Shall Be A Sign Unto You”
Greetings! Although some of the articles included each week in “People of the Keys” can at times appear to be viewed as negative in character, we can nevertheless find inspiration in the fact that even the so called 'negative' articles can be viewed as sign posts on the way to ultimate victory, the rapture and resurrection.
There are many instances in the Bible where the Lord gave signs for upcoming events.
If what is happening in the world today corresponds with Bible prophecy, then surely the final outcome cannot be far off! “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19)
Revelation 19:10 even tells us; “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." As someone once said, “The quicker things get worse, the quicker they will get better.” Much much better.
Titus 2:13 tells us; “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Looking? What are we supposed to be looking at or for? The disciples of Jesus asked Him this same question. “As he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Mat 24:3 KJV)
Notice this is verse three. Jesus didn't skip to verses 30 and 31 which is about His second coming and the rapture and resurrection, but included verses 4 through 26, which if viewed from the wrong perspective could look negative indeed. What, the church is going to go through is the great tribulation, verse 26.
Remember though, the Lord gives you power for the hour, not before.
And also, “All things work together for good to them that love God.”
Have a blessed week ahead.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards commander says its troops in Syria
By Marcus George
DUBAI | Sun Sep 16, 2012
(Reuters) - Members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are providing non-military assistance in Syria and Iran may get involved militarily if its closest ally comes under attack, commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Sunday.
Jafari's statement is the first official acknowledgement that Iran has a military presence on the ground in Syria where an 18-month-old uprising has left tens of thousands dead.
Western countries and Syrian opposition groups have long suspected Iran has troops in Syria. Iran has denied this.
"A number of members of the Qods force are present in Syria but this does not constitute a military presence," Iranian news agency ISNA quoted Jafari as saying at a news conference.
Qods is an IRGC unit set up to export Iran's ideology. It has been accused of plotting attacks inside Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Jafari did not indicate how many IRGC members were in Syria but said they were providing "intellectual and advisory help".
The Islamic Republic has backed Syria's President Bashar al-Assad since the crisis began and regards his rule as a key part of its axis of resistance against Israel and Sunni Arab states.
Jafari also said Iran would change its policy and offer military backing if Syria came under attack.
"I say specifically that if Syria came under military attack, Iran would also give military support but it ... totally depends on the circumstances," he said.
U.S. officials this month accused Iraq of facilitating the transfer of weapons to Syria by opening its airspace to Iranian aircraft. Baghdad has denied the accusation.
Analysts say that losing its key Syrian ally would weaken the Islamic Republic's ability to threaten Israel through the Syrian-backed Shi'ite resistance movement Hezbollah.
Jafari dismissed Israel's threats of attack on Iran, saying Israel was having trouble persuading the United States to back its actions.
"Our answer to Israel is clear. In the face of such actions by the Zionist regime, nothing of Israel would remain," he said.
He said any Israeli attack on Iran would also trigger retaliatory action on U.S. bases in the region and that trade via the Strait of Hormuz would be disrupted.
An attack on Iran would also call into question Iran's commitment to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), he said, comments that will cause concern among Western diplomats who want to find a peaceful resolution to Iran's nuclear program and avoid military consequences.
"If international organizations cannot stop Israel, Iran will not see itself as committed to its obligations. Of course this does not mean that we will go in the direction of a nuclear bomb," Jafari said.
Three rounds of talks earlier this year between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries - the United States, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain - have so far failed to reach agreement on Iran's nuclear activities which the U.S. believes are targeted at developing a weapons capability.
The West is demanding that Tehran halts all high-grade enrichment, close its Fordo nuclear facility and ship out all stocks of high-grade uranium.
Tehran maintains its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.
(Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Louise Ireland)
Armada of British naval power massing in the Gulf as Israel prepares an Iran strike
An armada of US and British naval power is massing in the Persian Gulf in the belief that Israel is considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s covert nuclear weapons programme.
By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
15 Sep 2012
The Strait of Hormuz is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point Photo: ALAMY
Battleships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and submarines from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.
Western leaders are convinced that Iran will retaliate to any attack by attempting to mine or blockade the shipping lane through which passes around 18 million barrels of oil every day, approximately 35 per cent of the world’s petroleum traded by sea.
A blockade would have a catastrophic effect on the fragile economies of Britain, Europe the United States and Japan, all of which rely heavily on oil and gas supplies from the Gulf.
The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most congested international waterways. It is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point and is bordered by the Iranian coast to the north and the United Arab Emirates to the south.
In preparation for any pre-emptive or retaliatory action by Iran, warships from more than 25 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will today begin an annual 12-day exercise.
The war games are the largest ever undertaken in the region.
They will practise tactics in how to breach an Iranian blockade of the strait and the force will also undertake counter-mining drills.
The multi-national naval force in the Gulf includes three US Nimitz class carrier groups, each of which has more aircraft than the entire complement of the Iranian air force.
The carriers are supported by at least 12 battleships, including ballistic missile cruisers, frigates, destroyers and assault ships carrying thousand of US Marines and special forces.
The British component consists of four British minesweepers and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Cardigan Bay, a logistics vessel. HMS Diamond, a brand-new £1billion Type 45 destroyer, one of the most powerful ships in the British fleet, will also be operating in the region.
In addition, commanders will also simulate destroying Iranian combat jets, ships and coastal missile batteries.
In the event of war, the main threat to the multi-national force will come from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps navy, which is expected to adopt an “access-denial” strategy in the wake of an attack, by directly targeting US warships, attacking merchant shipping and mining vital maritime chokepoints in the Persian Gulf.
Defence sources say that although Iran’s capability may not be technologically sophisticated, it could deliver a series of lethal blows against British and US ships using mini-subs, fast attack boats, mines and shore-based anti-ship missile batteries.
Next month, Iran will stage massive military manoeuvres of its own, to show that it is prepared to defend its nuclear installations against the threat of aerial bombardment.
The exercise is being showcased as the biggest air defence war game in the Islamic Republic’s history, and will be its most visible response yet to the prospect of an Israeli military strike.
Using surface-to-air missiles, unmanned drones and state-of-the-art radar, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and air force will combine to test the defences of 3,600 sensitive locations throughout the country, including oil refineries and uranium enrichment facilities.
Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya air defence base, told a conference this month that the manoeuvres would “identify vulnerabilities, try out new tactics and practise old ones”.
At the same time as the Western manoeuvres in the Gulf, the British Response Task Forces Group — which includes the carrier HMS Illustrious, equipped with Apache attack helicopters, along with the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle - will be conducting a naval exercise in the eastern Mediterranean. The task force could easily be diverted to the Gulf region via the Suez Canal within a week of being ordered to do so.
The main naval exercise comes as President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, today to discuss the Iranian crisis.
Many within the Obama administration believe that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities before the US presidential elections, an act which would signal the failure of one of Washington’s key foreign policy objectives.
Both Downing Street and Washington hope that the show of force will demonstrate to Iran that Nato and the West will not allow President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leader, to develop a nuclear armoury or close Hormuz.
Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, reportedly met the Israeli prime minister and Ehud Barak, his defence secretary, two weeks ago in an attempt to avert military action against Iran.
But just last week Mr Netanyahu signalled that time for a negotiated settlement was running out when he said: “The world tells Israel 'Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, 'Wait for what? Wait until when?’
“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”
The crisis hinges on Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme, which Israel believes is designed to build an atomic weapon. Tehran has long argued that the programme is for civil use only and says it has no plans to an build a nuclear bomb, but that claim has been disputed by the West, with even the head of MI6 stating that the Islamic Republic is on course to develop atomic weapons by 2014.
The Strait of Hormuz has long been disputed territory, with the Iranians claiming control of the region and the entire Persian Gulf.
Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps recently boasted that “any plots of enemies” would be foiled and a heavy price exacted, adding: “We determine the rules of military conflict in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.”
But Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, warned that Iranian attempts to exercise control over the Strait of Hormuz could be met with force.
He said: “The Iranians need to understand that the United States and the international community are going to hold them directly responsible for any disruption of shipping in that region — by Iran or, for that matter, by its surrogates.”
Mr Panetta said that the United States was “fully prepared for all contingencies” and added: “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that the Iranian attempt to close down shipping in the Gulf is something that we are going to be able to defeat if they make that decision.”
