The more holy a man becomes, the more he will loathe and mourn over the remains of indwelling sin. —C.H. Spurgeon
Feb. 13, 2015
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said he’s recommending alternatives to President Obama’s timetable for withdrawing the remaining American troops there.
SZ DJI Technology., Chinese maker of the drone that crashed on Obama’s lawn last month, plans to double sales in 2015 as it pushes for clearer regulations on unmanned flights. DJI is working with the U.S. and China governments on rules for commercial and recreational uses of its aircraft.
U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index toward a record closing level, as Europe’s economy expanded more than forecast and optimism grew that leaders will reach a compromise in Greek debt talks.
When Group of 20 finance ministers this week urged the Federal Reserve to “minimize negative spillovers” from potential interest-rate increases, they omitted a key figure: $9 trillion. That’s the amount owed in dollars by non-bank borrowers outside the U.S., up 50 percent since the financial crisis, according to the Bank for International Settlements.
There are more electric-car charging points in Japan than there are gas stations.
To reach young gay men about the need for HIV testing, health advocates are turning to an unconventional messenger: gay dating apps on smartphones.
AP Top Stories
Boko Haram fighters attacked a village in Chad, the first known lethal attack in that country by the Nigerian militant group, which killed several people including a local chief according to residents and security forces.
Fierce fighting surged in east Ukraine as Russian-backed separatists mounted a major and sustained new push to capture a strategic railway hub ahead of a weekend cease-fire deadline.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this for Republicans. A month into their control of both chambers of Congress, they are confronting the very real possibility of a shutdown of the Homeland Security Department later this month.
A Utah mother pleaded guilty to charges she murdered six of her newborn infants over the course of a decade and stuffed their bodies into cardboard boxes in the garage of her home.
European powers warned Russia it risked fresh sanctions if a ceasefire deal aimed at ending the 10-month war between Ukraine troops and pro-Moscow rebels was not implemented.
Almost 200 pilot whales stranded themselves Friday on a New Zealand beach renowned as a deathtrap for the marine mammals, conservation officials said.
An influential Iranian general who has reportedly been near the front line against the Islamic State group was quoted Thursday saying the jihadists are “nearing the end of their lives”.
Long-lasting mega-droughts could occur with increasing frequency in the western U.S. later this century if no action is taken to rein in climate change by curbing fossil fuel use, researchers said.
Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz warned that Israel could act unilaterally against Iran over its nuclear drive, saying Tehran has failed to make concessions in talks with world powers.
Gamblers who won $1.5 million at a casino after realizing the cards hadn’t been shuffled have been ordered to return the money.
China should roll back its one-child policy and instead mandate that all couples have two children, a family planning official said, drawing criticism from a Communist Party newspaper.
Twenty-two U.S. marines were injured after inhaling noxious gas accidentally released in an amphibious vehicle during a training exercise at a military base in southern California.
Scientists from two U.S. Pacific Northwest laboratories plan to conduct tests of unusual precipitation that fell across the region over the weekend in hopes of pinpointing the origins of so-called “milky rain” that has mystified residents.
A US ship was “dodging massive icebergs” as it races to help an Australian fishing vessel stuck in the Antarctic ice, rescue authorities said. The 207-foot “Antarctic Chieftain” became trapped in ice some 900 nautical miles northeast of McMurdo Sound on Tuesday, damaging its propeller.
The US president will urge tech firms to share more information with security services, as leading figures gather for a summit in California.
The American south-west and central plains may be on course for droughts the like of which they have not seen in over a 1,000 years, scientists said.
Colombia’s left wing Farc guerrillas announced that they will no longer look to recruit soldiers below the age of 17.
Egypt said it is ready to evacuate its citizens from Libya after IS militants release images apparently showing Egyptian Christians seized there.
Three militants attacked a Shia mosque in northern Pakistan, killing 19 people and injuring dozens, the second major attack on Shias in recent weeks.
Saudi Arabia becomes the latest country to close its embassy in Yemen, as the security situation in the country deteriorates.
President Obama is expected to announce an executive order to encourage information-sharing between the private sector and the government.
In a first for the Army, Chelsea Manning, the convicted national-security secrets leaker, has been approved for hormone therapy for transition to a woman at the Army’s Fort Leavenworth prison.
ISIS fighters launched a major offensive just miles from a U.S. air base where American military advisers are stationed on Thursday. Some 3,000 Sunni jihadist fighters have gathered in the Syrian Qalamoun mountains bordering eastern Lebanon, poised to attack a series of Christian towns in northern and central Lebanon.
Two More Harbingers Of Financial Doom That Mirror The Crisis Of 2008
The stock market continues to flirt with new record highs, but the signs that we could be on the precipice of the next major financial crisis continue to mount. A couple of days ago, I discussed the fact that the U.S. dollar is experiencing a tremendous surge in value just like it did in the months prior to the financial crisis of 2008. And previously, I have detailed how the price of oil has collapsed, prices for industrial commodities are tanking and market behavior is becoming extremely choppy. All of these are things that we witnessed just before the last market crash as well. It is also important to note that orders for durable goods are declining and the Baltic Dry Index has dropped to the lowest level on record. So does all of this mean that the stock market is guaranteed to crash in 2015? No, of course not. But what we are looking for are probabilities. We are looking for patterns. There are multiple warning signs that have popped up repeatedly just prior to previous financial crashes, and many of those same warning signs are now appearing once again. (Read More….)
“Liberty is to faction, what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.” –James Madison, Federalist No. 10, 1787
TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
A recent study at Ohio State University “showed that men who posted more online photos of themselves than others scored higher on measures of narcissism and psychopathy.” As Exhibit A, we submit the following:
The science is settled.
By the way, he played college frat boy with BuzzFeed on the same day Kayla Mueller was confirmed dead. Stay classy.
