan: Another Hollywood Thriller About Christian Terrorists in New York City

Posted by Jim Hoft on Monday, January 20, 2014, 12:07 AM

Once upon a time US political leaders could at least identify the enemies of the United States. And, once upon a time, Hollywood could make movies about the enemies of the United States and the free world.

But those days are gone. Today US political leaders believe there are no enemies, no war – just “overseas contingency operations” and “man-caused disasters.”

And, Hollywood is just as delusional. The California cowards are afraid to link Islam and terror and afraid to portray the horrors of fanatical Islamists who declared war on America over a decade ago.

The movie starts out with scenes from a London campus on 9-11-2001. Yet, Hollywood chose not to show the actual towers crumbling to the ground. That would be too offensive – to Muslims. Instead any actual footage of the attack were left to the imagination.

Then, as the movie develops you discover the enemies who are set on blowing up New York City are Christians from Russia who get their orders from the local Orthodox priest in Deerborn, Michigan. Got that?

Anyway – Jack Ryan is able to stop the young church-going Christian before he was able to blow up Wall Street. Jack Ryan saves the day. Thank you, Jack Ryan. The US is once again safe from the dreaded Christian terrorists. You really must see this to believe it. You just can’t make this stuff up. We are living in a very non-serious time with very serious enemies. Someone needs to tell Hollywood that the Christians aren’t the ones plotting and scheming to blow up Wall Street.

Maybe someday Hollywood will wake up. We can hope.

***

WND

ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE OVER CHRISTIAN OSCAR NOD

Hollywood warned of hypocrisy for raging against nomination

Published: 18 hours ago

DREW ZAHN

Like David versus Goliath, an upstart Christian film has shocked the world by winning an unlikely victory in the form of an Academy Award nomination.

Only this time, the crowds aren’t cheering for David.

Instead, mainstream-media Oscar watchers across the nation have blasted the Academy for choosing the hymn-like testament to God’s presence over hits by pop artists like Jay-Z and Taylor Swift.

“I can’t figure any of this s— out,” an unnamed competitor told the Hollywood Reporter, or THR, after learning his or her song was beaten out by “Alone Yet Not Alone,” the title song from the faith-themed movie of the same name.

“It is difficult to understand why ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ snagged an Oscar nomination over more acclaimed and high-profile competitors,” THR remarked, claiming multiple people whose songs were snubbed by Academy’s music branch wonder how “a song that has been heard by virtually no one outside the branch from a film that hardly anyone has seen” secured an Oscar nomination.

Across the country, dozens of Hollywood-watching publications were quick to heap criticism on “Alone Yet Not Alone.”

The Wire called the song “the year’s most WTF [what the f---] Oscar nominee,” and Ty Burr of Boston Globe penned a blog post about “Alone Yet Not Alone” titled “The Oscar nomination that stinks to heaven.”

“Its inclusion is questionable, and evidence that strides still need to be made when it comes to the Oscar song field,” reads a particularly pointed criticism from the Los Angeles Times.

NewNowNext, a division of Viacom’s LGBT channel LogoTV called it “a clunky song from an obscure Christian movie score” and blasted the movie for having an “anti-gay connection” because of endorsements from Rick Santorum and James Dobson, among others.

“It’s crammed with sappy Christian aphorisms,” writes NewNowNext’s Dan Avery of the song, “and over-produced to within an inch of its life.”

But it’s not as though the song has no pedigree nor business securing a nomination.

As WND reported, “Alone Yet Not Alone” was performed by Christian author, singer and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada and was written by Dennis Spiegel and Bruce Broughton, who had already received an Academy Award nomination for his score for “Silverado” and who boasts nine Emmy Awards for his musical compositions on television.

“Songs are highly subjective,” explains George D. Escobar, who served as a producer, co-director and co-writer on the film “Alone Yet Not Alone.” “The fact that some people do not like it is perfectly reasonable and acceptable. Others absolutely love the song.

“Comparing ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ against the popularity of other Oscar contenders is natural. But we should also compare it to the message it conveys,” he continued. “It’s the only song that is about God’s faithfulness during our times of affliction and persecution. Most of the other songs are about rebellion and self-reliance. Isn’t it nice to have some contrast in the marketplace?”

Escobar also warned critics to beware masking another motive in criticizing the nomination of “Alone Yet Not Alone.”

“It shouldn’t matter whether this movie is a ‘Christian film’ or not. That’s equivalent to someone criticizing another movie for being a ‘black film’ or a ‘white film.’ It’s hypocritical to impose a double-standard like that,” Escobar said. “I would ask audiences and critics to give the song fair consideration for its intent within the movie and how it supports the story being told. That’s a key eligibility criteria from the Academy itself.”

Listen to the song yourself below:

Eareckson Tada told THR she’s delighted and surprised her song has been given this honor.

“I’m the least likely candidate to record a song for a movie, I’ll tell you that up front, so it’s amazing,” Eareckson Tada said. “It’s amazing enough that a family-friendly movie with a Christian theme is nominated in any category for an Academy Award. Besides ‘The Blind Side,’ which was wonderful, it’s just not the norm.”

Eareckson Tada, who has been a quadriplegic since a diving accident when she was 17, has no professional training as a singer, and her accident has left her with just half the lung capacity of what it ought to be. In fact, THR reports, her husband needed to push on her diaphragm while she recorded the Oscar-nominated song to give her enough breath to hit the high notes.

“This is such an out-of-left-field thing,” she said. “The God of the Bible delights in using ill-equipped, unskilled and untrained people in positions of great influence, everyone from Joseph to David. It’s all to show that it’s not by human prowess or brassiness, but all by God’s design. I don’t know if that’s what he’s doing here, but it’s worth giving pause and considering.”

So why all the vitriol?

Most of the criticism surrounding the song’s Oscar nomination points to the film’s relative obscurity. “Alone Yet Not Alone” had a successful limited release in September, but won’t be introduced to nationwide audiences until this summer.

Still others suggest that Broughton, who formerly served on the Academy’s board of governors as a representative of the music branch, may have had influenced the Academy to select “Alone Yet Not Alone.”

“I’m sure he has a lot of friends in the branch,” one person whose song was snubbed reportedly told The Hollywood Reporter.

The Los Angeles Times suggesting something similar, writing “Why it’s nominated and not, say, the more mournful yet communal spiritual from ’12 Years a Slave’ … is puzzling, but it’s not impossible to form a plausible theory.

“William Ross, who composed the score for the film, has served as music director for the Academy Awards show now three times,” the Times continues. “Unfair as it may be, it’s hard to overlook such connections when the film virtually came out of nowhere to score an Oscar nomination.”

