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Be Alert!

Moriel Ministries Be Alert! has added this Blog as a resource for further information, links and research to help keep you above the global deception blinding the world and most of the church in these last days. Jesus our Messiah is indeed coming soon and this should only be cause for joy unless you have not surrendered to Him. Today is the day for salvation! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, - Psalms 95:7

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Iran and Hamas do Christmas

JEWISH WORLD REVIEW - By Caroline B. Glick - December 26, 2008 Both Iran and its Hamas proxy in Gaza have been busy this Christmas week showing Christendom just what they think of it. But no one seemed to have noticed. On Tuesday Hamas legislators marked the Christmas season by passing a Sharia criminal code for the Palestinian Authority. Among other things, the code legalizes crucifixion. Hamas's endorsement of nailing enemies of Islam to crosses came at the same time as it renewed its jihad. Here too, Hamas wanted to make sure that Christians didn't neglected as its fighters launched missiles at Jewish day care centers and schools. So on Wednesday Hamas lobbed a mortar at Erez crossing point into Israel just as a group of Gazan Christians were standing on line waiting to travel to Bethlehem for Christmas. While Hamas joyously renewed its jihad against Jews and Christians, its overlords in Iran also basked in jihadist triumphalism. The source of Iran's sense of ascendancy this week was Britain's state-owned Channel 4 network's decision to request that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad give a special Christmas Day address to the British people. Ahmadinejad's speech was supposed to be a response to Queen Elizabeth II's traditional Christmas Day address to her subjects. That is, Channel 4 presented his message as a reasonable counterpoint to the Christmas greetings of the head of the Church of England. Channel 4 justified its move by proclaiming that it was providing a public service. As a Channel 4 spokesman told the Jerusalem Post, "We're offering [Ahmadinejad] the chance to speak for himself, which people in the West don't often get the chance to see." While that sounds reasonable, the fact is that Westerners see Ahmadinejad speaking for himself all the time. They saw him at the UN two years in a row as he called for the countries of the world to submit to Islam; claimed that Iran's nuclear weapons program is divinely inspired; and castigated Jews as subhuman menaces to humanity. They saw him gather leading anti-Semites from all over the world at his Holocaust denial conference. They heard him speak in his own words when he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." And of course, over the years Ahmadinejad has often communicated directly to the British people. For instance, in 2007 he received unlimited airtime on British television as he paraded kidnapped British sailors and marines in front of television cameras; forced them to make videotaped "confessions" of their "crime" of entering Iranian territorial waters; and compelled them to grovel at his knee and thank him for "forgiving" them. The British people listened to Ahmadinejad as he condemned Britain as a warmongering nation after its leaders had surrendered Basra to Iranian proxies. They heard him -- speaking in his own voice -- when he announced that in a gesture of Islamic mercy, he was freeing their humiliated sailors and marines in honor of Muhammad's birthday and Easter and then called on all Britons to convert to Islam. Yet as far as Channel 4 is concerned, Ahmadinejad is still an unknown quantity for most Britons. So they asked him to address the British on Christmas. And not surprisingly, in his address, he attacked their way of life and co-opted their Jewish savior Jesus, saying, "If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers." He then reiterated his call for non-Muslims to convert to Islam saying, "The solution to today's problems can be found in a return to the call of the divine prophets." The fact of the matter is that Channel 4 is right. There is a great deal of ignorance in the West about what the likes of Ahmadinejad and his colleagues in Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas stand for. But this isn't their fault. They tell us every day that they seek the destruction of the Jews and the domination of the West in the name of Islam. And every day they take actions that they believe advance their goals. The reason that the West remains ignorant of the views and goals of the likes of Hamas and Iran is not that the latter have hidden their views and goals. It is because the leading political leaders and foreign policy practitioners in the West refuse to listen to them and deny the significance of their actions. As far as the West's leaders are concerned, Iran and its allies are unimportant. They are not actors, but objects. As far as the West's leading foreign policy "experts" and decision makers are concerned, the only true actors on the global stage are Western powers. They alone have the power to shape reality and the world. Oddly enough, this dominant political philosophy, which is based on denying the existence of non-Western actors on the world stage, is referred to as political "realism." The "realist" view was given clear expression this week by one of the "realist" clique's most prominent members. In an op-ed published Tuesday in Canada's *Globe and Mail* entitled, "We must talk Iran out of the bomb," Richard Haas, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations argued that given the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the dangers of a US or Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear installations, the incoming Obama administration must hold direct negotiations with the mullahs in order to convince them to end their nuclear weapons program. In making this argument, Haas ignores the fact that this has been the Bush administration's policy for the past five years. He also ignores the fact that President George W. Bush adopted this policy at the urging of Haas's "realist" colleagues and at the urging of Haas himself. Moreover, Haas bizarrely contends that in negotiating with the mullahs, the Obama administration should offer Iran the same package of economic and political payoffs that the Bush administration and the EU have been offering, and Teheran has been rejecting since 2003. Even more disturbingly, Haas ignores the fact that Teheran made its greatest leaps forward in its uranium enrichment capabilities while it was engaged in these talks with the West. So in making his recommendation to the Obama administration -- which has already announced its intention to negotiate with the mullahs -- Haas has chosen to ignore Iran's statements, its actions, and known facts about the West's inability to steer it from its course of war by showering it with pay-offs. Haas and his colleagues in the US, Europe and on the Israeli Left are similarly unwilling to pay attention to Hamas. In an article in the current edition of *Foreign Affairs*, Haas and his colleague Martin Indyk from the Brookings Institute call on the Obama administration to either ignore Hamas, or if it abides by a ceasefire with Israel, they suggest that the Obama administration should support a joint Hamas-Fatah government and "authorize low-level contact between US officials and Hamas." The fact that Hamas itself is wholly dedicated to Israel's destruction and Islamic global domination is irrelevant. Similarly, Haas and Indyk assume that Syria can be appeased into abandoning its support for Hizbullah and Hamas, and its strategic alliance with Iran. Syrian President Bashar Assad's views of how his interests are best served are unimportant. Both Assad's statements of eternal friendship with Iran and his active involvement in Iran's war effort against the US and its allies in Israel, Iraq and Lebanon are meaningless. The "realists" know what he really wants. Muslims aren't the only ones whose views and actions are dismissed as irrelevant by these foreign policy wise men. The "realists" ignore just about every non-Western actor. Take Iran's principal Asian ally North Korea for example. This week North Korea's official news agency threatened to destroy South Korea in a "sea of fire," and "reduce everything treacherous and anti-reunification to debris and build an independent, reunified country on it," if any country dares to attack its nuclear installations. North Korea made its threat two weeks after Kim Jung Il's regime disengaged from its fraudulent disarmament talks with the Bush administration. Those talks -- the brainchild of foreign policy "realists" Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill -- were based on the "realist" belief that the US can appease North Korea into giving up its nuclear arsenal. (That would be the same nuclear arsenal that the North Koreans built while engaged in fraudulent disarmament talks with the Clinton administration.) After Pyongyang agreed in February 2007 to eventually come clean on its plutonium installations (but not its uranium enrichment programs), and to account for its nuclear arsenal, (but not for its proliferation activities), Rice convinced President George W. Bush to remove North Korea from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terror and to end its subjection to the US's Trading with the Enemy Act this past October. And then, after securing those massive US concessions, on December 11 Pyongyang renounced its previous commitments, walked away from the table and now threatens to destroy South Korea if anyone takes any action against it. North Korea's behavior is of no interest to the "realists" however. As far as they are concerned, the US has no option other than to continue the failed appeasement policy that has enabled North Korea to develop and proliferate nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. As the Council on Foreign Relations Gary Samore said, "I think we're sort of condemned to that process because we don't really have any alternative." Samore and his colleagues believe there are no other options because all other options involve placing responsibility for contending with North Korea on non-Western powers like China, South Korea and Japan. More radically, it involves holding North Korea itself accountable for its actions and making it pay a price for its poor behavior. As the "realists" claim that the US has no option other than their failed appeasement policies, back in the real world, this week military officials from the US's Pacific Command warned that North Korea may supply Iran with intercontinental ballistic missiles. These warnings are credible given that North Korea has been the primary supplier of ballistic missiles and missile technology to Iran and Syria and has played a major role in both countries' nuclear weapons programs. Defending Channel 4's invitation to Ahmadinejad, Dorothy Byrne, the network's head of news and current affairs, said, "As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East President Ahmadinejad's views are enormously influential. As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view." When you think about it, broadcasting Ahmadinejad really would have been a public service if Byrne or any of the delusional "realists" calling the shots were remotely interested in listening to what he has to say. But they aren't. So far from a public service for Britain, it was a service for those who, unbeknownst to most Britons, are dedicated to destroying their country. http://www.jewishworldreview.com/1208/glick122608.php3?printer_friendly FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa's Little (Slave) Helper