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo debated Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore over rights and marriage, particularly regarding the recent kerfuffle over same-sex marriage in the Heart of Dixie. When Moore explained that marriage is a matter of law and rights that come from God, Cuomo vehemently disagreed. “Our rights do not come from God, your honor, and you know that. They come from man,” Cuomo insisted. Later he added, “That’s your faith, that’s my faith, but that’s not our country. Our laws come from collective agreement and compromise.” What utter hogwash. As Moore aptly noted, the Declaration of Independence is the law of the land, and it begins, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” But Cuomo isn’t just mistaken. He and his deceased father, Mario, and his brother Andrew, former and current governors of New York, hold a typical leftist view that government and not God creates rights. Therefore, those rights are subject to the whims of politicians because, as Chris Cuomo insisted, “Times change. Definitions change.” Such views are dangerous and completely antithetical to the foundation of our country. More…
By what we can gather, the wedding Barack Obama attended last August was the bomb. The wedding between MSNBC anchor Alex Wagner and Sam Kass, a former White House chef, was kept hush-hush — probably because Obama was there with his pals and members of Weather Underground, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. The Leftmedia rag Gawker, which got the scoop, reports pair, who cavorted with leftist terrorists that bombed federal buildings in the ’70s, “were likely invited due to their connection to Kass. Though the nature of their relationship with him is unclear, Kass resided for several years in Chicago, where Ayers and Dohrn live, and appear to have close mutual friends. In 2012, for example, the trio attended the same 22-guest wedding at a San Francisco art gallery.” Furthermore, it’s unlikely Obama ignored the duo, as he started his 1995 Illinois Senate bid from their house. This is further evidence that Obama considers himself above scrutiny, as he doesn’t have a re-election to win. But imagine the resulting 24-hour outrage machine if George W. Bush had a friend who bombed abortion clinics. More…
The administration that says this year’s tax refunds will be delayed has enough time to give tax benefits to illegal immigrants. In a House hearing, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the IRS will start paying refunds to amnestied illegals. Koskinen said, “To be eligible for the earned income tax credit, you have to work. … To be able to apply for it, you have to have a Social Security number.” Barack Obama’s executive amnesty gives illegals Social Security numbers, though the Obama administration never estimated the impact of the program. As Koskinen put it, “I haven’t talked to the White House about this at all.” In response to this admission, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) told Koskinen, “That’s just outrageous. If Congress had passed a law doing exactly what the president did, we would have had not only an estimate of the costs, but we would have also been required to propose ways to pay for the programs. This is just another example of the administration operating outside the rule of law.” Furthermore, Obama’s action muddles the line between citizen and non-citizen, all in a cynical play for more Democrat votes. More…
Despite the closure of the U.S. embassy in Yemen, which follows the abandonment of embassies in Syria and Libya, the Obama State Department says not to worry. A reporter asked State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, “Is there a broader concern that you’re being — the U.S. is being run out of town in the Arab world?” Pish posh, she responded: “We certainly don’t look at it in that way. I would remind you that we were not the only country that moved our staff out of Yemen last night (so did the UK and France), and we have to take precautions to protect the men and women who are serving on our behalf. There’s no question that in each of the countries you’ve mentioned there’s a great bit of volatility, but that’s — the fact is that that’s what’s happening on the ground. It’s not a reflection of the United States and our engagement. It’s a reflection of the trouble and challenges happening in these countries.” On the contrary, it absolutely is a reflection of Barack Obama’s failed foreign policy.
The Republican plan to roll back Barack Obama’s immigration actions appears on the verge of collapse thanks to intra-party squabbling and a united Democrat opposition.
GOP congressmen originally called for passing a budget for the Department of Homeland Security that stripped out funding for immigration enforcement. The House passed its version of the bill last month with 10 Republicans joining all but two Democrats in opposition. The legislation is now mired in the Senate, where the GOP has failed to reach cloture three times. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will try again — perhaps three more times.
But there is virtually no possibility they can pick up the Democrat votes needed to overcome the filibuster before the Feb. 27 deadline for funding, and the Senate adjourned Thursday for a 10-day recess.
That’s why some House Republicans want the Senate to deploy the nuclear option and eliminate the filibuster so they can pass the bill. Not that such a move would win Obama’s signature. And few, if any, Senate Republicans support such a move, which they decried when Harry Reid did it for non-Supreme Court nominations.
Before calling for more cloture votes, McConnell began looking to House Speaker John Boehner to fix the situation. “We can’t get on it, we can’t offer amendments to it,” McConnell lamented. “And the next step is obviously up to the House.”
House Republicans see things differently. “I think the speaker’s position is that the House has already acted. It’s time for the Senate to act,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-GA).
That’s putting it mildly. Boehner himself was far more colorful, saying, “The House has done its job. Why don’t you go ask the Senate Democrats when they are going to get off their a– and do something?”
The House GOP opposes restoring immigration funding to the bill. They appear motivated to challenge Obama’s abuse of power — as he clearly overstepped his constitutional authority when he made changes to immigration policy. Senate Republicans, however, are more interested in getting a DHS funding bill passed. Talk of considering some Democrat concessions has been circulating, but Democrats feel the wind at their backs and they’re likely to accept nothing less than a fully funded bill.
If appropriations run out, the DHS won’t be able to perform some of its functions — an unwelcome situation in a time of heightened terrorist activity. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) said, “If there is a successful attack during a DHS shutdown — we should build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office and say, ‘You are responsible for these dead Americans.'”
But what’s far more likely to happen is the Leftmedia and the public will blame Republicans. No matter the circumstances, no matter who’s in the majority, the Leftmedia does its job effectively in turning public opinion against the GOP.
