Daily Archives: June 13, 2019

June 13 Passing On Your Faith

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 1:3–7

Key Verse: 2 Timothy 1:5

When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

The world always keeps a keen eye on believers. So desperate to find something genuine and true, they will watch to see if our talk measures up to our lifestyle. Many times, their motives are just to confirm their growing suspicion that nothing true and genuine exists.

In passing along our faith, nothing is stronger than the way we live our lives. We can espouse all the Christian rhetoric we know, but if it does not match our actions, our true hearts are exposed.

Jesus gave everything He had before He left earth, including His life. While His primary purpose in coming to the world was to save it through His death and resurrection, He also longed to impart to us a solid faith. And to those whom He gave special attention in teaching them the ways of the heavenly Father, Jesus asked that they do the same to others. After His resurrection, He asked this of Peter: “Do you love Me?… Feed My sheep” (John 21:17).

Passing on our faith often consists of thoughtful encounters where we verbally express what God means to our lives. But people hear more through what we do than what we say. Living a life that reflects the true nature of our love for Christ is a way we can pass on our faith to the world around us.

Lord, bathe me in Your all-knowing presence so that my simple life may be a beacon to those who no longer believe in the light. Make my life serve as an example.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 172). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

June 13 Through Troubled Waters

Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:25–34

Key Verses: 1 Peter 5:6–7

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

You lose your job. Your spouse files for divorce. You discover that one of your children is on drugs. A loved one is diagnosed with cancer and given only six months to live. Such times are extremely disorienting. They strike with such intensity that emotions can be buried beneath a tide of fear and anxiety.

Yet these pillars of truth can help You endure and triumph:

God knows your problems. Your woes have not taken God by surprise. He is aware of every detail of your troubles: “Your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8 nasb). God cares about your problems.

God loves you without limit. As the Good Shepherd, He will protect and defend you: “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s” (2 Chron. 20:15 nasb). God is able to deal with your problems.

God has the power to handle your problems. Because He knows and cares, He will act according to His wisdom and will: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6–7 nasb).

Precious heavenly Father, I am so grateful that You understand my problems. They have not taken You by surprise. You have the power to handle all of my difficulties.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 172). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

BIG TECH’S CENSORSHIP: The LEFT’S Diabolical Plan to Silence Conservative Views

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

I believe that the Left relive the night that Trump won the presidency over and over – every single day.  It must drive them CRAZY!!!!   This has prompted the Giant Tech Social media companies to actually write algorithms which weed out Conservative thought from their sites.  They are not being discreet about this. It’s BLATANT CENSORSHIP and they are proud to be part of it.


I also believe that if Saul Alinsky of “Rules for Radicals” fame were alive today, he would have added a chapter titled “Get Conservative views BANNED by major Social Media outlets. Scrub them from the Internet!!”

And that is EXACTLY what is happening at this very moment.  Just yesterday “LiveAction.org” was suspended forever on Pinterest. At first Pinterest labled LiveAction as “Pornography!”  This is ludicrous – anyone who follows Lila Rose on LiveAction know…

View original post 2,020 more words

U.S. Identifies Iran as Responsible for Two Tanker Ship Attacks in Gulf of Oman Today… — The Last Refuge

In the early hours of this morning, two vessels transiting through the Strait of Hormuz towards the Indian Ocean were attacked by unknown entities causing hull breach explosions that rendered the vessels inoperable.  The sailors were evacuated.

The Norwegian owned “Front Altair” (cargo: 75,000 tonnes of naphtha), and the Japanese owned “Kokuka Courageous” (cargo: 25,000 tonnes of methanol) were struck in the Gulf of Oman; the same strategic sea lane where four oil vessels were sabotaged last month.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has identified Iran as the government responsible for the attacks.  [Press Conference Video]


No doubt Iran feels empowered to attack Western interests partly due to the support expressed by former Secretary of State Kerry and former President Obama.  Both have created an open window for Iran by undermining President Trump.

(Tweet Link)

(Via Daily Mail) […] The Altair had been loaded at a port in the Gulf with a petroleum product known as naphtha, and was on its way to the Far East.

The Altair’s cargo was worth more than $30million, according to estimates from trade sources.

Meanwhile, a shipping broker said the Kokuka, which flies under Panama’s flag, had suffered an explosion after an ‘outside attack’ which may have involved a magnetic mine.

The company operating the ship, which was heading to Singapore, said the attack had caused ‘damage to the ship’s hull starboard side.’

The Kokuka’s 21 crew were picked up by the nearby Vessel Coastal Ace, leaving the tanker adrift and empty after an engine room fire.

One of the crew members was slightly injured in the incident and received first aid on board the Coastal Ace, while the Kokuka’s methanol cargo is said to be intact. (read more)

The oil tanker attacks came as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) met Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran today

via U.S. Identifies Iran as Responsible for Two Tanker Ship Attacks in Gulf of Oman Today… — The Last Refuge

June 13 Learning to Forgive

Scripture reading: Mark 11:23–26

Key verse: Hebrews 13:5

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Satan delights in seeing you hurt not only once, but also in attempting to have you relive your hurt for days, weeks, months, even years afterward. Sometimes you may feel you’re on the road to recovery when the enemy attacks you on the same issue again.

One of his methods of churning your life and emotions is to convince you that someone “owes you.” Perhaps you were legitimately wronged. You’re hurting and don’t know what to do about it. And perhaps you’re certain the only way you’ll ever have true peace is for the person who hurt you to pay for what happened.

Many horrible sins leave people, even children, as helpless victims. Perhaps you are one of these victims, and perhaps your life seemingly has spiraled out of control ever since you were wronged. Perhaps you’re also consumed with blaming others.

Please remember that God has promised He will never leave or forsake you (Heb. 13:5), and His edicts from His judgment seat are absolutely perfect. You cannot control what happened in the past, but you can control your current responses and attitude.

Harboring blame or resentment promotes disharmony and bitterness. Worse, it harms your testimony and fellowship with God. So far as it depends on you, forgive and allow God to handle the rest.

Lord, I am tempted to harbor unforgiveness and bitterness. Teach me to forgive and allow You to handle all the rest.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 172). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Graham: Why aren’t Democrats outraged over Hillary hiring a foreign agent to dig up dirt? | Hot Air

Good question, and Lindsey Graham makes sure to frame it as a value applicable to all parties. “No party should be hiring foreign agents to look at their opponents,” Graham told reporters this morning, “and we shouldn’t be taking meetings” with them, either. For Democrats setting their hair on fire over Donald Trump’s comments this morning, the Senate Judiciary chair advises, they should first remember that Hillary Clinton and the DNC did exactly that in 2016 too. “I’m hoping that some of my Democratic colleagues will take more seriously,” Graham argued, “that Christopher Steele was a foreign agent paid for by the Democratic Party to gather dirt on Trump.”

I’m guessing that Graham will have to remind them of this. Often:

As I noted

Graham later extended his remarks on Twitter to make it clear that bad things happen when we invite foreign entities to clandestinely participate in our elections. Graham insisted that he has not changed his position at all on that question, and pointed back to his questioning of FBI director Christopher Wray on the matter during Wray’s confirmation hearing. Any campaign approached by a foreign entity with potential dirt should alert the FBI, especially given the heightened efforts to interfere with American elections:

Had both parties adhered to a domestic-only oppo-research policy, Graham argued, an American citizen wouldn’t have wound up being the target of a FISA surveillance warrant:

At his presser, CNN’s Manu Raju asked Graham if he’d push for a law to forbid engagement with foreign entities by campaigns. Graham laughs and says that he’s pretty sure one already exists, but “I’m willing to make it clear if we need to.” It looks like he’s doing just that.

Source: Graham: Why aren’t Democrats outraged over Hillary hiring a foreign agent to dig up dirt?

Here Are The Recession Warning Signs To Watch | ZeroHedge News

Authored by Jesse Colombo via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Last week, I wrote a detailed piece in which I explained that U.S. recession risk was rising quite rapidly and that the coming recession is likely to be far more severe than most economists expect because there are so many dangerous new bubbles inflating currently and because the global debt burden is much worse today than it was before the Great Recession. In the current piece, I will show more warning signs of the coming recession as well as discuss reliable recession indicators to keep an eye on as we get closer to the recession.

The first chart is of the New York Fed’s recession probability model, which is warning that there is a 27% probability of a U.S. recession in the next 12 months. The last time that recession odds were the same as they are now was in early-2007, which was shortly before the Great Recession officially started in December 2007. This recession indicator has underestimated the probability of recessions in the past several decades (it never rose higher that 42% in 2008, when we were already in a recession), so the probability of a U.S. recession in the next 12 months is likely even higher than 27%.