DER SPIEGEL [BMG: Bertelsmann Media Group/Gruner & Jahr Magazines] - By Daryl Lindsey - December 5, 2008 Few European Christmas traditions elicit as many diverse and divergent opinions as Black Pete of the Netherlands. Santa's former slave may have been whitewashed in recent years, but many still view him as a racist caricature from the country's colonial past. Myths about Santa's sinister helpers are as widespread in Europe as Grimm's Fairy Tales. In parts of Germany, Knecht Ruprecht brings terror into the hearts of naughty children when the gift-giving season arrives. In Austria it's Krampus, the horned devil who torments adolescents with asocial tendencies. In France, Pere Foutard does the proverbial whipping. Kids in America are threatened with coal in their stockings if they act up, but in European folklore, they are beaten with switches or stuffed in sacks. Brutal stuff. But in no country is the tale of Santa's diabolical sidekick as bizarre as in the Netherlands, home to Zwarte Piet ("Black Pete"). The story of Black Pete is unique on the continent and it is also one of Europe's oddest and most titilating Christmas traditions -- one that tends to raise the eyebrows of foreign visitors and local immigrants. No small number of people see the yuletide character as a racist emblem of Holland's colonial past. Before trawling that debate, though, let's take a brief look at the myth that has defined the country's Holiday Season for the better part of a century and a half. Many say it was Holland's Sinterklaas who inspired America's modern-day Santa. But that's where the similiarities end. Unlike Santa, who lives at the North Pole, Sinterklaas resides in sunny Spain. The Saint Nicolas figure that both are based on was actually a real Greek bishop who hailed from the city of Mira in what is modern-day Turkey. The Dutch version, however, is much more faithful to the original. With his gold crosier, red bishop's dress and red mitre, he's far more ecclesiastical looking than his portly American counterpart. And whereas Santa Claus is famous for circumnavigating the globe with a sleigh and his reindeer, Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands each year by, get this, steamship. Steamship? At the time of the invention of Holland's modern Christmas myth by a Dutch schoolteacher in 1852, explains playright Mark Walraven, who recently wrote and staged a play critical of Black Pete, steamships were simply awe-inspiring. They must have been something akin to the Concorde or Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spaceships. Perpetually in tow is Sinterklaas' slave, Black Pete. At least that's what he was called from his 19th century origins up until the 1950s, when a new focus on cultural sensitivity led to a slight watering down of a tradition that was slowly subjected to the rigors of political correctness. In the new tale told to children each year, that pesky black face paint on Zwarte Piet's face comes from soot collected as Santa's helper wriggles down chimneys to deposit branches in the shoes of badly behaving kids or to help deliver presents from Sinterklaas for the good ones. Some whitewashers of this racist little tale also like to say he's a chimney sweep. "It's just an excuse used by people because they don't like to be reminded of the dark nature of Black Pete," says Walraven. The arrival of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet is an event covered live on national television and the festivities are celebrated across the country. For several weeks, dozens of Zwarte Pieten and Sinterklaases can be seen crisscrossing the lowlands country, culminating on Dec. 5 with the exchange of gifts. Throughout the celebrations, you can buy Black Pete cakes, plush toys, balloons, chocolates and any number of knickknacks. 'If You Don't Behave, Black Pete Will Get You' In the old days, parents would warn their children: "If you don't behave, Black Pete will come and take you with him back to Spain." Today, though, Black Pete -- and there are often a handful of them accompanying Sinterklaas as he makes his way around Dutch towns -- hands out cookies. The new incarnation of Black Pete may be a chimney sweep and "Sinterklaas' helper," but efforts to make him less offensive haven't been totally successful. The thousands who dress each year as Black Petes still resemble players in a 19th century American minstrel show or a British Golliwogg. And in recent years, that has angered many in the Netherlands' black immigrant community, which stems largely from former colonies like Surinam in South America, the Antilles in the Caribbean or Africa. Forty-six-year-old playwrite Walraven, whose drama "In the Shadow of the Saint" about the debate over Black Pete recently played at Amsterdam's Krater Theater, says he used to be one of the many white men in Holland who would paint their faces black each year to the delight of children. "I stopped after I began working with black people," he says. "Many people are offended by this symbol. In songs written before World War II, he was often called Sinterklaas's slave, and the texts of many songs and lyrics about him, especially from the 19th century, make it very clear that he was a racist symbol. In the end, Black Pete always comes across as a little stupid, clumsy and one who talks strangely and doesn't speak proper Dutch." But in a country where Sinterklaas and Black Pete is a favorite tradition, talk like that can quickly spark a wildfire of anger. Though an increasing number of groups are speaking out against Black Pete, most Dutch don't see anything racist in the character and instead fear that critics are waging an all-out war on Christmas itself. An anti-Black Pete protest planned in the city of Eindhoven in September was cancelled after its organizers received death threats. "The majority here in Holland refuse to talk about Black Pete," says playwright Walraven. "They are afraid that the people who discuss it want to take away Sinterklaas as a phenomenon." One of messages of his play, which received a warm reception in the immigrant-filled neighborhood where it premiered, is that you can still have Sinterklaas without Black Pete. "Many countries have abolished these kinds of things, but in Holland they still exist," Walraven explains. "Nevertheless, most Dutch don't consider themselves to be racist and feel they are being personally attacked when you criticize Black Pete." What would Walraven do with Black Pete? "I'd just get rid of him," he says. "You must admit that his origin is racist and that many people feel offended and hurt by it. It would be better to find another solution." In the Dutch-speaking Belgian region of Flanders, at least one city has already altered its tradition, switching roles to make Sinterklaas a black man and Pete his white helper. Felix De Rooy, the director who helped stage Walraven's plan in Amsterdam, has another idea. He recently suggested to the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad that Black Pete could be replaced by far less decisive figures of almost equal popularity in Holland and Belgium: The Smurfs. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,594674,00.html FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mormons, Muslims forge close ties

They see in each other a religion viewed with suspicion in U.S. and share an emphasis on the family LOS ANGELES TIMES [Tribune Company] - By David Haldane - April 13, 2008 The Mormon Church has to be among the most outgoing on Earth; in recent years its leaders have reached out to, among others, Hispanics, Koreans, Catholics and Jews. One of the most enthusiastic responses, however, has come from what some might consider a surprising source: U.S. Muslims. "We are very aware of the history of Mormons as a group that was chastised in America," says Maher Hathout, a senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles. "They can be a good model for any group that feels alienated." Which perhaps explains an open-mosque day held last fall at the Islamic Center of Irvine. More than half of the guests were Mormons. "A Mormon living in an Islamic society would be very comfortable," said Steve Young, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attending the event. The sentiment is echoed by Muslims. "When I go to a Mormon church, I feel at ease," said Haitham Bundakji, former chairman of the Islamic Society of Orange County. "When I heard the (Mormon) president speak a few years ago, if I'd closed my eyes I'd have thought he was an imam." Though the relationship has raised eyebrows and provided ammunition for critics of both religions, Mormons and Muslims have deepening ties in the United States. What binds them has little to do with theology: Mormons venerate Jesus as interpreted by founder Joseph Smith, while Muslims view Muhammad as God's prophet. Based on shared values and a sense of isolation from mainstream America, the connection was intensified by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and cemented by the Southeast Asia tsunami. Brigham Young University in Utah, the Mormon church's major institution of higher learning, features what is thought to be one of the world's best programs for translating classic Islamic works from Arabic to English. Though created primarily for academic purposes, the results have impressed Muslims flattered by the close attention. "It shows they have a keen interest in the Muslim world," said Levent Akbarut, a member of the Islamic Congregation of La Canada Flintridge (Los Angeles County). And Mormons and Muslims say they often are co-hosts of educational and social programs at which, though some may be angling for long-term doctrinal influence, very little open proselytizing of each other seems to take place. "We have a very close and friendly relationship," said Keith Atkinson, West Coast Mormon spokesman. Mormons "explain our faith to anyone who will listen" and "treat Muslims like anybody else," said Elder Dallin Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, one of the church's top governing bodies in Salt Lake City. But Oaks added that "we don't preach to people who would be disenfranchised" or likely offended. Arnold Green, a history professor at BYU, has traced how early Mormons in the 19th century were hounded by accusations that church founder Smith was the American Muhammad. The first Mormons angrily denied any connection to the Muslim prophet but gradually accepted some comparisons, particularly that both religions were founded by post-Christian prophets with strong sectarian views. "As the church grew into a global faith," Green wrote in a 2001 essay, "its posture toward Islam became ... more positive" until, today, "the two faiths have become associated in several ways, including Mormonism's being called the Islam of America." Both religions strongly emphasize family. They tend toward patriarchy, believing in feminine modesty, chastity and virtue. And although Islam discourages dancing involving both sexes, Mormons report that church-sponsored "modesty proms" commonly draw Islamic youths. Both faiths adhere to religion-based health codes, including prohibitions against alcohol, but Mormons and Muslims share something more: membership in quickly growing minority religions that many other Americans have sometimes viewed with suspicion and scorn. "We both come from traditions where there has been persecution in the past and continues to be prejudice," said Steve Gilliland, Mormon director of Muslim relations for Southern California. "That helps us Mormons identify with Muslims." A recent national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that although a thin majority of those polled expressed positive opinions of Muslims and Mormons, the number was significantly less than those favoring Roman Catholics or Jews. More than half the respondents said they had little or no awareness of the precepts and practices of either faith. But 45 percent saw Islam as more likely than other religions to encourage violence, and 31 percent said that Mormons weren't Christian. Armand Mauss, a Mormon and professor emeritus of sociology at Washington State University specializing in religious movements, said that unlike mainstream Christians and Jews, Muslims and Mormons "tend to make fairly stringent demands for religious conformity on their members." These practices, he said, include discouraging marriage outside the religion and observing dietary laws, such as the Mormon prohibition against tobacco, alcohol and caffeine. But the clincher, according to Mauss, is that both communities "have been stung in recent years by the recurrence of scandals over which they have no control." For Muslims, the obvious example is Sept. 11. For Mormons, Mauss says, the problem is polygamy, which, though rejected by the mainstream church more than a century ago, is still the first thing that occurs to many Americans when they think about the religion. And scattered throughout the Internet are numerous tracts, many by evangelical Christians, comparing the two religions in less-than-complimentary terms. "Modern Mohammedanism has its Mecca in Salt Lake," reads one. "Clearly the Quran was Joseph Smith's model, so closely followed as to exclude even the poor pretension of originality in his foul 'revelations.' " In Southern California, the relationship between the two religions became closer after the Los Angeles riots in 1992, when the Mormon Church, hoping to promote diversity, invited several ethnic and religious groups to attend the opening of its new temple in San Diego. Muslims responded in higher numbers and with greater enthusiasm than most others. The church later feted prominent Muslims in Salt Lake City. The relationship deepened with Sept. 11, 2001. In the months that followed, Mormons nationwide opened their churches to Islamic worshipers fearful of reprisals in their mosques. When Muslims needed a cannery to process the Bosnia-bound beef slaughtered for the annual Eid al-Adha observance, the Mormons offered theirs in Utah. Following the tsunami that devastated many Islamic communities, the Mormon church, which has a history of contributing to a wide range of charities, began working closely with Islamic Relief. Though it had helped Muslims before - providing 195 tons of powdered milk, hygiene kits, medical supplies and other provisions - it had never previously worked with this major Islamic agency, or on such a scale. And though the church continues to aid non-Muslim causes, only two of the six major disaster assistance efforts listed on its Web site since 2004 - Hurricane Katrina and Africa measles vaccination campaigns - did not primarily affect Islamic nations. The effects of Muslim-Mormon interaction are showing in subtle ways too. Spending time with Mormons, Bundakji says, has inspired him to stop drinking coffee. "I thought they had a good idea," he says. "Now I don't drink caffeine, and I don't have headaches anymore." This article also appeared on page B - 1 of the 4-13-08 San Francisco Chronicle http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/04/13/MN0410197R.DTL FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

