I am God, and there is none other beside me, telling beforehand the
latter events before they come to pass, and they are accomplished
together: and I said, all my counsel shall stand, and I will do all
things that I have planned.”
Telling Beforehand The Latter Events
Who has caused these things to be heard from the beginning: then was it told you. I am God, and there is not another beside me. Isaiah 45:21
For I am God, and there is none other beside me, telling beforehand the latter events before they come to pass, and they are accomplished together: and I said, all my counsel shall stand, and I will do all things that I have planned. Isaiah 46:9-10
But whenever it shall come to pass, they will say, Behold, it is come: and they shall know that there was a prophet in the midst of them. Exekiel 33:33
None of the transgressors shall understand; but the wise shall understand. Daniel 12:10
For the Lord God will do nothing, without revealing instruction to his servants the prophets. Amos 3:10
See, I have told you beforehand. Matthew 24:25
But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.Mark 13:23
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,2 Peter 1:19
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Revelation 1:3
For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Revelation 19:10
Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28
AMERICA 2016: ECHOES OF NAZI GERMANY, STAR WARS FORCE, AND AWAKENING
By Paul McGuire January 4, 2016 NewsWithViews.com
America has entered into some time machine and is playing with technologies and multi-dimensional realities that it does not understand. It’s as if we have activated live streaming from the fourth dimension, which has brought back the ghosts of the past into our present reality. The fleeting images of Nazi Germany keep entering a kind of collective consciousness in the American soul with major motion pictures like Star Wars, with what look like Nazi storm troopers in white body armor gathering at a massive Hitler rally with a giant symbol that looks like a Swastika. Countless other movies and television shows churn out a 24/7 cycle of cop shows, surveillance shows, military and “special ops” and spy movies, so that all you see is a stroboscopic bombardment of images of guns, surveillance technology, large black Suburban SUVs with dark tinted windows, terrorists, militarized police, bomb plots, and suitcase nukes.
The Hunger Games movies, including the latest, Mockingjay, whose title is a subliminal wink to the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, which involves planting information, themes, and messages into films, entertainment, music, and television, shows Nazi motifs very similar to the latest Star Wars movie. What we have is the militarization of American consciousness and the revving up of a “will to power” to confront ISIS and the hordes of Hell getting ready for their orgy of slaughter, death, and destruction across Europe and America. In the book Mass Awakening I outline the dynamics of both evil and good mass awakenings.
Storm clouds from Hell are blowing over the soil of the America first planted by Native Americans, Pilgrims, and Puritans and then toiled upon by slaves from Africa brought here by “Christian” plantation owners. Digital American generations blinded to reality by their social media, cell phones, and iPods cannot see what the Indians, Pilgrims, and slaves knew: what you say, think, and do matters. Deceived by their unseen puppet masters they think that they are gods of their own universe and the center of the world. When multiple nukes go off on this precious American soil and human bodies light up like the Christmas trees they have censored from the public square, they are going to have what they call in the American secular corporate world a “come to Jesus meeting.”
2016 will be the most pivotal year in the history of America. In 2016 America will either experience some form of Great Awakening or America as we know it will die. We are one mass terrorist event away from a police state. The seismic pressures upon America are about to erupt with volcanic force, and as they do America as a free nation will be plunged into chaos and totalitarianism.
The seductive, magnetic power of this Nazi nightmare pulls upon each of us, and if we yield to it we will enter destruction. Is our destiny to be inevitably pulled into the chaos with no way out or do we have some degree of choice? The newly released movie, The Force Awakens, sends out a duality of messages. George Lucas, the film’s creator, was clearly depicting a mystical force with its roots in Hinduism, Shamanism, Taoism, and witchcraft. The “Force,” according to Lucas, is neither good nor bad; it is a duality. It is the Yin and the Yang in Taoism. While acknowledging the intent of Lucas, it is possible to lift the words and change the narrative of the film. This is not a blending or synthesis of New Age and Biblical thought. It is simply a technique of communication, borrowing a term from popular culture or “jacking” the narrative. Just as when in corporate culture they talk about a “come to Jesus” meeting, it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ; it is simply using revivalist language to communicate. Thus, the term “the force awakens,” although intended to be mystical, can be used to illustrate the spiritual concept of a Biblical revival or “Great Awakening.” There is a power that can be accessed that is more powerful than nuclear weapons, terrorists, the schemes of the banking cartels, shadow governments, social engineering, and the seduction of totalitarianism. What power is this?
The teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the Old Testament were never meant to be the tidy, impotent and two-dimensional machinations of bean counters, bureaucrats and feminized and frightened preachers, whose greatest fear is to actually think outside the box of religious delusion. Although the Infinite Personal Living God of the Universe is pure and holy, the greatest perversion is not sexual in nature; it is the perversion of the Power, Majesty, Presence and Glory of God. It is the deliberate twisting of God into something He is not, which is this mundane and powerless American synthetic religion, which is the spiritual equivalent of GMO food.
The Apostle Paul said “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but power.” Paul was talking about power of God, which comes from the word dunamis, which means the true explosive force of God which awakens during a revival or a Great Awakening. It is capable of pouring out the wrath of God on Planet Earth, and yet can be as tender and innocent as the baby Jesus in a manger. In our modern culture the “keepers of the flame,” the ones charged with the duty of making sure the power of God is released upon a nation, no longer remember how to activate the switch. Thus in the time of America’s crisis, there is a paralysis in American Christianity.
However, when we revisit The First Great Awakening in America that took place just before the American Revolution, we see men who knew how to throw the switch of the power of God on a nation. The father of the First Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards, was in distinct contrast to the majority of Christian leaders in America today. Although there are significant and notable exceptions, as a whole the Church leadership in America has produced a powerless Christianity with the intellectual force of the Cartoon Channel. According to Kenneth Minkema, the executive director of Yale’s Jonathan Edwards Center, in an interview by Jim Shelton in the New Haven Register News, May 15, 2010, “Jonathan Edwards combined the strict Calvinist beliefs of his puritan forebears with a cutting-edge knowledge of physics, history, psychology and other disciplines.” In Jonathan Edwards’ life, we see the cosmic trigger for a Great Awakening. First, Edwards preached a completely non-politically correct sermon called “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God,” with a monotone voice. But when Edwards preached people literally shook and trembled with the power of God. Secondly, Jonathan Edwards was a brilliant philosopher and intellectual who understood the beginnings of atomic physics, psychology, history, and culture. Men like Edwards demonstrate how the power of God can be released into a nation, when spiritual power is merged with the intellectual power of reason and knowledge.
Contemporary Christianity, for the most part, cannot find the cosmic trigger to pull down the power of God out of Heaven, even though Jesus Christ said in the Lord’s Prayer “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In addition, although there are exceptions, the intellectual force that should be developed in any true leader must involve the marriage of the Spirit of God, the Word of God, and a deep knowledge of history, philosophy, culture, science, and myriad other disciplines. It was this combination that allowed Edwards’ message to set the 13 original colonies on fire with the power of God and resulted in the birth of America.
Charles Finney, a lawyer and father of the Second Great Awakening, would vigorously and intellectually confront the Universalist religion of the wealthy New England elite. Although Finney’s theology was somewhat different from the Calvinist theology of Jonathan Edwards, Finney openly repented of his involvement in Freemasonry, which ignited revival among the Baptist leaders, many who were secretly involved in Freemasonry. The power of God began to erupt across America and was responsible for freeing the slaves. Edwards and Finney were not products of this “Cartoon Channel” Christianity prevalent today in America. Their messages called down power from on high on the Earth and shook America!
Conservatives, Republicans, Libertarians, and even Democrats make a fatal strategic error as they attempt to lead Americans in a new direction. Men and women are spiritual beings and they are won over by the power, passion, energy, and ultimately “spiritual force” of the leaders of a movement. Like it or not, the leaders of the radical left in the 1960s were energized by a spiritual force which produced passion and transformation although they never acknowledged the spiritual nature of this force. A spiritual force embodied by Martin Luther King, Jr. energized the power of the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout history it has always been powerful spiritual forces that have brought about transformation. Some of these spiritual forces are evil and some are good. For example, evil spiritual forces raised Lenin and Hitler up. The human soul was designed by God to be filled with passion, and that passion will be driven by good or evil. There are very powerful spiritual forces that operate in this world and these forces can change the direction of destinies and history. The Bible identifies these forces and describes how the power of God can be released in a nation. In addition, there are occult and scientific forces that can also be released. Carl Jung pointed to the “collective unconscious,” and Nicola Tesla learned to tap into unlimited energy that was so powerful that industrialists and governments have attempted to keep it secret to this day. Tesla not only personally tapped into information from the fourth dimension, but he invented technology based on the information.
What has been called “The Pentecostal Movement” represented a global release of spiritual power that has impacted over a billion people. In 1906 what was known as the Azusa Street Revival began under the leadership of an African-American preacher named William Joseph Seymour in a small church in Los Angeles. The Pentecostal Movement exploded from Azusa Street, emphasizing holiness, what is called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, miracles, and speaking in tongues. Later the Pentecostal Movement morphed into what was called the Charismatic Movement and Jesus Movement. While old time Pentecostals referred to the Holy Spirit as the “Holy Ghost,” the Charismatic Movement eventually preferred the softer term, “Spirit Filled.” These Christian movements, along with the more Evangelical-style Christians, who shunned things like “tongues,” eventually became the base of the Republican Party. Savvy Politicians like George H.W. Bush, one of the most powerful Freemasons in the world (he also belonged to the sinister Skull and Bones society and attended Bohemian Grove meetings and was a vocal proponent of the New World Order) strategically mobilized “born-again” Christians to support his presidential election and the Republican Party. Interestingly enough, as Dr. Thomas Horn points out:
“For our purposes, the connection between Freemasonry, Skull and Bones (which George W. Bush is also a member of), and the knowledge that ‘Moriah Conquering Wind’ is a title by which the occult insiders identify themselves, is notable. Moriah is an ancient term and its connection to “divine wind” as a vehicle for God and angelic war is important to Jewish Apocalyptic and mystical literature as well as to mainstream religious and esoteric minded peoples for different reasons.”
Even George H.W. Bush, former head of the CIA, and apparently a very pragmatic and rational man, acknowledges the reality of powerful supernatural forces, as in “Moriah Conquering Wind.” But “born-again” Christians, who had their roots in supernatural revival, allowed themselves to become the unpaid mistresses of the Republican Party, with almost nothing to show for it. The Pentecostal Movements and Charismatic Movements have never made the profound and lasting impact on America that the Great Awakenings of Edwards and Finney produced. During the First Great Awakening, not only a powerful spiritual revival was released, but a robust intellectualism and statesmanship, which allowed for the most important principles in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The belief that it was the Creator who gave us certain inalienable rights such as “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” and things like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion, among other rights is completely unique in human history!
But the power of a true Biblical revival and a genuine Third Great Awakening was short circuited in Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity because, like the Evangelical Movement at large, they rejected intellectualism, art, creativity, history, philosophy, science, and geopolitics, and the results are all around us. Atheists, skeptics, agnostics, and people from other religions look upon the American Christianity (as it is practiced today) and see its lack of any connection with reality, and so it has a waning impact upon the culture.
