“For thou, O Lord, art my
Thou Art My Hope
Greetings! Twenty-sixteen could certainly be a game changer for our world! “Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.” Psalm 55:19
It has been said that courage is not the absence of fear but the overcoming of fear. All of us are tempted with fear. It has also been said that fear is one of Satan's greatest tools.
Even King David, whom God called a man after His own heart, had battles with fear.
“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged (strengthened) himself in the LORD his God.” 1Samuel 30:6
And what is probably the most well known Psalm in the Bible, Psalm 23, “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”
How did David overcome his temptation with fear? By knowing the Lord was with him and knowing and believing God's words. The promises! The same is true for us. We would like to enter 2016 by sharing some of God's wonderful promises.
Have a great year ahead.
He that dwells in the help of the Highest, shall sojourn under the shelter of the God of heaven. He shall say to the Lord, Thou art my helper and my refuge: my God; I will hope in him. For he shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunters, from every troublesome matter. He shall overshadow thee with his shoulders, and thou shalt trust under his wings: his truth shall cover thee with a shield. Thou shalt not be afraid of terror by night; nor of the arrow flying by day; nor of the evil thing that walks in darkness; nor of calamity, and the evil spirit at noon-day. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou observe and see the reward of sinners.
For thou, O Lord, art my hope: thou, my soul, hast made the Most High thy refuge. No evils shall come upon thee, and no scourge shall draw night to thy dwelling.
EX-ATHEIST SPENDS CHRISTMAS FEEDING CHRISTIAN REFUGEE KIDS
Program gives meals to thousands from Middle East
Published: December 31, 2015
By Paul Bremmer
His mother was once America’s most famous atheist. He grew up a Marxist and an unbeliever, a product of his dysfunctional family. But as an adult, William J. Murray, son of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, found God, and today the former atheist spends his Christmases helping feed Christian refugee children in the Middle East.
It’s part of the Christmas for Refugees program, which Murray directs.
Established in 2013, Christmas for Refugees attempts to make the holiday season a little brighter for thousands of Christian children and their families who fled radical Islamic groups in Iraq and Syria and now live in U.N. refugee camps mostly in Jordan and Lebanon.
At Christmas for Refugees events, children enjoy games, puppet shows, Christmas songs and hot Christmas meals. The events are held in warm, dry buildings, giving the children one day of relief from the cold, wet tents or basements in which they live. Each child is given a large box containing a week’s worth of food to take back to his or her family.
When the program began, events were held in Jordan only. In 2014, the program expanded to Lebanon, and this year it expanded to Iraq. According to Murray, 11 events will be held this year in Lebanon, six in Jordan, and two in Iraq.
The program relies on local Christian volunteers to carry out the events, but Murray and his American team travel to the Middle East every year to supervise some of the events. So far this year, Murray has participated in two events in Lebanon and two in Jordan, and he plans to attend both of the Iraqi events as well. In all, he will spend two weeks of the 2015 Christmas season in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.
Murray, chairman of the D.C.-based Religious Freedom Coalition, said he willingly gives his time to this cause because Christians are the most persecuted group in the world today, especially in the Middle East. As the Christmas for Refugees website states, Islamic-run charities in Jordan and Lebanon mostly ignore Christian refugees, preferring to help Muslim refugees.
Considering where Murray came from, it’s amazing he is leading a humanitarian effort on behalf of Christian children today.
“Sadly, I was raised in a Marxist home by a mother who had as much hatred for Christianity as does the leader of the Islamic State today,” Murray told WND in an interview. “Just as the liberals of this day, she preached that Christianity is at the root of all evil and all wars, and that its elimination would bring about peace and the end to capitalism.”
Murray’s mother was the founder of American Atheists. In 1960, she filed a lawsuit alleging that it was unconstitutional for the Baltimore City Public School System to force William to participate in Bible readings at school. The lawsuit eventually reached the Supreme Court, where the court voted to prohibit Bible reading in America’s public schools.
Murray grew up influenced by his mother’s beliefs, as he detailed in his autobiography “My Life Without God.” However, in 1980 he became a Christian and set out to fight for the rights of Christians in America and persecuted Christians around the world.
In the early 1980s he was the director of Freedom’s Friends, an organization that reached out to victims of communism all over the world. In the 1990s he founded the first commercial Bible publishing company in the Soviet Union. For many years his organizations ran evangelistic tours to that country.
Now he risks his safety by holding dinner events for Christian refugee children in the Middle East. Murray admitted there are dangers in holding Christmas for Refugees events, especially in Iraq, which is now partially controlled by ISIS. However, he takes the necessary precautions.
“In Iraq the closest event to the front line with the Islamic State is about 30 miles away; however, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Christian militia have a solid front to the West of Erbil,” Murray explained.
“There is always some danger in bringing together a large number of Christians for any event, even a church service, in many areas. As a result, no media information is available prior to events.”
Despite the risks, Murray reaps great personal rewards from knowing he is helping to bring Christmas cheer to thousands of Christian children who would otherwise have none. He said the most rewarding aspect of Christmas for Refugees is the moment the children forget the horrid situation their families are in.
He finds it touching when he sees the children involved in genuine play, seemingly a world away from the problems their families face. He was also touched by one girl in Lebanon earlier this year.
“At one event in Lebanon a very young girl, perhaps five years old, began to cry when she realized the event was over and she would have to board the bus back to the refugee area her family lived in,” Murray relayed.
Murray said Christmas for Refugees is about encouraging and strengthening the faith of Christian families, and as such is not part of the war against ISIS. However, he noted the United States and its Sunni allies have ironically helped create the very problem he is trying to solve.
“We cannot forget that the Syrian Sunni-led revolt against the secular government of Syria was initially financed by Saudi Arabia and supported by the United States,” Murray said. “Without Saudi (Sunni) money to finance the horror of the Sunni revolt, there would be no Christian refugees.”
He noted several major terrorist attacks, from 9/11 to the 2005 London bus bombings to the recent Paris attacks, were carried out by Sunni Muslims.
“Meanwhile, we have a Democrat president and Republican presidential candidates running around saying that we ‘must support our Sunni allies’ against the Shia,” Murray lamented. “The reality is that our Sunni allies, including Saudi Arabia, have financed every Sunni terror group at one point or another, including al-Qaida, al-Nusra and the forerunner of the Islamic State.”
According to the Christmas for Refugees website, there are tens of thousands of Christian families with children whom Islamic terror groups have forced to flee their homes. Murray recognizes no single organization can help them all, so he and his team must select only a few to benefit from their Christmas for Refugees events.
He said they generally choose children between ages six and 12 whose families currently receive no aid from a church but have registered with a church for aid and are on a waiting list.
This year, about 4,000 refugee children will benefit from the program – twice as many as last year. Murray said fundraising for the program was a success this year, and he hopes to grow the program even more next Christmas.
“If the funds were available, the list of children would be in the tens of thousands,” Murray declared. “The program size doubled in 2015 and we hope to double it to 8,000 children in 2016. For that to happen, we need to raise funds all year long and pray for success.”
For more information about Christmas for Refugees and to make a tax-deductible donation, visit the official Christmas for Refugees website.
