Daily Archives: January 3, 2020

How will Iran react to the killing of two of their top military men? | The Jerusalem post

Brace yourself Middle East…

It was a strike that will shake the Middle East.

The United States on Friday announced that it had taken out Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, and Iraqi shiite militia commander Abu Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a strike outside Baghdad’s airport.

Considered a military genius, Soleimani was appointed commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in 1997. Until a few years ago, he remained almost invisible to the public eye. But over the past few years, he has risen to international fame as the man behind Iran’s regional aspirations and the country’s fight in Syria.

He was on a hit list, the joker in the hand who, like a cat with nine lives, survived multiple assassination attempts.

But his number came only a day into the New Year.

Latest articles from Jpost

Top articles1/5Bennett, Kochavi to meet following confirmed killing of Soleimani

And now the entire region is bracing itself for what Iran will do in response to the deadly strike that took out their men.

Iran could “very easily” respond to what they see as America’s regional proxies, including the State of Israel and Saudi Arabia, Philip Smyth, the Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy told The Jerusalem Post.

According to Smyth, “there are several possible Iranian answers” to Solemani’s assassination, including not to do anything for the time being to maintain some level of plausible deniability for anything they want to do in the future.

“They’ve done it before,” he said. “I’m a big fan of saying that the Iranians will respond on their own timetable. They are big fans of being patient.

“There’s always the potential of them not doing anything and waiting for the right time,” he continued. “They understand that we – the West as a whole – have a very low attention span. They also understand how domestic politics factors into it too and we can see another Gulf crisis. It really comes down to what they want to do and how effective they think it will play out for greater strategic gains.”

Benham Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, echoed Smyth’s sentiments. He told the Post that Iran has “exhibited an understanding of escalation dynamics and been bested in limited conflict in Syria by Israel.”

But say that Iran does react in another way, more immediately? Well, he said, the country could do a lot of damage.

They can mine the Persian Gulf, they can fire rocket barrages on American positions in Iraq, they can attack Israel or Saudi Arabia by their proxies like Hezbollah in Lebanon or the Houthis in Yemen. 

The Saudis, Smyth said, “have shown the ease in which they can be attacked by the Iranians or Iranian-backed forces.”

Responses could also include targeting diplomats and other Westerners in the Middle East, specifically Iraq or Tehran.

“They could try to reignite their international terrorist apparatuses using Hezbollah and a variety of other actors including the IRGC,” Smyth warned. “All of these can come to bear.”

And even if Israel isn’t the subject of direct retaliation, Taleblu warned, “Iran’s security apparatuses will look to continue the policy of carving a corridor to the Mediterranean.”

The men killed in the strike were irreplaceable in Iran.

“Power projection in the Levant and holding a knife to Israel’s throat through the provision of money and munitions to terror groups on Israel’s borders was part of Soleimani’s success,” Taleblu said. 

“Post-Soleimani, the question is what sort of cohesion to Iran’s myriad of proxies and partners will a new Quds force commander bring?” he said. “The new Quds Force commander will look to build on this legacy, thus guaranteeing future flash-points for conflict.”

But taking a loss like Soleimani, Smyth said, “does degrade certain aspects of power that he brought to the table” but “Muhandis is far more irreplaceable that Soleimani.”

As an Iraqi, he was “the model of what the Iranians are trying to develop in terms of having a proxy,” he said.

He noted that it will be “interesting” to see who replaces Muhandis and what transpires in terms of lower/middle-level command structure.

“There could be a lot of changes and we’ve seen this with Hezbollah when older commanders are killed and the younger guys who are less ideological crept into the groups and this could lead to a longer degradation of these forces,” he said.

While like with Soleimani, there are many people who can fill the gap, “it’s hard to replace old school commanders who have the knowledge base and loyalty of people who are fighting with them,” Smyth concluded.

And while it won’t be easy for Iran to find replacements, they will find the appropriate response to avenge their deaths. 

The entire Middle East should brace itself.

— Read on m.jpost.com/Middle-East/How-will-Iran-react-to-the-killing-of-two-of-their-top-military-men-612974

Warning from CIA veteran: Hezbollah has U.S. targets in its sights | OneNewsNow

A former CIA operations officer offers a dire warning to America: A number of Iranian-backed Hezbollah sleeper cells are hiding in the dark shadows of the country.

Sam Faddis, a veteran of the CIA who witnessed Hezbollah up close for decades, tells OneNewsNow there are at least three cases of “long-term, very sophisticated, very well-trained operatives” who have been identified inside the United States.

In an exclusive interview, the retired CIA operations officer contends there is “absolutely no reason on earth” to conclude the number at work in the U.S. is only three.

Hezbollah, which traces its roots to Lebanon in the 1980s, was declared a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) by the U.S. State Department in 1997.

Faddis calls the Iran-sponsored terrorist organization (pictured above) a “very large, very robust, very active [terrorist] organization.”

Seeking a group’s intentions and observing their activities begets an intelligence operation, Faddis explains. Not only do intelligence agencies have the responsibility of “[recognizing] the sophistication and scope of what Hezbollah is intending, [but] a local community can also play a role in unraveling any kind of intelligence operation.”

Whether it be law enforcement agencies or citizens, Faddis says they can recognize “abnormalities” in their communities due to their knowledge of the local area. He experienced the same challenge on foreign soil, since it was easy for the locals to notice something “out of place” on their own street.

The intelligence expert says it’s also important to consider the mindsets of those involved in an investigation. On the one hand, he says, “law enforcement is geared toward arresting people and seeing that they are prosecuted and put in jail.”

On the other hand, Faddis explains that an intelligence agency “looks at things to maintain their capacity to collect information and infiltrate networks.”

And both perspectives are equally important, he adds.

Local citizens, law enforcement personnel, and intelligence agencies must collectively understand the threat Hezbollah sleeper cells pose to America, Faddis argues, because too-few people can appreciate the “breadth of targets” Hezbollah could hit inside our own borders.

Military paradeIn a chilling example, he points to the confrontation the United States is having with Iran over energy.

“We’re essentially cutting off their lifeblood,” he explains, “by imposing sanctions on their oil.”

As a result, Faddis contends every oil and gas facility in the United States has become a “legitimate target” for our enemy — “including every pipeline, every pumping station, and every well,” he warns.

But nobody is paying attention to that, he insists.

Related to Hezbollah’s operators, the Quds Force is the extraterritorial-operating unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that responsible for carrying out an array of intelligence activities and conducting unconventional warfare around the world. Hezbollah is working “hand in hand” with Quds and Iran’s intelligence service, Faddis says.

“Hezbollah and their collaborators have very detailed operational plans against very sophisticated targets,” he warns, which include the Panama Canal, the Empire State building, as well as nuclear power plants.

“Each of these has already been identified,” he tells OneNewsNow, “as one of the targets [Hezbollah] is looking at.”

The American people and those sworn to protect the country need to be more vigilant, Faddis says.

— Read on onenewsnow.com/national-security/2020/01/03/a-warning-from-cia-veteran-hezbollah-has-us-targets-in-its-sights

Iraqi militia commander orders fighters to prepare for battle -local TV | National Post

BAGHDAD — Iran-backed Iraqi militia commander Qais al-Khazali ordered on Friday his fighters to be on high alert for an upcoming battle and said that U.S. military presence in Iraq would end soon,.

“All fighters should be on high alert for upcoming battle and great victory. The price for the blood for the martyred commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis is the complete end to American military presence in Iraq,” local TV channel al-Ahd which is close to his Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia quoted him as saying. (Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Maha El Dahan)

Sean Hannity: US forces, State Department, Trump ‘on high alert’ after Iranian general Soleimani’s death | Fox News

Fox News’ Sean Hannity called his own TV program Thursday to discuss the significance of the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, and other military officials at Baghdad International Airport.

“This was [a response to] Iranian aggression against us. This was Iranian strategy, Iranian money, Iranian proxies that put American lives in jeopardy and the president very quickly acted,” Hannity told guest host Jason Chaffetz. “I’ve been able to confirm tonight … our military, our State Department, our president, everybody is on high alert. Every option is, I was told, ‘on the table’ and that American interests in Iraq and the region will be protected.”

U.S. EMBASSY IN BAGHDAD FIRE DAMAGE SEEN IN NEW PHOTOS FOLLOWING MILITANTS’ ATTACK

Soleimani is the military mastermind whom Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had deemed equally as dangerous as ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who killed himself in October during a U.S. raid on a compound in northwest Syria.

“Taking out this top general is … right up there, in my view, with taking out Baghdadi in terms of the importance of stopping Iranian aggression inside of Iraq,” said Hannity, who went on to praise the president and all those involved in the airstrike.

“I will say the big headline is this is a huge victory for American intelligence, a huge victory for our military. A huge victory for the State Department and a huge victory and total leadership by the president,” Hannity said. “It is the opposite of what happened in Benghazi.”

The nighttime attack occurred two days after Iran-backed militia members attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in response to recent U.S. airstrikes.

The two-day siege came to an end Wednesday afternoon after dozens of the militiamen and their supporters withdrew from the compound.

What Upstanding Citizens Believe Vs. What Crazy Conspiracy Theorists Believe – DC Dirty Laundry

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe a mature worldview requires skepticism toward power.

Smart upstanding citizens believe the government is your friend, and the media are its helpers.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that powerful people sometimes make immoral plans in secret.

Trending: The Pistol That Jack Wilson Used to Take Down the Church Shooter

Smart upstanding citizens believe the TV always tells the truth and the CIA exists for no reason.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that extreme government secrecy makes it necessary to discuss possible theories about what might be going on behind that veil of opacity.

Smart upstanding citizens believe that just because a world-dominating government with the most powerful military in the history of civilization has no transparency and zero accountability to the public, that doesn’t mean you’ve got to get all paranoid about it.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe it’s okay to ask questions about important events that happen in the world, even if their government tells them they shouldn’t.

Smart upstanding citizens believe everything they need to know about reality comes out of Mike Pompeo’s angelic mouth.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the very rich sometimes engage in nefarious behavior to expand their wealth and power.

Smart upstanding citizens believe billionaires always conduct themselves with the same values that got them their billions in the first place: honesty, morality, and generosity.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe it’s important to remember the lies that led up to the invasion of Iraq, and the disastrous consequences of blind faith in government claims.

Smart upstanding citizens believe “Iraq” is a fictional land similar to Narnia or Middle Earth, from the writings of a fantasy author named George Galloway.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe Syria is fighting to avoid becoming another Libya in a war of defense against extremist proxy armies of the US-centralized empire, who were given billions of dollars in military support with the goal of toppling Damascus.

Smart upstanding citizens believe Bashar al-Assad is a real-life version of a cartoon supervillain who just started murdering civilians willy nilly in 2011 because he loves murdering civilians, then in 2015 his friend Vladimir Putin joined in because he loves murdering civilians also.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the extensive history of US government lies means you should always demand mountains of independently verifiable evidence when they make claims about unabsorbed nations.

Smart upstanding citizens believe Russia literally committed an act of war on the United States in 2016, China is orchestrating a second Holocaust, Maduro is deliberately starving the Venezuelan people because he hates them, Assad is using chemical weapons but only when it makes no strategic sense, Cuban spy crickets are trying to assassinate US diplomats, there’s novichok everywhere, and every noncompliant party in the Middle East is secretly working for Iran.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that it can be difficult to figure out what’s going on in a mass media landscape that is saturated with the propaganda of the US-centralized empire.

