Trials in life are meant to take our eyes off of our trials and fix them on Christ. —Burk Parsons
Dec. 17, 2014
A federal judge who said President Barack Obama’s order loosening immigration restrictions is illegal was “flatly wrong,” the Department of Justice said in a rare public criticism of the judiciary.
The U.S. Senate passed a $42 billion package of tax incentives, reviving dozens of lapsed breaks for 2014 and setting them to expire two weeks from tomorrow. After the 76-16 vote, the bill heads to President Barack Obama. The House passed the measure Dec. 3 on a 378-46 vote.
Stung by a ruble collapse that has evoked memories of post-Soviet dystopia, Russians are stocking up on consumer goods and foreign currency as their leaders struggle to contain the worst financial crisis since 1998.
The cost of living in the U.S. fell in November by the most in almost six years, depressed by falling energy prices that signal inflation will stay below the Federal Reserve’s goal well into 2015. The consumer-price index dropped 0.3 percent, the most since December 2008.
A U.S. program that backstops insurance companies’ losses from acts of terrorism is set to end after the Senate adjourned without extending it.
President Obama plans to talk today about the next steps in U.S.-Cuba relations, strained by a decades-long embargo, after Cuba released prisoner Alan Gross.
The Palestinian militant group Hamas, which fought Israeli forces for nearly two months this year, won a court ruling that could lead to it being removed from a European Union list of terrorist organizations.
France’s highest court will rule today on UBS Group’s appeal of the $1.4 billion bail it was required to post as part of a tax evasion probe.
Queen Elizabeth II approved the appointment of the first female bishop in the Church of England after a campaign that started in 1975, and 22 years after women were allowed to become priests.
Andrea Maechler, Deputy Division Chief in the Global Markets Analysis Department at the International Monetary Fund, will join the three-member board on July 1. Maechler is the first woman to join the SNB’s top echelon since the central bank was founded in 1907.
AP Top Stories
President Obama’s new plan to ease the threat of deportation for 4.7 million undocumented immigrants violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge found on Tuesday, handing down the first legal ruling against the plan.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his French, German and Ukrainian counterparts agreed in a phonecall early Wednesday that they wanted talks between Kiev, Moscow and rebels controlling parts of eastern Ukraine to resume as soon as possible.
Authorities in a Chinese village have launched a “thought education” campaign after more than 200 villagers signed a petition to banish an eight-year-old boy infected with the HIV virus.
The Philippines aims to buy two frigates, two helicopters and three gunboats for deployment in the South China Sea where a territorial dispute with China has lent urgency to the need to bolster forces.
It is the latest offering in what the US military calls its science-fiction-turned-reality projects: the GhostSwimmer, a reconnaissance robot with an exterior shell built to look a lot like a shark cutting through the ocean depths.
Bradley Stone, 35, stabbed himself fatally about half a mile from his home in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania after going house to house, killing ex-wife Nicole Hill, 33, her mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law and 14-year-old niece.
Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif vowed to rid his country of terrorism after a Taliban attack at a school in Peshawar killed 141 people, mostly children.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama told the BBC that he realizes he may be the last to hold the title.
The New York premiere of The Interview, a comedy about the assassination of North Korea’s president, was cancelled amid threats from hackers.
At least 11 people were killed in a shoot-out between rival vigilante groups in the western Mexican state of Michoacan.
Sierra Leone is due to mount house-to-house searches in the capital Freetown to find hidden cases of Ebola, and restrict shop opening hours.
At least 1.5 million Nigerians displaced by the Islamist insurgency may not be able to vote in elections if the law is not changed.
Seeing the falling fuel prices as an opportunity, legislators and governors in several states are eyeing their state gas taxes as ripe for an increase.
British firm Reaction Engines is building a plane that can zip almost anywhere in the world within four hours, cool itself by 1000 degrees Celsius in a fraction of a second, and even go into space. The European Space Agency is interested in the futuristic plane as a way to lower the cost of future launches. Reaction calls the aircraft the Skylon, and it imagines the plane carrying 300 passengers at Mach 5.
President Obama has issued a form of executive action known as the presidential memorandum more often than any other president in history – using it to take unilateral action even as he has signed fewer executive orders. When these two forms of directives are taken together, Obama is on track to take more high-level executive actions than any president since Harry Truman.
Militants fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq have unveiled their latest terror tactic – bombs containing hundreds of live scorpions designed to spread fear among their enemies. Although scorpion bombs sound like something out of a modern horror movie, the tactic is actually thousands of years old and was first used by Iraqis fighting against the Roman Empire.