Americans…including a majority of those who call themselves “Christians”…are sinking into a kind of cultural quicksand. A fog has covered America and in the darkness of this fog a secretive elite, which we discuss in the book The Babylon Code has constructed an architecture of evil which is openly planning the destruction of America. There is only one force on Earth strong enough to withstand it, and it is not the “force” in Star Wars, or pre-packaged sound-bytes from most politicians, who are nothing more than the lackeys of the kings and queens of this new global feudal state.
The force that must be released, and the only force powerful enough to change the direction of history, is genuine power from on high, the kind that produced the First and Second Great Awakening. It was the release of this spiritual energy, which changed the landscape of America.
It is the power of revival wedded with intelligence, knowledge, and the ability to think deeply and strategically. Make no mistake about it; the power of this revival and the movement that will arise from it is being summoned now. At a certain point, America will see a tipping point and then the game changer. The question is: what part will you play in the most important time in America’s history? Make no mistake about it, each of us will be directly responsible for the future that comes and you and I, along with our children, will live in it.
Are you so naive to think it can’t happen here? It is already happening here my friend and there is not much time left to change it!
Who Will Save Middle East Christians: Obama or Putin?
By Fay Voshell
October 6, 2015
Few Western foreign policy analysts have taken seriously Vladimir Putin's radical reorientation of Russia from communism back to Russian Orthodox Christianity.
Putin is perhaps uniquely qualified to discern that his nation's identity has been for centuries within a spiritual, distinctly Christian narrative and that a violent rending of Russia's historically religious roots led to utter disaster for the Russian peoples.
Son of a militant atheist and a pious mother, Putin lived through the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resurgence of capitalism as defined in Russian terms. Though raised a secularist, he is now a devout Christian in the Russian Orthodox tradition and has devoted himself to the advancement of Christianity and the repudiation of what he sees as Western decadence. While some may be dismissive of Putin's Christian beliefs, there is no doubt that Christianity informs the way he now chooses to shape his own narrative and the story of his country.
Putin's religious values are rooted in Russian Orthodoxy and personal religious experiences, including his wife's car accident in 1993 and a life-threatening house fire in 1996. Just before a diplomatic trip to Israel, his mother gave him a baptismal cross. He said of the occasion, "I … put the cross around my neck. I have never taken it off since."
By his own testimony, Putin has had the personal conversion experience so often ridiculed by the communist regime in which he was embedded for so many years. He now is putting his recently found faith to work in Russia and abroad.
Perhaps nothing more powerfully symbolizes Putin's attempt to transition back to Russia's religious heritage than the recent installation of a huge bronze statue of Vladimir the Great on Borovitskaya Ploshchad, right next to the Kremlin and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
Why is St. Vladimir suddenly important enough to warrant a place right in front of the Kremlin, a place where the nemesis of Christianity, Joseph Stalin, once reviewed Soviet might parading in front of him? A place where Molotov, the communist zealot who gave gasoline-filled bottles his name, once posed for photographs with Nikolai Bukharin, author of the Soviet Union's bible, The ABC of Communism?
The saint is important because he is the equivalent of Vladimir Putin's patron saint. The Orthodox Christianity he founded now informs Putin's domestic and foreign policy. The communist narrative that gripped the Soviet Union for a hundred years is being replaced, along with that narrative's symbols.
Example: Putin, during his annual address to the country's political elites last December, said Crimea was sacred for Russia due to St. Vladimir's baptism there. The president said:
The peninsula is of strategic importance for Russia as the spiritual source of the development of a multifaceted but solid Russian nation and a centralized Russian state. It was in Crimea, in the ancient city of Chersonesus … that Grand Prince Vladimir was baptized before bringing Christianity to Rus.
Putin added that St. Vladimir's baptism means that Crimea has "invaluable civilizational and even sacral importance for Russia, like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the followers of Islam and Judaism."
While skeptics may sneer about the possibility that a former KGB agent is now a devout Christian whose faith informs policy, some in the global community welcome Putin's change of heart as authentic, particularly when they see his defense of the faith put into action. It is no secret that the Eastern Orthodox Church has asked him to protect Christians worldwide. Putin evidently has agreed.
While some in the West are looking askance at Russia's support of Assad's regime in Syria, seeing only the realpolitik of Russian expansionism, others who are concerned about the eradication of Syria's ancient Christian community tend to see as legitimate Putin's concern that the Christian minority in that country will be persecuted if Assad is toppled. The beleaguered Christians in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East doubtless see the very recent Russian bombing of ISIS headquarters as a gift from God, and Putin as their potential deliverer from martyrdom.
Is there more to Putin's intervention in Syria than the desire to save Christians?
Of course. Even Putin admits that, characterizing his policies as having a heavy dose of "common sense" plus faith. Nor should anyone discount his immersion in the deadly and murky politics of the Kremlin.
But again, Putin's historic view is long. For him, Moscow is the second seat of Eastern Orthodoxy, the first having been Byzantium under the rule of Emperor Justinian. He will not have forgotten that the Byzantine Empire, which was profoundly informed by Christianity, at one time straddled two continents, Europe and Asia. He will also will not have forgotten that the Syrian Church, marked for extinction by ISIS, has been led by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch – Antioch, the apostle Paul's home base for his missionary journeys and the first place disciples of Christ were called Christians. In other words, Putin's view, shaped by Eastern Orthodoxy, is Eurasian, not just Russian. Putin sees a geographic component to Christian Orthodoxy that includes the Middle East.
As a recent article in Foreign Affairs has noted, Putin owes many of his views to a Russian political and religious thinker by the name of Ivan Ilyin:
Ilyin espoused ethnic-religious neo-traditionalism, amidst much talk about a unique "Russian soul." Germanely, he believed that Russia would recover from the Bolshevik nightmare and rediscover itself, first spiritually then politically, thereby saving the world. Putin's admiration for Ilyin is unconcealed: he has mentioned him in several major speeches and he had his body repatriated and buried at the famous Donskoy monastery with fanfare in 2005; Putin personally paid for a new headstone. Yet despite the fact that even Kremlin outlets note the importance of Ilyin to Putin's worldview, not many Westerners have noticed.
Putin has explained the central role of the ROC by stating that Russia's 'spiritual shield' – meaning her church-grounded resistance to post-modernism – is as important to her security as her nuclear shield."
An opponent of both Soviet communism and Western democracy, Ilyin envisioned a 'special' path for Russia, based on the promotion of the Orthodox Church and traditional values that would bring about a spiritual renewal of the Russian people, who at the moment he believed were under the influence of Western political and social constructs.
Putin, likewise, has spoken of the need for religious revival and the valuable role that the Orthodox Church plays. Says Putin: 'The Russian Orthodox Church plays an enormous formative role in preserving our rich historical and cultural heritage and in reviving eternal moral values. It works tirelessly to bring unity, to strengthen family ties, and to educate the younger generation in the spirit of patriotism.'
Has anyone yet heard Barak Obama speak in similar terms about the Christian church in America? Has anyone noted him speaking about "preserving our rich historical and cultural heritage and reviving eternal moral values?" To ask the questions is to answer them.
Further, is it any wonder that Putinism finds consonance among America's Christian conservatives? His speeches, largely ignored by the anti-religious Western elite, who consider matters of faith as irrelevant or who openly despise the devout, have included the following points, many of which resonate with Christians in Europe as well:
Euro-Atlantic (the West) states have rejected their own roots, including the Christian roots which form the basis of Western civilization. In these countries, the moral basis and any traditional identity are being denied—national, religious, cultural and even gender identities are being denied or relativized.
The excesses and exaggerations of political correctness in these countries leads to serious consideration for the legitimization of parties that promote even the propaganda of pedophilia.
People in many European states are actually ashamed of their religious affiliation and are indeed frightened to speak about them. Meanwhile, Christian holidays and celebrations are abolished or "neutrally" renamed as if one were ashamed of those Christian holidays. With this method one hides away the deeper moral nature of those celebrations.
Without the moral values that are rooted in Christianity and other world religions, without the rules and moral values which have been formed and developed over millennia, people will inevitably lose their human dignity and become brutes. We think it is right and natural to defend and preserve these moral Christian values.
We must protect Russia from that which has destroyed American society.
How matters have changed since the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s! How ironic is it that Russia, once so invested in tearing down Christianity and replacing it on every level with Marxism, is now under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, who sees himself as a Christian savior of Western civilization?
In the meantime, the United States, once the defender of the Christian West, is under the current administration busily tearing down Christianity while uplifting a progressivism heavily influenced by Marxism with a large dose of the sexual revolution.
What a reversal! It boggles the mind. It certainly reinforces the idea that God does indeed work in mysterious ways.
Putin has found from personal experience and from observation of his and other countries' experiences with variants of Marxism that the pitifully weak and reductionist ideology finds virtually no consonance among his or the world's peoples, who overwhelmingly comprise people of faith. These peoples resist the current version of Marxist ideology found in radical progressivism, a "progressivism" that has elevated sexual deviancies, destroyed families, reduced the meaning of the human being to that of genderless robots, and elevated multiculturalism as a quasi-religion, a "religion" that holds no values whatever.
Putin has publicly professed his faith in Christ and is reorienting Russia to its Christian roots. He is defending Christians. In contrast, Obama has stated that "We [America] are no longer a Christian nation" and openly attacks Christianity and its values at every turn.
Indeed, Vladimir Putin represents everything Obama and his elite cadre of fellow progressives hate. As John Schindler writes:
Simply put, Vladimir Putin is the stuff of Western progressive nightmares because he's what they thought they'd gotten past. He's a traditional male with "outmoded" views on, well, everything: gender relations, race, sexual identity, faith, the use of violence, the whole retrograde package. Putin at some level is the Old White Guy that post-moderns fear and loathe, except this one happens to control the largest country on earth plus several thousand nuclear weapons – and he hates us.
Putin and Obama are on opposite sides of a great ideological chasm. It isn't too extreme to think Christians in America may properly conclude they would like to see and hear more of what Putin believes from our leaders and less of what President Obama and his elite circle of radical progressives believe and enforce at every turn.
Fay Voshell is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. Her thoughts have appeared in dozens on online magazines and blog sites, among them CNS News, RealClearReligion, PJMedia, and National Review. She holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her its prize for excellence in systematic theology. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PASTOR LEARNS FATE FOR 'SATANIC ISLAM' SERMON
Judge: Remarks not 'grossly offensive' under law
Published: January 5,2016
A Christian preacher in Ireland has been acquitted of charges that stemmed from his description of Islam as being “spawned in hell,” but the threat to speech remains because the judge’s ruling was based on the fact the words didn’t rise to the level of being “grossly offensive.”
Cleared of charges was Pastor James McConnell, 78, from Shore Road in Newtownabbey, County Antrim.
His comments came in a 2014 sermon, where he said, “People say there are good Muslims in Britain – that may be so – but I don’t trust them. Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.”
The sermon was delivered from the pulpit of Whitewell Metropolitan Chapel of north Belfast, and became the subject of a Belfast Magistrates Court case.
According to a report in the BBC, the judge’s conclusion was that the speech was “offensive,” but not “grossly offensive.”
McConnell also compared Muslims to the Irish Republican Army.
“Fifteen years ago Britain was concerned of IRA cells right throughout the nation,” he said. “They done a deal with the IRA because they were frightened of being bombed. Today a new evil has arisen. There are cells of Muslims right throughout Britain, can I hear an amen, right throughout Britain, and this nation is going to enter into a great tribulation, a great trial.”