TO THE CHURCH AND NATION OF BRITAIN

A few months ago Moriel web posted this prophecy by our friend & brother Stewart Dool from a sister ministry Moriel endorses here in Britain. While some contacted us in objection, I prayerfully considered it right to publish the prophetic prediction for prayerful consideration. I am in retrospect glad in light of recent events that we carried it and promoted it. He has certainly been vindicated; as it says in Romans 12 he "propheseyed according to his faith". Jacob Prasch The following is a prophetic word received by Stewart Dool (who heads up Intercessors for Britain) in the week 23-27 July 2007. It has been weighed and tested by others in senior positions of ministry. TO THE CHURCH AND NATION OF BRITAIN I am about to send fire upon you, the fire of My judgment, and it will consume on the right and on the left. All who have spurned My ways and My words will reap what they have sown, for in My burning anger I will judge the gods in whom you have put your trust, the gods of materialism and covetousness. The gold and the silver will be taken from you, and your portion will be emptiness, desolation and vanity. I will bring the stability of your currency into doubt, to show you that it is I alone who caused you to prosper in the past. I raised you to prominence among the nations and gave you authority over many peoples: so you became rich, and boasted in your wealth, but I will bring you low, and the nations over whom you once ruled will say "What has happened to this great nation?" As you have feared other gods, and not feared Me, so I will visit your deeds upon you. Your idolatries have led you astray, and you have become like those before whom you bow down. I commanded your fathers that they should not fear the gods of the nations, but you have not obeyed Me. Therefore I have given you into the hands of abominations and all manner of uncleanness. Darkness will envelope those who have led my people into false light, for I will no longer forbear in my wrath. I will blind them, and they shall stumble in the perversity of their ways. Many shall follow them into darkness and be taken in the snare of the wicked, for they have loved to wander, and they have not watched the path of their feet. My people give heed to those who prophesy a lie, and they delight in the teachers of falsehood. They run to those who steal from them by their destructive heresies, for they cannot discern the paths of righteousness. A wave of deception is about to break forth that will sweep many away, therefore take heed to yourselves, and cling to the word of My truth. I am bringing My Church to a time of testing, and I will search the hearts of all who call upon My name, and I will know those who are mine, and they shall know their God. My displeasure will be visited upon your Government, for those who rule over you have become offensive to Me, as they have set aside My laws and My statutes, exalting the wicked and despising My holy name. You have not abhorred bloodshed, therefore the blood of your sons and daughters will lie in your streets, until you learn that as the cry of the unborn calls to me for vengeance, so I shall require it of you. All these things I will do, because you have rejected Me, and thought that your own power could save you. Yet even now, if you will cry out to Me, and turn from your wickedness, I will spare. Nevertheless, I will chasten you in measure, and you shall know that I am the Lord. My beloved ones, the hour of My patience will not continue much longer. I call your therefore to seek my face with earnestness and zeal, that I may extend compassion to your land and people.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mrs Obama decides enough is enough: “My husband was born in Hawaii ..."

Mrs Obama decides enough is enough: “My husband was born in Hawaii and adopted by his step father, does that make him unpatriotic; she asks”, on a direct telephone to API. AFRICAN PRESS INTERNATIONAL (API) - Posted by africanpress on October 15, 2008 Accusing API of colluding with American internet bloggers in an effort to bring down her husband, Mrs Obama said she decided to call API because of what she termed, API’s help to spread rumours created by American bloggers and other racist media outlets in their efforts to damage a black man’s name, saying she hopes African Media was mature enough to be in the front to give unwavering support to her husband, a man Africans should identify themselves with. When API told her that our online news media was only relaying what the American Bloggers and other media outlets had discovered through their investigations, Mrs Obama was angered and she came out loud with the following: “African press International is supposed to support Africans and African-American view,” and she went to state that, “it is strange that API has chosen to support the racists against my husband. There is no shame in being adopted by a step father. All dirt has been thrown onto my husband’s face and yet he loves this country. My husband and I know that there is no law that will stop him from becoming the president, just because some American white racists are bringing up the issue of my husband’s adoption by His step father. The important thing here is where my husband’s heart is at the moment. I can tell the American people that My husband loves this country and his adoption never changed his love for this country. He was born in Hawaii, yes, and that gives him all the right to be an American citizen even though he was adopted by a foreigner; says Michelle Obama on telefon to API.” This is a very interesting turn of events. The American man Dr Corsi was recently reported to have been arrested in Kenya because there was fear that he might reveal information on Obama when he wanted to hold a press conference in Nairobi. The question now is why he was arrested and who ordered his arrest. Was Obama’s hand in this in any way? We will never know the truth but what is clear is that Dr Corsi was seen as a threat while in Kenya. When API asked Mrs Obama to comment on why Dr Corsi was arrested by the Kenyan government and whether she thought Kenya’s Prime Minister Mr Raila Odinga was involved in Dr Corsi’s arrest, she got irritated and and simply told API not to dig that which will support evil people who are out to stop her husband from getting the presidency. When asked who she was referring to as the evil people, she stated that she was not going to elaborate much on that but that many conservative white people and even some African Americans were against her husband, but that this group of blacks were simply doing so because of envy. On Farakhan and his ministry, Mrs Obama told API that it was unfortunate that Mr Farakhan came out the way he did supporting her husband openly before the elections was over. That was not wholehearted support but one that was calculated to convince the American people that my husband will support the growth of muslim faith if he became the president, adding “even if my husband was able to prove that he is not a Muslim, he will not be believed by those who have come out strongly to destroy his chances of being the next President. Do real people expect someone to deny a religion when 80 percent of his relatives are Muslims?; Mrs Obama asked. Mrs Obama asked API to write a good story about her husband and that will earn API an invitation to the innoguration ceremony when, as she put it , her husband will be installed as the next President of the United States of America next year. ADDED HERE BELOW DUE TO HUGE INTEREST ON THE ABOVE STORY. (TIME 16:08 Scandinavian time) Verification of the story: We have found it necessary to publish a telephone number that can be used to reach us should anyone doubt the story. We are doing this because of many requests by many people who want to know more abouth the story. We are able to receive calls tomorrow the 16th of October through to the 18th October. We find it important that our readers get the truth and not be misled in any way. This is a true story and we stand by everyone written. NB: For verification, we can be reached on 004793299739 Original Report http://africanpress.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/shocking-development-mrs-obama-decides-enough-is-enough-my-husband-was-born-in-hawaii-and-adopted-by-his-step-father-does-that-make-him-unpatriotic-she-asks-on-a-direct-telephone-to-api/ FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

