Transformation That Endures
By Deidra Riggs
So many times, our attempts at making resolutions have their roots in a belief that the person God created us to be is not enough.
“My mother told me that she liked the idea of the west, of the frontier, of going there to make a fresh start. I liked the idea too. In the west, I would be popular. I would reinvent myself. Nobody would know that back in Michigan, I’d been a nerd. And best yet, I would attend Fairview High School, where a junior named Holly had just won the Seventeen cover model contest. I had the issue upstairs in my room, carefully filed in a little library of teendom.”
Oh, how I can relate to these words from Susan Burton, in a recent episode of This American Life. At the same time Susan was moving from Michigan, I was moving to Michigan. My dad had accepted a promotion at his job, which meant our family would be packing up and moving from our little yellow house on a cul-de-sac on the East Coast all the way to a suburban neighborhood just outside Detroit.
I had moved a lot in my young life, but most of the moving had taken place when I was just a toddler—while my dad was still in the Army—so I had no memory of the packing up, moving to a new location, and starting a new life in a new place. When, at ten years old, I was told we’d be moving, I don’t think I truly knew what that meant. I mean, I knew I’d be getting a new bedroom. I knew there was some possibility I might even get a puppy. But the concept which seemed to fascinate me most of all was the idea of moving to a place where no one knew me. As I saw it, I was getting a chance to make myself over, in the image I—at ten years old—deemed best for me.
And who could blame me?
From the beginning of time, we have been in a quest to take charge of our image, our destiny, our lot in life. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were lured away from the goodness of God’s best in search of some alternative to the plan God had in mind. When the serpent enticed them with empty promises and deceitful motivation, the neophyte couple—despite having been gifted with the joy of an unfettered relationship with God—fell for the lie that they were not enough and that there was something more they needed for all to be right in their world.
We get this. In fact, each year we practice some form of this search for a “better me” as we embark on the custom of making New Year resolutions. Researchers tell us 45 percent of Americans usually make a resolution at the beginning of a new year, with another 17 percent making resolutions infrequently. What are we resolving to do (or not to do)? Take a look at this list of Top 10 Resolutions for 2015: Lose weight, get organized, spend less, save more, enjoy life to the fullest, stay fit and happy, learn something exciting, quit smoking, help others in their dreams, fall in love, spend more time with family.
I don’t think any of us would argue with these resolutions, right? There is nothing inherently bad in any of the resolutions on this list. And there is tons of research offering suggestions for making our resolutions stick. This is especially helpful in light of the fact that keeping our resolutions becomes increasingly difficult as time goes on. Six months after embarking on one of the changes in the list above, only 46 percent of people are still hanging in there with those changes. Our idea of change is so much easier than the actual implementation of those changes.
Which brings me back to that story of me, and my family’s move to Michigan. When I learned we were moving, I was enthralled at the prospect of a fresh start, a chance to be a better version of myself. But, when I arrived in Michigan, while I may have had a brand-new bedroom (no puppy, though), I was still the same me. In my heart, at the core of who I’ve always been, is the person God created me to be. Over time, of course, I’ve matured, I’ve learned how to navigate the different seasons of life, I’ve made mistakes, and I’ve had successes. But, at the core of me, is me. And, over the years, I’ve learned that old adage is true: Wherever you go, there you are.
That’s not all bad.
So many times, our attempts at making resolutions, turning over a new leaf, or charting a new path have their roots in a belief that the person God created us to be is not enough. I’m not talking about being perfect. The Bible teaches us perfection comes only through Jesus Christ and his substitutionary death on our behalf. We are not perfect. But, the person God created you to be is more than enough to cause him to rejoice over you with singing. God takes great delight in you. He’s not waiting for you to lose a few pounds or quit smoking or be a better steward of your resources in order for him to love you.
I didn’t know that when I was ten years old, and sometimes I forget it, even all these years later. God doesn’t want me to be a different person; what God is calling forth from me is more of me. The same is true for you. You’ve been uniquely designed to impact this world as only you can. Our attempts at changing ourselves and the way we live our lives should be guided by the one who gave us life, rather than motivated by a false sense of acceptability determined by culture or our neighbors or the people we see on TV. Our growth and transformation should be in response to the work of the Holy Spirit in us and not governed by the cover of a magazine or the events in a thirty-minute makeover show.
When we celebrate the unique person God created us to be—scientific, creative, introspective, zany, quirky, thoughtful, extroverted, compassionate, and more—we honor the Creator. And, when we offer that celebration up to God, he receives it as worship. When we let God direct the transformations in our lives—through his word, through other believers, and through the work of the Holy Spirit—the transformation sticks, despite what the latest scientific research might predict about that.
Over the next few months, I’ll be transitioning to a new phase of my own life, away from The High Calling. While I’m not completely sure about all the details ahead, I do know that God has a plan for me in the days to come. I don’t need to make myself over into someone else in order to fit into his plan. Instead, leaning into God’s deep love for me (as me), I trust him to transform me as he sees fit—through my experiences, by his word, and by the work of the Spirit of God in me—to be more like his son, Jesus. And, whatever the days ahead hold for you, know that you are enough, just as you are. Celebrate the person God created you to be, and let that be worship to him. Let go. You don’t have to try so hard to be someone you were never meant to be. Instead, watch God transform you for his glory, and for good.
Pop Culture Is Having a Metaphysical Moment
The OA, Westworld, Stranger Things, and other recent works toy with the idea of multiple realities—and bring the thrill of new religion.
Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? That’s the prompt that opened HBO’s Westworld, but it’s also the implied question behind shows like The OA, Stranger Things, The Good Place, and Falling Water, as well as movies like Arrival and Doctor Strange. Across popular entertainment lately, science fiction, theoretical physics, and spirituality have blended to offer not escapism but wait-there’s-more-ism, offering a tantalizing hint that our perception of reality is too narrow—and that with a little bit of effort, we can see extraordinary things.
The OA is the latest and clearest example of the phenomenon, the work most likely to trigger feelings of recognition in viewers as it pulls at ideas explored elsewhere in pop culture recently. The hokey-fun Netflix series imagines a young woman—alternately known as Nina, Prairie, and The OA—returning from a seven-year disappearance during which she somehow went from blind to not-blind. What happened? Spoiler: As she tells to a group of boys and their teacher in late-night storytelling sessions, she discovered the power of near-death experiences. Other dimensions, surreal landscapes populated by angels, can be accessed—but you have to die first, at least for a moment. Yet her encounters with the afterlife, forced upon her by an evil scientist using her as a test subject, supposedly also taught her how to open portals to other worlds in life by using a series of choreographed body movements in tune with other people.
The OA’s heady eight-episode first season has rightly drawn a lot of comparisons to one of Netflix’s other breakout original series: Stranger Things. In both works, an enigmatic and strangely named girl prone to nose bleeds breaks from scientific captivity carrying information about other realities than our own. Stranger Things gives the other reality a neat name—“the Upside Down”—and says that getting there is a matter of knowing your quantum physics and activating a very powerful energy source. At one point, the aforementioned girl, Eleven, illustrates the Upside Down by turning over a Dungeons and Dragons board. The moment echoes in The OA scene where Prairie explains after-death dimensions by taking a rolling ball off a maze board—a sign of the need for metaphor when discussing the metaphysical.
Westworld, by contrast, considers the metaphysical entirely as a metaphor: It’s a show not about multiple universes but about the feeling of there being multiple universes, a feeling that arises, lo and behold, from being trapped inside a vast game. Within the show, humans have constructed their own alternate reality in the form of a western theme park populated by robots nearly indistinguishable from real people. But the show itself has the viewer identify with the robots, and the overarching story is of conscious beings probing their previous inaccessible memories to realize that they are living a programmed life. At a certain point, key characters awaken to a world that looks very different from the dusty saloon-scape they knew.
