the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have
delivered: and many such like things do ye.”
Greetings! We have all heard of the Pharisees and Sadducees as they were the religious leaders of the Jewish nation at the time of Jesus. The Pharisees and Sadducees are mentioned throughout the Gospels.
Some of Jesus' most stinging rebukes and condemnation in all the Gospels were against the Pharisees as evidenced in Matthew, chapter twenty-three, and John, chapter eight, as well as many other passages in the Gospels.
Much of our New Testament was written by a Pharisee, Saul, who became the apostle Paul.
Josephus, considered to be the greatest historian of the first century A.D., was also a Pharisee.
So just who were the Pharisees and Sadducees .
Abraham Collier from his research paper titled “Do Not Equate Karaism with Zionism” gives us some insight into what he believes is the historical record of the evolution and history of the Pharisee and the Sadducees. In his research he uses several quotes from Josephus.
The Pharisee and Sadducee Controversy
When one studies the Second Temple Era, they are usually overwhelmed by the contradictions, obscurities, and blatant bias that many historians, philosophers, clergymen and rabbis had towards the Jews at that time. Josephus, he is probably the best source for knowledge of this period, states:
"...while some men who were not concerned in the affairs themselves have gotten together vain and contradictory stories by hearsay, and have written them down after a sophistical manner; and while those that were there present have given false accounts of things, and this either out of a humor of flattery to the Romans, or of hatred towards the Jews..." (Josephus War. Preface 1 Ch Line 2)
People should take established legend and tradition with a grain of salt. For whosoever is the victor writes the history of the victim!
Contrary to popular opinion, the Pharisee sect was the main enemy of Judaism in the Second Temple era. The Sadducees comprised of the majority of all Jews. Additionally, there was a tiny Hellenistic Sadducee sect that controlled the priesthood and conspired with the Pharisees. The Pharisees and Hellenistic Sadducees also collaborated with the Roman Empire in order to obtain religious and political power over the Jews in Palestine at the time.
Regarding the Pharisees, the historian Josephus, himself a Pharisee, stated, 'What I would now explain is this, that the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers (not by Yahweh, but by men), which are not written in the laws of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers.' (Josephus Ant. 13 Ch. 10 Par. 6)
Zerubbabel, Joshua, the returned exiles, and 'the people of the land' laid the foundation of the Second Temple. (Haggay 2:1-9)
Joshua Chapter 23
5 And YHWH your God, He shall thrust them out from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as YHWH your God spoke unto you.
6 Therefore be ye very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;
7 that ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor worship them;
8 but cleave unto YHWH your God, as ye have done unto this day;
We see here that the Pharisees followed numerous observances based upon traditions from their ancestors whereas the Sadducees were characterized by their rejection the oral law/Talmud.
The Pharisee sympathizer Queen Alexandra (76-67 b.c.e) was recorded to have done the following:
"So she (Alexandra) made Hyrcanus high priest, because he was the elder, but much more because he cared not to meddle with politics, and permitted the Pharisees to do every thing; to whom also she ordered the multitude to be obedient. She also restored again those practices which the Pharisees had introduced, according to the traditions of their forefathers, and which her father-in-law, Hyrkanos, had abrogated. So she had indeed the name of the regent, but the Pharisees had the authority; for it was they who restored such as had been banished, and set such as were prisoners at liberty, and, to say all at once, they differed in nothing from lords." (Josephus Ant. 13 Ch. 16 Par. 2)
I underscored an important phrase. The queen had to force the multitude to be obedient to Pharisee rule that included the innovation of an oral law (not yet called Talmud but simply 'the traditions of the fathers') and Roman sympathy. All of this was done after the death of John Hyrkanos (134-104 b.c.e.) the second Hasmonean king and father of Alexander Yannai. Hyrkanos and his father were Sadducees, even though Hyrkanos turned a blind eye to Pharisee control. The passage quoted implies that that the multitudes (i.e. majority) of the Jewish population were Sadducees and detested an additional Torah and Roman collaboration. Another inference made here is that the Pharisees were established not by popular opinion, but by dictatorial decree! Hardly the 'party of the people' or 'populist party!' The Pharisees became the Establishment and to go against the Establishment meant certain death.
At the time of the Idumean/Arab/Hellenistic puppet king Herod, Josephus writes how the king favoured the Pharisees because they supported his Roman sanctioned ruler ship:
"And since Herod had now the government of all Judea put into his hands, he promoted such of the private men in the city as had been of his party, but never left off avenging and punishing every day those that had chosen to be of the party of his enemies. But Pollio the Pharisee, and Sameas, a disciple of his, were honored by him above all the rest; for when Jerusalem was besieged, they advised the citizens to receive Herod, for which advice they were well requited." (Josephus Ant. 15 Ch. 1 Par. 1)
Plainly stated, the Pharisees were pro-Roman, anti-Nationalist. They enjoyed the privileged life of religious and political domination of Judea bestowed upon them by Herod in return for their loyalty. This was against the will of the people which is why in this unstable period, we read of Revolutionaries and Zealots who made war against the Pharisee establishment and Roman occupation.
More proof that the multitude leaned to the Sadducee side: "Now Hyrcanus (a Sadducean Pharisaic sympathizer) was heir to the kingdom, and to him did his mother (Queen Alexandra) commit it before she died; but Aristobulus (a Sadducee) was superior to him in power and magnanimity; and when there was a battle between them, to decide the dispute about the kingdom, near Jericho, the greatest part deserted Hyrcanus, and went over to Aristobulus; but Hyrcanus, with those of his party who remained with him, fled to Antonia, and got into his power the hostages that might he for his preservation; but they came to an agreement before things should come to extremities, that Aristobulus should be king, and Hyrcanus should resign that up, but retain all the rest of his dignities, as being the king's brother. Hereupon they were reconciled to each other in the temple, and embraced one another in a very kind manner, while the people stood round about them; they also changed their houses (residencies), while Aristobulus went to the royal palace, and Hyrcanus retired to the house of Aristobulus." (Josephus War. 1 Ch. 6 Par. 1)
Wouldn't it seem strange that if the multitude followed the Pharisees, that they would support a Sadducean dynasty en masse? Unfortunately, Aristobulus made a mistake by letting Hyrcanus live. Read on.
Josephus gives us further proof that the people supported the Sadducees and that the Pharisees were pro-Roman. What you are about to read is a horrific description about Pompey's war against Jerusalem in the initial stages of Roman occupation of Palestine and well as a bloody coup d'etat of the Pharisees against the priests and Jews in Jerusalem.
"At this treatment Pompey was very angry, and took Aristobulus (Sadducee) into custody. And when he was come to the city, he looked about where he might make his attack; for he saw the walls were so firm, that it would be hard to overcome them; and that the valley before the walls was terrible; and that the temple, which was within that valley, was itself encompassed with a very strong wall, insomuch that if the city were taken, that temple would be a second place of refuge for the enemy to retire to."
"Now as he was long in deliberating about this matter, a sedition arose among the people within the city; Aristobulus's (Sadducee) party being willing to fight, and to set their king (Aristobulus) at liberty, while the party of Hyrcanus (Sadducean Pharisee sympathizer) were for opening the gates to Pompey."
We see here a clear distinction between the Sadducees and Pharisees. The Sadducee majority pledged to battle Rome and free Aristobulus, while the Pharisee collaborators literally opened the gates of Jerusalem to Rome. Continuing:
"So Aristobulus's party (Sadducees) was worsted, and retired into the temple, and cut off the communication between the temple and the city, by breaking down the bridge that joined them together, and prepared to make an opposition to the utmost (to the death!); but as the others (the Pharisees) had received the Romans into the city, and had delivered up the palace to him (Pompey)- he then disposed all things that were round about them so as might favor their attacks, as having Hyrcanus's (Sadducean Pharisee sympathizers) party very ready to afford them both counsel and assistance."
"Now here it was that, upon the many hardships which the Romans underwent (here Josephus, being a biased pro-Roman Pharisee, marvels at how difficult it was for the sensitive Roman legions to slaughter Jews in the Temple) Pompey could not but admire not only at the other instances of the Jews' fortitude, but especially that they did not at all intermit their religious services, even when they were encompassed with darts on all sides; for, as if the city were in full peace, their daily sacrifices and purifications, and every branch of their religious worship, was still performed to God with the utmost exactness. Nor indeed when the temple was actually taken, and they were every day slain about the altar, did they leave off the instances of their Divine worship that were appointed by their law (note ONE law = ONE Torah); for it was in the third month of the siege before the Romans could even with great difficulty overthrow one of the towers, and get into the temple."
Here the Pharisees allowed the Romans to enter, besiege the temple with a multitude of Sadducee warriors and priests therein- who represented ONE Torah and the majority of Jews at that time. Continuing:
"And now did many of the priests (Sadducees), even when they saw their enemies (Roman and Pharisee) assailing them with swords in their hands, without any disturbance, go on with their Divine worship, and were slain while they were offering their drink-offerings, and burning their incense, as preferring the duties about their worship to God before their own preservation. The greatest part of them were slain by their own countrymen (Pharisees), of the adverse faction, and an innumerable multitude threw themselves down precipices; nay, some there were who were so distracted among the insuperable difficulties they were under, that they set fire to the buildings that were near to the wall, and were burnt together with them. Now of the Jews were slain twelve thousand; but of the Romans very few were slain, but a greater number was wounded."
Thus blatant Pharisee involvement in the murder of priests, spilling their blood and desecrating the temple grounds. Continuing:
"But there was nothing that affected the nation so much, in the calamities they were then under, as that their holy place, which had been hitherto seen by none, should be laid open to strangers (pagan Geniles and non-priests); for Pompey, and those that were about him, went into the temple itself whither it was not lawful for any to enter but the high priest, Moreover, he made Hyrcanus (Sadducean Pharisee sympathizer) high priest, as one that not only in other respects had showed great alacrity, on his side, during the siege, but as he had been the means of hindering the multitude (Sadducees) that was in the country from fighting for Aristobulus (Sadducee), which they were otherwise very ready to have done (presumably because Hyrcanus, as a born Sadducee, was able to manipulate Aristobulus' supporters through some type of deceit)." (Josephus War. 1 Ch. 7 Par. 1-2,4-6)
Mull over the tragic significance of this event! Though Hyrcanus was a born Sadducee, he was a Pharisee sympathizer. The making of him high priest started the creation of a Sadducean aristocracy that was loyal and accommodating to Rome. At this point, we have two Sadducee groups- one that controlled the high priesthood and were Hellenistic, aristocratic Roman collaborators, and the other that was the anti-Roman, Nationalistic party of the majority. From this latter majority, what I call the 'Purist Sadducees' came forth the famous Revolutionary sects such as the Zealots and also, according to some authors, the Essenes, Nazarenes and others.