The New York Fed’s recession probability model is based on the 10-year and 3-month Treasury yield spread, which is the difference between 10-year and 3-month Treasury rates. In normal economic environments, the 10-year Treasury yield is higher than the 3-month Treasury yield. Right before a recession, however, this spread inverts as the 3-month Treasury yield actually becomes higher than the 10-year Treasury rate – this is known as an inverted yield curve. As the chart below shows, inverted yield curves have preceded all modern recessions. The 10-year and 3-month Treasury spread inverted in May, which started the recession countdown clock.

The Leading Economic Index (LEI), which is comprised of economic indicators that lead the overall economy, has been slowing down quite rapidly in recent months. When the year-over-year growth rate of this index drops into negative territory, recessions typically occur shortly after. While the current LEI slowdown hasn’t dipped into negative territory yet, anyone who is interested in monitoring the risk of a recession should keep an eye out for that scenario.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI), which is comprised of 85 indicators of national economic activity, has been contracting in recent months. Sharp contractions of the CFNAI’s 3-month moving average typically signal imminent recessions. The CFNAI’s contraction isn’t quite at recessionary levels just yet, but if it drops it -0.5 or even lower, that will provide further confirmation that a recession is imminent.

In May, the U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to its lowest level since September 2009:

South Korean exports, which are seen as a barometer for the health of the global economy, have been falling in recent months:

It’s not surprising that South Korea’s exports are falling as global trade plummets:

Major appliance shipments collapsed 17% in April, which is a recession warning sign:

One popular indicator that is used to monitor recession risk, the University of Michigan Consumer Expectations Index, shows no sign of an imminent recession – quite the opposite, actually. Just beware when it starts to drop very sharply like it did before the last several recessions.

U.S. building permits and housing starts are popular economic indicators that are used to monitor recession risk. Right now, they are not warning of an imminent recession, thankfully. But if building permits and housing starts weaken significantly in the near future, it will provide further confirmation that a recession is near.

One of the most basic recession indicators is the stock market itself. When the stock market experiences a bear market (a decline of 20% or more), that is typically a sign that the economy is rolling over into a recession. For now, the stock market is not warning of a recession, but beware that it can unravel very quickly due to how inflated it currently is.

Corporate earnings growth is another valuable recession indicator to watch. Corporate earnings growth drops significantly and turns negative when the economy rolls over into a recession. After growing at a nearly 20% annualized rate in 2017 and 2018, Q1 2019 earnings growth hit a wall, growing only 1.5%. If corporate earnings start to contract in the next few quarters, that would confirm that a recession is near.

As I have explained in the past, sub-4% unemployment is a sign that the economic cycle is quite mature and that a recession is not far off. The U.S. unemployment rate has been under 4% since early-2018. When the unemployment rate abruptly increases from such low levels, that is a tell-tale sign that a recession has started.

Though technically not a recession indicator, it is worth paying attention to the high-yield bond spread as a measure of how much stress there is in the credit market. The spread tends to increase leading up to and during recessions as investors jettison riskier high-yield bonds in favor of less risky Treasury bonds. Credit market stress is still low at the moment, but can change on a dime.

In the past year or so, Goldman Sachs’ Bear Market Risk Indicator has been has been at its highest level since the early-1970s:

The high probability of a recession and bear market in the next year or so is very concerning because of how inflated the U.S. stock market currently is. The Fed’s aggressive inflation of the U.S. stock market in the past decade caused stocks to rise at a faster rate than their underlying earnings, which means that the market is extremely overvalued right now. Whenever the market becomes extremely overvalued, it’s just a matter of time before the market falls to a more reasonable valuation again. As the chart below shows, the U.S. stock market is nearly as overvalued as it was in 1929, right before the stock market crash that led to the Great Depression.

Another indicator that supports the “higher volatility ahead” thesis is the 10-year/2-year Treasury spread. When this spread is inverted, it leads the Volatility Index by approximately three years. If this historic relationship is still valid, we should prepare for much higher volatility over the next few years. A volatility surge of the magnitude suggested by the 10-year/2-year Treasury spread would likely be the result of a recession and a bursting of the massive asset bubble created by the Fed in the past decade.

While several reliable indicators are giving recession warnings and are worth paying attention to, the U.S. economy is still in the early stages of slowing down and rolling over into a recession. Even if the recession begins in a year or two, that is still too close for comfort considering the tremendous risks that have built up globally during the past decade of extremely stimulative monetary policies. As I have explained in last week’s piece, bubbles are forming in global debtChinaHong KongSingaporeemerging marketsCanadaAustraliaNew ZealandEuropean real estatethe art marketU.S. stocksU.S. household wealthcorporate debtleveraged loansU.S. student loansU.S. auto loanstech startupsshale energyglobal skyscraper constructionU.S. commercial real estatethe U.S. restaurant industryU.S. healthcare, and U.S. housing once again. I believe that the coming recession is going burst those bubbles, which may cause a crisis that is even worse than the 2008 Global Financial Crisis was.

Source: Here Are The Recession Warning Signs To Watch

Trader Fears “Global Fail Of Epic Proportions” | ZeroHedge News

Authored by Sven Henrich via NorthmanTrader.com,

I can’t emphasize this point enough: The fact that central banks are about to embark on a new easing cycle, here and now, represents a global fail of epic proportions the magnitude of which has to be appreciated with hard cold data.

I’ve discussed some of this recently in Game Over, but the background data is so much more profound than that. Perhaps it’s no wonder that the Wall Street Journal in a column today implored Jay Powell to “project calm and stability“.

After all confidence must be maintained. And I got to tell you a lot of confidence is needed in light of the data.

Consider what has happened in the last 10 years that has gotten us to the point of a new easing cycle.

Let’s start with central banks themselves. They haven’t normalized their balance sheets, despite the Fed’s marginal balance sheet reduction since 2018 (about to end as it is). Central banks balance sheets  are still sitting at $19.4 trillion up from $6 trillion at the beginning of 2008:

These massive injections were originally undertaken as emergency measures to help save the global economy and help it set on a new growth path.

But fact is growth has stalled globally and the process started before trade wars began as leading indicators started turning in late 2017/early 2018 signaling a business cycle already pressing against its natural lifecycle:

Since 2008 global debt levels have exploded higher.

On the government level we can observe a 77% increase in debt over 2008:

On the corporate front an increase of over 50%, much of it coming from the US and China:

Consumers in comparison have increased debt by a much more modest 7% since 2008:

Of course the 2008 numbers represented over leveraging that resulted in the great deleveraging  following the great financial crisis. The message: Consumers have re-levered.

The net result: Over 240% debt to GDP on a global basis with no end in sight. This entire debt construct remains one that is entirely dependent on low rates. The good news, if you can call it that, then is more low rates are coming and negative rates in many countries will remain in place.

But what has all this debt expansion produced? Aside from historic wealth inequality expansion not much really.

The promised growth acceleration never happened:

The US had a debt to GDP ratio of 63% in 2008, it’s now at 105% and with increasing deficits north of $1 trillion it can ill afford a recession.

Fact is each cycle has produced less and less growth over the decades and it requires ever more debt to manufacture it. Make no mistake: Without this vast expansion in debt real GDP growth figures would be even less than shown on the chart.

So what has all this debt and central bank balance sheet expansion really produced? Massive asset inflation above the natural state of the economy, a classic measure of an asset bubble.

Consider: Household assets over GDP reached a new record high, higher than during the 2007 real estate bubble:

But it gets worse. After all central bank policies to punish cash and create the TINA (there is not alternative) effect, have produced the largest valuations in financial assets versus the underlying economy ever.

Household financial assets over GDP:

And NOW central banks are forced to cut rates again and embark on a new easing cycle with debt levels jammed to record highs and household financial asset levels at record highs?

Here? With rates still on the floor?

How is this supposed to produce more growth? How is this supposed to stop a business cycle turning?

Consider this: At the beginning of 2000 the Fed funds rate was at 6.5%, they then were forced to cut by 525 basis points. From the recession low of 2002 the Fed raised interest rates by 400 basis points before being forced to cut by 500 basis points to zero. In this cycle they barely managed to raise rates by 225 basis points before now being forced to cut again with rates still below 1993 rates:

Which also implies they only have 225 basis points to play with here unless they go to negative. Less than half of the ammunition they had during the last 2 recessions.