All of these shows feel in kinship with Arrival, Denis Villeneuve’s recent hit movie about making contact with alien visitors. The OA posits metaphysical awakening comes by knowing certain body movements; Westworld says it comes from access to one’s own memories; Arrival offers it through Rosetta Stone lessons. Midway through the movie—this is a spoiler—Amy Adams’s linguist character comes to master aliens’ way of communication and finds that doing so has completely rewired the way she sees time. Suddenly, she can “remember” the future as well as she can remember the past. It’s not quite an alternate reality, but it’s not quite time-travel either—more than anything, it’s a fantasy of our world being not what it seems, and of its not-what-it-seemsness becoming accessible through the simple act of gaining knowledge.
There are other recent works along these themes: Dr. Strange, the Marvel movie that introduces a superhero who, through study, accesses other dimensions; Falling Water, USA’s puzzling drama about a shadow world accessible through lucid dreaming; The Good Place, NBC’s quirkily philosophical sitcom positing the afterlife as a series of specially designed neighborhoods.
Fiction can briefly offer the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
All of these come with the trappings of sci-fi, featuring rulebook-like alternate logic systems explicated by scientists and architects. The OA pulls from real (though disputed) research on near-death experiences; Stranger Things was clearly informed by some physicists’ TED Talks. But these stories also leap into hallucinatory fantasy less out of Philip K. Dick than Salvador Dali: the preposterous angel worlds of The OA, the dank ruins of the Upside Down in Stranger Things, the fro-yo shops and monster shrimp of The Good Place. It’s like viewers want to be shown the unimaginable—but also be told it squares with the scientific world they already know.
It’s always a tricky thing to propose the existence of a storytelling trend when that trend is abstract and eternally relevant, but it does seem fair to say that certain sci-fi obsessions ebb and flow: In some recent years, apocalypse and/or zombies have seemed the relevant preoccupation, and in others, it’s been aliens. Zipping through dimensions or waking up to perceive a new reality are by no means new ideas—see Sliders, The Matrix, or even Alice in Wonderland. But the recent multiverse musings, taken together, start to feel like a boomlet.
Which means it’s tempting to offer theories for why now. The tenuous but seductive current-events explanation is easy enough. 2016 was a rough ride for a lot of people, and so just as certain portions of the entertainment world may have become ever-more-realistic, other portions have started to indulge the hope that this existence we’re all living in is not the only one. What’s more, thanks to this political moment, there are lots of mini-examples of simultaneous realities. Just today, The Washington Post is running two news stories telling competing versions of the same event in Congress, perhaps out of an attempt to pander to separate reader groups. It’s like the Upside Down for clickbait.
But the sturdier read may be to point to these stories’ evergreen appeal: All of the aforementioned works grapple, in one way or another, with death. The OA and Stranger Things spring from the culturally familiar trauma that occurs when a child goes missing, proposing that such a story can have an ending more fantastical than the grim one we’re used to. Falling Water touches on a similar theme with one of its main characters searching for her baby; Arrival also copes with paternal grief; Westworld zooms out to toy with the idea of reincarnation, resurrection, and immortality; The Good Place is all about death.
Perhaps, more than anything, these are all a secular take on the promise of the divine. Could not the Bible or most other religious texts be slotted into the same metaphysical storytelling tradition? The OA engages with this notion directly: Throughout, Prairie’s tales of afterlife and mystical enlightenment seem to waver in credibility; by the end of the season—mild spoiler—it’s not yet clear whether she’s really seen the other side or is just a false prophet. But the people listening to her story have faith. In a way, the people who care enough to keep watching the show need to have faith too.They also, though, need to have a degree of skepticism, puzzling through clues to try and find the truth in a manner recognizable to TV viewers ever since Lost. The zing of The OA and other such works comes from the marriage of intellectual process and mystical escape; the appealing implication is not only that there is another place, but that we can understand what it is and how to get there. It makes sense: At a time of falling church attendance and talk of widespread spiritual crisis, fiction may be stepping in to offer some of the imaginative comfort that religion has long provided. Yet the new visions of things hoped for and not seen, as fits the era, presume to be rooted in knowledge rather than in faith.
US allies warn Trump not to move US embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds
Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:26PM
Donald Trump speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) during his presidential campaign on March 21, 2016. (file photo)
US allies in Europe and the Middle East have warned incoming US President Donald Trump not to relocate the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, calling the relocation “very dangerous."
Trump vowed during his presidential campaign that he would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds, a step that would enrage Palestinians and create an international furor.
Washington’s Arab and European allies say such a move could unleash further violence, undermine the so-called peace process, damage US standing in the Middle East, and endanger American personnel in the region.
"It's very dangerous," a European diplomat told CNN on condition of anonymity. "Chances for the peace process are going very quickly -- it's now or never. Violence is always a concern and, at this point, it's probably easy for Palestinians to demonstrate their frustration."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has written to Trump to say the relocation of the US embassy would have a disastrous impact. He warned in a recent speech that "any statement or position that disrupts or changes the status of Jerusalem [al-Quds] is a red line which we will not accept."
In an interview with CBS last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry issued his own warning, saying if the US moves its embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds, "you'd have an explosion -- an absolute explosion in the region, not just in the West Bank and perhaps even in Israel itself, but throughout the region."
US State Department officials said they fear the move will lead to security problems for US diplomatic missions and troops throughout the Middle East, create tension in US relationships with countries across the region, and cause even more conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Some US diplomats said there were signs that Trump may pull back from his campaign pledge to move the embassy. Trump’s transition team has offered no specifics on when or where the embassy would move, but Trump has said he would like it to happen soon.
Former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had also promised to move the US embassy during their presidential campaigns in order to court pro-Israel voters, but later reversed their positions.
Last month, outgoing US President Barack Obama renewed a presidential waiver ordering the US Embassy in Israel to remain in Tel Aviv.
Most of the world does not recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital and the city is considered occupied territory.
Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds and the Gaza Strip, with East al-Quds being the capital. They are also demanding that Israel withdraw from the Palestinian lands occupied in a 1967 war.
Syrian Army warns Israel it will respond after military airport bombed near Damascus
Published time: 13 Jan, 2017 00:21
Edited time: 13 Jan, 2017 06:11
Syrian state news agency SANA says Israeli jets have bombed the Mezzeh military airport west of Damascus, accusing Tel Aviv of supporting terrorism. The airport was rocked by multiple explosions, with ambulances rushing to the scene.
The Syrian Arab Army has warned that there will be repercussions for Israel for the “flagrant attack” on the military base, state TV said, citing a Syrian army command spokesman. It also linked the alleged strike to Israel’s “support of terrorist groups.”
There was no information on the death toll resulting from the airstrike immediately available. The base is reported to house Syria’s elite Republican Guards and Special Forces.
Footage from the scene with heavy fire and the sounds of explosions has surfaced on social media. Multiple reports from journalists and activists on the ground described the bombing, with the opposition also reporting there were rockets fired.
“Rockets strike at Mezzeh Military airport in Damascus minutes ago,” tweeted Hadi al-Bahra, former president of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces.
This is the second time in two months the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has being accused by the Syrian government of targeting Syrian positions from Israeli territory.
On December 7, SANA reported that “several surface-to-surface missiles” were launched by the IDF from the Golan Heights. At the time, the source in the Syrian armed forces slammed the attack as a “desperate attempt” by Israel to endorse terrorists.
On Thursday, at least nine people were killed and several others injured as result of a suicide attack in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood in Damascus. The terrorist had reportedly detonated an explosive belt near the al-Muhafaza sports club, SANA reported. RT’s Lizzie Phelan reported, citing a National Defense Forces (NDF) commander on the ground, that allegedly as many as five perpetrators took part in the attack, out of which three managed to escape and one was killed by a sniper.