Hence, the bickering going back and forth between House and Senate Republicans is unfortunate. To be at loggerheads on strategy this early into their majority doesn’t instill confidence in Republicans’ ability to lead. But the truth is, Obama will veto any bill that doesn’t preserve his amnesty. Republicans need to use that to their political advantage by putting the focus on Obama’s unconstitutional actions, even if they’re unable to stop him.
Inability to overcome the Democrat filibuster is something the 54 Senate Republicans will either have to get used to or find a strategy to surmount. They need to get things ironed out or their majority will be a short one. And the White House will grow further from reach as well.
The long-running game of nuclear cat-and-mouse between Iran and the rest of the world seems to be nearing its conclusion. Both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif say talks won’t be extended past the March 31 deadline. Then again, Barack Obama has long played fast and loose with deadlines when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program.
There are serious concerns about this prospective deal. Speaking from the left side of the aisle, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) worried such a pact could be enacted without the Senate’s approval and warned, “[T]he end result [of these negotiations] is more likely to be a North Korean situation.”
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, criticized the talks in remarks before the Senate Armed Forces Committee. “Nuclear talks with Iran began as an international effort, buttressed by six UN resolutions, to deny Iran the capability to develop a military nuclear option,” he recounted. “They are now an essentially bilateral negotiation over the scope of that capability through an agreement that sets a hypothetical limit of one year on an assumed breakout. The impact of this approach will be to move from preventing proliferation to managing it.”
In short, Obama has conceded the main point as he’s led from behind.
Yet Obama has come up with a new excuse for allowing Iran to get its way. He’s now sufficiently blinded by Islamophilia as to take Iran’s supreme leader at his word that “it would be contrary to their faith” for Iran to build a nuclear weapon. That nonsense fits well with the narrative he’s still trying to sell about Islam being the Religion of Peace™, but history has repeatedly shown just the opposite — Obama’s ridiculous lecture about the Crusades notwithstanding.
The U.S. has eased sanctions against Iran, while the mullahs kept working on their nuclear program under the guise of peaceful use. It won’t be long before sanctions are gone and Iran has its nuclear bomb. Kissinger fretted that other Middle East nations could then engage in a nuclear arms race. It’s not inconceivable that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey could quickly follow Iran. If Iran has nukes, these nations will reason it’s in their own security interests to obtain them in order to balance their regional foe.
Nor should we forget the effect this would have on Israel, which is calling the nuclear deal with Iran “bad and dangerous.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned us before about Iran, saying, “Iran is not your ally. Iran is not your friend. Iran is your enemy. It’s not your partner. Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel.” (He could have added the part about the “Death to America” chants that are a staple of Friday prayers in Tehran.)
Netanyahu has allies in Congress, where the sentiment to expand sanctions against Iran is much stronger. In the past, Israel has threatened to go it alone in destroying Iran’s nuclear program, and it may yet come to that. We’ll see what the Israeli leader says when he addresses Congress in March.
Regardless, by continually appeasing this rogue regime, Barack Obama has further destabilized the situation and once again shown his reverse Midas touch in world affairs.
TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS
- Charles Krauthammer: Crusaders and Appeasers
- Mona Charen: Cui Bono?
- Jonah Goldberg: Conservatives Face Bad-Faith Question of Faith
- Tony Perkins: Home Is Where the Hurt Is
- L. Brent Bozell & Tim Graham: NBC’s Ridiculous Williams Suspension
OPINION IN BRIEF
Mark Twain (1835-1910): “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”
Columnist Charles Krauthammer: “Russia pushes deep into eastern Ukraine. The Islamic State burns to death a Jordanian pilot. Iran extends its hegemony over four Arab capitals — Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and now Sanaa. And America watches. Obama calls the policy ‘strategic patience.’ That’s a synonym for ‘inaction,’ made to sound profoundly ‘strategic.’ Take Russia. The only news out of Obama’s one-hour press conference with Angela Merkel this week was that he still can’t make up his mind whether to supply Ukraine with defensive weapons. The Russians have sent in T-80 tanks and Grad rocket launchers. We’ve sent in humanitarian aid that includes blankets, MREs and psychological counselors. How complementary: The counselors do grief therapy for those on the receiving end of the T-80 tank fire. … America was once the arsenal of democracy, notes Elliott Abrams. We are now its linen closet. … The line between the Washington prayer breakfast and the Ukrainian grief counselors is direct and causal. Once you’ve discounted your own moral authority, once you’ve undermined your own country’s moral self-confidence, you cannot lead. If, during the very week Islamic supremacists achieve ‘peak barbarism’ with the immolation of a helpless prisoner, you cannot take them on without apologizing for sins committed a thousand years ago, you have prepared the ground for strategic paralysis. All that’s left is to call it strategic patience.”
Columnist Jonah Goldberg: “At an event in London on trade policy, Scott Walker was asked about evolution. … As my National Review colleague Kevin Williamson notes, ‘Everybody wants to know what Scott Walker and Sarah Palin think about evolution, but almost nobody is asking what Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama think about homeopathy, acupuncture, aromatherapy and the like.’ Even though such remedies have been given elevated legitimacy under the Affordable Care Act. Presidents have become avatars in the culture war being fought across the Internet and the airwaves, and nothing gives secular liberal journalists more of a buzz than exposing the alleged backwardness of those they consider backward. It’s a cultural wedge issue used by the very people who claim they hate cultural wedge issues. … When Barack Obama was asked when life begins, he responded that such questions are above his pay grade, even though a president is in fact paid to make myriad decisions which hinge on precisely that question. But liberal politicians are allowed such dodges precisely because liberal journalists know what the politician really believes.”