Yet it’s not really even unusual for a song to “come out of nowhere” to secure an Oscar nomination in the Best Original Song category. In fact, the 2007 winner, “Falling Slowly,” came from the film “Once,” which opened in only two theaters to a paltry $62,000 in ticket sales. “Once” finished its run grossing less than $10 million after being seen in a total of only 150 theaters nationwide.

In 2009, the song “Loin de Paname” was nominated from the film “Paris 36,” which only made it into 52 theaters and couldn’t even muster $1 million in box office receipts. Several other examples from recent years reveal songs from the blockbusters are often passed over for pieces from smaller productions.

Furthermore, Broughton flatly denies claims he engineered a behind-the-scenes campaign of peddling influence for “Alone Yet Not Alone.”

“It’s nonsense,” Broughton told Entertainment Weekly. “What happens is that the music branch of the academy puts all the songs on a disc, and I was concerned that this song would be really easy to overlook. So, yeah, I wrote some people and said, ‘Could you just take a look.’ That was literally the extent of the campaigning. I received in the mail songs from other films that were pressed and recorded CDs. We didn’t do anything like that at all.”

He also denies he personally pressed people to vote for “Alone Yet Not Alone.”

“I don’t know how many people vote,” he said. “I don’t know what they vote for. And it’s for sure that Price Waterhouse [isn't] going to let me know. Even when I was a governor on the Academy, I didn’t have access to that information.”

Others have stepped up to defend the song’s selection as well.

“There are always films up for Oscars that Americans never heard of … and words like ‘allegations,’ ‘clandestine’ and ‘twisting arms’ aren’t ever associated with those other nominations, so why this one?” Eareckson Tada asked THR. “Yes. it’s unusual, but somebody must have liked the song very much. I don’t know how the process works, but I do know nobody twisted arms or pushed their influence.”

“If [Broughton] could influence the Academy in that way, he should have got a lot more nominations over the past 30 years,” quipped Ray Costa, Broughton’s publicist. “There were 75 songs being considered, and this one was different. It was inspirational and integral to the movie.”

And according to a poll at THR, many who have heard the song are beginning to agree. Asked which title should win the Best Original Song category, over 70 percent of respondents have answered “Alone Yet Not Alone,” while the widely perceived front-runner, “Let It Go” from the film “Frozen,” has garnered less than 20 percent of the vote.

Behind the scenes

An Academy Award nomination is sure to put a spotlight on “Alone Yet Not Alone,” yet according to Enthuse Entertainment, which made the film, it’s not the first indication the movie may soon gain even more attention.

The movie’s limited theatrical release, Enthuse reports, boasted one of 2013′s highest grossing film-opening weekends in terms of per-screen average (combining theater ticket sales with Seatzy ticket sales), reaching $13,396 per screen.

“This per-screen average dwarfed the screen average of most other wide release movies, including ‘Enough Said’ (which did $9,238 per screen) and ‘Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2′ (which did $8,439 per screen),” Enthuse stated, “ranking ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ as one of the highest per-screen average independently released faith-based films to date.”

“Alone Yet Not Alone” is scheduled for nationwide release June 13, 2014.

Escobar, who also serves as WND’s Vice President of Film and Television, is co-founder of the Advent Film Group and has directed several top documentaries for WND Films, including “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment” and “The Rabbi Who Found Messiah.”

He gave WND a sneak peak behind the making of the now Oscar-nominated song.

“Ken Wales (executive producer of ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Christy’) called me late one night from Los Angeles, wanting me to conference call with him and Bruce Broughton, the composer,” Escobar recounted. “I almost fell off my chair. Bruce is one of my favorite composers, especially for his work on ‘Silverado.’ And now he wants to talk to me about writing the song for ‘Alone Yet Not Alone?’ I was thrilled and honored.

“We were in the middle of pre-production when the work began on the song,” Escobar continued. “Ken Wales truly had his eye on the ball when he insisted that the song is the linchpin of the production. After thinking about it, I knew Ken was right. We had an opportunity to introduce a new musical classic. I asked that Bruce and Ken consider writing a song as memorable, powerful and timeless as the famous hymn, ‘Amazing Grace,’ known by millions and sung by countless people. They were thinking along the same lines. That commission was a tall order for anyone to attempt, let alone deliver. Bruce (music) and Dennis Spiegel (lyricist) were not afraid, thank God. They set to work immediately and in about two weeks, I got a call from Ken and Bruce, wanting me to sit down, and over the phone at my basement office they played the song ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ for the very first time. I loved it immediately. They nailed it. We had a song for the ages. And now it is nominated for an Academy Award. What a journey.”

“I so resonate with the words, with the tune, the melody,” Eareckson Tada said of “Alone Yet Not Alone.” “Maybe it’s because I’m a quadriplegic, maybe because I sit down in a ‘stand up’ world and sometimes I can feel a little alone. And so to sing it from the heart and to sing it with that kind of personal passion, I hope does the melody and the lyrics proud.”

As WND reported, the film “Alone Yet Not Alone” is based on the true story of a frontier family caught in the throes of the French and Indian War in 1755.

The movie is based a novel of the same name written by Tracy Leininger Craven, which tells the struggles of her ancestors in the mid-1700s when British and French forces were fighting for control of the American continent.

The Leiningers, immigrants from Germany who sought freedom to worship in the New World, began to carve out their homestead farm around Penns Creek at the outskirts of western Pennsylvania. Despite the arduous work, the Leiningers labor joyfully, nourished by God’s promises, which they memorize during their daily reading of the cherished family Bible.

Then the unthinkable happens: In a terrifying raid, Delaware warriors kidnap the two young Leininger daughters, Barbara and Regina, taking them captive hundreds of miles away and adopting them into their native culture. Yet through their captivity and eventual escape, they never lose hope and “their faith becomes their freedom.”

Watch the trailer of the film below:

The movie’s screenwriter James Richards said, “Our ancestors built an amazing, wonderful country here. Now we’re charged with handing it off to our children and grandchildren. You cannot do that well if you don’t know where you came from and what your ancestors believed, why they overcame amazing struggles they had to overcome in order to survive and build this nation and hand it over to us.”

Author Tracy Leininger Craven adds, “I’m really thankful to the Lord and for my parents in the way that they passed on our family heritage, but it’s so much deeper than just a family heritage – it’s the faith in Christ and the personal relationship with Him.”

***

The Independent

Pope Francis calls the internet a 'gift from God'

The pontiff also said new technology can be used to build bridges between different cultures and religions

KASHMIRA GANDER

Thursday 23 January 2014

Boosting his credentials as a moderniser, Pope Francis has called the internet a “gift from God” in a statement released on Thursday.