Israel plot to 'take down' Tory minister: Astonishing undercover video captures diplomat conspiring with rival MP's aide to smear Deputy Foreign Secretary
Israeli Embassy made vow to ‘take down’ Foreign Office deputy Sir Alan Duncan
Bombshell footage covertly filmed in restaurant, obtained by Mail on Sunday
Senior diplomat is egged on by a senior aide to another Conservative Minister
By SIMON WALTERS POLITICAL EDITOR FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
PUBLISHED: 22:03, 7 January 2017 | UPDATED: 11:31, 8 January 2017
The Israeli Embassy made a shocking vow to ‘take down’ Boris Johnson’s Foreign Office deputy, a secret film reveals today.
The bombshell footage, covertly filmed in a London restaurant and obtained by The Mail on Sunday, shows a senior diplomat making the astonishing threat to target Sir Alan Duncan.
Extraordinarily, he is egged on by a senior aide to another Conservative Minister, Robert Halfon.
The video comes in a film claiming to expose the way that the Israeli government has ‘infiltrated’ both the Conservative and Labour parties via its embassy in the UK, using secret cash and covert support.
Further footage shows the Israeli diplomat, intelligence expert Shai Masot, telling senior Labour MP Joan Ryan that he has obtained ‘more than £1 million’ to pay for sympathetic Labour MPs to visit Israel.
Mr Masot also mocks ‘crazy’Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his ‘weirdo’ supporters. Footage shows pro-Israel Labour activists discussing the Jerusalem government’s secret role in backing their activities.
Last night it emerged that Israeli ambassador Mark Regev had made a full apology to Sir Alan for Mr Masot’s ‘completely unacceptable’ comments.
And a spokesman for Boris Johnson said: ‘The Israeli ambassador has apologised and made it clear to us that these comments do not represent the views of the Israeli Embassy or government.’
The revelations follow Tory infighting over the party’s policy on the Israel-Palestine dispute, and repeated claims of anti-Semitism among Labour’s Leftwing ‘Corbynistas’.
Senior Tory MPs have condemned the apparent threat to ‘take down’ Sir Alan – who has been critical of Israel and who is described in the secret footage as causing ‘problems’ – and called for a Downing Street inquiry.
Former Tory Minister Sir Desmond Swayne condemned Mr Masot’s ‘disgraceful’ comments, adding: ‘To talk of “taking down” a British Minister is very sinister.
‘There is anger in the US at Russia’s meddling in its democratic process and no such foreign meddling should be allowed in the UK.’
He was backed by Crispin Blunt, Conservative chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, who is also targeted by Masot in the film. He called the alleged comments about Sir Alan ‘outrageous’.
The disclosures are in a film made by the investigative unit of the Qataribased Al Jazeera TV company, which claims to show how the Israeli Government has ‘infiltrated’ the Conservative and Labour parties.
But Lord Stuart Polak, senior director, of the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), said last night: ‘It is utter nonsense to assert that any UK political party is taken over by any organisation.
‘The Friends of Israel groups do their job of educating their members about the complicated issues in the Middle East. The Israeli Embassy represents Israel in a professional manner.
‘To suggest they are involved in anything sinister is poppycock.’
One pundit claimed that Britain’s recent support for a UN Security Council vote condemning Jewish settlements on the West Bank undermined the claim that the pro-Israeli lobby dictates UK foreign policy.
However, days after the vote, Theresa May angered Palestinian supporters by attacking US Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim that the current Israeli Government is the ‘most Right-wing in its history’.
An undercover reporter and hidden cameras tracked Mr Masot across Britain as he held secret talks with figures from CFI and its Labour counterpart (LFI).
His apparent threat to ‘take down’ Sir Alan was made a month later at the Aubaine restaurant, directly opposite the Israeli Embassy in Kensington, West London, where Masot is based.
Also present was Maria Strizzolo, senior aide to Education Minister Robert Halfon, former political director of CFI.
After Ms Strizzolo boasts about her role in making Halfon a successful Minister, Mr Masot asks her: ‘That’s obvious, but can you do the opposite stuff as well?
Can I give you some names of MPs? Duncan is doing a lot of problems
Can I give you some names of MPs that I would suggest you take down?’
When Ms Strizzolo replies that all Mps ‘have something they’re trying to hide,’ Mr Masot says: ‘I have some MPs’ and tells the undercover reporter: ‘She knows which MPs I want to take down… the Deputy Foreign Minister [Duncan].’
He says Sir Alan – a well-known critic of Israel, and Boris Johnson’s second-incommand – is ‘doing a lot of problems’.
He appears to suggest that Sir Alan is more powerful because Johnson ‘is an idiot with no responsibilities. If something real happened… it will be Duncan.’
Strizzolo says Sir Alan is ‘impossible to rebuff’ and has powerful ‘friends and claims that in a bitter clash over Israel with her boss, Sir Alan ‘threatened to destroy’ Mr Halfon.
‘Rob told the Whips and they told him [Halfon] to calm down,’ she says. Strizzolo then suggests: ‘A little scandal maybe?’ adding: ‘Don’t tell anyone about this meeting.’
The Israeli diplomat targeted pro-Palestinian Deputy Foreign Secretary Sir Alan Duncan (left), not 'idiot' Boris Johnson (right)
Ambitious Mr Masot’s CV has the hallmarks of a spy: he spent eight years in the Israeli Navy’s ‘Special Unit’, has a degree in International Affairs, worked in Israeli Defence intelligence, has the rank of major and recently applied to run Israeli Foreign Affairs intelligence.
He says that he is ‘not a career diplomat’ and came to the UK ‘to take care of specific political issues – that’s what I do’.
Mr Masot also says he missed out on a job in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, joking: ‘It was a huge fight… me and another candidate... I tried to kill him but it didn’t work.’
In a discussion about other ‘pro Arab’ Tory MPs, Mr Masot refers to Crispin Blunt, who, like Sir Alan, has criticised Israel.
Ms Strizzolo chips in: ‘On the hit list? Yeah!’ adding she ‘cannot stand [‘pro-Arab Tories’] – they’re horrible people... the two go together.’
CAUGHT ON FILM AT DINNER
Mario Strizzolo is an aide to Robert Halfon, ex-political director of Conservative Friends of Israel
The target and his 'idiot' boss: The Israeli diplomat targeted pro-Palestinian Deputy Foreign Secretary Sir Alan Duncan, not 'idiot' Boris Johnson
The Israeli agent provocateur: The diplomat Shai Masot, pictured at the Labour conference with Israeli ambassador Mark Regev, says he 'takes care of political issues'
The fixer with a score to settle: Mario Strizzolo is an aide to Robert Halfon, ex-political director of Conservative Friends of Israel, who had a bust-up with Alan Duncan
‘Arab apologists,’ comments Mr Masot.
Both Mr Halfon and Ms Strizzolo are prominent supporters of Conservative Friends of Israel.
Shortly after Mr Halfon was made an Education Minister by Theresa May last year, Ms Strizzolo, his former Commons chief of staff, became a civil servant at the Education Department and continues to work part-time for him at the Commons.
In the film, she boasts of how she and the CFI ensure Tory Mps offer vocal support for Israel, for example by preparing public statements for them.
‘If you do everything for them it’s harder for them to say, “I don’t have the time... I won’t do it,” ’ she said.
She says she phoned Mr Halfon from Israel and ‘convinced’ him to ask a question to David Cameron in support of Israel in Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons in 2014.
When Mr Masot asks: ‘Did he do it?’, Ms Strizzolo replies: ‘Yeah, and [obtained] a Government statement.’
