God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love,
and of a sound mind.”
2016: A Year For Living With No Fear
By Michael Snyder, on January 4th, 2016
2016 is just a few days old, and already there has been a tremendous amount of shaking. Stock markets all over the world are crashing, a huge earthquake just hit India, the middle portion of the United States is dealing with record flooding, Islamic terror continues to spread in the Middle East and elsewhere, and Saudi Arabia has suddenly cut off relations with Iran. Our world is becoming increasingly unstable, and I believe that this is just the beginning. In fact, I am fully convinced that 2016 is going to be an incredibly chaotic year.
So does that mean that we should all cower in fear and try to find somewhere to hide?
Not at all.
My wife and I seek to live our lives in a constant state of “shalom”, which is the Hebrew word for peace. And we believe that 2016 is a year to be lived with no fear whatsoever. Yes, immensely great challenges are coming to this nation. But with great shaking comes great opportunity. In 2016 we believe that there will be incredible opportunities to be a light in the darkness.
We are moving into a time when so many of the things that we have become preoccupied with will fall to the wayside and we will start focusing on what really matters. Many of you have been preparing for the future for many years, and this is going to be the year when those preparations begin to pay off.
When great challenges come, they reveal the true nature of our character. And as things fall apart all around us, people are going to be looking for leaders. To be a leader, sometimes you don’t even have to say anything. People are going to be watching how we respond to the events that are going to be happening this year, and we need to decide right now whether we are going to respond with strength or fear.
If you want to be a leader, you need to be ready to be a rock in the storm. When the waves start crashing all around you, that is the time to set your face like flint and choose not to be moved. Many are going to want to dig a hole and try to hide from the world, but those with courage are going to be running to the front lines instead.
This is what we have been training for.
This is what we have been preparing for.
You were born for such a time as this.
If you look back throughout history, almost all of the heroes that we greatly admire were birthed during times of great crisis. It is when times are the darkest that the light is needed the most. And the hard times that are coming are going to be crying out for strong men and women to arise.
For years, “watchmen on the wall” such as myself have been relentlessly warning about what is coming. In fact, I have been sounding the alarm so loudly and for so long that some of my readers are probably sick of it. But the purpose has never been to “create fear”. I believe that there is hope in understanding what is happening, and I believe that there is hope in getting prepared.
And the truth is that there is very much a spiritual dimension to all of this. For decades, God has been calling America to return to Him, but instead this nation has been feverishly running the other direction. Now a day of reckoning is upon us, and we are going to experience the consequences of decades of very foolish decisions.
In the legal world, there is always a pronouncement of guilt before a judgment is administered. And in 2015 I believe that we were very clearly shown our guilt in a myriad of ways. Some examples include the gay marriage Supreme Court decision, the Ashley Madison scandal, and the undercover Planned Parenthood videos. I don’t believe that it was any accident that those videos came out exactly when they did. The whole world got to see that we are murdering millions of babies, harvesting their body parts and organs, and selling those body parts and organs off to the highest bidder. Those body parts and organs are then used in bizarre scientific experiments, and the federal government is funding the entire thing.
But instead of repenting, Congress just authorized hundreds of millions of dollars of funding for Planned Parenthood for the coming year, and surveys have found that the American people approve of federal funding for Planned Parenthood by about a 2 to 1 margin.
I believe that we were given one last chance to repent in 2015, but instead we chose to shake our fist at God.
Now a great shaking is coming, and I believe that it has already started. Since September, we have seen a very highly unusual series of disasters in America. We have seen horrific flooding in Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and Oregon, a nightmarish wave of wildfires starting at the end of the summer resulted in more acres being burned in this country than ever before, the state of Oklahoma set a brand new all-time record for earthquakes in a single year, a series of very unusual tornadoes just ripped through areas near Dallas, and much of California continues to suffer through the worst multi-year drought in the history of the state.
When we look at the Bible, we see that there is often a progression to judgment. For example, frogs and lice were a couple of the early plagues that hit Egypt in the book of Exodus, but by the end all of the firstborn of the Egyptians were dead. A similar pattern exists in the book of Revelation. Each “shaking” is intended to bring about repentance, and if there is no repentance then more shakings come.
We should be happy that shaking is coming to America, because without shaking I don’t believe that there would be any widespread repentance.
God has been warning us about what is coming, but most of us don’t want to listen.
God sends warnings because He does not want us to fear. He knows everything that is going to happen in advance, He is in control, and He has a plan.
And even in the midst of all the chaos and darkness that is beginning to engulf the world, God is raising up a Remnant.
This Remnant is going to be the army of the last days. It will walk in faith and not in fear. It will boldly take action while others cower. This Remnant is going to become what God always intended His people to be, and it is going to do things that are going to shock the world.
The greatest move of God and the greatest harvest of souls that the world has ever seen are coming. But just because we know what God is going to do in these last days does not mean that we automatically get to be part of it. Now is a time to press in and seek Him like never before. We need to pray that God will pour out His fire on our lives and equip us to be warriors of light in a world that is filled with darkness.
Jesus is coming back for His bride, but right now we are not ready.
Jesus deserves the greatest bride of all. He deserves a bride without spot or wrinkle and that is madly and wildly and passionately in love with Him.
Without Him nothing is possible, but with His help we can become the bride that we were always intended to be.
In 2016, everything changes.
Are you ready?
(“To all things there is a time, and a season for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 Power for the hour, not before. Ed)
Middle East still rocking from first world war pacts made 100 years ago
The agreements that shaped the region may be forgotten in the west, but in the Middle East their significance still looms large
Allied forces and members of the Sharifan Army mingle on the streets of Damascus after the capture of the city in October 1918. Photograph: George Westmoreland/IWM via Getty Images
Ian Black Middle East editor
Wednesday 30 December 2015 05.43 EST
Last modified on Wednesday 30 December 2015 08.54 EST
In an idle moment between cocktail parties in the Arab capital where they served, a British and French diplomat were chatting recently about their respective countries’ legacies in the Middle East: why not commemorate them with a new rock band? And they could call it Sykes-Picot and the Balfour Declaration.
It was just a joke. These first world war agreements cooked up in London and Paris in the dying days of the Ottoman empire paved the way for new Arab nation states, the creation of Israel and the continuing plight of the Palestinians. And if their memory has faded in the west as their centenaries approach, they are still widely blamed for the problems of the region at an unusually violent and troubled time.
“This is history that the Arab peoples will never forget because they see it as directly relevant to problems they face today,” argues Oxford University’s Eugene Rogan, author of several influential works on modern Middle Eastern history.
In 2014, when Islamic State fighters broke through the desert border between Iraq and Syria – flying black flags on their captured US-made Humvees – and announced the creation of a transnational caliphate, they triumphantly pronounced the death of Sykes-Picot. That gave a half-forgotten and much-misrepresented colonial-era deal a starring role in their propaganda war – and a new lease of life on Twitter.
Half truths go a long way: the secret agreement between Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot in May 1916 divided the Ottoman lands into British and French spheres – and came to light only when it was published by the Bolsheviks.
It also famously contradicted earlier promises made by the British to Sharif Hussein of Mecca before he launched what TE Lawrence called the “revolt in the desert” against the Turks. It did not draw the borders of Arab states – that came later – but it has become a kind of convenient shorthand for western double-dealing and perfidy.
And it was undermined too by the Balfour Declaration in November 1917 – mourned for decades by Palestinians remembering how “his Majesty’s government viewed with favour the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people” when Zionism was a novel response to European antisemitism and Jews a small minority in the Holy Land.
Looking ahead, officials in the UK Foreign Office are brainstorming anxiously about how to mark these agreements. It is far harder than remembering the first world war’s military anniversaries – Flanders, Gallipoli, the Somme – because while British and allied sacrifices and heroism can be celebrated and honoured, these were political acts that have left a toxic residue of resentment and conflict.
Pro-Palestinian campaigners have demanded Britain apologise for Balfour’s pledge – but that seems unlikely given that it was made in very different circumstances from today and cannot be undone. It and the other wartime agreements are likely to feature in statements and public diplomacy designed to generate a “more nuanced understanding” of the UK’s controversial historical role.
The focus on Sykes-Picot – famously based on drawing a line “from the ‘e’ in Acre [now in northern Israel] to the last ‘k’ in Kirkuk [in Iraq]” – is because of the argument that states have lost their legitimacy or cohesion in the bloody years of the Arab spring. Kurds in Iraq, autonomous since 1991, emphasise this, though they are the exception. Syria seems to be facing de facto partition but that is because of five years of vicious civil war, not because it is seen as an “artificial” colonial creation.
In fact, many historians insist – flatly contradicting Isis propaganda – that the post-first world war Arab nation states have proved remarkably resilient. And it is wrong to portray the jihadis, as the Iraq expert Reidar Visser has put it, “as the implementers of some kind of deep-rooted popular urge for pan-Arab and pan-Islamic unity that supposedly pulls the Syrian and Iraqi people towards each other”.
Still, perception is reality. In Rogan’s words: “The wartime partition agreements left a legacy of imperialism, of Arab mistrust in great power politics, and of a belief in conspiracies (for what are secret partition agreements if not conspiracies?) that the Arab peoples have held responsible for their misfortunes ever since.”
Palestine remains an open wound.“The period since the Balfour Declaration ... has witnessed what amounts to a hundred years of war against the Palestinian people,” wrote the American-Palestinian historian Rashid Khalidi. Yet no official British response to its anniversary is likely to go beyond affirmation of the need for two independent states for the two peoples who now inhabit the Holy Land, however contentious the past.
Recent events have proved as troublesome as past ones. Summer 2016 will see the long-overdue Chilcot report into Britain’s role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq – a prime factor behind the current mayhem in the region. As Toby Dodge of the LSE has expressed it: the advances of Isis were “not caused by a century-old legacy of Anglo-French colonialism” but by “the contemporary flaws within the political system” set up after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
And 2016 will see yet another awkward anniversary – the 60th of the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt, in collusion with Israel, in the Suez crisis of 1956 – a classic episode of western duplicity and high handedness that is still remembered as the “tripartite aggression” in Cairo and other Arab capitals.