In a message on Catholic Church communications, the pontiff wrote of the pros and cons of the digital age, and its implications for Catholics when interacting with people from different faiths and backgrounds.

While praising the internet for the “immense possibilities” it offers to encounter people from different backgrounds, he also warned that the obsessive desire to stay connected can actually isolate people from their friends and family.

“This is something truly good, a gift from God,” he wrote. But he warned: “The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbours, from those closest to us.”

He said communications in the digital era had the potential to be like “a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts.”

Pope Francis also suggested that Catholics shouldn’t be arrogant in insisting that they alone possess the truth, a comment likely to cause controversy among the more conservative members of the church.

“To [have a] dialogue means to believe that the 'other' has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective,” Francis wrote. “Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the pretence that they alone are valid and absolute.”

According to church teaching extracted by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - later Pope Benedict CXVI - the Catholic Church holds the “fullness of the means of salvation” — a message that has long been taken to mean that only Catholics can find salvation. The church teaching also holds that those who don't know about Jesus but seek God can also attain eternal salvation.

Pope Francis has furthered his predecessor Pope Benedict’s call for interreligious dialogue, but has offered a softer approach in his sermons and gestures.

In one homily, Pope Francis suggested that atheists can find salvation, and on another occasion washed the feet of two Muslims during the Holy Thursday re-enactment of Christ washing the feet of his apostles.

Archbishop Claudio Mario Celli, the head of the Vatican's social communications office, said he didn't think Francis was making an official policy statement on interreligious dialogue, noting that the message was merely a reflection, “not a conciliar or dogmatic text.”

Pope Francis has been more warmly received that his predecessor, having nearly tripled crowds at the Vatican in his first year in the position.

He also received a number of accolades last year, including being named Person of the Year by both Time magazine and leading LGBT rights magazine The Advocate.

However, his reputation as a moderniser was marred after he called abortion "horrific" and part of a "throaway culture" in his State of the World address in mid-January.

***

The Guardian

Swiss Guard veteran claims existence of 'gay network' at the Vatican

Former commandant Elmar Mäder says there is a 'secret society of homosexuals' at Holy See, and that it imperils pope's security

Lizzy Davies in Rome

Monday 20 January 2014 12.55 EST

Claims have been made of a 'gay network' among some Vatican priests and Swiss Guards. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/EPA

A former commander of the Swiss Guard, the small force of men whose job it is to protect the pope, has said there is "a network of homosexuals" within the Vatican, the latest in a series of claims about gay priests working at the heart of the Roman Catholic church.

Elmar Mäder, who was commandant of the Guard from 2002 until 2008, said his time at the heart of the Vatican had given him an insight into certain aspects of life there. "I cannot refute the claim that there is a network of homosexuals. My experiences would indicate the existence of such a thing," he told the Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag.

Famed for their striking uniforms of blue, red and orange, recruits to the Guard swear to protect the pope and his successors with their lives.

Mäder, 50, from the canton of St Gallen, refused to comment on speculation that he had warned guardsmen about the behaviour of certain priests.

Earlier this month, the same newspaper reported the claims of a former, unnamed member of the Guard that he had been the target of more than 20 "unambiguous sexual requests" from clergy while serving in the force.

Recounting a dinner in a Rome restaurant, the man was quoted as saying: "As the spinach and steak were served, the priest said to me: 'And you are the dessert'."

At the time, spokesman Urs Breitenmoser said the rumoured gay network did not pose a problem to the Swiss Guard, whose members he said were motivated by entirely different interests.

Asked about the claims, Mäder reportedly said stories of this kind "obviously lacking in factual basis" were sometimes told. But the facts remained clear, he added. "

A working environment in which the great majority of men are unmarried is per se a draw for homosexuals, whether they consciously seek it out or unconsciously follow an urge," he said.

"The Roman Curia [the Vatican's bureaucracy] is exactly this kind of environment."

Though it does not condemn gay people, whom it says should be "accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity," the catechism of the Catholic church teaches that homosexual acts are "objectively disordered" and calls gay people to abstinence.Mäder, while he said he did not have a problem with homosexuality, said he feared that a network or secret society of gay people within the Vatican could pose security problems. He added that he would not have promoted a gay man in the Guard – not because of his sexuality but because "the risk of disloyalty would have been too high".

Mäder said: "I also learned that many homosexuals are inclined to be more loyal to each other than to other people or institutions," he said.

"If this loyalty were to go as far as to become a network or even a kind of secret society, I would not tolerate it in my sphere of decision making. Key people in the Vatican now seem to think similarly."

The comments appeared to be referring to a remark made by Pope Francis on the flight home from Brazil last summer. "They say there are some gay people here. I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good," the pontiff told journalists, while at the same time joking that, while there was a lot of talk about a gay lobby, he had never seen it stamped on a Vatican identity card.

While Francis signalled a clear conciliatory tone on the issue, he added: "If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?" Mäder's comments about the supposed threat posed by gay guards and priests drew criticism among rights advocates in Italy.

"Along with all gay people in the armed forces, I would advise Mäder to become better informed," said Aurelio Mancuso, chairman of Equality.

Franco Grillini, chairman of Gaynet, added: "Statistically, gays are the least violent group in human society so if the pope were really surrounded by homosexuals, he could sleep easy."

***

The Truth

These Ancient Elongated Skulls Are NOT HUMAN

By Michael Snyder, on January 16th, 2014

Are you ready to be confronted with evidence that will directly contradict the version of “world history” that you were taught in school? In recent years, hundreds of extremely bizarre skulls have been discovered all over the planet. Scientific tests that have been conducted on some of them conclusively prove that these ancient elongated skulls are NOT HUMAN. Many people are not able to accept what you are about to see because it is too radical for them. But the truth is that ancient texts have been telling us about these “hybrid beings” for thousands of years. There are even some ancient Indian traditions that claim that these creatures were in North America before the Indians were. In fact, there is even one ancient Indian tradition about a war between a tribe of Indians and a race of red-haired cannibalistic giants. The Bible refers to these hybrids as “the Nephilim”, and as time goes by the evidence keeps piling up that they were very, very real.

Down in Peru, particularly on the Paracas peninsula, researchers have been finding some very large elongated skulls that are extremely ancient. On his Facebook page, Brien Foerster posted a photo of one of these ancient skulls that still has red hair on it…

Another specimen with red hair was just recently discovered. But this one was the skull of a young child. This photo is also from Brien Foerster’s Facebook page…

These elongated skulls are much, much larger than normal human skulls would be. Purposeful cranial deformation can change the shape of a skull, but it cannot increase the volume of the skull.