That announcement was supported by Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, who added: “We are determined to work as part of the international community effort to ensure freedom of passage in the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz.”
One defence source told The Sunday Telegraph last night: “If it came to war, there would be carnage. The Iranian casualties would be huge but they would be able to inflict severe blows against the US and British.
“The Iranian Republican Guard are well versed in asymmetrical warfare and would use swarm attacks to sink or seriously damage ships. This is a conflict nobody wants, but the rhetoric from Israel is unrelenting.”
ITALY TO BAN CASH TRANSACTIONS OVER €50 IN 2013!
SEPTEMBER 10, 2012
You won’t even be able to fill up your car without a credit or debit card in Italy beginning in 2013, as the Italian Council of Ministers has voted to increase the current capital controls banning the use of cash on transactions over €1,000, down to any transaction over €50!
As we stated when Italy first announced capital controls and caps on cash transactions several months ago, expect bans on cash transactions to be coming to a neighborhood near you in the next 2-3 years.
Courtesy Google Translate:
Rome – The technical Rome government wants to limit cash transactions in Italy.
From 2013, citizens may pay amounts in excess of 50 euros only by credit or debit card. That the Council of Ministers decided today.
The measure is intended to reflect the money laundering and black money payments to clamp down. Since July, the government has banned cash transactions over 1,000 euros.
Barroso calls for EU 'federation'
By Joshua Chaffin and Peter Spiegel, FT.com
September 13, 2012
(Financial Times) -- Europe must evolve to "a federation of nation states", Europe's top official has said, as he pleaded for deeper integration among the EU's 27 members and an overhaul of the bloc's treaties to end its ongoing economic turbulence.
The fiscal crisis had revealed the need for a leap forward in political integration to complement the closer co-operation member states had already begun to embrace to harmonise their economic and fiscal policies, José Manuel Barroso said in his annual "state of the union" address.
"I call for ... a democratic federation of nation states that can tackle our common problems, through the sharing of sovereignty in a way that each country and each citizen are better equipped to control their own destiny," the European Commission president said.
"In the age of globalisation pooled sovereignty means more power, not less."
In policy terms, the most substantial proposal Mr Barroso offered was a plan for unified banking supervision in the EU under the auspices of the European Central Bank.
The scheme, whose details were broadly known before the speech, aims to address one of the most toxic aspects of the euro crisis in which faltering banks have seen their obligations piled onto sovereign governments, in turn weakening public finances.
Mr Barroso's call for a new EU treaty was unexpected and could intensify political conflicts within the eurozone, where views on giving up control to Brussels are sharply divided and anti-EU populism is on the rise.
Dutch voters were on Wednesday expected to turn out in significant numbers for anti-bailout and eurosceptic parties on the far left and right -- the Socialist party led by former elementary school teacher Emile Roemer, and the Freedom party of anti-Islamic populist Geert Wilders.
Despite the political climate, the continued intractability of the eurozone crisis has led many who have in the past resisted federalism to change their views, acknowledging that monetary union must be accompanied by federal fiscal institutions such as a treasury and finance ministry in order to make the single currency function.
Mr Barroso himself has long been known as a sceptic of European federalism and won his current job eight years ago in part thanks to backing by Britain, which saw him as more pragmatic on integration issues than his rivals.
Mr Barroso on Wednesday promised to present a blueprint outlining his new vision this autumn. Among other things, the document is expected to set out a path for the establishment of some version of common eurozone bonds, according to an aide, and also to clarify further steps to police national budgets.
Wednesday night's Dutch elections are seen as a litmus test for eurozone attitudes toward further integration, with polls earlier in the campaign showing Mr Roemer's Socialists challenging incumbent prime minister Mark Rutte's Liberal party for the largest percentage of the vote.
While both the Socialists and Freedom parties were predicted to show significant gains in final pre-election polling, both have been overtaken by the pro-EU Labour party, headed by its new leader Diederik Samson, who was locked in a neck-and-neck battle with Mr Rutte last night after a series of strong debate performances.
Double Down: Vladimir’s Putin Billions Into Gold In Anticipation of Global Upheaval
Sept 10, 2012
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says gold is not money. Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger claims it’s only for pre-holocaust Jews and that civilized people don’t buy it. The oracle of Omaha Warren Buffet scorned it as an unproductive asset and says he’ll never invest in it. Financial advisers rarely, if ever, recommend it for personal retirement portfolios and many people will argue that it’s not a worthy personal reserve because you can’t eat it.
For all intents and purposes, some of the most influential investors, monetary officials and financial pundits in the world completely deny gold’s value as a unit of monetary exchange and crisis reserve.
As worthless as it is, however, tens of billions of dollars have recently been shifting into this archaic asset of long forgotten empires.
In the last seven months alone the People’s Republic of China has added more gold to their reserves – over 500 tons – than the entire holdings of the European Central Bank. They aren’t alone.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has been aggresively investing into the precious metal over the last five years – spending some $500 million monthly as he diversifies his country’s assets out of Dollars and Euros. Currently, 9% of Russia’s reserves are held in gold.
This, of course, begs the question: why?
According to the World Gold Council, Russia has more than doubled its gold reserves in the past five years. Putin has taken advantage of the financial crisis to build the world’s fifth-biggest gold pile in a handful of years, and is buying about half a billion dollars’ worth every month.
No one else in the world plays global power politics as ruthlessly as Russia’s chilling strongman…
Putin’s moves may matter to your finances, because there are two ways to look at gold.
On the one hand, it’s an investment that by most modern standards seems to make no sense. It generates no cash flow and serves no practical purpose. Warren Buffett has pointed out that we dig it out of one hole in the ground only to stick it in another, and anyone watching this from Mars would be very confused.
But there’s another way to look at gold: As the most liquid reserve in times of turmoil, or worse.
The big story of our era is not that the Spanish government is broke, nor is it that Paul Ryan apparently feels the need to embellish his running record.It’s that the United States, which has dominated the world’s economy for several lifetimes, is in relative decline.
We will soon be the first people in two hundred years to live in a world not dominated by either Pax Americana or Pax Britannica. This sort of changing of the guard has never been peaceful.
The declines of the Spanish, French and British empires were all accompanied by conflict. The decline of British hegemony was a leading cause of the First and Second World Wars.
What will happen as the U.S. loses its pre-eminence?
Maybe this will turn out better than similar episodes in the past. Maybe the Chinese will embrace an open society and the rule of law. If you believe that, there is probably no reason to hold any gold.
On the other hand, we may be about to enter a much more turbulent and dangerous era of power politics and international competition.
Source: Market Watch [via Ulsterman Report]
Throughout history we’ve seen what happens when nations collapse under the weight of their own debt.
It has almost always led to war across the entire known world.
And when those nations collapsed and were overtaken, their conquerors often exterminated their populations and always confiscated their treasure, which usually amounted to gold, food and other physical resources.
Is this what is coming?
Valdimir Putin, like many precious metals investors, seems to think so, and he’s preparing for a world where the U.S. Dollar, the Euro and other paper assets no longer exist. Nearly 1/10th of his country’s reserves are held in gold. The Chinese officially report 2% of their reserve assets to be held in gold – but it’s often the case that the Chinese don’t like to show all their cards, so there is a strong possibility that they have much more in precious metals holdings than we’re able to verify.
Those who have lived through serious global paradigm shifts and studied history understand what has value when the prevailing political, social and economic systems collapse.
Financier George Soros, who knows a thing or two about crisis and calamity, was there when the Nazis were rounding up Jews in his home country of Hungary. He’s seen the signs before and recently warned of a massive financial collapse, conflict across Europe and violent riots in America. In August he unloaded all of his holdings in major financial institutions, and like Vladimir Putin, moved a portion of his wealth into gold.
If you believe that the economic recovery touted by the elite political class and mainstream experts is real, then by all means take out some more credit and buy a new car, pick up an investment property, and take a two week vacation to a far-off island.
If, however, you think that Vladimir Putin, George Soros, the Chinese and the many others who are warning of an unprecedented global crisis may have an understanding of geo-politics and the real state of the global economy, perhaps it’s time you follow their lead and diversify into investments that will keep you alive in a worst-case scenario.