“As we approach these anniversaries, we need to acknowledge that history, and our place in it,” insists Tom Fletcher, a highly regarded former British ambassador to Lebanon. “But we also need to ensure that the role of the west isn’t used as an alibi for every problem of the region. If we were as cunning as some still think, we would still have an empire. In fact, we need to see more security, justice and opportunity across the Middle East – that’s a conspiracy we should be part of.”
PNW (We have edited this article as the second half of the article was largely speculative.)
Rebuilding The Jewish Temple On The Horizon?
"See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes." (Malachi 4:5)
The world is suddenly awash with talk of rebuilding the Jewish Temple. This is one of the last pieces of the jigsaw that yet needs to fall into place. It is another significant indication that we are right at the gates of the Tribulation period itself.
The second Temple of Jesus' time was constructed over a period of thirty to forty years. If the Temple were to be constructed today, it would be built in a fraction of that time. The Temple Institute in Israel has already made many of the sacred artifacts needed for use in the Temple itself.
The Temple Institute has prefabricated large sections of the Temple structure, as well as having drawn up comprehensive and complete architectural plans, so that when the right time comes these pre-made sections can simply be taken to the site and built into the superstructure of the Temple itself. It is even possible to visit their website and view an in-depth three dimensional computer tour of what the newly-built Temple will look like after its completion.
Other crucial pieces of the Temple, much more difficult to construct than the building itself, has also been completed and are now ready for use. Based in the Old City area of Jerusalem, the Temple Institute has completed the reconstruction of the sacred Temple altar, to the specific and exacting standards prescribed in the Pentateuch.
This absolutely essential piece of the puzzle means that the Jewish nation now has the holy altar necessary once again to begin offering sacrifices. It is the altar itself which would make the sacrifices offered on it holy before God. Aside from the Holy of Holies, it is the lynchpin of the entire Temple. It is now ready for use.
The significance of this development should not be underestimated. Building this altar has been quite an undertaking; approximately 5 meters (16 feet) tall and 16 meters (52.5 feet) wide, with four "horns" or raised corners, and a ramp. It is unique. Nothing like this altar has been seen on this earth in two thousand years.
To complete the preparations, the Temple Institute has also made all the priestly garments necessary for the priesthood to minister, even going so far as to train priestly families in the conduct and expectations of a Priest who ministers inside a newly built Temple.
Passover sacrifices have been reenacted and practiced so that the mechanics of the process are understood and closely adhere to the standards laid out by the Law of Moses. They have, in effect, carried out historically accurate trial runs in preparation for the real thing.
Understanding the various processes is, in itself, is also no small undertaking. The roots of sacrifice are found in the Book of Exodus. In preparation for the 10 plagues on Egypt, the death of the firstborn, God tells Moses to speak to the people of Israel and instruct each household to obtain a lamb on the 10th of Nisan. The lambs should be kept until the 14th, when the people of Israel should slaughter them at dusk.
Next, they should take its blood and put it on the doorposts and on the lintel of the house in which they were eating. The fire-roasted lamb should then all be consumed that night with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. This Feast of Passover has been observed ever since, with one exception. Ever since Jesus Christ died on Calvary as the spotless Lamb of God, the sacrificial lamb has been missing from the Passover celebration. See also: Revelation 5.6
Pure olive oil, fit for use in the Menorah of the Temple, has been produced in the last few months, the only time this has happened since the fall of the Second Temple. The production of four and a half litres of the precious olive oil this year was an extremely complex process due to the necessity of keeping it pure according to Jewish law.
In addition, ceramic flasks to hold the oil also had to be made to conform to the standards of religious purity required for use in the Temple itself. The production of the olive oil required precise knowledge of an extremely specialized and complex area of Jewish law.
Oil of this quality has not been produced since the beginning of the Diaspora of the Jews in 70AD. Literally nothing like this has been seen in Israel for almost two millennia.
Another significant development is the quest for a perfect Red Heifer or Para Adumah, a three-year-old female cow with totally red hair that is supposed to be able to restore a state of purity after ritual slaughter, something necessary for temple worship. There have been no perfect Red Heifers in Israel for over 2,000 years, however the Temple Institute is trying to change that.
In late 2015 the Temple Institute attempted to raise funds with its "Raise a Red Heifer in Israel" campaign on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Earlier in 2015, the Temple Institute's previous Indiegogo campaign successfully raised over $100,000 which will be used to develop architectural plans for the Holy Temple.
According to the crowdfunding site:
"The Temple Institute has joined forces with experienced cattle ranchers here in Israel. These experts in the science of animal husbandry, under the halachic supervision and guidance of the rabbis of the Temple Institute, will utilize the technique of implanting the frozen embryos of Red Angus cattle in Israeli domestic cattle. The end result of this program will be the introduction of the Red Angus breed into Israel. This method, authorized and approved by Israel's Ministry of Agriculture, has already proven successful with the birth of a number of male Red Angus. The location and other details of the cattle ranch will remain undisclosed to the general public during the initial stages of the project.
Although the campaign fell short of its $125,000 goal the Temple Institute still plans to move forward as funds become available. The Temple Institute is not alone in planning for a red heifer. There have been reports of red heifers several times in the past few years from ranchers in the United States, although all have gone on to later be disqualified.
Many Rabbis within Israel believe that when a perfect red heifer is found it will be a clear indication that the rebuilding of the temple is imminent.
The Temple will ultimately be rebuilt in Jerusalem as it is crucial to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Beginning with Daniel, who had a vision of the Temple in Daniel 9:27, Jesus Himself echoed Daniels warning about an abomination standing in the holy place in the Last Days in Matthew 24:15. Paul also mentioned it in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. The Temple Institute is making fulfillment of this Biblical prophecy a near reality through their work and dedication.
The only thing that seems to be missing is the political will, the 'go ahead', to move this process forward. All things humanly possible are being done to prepare for the rebuilding of the Third Temple.
However, hugely significant problems remain which must be overcome before even a stone can be put down.
For political and safety reasons, rebuilding a Temple would seem almost an impossibility at present. This is because Islam currently controls the Temple Mount and for Jews to destroy the Dome on the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque so as to build the Jewish Temple would likely provoke an immediate world war.
Amazingly, these political and safety impediments on rebuilding the Temple are not the most significant problems.
The current raging debate within Judaism is exactly who has the authority to begin the rebuilding process of the Temple itself? Is it God, the Messiah or someone else? Nobody really knows and there is no consensus on this absolutely vital issue within Judaism.
Without resolution of who has the authority to rebuild there can be no Temple, and these are the reasons why.
The question of who has the authority to begin the rebuilding process exists because nobody today really knows exactly where the Holy of Holies from the Second Temple was located on the Temple Mount. This is the reason why Jews are forbidden from entering the precise area where the second Temple was built, lest they inadvertently stand on the sacred and consecrated area which housed the Holy of Holies. To do so, even inadvertently, is punishable by death under Mosaic Law.
The second major stumbling block is that all Jews are currently ritually impure, which also prevents any Jews from entering the precise area where the Temple used to stand. In order to become ritually pure Jews would need the ashes of a Red Heifer, administered by a priest who could trace his family and ancestral lineage back far enough to validate his claim to priesthood. No such priest exists who can trace his lineage to this exacting standard. The reason is that when Israel and Judah were dispersed to the four corners of the world, all lineage records were lost.
This therefore means that under Mosaic Law there are no priests eligible to administer the ashes of a Red Heifer and therefore able to make Jews ritually pure enough to enter the Temple complex area. It is a terrible Catch-22 situation.
The next major problem concerns the Altar of the Temple itself, specifically the location of the Altar. The Law of Moses is very precise about exactly where the Altar must be located. It cannot go just anywhere; it needs to be in exactly the right place. When they built the Second Temple the Jews used reliable witnesses who could testify to the correct spot. In fact, the prophets Haggai, Zephaniah and Malachi are believed within Judaism to have been the three witnesses used to verify the Altars correct location.
No such witnesses exist today. Even if a Temple could be built, they could never offer sacrifice as they simply do not know where to locate the Altar. They have absolutely no idea where it should go; no idea whatsoever.
Assuming that they were able to rebuild the Temple in exactly the right spot and then locate the Altar allowing for sacrifice, also in exactly the right spot, the Temple would still need Priests whose genealogy can be absolutely determined and verified. No such verification exists anymore. It would be a Temple with no priests.
The next major issue is the High Priest. There can be no functioning Temple without a functioning High Priest. To appoint a High Priest there needs to be a Sanhedrin, 70 - 71 ordained Rabbis acting as the Supreme Council of all Israel. There can currently be no Sanhedrin that satisfies Mosaic Law because each Rabbi must satisfy Mosaic Ordination, which was transmitted from Rabbi to Rabbi since the time of Moses. Mosaic Ordination ceased in 358 AD because of persecution.
Although a re-established Sanhedrin was set up in 2004 it still lacks the religious and governmental authority needed to take the process forward. There can be no legitimate Sanhedrin and therefore no legitimate High Priest.
[Note: the priesthood was a familial thing, i.e. you were born into it; not ordained to it. All the priests were Levites; of the Tribe (family) of Levi. This problem of identifying legitimate priests is now being simplified through the use of DNA]
These problems would seem insurmountable. There is no human solution to them. On the face of things then, there can be no Temple.
Jewish tradition does provide an answer though, as does scripture. Scripture strongly suggests that the person who may well provide the necessary authority to begin the rebuilding process of the Third Temple will be the Prophet Elijah himself.
Jesus, in Matthew's Gospel revealed that at the end Elijah, "...will restore all things..." (Matthew 17:11). According to Jewish tradition it will be Elijah who will reveal himself to the Jews before the advent of Messiah. He would have the necessary authority to reveal the exact location of the Holy of Holies and the precise location of the Altar.
Elijah would be able to reveal to the Priesthood their exact genealogies and reinstitute Mosaic Ordination for Rabbis, thus finally enabling the reestablishment of a legitimate Sanhedrin and High Priest.
And further to satisfy Mosaic Law, which prescribes the presence of Two Witnesses as being necessary for legal satisfaction (Deuteronomy 19:15)
The growing excitement and speculation over the potential rebuilding of the Temple is a huge indicator that the very end of this age is at hand.
Why Pope Francis’ push for unity is going into over-driv
By John L. Allen Jr.