In a recent interview with the Examiner, Foerster explained that his research has led him to the conclusion that these creatures are either “a different species” or are “a mix of human and alien DNA”…

Examiner: In a recent video, “Alien Hybrid Human Baby Found In Peru?,” you show the remains of a baby with an elongated skull as well as a fetus with an elongated skull. Do you have any theories why these babies may have developed naturally with misshapen skulls?

Foerster: These examples are completely natural in shape, and have enormous cranial volume. They are either a different species from us, or, possibly, are a mix of human and alien DNA.

A sample of the red hair from one of these skulls was sent to a lab to be analyzed. What was discovered was absolutely mind blowing. You can watch researcher L.A. Marzulli discuss what the lab found starting at the ten minute mark of the following video…

Other teams of researchers have come to similar conclusions about these ancient elongated skulls. For example, the following is an excerpt from a Daily Mail article that was posted back in 2011…

A mummified elongated skull found in Peru could finally prove the existence of aliens.

The strangely shaped head – almost as big as its 50cm (20in) body – has baffled anthropologists.

It was one of two sets of remains found in the city of Andahuaylillas in the southern province of Quispicanchi.

When an international team of anthropologists studied the skull that was found, they also agreed that it was “not a human being“…

Davila Riquelme said three anthropologists, from Spain and Russia, arrived at the museum last week to investigate the findings and agreed it was ‘not a human being’ and would conduct further studies.

He added: ‘Although the assessment was superficial, it is obvious that its features do not correspond to any ethnic group in the world.’

Another ancient skull that has caused a lot of controversy in recent years is the so-called “Starchild Skull”. The following is a photo of the “Starchild Skull” compared with the skull of a normal human…

Obviously the physical differences are very great. But the Starchild Project wanted to go even farther. They wanted to do extensive DNA testing on the skull to determine how close to human this creature actually was…

For 13 years we at the Starchild Project have known the Starchild Skull came from a being that was not entirely human, if human at all. First, it shares no physical characteristics with a normal human skull—none! Unfortunately, this astounding divergence in physical points of comparison never impressed mainstream scientists because they could, and often did, glibly explain all of them away by insisting: Nature can do anything! But that was never true.

Nature actually functions by strict rules that confine life to well-defined boundaries outlined by the unique genetic code of each species. No laws are more firmly established than the laws of genetics. Fifty eye-witnesses can say that a person committed a crime, but if DNA shows otherwise, the witnesses are ignored. DNA dominates in courts because it is the math of biology. It says what it says, again and again, with consistency you can stake your life on.

When they came back, the DNA test results were absolutely shocking. The following is a brief excerpt from the report…

In terms of this all-important mtDNA in the Starchild, our geneticist has recovered four reasonably large fragments which together total 1,583 base pairs, or 9.55% of the 16,569 base pair total for humans. As before, this is only a partial result, but also as before, it is highly indicative of what the final result of a full mtDNA genome analysis will be.

Within those 1,583 base pairs, the Starchild carries a grand total of 93 variations that are different from the extremely highly conserved human mtDNA genome. That is 93 in only 9.5% of the genome! It’s already near to the maximum of 120 variations in human mtDNA. If we do a simple but highly reliable mathematical extrapolation, expanding the 9.5% out to 100% (times 10.5) we find that 93 established variations extrapolates out to 977 variations!

The evidence continues to mount that “people” other than humans once roamed the earth. The Bible refers to them as “the Nephilim“. Other ancient texts have other names for them. The Paiute Indians claim to have once fought a war against a race of red-haired cannibalistic giants in Nevada. In fact, a handprint from one of those giants can still be found in a nearby cave.

***

MailOnline

What is this mystery object spotted on Google Moon? Bizarre wedge-shaped 'craft' appears on the lunar surface

The triangular anomaly has rows of seven light-like dots along its edge

UFO websites have likened it to an alien lunar base or spaceship

It can be found on the Google Moon viewer at coordinates 22042'38.46N and 142034'44.52E

Finder claims to have spotted similar mystery structure in Antarctica

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER

PUBLISHED: 13:55 EST, 17 January 2014 | UPDATED: 03:44 EST, 18 January 2014

Is it part of an alien spaceship nestled under the dust of the moon, or a secret moonbase occupied by humans?

Speculation has exploded over these controversial images which appear to show something unexplained on the surface of the moon.

The triangular anomaly, spotted on Google's map of the moon, has rows of seven light-like dots along its edge that have been likened to an alien base or spaceship.

Scroll down for video...

This triangular anomaly with rows of seven light-like dots along its edge has been tracked down on the Google Moon viewer

The two-sided, triangular feature on the lunar surface, was uncovered by paranormal researcher WowForReeel and posted in a new video.

It can be found on the Google Moon viewer at coordinates 22042'38.46N and 142034'44.52E.

'Is is just a weird looking crater? or is it something else?,' he asks.

'It is really there, not faked and I have no clue what it is. I found nothing else like it in any of the other craters.'

According to website Tech and Gadget News: 'The gigantic shape actually looks like the leading edge of an immense, triangular space ship, similar to, so far, super secret stealth aircraft technology, but is much larger than any airplane ever built on Earth.


The two-sided, triangular feature on the lunar surface, was uncovered paranormal researcher WowForReeel. It can be found on the Google Moon viewer at coordinates 22042'38.46N and 142034'44.52E

'The regularly spaced, circular promontory shapes which make up the seven points on the perfectly formed triangle wedge seem to be intelligently designed.

'To date, no other feature has ever been discovered which matches this shape on the moon, or any other planet observed by satellite or exploratory rover.

'The anomaly is so huge, it's possible it is some sort of moon base used as a facility for storing and launching alien UFO spacecraft.'

The same YouTube user also claims to have found a similar mystery structure on Earth, nestled under the ice in Antarctica.

'It is also a triangular shape, measuring 125 by 90mtres.

'It is unique in the area,' he said.

Tricks of light in space photography have led to a number of excited reports about alien life in our solar system.

In November, paranormal researchers found what they believed to be evidence of a fossilised iguana on the surface of Mars.

The mysterious object was spotted by UFO Sightings Daily who uncovered the photograph in Nasa’s archives.

‘This is not the first animal found on Mars, actually there have been about 10-15 to date,’ Mr Warring told news site agoracosmopolitan.com.

‘I even found a rock that moved four times in four photos...then vanished on the fifth.’

