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Posted by on in On Watch In Washington
The Informer August 19, 2015

On Watch in Washington August 19, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


The Obama administration has delivered a warning to Beijing about the presence of Chinese government agents operating secretly in the United States to pressure prominent expatriates — some wanted in China on charges of corruption — to return home immediately, according to American officials.

The American officials said that Chinese law enforcement agents covertly in this country are part of Beijing’s global campaign to hunt down and repatriate Chinese fugitives and, in some cases, recover allegedly ill-gotten gains.

The Chinese government has officially named the effort Operation Fox Hunt.

The American warning, which was delivered to Chinese officials in recent weeks and demanded a halt to the activities, reflects escalating anger in Washington about intimidation tactics used by the agents. And it comes at a time of growing tension between Washington and Beijing on a number of issues: from the computer theft of millions of government personnel files that American officials suspect was directed by China, to China’s crackdown on civil liberties, to the devaluation of its currency.

Those tensions are expected to complicate the state visit to Washington next month by Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.

The work of the agents is a departure from the routine practice of secret government intelligence gathering that the United States and China have carried out on each other’s soil for decades. The Central Intelligence Agency has a cadre of spies in China, just as China has long deployed its own intelligence operatives into the United States to steal political, economic, military and industrial secrets.

In this case, said American officials, who discussed details of the operation only on the condition of anonymity because of the tense diplomacy surrounding the issue, the Chinese agents are undercover operatives with the Ministry of Public Security, China’s law enforcement branch charged with carrying out Operation Fox Hunt.

The campaign, a central element of Mr. Xi’s wider battle against corruption, has proved popular with the Chinese public. Since 2014, according to the Ministry of Public Security, more than 930 suspects have been repatriated, including more than 70 who have returned this year voluntarily, the ministry’s website reported in June. According to Chinese media accounts, teams of agents have been dispatched around the globe.

American officials said they had solid evidence that the Chinese agents — who are not in the United States on acknowledged government business, and most likely are entering on tourist or trade visas — use various strong-arm tactics to get fugitives to return. The harassment, which has included threats against family members in China, has intensified recently, officials said.

The officials declined to provide specific evidence of the activities of the agents.

The United States has its own history of sending operatives undercover to other nations — sometimes under orders to kidnap or kill. In the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the C.I.A. dispatched teams abroad to snatch Qaeda suspects and spirit them either to secret C.I.A prisons or hand them over to other governments for interrogation.

Neither China’s Ministry of Public Security nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to faxes requesting comment. But Chinese officials have often boasted about their global efforts to hunt economic fugitives, and the state news media has featured reports detailing the aims and successes of Operation Fox Hunt.

According to the Chinese news media, Beijing has sent scores of security agents abroad to “persuade” their targets to return home. Just how they accomplish their aims is unclear, and questions have been raised about why a number of suspects, presumably sitting on significant wealth abroad, have willingly returned to China.

Liu Dong, a director of Operation Fox Hunt, has said Chinese agents must comply with local laws abroad and that they depend on cooperation with the police in other countries, according to a news report last year. But in a telling admission, he added, “Our principle is thus: Whether or not there is an agreement in place, as long as there is information that there is a criminal suspect, we will chase them over there, we will take our work to them, anywhere.”

It is unclear whether the F.B.I. or the Department of Homeland Security has advocated within the Obama administration to have the Chinese agents expelled from the country, but the White House decision to have the State Department issue a warning to the Chinese government about the activities could be one initial step in the process.

The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security are in charge of tracking the activities of foreign government agents inside the United States, and American officials said that both agencies had amassed evidence about the Chinese law enforcement agents by speaking to Chinese expatriates and by monitoring the agents themselves.

One American official acknowledged that Chinese agents had been trying to track down Ling Wancheng, a wealthy and politically connected businessman who fled to the United States last year and had been living in a lavish home he owns outside Sacramento. Should he seek political asylum, he could become one of the most damaging defectors in the history of the People’s Republic.

Chinese state news media published Interpol alerts in April for 100 people that Beijing described as its most-wanted fugitives worldwide. But experts who have studied the names raised doubts whether the listed men and women are truly the government’s top priority. Among the alleged fugitives, they said, are a former deputy mayor, employees of state-owned enterprises and a history professor, but few if any at the highest echelons of power.

American officials did not disclose the identities or numbers of those being sought by the Chinese in the United States. They are believed to be prominent expatriates, some sought for economic corruption and some for what the Chinese consider political crimes.