What these charts all say: Economic recovery growth has been slowing from cycle to cycle, but is requiring ever more debt to produce less growth. At the same time asset bubbles, as defined by valuations over the underlying size of the economy, have increased ever more. It’s frankly a terrifying picture.

I humbly suggest this is not a system that is sustainable without a major reset, especially if you consider another hard core reality, perhaps the most ignored and least understood. Demographics.

Working age population has been slowing big time, and continues to slow, in fact has just turned negative again:

With a shrinking in the growth of the labor force you can’t produce more growth. This slowing trend commenced 20 years go and shows no signs of ending. Indeed in 2018 the US experienced its lowest birth rate in 32 years. And I suspect a free fall in male fertility rates over the last 10 years is not helping.

These are profound realities and they are not going away even if we want to wish them away.

These are facts, hard, cold facts. So sure, central banks may embark on the next hurrah here with more intervention and blow asset bubbles even higher. But it won’t solve a thing. It’s pissing against the wind of structural realities. And that wind is gaining force and Jay Powell can pretend to project all the ‘calm and stability’ he wants. It doesn’t change the fact that the last 10 years represent a global fail of epic proportions.

And now here we are, faced with a global slowdown with recession risk increasing as the world is more in debt than ever, with central banks still on bloated balance sheets and low to negative rates.

But fear not, they have a solution: More of the same. And they are telling you.

Here’s the BOJ’s Kuroda and he is telling you exactly what his solution is:

The definition of insanity: Do the same thing over and over and expect different results. That’s the global fail of our time.

Source: Trader Fears “Global Fail Of Epic Proportions”

What Orwell’s ‘1984’ tells us about today’s world, 70 years after it was published | Christian Today

The techniques and technologies described in the novel are very much present in today\’s world.


Seventy years ago, Eric Blair, writing under a pseudonym George Orwell, published “1984,” now generally considered a classic of dystopian fiction.

The novel tells the story of Winston Smith, a hapless middle-aged bureaucrat who lives in Oceania, where he is governed by constant surveillance. Even though there are no laws, there is a police force, the “Thought Police,” and the constant reminders, on posters, that “Big Brother Is Watching You.”

Smith works at the Ministry of Truth, and his job is to rewrite the reports in newspapers of the past to conform with the present reality. Smith lives in a constant state of uncertainty; he is not sure the year is in fact 1984.

Although the official account is that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia, Smith is quite sure he remembers that just a few years ago they had been at war with Eastasia, who has now been proclaimed their constant and loyal ally. The society portrayed in “1984” is one in which social control is exercised through disinformation and surveillance.

As a scholar of television and screen culture, I argue that the techniques and technologies described in the novel are very much present in today’s world.

‘1984’ as history

One of the key technologies of surveillance in the novel is the “telescreen,” a device very much like our own television.

The telescreen displays a single channel of news, propaganda and wellness programming. It differs from our own television in two crucial respects: It is impossible to turn off and the screen also watches its viewers.

The telescreen is television and surveillance camera in one. In the novel, the character Smith is never sure if he is being actively monitored through the telescreen.

Orwell’s telescreen was based in the technologies of television pioneered prior to World War II and could hardly be seen as science fiction. In the 1930s Germany had a working videophone system in place, and television programs were already being broadcast in parts of the United States, Great Britain and France.

Past, present and future

The dominant reading of “1984” has been that it was a dire prediction of what could be. In the words of Italian essayist Umberto Eco, “at least three-quarters of what Orwell narrates is not negative utopia, but history.”

Additionally, scholars have also remarked how clearly “1984” describes the present.

In 1949, when the novel was written, Americans watched on average four and a half hours of television a day; in 2009, almost twice that. In 2017, television watching was slightly down, to eight hours, more time than we spent asleep.

In the U.S. the information transmitted over television screens came to constitute a dominant portion of people’s social and psychological lives.

‘1984’ as present day

In the year 1984, however, there was much self-congratulatory coverage in the U.S. that the dystopia of the novel had not been realized. But media studies scholar Mark Miller argued how the famous slogan from the book, “Big Brother Is Watching You” had been turned to “Big Brother is you, watching” television.

Miller argued that television in the United States teaches a different kind of conformity than that portrayed in the novel. In the novel, the telescreen is used to produce conformity to the Party. In Miller’s argument, television produces conformity to a system of rapacious consumption – through advertising as well as a focus on the rich and famous. It also promotes endless productivity, through messages regarding the meaning of success and the virtues of hard work.

Many viewers conform by measuring themselves against what they see on television, such as dress, relationships and conduct. In Miller’s words, television has “set the standard of habitual self-scrutiny.”

The kind of paranoid worry possessed by Smith in the novel – that any false move or false thought will bring the thought police – instead manifests in television viewers that Miller describes as an “inert watchfulness.” In other words, viewers watch themselves to make sure they conform to those others they see on the screen.

This inert watchfulness can exist because television allows viewers to watch strangers without being seen. Scholar Joshua Meyrowitz has shown that the kinds of programming which dominate U.S television – news, sitcoms, dramas – have normalized looking into the private lives of others.

Controlling behavior

Alongside the steady rise of “reality TV,” beginning in the ’60s with “Candid Camera,” “An American Family,” “Real People,” “Cops” and “The Real World,” television has also contributed to the acceptance of a kind of video surveillance.

For example, it might seem just clever marketing that one of the longest-running and most popular reality television shows in the world is entitled “Big Brother.” The show’s nod to the novel invokes the kind of benevolent surveillance that “Big Brother” was meant to signify: “We are watching you and we will take care of you.”

But Big Brother, as a reality show, is also an experiment in controlling and modifying behavior. By asking participants to put their private lives on display, shows such as “Big Brother” encourage self-scrutiny and behaving according to perceived social norms or roles that challenge those perceived norms.

The stress of performing 24/7 on “Big Brother” has led the show to employ a team of psychologists.

Television scholar Anna McCarthy and others have shown that the origins of reality television can be traced back to social psychology and behavioral experiments in the aftermath of World War II, which were designed to better control people.

Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, for example, was influenced by “Candid Camera.”

In the “Candid Camera” show, cameras were concealed in places where they could film people in unusual situations. Milgram was fascinated with “Candid Camera,” and he used a similar model for his experiments – his participants were not aware that they were being watched or that it was part of an experiment.

Like many others in the aftermath of World War II, Milgram was interested in what could compel large numbers of people to “follow orders” and participate in genocidal acts. His “obedience experiments” found that a high proportion of participants obeyed instructions from an established authority figure to harm another person, even if reluctantly.

While contemporary reality TV shows do not order participants to directly harm each other, they are often set up as a small-scale social experiment that often involves intense competition or even cruelty.

Surveillance in daily life

And, just like in the novel, ubiquitous video surveillance is already here.

Closed-circuit television exist in virtually every area of American life, from transportation hubs and networks, to schools, supermarkets, hospitals and public sidewalks, not to mention law enforcement officers and their vehicles.

Surveillance footage from these cameras is repurposed as the raw material of television, mostly in the news but also in shows like “America’s Most Wanted,” “Right This Minute” and others. Many viewers unquestioningly accept this practice as legitimate.

The friendly face of surveillance

Reality television is the friendly face of surveillance. It helps viewers think that surveillance happens only to those who choose it or to those who are criminals. In fact, it is part of a culture of widespread television use, which has brought about what Norwegian criminologist Thomas Mathiesen called the “viewer society” – in which the many watch the few.

For Mathiesen, the viewer society is merely the other side of the surveillance society – described so aptly in Orwell’s novel – where a few watch the many.

Stephen Groening is Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies, University of Washington. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Source: What Orwell’s ‘1984’ tells us about today’s world, 70 years after it was published

It Only Costs Google $20 Million A Year To Control The U.S. Government | ZeroHedge News

Google has fired six of its largest lobbying firms in an attempt to overhaul its global government affairs and policy operations amid greater government scrutiny of its business, according to the Wall Street Journal. Over the last few months, the company has changed its roster of lobbying firms, as well as its Washington policy team, and lost two senior officials who helped build its “influence operation” into one of the largest in the nation’s capital. The company had been paying about $20 million annually for lobbying, and the firms that Google has now let go made up about half of that cost.

The shake up is part of a “continuing modernization” of Google’s influence operation and it comes at a time when government scrutiny has never been more of a factor. The Justice Department is reportedly getting ready to conduct an antitrust investigation into the company and Congress and state attorneys general are also reviewing its practices. Some politicians are even calling for the company to be broken up.