McConnell commented after the verdict that he regretted that Muslims thought he was “out to hurt them,” but a Muslim community spokesman identified only as Dr. Al-Wazzan told the BBC such language
“is definitely irresponsible and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”
WND reported that his text for the sermon was 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Pastor McConnell says he wrote that sermon to protest “… the terrible injustice done to a young Muslim woman named Miriam Ibrahim who was converted to Christianity and for marrying a Christian man. Miriam Ibrahim was pregnant and was to receive eighty lashes and possibly martyrdom.”
After his sermon, Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service determined it allegedly was a violation of the 2003 Communications Act because it involved “sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive.”
McConnell's legal woes for speaking publicly about Islam are not unique.
But increasingly, speaking out against Islam from a biblical position is coming into conflict with hate-speech legislation in many Western nations. In 2007, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution that "defamation of religion ... leads to violations of human rights" and stated that "... freedom of expression ... should be exercised with responsibility and may therefore be subject to limitations" expressly deploring "the use of the print, audio-visual and electronic media, including the Internet ... to incite ... xenophobia or related intolerance and discrimination toward Islam. ..."
In 2007, the Ontario Provincial Human Rights Commission, acting on complaints by the Canadian Islamic Congress, opened an investigation of Maclean's magazine for publishing excerpts of Mark Steyn's book "America Alone." Following massive public protest, the case was finally dropped. But in a letter to Maclean's, Jennifer Lynch, the head of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, wrote: "Mr. Steyn would have us believe that words, however hateful, should be give free reign [sic]. History has shown us that hateful words sometimes lead to hurtful actions that undermine freedom and have led to unspeakable crimes. That is why Canada and most other democracies have enacted legislation to place reasonable limits on the expression of hatred."
More recently, the Quebec National Assembly has taken up Bill 59 which would assign new powers to the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) to combat hate speech, allowing for the censoring of speech that promotes "fear of the other." The bill would also allow the QHRC to prosecute websites that disparage or denounce Islam. Currently, Bill 59 remains in the Assembly for review and amendment.
In the U.S., President Obama ushered into law an anti-hate speech piece of legislation that even promoters admitted would treat Christians differently from others regarding their speech. The nation also has seen a large increase in attacks on the right of conscience and association for Christians, especially in the realm of homosexual rights and marriage.
Until recently, the First Amendment right to free speech has blocked attempts by Washington to impose limits on unflattering opinions or descriptions of Islam and of its radical adherents. But this situation may be changing.
In 2013, Bill Killian, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, attended a public meeting in Tullahoma to discuss how combat those who violate Muslim civil rights by posting inflammatory documents targeting Muslims on social media.
"This is an educational effort with civil rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion," Killian told the Tullahoma News. "This is also to inform the public what federal laws are in effect and what the consequences are."
More recently, Attorney General Loretta Lynch has threatening legal action against any "anti-Muslim rhetoric" that "edges toward violence."
Last month, 82 Democrat congressional sponsors introduced HR 569. The resolution, which is still in committee, condemns "...violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States" and "... denounces in the strongest terms the increase of hate speech ... targeted against mosques, Muslims, or those perceived to be Muslim."
UNSPEAKABLE ADMISSION: I REGRET MY ABORTIONS
Older women lament early-life decisions, face senior years alone
Published: January 2, 2016
The 47-year-old unnamed woman wrote, “Each time I hear a child laughing or see children playing, I regret not having any. I truly regret that I did not have at least one child to leave all that I have worked so hard for. It’s not easy knowing that as you grow old, and friends pass on, that there is no one there to take care of you if the worst happens.”
In today’s permissive culture, such an admission is tantamount to heresy. Women are not supposed to regret abortions; they’re supposed to feel liberated.
Admitting she was too young with her first pregnancy (at 17) and not ready to face motherhood alone when her boyfriend abandoned her during her second pregnancy (at 23), the woman now laments the emptiness of her life without children.
“I guess that’s the irony of life – something comes your way and you reject it; but when you want that same thing later, it never comes your way again,” she wrote. “My two closest friends and I have gone through the same thing, and when we get together all we do is sip wine and laugh at how our lives have turned out. Each of us say that had we known how empty our lives would have been now without a child, we would have brought ours into the world. Unfortunately, each of us is way past that age that we can have a child now. I am 47 and they are 48 years old. This guilty feeling is why I decided to talk about my biggest regret. Young women need to hear from people like me who have walked in their shoes, did what we were told, but now are unhappy because of it.”
The woman does not believe in making abortion illegal, but merely advises young women to anticipate what their future might be like without children. “I firmly believe that as long as a girl is over 18 years old and gets pregnant, she should bring that child. The only reasons I would even consider abortion is if I was raped, or tests show that the baby would be disabled.”
Regret for abortions is something progressives have attempted to downplay at all costs. In July, Time magazine reported on a three-year study by the multidisciplinary academic journal PLOS ONE that showed “hardly any” women regret having an abortion.
The PLOS ONE study reported, “Women experienced decreasing emotional intensity over time, and the overwhelming majority of women felt that termination was the right decision for them over three years. Emotional support may be beneficial for women having abortions who report intended pregnancies or difficulty deciding.”
Time magazine summarized, “Ninety-five percent of women who have had abortions do not regret the decision to terminate their pregnancies. [The study's] conclusions come after a three-year research period in which nearly 670 women were regularly surveyed on the subject of their abortions. The sample group was diverse with regard to standard social metrics (race, education, and employment) and on the matter of what the study calls pregnancy and abortion circumstances. Financial considerations were given as the reasons for an abortion by 40 percent of women; 36 percent had decided it was ‘not the right time;’ 26 percent of women found the decision very or somewhat easy; 53 percent found it very or somewhat difficult.”
However, this study “has a number of flaws that belie the conclusions drawn by the authors,” according to the website AfterAbortion.com, which called the study “deceptive.”
“Among the flaws:
The study’s findings and conclusions are overreaching due to self-selection and high drop out rates. … This means 62.5% of women refused to participate in the study, at first request, and another 15% dropped out before or during the baseline interview, yielding only a 31.9% participation rate at baseline.
With 68.1% percent of eligible women refusing to participate in the study at baseline, it is improper for the authors to suggest that their findings reflect the general experiences of most women. … In a … post-abortion interview study by Soderberg, the author reported that in interviews with those declining to participate “the reason for non-participation seemed to be a sense of guilt and remorse that they did not wish to discuss. An answer often given was: ‘Do do not want to talk about it. I just want to forget.’”
It is very likely that the self-selected 31.9% percent of women agreeing to participate were more highly confident of their decision to abort prior to their abortions and anticipated fewer negative outcomes.
Despite the initial selection bias, 15 percent of those agreeing to be interviewed subsequently opted out of the baseline interview and another 31 percent opted out within the three year followup period. This indicates that even among women who expected little or no negative reactions, the stress of participating in follow up interviews lead to a change of mind.
The deceptive practices of the research team are made clear in press releases and an infographic purporting to summarize the study. In these “summaries” the research group conceals the details regarding the high non-participation rate and boldly claims “95 percent of women who had abortions felt it was the right decision, both immediately and over 3 years” — omitting the fact that 62.5 percent refused to participate at the time of their abortion, another 15 percent dropped out prior to the baseline interview, and of those interviewed another 31 percent dropped out by the third year. The fact that the abstract, press release, and other summarizing materials published by the authors consistently omit mention of the high rate of non-participation is problematic itself. The fact that they, to the contrary, consistently imply that their results apply to the entire population of women having abortions is clearly deceptive.”
AfterAbortion.com also lists numerous points demonstrating why the study was not representative of the generation population of women seeking abortion.
It’s worth noting this study did not include older women who had abortions at a young age, such as the Barbados woman who had later-life regrets. In fact, Theresa Bonpartis of Reclaiming Our Children notes, “The study only looked at three years after a woman’s abortion. Most women do not even begin to deal with an abortion until around seven years after.”
Bonpartis adds, “To be honest, this [study] makes me angry. Mostly because it perpetuates the feeling of being crazy if your abortion does bother you, like there is something wrong with you if it does.”
The Barbados woman who now regrets her two abortions has advice for young women: “[N]one of us could see the future. We never could have imagined back then that we would be so close today. And that is why I take the position that I do on abortions. Avoid them at all cost.”
State of Emergency now underway for L.A. gas blowout — Oil begins raining down on homes — Official: “It’s on the brink of pandemonium” — Many worry plume will ignite, cause explosion — Concern over geysers, sinkholes being created — Company: Experts have “never seen anything like this”
Published: January 8th, 2016 at 11:40 am ET
Los Angeles Times, Jan 5, 2016 (emphasis added): Utility is installing screens to contain oily mist at leaking well near Porter Ranch… The structures under construction on the west side of the well head are designed to capture airborne droplets of a brine solution that “may have contained trace amounts of oil naturally occurring within the leaking well’s reservoir,” said Trisha Muse, a spokeswoman for SoCal Gas… Now, a mixture of brine water and oil is rising up into the gas company’s natural gas storage zone, then traveling up the well and into the air. As a result, local residents are finding droplets of dark brown residue on their homes, vehicles, fish ponds and gardens… [The company] acknowledged that some residents had asked about “dark brown spots on their property.” “We sampled it and, according to our retained toxicologist and medical expert,” the company said, “the residue contained heavier hydrocarbons (similar to motor oil) but does not pose a health risk.”… On Monday, plaintiffs’ attorneys sent a letter to state regulatory officials [and] demanded that state regulators “explain what is happening with the petroleum now surfacing.”… “There is a complete lack of information in the well files,” their letter says, “to show where the gas and petroleum migrates underground and the risk for creating sink holes and geysers.”
Los Angeles Daily News, Jan 5, 2015: [A]n oily mist… has been surfacing… The seepage is the result of changing dynamics deep underground… “They (the demister pads) are necessary because as the reservoir pressure declines, fluids (oil and water) encroach into the reservoir and are then carried to surface with the gas.
BBC, Jan 8, 2016: Residents… point out cars, outdoor furniture and houses which have been marked with brown, oily spots… Tim O’Connor, a lawyer with the Environmental Defense Fund, has called it “an environmental and public health catastrophe,” said . “In terms of timelines this is going to surpass the gulf oil problem by a mile.”
New York Times, Jan 6, 2016: Gov. Jerry Brown, faced with mounting public anger and no end in sight to the leak, declared a state of emergency… Mitchell Englander, the Los Angeles city councilman who represents Porter Ranch [said] “This is one of the most disruptive, catastrophic environmental events that I’ve seen. It’s a truly chaotic crisis.”… Many who have stayed have taken to wearing surgical masks when they garden to keep out the rotten-egg smell and the oily mist that sometimes leaves brown residue on their cars… Dennis Arriola, the president of Southern California Gas Company [said] that experts had “never seen anything like this.”
Newsweek, Jan 7, 2016: SoCalGas and public officials have turned [Porter Ranch's Matt Pakucko] and his fellow residents into “guinea pigs.”… [Sally Benson, who runs an energy storage lab at Stanford University] shares a worry of many in Porter Ranch as they deal with the mundanities of the leak: that the gas plume will somehow become ignited, leading to [an] explosion… “They’re really fortunate that this one hasn’t caught fire,” Benson says… [The FAA] has imposed a no-fly zone above Porter Ranch “out of concerns that fumes from the gas leak could be ignited from the air.” Schwecke, the SoCalGas vice president, says workers near the relief well are taking every precaution, not using their cellphones and working with brass hammers, which don’t spark… [David Balen, a local businessman on the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council] showed me photographs of a white dust that had collected on concrete surfaces around his property; an expert was coming to test the substance, which Balen thought was something toxic.