Tom Horn: Multiple Antichrist Prophecies Are Coming to a Head
10:30AM EST 12/23/2015 JESSILYN JUSTICE
Tom Horn says Antichrist prophecies are coming to a head. (Jim Bakker Show )
Popular headlines today are fulfilling prophecies, but not just the ones specifically foretold in the Bible.
"How ironic it is that while we see what's happening with ISIS and their apocalyptic vision and what's happening in the Middle East," author Tom Horn tells Jim Bakker.
"And look at all these other prophecies, like the burden of Damascus, and all these other things that could unfold as a result of these conflicts, isn't it interesting that you also have people of other faith, including the Jews, who believe the Messiah is about to appear?" Horn says.
It appears many people of faith throughout time believed the Antichrist would appear in 2016. Why? Watch the video to see.
Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
Michael Day t
Dec 26, 2015, 10.48 AM IST
In comments likely to enhance his progressive reputation, Pope Francis has written a long, open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences.
Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: "You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don't believe and who don't seek the faith. I start by saying - and this is the fundamental thing - that God's mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.
"Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience."
Robert Mickens, the Vatican correspondent for the Catholic journal The Tablet, said the pontiff's comments were further evidence of his attempts to shake off the Catholic Church's fusty image, reinforced by his extremely conservative predecessor Benedict XVI. "Francis is a still a conservative," said Mickens. "But what this is all about is him seeking to have a more meaningful dialogue with the world."
In a welcoming response to the letter, Scalfari said the Pope's comments were "further evidence of his ability and desire to overcome barriers in dialogue with all".
In July, Francis signalled a more progressive attitude on sexuality, asking: "If someone is gay and is looking for the Lord, who am I to judge him?"
The Economic Collapse
The Cashless Society Cometh: European Nations Such As Sweden And Denmark Are ‘Eradicating Cash’
By Michael Snyder, on December 27th, 2015
Did you know that 95 percent of all retail sales in Sweden are cashless? And did you know that the government of Denmark has a stated goal of “eradicating cash” by the year 2030? All over the world, we are seeing a relentless march toward a cashless society, and nowhere is this more true than in northern Europe. In Sweden, hundreds of bank branches no longer accept or dispense cash, and thousands of ATM machines have been permanently removed. At this point, bills and coins only account for just 2 percent of the Swedish economy, and many stores no longer take cash at all. The notion of a truly “cashless society” was once considered to be science fiction, but now we are being told that it is “inevitable”, and authorities insist that it will enable them to thwart criminals, terrorists, drug runners, money launderers and tax evaders. But what will we give up in the process?
In Sweden, the transition to a cashless society is being enthusiastically embraced. The following is an excerpt from a New York Times article that was published on Saturday…
Parishioners text tithes to their churches. Homeless street vendors carry mobile credit-card readers. Even the Abba Museum, despite being a shrine to the 1970s pop group that wrote “Money, Money, Money,” considers cash so last-century that it does not accept bills and coins.
Few places are tilting toward a cashless future as quickly as Sweden, which has become hooked on the convenience of paying by app and plastic.
To me, giving money in church electronically seems so bizarre. But it is starting to happen here in the United States, and in Sweden some churches collect most of their tithes and offerings this way…
During a recent Sunday service, the church’s bank account number was projected onto a large screen. Worshipers pulled out cellphones and tithed through an app called Swish, a payment system set up by Sweden’s biggest banks that is fast becoming a rival to cards.
Other congregants lined up at a special “Kollektomat” card machine, where they could transfer funds to various church operations. Last year, out of 20 million kronor in tithes collected, more than 85 percent came in by card or digital payment.
And of course it isn’t just Sweden that is rapidly transitioning to a cashless society. Over in Denmark, government officials have a goal “to completely do away with paper money” by the year 2030…
Sweden is not the only country interested in eradicating cash. Its neighbor, Denmark, is also making great strides to lessen the circulation of banknotes in the country.
Two decades ago, roughly 80 percent of Danish citizens relied on hard cash while shopping. Fast forward to today, that figure has dropped dramatically to 25 percent.
“We’re interested in getting rid of cash,” said Matas IT Director Thomas Grane. “The handling, security and everything else is expensive; so, definitely we want to push digital payments, and that’s of course why we introduced mobile payments to help this process.”
Eventually, establishments may soon have the right to reject cash- a practice that is common in Sweden. Government officials have set a 2030 deadline to completely do away with paper money.
Could you imagine a world where you couldn’t use cash for anything?
This is the direction things are going – especially in Europe.
As I have written about previously, cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros have already been banned in Spain, and France and Italy have both banned all cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros.
Little by little, cash is being eradicated, and what we have seen so far is just the beginning. 417 billion cashless transactions were conducted in 2014, and the final number for 2015 is projected to be much higher.
Banks like this change, because it enables them to make more money due to the fees that they collect from credit cards and debit cards. And governments like this change because electronic payments enable them to watch, track and monitor what we are all doing much more easily.
These days, very rarely does anyone object to what is happening. Instead, most of us just seem to accept that this change is “inevitable”, and we are being assured that it will be for the better. And no matter where in the world you go, the propaganda seems to be the same.
AND so we prepare to turn the page to fresh year — 2016, a watershed year in which Australia will accelerate towards becoming a genuine cashless society.
The cashless society will be a new world free of $1 and $2 coins, or $5 or $10 bank notes. A new world in which all commercial transactions, from buying an i-pad or a hamburger to playing the poker machines, purchasing a newspaper, paying household bills or picking up the dry-cleaning, will be paid for electronically.
And in that same article the readers are told that Australia will likely be “a fully cashless society” by 2022…
Research by Westpac Bank predicts Australia will be a fully cashless society by 2022 — just six years away. Already half of all commercial payments are now made electronically.
Even in some of the poorest areas on the entire globe we are seeing a move toward a cashless society. In 2015, banks in India made major progress on this front, and income tax rebates are being considered by the government as an incentive “to encourage people to move away from cash transactions“.
Would a truly cashless society reduce crime and make all of our lives much more efficient?
But what would we have to give up?
To me, America is supposed to be a place where we can go where we want and do what we want without the government constantly monitoring us. If people choose to use cashless forms of payment that is one thing, but if we are all required to go to such a system I fear that it could result in the loss of tremendous amounts of freedom and liberty.
And it is all too easy to imagine a world where a government-sponsored form of “identification” would be required to use any form of electronic payment. This would give the government complete control over who could use “the system” and who could not. The potential for various forms of coercion and tyranny in such a scenario is obvious.
What would you do if you could not buy, sell, get a job or open a bank account without proper “identification” someday? What you simply give in to whatever the government was demanding of you at the time even if it went against your fundamental beliefs?
That is certainly something to think about.
Many will cheer as the world makes a rapid transition to a cashless society, but I will not. I believe that a truly cashless system would open the door for great evil, and I don’t want any part of it.
What about you?
Would you welcome a cashless society?
THE DAILY BEAST
ISIS of Nazareth: Terror Group Arrives in Jesus’s Hometown
The radicalization of Jews and Muslims is squeezing Christians out of the Holy Land—and ISIS’s reported arrival in the biblical city is just the latest sign.
NAZARETH, Israel — At the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, on the site where it is believed the Angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary she would carry the next messiah, Jesus Christ, both Christian and Muslim residents of the city are reflecting on recent news that the so-called Islamic State has come into their midst.