Associate editor January 19, 2016
Pope Francis, like all his recent predecessors, has expressed a desire for good relations among the world’s religions, as well as the various Christian churches, from the very beginning. Rarely, however, has that drive been as visible or intense as it is right now.
We’re currently in the middle of a 10-day stretch that features three high-profile events: One could be described as fairly routine, but the other two are anything but.
On Jan. 17, Francis crossed Rome to visit the city’s historic Great Synagogue, his first visit to a Jewish place of worship since his election to the papacy in March 2013. It marked the third time a pontiff has gone to the Rome synagogue, located within the boundaries of what was once a papally-imposed Jewish ghetto.
On Jan. 25, as popes do every year, Francis will go to Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to mark the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which falls on the feast of the conversion of St. Paul. Generally, it’s the most important annual occasion for popes to reflect on ecumenism.
Though it’s not yet confirmed, reportedly Francis will leave the Vatican yet again on Jan. 27 to visit the Mosque of Rome, one of the largest Islamic places of worship outside the Arab world. If so, he’ll become the first pope to do so, and historically it will be just the ninth time a pontiff has entered a mosque.
In light of the flurry of activity, one has to ask: Why is interfaith and Christian unity so much on the pope’s brain right now?
To some extent, it’s just coincidence. Given that both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI visited the Rome synagogue, it was always written in the stars that Francis would do so at some point, and it was also virtually certain that it would happen in January on Italy’s annual day for Jewish/Christian dialogue.
Having made that visit, Francis would naturally think of a trip to the mosque as a signal that his outreach to Jews is not a zero/sum exercise that comes at the expense of Muslims. Given that he’s forever a pope in a hurry, he wouldn’t want to wait long to get the point across, which may explain why the visit could come just 10 days after the stop at the synagogue.
Similarly, Jan. 25 has long been set aside by popes as a day for ecumenical emphasis in light of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an observance that stretches all the way back to 1908. In that sense, Francis is simply holding to script.
In other words, the stars aligned to put all this activity into the same time frame.
On the other hand, there are at least three reasons why Francis is likely grateful that these appointments are coming one right after the other.
First, it underscores that Christian unity and inter-religious dialogue, while distinct, are nevertheless related.
For sure, ecumenical dialogue among Christians is a different animal from Christian engagement with other faiths. When Christians talk, the ultimate aim is full, visible, structural unity in one common home. When different religions engage, the goal is to know one another better and to work together, while always respecting the unalterable differences among the religions in belief and practice.
Yet the practical reality is that ecumenism gives a boost to inter-faith dialogue.
If Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and so on get one message from Catholics but another from Baptists, or one message from the Orthodox and another from Pentecostals, it can muddy the waters. The more Christians are unified, the easier outreach to other faiths becomes.
Second, the coincidence of all three of these events falling in the same time frame allows Francis to make the point that he’s not picking and choosing, or giving preference to one group over another.
Instead, the implied message is that building better ties with Jews, Muslims, and other Christians is all part of the same package. In the words of Pope Paul VI at the United Nations in 1965, the Catholic Church wants to be an “expert in humanity,” which includes the various religious expressions of the whole human family.
Third, of course, is the towering reality that arguably the world has never needed a counter-witness to religious extremism and violence more than it does right now.
Given the bloodshed associated with ISIS, Boko Haram, Christian/Muslim conflict in the Central African Republic, the rise of both Hindu and Buddhist extremism in parts of Asia, terrorist attacks across Europe, and on and on, even reasonable people with no axe to grind may be tempted to conclude that religion is inevitably destined to pit people against one another.
In that light, Francis’ apparent determination to show that it doesn’t have to be so — that religion can be every bit as much a part of the solution as the problem — seems timely indeed.
Whether by luck or design, January 2016 is giving Pope Francis a platform to broadcast that message in unusually high-profile fashion. What remains to be seen is whether his frenzy of outreach will pay off in terms of changing hearts and minds where it counts.
The Bible Series That's Too Edgy For TV
7:00AM EST 1/27/2016 "Of Kings And Prophets" is too edgy for television.
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Of Kings and Prophets, a new series set to air on ABC in March, is a Hollywood rendition of the stories of Samuel, Saul and David from 1 and 2 Samuel in the Bible. The show's trailer recently previewed at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
During the panel with the show's producers and executives immediately following, questions were asked regarding the apparent level of sexual and violent content in the trailer, and what that means for the series. Multiple critics who saw the pilot were surprised by the amount of nudity included, especially considering the fact that Of Kings and Prophets follows the relatively family-friendly TV series Marvel's Agents of Shield on Tuesday nights in March.
Executive producer Chris Brancato said that the series isn't going to shy away from mature content.
"We're going to go as far as we can," Brancato said. "This story is an Old Testament [one that's] violent [and] sex-drenched. It's one of the world's first soap operas. ... You will watch a show that is tasteful but that also tells the story you can read if you want to pick up the Bible."
MovieGuide notes that there's a huge difference between a textual description of events and an actual depiction of acts.
The show's writers are Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, who previously worked on Ridley Scott's Bible-based epic, Exodus: Gods and Kings
Brancato explained that in order to meet the standards and parameters regarding content shown on broadcast television, some of the more explicit content may be edited out for broadcast and only included in online streams of the series.
"We have the wonderful ability to put a show on broadcast and then also have an online streaming version, which has less restrictions ... on it, so it may be that what you saw in this sexual clip in this trailer would probably be in the online version and not on broadcast," he said.
"The love story is essential to this pilot story," Brancato said. "We were seeking in that scene to suggest the pent-up passion and sexuality between these two characters. ... There is no discussion about trying to add more sex or violence for the simple sake of doing so. We're trying to tell the story that is in 1 and 2 Samuel, which has plenty of sex and violence on its own."
Unsurprisingly, and disappointingly, there's no discussion of the real themes of repentance, redemption and walking with God, which is far more intriguing than the sex and violence ABC is trying to sell to the American public.
DEMONS JUST 'INNOCENT FUN' IN NEW TV PROJECT
'The Exorcist' getting reboot for series on Fox
Published: January 26, 2016
“The Exorcist” TV series is in the works at Fox (Photo: Twitter)
Once again, the media will be using the subjects of demons and exorcism as entertainment, with the 1973 film “The Exorcist” getting a reboot as a new television series on Fox.
It comes at a time when the real-life practice of exorcism is as popular as ever.
But pastors are warning the demonic realm is real – and dangerous.
“The Bible is abundantly clear about the existence of the demonic realm,” says Carl Gallups, pastor of Hickory Hammock Baptist Church in Milton, Florida. “Regardless what one believes about the reality of the demonic, it cannot be denied that the world is faced with unmitigated evil staring us in the face every day. The Word of God tells us that the evil we experience has two main sources: the fallen condition of the entirety of humankind and the supernatural influence of the realm of Satan upon this fallen creation.”
What do YOU think?
Gallups told WND he has personally seen demons at work.
“I am thoroughly convinced of the authenticity of demonic forces,” he told WND. “While I do not look under every rock of discord for a demonic influence behind it, nor do I blame every evil on a particular demonic sway, I have come in direct contact with the reality of demonic forces in my many years of ministry and in my previous years of law enforcement experience.”
Gallups isn’t alone. A 2012 survey found a majority of Americans believe in the possibility of demonic possession.
“Belief in the demonic remains as popular as ever, with many churches scrambling to adapt,” according to Joseph Laycock, an assistant professor who teaches a class on demonology, possession and exorcism.
The Roman Catholic Church has been especially associated in the popular mind with possession. Pope Francis has raised eyebrows with his frequent talk about the reality of the devil as a person, rather than simply as a metaphor.
A video of the pontiff praying over a disabled man was also interpreted by some as a public exorcism, though the Vatican denied it.
But though the Catholic Church is often associated with exorcisms, Karl Payne of Antioch Bible Church, who served as chaplain of the Seattle Seahawks football team for 21 years and is the author of “Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization, and Deliverance,” said demons don’t care about a person’s particular denomination.
“Demons fear Christians because Christ lives in them,” Payne advised. “If a person is a genuine Christian, demons understand that the delegated authority of a Christian is greater than their own, because the master of the Christian, Jesus Christ, is eternal, and the master of the demonic host, Satan, is finite. Jesus is the creator; Satan is part of His creation. The primary reason that Christians win in confrontation with demons is because Jesus Christ has already won this war. We should win because He has won!”
Payne also says the idea an effective exorcism requires complicated formulas and rituals is a misconception.
“Rituals and incantations do not scare demons,” Payne told WND. “But a Christian standing upon and utilizing their delegated authority to tread upon all the power of the demonic hierarchy because their names are written in heaven certainly do. This is true regardless of the denominational affiliation of a Christian. Another way of saying this is that demons do not fear people who only bring religious titles to a confrontation, but they will flee from Christians with a testimony that is affirmed by the Lord Jesus Christ and opposing them through their delegated authority, as we know from Luke 10:18-20.”
Yet for many Americans, their views of demons and exorcism has been shaped by pop culture, especially the 1973 movie “The Exorcist.”
William Peter Blatty, the author of the novel used as source material for the famous film, is a devout Catholic who believes in the supernatural. He actually grounded his novel in the theology he learned at Georgetown University, rather than using possession as simply a backdrop for an entirely fictional story.
However, since “The Exorcism,” the topics of possession and demons have been also used as fodder for more sensational stunts, including a supposed “live” exorcism that led to widespread mockery on social media.
Demons are also a prominent topic in pop culture, with “games” focused on “summoning” spirits popular on social media. The new “Exorcism” television show is also likely to increase the prominence of demons in popular culture.
Gallups argues sensationalistic treatments actually work to undermine belief in the spiritual world.
“Hollywood, pop-culture pundits, and other naysayers often paint the reality in a ludicrous light in their attempts to lampoon the idea,” he said. “They frequently mock those who truly understand the seriousness of the matter.”
At the same time, the attention given to demons in the media can prove dangerous. Payne argues demonic activity in the United States has become “more open and overt” as the Christian identity of the country has been undermined.
“The television, movies, Internet, and corresponding media outlets are replete with programs glorifying demonism, Satanism, the occult and the paranormal,” Payne said. “To the naïve, it is innocent fun. To those who understand the reality of demonism, it represents the acceleration of disaster and loss of common sense. And among a growing number of our youth today, demons are not so much blamed for social discomfort as celebrated.”