McCain and Obama in `dead heat' among born-again voters

The Barna Group says Obama has a commanding lead and is making "significant inroads" among Christian voters THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS [A. H. Belo Corporation/Belo Group] - By Sam Hodges - October 23, 2008 Ventura, California -- Unless a dramatic shake-up of the electorate occurs in the next two weeks, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is poised to win the November 4th election by a comfortable margin. A new survey from The Barna Group, exploring the voting preferences of registered voters who are likely to vote in the upcoming election found that Sen. Obama has a 13-point lead against Republican John McCain (50% to 37%). One of the surprising insights of the research is the significant inroads Sen. Obama has made among the Christian community, particularly compared to 2004. In fact, among born again voters there is a statistical dead-heat: 45% plan to vote for Sen. McCain, while 43% expect to cast a ballot for Sen. Obama. Even if Sen. McCain were to sweep the 10% who are undecided born again voters, he would fail to reach the 62% who rallied for President Bush in 2004. Breaking Down the Christian Vote The born again segment is large and diverse. This November, born again voters figure to represent nearly one out of every two votes (48%), but they are far from a monolithic voting bloc. Barna Group surveys differentiate between two segments within the born again population - evangelicals and non-evangelical born again Christians. [Note: Most media polls use a simplistic approach to define evangelical, asking survey respondents if they consider themselves to be evangelical. Barna Group studies, on the other hand, ask a series of nine questions about a person's religious beliefs in order to determine if they are an evangelical.] The larger of the two groups, non-evangelical voters, represent 39% of likely voters. Currently, a plurality support Sen. Obama over Sen. McCain (48% to 41%). Nine percent of these voters are undecided, theoretically giving either candidate a chance to win this segment of voters. However, if voter preference sustains through Election Day, John McCain will not duplicate the significant margin enjoyed by George Bush over John Kerry four years ago among non-evangelical born again Christians (56% to 44%). Evangelicals Waver An equally surprising insight from the research is the fact that Obama has cut into the advantage Republicans enjoyed among the smaller, more conservative segment of evangelicals. Although evangelicals will represent about 9% of likely voters this November, they have been a critical base of solidly Republican voting for several decades. In 2004, for instance, 85% of these voters selected George Bush. However, with two weeks to go before the election just 63% said they are supporting the Arizona Senator, compared with 23% who opted for the candidate from Illinois. With 12% of the evangelical vote undecided, there is still a chance for McCain to expand his advantage with this group. Nevertheless, support for Obama has steadily increased over the summer months, moving from 9% of evangelicals who supported Obama in May to 17% in late July to the current level of 23%. Other Factors If the presidential election were held only among born again Americans, it would be a close contest. When the rest of the nation's voters are factored into the equation, Sen. Obama is staked to a commanding lead among likely voters, 50% to 37%. In large part this lead is due to the substantial support he receives among other self-identified Christians, that is, individuals who describe themselves as Christians but who are not categorized as born again. Among this group, 54% plan to vote for Sen. Obama, compared with 33% for Sen. McCain. This voting segment represents 36% of likely voters. Other voters who do not identify themselves as Christians comprise 14% of all likely voters. Among those who are associated with other faiths, the Democratic Senator generates a 60-point gap over the Republican Senator (74% versus 14%). While not as pronounced, atheists and agnostics also strongly prefer Sen. Obama over Sen. McCain (50% versus 28%). Original Report http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2008/10/mccain-and-obama-in-dead-heat.html FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Statement on South Ossetia from a Sister in Christ

Ed. Note: This statement goes does not support the claims of the Georgian Government, US Government, nor our media, but rather supports the claims of Russia, at least concerning reports of Georgians attacking their own people. The Bible claims that all things hidden in darkness will be shouted from the rooftops, so my view is to always get the truth out no matter how much it may sting. Considering the source of these claims - Bible believing Christians in South Ossetia who sent this to Moriel missionary Jason Catizone, I do not doubt it’s authenticity. August 17, 2008 Dear Jason, Thank you very much for your letter. Really, me and my friends appreciate your attention and comfort very much. We all need strong minds here to survive such a big tragedy. Even for believers, because many of us have relatives in and from South Ossetia. It’s difficult to stay indifferent when we listen to such awful stories which happened to our people - children, women, old people, and young men. But as I see it, what’s amazing is this - refugees want to return to Tskhinvali, because that’s where their homes are, and they don’t want to disturb or impose upon other people. I see that South Ossetian people are very special. As we visited victims - they are all open to accept us and appreciate any kind of attention and concern. They were always very kind, open, and simple. But what happened to them? These are the refugees’ stories and a short chronicle of what happened. On Friday night, when people (South Ossetians) were sleeping, the Georgian army suddenly attacked South Ossetia. Some hours before that, Georgia’s president (Saakashvili) proclaimed on TV that Georgia wouldn’t fire any shots - that he guaranteed peace. But after some hours they started, not shooting, but bombing the capital of South Ossetia (Tskhinvali) with heavy bombers and heavy artillery! Tanks went into the city and villages and did not sort out children or women, or between people’s houses or buildings. All night without stop heavy artillery with tanks and mortars bombed the city and villages. The next day everybody was waiting for help but there was not any help. When they heard sounds of airplanes, many people left their shelters and went out in the street to meet what they thought was Russian help. People waved their hands and headscarves with the hope that help had finally come. BUT, the airplanes flew down, under top of trees and bombed the people (South Ossetians). These were Georgian planes. There were more people killed in the street then there were during the night. Most Ossetians hid in cellars, moving from one to another. As the Georgian army occupied one region and then the next one in south Ossetia, during their move from one village to another the Georgians went down into people’s cellar and shot the simple people hiding in them; they burned down the houses with the Ossetian people inside them, or the Georgian soldiers flung their grenades and then went into the cellars and shot down women and children. There were many atrocities committed - barbarities, which are even difficult to describe. Georgian people, who consider themselves to be one of the highest cultures in the world – they cut people’s throats, burned homes to ashes, and raped our women. 36 – for thirty six hours there was not any help. Perhaps this time was given for all of us - first in South Ossetia, and then in North Ossetia - to pray to God for mercy and help. That was the only hope of everybody. All Churches here, believers - and even non-believers - were praying. And help finally came. Thanks be to God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! God sent help by the Russian army and the Russian people. There are mountains around our country and the roads are very narrow for the army to travel on, and so perhaps that is one of the reasons that the help came so late. Perhaps another reason was that the Russian army had no law allowing them to go into the territory of another country, until there were “enough” victims. It is a crazy law, isn’t it? I heard that the Georgian aggression plan was called “Clean Field” - to make the South Ossetian territory empty, without buildings or people. There were many stories we heard as we visited refugees, and I want to share a few – about how God showed His mercy to us. All refugees that I visited said that it’s a miracle that they are alive after that nightmare and horror. I call Nelly’s story, “To Share Suffering.” A week before the war, Nelly was traveling from Tskhinvali (in south Ossetia) to Vladikavkaz (in North Ossetia). In that moment she was struck with great love for her people and country. All her thoughts were about South Ossetia. She prayed: “O Lord! I want to share about all the suffering of my people, if it possible”. A week later she decided to return (to South Ossetia) and do some light remodeling of her apartment in Tskhinvali. And that’s when the war started. Three days and three nights with her sister, she moved from one cellar to another, and prayed with her neighbors. Now she says “I don’t understand how to live after all this. I used to think that I was strong, but now I understand that I am very, very weak.” When they left their shelter on the third day, Nelly noticed that her hands had strange spots on them - in the middle of both of her palms she had blue circles with a white point in the center. She understood that South Ossetians are very precious to Christ, that He is near to us, and that He is among us. Larisa’s story – “Noah’s Ark.” “I have a strange neighbor, she is believer. She always was strange. A week before the war she started to strengthen her cellar. She put cardboard there, a big mattress, lots of food, and so on. Her cellar was like a cellar within a cellar, deep and strong. We all laughed at her and said, ‘Are you going to live there?’ Only later, when we hid there for three days and nights with our neighbors, we understood that perhaps it was the best place for shelter in the city. Thank God that He saved us through this woman.” David - “Faith and War.” We, almost all Protestants in Russia, have a pacifist view to war. We do not accept the idea of carrying a gun. But there was a situation when children and women were killed and an old man tried to defend them with a gun. Nearby was a believer, who was praying all this time. When there were no men alive around him except that old man, the believer took the submachine gun and started shooting. The old man later told him, “Now I see that you are a real man and love your people, your country, and that you haven’t got a heart of stone.” There was also a tragedy in the Russian Orthodox Church – some worshippers were killed when they were praying on their knees. They are blessed, because they are with our Lord now in Heaven. This is not the first war - it is the third war in 19 years in which Georgia has attacked South Ossetia. In the first two wars there were also victims, but there was not as much help from Russia as we’ve recently received. Russia was weak. People in South Ossetia are humble enough to forgive insults, although they have a strong spirit. They are tired of wars. Christians often pray about peace in South Ossetia: how long must we wait? We Ossetians are not as eloquent, popular, or keen in political plots as the Georgians are, and so nobody knows about us or defends us. But today God defends us through Russia. He also comforts us through such brothers as you. May we never forget His help and power, and may we always praise Him! In the beginning of the last century, one of the Georgian leaders – Geordania - burned down Ossetian villages in South Ossetia. For what? We all always respected Georgian people, but why don’t Georgian people respect others? In Tbilisi (Georgia’s capital) they always say, “She is a good person, but she is Ossetian”, or, “He is good, but he is Armenian,” or “Russian,” and so on. Georgian leaders in President Gamsakhurdia’s time (in 1990), used their very popular slogan: “Georgia is only for Georgians.” And they said on TV, ‘Can you imagine that even the dumb Japanese live better than us cultured Georgians?!’ Maybe such self-conceit looks funny, but maybe it is also a high level of arrogance which provides the course for genocide. May God heal this nation and our president, and keep all of us from such illnesses. After the first war, about 18 years ago, some Georgians beat an old man within an inch of his life. When he prayed, “God, forgive all my sins and take my soul,” one of the Georgians said, “What?! Do you pray to God? Don’t you know that God is only the Georgian’s God?!” That old man is a member of our church now in Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia). In Soviet time, Georgia was always quite rich in comparison with other places in the Russian Federation; South Ossetia was a poor colony of Georgia. How can people in Ossetia believe the promises of the Georgian government any more? Perhaps, this is God’s war. As I see it, this is not the common people’s fault… it is our (believers’) fault. People are open to The Gospel, but perhaps the churches are sleeping here. There were always very few (and inactive) missionaries in South Ossetia. We can do great things if we will listen to God’s voice. There are many things which I want to write - more information - but hopefully I’ll write you later. Jason, I think that you would be very helpful here. But perhaps you can be helpful in the US also. About help, thank you very, very much for such wishes. I told Sergei Totiev (a pastor in Beslan who lost two of his children in the terrorist attack) that you want to help us, our Church and refugees. There are now several refugee camps in North Ossetia in which the South Ossetian refugees are living; there are camps in Beslan, Alagir, Nagir, Ardon, and other areas as well. Jason, do you remember Beslan? There also was suffering there for three days and three nights. Maybe it is the sign which is needed to be understood – the North (Beslan, North Ossetia) and the South (South Ossetia). By the way, I gave your last disc to one musician (he is also a businessman) from South Ossetia. Thank you for praying, that is what is really needed for our health - there are too many emotions. May God bless you and use you for His glory, and make you very fruitful! Your sister in Christ, Tamara * Emphasis Added