That reluctance reflects divisions with the Obama administration over how aggressive to publicly confront China on a number of security issues.

For instance, the White House has gone out of its way to avoid making any public accusations that the Chinese government ordered the computer attack on the Office of Personnel Management, which led to the theft of millions of classified personnel files of government workers and contractors. While James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, initially said that “you have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did,” he avoided repeating that accusation when pressed again in public on the matter.

China and the United States do not have an extradition treaty, and State Department officials would not say whether the warning carried any threats of penalties. Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, declined to comment about the diplomatic warning but said that “generally speaking, foreign law enforcement agents are not permitted to operate within the United States without prior notification to the attorney general.”

It is a criminal offense, he said, “for an individual, other than a diplomatic or consular officer or attaché, to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign power without prior notification to the attorney general.”

Marc Raimondi, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said that “the United States is not a safe haven for fugitives from any nation.” But he added that if the United States was going to help China hunt down fugitives, Beijing must provide evidence to the Department of Justice.

Too often, he said, “China has not provided the evidence we have requested.”

Steve Tsang, a senior fellow at the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute, said the clandestine deployment of security agents in pursuit of Chinese abroad has a long pedigree under the Communist Party, which sees itself as wielding dominion over all Chinese people regardless of what passport they may hold. “The party believes if you’re of Chinese ancestry then you’re Chinese anyway, and if you don’t behave like one you’re a traitor,” he said.

Mr. Tsang said the agents’ methods of persuasion often relate to the person’s family back in China, ranging from subtle insinuations to explicit threats, including against children or grandchildren. “They can be very imaginative,” he said.

The agents are described as mostly young, highly skilled officers who have repeatedly undergone “rapid-fire deployment” since the campaign began last year.

“Within 49 hours, they can make their arrest anywhere in the world,” said a report published last year on Chinese Police Net, a website run by the Ministry of Public Security.

Such official statements, while directed toward a domestic audience, have stirred concern overseas. That is because Chinese agents are barred from making arrests on foreign soil, including the top destinations for alleged fugitives: the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These and a number of other countries do not have extradition treaties with China.

China says it follows local laws overseas. But in December, two Chinese police officers were caught operating in Australia without the permission of local authorities, according to local news media reports that were confirmed by Australian officials. The officers had traveled to Melbourne from the northeast province of Shandong to pursue a Chinese citizen accused of bribery, the reports said.

Australian officials promptly summoned diplomats from the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, as well as in Beijing, to express their displeasure, according to a spokesman for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“The government registered with China its deep concerns about this, making clear it was unacceptable,” said the spokesman, who added “the government has been assured by Chinese authorities that there would be no repeat of these actions.”

Li Gongjing, a captain in the economic crime division of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, explained the agents’ approach in an interview with Xinmin Weekly magazine last November.

“A fugitive is like a flying kite,” he said. “Even though he is abroad, the string is held in China. He can always be found through his family.” Contributor: By Mark Mazetti and Dan Levin for The New York Times)

For prayer: For intercessors, this article is a pointer to pray for both America and China in this ongoing political drama and the actions of Chinese agents in America. Tension is growing between China and the U.S. on several fronts. Pray for divine restraint on both governments as the U.S. prepares to receive China’s president next month. Our Bible references reflect God’s ultimate victory over the nations of the earth. Give thanks for the assurance believers have of divine supremacy!   

“[God] shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth…. Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him.” (Ps 72:8, 11)

“For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations.” (Ps 22:28)



The second episode in a new documentary web series highlights a young woman’s eyewitness narrative of the daily practice of fetal body parts harvesting in Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, describing tissue procurement workers’ coordination with abortion providers, the pressure placed on patients, and disregard for patient consent.

This weekend! Nationwide protest PP's harvesting and selling of aborted baby parts - or details, <click here>!

The “Human Capital” documentary web series, produced by The Center for Medical Progress, integrates expert interviews, eyewitness accounts, and real-life undercover interactions to explore various themes connected to Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted fetal tissue. Episode 1, “Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts,” premiered last month. Episode 2, “Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site,” launches today at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABzFZM73o8M

The series follows the personal narrative of Holly O’Donnell, a former Blood and TIssue Procurement Technician for StemExpress, a start-up biotech company from northern California that partners with Planned Parenthood clinics to purchase their aborted fetus parts and resell them for scientific experimentation. As a procurement tech, O’Donnell’s job was to identify pregnant patients matching the specifications of StemExpress customers and to harvest the fetal body parts from their abortions.