Smart upstanding citizens believe that all you need to do to ensure you’re getting all the facts is watch television and run screaming from the room if you accidentally flip past RT.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the Gulf of Tonkin incident was faked, the “taking babies out of incubators” narrative was a lie, Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, Gaddafi’s rape armies never existed and the Libya intervention was never really about humanitarian concerns.

Smart, upstanding citizens believe it’s better not to think about such things.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe the latest WikiLeaks publications of internal OPCW documents provide ample evidence that we were lied to about the 2018 Douma incident.

Smart upstanding citizens believe those documents aren’t real because The New York Times never reported on them.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that increasing levels of government secrecy are making it easier for government agencies to do unethical things in secret.

Smart upstanding citizens believe that questioning your government makes you a Russian anti-Semite.

Crazy, stupid conspiracy theorists believe that the billionaire class which owns the mass media has a natural incentive to prop up the status quo upon which it is built, and so construct an environment where reporters are incentivized to always support the establishment line.

Smart upstanding citizens believe that if that kind of conspiracy were really happening, it would have been in the news.

— Read on dcdirtylaundry.com/what-upstanding-citizens-believe-vs-what-crazy-conspiracy-theorists-believe/

The Apostles’ Teaching – Programs – Truth For Life

Whether searching for a place to worship or leading a congregation, how do we determine if a church is biblical? That’s our focus on Truth For Life as Alistair Begg begins a series called Seven Marks of an Effective Church. 
Listen…

Founding fathers never discussed wall of separation between church and state – Washington Times

School civics classes teach that the Constitution guarantees the right to remain silent, freedom of speech, equal protection under the law, and a wall of separation between church and state.

Except the founding document never actually talks about a wall.

“It’s something that the courts and anti-religious groups created to keep religion out of our public square,” says John Bursch, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom.

Like so much of founding-era wisdom, the concept of separation of church and state sprung from the mind of Thomas Jefferson — though he was not part of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, nor was he in that first Congress that drew up the amendments that would become the Bill of Rights.

The third of those 12 amendments sent by Congress to the states for ratification included the admonition that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Only 10 of the 12 amendments were ratified at the time — the first two didn’t earn enough states’ approval — which is how the third amendment became the First Amendment in late 1791.

Enter Jefferson a decade later, in early 1802, now in the White House and being battered by his political enemies, the Federalists. Publicly pious and eager to show it, they promoted days of fasting and prayer and wanted Jefferson to follow John Adams’ lead and proclaim them from the newly opened White House.

He fired off a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut, in which he laid out his vision of “a wall of separation between church and state.”

The Library of Congress in the 1990s decided to try to figure out more about what was behind Jefferson’s letter.

They roped the FBI into helping out, and the bureau used its state-of-the-art lab facilities to recover the rest of Jefferson’s original draft.

The draft reveals that Jefferson originally wrote of a “wall of eternal separation between church and state.” And the draft also reveals that Jefferson had no intention of it being “a statement of fundamental principles; it was meant to be a political manifesto, nothing more,” James Hutson wrote for the Library of Congress.

Indeed, he says, two days after he wrote the letter, he attended a prayer service held in the chambers of the House of Representatives. Jefferson would attend similar services “constantly” throughout his presidency, Mr. Hutson wrote.

Rob Natelson, a leading constitutional scholar who now heads the Independence Institute’s Constitutional Studies Center, said turning to Jefferson for wisdom about the Constitution would be like asking someone on the political fringe today.

“If you want to understand the Constitution, you’re much better off looking at people like James Wilson,” he said.

The letter to the Danbury Baptists was obscure for decades, only gaining new attention when Jefferson’s writings were published in 1853 and reprinted in 1868 and 1871, Mr. Hutson wrote.

But some important people took notice. In 1879, the Supreme Court, in a case dealing with a Mormon who cited his religious duty as a defense against bigamy charges, cited Jefferson’s letter to the Baptists as the guiding light of the First Amendment’s establishment clause.

“Coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured,” wrote Chief Justice Morrison Waite for the unanimous court. “Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.”

In 1947, the court for the first time would extend that separation to the states, ruling that the “wall must be kept high and impregnable” — yet also ruling that New Jersey could provide busing for Catholic school students and not run afoul.

In the 1980s, then-Associate Justice William H. Rehnquist would complain that the court had bungled things by citing Jefferson as the expert, calling the wall language a “misleading metaphor.”

And the high court has repeatedly struggled to figure out what the wall looks like and when its impregnability is threatened.

Colin McNamara, staff attorney at the American Humanist Association, which lost last year’s battle over a cross memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland, said the courts are becoming “more hostile” to Jefferson’s vision of separation of church and state.

He disputed those who see the push for separation as an attack on those of faith.

“There is no mass movement out there to undermine traditional American values,” he said.

— Read on m.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jan/2/founding-fathers-never-discussed-separation-betwee/

China Just Escalated Their Brutal Persecution of Christians – DC Clothesline

Be very thankful that you don’t live in China.  Approximately one out of every seven people on the entire planet lives in China, and it has become one of the most dystopian societies that the world has ever seen.  Surveillance cameras, government spies and facial recognition scanners are everywhere, and the totalitarian “social credit score” system that is currently being rolled out is an absolute nightmare.  And the Chinese government is not content to simply control how people behave.  They also want to literally control what people believe, and the ongoing crackdown on the Christian faith has been absolutely brutal.  Over the past several years, scores of pastors have been arrested, countless underground churches have been shut down, and thousands of Bibles have been burned.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for Chinese officials, and so they have now taken things to an entirely new level.

When the communists first came to power in China, it was a very dark time for Christians.  But underground churches started blossoming even in the midst of the persecution, and eventually there were a few decades where the national government more or less tolerated unsanctioned gatherings.  Today, it has been estimated that there are more than 100 million Christians in China, and it is being projected that China may actually have more Christians that any other nation on the planet by the year 2030.

Needless to say, the communists don’t like any threats to their power, and they see this underground movement as a very serious threat.

Under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the persecution of unofficial churches has steadily escalated.  This year they actually tried to ban Christians from gathering on Christmas, and a series of new regulations has just been introduced that requires “total submission to the Chinese Communist Party at all times”

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A new mandate entitled “Administrative Measures for Religious Groups” has been approved by the CPC and is comprised of six chapters and 41 articles dealing with the organization, functions, offices, supervision, projects and economic administration of religious communities.

The new rules also seek to ensure that religious leaders support, promote and implement total submission to the Chinese Communist Party at all times.

So what does that sort of “submission” look like?

Well, in some cases officials have required churches to take down pictures of Jesus and replace them with pictures of President Xi Jinping.

Yes, this is how twisted things have become in China.

The new regulations also require all churches to “spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party” in all of their activities…

According to International Christian Concern, Article 5 of the new ordinance reads that “religious organizations must adhere to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, observe the constitution, laws, regulations, ordinances and policies, adhere to the principle of independence and self-government, adhere to the directives on religions in China, implementing the values of socialism …”

In addition, Article 17 specifies that all religious organizations “must spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party” in everything they do.

Any church that does not go along is likely to be raided and shut down at any time.

For example, Pastor Wang Yi once led one of the most important underground churches in all of China, but his church was raided and he was arrested.

And now we have learned that he has just been sentenced to nine years in prison

Wang Yi, a leader in one of the most well-known Christian congregations in China, has been quietly sentenced to nine years in prison, according to a statement on the website of the Intermediate People’s Court of Chengdu Municipality.

The sentencing is the latest incident in an ongoing crackdown on organized religion in China. Early Rain Covenant Church, which Wang founded in 2008, attracted about 500 followers and was considered one of the most influential “underground churches” in China, operating independently of the state.

According to Chinese officials, Pastor Yi received such a harsh sentence for “subverting state power”.

Of course it isn’t just pastors that are being arrested.  Countless numbers of ordinary Chinese citizens have been swept up during the raids, and many are never seen or heard from again.

One Chinese Christian woman told the Los Angeles Times what happened to her when she was interrogated…

Li Chengju glared at her prison interrogator as he pressed her to renounce her Christian church and condemn her pastor.

Her captor warned she would not be so lucky as the pastor, who was locked in secret detention but at least might get a day in court.

“Look at you. You sweep the floors at church,” the interrogator said. “You think you’re getting a trial like your pastor? You don’t qualify.”

The way that the Chinese are treating their citizens is absolutely reprehensible, and unless they completely change course we should not be conducting any trade with them at all.

Sadly, the “five-year plan” that was launched in 2018 to indoctrinate churches all over China is not even halfway done

The government calls its campaign “Sinicization” — a euphemism for turning faith into a tool for indoctrination in Chinese Communist Party ideology. The official five-year plan, issued in 2018, calls for inserting “patriotic education” and “socialist core values” into churches, revising the Bible and using church sermons to enforce party leadership and reject foreign influences.

The persecution of Christians is likely to get even worse in China, and this comes at a time when Christian persecution is on the rise all over the world.  This is something that many of us have been anticipating because of the times in which we live, but it is still horrifying to actually watch it happen.

As I close this article, I would like to share a message from Pastor Wang Yi that was posted on Facebook after he was arrested.  May his words inspire all of us to live every moment and to be the people that we were created to be…

“I hope God uses me, by means of first losing my personal freedom, to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.”

“Regardless of what crime the government charges me with, whatever filth they fling at me, as long as this charge is related to my faith, my writings, my comments, and my teachings, it is merely a lie and temptation of demons. I categorically deny it. I will serve my sentence, but I will not serve the law. I will be executed, but I will not plead guilty.”

“Those who lock me up will one day be locked up by angels. Those who interrogate me will finally be questioned and judged by Christ. When I think of this, the Lord fills me with a natural compassion and grief toward those who are attempting to and actively imprisoning me. Pray that the Lord would use me, that he would grant me patience and wisdom, that I might take the gospel to them.”

“Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith; no one can make me change my life; and no one can raise me from the dead.”

“Jesus is the Christ, son of the eternal, living God. He died for sinners and rose to life for us. He is my king and the king of the whole earth yesterday, today, and forever. I am his servant, and I am imprisoned because of this. I will resist in meekness those who resist God, and I will joyfully violate all laws that violate God’s laws.”

– Pastor Wang Yi, “My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience”

Christianity in China

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The EndGet Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

— Read on www.dcclothesline.com/2020/01/03/china-just-escalated-their-brutal-persecution-of-christians/

January 3 A Fresh Word For Today

Wearing Out

And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints.
(Daniel 7:25)

Satan is out to get you. There are two strategies he’ll always use. First, he’ll attack you at your weakest spot, so keep it well protected. Temptation not resisted leads to compromise, and compromise to indulgence, and indulgence to defeat. Paul says, “Make no provision for the flesh” (see Romans 13:13). Don’t give Satan an inch or he’ll take a mile.

His next strategy is the one Daniel speaks about: “He’ll wear out the saints.” Is that what he’s been doing to you lately? When you’re exhausted and worn out, you’re vulnerable. The Bible warns us to be careful “lest we become weary and faint in our minds” (see Hebrews 12:3). Your mind is where the real attacks come. You’re never defeated until you’re defeated on the inside!

Learn the signals! If he can wear you out, he can wipe you out. Take time to restore your soul and replenish your strength in God’s presence. It is too easy to get caught up in the vision and not spend time with the One who gave you the vision. Listen: “Are you tired? Are you worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me; get away with Me, and you will recover your life. I will show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—and watch how I do it. I will not lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you will learn to live” (Matthew 11:28–29, TM). There is no burnout in the will of God!