December 17, 2014
“It behooves you, therefore, to think and act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.” –Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1775
TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
Judge Arthur J. Schwab, nominated by George W. Bush, found parts of Barack Obama’s amnesty action unconstitutional Tuesday, writing that the president not only exceeded his own authority but usurped congressional power. “President Obama’s unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause, and therefore is unconstitutional,” Judge Schwab said, though his opinion isn’t legally binding, as the case was simply one immigrant’s deportation hearing. Schwab also found Obama’s action goes far beyond prosecutorial discretion because it “provides for a systematic and rigid process by which a broad group of individuals will be treated differently than others based on arbitrary classifications, rather than case-by-case examinations.” Furthermore, Schwab wrote, it grants “substantive rights” to these individuals. It’s also important to note that there is no actual executive order — only a series of memos. Perhaps Obama knew an order wouldn’t survive a legal challenge and instead buried his mandate. Will higher courts do what congressional Republicans so far seem unwilling to do? More…
Barack Obama addressed U.S. troops at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (a.k.a. Fort Dix) in New Jersey, saying, “Our combat mission in Afghanistan will be over this month, and our war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end.” Except it won’t. Thousands of U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan to continue operations against al-Qaida and the Taliban. Obama talked tough on al-Qaida, promising, “[M]ake no mistake, our coalition isn’t just going to degrade this barbaric terrorist organization — we’re going to destroy it.” But he also wants you to remember his success in “decimating al-Qaida’s core” by killing Osama bin Laden. The best we can say is leaving a contingent of U.S. forces in Afghanistan shows he perhaps learned a little something after abandoning Iraq to the Islamic State. On a final note, it’s worth remembering that Fort Dix was the target of the radical Weather Underground terrorists, who in 1970 planned to detonate a bomb at a dance for non-commissioned officers. Fortunately, the bomb detonated while they were constructing it, killing only three members of the group. Obama began his political career in the living room of two other members of the Weathermen: Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. He didn’t mention that in his speech.
NASA once put a man on the moon just seven years after setting out to do so. The space agency enjoyed glorious triumphs and persevered through tragic disasters over the years, but we’ve never seen anything quite like this. The Washington Post reports, “In June, NASA finished work on a huge construction project here in Mississippi: a $349 million laboratory tower, designed to test a new rocket engine in a chamber that mimicked the vacuum of space. Then, NASA did something odd. As soon as the work was done, it shut the tower down. The project was officially ‘mothballed’ — closed up and left empty — without ever being used. … The reason for the shutdown: The new tower — called the A-3 test stand — was useless. Just as expected. The rocket program it was designed for had been canceled in 2010.” So how did this happen? “[A]t first, cautious NASA bureaucrats didn’t want to stop the construction on their own authority. And then Congress — at the urging of a senator from Mississippi — swooped in and ordered the agency to finish the tower, no matter what. The result was that NASA spent four more years building something it didn’t need. Now, the agency will spend about $700,000 a year to maintain it in disuse.” A grossly over-budget monument to nothing now stands in Mississippi as a sad reminder that money without proper vision is a terrible waste. More…
The report Veterans Affairs released to Congress in April is flawed, yes, even downright misleading, a new report issued by the VA’s inspector general shows. At that time, the VA told Congress it examined the unresolved consults with veterans that remained open for more than 90 days going back to 1999. In that report, the VA said only 23 veterans died from delayed care. But now the IG questions the report’s accuracy, saying the way the VA conducted the review made the report “misleading or incorrect.” Chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Jeff Miller (R-FL) said, “VA’s statistics regarding the number of veterans harmed by department delays in care are almost certainly wildly inaccurate, and we may never know the actual number of veterans affected by gaps in the VA system that existed for years.” Around this time last year, VA bureaucrats were collecting fat bonuses while veterans languished. After congressional investigation, it appears that the VA resisted reform and the same thing could happen this year. More…
Senate Republicans are upset at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for keeping them on Capitol Hill last weekend to vote on the constitutionality of Barack Obama’s executive amnesty when they wanted to veg for the holidays. They also say Cruz is the reason why Democrats were able to ram through Obama’s bureaucratic nominees. But here’s how Cruz explained what happened behind closed doors over the weekend: “Within hours [of the House passed the spending bill], I joined a handful of other senators in going to leadership and affirmatively offering to cooperate to facilitate a quick vote on the CRomnibus — that very evening, we suggested — in exchange for a simple up or down vote on defunding executive amnesty. Republican leadership told us we would likely get our vote. All day Friday, they told us the same thing. Then, late Friday night, Harry Reid apparently changed his mind, and we were told there would be no vote on amnesty. At that point, I supported an objection to delaying the CRomnibus vote any further. We used the leverage we have under the rules to try to force our vote. Harry Reid responded in anger. He forced the Senate to come back Saturday and spend the entire day casting procedural votes to move forward a series of Obama nominations.” Reid would have gotten those nominations to help Obama with or without Cruz’s actions. More…
|Ready for one more?|
Some guys never learn to listen to Mom.
Case in point, the matriarch of the powerful Bush family says she doesn’t miss “one darn thing” about life in Washington. Furthermore, Barbara Bush said of her son, Jeb, “I don’t think he’ll run.” Why? “He’ll get all our enemies, half our friends.”
But despite Mom’s wishes, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush posted on Facebook Tuesday his intention to explore a run for president in 2016.
In the post, he said that over Thanksgiving weekend his family discussed America’s future at length. “As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs,” he wrote, “I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.” He plans to create a political action committee to “facilitate conversations with citizens across America.” The Facebook post was likely designed to make him look tech-savvy — all the cool people are on Facebook — and separate him from the media’s Republican caricature.
But again, we remember the words of his mother: “I think it’s a great country, there are a lot of great families, and it’s not just four families or whatever. There are other people out there that are very qualified, and we’ve had enough Bushes.”