The film also shows how Mr Masot had intensive contact with pro-Israel Labour figures and discussed extra funding for LFI at the party’s conference in Liverpool in September.
The diplomat Shai Masot, on the right of this picture taken at the Labour conference with Israeli ambassador Mark Regev, says he ‘takes care of political issues’
He tells the group’s chairman, Ms Ryan, of plans for ‘another delegation of LFI activists’ to visit Israel.
Ms Ryan responds: ‘That’d be good. What happened with the names we put in to the embassy, Shai?’
Masot: ‘We’ve got the money, more than £1 million, it’s a lot of money.’
Ryan: ‘It must be.’
Masot: ‘I have got it from Israel. It is an approval.’
Ryan: ‘I didn’t think you had it in your bag!’
Last night, Ms Ryan said the claims in the film were ‘rubbish.’
Mr Halfon and the Israeli embassy declined to comment.
Ms Strizzolo said last night her conversation with Masot was ‘tongue-in-cheek and gossipy’, adding: ‘Any suggestion that I… could exert the type of influence you are suggesting is risible.’
She knew Mr Masot ‘purely socially and as a friend. He is not someone with whom I have ever worked or had any political dealings beyond chatting about politics, as millions of people do, in a social context.’
Sir Alan also declined to comment.
The Washington Post
One of the Shakers’ last three members died Monday. The storied sect is verging on extinction.
By Travis M. Andrews January 4
Sister Frances Carr and Brother Arnold Hadd of the Shaker Village in Sabbathday Lake, Maine, sing with the Boston Camerata during a rehearsal at the Warwick Hotel in New York on Sept. 13, 1995. (Adam Nadel/Associated Press)
One of the last three remaining members of the dwindling Shaker sect died Monday.
Sister Frances Carr died at the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester, Maine, “after a brief battle with cancer,” according to a statement on the community’s website.
It continued, “The end came swiftly and with dignity surrounded by the community and her nieces.” Carr was 89.
Carr was a member of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearance, a Christian group formed in 1747 in Manchester, England. They earned the name the Shakers when critics began calling them “Shaking Quakers” because of “their ecstatic and violent bodily agitation in worship,” according to Sabbathday Lake’s website. The Shakers eventually abandoned this particular dancing-style worship, but the congregation adopted the term, according to the Associated Press.
The religious sect moved to the United States when Ann Lee, one of its leaders (known as Mother Ann) who was imprisoned in England for her views, fled to the New World with eight of her followers in 1774. Eventually, the group established its first American community in New Lebanon, N.Y. Slowly, it blossomed into 18 communities across the Eastern United States, including locations in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Massachusetts.
The last remaining community is Sabbathday Lake, which now has only two members.
This is not a surprise. The Shakers practice celibacy, in addition to pacifism, equality of the sexes and communal ownership of property.
As its members didn’t have children, the sect grew both by converting adults and by raising orphaned children and, when they reached age 18, giving them the option to remain a member of the sect or to leave the community.
This helped it reach its mid-19th century, pre-Civil War height of about 5,000 members.
Carr, for example, was taken in by the Shakers when she was 10, because her parents couldn’t care for her, the AP reported. But as the communities ceased this practice — and not many, if any, adults were converting to the unique way of life — the religious sect’s numbers began decreasing significantly.
Although it may sound like an old-fashioned religious sect by today’s standards, at one time the Shakers were considered progressive. As PBS noted, “Seventy-five years before the emancipation of the slaves and 150 years before women began voting in America, the Shakers were practicing social, sexual, economic, and spiritual equality for all members.”
In their Southern communities, members freed all of their slaves in 1817 and began buying other black believers out of slavery, PBS reported.
And, although many often confuse Shakers with the Amish, members actually embraced modern technology. The Sabbathday Lake community, for example, has Internet access and computers.
More than that, because the Shakers remained self-sufficient by growing their own food and designing their own tools, and “believed that God dwelt in the details of their work and in the quality of their craftsmanship,” they are thought to have invented several time-saving devices, such as the circular saw, the flat-bottomed broom and the spring-loaded clothespin.
“To the Shaker, everything is a gift from God,” Brother Arnold Hadd said in a short documentary released by the Maine community. “Everything. Whatever we’re doing, that’s a gift. And we try to labor on that gift to bring it forth into a perfection.”
One of the outcomes of this perfection was Shaker furniture, which is renowned for its “minimalist design and unstinting quality,” according to a description from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is one of the many American museums to display some of these pieces. It continued:
Rejecting excessive ornament because it ostensibly encouraged the sin of pride, Shaker furniture makers focused on overall form and proportions, developing creative solutions such as asymmetrical drawer arrangements and multipurpose forms to add visual interest without resorting to pure decoration. Most Shaker pieces were originally painted or stained, both to protect the wood and to make it more attractive. Colors were strictly regulated by the Millennial Laws, with blues, greens, reds, and yellows the most popular and monochromatic treatments preferred. Many pieces that now have clear finishes were repainted or refinished by subsequent owners.
But the production of such pieces may be nearing an end.
Shaker furniture decorates the Great Stone Dwelling in Enfield, N.H., in June 1998. The restored six-story granite structure, which once housed about 100 Shakers, will be opened as an inn and museum. (Joel Page/Associated Press)
Before her death, Carr apparently didn’t like when people called her, 60-year-old Hadd and 78-year-old Sister June Carpenter the “last” Shakers — she was convinced others would eventually convert to the religious sect, something Hadd still hopes for.
“Every day the prayers go up that we will get people to come, that we get competent vocations,” he told the AP. “It’s a calling from God.”
Carr and Hadd weren’t the only ones to feel this way. The now-deceased Sister Mildred Barker told PBS that she wasn’t worried about the sect.
“This is God’s work, and what could bring that to an end? Nothing that we humans, that mortals do,” she said.
Vatican invites pro-abortion ‘Population Bomb’ author to speak at Biological Extinction conference
VATICAN CITY, January 12, 2017
The Vatican has invited the undisputed father of the modern population control movement to present a paper at an upcoming Vatican-run conference.
Dr. Paul Ehrlich, author of the 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb, is scheduled to speak in Vatican City during the February 27-March 1 conference that will discuss “how to save the natural world.” The Stanford biologist has championed in his career sex-selective abortion as well as mass forced sterilization as legitimate methods to curb population growth.
Titled Biological Extinction, the conference will address what Vatican organizers call an unsustainable “imbalance” between the world’s population and what the earth is capable of producing. The event is jointly sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
Organizers of the Vatican-run conference predict that if effective steps are not taken to reverse so-called man-made “global climate change,” then up to 40 percent of “all biodiversity on Earth” will be destroyed “by the end of this century,” including a “majority” of species of plants.
“[T]here is no possibility of improving our situation without the widespread adoption of social justice, both as a matter of morality and as a matter of survival,” the event brochure put out by the Vatican states.
With the invitation of Ehrlich to address the conference, how the Pontifical Academies understand “social justice” takes on a sinister aspect.
In The Population Bomb, Ehrlich forecasted “an utter breakdown in the capacity of the planet to support humanity” that would result in starvation for hundreds of millions, predictions that have proved to be false while his theories have been debunked. The biologist predicted in 1968 that half of Americans would die by 1990. India and China would simply die out. By the year 2000, England would also cease to exist. Ehrlic mentioned in his book sex-selection abortion as a potentially effective tool for conserving the world’s resources by reducing population, a position he continues to defend.
In a 2011 interview with Mara Hvistendahl, Ehrlich defended sex-selection abortion and infanticide, stating that “it would be a good idea to let people have their choice so that they could have fewer children and could have what they wanted,” adding that a sex-selection abortion and even infanticide might be a better fate for females than what awaited them in an overpopulated world.