“It’s not an option, it’s a demand,” StemExpress supervisors instructed O’Donnell about approaching pregnant women at Planned Parenthood for fetal tissue “donations.” O’Donnell says the StemExpress techs working in Planned Parenthood clinics sometimes harvested fetal parts without obtaining consent from the patients: “If there was a higher gestation, and the technicians needed it, there were times when they would just take what they wanted. And these mothers don’t know. And there’s no way they would know.”

Federal laws on the procurement and use of human fetal tissue require that patients consent to the tissue donation subsequent to consenting to the abortion procedure (42 U.S.C. 289g-1).

According to O’Donnell, Planned Parenthood gave StemExpress workers access to patient records and schedules so that the harvesting company could plan for the days when patient “supply” would be greatest. “They give you a sheet, and it’s everybody for that day, who’s coming in for an ultrasound, who’s coming in for an abortion, medical or a late-term abortion,” O’Donnell explains. Even patients just seeking a pregnancy test at Planned Parenthood were considered part of the supply: “Pregnancy tests are potential pregnancies, therefore potential specimens. So it’s just taking advantage of the opportunities.”

Project Lead David Daleiden notes, “Experiences like Holly O’Donnell’s show that Planned Parenthood’s abortion and baby parts business is not a safe place where vulnerable women can be cared for, but a harvesting ground for saleable human ‘product.’ Taxpayer subsidies to Planned Parenthood’s barbaric abortion business should be revoked immediately, and law enforcement and other elected officials must act decisively to determine the full extent of Planned Parenthood’s offensive practices and hold them accountable to the law.” (Contributor: Center for Medical Progress)

For Prayer: We agree with David Daleiden (see article) and many concerned national leaders, both religious and non-religious, that this repulsive practice must be stopped. As a non-political prayer ministry, we know that our chief “weapon” is strong intercessory petition before God, who loves both the babies and the misguided, exploited mothers. We urge continued prayers that, despite Planned Parenthood’s strong pushback, such despicable black-marketing will be closed down.

“My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood…. but they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners.” (Prov 1:15-16, 18-19)



The U.S. government has warned states moving to defund women's health group Planned Parenthood that they may be in conflict with federal law, officials said on Wednesday.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency, was in contact with officials in Louisiana and Alabama this month, said a spokesperson for the agency's parent, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The agency warned those two states that their plans to terminate Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood may illegally restrict beneficiary access to services, the spokesperson said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood has been at the center of a national debate since the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress last month began releasing undercover videos showing doctors discussing the sale of fetal body parts.

Federal law requires state Medicaid programs to cover family-planning services and supplies for anyone of child-bearing age. Ending the agreements with Planned Parenthood would limit beneficiaries' access to care and services from qualified providers of their choice, according to HHS.

Medicaid is a U.S. government healthcare program for the poor; Medicare is for the aged and disabled.

Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said in a statement on Wednesday that moves to eliminate its funding were "political grandstanding."

"It's good to hear that HHS has clarified what we already know: blocking women’s access to care at Planned Parenthood is against the law," she said.

Anti-abortion activists said that a sixth video, released on Wednesday, shows Planned Parenthood doctors sell aborted fetal tissue to researchers without the mother's permission.

As it has for weeks, Planned Parenthood said it has done nothing wrong.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, one of 17 contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, earlier this month was the first to lead his state to cut funding of Planned Parenthood, following a failed effort to do that in the U.S. Congress.

On Wednesday, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said in a radio interview that if he became president, he would use the Justice Department to "criminally prosecute" the group.

Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the Republican race, said on CBS the group should be "defunded immediately."

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump, another Republican candidate, said on Tuesday abortions should not be federally funded, but he "would look at the good aspects of" Planned Parenthood.

"I'm sure they do some things properly," he told CNN. "We have to take care of women." (Contributor: By Megan Cassella for Reuters - Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh; Editing by David Gregorio)

For Prayer: The administration’s (read: White House) obvious “love affair” with Planned Parenthood is exerting political and economic pressure on these courageous governors who dare to say “No” to Planned Parenthood’s voracious appetite for taxpayer dollars. IFA is unapologetically urging all intercessors to pray fervently and diligently that God will close down PP’s “kingdom of death.” Will this solve our country’s spiritual problems? No, but the Church’s unity will be a step toward revival.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isa 5:20-21)



A representative for a pro-Islamic State hacking group issued a chilling warning to members of the U.S. military and government Wednesday, promising that “very soon” followers of the organization would retaliate for overseas bombing targeting the terror organization.