Later during the Great Revolt against Rome (66-73 c.e.) we see that the Pharisees remained the Establishment and supported Rome, seeking to kill the Sadducee uprising in its many forms in order to secure their power:
"Hereupon the men of power got together, and conferred with the high priests (Hellenistic Sadducees), as did also the principal of the Pharisees (who now ruled the religious courts); and thinking all was at stake, and that their calamities were becoming incurable (because of the Purist Sadducee majority), took counsel what was to be done. Accordingly, they determined to try what they could do with the seditious by words (it was at this time that the many different messianic Sadducee movements were preaching against the Establishment and calling for the Final Redemption), and assembled the people before the brazen gate, which was that gate of the inner temple which looked toward the sun-rising. And, in the first place, they showed the great indignation they had at this attempt for a revolt, and for their bringing so great a war upon their country; after which they confuted their pretence as unjustifiable."
"So the men of power (Pharisees) perceiving that the sedition was too hard for them to subdue (because it was the majority belief), and that the danger which would arise from the Romans would come upon them first of all (upon the Pharisees that is, for failing to end the Sadducee sedition and rebellion) endeavored to save themselves, and sent ambassadors, some to Florus, the chief of which was Simon the son of Ananias (Hellenistic Sadducee); and others to Agrippa, among whom the most eminent were Saul, and Antipas, and Costobarus, who were of the king's kindred; and they desired of them both that they would come with an army to the city, and cut off the seditious before it should be too hard to be subdued."
"Upon this the men of power (Pharisees), with the high priests, as also all the part of the multitude that were desirous of peace, took courage, and seized upon the upper city (Mount Zion) for the seditious part had the lower city and the temple in their power (the Sadducee multitude composed of the most of the city and lay priests in the temple); so they made use of stones and slings perpetually against one another, and threw darts continually on both sides; and sometimes it happened that they made incursions by troops, and fought it out hand to hand, while the seditious were superior in boldness, but the king's soldiers in skill. These last (Pharisees) strove chiefly to gain the temple, and to drive those out of it who profaned it (Pharisees and Hellenistic Sadducees); as did the seditious, with Eleazar, besides what they had already, labor to gain the upper city. Thus were there perpetual slaughters on both sides for seven days' time; but neither side would yield up the parts they had seized on." (Josephus War. 2 Ch. 17 Par. 3-5)
We see here that the Pharisees could not silence the people's rebellion, and, for fear of their own lives and power, they petitioned Agrippa (a Roman collaborating Jewish king) to send Roman troops to silence the Uprising.
When the Temple and Jerusalem fell, the Romans handed all political and religious power to the Pharisees at which point the Pharisees had a great deal of autonomy over the Jewish population in Palestine and abroad. From then on, the Pharisees were enforcing their additional Torah, known as the Talmud or Oral Law over the Jewish populace. To go against the will of the Pharisees was to go against Rome.
The Roman transfer of Jewish control to the Pharisees now Rabbanites was finalized after the final Jewish revolt by Bar Kokhba in 135 b.c.e. In doing so, the Rabbanites had full control of the writing (or re-writing if you will) of the crucial political and religious history of Palestine during Roman occupation. The Pharisees were free to reinterpret the history and facts about the Sadducees, Romans, Zealots, and Revolutionaries according to their own theology and political biases in retrospect and place them in the Talmud and commentaries. Having established seminaries and academies, training of a new generation of Pharisee rabbis, the canonization and writing down of the traditions of the fathers (Talmud), and the dictatorial imposing of their once tiny sect upon the rest of Judaism, the Pharisees secured their longtime lust to control every aspect of Jewish life.
We Can Now Wirelessly Power Tiny Electronic Devices Implanted in the Body
May 19, 2014 // 05:52 PM EST
In figuring out how to wirelessly power implantable electronic medical devices, researchers at Stanford University may have just cleared the last remaining hurdle to making the gadgets practical.
Huge advances in nanotechnology have driven down the size of the sensors and components necessary to hack your own body, but the batteries to power them haven't followed suit, making DIY cyborgs look like this:
What you're left with is implantable devices that can store and transmit data and deliver drugs, or e-tattoos that use conventional chips rather than nanotechnology, but still have no practical way of actually being powered, other than bulky batteries or wires that run to a battery somewhere else, which is not exactly what we're looking for with nanodevices. Now, finally, someone has ditched the battery altogether, opening the door to wirelessly operated pacemakers, drug delivery systems, and internal body monitors.
"With this power transfer method, we can miniaturize the last thing that makes medical devices so large,” John Ho, lead author of a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences detailing the research, said in a video explaining it. "We can make it the size of a grain of rice. We can power it anywhere in the body, including the heart or the brain.”
In fact, the technique has already been used to create a working pacemaker in a rabbit that is “several orders of magnitude” smaller than existing ones. Human trials are next, and the tech could quickly jump out of the strictly medical realm and could be used for consumer products like running trackers that are in your hands or legs rather than strapped to your wrist, bluetooth-connected microphones embedded near your vocal cords, and other bionic tech.
The breakthrough comes thanks to the use of what the researchers are calling “midfield powering.” Traditionally, wireless charging has used near field powering, which requires the power source and the thing being powered to be nearly touching, and advances have been made to allow wireless charging further away. Naturally, midfield powering occurs somewhere in between—perfect for having a power source outside the body and a device being powered in, say, your heart.
To make it work, Ho and his team placed a small power "plate" outside the body. The power source sends electricity into the body, and tiny coils inside the implantable device are able to passively receive the power inside, and potentially through the body.
Sound scary? It kind of is. Ho admits that the most dangerous thing about wireless charging is the health risk, but the power plate and associated sensor use about a thousand times less energy than previous designs, which were tissue-specific and could only exist very close to the skin's surface.
The team says that the level of power being pulsed through the body is “unlikely to have a meaningful impact on core body temperature” and that it falls within healthy radiation levels.
Already, the tech has been tested successfully in pigs and rabbits—the next step is to try it on humans and to eventually add a battery back into the mix. Yeah, the big breakthrough here is that a battery isn't necessary, but the goal is to create tiny ones that can be recharged as you sleep, so a constant power source isn't necessary at all.
“Future systems may also incorporate a small rechargeable battery to enable continuous operation without an externally worn power source,” Ho wrote. “These capabilities should substantially increase the viability of implanting electronics in living systems.”
Once this is tested in humans, there's really no reason why we can't all be hacking ourselves within a couple years.
The Jewish Daily Forward
Pope Francis Heading to Holy Land With Rabbi and Imam as Interfaith Wing Men
Abraham Skorka and Sheik Omar Abboud Join Pontiff's Trip
(JTA) — With a rabbi and a Muslim sheik as his travel companions, Pope Francis is heading to the Middle East with what he hopes will be a powerful message of interfaith respect.
It will be the first time that leaders of other faiths are part of an official papal delegation. The aim is to send “an extremely strong and explicit signal” about interfaith dialogue and the “normality” of having friends of other religions, chief Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters.
Starting Saturday, the three-day pilgrimage will take the 77-year-old pontiff to Jordan, the West Bank and Israel. The packed agenda includes courtesy calls on government leaders; open-air Masses; meetings with Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious authorities; and visits to holy sites of the three religions.
The two men joining Francis are friends with whom the pope frequently collaborated when he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires: Rabbi Abraham Skorka, former rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires, and Sheik Omar Abboud, a former secretary-general of the Islamic Center of Argentina.
“I don’t expect Francis to wave a magic wand and bring together Jews and Palestinians,” Skorka told the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire. “But his charisma and his great humility can give a powerful message of peace for the whole Middle East.”
Since being elected to the papacy in February 2013, Francis, the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years, has become known — and widely hailed — for breaking protocol, shunning the grand trappings of papal power and reaching out to the faithful on a personal level.
On his upcoming trip, Francis has insisted that he will not travel in a bulletproof vehicle or special Popemobile. Rather, he’ll get around in “a normal car or open-topped jeep” in order to be closer to the people who come out to greet him, according to the Vatican spokesman.
Eric Greenberg, the director of communications, outreach and interfaith for the Multi-Faith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, said Francis’ ability to captivate world media means every step of his visit will be watched closely.
“There will be opportunities to deepen the important bilateral relationship between Catholics and Jews, and to boost the larger dialogue among Catholics, Jews and Muslims,” Greenberg said.
Francis will begin his trip in Jordan and proceed the next day by helicopter to Bethlehem for a 6 1/2-hour stay. He will meet there with Palestinian officials, celebrate an open-air Mass in Manger Square and visit with children from Palestinian refugee camps.
The official Vatican program says the pope will be visiting “the state of Palestine,” which has prompted rumors that the Vatican may announce recognition of an independent Palestinian state.
From Bethlehem, Francis will fly by helicopter to Ben Gurion Airport and then to Jerusalem. He will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust center and the Western Wall, where like his predecessors Benedict XVI and John Paul II, he will leave a message in a crack between the stones.
The pope also will visit Christian sites and the Temple Mount, a site that is sacred to both Jews and Muslims and the locus of recent clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians protesting Jewish visitors.
In recent years, the Vatican has made the state of Christians in the Middle East a priority issue. Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, the top Roman Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land, said this month that the recent spate of anti-Christian graffiti attacks by Israeli Jewish extremists “poisons the atmosphere of coexistence” surrounding the papal visit. He chided Israeli authorities for not cracking down.
Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s international director for interreligious affairs, said the media attention resulting from the papal trip has prompted some action to be taken against the extremists.
Francis will be the fourth reigning pope to visit Jerusalem. His trip marks the 50th anniversary of the first papal visit to the Holy Land, Pope Paul VI’s pilgrimage in January 1964. On the trip, Paul’s meeting in Jerusalem with Patriarch Athenagoras, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, was a major first step toward reconciling the 1,000-year rift between Western and Eastern Christianity.
The centerpiece of Francis’ stay will be his meeting with Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew and an ecumenical joint prayer service with leaders of other Christian churches in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.
Paul’s trip, the first by a reigning pope outside of Italy, came in a vastly different context than today in terms of Jewish-Catholic and Vatican-Israel relations. The visit came one year before the Second Vatican Council promulgated its Nostra Aetate declaration, which opened the way to interreligious dialogue between Catholics and Jews.
It also took place decades before the Vatican and Israel established diplomatic relations with a Fundamental Agreement signed at the end of 1993. During his stay in Jerusalem, Paul did not even pronounce the word “Israel.”
For the past 20 years, Israel and the Holy See have attempted to reach agreement on several outstanding bilateral issues, including establishing the juridical rights of the Catholic Church in Israel as well as regulating property and taxation issues.
Just ahead of the pope’s visit, Israeli officials quashed rumors that Israel planned to transfer the Cenacle — the site where Jesus’ Last Supper took place — to the Vatican. Francis is to celebrate Mass at the Cenacle, which is revered by Christians.
Jews venerate the site as King David’s Tomb, and on May 12, hundreds of haredi Orthodox protested there demanding that Israel retain control.
All of these factors and more mean that it is impossible to separate bilateral Israel-Vatican relations from Catholic-Jewish relations, the AJC’s Rosen says.
Papal visits to Israel, he said, demonstrate “the remarkable new Catholic and Christian positive affirmation of the roots of its identity and its commitment to the welfare of the Jewish people.”
Moreover, he said, “I greatly hope that there will still be an opportunity for an interfaith encounter with local representatives of the faiths communities in this land somewhere on the papal itinerary. I actually think that to bring along an Argentinian rabbi and imam is very nice, but if there is no interfaith meeting with the locals, it might be seen locally as rather disingenuous.”
Footage of Palestinian boys being shot is genuine, says Israeli rights group
B'Tselem contradicts Israeli military claims that CCTV footage showing deaths is either forged or was edited misleadingly
Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem
Thursday 22 May 2014 12.05 EDT
A wounded Palestinian protester is carried during clashes with Israeli troops near Ofer prison. Photograph: Ammar Awad/Reuters
The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has concluded that footage capturing the moment two Palestinian teenagers were shot dead by Israeli soldiers despite posing no risk to them is "genuine and consistent", contradicting Israeli army claims that the footage is likely to have been forged.
A short section of edited CCTV footage was released earlier this week showing Nadim Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Salameh, 16, being shot and killed. Since then Israeli military sources have been quoted anonymously on several occasions in the local media trying to undermine the tape's credibility.
The two boys were killed on Thursday last week during a rally involving stone-throwing outside Ofer prison on the West Bank on "Nakba Day", when Palestinians mark the mass displacement that occurred during the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948.
When footage from CCTV cameras installed on a business close to the shootings was first circulated on Monday evening by the group Defence for Children International – Palestine, senior Israeli army sources suggested it had been edited in a "biased" and "tendentious" way.
By Thursday morning army sources were being quoted in Haaretz claiming either that the tape was a forgery or that an unknown Palestinian gunmen had killed the two youths and badly injured another.
The emergence of the CCTV footage this week, showing the moment of the pair's deaths, sparked international controversy as it sharply contradicted the initial Israeli police and military accounts of the day, which insisted no live ammunition had been used and the boys had died in the midst of violent clashes that had threatened the lives of soldiers.
Senior US and UN officials are among those who have called for a full inquiry, while the US secretary of state, John Kerry, has also raised his concern.
Several journalists from international news organisations were at the demonstration outside Ofer prison when the incident occurred, including CNN and a photographer for Agence France-Presse, Abbas Momani, whose still photographs appear to duplicate action from the CCTV images.
The full CCTV footage – amounting to hours of tape – was reviewed and logged by researchers for B'Tselem, which has provided copies to Israeli military police and planned to release more of the footage.
Invited by the Guardian to provide evidence the footage was faked, a senior Israeli military spokesman on Thursday would only say it had been edited to "misrepresent the extensive Palestinian violence that day", adding that the army's investigation was ongoing.
Sarit Michaeli of B'Tselem said on Thursday that researchers had now reviewed all the CCTV footage taken from the four cameras installed at the scene of the killings, showing several different angles. They concluded that the edited footage was consistent with the sequence of events as it was captured on the full-length tapes.
Michaeli said: "The footage is continuous, as you can see from the time stamps.
"It starts just before midday and finishes around three. Taken together it shows that there is a light demonstration with some stoning. Soldiers fire rubber bullets and teargas until the fatal shootings. Then you see the youths get shot and fall."
Footage shot by CNN of the killings appears to confirm this picture, showing Nadim Nawara throwing stones at one stage close to the building where he was shot and killed, but still at some distance from where witnesses have placed the closest Israeli soldiers.
Whether violence took place earlier or not, Israeli open fire regulations are unequivocal in stating that it is only permissible to use live rounds – or lethal force – against stone-throwers when there is an immediate risk to life.
Neither of the youths was throwing stones when they were killed, and one was walking away from the Israeli position, with his back to soldiers, when he was shot.
The wounds to the two boys and another boy who survived being shot appear consistent with small-calibre, high-velocity live rounds, including the described entry and exit wounds and the way the bullets travelled in the body.
Commenting on efforts to cast doubt on accounts of the affair in +972 online magazine, Dahlia Scheindlin, a public opinion analyst in Tel Aviv, attempted to explain recent comments: "Public figures are well aware that the postmodern mindset makes it hard to pin down facts.
"Throwing out theories, no matter how wild, raises doubts even if far-fetched. Using words inaccurately, or not admitting to one's actions is another form. Accusing the other side of full-out conspiracy and elaborate fabrications is another."
At the gates of heaven: A new book, drawing on the stories of dying patients and doctors, will transform the way you think about your final days
By PATRICIA PEARSON
PUBLISHED: 19:38 EST, 16 May 2014 | UPDATED: 07:36 EST, 18 May 2014
At around 4am that morning, my father gave an audible sigh. It was loud enough to wake my mother, who sleepily assumed that he was having a bad dream.
But he wasn’t. That sigh was his final breath as he died.
No one, least of all my father, had known he was ill. As for my mother, she’d assumed he was still asleep when she rose a few hours later and had breakfast alone.
Afterwards she’d returned to the bedroom and tried, with increasing desperation, to wake him.
There was, however, one person who knew about Dad’s death well before Mum did: my sister Katharine, who lived 100 miles away and was herself suffering from terminal breast cancer.
‘On the night of my father’s death,’ she told mourners at his memorial service some weeks later, ‘I had an extraordinary spiritual experience.
‘It was about 4.30am and I couldn’t sleep, when all of a sudden I began having this amazing experience. For the next two hours, I felt nothing but joy and healing. I felt hands on my head, and experienced vision after vision of a happy future.’
When she awoke that morning, she’d described them to her teenage son Graeme as she drove him to school. Among the visions of the future, she told him, was one of his own child — a yet- to-be conceived five-month-old granddaughter — whom she’d played with on her bedroom floor.
It wasn’t till Katharine got back home that my mother phoned to tell her Dad had just died.
Suddenly, she knew the reason for the powerful surge of energy and joy she’d felt in her bedroom, the sense of someone there. ‘I now know that it was my father,’ she said.
Now, my family isn’t in the habit of channelling ghosts. Indeed, my first reaction to my sister’s vision was close to hysterical laughter.
But, almost immediately afterwards, the vision began to make profound sense, like puzzle pieces slipping perfectly into place. Without discussing it, we were convinced as a family that Dad had done something of great emotional elegance.
He’d seized a mysterious opportunity to go to his very sick daughter, to caress her and calm her, before heading on his way.
A month later, in early April, a scan revealed that Katharine’s cancer had spread to her bones and liver. In the final ten days of her life, in a hospice, she looked gorgeous, as if lit from within.
Sometimes, she’d have happy, whispered conversations with a person I couldn’t see. At other times, she’d stare at the ceiling as a full panoply of expressions played across her face: puzzled, amused, sceptical, surprised, becalmed — like a spectator watching a heavenly light show.
‘It’s so interesting,’ she began one morning, but she couldn’t find the words to describe what she’d seen.
Psychologists found that only 10 per cent who had visions also had high fevers, which can trigger hallucinations
She knew very well that she was dying. Forty-eight hours before she died, she announced: ‘I am leaving.’ Then a few hours before her last breath, she again mentioned leaving. How did she know? The hospice had told us that her death could be two months or six months or two years away.
Katharine slipped away in the night, in silence and candlelight, while I lay with my cheek on her chest and my hand on her heart, feeling her breathing slow and subside.
‘Welcome to our tribe,’ someone said to me wryly that summer, speaking of the crazy shift in perspective that comes with grieving. I felt as though I was gulping air, but it helped to speak to people who’d also been bereaved.
If I told them what I’d witnessed with my father and sister, many reciprocated. And almost invariably they prefaced their remarks by saying: ‘I’ve never told anyone this, but . . . ’ Then these smart, sceptical people would talk about deathbed visions, sensed presences, near-death experiences and sudden intimations that a loved one was in danger or dying.
The director of a large music company, who drove me home from a dinner party, told me that, as a boy, he’d come down to breakfast one morning and seen his father, as always, at the kitchen table.
Then his mother broke the news that his father had died in the night. The boy briefly wondered if she’d gone mad. ‘He’s sitting right there,’ he said. It was the most baffling and unsettling moment of his life.
A casual acquaintance told me the story of her sister who’d woken one night to the sensation of glass shattering all over her bed, as if the bedroom window had been blown inward. With adrenaline rushing, the sister leaped out of bed and felt around gingerly for the shards of glass.