“You can be aborted as a conceptus, you can be killed at birth, or you can be sold into slavery and die in a slum someplace,” he said, adding. “It would be interesting to know how many females you’re keeping out of hideous situations [when they are not] killed or infanticided.”
In the same interview, Ehrlich also defended the principle behind mass forced sterilization, a concept mentioned in a 1977 book he co-authored titled Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment, suggesting that mass sterilization working in tandem with sex-selection technology would be particularly effective for population control interests.
Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, criticized the Vatican’s choice of Ehrlich as a suitable speaker.
“Ehrlich’s opinions on biological extinction rates are just as exaggerated as his failed predictions of a human population explosion. Why the Vatican should be giving a platform to this secular prophet of doom is beyond me,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“There are plenty of credible Catholic scientists around whose fact-based opinions should be highlighted by their Church. What's next? Inviting Raúl Castro to speak on human rights?” he added.
The Catholic Church not only condemns abortion but coercive population control methods as well.
Instead of seeing people as “mouths to feed,” “pollution producers,” or “carbon footprint makers,” the Church sees each person as a unique and unrepeatable gift from God. Created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ, each person is filled with the greatest dignity as a son or daughter of God who is ultimately called to eternal beatitude in the Kingdom of God.
In his watershed 1968 Encyclical Humanae Vitae that taught about the moral evil of using contraception to space birth, Pope Paul VI warned rulers of countries against using illicit methods of birth control to solve the “demographic problem.”
“Do not allow the morality of your peoples to be degraded; do not permit that by legal means practices contrary to the natural and divine law be introduced into the fundamental cell, the family,” he urged at that time.
Paul VI warned the people of the world then that if contraception became a societal norm it would provide governments with a “dangerous weapon” to manipulate population sizes.
“Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of contraception which they judge to be most efficacious? In such a way men, wishing to avoid individual, family, or social difficulties encountered in the observance of the divine law, would reach the point of placing at the mercy of the intervention of public authorities the most personal and most reserved sector of conjugal intimacy,” he wrote.
Pope Francis has also explicitly rejected population control as a method to combat climate change, writing in his encyclical Laudato Si’ that to “blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some [for lack of resources] is one way of refusing to face the issues.”
Given the Church’s outright condemnation of abortion, contraception, and the use of coercive population control measures to curb demographics, it remains to be seen why the Pontifical Academies viewed the famed proponent of population control as a suitable speaker for their conference.
This is not the first time an advocate for positions contrary to the Catholic faith has been invited to attend Vatican conferences. The leaders of both Pontifical Academies have, under Francis’ pontificate, surprisingly given prominent platforms to some of the world’s foremost proponents of abortion and population control, including Ban Ki-moon and Jeffrey Sachs.
In 2015, Professor Margaret Archer, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, slammed an American pro-life organization after it raised concerns about abortion and population control proponents being given a platform at a Vatican conference on climate change. “I am appointed by the Pope and responsible directly to him. I’m afraid that leaves you and your cohort out in the cold,” she told the pro-life organization at that time.
Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, also has a history of inviting abortion and population control proponents to Vatican events. He has been criticized by pro-life advocates for unreservedly endorsing the United Nations’ controversial Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which pro-lifers warn include a not-so-hidden abortion and population control agenda. Last year, Sorondo defended inviting then-Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an abortion advocate, to address a “social order” conference.
Also attending the Vatican conference is African Cardinal Peter Turkson, who in a BBC interview in 2015 said “birth control” could “offer a solution” to the impacts of climate change. Turkson, who has since become the prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, later revised his statement, saying that when he used the term “birth control,” what he actually meant was spacing of births or “responsible parenthood.”
Wall Street On Parade
Here’s How Goldman Sachs Became the Overlord of the Trump Administration
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: January 9, 2017
During his political campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly railed against Wall Street with a specific focus on Goldman Sachs. In the final days of his campaign, Trump released an advertisement (see video below) that featured his opponent, Hillary Clinton, shaking hands with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. As the image flickers on the screen, Trump does a voice over, stating: “”It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” As the ad ends, Trump bares his soul: “I’m doing this for the people and for the movement and we will take back this country for you and we will make America great again.”
How did a candidate who repeatedly demonized Goldman Sachs as the poster child for a corrupt establishment that owned Washington end up with Goldman Sachs’ progeny filling every post that even tangentially has the odor of money or global finance? One answer is family ties; another may be something darker.
Trump’s non-stop nominations and appointments of Goldman Sachs alumni have left his supporters stunned. Trump nominated Steven Mnuchin, a 17-year veteran of Goldman Sachs to be his Treasury Secretary. Stephen Bannon, another former Goldman Sachs banker, was named by Trump as his Chief Strategist in the White House. The sitting President of Goldman Sachs, Gary Cohn, has been named by Trump as Director of the National Economic Council, which, according to its website, coordinates “policy-making for domestic and international economic issues.” Last week, in a move that stunned even Wall Street, Trump nominated a Goldman Sachs outside lawyer, Jay Clayton of Sullivan & Cromwell, to serve as Wall Street’s top cop as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Adding to the slap in the face to Trump’s working class supporters, Clayton’s wife currently works as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs.
But the Goldman Sachs’ ties don’t stop there.
When Alexander Blankfein, the oldest son of Goldman Sachs’ CEO Lloyd Blankfein was married in 2013, Joshua Kushner attended the wedding. Joshua had been Alexander’s roommate at Harvard according to the New York Times. Joshua is the brother-in-law to a woman who will play a major role in the Trump administration – Ivanka Trump, daughter of the President-elect and wife of Joshua’s brother, Jared.
According to Politico, Goldman Sachs partner, Dina Powell, President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, is Ivanka’s “top adviser on policy and staffing.”
Then there is Erin Walsh who had worked at Goldman Sachs since 2010 as an Executive Director and head of its Office of Corporate Engagement for Asia Pacific. Walsh also previously worked in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Walsh is now part of Trump’s transition landing team for the State Department and is engaged in prepping the just retired CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, for his Senate confirmation hearing this week to become the Secretary of the Department of State, according to Politico.
A recent Executive Director of Goldman Sachs preparing the recent titular head of Big Oil to pass muster to run the State Department is the Orwellian version of draining the swamp — and Trump’s pre-election campaign language is proving to have been very Orwellian, as in reverse-speak.
And there is yet another former Goldman Sachs banker, Anthony Scaramucci, who sits on Trump’s transition team.
Since 2010, according to Federal Election Commission records, Gary Cohn, the President of Goldman Sachs and Trump’s designee as Director of the National Economic Council, has given $148,800 to political candidates running for Federal office. No contributions were made to Donald Trump. Despite that, Cohn will sit atop a powerful body and have the President’s ear on both domestic and international economic issues. According to multiple media reports, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is a close friend of Cohn’s and set up the first meeting with Trump.
During the primary campaign, when it emerged that Trump’s opponent Ted Cruz had received a loan from Goldman Sachs, Trump said that Cruz was “owned” by Goldman Sachs. Now the Dow Jones company, MarketWatch, has reported that Trump’s debt is held by more than 150 Wall Street firms. The New York Times has reported that Goldman Sachs Mortgage Company holds a loan on an office tower at 1290 Avenue of the Americas, a building that is 30 percent owned by Donald Trump.
Some of the Trump debt held by Wall Street firms, according to media reports, includes Donald Trump’s personal guarantee in the event of a default. The true owners of other Trump debt are shielded behind secretive Limited Liability Corporations. These serious conflicts of interests together with the unprecedented infusion of Goldman Sachs honchos into his administration, have the potential to set a new low in Washington politics – an outcome that America can ill afford as it struggles to rise above the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression just eight years ago.