BBC, Jan 7, 2016: The governor of California has declared a state of emergency in a suburb of Los Angeles over the leaking of methane gas… the company is installing large mesh screens around the leak site to try and hinder the oily mist from spraying down on the community.
Bloomberg, Jan 5, 2016: The sulfurous scent of a natural-gas leak hangs in the air as mail carriers wearing gas masks make rounds… “This is the biggest community and environmental disaster I’ve ever seen, bar none,” said Mitchell Englander, who has represented Porter Ranch on the Los Angeles City Council since 2011. “Life there is not on hold — it’s on the edge and it’s on the brink of pandemonium.”
STOCK MARKET CRASH 2016: THIS IS THE WORST START TO A YEAR FOR STOCKS EVER
When CNN starts sounding like The Economic Collapse Blog, you know that things are really bad
JANUARY 8, 2016
We have never had a year start the way that 2016 has started.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 have both posted their worst four-day starts to a year ever. Canadian stocks are now down 21 percent since September, and it has been an absolute bloodbath in Europe over the past four days. Of course the primary catalyst for all of this is what has been going on in China. There has been an emergency suspension of trading in China two times within the past four days, and nobody is quite certain what is going to happen next. Eventually this wave of panic selling will settle down, but that won’t mean that this crisis will be over. In fact, what is coming is going to be much worse than what we have already seen.
On Thursday I was doing a show with some friends, and we were amazed that stocks just seemed to keep falling and falling and falling. The Dow closed down 392 points, and the NASDAQ got absolutely slammed. At this point, the Dow and the NASDAQ are both officially in “correction territory”, and some of the talking heads on television are warning that this could be the beginning of a “bear market”. But of course some of the other “experts” are insisting that this is just a temporary bump in the road.
But what everyone can agree on is that we have never seen a start to a year like this one.
The following comes from CNN…
“The global market freakout of 2016 just got worse.
The latest scare came on Thursday as China’s stock market crashed 7% overnight and crude oil plummeted to the lowest level in more than 12 years.
The Dow dropped 392 points on Thursday. The S&P 500 fell 2.4%, while the Nasdaq tumbled 3%.
The wave of selling has knocked the Dow down 911 points, or more than 5% so far this year. That’s the worst four-day percentage loss to start a year on record, according to FactSet stats that go back to 1897.”
When CNN starts sounding like The Economic Collapse Blog, you know that things are really bad. I particularly like their use of the phrase “global market freakout”. I might have to borrow that one.
Even some of the biggest and most trusted stocks are plummeting. For instance, Apple dropped to $96.45 on Thursday. It is now down a total of 28 percent since hitting a record high of more than 134 dollars a share back in April.
So that means that if someone put all of their retirement money into Apple stock last April (which may have seemed like a really good idea at that time), by now more than one-fourth of that money is gone.
For months, I have been warning that the exact same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008 were happening again. To me, the parallels between 2008 and 2015/2016 were just uncanny.
As I write this tonight, I just feel quite a bit of sadness. A lot of hard working people are going to lose a lot of money this year, and that includes people that I know personally. I wish that my voice had been clearer and louder. I wish that I could have done more to get people to understand what was coming. I wish that my warnings could have made more of a difference.
I just think about how I would feel if everything that I had worked for all my life was suddenly wiped out. And that is what is going to end up happening to some of these people. When you lose everything, it can be absolutely debilitating.
You only make money in the markets if you get out in time. And unfortunately, most of the general population will be like deer in the headlights and won’t know which way to move.
There will be up days for the markets in our near future. But don’t be fooled by them. It is important to remember that some of the greatest up days in U.S. stock market history were right in the middle of the stock market crash of 2008. So don’t let a rally fool you into thinking that the crisis is over.
The financial crisis that began in the second half of 2015 is now accelerating, and everything that we have witnessed over the past few days is just a natural extension of what has already been happening.
Personally, I am just really looking forward to this weekend when I will hopefully get caught up on some rest. Plus, my Washington Redskins will be hosting a playoff game on Sunday, and if they find a way to win that game that will put me in a particularly positive mood.
It is good to enjoy these simple pleasures while we still can. Unprecedented chaos is coming this year, and we are all going to need strength and courage for what is ahead.
Saudi Arabia's executions were worthy of Isis – so will David Cameron and the West now stop their grovelling to its oil-rich monarchs?
The executions were certainly an unprecedented Saudi way of welcoming in the New Year – if not quite as publicly spectacular as the firework display in Dubai which went ahead alongside the burning of one of the emirate’s finest hotels
Robert Fisk Middle East Correspondent
Sunday 3 January 2016
Saudi Defence Minister Mohamed bin Salman (L) and Crown Prince and Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef AFP/Getty Images
Saudi Arabia’s binge of head-choppings – 47 in all, including the learned Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, followed by a Koranic justification for the executions – was worthy of Isis. Perhaps that was the point. For this extraordinary bloodbath in the land of the Sunni Muslim al-Saud monarchy – clearly intended to infuriate the Iranians and the entire Shia world – re-sectarianised a religious conflict which Isis has itself done so much to promote.
All that was missing was the video of the decapitations – although the Kingdom’s 158 beheadings last year were perfectly in tune with the Wahabi teachings of the ‘Islamic State’. Macbeth’s ‘blood will have blood’ certainly applies to the Saudis, whose ‘war on terror’, it seems, now justifies any amount of blood, both Sunni and Shia. But how often do the angels of God the Most Merciful appear to the present Saudi interior minister, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Nayef?
For Sheikh Nimr was not just any old divine. He spent years as a scholar in Tehran and Syria, was a revered Shia leader of Friday prayers in the Saudi Eastern Province, and a man who stayed clear of political parties but demanded free elections, and was regularly detained and tortured – by his own account – for opposing the Sunni Wahabi Saudi government. Sheikh Nimr said that words were more powerful than violence. The authorities’ whimsical suggestion that there was nothing sectarian about this most recent bloodbath – on the grounds that they beheaded Sunnis as well as Shias – was classic Isis rhetoric.
After all, Isis cuts the heads of Sunni ‘apostates’ and Sunni Syrian and Iraqi soldiers just as readily as it slaughters Shias. Sheikh Nimr would have got precisely the same treatment from the thugs of the ‘Islamic State’ as he got from the Saudis – though without the mockery of a pseudo-legal trial which Sheikh Nimr was afforded and of which Amnesty complained.
But the killings represent far more than just Saudi hatred for a cleric who rejoiced at the death of the former Saudi interior minister – Mohamed bin Nayef’s father, Crown Prince Nayef Abdul-Aziz al-Saud – with the hope that he would be "eaten by worms and will suffer the torments of hell in his grave". Nimr’s execution will reinvigorate the Houthi rebellion in Yemen, which the Saudis invaded and bombed this year in an attempt to destroy Shia power there. It has enraged the Shia majority in Sunni-rules Bahrain. And Iran’s own clerics have already claimed that the beheading will cause the overthrow of the Saudi royal family.
It will also present the West with that most embarrassing of Middle Eastern problems: the continuing need to cringe and grovel to the rich and autocratic monarchs of the Gulf while gently expressing their unease at the grotesque butchery which the Saudi courts have just dished out to the Kingdom’s enemies. Had Isis chopped off the heads of Sunnis and Shias in Raqqa – especially that of a troublesome Shia priest like Sheikh Nimr – we can be sure that Dave Cameron would have been tweeting his disgust at so loathsome an act. But the man who lowered the British flag on the death of the last king of this preposterous Wahabi state will be using weasel words to address this bit of head-chopping.
However many Sunni al-Qaeda men have also just lost their heads – literally – to Saudi executioners, the question will be asked in both Washington and European capitals: are the Saudis trying to destroy the Iranian nuclear agreement by forcing their Western allies to support even these latest outrages? In the obtuse world in which they live – in which the youthful defence minister who invaded Yemen intensely dislikes the interior minister – the Saudis are still glorying in the ‘anti-terror’ coalition of 34 largely Sunni nations which supposedly form a legion of Muslims opposed to ‘terror’.
The executions were certainly an unprecedented Saudi way of welcoming in the New Year – if not quite as publicly spectacular as the firework display in Dubai which went ahead alongside the burning of one of the emirate’s finest hotels. Outside the political implications, however, there is also an obvious question to be asked – in the Arab world itself — of the self-perpetuating House of Saud: have the Kingdom’s rulers gone bonkers?
Earlier today, in “Mid-East Melee: Sectarian Showdown Looms As Bahrain Cuts Ties With Iran, UAE Recalls Ambassador,” we brought you the latest from the war-torn Mid-East where a worsening spat between Saudi Arabia and Iran threatens to plunge the region into chaos.
January 5, 2016
Make no mistake, things were already out of control. The conflict in Syria has mushroomed into a global proxy war, Iraq is struggling to drive Islamic State from key cities, and Yemen remains mired in war nine months after the Saudis entered the fray to drive back the Houthis and restore the Hadi government.
Against that backdrop, the region could have done without the events that unfolded over the weekend. By executing prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, Riyadh has infuriated the Shiite community which took to the streets in protest, even going so far as to firebomb the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
In order to understand the upcoming sectarian strife and in order to fully grasp who belongs to Iran’s sphere of influence, and who is loyal to the Saudis, one needs to have a working knowledge of what the Sunni-Shiite split looks like across the region. Because this is set to become the key geopolitical issue in the weeks and months ahead, we thought it an opportune time to present the following map from Goldman which does a nice job of delineating the sectarian split.
Note the asterisks which indicate the affiliation of a country’s leadership.
Where are the main sectarian and ethnic divides in the Middle East today? Saudi Arabia and Iran, with their large respective Sunni and Shiite majorities, are generally viewed as two major opposing forces in the Middle East. They lie on opposite sides of an abstract and somewhat contentious demarcation known as the Shiite crescent, an area of Shiite influence stretching from Iran through southern Iraq and into parts of Syria and Lebanon.
The region’s geopolitical, religious, and sectarian relationships are in reality more dynamic and complex. The conflict in Syria continues to pit anti-government insurgents, including Sunni Islamists, against the Alawite (Shiite) government’s forces and Shiite militias supported by Iran. In Iraq, some Sunnis have felt increasingly disenfranchised under the Shiite-majority government in Baghdad (a relatively new development given Iraq’s long history of Sunni rule). The Islamic State (IS) militant group has exploited this sentiment, particularly in the Sunni-majority areas of northern Iraq.
How are the different branches of Islam represented in politics? In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the rulers adhere to the same branch of Islam as the majority of their citizens. However, this is not always the case. Despite being predominantly Shiite, Iraqis lived under Sunni rulers for much of history, including under the Ottoman Empire and the Ba’thist regime of Saddam Hussein. (Ba’thists are members of the Arab Socialist Ba’th Party, a political party founded in Syria in the 1940s on platforms of Arab nationalism and anti- colonialism. In Iraq, the Ba’thists governed from 1958 until the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.) The Iraqi Ba’thist regime was secular in name but reserved political influence for the Sunni elite. In a break from its long history of Sunni political dominance, Iraq is currently ruled by a Shiite-majority government centered in Baghdad. Conversely, in Sunni-majority Syria, members of the Shiite Alawite sect have controlled the government since 1970.