And so Google is taking the paltry $20 million per year that it has been using to control the government and trying to reallocate it. Among those who are no longer working for the company are “Charlie Black, a longtime Republican strategist, and firms that have relationships with senior Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Off Hill Strategies LLC, which has ties to fiscally conservative Republicans.”

People familiar with the restructuring say that it helps reflect the company’s global reach and will help it deal with regulators and lawmakers across regions and markets. The moves are also seen as a shake up by Google’s new head of policy and government relations, Karan Bhatia.

Bhatia was brought in last summer to serve as Google’s VP of Policy and Government Relations and, since then, he’s been reassessing the company’s lobbying needs. Susan Molinari, a former Republican congresswoman, stepped down as Google’s head of Washington operations last year and the company has yet to name a successor.

Another executive leaving Google during the shake up is Adam Kovacevich, who ran the firm’s public-policy division. He led the company’s campaign to head off a 2012 FTC investigation into anti-competitive tactics and also helped launch several advocacy groups to help promote public policy matters that benefited the company.

In 2006, Google was spending about $800,000 on lobbying and had four firms on retainer. By 2018, the company had 100 lobbyists across 30 firms and spent $21.7 million to lobby Washington. This sum made it the largest spender on lobbying among US corporations, despite the relatively small dollar amount for the massive tech giant.

The company also spends millions on donations to think tanks, political entities, universities and other third-party groups that generate data and host conferences that help Google shape the debate into its business practices.

Meanwhile, Google employees helped the company become one of the largest sources of donations to the Democratic Party and candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In the 2018 elections, Google’s employee funded PAC donated $1.9 million to political candidates in both parties. Employees of the company donated a total of $1.6 million to Clinton’s 2016 campaign and after Obama took office in 2012, Google and its lobbying team “scored a string of victories” in Washington, like fending off the FTC from an anti-trust case.

Google also won favorable net neutrality rulings from the FCC and secured favorable legislation on self driving vehicles.

But over the last few years the company has continued to hit headwinds from both sides of the aisle while its public image has taken a beating over privacy concerns and critics claiming that it fails to police content.

The new lobbying structure has regional leaders in the US, Canada, Asia, the Pacific, Europe and countries that the company views as emerging markets. It also includes teams that will continue to lobby governments in areas like privacy and handling controversial content.

Source: It Only Costs Google $20 Million A Year To Control The U.S. Government

DOJ Investigating CIA Role In Russiagate | Zero Hedge

Brennan’s kakistocracy under fire… 

The Department of Justice will interview senior CIA personnel as part of a sweeping investigation into the origins of ‘Russiagate,’ according to the New York Timesciting anonymous sources briefed on the matter. 

The interview plans are the latest sign the Justice Department will take a critical look at the C.I.A.’s work on Russia’s election interference. Investigators want to talk with at least one senior counterintelligence official and a senior C.I.A. analyst, the people said. Both officials were involved in the agency’s work on understanding the Russian campaign to sabotage the election in 2016. –New York Times

The Times notes that while the DOJ probe is not a criminal inquiry, CIA employees are nervous, according to former officials, while senior agency officials have questioned why the CIA’s analytical work should be within the purview of John H. Durham – the US Attorney for Connecticut appointed by Attorney General William Barr to oversee the review. 

Justice Department officials have given only broad clues about the review but did note that it is focused on the period leading up to the 2016 vote. Mr. Barr has been interested in how the C.I.A. drew its conclusions about Russia’s election sabotage, particularly the judgment that Mr. Putin ordered that operatives help Mr. Trump by discrediting his opponent, Hillary Clinton, according to current and former American officials. 

Mr. Barr wants to know more about the C.I.A. sources who helped inform its understanding of the details of the Russian interference campaign, an official has said. He also wants to better understand the intelligence that flowed from the C.I.A. to the F.B.I. in the summer of 2016. –New York Times

And why should the CIA be nervous? Fox News commentator Monica Crowley laid it out in an April Op-Ed in the Washington Times

The Obama Department of Justice and FBI targeting of two low-level Trump aides, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, was carried out in the spring of 2016 because they wanted to spy on the Trump campaign but needed a way in. They enlisted an American academic and shadowy FBI informant named Stefan Halper to repeatedly sidle up to both Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Page. But complementing his work for the FBI, Mr. Halper had a side gig as an intelligence operative with longstanding ties to the CIA and British intelligence MI6.

Another foreign professor, Joseph Mifsud, who played an important early part in targeting Papadopoulos, also had abiding ties to the CIA, MI6 and the British foreign secretary.

A third operative, Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, targeted Mr. Papadopoulos in a London bar. It was Mr. Downer’s “tip” to the FBI that provided the justification for the start of Russia counterintelligence investigation, complete with fraudulently-obtained FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.

All of these interactions reek of entrapment. Mr. Papadopoulos now says, “I believe Australian and UK intelligence were involved in an active operation to target Trump and his associates.” Like Mr. Halper and Mr. Mifsud, Mr. Downer had ties to the CIA, MI6 and (surprise!) the Clintons.

Given the deep intelligence backgrounds of these folks, it’s difficult to believe that former DOJ/FBI officials such as Peter Strzok or even James Comey and Andrew McCabe on their own devised the plan to deploy them.


It should also be noted that Papadopoulos has suggested Stefan Halper’s fake assistant ‘Azra Turk’ is CIA, not FBI as widely reported, and that what happened to him “was clearly a CIA operation.

Watch the latest video at foxnews.com

According to the Times, CIA director Gina Haspel has told senior officials that the agency will cooperate – up to a pointas “critical pieces of intelligence whose disclosure could jeopardize sources, reveal collection methods or disclose information provided by allies” will not be shared. 

Interestingly, Haspel was the CIA’s station chief in London during the Russiagate investigation – where the majority of the espionage against the Trump campaign aides took place

The Justice Department has not submitted formal written requests to talk to the C.I.A. officers, but law enforcement officials have told intelligence officials that Mr. Durham will seek the interviews, two of the people said. Communications officers for both the C.I.A. and the Justice Department declined to comment.

One of the CIA officers Durham wants to question works at the agency’s counterintelligence mission center – one potential conduit between the CIA and the FBI through which the agencies might have passed information during the Trump-Russia investigation. Another senior analyst Durham wants to talk to was involved in the CIA’s assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

The ties between the efforts by the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. to examine Russia’s election interference are broader. In the summer of 2016, the intelligence community formed a task force housed at the C.I.A. to investigate Russian interference. The group shared intelligence with F.B.I. investigators who opened the bureau’s Russia inquiry in an effort to determine whether any Americans were working with the Russians on their interference during the election. –New York Times

Of note – the CIA focuses on foreign intelligence and is not supposed to investigate Americans. Instead, the agency is required to pass domestic issues which arise during investigations to the FBI. 
— Read on www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-06-13/doj-investigating-cia-role-russiagate

The Polluted Church — The Thirsty Theologian

While you’re looking for that perfect church, consider Calvin’s commentary on the opening verses of 1st Corinthians:

To the Church of God which is at Corinth. It may perhaps appear strange that he should give the name of a Church of God to a multitude of persons that were infested with so many distempers, that Satan might be said to reign among them rather than God. Certain it is, that he did not mean to flatter the Corinthians, for he speaks under the direction of the Spirit of God, who is not accustomed to flatter. But among so many pollutions, what appearance of a Church is any longer presented? I answer, the Lord having said to him, “Fear not: I have much people in this place” (Acts xviii. 9, 10;) keeping this promise in mind, he conferred upon a godly few so much honour as to recognize them as a Church amidst a vast multitude of ungodly persons. Farther, notwithstanding that many vices had crept in, and various corruptions both of doctrine and manners, there were, nevertheless, certain tokens still remaining of a true Church. This is a passage that ought to be carefully observed, that we may not require that the Church, while in this world, should be free from every wrinkle and stain, or forthwith pronounce unworthy of such a title every society in which everything is not as we would wish it. For it is a dangerous temptation to think that there is no Church at all where perfect purity is not to be seen. For the man that is prepossessed with this notion, must necessarily in the end withdraw from all others, and look upon himself as the only saint in the world, or set up a peculiar sect in company with a few hypocrites.

What ground, then, had Paul for recognizing a Church at Corinth? It was this: that he saw among them the doctrine of the gospel, baptism, the Lord’s Supper—tokens by which a Church ought to be judged of. For although some had begun to have doubts as to the resurrection, the error not having spread over the entire body, the name of the Church and its reality are not thereby affected. Some faults had crept in among them in the administration of the Supper, discipline and propriety of conduct had very much declined: despising the simplicity of the gospel, they had given themselves up to show and pomp; and in consequence of the ambition of their ministers, they were split into various parties. Notwithstanding of this, however, inasmuch as they retained fundamental doctrine: as the one God was adored among them, and was invoked in the name of Christ: as they placed their dependence for salvation upon Christ, and, had a ministry not altogether corrupted: there was, on these accounts, a Church still existing among them. Accordingly, wherever the worship of God is preserved uninfringed, and that fundamental doctrine, of which I have spoken, remains, we must without hesitation conclude that in that case a Church exists.

Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Baker Books, 2009), 1:50–52.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t have hold our churches to biblical standards, but that we must not write them off as false churches simply because they contain impurities.

via The Polluted Church — The Thirsty Theologian

Annual Global Index Rates U.S. 128th Most Peaceful Nation on Earth — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Annual global index rates the U.S. the 128th most peaceful nation on Earth, with Iceland in first place, and Afghanistan in last. (Institute of Economics & Peace) more >

The world has gotten a little more peaceful, according to the 13th annual Global Peace Index, a complex study that ranks 163 nations on factors such as homicide and incarceration rates, the presence of small arms, military expenditures, ongoing conflicts, terrorism, the overall economic impact of violence and even climate change.

“The average level of global peacefulness improved for the first time in five years,” the index said, noting that Iceland is the most peaceful nation, a spot it has held for 11 years.

New Zealand is in second place, followed by Portugal, Austria, Denmark, Canada, Singapore, Slovenia, Japan and the Czech Republic, to round out the top 10.

The U.S. is ranked 128th on the peace list, down four places from last year. Among Western allies, Australia is 13th, Germany 22nd, Britain 45th and France 60th. In Central America, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were rated 114, 113 and 123, respectively.

At the other end of the spectrum, Afghanistan ranks as the world’s least peaceful nation — with Syria as runner-up, followed by South Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Central African Republic, Libya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Russia.

The report was compiled by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace, an independent, nonprofit think tank.

“Our most striking finding is that in the problem spots of the world, there are a number of places where the situation is improving and getting better,” Steve Killelea, the index’s founder and executive chairman, said in an interview.

“If we don’t start any new wars, we are probably going to see global peace improve in 2019,” Mr. Killelea said, noting that these improvements “leave some level of optimism.”

Click here to read more.
Source: Washington Times

via Annual Global Index Rates U.S. 128th Most Peaceful Nation on Earth — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Progressive’s Bigotry: Tyranny Masquerading as Tolerance — Christian Research Network

A headline on the left-wing internet site Salon.com describes the conflict in these distorted and inflammatory terms: “Progressives fight back on the Christian right’s grotesque ‘religious freedom’ power play.” Salon describes the new HHS rule as “a sweeping assault on civil rights” and an effort to advance the religious right’s “discriminatory agenda.”

(David Horowitz – PJ Media)  To anyone focused on real-world events and relationships, America is obviously the most tolerant and inclusive society that has ever existed. If you are looking for irrefutable evidence, watch an hour of TV commercials created by major U.S. companies….

Racially integrated couples, gay couples and families, multi-racial professionals and creators are featured on virtually every one. This would hardly be the case if anti-Black and anti-gay sentiments were perceived by corporate advertisers to pose a significant threat to their sales. The same is true of television programming generally, where series featuring little people, obese people, and every mix of gay couples, non-white and non-straight TV hosts and commentators, are ubiquitous all day long. Yet the political left and the Democratic Party still refuse to take yes for an answer and prefer instead to focus on fringe and marginalized bigots who come in all colors, genders and sexual orientations, and will be with us to the end of time.

In fact, through a perverse but also inevitable twist to identity politics, the most aggressively bigoted and hate-filled censors seeking to suppress and marginalize individuals whom they regard as “other” are the very movements organized as advocates for “victim” minorities. The haters include white supremacist fringe movements who think that through attacks on Jews and blacks they are actually defending whites (who are indeed targeted by so-called social justice warriors. But the most prominent and far more numerous hate groups are the social justice warriors themselves — Black Lives Matter, the misnamed Human Rights Campaign and the equally misnamed Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), an organization that is well-practiced in the art of defamation against what it refers to as “oppressor” groups.  View article →


LGBTQ Agenda

Title changed by CRN. On the site: LGBTQ Bigotry: Tyranny Masquerading As Tolerance

via Progressive’s Bigotry: Tyranny Masquerading as Tolerance — Christian Research Network

President Trump Uses Mark Warner and Adam Schiff Examples to Highlight Foreign Contacts…. — The Last Refuge

Earlier today President Trump hit back against a ridiculous media and political narrative that in a series of tweets:

The example of Mark Warner is particularly poignant. In 2017 Senator Mark Warner was texting with lawyer/lobbyist Adam Waldman about setting up a covert meeting with British intelligence operative and dossier author Chris Steele.  Waldman is a lobbyist/lawyer with a $40,000 monthly retainer to represent the U.S. interests of Russian billionaire Oleg V. Deripaska.

Additionally, in 2018 the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, was demanding the FBI and DOJ keep records from congress.

(Source Link)

According to Mark Warner, it would be “irresponsible” and “potentially illegal” for congressional oversight to keep demanding records from the FBI and DOJ about their spying and surveillance activity against the campaign of Donald Trump… wait, what?

Hmm?… Methinks Senator Mark Warner has a conflict here.

You see, when Dianne Feinstein stepped down as Vice-Chair from the Senate Intel Committee after the 2016 election, it was Mark Warner who took her place.  This puts Warner on the Gang-of-Eight in January 2017.

Coincidentally, the Gang-of-Eight conduct all oversight over DOJ and FBI covert and counterintelligence operations…. including those covert actions that took place in 2015 and 2016.   But wait, it gets better….

Senator Mark Warner was also the guy caught text messaging with DC Lawyer Adam Waldman in the spring of 2017 (his first assignment).   Waldman was the lawyer for the interests of Christopher Steele – the author of the dossier.

While he was working as an intermediary putting Senator Warner and Christopher Steele in contact with each-other.  Simultaneously Adam Waldman was also representing the interests of… wait for it,…. Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

Derispaska was the Russian person approached by Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok and asked to assist in creating dirt on the Trump campaign, via Paul Manafort.

You see, Senator Mark Warner has a vested interest in making sure that no-one ever gets to the bottom of the 2016 political weaponization, spying and surveillance operation.

Senator Mark Warner was a participant in the execution of the “insurance policy” trying to remove President Trump via the Russian Collusion narrative.

Senator Feinstein’s 2016 senior staffer (with Gang-of-Eight security clearance) was Dan Jones.  It was revealed that Dan Jones contracted with Christopher Steele to continue work on the Russia conspiracy narrative after the 2016 election, and raised over $50 million toward the ideological goals of removing President Trump. {See Here}

Staffer Dan Jones surfaces in the text messages from Feinstein’s replacement on the Gang-of-Eight, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, Mark Warner {See Here}

Senator Warner was texting with Adam Waldman about setting up a meeting with Chris Steele.  Waldman is a lobbyist/lawyer with a $40,000 monthly retainer to represent the U.S. interests of Russian billionaire Oleg V. Deripaska.

Senator Mark Warner was trying to set up a covert meeting.  In the text messages Adam Waldman is telling Senator Warner that Chris Steele will not meet with him without a written letter (request) from the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Senator Warner didn’t want the Republican members to know about the meeting.  Chris Steele knew this was a partisan political set-up and was refusing to meet unilaterally with Senator Warner.   His lawyer Adam Waldman was playing the go-between:

That “Dan Jones”, mentioned above, talking with Chris Steele and told to go to see Senator Warner, is the former senate staffer Dan Jones, who was previously attached to Dianne Feinstein.

Simultaneously, while working to connect Senator Warner to Christopher Steele, Adam Waldman is representing Oleg Deripaska:

(Source Link) 

Oleg Deripaska was a source of intelligence information within the John Brennan intelligence community efforts throughout 2016. This is the same intersection of  characters that circle around Stefan Halper.

John Solomon – […] Deripaska also appears to be one of the first Russians the FBI asked for help when it began investigating the now-infamous Fusion GPS “Steele Dossier.” Waldman, his American lawyer until the sanctions hit, gave me a detailed account, some of which U.S. officials confirmseparately.

Two months before Trump was elected president, Deripaska was in New York as part of Russia’s United Nations delegation when three FBI agents awakened him in his home; at least one agent had worked with Deripaska on the aborted effort to rescue Levinson. During an hour-long visit, the agents posited a theory that Trump’s campaign was secretly colluding with Russia to hijack the U.S. election. (more)

Several SSCI senators including Kamala Harris, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, and especially Mark Warner, made outlandishly false statements about the DOJ and FBI activity surrounding the Russia investigation during the time-frame when no-one even knew the SSCI had custody of -and reviewed- the Carter Page FISA application.