The Senate is set to hold confirmation hearings on nine of Trump’s nominees this week. Call your Senator today and demand that he or she asks the questions that will get to the bottom of these Byzantine conflicts.
Hungary swears in its first batch of 'border hunters' who will patrol the country's razor-wire fence alongside soldiers to keep migrants out
New recruits will support police officers and soldiers in border protection
Will patrol razor-wire fence running the length of Serbian and Croatian borders
They will carry pistols with live ammunition, pepper spray, batons and handcuffs
By HANNAH AL-OTHMAN FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 13:17, 12 January 2017 | UPDATED: 15:56, 12 January 2017
The first batch of Hungary's 'border hunters' have been sworn in before they get to work patrolling a razor-wire fence built to keep migrants out.
Members of the border protection officers' new unit attended their swearing-in ceremony in Budapest today, and will undergo six months of training before they go on duty.
The new recruits will support Hungarian police officers and soldiers in border protection, and will be equipped with pistols with live ammunition, pepper spray, batons, handcuffs and protective kit.
Hungarian police were looking to recruit 3,000 of the 'border hunters' who will reinforce up to 10,000 police and soldiers.
They are due to start work in May, and will be paid 150,000 forint (£424) for the first two months, rising to 220,300 forint (£622.50).
Those eligible to sign up must be over 18, physically fit and must pass a psychological test, police officer Zsolt Pozsgai told Hungarian state television in September.
The razor-wire fence the new recruits will be patrolling runs the entire length of Hungary's borders with Serbia and Croatia, where hundreds of thousands of migrants have crossed during the refugee crisis.
The fence has been credited with sharply reducing numbers of migrants coming into the country, although footage has shown refugees attempting to climb or crawl under it.
In a referendum in October more than 98 per cent of participants supported Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's proposals to shut the country's doors to refugees and reject any EU plans to introduce quotas among its member countries.
However, more than half of the electorate failed to vote, rendering the process constitutionally null and void.
Of 177,135 asylum applicants to Hungary in 2015, just 146 were approved, according to government statistics.
SYRIA: Sultan Erdogan’s Secret Weapon, Elite Squads of Chinese Uyghur Mercenaries
JANUARY 7, 2017 BY 21WIRE
The Uyghurs figure in Erdogan’s notorious guard of homour, of 16 soldiers dressed in historical warrior costumes, who astounded the world when they appeared during a welcoming ceremony for President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in January 2015. (Photo: ChinaMatters. blogspot)
Turkey’s President Erdogan used his mercenary Army to fight against the Syrian government military forces for the purpose of regime change. This military project of regime change in Syria was devised, supported and established by the United States of America, who is a close ally of Turkey, and fellow NATO member.
“This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” General Wesley Clark, interview with “Democracy Now” dated 2007.
Pres. Erdogan’s mercenary Army are all Chinese citizens of the far Western region in China, and home of the Uygur people, and are Sunni Muslims. The Uygur people are an ethnic group of Muslims living near the far west frontier of China and they speak the ancient Turkic language, which is the root of the modern Turkish language now spoken in Turkey. Their province is Xinjiang, and their capital city is Urumqi.
For many years, Pres. Erdogan has supported the Uygur’s claims of oppression by the Chinese government. Pres. Erdogan has made speeches in which he compared the Uygur people to the ancestors of the people of Turkey. Pres. Erdogan feels there is a close historical and ethnical tie between modern Turkey and the Uygur people. In a speech, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that “Eastern Turkestan is not only the home of the Turkic peoples, but it is also the cradle of Turkic history, civilization, and culture. The martyrs of Eastern Turkestan are our own martyrs.” His designation of Eastern Turkestan is actually the Chinese province of Xinjiang, the home of the Uygur people.
Pres. Erdogan used his own mercenary Army of Chinese citizens: the Uygurs. He had allowed them Turkish passports, which they used to pass legally through Central Asia to arrive in Turkey. The immigration officials at the airport in Turkey recognized these special passports, and would confiscate them, but allow the Chinese to pass through legally and enter Turkey.
Pres. Erdogan had arranged for them to be transported from the airport in Turkey into Syria through the large and porous border area North of Idlib, which was once a mid-size town in North West Syria. In the Zeytinburnu distict of Istanbul, Nurali T., a Uyghur Turk working to transport terrorists into Syria, with implicit allowance of the Turkish government, and especially the Turkish Intelligence Services, provides militants with passports worldwide.
According to Nurali T.’s office manager, “More than 50,000 Uyghur Turks came to Turkey with these fake passports from China via Thailand and Malaysia and entered Syria after staying a day in Istanbul”. Militants who entered Turkey with these fake passports are hosted either in hotels or guesthouses for a day before they pass into Syria through the borders which are under terrorist control.
Idlib was a hot-spot of violence and destruction from the early months of the Syrian crisis, which started in March 2011. By late summer of 2011, Idlib was almost empty of residents, who either fled to Turkish refugee camps nearby, or fled to the refugee camps of Latakia. Idlib transformed into a Free Syrian Army headquarters and base of operations.
When Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona made his famous illegal trip into Syria, to meet the FSA commanders, he was near Idlib. Eventually, the FSA recruited and invited Al Qaeda from Libya, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and other Arab and Western countries, such as USA, UK, Europe and Australia.
The majority of Syrian residents do not support armed revolution, or the armed opposition called FSA. Because of this lack of support on the ground, the FSA chose to call in their Jihadi brothers globally, or face defeat. The American CIA office in Adana, Turkey, who runs the FSA command and supplies headquarters, had no problem in allowing the Al Qaeda and their affiliates to bolster the ground forces of the FSA, who had been dwindling.
America used the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and Al Qaeda affiliates: Jibhat al Nusra, Islamic Army, Nour al Deen al Zinki and Ahrar al Sham, to fight the Syrian government forces, thus avoiding American “boots on the ground”. In fact, the FSA and all the other armed militias are acting as American “boots on the ground”: as mercenaries.
The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) is the Radical Islamic political group made up of Uygur people. Their leader is Emir Abd al-Ḥaqq al-Turkistānī. Since 2001, TIP has been affiliated with Al Qaeda. The ground battlefield leaders of TIP in Idlib province of Syria are Abu Rida al-Turkestani, and Ibrahim Mansour. In 2013 TIP aligned itself with Jibhat al Nusra, a terrorist group in Syria which is on the US list of outlawed terrorist groups. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said:
“Chechens who defected to ISIS were replaced with the Uyghur Turkistan Islamic Party allied with Al-Qaeda.”
“Islam Awazi,” the TIP’s media center, publishes three to four videos monthly in the column, “A Call From the Front Lines of Jihad,” which report about the military “successes” of TIP fighters. Also, a monthly “Tourism of the Believers” video is produced which demonstrates the “peaceful” and “military” life of Uyghur fighters in Syria. In particular, on July 22, 2016 the Turkestan Islamic Party distributed a video titled “My Desire,” which highlighted photos of Uyghur fighters in Syria.”
Today ISIS-inspired radicals in Europe repeat the experience of TIP fighters, who massacred Han Chinese at stations in Kunming and Guangzhou using knives, axes, and machetes in 2014. The TIP has a long history of terrorist attacks inside China, targeting Chinese people who are not Muslim. Now that TIP is in Syria in large numbers, they have become a serious contender in global Jihad. In October 2013, five died when a car crashed into a group of pedestrians near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, and TIP claimed responsibility for the attack in a video. This act reminds us of the Nice, France truck attack which killed and injured a large number of pedestrians in summer 2016.
The TIP terrorists in Idlib took great pride in destroying the several Christian Churches of the area. As in many parts of Syria, the Idlib area had been home to Muslims, Christians and minority sects. The TIP made many videos of the destruction of Churches and placing their TIP flag on the steeple of the Churches.