What is the composition of Sunnis and Shiites in the Muslim world today? Sunnis make up the majority of Muslims worldwide – an estimated 85-90%. Sunnis comprise 85% or more of the Muslim populations in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates, and 70-85% in Kuwait, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Shiites comprise the majority in Bahrain, Iraq, and Azerbaijan (all 60-65% Shiite), as well as in Iran (90-95%), home of the largest Shiite population. Although the Middle East and North Africa region is overwhelmingly Muslim (93%), it is home to only around 20% of Muslims worldwide. The majority – over 60% – lives in the Asia-Pacific region.
Daily Mail (Edited from longer article.)
IRAN COMPARES SAUDI ARABIA TO ISIS AS SUPREME LEADER VOWS ‘DIVINE REVENGE’ FOR EXECUTING 47 PRISONERS INCLUDING SHIITE CLERIC
Iran's Supreme Leader has vowed 'divined revenge' on Saudi Arabia after it executed 47 prisoners, including a prominent Shiite cleric, yesterday
JANUARY 3, 2016
Iran’s Supreme Leader has vowed ‘divined revenge’ on Saudi Arabia after it executed 47 prisoners, including a prominent Shiite cleric, yesterday.
Its elite paramilitary unit, the Revolutionary Guard, compared the Sunni-ruled country to terror group ISIS and warned the ‘medieval act of savagery’ would lead to the monarchy’s downfall.
A controversial meme posted on an Iranian website, thought to belong to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni, suggested the only difference between Saudi rulers and ISIS executioners was the clothes they wore.
Saudi Arabia claimed Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and the other executed prisoners, which include three other Shiite dissidents and a number of al-Qaeda supporters, were all convicted ‘terrorists’. It said Iran had ‘revealed its true face as a supporter of terrorists’ by condemning al-Nimr’s death.
At least 40 were arrested on suspicion of attacking and setting fire to the embassy.
A controversial meme posted on a website thought to belong to Iran's Supreme Leader suggested the only difference between Saudi rulers and ISIS executioners was the clothes they wore
Iraq's former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki warned the executions would 'topple the Saudi regime', US and European said they risked 'exacerbating sectarian tensions', and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was 'deeply dismayed'.
Al-Nimr, the most vocal critic of the Saudi dynasty, was the driving force behind the protests which broke out in the east of the country in 2011, where the Shiite minority claims they are fiercely persecuted.
Khamenei condemned Saudi Arabia for the second straight day over his execution, saying: 'The unjustly spilled blood of this oppressed martyr [al-Nimr] will no doubt soon show its effect and divine vengeance will befall Saudi politicians.'
The Revolutionary Guard yesterday promised 'harsh revenge' against Saudi Arabia's royal dynasty, but its foreign ministry called for calm after protesters tried to burn down its embassy in Tehran.
Shiite protesters clashed with Indian police in the disputed Kashmir region today. They threw rocks at policemen, who retaliated with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Demonstrators in Bahrain were also met with tear gas as they fought with security forces, while hundreds also protested in Iraq's Shiite holy city of Karbala.
Violent demonstrations have since erupted across the Middle Eastern and Gulf countries, including Lebanon, Pakistan and Bahrain, while Muslims in the West have held peaceful marches.
Thousands have also gathered in Lebanon's capital, Beirut, ahead of a speech by the leader of the Lebanese Shiite militia group Hezbollah.
It issued a statement condemning al-Nimr's execution, with Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem calling it 'a sign of shame and weakness' for Saudi Arabia
Meanwhile, hundreds of Shiite Muslims marched through the Qatif district of Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, closely watched by security services.
The US State Department said Saudi Arabia risked 'exacerbating sectarian tensions' and Ban Ki-moon said he was 'deeply dismayed' by the execution of al-Nimr.
'Sheik al-Nimr and a number of the other prisoners executed had been convicted following trials that raised serious concerns over the nature of the charges and the fairness of the process,' Ban's spokesman said.
'The Secretary-General also calls for calm and restraint in reaction to the execution of Sheikh Nimr and urges all regional leaders to work to avoid the exacerbation of sectarian tensions.'
Al-Nimr's execution has sparked fierce criticism from Shiite communities in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Iran's Shia leadership said the execution of Nimr 'would cost dearly' and an Iranian-backed Shiite militia in Iraq called the execution a 'new crime' carried out by the Saudi royal family.
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki warned in a statement that the execution of the Shiite cleric 'will topple the Saudi regime'.
Saudi Arabia faces 'economic bomb' and hikes gas prices 50%
by Heather Long @byHeatherLong
January 5, 2016: 12:18 PM ET
Saudi Arabia is running out of money.
While the world's attention is focused on Saudi Arabia's latest flare up with Iran, many Saudis are concerned about the "economic bomb" at home. The government is slashing a plethora of perks for its citizens.
The cash crunch is so dire that the Saudi government just hiked the price of gasoline by 50%. Saudis lined up at gas stations Monday to fill up before the higher prices kicked in.
"They have announced cutbacks in subsidies that will hurt every single Saudi in their pocketbook," says Robert Jordan, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and author of "Desert Diplomat: Inside Saudi Arabia Following 9/11."
Gas used to cost a mere 16 cents a liter in Saudi Arabia, one of the cheapest prices in the world. Many Saudis drive large SUVs and "have no concept of saving gas," says Jordan.
Gas price hike is just the beginning
The gas hike is just the beginning. Water and electricity prices are also going up, and the government is scaling back spending on roads, buildings and other infrastructure.
Those cuts might sound normal for any government that is running low on cash. But it's especially problematic in Saudi Arabia because the vast majority of Saudis work in the public sector.
About 75% of the Saudi government's budget comes from oil. The price of oil has crashed from over $100 a barrel in 2014 to around $36 currently. Most experts don't expect a rebound anytime soon.
The Saudi government used its vast oil wealth to provide generous benefits to its citizens. When the Arab Spring rocked the Middle East in 2011, the Saudi king spent even more in an effort to subdue any discontent in the country.
The perks Saudis receive:
Here are some of the perks Saudis receive:
-Heavily subsidized gas (It used to be 16 cents a liter. Now it's gone up to 24 cents.) -Free health care
-Free schooling -Subsidized water and electricity
-No income tax -Public pensions
-Nearly 90% of Saudis are employed by the government -Often higher pay for government jobs than private sector ones
-Unemployment benefits (started in 2011 in reaction to the Arab Spring) -A "development fund" that provides interest-free loans to help families buy homes and start businesses.
Saudi Arabia may have to start taxing its people
Now Saudi Arabia can't pay for all those benefits. It ran a deficit of nearly $100 billion last year and expects something similar this year, if not worse.
The International Monetary Fund recently predicted that Saudi Arabia could run out of cash in five years or less if oil stays below $50 a barrel.
"The Saudis have used their economic power to buy off their population," says Jordan, who is currently serving as diplomat in residence at Southern Methodist University.
He predicts Saudi Arabia may even have to start collecting an income tax or sales tax.
"Part of the leverage the regime has had on their people is that they don't impose taxes and therefore people don't expect representation," Jordan says. "But once they pay taxes, you're likely to see an increase in political unrest."
Unemployment is already high in the country. Official statistics put it at about 12%, but experts say it's likely much higher since many Saudis don't even look for work.
Saudis not cutting back on defense
Members of the royal family have enjoyed lavish expense accounts for years. Those were detailed in U.S. embassy cables leaked on WikiLeaks, including a sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll lifestyle of many young royals. It's unclear how much those will be scaled back since many of the royal perks are off budget.
Jordan says the execution of 47 Saudi prisoners over the weekend is a warning sign that the Saudis will not tolerate dissent.
And there's one area the Saudis are not cutting: defense spending. The country currently spends 11% of its GDP on defense, the highest in the world. It intends to spend even more this year.
CNN's John Defterios and Ivana Kottasova contributed to this article.
THE DAILY BEAST
Tim Mak travels to Djibouti.
Inside The Tiny Police State With Seven Armies
BY TIM MAK
Forces from America, Japan, France, Germany, Italy—and soon, even China—are crammed into the dirt-poor Djibouti. Good luck asking the locals if they like all the attention.
There’s a smell of sewage out on the beaches outside, juxtaposed with tangerine, sunset views glimmering atop the murky waves. Looking southward across the warm waters of the Gulf of Aden, whale sharks congregate en masse to feed in the fall and winter.
I’m watching through massive glass windows in the lobby of the Sheraton hotel, an oasis for foreign soldiers and military contractors of every stripe. That’s when I notice I’m being eyed by a couple of thugs.
Their casual, ratty street clothes—tattered pants, T-shirts—and a generally unkempt look put them at odds with the military uniforms and business wear that dominates the Sheraton lobby. And they made little effort to hide their purpose: their twisted faces staring intently at me as I sat there writing. I’ve made the mistake of interviewing some human-rights activists. And the thugs are clearly not pleased. They’ll follow me for the last night of my trip.
It’s par for the course in this minuscule police state, where the most prominent industry is catering to the world’s competing militaries—and the biggest mistake is pointing out how the government treats its people.
Djibouti is a kind of earthly Tatooine. Not only because of the two-sun environment, which features a scorching dry heat that sucks the body dry, but because of rough company the neighborhood keeps. Right on its doorstep are two high-profile al Qaeda affiliates: al-Shabaab, based in Somalia, and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen. And the threat of hijacking by pirates based in Somalia, best remembered in the American mind by the Maersk Alabama hostage-taking in 2009, continues to present a risk for shipping in the region.
So Djibouti has become a safari grounds for high-paying sovereign clients. An American hub for its secret wars in East Africa and the Arabian peninsula is here—complete with a fleet of drones and a rotating gang of special operations forces.
The Japanese use their base here as an African logistical hub and to protect regional shipping. The French, who colonized Djibouti in the mid-19th century and controlled the country well into the 20th century, also maintains a military force here. The German, Italian, and Spanish militaries also have a presence in Djibouti, focusing on countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Ethiopia.
And soon, the Chinese will be operating there too, having negotiated their first overseas military outpost, making it capable of projecting power thousands of miles from their homeland. That makes seven militaries crammed into this one tiny police state.
Djibouti is a country of less than 900,000 people that would not register significantly in the global consciousness except for its strategic location in East Africa, at the mouth of the Red Sea and the rest of the Persian Gulf.
All shipping passing northward through the Suez Canal to Europe or southward to the Indian Ocean would need to sail through the Bab al-Mandab, or Gate of Tears in Arabic. On one side of the strait lies the small but stable state of Djibouti. On the other side, the treacherous and war-torn country of Yemen.
Djibouti’s primary strategic resource is its oil fields. The arid desert state has hardly any agriculture to speak of, and locals complain of a lack of skilled labor, but it does have a deepwater port at a critical chokepoint for global commerce. In other words, it’s a military jackpot.
If you don’t ask too many questions.
The United States has reportedly agreed to spend some $70 million a year for permission to maintain a military base in Djibouti called Camp Lemonnier.
In return, America gets a hub for its ongoing war against terrorist groups. (The United States took over the former French Foreign Legion post after 9/11.) More than a dozen drone flights were operating daily out of Lemonnier in 2012, heading eastward toward Yemen or south toward Somalia. Drone operations have since moved to another, more remote airstrip in Djibouti, but Lemonnier remains a center of American counterterrorist operations in the region.