There was nothing there; the window was intact. The next day, she learned her daughter had been in a car accident, in which the windshield had shattered.
Were these people, and many others I spoke to, suffering from overactive imaginations? Hallucinations? Wishful thinking? I decided to investigate.
In the late Nineties, I discovered, Michael Barbato, a palliative care doctor, had designed a questionnaire specifically for the families of patients who witnessed uncanny events. To his surprise, 49 per cent reported they’d had a strange experience.
‘Even if we cannot understand the basis for these phenomena,’ Barbato argued, ‘the weight of evidence suggests we cannot continue to ignore them.’
Certainly, you cannot ignore them when they happen to you.
Why had my sister had a powerful spiritual experience in the hour of my father’s unexpected death? How did she sense a presence in her bedroom, and feel hands cupping her head? Why did she become increasingly joyful as death approached?
What I discovered was far richer and more mysterious than I’d ever imagined.
DEATH AS A JOURNEY
Within roughly 72 hours of the end of their lives, many dying people begin to speak in metaphors about a journey.
Often, they haven’t said a word in days — then suddenly they want to know where their train tickets are, or ask for hiking shoes or tide charts. Some demand their coats; others inquire about the bus schedule.
To families, these febrile mutterings can seem of no importance. Far more significant to them, perhaps, would be the whispered ‘I love you’ or ‘Take care of the children’ before the head falls back on to the pillow.
Patients with severe and chronic mental illness or dementia would suddenly start speaking clearly and rationally before death
But hospice staff know that when their patients begin to talk about excursions or travel, they’re in fact announcing their own departure.
David Kessler, former chair of the Hospital Association of Southern California Palliative Care Transitions Committee, has observed this phenomenon many times. It even has a name: Nearing Death Awareness.
‘Interestingly enough,’ he says, ‘it’s always referred to as an earthly journey. People talk about packing their bags or looking for their tickets — they don’t mention chariots descending from heaven or travelling to eternity.’
Kessler recalled a 96-year-old man who suddenly woke up in his hospice bed and told his daughter: ‘Gail, it’s time to go. Let’s make a run for it. I have to be free — is the car ready?’ When she assured him that it was right outside the hospice, he said: ‘Good. I’m ready.’
She asked him where they were going, and he said he wasn’t sure. ‘I only know that I’ve got this trip in front of me, and the time has come.’ He died shortly afterwards.
There is no known medical reason for the dying to have such an acute sense of timing about their demise. When patients talk about going on a trip, they rarely look as if they’re about to expire — or, indeed, show any marked deterioration in blood pressure or oxygen levels.
‘I’m going away tonight,’ the soul singer James Brown told his manager on Christmas Day 2006, after being admitted to hospital for pneumonia that wasn’t thought to be life-threatening. Immediately, his breathing began to slow.
In the most comprehensive study of deathbed experiences ever done, psychologists Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson confirmed that these intimations of departure do sometimes come to people who aren’t considered to be in danger.
Among the cases they examined was that of a man in his 50s, about to be discharged from hospital on the seventh day after a hip operation.
The patient called a doctor over and told him he was going to die. A few seconds before, the patient said, he’d sensed he was not in this world but elsewhere. ‘I am going,’ he told the doctor, and he died a few minutes later.
Meanwhile, hospice staff report that patients can sometimes predict the precise hour of their departure. Yet, to date, no one has come close to finding a scientific explanation.
VISIONS ON THE DEATHBED
Despite the concerned obstetrician by her bedside, Doris was unmistakably dying. Her baby had been born safely, but there’d been rare and unforeseen complications.
It was what happened next that stunned the obstetrician, Lady Florence Barrett, and later caused a sensation.
‘Suddenly,’ Lady Barrett recalled, ‘she looked eagerly towards one part of the room, a radiant smile illuminating her whole countenance. “Oh, lovely, lovely,” she said.
I asked: “What is lovely?”
‘“What I see,” she replied in low, intense tones. “Lovely brightness — wonderful beings.”
Psychologists Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson said that of the 10 per cent of patients who were conscious in the hour before death, the majority said they'd had these visions
‘Then — seeming to focus her attention more intently on one place for a moment — she exclaimed: “Why, it’s my father! Oh, he’s so glad I’m coming, he is so glad.”’
Briefly, Doris reflected that she should, perhaps, stay for the baby’s sake. But then she said: ‘I can’t — I can’t stay; if you could see what I do, you would know I can’t stay.’
At this point, Doris saw something that confused her: ‘[Father] has Vida with him,’ she told Lady Barrett, referring to her sister, whose death three weeks earlier had been kept from her because of her advanced pregnancy. ‘Vida is with him,’ she said wonderingly.
Afterwards, Lady Barrett told Doris’s story to her husband Sir William, a physicist at the Royal College of Science in Dublin. He decided to launch a formal investigation.
Among the evidence he gathered were recollections of Doris’s vision from his wife, an attendant nurse, the resident medical officer, the matron and Doris’s mother — all of whom had been in the room.
His published account in 1926 became the first modern, corroborated report of a deathbed vision. Since then, however, there have been literally thousands more.
In one study, by University of Virginia psychologist Emily Williams Kelly, 41 per cent of the dying patients surveyed had reported a deathbed vision.
Another study, which questioned staff in five hospices, revealed 54 per cent of them had tended to patients who’d experienced a ‘visit’ from a dead relative — and this was always very close to the time of death.
And in their huge study of deathbed experiences, psychologists Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson reported that of the 10 per cent of patients who were conscious in the hour before death, the majority said they’d had these visions.
Eighty-three percent were of either dead people or religious archetypes — such as angels.
‘Such experiences can happen to patients who are convinced they will recover and who are not at all ready to go,’ the researchers discovered.
‘A cardiac patient, a 56-year-old male whose consciousness was clear, saw the apparition of a woman who’d come to take him away.
‘He did not seem to be repulsed by her, just slightly frightened. He said: “There she is again, she is reaching for me.” He did not particularly want to go, but he did not make a fuss. He became calmer; this experience made him serene. He died a day later.’
Are all such patients hallucinating? Probably not: the psychologists found that only 10 per cent who had visions also had high fevers, which can trigger hallucinations.
Were these patients’ brains impaired by disease or the drugs they were taking? Again, this seemed unlikely.
The more confused or medicated patients were, the less likely they were to perceive a consoling or beckoning presence.
Informally, nurses often use these visions as a gauge for impending demise. What is also remarkable is that — in contrast with those who are agitated as death approaches — the patients who have visions experience a profound sense of calm.
As one nurse in a UK hospice study said: ‘It’s like a process and once they’ve experienced it, they move on to a different level. It’s like a journey.’
In nearly 80 per cent of Osis and Haraldsson’s cases, the apparent purpose of the deathbed vision was to accompany the patient or take them away.
In fact, they didn’t find a single instance of an apparition with this purpose who turned out to be someone was still alive.
The two psychologists also examined what they called ‘the mirage effect’.
Informally, nurses often use these visions or mirages as a gauge for impending demise
Could these visits from sisters and uncles and angels be like the wishful thinking of a man in the desert who conjures up a shimmering pool of water?
A couple of factors made that an unlikely explanation. First, patients in distressed or anxious states were less likely to see apparitions than those in calmer moods. Second, some patients who had the visions hadn’t been expecting to die.
One summer afternoon, I went with a friend to interview a dying patient. Audrey Scott — 83 and in the final stages of cancer — was lying on a borrowed hospital bed in the middle of her living room.
We clasped hands, and regarded each other frankly. Dying has a tendency to dissolve all pretension.
‘What do you want people to know about dying, Audrey?’ I asked.
‘There should be no fear,’ she said without hesitation. ‘Life is laid out from birth to death; it’s all just part of the process.’ I asked if she was experiencing anything unusual. She studied me, a note of caution in her expression.
‘I see things twirling in the room,’ she said. ‘It’s quite pleasant, actually.’ After a pause, she added: ‘My son Frankie has been visiting me. He sits there.’ She gestured toward an armchair to my left.
Our mutual friend, Judy, who’d been standing discreetly near the window, reached up to the window ledge behind Audrey’s head and picked up a photo of a smiling young man with thick, square glasses.
This was Frankie, who had died of cancer in 2002 at the age of 35. I angled the frame toward Audrey, but she evinced no interest.
She didn’t need to have a nostalgic look at a photograph — not when the real Frankie was sitting right here in an armchair. As we continued to chat, I had a curious sensation that my body was vibrating. It had the thrumming feel of an impersonal energy, rather than a rush of nerves — and I didn’t know what to make of it.
Later, a friend who’d been volunteering in hospices described a weird sense of surrounding energy, which had almost caused him to pass out.
So did my sister’s best friend, who had been massaging Katharine’s temples when she suddenly realised she was about to faint.
Maybe it has to do with the life force receding — like being too close to a whirlpool or a riptide.
Audrey died, at her home, ten days later.
THE LUCID LAST WORDS
Only recently have scientists begun to take note of a phenomenon first observed by doctors in 19th-century insane asylums in France, Germany and the U.S. Back then, they called it terminal lucidity.
Patients with severe and chronic mental illness or dementia would suddenly start speaking clearly and rationally before death.
Even those with amnesia often recognised family members for the first time in years, and were able to say goodbye.
More recently, nurses and physicians have been noticing this phenomenon as more people end their lives in hospices.
In 2007, Dr Scott Haig wrote an account of his patient, David, who had lung cancer that had spread to the brain.
First, David’s speech had become slurred and then he’d lost the ability to speak or even move.
A brain scan done by his oncologist showed that there was scarcely any brain left.
For days, said Haig, his patient had ‘no expression, no response to anything we did to him’.
Then, when the doctor made his evening rounds one Friday, he noticed that David had lapsed into the laboured breathing that often presages death.
But an hour before he died, he woke up, and talked calmly and coherently to his wife and three children, smiling and patting their hands.
As Haig noted: ‘It wasn’t David’s brain that woke him up to say goodbye that Friday.
‘His brain had already been destroyed.’
Psychiatrist Russell Noyes had a similar case: a 91-year-old woman who’d lost her capacity for speech and movement as a result of two strokes.