 

He’s inviting you to come unto Him, spend time in His presence, and learn how to live above the stress and anxiety of this age.[1]

 

[1] Gass, B. (1998). A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (p. 3). Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

Brannon Howse: January 2, 2020 | Worldview Weekend

Guest: Olivier Melnick. Topic: USA today prints an article wondering why so many church members had guns at the church in White Settlement, Texas. Topic: Melnick in a new article writes: “If hitting Jews and trying to kill them almost daily has become the new normal, then we are not getting close to the atmosphere of the 1930s and 1940s…WE ARE THERE, and if we are not doing anything, we have become the new bystanders.” Olivier joins us to explain why he says that antisemitism has become pandemic and how Christians must respond. Topic: We take your calls. 

Download File Here

— Read on www.worldviewweekend.com/radio/audio/brannon-howse-january-2-2019-0

Iran, It’s Your Move – Trump’s Takedown Of Iranian General Qassim Suleimani Is Likely To Start A Global War | The Economic Collapse

We just witnessed one of the most important deaths in the Middle East in decades.  Just hours ago, President Trump ordered the drone strike on Baghdad International Airport that killed Iranian Major General Qassim Suleimani and several other key officials.  Suleimani was the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force, but even more importantly he was a huge national hero in Iran.  To describe this killing as “seismic” would not do it justice.  U.S. Senator Chris Murphy says that Suleimani was “the second most powerful person in Iran”, and elsewhere he is being described as “the most influential Middle East military official for decades”.  This is a major victory for President Trump and the U.S. military, but it also makes it much, much less likely that we are going to be able to avoid a full-blown war with Iran.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces, was also killed in the strike.  But it is Suleimani’s death that changes everything.  In the U.S., our generals are not national celebrities, but in Iran Suleimani was one of the most recognizable faces in the entire country.  In fact, he was so deeply loved that Iranian state television literally interrupted their programming to announce his death

In Iran, state television interrupted its programing to announce General Suleimani’s death.

The news anchor recited the Islamic prayer for the dead — “From God we came and to God we return” — beside a picture of General Suleimani.

For more than two decades, Suleimani has essentially been running the show for Iran in the Middle East.  If you doubt this, just check out the message that he sent to U.S. General David Petraeus in 2008

In 2008, Soleimani wrote in a letter to David Petraeus, “Dear General Petraeus: You should be aware that I, Qassem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan.”

Of course since 2008 Suleimani became even more powerful both inside and outside of Iran.  He was the one at the top of the food chain giving Iran’s proxies their marching orders, and there is no way that the U.S. embassy would have been attacked earlier this week without his direct approval.

So Trump definitely picked a target that was directly responsible for the damage to our embassy, but what happens next?

Ultimately, that is going to be up to Iran.

The Iranians could put their tails between their legs and cower in fear now that this has happened, but that probably isn’t likely.

It would be difficult to put into words the extreme rage that the Iranians are feeling right now.  Their deeply hated enemy, the United States, has just killed a greatly beloved national hero.  They are going to want revenge, and they are going to want it to be as painful as possible.

Needless to say, there will probably be attacks against U.S. targets in the region, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper has stated that the U.S. military may even take “pre-emptive action” to prevent that from happening…

“There are some indications out there that they may be planning additional attacks. That’s nothing new,” Esper said. “If that happens, then we will act and, by the way, if we get word of an attack of some kind of indication, we would take pre-emptive action as well to protect American forces, American lives — the game has changed.”

Beyond that, the Iranians may decide that an “eye for an eye” approach is justified in this case.

In other words, now that we have killed one of their key leaders, they may decide to kill one or more of our key leaders.

As I have previously detailed, Hezbollah is the strongest and most well funded terror organization on the entire planet.  They have a very strong presence in North America, and they certainly have the capability to strike just about anywhere on U.S. soil.

If I was a prominent military official, a member of Congress or a top politician, I would be carefully “watching my six” in the coming days.

Some members of Congress are already realizing the implications of what just happened.  For example, here is what U.S. Senator Cory Gardner just said

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.. a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, applauded the Trump administration’s decision to target Soleimani. But, he added, “I now urge the administration to be prepared for possible retaliation, including against U.S. troops stationed in the region, and to consult closely with Congress on any next steps should the situation escalate.”

And U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal has told the press that the killing of Qassim Suleimani could lead us directly into a full-blown war with Iran

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat and member of the Armed Services Committee, said the attack that killed Soleimani could trigger a major military escalation with Iran.

“There’s no question Soleimani had American blood on his hands,” Blumenthal said Thursday night. “He was an enemy. But this step could lead to the most consequential military confrontation in decades.”

In 1914, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the spark that started World War 1.

Could it be possible that we just witnessed the spark that will start World War 3?

Only time will tell, but at this moment more U.S. troops are being deployed to the Middle East

The first wave of hundreds of U.S. Army paratroopers from a rapid reaction force has deployed to Kuwait in response to the assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad by pro-Iran militiamen, with thousands more soldiers on alert for snap deployment.

On Wednesday at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, paratroopers from the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division boarded C-17 Globemaster aircraft transports bound for Kuwait.

These are the days of “the perfect storm”, and many are anticipating that 2020 will be the most tumultuous year in modern history.

By killing Suleimani, Trump has essentially “crossed the Rubicon”, and there will be no going back.

So now it is up to Iran to make the next move.

They can roll over and give up now that Suleimani is dead, or they can choose to escalate matters even further and push the entire region to the brink of war.

— Read on theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/iran-its-your-move-trumps-takedown-of-iranian-general-qassim-suleimani-is-likely-to-start-a-global-war

Did America Just Start War in the Middle East? US Congress Reacts to Iraqi Strike Killing Soleimani – Sputnik International

On Friday, a US airstrike killed Qasem Soleimani, powerful head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The event has provoked different reactions from American politicians. 

BREAKING: Iranian Leaders Vow Vengeance on General Soleimani’s Killers — The Gateway Pundit

Earlier on Thursday the United States killed General Qassim Soleimani, a top commander of Iran’s al-Quds Force, in an airstrike at Baghdad’s International Airport. The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. Seven people were reportedly killed in the airstrike.

Iranian leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei released a statement on Friday morning.

Via Iranian Press TV.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says those who assassinated IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani must await a harsh revenge.

In a statement on Friday, Ayatollah Khamenei said the “cruelest people on earth” assassinated the “honorable” commander who “courageously fought for years against the evils and bandits of the world.”

His demise will not stop his mission, but the criminals who have the blood of General Soleimani and other martyrs of the Thursday night attack on their hands must await a harsh revenge, the Leader added.

“Martyr Soleimani is an international figure of the Resistance, and all the devotees of Resistance are now his avengers,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

“All the friends and foes must know that the path of Jihad of the Resistance will continue with double motivation, and a definite victory awaits those who fight in this auspicious path,” the Leader said.

“The demise of our selfless and dear general is bitter, but the continued fight and achievement of the final victory will make life bitterer for the murderers and criminals,” he added.

In his statement, the Leader also offered condolences to the Iranian nation and General Soleimani’s family, and declared three days of national mourning.

Following the Leader’s remarks, Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami also vowed that revenge will be taken against all those behind the assassination.

“Undoubtedly, this heinous crime which is a strong proof of the evil nature of the Big Satan, the arrogant US and it’s all-out support for terrorism in the region and Iraq, will be responded to in a crushing way,” the defense minister warned.

Earlier, former commander of the IRGC Major General Mohsen Rezaei also vowed a harsh revenge against the perpetrators.

via BREAKING: Iranian Leaders Vow Vengeance on General Soleimani’s Killers — The Gateway Pundit

Top Charismatic Leaders Disqualify Todd Bentley From Ministry for “Steady Pattern of Ungodly and Immoral Behavior” — Julie Roys

About 16 months after explosive accusations of harboring a “perverse sexual addiction” and preying on interns, Fresh Fire USA leader, Todd Bentley, has been disqualified from public ministry by a panel of six charismatic, Christian leaders. The panel, led by apologist Dr. Michael Brown, said in a statement published today on Facebook:

Based on our careful review of numerous first-hand reports, some of them dating back to 2004, we state our theological opinion and can say with one voice that, without a doubt, Todd is not qualified to serve in leadership or ministry today. There are credible accusations of a steady pattern of ungodly and immoral behavior, confirmed by an independent investigator’s interviews dating from 2008 up through 2019, along with other testimonies dating back to 2004. And while we only took into account first-hand reports, there are many other second and third-hand reports repeating the same accusations . . .

Sadly, we see no signs of true, lasting repentance. Instead, we see a steady pattern of compromised behavior, including credible accusations of adultery, sexting (including the exchanging of nude pictures or videos), vulgar language, and substance abuse.

The statement added that the panel had sought to hear Bentley’s version of events, but Bentley “declined to answer a list of 60 questions” compiled by an investigator “after initially agreeing to respond.” The panel added that Bentley required the investigator to submit questions to his attorney, “after which (Bentley) ceased communicating with Dr. Brown or the investigator.”

Bentley, who professed faith in Christ when he was 18, after a struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, has been a prominent leader in the charismatic movement for two decades. In 1998, when he was 22, Bentley took over leadership of the Fresh Fire Ministry and began leading healing and evangelistic crusades all over the world.

Todd Bentley

In 2001, it was revealed that Bentley had been convicted as a 15-year-old of sexually assaulting a boy who was much younger than him. Bentley told Charisma Magazine that he had never previously talked about the crime because of “the inability of Christians to forgive certain sins.” Two pastors who claimed to provide “covering” for Bentley—Pat Cocking (who now goes by Patricia King) and Bobby Conner—said they had full confidence in Bentley and Bentley continued to lead Fresh Fire.

However, in 2008, Bentley resigned from Fresh Fire after separating from his wife and reportedly engaging in “an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff.” In 2009, Bentley created a new ministrycalled Fresh Fire USA with several prominent pastors claiming to provide accountability, including, author Jack DeereBill Johnson of Bethel Church, and Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries.

Then in August 2018, an estranged protégé of Bentley’s, Stephen Powell of Lion of Light Ministries, accused Bentley in a Facebook post of preying on interns in his ministry and possessing an “appetite for a variety of sexual sins, including both homosexual and heterosexual activity.” Three days later, The Christian Postreported that Powell had received a written statement from a pastor alleging “all kinds of stuff,” including claims that Bentley had sexually assaulted three girls in Pakistan.

Powell’s Facebook post:

Despite the damning evidence against Bentley, the panelists who released today’s statement said they believe Bentley “has been supernaturally gifted by God” and added: “(O)ur highest joy would be to see Todd coming before God and the community of believers in humility and repentance, openly desiring help to get his life fully healed and surrendered to Jesus.”

The panel said it could foresee Bentley doing public ministry again, but stressed that “at no point should he lead his own ministry.” The panel also outlined what it saw as the necessary steps to Bentley’s restoration. These would include “breaking . . . sinful habits,” “public acknowledgement” of sin “without equivocation,” “asking forgiveness of those he sinned against,” and “submission to local leadership.”

The panel also called for Bentley’s current ordination to be rescinded until the outlined process of repentance and restoration takes place. (I asked Dr. Brown who ordained Bentley and he said he didn’t know. According to a 2009 blog post, Bentley claimed to have been ordained through the Canadian-based Christian Ministers Association (CMA) and recognized as a minister through the World Ministry Fellowship (WMF). However, the CMA reportedly said that Bentley has never been a member of that association, and the WMF said Bentley’s papers have been removed.)