Historically, when the United States decides to take action in East Africa, a nexus of terrorist groups and extremist ideology, Camp Lemonnier is involved.
For example, in 2002 a Predator drone flew from Djibouti to assassinate Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, a Yemeni al Qaeda member who was suspected of helping plan the U.S.S. Cole attack, journalist Sean Naylor reports in his book, Relentless Strike. And Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted, two Western aid workers kidnapped by Somali pirates, were brought to Djibouti after their rescue by Navy SEALs.
The U.S. military hemmed and hawed about letting The Daily Beast visit Camp Lemonnier. Finally, after many, many requests, a spokesman for the military mumbled something about bad timing.
So, we settled for the next best thing: the Japanese military base just down the road.
Tucked in the corner of Djibouti City’s airport, opposite the American Camp Lemonnier, is Japan’s only foreign military base in the world, and the only one it has opened since World War II.
Tokyo is more than 6,000 miles away—more than the distance it would take to drive from New York City to Los Angeles, and then back again—and yet the country with a famously pacifist constitution has deemed it fit to set up a military base in this dusty, desert country in Africa.
Ten percent of all shipping passing through the straits is linked to the Japanese economy—either exports coming from Japan or imports coming to the homeland, Japanese Ambassador to Djibouti Tatsuo Arai told The Daily Beast. In 2011 the Japanese opened a permanent facility in Djibouti, with a focus on countering piracy that might endanger Japanese goods and related goods. Since then, the base has helped them project their influence across the entire African continent.
For decades, Djibouti has held favored status among the world’s powers. One former U.S. ambassador to Djibouti told me that despite the widespread closure of U.S.S.R. embassies after the collapse of communism, the Russians recognized the importance of Djibouti and kept their embassy open here—a country of less than 1 million people.
During the Ebola crisis last year, Japan’s Djiboutian base became a hub for the humanitarian work they were doing, and a logistics center that provided a stopover for the shipment of protective garments for Ghana. As a member of the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, Japan’s service members often make a logistical pit stop in Djibouti before continuing on to the war-torn nation.
The Japanese military base can only be described as lavish: a room for meditation; a well-stocked gym and basketball court; a movie theater kept so clean you have to take your shoes off to enter; a library; and an expansive medical center. The base even includes a large Japanese communal hot bath for the troops and a bar featuring edamame and kimchi.
Outside, however, the scene was far less inviting.
It’s 2:30 p.m. in downtown Djibouti, and it is a ghost town. The streets are deserted, even along the main roads leading to the city center. In the 1930s, when novelist Evelyn Waugh toured what was then known as French Somaliland, he bemoaned the area’s “intolerable desolation,” calling it a “country of dust and boulders, utterly devoid of any sign of life.”
In late August, it is one of the hottest weeks of the year, and work is seldom done unless it is in the cooler early-morning hours. Djibouti City can be crowded, dusty, choked with human movement and honking cars, but this does not last for more than a few hours per day, and ends when the sun makes the outdoors totally unbearable.
There is virtually no agriculture in the barren country of Djibouti—indeed, much of the rural portions of country have the look of the lunar surface, due to the eruption of a major volcano 60 miles from Djibouti City in 1978. The economy functions largely on the money made on foreign military bases and the service industry—Djibouti sits just east of landlocked Ethiopia, and serves as a main port for that country of nearly 100 million people. Its own military forces are minor.
The only news sources with broad distribution are either owned by the Djiboutian government, or funded by foreign ones, such as Voice of America or the BBC. In the Horn of Africa, Voice of America has an eclectic selection, representing the United States with news programs, English lessons, and loops of Linkin Park and country music.
The origin of the name “Djibouti” is itself in dispute. The local Afar people say that Djibouti is a close approximation of “my place” in their language; the more notorious Somali version of the country’s etymology is that Djibouti refers in their language to the place where “cannibals” were defeated.
Eighty-five years after Waugh’s remarks, the streets of the capital clear almost every afternoon. The heat is so incredibly intense that the workday starts and ends early, and then much of the population heads home to chew khat, a leafy plant that is engrained in local culture but banned in most of the West.
Local and foreigners alike say that khat is a central factor in keeping the youth of the country tranquilized, benefitting the police state at the expense of the poor, young male population. Khat does not provoke violence, they say, but rather sedates the young people in society who elsewhere in the world are often at the forefront of democratic or revolutionary movements.
Opponents of Djibouti’s government charge that officials use khat as a “weapon” for repression, with those close to the government facilitating its sale in the country—and even handing it out for favors when campaign season rolls around.
“The regime uses khat as a main weapon to make people calm. If the population is angry, or stressed—they make sure there's khat,” independent journalist Maydane Okiye said. “For eight hours they are high, and another eight they are sleeping—making the population busy for 16 hours.”
“It's like a plague. It takes money, health and time,” added Daher Ahmed Farah, an opposition figure who has been under house arrest on some 20 occasions and jailed six times.
I am interviewing Daher Ahmed Farah at the Sheraton when I notice the two individuals eyeing me from across the lobby. I would later find that they were inquiring about who I was, how long I had been staying at the hotel and generally probing my background. When the opposition figures left the hotel, flanked by their own bodyguards, the two stayed in the lobby to keep an eye on me.
The Sheraton lobby thugs only appeared on my last day in Djibouti, when I had scheduled most of my meetings with opposition figures. The two men don’t say a word—there’s no twinkle of life in their eyes, just an agitated glare that tells me that I’ve crossed some unspoken boundary. I had been worried about setting up meetings with activists who bucked the Djiboutian government—and with good reason: Locals had warned me their phones were surely tapped.
I wait a while before leaving the hotel, and duck off around the corner to see if I’m being followed. The two rush out after me, concerned they’ve lost their target. I was planning to head to the main square to exchange a sizeable amount of Djiboutian francs for U.S. dollars, for my impending departure from the country. This won’t be happening that night.
So, I’m left to stew about the small slice of the police state that’s just been revealed to me.
Dealing with Djibouti means dealing with its government’s murky human-rights record. The U.S. State Department’s own 2014 human-rights report (PDF) on the country cited the government’s restriction of free speech and assembly; its use of excessive force, including torture; as well as the harassment
and detention of government critics.
The government arrested and beat Maydane Okiye in January 2014, for example, after he covered the release of a human-rights activist from detention. In another case, an unidentified man who was detained after a police raid in June 2014 allegedly died due to injuries suffered during interrogation.
And Sahal Ali Youssouf, a 24-year-old who had reportedly participated in opposition protests, was allegedly arrested and fatally beaten in June 2013 by the police.
“Witnesses who saw the body described black marks on the skin and cuts on the soles of the feet,” a State Department report (PDF)said.
In mid-December, a Djiboutian opposition group said at least 19 people were killed in clashes with police—the government said merely nine people were wounded in a confrontation between police and armed individuals, prompting the State Department to condemn the acts of violence and urge the government to “exercise restraint.”
But that’s about as far as the U.S.—or another of the other governments using Djibouti as a military hub—are willing to go. Its strategic importance is too great to upend with urgent demands for political liberalization, a compromise that has become quite common in America’s global war on terrorism.
“We’re a guest in their country,” said a U.S. military service member, who was formerly stationed at Camp Lemonnier, with a tone of resignation.
American officials in Djibouti disagree with this: “There are no taboo topics on what we discuss with the Djiboutian government. We talk about everything, including human rights,” the second in command at the U.S. Embassy, Chargé d’Affaires Christina Higgins, told The Daily Beast—but Djiboutian political rights have been squeezed as the American military footprint in Djibouti has expanded dramatically as part of the Global War on Terror.
Legislative elections held in 2013 were disputed, and during the election more than 500 opponents were arrested, according to pro-democracy group Freedom House. It’s a dispute that remains unresolved even now, in the leadup to the 2016 presidential elections. Democracy advocates and Western diplomats fear there will be violence if the government, led by President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, cannot come to terms with opposition groups.
"If there’s no solution, there’s going to be violence. The government and the people who come on the street, they will clash. The government will abuse their power, and may shoot into the crowds,” Okiye, the independent journalist, told The Daily Beast.
Okiye returned to Djibouti in 2012 after 20 years in the United Kingdom—and his outspoken support for the free press and human rights have led him to thousands of dollars in fines, seven arrests, months of imprisonment, and beatings he says have left lasting damage to his ears and eyes.
Although a framework accord was signed between the government and opposition groups in late 2014, giving hope for a coming detente, the hope has yet to be realized. The accord has not been executed, opposition figures say, and no concrete solutions have emerged for the disputed legislative elections from 2013.
Requests for on-the-record interviews with the Djiboutian president and other high-ranking military and diplomatic officials were briefly entertained, filibustered, and ultimately denied.
But local activists wonder when all of the military spending is actually going to trickle down to the common individual in Djibouti.
"Have we become an aircraft carrier?” asked Farah Abdillahi Miguil, chairman of the Djibouti Human Rights League. “This huge military presence hasn't translated to something positive on issues like democracy."
Besides the government thugs, the streets of Djibouti are relatively safe at night—especially when compared to those in neighboring Somalia or Eritrea. There is a terrorism threat: Just last year, al Shabaab claimed responsibility for a bombing at a restaurant in Djibouti City popular with foreigners. (The restaurant, which serves noodle soups and dim sum along with Western fare, has since been rebuilt and remains popular.)
But the Djiboutian government has also used allegations of terrorism for political purposes. After Abdourahman Boreh, who was once one of President Guelleh’s closest allies, left Djibouti in 2009 amid a power struggle, he was convicted in absentia over allegations that he was involved with a grenade attack in Djibouti and sentenced to 15 years in prison. A U.K. court, which froze Boreh’s assets based on these allegations, later questioned the “so-called evidence” that a grenade attack had even occurred, and this year lifted the freeze.
In many ways, public demands for democratic change are more of a threat to the order of things in Djibouti than terrorism is. Guelleh, who eliminated term limits in 2010, has yet to decide whether he will run for a fourth term in 2016. But the tension over whether he will relinquish power and allow a free Djibouti to decide his successor, combined with the lingering animosity from the as-yet-unresolved legislative elections from two years ago, could combine for a combustible situation.
The political dynamics on this strategic strip of land that the world’s rivals operate from has not been unnoticed by the U.S. Congress. In fact, Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California, has called for regime change.
“The United States must demand that President Guelleh step down after his unprecedented third term expires in 2016,” Hunter wrote to National Security Advisor Susan Rice, in a letter obtained by The Daily Beast. "The United States must have a stable, committed partner in Djibouti—not Ismail Omar Guelleh."
But beyond vague calls to respect human rights, the U.S. government has done little to seriously press Djibouti for change. And as long as Djibouti holds the trump card—its strategic location—neither the United States nor other Western countries will view the domestic political scene with much importance.
And with the arrival of China, a country famously indifferent to the political freedoms of its allies, the situation looks bleaker still. The safari will go on.
This reporter traveled to Djibouti under a Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship, sponsored by the International Center for Journalists.
GIANT COVER-UP IN MUSLIM MIGRANTS' RAPE SPREE
'You know full well that nothing will happen to them'
Published: January 5, 2016
German authorities and media outlets attempted to cover up details of a sexual-assault spree by Arabic and North African migrants on New Year’s Eve.