We couldn’t agree more. Rule by dynasty is one of the reasons we separated from Britain. Jeb would be the third Bush candidate, but the family already has enough children and grandchildren to last through the 2100 election.
Few these days would call Jeb Bush a genuine conservative, though he was a successful and popular governor in Florida, cutting taxes several times and pushing school choice. Yet many would argue he cedes any claim to the moniker “conservative” because he supports a “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens, as well as Barack Obama’s Common Core curriculum that will have the next generation capable only of communicating through Instagram.
And the Bushes’ close-knit family friendship with the Clintons is bothersome. While Bill Clinton is infamously known to conservatives as “Slick Willy,” Jeb and his brothers refer to Bill as a “brother by another mother” and to Hillary as a sister-in-law. A Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton race would be little more than a family reunion.
Jeb’s longtime advisers, Sally Bradshaw and Mike Murphy, will likely serve again in his campaign, though, notably, he hasn’t run for office since 2002. Bradshaw served as Mitt Romney’s senior adviser in his 2008 presidential bid, advised him during his 1998 gubernatorial campaign, and advised John McCain on his presidential bids. Murphy has also advised such nationally prominent Republicans as John McCain, Christie Whitman, Lamar Alexander, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not a conservative in the bunch.
Holding positions that the party’s base would reject out of hand leaves us wondering how Bush expects to get anywhere in his campaign. A recent McClatchy-Marist poll has Bush at 17%, two points behind Romney. But the poll has 15 candidates, and nearly two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they favored a candidate who will stand for conservative principles. And a poll nearly two years out doesn’t mean much except to excite hopeful contenders.
Clearly, a significant philosophical difference divides the Republican Party. The leadership, the elites and the donor class want the party to “modernize.” They argue that as national demographics change, the “outworn thinking” — especially what they consider the radical Christian element — will ultimately marginalize the party for most segments of society.
Republican elite also fear Tea Party-esque Republican “radicals” will cause another Barry Goldwater-like landslide loss. They point to Baby Boomers who will demand more benefits as they age, and to Millennials who gave Obama 66% of their votes in 2008 and 60% in 2012, making them the most government-friendly generation since FDR.
Jeb Bush is just the kind of candidate these elites want — one who can keep a Republican Congress in check, keep ObamaCare with some reforms, grant amnesty (an essentially open-borders policy that warms their hearts and protects their wallets with cheap labor), and generally acquiesce to the Left’s social agenda.
But grassroots conservatives are furious with the Republican establishment. During the Bush years, voters gave Republicans control of Congress and the presidency for more time than in any period in nearly a century. In return, Republicans gave us grossly inflated spending, a new entitlement (Medicare Part D) and a new federal behemoth bureaucracy (DHS).
Last month, after six difficult years under an imperial presidency, voters gave Republicans another bite at the apple with solid majorities in both houses of Congress. Naturally, then, party leaders helped pass the CRomnibus and hindered conservatives’ ability to stop Obama’s most loathed plans.
Given this sordid history, it’s not overstating the case to say that the party’s next choice for its presidential candidate could have long-lasting consequences with its base.
The stores in Russia were jammed Tuesday with people snatching TVs, cooking equipment and appliances. Lines of shoppers piled up and shelves were stripped bare. While the pictures resembled Black Friday in America, Russians rushed to the stores on Black Tuesday not to snag holiday deals but to convert their savings into something more stable than rubles.
Russia’s currency started its nosedive Monday. The Russian central bank tried to entice investors to keep the ruble. In a 1 a.m. meeting, it cranked the interest rate from 10.5% to 17% to encourage people to keep using the currency. But the Russian government faced a lose-lose situation. Increasing interest rates to save the ruble hurts the everyday Russian family by hobbling the Great Bear’s economy. But doing what was best for the average Russian would doom the country’s large industries, which make money in rubles but owe debts in dollars. The ruble lost 17% against the dollar Monday and Tuesday (and 50% since June), and it continued fluctuating wildly Wednesday.
The U.S. is largely responsible for Russia’s misfortune, as our fracking revolution sent oil prices plummeting below $60 a barrel. It’s great for America’s economy, its national security and your wallet, but disastrous for Russia. As Matt O’Brian writes, “It’s only a small simplification, you see, to say that Russia doesn’t so much have an economy as it has an oil exporting business that subsidizes everything else.”
On top of this, America is poised to hit Russia with a third round of economic sanctions this week. The first round came after Russia plucked Crimea from Ukraine in March, and the second round hit Russia after its missiles were used in July to shoot down civilian flight MH17.
The White House sees Russia’s imploding economy as a sign that its strategy is working — that “history is against them,” to borrow Barack Obama’s formulation. Jason Furman, who chairs the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, said, “I think they are facing a very serious economic situation, and it’s a serious economic situation that is largely of their own making and largely reflects the consequences of not following a set of international rules.”
The remaining question is how Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been playing Eastern Europe like a chess board, will respond now that his queen has been captured.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air wonders if the ruble’s collapse could turn Russia’s oligarchs — its oil tycoon mafia types — against Putin, possibly paving the way for his removal. But other pundits fear Putin will only be more dangerous. “There is nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal,” writes Jake Novak at CNBC. “Vladimir Putin is wounded — and he’s not known for holding back. His entire adventure in Ukraine this year is an example of just how destructive and unpredictable Putin can be, and that all happened when oil was still trading at $100 a barrel.”