Friday, October 17, 2008

20 Muslim nations ban U.S. religious workers

Yet State Department allows entry to 100s of Muslim clerics each year WORLDNETDAILY - August 15, 2008 A new congressional study has found that more than 20 Muslim nations deny entry to American and other foreign religious workers, WND has learned, even as the U.S. State Department grants entry to hundreds of clerics from their countries each year. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and most other Middle Eastern countries still refuse to offer religious visas, and deny entry to U.S. clergy as official policy, according to a report by the Law Library of Congress, the foreign legal research arm of the U.S. Congress. In a shocker, U.S. allies Afghanistan and Iraq also made the list of religious refuseniks. "Of this group, the vast majority constitute Arab or Muslim states," said Wendy Zeldin, senior legal research analyst for the Library of Congress. "Since Islam prohibits proselytism by other religions, foreign religious workers will in effect be denied entry to conduct religious work," Zeldin wrote in the three-page report, a copy of which was obtained by WND. At the same time, Washington routinely issues R-1 religious visas to clerics from the Middle East, including jihadi hotbeds Saudi Arabia and Egypt, even though an alarming number of foreign imams have been suspects in terrorism investigations since 9/11. The Department of Homeland Security, in fact, considers visiting imams as nonthreatening as Buddhist monks. Screening procedures call for both visitors to be treated as the same level of security risk at the border. Also, R-2 visas are routinely granted to relatives of foreign imams. By comparison, Saudi religious police recently accused more than a dozen foreign Christians living in the kingdom of worshipping in their homes and ordered them deported. The deportation conflicts with the message stated just weeks earlier by Saudi King Abdullah, who called for interfaith dialogue and held a summit in Spain with a representatives from several major religions. "Deporting Christians for worshipping in their private homes shows that King Abdullah's speech is mere rhetoric and his country is deceiving the international community about their desire for change and reconciliation," International Christian Concern President Jeff King said. King Abdullah's meetings - which drew about 200 representatives of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Taoism and other religions - had to be held outside of Saudi Arabia, because, as one journalist observed, "the mere fact that rabbis would be openly invited to the kingdom, a country where in principle Jews are not permitted to visit, would have constituted a turning point." . . . . Nations not offering religious visas & denying or restricting entry to religious workers: I. No religious visas, entry denied to foreign religious workers: Afghanistan Algeria Bahrain Bhutan Brunei Egypt Iran Iraq Jordan Kuwait Libya Maldives Morocco North Korea Oman Palestine Qatar Saudi Arabia Syria Turkmenistan United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yemen II. No religious visas, entry allowed, but with restrictions: Armenia Azerbaijan Belarus Burma Cambodia China Georgia Indonesia Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Russia Serbia Solomon Islands Tajikistan Tuvalu Vietnam Source: Library of Congress http://www.worldnetdaily.com/?pageId=72446 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Christian Missionaries to Protest Discrimination in Israel

ARUTZ SHEVA (Israeli National News) - By Hana Levi Julian - June 27, 2008 The US-based Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations has thrown down the gauntlet in what may become a renewed battle over the issue of who has the right to immigrate to Israel. The group is an umbrella organization for approximately 80 American Christian missionary congregations comprised of worshippers who seek to convince Jews to believe in Jesus. In their houses of worship, these congregations observe some Jewish traditions. But while Jewish law clearly says that Judaism is passed to the next generation through the mother, these missionary congregations say that if the father is Jewish, that's enough. Some of the missionaries were born to Jewish mothers and are therefore Jewish according to Jewish law. Under the State's current Law of Return anyone with at least one Jewish parent or grandparent on either side of the family is eligible to immigrate to Israel. It is this law that enabled the Jewish Agency to utilize Jewish funds to bring in some 300,000 non-Jews to Israel from the Former Soviet Union (FSU). In the past, however, those who profess belief in Jesus have been blocked from acquiring Israeli citizenship because such belief is in direct contradiction to the Jewish faith. A more serious problem is the compulsion that most members of these missionary congregations feel to convince other Jews to believe in Jesus. "Those people are proselytizers," says Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva. "They should not be allowed to have an influence on Jews who might be too weak to resist." The issue of missionary activity in Israel has been heating up over the past year, particularly since Purim, when the son of a missionary was injured after he opened a booby-trapped gift package received by the family in Ariel. Orthodox Jewish anti-missionaries were accused of having sent the package, but there was no evidence to indicate that Jews were involved. The boy's father, Pastor David Ortiz, had been warned repeatedly by Palestinian Authority religious authorities to stop trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. - - - - Read Full Report http://www.israelnationalnews.com/SendMail.aspx?print=print&type=0&item=126634 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Global Warming and the Price of a Gallon of Gas