Comedian Conan O’Brien: “NBC has suspended Brian Williams for six months without pay. Williams said he’s not worried, because soon his veteran’s benefits will kick in.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
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Posted: 13 Feb 2015 07:37 AM PST
Eleven people who had contact with the Philippines’ first confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) are also showing symptoms, the World Health Organisation said on Friday. “Eleven contacts are symptomatic. It’s a mix of family contacts and hospital contacts, the doctors and nurses who attended the case before she was tested and found positive,” said Peter Ben Embarek, a scientist at the WHO’s department of food safety and zoonoses. The patient, a 32-year-old nurse, returned from Saudi Arabia on Feb. 1 and was hospitalized the next day. The Philippines Health Ministry said on Wednesday she had tested positive for the disease, which has been linked to camels. The World Health Organisation is still trying to track down more than half the people who were on the same Saudia airline flight from Riyadh to Manila. “So far close to 100 of the 225 passengers have been identified and contacted,” said Embarek. None of the nurse’s fellow travelers who have been traced has shown symptoms and the risk to them is small, but all passengers who have not yet been contacted should present themselves to health authorities, he said. “The closer you are to a case, of course, the higher the risk of transmission. Generally on a plane transmission is very rare because the air is recycled very quickly and people are not moving around much. Unless you are within a few rows of the case the risk is extremely low.” Health authorities are already monitoring 56 people considered to have had contact with the nurse. The WHO will send a mission to Riyadh next week at the request of the Saudi government, which has been battling the disease since it emerged in 2012, the WHO said. Nine countries in the Middle East have had confirmed cases while 13 others, now including the Philippines, have had travel-associated cases, or cases they have diagnosed but which originated overseas. The WHO has had reports of 975 cases, including 358 deaths. There is usually a surge of cases in the spring, and after the last large outbreak in May-June 2014, most cases have come from hospital transmission. More
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|Sign of the Apocalypse? Plague Is Back, With a Disturbing TwistPosted: 13 Feb 2015 07:32 AM PST
If you thought the film Contagion was frightening, this medical plot twist may scare you even more—because it’s real. Back in November, the island nation of Madagascar confirmed 119 cases of plague, including 40 deaths. But the bad news recently took a disturbing turn: “The fleas that transmit this ancient disease from rats to humans have developed resistance to the first-line insecticide,” Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, said in a new report. You probably recognize the infectious disease as the one known as the “Black Death,” which during the 14th century became a devastating epidemic that claimed an estimated 50 million lives throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. Caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, the disease spreads from rodents to humans via infected fleas. Those infected generally develop bubonic plague—exhibiting swollen lymph nodes and flu-like symptoms—or, if it spreads to the lungs, the deadlier advanced form, pneumonic plague. Caught early, antibiotics can effectively treat the disease; left untreated, however, plague kills 30 to 60 percent of those infected.
Steamboats from India carried plague to Madagascar in 1898. What makes the recent outbreak there particularly troubling is that scientists have been warning about insecticide resistance in fleas for years. Plague surveillance in Madagascar was discontinued in 2006 due to a lack of funding, but almost 17 years ago—and just six years after the first-line insecticide was initially used in Madagascar—an article published in the Journal for Emerging Infectious Diseases closed with the admonition, “the increasing resistance of fleas to insecticides have caused much concern.”
A November 2014 study conducted by the health research center Institut Pasteur in Madagascar found conclusive evidence that more than 80 percent of the fleas tested were resistant to Deltamethrin, the insecticide referenced in the WHO report. Out of the 32 flea populations examined, only two demonstrated susceptibility to the insecticide. The report’s authors conclude, “In the…re-emergence of plague…in Madagascar, Deltamethrin is ineffective against fleas. Its use in Madagascar should be stopped and the control program for plague diseases needs to change to another insecticide.”
While the study explains that many factors could contribute to the fleas’ increased resistance to insecticides—including environment, climate, geography, urbanization, and human social and cultural behaviors—the core mechanism at work is natural selection. Each time a population of fleas is treated with insecticide, fleas that by some quirk have a built-in resistance survive and breed to create the next generation of fleas, born genetically resistant to the insecticide that wiped out their parents’ peers. Over time, the insecticide becomes less effective as the flea populations are increasingly comprised of only those with the quirk of DNA that protects against it. To compensate for its lowered levels of efficacy, a higher concentration of the insecticide is often used—which breeds a generation of fleas even more resistant than the last.