The Uygurs are in general a poor and under educated group in China. They have a strong sense of family ties, and some have felt a political alienation from the Chinese government and society. Because of that, most of the Uygurs who migrated to Idlib, Syria brought their entire families with them. The married males: their wife, their children and their elderly parents. This is unlike most Jihadists, who are young males traveling alone.
Because these Jihadists of the TIP had arrived in Idlib, Syria as whole family units, they needed special living arrangements, unlike the male-only typical terrorist camps. The TIP occupied a whole village in the Idlib province named Az-Zanbaqi, which is now home to 3,500 Uygurs of all ages and sexes. There were so many children with them, that they established their own schools there. The children are mainly taught the Koran and military training, like ‘Junior Jihadis’. Their dream is to survive the Syrian Jihad, and grow up well trained in terrorist fighting, then make their way back to China and begin their attack on China, to transform China into an Islamic State.
The Saudi Arabian and Qatari petro-dollars are funding the regime change project in Syria, with the actual cash payroll distributed from Turkey by a Saudi official. America is the source of the regime change policy towards Syria, with Turkey as the logistical base of operations, and Syria is the battlefield, with unarmed Syrian civilians amounting to the largest number of casualties.
Turkey is a modern “democracy”. It has long prided itself on its secular form of government. However, the AKP party, which is now the ruling party of Pres. Erdogan, is in fact an Islamist party. Pres. Erdogan has continually been making substantial changes to the social and political fabric of Turkey, in order to shift it towards Radical Islam. Radical Islam is not a religion, or sect, but a political ideology.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a global political party which is based on Radical Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood is outlawed in many countries, notably Egypt and Syria. Pres. Erdogan is a supporter and defender of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Syrian armed opposition, FSA, has a political wing, Syrian National Coalition (SNC). Pres. Erdogan hosted the SNC in Istanbul, Turkey.
America is also home to the Muslim Brotherhood, with offices and members in almost every big city across USA. The US Congress once debated outlawing the Muslim Brotherhood; however, it did not pass. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood hold high positions in Pres. Obama’s administration, and in key departments such as security and defense.
In the United Kingdom, the Muslim Brotherhood is also throughout the country, and has established itself with close ties to the UK government. The same can be said of the Australian government scene.
Saudi Arabia is home to the Wahhabi brand of Radical Islam, while Qatar promotes the Salafi brand of Radical Islam, and Turkey, USA and UK are bases for the Muslim Brotherhood brand of Radical Islam. These three brands are the three sides of the same coin. However, the vast majority of Muslims worldwide reject Radical Islam, and according to Islamic scholars, they reject the “Death Cult “called ISIS, which was born out of the three brands just described.
Syria’s “Chinatown” is not a tourist spot, known for bright red paper lanterns and tasty noodle dishes. For that you will have to go to San Francisco, or Seattle.
Syria’s “Chinatown” is a small village in the countryside, of rolling hills and olive orchards. Syria’s Chinatown is a terrorist town, not a tourist town. One day those Uygur ‘tourists’ to Syria will have out-stayed their VISA issued by Pres. Erdogan, and will face either death on the battlefield, or a slow walk Eastwards on the Old Silk Road their ancestors once made famous
Mexico Revolution: Millions Storm US Border
Posted on January 11, 2017 by Baxter Dmitry
Long-simmering social tensions in Mexico are now boiling over as millions of citizens revolt against their deeply unpopular government’s open corruption. Rampant inflation and a severe gasoline crisis have driven the country to the brink of revolution, yet mainstream media in the US continues to suppress the scale of events.
Massive protests have forced the closure of the US-Mexico border in San Diego, California, several times in the past week alone as ongoing “gasolinazo” protests – over a 20 percent rise is gas prices – have led to over 400 arrests, 250 looted stores, and six deaths.
Roads are being blockaded, borders closed, and government buildings are being sacked. There is blood and chaos in the streets, which activists have blamed on infiltrators deployed by an increasingly desperate government.
The few mainstream news reports that have covered the situation blame rising gas prices but fail to examine several other factors that are pushing Mexico to the brink of revolution.
The narco-state, or as Mexican activists say, “el narco-gobiero,” is a term used to describe the open corruption between the Mexican government and drug cartels. The narco-state has been in the headlines lately over the kidnapping and presumed murder of 43 Ayotzinapa students in Iguala, Guerrero, in 2014. This has been a source of continuous anti-government protests ever since.
Though the kidnappings remain officially unsolved, members of the Guerrero Unidos drug cartel have admitted to colluding with local police forces to silence the student activists. Twenty police officers have been arrested in association with the kidnapping. Former Iguala police chief Felipe Flores has been arrested and “accused of offenses including organized crime and kidnapping the students,” the AP reports.
The corruption apparently goes all the way to the top, as federal authorities say former Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca personally ordered the kidnappings.
One Mexican activist who wished to remain anonymous said “a lot of people think it’s only the gasoline prices, but the price of gas is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. It all started with Ayotzinapa.”
Much like the U.S., the Mexican government is susceptible to corporate influence. It just so happens that the most influential corporate entities in Mexico are drug cartels — and it’s hard for the government to reign in entities that fund and infiltrate it.
Similar to the phenomenon of “regulatory capture,” the Mexican government is at least partially funded and co-opted by drug cartels. This festering problem is an underlying factor in the current civil unrest in Mexico.
Neoliberal policies left the working class behind
NAFTA was a contentious issue in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but it’s just as controversial in Mexico, if not more so. The grand 1994 “free trade” scheme, signed into law by Bill Clinton, saw a dramatic redesign of both the U.S. and Mexican economic landscapes.
Corn farmers, long a vital factor in Mexico’s peasant farming economy, were wiped out by low-priced corn subsidized by the U.S. government, which immediately flooded Mexican markets after NAFTA was passed. The Mexican immigration crisis at the U.S.’ southern border soon followed.
Meanwhile, manufacturing plants soon began moving into Mexico from the U.S. to take advantage of extremely cheap labor — leaving many workers in the U.S. out of a job. American agricultural corporations like Driscoll’s have recently come under fire for employing slave-like labor conditions to produce boutique organic fruit for U.S. consumers.
Protests for workers rights in Mexico, which recently raised its minimum wage to 80 pesos (~$4) per day, are often met with heavy-handed police crackdowns.
Incoming President Trump has capitalized on two issues caused by NAFTA — the immigration crisis and outsourcing of U.S. jobs — and his reactionary protectionist economic policies will undoubtedly make Mexico’s predicament even worse.
Mexico’s nationalized oil conglomerate, Pemex, has been plagued by falling production for years. Corruption, which is inherent to state-run institutions, has condemned Mexico’s gas industry to inefficiency and stalled innovation. Theft has become a widespread issue, and oil workers were recently caught red-handed siphoning gas directly out of pipelines.
Supposedly to ramp up production and lower prices, the Mexican government pushed through neoliberal privatization schemes in 2013 and 2014, which were backed by U.S. oil interests and incubated by the Hillary Clinton-run State Department. President Enrique Peña Nieto promised the reforms would result in increased production and lower fuel prices, though production has fallen and prices spiked 20 percent on January 1st.
Prices are expected to rise even further, as fuel subsidies will be completely phased out by March 2017. Peña Nieto claims the prices must go up to match international prices, though consumers in the U.S. currently pay less for gas than Mexicans.
Peña Nieto’s neoliberal reforms have fallen flat as economic growth has been anemic for years and wealth inequality has grown out of control.
Rampant inflation in Mexico
Perhaps the biggest driver of the current civil upheaval in Mexico is out of control inflation coupled with the value of the peso reaching record lows. Mexican workers are already stretched thin financially as minimum wage hovers at four U.S. dollars per day.