In the statement, Dr. Brown and the other panelists admitted that they have no legal authority over Bentley, but as “elders in the Body of Christ” had been asked to “judge righteously” and “make our viewpoint public.” The panelists also lamented what they see as a problem in the church:

Unfortunately, what’s missing in the modern church is often the combination of relational and organizational accountability, which would ensure each minister’s ability to navigate turbulent emotional, organizational, and spiritual waters. We pray that Todd would find such relational and organizational accountability, and it is our hope that this will become the norm, rather than the exception, for other leaders in the days ahead.

The other leaders on the “Leadership Panel on Todd Bentley” are Joseph Mattera, convener of the US Coalition of Apostolic LeadersJames W. Goll, founder of God Encounters MinistriesJane Hamon, co-pastor of Vision Church; Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church; and Don Finto, Pastor Emeritus of Belmont Church and founder of Caleb Company.

The full statement from the “Leadership Panel on Todd Bentley” published on Facebook:

via Top Charismatic Leaders Disqualify Todd Bentley From Ministry for “Steady Pattern of Ungodly and Immoral Behavior” — Julie Roys

Dr. Michael Brown believes Todd Bentley was “supernaturally gifted by God”. —

With thanks to Reverend Anthony Wade from ‘828 Ministries’ for bringing us up to date on the investigation into the latest Todd Bentley scandal and its findings. The investigation was led by charismatic NARpologist Dr. Michael Brown, Joseph Mattera, a ‘full-blown NAR dominionist’, and ‘one of the most egregious false prophets’, James Goll from ‘The Elijah List’, along with several others. Their ‘investigation’ proved what discerning Christians already knew to be true. These self-apointed men and women proved that they not only lacked any biblical discernment, they shamed the name of Christ by declaring Todd Bentley was “supernaturally gifted by God”!

 

Official Statement from the Leadership Panel on Todd Bentley, January 2, 2020

As followers of Jesus, we delight in God’s mercy and grace and believe in the power of restoration and forgiveness. At the same time, we recognize that God’s Word holds leaders in the Church to high standards, since they serve as representatives of Christ himself. The question before us is this: Does Todd Bentley, founder of Fresh Fire Ministries, live up to those standards? Is he qualified to be a recognized leader in the Church?

The signers of this statement are leaders in ministry who were asked to review a matter that invokes these beliefs and to judge the fitness of a person for ministry according to biblical standards and the leading of the Holy Spirit. In conducting such investigation there are limits on what can be known with certainty, but we look carefully at long-term track records and the accumulated testimony of many witnesses.

The opinion we have reached here is theological, answering the question: Does Todd Bentley, founder of Fresh Fire Ministries, live up to the high standards required of those who serve as representatives of Christ? Is he qualified, according to our understanding of biblical standards, to be a recognized leader in the Church?

As part of this process, we sought to hear Todd’s side directly, but he declined to answer a list of 60 questions compiled by the investigator after initially agreeing to respond. (Todd required the investigator to submit the questions through his attorney, after which he ceased communicating with Dr. Brown or the investigator.)

Based on our careful review of numerous first-hand reports, some of them dating back to 2004, we state our theological opinion and can say with one voice that, without a doubt, Todd is not qualified to serve in leadership or ministry today. There are credible accusations of a steady pattern of ungodly and immoral behavior, confirmed by an independent investigator’s interviews dating from 2008 up through 2019, along with other testimonies dating back to 2004. And while we only took into account first-hand reports, there are many other second and third-hand reports repeating the same accusations, often from people in different parts of the country (or, world) who had no connection between them, other than their interaction with Todd.

We love Todd and believe that he has been supernaturally gifted by God, and our highest joy would be to see Todd coming before God and the community of believers in humility and repentance, openly desiring help to get his life fully healed and surrendered to Jesus. Sadly, we see no signs of true, lasting repentance. Instead, we see a steady pattern of compromised behavior, including credible accusations of adultery, sexting (including the exchanging of nude pictures or videos), vulgar language, and substance abuse.

And, to repeat, these charges have been brought by numerous witnesses over a period of roughly 15 years, right until 2019. Even more importantly, many of these activities have involved people for whom Todd was spiritually responsible (interns, staff, team members, individuals he was ministering to), making these violations all the more serious.

In our view, this disqualifies Todd from public ministry until such time that he has demonstrated true, lasting fruits of repentance, which would include: the breaking of these long-term, sinful habits; public acknowledgment of his sin, without equivocation, including asking forgiveness of those he sinned against; and submission to local church leadership until trust had been rebuilt. This would likely take a period of years.

We also recognize that formal ordination into the ministry amounts to a recognition by other leaders of a candidate’s qualifications to serve as a leader in the Church. We therefore recommend that Todd’s current ordination be rescinded until the process of repentance and restoration, described above, has taken place.

It is also our opinion that, while it is possible for Todd to do public ministry again in the future, at no point should he lead his own ministry. Instead, if he was truly restored to God and in submission to godly authority, he could serve in another leader’s ministry. But we believe it would be unwise and even potentially dangerous for him to lead his own ministry again.

Unfortunately, what’s missing in the modern church is often the combination of relational and organizational accountability, which would ensure each minister’s ability to navigate turbulent emotional, organizational, and spiritual waters. We pray that Todd would find such relational and organizational accountability, and it is our hope that this will become the norm, rather than the exception, for other leaders in the days ahead.

We recognize, of course, that we have no legal authority over Todd or his ministry, nor do we seek to have such authority. Rather, as elders in the Body of Christ who have been asked to judge righteously, and in the fear of the Lord, we make our viewpoint public, praying that this will help bring confidence and hope to those who have been sinned against as well as encourage deeper accountability in the Church.

We pray for God’s best for Todd and his family and encourage them to seek out godly help with the hope that their lives may be fully restored in God.

Dr. Brown will be issuing a separate statement outlining the process to this point, and we encourage you to direct all questions to him. May 2020 be a year of redemption, restoration, and hope for the Body of Christ.

Dr. Joseph Mattera, Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church, Brooklyn, NY, and Convener of the US Coalition of Apostolic Leaders

Dr. James W. Goll, Founder of God Encounters Ministries, Franklin, TN

Dr. Jane Hamon, Co-Pastor, Vision Church @ Christian International, Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Dr. Harry Jackson, Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church, Beltsville, MD, and Presiding Bishop of the Ambassadors of Hope Fellowship of Churches

Dr. Don Finto, Pastor Emeritus, Belmont Church, Nashville, TN, and President and founder of Caleb Company (Source)


Scooby-Doo Investigation Over! Brown Finds God Supernaturally Gifted Todd Bentley!

Rev. Wade writes:

When reached for comment today regarding the results of the Dr. Michael Brown Scooby-Doo investigation into him, Todd Bentley was quoted as saying, “I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling NAR kids!” Seriously, after a few grueling months Brown has finished his work regarding the Bentley fiasco. For the uninitiated, Todd Bentley was an evangelical darling back in 2008 as he was packing 15,000 people a night into tent meetings at Lakeland Florida. His meetings were bizarre with a capital huh? Bentley would impart healing by physically assaulting the people seeking healing. This included punching a man in the stomach suffering from stage four pancreatic cancer and kicking a little old lady in the face with his steel tipped biker boot. I kid you not. Regardless of the insanity, the people showed and that is what gets the attention of the purpose driven industrial complex because people equal money. So they dispatched the top NAR false teachers and prophets to drive down to Lakeland and anoint Bentley a prophet. This includes the founder of the NAR, C. Peter Wagner as well as Bill Johnson.

After pouring oil over Bentley’s head the NAR went home and then God revealed that Bentley was a fraud, having an affair on his wife with their nanny. He stepped down in disgrace but that disgrace would not stick as the NAR still wanted his potential revenue generation. They assigned Johnson and Rick Joyner to oversee his “restoration” which appeared to be merely divorcing his wife and marrying his nanny. After he was restored, Bentley settled in Texas and started his silliness again. Last year it was uncovered that he had engaged in a series of inappropriate and sexual relationships with interns, including sexting with them and sharing the sexual exploits of his wife. Try and keep in mind that this is someone claiming to be a pastor. Despite the credible allegations, Dr. Michael Brown was asked by some unknown NAR power to convene a panel that would investigate whether Bentley should be allowed to continue in ministry. You have got to be kidding me. Below is the statement from Brown regarding the results of this investigation, so let us reason once more beloved and see what the Gatekeeper of the NAR has determined regarding the preacher who likes to kick little old ladies in the face.

“As followers of Jesus, we delight in God’s mercy and grace and believe in the power of restoration and forgiveness. At the same time, we recognize that God’s Word holds leaders in the Church to high standards, since they serve as representatives of Christ himself. The question before us is this: Does Todd Bentley, founder of Fresh Fire Ministries, live up to those standards? Is he qualified to be a recognized leader in the Church?” — Dr. Michael Brown

Really. Is that the question Michael? I am going to go out on a limb here and say that is not really the question. The question is why was he ever considered a leader in the church? Why would any sane Christian ever think that a man who punches and kicks people to allegedly heal them and then blame that on the Holy Spirit should ever be considered part of the church at all, let alone in leadership? You see, what Dr. Brown and his band of meddling kids never realized is that sane thinking Christians with an ounce of discernment cast Todd Bentley aside in 2008. He never should have been allowed to lure and trap new interns into his sexual dalliances. The blame for that falls to Bill Johnson and Rick Joyner; and now Dr. Michael Brown. For daring to loan a shred of credibility to this disgusting man who has only tarnished the name of Jesus for his own ends. Notice however that the opening of the final statement reveals they were trying to pursue restoration and forgiveness. They were never impartial. This was never about the victims of Todd Bentley but how we could excuse him again so he can keep generating the money for the system.

“The signers of this statement are leaders in ministry who were asked to review a matter that invokes these beliefs and to judge the fitness of a person for ministry according to biblical standards and the leading of the Holy Spirit. In conducting such investigation there are limits on what can be known with certainty, but we look carefully at long-term track records and the accumulated testimony of many witnesses. The opinion we have reached here is theological, answering the question: Does Todd Bentley, founder of Fresh Fire Ministries, live up to the high standards required of those who serve as representatives of Christ? Is he qualified, according to our understanding of biblical standards, to be a recognized leader in the Church? As part of this process, we sought to hear Todd’s side directly, but he declined to answer a list of 60 questions compiled by the investigator after initially agreeing to respond. (Todd required the investigator to submit the questions through his attorney, after which he ceased communicating with Dr. Brown or the investigator.)” — Dr. Michael Brown

The two big names besides Brown on this Scooby-Doo Commission were Joseph Mattera and James Goll. Mattera is a full-blown NAR dominionist and Goll is one of the most egregious false prophets alive today. Who better to decide the fate of the man who sexted pictures and sexual details of his wife with his interns? It is just hysterical that Brown always tries to sound so pious and official about this process when he is deciding if a man who claimed to have his own angel named Emma during the days when he was sleeping with his nanny behind his wife’s back should be fit for Church leadership.