***

Independent

Nasa says Mars mystery rock that ‘appeared’ from nowhere is ‘like nothing we’ve seen before’

Rock like a ‘jelly doughnut’ has left scientists ‘completely confused’

ADAM WITHNALL

Sunday 19 January 2014

A mysterious rock which appeared in front of the Opportunity rover is "like nothing we've ever seen before", according to Mars exploration scientists at Nasa.

Experts said they were "completely confused" by both the origins and makeup of the object, which is currently being investigated by Opportunity's various measuring instruments.

Astronomers noticed the new rock had "appeared" without any explanation on an outcrop which had been empty just days earlier. The rover has been stuck photographing the same region of Mars for more than a month due to bad weather, with scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California monitoring the images it sends.

Nasa issued a Mars status report entitled "encountering a surprise", and lead Mars Exploration rover scientist Steve Squyres told a JPL event it seems the planet literally "keeps throwing new things at us".

He said the images, from 12 Martian days apart, were from no more than a couple of weeks ago. "We saw this rock just sitting here. It looks white around the edge in the middle and there’s a low spot in the centre that's dark red - it looks like a jelly doughnut.

"And it appeared, just plain appeared at that spot - and we haven't ever driven over that spot."

Images captured by Opportunity show the mysterious rock 'appeared' on an outcrop that had been empty just 12 Martian days ('Sols') earlier

Squyres said his team had two theories on how the rock got there - that there's "a smoking hole in the ground somewhere nearby" and it was caused by a meteor, or that it was "somehow flicked out of the ground by a wheel” as the rover went by.

"We had driven a metre or two away from here, and I think the idea that somehow we mysteriously flicked it with a wheel is the best explanation," Squyres said.

Yet the story got even stranger when Opportunity investigated further. Squyres explained: "We are as we speak situated with the rover's instruments deployed making measurements of this rock.

"We've taken pictures of both the doughnut and jelly parts, and the got the first data on the composition of the jelly yesterday.

"It's like nothing we've ever seen before," he said. "It's very high in sulphur, it's very high in magnesium, it's got twice as much manganese as we've ever seen in anything on Mars.

"I don't know what any of this means. We're completely confused, and everyone in the team is arguing and fighting (over what it means).

"That's the beauty of this mission... what I've realised is that we will never be finished. There will always be something tantalising, something wonderful just beyond our reach that we didn't quite get to - and that's the nature of exploration."

Squyres was speaking at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the arrival of Opportunity and Spirit on the surface of Mars.

While Spirit lost contact with Earth and was later declared "dead" in 2010, Opportunity has now roamed the planet far in excess of what was originally planned as a three-month mission. Nasa said that with its maximum speed of just 0.05mph, as of "Sol 3547" (15 January 2014) Opportunity had covered just over 24 miles (38km).

***

Huff Post

Spectacular Neon Blue Lava Pours From Indonesia's Kawah Ijen Volcano At Night (PHOTOS) By Ryan Grenoble | Posted: 01/16/14

You've heard of "red hot" and "white hot" to describe searing temperatures. But what about "blue hot"?

That's the surreal hue of Indonesia's Kawah Ijen Volcano, which glows with an otherworldly "blue lava" at night. The mountain contains large amounts of pure sulfur, which emits an icy violet color as it burns, turning the rocky slopes into a hot (at least 239 degrees Fahrenheit), highly toxic environment.

Despite the dangers, photographer Olivier Grunewald captured the scene, along with a group of men who toil on the volcano at night, battling noxious gases to mine sulfur from the crater and carry it out by hand.

Miners carry between 176 and 220 pounds of sulfur chunks per trip and sell the pieces for around 2.5 cents per pound. Yahoo reports they average two loads every 24 hours, thereby doubling their salaries amid sulfurous flames that can reach 16 feet high.

The volcano is the subject of a new documentary -- produced by Grunewald and Régis Etienne, the president of Geneva's Society of Volcanology -- released earlier this month.




PHOTOS of Kawah Ijen's blue lava:

***

Forbes

Mega Default In China Scheduled For January 31

Gordon G. Chang

1/19/2014 @ 8:08PM |449,257 views

On Friday, Chinese state media reported that China Credit Trust Co. warned investors that they may not be repaid when one of its wealth management products matures on January 31, the first day of the Year of the Horse.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China sold the China Credit Trust product to its customers in inland Shanxi province. This bank, the world’s largest by assets, on Thursday suggested it will not compensate investors, stating in a phone interview with Reuters that “a situation completely does not exist in which ICBC will assume the main responsibility.”

There should be no mystery why this investment, known as “2010 China Credit-Credit Equals Gold #1 Collective Trust Product,” is on the verge of default. China Credit Trust loaned the proceeds from sales of the 3.03 billion-yuan ($496.2 million) product to unlisted Shanxi Zhenfu Energy Group, a coal miner. The coal company probably is paying something like 12% for the money because Credit Equals Gold promised a 10% annual return to investors—more than three times current bank deposit rates—and China Credit Trust undoubtedly took a hefty cut of the interest.

Zhenfu was undoubtedly desperate for money. One of its vice chairmen was arrested in May 2012 for taking deposits without a banking license, undoubtedly trying to raise funds through unconventional channels. In any event, the company was permitted to borrow long after it should have been stopped—reports indicate that it had accumulated 5.9 billion yuan in obligations. Zhenfu, according to one Chinese newspaper account, has already been declared bankrupt with assets of less than 500 million yuan.

The Credit Equals Gold product is not the first troubled WMP, as these investments are known, to risk nonpayment, but Chinese officials have always managed to make investors whole. CITIC Trust did that in 2013 on a steel-loan product in Hubei province, and a mysterious third-party guarantee rescued a Hua Xia Bank WMP. An investment marketed by ICBC’s Suzhou branch was similarly repaid.

There has never been a default—other than one of timing—of a WMP, so the Credit Equals Gold product could be the first. If it is, it will edge out the WMP that invested in loans to Liansheng Resources Group, another Shanxi coal miner. Jilin Trust packaged Liansheng’s loans into a wealth management product sold by China Construction Bank , the country’s second-largest lender by assets, to its customers. Liansheng is in bankruptcy, and it looks like the WMP holders will not be repaid in full.

A WMP default, whether relating to Liansheng or Zhenfu, could devastate the Chinese banking system and the larger economy as well. In short, China’s growth since the end of 2008 has been dependent on ultra-loose credit first channeled through state banks, like ICBC and Construction Bank, and then through the WMPs, which permitted the state banks to avoid credit risk. Any disruption in the flow of cash from investors to dodgy borrowers through WMPs would rock China with sky-high interest rates or a precipitous plunge in credit, probably both. The result? The best outcome would be decades of misery, what we saw in Japan after its bubble burst in the early 1990s.