This month, the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, announced the arrest of five Nazareth residents who, it said, had declared their allegiance to ISIS. They had been training with arms, meeting covertly, and preparing for a jihad on “infidels,” the agency said.
Over the past few years, 40 Arab Israelis, often from marginalized communities, reportedly have crossed the border in order to join the fight in Syria and Iraq.
In the city revered as the hometown of Jesus, where the young messiah was believed to have spent his childhood roaming the hills around what was then a bucolic Galilean village, current regional and domestic turmoil has modern-day Christian residents facing existential questions. They, after all, might well have been the “infidels” the ISIS recruits wanted to kill.
So the holidays this year were somber and tense, as the Christian community deliberated about its place in a country that has seen extremism rise among both their Muslim and Jewish neighbors, as both have become increasingly vocal in their protests against Christians in the Holy Land.
Inevitably, some Nazareth residents suspect a conspiracy to disrupt the Arab community. “Israel has created ISIS here in order to divide and conquer,” argued Jalal Dari, a Muslim resident of Nazareth originally from the West Bank city of Ramallah. Since jumping the West Bank-Israel barrier almost 20 years ago in order to work construction jobs in Israel, Dari has settled here and raised a family. But even as he talked of nefarious plots, he recognized that with the influx of economic migrants like himself from out of town, the city is witnessing the growth of a new generation that is socially fragmented and vulnerable to radicalization through the Internet. “This is not Islam,” he said. “Islam does not allow killing.”
Amal Abidallah, a Nazareth native visiting the church, interrupted Dari. “But why do they target the Christians?” she demanded. “What you’re saying is true in terms of Islam, but that’s not what we’re seeing.”
Muslims make up 70 percent of Nazareth, Israel’s largest Arab city. In the northern Galilee region, the Islamic movement’s popularity is growing.
“There are those who recognize the weakness, the economic difficulties here, and exploit Islam in order to corrupt the youth,” said Sheikh Abu Anas, the imam of the local mosque. Outside his prayer beads shop, he shows off newspaper cutout photos of Islamic leaders who, he says, “speak the truth.” Among them is the firebrand Sheikh Raed Saleh, the leader of the now outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which does not recognize the state of Israel, as well as the toppled Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan—all of whom built their power base through Islamic social service charities catering to vulnerable communities.
Some Christians have said Muslims in the area are attempting to instill cultural dominance, and in response a modest but growing number are beginning to publicly express their loyalty to the state of Israel, which they say can protect them from Islamic radicalism and other threats.
“We thank God for this safe haven and for being part of this miracle. Israel was created so that it can flourish,” wrote Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from a village outside Nazareth, on his Facebook page in a pre-Christmas message. “Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians are not persecuted and their population has increased, rather than decreased as in all other Islamic nations.”
Nadaf added that since the Palestinian Authority took control of Bethlehem in 1995, the Christian community has “kept quiet about the change that was sweeping the birthplace of Jesus,” but today its numbers have decreased by 64 percent.
Israel recognizes Christianity as one of its official religions. Its Christians make up a small minority at 160,000, or 2 percent of the total population of Israel, and just over 10 percent of the 1.5 million Israeli-Arab population.
Historically, Christian denominations have differed in their stance vis-à-vis Israel, said Shadi Khalloul, a Maronite Catholic from a village north of Nazareth, but that is starting to change as the region becomes more hostile toward its Christian brethren.
“The other denominations were scared, because they were mostly in the West Bank, with the Muslim population, facing sometimes threats and fear of them revolting, persecuting them or massacring them, like what is happening in Syria or Iraq,” said Khalloul, who was one of the first Christians to serve voluntarily in the Israeli army and today runs the Christian Israeli Recruitment Forum to meet what he says is a growing desire among Christians in Israel to contribute to and integrate into the country.
(In Lebanon, Maronites had a strategic alliance with Israel during the 1975-90 civil war. One of its darkest chapters was the massacre of Palestinian civilians at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in 1982. The history of struggles for survival is long, and often ugly, in these parts.)
While Christian Arabs, like all of Israel’s minorities, are exempt from serving in the army, Arin Shaabi, a 30-year-old resident of Nazareth, is one of more than 100 Christians who have served this year in the Israeli Defense Forces.
“I’m in love with Israel, it is our only country, our only home,” said Shaabi, taking a break from pre-holiday preparations and shopping, just days after being released from her position in the army.
Christians in the army like Shaabi are still a minority, but the Israeli Defense Ministry is continuously hosting events to encourage more recruits and has reported that 200 additional Christians are planning to enlist in the coming year.
The thought of joining the army and serving the country “has always existed in the community, but now there is a real change,” said Shaabi, “especially among young people who have the courage to get up and enlist in the army and contribute to the country, especially as we understand that we have no other home and we feel the safest here.”
She echoed the pragmatism of many in the new generation of Arab Israelis, who see their top concerns as economic stability and obtaining civil rights, rather than achieving statehood.
And while Israel has historically protected Nazareth and Christian communities within the Green Line as a means of currying favor with Christian-majority Western countries and whitewashing its exclusionary policies, the ruling coalition has also included an unprecedented number of far-right politicians who advocate for Israel’s Jewish, rather than democratic, character.
As the mainstream has moved right, consequently, the government has adopted a policy of virtual impunity for Jewish anti-Arab groups such as “Lehava,” originally founded to “save” Jewish girls from being seduced by Arab men, and whose mostly teenage members have become more aggressive in their opposition to the Christian presence in the country.
In an op-ed in the religious right-wing Kooker online news site, Lehava’s leader, Bentzi Gopstein, called Christians “blood-sucking vampires” who were plotting to convert Jews. They should be expelled from the country, she wrote.
Extremist Jewish Israelis affiliated with the group have torched schools, churches, and Palestinian-owned properties in Israel and in the West Bank. Last summer, they firebombed the Church of the Multiplication of the Fish and Loaves, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where the New Testament says Jesus performed a miracle by feeding thousands with five loaves of bread and two fish. On its walls they scrawled, “False idols will be destroyed!”
As the so-called knife intifada continues throughout the country and across-the-board intolerance increases, moreover, Nazareth’s usually jubilant Christmas markets have grown eerily quiet, said Suraida Shomar Nasser, who manages the Fauzi Azzar Inn, a 200-year-old mansion that belonged to her grandfather, in Nazareth’s Old City.
International tourism nationwide is down at least 30 percent, according to the Israeli Tourism Ministry, and Israelis are afraid of entering Arab towns, she said. Last year, the guesthouse was fully booked, but now Nasser expected only a handful of tourists, most of whom were coming for just one night, on Christmas Eve.
“I’m very proud that we are living here and that this is our home,” she said, “but I hope that my children will go to live abroad so that they can experience humanity, of themselves and of others, rather than see people only by their religion, or any other classification.”
“We always feel that our future is not safe, and unlike many of the Jews—they have two passports—we only have one passport,” she said. Unlike in the past, she said, Israel is increasingly looking at “Jewishness as a nationality… and so we’re really stuck between a hammer and an anvil, because to Israelis we are seen as the Arabs, and to the Arabs we are seen as the Israelis.”And to ISIS, which now appears to be growing in their midst, they are marked for death.