Physical assets – they’re the only things that will matter when it hits the fan.
It’s time to double down.
Reprinted from by David R. MontgomeryThe Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood.
Biblical-Type Floods Are Real, and They're Absolutely Enormous
Geologists long rejected the notion that cataclysmic flood had ever occurred--until one of them found proof of a Noah-like catastrophe in the wildly eroded river valleys of Washington State.
by David R. Montgomery
- Washington scablands: Hundreds of square miles of Washington State were gouged by the great Missoula Floods 15,000 years ago. - - Shutterstock
After teaching geology at the University of Washington for a decade, I had become embarrassed that I hadn't yet seen the deep canyons where tremendous Ice Age floods scoured down into solid rock to sculpt the scablands. So I decided to help lead a field trip for students to see the giant erosion scars on the local landforms.
We drove across the Columbia River and continued eastward, dropping into Moses Coulee, a canyon with vertical walls of layered basalt. We gathered the students on a small rise and asked them how the canyon had formed. They immediately ruled out wind and glaciers. The valley was not U-shaped like a typical glacial valley, and none of us could imagine how wind might gouge a canyon out of hard basalt. But neither were there rivers or streams. After a while I pointed out that we were standing on a pile of gravel. I asked how the rounded granite pebbles came to be there when the closest source of granite lay over the horizon. Silence.
Hiking through eastern Washington canyons littered with exotic boulders is a standard field trip for beginning geologists. It takes a while to register what you see. A dry waterfall hundreds of feet high in the middle of the desert. Giant potholes where no river flows today. Granite boulders parked in a basalt canyon. Gradually the contradictions fall into place and a story unfolds. Where did wayward boulders the size of a car or house come from? What was the source of the water that moved them around and carved the falls? Today, even novice geologists can conjure up eastern Washington's giant floods.
Long before the discovery of the scablands, geologists dismissed the role of catastrophic floods in interpreting European geology. By the end of the 19th century such ideas not only were out of fashion but were geological heresy. When J Harlen Bretz uncovered evidence of giant floods in eastern Washington in the 1920s, it took most of the 20th century for other geologists to believe him. Geologists had so thoroughly vilified the concept of great floods that they could not believe it when somebody actually found evidence of one.
Bretz was a classic field geologist and a controversial figure throughout his career. In 1925 he presented the story of the region's giant floods, seeing what others at first could not--and then would not--see. He spent his lifetime piecing together the story of how a raging wall of water hundreds of feet high roared across eastern Washington, carving deep channels before cascading down the Columbia River Gorge as a wall of water high enough to turn Oregon's Willamette Valley into a vast backwater lake.
Bretz found exotic granite boulders perched on basalt cliffs hundreds of feet above the highest recorded river level. In the scablands, a desolate region stripped of soil, he came across dry waterfalls and potholes hundreds of feet above the modern river. Gigantic gravel bars deposited within dry valleys implied deep, fast-flowing water. Streamlined hills rose like islands, extending more than 100 feet above the scoured-out channelways.
He realized the chaotic landscape had been carved by an enormous flood that chewed deep channels through hundreds of feet of solid basalt. The ancient flood deposited an enormous delta around Portland, Oregon, backing up flow into the Willamette Valley. The waters, he eventually realized, could have come from catastrophic drainage of Lake Missoula, an ancient, glacier-dammed lake in western Montana.
Bretz was ridiculed until 1940, when geologist Joe Pardee described giant ripple marks on the bed of Lake Missoula. The 50-foot-high ripples, he said, were formed by fast-flowing currents and not by the sluggish bottom water of a lake. Only sudden failure of the glacial dam could have released the 2,000-foot-deep lake. The catastrophic release of 600 cubic miles of water through a narrow gap would sweep away everything in its path. In 1979, when Bretz was 97 years old, the Geological Society of America awarded him its highest honor, the Penrose Medal.
Recognition of the Missoula flood helped other geologists identify similar landforms in Asia, Europe, Alaska, and the American Midwest, as well as on Mars. There is now compelling evidence for many gigantic ancient floods where glacial ice dams failed time and again: At the end of the last glaciation, some 10,000 years ago, giant ice-dammed lakes in Eurasia and North America repeatedly produced huge floods. In Siberia, rivers spilled over drainage divides and changed their courses. England's fate as an island was sealed by erosion from glacial floods that carved the English Channel. These were not global deluges as described in the Genesis story of Noah, but were more focused catastrophic floods taking place throughout the world. They likely inspired stories like Noah's in many cultures, passed down through generations.
Since devastating floods were a fact of life on the margins of the world's great ice sheets, people in those areas probably witnessed them. Early missionaries in eastern Washington reported stories of a great flood among Yakima and Spokane tribes, who could identify locations where survivors sought refuge. An Ojibwa Indian legend from around Lake Superior tells of a great snow that fell one September at the beginning of time: A bag contained the sun's heat until a mouse nibbled a hole in it. The warmth spilled over, melting the snow and producing a flood that rose above the tops of the highest pines. Everyone drowned except for an old man who drifted about in his canoe rescuing animals. The native inhabitants of the Willamette Valley told stories of a time the valley filled with water, forcing everyone to flee up a mountain before the waters receded.
Did survivors of such events pass their stories down through the ages? Could the biblical story of Noah, on some level, be real?
Tsangpo Gorge Flood, Tibet Shutterstock
The Legend: Local folklore describes a traditional Buddhist pilgrimage that circled a small peak ringed by lake terraces. The pilgrims commemorated how Guru Rimpoche brought Buddhism to Tibet by defeating a powerful lake demon, draining its home to reveal fertile farmland. A local temple, which sits on top of a stack of ancient lake sediments, has a striking mural of Guru Rimpoche above a lake at the gorge entrance. The Temple's head lama believes the ocean once covered all of Tibet.
The Evidence: During a 2002 expedition, geologist David Montgomery studied how the Tsangpo River once sawed through rock, carving the world's deepest gorge. His team discovered ancient shorelines and 1,200-year-old wood fragments in lake sediments dating to around the time Rimpoche arrived in Tibet. At the head of the gorge, glacial debris was plastered on both sides of the valley, confirming that a massive tongue of ice once plunged down a nearby 25,000-foot-high peak. Two levels of terraces extending upstream indicated a wall of ice and mud had dammed the river, backing up a lake that filled the valley. Once the lake filled enough to breach the dam, a rush of water roared down the gorge, scouring out everything in its path.
Grand Canyon Flood Shutterstock
The Legend: A local Native American tribe, the Havasupai, attributes the canyon's carving to a catastrophic flood down the Colorado River that occurred when the god Ho-ko-ma-ta unleashed a tremendous rainstorm. A more benevolent god, Pu-keh-eh, put his daughter in a hollowed-out log to save her from the monstrous current. After the flood receded, she crawled out and became mother of all humanity.
The Evidence: The rocks exposed in the canyon walls could not have settled during a single flood because they alternate many times in color, grain size, and composition. Although floods did not create the canyon [pdf], evidence suggests they helped shape it. Huge boulders are perched hundreds of feet above the river. Floods capable of stranding boulders so high would have been spectacular. The breaching of cooled lava dams that impounded the river may have launched these catastrophic floods. But these deluges occurred at least 400,000 years ago, long before people made it to the continent. The Native American tale of how the canyon formed is apparently an attempt to make sense of mysterious landforms.
Black Sea Flood Shutterstock
The Legend: In the story of Noah's Ark, the book of Genesis says Noah lived during a time when all other people on Earth were evil. God became angry and decided to create a giant flood to kill everyone except Noah and his family. God told Noah to build a boat called an ark, big enough for himself, his wife, his sons, their wives, and at least two of every animal. Once the ark was built, God sent a rainstorm that lasted 40 days. The deluge rose higher than the tallest mountain. When the waters receded, Noah's family and animals left the ark and repopulated the Earth.