Payne warns the Bible says demonic activity will increase in the last days.
“The Apostle Paul told Timothy that in the end times, referring to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be an increase in demonic activity and religious teachers tickling people’s ears rather than having the courage to stand up for biblical truth,” the pastor said. “Are demons more active or are we just more aware of their activity? I do not know the answer to either question for certain, but I suspect the answer to both is yes.”
Gallups, author of “Final Warning: Understanding the Trumpet Days of Revelation,” also believes demonic activity is on the increase as the world approaches what he believes are the end times.
“I approach life from a distinctly biblical worldview,” Gallups said. “Therefore, I believe we are living in undeniably prophetic times. I believe the world is very close to witnessing the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I know what the Bible says about those last days – the Word of God is clear that there will be a noticeable demonic outpouring in the last days.
“And how can we look at the flood of depravity, terrorism, butchery, abortion horrors, the Sodom and Gomorrah spirit, the constant spirit of world war, the proliferation of pornography and the sex-slavery and misery that goes along with it – as well as the continual and purposed destruction of the family; and not see the darkness, evil, and demonic behind it all?”
Payne says in such times, Bible-believing Christians should accept the reality of the supernatural world and not underestimate its dangers. He urged Christians not to dabble with occult or demonic subjects even as they become a larger part of popular culture.
“The study of spiritual warfare should not be frightening to a genuine Christian as a member of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Payne said. “But should non-Christians or Christians play with the subject of demonism or dabble in the occult? No, either can get hurt in the process. Don’t we fall into enough holes without planning our falls?”
How Ingrid Bergman Came to Christ
By J. Christy Wilson, Contributing Writer
The movie, “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness,” in which Ingrid Bergman starred, won many awards. It’s the missionary biography of Gladys Aylward, who went as an English maid to serve in China. She worked with Jenny Lawson, who had started an inn to reach muleteers going into northwestern China with the good news of Jesus Christ. This was called “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.” Besides the five joys the Chinese usually have, the “sixth happiness” was the Gospel.
During the Japanese invasion, Gladys Aylward took more than 100 orphans by foot through the mountains on a difficult journey to safety. One of her converts to Christ, formerly a criminal, went on along to help her. But, as the enemy soldiers were about to discover them, he ran in the opposite direction and shouted, acting as a decoy to save them. As a result, he was shot and killed, but the others were saved.
Gladys and the children held his funeral. There, she reads the words of Jesus Christ, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends.” Gladys and all the children finally reached the Yellow River and were safe.
When Gladys heard that Ingrid Bergman was going to play her part, she was very upset because she knew this Hollywood actress had had children out of wedlock before she married an Italian movie producer. By then Gladys was in Taiwan. She shared her concerns with Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, with whom Gladys prayed regularly. After they had brought this before the Lord, Madame Chiang was confident that God had heard and would overrule.
Ingrid Bergman was so deeply moved while playing the part of Gladys that she made a special trip to Taiwan in 1970 to meet her. Only days before she arrived, however, Gladys got the flu and died. Seeing Ingrid’s disappointment, Gladys’ co-worker, Katherine Smith, asked Ingrid if she would like to see the simple room where Gladys had lived.
Ingrid fell down beside Gladys’ bed and wept, saying she was unworthy to have played the life of such a woman of God. Katherine then had the opportunity to lead Ingrid through the steps to peace with God, showing her that Christ had died for her sins. Ingrid prayed the prayer of repentance and received Jesus Christ as her Savior and Lord.
Twelve years after talking to Katherine, Ingrid died of cancer in 1982. Before she died, she took part in the Easter sunrise service of the Presbyterian Church in Palm Springs, California, reading from the Scriptures the account of the resurrection. Although her movie career had won her many accolades, Ingrid’s greatest reward was receiving eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Editor’s Note: Excerpt from the book MORE TO BE DESIRED THAN GOLD: CLLECTION OF TRUE STORIES by J. Christy Wilson, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton: MA, Gordon-Conwell Seminary Book Centre, 4th Edition, 1998, p. 6. A collection of true stories given in his missions lectures at Gordon-Conwell Seminary
Texas grand jury indicts ‘anti-abortion extremists’ behind Planned Parenthood videos
Published time: 26 Jan, 2016 04:50
A Texas grand jury has charged anti-abortion activists for conducting a covert video operation aimed at revealing that Planned Parenthood had illegally profited from selling donated fetal tissue, while finding the abortion provider had done nothing wrong.
The grand jury in Harris County indicted David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, the two activists behind the videos that were meant to expose how Planned Parenthood handled fetal tissue in its clinics.
“Thousands of hours of videotape” were secretly filmed and then edited before publication by the Center for Medical Progress in July. They allegedly show Planned Parenthood staff discussing the illegal sale and procurement of fetuses.
On Monday, the grand jury in Harris County put an end in the controversial investigation. It found no wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast, but charged both Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and Merritt with tampering with a governmental record – a felony carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Daleiden was also indicted on a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs.
“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury.”
In her statement announcing the indictment, Anderson did not give any details as to what record or records had allegedly been tampered with, or why the pair was indicted on charges related to human organs trade.
Daleiden issued a statement equating his group’s “undercover techniques” to investigative journalism.
“We respect the processes of the Harris County District Attorney, and note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well,” he said, stressing that they were following all applicable laws.
Planned Parenthood, the US’ largest single reproductive health provider, welcomed Monday’s indictments as yet another victory.
“This is absolutely great news because it is a demonstration of what Planned Parenthood has said from the very beginning: We follow every law and regulation and these anti-abortion activists broke multiple laws to try and spread lies,” said spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.
The health care provider stressed that, since the release of the videos, 11 state investigations had cleared it of accusations that it had profited from the illegal trade of fetal tissue donations.
“These people broke the law to spread malicious lies about Planned Parenthood in order to advance their extreme anti-abortion political agenda. As the dust settles and the truth comes out, it’s become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the criminals behind this fraud, and we’re glad they’re being held accountable,” Eric Ferrero, a spokesman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood launched a lawsuit against “anti-abortion extremists” Daleiden and Merritt last week that accuses them of engaging in “complex” criminal activities, including illegal recording, invasion of privacy, and registering fake identities to “defraud” and smear the Planned Parenthood name.
Stunning Cloud Formation Appears Above Portugal, People Call It “The Hand Of God”
by Julija Televičiūtė
January 28, 2016
On Monday, the Portuguese were stunned by a terrifying cloud over the island of Madeira. The bright orange formation looked as if it was a burning clenched fist.
The cloud was spotted by weather blogger Rogerio Pacheco. His photos soon got attention on social media. People had all kinds of speculations, comparing the unusual cloud to anything from a “Hand of God” to a burning fist, or even a comet from the video game Final Fantasy.
“As soon as I saw the sky, I was immediately intrigued and I just had to grab my camera to take photo,” said Pacheco. “For me, the cloud looks like an outstretched hand with a fireball.”
ISIS EYES 'MEGA MERGER' WITH AL-QAIDA, MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
Libyan branches look to establish governing council
Published: January 25, 2016
ISIS is reportedly mulling a union with al-Qaida and Muslim Brotherhood branches in Libya.
A London-based newspaper, Al Sharq al Awsat, reported the Libyan branches of ISIS, al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood are in talks to unite and establish a governing council.
Documents leaked to the newspaper say this “mega merger,” as it’s been dubbed, comes on the heels of an international effort to unite Libya’s various factions and warring militias under one government.
As Breitbart reported: “The paper said the Muslim Brotherhood is considering a united Islamic front even though the movement is officially in favor of forming a unity government. … Negotiations between the three Islamic groups began because of reports of a rapprochement between the internationally recognized government based in Tobruk and the unrecognized government in the capital Tripoli.”
A source told the Arabic newspaper the three terror groups want to send a message “all the Islamist opposition elements speak in one voice and should be treated as such,” Breitbart reported.
Breitbart Jerusalem previously reported one of the leading members of ISIS in Sinai visited Gaza to forge a union between Hamas and Salafi groups.
'We will recover our land from the invaders': ISIS issues chilling threat to launch terror attacks in Spain to reimpose Muslim rule after 500 years
Jihadis release video of ancient map of the Iberian peninsula turning red
Spain, then known as Andalus, ruled by Muslims for 700 years until 1492
Islamist militants killed 191 people in the Madrid train bombings in 2004
By SIMON TOMLINSON FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 09:07 EST, 22 January 2016 | UPDATED: 01:14 EST, 23 January 2016
Islamic State has reportedly issued a chilling threat to launch terror attacks in Spain, declaring: 'We will recover our land from the invaders.'
The jihadists have long made it their goal to expand their boundaries beyond Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East.
As well as plans to expand the caliphate in Iraq, Syria, North Africa and large parts of western Asia, they have previously released a map marking out plans to seize parts of Europe.
Spain, which was ruled by Muslims for 700 years until 1492, is marked out as a territory the caliphate plans to have under its control by 2020.
The militants issued the warning in a video that shows an ancient map of the Iberian peninsula turning red, it was reported by The Daily Express.
Europe's worst attack by Islamic militants occurred in Spain in 2004 when bombs on Madrid commuter trains killed 191 people.
The warning comes three weeks after Spanish security officials said they had arrested more than 90 suspected Islamic extremists in 2015.
One of those held was an inmate at a prison near Madrid who allegedly tried to recruit jihadi fighters for ISIS and threatened to bomb major Spanish cities including the capital.
Caliphate: This map purportedly showing the areas ISIS plans to have under its control within five years was shared widely online in 2014. As well as the Middle East, North Africa and large areas of Asia, it also reveals ISIS' ambition to extend into Europe. Spain, which was Muslim-ruled until the late 15th Century, would form part of the caliphate, as would the Balkan states and eastern Europe, up to and including Austria
A wheelchair-bound Islamic extremist also confessed last year to sending more than 200 jihadists to Syria and Iraq to fight for the terror group.
Belgian-born former drug addict Mustafa Maya, 52, made the admission during questioning by a Spanish prosecutor, respected newspaper El Pais reported.
Maya was arrested last year in the Spanish enclave of Melilla on suspicion of heading an Islamic State recruitment network and is currently awaiting trial. They have also received more than 600 anonymous tip-offs regarding possible Islamic extremists under a new project set up to better anticipate the threat of attacks.