DEMOCRATS THINK CHRISTIANS BIGGER THREAT THAN MUSLIMS
Large percentage of Protestants, Catholics agree
Published: December 28, 2015
A Muslim man caught on camera going on a bloody attack in London, England.
Editor’s Note: This is another in a series of reports on the polling by Clout Research, a national opinion research firm in Columbus, Ohio, for WND.com.
A new poll reveals that 45 percent of the Democrats who responded believe that Christians are a greater threat to America than Muslims.
No shock that 72 percent of atheists agree.
But the surprise is that 18 percent of those who consider themselves ” very conservative” agree.
As do 29 percent of Protestants.
And 23 percent of Catholics.
Interestingly, the sample of Muslims was very small, but 100 percent said it is Muslims who are the greater danger.
The results are from a new WND/Clout poll by Clout Research, a national opinion research firm in Columbus, Ohio. The telephone survey of registered voters was taken Dec. 18-27, except for the holiday, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.35 percentage points.
Poll chief Fritz Wenzel said, “A surprising finding in the survey shows that one in three respondents said they believe Christians pose a greater threat to America than do Muslims. Among Democrats, 45 percent said Christians are more dangerous than are Muslims, while 36 percent of political independents said the same. Among Republicans, 20 percent said Christians are the greater threat.”
He said the opinions “may well have to do with the Colorado Springs shootings at the Planned Parenthood office there that resulted in three deaths. That shooting was carried out by a deranged man who opposed abortion. His religious affiliation is unclear, but many may have extrapolated that he must be a Christian conservative. This conclusion is bolstered by the fact that women were more likely than men to name Christians as a bigger threat than Muslims – but that said, still 63 percent of all women still said Muslims are the greater threat.”
His analysis continued, “The more conservative the respondent, the more likely they were to identify Muslims as the greater threat to America.”
The survey included very few Muslims, but they all said Muslims were the greater threat to the country. Among Protestants, 29 percent said Christians were the greater threat, while 72 percent of Atheists said Christians were a greater threat, he noted.
“A majority of blacks said Christians were the greater threat, but all other races said Muslims were the greatest threat to America,” he said.
The question asked was simple: “Which do you believe pose the greatest threat to America – Muslims or Christians?”
Fifty-five percent of Democrats, 80 percent of the GOP and 64 percent of the independents identified Muslims.
Among those who identify themselves as liberal, it was approaching 50 percent that believe Christians are the greater danger.
Among whites, 67 percent identified Muslims, among Hispanics, 90 percent identified Muslims and among Asians, 82 percent identified Muslims. It was blacks, who by a 55-45 majority, said Christians are a bigger threat.
Screaming in agony, a woman collapses as she and a man are caned under Sharia law in Indonesia because they were seen ‘in close proximity’ of each other without being married
The woman was accused of getting too close to a fellow university student
As the pair are unmarried, she had committed an offence under Sharia law
She was brought to a mosque where she was caned in front of a crowd
The woman received five lashes and at end had to be taken to hospital
By JENNIFER NEWTON FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 03:56 EST, 29 December 2015 | UPDATED: 06:38 EST, 29 December 2015
Hundreds of people gathered outside a mosque in Indonesia to see a woman scream out in agony after being caned as a punishment for being in 'close proximity' to a man she wasn't married to.
Nur Elita was marched to the yard of Baiturrahumim Mosque in Banda Aceh for violating the region's strict Sharia laws, after she allegedly showed affectionate behaviour to a fellow university student.
Under the law men and women, who are not spouses, are not allowed to get too close due to the the 'khalwat' offence and punishment is by public caning.
After being brought to the stage as the crowd cheered, the woman was forced to kneel down while a masked man repeatedly whipped her with the cane.
She received five lashes and at the end of the punishment could be seen lying on the floor doubled over in pain.
Eventually she was carried off the stage, into an ambulance, and had to be taken to hospital.
Also being caned was the man she was accused of getting too close to and he was forced to stand while being whipped.
Meanwhile four other men were also forced to endure the punishment for gambling, which is also outlawed under Sharia law.
According to the Jakarta Post, the caning ceremony was carried out in front of the deputy mayor of Banda Aceh Zainal Arifin.
And before the ceremony he warned the crowd that had gathered that the canings were a lesson to everyone.
He said: 'Take these punishements as a lesson. What has been done by these convicts should not be taken as example.
'And I hope their canings today will be the last ever.'
Banda Aceh is the only province in Indonesia to implement Sharia Law, which was first introduced in 2003 following the province’s awarding of special autonomy status.
SHARIA LAW: THE ISLAM LEGAL SYSTEM DERIVED FROM THE KORAN
Sharia law is the legal system of Islam which is derived from both the Koran and the rulings of the religion's scholars.
It acts as a code that all Muslims are adhered to live to and include rules of prayers, fasting and donations to the poor and covers both public and private behaviour.
Offences are divided into two categories - hadd offences, which a serious crimes with set penalties and tazir crimes, where punishment is left to the the discretion of a judge.
Hadd offences include theft, which is punishable by the amputation of the offender's hand and adultery, which can result in being stoned to death.
Apostasy, or leaving the faith, is also against Sharia law and can also be punishable by death.
Other offences against Sharia law include denying Mohammed, gambling, drinking alcohol and women talking to a man, who is not her husband or relative.
Former home of 'most evil man in Britain' burns down
The former home of the self confessed "most evil man in Britain" has been virtually destroyed by a fire which ripped through the 18th century property
Fire crews battle with flames at Bolesinke House Photo: Mike Merritt
3:48PM GMT 23 Dec 2015
The former home of the self confessed "most evil man in Britain" was virtually destroyed by a fire which ripped through the 18th century Loch Ness-side mansion, once owned by black witch Aleister Crowley.
The blaze was spotted around 1.40pm by a motorist on the A82 Inverness to Fort William road which runs along the north side of Britain's most famous stretch of water.
But despite the UKs' largest loch being nearby, four fire appliances required a water bowser to tackle the flames which had claimed 60PC of the building after just two hours.
Over 30 personnel, some of them wearing breathing apparatus, used six water jets in their attempt to dowse the inferno.
It is believed the property, once owned by Led Zeppelin lead guitarist Jimmy Page, was unoccupied.
Local legend has it that the house was built on the site of a church which was burned down, killing the entire congregation who were attending Mass.
Police closed the B852 road between Dores and Foyers to as smoke caused visibility problems for motorists as well as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Originally named Boleskine Lodge, it was built as a hunting lodge in the late 18th century by the Honorable Archibald Fraser who was related to Lieutenant General Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat.
The house was built on land acquired from the Church on a site reputedly chosen to annoy Lord Lovat whose estate surrounded the property.
During the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, Lord Lovat had unpopularly supported the English.
Legend has it that the house may have been built on the site of a church that caught fire trapping the entire congregation who perished, but this is unconfirmed.
The Frasers retained the house until the late 19th century and its notoriety stems from Crowley, also known as the Beast of Boleskine, and additionally dubbed the most evil man in the world.
Crowley bought the house in 1899. He was a self proclaimed magician and the press of the day reported accounts of black magic, devil worship and human sacrifice.