Speaking to TheBlaze using smartphone messenger application Kik, a representative for the Islamic State Hacking Division said the group is constantly spying on U.S. servicemen. The organization on Tuesday published personal information purporting to belong to U.S. military and government online.

“Just like they spy on muslims, we are spying on them, watching their employees, watching their soldiers, recording their movements and taking their location information and passing it on to the soldiers of the islamic state,” the anonymous male member told TheBlaze.

“they have no security just like their employees and military personnel have no OpSec,” he continued, “they are people who like to brag and boast and this is to our advantage.”

“The brothers don’t need to attack them in military bases or secured buildings,” the hacking group member added. “they can now turn up in their houses. in their homes. this is war, what did you expect? u think u can bomb the islamic state and we don’t do nothing back? soon, very soon you will see.”

When asked exactly what could be expected to be seen “soon,” the member replied, “you will see when US military and government personnel start getting beheaded in their homes.”

The individual said that his group targets government employees as well as military members because “their kufr (disbelief) makes their blood halal.”

The individual would not provide specifics on the Islamic State Hacking Division, declining to say where the group is based or how many members are in its ranks. He did, however, go after Anonymous, the hacking group which recently targeted the Islamic State.

“Anonymous, GhostSec, CtrlSec who are apparently ‘hackers’ against IS, till date they have hacked nothing, they are all talk,” the Islamic State Hacking Division member said. “the only thing they can do is report twitter accounts and ddos websites for 5mins.”

Boasting of the group’s own skill set, the individual claimed his group “probably” could have breached security guarding the private email server of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He, however, declined to get into the group’s specific methodology, saying, “Let the US gov figure that out.”

Two cyber-security experts who spoke to TheBlaze offered differing perspectives on the group’s capabilities.

Department of Defense cyber-mobile and cyber-warefare expert Robert Twitchell said he thought the group could indeed have the capabilities to launch various hacking attacks that could result in information being compromised.

Former intelligence analyst Jason Polancich, however, said his view was that the pro-Islamic State group was mostly bluffing and that often information hactivist groups use is already available online.

A spokesman for the Pentagon said Wednesday afternoon that officials are still investigating the purported hack, but noted that “it appears all of the email addresses for the Army soldiers are old and haven’t been operational for months, if not years.”

Before Tuesday’s alleged hack, the group in March claimed to have posted the information of 100 U.S. military personnel with a call to “kill them in their own lands.”

The representative for the Islamic State Hacking Division group was reached using contact information posted on the same website it used to publish the purported information of U.S. military and government personnel. (Contributor: By Oliver Darcy for The Blaze)

For prayer: The question is not whether these Islamic State threats are real. Instead, we must pray that our government recovers the early American “spirit and soul” to defend its citizens at home and abroad. Our anthem says, “Then conquer we must, if our cause it is just. And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’ ” Pray for a nationwide spiritual restoration that will turn America back to God, to a place where we can invoke divine protection.

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Ps 20:7)



Military sources confirmed for the first time that the defense establishment has information that Hamas has been digging new terrorist tunnels to replace the ones destroyed by Israel during Operation Protective Edge last summer.

Israel’s Channel 10 News reported that Hamas terrorists have in recent months completed the digging of the tunnels that reach into Israeli territory, and may use them in a future military confrontation with Israel.

According to the report, the IDF holding off on destroying the new tunnels due to the feeling that Hamas is not interested in another round of fighting with Israel.

The report came hours after it was cleared for publication that a Hamas terrorist responsible for terror tunnel digging was arrested via a joint operation of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and the Israel Police in early July.

During interrogation, 21 year-old Rafah native Ibrahim Adel Shehadeh Shaer revealed a considerable amount of information to the ISA about Hamas's activities in Rafah, particularly about its terror tunnel network. Among the exposés: that Hamas is digging a tunnel from Rafah toward the Kerem Shalom crossing into Israel.

He also revealed the location of the excavation centers, tunnels, and shafts, and gave information about the people digging them. He also said that the new road that was paved by Hamas near Gaza border is to be used in order to stage a surprise attack against Israel, in which vehicles will race toward the border with Israel.

As part of his activities in Hamas, Shaer personally underwent a variety of training programs for combat, command, using advanced weapons and explosives.