Yet she suddenly broke through those walls shortly before her death.
Smiling excitedly, the woman turned her head, sat up without effort, raised her arms, and called out happily to her dead husband. Then she lay back down and died.
Whether or not she’d had a vision of her husband, the far more difficult and astonishing fact was that she’d regained her speech and mobility.
Adapted by Corinna Honan from Opening Heaven’s Door by Patricia Pearson.
Spectrophilia: Harmless Tryst or Dangerous Demon?
by Cris Putnam
May 17, 2014
The growing interest in spectrophilia (sex with spirits) is shockingly consistent with the paranormal paradigm sift thesis of The Supernatural Worldview. I blogged recently about Hollywood actress Natasha Blasick’s recent confession of “ghost sex” as
likely resulting from demon rape. However, Blasick and the main stream media choose to characterize this dangerous perversion as harmless pleasure. Because it seems to be catching on, the spirit-sex meme poses a real threat to impressionable youth looking for a thrill. In response, Natalina at Extraordinary Intelligence will post a podcast on the subject Monday May 19, 2014. Doubt this phenomenon warrants concern? The Travel Channel has a new documentary dedicated to the topic… welcome to the paranormal paradigm shift!
Ludovico Maria Sinistrari (1622–1701), an Italian Franciscan theologian, wrote a book Demoniality that discussed incubus and succubus demons as physical beings between man and angels. Those who take the male sexual role are incubi, from the Latin meaning “the one who lies on top,” while their female counterparts are the succubi, from the Latin meaning “the one who lies underneath.” It seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. If he was correct, it seems likely these beings are the ones behind the alien abduction phenomenon which usually includes sadistic sexual manipulation. Spectrophilia usually involves an apparition, sometimes invisible or perhaps translucent or seen only in a mirror.
Religious traditions and folklore are full of spectrophilia. The entities have different names are anything from the “sons of God” in Genesis 6, alien greys, Jinn in Arabic folklore, the Dusios from Celtic Folklore and the African demon Popobawa. The stories have differences but all have one thing in common: spirit beings or human ghosts having sexual relations with humans. A missionary to India, Rufus Perreira, spoke of a lustful spirit known in Hindu culture:
There are certain gods and goddesses who turn up frequently in these cases of deliverance. One in particular is a god called Andarvar. He’s a god who, according to popular belief, is a very evil spirit who possesses women; he is very lustful and wants to rape women. These afflicted women actually experience this god coming during the nighttime and raping them. They all say it was not a dream. They say it was as if they were awake—that it actually happened while they were awake. Speaking to their husbands, I have been led to believe that what they say may be true.[i]
The similarity of the above with Blasick’s recent encounter is striking. I believe this will quickly become something she regrets and pray for her conviction and repentance. If an entity has attached itself in your life through spectrophilia, please seek deliverance through the power of Jesus Christ.
[i] MacNutt, Francis (1995-08-01). Deliverance from Evil Spirits: A Practical Manual (p. 282). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Why Does Christian Persecution Get Worse In Every Country The U.S. “Liberates”?
May 19, 2014
When the U.S. military “liberates” a nation, shouldn’t it result in more liberty, freedom and peace for the people living there? Instead, we find just the opposite. In fact, in every single case since 9/11, when the U.S. military has “liberated” a nation it has resulted in the persecution of Christians in that country becoming much worse.
In areas where we spent hundreds of billions of dollars and where thousands of precious American lives were sacrificed, churches are regularly being bombed, Christians are being brutally beheaded, and laws have been passed to make it illegal for a Muslim to convert to Christianity. If we were not even able to provide the most basic of liberties and freedoms to the people living in those nations, what in the world did we actually accomplish by “liberating” them?
Just look at what has happened in Afghanistan. We have been at war in Afghanistan for more than a dozen years, and yet things are so bad for Christians in that country at this point that there is not a single church left…
The supposedly “moderate” Karzai government installed by the U.S. upholds many of the draconian laws enforced by the Taliban—including the apostasy law, fiercely persecuting those who seek to convert to Christianity—and, in 2011, under U.S. auspices, it destroyed Afghanistan’s last Christian church.
We find a similar story in Iraq. It is estimated that before the invasion, there were up to 2 million Christians living in Iraq. Now that number is down to less than 450,000, and it is falling fast.
In fact, things are so dire for Iraq’s Christian community that some Iraqi Christian leaders are warning that Christians may soon become “extinct” in that nation…
As the mass exodus of Iraq’s Christians continues, so does the call for ending the plight of those who have remained. Like Iraq’s ancient Jewish community before them, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities may soon cease to exist.
The disappearance of Iraq’s religious minorities has been a troubling trend since the US-led invasion in 2003, and it has threatened to end the cultural diversity of Iraq. As the violence in the country spikes and religious intolerance grows, many Christians, Yazidis, Mandaeans and other minority community members are leaving the country.
Last week, the head of the Iraqi Catholic Church sent a chilling warning that Iraq’s 2,000-year-old Christian community is on the brink of extinction as new waves of Christians take the journey of exodus.
It is estimated that the Iraq war cost U.S. taxpayers more than 2 trillion dollars.
We spent more than a million dollars on one soccer field alone (which has now turned to dust).
In the end, what did we actually accomplish?
The Obama administration likes to brag about how it got rid of Qaddafi and “liberated” Libya, but now al-Qaeda is in control of much of the country and things are much worse for Christians than ever before…
Ever since U.S.-backed, al-Qaeda-linked terrorists overthrew Qaddafi, Christians—including Americans—have indeed suffered extreme persecution. Churches have been bombed; Christians have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert); and nuns have been threatened.
In Syria, the Obama administration is shamelessly allying with radical al-Qaeda jihadists in a desperate attempt to overthrow the Assad regime.
As these jihadists torture, behead and even crucify Christian believers, the mainstream media in the United States is virtually silent about it.
Why is the media being so quiet?
Well, because exposing what is going on would make the Obama administration look bad.
Those carrying out this persecution of Christians in Syria are being directly funded and aided by the governments of the United States and Saudi Arabia.
And of course it is not just in the Middle East where this kind of persecution of Christians is taking place.
While Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the State Department refused to label Boko Haram as a terrorist organization.
But now the whole world is talking about Boko Haram. This group has attacked more than 700 churches in Nigeria over the past seven years, and this has resulted in a massive exodus of Christians from northern Nigeria to southern Nigeria…
Christian groups estimate that up to a quarter of the 4,000 people killed by Boko Haram since 2009 have been Christians, and more than 700 churches have been attacked in the last seven years alone, according to the Nigerian Catholic Bishop’s Conference. Across the troubled north-east, many Christian neighbourhoods are now ghost towns as tens of thousands of residents flee south. It is one of the biggest Christian exoduses of the century, yet largely unremarked outside of Nigeria.
It is hard to put into words how brutal Boko Haram can be. As a recent article in the Telegraph described, the persecution of Christians in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram has been absolutely relentless…
Arriving at St Joseph’s church in the Nigerian town of Gashua, Father John Bakeni knew he was taking on a tough posting. A flyblows settlement near the northern border with Niger, his new parish was smack in the heart of Boko Haram territory, and in the previous three years, all but a fraction of its 3,000-strong Christian minority had fled.
Sent by his bishop to show that the diocese had not deserted the town, he spent much of the following year trying to reassure the 200 remaining parishioners. But nearly every time he ventured from his rectory, a reminder would await him of the difficulty of his mission.
“Several times a week I would find a dead animal had been thrown in the compound, usually a chicken, goat or sheep, but sometimes dead cats too,” said Fr Bakeni, 38. “Stones would get thrown at the church almost every day, and sometimes also people would bang the gates and shout: ‘Infidel, we are going to kill you.’
So why has the Obama administration been so hesitant to speak out against Boko Haram until now?
In fact, although most Americans do not realize this, the Obama administration has been quite supportive of Boko Haram in the past. Obama even actually threatened the Nigerian government with economic sanctions in 2013 in an attempt to keep them from cracking down on Boko Haram.
What in the world was the Obama administration thinking?
Whose side are they on anyway?
If you love liberty and freedom, you should be deeply troubled by the spread of groups such as Boko Haram.
Just look at what is happening in another part of Africa where jihadists have gained control. In Sudan, a pregnant woman was recently sentenced to death by hanging for marrying a Christian man…
A Sudanese woman doctor who married a Christian man and who was convicted earlier this week on charges of “apostasy” was sentenced to death on Thursday, judicial officials said.
According to the Sudanese officials, 26-year-old Meriam Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim, was convicted on Sunday and given four days to repent and escape death. She was sentenced after that grace period expired, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The BBC reported the woman’s death by hanging will not be carried out until two years after the birth of her child.
This kind of tyranny should not be tolerated in today’s world.
But instead, the U.S. government seems to be helping to spread it.
Refreshing rationality: Why NOT believing in conspiracies is a sure sign of mental retardation
Saturday, May 17, 2014
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
(NaturalNews) The phrase "conspiracy theorist" is a derogatory smear phrase thrown at someone in an attempt to paint them as a lunatic. It's a tactic frequently used by modern-day thought police in a desperate attempt to demand "Don't go there!"
But let's step back for a rational moment and ask the commonsense question: Are there really NO conspiracies in our world?
The Attorney General of South Carolina would surely disagree with such a blanket statement. After all, he sued five pharmaceutical companies for conducting a price-fixing conspiracy to defraud the state of Medicaid money.
Similarly, in 2008, a federal judge ruled that three pharmaceutical companies artificially marked up their prices in order to defraud Medicare.
In fact, dozens of U.S. states have filed suit against pharmaceutical companies for actions that are conspiracies: conspiracy to engage in price fixing, conspiracy to bribe doctors, conspiracy to defraud the state and so on.
The massive drug company GlaxoSmithKline, even more, plead guilty to a massive criminal fraud case involving a global conspiracy to bribe doctors into prescribing more GSK drugs.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. A deeper look into the criminality of just the drug industry alone reveals a widespread pattern of conspiratorial behavior to defraud the public and commit felony crimes in the name of "medicine."