The Evidence: After refuting the possibility of a global flood, geologists dismissed suggestions that the story of Noah's Flood might be rooted in some sort of fact. Then, in 1993, oceanographers Bill Ryan and Walter Pitman of Columbia University used sonar to survey the floor of the Black Sea--and found evidence supporting the story after all. Submerged beneath the surface were ancient streambeds, river-cut canyons, and shorelines. High-resolution seismic reflection profiles showed a former land surface buried in the seafloor sediments. Drill cores from the seafloor contained roots of shrubs covered by marine mud. Ryan and Pitman argued that over 7,000 years ago, the Mediterranean began to rise, breaching rocks along the Istanbul Strait, a waterway that helps form the boundary between Europe and Asia today. The event caused the Mediterranean to spill into the Black Sea, triggering a catastrophic flood.
Were early farmers in the area forced to flee as their world disappeared underwater? Archaeologists found the rising waters coincided with the onset of the initial migration of farming cultures into Europe and the floodplains of Mesopotamia. Wherever they came from, the first farmers arrived in southern Mesopotamia shortly after the filling of the Black Sea. Did they bring the story of a great flood that destroyed their world?
Vandals daub anti-Christian graffiti on monastery in Israel
From Kareem Khadder
September 5, 2012
Tourists look at a burnt door as they walk past grafitti sprayed on the wall of the Christian Catholic Latrun monastery on Tuesday.
Jerusalem (CNN) -- The entrance door to a century-old monastery near Jerusalem was burned away and anti-Christian graffiti was sprayed on the walls Tuesday, in what Israeli police said appeared to be a nationalistic attack.
The phrase "Jesus is a monkey" was painted on the walls of Latrun Monastery in large orange letters, as well as the words "Migron" and "Maoz Esther," referring to two illegal Israeli settler outposts in the West Bank.
Families were evacuated from the outposts over the weekend by Israeli government forces.
The Rev. Louis Wahbeh, of the 19th century monastery, told CNN that he was shocked that anyone would plan and carry out such an attack.
"This is a direct insult to our belief," he said. "We can't understand how such people can get to this low level of not respecting others, have no ethical background and don't have any human values."
He described the incident as a "price tag" attack, a term used to describe acts of vandalism by radical Israeli settlers exacting a "price" against Palestinian targets or Israeli security forces in response to actions by the Israeli government.
Such attacks have often targeted Palestinian mosques and property.
While the majority of Palestinian Israelis are Muslim, there are also Palestinian Christians living in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told CNN the attack on Latrun Monastery was a "criminal incident with a nationalistic motives."
A special investigation team has been assigned to try to identify the suspects, who fled the scene, and forensic tests are being carried out, he said.
"We are obviously looking into the possibility that extremists were involved," he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the vandalism.
"Those responsible for this reprehensible act need to be punished severely," he said. "Freedom of religion and freedom of worship are among the most basic foundations of the state of Israel."
Israeli extremists have previously retaliated against both Islamic and Christian sites when they were forcibly evacuated from illegal West Bank outposts or settlements.
In February, a Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem was similarly targeted when Israeli extremists wrote "Death to the Christians" on the walls and slashed the tires of churchgoers' vehicles.
Many mosques in the West Bank have also been set on fire in recent years and racist graffiti sprayed on the walls, including the words "price tag" and "Mohammad is a pig."
The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, denounced Tuesday's incident and called on the Israeli government to bring those responsible to justice.
"The Israeli government must take responsibility for the continuous settler violence towards religious sites. Several mosques have been attacked in recent months, but little or no action taken," it said in a written statement. "Extremist Israeli government policies -- marred with bigotry -- encourage settler hate crimes against Palestinians and their places of worship."
The incident comes against a backdrop of concern over racism toward Arabs in Israel, in the wake of two violent attacks against Palestinians last month, one in Jerusalem and the other on the West Bank. Teenagers are suspected in both cases.
Latrun Monastery was built overlooking the Ayalon Valley by French Trappist monks. It is a destination for Christian pilgrims from overseas, as well as a place of worship for Palestinian Christians.
The Raw Story
Web inventor warns governments: Internet has no off switch
By Agence France-Presse
September 5, 2012Share on facebook
Topics: governments â™¦ tim berners lee â™¦ World Wide Web
LONDON -- Tim Berners-Lee, the British inventor of the World Wide Web, on Wednesday warned governments that attempts to block the Internet were doomed to failure due to its scattered structure.
Speaking at the launch of a league table showing which countries use the web most effectively, Berners-Lee said the lack of a global Internet "off-switch" meant authoritarian regimes could not stem the influx of digital information.
"The way the Internet is designed is very much as a decentralised system," he explained at the London launch.
"At the moment, because countries connect to each other in lots of different ways, there is no one off switch, there is no central place where you can turn it off.
"In order to be able to turn the whole thing off or really block, suppress one particular idea then the countries and governments would have to get together and agree and co-ordinate and turn it from a decentralised system to being a centralised system.
"And if that does happen it is really important that everybody fights against that sort of direction."
Sweden came out on top of the global league table, which was calculated by the World Wide Web Foundation using indicators such as the political, economic and social impact of the web, connectivity and use.
The US came in second, ahead of Britain, Canada and Finland. France came in at 14th place. Yemen ranked bottom, closely followed by Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Benin.
Berners-Lee, who was honoured during the London Olympics opening ceremony, launched the first web page on Christmas Day 1990.
He is credited with creating the World Wide Web, which enables users to store and access information via the Internet.
Apple patent may foreshadow iPhones that react to location
The technology described in a new Apple patent could force your iPhone to act differently based on its surroundings.
by Lance Whitney August 28, 2012
Imagine a mobile phone that automatically turns off its display and sounds when it senses that it's in a movie theater.
That technology would make movie goers happy. And it could pop up in a future iPhone, at least if Apple brings its latest patent to life.
Described as an "apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device," a patent awarded today to Apple reveals a way to change aspects of a mobile device based on certain events or surroundings.
For example, the phone could disable its own noise and display if it knows it's in a theatre. It could be prevented from communicating with other devices if it detects that it's in a classroom. Or it could automatically go into sleep mode if entering a sensitive area where noises are taboo.
In a typical scenario, the mobile device would communicate with a network access point that enforces a certain policy, such as putting the handset on mute. Users could have the option of accepting or rejecting a connection with the access point based on the policies. A single access point could also offer multiple policies.
Implementing such policies could be tricky. Most of us don't like it when someone else's phone goes off in a movie theater, library, or similar public place.
But some people would almost certainly object to the restrictions placed on the functionality of their own phones.
For now, of course, this "situational-awareness" technology remains in Apple's patent stage. But it would be interesting to see how people react to it should it ever come to fruition on the iPhone or other mobile consumer devices.
EU funding 'Orwellian' artificial intelligence plan to monitor public for "abnormal behaviour"
The European Union is spending millions of pounds developing "Orwellian" technologies designed to scour the internet and CCTV images for "abnormal behaviour".
By Ian Johnston
19 Sep 2009
A five-year research programme, called Project Indect, aims to develop computer programmes which act as "agents" to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.
Its main objectives include the "automatic detection of threats and abnormal behaviour or violence".
Project Indect, which received nearly £10 million in funding from the European Union, involves the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and computer scientists at York University, in addition to colleagues in nine other European countries.
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights group Liberty, described the introduction of such mass surveillance techniques as a "sinister step" for any country, adding that it was "positively chilling" on a European scale.
The Indect research, which began this year, comes as the EU is pressing ahead with an expansion of its role in fighting crime, terrorism and managing migration, increasing its budget in these areas by 13.5% to nearly £900 million.
The European Commission is calling for a "common culture" of law enforcement to be developed across the EU and for a third of police officers – more than 50,000 in the UK alone – to be given training in European affairs within the next five years.
According to the Open Europe think tank, the increased emphasis on co-operation and sharing intelligence means that European police forces are likely to gain access to sensitive information held by UK police, including the British DNA database. It also expects the number of UK citizens extradited under the controversial European Arrest Warrant to triple.
Stephen Booth, an Open Europe analyst who has helped compile a dossier on the European justice agenda, said these developments and projects such as Indect sounded "Orwellian" and raised serious questions about individual liberty.
"This is all pretty scary stuff in my book. These projects would involve a huge invasion of privacy and citizens need to ask themselves whether the EU should be spending their taxes on them," he said.
"The EU lacks sufficient checks and balances and there is no evidence that anyone has ever asked 'is this actually in the best interests of our citizens?'"
Miss Chakrabarti said: "Profiling whole populations instead of monitoring individual suspects is a sinister step in any society.