Most analysts don’t worry about a WMP default. Their argument is that the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, is encouraging a failure of the Zhenfu product to teach investors to appreciate risk and such lesson will improve the allocation of credit nationwide. Furthermore, they reason the central authorities would never allow a default to threaten the system.

Observers make the logical argument that “to have a market meltdown, you have to have a market” and China does not have one. Instead, Beijing technocrats dictate outcomes.

That’s correct, but that is also why China is now heading to catastrophic failure. Because Chinese leaders have the power to prevent corrections, they do so. Because they do so, the underlying imbalances become larger. Because the underlying imbalances become larger, the inevitable corrections are severe. Downturns, which Beijing hates, are essential, allowing adjustments to be made while they are still relatively minor. The last year-on-year contraction in China’s gross domestic product, according to the official National Bureau of Statistics, occurred in 1976, the year Mao Zedong died.

Why will China’s next correction be historic in its severity? Because Chinese leaders will prevent adjustments until they no longer have the ability to do so. When they no longer have that ability, their system will simply fail. Then, there will be nothing they can do to prevent the freefall.

We are almost at that critical point, as events last June and December demonstrate. The PBOC did not try to tighten credit as analysts said in June and December; it simply did not add liquidity. The failure to add liquidity caused interbank rates to soar and banks to default on their interbank obligations. In the face of the resulting crises, the central bank backed down both times, injecting more money into state banks and the economy. So Chinese leaders showed us twice last year that they now have no ability—or no will—to deal with the most important issue they face, the out-of-control creation of debt.

There are rumors that local authorities in Shanxi will either find cash so that Liansheng can pay back its loans or force institutions to roll over the WMP marketed by Jilin Trust. Similarly, there are suggestions that ICBC, despite its we’re-not-responsible statement, will produce dough for the Credit Equals Gold investors. Others say China Credit Trust, China’s third-largest such group as measured by assets, will repay investors in part. Repayment will avoid an historic default and postpone a reckoning. In all probability, authorities will be able to get past Zhenfu if they try to do so.

Even if Beijing makes sure there is no default on January 31, we should not feel relief. Just as Zhenfu followed Liansheng, there will be another WMP borrower on the edge of disaster after Zhenfu. And there are many Lianshengs and Zhenfus out there. There may have been 11 trillion yuan in WMPs at the end of last year.

And at the same time China’s money supply and credit are still expanding. Last year, the closely watched M2 increased by only 13.6%, down from 2012’s 13.8% growth. Optimists say China is getting its credit addiction under control, but that’s not correct. In fact, credit expanded by at least 20% last year as money poured into new channels not measured by traditional statistics. That appears to be in excess of credit expansion in 2012.

Even if credit expansion slowed last year, Silvercrest Asset Management’s Patrick Chovanec tells us why we should be concerned. As he wrote today, “Looking purely at the decline in the year-on-year rate of credit expansion is kind of like arguing that if I chase my shot of vodka with a pint of beer, I’m actually exercising moderation because the alcohol proof level of my drinks is falling.”

STYLE="widows: 4">***

***

Economic Collapse


What Recovery? Sears And J.C. Penney Are DYING

Michael Snyder


January 18, 2013

Two of the largest retailers in America are steamrolling toward bankruptcy. Sears and J.C. Penney are both losing hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter, and both of them appear to be caught in the grip of a death spiral from which it will be impossible to escape. Once upon a time, Sears was actually the largest retailer in the United States, and even today Sears and J.C. Penney are “anchor stores” in malls all over the country. When I was growing up, my mother would take me to the mall when it was time to go clothes shopping, and there were usually just two options: Sears or J.C. Penney. When I got older, I actually worked for Sears for a little while. At the time, nobody would have ever imagined that Sears or J.C. Penney could go out of business someday. But that is precisely what is happening. They are both shutting down unprofitable stores and laying off employees in a desperate attempt to avoid bankruptcy, but everyone knows that they are just delaying the inevitable. These two great retail giants are dying, and they certainly won’t be the last to fall. This is just the beginning.

The Death Of Sears

Sales have declined at Sears for 27 quarters in a row, and the legendary retailer has been closing hundreds of stores and selling off property in a frantic attempt to turn things around.

Unfortunately for Sears, it is not working. In fact, Sears has announced that it expects to lose “between $250 million to $360 million” for the quarter that will end on February 1st.

Things have gotten so bad that Sears is even making commercials that openly acknowledge how badly it is struggling. For example, consider the following bit of dialogue from a recent Sears television commercial featuring two young women…

“Wait, the movie theater is on the other side,” the passenger says.

“But Sears always has parking!” the driver responds.

Sears always has parking???

Of course the unspoken admission is that Sears always has parking because nobody shops there anymore.

A couple of months ago I walked into a Sears store in the middle of the week and it was like a ghost town. A few associates were milling around here and there having private discussions among themselves, but other than that it was eerily quiet.

This was once one of America’s greatest companies, but soon it will be dead.

The Death Of J.C. Penney

J.C. Penny has been a dead man walking for a long time. In some ways, it is in even worse shape than Sears.

If you can believe it, J.C. Penney actually lost 586 million dollars during the second quarter of 2013 alone.

How in the world do you lose 586 million dollars in three months?

Are they paying employees to flush giant piles of cash down the toilets?

This week J.C. Penney announced that it is eliminating 2,000 jobs and closing 33 stores.

The CEO of J.C. Penney says that these closures were necessary for the future of the company…

“As we continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth, it is necessary to reexamine the financial performance of our store portfolio and adjust our national footprint accordingly,” CEO Myron Ullman said in a news release.

Actually, his statement would be a lot more accurate if he replaced “continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth” with ” prepare for bankruptcy”.

It would be hard to overstate how much of a disaster 2013 was for J.C. Penney. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNN article…

It’s been a brutal year for J.C. Penney, its stock falling over 60% in the past 12 months. The company has been losing hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter, and is in the midst of another turnaround effort after ousting former Apple executive Ron Johnson last year.

Overall, shares of J.C. Penney have fallen by an astounding 84 percentsince February 2012. And keep in mind that this decline has happened during one of the greatest stock market rallies of all-time.

For now, J.C. Penney will continue to try to desperately raise more cash from investors that are foolish enough to give it to them, but all that is really accomplishing is just delaying the inevitable.