For rulers like Putin, the number one priority is to keep power, period. For Putin and his Machiavellian tactics, that includes smothering freedom of speech, bullying neighboring countries and offing a few political enemies via the KGB. But as Niccolo Machiavelli himself argued in “The Prince,” any ruler must nurture the favor of the people. “I shall conclude only that for a price it is necessary to have his people as a friend, otherwise, in adversities, he has no remedy,” Machiavelli wrote. The Prince of Despots also noted rulers keep power based on the loyalty of the governors underneath him. In Putin’s case, those are Russia’s oligarchs.
Even the Clintons know the way to keep the subjects happy is to keep the economy humming. For what it’s worth, Russians just named Putin man of the year for the 15th time in a row, showing how “popular” he is. But how long will his popularity last, as Russian army veterans worry if the government will stop paying out pensions and inflation threatens to climb into double digits? Russia imports much of its food. And winter is coming.
Putin could always divert from the economic issues to the war in Ukraine or a chilly conflict with the West. He’s framed Russia’s involvement in the past as concern over native Russians in Ukraine yearning to join the motherland. It’s not a stretch to imagine Putin whipping up the drums of war to distract from the lack of bread.
But this is not the first time Russia’s economy suddenly fell. Yegor Gaidar, who was Russia’s acting prime minister, minister of economy and first deputy prime minister between 1991 and 1994, recalled in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, “In 1985 the idea that the Soviet Union would begin bargaining for money in exchange for political concessions would have sounded absolutely preposterous to the Soviet leadership. In 1989 it became a reality, and Gorbachev understood the need for at least $100 billion from the West to prop up the oil-dependent Soviet economy.”
Last time oil prices and sanctions crippled Russia’s economy, a totalitarian government fell. The chance for the next generation is coming.
TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS
- Walter E. Williams: Should Profiling Be Banned?
- Ben Shapiro: The Suicidal Hashtags of the West
- Terence Jeffrey: The Obama Rule: Can I Get Away With It?
- Michelle Malkin: Jeb Bush: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Waterboy
- John Stossel: Governing vs. Giving
OPINION IN BRIEF
Author Eric Hoffer (1902-1983): “To the frustrated, freedom from responsibility is more attractive than freedom from restraint. They are eager to barter their independence for relief from the burdens of willing, deciding and being responsible for inevitable failure. They willingly abdicate the directing of their lives to those who want to plan, command and shoulder all responsibility.”
Columnist Walter E. Williams: “Imagine a chief of police in a city where there has been a rash of automobile hubcap thefts and he’s trying to capture the culprits. Should he have his officers stake out and investigate residents of senior citizen homes? What about spending resources investigating men and women 40 or older? I would imagine that he would have greater success in capturing the culprits by focusing most of his resources on younger people — and particularly on young men. Doing so would more likely lead to the capture of the culprits because hubcap theft is a young man’s game. My question to you is whether you’d bring charges against the police chief because he used age and sex profiling — and didn’t investigate seniors and middle-aged adults. … God would never do profiling of any sort, because God is omniscient. We humans lack that quality and must depend upon sometimes-crude substitutes for finding out things. By the way, my attempting to explain profiling doesn’t require one to take a position for or against it any more than the attempt to explain gravity requires one to be for or against gravity.”
Columnist Ben Shapiro: “On Monday, Australian police stormed the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney, where an Islamist terrorist named Man Haron Monis had taken dozens of hostages and held them for 17 hours. … Australians all over the country took action: They tweeted with the hashtag #illridewithyou. This hashtag came from the mind of one Rachel Jacobs, who witnessed a Muslim woman removing her hijab on the local train after the news of the hostage situation broke. Jacobs tweeted, ‘I ran after her at the train station. I said “put it back on. I’ll walk with u.” She started to cry and hugged me for about a minute — then walked off alone.’ … Here’s the problem: Islamists don’t care about hashtags when they can take hostages and earn the sympathetic hashtags of others. … [T]]o slander the West with a sort of communal guilt for an Original Sin, even as the West is under fire from those who would seek to destroy its civilizational foundations, is nothing less than barbaric.”
Comedian Conan O’Brien: “[Monday] in Washington, DC, several government buildings were left without power. Of course, the White House will be without power for two more years.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.