Unexplained and unconfirmed stories of the time include those of a local butcher cutting off his own hand with a cleaver after reading a note from Crowley written on a piece of paper with a spell on the reverse.
There are rumours of a tunnel from the cellars of the house to the burial ground which lies below the house by the loch side.
Little wonder that local people would make long detours to avoid passing the house.
Crowley left the house for Sicily in the late 1920's, having sold it in 1913, where he established a commune.
He died in poverty in 1947 having over indulged in drugs and alcohol. But his reputation survived him and the area still attracts a cult following in the 21st century.
Crowley is featured on the cover of the Beatles album, Sergeant Pepper, but the pop music connection with Boleskine House does not end there.
In 1971 the house was bought by Jimmy Page of the band Led Zeppelin. Page was obsessed with Crowley and the house once again became home to reputed black masses and rituals.
Crowley and his disciples used drugs, sex and blood sacrifices of goats and cats during debauched rituals.
The black magician also took pleasure in the suffering that his sinister practices apparently brought to local villagers.
In the 1990's the house was purchased by the MacGillivrays who remained there until shortly after Ronald MacGillivray's death in 2002. The house is currently in private ownership.
SY HERSH: TURKEY A ‘TOTAL, COMPLETE SUPPORTER OF ISIS’
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist outlines US-ally Turkey's ties to ISIS
Mikael Thalen | Infowars.com - DECEMBER 30, 2015
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a “total” and “complete supporter of ISIS,” Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh said Tuesday.
During an interview on the Alex Jones Show, the veteran investigative reporter laid out details surrounding the United States’ current policy regarding Syria as well as the role of Erdogan in bolstering the Islamic State’s presence in the region.
“After Libya fell we began to funnel stuff… a lot of arms from Libya into Turkey…” Hersh said, referring to his bombshell 2014 “The Red Line and the Rat Line” article which detailed the United States’ covert arming of alleged moderate Syrian rebels. “The gentleman running Turkey, Erdogan, is a total, complete supporter of ISIS. I don’t think there is any question of that, even though we deny that. Our intelligence shows it.”
Despite claims to the contrary from Turkey, statements from world leaders and the highest levels of military intelligence point directly to Erdogan’s continued support of ISIS jihadists.
Following the November shoot down of a Russian fighter jet over Syria by the Turkish military, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Wesley Clark stated in an interview with CNN that Turkey had long been suspected of assisting ISIS.
“All along there’s always been the idea that Turkey was supporting ISIS in some way…” Clark said. “Someone’s buying that oil that ISIS is selling, it’s going through somewhere, it looks to me like it’s probably going through Turkey.”
“There’s no good guy in this, this is a power struggle for the future of the Middle East.”
The following month Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi similarly pointed fingers at Turkey, saying the majority of oil produced in ISIS-held areas of Syria and Iraq was being smuggled through Erdogan’s country.
According to a statement posted to Abadi’s website, Iraq had “stressed the importance of stopping oil smuggling by the terrorist gangs of Daesh, most of which is smuggled through Turkey,” during a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
As noted by investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed, a large cache of intelligence documents uncovered during a raid on an ISIS safehouse last summer revealed that “direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking ISIS members was now ‘undeniable.’”
A former ISIS communications technician speaking with Newsweek last month claimed to regularly “Connect ISIS field captains and commanders from Syria with people in Turkey on innumerable occasions.”
“ISIS commanders told us to fear nothing at all because there was full cooperation with the Turks,” he said.
The Russian government has also repeatedly accused Turkey of being involved in the sale of ISIS oil, releasing aerial imagery of as many as “12,000 oil tankers & trucks” on the Turkey-Iraq border.
“The [aerial] imagery was made in the vicinity of Zakho (a city in Iraqi Kurdistan), there were 11,775 tankers and trucks on both sides of the Turkish-Iraqi border,” Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoy said.
Aside from financial support via oil sales, Turkey has been linked to much more direct support of the terrorist group.
In one such example, multiple rebel fighters speaking with McClatchy DC last August stated that the kidnapping of several U.S.-trained moderate Syrians preparing to fight ISIS “was orchestrated by Turkish intelligence.”
“The rebels say that the tipoff to al Qaida’s Nusra Front enabled Nusra to snatch many of the 54 graduates of the $500 million program on July 29 as soon as they entered Syria, dealing a humiliating blow to the Obama administration’s plans for confronting the Islamic State,” the article states.
As noted in Hersh’s latest exposé entitled “Military to Military,” which outlines several Pentagon officials’ secret attempt to counter President Obama’s disastrous ISIS policy by providing intel to nations in communication with Assad, former Director of Defense Intelligence Michael T. Flynn was also aware of Turkey’s ISIS dealings.
“If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,” Flynn told Hersh. “We understood ISIS’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.”
“The Joint Chiefs believed that Assad should not be replaced by fundamentalists. The administration’s policy was contradictory.”
In a recent interview Flynn again admitted that the Obama administration’s policy in Syria was to directly support groups such as al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, as revealed in a recently released Pentagon document, in an attempt to topple the Assad regime.
In closing, Hersh speculated that the quiet uprising by Pentagon officials against Obama’s support of terrorist groups was likely due to their oath of office.
“Nobody wants to talk about directly challenging a president…” Hersh told Jones. “But I will tell you, at a certain level, at the Joint Chiefs, at the level of four star general, the oath of office is an oath to the Constitution, not the president.”
Turkey supports ISIS, wants to revive Ottoman Empire – Syria’s UN envoy
Published time: 30 Dec, 2015 06:31
Syria’s envoy to the UN has accused Turkey of supporting terrorist groups and covering for their invasion into Syria. Urging the UN to end Ankara’s “violations and crimes,” Bashar al-Ja’afari also warned that Erdogan’s goal is to “revive” the Ottoman Empire.
“Since 2011, an unprecedented terrorist war has been waged against the Syrian Arab Republic by armed terrorist groups, the members of which come from more than 100 countries,” Ja'afari, Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, wrote in his letter to the world body, TASS reported. “Those groups are being provided with funding, weapons, materiel and logistical support by states and regimes from the region and beyond.”
While mentioning other players allegedly involved in the spread of Islamist terrorism, Ja'afari accused Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of playing the most active role.
“During the crisis, Turkish interference in Syria's internal affairs took many forms, including direct involvement of the regime of Erdogan, the Turkish armed forces in offensive military operations in support of terrorists,” Ja'afari wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council, as cited by RIA Novosti.
"Those [Turkish] forces have also provided covering fire for the terrorists' movements inside Syrian territory or along the Syrian-Turkish border, in order to facilitate the infiltration of terrorist mercenaries from Turkish territory into Syrian territory," the letter said.
In his letter to the UN, Ja’afari cited the downing of the Russian Su-24 jet as another example of Erdogan’s attempts to “up his regime's involvement in the smuggling of stolen Syrian oil by ISIS into Turkey and the smuggling of weapons and materiel by Turkey to terrorists in Syria.”
"Erdogan’s accusations that the Russian Air Force violated Turkish airspace as it was supporting the operations of the Syrian Arab Army against armed terrorist groups, and his persistence in making those accusations, are nothing but a futile attempt to create confusion, fabricate facts and cover up his regime's involvement in the smuggling of stolen Syrian oil by ISIL into Turkey and the smuggling of weapons and materiel by Turkey to terrorists in Syria," Ja'afari wrote.