It is demonstrably true those committee senators were making false statements throughout 2017 into 2018 and they continue today; only no-one knows how purposefully false they are because no-one has yet to point out the SSCI had the FISA application used against Carter Page since March 17th, 2017.   It was a secret kept easily hidden by the nature of the classification.

Even through today, there’s never been a single MSM article written about the Senate having the Carter Page FISA application in 2017; and/or not a single confrontational question to any of the committee members about their statements.

Think about it.

#1) The DOJ and FBI have never officially said, or made a statement about, the FISA Court having sent a copy of the FISA application against Carter Page to the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 17, 2017.   That knowledge has come from our independent research and review of the released parts of the FISA application.

#2) The DOJ and FBI have never said, or made any statement toward, the FISC application being leaked by the Senate Intelligence Committee on March 17, 2017, by SSCI director of security James Wolfe.  That knowledge has come from our independent research and review of the: (a) Wolfe indictment; and (b) the released FISA application.

#3) The DOJ never indicted SSCI Security Director James Wolfe with leaking the FISA application.  Nor did the FBI or DOJ technically ever state within the indictment that Wolfe received, let alone leaked, the FISA application.

Within the Wolfe Indictment, the FBI did describe with some detail the type of document sent to the SSCI and the date therein (March 17, 2017).  It was later, when the FISA application was released (July, 2018), when we could compare the description within the indictment, align dates and pages with the FISA documents, and put those issues together.

via President Trump Uses Mark Warner and Adam Schiff Examples to Highlight Foreign Contacts…. — The Last Refuge

June 13, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

14. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Ahaz had already refused the sign which the Lord offered to him, when the Prophet remonstrated against his rebellion and ingratitude; yet the Prophet declares that this will not prevent God from giving the sign which he had promised and appointed for the Jews. But what sign?

Behold, a virgin shall conceive. This passage is obscure; but the blame lies partly on the Jews, who, by much cavilling, have laboured, as far as lay in their power, to pervert the true exposition. They are hard pressed by this passage; for it contains an illustrious prediction concerning the Messiah, who is here called Immanuel; and therefore they have laboured, by all possible means, to torture the Prophet’s meaning to another sense. Some allege that the person here mentioned is Hezekiah; and others, that it is the son of Isaiah.

Those who apply this passage to Hezekiah are excessively impudent; for he must have been a full-grown man when Jerusalem was besieged. Thus they show that they are grossly ignorant of history. But it is a just reward of their malice, that God hath blinded them in such a manner as to be deprived of all judgment. This happens in the present day to the papists, who often expose themselves to ridicule by their mad eagerness to pervert the Scriptures.

As to those who think that it was Isaiah’s son, it is an utterly frivolous conjecture; for we do not read that a deliverer would be raised up from the seed of Isaiah, who should be called Immanuel; for this title is far too illustrious to admit of being applied to any man.

Others think, or, at least, (being unwilling to contend with the Jews more than was necessary,) admit that the Prophet spoke of some child who was born at that time, by whom, as by an obscure picture, Christ was foreshadowed. But they produce no strong arguments, and do not show who that child was, or bring forward any proofs. Now, it is certain, as we have already said, that this name Immanuel could not be literally applied to a mere man; and, therefore, there can be no doubt that the Prophet referred to Christ.

But all writers, both Greek and Latin, are too much at their ease in handling this passage; for, as if there were no difficulty in it, they merely assert that Christ is here promised from the Virgin Mary. Now, there is no small difficulty in the objection which the Jews bring against us, that Christ is here mentioned without any sufficient reason; for thus they argue, and demand that the scope of the passage be examined: “Jerusalem was besieged. The Prophet was about to give them a sign of deliverance. Why should he promise the Messiah, who was to be born five hundred years afterwards?” By this argument they think that they have gained the victory, because the promise concerning Christ had nothing to do with assuring Ahaz of the deliverance of Jerusalem. And then they boast as if they had gained the day, chiefly because scarcely any one replies to them. That is the reason why I said that commentators have been too much at their ease in this matter; for it is of no small importance to show why the Redeemer is here mentioned.

Now, the matter stands thus. King Ahaz having rejected the sign which God had offered to him, the Prophet reminds him of the foundation of the covenant, which even the ungodly did not venture openly to reject. The Messiah must be born; and this was expected by all, because the salvation of the whole nation depended on it. The Prophet, therefore, after having expressed his indignation against the king, again argues in this manner: “By rejecting the promise, thou wouldest endeavour to overturn the decree of God; but it shall remain inviolable, and thy treachery and ingratitude will not hinder God from being continually the Deliverer of his people; for he will at length raise up his Messiah.”

To make these things more plain, we must attend to the custom of the Prophets, who, in establishing special promises, lay down this as the foundation, that God will send a Redeemer. On this general foundation God everywhere builds all the special promises which he makes to his people; and certainly every one who expects aid and assistance from him must be convinced of his fatherly love. And how could he be reconciled to us but through Christ, in whom he has freely adopted the elect, and continues to pardon them to the end? Hence comes that saying of Paul, that all the promises of God in Christ are Yea and Amen. (2 Cor. 1:20.) Whenever, therefore, God assisted his ancient people, he at the same time reconciled them to himself through Christ; and accordingly, whenever famine, pestilence, and war are mentioned, in order to hold out a hope of deliverance, he places the Messiah before their eyes. This being exceedingly clear, the Jews have no right to make a noise, as if the Prophet made an unseasonable transition to a very remote subject. For on what did the deliverance of Jerusalem depend, but on the manifestation of Christ? This was, indeed, the only foundation on which the salvation of the Church always rested.

Most appropriately, therefore, did Isaiah say, “True, thou dost not believe the promises of God, but yet God will fulfil them; for he will at length send his Christ, for whose sake he determines to preserve this city. Though thou art unworthy, yet God will have regard to his own honour.” King Ahaz is therefore deprived of that sign which he formerly rejected, and loses the benefit of which he proved himself to be unworthy; but still God’s inviolable promise is still held out to him. This is plainly enough intimated by the particle לכן, (lāchēn,) therefore; that is, because thou disdainest that particular sign which God offered to thee, הוא, (,) He, that is, God himself, who was so gracious as to offer it freely to thee, he whom thou weariest will not fail to hold out a sign. When I say that the coming of Christ is promised to Ahaz, I do not mean that God includes him among the chosen people, to whom he had appointed his Son to be the Author of salvation; but because the discourse is directed to the whole body of the people.

Will give you a sign. The word לכם, (lāchĕm,) to you, is interpreted by some as meaning to your children; but this is forced. So far as relates to the persons addressed, the Prophet leaves the wicked king and looks to the nation, so far as it had been adopted by God. He will therefore give, not to thee a wicked king, and to those who are like thee, but to you whom he has adopted; for the covenant which he made with Abraham continues to be firm and inviolable. And the Lord always has some remnant to whom the advantage of the covenant belongs; though the rulers and governors of his people may be hypocrites.

Behold, a virgin shall conceive. The word Behold is used emphatically, to denote the greatness of the event; for this is the manner in which the Spirit usually speaks of great and remarkable events, in order to elevate the minds of men. The Prophet, therefore, enjoins his hearers to be attentive, and to consider this extraordinary work of God; as if he had said, “Be not slothful, but consider this singular grace of God, which ought of itself to have drawn your attention, but is concealed from you on account of your stupidity.”

Although the word עלמה, (gnălmāh,) a virgin, is derived from עלם, (gnālăm,) which signifies to hide, because the shame and modesty of virgins does not allow them to appear in public; yet as the Jews dispute much about that word, and assert that it does not signify virgin, because Solomon used it to denote a young woman who was betrothed, it is unnecessary to contend about the word. Though we should admit what they say, that עלמה (gnălmāh) sometimes denotes a young woman, and that the name refers, as they would have it, to the age, (yet it is frequently used in Scripture when the subject relates to a virgin,) the nature of the case sufficiently refutes all their slanders. For what wonderful thing did the Prophet say, if he spoke of a young woman who conceived through intercourse with a man? It would certainly have been absurd to hold out this as a sign or a miracle. Let us suppose that it denotes a young woman who should become pregnant in the ordinary course of nature; everybody sees that it would have been silly and contemptible for the Prophet, after having said that he was about to speak of something strange and uncommon, to add, A young woman shall conceive. It is, therefore, plain enough that he speaks of a virgin who should conceive, not by the ordinary course of nature, but by the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit. And this is the mystery which Paul extolls in lofty terms, that God was manifested in the flesh. (1 Tim. 3:16.)