And of course Sears and J.C. Penney are not the only large retailers that have fallen on hard times. This week the CEO of Best Buy admitted that sales declined at his chain during the holiday season…

Best Buy shares skid on Thursday after the retailer said total revenue and sales at its established U.S stores fell in the all-important holiday season due to intense discounting by rivals, supply constraints for key products and weak traffic in December.

In the immediate aftermath of that announcement, Best Buy stock was down more than 30 percent in pre-market trading.

And Macy’s just announced that it is laying off 2,500 employees in an attempt to move in a more profitable direction.

So why is all of this happening?

Aren’t we supposed to be in the midst of an “economic recovery”?

That is what the Obama administration and the mainstream media keep telling us, but it is simply not true.

In fact, a new Gallup survey has found that the number of Americans that are “financially worse off” than a year ago is significantly higher than the number of Americans that say that they are “financially better off” than a year ago…

More Americans, 42%, say they are financially worse off now than they were a year ago, reversing the lower levels found over the past two years. Just more than a third of Americans say their financial situation has improved from a year ago.

That is why these stores are dying.

Things continue to get even worse for the middle class.

But a lot of people out there will continue to deny what is happening right in front of their eyes. They are kind of like that woman over in California who was conned out of half a million dollars by a Nigerian online dating scam. They will never admit the truth until it is far too late to do anything about it.

STYLE="widows: 4">***

***

Yahoo News

Ukraine PM warns force may be used against protests

By Stuart Williams and Oleksandr Savochenko

January 21, 2014

Kiev (AFP) - Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov warned on Tuesday that the security forces could use force to disperse protests after two nights of clashes that left hundreds wounded.

Azarov told Russian television that if "provocateurs" did not stop, the authorities could act under controversial new laws that essentially ban large protests in Ukraine.

His comments came as influential news site Dzerkalo Tyzhnia said that the authorities had already worked out a precise plan to regain control of the site of the intense clashes between protesters and the security forces.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the situation in Ukraine was spiralling out of control after two months of protests over President Viktor Yanukovych's failure to sign a deal with the European Union.

Clashes raged in the centre of the Ukrainian capital until early morning Tuesday, with demonstrators flinging Molotov cocktails and stones at security forces who hit back with stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas.

The day was relatively calm but sporadic clashes resumed late in the night Tuesday, an AFP correspondent said. However the exchanges lacked the ferocity of previous evenings.

"If the provocateurs do not stop then the authorities will have no choice other than to use the force set out under the law and ensure the security of our people," Azarov told Russia's Vesti 24 state news channel in an interview.

A new set of laws, which ban nearly all forms of protest in the ex-Soviet country and have enraged demonstrators, were officially published in the newspaper of the Ukranian parliament.

They allow for jail terms of up to five years for those who blockade public buildings and the arrest of protesters wearing masks or helmets.

Azarov added that he hoped there would be no need for the use of force to disperse the protests.

"We are hoping for common sense," he added. "People need to understand that they are being offered chaos and destruction."

Russia warns 'situation out of control'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the fact that calls by Ukraine's pro-EU opposition leaders to refrain from violence failed to calm tensions in the capital meant that the situation was becoming explosive.

"They show that the situation is getting out of control," said Russia's top diplomat.

Lavrov described the violent protests as "scary" and an "absolute violation of all European norms of behaviour".

He also slammed the EU's "indecent" support of the protest movement against Yanukovych.

On Tuesday, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay called the situation in Ukraine "very worrying" and said the government should suspend the controversial anti-protest laws.

Clashes on Sunday and Monday, which followed two months of protests, turned an area in the centre of the capital Kiev into a veritable war zone as some 10,000 demonstrators battled security forces.

Demonstrators rigged up a giant catapult behind a barricade of burned out police buses in order to better hurl projectiles at the security forces. However this appeared to have been destroyed in the clashes early Tuesday.

Dzerkalo Tyzhnia said the planned assault on the protest zone would involve 8,000 members of the security forces but its timing had yet to be made clear.

It said that authorities had also yet to determine whether to disperse protesters at just the site of the violent clashes or the main protest hub of Independence Square as well.

Police said 163 members of the security forces were wounded and 80 of them were hospitalised. Activists said hundreds of protesters were hurt but the precise number was not clear.

At least 35 journalists were hurt in the clashes and some received injuries to their faces and eyes from rubber bullets, Ukrainian press freedom group the Institute of Mass Information said.

The interior ministry said 50 activists had been arrested as part of an investigation for mass rioting.

Meanwhile a prominent Ukrainian activist and journalist, Igor Lutsenko, on Tuesday said he was safe and well after being abducted from a hospital by unknown individuals and dumped in a forest outside Kiev.

He wrote on his Facebook page after being released that he had indeed been abducted from a hospital in Kiev and was eventually left in a forest by his abductors after an ordeal lasting almost a day.

Protesters at the scene of the clashes also said that they had received mysterious text messages warning them that "dear subscriber, you have been registered as a participant in mass disorders."

The opposition led by three politicians including former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko said it was ready for dialogue but stressed it wanted to hold talks with Yanukovych, not his aides.

The opposition leaders appeared unable to have any influence on the hard core of radical protesters and stopped short of supporting their actions.

***

Healthy Debates

This Is What Happens In Your Stomach When You Consume Packaged Ramen Noodles With a Deadly Preservative

January 20, 2014

(Natasha Longo) Ramen noodles contain Tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), which is a byproduct of the petroleum industry and food additive frequently to preserve cheap processed foods. It is one of those chemicals that is neither digestible or beneficial in any way for your body. A gastrointestinal specialist conducted an experiment with a time lapse video inside the stomach, comparing both fresh and preserved ramen noodles. After two hours of digestion, the results were staggering.

The first-of-its-kind experiment by Dr. Braden Kuo of Massachusetts General Hospital wanted to find out exactly what happens to food in the stomach and digestive tract after consuming ramen noodles.

Thanks to the “smart pill,” a camera the size of a multi-vitamin, Dr. Kuo could do his experiment, showing what happens in the gut of someone who ate a package of instant ramen noodles compared to fresh.

Dr. Kuo recorded 32 hours from the pill camera.

“What we’re seeing here is a stomach contracting back and forth as it’s trying to grind up the ramen noodles,” Dr. Kuo says of the beginning of the video.

For comparison, the study volunteers also ate fresh, homemade ramen noodles on a different day.

The video at 20 minutes, and 2 hours, shows a striking difference.

“The most striking thing about our experiment when you looked at a time interval, say in one or two hours, we noticed a processed ramen noodles were less broken down that homemade ramen noodles,” noted Dr. Kuo.