For the people of Madagascar, Deltamethrin restistance is a case of déjà vu all over again. Use of the insecticide, a man-made version of a natural insecticide that chrysanthemum flowers produce, began in the 1990s after insects developed resistance to the flea-control chemical being used at the time. Some scientists have hypothesized that fleas’ resistance to Deltamethrin may be a result of the species’ exposure to the old insecticide. More
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|PSALM 83 WATCH – Hezbollah Troops Fast Approaching Israeli Border From Syrian SidePosted: 13 Feb 2015 07:27 AM PST
Bolstered by the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah and its patrons in Tehran, the Syrian Army continued its rapid advance into southern Syria today, inching closer to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. “Regime troops and their Hezbollah-led allies are advancing in the area linking Daraa, Quneitra and Damascus provinces,” close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Beginning earlier this week, the Syrian government confirmed they launched a “broad operation” to recapture strategic hilltops and key swaths of territory lost last year to rebel groups including the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front. A field commander told Syrian State TV: “The military operation launched by the Syrian army in the south continues under the leadership of Syrian President Bashar Assad and in cooperation with the axis of resistance — Hezbollah and Iran,” according to the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Alawsat newspaper. Amin Hatit, a military strategist close to Hezbollah, added that “it appears that the initial results surpass all expectations. … Within 48 hours, goals were achieved for which ten days were allocated,” according to Asharq Alawsat. Syrian State television reported the offensive swiftly gained control of the town of Deir al-Adas and the village of Deir Maker and Tal al-Arous and Tal al-Sarjeh. But rebels told ABC News the battles are ongoing, and ABC News was unable to independently confirm the captured towns. “The Free Syrian Army is still making notable advances across the border with Jordan into Southern Syria. The battle for Deir Addas is not over. We have reports of over 30 Iranian Lebanese Hezbollah and Afghan Shia foreign fighters captured by rebels in the Southern front this week,” Oubai Shahbandar, former Senior Advisor to the Syrian National Coalition told ABC News. “The Iranian revolutionary guards have taken operational control of Assad’s forces south of Damascus because they have little trust in the competency of what’s left of Assad’s military in the southern front following a string of defeats since January,” Shahbandar explained to ABC News. More
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|John Piper: No One Is Absolutely Addicted to PornographyPosted: 13 Feb 2015 07:21 AM PST
Not all sexual desire is lust. God made sexual desire. It has its good place and it can, in fact, become an act of worship in the temple of marriage. But lust is sexual desire gone wrong. Here’s my definition: Lust is a sexual desire that dishonors its object and disregards God. Disregards the promises and the warnings of having or losing the beauties of Christ. The lusted-after woman or man in your head, or on the screen, or on the street, is dishonored—not treated as a sacred, precious, eternal person made in the image of God, whose eternal destiny is always paramount, and whose holiness we either long for or ignore. And the only way this dishonor can be so daringly carried out is by disregarding God while we are in the sway of our lust—disregarding the promises and warnings of having or losing the beauties of Christ. So lust is a sexual desire that dishonors its object and disregards God. Ponder with me for a few minutes the natural and the spiritual role of self-control in relation to lust.
Faith in Christ Conquers ‘Addiction’
Addiction is a relative term. I would stake my life on the assumption that no one in this room is absolutely addicted to pornography or any sexual sin. What I mean is this: If the stakes are high enough and sure enough, you will have all the self-control you need to resist any sexual temptation.
For example, if tonight you are feeling totally in the sway of sexual desire—more blazing, more powerful than you have ever felt it in your life—and you believe that you cannot resist the temptation to look at some nudity online, and suddenly a black-hooded ISIS member drags your best friend or your spouse into the room with a knife at his or her throat, and says, “If you look at that website, I will slit their throat,” you will have the self-control you thought you didn’t have. You won’t click.
Or if a man walks into the room and says, “If you do not look at that nudity, I will give you $1 million cash, tax-free, tonight,” you will suddenly have the self-control you thought you did not have.
Addiction is a relative term. The fact is, 99 percent of those who give way to lust in pornography or fornication or adultery, are not decisively controlled by sexual desire. They are decisively controlled by what they believe—what they believe will happen if they act on their lust or don’t.
The Spirit of God Controls Us
The decisive issue is whether they believe the stakes are high enough and sure enough. If we are sure a friend will die a gruesome death, we will have self-control. If we are sure we’ll get the $1 million we will have self-control.
Now there is nothing distinctly Christian about that analysis of motivation. That is simply the way human beings are wired. Self-control was a Stoic virtue before it was Christian, and there is nothing distinctly Christian about it.
And yet Paul lists self-control (engkrateia) as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). So for those who believe the gospel of Christ, and are justified by faith alone (Rom. 3:28), the Holy Spirit becomes the decisive cause of “self-control.” That’s what I take “fruit” to mean in Galatians 5. The Spirit produces self-control in the believer. The action of the self is vital and essential, but not decisive. The Spirit is decisive.
Work out your salvation for God is at work in you, Paul says in Philippians 2:12–13. That means “Control your lusts because the Spirit is controlling them through you.” Exert self-control, because the Spirit is working it in you. The blood of Christ, the blood of the new covenant, secures for us the working of the Holy Spirit. And when He works, we act. His working appears in our acting. He creates the miracle of self-control, and we act the miracle of self-control.
But the Holy Spirit doesn’t produce the same self-control that the Stoics had. The Stoics did not depend on Christ, or live for Christ. But the Holy Spirit is in the believer because of the death of Christ, and for the glory of Christ (John 14:16). The blood of Christ was His price. And the beauty of Christ is His mission.
The Beauty of Christ Is Better
Therefore, the way the Spirit produces self-control in the believer is by revealing the beauties of Christ to our souls as supremely beautiful and supremely satisfying. He removes the hardness of heart and the blindness of our souls, so that we see and savor the beauties of Christ for what they really are.
And what He shows us through the Word of Christ is that the all-satisfying beauties of Christ can be lost forever, if in the bondage of lust we prove to be a hypocrite and really love sex more than we love Christ. And he shows us that the day is coming, and now is here in measure, when we will enjoy Christ with a fullness of joy that outweighs every possible pleasure of lust.
Which brings us back now to the ISIS member ready to slit the throat of our best friend, and the man with a million dollars. The Holy Spirit shows us that the stakes are much higher than either of those situations when we face the temptations of lust. These beauties of Christ that the Holy Spirit reveals can be lost forever, or they can satisfy your soul forever.