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ShadowStats.com Recent Headlines
December 16, 2014
No. 682: November Housing Starts
• Headline November Housing Starts Fell Month-to-Month and Year-to-Year Amidst Ongoing Unstable Revisions
• Smoothed for Extreme Reporting Volatility, Aggregate Housing Starts Show Pattern of Plunge and Low-Level Stagnation, No Economic Recovery
December 15, 2014
No. 681: November Industrial Production, Producer Price Index (PPI)
• Scheduled for Second-Quarter 2015, Meaningful Benchmark Revisions to Industrial Production Could Be Unusually Large and to the Downside
• November Industrial Production Jump Encompassed Utilities Surge, Widespread Manufacturing Gains, and Declining Oil and Gas Production
• Utilities Output Spiked by Unseasonably-Cold Weather
• Seasonal Adjustments and Revisions Remain Serious Issues
• Significance of Headline Wholesale Inflation Is Muddled In Terms of Real-World Activity
December 11, 2014
No. 680: November Retail Sales, Financial-Market Distortions
• November Retail Sales Gain Boosted by Spurious Seasonal Adjustments,0.5% of 0.7% Headline Sales Gain Tied Just to Gasoline-Seasonality Issues
• Irrational Markets Continue as Great Dollar Calamity Nears
Franklin Graham: ‘This Storm Is Coming’
Christian persecution is growing, Franklin Graham says, and with Christmas approaching, he expects the level of hostility to increase. “The Christians are being slaughtered … this storm was coming,” he tells Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. “The Christians are not only being targeted (by ISIS), they are being butchered.” Watch the video to see more of what he says about the growing animosity against the most persecuted minority. More
5 Reasons Revivalist George Whitfield is So Popular 300 Years After His Birth
If YouTube had existed in the 1700s, George Whitefield, hailed by scholars as the best-known evangelist of that century, would have been all over it. Whitefield (pronounced WIT-field), who was born in England 300 years ago on Dec. 16, 1714, is regarded as a catalyst for the First Great Awakening. Here are five reasons why he remains a potent influence and a cautionary tale for U.S. evangelicals: More
Modern destruction of animal populations rivals extinction of dinosaurs, scientists warn
Another mass extinction event may be on the way if humans don’t stop killing off all the animals and destroying the environment. Several top experts in the field of evolutionary biology warn that most living species could soon meet their end unless immediate changes are made to avoid triggering a fallout rivaling that of the dinosaurs. One such expert is Sean B. Carroll, Ph.D., from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who worries about the growing number of animal species that are shrinking in population. Wild animals everywhere are disappearing, he says, with current trends suggesting that another large-scale extinction event may be on the horizon. More
Muslim ‘Reformers’ Are All Talk :: Ibrahim in FrontPage
by Raymond Ibrahim
December 16, 2014
Antibiotics cause woman to burn from the inside out, skin falls off
If ever there was a situation to prove, once again, that taking another person’s medication can produce life-threatening results, it’s the unfortunate story of California college student Yassmeen Castanada. The mother of a four-month-old daughter is wrapped entirely in bandages, 70 percent of her body covered in blisters from head to toe as she suffers from Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a very rare condition that can occur from a drug reaction. The syndrome causes the skin to burn because its barrier function becomes severely compromised. More
Pentagon confirms military buildup along Russian borders for ‘peace and stability’
The Pentagon has confirmed the military buildup along Russia’s borders to ensure long-term “peace and stability” in the region. Earlier Moscow accused NATO of a sharp increase in air activity and intelligence flights in the border zone. Replying to RIA Novosti’s query on the increased number of NATO flights around Russia’s borders, a Pentagon representative told the news agency that the military presence of the alliance has increased, but all operations are carried out under utmost “transparency.” The current efforts of the US European Command, the Pentagon official said, are in line with Operation Atlantic Resolve and demonstrate American “commitment to the collective security of NATO, the long-term peace and stability in the region”, particularly in the light of Russian “interference” in Ukraine. The official added that this includes among other measures, an increase in “air, and land, sea presence,” as well as holding military drills. More
Europe Removes Hamas from Terror List
Hamas, in both its military and governmental branches, has been temporarily removed from the European Union’s list of proscribed terrorist groups as the result of a technical legal blunder. After Hamas filed an appeal against its terrorist list standing, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg published its decision on Wednesday, with Hamas being removed due to claims that the group’s inclusion in the list was against EU procedures and without sufficient evidence. The court said in a statement that Hamas’s inclusion was based on “factual imputations derived from the press and the Internet” as opposed to sound legal judgments. But it stressed that Wednesday’s decision to remove Hamas was based on technical grounds and does “not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group.” More
American Pastor Imprisoned in Iran Remains Strong in Faith Despite Suffering ‘Severe Pain’
An American pastor imprisoned in Iran remains strong in faith despite suffering from internal injuries resulting from beatings behind bars, according to an update from his wife and the legal organization that is fighting for his release. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which has been keeping Christians abreast of the plight of Saeed Abedini, reports that a relative of the pastor was able to visit him in prison last week, and found that he remains in great pain. “He expressed … that his pain is increasing,” Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said. Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, made similar statements as she stays in touch with her husband from afar. More
Federal judge: Obama immigration actions ‘Unconstitutional’
A federal judge in Pennsylvania has released an opinion in a case of a deported illegal alien who returned to the U.S. that appears to torpedo the amnesty plan President Obama announced Nov. 20 and implemented through memos to government officials, ruling it unconstitutional. “President Obama’s unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause, and therefore, is unconstitutional,” said U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab. The judge noted Obama “contended that although legislation is the most appropriate course of action to solve the immigration debate, his executive action was necessary because of Congress’s failure to pass legislation, acceptable to him, in this regard.” More
Volcanic eruption in Cape Verde destroys two villages
The biggest eruption of Cape Verde volcano Pico do Fogo in decades has destroyed two villages and threatens a forest reserve Tuesday, officials said.