"It's dangerous enough at national level, but on a Europe-wide scale the idea becomes positively chilling."
According to the official website for Project Indect, which began this year, its main objectives include "to develop a platform for the registration and exchange of operational data, acquisition of multimedia content, intelligent processing of all information and automatic detection of threats and recognition of abnormal behaviour or violence".
It talks of the "construction of agents assigned to continuous and automatic monitoring of public resources such as: web sites, discussion forums, usenet groups, file servers, p2p [peer-to-peer] networks as well as individual computer systems, building an internet-based intelligence gathering system, both active and passive".
York University's computer science department website details how its task is to develop "computational linguistic techniques for information gathering and learning from the web".
"Our focus is on novel techniques for word sense induction, entity resolution, relationship mining, social network analysis [and] sentiment analysis," it says.
A separate EU-funded research project, called Adabts – the Automatic Detection of Abnormal Behaviour and Threats in crowded Spaces – has received nearly £3 million. Its is based in Sweden but partners include the UK Home Office and BAE Systems.
It is seeking to develop models of "suspicious behaviour" so these can be automatically detected using CCTV and other surveillance methods. The system would analyse the pitch of people's voices, the way their bodies move and track individuals within crowds.
Project coordinator Dr Jorgen Ahlberg, of the Swedish Defence Research Agency, said this would simply help CCTV operators notice when trouble was starting.
"People usually don't start to fight from one second to another," he said. "They start by arguing and pushing each other. It's not that 'oh you are pushing each other, you should be arrested', it's to alert an operator that something is going on.
"If it's a shopping mall, you could send a security guard into the vicinity and things [a fight] maybe wouldn't happen."
Open Europe believes intelligence gathered by Indect and other such systems could be used by a little-known body, the EU Joint Situation Centre (SitCen), which it claims is "effectively the beginning of an EU secret service". Critics have said it could develop into "Europe's CIA".
The dossier says: "The EU's Joint Situation Centre (SitCen) was originally established in order to monitor and assess worldwide events and situations on a 24-hour basis with a focus on potential crisis regions, terrorism and WMD-proliferation.
"However, since 2005, SitCen has been used to share counter-terrorism information.
"An increased role for SitCen should be of concern since the body is shrouded in so much secrecy.
"The expansion of what is effectively the beginning of an EU 'secret service' raises fundamental questions of political oversight in the member states."
Superintendent Gerry Murray, of the PSNI, said the force's main role would be to test whether the system, which he said could be operated on a countrywide or European level, was a worthwhile tool for the police.
"A lot of it is very academic and very science-driven [at the moment]. Our budgets are shrinking, our human resources are shrinking and we are looking for IT technology that will help us five years down the line in reducing crime and combating criminal gangs," he said.
"Within this Project Indect there is an ethical board which will be looked at: is it permissible within the legislation of the country who may use it, who oversees it and is it human rights compliant."
Breakdown: Three Tons of Food Looted From Grocery Stores In Spain As Millions Struggle
September 5th, 2012
As the economic and financial systems of the world rapidly approach the real possibility of total collapse, signs of what we can expect on a mass scale in the near future are beginning to appear throughout Europe.
In Spain, a country that just a few years ago was heralded as a shining example of real estate entrepreneurship, international tourism and a rising middle class, the situation is so bad that many are unable to meet the most basic necessities for life.
Social safety nets across the continent are visibly under stress and breaking down, so much so that unemployed Spaniards have begun raiding supermarkets in order to put food on the table. As recently as last month the people of Cadiz and Sevilla, which have a reported unemployment rate of 32%, joined together to loot local grocery stores of three tons of food - some of which was distributed to local food banks:
In Spanish with English subtitles:
Fernando Ferfal Aguirre, author of Surviving the Economic Collapse, was in Argentina in the early 2000â€²s when the country underwent a hyperinflationary currency meltdown, and says that these acts of desperation are a carbon copy of what he witnessed in his own country and should be expected as the economic crisis accelerates:
To be fair they aren't taking booze and big screen TVs, but taking what isn't yours is still under the same principle. Would you do any different if you couldn't put food on the table and spent months unemployed?
Just a few years ago many Spaniards would joke saying that thanks to the new immigration wave everyone in Spain could afford to have a "Sudaca" as a maid. Sudaca is a derogatory term similar to wetbacks, commonly used in Spain referring to South Americans. This is pretty sad given that these "sudacas" are children and grandchildren of those same Spaniards that left to SA because of the Spanish Civil war. Now, its obvious that they are suffering many of the miseries their "Sudaca" brothers went through in the past.
Spaniards eating out of garbage bins, many of them senior citizens, have become a common sight in Spain and in other European countries where they have emigrated to looking for work themselves.
In the following videos via The Modern Survivalist and Prepper Website, we can see what happens to civilized societies when there is no food on grocery store shelves or it's so expensive that it becomes unaffordable for the majority of the population:
Available in Spanish only:
This morning we learned that 46.7 million Americans - a new record - are receiving government nutritional food assistance benefits, so the troubles we're seeing in Spain, Greece and other European countries are not just limited to the other side of the ocean. They are happening right here at home.
The only reason stores in the United States are not yet being looted like those in Spain is that our social safety nets are still able to support the basic needs of most of the population. But as prices continue to rise, more jobs are lost, and record numbers of people join the ranks of the already 100 million receiving some form of government welfare, the breaking point is quickly approaching.
In Spain, just a few short years ago people were living the high life. Expensive homes, expensive cars, luxury vacations and dining, ever-expanding credit limits, and not a worry in the world. Does that sound familiar?
Those same people who would have laughed in your face five years ago had you told them the economy was going to collapse and their country would be facing a massive debt default that would leave the majority of their population in poverty - those same people are rumaging through garbage cans in the hopes they can find some bread, rice and vegetables to put on their dinner tables.
This is reality.
Why 2013 will be a year of crisis - CNN.com
By David Frum , CNN Contributor
September 3, 2012
Rotting corn was damaged by severe drought on a farm near Bruceville, Indiana.
Editor's note: David Frum is a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Daily Beast and a CNN contributor. He is the author of seven books, including a new novel, "Patriots."
(CNN) -- Prediction: 2013 will be a year of serious global crisis. That crisis is predictable, and in fact has already begun. It will inescapably confront the next president of the United States. Yet this emerging crisis got not a mention at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. We'll see if the Democrats do better.
The crisis originates in this summer's extreme weather. Almost 80% of the continental United States experienced drought conditions. Russia and Australia experienced drought as well.
The drought has ruined key crops. The corn harvest is expected to drop to the lowest level since 1995. In just July, prices for corn and wheat jumped about 25% each, prices for soybeans about 17%.
These higher grain prices will flow through to higher food prices. For consumers in developed countries, higher food prices are a burden -- but in almost all cases, a manageable burden.
Americans spend only about 10% of their after-tax incomes on food of all kinds, including restaurant meals and prepackaged foods. Surveys for Gallup find that the typical American family is spending one-third less on food today, adjusting for inflation, than in 1969.
But step outside the developed world, and the price of food suddenly becomes the single most important fact of human economic life. In poor countries, people typically spend half their incomes on food -- and by "food," they mean first and foremost bread.
When grain prices spiked in 2007-2008, bread riots shook 30 countries across the developing world, from Haiti to Bangladesh, according to the Financial Times. A drought in Russia in 2010 forced suspension of Russian grain exports that year and set in motion the so-called Arab spring.
Since the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian government has provided subsidized bread to the population. A disk of round flat bread costs about a penny. In the later 2000s, however, the Mubarak government found it could not keep pace with surging grain costs.
As Egypt's population doubled from 20 million in 1950 to 40 million in 1980 and now more than 80 million, Egypt has gained first place as the world's largest wheat importer. The price rises of 2007-2010 exceeded the Mubarak government's resources. Cheap bread vanished from the stores. Discontent gathered. In the August 18 issue of the British magazine The Spectator, John R. Bradley, an Arabic-speaking journalist long resident in Egypt, described what happened next:
"The conversations of tiny groups of Cairo's English-speaking elites, and their Western drinking companions, were a world apart from talk among the Egyptian masses. ... The main hope of those who poured into Tahrir Square was shared by the revolutionaries in Tunisia: that sudden and radical change would miraculously mean affordable food."