“Based on our careful review of numerous first-hand reports, some of them dating back to 2004, we state our theological opinion and can say with one voice that, without a doubt, Todd is not qualified to serve in leadership or ministry today. There are credible accusations of a steady pattern of ungodly and immoral behavior, confirmed by an independent investigator’s interviews dating from 2008 up through 2019, along with other testimonies dating back to 2004. And while we only took into account first-hand reports, there are many other second and third-hand reports repeating the same accusations, often from people in different parts of the country (or, world) who had no connection between them, other than their interaction with Todd.” — Dr. Michael Brown

Note the dates! They have fist hand reports dating back to 2004, four whole years before Lakeland. They established a steady pattern of ungodly and immoral behavior, confirmed independently, from 2008 through 2019! That means from the days of Lakeland, through his fall, during his sham restoration, into his new ministry efforts and through this very day, Todd Bentley has never changed nor repented of his behavior. How many victims are there from Lakeland through today that can be laid squarely at the feet of Bill Johnson and Rick Joyner? This is what happens when you whitewash a restoration process. The truly pathetic thing is it sounds like Dr. Brown was willing to do it again for Bentley but he refused to cooperate.

“We love Todd and believe that he has been supernaturally gifted by God, and our highest joy would be to see Todd coming before God and the community of believers in humility and repentance, openly desiring help to get his life fully healed and surrendered to Jesus. Sadly, we see no signs of true, lasting repentance. Instead, we see a steady pattern of compromised behavior, including credible accusations of adultery, sexting (including the exchanging of nude pictures or videos), vulgar language, and substance abuse. And, to repeat, these charges have been brought by numerous witnesses over a period of roughly 15 years, right until 2019. Even more importantly, many of these activities have involved people for whom Todd was spiritually responsible (interns, staff, team members, individuals he was ministering to), making these violations all the more serious.” — Dr. Michael Brown

What are you talking about??? This is so infuriating. So is Dr. Michael Brown now saying that Lakeland was legitimate? That the Holy Spirit really did direct Bentley to punch people in the stomach and kick people in the face? When exactly was Todd Bentley supernaturally gifted by God? The obvious answer has to be 2008 when Lakeland was at its height. Except one little problem Doc. Your investigation uncovered first hand reports as far back as 2004 so why would God supernaturally gift someone sexually immoral and commission them to beat people up in His name? What bible do you read? Your own investigation here says 15 years of adultery, sexting, exchanging nude pictures or videos (and you conveniently left out here that these were also of his wife), vulgar language, and substance abuse. That means from 2004-2019. So when along this timeline of debauchery do you see God supernaturally gifting him?

You correctly state that these allegations have also come from people who he was spiritualty responsible for making it even more serious and then in the same breath you say your highest joy would be for Bentley to repent. Do you have any care or concern for his victims? Do you care at all about the sheep? There was nothing supernatural about Lakeland. Just a crazy ex-biker from Canada got the entire NAR to bow down to him just before God revealed him for the fraud he was. Now the same NAR is trying again to sweep his abuse and sexual antics under the rug but Todd wasn’t playing anymore. Now, I know why Dr. Brown is forced to pay lip service to the victims and pretend Bentley was gifted by God. If he does not the logical questions would arise against Bill Johnson and Rick Joyner and we can’t have that.

“In our view, this disqualifies Todd from public ministry until such time that he has demonstrated true, lasting fruits of repentance, which would include: the breaking of these long-term, sinful habits; public acknowledgment of his sin, without equivocation, including asking forgiveness of those he sinned against; and submission to local church leadership until trust had been rebuilt. This would likely take a period of years. We also recognize that formal ordination into the ministry amounts to a recognition by other leaders of a candidate’s qualifications to serve as a leader in the Church. We therefore recommend that Todd’s current ordination be rescinded until the process of repentance and restoration, described above, has taken place. It is also our opinion that, while it is possible for Todd to do public ministry again in the future, at no point should he lead his own ministry. Instead, if he was truly restored to God and in submission to godly authority, he could serve in another leader’s ministry. But we believe it would be unwise and even potentially dangerous for him to lead his own ministry again.” — Dr. Michael Brown

It is always about such a time when the wolf can be allowed back in the pulpit. That was not what restoration was supposed to be. People need to be resorted in their walk first, assuming they were saved at all. These are pretty strong recommendations but remember they have no control to enforce any of them. How can they not see the logical disconnect though? So you have established proof going back 15 years of continued perverse and abusive behavior. You state that restoration should take years. You find that he would have to submit to local church leadership and lose his ordination. If he was to ever return to ministry it should not be with himself as the lead. You conclude it would be dangerous for him to ever lead ministry again. Yet in the same breath you state that God supernaturally gifted him and that you wished he would just comply so you can get him back in the pulpit again. Bentley is not the only one compromised here beloved.

“Unfortunately, what’s missing in the modern church is often the combination of relational and organizational accountability, which would ensure each minister’s ability to navigate turbulent emotional, organizational, and spiritual waters. We pray that Todd would find such relational and organizational accountability, and it is our hope that this will become the norm, rather than the exception, for other leaders in the days ahead. We recognize, of course, that we have no legal authority over Todd or his ministry, nor do we seek to have such authority. Rather, as elders in the Body of Christ who have been asked to judge righteously, and in the fear of the Lord, we make our viewpoint public, praying that this will help bring confidence and hope to those who have been sinned against as well as encourage deeper accountability in the Church. We pray for God’s best for Todd and his family and encourage them to seek out godly help with the hope that their lives may be fully restored in God.” — Dr. Michael Brown

It is too bad that this panel did not have similar concern for the victims of Todd Bentley. Just look at how Brown frames this debacle. Do you honestly think that Bentley was a victim of turbulent emotional, organizational and spiritual waters? Seriously? Do you think Bentley cheated on his wife, then sexted pictures of his next wife, because the church does not have relational and organizational accountability? Even if you give him a pass from 2004-2008, discernment alone should have disqualified him from ministry once Lakeland went viral.

This is the point that Dr. Michael Brown, Joseph Mattera and James Goll still do not get. The only reason we are talking about Bentley victims from 2012-2019 is that he was falsely “restored” by two members of the NAR. Bill Johnson and Rick Joyner should be held to account for the bodies in the wake of Todd Bentley’s ministry. You can even put aside the affair in 2008. How in the world can Michael Brown look anyone in the face and pretend that Lakeland was a move of God? We need to go back and correct the original sin of the NAR clown car going to Lakeland to anoint a man who physically assaulted people for a living as a prophet. Is Todd Bentley fit to lead in the church today? Hell no because he should never have been allowed to lead after using assault and battery as a healing tool. Is Todd Bentley fit to lead in the church today? Hell no and it did not take me three months to decide.

In the Facebook comments section following this post, Dr. Brown was censoring the thread by deleting anything he wanted to. One person complained that his friend had posted nothing but truth and Brown responded that he slandered a glorious move of God in Pensacola. We should never lose sight of that amidst the reasonableness of Dr. Michael Brown. The reason why he clearly thinks that Todd Bentley was kicking little old ladies in the face at the direction of God is that he still believes the Kundalini spirit invasion in Pensacola was also a move from God. People spasming uncontrollably is not a move from the Lord beloved. Neither is mugging a man with cancer. I am glad at least that the self-created drama of this Scooby-Doo investigation is now over. Bentley will continue to do what he has always done and Brown will continue to excuse it.

Reverend Anthony Wade — January 2, 2020

Source: Rev. Anthony Wade, ‘828 Ministries’, http://www.828ministries.com/articles/1/Scooby-Doo-Investigation-O-by-Anthony-Wade-God-200102-563.html Published January 2, 2020. (Accessed January 3, 2020.)

via Dr. Michael Brown believes Todd Bentley was “supernaturally gifted by God”. —

Doug Casey’s Top 7 Predictions for the 2020s – LewRockwell

Article Image

The task is to make some predictions (although “forecasts” sounds more legitimate) about the Big Picture. OK, I’m game. Let’s write some plausible science fiction, with a tinge of horror story.

#1 Demographics

First, it’s good to remember that demographics have a life of their own. That’s not good from the point of view of those of us of European descent. We’re only 10% of world population and falling rapidly. Worse, it seems we’re responsible for all the world’s problems and therefore aren’t very popular.

In Europe, I expect the ’20s will have a lot of mass migration, the largest in scale since the barbarian invasions of the fifth century. This time there will be millions, then tens of millions, of Africans coming across the Mediterranean, looking for a higher standard of living—like all migrants.

In the United States there will be hundreds of thousands coming up from Central America. A Reconquista movement will develop, to make the Southwest Hispanic again. And young Chicanos and cholos won’t be interested in paying 50% of their incomes to support old white broads on Social Security in New England.

Meanwhile, lots of Mohammedans from Central Asia will migrate north to Russia.

Millions of Chinese will migrate to Africa. The reason for this is that the Chinese have lent scores of billions of dollars to Africans to build seaports, airports, roads, railroads, mines, and other infrastructure as part of their One Belt, One Road Initiative. They’re repossessing these assets and bringing in their own people in order to run them profitably—as well as disperse excess population.

All of these things will be massively destabilizing.

#2 The Greater Depression

The consequence of scores of trillions of new currency units being printed around the world in response to the crisis that began in 2007 will be a catastrophic Greater Depression. Made worse by negative interest rates. Expect massive unemployment, high retail inflation, a collapse of the bond market, and a much lower stock market. Most important, expect a lower standard of living for the average American.

#3 The Election of a Left-Wing Democrat

One consequence of the Greater Depression will be the election of a left-wing Democrat, if not in 2020, then definitely in 2024. The US has been undergoing what amounts to a cultural revolution, because the universities, media, and entertainment have been captured by the memes of cultural Marxism. The last cultural revolution was in the ’60s. This one will be much more serious, with broader participation. In fact, the US is on the ragged edge of a civil war between the Red counties and the Blue counties. They don’t like each other and don’t share the same values. The best solution is separation.

#4 China Implodes

China is on its way to dominating the world this century. The changes in China over the last 30 years are both real and unparalleled in world history. But in the meantime, its financial system—starting with its banks—will implode. Mrs. Wong will be very, very unhappy to find that 50% of her savings has disappeared.

#5 The United States Starts a Major War

The US is likely to provoke a major war, partly in an attempt to unite a culturally divided country. But not just a sport war such as we’ve had in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. Probably with China, possibly Russia or Iran. Perhaps with all three. The US won’t do well, since it will find that its aircraft carriers, F-35s, and the like are equivalent to cavalry before WW1 and battleships before WW2.

#6 US Dollar Loses Its Top Status

The US dollar will lose its preeminence and will be treated like a hot potato by foreigners. Trillions will flood back to the US in exchange for whatever is available: land, companies, what have you. This will help take domestic inflation to unprecedented levels. Meanwhile, China, Russia, and numerous other countries want to discard the dollar. It makes no sense to use the currency of your adversary—or enemy. Especially when all dollar transactions have to clear through New York.

Foreign governments have been buying gold in anticipation of this. And the gold price will go considerably higher.

#7 The Singularity

But enough doom and gloom. On the bright side, we’ll approach the Singularity. Many technologies—including artificial intelligence, robotics, space exploration, biotech, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology—are advancing at the rate of Moore’s Law.

As these new technologies come into their own over this decade, the changes they create will be on par with electrification, the automobile, the airplane, and the computer during the 20th century. But all this will happen in a decade or so. These things have the potential to transform the very nature of reality.

What Should You Do?

I can give you a lot of speculations. But in times of radical change the most important thing is to keep what you have.