It took roughly 200 policemen to quell chaos started last Friday by thousands of migrants at Cologne Central Station. Huffington Post Deutschland detailed one major problem: Elites with their hands on the levers of power stymied efforts to identify perpetrators.
Reporter Anabel Schunke said Monday that officials initially told cops to expect 400 migrants involved in brawls, unauthorized use of fireworks, and sexual assaults at the train station. The real number was closer to 2,000, the website reported.
“The media’s handling of this issue is a slap in the face for every victim,” Schunke said, adding that television stations declined to give descriptions of suspects.
A civilian investigator told the reporter not to expect justice for Cologne’s rape victims anytime soon.
“You know full well that nothing will happen to them in Cologne,” the source said. “The judiciary is lax and uses legal tricks in order to drag out asylum procedures.”
Colone's Chief of police, Wolfgang Albers, confirmed 80 crimes perpetrated by gangs of migrants during New Year’s Eve festivities, 35 of which were sexual attacks, Der Express reported Sunday.
“The crimes have been committed by a group of people who mostly come from the North African and Arab countries,” Albers said at a news conference, the newspaper reported. He said five suspects who were arrested had been issued official immigration paperwork.
News of the Cologne cover-up comes less than one week since Bild, Germany’s largest daily newspaper, said officials were conducting a campaign of deception on a national scale.
The newspaper said drug lords are also attempting to recruit many of Germany's 1.1 million new migrants, but officials have been ordered not to disseminate "alarming" news.
A spokesman for Cologne's police union told Breitbart London that migrants were bringing with them a "new dimension" of crime.
"This is something we have not known," the spokesman said Monday.
If Germany MP Steffan Bilger was ordered to keep quiet by Chancellor Angela Merkel, then he broke ranks on Monday.
"It can't go on like this," Bilger tweeted in regards to Germany's migrant crisis. "Urgently needed: reduction of influx, secure borders, intensifying of deportations and meaningful justice."
BERLIN, COLOGNE, HAMBURG, STUTTGART, DUSSELDORF… NEW YEAR’S MIGRANT SEX ASSAULT IN EVERY MAJOR GERMAN CITY
Police have recieved 53 complaints of harrasment relating to new year’s eve so far
JANUARY 7, 2016
German capital city Berlin has joined the sad parade of cities touched by migrant sex violence on New Year’s Eve, with hundreds of assaults now reported to police in Cologne and other cities.
Although on a smaller scale to the unrestrained and un-policed sex attacks in Cologne, the Berliner Morgenpost has now reported on assaults taking place on the street “in front of the Brandenburg gate”.
The revelation may prove difficult for the German media, which until now has stressed in most reports on the new year’s rapes that Berlin was not caught up in the scandal.
The paper reports four separate incidents around the city, including a tourist being sexually assaulted by a group of “three to five men”, and two women being “sexually harassed” by men from Pakistan and Iraq.
Another woman came forward to police on Tuesday following national press coverage of the migrant rape scandal to report being “touched” at a music event by “several immoral men”.
More analagous to the Cologne attacks were events in Hamburg, where groups of “southern or Arab appearance” men aged between 20 and 40 sexually assaulted dozens of women.
Police have recieved 53 complaints of harrasment relating to new year’s eve so far, including 39 of sexual harassment. One 19 year old girl identified by the pseudonym of ‘Lotta’ went out to celebrate the new year in a ‘chic’ dress and high heels.
Spiegel reports their comments when they related while walking between two clubs, they were warned by a bouncer not to go down a particular street, to do so “would be your death”. Despite the warning Lotta and her girlfriends walked down the road but became separated by the men. She said: “I was suddenly alone… 20 to 30 men were standing around me… every time a hand went away, already arrived the next… I felt helpless”.
Having been assaulted under her dress, her hair pulled, and finally thrown to the ground, Lotta met up with her friends, who had all been treated similarly by other groups of men. The girl told Spiegel she thought they were “foreign origin”.
In Stuttgart two 18 year old women were assaulted and robbed by a gang of 15 men reports the Stuttgarter Zeitung, as well as an unspecified number of other “mostly young women” victims. The state prosecutor warned against making comparisons between Stuttgart and Cologne, remarkng “The incidents in both cities vary greatly in their dimensions”.
Düsseldorf saw at least eleven sexual assaults in the historic city centre by “North African” men. In contrast to Stuttgart a police source here was less reticent to admit the scale of the problem, admitting “The nature of the offenses with which is comparable in Cologne”.
Breitbart London was the first English language news site to report on the Cologne sex attacks this week, the events having been obscured by German news media until large numbers of women coming forward to report rapes and sexual abuse and on-line discussion forced events.
German Foreign Minister Warns of Crash of Borderless Europe Over ReGerman Foreign Minister Warns of Crash of Borderless Europe
14:52 05.01.2016(updated 17:59 05.01.2016)
Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned of the "danger" of the collapse of the Schengen borderless travel system, which he described as "perhaps Europe's greatest achievement" after both Denmark and Sweden introduced border controls.
Steinmeier was responding to a frantic two days that began with Sweden gaining permission from Brussels for exemption from the Schengen borderless zone agreement to re-impose photo ID checks on rail, bus and boat passengers crossing between Denmark and Sweden. The move marks the first time in 65 years that checks have been made on such movement between Copenhagen and Malmö.
Rail travelers from Denmark will have to disembark at Copenhagen Airport to be routed through the border checks, further delaying the daily commute. Denmark's Transport Minister Hans Christian Schmidt said the introduction of checks was sad and "extremely annoying."
Denmark reacted by establishing controls on its border with Germany in an attempt to prevent a build-up of refugees moving from Germany towards Sweden and being stopped at the Danish side of the border.
Steinmeier told Germany's Bild newspaper that he believed the right to freedom of movement of people was "perhaps Europe's greatest achievement." When asked by the paper if the future of the Schengen zone was in danger, he replied, "I hope not, but I can see the risk."
He called on EU countries to "join forces to find European solutions to the refugee flow, while at the same time protecting our European external borders effectively."
His comments have a ring of irony about them, since it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was widely criticized for opening the floodgates to refugees by declaring her country's doors open to them, triggering a huge mass movement of people.
Steinmeier's remarks were later reiterated by German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer who told reporters: "Freedom of movement is an important principle — one of the biggest achievements (in the European Union) in recent years. Schengen is very important but it is in danger."
Over a million refugees — mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq — have moved into mainland Europe in the last year, plunging the EU into the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.
The Looming Environmental Disaster in Missouri that Nobody is Talking About
January 2, 2016
St. Louis, MO — What happens when radioactive byproduct from the Manhattan Project comes into contact with an “underground fire” at a landfill? Surprisingly, no one actually knows for sure; but residents of Bridgeton, Missouri, near the West Lake and Bridgeton Landfills — just northwest of the St. Louis International Airport — may find out sooner than they’d like.
And that conundrum isn’t the only issue for the area. Contradicting reports from both the government and the landfill’s responsible parties, radioactive contamination is actively leaching into the surrounding populated area from the West Lake site — and likely has been for the past 42 years.
In order to grasp this startling confluence of circumstances, it’s important to understand the history of these sites. Pertinent information either hasn’t been forthcoming or is muddied by disputes among the various government agencies and companies that should be held accountable for keeping area residents safe.
West Lake Landfill was placed on the National Priorities List in 1990, giving the Environmental Protection Agency regulatory authority through its designation as a Superfund site. However, the area wasn’t a planned radioactive waste storage site. Uranium processing residue leftover from the World War II-era Manhattan Project was originally dumped there, illegally, by a contractor for former uranium processing company and General Atomics affiliate, Cotter Corporation in 1973.
Cotter, Republic Services subsidiaries Bridgeton Landfill LLC and Rock Road Industries LLC, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy are “potentially responsible parties” for West Lake under Superfund guidelines. Power company Exelon Corporation, which owned Cotter from 1974 until 2000, “agreed to retain certain financial obligations relating to environmental claims arising from past Cotter actions, including those at West Lake,” reported St. Louis Public Radio journalist, Véronique LaCapra, who has extensively covered this mess. Bridgeton Landfill falls under the regulatory control of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and is owned and managed by Republic Services subsidiary, Bridgeton Landfill LLC.
Unfortunately, though at least 100,000 tons of nuclear weapons-related residue made their way to West Lake, the exact physical boundaries marking the location of this radioactive waste remain unknown to this day. In fact, because of the ongoing subsurface “fire” at the Bridgeton Landfill, the EPA began conducting tests, which in March 2014 detected the presence of radioactive material further south than it expected — 100 feet inside the bounds of the Bridgeton fill. According to Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., Robert Alvarez, in a 2013 report investigating the West Lake site:
“Of significance is the fact that the largest estimated amount of thorium-230, a long-lived, highly radiotoxic element is present at West Lake — more than any other U.S. weapons storage or disposal site. Soil concentrations of radium-226 and thorium-230 are substantially greater than mill tailing waste. The waste residues from the Mallinckrodt [Chemical Works uranium processing] site were found to contain the largest concentration of thorium-230 from any single source in the United States and possibly the world. Thorium-230 concentrations were found to be some 25,000 times greater than its natural isotopic abundance. […]
“Given these circumstances, the West Lake Landfill would violate all federal legal requirements, established over 30 years ago, for licensing of a radioactive waste disposal site.”
Though the EPA promised results of testing to determine the physical extent of the makeshift nuclear disposal site would be reported by November or December, according to its site, those determinations won’t be available until early spring 2016. In the interim, a small brush fire near West Lake on October 24 prompted the EPA to order the responsible parties to implement a specific prevention work plan on December 9, due to concerns radiologically impacted material (RIM) — present in surrounding trees and vegetation — could catch fire and thus migrate from the area. In the Endangerment Determination section of the report, the EPA stated:
“The actual release or threatened release of hazardous substances at and from the Site, if not addressed by implementing the [specified steps] in this Action Memorandum, may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health, or welfare, and the environment.”
Later that month, torrential rains brought what is now being described as ongoing historic flooding to the area — and with it, yet another set of problems and controversy to West Lake Landfill and the people of Bridgeton and nearby Coldwater Creek.
On Dec 30, a peer-reviewed study, published in the Journal for Environmental Radioactivity, disclosed a startling fact about West Lake: radiological contamination has, indeed, seeped outside the already vague boundaries of the site. According to the study:
“Analysis of 287 soil, sediment, and house dust samples collected in a 200 km2 [77.2 mi2] zone in northern St. Louis County, Missouri, establish that offsite migration of radiological contaminants from Manhattan Project-era uranium processing wastes has occurred in this populated area.”
In fact, nearly half the samples were found to have concentrations of Lead-210 above the acceptable limits established by the U.S. Department of Energy in managing the uranium plant in Fernald, Ohio, which stored the same Manhattan Project-era wastes. The samples “are consistent with water and radon gas releases” from landfill sites employed for storage of such legacy uranium. Alvarez, who wrote the previously-mentioned report in 2013 and who co-authored this study, stated in an interview Tuesday,
“The stuff we’re talking about at West Lake is hotter than what you would find in a typical uranium mill tailings operation.”
As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has previously explained, West Lake Landfill emits radon gas because of the radium, thorium, uranium, and other radioactive substances in the decay series. This radon gas decays into Lead-210, a solid particulate — which is the substance the study investigated — once it drifts from the site. Because the Lead-210 detected in the samples “showed distinctive secular disequilibrium among uranium and its progeny indicative of uranium ore processing wastes” — in other words, distinguishable from naturally-occurring uranium — “this is strong evidence that the Lead-210 originated by decay of short-lived, fugitive radon gas that escaped the landfill.”