Syria’s envoy also accused Turkey of committing crimes against Syrian refugees who have fled “from the tyranny and terrorism of such organizations as ISIL, the [Al] Nusra Front, the Army of Conquest, and the Islamic Front, which the Turkish government hosts in Turkish territory.”
"Those refugees have to contend with the even more cruel tyranny and terrorism of gangs that engage in human trafficking with the knowledge and direct involvement of the Erdogan regime's agencies and institutions," Ja’afari said.
Appealing to the UN, the Syrian envoy also said it was Erdogan’s intention to revive “the Ottoman colonial legacy.” Ja’afari pointed to the Turkish leader’s statements on protecting people of Turkish descent a few years ago, ignoring the fact that they might be citizens of other countries.
Syria has also called on the UN “to take a firm stand” to “put an end to these violations and crimes” committed by Ankara.
Ja’afari’s letter was only the latest attempt to draw attention of the international community to Turkey’s alleged support of Islamist militants, including Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). Recently, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said that neither Ankara nor its NATO ally the US informed the UN Security Council of the illegal oil trade with IS terrorists on Turkish territory, despite being bound to do that by a February resolution.
Earlier, Moscow directly accused President Erdogan’s family of being complicit in the IS’s oil smuggling. Russia’s Defense Ministry provided satellite imagery and videos showing huge lines of tanker trucks effortlessly crossing the Syrian-Turkish and Iraqi-Turkish borders.
U-Turn: West Changes Stance on Putin, Sees Him as 'No-Nonsense Politician'
10:24 27.12.2015(updated 10:53 27.12.2015)
Since the beginning of Russia's anti-Daesh campaign in Syria, Western politicians' attitudes toward Russian President Vladimir Putin have changed dramatically, according to a British journalist.
This year has seen a major U-turn in foreign politicians' perceptions of the political image of Russian President Vladimir Putin, UK journalist Peter Henn said, referring to the beginning of this year, when Putin was seen as "a Bond villain-like character" by many Western political figures.
However, the situation then drastically changed and now Putin is considered to be the "no-nonsense politician" who is leading the mission to destroy Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) militants, according to the journalist.
Putin "started the year amid the worst relations with the West since the Cold War," Henn said in his article for the Daily Express.
At the time, the Russian President was accused of invading Ukraine, bringing down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 near Donetsk, instructing Russian warplanes to enter British airspace and political killings. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly denied the accusations, which was perceived by the Western media as an anti-Western position.
"But something happened to make the international perception of …Mr. Putin take a 180 degree turn. In the last few months… his Iron Man stance against ISIS, also known as Daesh, has won him plenty of admirers," Henn said.
He recalled that in late September, Russia launched an air campaign against Daesh in Syria, during which "Mr. Putin's bombers conducted hundreds of sorties in war-ravaged Syria during the mission, Moscow's Defense Ministry confirmed."
According to Henn, Putin's "relentless mission" to destroy Daesh prompted people to gradually change their perceptions of the Russian leader. Henn recalled that in November, Russia's old adversary, the US, announced that Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama agreed on a political transition, which could put an end to the civil war in Syria.
"Now Mr.Putin, the man who was feared and loathed by the West has the ears of its leaders — and now he has the respect of its people," Henn concluded.
It was launched on September 30, when more than fifty Russian warplanes, including the Su-24M, the Su-25 and the Su-34, commenced precision airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria at the behest of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
On Friday, Russian Defense Ministry officials said that Russian fighter jets had made a total of 5,240 sorties since the start of the air operation against Daesh militants in Syria. The officials added that 145 of those sorties had only been carried out by long-range bombers, and that the Russian warplanes made 189 sorties on Thursday alone.
2015: The year Russia told America 'enough'
Robert BridgePublished time: 24 Dec, 2015 15:55
Since 2003, Moscow has watched with infinite patience as US-led forces have steadily steamrolled a path of chaos and carnage across a large swath of Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. This year Vladimir Putin drew a line at Syria.
In an age when diplomats regularly correspond with each other behind the cold cover of firewalls and Twitter accounts, Moscow’s method of informing its US partners that it would start bombing operations in Syria was reminiscent of a gesture from a more chivalrous era.
Washington said it first learned of Moscow’s plans in Syria when it received a personal visit from a Russian general who appeared at the US Embassy in Baghdad.
Just hours later, the Russian military – with the full support of Damascus - stunned the world by opening a powerful aerial assault against Islamic State forces in Syria where they were stubbornly entrenched not only as a viable fighting force, but as the owners and operators of a profitable oil-producing enterprise, no less.
This Russian demonstration of shock-and-awe provided an exclamation point to comments delivered by President Vladimir Putin, who just one day earlier had berated Western powers in the UN General Assembly for the massive mess they had created in the region.
“I’m urged to ask those who created this situation: do you at least realize now what you’ve done? But I’m afraid that this question will remain unanswered, because they have never abandoned their policy, which is based on arrogance, exceptionalism and impunity,” Putin told the audience.
The Russian leader went on to make a direct connection between the West’s blundering foreign policy, which has recklessly usurped various leaders and governments without any clear idea as to what or who will fill the vacuum, and the rise of Islamic State.
“The so-called Islamic State has tens of thousands of militants fighting for it, including former Iraqi soldiers who were left on the street after the 2003 invasion. Many recruits come from Libya whose statehood was destroyed... And now radical groups are joined by members of the so-called 'moderate' Syrian opposition backed by the West. They get weapons and training, and then they defect and join the so-called Islamic State,” he noted.
Putin is far too experienced a statesman to say exactly which global power(s) might be interested in cannibalizing the broken bits and pieces of Iraq, Libya and Syria and turning them into a private proxy army, but he left no doubt that the rise of Islamic State was by no means an accident.
“In fact, the Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere,” Putin said, in what may have been the most telling yet downplayed part of his speech. “It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes.”
Putin is by no means alone in this belief. In May of this year, Judicial Watch, in response to Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits, became privy to some highly explosive Pentagon
documents that were compiled about a year before Islamic State appeared on the global stage in their Toyota trucks and US-made weapons.
The document states that “The Salafist [Islamic State], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria. The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime."
The declassified document continues:
“If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria… and this is exactly what the supporting powers [i.e. The West, Gulf countries and Turkey] to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”
As the Washington Blog pointed out, the document proves what so many opponents of the Syrian intervention have been saying for five years: There is no “moderate opposition” in Syria.
“It shows that extreme Muslim terrorists – Salafist, Muslims Brotherhood, and AQI… have always been the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”
It is no wonder that US policies seem to have created far more terrorists than they’ve eliminated - essentially because it is part and parcel of the strategy from the beginning to use these terrorists as proxy armies to take out undesirable governments.
Russia came to the realization that not doing anything about Islamic State was a far riskier alternative than allowing this group of savages to continue to flourish practically unmolested in Syria in dangerous proximity to the Russian border, not to mention Russia’s naval base at Tartus.
Yet somehow Russia’s rather predictable move caught the West completely off-guard.