I suggest three simple actions. Diversify politically and geographically. Buy lots of gold and silver. Have a nice piece of productive land in a reasonably secure jurisdiction.

And get yourself a nice widescreen to watch it all happen. You might as well be entertained…

Reprinted with permission from International Man.

— Read on www.lewrockwell.com/2020/01/doug-casey/doug-caseys-top-7-predictions-for-the-2020s/

Military And Political Trends Of 2019 That Will Shape 2020 | Zero Hedge

Summing up the developments of 2019, one might expect that the current low-intensity state of the Syrian conflict would continue for years. However, several factors and developments could instigate the renewal of full-fledged hostilities…

Via Southfront.org,

In the year 2019 the world was marked with a number of emerging and developing crises.

The threat of terrorism, conflicts in the Middle East, expanding instability in South America, never-ending military, political and humanitarian crises in Africa and Asia, expansion of NATO, insecurity inside the European Union, sanction wars and sharpening conflicts between key international players. One more factor that shaped the international situation throughout the year was the further collapse of the existing system of international treaties. The most widely known examples of this tendency are the collapse of the INF and the US announcement of plans to withdraw from the New START. Meanwhile, the deterioration of diplomatic mechanisms between key regional and global actors is much wider than these two particular cases. It includes such fields as NATO-Russia relations, the US posture towards Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, unsuccessful attempts to rescue vestiges of the Iran nuclear deal, as well as recent setbacks in the diplomatic formats created to de-escalate the Korean conflict.

One of the regions of greatest concern in the world, is the Middle East. The main destabilizing factors are the remaining terrorist threat from al-Qaeda and ISIS, the crises in Libya, Syria and Iraq, the ongoing Saudi invasion of Yemen, the deepening Israeli-Arab conflict, and a threat of open military confrontation involving the US and Iran in the Persian Gulf. These factors are further complicated by social and economic instability in several regional countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and even Iran.

After the defeat of ISIS, the war in Syria entered a low intensity phase. However, it appears that the conflict is nowhere near its end and the country remains a point of instability in the region.

ISIS cells are still active in the country. The announced US troop withdrawal appeared to be only an ordinary PR stunt as US forces only changed their main areas of presence to the oil-rich areas in northeastern Syria. Washington exploits its control over Syrian resources and influence on the leadership of the Syrian Kurds in order to effect the course of the conflict. The Trump administration sees Syria as one of the battlegrounds in the fight against the so-called Iranian threat.

The province of Idlib and its surrounding areas remain the key stronghold of radical militant groups in Syria. Over the past years, anti-government armed groups suffered a series of defeats across the country and withdrew towards northwestern Syria. The decision of the Syrian Army to allow encircled militants to withdraw towards Idlib enabled the rescue of thousands of civilians, who were being used by them as human shields in such areas as Aleppo city and Eastern Ghouta. At the same time, this increased significantly the already high concentration of militants in Greater Idlib turning it into a hotbed of radicalism and terrorism. The ensuing attempts to separate the radicals from the so-called moderate opposition and then to neutralize them, which took place within the framework of the Astana format involving Turkey, Syria, Iran and Russia, made no progress.

The Summer-Fall advance of the Syrian Army in northern Hama and southern Idlib led to the liberation of a large area from the militants. Nevertheless, strategically, the situation is still the same. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly the official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, controls most of the area. Turkish-backed ‘moderate militants’ act shoulder to shoulder with terrorist groups.

Turkey is keen to prevent any possible advances of the government forces in Idlib. Therefore it supports further diplomatic cooperation with Russia and Iran to promote a ‘non-military’ solution of the issue. However it does not seem to have enough influence with the Idlib militant groups, in particular HTS, to impose a ceasefire on them at the present time. Ankara could take control of the situation, but it would need a year or two that it does not have. Therefore, a new round of military escalation in the Idlib zone seems to be only a matter of time.

Syria’s northeast is also a source of tensions. Turkey seized a chunk of territory between Ras al-Ayn and Tell Abyad in the framework of its Operation Peace Spring. The large-scale Turkish advance on Kurdish armed groups was halted by the Turkish-Russian ‘safe zone’ agreement and now the Syrian Army and the Russian Military Police are working to separate Kurdish rebels from Turkish proxies and to stabilize Syria’s northeast. If this is successfully done and the Assad government reaches a political deal with Kurdish leaders, conditions for further peaceful settlement of the conflict in this part of the country will be created. It should be noted that Damascus has been contributing extraordinary efforts to restore the infrastructure in areas liberated from terrorists by force or returned under its control by diplomatic means. In the eyes of the local population, these actions have an obvious advantage over approaches of other actors controlling various parts of Syria.

Israel is another actor pursuing an active policy in the region. It seeks to influence processes which could affect, what the leadership sees as, interests of the state.Israel justifies aggressive actions in Syria by claiming to be surrounded by irreconcilable enemies, foremost Iran and Hezbollah, who try to destroy Israel or at least diminish its security. Tel Aviv makes all efforts to ensure that, in the immediate vicinity of its borders, there would be no force, non-state actors, or states whose international and informational activities or military actions might damage Israeli interests. This, according to the Israeli vision, should ensure the physical security of the entire territory currently under the control of Israel and its population.

The start of the Syrian war became a gift for Israel. It was strong enough to repel direct military aggression by any terrorist organization, but got a chance to use the chaos to propel its own interests. Nonetheless, the rigid stance of the Israeli leadership which became used to employing chaos and civil conflicts in the surrounding countries as the most effective strategy for ensuring the interests of the state, was delivered a blow. Israel missed the moment when it had a chance to intervene in the conflict as a kind of peacemaker, at least on the level of formal rhetoric, and, with US help, settle the conflict to protect its own interests. Instead, leaders of Israel and the Obama administration sabotaged all Russian peace efforts in the first years of the Russian military operation and by 2019, Tel Aviv had found itself excluded from the list of power brokers in the Syrian settlement. Hezbollah and Iran, on the other hand, strengthened their position in the country after they, in alliance with Damascus and Russia, won the war on the major part of Syrian territory, and Iran through the Astana format forged a tactical alliance with Turkey.

Iran and Hezbollah used the preliminary outcome of the conflict in Syria, and the war on ISIS in general, to defend their own security and to expand their influence across the region. The so-called Shia crescent turned from being a myth exploited by Western diplomats and mainstream media into a reality. Iran and Hezbollah appeared to be reliable partners for their regional allies even in the most complicated situations.

Russia’s strategic goal is the prevention of radical Islamists from coming to power. Russia showed itself ready to enter dialogue with the moderate part of the Syrian opposition. Its leadership even demonstrated that it is ready to accept the interests of other actors, the US, Israel, Kurdish groups, Turkey, Iran, and Hezbollah, if this would help in reaching a final deal to settle the conflict.

Summing up the developments of 2019, one might expect that the current low-intensity state of the Syrian conflict would continue for years. However, several factors and developments could instigate the renewal of full-fledged hostilities:

  • A sudden demise or forceful removal of President Bashar al-Assad could create a situation of uncertainty within the patriotic component of the Syrian leadership;

  • Changes within the Russian political system or issues inside Russia which could lead to full or partial withdrawal of support to the Syrian government and withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria;

  • A major war in the Middle East which would turn the entire region into a battlefield. In the current situation, such a war could only start by escalation between the US-Israeli-led bloc and Iran.

The Persian Gulf and the Saudi-Yemen battleground are also sources of regional instability. In the second half of 2019, the situation there was marked by increased chances of open military confrontation between the US-Israeli-Saudi bloc and Iran. Drone shoot-downs, oil tanker detentions, open military buildups, and wartime-like rhetoric became something common or at least not very surprising. The US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel point to Iran as the main instigator of tensions.

Iran and its allies deny responsibility for the escalation reasonably noting that their actions were a response to aggressive moves by the US-Israeli-Saudi axis. From this point of view, Iran’s decision to limit its commitments to the already collapsed Nuclear Deal, high level of military activity in the Persian Gulf, shoot down of the US Global Hawk spy drone, and increased support to regional Shia groups are logical steps to deter US—led aggression and to solidify its own position in the region. Iran’s main goal is to demonstrate that an open military conflict with it will have a devastating impact to the states which decide to attack it, as well as to the global economy.

The US sanctions war, public diplomatic support of rioters, and the Trump administration’s commitment to flexing military muscle only strengthen Tehran’s confidence that this approach is right.

As to Yemen’s Houthis, who demonstrated an unexpected success in delivering retaliatory strikes to Saudi Arabia, they would continue to pursue their main goal – achieving a victory in the conflict with Saudi Arabia or forcing the Kingdom to accept the peace deal on favorable terms. To achieve this, they need to deliver maximum damage to Saudi Arabia’s economy through strikes on its key military and infrastructure objects. In this case, surprising missile and drone strikes on different targets across Saudi Arabia have already demonstrated their effectiveness.

The September 14 strike on Saudi oil infrastructure that put out of commission half of the Saudi oil output became only the first sign of future challenges that Riyadh may face in case of further military confrontation.

The unsuccessful invasion of Yemen and the confrontation with Iran are not the only problems for Saudi Arabia. The interests and vision of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East have been in conflict for a long time. Nonetheless, this tendency became especially obvious in 2019. The decline of influence of the House of Saud in the region and inside Saudi Arabia itself led to logical attempts of other regional players to gain a leading position in the Arabian Peninsula. The main challenger is the UAE and the House of Maktoum.

Contradictions between Saudi Arabia and the UAE turned into an open military confrontation between their proxies in Yemen. Since August 29th, Saudi Arabia has provided no symmetric answer to the UAE military action against its proxies. It seems that the Saudi leadership has no will or distinct political vision of how it should react in this situation. Additionally, the Saudi military is bogged down in a bloody conflict in Yemen and struggles to defend its own borders from Houthi attacks.

The UAE already gained an upper hand in the standoff with Saudi Arabia in the economic field. This provided motivation for further actions towards expanding its influence in the region.

During the year, Turkey, under the leadership of President Recep Erdogan, continued strengthening its regional positions. It expanded its own influence in Libya and Syria, strengthened its ties with Iran, Qatar, and Russia, obtained the S-400, entered a final phase in the TurkStream project, and even increased controversial drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean. Simultaneously, Ankara defended its national interests -repelling pressure from the United States and getting off with removal from the F-35 program only. Meanwhile, Turkish actions should not be seen as a some tectonic shift in its foreign policy or a signal of ‘great friendship’ with Russia or Iran.

Turkish foreign policy demonstrates that Ankara is not seeking to make ‘friends’ with other regional and global powers. Turkey’s foreign policy is mobile and variable, and always designed to defend the interests of Turkey as a regional leader and the key state of the Turkic world.

Developments in Libya were marked by the strengthening of the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and backed by the UAE, Egypt, and to some extent Russia. The LNA consolidated control of most of the country and launched an advance on its capital of Tripoli, controlled by the Government of National Accord. The LNA describes its main goal as the creation of the unified government and the defeat of terrorism. In its own turn, the Government of National Accord is backed by Turkey, Qatar, the USA and some European states. It controls a small part of the country, and, in terms of military force, relies on various militias and even radical armed groups linked with al-Qaeda. Ankara signed with the Tripoli government a memorandum on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, it sees the GNA survival as a factor which would allow it to justify its further economic and security expansion in the region. This clash of interests sets conditions for an escalation of the Libyan conflict in 2020.

Egypt was mostly stable. The country’s army and security forces contained the terrorism threat on the Sinai Peninsula and successfully prevented attempts of radical groups to destabilize the country.