As journalist Byron DeLear noted in the Examiner, “It’s important to recognize that the radon daughters, Lead-210, Polonium, Bismuth, etc., are what makes radon exposure the second leading cause of lung cancer.”
Earlier this week, as rain inundated the area, several stills and videos uploaded to the West Lake Landfill Facebook page evidenced spontaneous, active runoff waterfalls flowing directly from areas designated radioactive, collecting in pools, traveling in drainage ditches to streams and creeks — and ultimately, pouring into the now epically-flooded Missouri River. “How could anyone make the argument that RIM is not leaving that site?” State Rep. Bill Otto asked rhetorically after viewing the footage. But EPA spokesperson, Angela Brees, did exactly that, saying — despite strikingly plain evidence to the contrary — the runoff rainwater “came from within the Bridgeton Landfill.”
There is, of course, yet another aspect to this radioactive tangle: the ongoing subsurface fire at Bridgeton Landfill, West Lake’s all-too-immediate neighbor.
Technically, what is occurring isn’t a typical fire with thick, black smoke and flames; rather, “it is a self-sustaining, high-temperature reaction that consumes waste underground, producing rapid ‘settlement’ of the landfill’s surface.”
Bridgeton Landfill LLC alerted MDNR on Dec. 23, 2010, that it discovered high levels of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, low levels of methane, as well as elevated temperatures from several gas extraction wells in the area of the fill known as the south quarry — all indicators of a chemical reaction known as a “subsurface smoldering event” or “underground fire.”
Todd Thalhammer, a landfill fire consultant with the state of Missouri, explained there are several characteristics to determine the presence of an ongoing subsurface fire, including underground temperatures in excess of 170°F and substantial settlement of the land in a short time period. At Bridgeton, an event Thalhammer described as both “catastrophic” and “preventable,” temperatures have been recorded over 300°F, and Republic Services stated the hottest area of the fire is settling at a rate of two to three feet per month. Though it would be impossible to determine the exact cause of this fire, often, such events occur if oxygen manages to permeate below the surface should underground gases be vented too rapidly.
Residents in Bridgeton and nearby Coldwater Creek noticed unusually strong fumes from the fill beginning in early spring 2012, for which MDNR began more frequent monitoring. Though unsafe levels of certain compounds are occasionally indicated, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) recommends “that during periods of objectionable odor, sensitive individuals should stay indoors as much as possible …”
Of greater urgency for many, partly due to a number of unknowns, concerns the increasing likelihood the subsurface fire will reach and ignite the nuclear weapons-waste material.
As of May 2013, Republic estimated the fire to be only 1,200 feet from the radioactive waste, but this contradicted Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster’s determination the same month that the distance measured just 1,000 feet. Of course, until the bounds of the radioactive waste are thoroughly mapped, it’s impossible to determine an accurate distance — but, as mentioned above, the EPA found evidence that waste extended 100 feet into the landfill, which would make that distance a mere 900 feet.
In September, Koster released nine reports about the West Lake and Bridgeton maelstrom. In one of those reports, landfill fire expert Tony Sperling explained the subsurface fire had “unequivocally” gone beyond two gas interceptor wells designed to halt its progress, and with “the reaction moving closer to the North Quarry there exists only a very limited window to take further action to prevent [the underground fire] from once again escalating out of control and causing additional hardship on the community of Bridgeton.”
Sperling inexplicably backed down from the emphatic statement in a deposition in October, but his original assertion certainly raised the level of concern. Republic continues to contest claims the fire isn’t contained within the south quarry, and says temperatures have stabilized in the so-called ‘neck’ area running between the landfill and the nuclear waste fill.
All of this depends on the rate at which the underground reaction is advancing, which, unsurprisingly, is also an open question.
In June 2013, the MDNR commissioned a report that found the fire had slowed its advancement from a rate of three feet per day to around one to two feet per day. Then, in March 2014, a spokesperson for Republic said the rate had slowed to a mere six inches per month, though MDNR did not corroborate, except to agree — based on the company’s temperature evaluation along with physical observations by Bridgeton Landfill — the subsurface fire had “slowed substantially.”
However, Sperling’s report last month claimed drastically accelerated figures, stating the fire had spread north into the neck area of the site, while the reaction in the south quarry sped along at around 150 to 300 feet per month, or five to ten feet per day. If the smoldering reaction were to advance into the north quarry at a similar rate, “high temperatures from the reaction could conceivably reach [the radioactive waste area] in 3 to 6 months.” Sperling’s report came out in September.
The EPA disputes all the findings in Koster’s reports, saying the agency “completely disagrees” and hasn’t found evidence to support claims the fire is nearing the radioactive fill at all.
In order to better understand what would happen should the subsurface fire actually reach the radioactive waste, in 2014, Kansas City Region 7 EPA asked officials from the EPA in Cincinnati to review a report prepared by contractor Engineering Management Support, Inc. In March of that year, the Cincinnati EPA published its analysis, which agreed heat from the reaction would not make the waste more or less radioactive, nor would it explode on its own; however, due to possible unknown substances mixed with the radiological materials, the potential for explosion does exist.
Second, in 2008, the EPA released its Record of Decision, which proposed a “cap” of clay, rock, and soil to constrain the weapons-waste to the West Lake site. Though capping hasn’t begun, it now appears such a cap would be adversely affected by heat generated from the subsurface reaction — thus cracking and releasing radon gas, steam, and radioactive dust.
Further, the constant heat generation could increase pressure below the surface under the cap and force the release of radon gas — which, if only inspected once a year, could avoid detection for months. Also, should the fire continue consuming radioactive waste long-term, area residents would be exposed to unsafe levels of radon gas. Further still, liquid building up below the surface could evacuate radon gas and other radioactive contaminants into groundwater supply.
Residents near the smoldering fill have expressed increasing frustration with the quarreling agencies offering few answers for an increasing number of health issues, like asthma. Meanwhile, a group of residents in Coldwater Creek, nearer the West Lake site, filed a class action lawsuit against Mallinckrodt, the original handler of the nuclear waste material, claiming there have been an astonishing 2,700 cancer cases clustered around the creek — including a number of rare cases of appendix cancer. Even fully testing the creek for radioactive materials will take years to complete.
By its very nature, this incredibly complex and interwoven morass makes solutions difficult and laboriously slow in coming. Theoretical fixes that could apply to, say, containing radioactive materials to the West Lake site, might have negative consequences should the long-smoldering subsurface reaction come into play. Inaction in containing the subsurface fire, in the hope of definitively locating bounds of radioactive waste, have meant further advancement of that very fire in the meantime. With so many unknowns, St. Louis County issued an emergency plan in 2014 “to save lives in the event of a catastrophic event at the West Lake Landfill” — which, though well-intentioned, did nothing to calm nervous residents in the area.
For now, it’s startlingly apparent no one knows exactly what’s happening with the West Lake and Bridgeton Landfills — though the smoldering below the surface doesn’t cease and floodwaters continue to rise.
This article (The Looming Environmental Disaster in Missouri that Nobody is Talking About) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: Daniel Schwen.
AP: Catastrophic event could release radioactive fallout over major U.S. metropolitan area — Gov’t issues emergency plan as fire burns near nuclear site — Report: “World is on brink of nuclear disaster” — Senator: “What we have… could end up as Chernobyl”
Published: October 12th, 2015 at 8:23 pm ET
, Oct 8, 2015 (emphasis added): Beneath the surface of a St. Louis-area landfill lurk two things that should never meet: a slow-burning fire and a cache of Cold War-era nuclear waste, separated by just 300 meters… Authorities have quietly adopted an emergency plan in case the smoldering embers ever reach the waste, a potentially ‘catastrophic event‘ that could release radioactive fallout in a plume of smoke over a densely populated area of suburban St. Louis… [T]he plan for a worst-case scenario was developed only a year ago and never publicized until this week… If the underground fire reaches the waste, “there is a potential for radioactive fallout to be released in the smoke plume and spread throughout the region,” according to the disaster plan. The plan calls for evacuations… in St. Louis County… and perhaps the federal government, would be called upon to help…
The Siberian Times
Hanging Rock 'defies gravity', above a 1,000 metre abyss
By Olga Gertcyk and Vera Salnitskaya
02 January 2016
Experts say a crack has appeared in the precarious granite giant: but if it falls into the lake, it will unleash ancient legends which might change the world.
The impressive stone has a contact area of only one square metre with the rock-face on which it has rested. Picture: Irina Yakunina
One of the wonders of Siberia, there are fears that 2016 could be the year that Hanging Rock finally falls from its perch into the icy lake below. The giant rock has sat uncomfortably on the edge of a precipice probably since glacial times tens of thousands of years ago, but has so far failed to submit to gravity or the efforts of groups of tourists to dislodge it.
In the Western Sayan Mountains, the giant lump in recent decades has stopped rocking, as it did until recent decades. The impressive stone has a contact area of only one square metre with the rock-face on which it has rested since being deposited here by an Ice Age glacier which later receded.
If it falls one kilometre, it could have dire consequences according to legends handed down by native groups since ancient times in this part of southern Siberia. Pictures: Irina Yakunina
Yet local experts say a new crack has appeared which could lead to it falling into the dark waters of Lake Raduzhnoye - the 'pearl' of the Yergaki (or Ergaki) National Park also known as the 'Russian Yosemite' in vast Krasnoyarsk region - literally 'at any time'.
Evidently, the fissure started to show in 2012, and it could lead to the demise of a natural phenomenon which has intrigued man for thousands of years. If it falls one kilometre, it could have dire consequences according to legends handed down by native groups since ancient times in this part of southern Siberia.
A new crack has appeared which could lead to it falling into the dark waters of Lake Raduzhnoye - the 'pearl' of the Yergaki. Picture:The Siberian Times
Peace and order is maintained here by age-old warrior Sleeping Sayan, the Master of the Taiga, it is believed. The falling of the rock will signal that this slumbering giant has awoken from an eternal sleep to defend her motherland (Sleeping Sayan is seen as female). The splash from the rock crashing into the lake below will wash this mystical female warrior's face, and launch a new epoch, with the beginning of new life.
Yet this is not the only legend about Hanging Rock. Another stems from the eerie way the rock vibrates from the wind whistling through the pristine mountain air in its exposed location. Hanging Rock, according to this version, is the beating heart of sleeping Sayan which the gods had removed from her chest.
It is true that many have tried to push Hanging Rock into a watery grave, including one group of 30 tourists who believed they could sway nature. Pictures: Alexey Sokolov, Irina Yakunina
If a man comes along with super-human powers who can lift and dislodge this incongruous stone, then he will replace sleeping warrior Sayan as the keeper of this majestic and unspoiled region. The mystical warrior, in turn, will be finally freed from seemingly endless duties.
It is true that many have tried to push Hanging Rock into a watery grave, including one group of 30 tourists who believed they could sway nature. They all pushed at once, but the coarse-grained granite - hewn from 500 million year old rock - didn't budge. Others boasting Samson-like muscles have also failed - so far - to send Hanging Rock on its way to create a mighty tsunami in the tiny 100 metre diameter lake below.
next week...keep on believing.
“And verily a mountain falling will utterly be destroyed, and a rock shall be worn out of its place.”