He opens our ears to hear Jesus say, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matt. 5:29)—the final and ultimate ISIS attack. And He opens our ears to hear Jesus say, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8)—a reward infinitely superior to a mere million dollars.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. He creates the miracle. We act the miracle. He creates it by opening our eyes to see the beauties of Christ—that they can be lost forever in bondage to lust, or enjoyed forever by the pure in heart. Charisma
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|President Obama: If You Like Your God, Keep HimPosted: 13 Feb 2015 07:17 AM PST
“Confession is good for the soul,” said Mark Twain, “but it’s bad for the reputation.” Candidate Barack Obama in 2008 confessed to his top adviser, David Axelrod, “I’m just not very good at (expletive).” Actually, he was very good at it. He told millions of Americans that he believed marriage was “a sacred union” between a man and a woman. He answered about marriage in Rick Warren’s question famed Civic Forum, going even further to say that “God is in the mix.” Four years later, he claimed he had evolved. We’ve all seen those Darwin fish with feet bumper devices. Evolutionary biologists assure us that it took eons for those finny friends to develop into land roving quadrupeds. Not so, liberal politicians. They can shed old convictions and promises quicker than fishes can shed their scales. Time magazine provides this enlightening comment on David Axelrod’s new memoir, Believer:
“Axelrod writes that he knew Obama was in favor of same-sex marriages during the first presidential campaign, even Obama publicly said he only supported civil unions, not full marriages. Axelrod also admits to counseling Obama to conceal that position for political reasons. ‘Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a “sacred union.”‘
The insider’s account provides the clearest look yet at Obama’s long-established flip-flop, one of the blemishes on his record as a progressive. The admission of Obama’s embrace of deception also calls into question the President’s stated embrace of a new kind of politics in 2008, when he promised to be unlike other politicians who change their views to match the political winds. “Having prided himself on forthrightness, though, Obama never felt comfortable with his compromise and, no doubt, compromised position,” Axelrod writes. “He routinely stumbled over the question when it came up in debates or interviews.”
As a state senate candidate in 1996, Obama filled out a questionnaire saying “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” But 12 years later as a candidate for president, Obama told Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church that marriage could only extend to heterosexual couples. “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” Obama said at the time. “Now, for me as a Christian—for me—for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”
Here is Time, even that unwavering champion of all things liberal, expressing more than a little chagrin at Axelrod’s revelation of that bit of campaign lying by Barack Obama in 2008. No wonder even liberals are expressing dismay with the Obama presidency. No wonder that Barbara Walters now moans: “We thought he was going to be the Messiah.” No wonder that Chris Matthews’ leg doesn’t tingle any more. No wonder even Barack Obama’s own coat carriers don’t call him “Black Jesus” any more.
To be fair, there was dissatisfaction among conservatives at this point in the Ronald Reagan presidency, too. Reagan also faced a Congress dominated by his political opponents in the last two years of his second term. Then, however, conservatives cried out: “Let Reagan be Reagan.” They knew, or thought they knew, what Reagan would do if he could overrule his circle of pragmatic advisers.
Overrule them he did. He went to West Berlin in 1987. [Yes, my young friends, there was a West and an East Berlin then. And you could be murdered if you tried to escape from the Workers’ Paradise in Communist East Berlin.] Reagan’s top advisers sent back to the White House the speech drafted by young Peter Robinson. Take out that line: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Three times, the State Department and the National Security staff tried to tear down that speech. Three times Ronald Reagan sent it back with the world-changing line still in the text.
And the president went to West Berlin and delivered that speech with that powerful line intact. No one had to “let Reagan be Reagan.” Reagan was Reagan. Today, no one says: “Let Obama be Obama.” That because no one knows—even his closest advisers don’t know—what might result. But this much is clear: When he says, “God is in the mix,” everything is in the mix. Like some vast primordial stew. More
|4 Reasons You Must Talk to Your Kids About ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’Posted: 13 Feb 2015 07:14 AM PST
With the Fifty Shades of Grey movie releasing soon (a worldwide release date of Feb. 13), our culture is ablaze with controversy and debate over sexual issues once again. But this one is a little different than controversies of the past. Fifty Shades takes pornography—particularly a violent and abusive form of sex—and glorifies it. People (women in particular) are falling for it on an alarming scale. Even Christians are succumbing to the enticement of Fifty Shades. In short, it and the topic of BDSM are in our faces now like never before. “BDSM is an acronym for Bondage, Dominance, Sadism and Masochism. In psychiatry, the terms sadism and masochism describe a personality type characterized by a person deriving pleasure and gratification from inflicting physical pain and humiliation. The terms specifically refer to one who either enjoys giving pain (sadist) or one who enjoys receiving pain (masochist).” This definition is from Pulling Back the Shades by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery. And guess what: It’s going to have consequences on your children and how they view sex. The more our team has ministered this year, speaking to parents and teens in various nations, we have come to the conclusion that parents HAVE to talk to their children about Fifty Shades. As in yesterday. Here’s why:
1. Your kids are curious.
It would be unfair and naive of parents to assume their teens haven’t noticed the Fifty Shades phenomenon. It is literally everywhere. And with the movie releasing before Valentine’s Day, the hype has only increased. If your teenager doesn’t know what the plot is about already, I guarantee he or she is curious. Use this to your advantage, parents. Answer their questions, let them know they’re not alone if they don’t know what BDSM is, and communicate your willingness to help them understand.
2. If you don’t, someone else will.
Where do your kids turn when they have questions about sex? Do they know they can come to you? If they don’t feel like they can come to you, your kids will turn elsewhere to have their questions answered. What kind of information will they find on Google or from their peers? I realize I probably just scared the pants off of you with that question. Take a deep breath,Mom and Dad. It’s going to be OK. But you do have reason to be concerned here. The only way to guarantee your kids get the right message about Fifty Shades is if you craft that message. Despite popular opinion, parents are the BEST people to talk to teenagers about sexual issues. I promise you. All the research done on the subject and our experience in ministry—both with parents and teens—attests to this statement. You are it, Mom and Dad. Don’t miss your God-given chance. (Also—if your palms are sweating at the idea of having to come up with a conversation about Fifty Shades, don’t panic. I’ve included some links below to articles and videos you can use to educate yourself and also share with your teens. You are not alone and you don’t have to re-invent the wheel, either!)