What is a conspiracy, exactly?
As any state or federal prosecutor will gladly tell you, a "conspiracy" is simply when two or more people plot to commit an act of deceit (or a crime).
Thus, when three hoodlums plan to rob the local Quickie Mart, they are engaged in a "conspiracy" and will likely be charged with a "conspiracy to commit armed robbery" in addition to the different crime of "armed robbery." The fact that they planned it with several friends makes it a "conspiracy" worthy of additional felony charges, you see. When these charges are brought up in court, the judge doesn't look at the prosecutor and say, "You are a conspiracy theorist!" That would be absurd.
The idea, then, that there is no such thing as a conspiracy is flatly ludicrous. And people who condemn others as being "conspiracy theorists" only make themselves look mentally impaired.
To live in our modern world which is full of collusion and conspiracy -- and yet somehow DENY the existence of any conspiracies at all -- is an admission of a damaged brain. Of course there are conspiracies, and when people analyze those conspiracies, they are "theorizing" about what happened. This is, in fact, precisely the job that police detectives and FBI agents carry out almost daily.
Most police detectives are, in reality, "conspiracy investigators" and analysts.
There are endless examples of real conspiracies
Auto manufacturers routinely conspire to cover up mechanical defects that put customer lives at risk. Even National Public Radio lays out the full timeline of the General Motors conspiracyto hide the problem with its faulty ignition switches.
Last year, food corporations conspired with the Grocery Manufacturers of America (the GMA) to commit money laundering crimes in Washington state in order to funnel money into a campaign to defeat GMO labeling there.
The FDA conspired with a drug manufacturer to keep a deadly diabetes drug called Rezulin on the market in the USA even after safety regulators pulled the product in Europe.
Similarly, the corrupt, criminal-minded operators of mainstream science journals conspired in a particularly evil way to railroad Dr. Andrew Wakefield with provably false accusations about the nature of his research into the side effects of vaccines. The GMO Seralini study has been similarly railroaded by a genuine conspiracy of evil, corrupt science journal editors who routinely conspire to suppress all the science they don't want to be seen by the public. Fortunately, 150 other scientists have come to support Seralini with a global condemnation of the obviously contrived scientific censorship.
We live in a world of such deception and collusion that, frankly stated, it's hard to find a large institution (such as medicine, agriculture or the war industry) which isn't involved in some sort of conspiracy at some level.
What is a "conspiracy theorist?
The pejorative "conspiracy theorist" is meant to demean and ridicule skeptics of official stories.
Most so-called "conspiracy theorists" are really skeptics, by definition. They're skeptical of what the government tells them. They're skeptical of the claim that drug companies are really only interested in helping humankind and have no desire to make money. They're skeptical that food corporations are telling them the truth about what's in their food. And they're also skeptical of anything coming out of Washington D.C., regardless of which party happens to be in power at the time.
People who are not skeptics of "official stories" tend to be dull-minded. To believe everything these institutions tell you is a sign of mental retardation. To ask questions, on the other hand, is a sign of higher intelligence and wisdom.
Skeptics of official stories, it turns out, also have the support of history on their side. How many times has it later been revealed that the American people were lied to by the very institutions we were supposed to trust?
For example, it is an historical fact that 98 million Americans were injected with hidden cancer viruses which were later found in polio vaccines strongly recommended by the CDC. In an effort to cover that up and rewrite history, the CDC later scrubbed all accounts of that history from its website, pretending it never happened.
That's more than a cover-up; it's an Orwellian-style conspiracy to selectively rewrite history and deny Americans any memory of a monumental, deadly error made by the CDC in collusion with the vaccine industry.
According to two former Merck virologists, that company conspired to fake the results of its vaccine tests by spiking test samples with animal antibodies, thereby falsely distorting the results to make the vaccine appear effective. The two virologists filed a False Claims Act with the federal government detailing the conspiracy, saying:
Merck also added animal antibodies to blood samples to achieve more favorable test results, though it knew that the human immune system would never produce such antibodies, and that the antibodies created a laboratory testing scenario that "did not in any way correspond to, correlate with, or represent real life ... virus neutralization in vaccinated people..."
Conspiracies of money and big banks
Every month, the Federal Reserve conspires to steal a portion of your wealth through "quantitative easing" -- an irresponsible money creation scheme that devalues all the currency already in circulation (i.e. the money in your bank account).
The money the Fed creates is, not surprisingly, handed over to the big Wall Street banks -- the same banks that received a jaw-dropping $29 trillion in "bailout money" since the near-collapse of U.S. banking in late 2008.
Why did this bailout money go to the banks instead of the American people? Becausepowerful people sat in dark rooms and colluded to send the money to the most influential banks. A conspiracy, in other words, by definition.
Had that same amount of money been equally distributed across the U.S. population, the Fed would have distributed nearly $100,000 to each and every citizen in America; man, woman and child. But instead of enriching the population, the banking bailout burdened the population with the debt now owed to the Fed by future taxpayers.
Every $1 trillion created by the Fed, after all, is $1 trillion "loaned" to the U.S. Treasury which must somehow be repaid. In truth, the minute you start to investigate how money is created, why the Federal Reserve is a private banking cartel and why the big banks get all the bailout money, you run head-first into genuine conspiracies almost from the outset. When you look up the word "conspiracy" in a dictionary, it should probably say, "See Banking and Finance."
Our world is full of conspiracies because it's full of people who deceive
The reason conspiracies are real is because humanity is a race capable of extreme deception. As long as there are people whose actions are based in greed, jealousy and a desire to dominate others, there will be real conspiracies plotted and operating across every sector of society.
The correct term for "conspiracy theorist" should really be "conspiracy analyst." Most of the people who are skeptical of official stories are, in fact, analyzing conspiracies in an attempt to understand what really happened and what took place behind closed doors.
A highly-recommended book the delves into this matter in more detail is the five-star-rated masterpiece Official Stories: Counter-Arguments for a Culture in Need by Liam Scheff.
This book will open the minds of those who still have the cognitive capability remaining to grasp it. (Sadly, the injection of mercury into babies in the form of vaccines has damaged so many brains across America that many people are now cognitively incapable of rational thought.)
And remember: the next time someone flings the phrase "conspiracy theorist" in your direction, simply know that they are effectively wearing a DUNCE hat on their heads by admitting they have failed to acknowledge that true conspiracies are rather commonplace.
That's not merely a theory, either: it's a statement of fact.
RT (Edited from much longer article.)
Russia-China ties at highest level in history – Putin
Published time: May 18, 2014 20:06
Edited time: May 19, 2014 08:20
Russia-China cooperation has reached its highest level ever, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said in an interview with Chinese media on the eve of his visit to Shanghai, where a record package of documents is expected to be signed by the two nations.
Gazprom to sign monumental gas deal with China
Published time: May 19, 2014 08:48
Edited time: May 20, 2014 03:45
Russia and China are due to sign a long-awaited gas contract on Tuesday, in which Beijing could pay up to $456 billion for Russian gas over the next 30 years.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Shanghai on May 20-21, Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) are due to sign a deal for 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas to power China's growing economy, starting in 2018.
The timing is almost flawless as Russia is looking to shield itself from Western sanctions by pivoting towards Asia, and China desperately needs to switch from dirty coal to more environmentally friendly natural gas.
“The arrangements on export of Russian natural gas to China have nearly been finalized. Their implementation will help Russia to diversify pipeline routes for natural gas supply, and our Chinese partners to alleviate the concerns related to energy deficit and environmental security through the use of ‘clean’ fuel,” President Vladimir Putin said.
The deal has been on the table for over 10 years, as Moscow and Beijing have negotiated back and forth over price, the gas pipeline route, and possible Chinese stakes in Russian projects. The gas price is expected to be agreed at between $350-400 per thousand cubic meters. In January Gazprom gave an estimate between $360-$400 per 1,000 cubic meters but now Russian newspaper Izvestia has cited a Gazprom employee forecasting a lower range between $350-$380 per 1,000 cubic meters.
“Of course Russia wants to sell gas and resources at the highest possible prices. But because of the sanctions from European partners, we need to find a partner that can buy our gas long-term, which is why at the moment China looks very attractive to us,” Aleksandr Prosviryakov, a partner at Lakeshore International, a Moscow-based asset management firm, told RT at a Confederation of Asia Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) in Moscow ahead of the big meeting on Tuesday.
On Sunday, Gazprom chief Aleksey Miller sat down with his CNPC counterpart, Zhou Jiping, in Beijing to discuss final details, including price formulas.
Siberian pipeline to China
But the sticking point is how to finish the pipeline from Russia to China.
Currently there is one complete gas pipeline that runs throughout Russia to the Chinese border, “Siberian Power” which Gazprom broke ground on in 2007, three years after Gazprom and CNPC signed a strategic cooperation agreement in 2004.
The pipeline stretches across Russia’s Far East and after extension to China, it will deliver gas to the country’s populous north, near Beijing.
Gas could be delivered via Vladivostok, Russia’s eastern port city on the Sea of Japan, or through the city of Blagoveshchensk, an landlocked city in the Amur region.
However, to finish the project for 2018 delivery, Gazprom and CNPC need to come to an agreement on how to finish the proposed portion of the pipeline into China, which could cost between $22-30 billion, according to various estimates. Russia wants China to either pay or issue a loan for the project, which has been a delaying factor in talks.
In 2009, Beijing and Moscow signed a deal that Gazprom would supply China with 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year by 2015, but via the Altai pipeline, which would deliver gas to China’s Western Xinjiang province. Russia stopped work on this project in 2013 and prioritized the ‘Power of Siberia’ line. If and when both pipelines are activated, Russia could be pumping 68 billion cubic meters of gas annually to the world’s second largest economy.
China, the superpower
Home to nearly 1.5 billion people, China’s demand for energy is rising faster than ever. In 2014, the country expects to increase natural gas imports by 20 percent, and import 186 billion cubic meters annually.
“This deal with Gazprom and cooperation with Russia shows that China is expanding, becoming bigger and bigger, and that this part of the world is dominated by China, India, and Russia, the US role is shrinking,” said Aleksandr Prosviryakov.