KUSI-TV A51/D18 INDP SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA [McKinnon Broadcasting Co.] - By John Coleman - June 13, 2008 John Coleman is an American news weathercaster. He founded The Weather Channel (but is no longer affiliated with it), and presently works as an on-camera weathercaster at KUSI-TV in San Diego. John Coleman's Comments Before the San Diego Chamber of Commerce You may want to give credit where credit is due to Al Gore and his global warming campaign the next time you fill your car with gasoline, because there is a direct connection between Global Warming and four dollar a gallon gas. It is shocking, but true, to learn that the entire Global Warming frenzy is based on the environmentalist's attack on fossil fuels, particularly gasoline. All this big time science, international meetings, thick research papers, dire threats for the future; all of it, comes down to their claim that the carbon dioxide in the exhaust from your car and in the smoke stacks from our power plants is destroying the climate of planet Earth. What an amazing fraud; what a scam. The future of our civilization lies in the balance. That's the battle cry of the High Priest of Global Warming Al Gore and his fellow, agenda driven disciples as they predict a calamitous outcome from anthropogenic global warming. According to Mr. Gore the polar ice caps will collapse and melt and sea levels will rise 20 feet inundating the coastal cities making 100 million of us refugees. Vice President Gore tells us numerous Pacific islands will be totally submerged and uninhabitable. He tells us global warming will disrupt the circulation of the ocean waters, dramatically changing climates, throwing the world food supply into chaos. He tells us global warming will turn hurricanes into super storms, produce droughts, wipe out the polar bears and result in bleaching of coral reefs. He tells us tropical diseases will spread to mid latitudes and heat waves will kill tens of thousands. He preaches to us that we must change our lives and eliminate fossil fuels or face the dire consequences. The future of our civilization is in the balance. With a preacher's zeal, Mr. Gore sets out to strike terror into us and our children and make us feel we are all complicit in the potential demise of the planet. Here is my rebuttal. There is no significant man made global warming. There has not been any in the past, there is none now and there is no reason to fear any in the future. The climate of Earth is changing. It has always changed. But mankind's activities have not overwhelmed or significantly modified the natural forces. Through all history, Earth has shifted between two basic climate regimes: ice ages and what paleoclimatologists call "Interglacial periods". For the past 10 thousand years the Earth has been in an interglacial period. That might well be called nature's global warming because what happens during an interglacial period is the Earth warms up, the glaciers melt and life flourishes. Clearly from our point of view, an interglacial period is greatly preferred to the deadly rigors of an ice age. Mr. Gore and his crowd would have us believe that the activities of man have overwhelmed nature during this interglacial period and are producing an unprecedented, out of control warming. Well, it is simply not happening. Worldwide there was a significant natural warming trend in the 1980's and 1990's as a Solar cycle peaked with lots of sunspots and solar flares. That ended in 1998 and now the Sun has gone quiet with fewer and fewer Sun spots, and the global temperatures have gone into decline. Earth has cooled for almost ten straight years. So, I ask Al Gore, where's the global warming? The cooling trend is so strong that recently the head of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had to acknowledge it. He speculated that nature has temporarily overwhelmed mankind's warming and it may be ten years or so before the warming returns. Oh, really. We are supposed to be in a panic about man-made global warming and the whole thing takes a ten year break because of the lack of Sun spots. If this weren't so serious, it would be laughable. Now allow me to talk a little about the science behind the global warming frenzy. I have dug through thousands of pages of research papers, including the voluminous documents published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I have worked my way through complicated math and complex theories. Here's the bottom line: the entire global warming scientific case is based on the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuels. They don't have any other issue. Carbon Dioxide, that's it. Hello Al Gore; Hello UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Your science is flawed; your hypothesis is wrong; your data is manipulated. And, may I add, your scare tactics are deplorable. The Earth does not have a fever. Carbon dioxide does not cause significant global warming. The focus on atmospheric carbon dioxide grew out a study by Roger Revelle who was an esteemed scientist at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute. He took his research with him when he moved to Harvard and allowed his students to help him process the data for his paper. One of those students was Al Gore. That is where Gore got caught up in this global warming frenzy. Revelle's paper linked the increases in carbon dioxide, CO2, in the atmosphere with warming. It labeled CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Charles Keeling, another researcher at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute, set up a system to make continuous CO2 measurements. His graph of these increases has now become known as the Keeling Curve. When Charles Keeling died in 2005, his son David, also at Scripps, took over the measurements. Here is what the Keeling curve shows: an increase in CO2 from 315 parts per million in 1958 to 385 parts per million today, an increase of 70 parts per million or about 20 percent. All the computer models, all of the other findings, all of the other angles of study, all come back to and are based on CO2 as a significant greenhouse gas. It is not. Here is the deal about CO2, carbon dioxide. It is a natural component of our atmosphere. It has been there since time began. It is absorbed and emitted by the oceans. It is used by every living plant to trigger photosynthesis. Nothing would be green without it. And we humans; we create it. Every time we breathe out, we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is not a pollutant. It is not smog. It is a naturally occurring invisible gas. Let me illustrate. I estimate that this square in front of my face contains 100,000 molecules of atmosphere. Of those 100,000 only 38 are CO2; 38 out of a hundred thousand. That makes it a trace component. Let me ask a key question: how can this tiny trace upset the entire balance of the climate of Earth? It can't. That's all there is to it; it can't. The UN IPCC has attracted billions of dollars for the research to try to make the case that CO2 is the culprit of run-away, man-made global warming. The scientists have come up with very complex creative theories and done elaborate calculations and run computer models they say prove those theories. They present us with a concept they call radiative forcing. The research organizations and scientists who are making a career out of this theory, keep cranking out the research papers. Then the IPCC puts on big conferences at exotic places, such as the recent conference in Bali. The scientists endorse each other's papers, they are summarized and voted on, and viola, we are told global warming is going to kill us all unless we stop burning fossil fuels. May I stop here for a few historical notes? First, the internal combustion engine and gasoline were awful polluters when they were first invented. And, both gasoline and automobile engines continued to leave a layer of smog behind right up through the 1960's. Then science and engineering came to the environmental rescue. Better exhaust and ignition systems, catalytic converters, fuel injectors, better engineering throughout the engine and reformulated gasoline have all contributed to a huge reduction in the exhaust emissions from today's cars. Their goal then was to only exhaust carbon dioxide and water vapor, two gases widely accepted as natural and totally harmless. Anyone old enough to remember the pall of smog that used to hang over all our cities knows how much improvement there has been. So the environmentalists, in their battle against fossil fuels and automobiles had a very good point forty years ago, but now they have to focus almost entirely on the once harmless carbon dioxide. And, that is the rub. Carbon dioxide is not an environmental problem; they just want you now to think it is. Numerous independent research projects have been done about the greenhouse impact from increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. These studies have proven to my total satisfaction that CO2 is not creating a major greenhouse effect and is not causing an increase in temperatures. By the way, before his death, Roger Revelle coauthored a paper cautioning that CO2 and its greenhouse effect did not warrant extreme countermeasures. So now it has come down to an intense campaign, orchestrated by environmentalists claiming that the burning of fossil fuels dooms the planet to run-away global warming. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a myth. So how has the entire global warming frenzy with all its predictions of dire consequences, become so widely believed, accepted and regarded as a real threat to planet Earth? That is the most amazing part of the story. To start with global warming has the backing of the United Nations, a major world force. Second, it has the backing of a former Vice President and very popular political figure. Third it has the endorsement of Hollywood, and that's enough for millions. And, fourth, the environmentalists love global warming. It is their tool to combat fossil fuels. So with the environmentalists, the UN, Gore and Hollywood touting Global Warming and predictions of doom and gloom, the media has scrambled with excitement to climb aboard. After all the media loves a crisis. From YK2 to killer bees the media just loves to tell us our lives are threatened. And the media is biased toward liberal, so it's pre-programmed to support Al Gore and UN. CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press and here in San Diego The Union Tribune are all constantly promoting the global warming crisis. So who is going to go against all of that power? Not the politicians. So now the President of the United States, just about every Governor, most Senators and most Congress people, both of the major current candidates for President, most other elected officials on all levels of government are all riding the Al Gore Global Warming express. That is one crowded bus. I suspect you haven't heard it because the mass media did not report it, but I am not alone on the no man-made warming side of this issue. On May 20th, a list of the names of over thirty-one thousand scientists who refute global warming was released. Thirty-one thousand of which 9,000 are Ph.ds. Think about that. Thirty-one thousand. That dwarfs the supposed 2,500 scientists on the UN panel. In the past year, five hundred of scientists have issued public statements challenging global warming. A few more join the chorus every week. There are about 100 defectors from the UN IPCC. There was an International Conference of Climate Change Skeptics in New York in March of this year. One hundred of us gave presentations. Attendance was limited to six hundred people. Every seat was taken. There are a half dozen excellent internet sites that debunk global warming. And, thank goodness for KUSI and Michael McKinnon, its owner. He allows me to post my comments on global warming on the website KUSI.com. Following the publicity of my position form Fox News, Glen Beck on CNN, Rush Limbaugh and a host of other interviews, thousands of people come to the website and read my comments. I get hundreds of supportive emails from them. No I am not alone and the debate is not over. In my remarks in New York I speculated that perhaps we should sue Al Gore for fraud because of his carbon credits trading scheme. That remark has caused a stir in the fringe media and on the internet. The concept is that if the media won't give us a hearing and the other side will not debate us, perhaps we could use a Court of law to present our papers and our research and if the Judge is unbiased and understands science, we win. The media couldn't ignore that. That idea has become the basis for legal research by notable attorneys and discussion among global warming debunkers, but it's a long way from the Court room. I am very serious about this issue. I think stamping out the global warming scam is vital to saving our wonderful way of life. The battle against fossil fuels has controlled policy in this country for decades. It was the environmentalist's prime force in blocking any drilling for oil in this country and the blocking the building of any new refineries, as well. So now the shortage they created has sent gasoline prices soaring. And, it has lead to the folly of ethanol, which is also partly behind the fuel price increases; that and our restricted oil policy. The ethanol folly is also creating a food crisis throughput the world - it is behind the food price rises for all the grains, for cereals, bread, everything that relies on corn or soy or wheat, including animals that are fed corn, most processed foods that use corn oil or soybean oil or corn syrup. Food shortages or high costs have led to food riots in some third world countries and made the cost of eating out or at home budget busting for many. So now the global warming myth actually has lead to the chaos we are now enduring with energy and food prices. We pay for it every time we fill our gas tanks. Not only is it running up gasoline prices, it has changed government policy impacting our taxes, our utility bills and the entire focus of government funding. And, now the Congress is considering a cap and trade carbon credits policy. We the citizens will pay for that, too. It all ends up in our taxes and the price of goods and services. So the Global warming frenzy is, indeed, threatening our civilization. Not because global warming is real; it is not. But because of the all the horrible side effects of the global warming scam. I love this civilization. I want to do my part to protect it. If Al Gore and his global warming scare dictates the future policy of our governments, the current economic downturn could indeed become a recession, drift into a depression and our modern civilization could fall into an abyss. And it would largely be a direct result of the global warming frenzy. My mission, in what is left of a long and exciting lifetime, is to stamp out this Global Warming silliness and let all of us get on with enjoying our lives and loving our planet, Earth. http://www.kusi.com/weather/colemanscorner/19842304.html FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Monday, October 06, 2008

See it Here: Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

H.R. 1424: A bill to provide authority for the Federal Government to purchase and insure certain types of troubled assets for the purposes of providing stability to and preventing disruption in the economy and financial system and protecting taxpayers, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide incentives for energy production and conservation, to extend certain expiring provisions, to provide individual income tax relief, and for other purposes. Overview http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-1424 Summary http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-1424&tab=summary Full Text http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-1424 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Treasury Would Emerge With Vast New Power

NEW YORK TIMES [NYTimes Group/Sulzberger] - By Floyd Norris - September 28, 2008 During its weeklong deliberations, Congress made many changes to the Bush administration’s original proposal to bail out the financial industry, but one overarching aspect of the initial plan that remains is the vast discretion it gives to the Treasury secretary. The draft legislation, which will be put to a House vote on Monday, gives Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and his successor extraordinary power to decide how the $700 billion bailout fund is spent. For example, if he thinks it wise, he may buy not only mortgages and mortgage-backed securities, but any other financial instrument. To be sure, the Treasury secretary’s powers have been tempered since the original Bush administration proposal, which would have given Mr. Paulson nearly unfettered control over the program. There are now two separate oversight panels involved, one composed of legislators and the other including regulatory and administration officials. Still, Mr. Paulson can choose to buy from any financial institution that does business in the United States, or from pension funds, with wide discretion over what he will buy and how much he will pay. Under most circumstances, banks owned by foreign governments are not eligible for the money, but under some conditions, the secretary can choose to bail out foreign central banks. Under the bill, the Treasury is to buy the securities at prices he deems appropriate. Mr. Paulson may set prices through auctions but is not required to do so. Rarely if ever has one man had such broad authority to spend government money as he sees fit, with no rules requiring him to seek out the lowest possible price for assets being purchased. - - - - http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/29/business/29bill.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Big Tax Breaks for Businesses in Housing Bill