"It doesn’t concern me in the slightest," US Senator John McCain said in 2013, when asked if he thought Russia and China would intervene in Syria. "Because they will not act."
"The United States is the most powerful nation in the world, and we’re not going to be intimidated by Russia and China," he continued. "We are not, so I guarantee you that they will not act."
NATO-member Turkey, who has been accused of purchasing oil from Islamic State, was also caught unawares by Russia’s lightning move in Syria [Incidentally, Russia the only country that is operating in Syria with the full legal backing of the Syrian government]. In fact, Ankara, oddly enraged over Russia’s determined efforts to destroy not only Islamic State’s command center, but its oil business as well, took the world to the brink of World War III when it shot down a Russian fighter jet that it says crossed into Turkish territory.
Meanwhile, a recent statement by a Turkish official revealing detailed information of Russian Air Force sorties in Syria can be regarded as “official acknowledgment” that the operation to down the Su-24 was a planned one, Russia's Ministry of Defense said.
“When on November 24 the Turkish fighter jet treacherously fired a rocket at our Su-24, the Turkish General Staff was perfectly aware about when and where our two bombers would be carrying out their mission,” ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told journalists on Wednesday.
Clearly, Putin’s decision to enter the Syrian conflict was a risky one, yet it appears now for all the wrong reasons. Incredibly, Moscow seems to be having less of a problem handling Islamic State than it is with those Western states that had proclaimed their dedication to wiping out the terrorist organization in the first place.
Russia’s military operation in Syria has uncovered a hornet’s nest of illicit activity, much of which is only indirectly connected to Islamic State. Where such disturbing revelations will lead us in 2016, it is too early to say, but the prospects for peace in Syria anytime soon do not look very likely.
CZECH PRESIDENT: ‘WE ARE FACING AN ORGANISED INVASION AND NOT A SPONTANEOUS MOVEMENT OF REFUGEES’
He went on to say that compassion was "possible" for refugees who are old or sick and for children.
DECEMBER 27, 2015
IMAGE CREDITS: AJENEWS
Czech President Milos Zeman called the current wave of refugees to Europe “an organised invasion”, adding young men from Syria and Iraq should instead “take up arms” against the Islamic State (IS) group.
“I am profoundly convinced that we are facing an organised invasion and not a spontaneous movement of refugees,” said Zeman in his Christmas message to the Czech Republic released Saturday.
He went on to say that compassion was “possible” for refugees who are old or sick and for children, but not for young men who in his view should be back home fighting against jihadists.
“A large majority of the illegal migrants are young men in good health, and single. I wonder why these men are not taking up arms to go fight for the freedom of their countries against the Islamic State,” said Zeman, who was elected Czech president in early 2013.
Swiss Army Chief Warns Of Social Unrest, Calls Upon Citizens To Arm Themselves
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/30/2015 22:42 -0500
Swiss army chief André Blattmann warned, in a Swiss newspaper article on Sunday, the risks of social unrest in Europe are soaring. Recalling the experience of 1939/1945, Blattman fears the increasing aggression in public discourse is an explosively hazardous situation, and advises the Swiss people to arm themselves and warns that the basis for Swiss prosperity is "being called into question."
As Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten reports, speaking on the record for the first time since the November Paris terror attacks, Blattmann told the paper that despite a rise in security incidents over the past two years Switzerland’s means of defence were being reduced.
The situation is growing increasingly risky, Blattman begins.
"The threat of terror is rising, hybrid wars are being fought around the globe; the economic outlook is gloomy and the resulting migration flows of displaced persons and refugees have assumed unforeseen dimensions."
Blattmann: "Social unrest can not be ruled out", the vocabulary in public discourse will "dangerously aggressive."
"The mixture is increasingly unappetizing" Blattmann sees the basis of Swiss prosperity, "has long been once again called into question."
He recalls the situation around the two world wars in the last century and advises Switzerland, to arm themselves.
The Swiss Armed Forces had held many years ago maneuver, in which the starting point was focused on social unrest in Europe.
Swiss politicians, of course, responded with disbelief to the army chief and hold his warnings are exaggerated.
The Economic Collapse
FINANCIAL ARMAGEDDON APPROACHES: U.S. BANKS HAVE 247 TRILLION DOLLARS OF EXPOSURE TO DERIVATIVES
Overall, the biggest U.S. banks collectively have more than 247 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives contracts.
DECEMBER 30, 2015
Did you know that there are 5 “too big to fail” banks in the United States that each have exposure to derivatives contracts that is in excess of 30 trillion dollars?
Overall, the biggest U.S. banks collectively have more than 247 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives contracts.
That is an amount of money that is more than 13 times the size of the U.S. national debt, and it is a ticking time bomb that could set off financial Armageddon at any moment. Globally, the notional value of all outstanding derivatives contracts is a staggering 552.9 trillion dollars according to the Bank for International Settlements. The bankers assure us that these financial instruments are far less risky than they sound, and that they have spread the risk around enough so that there is no way they could bring the entire system down. But that is the thing about risk – you can try to spread it around as many ways as you can, but you can never eliminate it. And when this derivatives bubble finally implodes, there won’t be enough money on the entire planet to fix it.
A lot of readers may be tempted to quit reading right now, because “derivatives” is a term that sounds quite complicated. And yes, the details of these arrangements can be immensely complicated, but the concept is quite simple. Here is a good definition of “derivatives” that comes from Investopedia…
“A derivative is a security with a price that is dependent upon or derived from one or more underlying assets. The derivative itself is a contract between two or more parties based upon the asset or assets. Its value is determined by fluctuations in the underlying asset. The most common underlying assets include stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates and market indexes.”
I like to refer to the derivatives marketplace as a form of “legalized gambling”. Those that are engaged in derivatives trading are simply betting that something either will or will not happen in the future. Derivatives played a critical role in the financial crisis of 2008, and I am fully convinced that they will take on a starring role in this new financial crisis.
And I am certainly not the only one that is concerned about the potentially destructive nature of these financial instruments. In a letter that he once wrote to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett referred to derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction”…
“The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Central banks and governments have so far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts. In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.”
Since the last financial crisis, the big banks in this country have become even more reckless. And that is a huge problem, because our economy is even more dependent on them than we were the last time around. At this point, the four largest banks in the U.S. are approximately 40 percent larger than they were back in 2008. The five largest banks account for approximately 42 percent of all loans in this country, and the six largest banks account for approximately 67 percent of all assets in our financial system.
So the problem of “too big to fail” is now bigger than ever.
If those banks go under, we are all in for a world of hurt.
Yesterday, I wrote about how the Federal Reserve has implemented new rules that would limit the ability of the Fed to loan money to these big banks during the next crisis. So if the survival of these big banks is threatened by a derivatives crisis, the money to bail them out would probably have to come from somewhere else.
In such a scenario, could we see European-style “bail-ins” in this country?
Ellen Brown, one of the most fierce critics of our current financial system and the author of Web of Debt, seems to think so…
“Dodd-Frank states in its preamble that it will “protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts.” But it does this under Title II by imposing the losses of insolvent financial companies on their common and preferred stockholders, debtholders, and other unsecured creditors. That includes depositors, the largest class of unsecured creditor of any bank.