3. It’s an excellent opportunity.
Parents, if you feel like you’ve missed the boat on talking to your teen about sex, now’s your chance. I know it may seem odd to view the situation this way, but trust me—another ship has arrived and you need to jump on it! The issue of sex and abusive relationships is in our face in a huge way right now. Our team is claiming this promise from Scripture over the Fifty Shades phenomenon: What the enemy intended for evil, God is going to use for good (Gen. 50:20). Seriously—all the hype over Fifty Shades could potentially turn into a huge blessing in the way of parents talking to their teens—perhaps for the first time—about sex and, more importantly, communicating God’s perspective on sex.
4. This is just the beginning.
I have a sinking feeling that the Fifty Shades phenomenon is just the beginning of abusive sexual relationships and erotica going mainstream and becoming more and more culturally acceptable. I hope and pray this is not the case, but if history is any indication, I fear we have a very big battle ahead of us on yet another sexual issue culture is trying to push the envelope on. Don’t miss your chance to talk to your teenager about healthy, life-giving sexuality. The best antidote to the enemy’s view of sex so prevalent in our culture is to communicate regularly to our teenagers God’s view of sex and marriage. The truth is God designed our sexuality to bring life, to honor Him and to fulfill His purpose in us. He did not design it to be harmful or only pleasurable for one party. Furthermore, God’s view of sex is not anything we should be embarrassed of or fearful about. We should feel the freedom to talk about it with our teenagers and not let the enemy silence us on this very important topic. So where do you start? More
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|US retail sales data point to slower economic growthPosted: 13 Feb 2015 07:08 AM PST
U.S. consumer spending barely rose in January as households cut back on purchases of a range of goods, suggesting the economy started the first quarter on a softer note. Sluggish spending came despite cheap gasoline and a buoyant labor market, leaving economists to speculate that consumers were using the extra income to pay down debt and boost savings. “There is a risk of a temporary soft patch for the economy as it is somewhat surprising the consumer has stopped spending their savings from gasoline prices,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York. The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services edged up 0.1 percent last month. That followed a 0.3 percent drop in December and was below Wall Street’s expectations for a 0.4 percent increase. The so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. Overall retail sales slipped 0.8 percent in January, declining for a second straight month as falling gasoline prices undercut sales at service stations. The soft core retail sales prompted Barclays to lower its first-quarter GDP growth estimate by three-tenths of a percentage point to a 2.2 percent annual rate. JPMorgan cut its estimate to a 2.5 percent rate from a 3 percent pace. The economy grew at a 2.6 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter. However, inventory and trade data for December was below the government’s assumptions in the GDP report, suggesting growth could be revised to as low as a 1.8 percent rate. U.S. financial markets were little moved by Thursday’s data, with attention focused on details of a ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine and a surprise interest rate cut and bond purchasing program announced by Sweden’s central bank. Despite a 39.5 percent decline in gasoline prices since June, consumer spending has been soft in the past two months. Still, cheaper gasoline prices and robust employment gains are expected to provide a powerful stimulus to consumer spending and keep the economy on an expansion path, despite sputtering growth in Asia and Europe. “Should we be worried about the weakness of underlying sales over the past two months? Possibly,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto. More
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|IMF Announces $17.5bn Bailout Deal for UkrainePosted: 13 Feb 2015 07:03 AM PST
The International Monetary Fund has granted Ukraine a new $17.5 billion bailout deal to help support economic reforms. With the help from other lenders, including Europe and the US, the deal could climb to around $40 billion over the next four years.Ukraine has so far received $4.6 billion as part of a $17 billion aid package from the IMF agreed on last year, but the programme ran into trouble as the war ravaging the country’s eastern region weighed on its economic prospects. Facing bankruptcy, Ukraine last month asked the IMF to replace its programme with a new one to restore confidence in its finances. IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said the funding “offers an important opportunity for Ukraine to move its economy forward at a critical moment in the country’s history”. She added that the reform plan “is an ambitious programme, it is a tough programme, and it is not without risk. But it is also a realistic programme and its effective implementation – after consideration and approval by our executive board – can represent a turning point for Ukraine”. The announcement came just before leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany emerged from marathon talks to announce a peace deal for eastern Ukraine. The four-year package “would support immediate economic stabilization in Ukraine as well as a set of bold policy reforms aimed at restoring robust growth of the medium term and improving living standards for the Ukrainian people,” Lagarde said. Kiev has also received loans from the European Union and the United States, both of whom have recently promised more help. Lagarde said the IMF support would be backed by other international financing. “From these various sources taken together, a total financing package of around $40 billion is estimated over the four year period,” she told reporters. More
|McDonald’s Gives Free Vaccines With Happy Meals In TexasPosted: 13 Feb 2015 06:58 AM PST