SPUTNIK (Seymour Hersh is a former Pulitzer Prize winner. Ed)
The Pentagon deliberately subverted American policy toward Syria, sabotaging US efforts to aid Syrian rebels and even sending US intelligence to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to journalist Seymour Hersh.
In a nearly 7,000-word piece in the London Review of Books, Hersh says that the Joint Chiefs of Staff, America’s top military leaders, decided to deliberately subvert American foreign policy and form a secret alliance with Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
As his source, Hersh cites one anonymous “former senior adviser” to the Joint Chiefs. In summer 2013, the Joint Chiefs discovered that Turkey had “co-opted” the CIA’s program to arm so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels. Ankara decided to redirect US aid to extremists, including ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, Hersh writes.
The Joint Chiefs also discovered that viable moderate Syrian rebels did not exist and that the opposition consisted nearly uniformly of extremists.
So, in the fall of 2013, the Joint Chiefs decided to start secretly “providing US intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army,” Hersh writes. They sent US intelligence to Germany, Russia, and Israel, which sent it to Assad.
The goal of their secret alliance with Assad was to subvert Obama’s Syria efforts, prop up Assad, and aid him in destroying ISIS and other extremists, according to Hersh.
In return, the Joint Chiefs asked that Assad “restrain” Hezbollah from attacking Israel; renew negotiations with Israel over the Golan Heights, a territory that Israel had seized from Syria decades earlier; agree to accept any Russian assistance; and hold elections after the war ended.
In summer 2013, the Joint Chiefs tricked the CIA into shipping obsolete weapons to Syrian rebels, Hersh writes. The journalist says this was intended as a show of good faith to Assad, to convince him to accept their offer.
The secret Joint Chiefs alliance with Putin and Assad, Hersh writes, ended this September when its chief architect, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey, retired.
Us Senate To Declare “International Martial Law” — Give President “Unlimited” Military Powers
JANUARY 25, 2016
By Justin Gardner
The U.S. Senate is poised to give President Obama and the next president unprecedented war powers that amount to declaring martial law upon the entire world. Majority leader Mitch McConnell surprised almost everyone last week by saying he has a war resolution ready to be voted on at any time.
The resolution is a new authorization for use of military force (AUMF) for declaring war on ISIS. It would give the president even more power than the AUMF granted to Bush after 9/11, which is still in place today.
The AUMF put forward by McConnell would not restrict the president’s use of ground troops, nor have any limits related to time or geography. Nor would it touch on the issue of what to do with the 2001 AUMF, which the Obama administration has used to attack ISIS despite that authorization’s instructions to use force against those who planned the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
AP WP Responsive
Considering what Bush and Obama did with the 2001 AUMF—invading and occupying countries in “pre-emptive” war, CIA black sites, extrajudicial killings, inventing the term “enemy combatants” to bypass international law, new forms of torture, drone bombing women and children, and assassinating U.S. citizens—the specter of a new and expanded AUMF is truly frightening.
“This resolution is a total rewrite of the War Powers Clause in the U.S. Constitution,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn). “It is essentially a declaration of international martial law, a sweeping transfer of military power to the president that will allow him or her to send U.S. troops almost anywhere in the world, for almost any reason, with absolutely no limitations.”
McConnell’s resolution is more than what Obama asked for last year, but this is of little relevance since Obama has been carrying out a war against ISIS, including the use of special forces, with no authorization. The administration has refused to put forward a legal framework, insisting that the 2001 AUMF is enough.
As the New York Times pointed out, ISIS was created long after 9/11 and is actually a competitor to al Qaida, which means that Obama’s war on ISIS is not justified under the 2001 AUMF. Even members of Congress recognize that current military operations have no legal basis.
“I believe the war is illegal,” said Sen. Tim Kaine. “I don’t think there’s a legal justification for it. And I think the greatest danger we end up doing is allowing the president to wage a war without Congress weighing in.”
Using this rationale, Kaine and others in Congress are thrilled to know that a new AUMF could be voted on at any time. Some would prefer more restrictions, but the bottom line is that it represents and abdication of constitutional duties that would give vast military powers to one person.
Sen. John Cornyn expressed the usual platitudes in cheering for the vote, saying “the people we send in harm’s way need to know that the country is behind them” and “we also don’t need to tie the hands of the next president by restricting what the president can do.”
For some lawmakers, it’s more about giving the next president unlimited power than it is about Obama. McConnell’s about-face from December, when he expressed no interest in voting on an AUMF, may also be a ploy to make the issue a major talking point in the presidential election. There’s nothing like talk of war to whip up fear in the masses and distract them from substantive issues.
It is no coincidence that just days ago, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said about the fight against ISIS, “We’re looking for opportunities to do more and there will be boots on the ground and I want to be clear about that.”
Since ISIS is partially a product of American intervention in the Middle East, being cultivated from the Salafist sect to foment regime change in Syria, “boots on the ground” would complete another cycle for the merchants of death and destruction. The Hegelian Dialectic—create the problem, stoke the reaction, offer the solution—is a tried and true method for endless war.
We have already seen the extremely tenuous connections that war-makers use to justify their death and destruction waged around the world and on their own people. McConnell’s AUMF would clear away any feeble barriers that still stand in the way of a military dictatorship.
MARTIAL LAW DECLARED IN NEW YORK CITY
Massive snow dump prompts extraordinary action by government
Published: January 24, 2016
It’s the nagging fear many have about our government: what would happen if martial law was declared? New York City just found out, at least temporarily.
Eleven states as well as Washington D.C. declared states of emergency in the wake of the massive record-breaking snowstorm which blanketed the East. But New York City went a step further. Governor Andrew Cuomo declared “martial law” in New York City by ordering all people to stay inside under police enforcement. He issued an absolute travel ban for anything that is not an emergency vehicle.
The New York Police Department put out a blunt announcement on Saturday: “After 2:30 p.m. and you’re on the road, we will arrest you.”
As if that wasn’t direct enough, the NYPD reiterated, “”Stay off the road. We don’t want to have to arrest you.”
The NYPD emphasized the need for safety, sending out additional tweets:
“For your safety & ours, roads are closed in NYC except for emergency vehicles.”
“We are asking people to make good common sense decisions. Use your head.”
“Last year no one got arrested. People made the right decisions. We are looking for that again today.”
Reactions ranged from outraged to amused.
“Threatens arrest citizens for being on the streets 1 day due to snow. Illegals are free to roam the other 364.”
“Haha. Arrest away then fella’s.”
“Calm down chief!”
“Shouldn’t you help them get to their destinations safely instead of arresting them?”
“What if this person is trying to get home?”
“I get that the roads need to be clear for 911, but isn’t that a bit extreme?”
“You are gonna have to arrest me, and I’ll take it to court. This is appalling. I want to leave NYC!”
“You all drive prius’s How in the world are you going to arrest me & my 4×4 with them?”
“You have made NYC go full Fascist!”
“Russia now has more freedom than NYC!!!!!!”
“*** martial law over a snowstorm. I pity us when there’s an actual emergency.”
A spokesperson for the New York Police Department said the ban just means no vehicles on the roads. Walking, running, and bicycles are permitted. “They can pedal all they want,” said the spokesman
The police did request people not to walk in the streets so people could do their job.
BIG OIL is the name of the game
Jan 26, 2016
By Chuck Baldwin
To the globalists pulling the strings of the Western axis (aka New World Order), it's all about BIG OIL. The petro-dollar is the god of the globalists who control the big banks, big oil companies, and big governments of the Western axis. And the axle of the axis is the Sunni Muslim nation of Saudi Arabia.
And regime-change is coming soon to Saudi Arabia. And, by all accounts, the new king is anything but stable. Folks, this portends rough waters ahead.
BIG OIL is taking advantage of the global oil glut (and thus low oil prices) to run U.S. “cowboys” (independent, mid-size oil companies in the shale business) out of business. The U.S./Israel/Great Britain/Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc. have been using ISIS, Al Nusra, etc. to attack Shiite Muslim nations for the express purpose of giving Western axis-controlled Saudi Arabia as much monopoly over the Middle East oil market as possible. In short, the NWO wants to eliminate the oil competition in Iran.
And King Salman’s decision to hand the throne to his hot-headed son Mohammed (instead of a lateral exchange of the crown) could be the petro-dollar globalists’ paving the way for a Saudi war with Iran--which would send oil prices through the ceiling (what the globalists want). And the “cowboys” would not be around to compete, either.
Iranians and Shiites everywhere are still fuming-mad over Saudi Arabia’s execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a highly respected and renowned Shiite religious leader. What was his crime? Calling for more leniencies for Shiites living in Saudi Arabia. That’s Washington, D.C.’s “great ally” for you, folks.
Plus, everyone in the Shiite world knows that the U.S., Israel, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, etc. are the ones behind the terror groups ISIS and Al Nusra. They know that Saudi Arabia is the proxy front man for the petro-dollar globalists. They know that ISIS is shipping stolen Shiite oil to Sunni-friendly countries such as Turkey and Israel. Only the Western world (especially America) is oblivious to what is really going on in the Middle East--and that’s because the mainstream media in the U.S. is nothing but a propaganda ministry for the globalists.
The monkey wrench in the whole thing is Vladimir Putin. It does appear he is not going to sit back and let the globalists take down Syria as a stepping stone to taking down Iran--which might help explain why King Salman is getting ready to pass the torch NOW. The globalists in the West might be trying to out-maneuver Putin with a Saudi/Iran war.
But know this: in the minds of the globalist game-makers, the name of the game is NOT freedom, or liberty, or fighting terrorism, or America’s security, or Islamic jihad, etc. The name of the game is BIG OIL.
What’s Really Going on with Oil?
Jan 24, 2016
By F. William Engdahl
If there is any single price of any commodity that determines the growth or slowdown of our economy, it is the price of crude oil. Too many things don’t calculate today in regard to the dramatic fall in the world oil price. In June 2014 major oil traded at $103 a barrel. With some experience following the geopolitics of oil and oil markets, I smell a big skunk. Let me share some things that for me don’t add up.