And if food prices surge again? China is especially vulnerable to food cost inflation. In just one month, July 2011, the cost of living jumped 6.5%. Inflation happily subsided over the course of 2012. Springtime hopes for a bumper U.S. grain crop in 2012 enabled the Chinese central bank to ease credit in the earlier part of the summer. Now the Chinese authorities will face some tough choices over what to do next.
The Arab Spring of 2011 is sometimes compared to the revolutions of 1848. That's apter than people realize: the "hungry '40s" were years of bad harvests across Europe. Hungry people are angry people, and angry people bring governments down.
Will 2013 bring us social turmoil in Brazil, strikes in China or revolution in Pakistan? The answer can probably be read in the price indexes of the commodities exchanges -- and it is anything but reassuring.
New York Times
U.S. Companies Brace for an Exit From the Euro by Greece
By NELSON D. SCHWARTZ
September 2, 2012
Even as Greece desperately tries to avoid defaulting on its debt, American companies are preparing for what was once unthinkable: that Greece could soon be forced to leave the euro zone.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch has looked into filling trucks with cash and sending them over the Greek border so clients can continue to pay local employees and suppliers in the event money is unavailable. Ford has configured its computer systems so they will be able to immediately handle a new Greek currency.
No one knows just how broad the shock waves from a Greek exit would be, but big American banks and consulting firms have also been doing a brisk business advising their corporate clients on how to prepare for a splintering of the euro zone.
That is a striking contrast to the assurances from European politicians that the crisis is manageable and that the currency union can be held together. On Thursday, the European Central Bank will consider measures that would ease pressure on Europe's cash-starved countries.
JPMorgan Chase, though, is taking no chances. It has already created new accounts for a handful of American giants that are reserved for a new drachma in Greece or whatever currency might succeed the euro in other countries.
Stock markets around the world have rallied this summer on hopes that European leaders will solve the Continent's debt problems, but the quickening tempo of preparations by big business for a potential Greek exit this summer suggests that investors may be unduly optimistic. Many executives are deeply skeptical that Greece will accede to the austere fiscal policies being demanded by Europe in return for financial assistance.
Greece's abandonment of the euro would most likely create turmoil in global markets, which have experienced periodic sell-offs whenever Europe's debt problems have flared up over the last two and a half years. It would also increase the pressure on Italy and Spain, much larger economic powers that are struggling with debt problems of their own.
"It's safe to say most companies are preparing," said Paul Dennis, a program manager with Corporate Executive Board, a private advisory firm.
In a survey this summer, the firm found that 80 percent of clients polled expected Greece to leave the euro zone, and a fifth of those expected more countries to follow.
"Fifteen months ago when we started looking at this, we said it was unthinkable," said Heiner Leisten, a partner with the Boston Consulting Group in Cologne, Germany, who heads up its global insurance practice. "It's not impossible or unthinkable now."
Mr. Leisten's firm, as well as PricewaterhouseCoopers, has already considered the timing of a Greek withdrawal -- for example, the news might hit on a Friday night, when global markets are closed.
A bank holiday could quickly follow, with the stock market and most local financial institutions shutting down, while new capital controls make it hard to move money in and out of the country.
"We've had conversations with several dozen companies and we're doing work for a number of these," said Peter Frank, who advises corporate treasurers as a principal at Pricewaterhouse. "Almost all of that has come in over the transom in the last 90 days."
He added: "Companies are asking some very granular questions, like 'If a news release comes out on a Friday night announcing that Greece has pulled out of the euro, what do we do?' In some cases, companies have contingency plans in place, such as having someone take a train to Athens with 50,000 euros to pay employees."
The recent wave of preparations by American companies for a Greek exit from the euro signals a stark switch from their stance in the past, said Carole Berndt, head of global transaction services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
"When we started giving advice, they came for the free sandwiches and chocolate cookies," she said jokingly. "Now that has changed, and contingency planning is focused on three primary scenarios -- a single-country exit, a multicountry exit and a breakup of the euro zone in its entirety."
Banks and consulting firms are reluctant to name clients, and many big companies also declined to discuss their contingency plans, fearing it could anger customers in Europe if it became known they were contemplating the euro's demise.
Central banks, as well as Germany's finance ministry, have also been considering the implications of a Greek exit but have been even more secretive about specific plans.
But some corporations are beginning to acknowledge they are ready if Greece or even additional countries leave the euro zone, making sure systems can handle a quick transition to a new currency.
In Europe, the holding company for Iberia Airlines and British Airways has acknowledged it is preparing plans in the event of a euro exit by Spain.
"We've looked at many scenarios, including where one or more countries decides to redenominate," said Roger Griffith, who oversees global settlement and customer risk for MasterCard. "We have defined operating steps and communications steps to take." He added: "Practically, we could make a change in a day or two and be prepared in terms of our systems."
In a statement, Visa said that it too would also be able to make "a swift transition to a new currency with the minimum possible disruption to consumers and retailers."
Juniper Networks, a provider of networking technology based in California, created a "Euro Zone Crisis Assessment and Contingency Plan," which company officials liken to the kind of business continuity plans they maintain in the event of an earthquake.
"It's about having an awareness versus having to scramble," said Catherine Portman, vice president for treasury at Juniper. The company has already begun moving funds in euro zone banks to accounts elsewhere more frequently, while making sure it has adequate money and liquidity in place so employees and suppliers are paid without disruption.
FMC, a chemical giant based in Philadelphia, is asking some Greek customers to pay in advance, rather than risk selling to them now and not getting paid later. It has also begun to avoid keeping any excess cash in Greek, Spanish or Italian bank accounts, while carefully monitoring the creditworthiness of customers in those countries.
"It's been a very hot topic," said Thomas C. Deas Jr., an FMC executive who serves as chairman of the National Association of Corporate Treasurers. Members of his group discussed the issue on a conference call last Tuesday, he added.
American companies have actually been more aggressive about seeking out advice than their European counterparts, according to John Gibbons, head of treasury services in Europe for JPMorgan Chase.
Mr. Gibbons said a handful of the largest American companies had requested the special accounts configured for a currency that did not yet exist.
"We're planning against the extreme," he said. "You don't lose anything by doing it."
EU's Poorest Member Country Smacks Down Euro As Bulgaria Refuses To Join Eurozone
Submitted by Tyler Durden
If one needs a shining example of why the days of Europe's artificial currency are numbered, look no further than the EU's poorest country which moments ago said "Ne Mersi" to the Eurozone and the European currency. From the WSJ: "Bulgaria, the European Union's poorest member state and a rare fiscal bright spot for the bloc, has indefinitely frozen long-held plans to adopt the single currency, marking the latest fiscally prudent country to cool its enthusiasm for the embattled currency. Speaking in interviews in Sofia, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Finance Minister Simeon Djankov said that the decision to shelve plans to join the currency area, a longtime strategic aim of successive governments in the former communist state, came in response to deteriorating economic conditions and rising uncertainty over the prospects of the bloc, alongside a decisive shift of public opinion in Bulgaria, which is entering its third year of an austerity program. "The momentum has shifted in our thinking and among the public...Right now, I don't see any benefits of entering the euro zone, only costs," Mr. Djankov said. "The public rightly wants to know who would we have to bailout when we join? It's too risky for us and it's also not certain what the rules are and what are they likely to be in one year or two."
Of course, Bulgaria is right: at this point the only "upside" to new EMU entrants is for the unelected Brussels technocrats, who are now the butt of every possible joke, to demand said countries hand over their middle class' wealth in order to bailout Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy and all the rest of the "wealthy and developed." And since. in trader jargon, by not being "long" the euro, Bulgaria is effectively "short" it, expect to hear some rather disparaging statements emanating out of Europe's insolvent core vis-a-vis the poor nation shortly.
From the WSJ:
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said concerns had been heightened by growing disputes between policy makers, some of whom back Germany's call to give priority to fiscal discipline over growth, while others want a more expansionary policy.
"I'm certain that we will definitely see a deepening divide in Europe now because many governments are not prepared to stomach the difficult decisions they have to take. It's like a spoilt child who doesn't want to go to the dentist to fix his bad teeth, even though the operation is needed," Mr. Borisov said. "This moment is critical for the euro zone and for the EU," he added.