Some 1,500 people were forced to abandon their homes before the lava flow reached the villages of Portela and Bangeira on Fogo island in the Atlantic archipelago, fire brigade chief Arlindo Lima said late Monday on national radio. More than 1,000 people were evacuated from the Cha das Caldeiras region at the foot of the volcano immediately after it first erupted on November 23, while officials closed the airport as the skies darkened with ash. More
Russia’s sinking economy becoming a global threat
Russia’s suddenly escalating financial crisis risks spilling beyond its borders and endangering parts of the global economy. With economies in Europe, Japan, China and Latin America already ailing, fresh threats have emerged from Russia’s shriveled currency, its move to dramatically boost interest rates, the damage from plummeting oil prices and Western sanctions over Russia’s action in Ukraine. More
Georgia Church Posts Message Saying ‘Santa Is Satan’
A church in Georgia has posted a message on its marquee sign that reads “Santa is Satan,” which has stirred local and national controversy.
Born Again Independent Baptist Church posted the message at the beginning of the month in response to the cultural fascination toward Santa Clause.
The Deception of Omaha’s Tri-Faith Initiative
We have warned of this ecumenical effort for some time. The effort to have faiths “come together” is more stage-setting for the final days. — OTM
Below is the video of a talk given by Robert Spencer in April, 2014, at a Global Faith Institute event in Omaha, Nebraska. A brief note from Spencer accompanies the video:
“Omaha is the site of the Tri-Faith Initiative, featuring Jews and Christians being dangerously naive about the Muslim Brotherhood ties of the Muslims with whom they are partnering.
Joy to the World
I wanted to cry. It was so beautiful, almost like heaven opened up for a minute and revealed God’s glory. I wondered what possessed the conductor to plan this royally grand proclamation in today’s politically correct environment. Did he consider the perils of his bold act? Or was he just a musician performing a traditional work of art?
I don’t know his motives, but wasn’t it just this way back when Jesus walked on the earth, too? It was dangerous in many circles to look for the Promised One. Remember what Herod did to protect his kingship at the Messiah’s arrival?
Limbaugh: Jeb Bush really running to kill tea party
“He’s … being looked at as savior by the big-money donor class and the consultant class – the establishment of the party – to head off the tea party. They’re gonna pull out all the stops to make sure that a tea-party-type conservative doesn’t get the nomination.
Netanyahu Celebrates Christian IDF Soldiers Saying ‘We Are Brothers!’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday told a pre-Christmas gathering of Christians in Nazareth that they and the Jews are brothers, and that Israel will never cease to defend Christians against the forces that seek to harm and destroy them.
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
The gathering was organized by the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum, whose spiritual leader, Father Gabriel Naddaf, was singled out repeatedly by Netanyahu for his untiring efforts to encourage young Christians to join the Israeli army and fully integrate with Israeli society.
“On the first of December, I took my own son, Avner, to the recruitment center in Jerusalem. He volunteered to become a combat soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. The next day…Father Naddaf took his son, Jubran, to the recruitment enter in Tiberias. He volunteered to become a combat soldier in the Israel Defense Forces,” Netanyahu recounted to strong applause.
“We are brothers!” the prime minister exclaimed. “We are partners! Christians and Jews and Druze and Muslims who together defend the State of Israel.”
Turning to a group of Christian soldiers attending the event, Netanyahu stated, “We are brothers in arms. I commend you on the will to be full partners in contributing to and defending this nation.”
Netanyahu noted that it was not always easy for Arabic-speaking Christians to so fully join themselves to Israel, but vowed that “we will firmly support you against all that would harass you.”
Echoing what Father Naddaf has been busy instilling both in local Christians and Western leaders, Netanyahu pointed out that Israel is the only place in the region where Christians find safe haven.
“Christians are suffering in the Middle East,” said the Israeli leader, recalling the recent “shrinkage and disappearance of entire Christian communities, communities that were there thousands of years, since the birth of Christianity, entire communities that are erased in one fell swoop, brutally, savagely.”
Netanyahu insisted that all who would criticize Israel and work toward the birth of a Palestinian state that would most likely fall to Hamas must “compare this [regional situation] to Israel, the only nation in the region where the Christian population is growing.” source – Israel Today
The post Netanyahu Celebrates Christian IDF Soldiers Saying ‘We Are Brothers!’ appeared first on Now The End Begins.
Big Banks Will Take Depositors Money In Next Crash
When a financial crash does happen, you can forget about getting immediate access to your money. Brown says, “The banks will say, well, we don’t have it. All the money goes into one big pool since Glass Steagall was repealed. They are allowed to gamble with that money and that’s what they do. I think maybe Bank of America is the most vulnerable because of Merrill Lynch.
Does “Xmas” Take Christ out of Christmas?
Should Christians get upset about seeing Christmas abbreviated as “Xmas?” How did that tradition even get started? Is it disrespectful?
When God Doesn’t Zap Away Our Sin
Generally, God’s grace is not manifested in the instant obliteration of a sin. Instead, his grace is manifested in a newfound desire to destroy that sin.
The Promise of Advent
I’m deeply persuaded that many “theologically sound” Christians actually doubt the presence and love of God. Why do I think that? Because God says we do!