On January 15 the US benchmark oil price, WTI (West Texas Intermediate), closed trading at $29, the lowest since 2004. True, there’s a glut of at least some 1 million barrels a day overproduction in the world and that’s been the case for over a year.
True, the lifting of Iran sanctions will bring new oil on to a glutted market, adding to the downward price pressure of the present market.
However, days before US and EU sanctions were lifted on Iran on January 17, Seyyid Mohsen Ghamsari, the head of international affairs at National Iranian Oil Company stated that Iran, “…will try to enter the market in a way to make sure the boosted production will not cause a further drop in prices…We will be producing as much as the market can absorb.” So the new entry of Iran post-sanctions onto world oil markets is not the cause for the sharp oil fall since January 1.
Also not true is that oil import demand from China has collapsed with a supposed collapse of China’s economy. In the year to November 2015 China imported more, significantly more, 8.9% more, year on year, to 6.6 million barrels a day to become the world’s largest oil importer.
Add to the boiling cauldron that constitutes today’s world oil market the political risk that has been building dramatically since September, 2015 and the Russian decision to come to the call of Syria’s legitimately elected President, Bashar al Assad with formidable airstrikes against terrorist infrastructure. Add as well the dramatic break in relations between Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey and Moscow since Turkey, a NATO member, committed a brazen act of war by shooting down a Russian fighter jet over Syrian airspace. All of this would suggest prices of oil should be going up, not down.
Saudi’s Strategic Eastern Province
Then, for good measure, throw in the insanely provocative decision by Saudi Defense Minister and de facto king, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to execute Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Saudi citizen. Al-Nimr, a respected Shi’ite religious leader was charged with terrorism for calling in 2011 for more rights for Saudi Shi’ites. There are approximately 8 million Saudi Muslims loyal to Shi’ite teachings rather that the ultra-strict Wahhabi Sunni strain. His crime was to support protests calling for more rights for the oppressed Shia minority, perhaps some 25% of the Saudi population. The Shi’ite population of Saudis is overwhelmingly concentrated in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province.
The Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is perhaps the most valuable piece of real estate on the planet, double the area of the Federal Republic of Germany but with a mere 4 million people. Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company is based in Dhahran in the Eastern Province.
The main Saudi oil and gas fields are mostly in the Eastern Province, onshore and offshore, including the world’s largest oil field, Ghawar. Petroleum from the Saudi fields, including Ghawar, is shipped to dozens of countries from the oil port terminal of the the Ras Tanura complex, the world’s biggest crude oil terminal. Some 80% of the near 10 million barrels of oil a day pumped out by Saudi goes to Ras Tanura in the Persian Gulf where it is loaded on to supertankers bound for the west.
The Eastern Province is also home to Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq Plants facility, their biggest oil processing and crude stabilization facility with a capacity of 7 million barrels per day. It’s the primary oil processing site for Arabian extra light and Arabian light crude oils, and handles crude oil pumped from Ghawar field.
And it also happens that the majority of oil field and refinery blue collar workers in of the Eastern Province are…Shi’ite. They are said also to be sympathetic to the just-executed Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. In the late 1980’s the Saudi Hezbollah Al-Hejaz, led several attacks on oil infrastructure and also murdered Saudi diplomats. They were allegedly trained in Iran.
And now there is a new destabilizing element to add to the political tensions building between Saudi Arabia and Erdogan’s Turkey on the one side, flanked by servile Arab Gulf Cooperation Council states, and on the other Assad’s Syria, Iraq with a 60% Shi’ite population and neighboring Iran, aided presently militarily by Russia. Reports are that the instable 30-year old Prince bin Salman is about to me named King.
On January 13, the Gulf Institute, a Middle East think tank, in an exclusive report, wrote that 80-year old Saudi King Salman Al-Saud plans to abdicate his throne and install his son Mohammed as king. They report that the present King “has been making the rounds visiting his brothers seeking support for the move that will also remove the current crown prince and American favorite, the hardline Mohammed bin Naif, from his positions as the crown prince and the minister of interior. According to sources familiar with the proceedings, Salman told his brothers that the stability of the Saudi monarchy requires a change of the succession from lateral or diagonal lines to a vertical order under which the king hands power to his most eligible son.”
On December 3, 2015, the German BND intelligence service leaked a memo to the press warning of the increasing power being acquired by Prince Salman, someone they characterized as unpredictable and emotional. Citing the kingdom’s involvement in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen, the BND stated, referring to Prince Salman, “The previous cautious diplomatic stance of older leaders within the royal family is being replaced by a new impulsive policy of intervention.”
Yet oil prices fall?
The ominous element in this more than ominous situation revolving around the center of world petroleum and natural gas reserves, the Middle East, is the fact that in the recent weeks oil prices, which had temporarily stabilized at an already low $40 range in December, now have plunged another 25% to around $29, outlook grim. Citigroup has forecast $20 oil is possible. Goldman Sachs recently came out saying that it may take lows of $20 a barrel to restabilize world oil markets and get rid of the glut of supply.
Now I have a strong gut feeling that there is something very big, very dramatic building in world oil markets over the coming several months, something most of the world doesn’t expect.
The last time Goldman Sachs and their Wall Street cronies made a dramatic prediction in oil prices was in summer 2008. At that time, amid the growing pressures on Wall Street banks of the spreading US sub-prime real estate meltdown, just before the Lehman Brothers collapse of September that year, Goldman Sachs wrote that oil was headed for $200 a barrel. It had just hit a high of $147.
At that time I wrote an analysis saying just the opposite was likely, based on the fact that there was a huge oversupply in world oil markets that curiously, was only being identified by Lehman Brothers. I was told by an informed Chinese source that Wall Street banks like JP Morgan Chase were hyping the $200 price to convince Air China and other big China state oil buyers to buy every drop of oil at $147 it could before it hit $200, an advice that fed the rising price.
Then by December, 2008 the Brent benchmark oil price was down to $47 a barrel. The Lehman Crisis, a deliberate political decision of US Treasury Secretary a former Goldman Sachs chairman, Henry Paulsen, in September 2008, plunged the world into financial crisis and deep recession in the meantime. Did Paulsen’s cronies at Goldman Sachs and other key Wall Street mega-banks such as Citigroup or JP Morgan Chase know in advance that Paulsen was planning the Lehman crisis to force Congress to give him carte blanche bailout powers with the unprecedented TARP funds of $700 billion? In the event, Goldman Sachs and friends reportedly made a gigantic profit betting against their own $200 predictions using leveraged derivatives in oil futures.
Killing the shale oil ‘cowboys’ first
Today the US shale oil industry, the largest source of risíng US oil output since 2009 or so, is hanging by its fingernails on the edge of a cliff of massive bankruptcies. In recent months shale oil production has barely begun to decline, some 93,000 barrels in November, 2015.
The Big Oil cartel–ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Shell–began dumping their shale leases onto the market two years ago. The shale oil industry in the US today is dominated by what BP or Exxon refer to as “the cowboys,” mid-sized aggressive oil companies, not the majors. Wall Street banks like JP Morgan Chase or Citigroup who historically finance Big Oil, as well as Big Oil itself, clearly would shed no tears at this point were the shale boom to bust, leaving them again in control of the world’s most important market. The financial institutions who lent hundreds of billions of dollars to the shale “cowboys” in the past five years have their next semi-annual loan review in April. With prices hovering at or near the $20 range, we can expect a new, far more serious wave of actual shale oil company bankruptcies. Unconventional oil, including Canada’s huge Alberta Tar Sands oil will soon be a thing of the past, if so.
That alone will not restore oil to the $70-90 levels that the big oil industry players and their Wall Street banks would find comfortable. The glut coming out of the Middle East from Saudi Arabia and her Gulf Arab allies has to be dramatically cut. Yet Saudis show no sign of doing so. This is what disturbs me about the entire picture.
Is something very ugly brewing in the Persian Gulf that will dramatically push oil prices up later this year? Is a real shooting war between Shi’ite and Saudi Wahhabi oil states brewing? Until now it has been a proxy war in Syria primarily. Since the execution of the Shi’ite cleric and Iranian storming of the Saudi Embassy in Teheran, leading to a break in diplomatic ties by Saudi and other Sunni Gulf Arab states, the confrontation has become far more direct. Dr. Hossein Askari, former adviser to the Saudi Finance Ministry, stated, “If there is a war confronting Iran and Saudi Arabia, oil could overnight go to above $250, but decline back down to the $100 level. If they attack each other’s loading facilities, then we could see oil spike to over $500 and stay around there for some time depending on the extent of the damage.”
Everything tells me that the world is in for another big oil shock. It seems it’s almost always about oil. As Henry Kissinger reportedly said back during another oil shock in the mid-1970’s when Europe and the US faced an OPEC oil embargo and long lines at the gas pumps, “If you control the oil, you control entire nations.” That obsession with control is rapidly destroying our civilization. It’s time to focus on peace and development, not on competing to be the biggest oil mogul on the planet.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
TOP SECRET WRITERS
Russia and China Have Started Enhancing Humans for Battle
19 January 2016
If you thought Enhanced Human Operations (EHO) were an extravagant fantasy of Hollywood films and video games, then think again. Russia and China are involved in EHO, the act of modifying the brain and body in order to create “super soldiers” who will have the upper hand in battles.
Understandably, the United States is concerned about the prospect of having to join Russia and China by going down the Enhanced Human Operations route.
In a recent press conference, Bob Work, US Deputy Defense Secretary, warned that the US could be at risk of losing its “military competitive edge” if it fails to pursue military technology involved artificial intelligence.
“Now our adversaries, quite frankly, are pursuing human operations, and it scares the crap out of us,” Work announced at the conference, which was focused on the Defense Department’s future research and development strategy (1).
“We’re going to have to have a big, big decision on whether we’re comfortable going that way,” continued Work.
According to Work, unlike the US, which has ethical concerns about modifying human makeup for the battlefield, Russia and China are unhesitating in employing such tactics. Consequently, the US might have little choice but to follow suit.
Processes and Research
Popular Mechanics maps out the various types of processes and research involved in Enhanced Human Operations.
One such method is a concept known as ‘Exoskeletons’, coined by retired Army General Paul Gorman in 1985. Gorman drew up a “Super Troop” exoskeleton for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The design included touch, visual and audio sensors, which would help soldiers remain protected from biological, chemical, electromagnetic and airborne threats.