Mr. Djankov said that Bulgaria's economy should still expand by around 1.5% this year, but warned that the euro zone could face up to five years with "zero growth" if national leaders continue to mull policy responses to the crisis instead of fully backing Germany's call to continue strict fiscal consolidation.
On the periphery of the euro zone, but overwhelmingly dependent on the bloc's larger economies for growth, Bulgaria has thus far managed to weather the euro crisis. The economy last year grew by a modest 1.7% and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development expects that to slow to 1.2% this year. Unemployment has risen to over 12%, but that is around half the levels in Greece and Spain, while Russian investment in the Black Sea resorts is rising rapidly.
In July, when investor sentiment toward the euro zone was less negative, Sofia tapped capital markets, with a heavily oversubscribed five-year â‚¬950 million 1.19 billion) Eurobond.
But Bulgaria's exposure to the deteriorating health of the euro zone has been compounded in recent months by mounting problems of other economies on its borders.
The paradox is that when Greece finally succumbs to reality, and is forced (or opts) out of Europe and the EMU, the biggest beneficiary will be Bulgaria, as billions in capital are redirected toward it from the "poor" country's southern neighbor, for whom the future is so bleak, rumors of a military coup make the rounds every other day.
As to why Bulgaria is slowly becoming the model for Europe, here is a brief extract from a Bloomberg article which explains why taking the pain and sufferening now, and administering true austerity, even if it means total losses of wealth for those who are not prepared for hyperinflation (which Bulgaria had for a long period of time in the 1990s) instead of deferring pain via unrepayable debt, always leads to beneficial consequences:
In 1989, the Soviet bloc collapsed. A new Bulgarian democracy was born, but with no money in the state treasury to pay for it. The nation's savings were insignificant, shops were empty, unemployment was high and infrastructure was rudimentary. Austerity was just a fact of life.
After seven years of delayed reforms, booming private businesses and an almost complete lack of regulation, hyperinflation came to Bulgaria in 1996 and again wiped out the nation's savings, forcing the closure of a third of the country's banks. As a result, the lev -- Bulgaria's currency -- was pegged to the deutsche mark (later to the euro), and the central bank was banned from lending to commercial banks, a precaution that remains in place today. The International Monetary Fund requires that all Bulgarian currency in circulation should be fully matched by foreign-exchange reserves.
The decade of 1989-1999 was harsh, but it turned Bulgaria into a disciplined nation of savers -- even after the country joined the EU in 2007. The banking sector is financed by these savings accounts, which provide a healthy Tier 1 capital- adequacy ratio of 15.8 percent. Credit-card penetration is extremely low -- Bulgarians prefer cash.
Being poor is no fun, of course. Public-sector employees are badly paid and retired people struggle to survive with their low pensions. Not a single motorway has been completed to link one end of Bulgaria with another and only parts of the subway in the capital, Sofia, work. This is the price to pay for not spending money that isn't yours to improve your lot, at the level of the state and of the individual consumer.
But today Bulgaria has positive economic growth and the second-lowest state debt in the EU (after Estonia) at 16 percent of gross domestic product. It also has a manageable budget deficit of about 2 percent of GDP, despite levying a flat corporate and personal income tax of just 10 percent. Foreign- exchange reserves amount to 6 percent of GDP. In short, the country has a future.
Greeks, by contrast, have been spending more than they earn for the last 20 years. Once an employee entered the public sector, he couldn't be laid off; he received 40 days' vacation per year; and he was paid 14 months out of 12, with guaranteed annual raises. Greeks are richer as a result, but that lifestyle is not sustainable. Debt to GDP is 165 percent and the budget deficit is an unmanageable 9.1 percent.
The New York Times
Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role (In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:52 ?)
By GINA KOLATA
September 5, 2012
Among the many mysteries of human biology is why complex diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and psychiatric disorders are so difficult to predict and, often, to treat. An equally perplexing puzzle is why one individual gets a disease like cancer or depression, while an identical twin remains perfectly healthy.
Now scientists have discovered a vital clue to unraveling these riddles. The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as “junk” but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches.
The findings, which are the fruit of an immense federal project involving 440 scientists from 32 laboratories around the world, will have immediate applications for understanding how alterations in the non-gene parts of DNA contribute to human diseases, which may in turn lead to new drugs. They can also help explain how the environment can affect disease risk. In the case of identical twins, small changes in environmental exposure can slightly alter gene switches, with the result that one twin gets a disease and the other does not.
As scientists delved into the “junk” — parts of the DNA that are not actual genes containing instructions for proteins — they discovered a complex system that controls genes. At least 80 percent of this DNA is active and needed. The result of the work is an annotated road map of much of this DNA, noting what it is doing and how. It includes the system of switches that, acting like dimmer switches for lights, control which genes are used in a cell and when they are used, and determine, for instance, whether a cell becomes a liver cell or a neuron.
“It’s Google Maps,” said Eric Lander, president of the Broad Institute, a joint research endeavor of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In contrast, the project’s predecessor, the Human Genome Project, which determined the entire sequence of human DNA, “was like getting a picture of Earth from space,” he said. “It doesn’t tell you where the roads are, it doesn’t tell you what traffic is like at what time of the day, it doesn’t tell you where the good restaurants are, or the hospitals or the cities or the rivers.”
The new result “is a stunning resource,” said Dr. Lander, who was not involved in the research that produced it but was a leader in the Human Genome Project. “My head explodes at the amount of data.”
The discoveries were published on Wednesday in six papers in the journal Nature and in 24 papers in Genome Research and Genome Biology. In addition, The Journal of Biological Chemistry is publishing six review articles, and Science is publishing yet another article.
Human DNA is “a lot more active than we expected, and there are a lot more things happening than we expected,” said Ewan Birney of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory-European Bioinformatics Institute, a lead researcher on the project.
In one of the Nature papers, researchers link the gene switches to a range of human diseases — multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease — and even to traits like height. In large studies over the past decade, scientists found that minor changes in human DNA sequences increase the risk that a person will get those diseases. But those changes were in the junk, now often referred to as the dark matter — they were not changes in genes — and their significance was not clear. The new analysis reveals that a great many of those changes alter gene switches and are highly significant.
“Most of the changes that affect disease don’t lie in the genes themselves; they lie in the switches,” said Michael Snyder, a Stanford University researcher for the project, called Encode, for Encyclopedia of DNA Elements.
And that, said Dr. Bradley Bernstein, an Encode researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, “is a really big deal.” He added, “I don’t think anyone predicted that would be the case.”
The discoveries also can reveal which genetic changes are important in cancer, and why. As they began determining the DNA sequences of cancer cells, researchers realized that most of the thousands of DNA changes in cancer cells were not in genes; they were in the dark matter. The challenge is to figure out which of those changes are driving the cancer’s growth.
“These papers are very significant,” said Dr. Mark A. Rubin, a prostate cancer genomics researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Rubin, who was not part of the Encode project, added, “They will definitely have an impact on our medical research on cancer.”
In prostate cancer, for example, his group found mutations in important genes that are not readily attacked by drugs. But Encode, by showing which regions of the dark matter control those genes, gives another way to attack them: target those controlling switches.
Dr. Rubin, who also used the Google Maps analogy, explained: “Now you can follow the roads and see the traffic circulation. That’s exactly the same way we will use these data in cancer research.” Encode provides a road map with traffic patterns for alternate ways to go after cancer genes, he said.
Dr. Bernstein said, “This is a resource, like the human genome, that will drive science forward.”
The system, though, is stunningly complex, with many redundancies. Just the idea of so many switches was almost incomprehensible, Dr. Bernstein said.
There also is a sort of DNA wiring system that is almost inconceivably intricate.
“It is like opening a wiring closet and seeing a hairball of wires,” said Mark Gerstein, an Encode researcher from Yale. “We tried to unravel this hairball and make it interpretable.”
There is another sort of hairball as well: the complex three-dimensional structure of DNA. Human DNA is such a long strand — about 10 feet of DNA stuffed into a microscopic nucleus of a cell — that it fits only because it is tightly wound and coiled around itself. When they looked at the three-dimensional structure — the hairball — Encode researchers discovered that small segments of dark-matter DNA are often quite close to genes they control. In the past, when they analyzed only the uncoiled length of DNA, those controlling regions appeared to be far from the genes they affect.