By the end of the year, the Greater Middle East had appeared in a twilight zone lying before a new loop of the seemingly never-ending Great Game. The next round of the geopolitical standoff will likely take place in a larger region including the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.

Consistently, the stakes will grow involving more resources of states and nations in geopolitical roulette.

The threat that faces Central Asia is particularly severe since the two sets of actors have asymmetrical objectives. Russia and China are rather interested in the political stability and economic success of the region which they view as essential to their own political and security objectives.It is not in the interest of either country to have half a dozen failed states in their immediate political neighborhood, riven by political, economic, and religious conflicts threatening to spread to their own territories. In addition to being a massive security burden to Russia and China, it would threaten the development of their joint Eurasian integration projects and, moreover, attract so much political attention that the foreign policy objectives of both countries would be hamstrung. The effect would be comparable to that of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on the US political and military establishment. The monetary price of these wars, the sheer political distraction, wear and demoralization of the armed forces, and the unfortunately frequent killings of civilians amount to a non-tenable cost to the warring party, not to mention damage to US international “soft power” wrought by scandals associated with Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and “black sites”. Even now, shock-waves in the US military hierarchy continue to be felt regarding the court-martialed senior-ranking US Navy “SEAL” commando charged for the wanton killing of civilians in Northern Iraq during the US military’s anti-ISIS operations.

By contrast, this dismal scenario would be enough to satisfy the US foreign policy establishment which, at the moment, is wholly dominated by “hawks” determined to assure the continuation of US hegemony. Preventing the emergence of a multi-polar international system by weakening China and Russia is their desire. This sets the stage for another round of great power rivalry in Central Asia. While the pattern is roughly the same as during the 19th and late 20th centuries—one or more Anglo-Saxon powers seeking to diminish the power of Russia and/or China—the geography of the battlefield is considerably larger for it encompasses the entirety of post-Soviet Central Asian republics. Also included is China’s province of Xinjiang which has suddenly attracted considerable Western attention, manifested, as usual, by concern for “human rights” in the region. Historically, such “concern” usually precedes some form of aggressive action. Therefore the two sets of great power actors—the US and other interested Western powers on the one hand, with Russia and China on the other—are locked in a standoff in the region.

The key security problem is militancy and the spread of terrorism. The US and its NATO partners remain unable to achieve a military victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Taliban reached a level of influence in the region, turning it into a rightful party to any negotiations involving the United States. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that a fully-fledged peace deal can be reached between the sides. The Taliban’s main demand is the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country. For Washington, conceding to this would amount to public humiliation and a forceful need to admit that the superpower lost a war to the Taliban. Washington can achieve a military victory in Afghanistan only by drastically increasing its forces in the country. This will go contrary to Trump’s publicly declared goal – to limit US participation in conflicts all around the world. Therefore, the stalemate will continue with the Taliban and the US sitting at the negotiating table in Qatar, while Taliban forces slowly take control of more and more territory in Afghanistan.

Besides fighting the US-backed government, in some parts of the country, the Taliban even conducts operations against ISIS in order to prevent this group from spreading further. Despite this, around 5,000 ISIS militants operate in Afghanistan’s north, near the border with Tajikistan. Member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization are concerned that ISIS militants are preparing to shift their focus to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Russia. The terrorists are infiltrating CIS states, incorporating with organized crime, creating clandestine cells, brainwashing and recruiting new supporters, chiefly the socially handicapped youth and migrants, [and] training them to carry out terrorist activities. The worsening situation in Central Asia contributes to the spread of radical ideas. Now the main threat of destabilization of the entire Central Asian region comes from Tajikistan. This state is the main target of militants deployed in northern Afghanistan.

Destabilization of Central Asia and the rise of ISIS both contribute to achievement of US geopolitical goals. The scenario could devastate Russia’s influence in the region, undermine security of key Russian regional ally, Kazakhstan, and damage the interests of China. The Chinese, Kazakh, and Russian political leadership understand these risks and engage in joint efforts to prevent this scenario.

In the event of further destabilization of Central Asia, ISIS sleeper cells across the region could be activated and a new ISIS self-proclaimed Caliphate could appear on the territory of northern Afghanistan and southern Tajikistan. Russia and China would not benefit from such a development. In the case of China, such instability could expand to its Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, while in Russia the main targets could be the Northern Caucasus and large cities with high numbers of migrant laborers from Central Asian states.

Armenia now together with Georgia became the center of a US soft power campaign to instigate anti-Russian hysteria in the Caucasus. Ethnic groups in this region are traditionally addicted to US mainstream propaganda. On the other hand, the importance of the South Caucasus for Russia decreased notably because of the strong foothold it gained in the Middle East. 2020 is looking to be another economically complicated year for Georgia and Armenia.

Throughout 2019, China consolidated its position as a global power and the main challenger of the United States. From the military point of view, China successfully turned the South China Sea into an anti-access and area-denial zone controlled by its own military and moved forward with its ambitious modernization program which includes the expansion of China’s maritime, airlift, and amphibious capabilities. The balance of power in the Asia-Pacific has in fact shifted and the Chinese Armed Forces are now the main power-broker in the region. China appeared strong enough to fight back against US economic and diplomatic pressure and to repel the Trump Administration’s attempts to impose Washington’s will upon Beijing. Despite economic war with the United States, China’s GDP growth in 2019 is expected to be about 6%, while the yuan exchange rate and the SSE Composite Index demonstrate stability. The United States also tried to pressure China through supporting instability in Hong Kong and by boosting defense aid to Taiwan. However, in both cases, the situation appears to still be within Beijing’s comfort zone.

An interesting consequence of US-led pressure on China is that Washington’s actions provided an impetus for development of Chinese-Russian cooperation. In 2019, Moscow and Beijing further strengthened their ties and cooperation in the economic and military spheres and demonstrated notable unity in their actions on the international scene as in Africa and in the Arctic for example.

As to Russia itself, during the year, it achieved several foreign policy victories.

  • The de-facto diplomatic victory in Syria;

  • Resumption of dialogue with the new Ukrainian regime and the reanimation of the Normandy format negotiations;

  • Improvement of relations with some large European players, like France, Italy, and even Germany;

  • Implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project despite opposition from the US-led bloc;

  • Implementation of the Turkish Stream project with Turkey;

  • Strengthening of the Russian economy in comparison with previous years and the rubble’s stability despite pressure from sanctions. Growth of the Russian GDP for 2019 is expected to be 1.2%, while the Russia Trading System Index demonstrated notable growth from around 1,100 points at the start of the year to around 1,500 by year’s end.

The salient accomplishment of the Russian authorities is that no large terrorist attack took place in the country. At the same time, the internal situation was marked by some negative tendencies. There was an apparent political, media, and social campaign to undermine Chinese-Russian cooperation. This campaign, run by pro-Western and liberal media, became an indicator of the progress in Chinese-Russian relations. Additionally, Russia was rocked by a series of emergencies, corruption scandals linked with law enforcement, the plundering of government funding allocated to the settlement of emergency situations, the space industry, and other similar cases. A number of Russian mid-level officials made statements revealing their real, rent-seeking stance towards the Russian population. Another problem was the deepening social stratification of the population. Most of the citizens experienced a decrease in their real disposable income, while elites continued concentrating margin funds gained through Russia’s successful actions in the economy and on the international level. These factors, as well as fatigue with the stubborn resistance of entrenched elites to being dislodged, caused conditions for political instability in big cities. Liberal and pro-Western media and pro-Western organizations exploited this in an attempt to destabilize the country.

Militarization of Japan has given the US a foothold in its campaign against China, Russia, and North Korea. The Japan Self-Defense Forces were turned into a fully-fledged military a long time ago. Japanese diplomatic rhetoric demonstrates that official Tokyo is preparing for a possible new conflict in the region and that it will fight to further expand its zone of influence. The Japanese stance on the Kuril Islands territorial dispute with Russia is an example of this approach. Tokyo rejected a Russian proposal for joint economic management of four islands and nearby waters, while formally the islands will remain within Russian jurisdiction -at least for the coming years. Japan demands the full transfer of islands a term which is unacceptable to Russia from a military and political point of view. The social and economic situation in Japan was in a relatively stable, but guarded state.

Denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea reached a stalemateafter the North Korean leadership claimed that Washington was in no hurry to provide Pyongyang with acceptable terms and conditions of a possible nuclear deal. The example of the US unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran also played a role. The positive point is that tensions on the Korean Peninsula de-escalated anyway because the sides sat down at the negotiation table. Chances of the open military conflict involving North Korea and the United States remain low.

In February 2019, the Indian-Pakistani conflict over the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir put the greater region on the brink of a large war with potential for the use of nuclear weapons. However, both India and Pakistan demonstrated reasonable restraint and prevented further escalation despite an open confrontation between their militaries which took place at the same moment. Meanwhile, the February escalation demonstrated the growing power of Pakistan. In the coming years, look to Jammu and Kashmir as a point of constant instability and military tensions, with very little chance that the sides will find a comprehensive political solution to their differences.

The threat of terrorism is another destabilizing factor in the region. In 2019, ISIS cells made several attempts to strengthen and expand their presence in such countries as Malaysia and Indonesia. Law enforcement agencies of both countries are well aware of this threat and contribute constant and active efforts to combat this terrorism and radicalism. It should be noted that Malaysia is in conflict with the Euro-Atlantic elites because of its independent foreign policy course. For example, its government repeatedly questioned the mainstream MH17 narrative and officially slammed the JIT investigation as politicized and nontransparent. So, the leadership of the country is forced to be in a state of permanent readiness to repel clandestine and public attempts to bring it into line with the mainstream agenda.

While the European Union is, theoretically, the world’s biggest economy using the world’s second most popular currency in international transactions, it remains to be seen whether, in the future, it will evolve into a genuine component of a multi-polar international system or become a satellite in someone else’s—most likely US—orbit.There still remain many obstacles toward achieving a certain “critical mass” of power and unity. While individual EU member states, most notably Germany and France, are capable of independent action in the international system, individually they are too weak to influence the actions of the United States, China, or even Russia. In the past, individual European powers relied on overseas colonial empires to achieve great power status. In the 21st century, European greatness can only be achieved through eliminating not just economic but also political barriers on the continent. At present, European leaders are presented with both incentives and obstacles to such integration, though one may readily discern a number of potential future paths toward future integration.

Continued European integration would demand an agreement on how to transfer national sovereignty to some as yet undefined and untested set of European political institutions which would not only guarantee individual rights but, more importantly from the point of view of national elites, preserve the relative influence of individual EU member states even after they forfeited their sovereignty. Even if the Euro-skeptics were not such a powerful presence in EU’s politics, it would still be an insurmountable task for even the most visionary and driven group of political leaders. Such a leap is only possible if the number of EU states making it is small, and their level of mutual integration is already high.

The post-2008 Euro zone crisis does appear to have communicated the non-sustainability of the current EU integration approach, hence the recent appearance of “two-speeds Europe” concept which actually originated as a warning against the threat of EU bifurcation into well integrated “core“ and a less integrated “periphery”. In practical terms it would mean “core” countries, definitely including Germany, France, and possibly the Benelux Union, would abandon the current policy of throwing money at the less well developed EU member states and, instead, focus on forging “a more perfect Union” consisting of this far more homogeneous and smaller set of countries occupying territories that, over a thousand years ago, formed what used to be known as the Carolingian Empire. Like US territories of the 19th century, EU states outside of the core would have to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” to earn membership in the core, which would require them to adopt, wholesale, the core’s political institutions.