“China is the fastest growing economy. China is the biggest market in terms of volume and value. China is the next superpower and number one economy in the world,” Peter Panov, Chairman of Triotoni, a Singapore-based investment firm, told RT at the CACCI conference in Moscow.
Russia’s Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky has said the deal is 98 percent ready. China has kept quiet on the subject.
Europe remains Russia’s largest energy importer, having bought more than 160 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2013. However, recent tensions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine have forced European ministers to rethink their dependence on Russian gas, a sentiment that has been openly voiced throughout the continent
“Now is the time for Russia to compromise a little bit so that they can lessen their dependence on Western Europe as a buyer of Russian gas. Diversification is a strategy for Russia to have good long-term business relationships with both Europe and China,” Benedicto Yujuico, president of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told RT at an Asian business gathering in Moscow on Wednesday.
“Needless to say, China is a very wise nation and will try and get the best out of both parties, and maneuver: give a little bit to Russia, and a little to the West,” Panov said.
Gas is an important element of the upcoming talks, but the leaders will discuss many aspects of Russia-China relations, including payments systems, military cooperation, and upcoming infrastructure projects.
A record amount of agreements are expected to be signed at the working meeting between Russia and China. Already 30 out of the 43 prepared agreements are expected to be inked, according to presidential aide Yury Ushakov, as reported by RIA Novosti.
Russia to supply China with gas for 30 years
By Alanna Petroff @AlannaPetroff May 21, 2014: 9:40 AM ET
Russian President Vladimir Putin had been visiting China with the intention of sealing the massive natural gas deal.
Russia has agreed to supply China with natural gas for 30 years from 2018 under a long-awaited deal struck Wednesday.
The two sides had been working on a deal for a decade, but the agreement has gained significance with Europe looking to reduce its dependence on Russian gas as relations with Moscow sour over the crisis in Ukraine.
Russia's state-owned gas company, Gazprom, sealed the deal with the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Shanghai, CNPC and the Russian energy ministry said.
Putin was keen to strike a deal before this week's annual Russian economic showcase in St. Petersburg, which has been overshadowed by Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis and canceled appearances by U.S. chief executives.
Under the deal, Gazprom will supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas to China each year, with the possibility of increasing shipments to 60 billion cubic meters per year.
That is equivalent to about 10% of Gazprom's annual gas sales of 477 billion cubic meters to domestic and international customers. Revenue from those sales totaled $93 billion last year.
The Russian Ministry of Energy declined to comment on the price China will pay for the gas, but they had originally been looking to charge $456 billion over the 30 year term. Price had been the main sticking point ahead of the agreement.
"The final agreed price is believed to be closer to what Russia wanted than what China was initially prepared to pay," wrote IHS Energy analysts in a research note. "This higher price level reflects China's willingness to pay more for cleaner fuel."
China relies heavily on coal for power generation and is trying to switch to cleaner energy sources to tackle heavy pollution levels in many of its cities.
The gas will be shipped through more than 4,000 miles of gas pipelines from eastern Russia, according to Russian state media.
While the deal secures a new, important, market for Russia, it will not divert supplies from Europe, which depends on Gazprom for 30% of its gas.
"The gas supply to China will come from new gas fields to be developed in East Siberia -- gas which is for the moment in the ground, and which would never have been exported in the direction of Europe in any case," said Laurent Ruseckas, a senior advisor on global gas at IHS Energy.
-- CNN's John Defterios in St Petersburg and Cy Xu in Beijing contributed to this article.
George Soros sells all shares of Citigroup, Bank of America and JP Morgan
Is this a sign of trouble ahead for the banking industry?
By John Vibes
May 20, 2014 9:20 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (INTELLIHUB) — Just over 2 decades ago banker George Soros made his most famous investment by shorting the British pound and pocketing a billion dollars in the process. Since then he has become famous for betting on stock market crashes and in some cases even rigging markets to fail for his own gain.
Just months ago, Soros made headlines by making a billion dollar stock bet against the S&P 500. At the time this was said to be a sign of trouble ahead for the US economy, as Soros has seemed to have had advance knowledge of market crashes in the past. As a result of this reputation, investors have begun to keep a close eye on his holdings.
This week investors took notice again when Soros sold his shares of three major American banks, including Bank of America, JP Morgan and Citigroup.
The Wall Street Journal reported that “George Soros dumped his stakes in banks and went for tech and gold miners in the first quarter, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday. Soros sold his holdings in Citigroup (NYSE:C) , J.P. Morgan (NYSE:JPM) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)”
In February 2009, Soros said the world financial system had effectively disintegrated, adding that there was no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis. “We witnessed the collapse of the financial system … It was placed on life support, and it’s still on life support. There’s no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom.”
Nestle CEO: Water Is Not A Human Right, Should Be Privatized
TUESDAY, MAY 14, 2013
Is water a free and basic human right, or should all the water on the planet belong to major corporations and be treated as a product? Should the poor who cannot afford to pay these said corporations suffer from starvation due to their lack of financial wealth?
According to the former CEO and now Chairman of the largest food product manufacturer in the world, corporations should own every drop of water on the planet — and you’re not getting any unless you pay up. Watch the video below for yourself:
The company notorious for sending out hordes of ‘internet warriors’ to defend the company and its actions online in comments and message boards (perhaps we’ll find some below) even takes a firm stance behind Monsanto’s GMOs and their ‘proven safety’.
In fact, the former Nestle CEO actually says that his idea of water privatization is very similar to Monsanto’s GMOs.
In a video interview, Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe states that there has never been ‘one illness’ ever caused from the consumption of GMOs.
The way in which this sociopath clearly has zero regard for the human race outside of his own wealth and the development of Nestle, who has been caught funding attacks against GMO labeling, can be witnessed when watching and listening to his talk on the issue. This is a company that actually goes into struggling rural areas and extracts the groundwater for their bottled water products, completely destroying the water supply of the area without any compensation.
In fact, they actually make rural areas in the United States foot the bill. As reported on by Corporate Watch, Nestle and former CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe have a long history of disregarding public health and abusing the environment to take part in the profit of an astounding $35 billion in annual profit from water bottle sales alone. The report states:
“Nestlé production of mineral water involves the abuse of vulnerable water resources. In the Serra da Mantiqueira region of Brazil, home to the “circuit of waters” park whose groundwater has a high mineral content and medicinal properties, over-pumping has resulted in depletion and long-term damage.”
Nestle has also come under fire over the assertion that they are actually conducting business with massive slavery rings. Another Corporate Watch entry details:
“In 2001, Nestlé faced criticism for buying cocoa from the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which may have been produced using child slaves. According to an investigative report by the BBC, hundreds of thousands of children in Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo were being purchased from their destitute parents and shipped to the Ivory Coast, to be sold as slaves to cocoa farms.”
So is water a human right, or should it be owned by big corporations?
Well, if water is not here for all of us, then perhaps air should be owned by major corporations as well.
And as for crops, Monsanto is already working hard to make sure their monopoly on our staple crops and beyond is well situated. It should really come as no surprise that this Nestle Chairman fights to keep Monsanto’s GMOs alive and well in the food supply, as his ideology lines right up with that of Monsanto.
Russian journalists arrested for breaking ‘Kiev’s UN-marked helicopters’ news – report
Published time: May 20, 2014 02:14
Russian LifeNews journalists being held captive by Ukraine's coup-installed government were reportedly arrested after they released footage showing a UN-marked helicopter used by Kiev’s armed forces engaged in an operation against civilians in the east.
A few days prior to the journalists’ arrest on Sunday, the authorities in Kiev issued an order to “find and neutralize” Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko, a LifeNews source in the Ukrainian Security Forces (SBU) told the channel.
The order to arrest the LifeNews crew was reportedly given immediately after the release of the channel's video of a UN-marked Mil Mi-24 strike helicopter being used by the Ukrainian army in a military operation in the eastern regions.
“The incident was discussed at the highest level. [SBU] was instructed to find the authors [of the footage] and to do everything not to allow them to work in those areas where the National Guard is deployed,” LifeNews quoted the source as saying.
At the time of the initial release of the footage, which has made waves around the world, LifeNews said at least three combat Mi-24 and one transport Mi-8 helicopters carrying UN logos were spotted by their crew while covering Kiev’s military operation in the Donetsk region, near Kramatorsk.
Screenshot from a video showing a white-painted Mil Mi-24 strike helicopter allegedly used by Kiev troops in their military operation against Donetsk regional militia.
The UN has demanded an explanation from Kiev as to why UN-labeled military hardware was used in a non-authorized mission. So far the Ukrainian side has failed to provide such details.
“It is the responsibility of Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) that provide Contingent Owned Equipment to peacekeeping missions to remove all logos and signage bearing the UN's name once such equipment has been repatriated to the home country or is no longer being used for official UN purposes,” the office told RT last week.
Meanwhile, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has urged Kiev authorities to release the Russian journalists.
The detained journalists, Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko, are being investigated on charges of “aiding terrorist groups,” deputy secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (SNBO), Victoria Sumar, wrote on her Facebook page.
Video footage of the brutal arrest and treatment of the LifeNews crew has been released, along with a close-up of documents, some journalistic equipment, and a pile of Russian and Ukrainian currency alongside a man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD) with inscriptions in Polish. A third man shown kneeling on the ground was not identified.
The Ukrainian Security Service said that two Russian citizens detained in the Donetsk region with video equipment have been brought to Kiev for interrogation.
Army declares martial law in Thailand; government wasn't informed, aide says
By Kocha Olarn, Ben Brumfield and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
May 20, 2014 -- Updated 1143 GMT (1943 HKT)
Thai army imposes martial law
Military says it wants to bring stability after protests and Prime Minister's removal
Analyst: Military is trying to persuade protesters to go home, "dial down the tensions"
Government aide calls situation "half a coup d'etat," says military's action was unilateral
Thailand's army has declared martial law but stresses the move is not a coup
Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- The Thai army declared martial law throughout the country Tuesday in a surprise move that an aide to the embattled Prime Minister said the government didn't know about beforehand.