The project began in 2003, as researchers began to appreciate how little they knew about human DNA. In recent years, some began to find switches in the 99 percent of human DNA that is not genes, but they could not fully characterize or explain what a vast majority of it was doing.
The thought before the start of the project, said Thomas Gingeras, an Encode researcher from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, was that only 5 to 10 percent of the DNA in a human being was actually being used.
The big surprise was not only that almost all of the DNA is used but also that a large proportion of it is gene switches. Before Encode, said Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos, a University of Washington scientist who was part of the project, “if you had said half of the genome and probably more has instructions for turning genes on and off, I don’t think people would have believed you.”
By the time the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, embarked on Encode, major advances in DNA sequencing and computational biology had made it conceivable to try to understand the dark matter of human DNA. Even so, the analysis was daunting — the researchers generated 15 trillion bytes of raw data. Analyzing the data required the equivalent of more than 300 years of computer time.
Just organizing the researchers and coordinating the work was a huge undertaking. Dr. Gerstein, one of the project’s leaders, has produced a diagram of the authors with their connections to one another. It looks nearly as complicated as the wiring diagram for the human DNA switches. Now that part of the work is done, and the hundreds of authors have written their papers.
“There is literally a flotilla of papers,” Dr. Gerstein said. But, he added, more work has yet to be done — there are still parts of the genome that have not been figured out.
That, though, is for the next stage of Encode.
40 Signs That We Have Seriously Messed Up The Next Generation Of Americans
September 3, 2012
What in the world have we done to our kids? If you spend much time with them, you quickly realize that the next generation of Americans is woefully unprepared to deal with the real world. They are overweight, lazy, undisciplined, disrespectful, disobedient to their parents, selfish, self-centered, and completely addicted to entertainment. And that is just for starters. We feed them insane amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup and then when they become overactive we pump them full of prescription drugs to calm them down. Instead of raising our children ourselves, we allow the government schools and the entertainment industry to do it. By the time they reach the age of 18, they have spent far more time with their teachers, their video games and the television than they have spent with us. Our young people are #1 in a lot of global categories, but almost all of them are bad. Young people in the United States are more obese than anyone else in the world, more sexually active than anyone else in the world and they become pregnant more often than anyone else in the world. Of course it probably doesn't help that we have the highest divorce rate in the world either. Our families are a complete and total mess and it is our kids that are paying the price. One top of everything else, we have accumulated a 16 trillion dollar debt which we will be handing down to the next generation. I am sure that they will appreciate that.
The following are 40 signs that we have seriously messed up the next generation of Americans....
1. Approximately 57 percent of all children in the United States are living in homes that are either considered to be either "low income" or impoverished.
2. More than 25 percent of all U.S. children have a chronic health condition that affects their ability to learn. Perhaps we should not be feeling them so much junk food.
3. In 2011, SAT scores for young men were the worst that they had been in 40 years.
4. The average young American will spend 10,000 hours playing video games before the age of 21.
5. One study discovered that 88 percent of all Americans between the ages of 8 and 18 play video games, and that approximately four times as many boys are addicted to video games as girls are.
6. According to a survey conducted by the National Geographic Society, only 37 percent of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 can find the nation of Iraq on a map.
7. According to one survey, 50 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 cannot find the state of New York on a blank map.
8. Only 26 percent of Oklahoma high school students know what the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution are called.
9. Only 10 percent of Oklahoma high school students know how many justices sit on the Supreme Court.
10. At this point, 15-year-olds that attend U.S. public schools do not even rank in the top half of all industrialized nations when it comes to math or science literacy.
11. Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than children in Europe are.
12. The United States leads the world in eating disorder deaths.
13. The average American drinks more than 600 sodas every single year. That is by far the most in the world.
14. Back in 1962, only 13 percent of all Americans were obese. Right now, approximately 36 percent of all Americans are obese, and it is being projected that number will rise to 42 percent by 2030.
15. In America today, many families allow the television to raise their children. In fact, the United States is tied with the U.K. for the most hours of television watched per person each week.
16. There are more school shootings in America than anywhere else in the world.
17. The United States has the highest divorce rate on the globe by a wide margin. This is ripping millions of families with children to shreds.
18. Without solid family units, more kids than ever are joining gangs. Today, there are approximately 1.4 million gang members living inside the United States. That number has risen by 40 percent just since 2009.
19. There are more than 3 million reports of child abuse in the United States every single year.
20. If you can believe it, an average of five children die as a result of child abuse in the United States every single day.
21. Sadly, the United States actually has the highest child abuse death rate on the entire globe.
22. Approximately 20 percent of all child sexual abuse victims are under the age of 8.
23. In the United States today, it is estimated that one out of every four girls is sexually abused before they become adults.
24. According to researchers, convicted rapists in the United States report that two-thirds of their victims were under 18, and among those cases 58% said that their victims were 12 years old or younger.
25. The percentage of children living in poverty has risen from 17 percent in 2007 to 22 percent today.
26. Today, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.
27. It is being projected that approximately 50 percent of all U.S. children will be on food stamps at some point in their lives before they reach the age of 18.
28. As I have written about previously, approximately 42 percent of all single mothers in the United States are on food stamps.
29. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 36.4 percent of all children that live in Philadelphia are living in poverty, 40.1 percent of all children that live in Atlanta are living in poverty, 52.6 percent of all children that live in Cleveland are living in poverty and 53.6 percent of all children that live in Detroit are living in poverty.
30. It is estimated that up to half a million children may currently be homeless in the United States.
31. It is estimated that child homelessness in the United States has risen by 33 percent since 2007.
32. Right now, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.
33. Law enforcement officials estimate that about 600,000 Americans and about 65,000 Canadians are trading dirty child pictures online.
34. The average high school boy spends two hours watching pornography every single week.
35. An astounding 30 percent of all Internet traffic now goes to pornography websites, and the U.S. producesmore pornography than any other nation has in the history of the world.
36. In the United States today, 47 percent of all high school students have had sex.
37. One out of every four teen girls in the United States now has an STD.
38. The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate on the entire planet by a wide margin.
39. One survey found that one out of every five teen girls actually wants to be a teen mom.
40. We have borrowed 16 trillion dollars that we expect future generations to repay. We have consigned our children and our grandchildren to a lifetime of debt slavery and they don't even realize it yet. When they do realize what we have done to them they will probably curse us bitterly.
20 Health Benefits of Turmeric
Published on October 1, 2007
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Tumeric has been used for over 2500 years in India, where it was most likely first used as a dye.
The medicinal properties of this spice have been slowly revealing themselves over the centuries. Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties, recent research has revealed that turmeric is a natural wonder, proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions from cancer to Alzheimer's disease.
Here are 20 reasons to add turmeric to your diet:
1. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.
2. When combined with cauliflower, it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.
3. Prevented breast cancer from spreading to the lungs in mice.
4. May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to commit suicide.
5. Reduces the risk of childhood leukemia.
6. Is a natural liver detoxifier.
7. May prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain.
8. May prevent metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer.
9. It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.
10. Has shown promise in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis in mice.
11. Is a natural painkiller and cox-2 inhibitor.
12. May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.
13. Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.
14. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
15. Boosts the effects of chemo drug paclitaxel and reduces its side effects.
16. Promising studies are underway on the effects of turmeric on pancreatic cancer.
17. Studies are ongoing in the positive effects of turmeric on multiple myeloma.
18. Has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.
19. Speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.
20. May help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.
Turmeric can be taken in powder or pill form. It is available in pill form in most health food stores, usually in 250-500mg capsules.
Once you start using turmeric on a regular basis, it's fun to find new ways to use it in recipes. My favorite way to use it is to add a pinch of it to egg salad. It adds a nice flavor and gives the egg salad a rich yellow hue.
Contraindications: Turmeric should not be used by people with gallstones or bile obstruction. Though turmeric is often used by pregnant women, it is important to consult with a doctor before doing so as turmeric can be a uterine stimulant.
Until next week...keep on believing.
"He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
1 John 4:8"