The deepening disproportion of EU member state economies, and therefore sharpening economic disputes, are the main factor of instability in Europe. The long-delayed withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the union, which is finally expected to take place in 2020, might trigger an escalation of internal tensions over economic issues which might blow up the EU from the inside. Other cornerstones of European instability are the extraordinary growth of organized crime, street crime, radicalism, and terrorism, most of which were caused by uncontrolled illegal migration and the inability of the European bureaucracy to cut off the flows of illegal migrants, integrate non-radicalized people into European society, and detect all radicals and terrorists that infiltrate Europe with migrants.

The situation is further complicated by the conflict in Ukraine and the destruction of international security treaties, such as the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and its planned withdrawal from the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). These developments go amid constant military and political hysteria of micro-states and Poland instigated by the Euro-Atlantic elites. The EU bureaucracy is using this state of hysteria and ramping up speculations about a supposed military threat from Russia and an economic and political threat from China to distract the public and draw attention away from the real problems.

The return of Russia as the diplomatic and military great power to Africa marked a new round of the geo-economic standoff in the region. The apparent Russian-Chinese cooperation is steadily pushing French and British out of what they describe as their traditional sphere of influence. While, in terms of economic strength, Russia cannot compete with China, it does have a wide range of military and diplomatic means and measures with which to influence the region. So, Beijing and Moscow seem to have reached a non-public deal on a “division of labor”. China focuses on implementation of its economic projects, while Russia contributes military and diplomatic efforts to stabilize the security situation, obtaining revenue for its military and security assistance. Moscow plays a second violin role in getting these guaranteed zones of influence. Terrorism is one of the main threats to the region. The Chinese-Russian cooperation did not go without a response from their Western counterparts that justified their propaganda and diplomatic opposition to Beijing-Moscow cooperation by describing Chinese investments as “debt-traps” and the Russian military presence as “destabilizing”. In 2019, Africa entered into a new round of great powers rivalry.

The intensification of US “soft power” and meddling efforts, social, economic tensions, activities of non-state actors, and organized criminal networks became the main factors of instability in South America. Venezuela and Bolivia were targeted by US-backed coups. While the Venezuelan government, with help from China and Russia, succeeded in repelling the coup attempt, Bolivia was plunged into a violent civil conflict after the pro-US government seized power. Chile remained in a state of social economic crisis which repeatedly triggered wide-scale anti-government riots. Its pro-US government remained in power, mainly, because there was no foreign ‘democratic superpower’ to instigate the regime change campaign. Actions of the government of Colombia, one of the key US regional allies, undermined the existing peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and forced at least a part of the former FARC members to take up arms once again. If repressions, killings, and clandestine operations aimed at the FARC members committed to the peace continue, they may lead to a resumption of FARC-led guerrilla warfare against the central government. The crisis developing in Mexico is a result of the growth of the drug cartels-related violence and economic tensions with the United States. The right-wing Bolsonaro government put Brazil on track with the US foreign policy course to the extent that, the country worked with Washington against Venezuela, claiming that it should not turn into ‘another Cuba’. A deep economic crisis in Argentina opened the road to power for a new left-centric president, Alberto Fernandez. Washington considers South America as its own geopolitical backyard and sees any non pro-US, or just national-oriented government, as a threat to its vital interests. In 2020, the US meddling campaign will likely escalate and expand, throwing the region into a new round of instability and triggering an expected resistance from South American states. An example of this is the situation in Bolivia. Regardless of the actions of ousted President Evo Morales, the situation in the country will continue escalating. The inability of the pro-US government to deliver positive changes and its simultaneous actions to destroy all the economic achievements of the Morales period might cause Bolivia to descend into poverty and chaos causing unrest and possibly, a civil war.

During 2019, the world superpower, led by the administration of President Donald Trump, provided a consistent policy designed to defend the interests of US domestic industry and the United States as a national state by any means possible. This included economic and diplomatic pressure campaigns against both US geopolitical competitors and allies. The most widely known Trump administration move of this kind was the tariff war with China. However, at the same time, Washington contributed notable efforts in almost all regions around the globe. For example, the United States opposed Chinese economic projects in Africa, Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Europe, tried to limit exports of the Russian defense industry, pressured NATO member states who did not want to spend enough on defense, and proposed that US allies pay more for the honor and privilege of provided “protection”. Additionally, Trump pressured the Federal Reserve Board of Governors into lowering interest rates and announced plans to lower interest rates even further to weaken the dollar in order to boost national industry and increase its product availability on the global market. These plans caused strong resistance from international corporations and global capitalists because this move may undermine the current global financial system based upon a strong US dollar. This straightforward approach demonstrated that Trump and his team were ready to do everything needed to protect US security and economic interests as they see them. Meanwhile, it alienated some “traditional allies”, as in the case of Turkey which decided to acquire Russian S-400s, and escalated the conflict between the Trump Administration and the globalists. The expected US GDP growth in 2019 is 2.2%. The expected production growth of 3.9% reflects the policy aimed at supporting the real sector. In terms of foreign policy, the White House attempted to rationalize US military presence in conflict zones around the world. Despite this, the unprecedented level of support to Israel, confrontation with Iran, China, and Russia, militarization of Europe, coups and meddling into the internal affairs of sovereign states remain as the main markers of US foreign policy. Nevertheless, the main threat to United States stability originates not from Iranians, Russians, or Chinese, but rather from internal issues. The constant hysteria in mainstream media, the attempt to impeach Donald Trump, and the radicalization of different social and political groups contributes to destabilization of the country ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The year 2019 was marked by a number of dangerous developments. In spite of this, it could have been much more dangerous and violent. Political leadership by key actors demonstrated their conditional wisdom by avoiding a number of open military conflicts, all of which had chances to erupt in the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, South America, and even Europe. A new war in the Persian Gulf, US military conflict with North Korea, an India-Pakistan war -none of these were started. A peaceful transfer of power from Petro Poroshenko to Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine allowed for the avoidance of a military escalation in eastern Europe. China and the United States showed their restraint despite tensions in the Asia-Pacific, including the Hong Kong issue. A new global economic crisis, expected for some time by many experts, did not happen. The lack of global economic shocks or new regional wars in 2019 does not mean that knots straining relations among leading world powers were loosened or solved. These knots will remain a constant source of tension on the international level until they are removed within the framework of diplomatic mechanisms or cut as a result of a large military conflict or a series of smaller military conflicts.

Chances seem high that 2020 will become the year when a match will be set to the wick of the international powder keg, or that it will be the last relatively calm year in the first quarter of the 21st century. The collapse of international defense treaties and de-escalation mechanisms, as well as accumulating contradictions and conflicts among world nations give rise to an especial concern.

— Read on www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/military-and-political-trends-2019-will-shape-2020

Subprime Will Be Back With A Vengeance In 2020 | Zero Hedge

Lending standards for homebuyers are expected to diminish in 2020…

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Everything is subprime nowadays as banks, finance companies, and unconventional lenders are less averse to risk and are willing to extend credit to consumers with low FICO scores and inadequate incomes. As the great Yogi Berra used to say, 

If you have poor credit and an interest in a home that is above your paygrade, then have no fear!

Moody’s Investor Service is out with a new report that predicts mortgage lenders will loosen their lending standards. In 2020, it is anticipated to be a lot easier for borrowers with bad credit to purchase a house as financial institutions attempt to offset the decline in affordable housing options.

Will the housing market be drowning in so-called liar loans – minimal income and document verification – over the next 12 months? Not quite, but Moody’s analyst Donald Lee wrote in the firm’s outlook that there will be “a high percentage” of loans with “limited or alternative documentation.”

Although most of the $11 trillion mortgage finance market consists of tight underwriting standards, you can anticipate an influx of unconventional loans that briefly exited the market following the housing crash. This means that new originators and issuers will set up shop and conduct transactions that are supported by closed-end second mortgages, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), and loans backed by manufactured homes.

When you factor in banks lowering their down payment requirements and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac scooping up greater mortgages, the prognostications are most likely accurate. Plus, the increase in the number of consumers slipping into the subprime category has been steadily going up. Deutsche Bank data show a drop in credit scores for borrowers between the ages of 30 and 59.

But that is not all. The forecast also suggests that many of these subprime mortgages will be packaged into bond agreements without government financing. While Moody’s stopped short of citing a number, Bank of America Global Research analysts project a record $32 billion in bond issuance in 2020, up from $9 billion in 2018.

Subprime, loosened standards, and mortgage-backed securities (MBS): It’s 2006 all over again.

Revving Up Subprime Auto Loans

Subprime is prevalent in every facet of the credit industry. Indeed, we should be terrified of subprime mortgages leading to another day of reckoning. However, it is the subprime auto loan market that could be one of the drivers of the next financial crisis. And we are beginning to see the warning signs of a crash.

As Liberty Nation reported, subprime accounts for approximately one-third of the overall auto loan market. In the first half of 2019, a fifth of new auto loans went to subprime borrowers, totaling roughly $61 billion. So far, the results have not been pretty as more consumers are defaulting within the first few months of borrowing, leading to these loans being packaged into bonds.

— Read on www.zerohedge.com/personal-finance/subprime-will-be-back-vengeance-2020

Global Financial System Is A Big Rube Goldberg Machine | Zero Hedge

 It is a ridiculously complicated contraption built to perform what should normally be a simple task…

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The global economy is like a giant “Rube Goldberg” machine. It is a ridiculously complicated contraption built to perform what should normally be a simple task. Rube Goldberg machines often mimic the real world in that they are goal-oriented with many parts coming together to complete a task.

In the real world, things are usually not intentionally designed to be complicated but the reality is that they just are. It is an understatement to say the global financial system is not a well-oiled machine. More often than we would like to admit various systems and parts are thrown or “cobbled together” in a haphazard way to get the job done. We tend to try and explain events in terms of cause and effect but in doing so the bigger picture has a way of getting lost. Often hidden away is the nature of the risk that results from complexity and systems becoming codependent upon others. Bestselling author Nassim Taleb who wrote, “The Black Swan” detailed in his book how when something is highly complicated highly improbable and unpredictable events can and do occur.

Some of this is playing out right now and can be seen in the Fed’s key reversal in policy. In an effort to avoid a crisis the Fed has been forced to deal with a liquidity issue in repo rates since a sudden and dramatic surge began in September. While it is difficult to see the difference between QE and an injection aimed at maintaining liquidity, in this case, several reasons exist to believe this is not QE but something far more disturbing. While many of us predicted central banks had painted themselves into a corner and would never be able to bring down their balance sheets this could be considered as proof. Still, how this will play out is yet to be seen. 

History shows we often have no idea what is driving events until long after they have transpired and even then the picture is blurred by interpretation. The lens by which we peer at events is firmly controlled by those with an agenda. Even when control occasionally slips from their grasp such as when Donald J. Trump was elected President of America that does not mean the puppet masters have surrendered power it merely represents a temporary lapse in their dominance. An effort to be realistic brings us back to the fact that government, big business, and mainstream media hold the cards and control. With this in mind, it is disturbing to look at the individuals leading these various factions, such a look gives me little reason for faith or calm.

The Direction In Which Things Fall Does Matter

— Read on www.zerohedge.com/markets/global-financial-system-big-rube-goldberg-machine