In more recent years, the US Navy has been researching the possibility of using exoskeletons to enhance firefighting control operations and lift heavy loads. In collaboration with the US Special Operations Command, in 2013 DARPA worked on the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS), a lightweight exoskeleton suit, unnervingly similar to that of Iron Man.
Mind-altering pain vaccines have also been investigated by DARAP, according to Popular Mechanics. When injected with the vaccine, a soldier would be less susceptible to pain caused by injury. After experiencing 30 seconds of agony, the soldier would feel no pain for 30 days and the bleeding would be contained, meaning the military personnel could keep fighting.
Perhaps even more shockingly, forced brain enhancement through brain implants has also been explored. Researchers placed brain implant chips into the brains of rats to investigate whether remote control of the rat could be possible.
Is It Ethical to Enhance Human Soldiers?
In a report titled ‘More than human? The ethics of biologically enhancing soldiers’, The Atlantic questions the morality of effectively turning humans into guinea pigs for the purpose of warfare (2). The report cited a paper compiled by the UK’s The Royal Society. ‘Neuroscience, Conflict and Security’ considers and warns of risks cognitive enhancements could have on military personnel (3).
The Atlantic report highlights how technology and science can help “fill the gap” of Homo Sapiens’ weaknesses, such as hunger, fatigue, the need for sleep, fear, confusion and emotions.
“We want our war fighters to be made stronger, more aware, more durable, more manoeuvrable in different environments, and so on. The technologies that enable these abilities fall in the realm of human enhancement, and they include neuroscience, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and more,” writes The Atlantic.
It should be noted that such Enhanced Human Operations are scarily resonant of the CIA’s MKUltra, mind-control experiments of that began in the 1950s.
As Top Secret Writers reported, the controversial MKUltra program involved the CIA researching mind control of soldiers through the use of drugs (4).
Now it seems in order to keep up with the military power of the likes of Russia and China, the US might find itself practicing similar unethical bodily manipulation techniques as it did more than six decades ago.
References & Image Credits:
(2) The Atlantic
(3) The Royal Society
(4) TSW: CIA Torture Program
Rumble in the ruble, fire in the markets
Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.
Published time: 25 Jan, 2016 13:38
A case can be made that for Moscow it would be a tremendous waste of hard-earned foreign exchange – to try to counter a rig against their currency they simply cannot beat, as the entire fiat financial power of the US is against them.
Russia’s Central Bank by now should be all-out selling rubles for gold, and building Russia’s gold reserves.
Well, it is happening, somewhat. Last week, Russia’s Central Bank estimated gold reserves to have reached 1,415 metric tons in 2015 – over 17 percent more than 2014, valued at almost $48.6 billion. The share of monetary gold in Russia’s foreign currency reserves rose from 11.96 percent to 13.18 percent.
That’s still not good enough. Why? A harsh answer would be that the Russian Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance, as some analysts argue, are in effect run by saboteurs and vassals of the US financial elite, a.k.a. the Masters of the Universe.
Still, the Russian Central Bank did not intervene to prop up the ruble. And they should not. The best course of action would be to let the ruble go, ending almost all imports, thus forcing self-sufficiency. Or introduce capital controls, with only approved transactions involving foreign currencies. It did work for Malaysia, for instance, after the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Russian Gold Reserves Up by 208 Tons in 2015 – Central Bank
Russia expanded its reserves of monetary gold by 208.4 metric tons to 1,415 tons in 2015, up more than 17 percent from the year before, the country's central bank estimated Wednesday.
Forget about a China crash
A serious case can be made that Russia does not need much Western foreign investment. That was mostly encouraged by the Central Bank, who held interest rates higher in Russia than the US and EU, naturally leading Russian companies to borrow abroad in US dollars or Euros.
The responsibility of Russia’s Central Bank is to create domestic credit to build the industries that have been cut off from Russia by the falling ruble. This is not inflationary; the increased production out of these investments would nullify the inflationary implications on the newly created credit.
The Russian Central bank instead went for tight money to fight inflation. It would have been much more profitable for Russia to fight inflation by creating credit at low interest rates to finance the construction of the industries necessary to replace the import of foreign products.
Now let’s look at the Russia-China strategic partnership. While Russia may be on the ropes, China is not. China will grow at an estimated 6.5 percent this year - versus 7 percent in 2015. Amid an astounding web of economic restructuring and de-leveraging, US multinationals such as Apple and GM certainly have no interest in a Chinese “crash”.
A key indicator to watch is the growth in China’s demand for oil. Construction has ebbed; but not car manufacturing, which is pumping out 25 million vehicles per year.
To deal with China, the Masters of the Universe deployed a different strategy; they tried to stop Chinese economic growth from fueling the rise in the oil price. Thus the offensive by the usual Wall Street suspects trying to crash China’s stock market using cash settlement on A shares. It did not work.
Now, the Masters of Universe, remote-controlling the Saudis, are essentially trying to pull the plug on global stock markets. One could call it a trillion dollar cash settlement derivative game. There’s no evidence this will be enough to break Russia.
The “assassin” versus the fifth column
Masters of the Universe hysteria on getting rid of President Putin (and reinstating vassal oligarchs) by any means available has reached fever pitch; the latest manifestation is “Putin The Assassin”, with crucial assistance provided by British “intelligence”.
There is no question Masters of the Universe operatives are behind the collapse in oil and ruble prices. Somewhat it’s a repeat of the scenario in mid-2014, when the oil price crashed and there was no visible increase in output; what happened was the - invisible - dumping of seven million barrels a day of Gulf oil under orders by the Masters of the Universe, according to surefire (American) banking sources.
The Fed mightily contributed to the present disorder by raising interest rates when the US economy was sick, while cash settlement manipulators in Wall Street used this as the basis for their move to tank the markets. It goes without saying that the usual suspects will make hundreds of billions of dollars out of the current market crash. A good place to watch is what goes on inside BlackRock.
Into this gloomy scenario steps in none other than the aspiring Master of the (New) Universe, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his high-profile tour of the Middle East. Xi’s three-pronged business/charm offensive in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt should be interpreted as Beijing’s shot at reshaping Southwest Asia in a framework closer to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Xi as much as anyone knows very well how the whole American economy - based on a worthless global reserve currency – is fuelled by a rapacious, barely disguised tribute, paid by every nation in the world to the Empire of Chaos. And Xi knows how this tribute scam is unraveling, fast.
In Riyadh, Xi even implied, in a very Chinese, nuanced way, that the House of Saud would be doing a very good deal if it eventually dropped Washington as the Mafia-style protector, as well as the petrodollar as the privileged conduit for recycling Saudi oil income. What about yuan-denominated bonds and yuan-based oil benchmarks?
Needless to add, should the House of Saud even contemplate such a move en masse, a CIA-engineered coup in Riyadh would be a certainty, and all House of Saud assets confiscated – as many a Master of the Universe minion in the Beltway is already advocating off the record.
So we have the Saudis – following Masters of the Universe orders - frantically dumping securities on the market while the Russian Central bank wavers on what to do next.
Yet even if the Saudis managed to dump their $8 trillion in estimated assets Russia, adopting the correct strategy, could still move to a self-sufficiency that the US – or the EU – can’t even dream of. And on top of it enjoying full employment - while the West crashes itself down as their markets disintegrate.
So, Russian Central Bank and Finance Ministry, the steaming hot ball is in your court.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
FARS NEWS AGENCY
IRGC Commander: Iran Will Not Allow Disintegration of Iraq, Syria
Thu Jan 21, 2016 4:4
TEHRAN (FNA)- Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari voiced Iran's strong opposition to the enemies' scenarios to disintegrate Iraq and Syria, and vowed to stand against them.
"We will defuse the scenario for disintegrating Iraq and Syria which is a Zionist-US plot," Jafari said.
His remarks came after Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked spoke out in favor of an independent Kurdish state. She also urged increased cooperation between Israel and the Kurdish people. Shaked sees this as an opportunity to weaken Israel’s rivals in the region.
“We must openly call for the establishment of a Kurdish state that separates Iran from Turkey, one which will be friendly towards Israel,” Shaked told the annual INSS security conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, as cited by the Times of Israel.
More precisely, Shaked proposed the new state be founded between Turkey, Israel and Iraq.
DUTCH COPS TO CARRY MACHINE GUNS IN PUBLIC
Posted on Jan 26, 2016 by Janene Pieters
File photo of a Dutch police arrest team (photo: Politie)
For the first time in Dutch history, police officers are allowed to patrol shopping malls, railway stations and other public places with machine guns. “Partly in response to the terrorist attacks with automatic firearms in France, the police decided to accelerate the training of marksmen and expand the deployment criteria of the monitoring units”, a police spokesperson said to Dutch newspaper AD.
The National Police already has 300 specialized marksmen. In addition to that, they are accelerating the training of 150 officers in the use of sub-machine guns this year. Up until now these specialized officers were only deployed to guard buildings such a courts and the homes of threatened people, according to the newspaper.
These officers are equipped with an MP5 sub-machine gun in addition to their regular service weapon. The MP5 can hold more bullets and shoot much further than the regular service weapon. The current 300 specialist marksmen were also equipped with a new outfit, including helmets and heavy body armor.
The heavily armed police officers will be seen in full regalia for the first time on Tuesday. They will be guarding the Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam, where dozens of European Justice and Home Affairs Ministers are meeting to discuss migration and security.
These heavily armed officers form part of the National Police’s package of anti-terrorism measures. Other measures include Rapid Response teams driving around continually, ready to respond to an attack and community police officers keeping an eye out for radicalization.
Breaking: They may have “lost control entirely of entire field” involved in LA gas disaster, and it’s coming up everywhere… We learned there’s many other leaks -Attorney — Officials: Loud sound of gas escaping heard half mile away; A “mini-Chernobyl” — AP: Leak “out of control”… amount released “seriously underestimated”
Rep. Brad Sherman, U.S. House of Representatives, Jan 21, 2016 (at 17:45): “This the largest natural gas leak in history. We were up there yesterday… what we heard was a loud sound of natural gas escaping that you could hear quite loudly from over half a mile away.”