Food prices, which were on the rise before the gas price increases, are set to climb 20 percent or more as they correlate closely with prices at the pump.
According to Zero Hedge, in Mexico, it currently takes “the equivalent of 12 days of a minimum wage to fill a tank of gas — compared to the U.S.’ seven hours.” People who don’t drive will also feel the pain, as public transportation costs are likely to rise with fuel prices.
Rising gas prices also put downward pressure on the rest of the Mexican economy as workers spend more money on gas and less on consumer goods.
The Mexican government’s deficit spending and Trump’s tough talk on trade have been factors in devaluing the peso, making everything in Mexico more expensive for the working class and driving the general discontent that makes the country a hotbed of unrest.
Overall, no one factor can be blamed for causing extreme levels of unrest in Mexico. Before the Ayotzinapa student kidnappings, Mexico was already seeing widespread protests, marches, and strikes. The last several presidential elections have been contested, and the current administration of Enrique Peña Nieto has only a 22 percent approval rating.
The general feeling of helplessness in the face of narco-state corruption and economic insecurity is not going away with the next election or protest, and wealth inequality in the country is beyond remedy. Mexico is ripe for revolution. Whether it’s triggered now by the gas gouging and subsequent inflation or in the near future, it’s coming — and we should be talking about it
What is this fort doing in Antarctica? Motte and bailey castle remains emerge from icecap
A GIANT fort-like structure has just revealed itself in deepest Antarctica, sparking claims of an ancient civilisation once roaming the polar region.
By PATRICK CHRISTYS
PUBLISHED: 08:20, Mon, Jan 9, 2017 | UPDATED: 12:39, Mon, Jan 9, 2017
This mysterious dome structure hints at an ancient civilisation dwelling in Antarctica
What apperars to be the remains oval shaped “building” is 400ft across and appears to have all the hallmarks of being a sizeable, man-made construction - similar to a mediaeval motte and bailey castle.
If true, it would reshape everything scientists thought they knew about humanity’s past as it would prove people inhabited what was previously thought to be a desolate region.
Satellite imagery clearly shows the structure, which closely resembles the ruins of a once giant building.
It is so symmetrical it has raised questions as to whether nature alone could have designed it.
This is the map drawn in 1513 by Piri Reis, showing Antarctica
Scientists initially thought the discovery could be a sastrugi – a natural phenomenon formed by years of being battered by strong, freezing winds and heavy snowfall.
But sastrugies always form a distinctive shape based on the direction of the wind and rarely appear as a distinct oval, such as the mystery formation in the satellite image.
Ancient civilisations in Antarctica have long been rumoured to have existed, with people pointing to a map drawn in 1513 by Turkish admiral Piri Reis as a clear sign of historic life.
The map shows Antarctica drawn impeccably well, despite it not officially being discovered until 1818.
This dome-like structure is not the first discovery to raise questions about advanced ancient civilisations living in the area.
A pyramid also appears to have been discovered poking out of the snow, with its distinctive triangular, symmetrical shape are clearly at odds with its surrounding environment.
This is the 'pyramid' in Antarctica that has conspiracy theorists excited
These are clearly features of some sort of human-made structure
Leading archeologist, Ashoka Tripathi, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Calcutta, believes the images show clear evidence of an ancient human settlement beneath the ice sheet.
He said: “These are clearly features of some sort of human-made structure, resembling some sort of pyramidal structure. The patterns clearly show nothing we should expect from natural geomorphological formations found in nature. We clearly have here evidence of human engineering.
“The only problem is that these photographs were taken in Antarctica under 2km of ice. That is clearly the puzzling part, we do not have any explanation for this at the moment.
“These pictures just reflect a small portion of Antarctica’s total land mass. There are possibly many other additional sites that are covered over with ice. It just shows us how easy it is to underestimate both the size and scale of past human settlements.”
First Of Its Kind Study Shows That Change In Diet Alone — Not Drugs — Is Curing Diseases
JANUARY 8, 2017
By Justin Gardner
“Let medicine be thy food and let food be thy medicine.” – Hippocrates
In the fourth century BCE, the most famous Greek physician made the bold claim that disease was caused naturally, not by the gods. Environment, diet and living habits all played a part in the health of a person.
The tools and techniques of modern science have allowed us to uncover many secrets of nutrition. But we’re still just scratching the surface of the complex ways in which food compounds interact with the body.
As Mat Edelson wrote for Hopkins Medicine, the rise of corporatism had a big influence on medicine.
Big pharma was scarce with cash, because they can’t patent a food’s natural properties. And from a practical viewpoint, studying food with its thousands of chemicals and nutrients is incredibly complex. By comparison, targeting and studying a single drug for efficacy in a double-blind model was far more straightforward and lucrative to both researchers and industry.
Granted, some pharmaceutical products have given a better quality of life to many people, but the singular focus of making a pill to treat disease has come at the cost of virtually ignoring food as medicine.
Dr. David Suskind, a gastroenterologist at Seattle Children’s, is breaking the mold. Suskind has produced the first clinical evidence that food can indeed be medicine.
In a first-of-its-kind-study led by Suskind, published today in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, diet alone was shown to bring pediatric patients with active Crohn’s and [ulcerative colitis] into clinical remission…
In the small, prospective study, patients were put on a special diet called the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) for 12 weeks as the sole intervention to treat their Crohn’s or UC. SCD is a nutritionally balanced diet that removes grains, dairy, processed foods and sugars, except for honey. The diet promotes only natural, nutrient-rich foods, which includes vegetables, fruits, meats and nuts.
At the end of the 12 weeks, eight out of the 10 patients who finished the study showed significant improvement and achieved remission from the dietary treatment alone.
“This changes the paradigm for how we may choose to treat children with inflammatory bowel disease,” Suskind said.
More studies will need to be done for confirmation, but these results will certainly draw attention for researchers willing to step outside of the pharmaceutical model.
Food as medicine may prove to have applications outside of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as many diseases may be related to chronic inflammation. For example, the charred meat prevalent in American diets is associated with prostate inflammation which can lead to prostate cancer.
“Each person’s disease is unique, just as each person is unique,” said Suskind. “SCD is another tool in our tool belt to help treat these patients. It may not be the best treatment option for everyone, but it is an effective treatment for those who wish to try a dietary therapy.”
The report from Seattle Children’s highlights the story of 11-year-old Adelynne Kittelson, diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age eight. The usual course for patients is steroids and medications that suppress the immune system, doing nothing to treat the underlying issue of the microbiome causing the immune system to attack the bowel. This pharma treatment also brings the potential for life-long side effects.
After months of uncertainty about Adelynne’s worsening, painful condition, she was finally brought to Dr. Suskind who diagnosed the problem as Crohn’s disease. He offered various treatment options, including the SCD diet. Adelynne’s mother didn’t want her to have life-long side effects from medication, so she opted for the unique dietary approach offered by Seattle Children’s.
Today, Adelynne has been in clinical remission for more than two years. She’s a healthy, happy and thriving 11-year-old girl.
I can’t believe how far we’ve come. When we first walked into Seattle Children’s, she was an 8-year-old girl who was barely heavier than our 4-year-old. Now, she’s growing and foods are no longer an enemy.
Adjusting to the strict requirements of the SCD approach was difficult at first, but the lifestyle of natural, nutrient-rich foods is now second nature.
This approach to treating illness is anathema to Big Pharma, which thrives as people pop more pills. Diet, exercise and being fully informed have no value to the corporatocracy.
“For decades or longer, medicine has said diet doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t impact disease,” Dr. Suskind said. “Now we know that diet does have an impact, a strong impact. It works, and now there’s evidence.”
Justin Gardner writes for TheFreeThoughtProject.com, where this article first appeared.
next week...keep on believing.
we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are
not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things
which are not seen are eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4:18)