And shall call. The Hebrew verb is in the feminine gender, She shall call; for as to those who read it in the masculine gender, I know not on what they found their opinion. The copies which we use certainly do not differ. If you apply it to the mother, it certainly expresses something different from the ordinary custom. We know that to the father is always assigned the right of giving a name to a child; for it is a sign of the power and authority of fathers over children; and the same authority does not belong to women. But here it is conveyed to the mother; and therefore it follows that he is conceived by the mother in such a manner as not to have a father on earth; otherwise the Prophet would pervert the ordinary custom of Scripture, which ascribes this office to men only. Yet it ought to be observed that the name was not given to Christ at the suggestion of his mother, and in such a case it would have had no weight; but the Prophet means that, in publishing the name, the virgin will occupy the place of a herald, because there will be no earthly father to perform that office.

Immanuel. This name was unquestionably bestowed on Christ on account of the actual fact; for the only-begotten Son of God clothed himself with our flesh, and united himself to us by partaking of our nature. He is, therefore, called God with us, or united to us; which cannot apply to a man who is not God. The Jews in their sophistry tell us that this name was given to Hezekiah; because by the hand of Hezekiah God delivered his people; and they add, “He who is the servant of God represents his person.” But neither Moses nor Joshua, who were deliverers of the nation, were so denominated; and therefore this Immanuel is preferred to Moses and Joshua, and all the others; for by this name he excels all that ever were before, and all that shall come after him; and it is a title expressive of some extraordinary excellence and authority which he possesses above others. It is therefore evident that it denotes not only the power of God, such as he usually displays by his servant, but a union of person, by which Christ became God-man. Hence it is also evident that Isaiah here relates no common event, but points out that unparalleled mystery which the Jews labour in vain to conceal.[1]

14 If Ahaz will not ask for a sign, God in his sovereignty will give one in any case. It is impossible to ascertain whether this is the sign God intended to give had Ahaz asked, or whether it is especially given in view of Ahaz’s refusal to ask. At any rate, it is the one he receives. As noted above, it confirms Isaiah’s earlier promise (vv. 4–9), but it also confirms the foolishness of not trusting that promise. That the positive side would have applied had Ahaz received the sign in faith lends some weight to the idea that this was the intended sign. Had Ahaz received it in faith, Immanuel would have appeared solely as the vindication of the house of David. As it was, he was to appear as a shame to the house of David: they had not believed, and so received the just result of that unbelief. Nevertheless, God, in faithfulness to his own promise, would raise up from the wreckage a true Son of David.

a maiden shall conceive. It is not possible to be dogmatic as to why Isaiah used the ambiguous ʿalmâ here instead of the unambiguous beṯûlâ. Nor is it clear what meaning should be assigned to ʿalmâ. Typically, the meaning given is “a young woman of marriageable age,” with the clear implication that the conception is a natural one. However, conservative scholars have frequently pointed out that the word is never used of a married woman in the OT.21 So they have argued that the word denotes a sexually mature, but unmarried, young woman. It would be axiomatic in Hebrew society that such a woman would be a virgin. While the viginity would not be the main focus, as with beṯûlâ, nonetheless it would still follow. The English “maiden” comes very close to having the same denotations and connotations. Such an understanding has the significant virtue of explaining the origin of the LXX parthénos, “virgin,” something those commentators opting for “a young woman of marriageable age” do not mention. Unless ʿalmâ had overtones of virginity about it, the LXX translation is inexplicable.

But if Isaiah wished to stress the virginity of the mother here, why did he not use beṯûlâ? Young, noting that beṯûlâ is frequently accompanied by some such statement as “she had not known a man,” argues that it was the ambiguous term. However, this is manifestly not so, for beṯûlâ has no implication in addition to virginity, whereas ʿalmâ does. The conclusion to which we are driven is that while the prophet did not want to stress the virginity, neither did he wish to leave it aside (as he could have done by using ʾišŝa or some other term for “woman”). In fact, he may have used this term precisely because of its richness and diversity. The Ugaritic cognate (ǵlmt) is used with reference to a goddess who was understood to be a perpetual virgin. Without conceding that Isaiah has merely adapted a myth,24 one may still think that he adapted well-known linguistic forms which would make it plain that whatever might occur along the way, the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy would be no ordinary event.

Possibly, then, it is the dual focus of the oracle that explains the use of ʿalmâ here. In the short term, the virgin conception does not seem to have had primary importance. Rather, the significance is that a child conceived at that moment would still be immature when the two threatening nations would have been destroyed (vv. 16, 22). Had Isaiah used beṯûlâ here, Ahaz would probably have been so caught up with that thought that he would have missed the specific linkage to his own time.

On the other hand, the very two-sidedness of the sign in Ahaz’s time demanded something more. Yes, the disappearance of Syria and Ephraim could be seen as evidence that God was with them. But what of Assyria, foolishly trusted and soon to turn on its hapless client? Was God still with them in that? And suppose even greater powers than Assyria strode onto the world’s stage, what then? If we can believe that the transcendent One is really immanent, and the immanent One truly transcendent, then there is reason to live courageously and unselfishly. But no child born to a young woman in Ahaz’s day is proof of God’s presence in all times. But if a virgin overshadowed by God’s Spirit should conceive and give birth, it would not only be a sign of God’s presence with us. Better than that, it would be the reality of that experience. So Ahaz’s sign must be rooted in its own time to have significance for that time, but it also must extend beyond that time and into a much more universal mode if its radical truth is to be any more than a vain hope. For such a twofold task ʿalmâ is admirably suited.

she will call his name Immanuel. The custom of the mother’s naming her child is not uncommon in the OT (cf. Gen. 4:1, 25; 29:31–30:13, 17–24; 35:18; Judg. 13:24; 1 Sam. 1:20; 4:21), especially if the mother has reason for a unique emotional investment in the child or if the father cannot perform the task. This emphasis upon the mother and the corresponding de-emphasis of the father’s role cannot help but be suggestive in the shaping of the ultimate understanding of the sign. No man sired by a human father could be the embodiment of “God with us.”

In contrast with Shear-jashub and Maher-shalal-hash-baz, both of whom are treated in a straightforward manner as Isaiah’s sons, there is an aura of mystery about the Immanuel figure. This is so even without the NT quotation of 7:14. His father is not identified at all and his mother only generally. He is touched upon only briefly, but then appears again suddenly in 8:8 as possessor of the land and yet again in 8:10 by means of a wordplay. The enigmatic nature of the references makes it extremely difficult to identify the child of Ahaz’s time. In the context of the house of David and being spoken of as owner of the land, it is tempting to think of a newly conceived crown prince. The recognition that curds and honey represent food of royalty in some Mesopotamian texts lends further credence to the idea, as does the thought that through Hezekiah God was able to demonstrate his faithful presence. However, that Hezekiah was twenty-five years old at his accession in 516 (2 K. 18:2) means that he was born in 741, at least six years before these events. To hold that the child was “the crown prince, as yet unborn,” raises again the question of Hezekiah. Are we to think Isaiah did not know that the crown prince was already born? Furthermore, if Ahaz was to father this child, it seems very odd that the fact should be ignored. Finally, v. 22 makes it very plain that curds and honey are not intended as symbols of royalty but of the generally depopulated nature of the region.

The suggestion that no particular child was intended is even less attractive, in the light of the particularity of Isaiah’s children as well as of 8:8 and of the description here. The facts of a child’s conception and birth are significant to the framework of the sign. The child will be born in a certain time frame, and its specific existence in that time frame is intrinsic to the function of the sign. It would not be necessary that Ahaz know of the birth, only that at some point he become aware that the promised child had been born.

Perhaps the most attractive option is that Immanuel and Maher-shalal-hash-baz were one and the same. If this were so, this passage would form a more poetic statement of the child’s identity, pointing to the ultimate Immanuel, whereas 8:1–4 would constitute a more prosaic account and be limited merely to the person of Maher-shalal-hash-baz. The references to his conception and birth in 8:3 lend support to the connection, as does the reference to Immanuel in 8:10, shortly after the discussion of the birth of Isaiah’s son.[2]

14. himself—since thou wilt not ask a sign, nay, rejectest the offer of one.

you—for the sake of the house of believing “David” (God remembering His everlasting covenant with David), not for unbelieving Ahaz’ sake.