The Guardian, Jan 11, 2016: Residents attack slow response to what official called ‘a mini-Chernobyl’… “This is a mini-Chernobyl,” Mike Antonovich, the LA county supervisor, told a public hearing at the weekend… [It] is the largest leak of… methane known to experts.
CBS/AP, Jan 15, 2016: A new report shows the level of toxins released… has been seriously underestimated, state regulators said… The findings were released in response to [SoCalGas' admission that they] underestimated the number of times the cancer-causing chemical benzene has spiked.
“Worst wildlife die-off ever recorded” anywhere on Earth underway on West Coast — Expert: “And we’re not just talking marine die-offs… yeah, it’s a really big deal” — “There are many more species that are getting sick” — “Facing possibility of extinction” — Scientist: “Is it some sort of a toxin that’s there?”
Published: January 22nd, 2016 at 5:38 pm ET
CBC News, Jan 22, 2016: Sea star wasting disease among worst wildlife die-offs say scientists; The mysterious wasting disease is still killing sea stars from Mexico to Alaska — The sea star wasting disease [is] hitting a bigger range of species over a larger area than originally thought. Scientists investigating the disease in the U.S. and Canada met in Seattle [and] agreed on the scale of the problem, said Dr. Martin Haulena, the veterinarian for the Vancouver Aquarium… “This is, if not the, certainly one of the biggest wildlife die-offs that have ever been recorded, and we’re not just talking marine die-offs.”… [It] has decimated the creatures from Alaska to Mexico… losing their limbs and turning to mush… “Recovery is not happening the way it should be, so I think it is still really bad.”… “It could be a disease that’s been in the system a long time, and something sparked an outbreak recently.”… Any die-off of this magnitude is a major concern, said [the experts]… And there are many more species… that are getting sick, said Haulena, as well as possible signs of disease in sea urchins and sea cucumbers… “to put it in context — yeah, it’s a really big deal.”
KING 5 News, Jan 20, 2016: Biologists are calling the mass death of west coast sea stars the worst wildlife die-off ever recorded… [Scientists are] calling it the largest wildlife die-off ever recorded… The virus causes the sea star reproductive system to swell. They believe environmental factors are aggravating the issue… Experts are also discussing whether it’s time to list the species as endangered… “They’ve gone from being one of the most common species in the Puget Sound to 2-3 years later, being incredibly hard to find,” Lesanna Lahner said… Now, experts are talking about whether sea stars should be listed as endangered.
Ian Hewson, biological oceanographer, Jan 20, 2016: “No pathogen has ever wiped out its host population without being pushed significantly by some other environmental factor… This is the single largest, most-geographically widespread marine disease that’s ever been recorded.”
ABC 10, Jan 20, 2016: West Coast starfish disease biggest wildlife die-off ever recorded; Biologists are calling the mass death of west coast sea stars the worst wildlife die-off ever recorded… [Scientists are] calling it the largest wildlife die-off ever recorded.
Alaska Journal of Commerce, Jan 7, 2106: Lani Raymond, a Homer [Alaska] birder… saw hundreds of dead sea stars. “It’s really bad,” Raymond said. “It’s really depressing… all those [dead birds and] star fish, I was really upset.”
KING 5 News transcript, Jan 20, 2016: Biologists are calling the mass death of West Coast sea stars the worst wildlife die-off ever recorded… [Scientists are trying] to save sea stars from extinction… the disease has eerily wiped out sea stars up the entire West Coast… [Unidentified scientist:] “Is it some sort of a toxin that’s there?”… it doesn’t affect sea sars the same way, that means it probably has environmental causes… One major observation [is] infected sea star reproductive systems are inflamed… It’s already started to change the ecosystem… Some species already face the possibility of extinction… The next step in research is biologists are focusing the efforts on what exactly may have changed in the environment to trigger the sea star die-off.
University degrees ‘irrelevant’ to big employers
JANUARY 23, 20161:00PM
University degrees aren’t as valued by employers as they once were, which is great, or terrible, news, depending who you are.
BIG employers are going cold on university degrees, leaving students and jobseekers to wonder
if their qualifications are worth the investment and extra study.
This week, international publishing house Penguin Random House decided to drop degrees as a requirement for job applicants, following in the footsteps of major consulting firms Ernst and Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The move comes as smaller employers are shifting away from hiring graduates or university students, believing kids are coming out of university with “no real skills” or simply being taught the wrong things.
Penguin hasn’t been so harsh, saying the shift in requirements is simply a move “to make publishing far, far more inclusive than it has been to date”.
“While graduates remain welcome to apply for jobs, not having been through higher education will no longer preclude anyone from joining,” a statement from the publisher confirmed.
“Simply if you’re talented and you have potential, we want to hear from you.”
But it’s still a scary prospect for higher education providers, a welcome relief from stressed out students or those who didn’t get the grades for the course they wanted, and a source of endless frustration for over-qualified graduates.
The value of tertiary education has consistently decreased in Australia over the past decade.
Graduate employment is the lowest it’s been since the 1992-93 recession.
The 2015 Graduate Careers Australia survey showed more than a quarter of bachelor degree graduates had failed to find work within four months of completing their studies. The money they’re being paid is on the slide, too, with university graduate salaries going down.
Meanwhile, soft skills, such as being personable, adaptable, possessing strong digital skills, and adept at time management are being increasingly valued.
Maggie Stilwell, managing partner for talent at Ernst and Young, which did away with academic and education details in its application process, said the new recruiting strategy would “open up opportunities or talented individuals regardless of their background and provide greater access to the profession”.
While the growing culture of qualification-ignorant hiring is being spun positively by the companies enforcing it, it’s hard not to see it as a slight on universities too.
In an earlier interview with news.com.au Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Kate Carnell said employers found 20-somethings were more qualified than ever before. Graduates were showing up to work with degrees from universities but were “disconnected with the workforce”, she said.
“A number of our members consistently tell us they’re seeing students come out of university or training programs and they might have the academic or theoretical skills, but no skills to work at all. It makes them really hard to employ,” she said.
“General issues are not understanding that a job is about turning up on time every day, not just when you feel like, that it’s about taking direction, and basic things like you’ve got to be well presented and you’ve got to be pleasant.”
Speaking with ABC radio, Deakin University deputy vice-chancellor Beverley Oliver said universities weren’t bothered.
“I think it’s a good thing. I think credentials are things we all look for; they’re signals. We look for experience or a degree completed or a course,” she said.
“This message has been loud and clear for some time to higher education providers. I think the sector has made great changes over the last 15 years, particularly making sure the degree is a signifier of a more than just marks and grades.”
8 Things You’re Doing Wrong With Garlic
JANUARY 21, 2016
By Heather Callaghan
For all the amazing health benefits of garlic – wouldn’t it be nice to know how to get the best benefits and stop wasting this superfood? Whether it’s eating, storing or cooking garlic – there are some things you need to know to get the best benefits.
Here are 8 amazing garlic hacks!
1.) You’re Eating It Way Too Soon – Garlic contains an enzyme “allinase” and “alliin” which converts to allicin when exposed to oxygen. This is the most highly prized component of garlic as it is a powerful antioxidant that also staves off infection. This process culminates�between 5 and 15 minutes. Garlic that is raw is best eaten 15 minutes after it is crushed at room temperature. This is perfect because it can be crushed and set aside while you do other kitchen prep and then it can be eaten raw, on buttered toast or cooked into a meal. Waiting for the allicin enzyme reaction will even protect the benefits of garlic while cooking. Never, ever attempt to swallow garlic whole – each clove is about the same exact size as the human esophagus.
2.) You’re Storing It Wrong – Some people refrigerate garlic and some people leave it on the counter or on top of the fridge – but this is a terrible waste. Garlic is best stored in a mesh or ventilated bag and kept in a dark, cool and dry place. This way, it will keep for three to five months, saving your garlic and money.
3.) You’re Spending Hours Peeling It – There are easy ways to peel multiple garlic cloves at once. Smash the bulb with your palm, place in a jar with a lid or mixing bowl with some kind of lid and shake! shake! shake! You can also place cloves in a cup of hot water while you prep, and the peels will come right off. To peel just one clove, carefully press the flat side of a large knife over the clove and press to crush the skin.
4.) You’re Burning It – When cooking, garlic is among the first things to burn and you don’t want to eat burnt, blackened food. When sauteing, saute your onions or other goods first until nearly done, then add your sliced or crushed garlic. If using garlic in the oven – say, on roasted veggies with butter – try to either add garlic later or mix with butter and then mix into the other ingredients down into your casserole dish. Adding garlic last while cooking is good for flavor that will last long into leftovers.
5.) You’re Throwing It Out – It should be the rarest occasion to have to throw garlic away, especially if you’re storing it right. Garlic can be peeled, washed, and frozen for future use. The skins can be used in compost. But the biggest mistake people make (including myself!) is throwing it away when it starts to sprout. This doesn’t mean it has gone bad – some say the benefits multiply when it sprouts. But, if the sprouting bothers you, simply plant it!
6.) You Smell Like It – There’s no need! Parsley, fennel seeds and peppermint essential oil can neutralize the smelly sulfur compounds that travel quickly through the body and out the lungs. Got garlic hands? Rub them on stainless steel. You can use your sink or this block.
7.) You’re Buying It From China – Unfortunately, China has too many growing and mass food issues with virtually no regulation. Furthermore, the U.S. really doesn’t inspect the imports. Garlic has the ability to help the body draw out lead – I wonder if it may be drawing it from the soil, since lead is said to be a problem with Chinese garlic. Other issues are bleaching, growth inhibitors, human sewage as fertilizer and pesticides like methyl bromide. Garlic is great for the thyroid with its iodine, but bromides hurt the thyroid by blocking the uptake of iodine. Honestly, since the U.S. uses a lot of the same practices its questionable how much more beneficial the U.S. garlic is – perhaps it is only more fresh. Compare a U.S. grown garlic bulb to a Chinese bulb, however, and you’ll taste the difference right away. Organic is best! There are some claims that you can identify which garlic is which by its appearance, but checking the label or store sign is your best bet.
8.) You’re Not Growing It – The best way to ensure high quality and fresh garlic is to grow it! While some people plant their scraps, you can also buy bulbs at your local nursery or buy bulbs online. Avoid mold by reading this excellent and thorough post on the topic.
next week...keep on believing.
thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never
suffer the righteous to be moved.”