NEW YORK TIMES [NYTimes Group/Sulzberger] - By Stephen Labaton and David M. Herszenhorn - April 16, 2008 WASHINGTON - The Senate proclaimed a fierce bipartisan resolve two weeks ago to help American homeowners in danger of foreclosure. But while a bill that senators approved last week would take modest steps toward that goal, it would also provide billions of dollars in tax breaks - for automakers, airlines, alternative energy producers and other struggling industries, as well as home builders. The tax provisions of the Foreclosure Prevention Act, which consumer groups and labor leaders say amount to government handouts to big business, show how the credit crisis, while rattling the housing and financial markets, has created beneficiaries in the power corridors of Washington. It also shows how legislation with a populist imperative offers a chance for lobbyists to press their clients’ interests. - - - - http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/16/business/16bailout.html?ex=1366084800&en=30abe1fe0651f26b&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Rebuilding Babel?

Mile-high tower: Saudi prince promises £5bn desert spire TWICE as tall as nearest rival being built LONDON DAILY MAIL [Associated Newspapers/DMGT] - By Barry Wigmore - March 31, 2008 On a clear day, the view from the top will take in the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian Ocean - providing you've a head for heights. Plans for a mile-high tower in the Saudi Arabian desert have been unveiled by the billionaire owner of London's Savoy Hotel. At 5,250ft, the £5billion project, masterminded by two British engineering consultancies, will be twice as high as its nearest rivals, skyscrapers under construction in Dubai and Kuwait, and almost seven times as high as the Canary Wharf tower in London's Docklands. It is being planned for a new city near the Red Sea port of Jeddah. Behind the scheme is 51-year-old Prince al-Walid bin Talal, who bought the Savoy for £1.25billion in 2005. The plan gives the Middle East a clear lead over Asian countries and the U.S., who have vied in the past to construct the world's tallest buildings. None of the other skyscrapers under construction, including New York's Freedom Tower on the World Trade Centre site, will exceed 2,296ft. The prince's company, Riyadh-based Kingdom Holdings, has set up a joint venture with the London firms Hyder Consulting and Arup. Experts say the technical challenges are enormous. Much of the lifting will be carried out by helicopters, which will also be used as commuter transport for builders. The tower will have to be capable of withstanding a wide range of temperatures, with its top baking in the desert sun by day but dropping to well below freezing at night. To resist the strong winds prevalent in the area and stop it swaying, giving its occupants a form of high-rise seasickness, it will be fitted with a giant computer-operated damper. Two "mini-towers" - both taller than Canary Wharf - will be built on either side of the main tower. Linked to it by elevated walkways, they will anchor it and act as stabilisers. Until recently, the still-under-construction Dubai Tower was expected to be the world's tallest building. Plans have changed several times to make it higher, but the final version is expected to be 2,300ft with 160 storeys. Original Report http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=550548&in_page_id=1811 Developer: Dubai Tower at 'new record height' ASSOCIATED PRESS - September 1, 2008 DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The developer of a Dubai skyscraper set to become the world's tallest building says the rising tower now stands at a "new record height" of 2,257 feet. Emaar Properties says the skyscraper - known as Burj Dubai - now has "more than 160 stories." Its exterior is almost done and work has started on the interior. The company's Monday statement gave no other details. The silvery steel-and-glass building's final height is a secret. Last summer, the developer announced the building surpassed Taiwan's Taipei 101 which has dominated the global skyline at 1,667 feet since 2004. In the four years of construction, Emaar twice postponed the skyscraper's finish, now slated for September 2009. Original Report http://news.yahoo.com/story//ap/20080901/ap_on_re_mi_ea/dubai_tallest_building World's First 'Building In Motion' Set For Dubai Italian Architect Poised To Build 80-Story Tower With Revolving Floors Powered By Wind Turbines CBS NEWS America [CBS Corporation] - June 25, 2008 NEW YORK - ... Italian architect Dr. David Fisher announced on Tuesday the launch of a revolutionary skyscraper in Dubai dubbed as the "world's first building in motion," an 80-story tower with revolving floors that give it an ever-shifting shape. The spinning floors, hung like rings around an immobile cement core, would offer residents a constantly changing view of the Persian Gulf and the Dubai's futuristic skyline. At a news conference in New York, Rotating Tower Dubai Development Ltd headed by the Dynamic Group, revealed the design and floor plans of the rotating building. The one planned for Dubai will rise 1,380 feet into the air. Sales of individual apartments will begin in September, with asking prices of around $3,000 per square foot. The smallest, at 1,330 square feet, would cost about $4 million and the largest, a 12,900-square-foot villa, $38.7 million. - - - - Read Full Report http://wcbstv.com/national/dubai.david.fisher.2.756027.html Philadelphia: Zoning bill marks 1st step toward 1,500-foot skyscraper here PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS [Knight Ridder] - By Chris Brennan - June 20, 2008 A local developer took the first step yesterday toward building the tallest skyscraper in America when City Councilman Darrell Clarke introduced legislation for zoning changes needed at the 18th and Arch streets location. Clarke's action came on the same week that Mayor Nutter laid out his goal to restore to the City Planning Commission the power to shape such developments. The councilman and the mayor agree the commission should run the show on the proposed skyscraper, which Walnut Street Capital has named the "American Commerce Center." At 1,500 feet, the skyscraper would be more than 50 percent taller than the Comcast Center, which recently opened one block away. The Comcast Center takes up a full city block while the American Commerce Center would be built on a 1.5-acre half-block. Clarke said the site's narrow footprint was one reason the developer chose to build so high. - - - - Read Full Report http://www.philly.com/philly/hp/news_update/20080620_Zoning_bill_marks_1st_step_toward_1_500-foot_skyscraper_here.html World’s Biggest Building Coming to Moscow: Crystal Island INHABITAT - By Karim - December 26, 2007 Moscow’s rapidly growing skyline will soon feature an eye-popping new addition: Crystal Island, which will be the world’s biggest building when completed. Sir Norman Foster’s mountainous 27 million square feet spiraling “city within a building” will cost $4 billion and it is scheduled to be built within next 5 years. The Crystal Island will be Lord Foster’s second large scale project in the Russian capital, and his third new building design that resembles a volcano (we’re talking about his two mountainous buildings in Astana, Kazakstan). Although many people are calling this design the ‘Christmas Tree’ of Moscow - we can’t help but be reminded of the utopian and also rather volcanic X-Seed 4000 design for Tokyo. Unlike that pipe-dream project, however, Foster has a track record of getting buildings built, so the likelihood is high that we will see this striking structure towering over the Kremlin within 5 years time. - - - - Read Full Report http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/12/26/tallest-skyscraper-in-the-world-coming-to-moscow/ FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Agency’s ’04 Rule Let Banks Pile Up New Debt