"They took this action unilaterally. The government is having a special meeting regarding this. We have to watch and see if the army chief honors his declaration of impartiality," the aide said, describing the situation as "half a coup d'etat."
Lt. Gen. Nipat Thonglek told CNN the move was not a coup.
"The army aims to maintain peace, order and public safety for all groups and all parties," a ticker running on the army's television channel said.
"People are urged not to panic, and can carry on their business as usual."
Thai military threatens to quell protests
The army says it wants to bring peace to a country riven with division that has spilled into the streets and resulting in deaths, injuries and political instability.
Two weeks ago, the country's Constitutional Court removed caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from government, after protests peaked.
The people of Thailand are all too familiar with coup d'etats. There have been at least 18 actual and attempted military takeovers since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.
Guarding the media
Martial law went into effect at 3 a.m. Tuesday, a television ticker said.
The military is guarding all Thai TV stations, Thai public television announced, showing pictures of soldiers and armored vehicles taking positions outside broadcast facilities in the country's capital.
In a statement read on Thai television, the military declared that all of the country's radio and television stations must suspend their normal programs "when it is needed."
The dramatic announcements come days after the head of the army issued a stern warning after political violence had surged in the country's capital.
The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok alerted American citizens in the country to the invoking of martial law in a statement Tuesday. It warned them to pay attention to media coverage of Thailand and avoid protests and public gatherings, saying that even peaceful events can turn violent.
Command and control
The military has established a security task force called the Peace Keeping Command Center, which is headed by army Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha and operates from the Thai Army Club in Bangkok.
The task force has ordered officials to appear before it. Local and international journalists formed a crowd outside the building waiting for Prayuth to speak.
At a news conference, the general said he wanted "all political parties" to start a dialogue aimed at ending the political crisis in Thailand, saying the military "won't allow any bloodshed."
"We cannot keep having" conflict, Prayuth said.
He apologized for banning some TV broadcasts, justifying the measure for reasons of national security. He would not say when martial law would end but indicated he did not foresee it lasting for three to six months.
Concern about democracy
A human rights activist as well as a divisive political icon, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have criticized the army's bold actions.
It's a departure from democracy, said Human Rights Watch Thailand's Sunai Phasuk.
"With the enforcement of martial law, the army is one step closer to taking over power completely from civilian administration," he said. "There is no check and balance; there is no safeguards against rights violations."
Thaksin, a billionaire tycoon who was driven out of the country in a coup in 2006, showed more guarded concern in comments posted to his Twitter account.
"Declaring martial law is something already expected for those who have been following the situation in Thailand lately. However, I hope that there would be no parties violating human rights and sabotaging democratic process any further. It would just worsen the image of Thailand for the eyes of international communities," the posts read.
Much of the tension between protesters in Thailand, who have clashed violently in recent years, center on him. There are those who vehemently oppose him and those who want him back in power.
The ousted caretaker Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is Thaksin's younger sister.
Military tightrope walk
It's too soon to tell whether the military's declaration of martial law will ease tensions or heighten them, analysts said.
Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political science professor, described the situation as "very volatile."
"This is a precarious time now for the army," he said. "They have to be even-handed."
If the military appears to be favoring one side, he said, violence could escalate rather than cool down.
"If it's seen as favoring one side or the other side, then we could see more violence and turmoil against the military," he said.
Paul Quaglia, director at Bangkok-based risk assessment firm PQA Associates, described the situation as "martial law light."
"Right now the military has deployed troops around key intersections of the city. Traffic is a real mess here at the moment, but there's no violence," he said. "I think what the military is trying to do with this ... is to convince protesters to go home. They're trying to dial down the tensions here as well as preempt several large rallies and strikes that were scheduled for later this week."
But what happens next will depend on how protesters react, he said.
"The military is taking a step-by-step, gentle approach to see if they can get things to improve," Quaglia said. "If not, they'll of course have to ratchet up their actions."
Nipat, the lieutenant general, said the precise restrictions of martial law were being worked out.
The government's "red shirt" support base, many of whom hail from the country's rural north and northeast, view Yingluck's ouster as a "judicial coup" and have been protesting what they consider an unfair bias by many of the country's institutions against their side.
Anti-government protesters are seeking a new government -- but not through elections, which the opposition Democrat Party has boycotted, arguing the alleged corruption of their political rivals makes widespread reform necessary before any meaningful vote can be held.
Increased government efforts to improve security are a positive step, Quaglia said.
"That being said, martial law will not solve the political problems that continue to haunt this country," he said. "The differences are stark, and I don't think the military can step in and by force fix the political issues."
CNN (Edited from longer article.)
Thai military says it's taken over the country in a coup
By Paula Hancocks, Kocha Olarn and Holly Yan, CNN
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 1203 GMT (2003 HKT)
Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- The Thai military has taken control of the government in a coup, the country's military chief announced in a national address Thursday.
Military officials also imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time (11 a.m. - 6 p.m. ET), authorities said in a televised address.
The developments are the latest in a chain of failed attempts to defuse tensions that have simmered since November. The discord has its roots in politics, and led to both pro- and anti-government factions to fight over the country's leadership.
Three days ago, the military imposed martial law in an attempt to end the instability, but said it was not a coup. Now, it has taken power outright.
The move came after rival factions were unable to come up with a suitable agreement to govern, the military chief said.
Thailand's economy threatened by turmoil
Hours earlier, members of the military and opposition parties met for a second day to try to find a solution to the crisis in Thailand.
Members of the political parties involved in the talks were seen being escorted by the military after the meeting.
In his address, the military chief told citizens that despite the coup, it should be business as usual for the public. All civil servants and officials should report to work, he said, and anyone who has weapons -- such as police -- should not make any attempt to move those weapons without orders.
The military also said it will provide security to foreigners, including vacationers and diplomats.
The people of Thailand are all too familiar with coups. Thursday's coup was at least the 19th actual or attempted military takeover since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.
DOZENS KILLED AS BLASTS ROCK OPEN MARKET IN NORTHWESTERN CHINA
At least 31 people have been killed and more than 90 injured in a series of a dozen of explosions
by RT | MAY 22, 2014
At least 31 people have been killed and more than 90 injured in a series of a dozen of explosions, which rocked the capital of China’s turbulent northwestern region of Xinjiang.
The explosions occurred at around 8am on at an open market in Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Xinhua news agency reported.
Witnesses reported that the blasts began when two off-road vehicles plowed into crowds of people, and explosives were thrown from them. They said that one of the vehicles had exploded in the market, while there had been some dozen explosive blasts in total.
The area was cordoned off with flames and heavy smoke reported at the location.
The high death toll makes Thursday’s attack the bloodiest in a series of violent incidents blamed on radical separatist Uygur Muslims.
Last month the restive Chinese region of Xinjiang, was the scene of a railways station attack which killed three and injured 79 people. That attack was blamed on radical religious extremists seeking to take control of the region.
The day prior 39 people were sentenced to jail terms of up to 15 years on terrorism charges in the far western region of Xinjiang. The suspects, who had ethnic Uighur names, were sentenced during a rare mass public event, reports Reuters.
The charges spanned a number of crimes, including inciting violence and distributing extremist content, as well as making firearms and promoting ethnic friction.
Love Strengthens The Mind, Helps Stabilize Neurotic Personalities
By Dana Dovey | May 10, 2014 11:57 AM EDT
Anyone who’s ever fallen in love can tell you how much fun it is. Even when the initial glimmer of romance begins to fade, being in love is still good for us. A group of scientists have found that being in love can help strengthen your mind by stabilizing your personality and significantly decreasing your tendencies toward negative thinking.
In this study, a team of psychologists from two German universities focused on neuroticism in people in romantic relationships. Neuroticism is one of the five characteristics considered to be part of the basic dimensions of human personality. Those with neurotic personalities have a tendency toward depression, often show low self-esteem, and overall, tend to be generally dissatisfied with their lives. “However we were able to show that they become more stable in a love relationship, and that their personality stabilizes,” Dr. Christine Finn, a psychologist in the study, said in a press release.
The psychologists observed 245 couples, ages 18 to 30, for nine months. Every three months the couples were interviewed, with the scientists analyzing both the participants' neuroticism as well as their relationship satisfaction. The participants were also asked evaluate fictitious everyday situations and how they might affect their relationship. The participants’ reactions to the fictitious events were the most crucial part of the study. This is because individuals with neurotic personalities often process situations differently, and are more likely to react strongly to something others would disregard. It was important to see if being in a relationship could change this.
Results showed that as the relationships progressed, tendencies toward neurotic thinking decreased. The researchers developed two theories to explain their results. The fact that partners often support each other can help decrease neuroticism. Also, it may be that love helps us deal with life's situations more confidently, as opposed to having a negative outlook on life. “The positive experiences and emotions gained by having a partner change the personality — not directly but indirectly — as at the same time the thought structures and the perception of presumably negative situations change,” Finn explained.
Although everyone reacts differently in a relationship the researchers also found that the effects seem to grow stronger the longer the relationship lasted and were the same for both men and women. This gives hope to those who suffer from depression, anxiety, and other neurotic personality traits. It proves that negative thinking is not permanent and can be unlearned. Regardless of the individuals, the outcome of entering a relationship seemed to be positive for the person’s mental state. “Generally, we can say: young adults entering a relationship can only win,” Dr. Franz J. Neyer, co-author of the study, concluded in the press release.
That is a lot of positive results for being “in love”. What is love? 1 John 4:8, tell us “God is love.”
Probably the most well known verse in the Bible, John 3:16, assures us that God does in fact love us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
We would all seem to fall under that category, being part of the world.
Then, 1 John 4:19, says “We love him, because he first loved us.”
As with the benefits of the article above of being “in love” what would be some of the benefits of knowing God loves us and us loving God the Creator of the universe?
Here are just a few.
“The fruit of the Spirit (of God) is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.” 1 John 4:18
(That) “you may know the magnitude of the knowledge of the love of The Messiah and you may be filled in all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:8 – Aramaic Bible in plain English
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
It has been said that when we know God loves us, we know everything is going to be all right.
next week...keep on believing.
is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he
should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he
spoken, and shall he not make it good?”