Would you like a side of hepatitis A shot with your Happy Meal? As it turns out, your child may just be able to receive a number of significant vaccinations at your local McDonald’s on behalf of the Department of Public Health. I was just as shocked as you are when I heard news from an email tip that one reader’s local McDonald’s was launching a ‘free vaccination’ program alongside their fast food marketing campaign, and I was reasonably skeptical that even McDonald’s would launch such a strange combination. Especially when consider the extreme financial downfall that the company is experiencing as millions abandon their fake food amid public knowledge over the true extent of their synthetic ingredient list. As it turns out, however, numerous Texas newspapers and outlets have documented the ‘free McDonald’s vaccine’ events that have popped up in Amarillo. It was, and is, very real. Amarillo.com details the event that first occurred years ago, writing: “The city of Amarillo’s Department of Public Health and the Caring for Children Foundation of Texas will offer free vaccinations for children from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at McDonald’s restaurant, 1815 S. Grand St. The vaccinations will include meningococcal vaccine, which is required for seventh- and eighth-graders and for college students residing in campus housing; the varicella vaccine, which is required for kindergarten and first grade and for seventh- and eighth-graders; the Tdap vaccine booster required for seventh- and eighth-graders; MMR vaccine for kindergarten and first grade; and hepatitis A, required for kindergarten and first grade. Parents and guardians are asked to bring immunization records, and children under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.” And that is one of the older reports detailing the events. There is not much press coverage on the programs that are reportedly being rolled out in 2015. Various sites have already been reporting on the new McDonald’s vaccine campaigns that readers say are popping up around the Amarillo area. Would you get your child a round of booster shots with your next Happy Meal? INFO WARS
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|Nearly 200 whales stranded on New Zealand beach; 2 dozen deadPosted: 13 Feb 2015 06:54 AM PST
A huge rescue effort is underway to save nearly 200 pilot whales stranded on a beach in New Zealand’s South Island. The whales were stranded on Farewell Spit, at Golden Bay, near Nelson, according to The New Zealand Herald. Weather conditions and nightfall hampered efforts to save the whales on Friday, it reported. Farewell Spit is a famous spot for whale beachings. Two dozen of the 198 whales had already died despite efforts to save the creatures, Department of Conservation area manager Andrew Lamason said. About 80 conservation workers and volunteers were trying to refloat the whales as high tide rolled in, Lamason said. But with such a vast number of animals stranded, workers were bracing for days of arduous work to move the whales back into the water. And even if the whales were refloated, that was no guarantee they would survive, Lamason said. Fox News
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On today’s Episode of The Briefing
1) Obama’s official evolution on same sex marriage reveals velocity of nation’s shift
Full Transcript Of BuzzFeed News’ Interview With President Barack Obama, Buzzfeed (Ben Smith)
How bad was Obama’s 2008 deception on same-sex marriage?, Washington Post (Paul Waldman)
2) 50 Shades movie exposes same sinful root of pornography in slightly different form
Review: In ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Movie, Sex Is a Knotty Business, New York Times (A.O. Scott)
50 shades of inappropriate: Middle-school kids given naughty puzzle, Dallas Morning News (Amanda Wilkins)
In other news…
In Chapel Hill Shooting of 3 Muslims, a Question of Motive, New York Times (Jonathan Katz)
“Why the (toothless) Iran sanctions bill matters” – Pipes in Wash. Times, #1389
by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
February 13, 2015
Should Islam Be Banned for Blasphemy? :: Ibrahim
by Raymond Ibrahim
February 12, 2015
IW News Brief: Cartoonophobia, Outspoken Mayor, and More
by David J. Rusin • Feb 13, 2015 at 8:29 am
Muslim Enclaves in America
Martin Mawyer, founder of the Christian Action Network, is fighting a battle against Islamic violence. Yet he is alone in this battle. For despite the violence and unlawfulness in the mere existence of America’s Muslim “NO-go-zones”, there is no one to challenge them.
Reports have it that in Dearborn, MI over 100,000 Muslims (45% of the city!)have settled into a “no-go” zone. The area is governed by Sharia law. The Muslim authorities of the compound build as they like, create schools, and write their own curriculum. Is this their implementation of the first amendment? What about the rights of others to enter the neighborhood which should be open to the public under American law? Should they be allowed to position guards at the entrance to these compounds to keep people out?
ISIS poised to attack Christian towns in Lebanon
And Israel is watching . . .
Some 3,000 Sunni jihadist fighters have gathered in the Syrian Qalamoun mountains bordering eastern Lebanon, poised to attack a series of Christian towns in northern and central Lebanon.
They appear to be preparing to undertake a pincer attack on the north around Tripoli and in the south from the Syrian Golan Heights, according to informed Middle East sources.
Young Brits reject religion, approve of atheist politicians
A survey of 1,500 adults released Thursday (Feb. 12) by YouGov, a British market research firm, shows that as many as a third of all Britons do not believe in God or any kind of higher power. (Grundy, Religion News Service)
America’s largest Christian bookstore chain files for bankruptcy protection
by Marsha West
Christianity Today reports:
Family Christian Stores has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Yet the ministry assured customers yesterday that it “does not expect” to close any of its more than 250 stores or lay off any of its approximately 4,000 employees.
Russell Moore on Roy Moore
Where’s The Peace?
Q. Re: the 7 years leading up to the 2nd Coming. There evidently is not peace on the earth before the 70th week starts or there wouldn’t be a need for a 7 year peace treaty with Israel. Then, when Revelation 6 starts there is turmoil with the four horsemen. Granted, it gets much worse in the second half but it does not sound to me like there is peace before or during the 70th week. My question is how does the below verse fit when there isn’t peace occurring in the world? In I Thess. 5:3 “When they say peace and safety then sudden destruction comes upon them and they shall not escape.”
Do you think there must be a there a short bit of time with a reprieve of peace between the signing of the treaty and the 1st horseman coming on the world scene?
Ezekiel 38 And Rev. 20. The Same Or Different?
Q. How come the battle of Gog and Magog in Rev. 20 is not mentioned as any of the major prophetic events in the road map to eternity. Whenever we hear the battle of Gog Magog it usually pertains to EZE 38 and 39. I would appreciate if you can please shed some light into why the Bible describes the battle in Rev 20 with the same name of the battle in Ezekiel.
Q. There seems to be a huge move of the Spirit in the world with many souls coming to Christ. People in South America, Asia, Africa, Muslim nations etc. This doesn’t seem to be happening in the U.S. as it is in these nations. I have looked on the internet and found many of our well known religious leaders prophesying that in 2015 a great outpouring will take place here. At the same time their prophesying seems tainted with, that the U.S. will regain it’s prominence in the world and a new political freedom will emerge. That part of their prophesying doesn’t add up with the political climate that has emerged in the last 20 years or so. Do you have any wisdom on the future of the U.S. in light of what these people say they are hearing from God?
Our Time is Short
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