NEW YORK TIMES [NYTimes Group/Sulzberger] - By Stephen Labaton - October 2, 2008 “We have a good deal of comfort about the capital cushions at these firms at the moment.” — Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, March 11, 2008. As rumors swirled that Bear Stearns faced imminent collapse in early March, Christopher Cox was told by his staff that Bear Stearns had $17 billion in cash and other assets — more than enough to weather the storm. Drained of most of its cash three days later, Bear Stearns was forced into a hastily arranged marriage with JPMorgan Chase — backed by a $29 billion taxpayer dowry. Within six months, other lions of Wall Street would also either disappear or transform themselves to survive the financial maelstrom — Merrill Lynch sold itself to Bank of America, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley converted to commercial banks. How could Mr. Cox have been so wrong? Many events in Washington, on Wall Street and elsewhere around the country have led to what has been called the most serious financial crisis since the 1930s. But decisions made at a brief meeting on April 28, 2004, explain why the problems could spin out of control. The agency’s failure to follow through on those decisions also explains why Washington regulators did not see what was coming. On that bright spring afternoon, the five members of the Securities and Exchange Commission met in a basement hearing room to consider an urgent plea by the big investment banks. They wanted an exemption for their brokerage units from an old regulation that limited the amount of debt they could take on. The exemption would unshackle billions of dollars held in reserve as a cushion against losses on their investments. Those funds could then flow up to the parent company, enabling it to invest in the fast-growing but opaque world of mortgage-backed securities; credit derivatives, a form of insurance for bond holders; and other exotic instruments. The five investment banks led the charge, including Goldman Sachs, which was headed by Henry M. Paulson Jr. Two years later, he left to become Treasury secretary. A lone dissenter — a software consultant and expert on risk management — weighed in from Indiana with a two-page letter to warn the commission that the move was a grave mistake. He never heard back from Washington. One commissioner, Harvey J. Goldschmid, questioned the staff about the consequences of the proposed exemption. It would only be available for the largest firms, he was reassuringly told — those with assets greater than $5 billion. “We’ve said these are the big guys,” Mr. Goldschmid said, provoking nervous laughter, “but that means if anything goes wrong, it’s going to be an awfully big mess.” Mr. Goldschmid, an authority on securities law from Columbia, was a behind-the-scenes adviser in 2002 to Senator Paul S. Sarbanes when he rewrote the nation’s corporate laws after a wave of accounting scandals. “Do we feel secure if there are these drops in capital we really will have investor protection?” Mr. Goldschmid asked. A senior staff member said the commission would hire the best minds, including people with strong quantitative skills to parse the banks’ balance sheets. Annette L. Nazareth, the head of market regulation, reassured the commission that under the new rules, the companies for the first time could be restricted by the commission from excessively risky activity. She was later appointed a commissioner and served until January 2008. “I’m very happy to support it,” said Commissioner Roel C. Campos, a former federal prosecutor and owner of a small radio broadcasting company from Houston, who then deadpanned: “And I keep my fingers crossed for the future.” The proceeding was sparsely attended. None of the major media outlets, including The New York Times, covered it. After 55 minutes of discussion, which can now be heard on the Web sites of the agency and The Times, the chairman, William H. Donaldson, a veteran Wall Street executive, called for a vote. It was unanimous. The decision, changing what was known as the net capital rule, was completed and published in The Federal Register a few months later. With that, the five big independent investment firms were unleashed. In loosening the capital rules, which are supposed to provide a buffer in turbulent times, the agency also decided to rely on the firms’ own computer models for determining the riskiness of investments, essentially outsourcing the job of monitoring risk to the banks themselves. Over the following months and years, each of the firms would take advantage of the looser rules. At Bear Stearns, the leverage ratio — a measurement of how much the firm was borrowing compared to its total assets — rose sharply, to 33 to 1. In other words, for every dollar in equity, it had $33 of debt. The ratios at the other firms also rose significantly. The 2004 decision for the first time gave the S.E.C. a window on the banks’ increasingly risky investments in mortgage-related securities. But the agency never took true advantage of that part of the bargain. The supervisory program under Mr. Cox, who arrived at the agency a year later, was a low priority. The commission assigned seven people to examine the parent companies — which last year controlled financial empires with combined assets of more than $4 trillion. Since March 2007, the office has not had a director. And as of last month, the office had not completed a single inspection since it was reshuffled by Mr. Cox more than a year and a half ago. The few problems the examiners preliminarily uncovered about the riskiness of the firms’ investments and their increased reliance on debt — clear signs of trouble — were all but ignored. The commission’s division of trading and markets “became aware of numerous potential red flags prior to Bear Stearns’s collapse, regarding its concentration of mortgage securities, high leverage, shortcomings of risk management in mortgage-backed securities and lack of compliance with the spirit of certain” capital standards, said an inspector general’s report issued last Friday. But the division “did not take actions to limit these risk factors.” Drive to Deregulate The commission’s decision effectively to outsource its oversight to the firms themselves fit squarely in the broader Washington culture of the last eight years under President Bush. A similar closeness to industry and laissez-faire philosophy has driven a push for deregulation throughout the government, from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to worker safety and transportation agencies. “It’s a fair criticism of the Bush administration that regulators have relied on many voluntary regulatory programs,” said Roderick M. Hills, a Republican who was chairman of the S.E.C. under President Gerald R. Ford. “The problem with such voluntary programs is that, as we’ve seen throughout history, they often don’t work.” As was the case with other agencies, the commission’s decision was motivated by industry complaints of excessive regulation at a time of growing competition from overseas. The 2004 decision was aimed at easing regulatory burdens that the European Union was about to impose on the foreign operations of United States investment banks. The Europeans said they would agree not to regulate the foreign subsidiaries of the investment banks on one condition — that the commission regulate the parent companies, along with the brokerage units that the S.E.C. already oversaw. A 1999 law, however, had left a gap that did not give the commission explicit oversight of the parent companies. To get around that problem, and in exchange for the relaxed capital rules, the banks volunteered to let the commission examine the books of their parent companies and subsidiaries. The 2004 decision also reflected a faith that Wall Street’s financial interests coincided with Washington’s regulatory interests. “We foolishly believed that the firms had a strong culture of self-preservation and responsibility and would have the discipline not to be excessively borrowing,” said Professor James D. Cox, an expert on securities law and accounting at Duke School of Law (and no relationship to Christopher Cox). “Letting the firms police themselves made sense to me because I didn’t think the S.E.C. had the staff and wherewithal to impose its own standards and I foolishly thought the market would impose its own self-discipline. We’ve all learned a terrible lesson,” he added. In letters to the commissioners, senior executives at the five investment banks complained about what they called unnecessary regulation and oversight by both American and European authorities. A lone voice of dissent in the 2004 proceeding came from a software consultant from Valparaiso, Ind., who said the computer models run by the firms — which the regulators would be relying on — could not anticipate moments of severe market turbulence. “With the stroke of a pen, capital requirements are removed!” the consultant, Leonard D. Bole, wrote to the commission on Jan. 22, 2004. “Has the trading environment changed sufficiently since 1997, when the current requirements were enacted, that the commission is confident that current requirements in examples such as these can be disregarded?” He said that similar computer standards had failed to protect Long-Term Capital Management, the hedge fund that collapsed in 1998, and could not protect companies from the market plunge of October 1987. Mr. Bole, who earned a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Chicago, helps write computer programs that financial institutions use to meet capital requirements. He said in a recent interview that he was never called by anyone from the commission. “I’m a little guy in the land of giants,” he said. “I thought that the reduction in capital was rather dramatic.” Policing Wall Street A once-proud agency with a rich history at the intersection of Washington and Wall Street, the Securities and Exchange Commission was created during the Great Depression as part of the broader effort to restore confidence to battered investors. It was led in its formative years by heavyweight New Dealers, including James Landis and William O. Douglas. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt was asked in 1934 why he appointed Joseph P. Kennedy, a spectacularly successful stock speculator, as the agency’s first chairman, Roosevelt replied: “Set a thief to catch a thief.” The commission’s most public role in policing Wall Street is its enforcement efforts. But critics say that in recent years it has failed to deter market problems. “It seems to me the enforcement effort in recent years has fallen short of what one Supreme Court justice once called the fear of the shotgun behind the door,” said Arthur Levitt Jr., who was S.E.C. chairman in the Clinton administration. “With this commission, the shotgun too rarely came out from behind the door.” Christopher Cox had been a close ally of business groups in his 17 years as a House member from one of the most conservative districts in Southern California. Mr. Cox had led the effort to rewrite securities laws to make investor lawsuits harder to file. He also fought against accounting rules that would give less favorable treatment to executive stock options. Under Mr. Cox, the commission responded to complaints by some businesses by making it more difficult for the enforcement staff to investigate and bring cases against companies. The commission has repeatedly reversed or reduced proposed settlements that companies had tentatively agreed upon. While the number of enforcement cases has risen, the number of cases involving significant players or large amounts of money has declined. Mr. Cox dismantled a risk management office created by Mr. Donaldson that was assigned to watch for future problems. While other financial regulatory agencies criticized a blueprint by Mr. Paulson, the Treasury secretary, that proposed to reduce their stature — and that of the S.E.C. — Mr. Cox did not challenge the plan, leaving it to three former Democratic and Republican commission chairmen to complain that the blueprint would neuter the agency. In the process, Mr. Cox has surrounded himself with conservative lawyers, economists and accountants who, before the market turmoil of recent months, had embraced a far more limited vision for the commission than many of his predecessors. ‘Stakes in the Ground’ Last Friday, the commission formally ended the 2004 program, acknowledging that it had failed to anticipate the problems at Bear Stearns and the four other major investment banks. “The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work,” Mr. Cox said. The decision to shutter the program came after Mr. Cox was blamed by Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, for the crisis. Mr. McCain has demanded Mr. Cox’s resignation. Mr. Cox has said that the 2004 program was flawed from its inception. But former officials as well as the inspector general’s report have suggested that a major reason for its failure was Mr. Cox’s use of it. “In retrospect, the tragedy is that the 2004 rule making gave us the ability to get information that would have been critical to sensible monitoring, and yet the S.E.C. didn’t oversee well enough,” Mr. Goldschmid said in an interview. He and Mr. Donaldson left the commission in 2005. Mr. Cox declined requests for an interview. In response to written questions, including whether he or the commission had made any mistakes over the last three years that contributed to the current crisis, he said, “There will be no shortage of retrospective analyses about what happened and what should have happened.” He said that by last March he had concluded that the monitoring program’s “metrics were inadequate.” He said that because the commission did not have the authority to curtail the heavy borrowing at Bear Stearns and the other firms, he and the commission were powerless to stop it. “Implementing a purely voluntary program was very difficult because the commission’s regulations shouldn’t be suggestions,” he said. “The fact these companies could withdraw from voluntary supervision at their discretion diminished the mandate of the program and weakened its effectiveness. Experience has shown that the S.E.C. could not bootstrap itself into authority it didn’t have.” But critics say that the commission could have done more, and that the agency’s effectiveness comes from the tone set at the top by the chairman, or what Mr. Levitt, the longest-serving S.E.C. chairman in history, calls “stakes in the ground.” “If you go back to the chairmen in recent years, you will see that each spoke about a variety of issues that were important to them,” Mr. Levitt said. “This commission placed very few stakes in the ground.” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/03/business/03sec.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.