This affects nutrient absorption and could theoretically allow preservatives to linger longer periods in the stomach cavity before being transported to the intestines and subsequently eliminated.

What Is TBHQ?

In processed foods, it’s sprayed on the food or on its packaging to prevent discoloration and changes to flavor and odor. Others products, such as cosmetics, perfumes, varnishes and lacquers, contain TBHQ to maintain stability.

Small amounts of TBHQ may not kill you (although death has occurred) or even make you feel immediately sick, but it can have a long term effect on your health such as weakening of organs and contributing to the onset of cancers and tumors.

The FDA says that TBHQ must not exceed 0.02 percent of its oil and fat content. Death has occurred from the ingestion of as little as 5 grams. This would be a considerably high dose compared to the amounts found in foods, but it gives us a good indication on the toxicity level of this preservative.

At higher doses, it has some negative health effects on lab animals, such as producing precursors to stomach tumors and damage to DNA. A number of studies have shown that prolonged exposure to high doses of TBHQ may be carcinogenic, especially for stomach tumors.

Ingestion of a single gram (a thirtieth of an ounce) has caused nausea, vomiting, anaphylactic shock, diarrhea, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse. Some people have reported having anxiety and night terrors and asthma after ingesting TBHQ. Others have reported having a body rash and swollen lymph nodes.

You can find TBHQ in McDonald’s chicken Mcnuggets across the United States, however Mcdonalds European chicken nuggets do not contain the toxic preservative. This is interesting since both the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the FDA have evaluated TBHQ and determined that it is safe to consume at the concentration allowed in foods. The EFSA considers TBHQ to be non-carcinogenic, so why do they not allow it in chicken mcnuggets?

Other Food Products Containing TBHQ:

Mcdonalds chicken nuggets and french fries

CHEEZ-IT Crackers made by Kelloggs

Butterfinger chocolate and Resee’s Peanut butter cups

Nestle Crunch

Wheat Thins

Microwave popcorn

Pam cooking spray

Aldi products

Keebler Club crackers

Kellogs eggo frozen waffles and many other kellog products

Taco bell beans and some taco shells

Teddy Grahams

Red Barron frozen pizza

Keebler Cookies

TastyKake

Little Debbie

Kellog’s Pop-Tarts

Homestyle Peanut butter cookies

Some forms of soymilk

Different breads cerals and crackers could contain TBHQ

Crisco oil

Some pet foods

Many cosmetic products and baby products

Some hair dyes lipsticks and eyeshadows

Wrigley’s gum

Little Debbies nutty bars and some M&M products

KFC beans and fried chicken

There are many more processed foods not listed above which contain TBHQ. A conclusion that is now quickly reaching vast numbers is that all processed food in general, has far too many problems to be considered safe. Our regulatory agencies are not responsibly catering to the problems and instead of removing these toxins from the food supply, are claiming that safe levels exist. Since when did safe levels exist of any poison entering the body?

***

Natural News

Earthing - The ultimate healing technique?

Friday, January 17, 2014 by: Derek Henry

11K(NaturalNews) The amount of barriers to healing is a long and sordid list, with a dirty food, water and air supply sitting at the top. Combine that with a poor relationship with the sun and the earth, and true healing becomes very difficult. However, if we can reignite our connection with the earth, we may find healing becomes a lot easier.

What is earthing?

Earthing, also known as grounding, is based on research showing that having a connection to the earth's electrical energy promotes physical well-being. This connection is made between the electrical frequencies of the human body and that of the earth, which can be achieved directly (e.g., barefoot in grass or on a beach) or by proxy through grounding technology.

The pioneer and the science

Clinton Ober, a recognized pioneer in the concept of earthing, knew that the earth's surface is made up of negatively charged ions, which contain extra electrons. These electrons have the ability to reduce positive charges, like those of free radicals. Free radicals circulate in our body looking for electrons in order to be complete, and once they do, they are "neutralized" and no longer contribute to inflammation in the body.

Ober finally received support in 2004, after many years of personal research, when the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine published one of his studies. The results showed that "earthing during your sleep resynchronizes cortisol secretion more in alignment with its natural, normal rhythm."

This research has provided us with a whole new way to appreciate the earth.

Conditions improved with earthing

The key factor that seems to be linked with earthing is the reduction of inflammation. Since there are over 80 chronic diseases associated with inflammation, including cancer and type 2 diabetes, earthing could be one of the greatest "rediscoveries" of our time.

Studies have indicated several benefits to your health while earthing, including:

• Improved sleep

• Decreased pain and inflammation

• Enhanced immune system

• Reduced anxiety and stress

• Improved gastrointestinal symptoms

• Improved cardiovascular function

• Improved energy levels

• Improved hormonal cycles

• More dramatic healing for sports injuries

• Reduced jet lag

An impressive list for simply getting back in touch with the ground.

How we got disconnected and how we can hook back up

We have insulated ourselves from the earth primarily through shoes with rubber or plastic soles. This daily practice with little to no reprieve has consistently unplugged us from the healing negative charge of the earth.

The most effective way to get grounded again is to get your bare feet in the grass (slightly wet is best), dirt, sand or salt water for 20-30 minutes a day (gardening with bare hands will also provide a connection). If you live close to water, walking in close vicinity to it will improve the experience. If these are not reasonable options for you, then consider grounding technology like earthing sheets, mats, car seat covers and sandals which will essentially do the same thing.

Keep in mind that concrete is a good conductor as well, as long as it is not sealed or painted, but materials like asphalt and wood will not allow electrons to pass through so are not suitable for grounding (which makes barefoot travel in the house typically useless). Also, the higher up you are in a building, the more removed you are from the surface of the earth, which has additional negative implications.

So get back in touch with the earth. I encourage you to hit the ground running.

Sources for this article include:

Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, and Martin Zucker

http://earthingcanada.ca

About the author:

Motivated by his own story of being sick and crippled at age 30 to healthy and pain free 5 years later, Derek is an expert in helping people get on track in a fraction of the time it took him on his own journey. Actively engaged in the research of natural healing for over 6 years, Derek has spent over 3000 hours studying and collaborating with top minds in nutrition and utilizes that extensive knowledge to deliver protocols that help people overcome their own health challenges.

Derek is currently a Master Health Coach and writer of over 200 natural health articles, many of which are featured at his primary website, http://healingthebody.ca/ and his Healing the Body Facebook page.

Derek specializes in specific nutritional and wellness programs, from simple lifestyle transitions to complete healing protocols.

***

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

O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.”
(Psalm 104:24)


Quote

When you claim the power of the keys, My light, love, energy, and force become a part of your very being.