Behold—arresting attention to the extraordinary prophecy.

virgin—from a root, “to lie hid,” virgins being closely kept from men’s gaze in their parents’ custody in the East. The Hebrew, and the Septuagint here, and Greek (Mt 1:23), have the article, the virgin, some definite one known to the speaker and his hearers; primarily, the woman, then a virgin, about immediately to become the second wife, and bear a child, whose attainment of the age of discrimination (about three years) should be preceded by the deliverance of Judah from its two invaders; its fullest significancy is realized in “the woman” (Ge 3:15), whose seed should bruise the serpent’s head and deliver captive man (Je 31:22; Mic 5:3). Language is selected such as, while partially applicable to the immediate event, receives its fullest, most appropriate, and exhaustive accomplishment in Messianic events. The New Testament application of such prophecies is not a strained “accommodation”; rather the temporary fulfilment of an adaptation of the far-reaching prophecy to the present passing event, which foreshadows typically the great central end of prophecy, Jesus Christ (Rev 19:10). Evidently the wording is such as to apply more fully to Jesus Christ than to the prophet’s son; “virgin” applies, in its simplest sense, to the Virgin Mary, rather than to the prophetess who ceased to be a virgin when she “conceived”; “Immanuel,” God with us (Jn 1:14; Rev 21:3), cannot in a strict sense apply to Isaiah’s son, but only to Him who is presently called expressly (Is 9:6), “the Child, the Son, Wonderful (compare Is 8:18), the mighty God.” Local and temporary features (as in Is 7:15, 16) are added in every type; otherwise it would be no type, but the thing itself. There are resemblances to the great Antitype sufficient to be recognized by those who seek them; dissimilarities enough to confound those who do not desire to discover them.

call—that is, “she shall,” or as Margin,thou, O Virgin, shalt call;” mothers often named their children (Ge 4:1, 25; 19:37; 29:32). In Mt 1:23 the expression is strikingly changed into, “They shall call”; when the prophecy received its full accomplishment, no longer is the name Immanuel restricted to the prophetess’ view of His character, as in its partial fulfilment in her son; all shall then call (that is, not literally), or regard Him as peculiarly and most fitly characterized by the descriptive name, “Immanuel” (1 Ti 3:16; Col 2:9).

name—not mere appellation, which neither Isaiah’s son nor Jesus Christ bore literally; but what describes His manifested attributes; His character (so Is 9:6). The name in its proper destination was not arbitrary, but characteristic of the individual; sin destroyed the faculty of perceiving the internal being; hence the severance now between the name and the character; in the case of Jesus Christ and many in Scripture, the Holy Ghost has supplied this want [Olshausen].[3]

Ver. 14.—Therefore. To show that your perversity cannot change God’s designs, which will be accomplished, whether you hear or whether you forbear. The Lord himself; i. e. “the Lord himself, of his own free will, unasked.” Will give you a sign. “Signs” were of various kinds. They might be actual miracles performed to attest a Divine commission (Exod. 4:3–9); or judgments of God, significative of his power and justice (Exod. 10:2); or memorials of something in the past (Exod. 13:9, 16); or pledges of something still future. Signs of this last-mentioned kind might be miracles (Judg. 6:36–40; 2 Kings 20:8–11), or prophetic announcements (Exod. 3:12; 1 Sam. 2:34; 2 Kings 19:29). These last would only have the effect of signs on those who witnessed their accomplishment. Behold. “A forewarning of a great event” (Cheyne). A virgin shall conceive. It is questioned whether the word translated “virgin,” viz. ’almah, has necessarily that meaning; but it is admitted that the meaning is borne out by every other place in which the word occurs in the Old Testament (Gen. 24:43; Exod. 2:8; Ps. 68:25; Prov. 30:19; Cant. 1:3; 6:8). The LXX., writing two centuries before the birth of Christ, translate by παρθένος. The rendering “virgin” has the support of the best modern Hebraists, as Lowth, Gesenius, Ewald, Delitzsch, Kay. It is observed with reason that unless ’almah is translated “virgin,” there is no announcement made worthy of the grand prelude: “The Lord himself shall give you a sign—Behold!” The Hebrew, however, has not “a virgin,” but “the virgin” (and so the Septuagint, ἡ παρθένος), which points to some special virgin, preeminent above all others. And shall call; better than the marginal rendering, thou shalt call. It was regarded as the privilege of a mother to determine her child’s name (Gen. 4:25; 16:11; 29:32–35; 30:6–13, 18–21, 24; 35:18, etc.), although formally the father gave it (Gen. 16:15; 2 Sam. 12:24; Luke 1:62, 63) Immanuel. Translated for us by St. Matthew (1:23) as “God with us” (μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός). (Comp. ch. 8:8, 10.)[4]

7:14 Like many prophecies, this one seems to have had an early fulfillment (in the days of Ahaz) and later, complete fulfillment (in the First Advent of Christ). Verse 14 points irresistibly to Christ—the Son of the virgin whose name indicates that He is Immanuel, God-with-us. Again we quote Vine:

“Behold”, in Isaiah, always introduces something relating to future circumstances. The choice of the word almah is significant, as distinct from bethulah (a maiden living with her parents and whose marriage was not impending); it denotes one who is mature and ready for marriage.[5]

[1] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Vol. 1, pp. 244–249). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Oswalt, J. N. (1986). The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39 (pp. 209–213). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 437). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[4] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1910). Isaiah (Vol. 1, pp. 127–128). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 945–946). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Extradition order to send Assange to US poses existential threat to all truth seekers – Galloway

Julian Assange’s extradition to the US would be a deathblow for all truth seekers, George Galloway told RT, warning that anyone who fails to support Assange will one day share the same fate as the persecuted Wikileaks co-founder.

Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed on Thursday that he had signed a request for the extradition of Assange to the US, where he is accused of violating the Espionage Act. The order will go before the UK courts on Friday.

Galloway, a former MP who has campaigned tirelessly for Assange’s freedom, quipped that the “dark” episode shows that Theresa May’s “zombie” government was “not content with all the other disasters for which it’s responsible.”

He insisted that Assange’s supporters would “never give up” the fight to stop his extradition to the US and secure his safe release from UK custody.

Also on rt.com British Home Secretary signs extradition order to send Julian Assange to US

Failing to support Assange now will have disastrous consequences for journalism and all who profess to hold progressive values, Galloway warned. He expressed particular discontent with those who would have ordinarily protested Assange’s treatment at the hands of the UK authorities, but remained silent because the Wikileaks co-founder was accused of sexual misconduct – what Galloway decried as a politically-motivated smear.

The liberals and the progressives, as they describe themselves, they will one day be a victim of this tyranny themselves, that is unless they eventually give up any pretense of actually being liberals and actually being progressives.

Asked about what would happen if Assange is ultimately extradited, Galloway said that the consequences for allowing such an injustice would be devastating.

“Every truth seeker will go down if Julian goes down.”

Assange faces a litany of charges in the US, including one count of conspiring with Chelsea Manning, the former intelligence analyst and whistleblower, to gain access to the US Pentagon network. The Australian journalist is currently serving a 50-week prison sentence in the UK for jumping bail.

Also on rt.com Journalists silent on Assange’s plight are complicit in his torture and imprisonment

Source: Extradition order to send Assange to US poses existential threat to all truth seekers – Galloway

Trump Blasts Dems Over Double Standard | Newsmax

President Donald Trump ripped into Democrats, for their double standard when it comes to talking to foreign officials.

Trump made his comments in a series of tweets on Thursday morning.

He wrote: “I meet and talk to ‘foreign governments’ every day. I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Wales, the P.M. of the United Kingdom, the P.M. of Ireland, the President of France and the President of Poland. We talked about ‘Everything!’ Should I immediately….

“….call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again. With that being said, my full answer is rarely played by the Fake News Media. They purposely leave out the part that matters.

“When Senator @MarkWarnerVA spoke at length, and in great detail, about extremely negative information on me, with a talented entertainer purporting to be a Russian Operative, did he immediately call the FBI? NO, in fact he didn’t even tell the Senate Intelligence Committee of…

“….which he is a member. When @RepAdamSchiff took calls from another person, also very successfully purporting to be a Russian Operative, did he call the FBI, or even think to call the FBI? NO! The fact is that the phony Witch Hunt is a giant scam where Democrats…

“….and other really bad people, SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN! They even had an ‘insurance policy’ just in case Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats lost their race for the Presidency! This is the biggest & worst political scandal in the history of the United States of America. Sad!”

Source: Trump Blasts Dems Over Double Standard