Title II is aimed at “ensuring that payout to claimants is at least as much as the claimants would have received under bankruptcy liquidation.” But here’s the catch: under both the Dodd Frank Act and the 2005 Bankruptcy Act, derivative claims have super-priority over all other claims, secured and unsecured, insured and uninsured.
The over-the-counter (OTC) derivative market (the largest market for derivatives) is made up of banks and other highly sophisticated players such as hedge funds. OTC derivatives are the bets of these financial players against each other. Derivative claims are considered “secured” because collateral is posted by the parties.
For some inexplicable reason, the hard-earned money you deposit in the bank is not considered “security” or “collateral.” It is just a loan to the bank, and you must stand in line along with the other creditors in hopes of getting it back.”
As I mentioned yesterday, the FDIC guarantees the safety of deposits in member banks up to a certain amount. But as Brown has pointed out, the FDIC only has somewhere around 70 billion dollars sitting around to cover bank failures.
If hundreds of billions or even trillions of dollars are ultimately needed to bail out the banking system, where is that money going to come from?
It would be difficult to overstate the threat that derivatives pose to our “too big to fail” banks. The following numbers come directly from the OCC’s most recent quarterly report (see Table 2), and they reveal a recklessness that is on a level that is difficult to put into words…
Total Assets: $1,808,356,000,000 (more than 1.8 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $53,042,993,000,000 (more than 53 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $2,417,121,000,000 (about 2.4 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $51,352,846,000,000 (more than 51 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $880,607,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $51,148,095,000,000 (more than 51 trillion dollars)
Bank Of America
Total Assets: $2,154,342,000,000 (a little bit more than 2.1 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $45,243,755,000,000 (more than 45 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $834,113,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $31,054,323,000,000 (more than 31 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $1,751,265,000,000 (more than 1.7 trillion dollars)
Total Exposure To Derivatives: $6,074,262,000,000 (more than 6 trillion dollars)
As the “real economy” crumbles, major hedge funds continue to drop like flies, and we head into a new recession, there seems to very little alarm among the general population about what is happening.
The mainstream media is assuring us that everything is under control, and they are running front page headlines such as this one during the holiday season: “Kylie Jenner shows off her red-hot, new tattoo“.
But underneath the surface, trouble is brewing.
A new financial crisis has already begun, and it is going to intensify as we head into 2016.
And as this new crisis unfolds, one word that you are going to want to listen for is “derivatives”, because they are going to play a major role in the “financial Armageddon” that is rapidly approaching.
NYC TO ISSUE FINES FOR MISLABELING TRANSGENDERS
Property owners face stiff punishment for 'crimes'
Published: December 28 2015
Mislabeling a transgender can bring a fine of $250,000 in New York City. (Credit: TIME magazine cover)
New York City’s Commission on Human Rights published an update to its “Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Expression” law that could impose fines up to $250,000 on property owners who call employees or tenants a gender they don’t identify with, even if that gender is their true birth assignment.
It’s called a “misgender” crime, Breitbart reported.
The news outlet said: “It’s not as simple as referring to transmen ‘he’ or transwomen as ‘she,’ either. The legislation makes it clear that if an individual desires, property owners will have to make use of ‘zhe,’ ‘hir,’ and any other preferred pronoun.”
The new legislation makes clear the preferred gender of the person is what’s to be respected, not the birth gender.
“The NYCHRL requires employers and covered entities to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun and title (e.g., Ms./Mrs.) regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth, anatomy, gender, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on the individual’s identification. Most individuals and many transgender people use female or male pronouns and titles,” the text of the legislation reads, Breitbart reported. “Some transgender and gender non-conforming people prefer to use pronouns other than he/him/his or she/her/hers, such as they/them/theirs or ze/hir.”
The law also states the right of individuals to use single-sex bathrooms that are “consistent with their gender identity,” and to refuse to conform to “different [workplace] uniforms or grooming standards based on sex or gender,” Breitbart said.
TESLA ON EINSTEIN & RELATIVITY
"Einstein is a beggar dressed in purple clothes and made king using dazzling mathematics that obscure truth"...
"Relativity is a massive deception wrapped in a beautiful mathematical cloak.”
"The theory of relativity is a mass of error and deceptive ideas violently opposed to the teachings of great men of science of the past and even to common sense."
"The theory, wraps all these errors and fallacies and clothes them in magnificent mathematical garb which fascinates, dazzles and makes people blind to the underlying errors. The theory is like a beggar clothed in purple whom ignorant people take for a king. Its exponents are very brilliant men, but they are metaphysicists rather than scientists. Not a single one of the relativity propositions has been proved."
Russian Church Replaces Rome as the Center of Christianity?
Christians worldwide turn to Russia for protection
Iben Thranholm Mon, Dec 28
At no time in history has the persecution of Christians been as intense and widespread as it is now.
Christians in the Middle East are in dire need of a champion, which, in today’s world can only be a great power, and it is Russia that has taken on that responsibility.
With its secular ideology, the West can no longer protect Christian interests in the world as it did for centuries. Although the USA has a higher percentage of church goers than other Western countries, it underestimates the importance of religion in the countries it targets for regime change. Turning a blind eye to beheadings, child rape and other atrocities, it has created a hell on earth for Christians all over the Middle East. And with the Arab Spring, things went from bad to worse, as ISIS’ success in Iraq inspired similar groups. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Shabaab in Somalia are all committing atrocities against Christians.
Obsessed by its Constitution, the US assumes that it can impose the separation of church and state on a world where cultural and religious traditions run deep. Its failure to realize that these traditions contribute to a rejection of Western-style democracy, and similarly, to notice the spiritual dimension of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, including his standing among persecuted Christians, gives Russia a decisive advantage.
Vladimir Putin knows that modernity’s separation of politics from religion inspires many across the globe to return to their religious roots. In February 2012, he made a solemn vow to the Russian Orthodox Church to protect persecuted Christians all over the world, a commitment that has even caught the attention of America’s powerful Evangelicals.
Syrian Christians are thrilled and grateful for Russia’s decisive response to the slaughter they have endured for more than four years. But to understand the true significance of this initiative, you have to know that aside from Russia, Georgia and Armenia, there are Orthodox communities in fifteen European and near Eastern countries for whom Putin is increasingly looking like a 21st Century Constantine.
That 4th century Roman emperor converted to Christianity, put an end to the persecutions Christians had suffered under his predecessors. and granted the Church privileges that allowed it to become a worldwide power. Notwithstanding the electrifying presence of Pope Francis, in future we could see the Eastern Church replace Rome as the center of Christianity.
This will happen without the help of the media. Incapable of imagining the spiritual development that has taken place in Russia since the demise of Communism, it portrays Putin’s assertions of faith as geopolitical opportunism. Yet in his autobiography “First Person”, published in 2000, the Russian President declared that the first line in every Russian law should refer to moral values. He wants Russia to be as aware of its spiritual heritage as it is of its political and geographical position.
President Putin is convinced that spirituality has a profound effect on the way a culture develops, providing an indispensable moral compass that goes deeper than passing political expediency and secular “freedom”.
As increasing numbers of Christians across the spectrum turn toward Russia, its global influence can only grow.
next week...keep on believing.
the Lord I have put my trust: how will ye say to my soul, Flee to the
mountains as a sparrow?”