Push, Push, Push!
If you are living a rush, rush life, ask yourself why. Are you willing to pay the cost of regularly ignoring the God-given rhythms by which creation operates?
Doubt Your Doubts
Keller has also famously advised skeptics to doubt their doubts about Christianity. Perhaps it would also be wise to advise the weakest among us to begin to doubt our doubts about God’s character.
The Fact the Other Side Can Make a Case Doesn’t Mean It’s True
J. Warner Wallace
Don’t be shaken just because the other side can articulate a defense. Be ready in advance for passionate, robust, articulate, alternative explanations.
The Knowledge You’re Working With
How exactly does your conscience function?
Featured Video Ministry from LightSource.com
David G. Evans
More ministry video at LightSource.com
Headlines of Interest
Roger Oakland – Discernment or Criticism?
Athletic Feats and Faith
Two Christians are making major headlines these days — for their athletic achievements, and for their witness.
Christian Yoga: Bringing The Kundalini Serpent Into The Church
by NTEB Feature Story Contributor Geri Ungurean
Nothing seems to get a heated debate started faster than challenging a Christian who practices Yoga on this subject.
“But I only do the stretching part.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this. This article is written for the sake of clarification and education on the practice of Yoga.
WHAT IS YOGA?
Yoga (/ˈjoʊɡə/; Sanskrit: योग, Listen) are the physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines that aim to transform body and mind. The term denotes a variety of schools, practices and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism (including Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism and Jainism,[ the best-known being Hatha yoga and Raja yoga. The term yoga is derived from the literal meaning of “yoking together” a span of horses or oxes, but came to be applied to the “yoking” of mind and body.
Yoga:noun a mystic and ascetic Hindu discipline by which one seeks to achieve liberation of the self and union with the supreme spirit or universal soul through intense concentration, deep meditation, and practices involving prescribed postures, controlled breathing, etc. a system of exercising involving the postures, breathing, etc. practiced in this discipline 
A Christian who studies the Word of God, should instantly see red flags and discern that Yoga and Christianity are not compatible. We see in the definition “Yoga is the physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines that aim to transform body and mind.” What does God say about transforming our minds?
Immediately we see a problem between transforming our minds in Yoga, and being transformed by the renewing of our minds according to the Word of God. As Christians, God wants our minds to be renewed, so we will be able to know His will for us. God wants us to be closer to Him. He speaks to us through His Word. He is our perfect Father.
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3)
We know that the practice of Yoga is rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism. As Christians, do we want to open up our minds to something that will transform us to be more like Hindus or Buddhists? Ok, when we see it in black and white, it seems unthinkable. But this is exactly what practicing Yoga is accomplishing in your life.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Next we see in the definition – The term yoga is derived from the literal meaning of “yoking together” a span of horses or oxes, but came to be applied to the “yoking”of mind and body.
Another red flag should easily be seen by a student of the Word. Let’s see what God says about being yoked together:
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
The picture of oxen being yoked together is used by both Yoga and the Word. In Yoga, the goal is for mind and body to be yoked together. It’s a Hindu discipline to bring mind and body into submission – but to what end?
Were you aware that every Yoga pose is a posture of worship to various Hindu gods? In this way, the person is making offerings to millions of Hindu deities! Of course, these details are left off of the “Welcome pamphlet” in Yoga centers. People are coming there to stretch and relax and be energized, right?
THE KUNDALINI SPIRIT
In an interview with Dave Hunt of the Berean Call (Dave is now with our Lord) the subject of the Kundalini Spirit was addressed:
“In spite of the advertisements and talk about health and fitness yoga’s real goal is to awaken Kundalini power, coiled like a serpent at the base of the spine, ready to spring up to manifest itself through the alleged chakras, (centers of universal force) of the body.” Now, what exactly is Kundalini yoga, or Kundalini power, for that matter?”
“Well, to put it bluntly, it’s demonic. There is no way you can explain it physically, it’s a non physical force. There certainly is nothing coiled at the base of the spine, three and one-half times coiled like a serpent that’s going to spring up when you get in the proper state of consciousness, supposedly. This is the same occult power that all the occultists are in touch with, or try to be in touch with.”
In yoga, the student is told to empty their minds to prepare for meditation. An empty mind is exactly what Satan likes! Look at what God says about meditation:
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
We meditate on His Law and on His Word. We FILL our minds with the goodness of our Father’s perfect and Holy Words. Do you want an empty mind, or a mind filled with God’s Word?
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11)
We have seen the videos of holy laughter and other aberrant behavior in churches. Do we have to wonder from where the spirits came who wreak such havoc with children of God? Could it be that so many Christians are practicing yoga and are bringing the Kundalini spirit into their services? I have read that Hindus who knowingly seek out the Kundalini spirit, behave in similar ways during their worship. With the uncontrollable laughter and rolling about on the floor, it would be hard to tell the difference between them and a charismatic Christian service!
Over thirty million people in America practice Yoga. In the 1960’s, Transcendental Meditation came on the American scene. It was a time of self realization and finding the meaning to life within oneself. Society pushed God aside, and replaced Him with Self. Secular humanism is the new religion, and it has caused the moral decline of our society. If there is no God, then there are no moral absolutes, right? Unfortunately, this ideology has crept into the Church as well.
CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT LOOK LIKE THE WORLD
How will we persuade a lost world that they need to repent and trust Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, if we look just like them? God wants us to come out from them and behave and live like His children. When the world looks at us, do they see Jesus? That should be the prayer of each of our hearts – daily.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1)
If we try to fit into this world, we not only ruin our testimony, but we put ourselves in jeopardy of falling away from God. Do you not know that the devil seeks to destroy you all day long? He is the accuser of the brethren. He is a liar and the father of lies. If we don’t cling to our Father and study His Word, we become prey for the enemy of our souls.
YOGA AND NEW AGE PRACTICES
I have heard Christians talk about the evil of New Age practices, and yet they practice yoga. Somehow our churches have placed a stamp of approval on yoga. A brother or sister in Christ would never think of attending a séance or play with a Ouija board, or see a spiritist for a reading. But these same people will go to their yoga classes and enthusiastically invite others. It’s time for the truth about yoga to be told to your family and friends!
Writing this article will certainly not win me new friends. As a matter of fact, some may choose to ignore the warnings and consider me a bit fanatical. But hopefully others who have wondered about yoga, will be glad that they now know the dangers of it.
Don’t forget that the Evil one – the father of lies – the author of confusion – Satan, wants to take you away from the Lord. Hold fast to what you know is right. Turn away from evil. Cling to Jesus and His Word.
1 Peter 5:8
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
The post Christian Yoga: Bringing The Kundalini Serpent Into The Church appeared first on Now The End Begins.
Gender Chaos: The Insanity (and Impossibility) of “Sex Change”
One of the more, um, flamboyant manifestations of the wrath of God pouring out upon a proud, unrepentant America, is our culture’s embrace of an “anything goes” approach to sexuality, which has metastasized into an anything goes attitude on the very concept of gender itself.
SRN: New Podcast/Sermon & 20 More Resources
What is the BIGGEST NEED IN THE CHURCH TODAY?
The biggest need in the church today and the missing jewel in the 21st century church is BIBLICAL DISCERNMENT.
Biblical discernment is the ability to rightly test, judge and discern between good and evil and right and wrong – as the Bible defines such things. My latest audio posted in our directory can help you and your family and friends discern properly, and thus avoid being spiritually deceived.
• Deception Prevention and Intervention
• Protecting Yourself & Your Family from Spiritual Deceivers
Topics and Scriptures included in this message:
• Understanding the basics of biblical discernment / The first deception and rebellion against God
• Defining biblical (and secular) terms, by definition, and in context
• What is a Statement of Faith? / Essentials of the Christian Faith
• “Another Jesus”, false gospels and counterfeiting the Holy Spirit / False christs and false “anointed” ones
• God’s love, abiding in Christ and true Christian joy
• Gen. 3:1-5; 2 Cor. 11:1-4; Gal. 1:6-10; Tit. 2:1; 1 Tim. 4:16; 6:3; Eph. 4:14; 2 Jn 2:9; 2 Cor 11:13-15; Matt. 7:15-23; Deut. 13:1-8; 18:21-22; Jer. 23:21; Matt. 24:24; Col. 2:8; 1 Thes. 5:21-22; Prov. 16:16; Jer. 10:21; 50:6-7; 1 Pet. 5:1-3; 2 Tim. 2:15; Jn 15:1-11.
Over twenty more DISCERNMENT messages in our SRN directory – Click here!
• The Holy Spirit vs Abusive Cult and Occult Thought Reform
• Preaching the Gospel, Suffering and Apostasy
• What Is A Discerning Christian?
• Resistance Against Truth Tellers
• Characteristics of Cults and Cultic Influences
• Dangers of Centering Prayer, Yoga, Mysticism and the Occult
• Jesus of Nazareth Versus Todays False Anointing
• The Holy Spirit as The Spirit of Truth
• Signs of the Times
• Discerning Signs and Wonders in the Church Today
• A Bold Witness for Jesus (Pt.2): Suffering and Affliction
• A Bold Witness for Jesus (Pt.1): The Character of God
• The Fear Of The Lord
• Cultic Patterns and Spiritual Abuse
• Another Tower of Babel: The Coming Global Religion
• Escaping Dangers In The Church Today
• Why Yoga Cannot Be Christianized
• The Cult of Gnostic Christians
• Calvary Chapel Concerns & Greg Laurie Endorses ‘Have Heart’
• What Is Happening In The Church
• Warning About New Age Influences in Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan
What should you know about Israel? (Free Israel E-book)
Israel 101 is one of the most comprehensive resources available to better understand Israel’s geo-political history and the Middle East conflict.
Cold Case Christianity: How Can Pastors Equip Their Churches To Defend The Faith? (Video)
J. Warner Wallace, author of Cold-Case Christianity, was interviewed by Bobby Conway (The One Minute Apologist) and discussed a simple strategy pastors can use to better train their congregations and prepare them for the challenges they will face in the culture. (For more information related to Bobby’s great ministry, visit: http://oneminuteapologist.com/)
‘Twas the Night Before the Last Christmas!
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