The IDF a few months ago promised to investigate Hamas reconstruction of attack tunnels, after months of reports showing how the terrorist organization has been siphoning from the massive influx of construction materials to rebuild the tunnels leading in to Israel.

Reportedly over 1,000 diggers as well as heavy machinery are being employed by Hamas to construct the tunnels; the Israeli security estimation is that the tunnels lead up to Israeli territory, and Hamas will extend them beyond when it feels the time is right to strike. (Contributor: Arutz Sheva International News)

For prayer: We hold tenaciously to the premise that Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas or other would-be destroyers, from within and without. These tunnels serve no useful purpose and, if a threat to Israel’s security and even its survival, they should be destroyed. Please pray for Israel.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.’ For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, ‘Peace be within you.’ Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek your good.” (Ps 122:6-9)



Facial recognition software, which American military and intelligence agencies used for years in Iraq and Afghanistan to identify potential terrorists, is being eagerly adopted by dozens of police departments around the country to pursue drug dealers, prostitutes and other conventional criminal suspects. But because it is being used with few guidelines and with little oversight or public disclosure, it is raising questions of privacy and concerns about potential misuse.

Law enforcement officers say the technology is much faster than fingerprinting at identifying suspects, although it is unclear how much it is helping the police make arrests.

When Aaron Harvey was stopped by the police here in 2013 while driving near his grandmother’s house, an officer not only searched his car, he said, but also took his photograph and ran it through the software to try to confirm his identity and determine whether he had a criminal record.

Eric Hanson, a retired firefighter, had a similar experience last summer. Stopped by the police after a dispute with a man he said was a prowler, he was ordered to sit on a curb, he said, while officers took his photo with an iPad and ran it through the same facial recognition software. The officers also used a cotton swab to collect a DNA sample from the inside of his cheek.

Neither man was arrested. Neither had consented to being photographed. Both said officers had told them that they were using facial recognition technology.

“I was thinking, ‘Why are you taking pictures of me, doing this to me?’ ” said Mr. Hanson, 58, who has no criminal record. “I felt like my identity was being stolen. I’m a straight-up, no lie, cheat or steal guy, and I get treated like a criminal.”

Lt. Scott Wahl, a spokesman for the 1,900-member San Diego Police Department, said the department does not require police officers to file a report when they use the facial recognition technology but do not make an arrest. The department has no record of the stops involving Mr. Hanson and Mr. Harvey, and Lieutenant Wahl said that he did not know about the incidents but that they could have happened.

“It is a test product for the region that we’ve allowed officers to use,” he said of facial recognition software and the hand-held devices the police use to take pictures. “We don’t even know how many are out there” in the region.

He said that until June 19, his department did not have a written policy regulating facial recognition software and only recently began training officers on its lawful use. Before then, he said, there were interim regional guidelines and training available.

County documents show that over 33 days in January and February, 26 San Diego law enforcement agencies used the software to try to identify people on more than 20,600 occasions — although officers found a match to criminal records only about 25 percent of the time.

Lieutenant Wahl said the department was not aware of any complaints about the software or about the policy of collecting DNA samples that Mr. Hanson and others have described.

The department uses the technology judiciously, Lieutenant Wahl said. “We don’t just drive around taking people’s picture and start swabbing them,” he said.

Others say misuse is common.

“I get a call about facial recognition maybe twice a month,” said Victor Manuel Torres, a San Diego civil rights lawyer. “The complaint is always that they did it and didn’t get permission. ‘The police put me in cuffs and I’m on the curb, and they pull out an iPad and are taking pictures.’ ”

The Police Department, which the Justice Department recently determined to have a history of serious misconduct, has also been found to disproportionately stop and search African-Americans. But there is no similar racial breakdown for facial recognition checks, in part because the department does not keep the data.

“It is not as if there is the identification of a specific crime problem; they are simply collecting a lot of information that could impact a lot of completely innocent people,” said Michael German, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and a former F.B.I. agent. “There is very little oversight on the local level, and little concern from the federal agencies providing the grants.”

Facial recognition technology was first developed in the 1960s, but only recently became accurate enough for widespread use. It is among an array of technologies, including StingRay tracking devices and surveillance aircraft with specialized cameras, that were used in overseas wars but have found their way into local law enforcement.

The software can identify 16,000 points on a person’s face — to determine the distance between the eyes or the shape of the lips, for instance — and compare them with thousands of similar points in police booking or other photos at a rate of more than one million faces a second.

The technology is so new that experts say they are unaware of major legal challenges. In some cities, though, a backlash is stirring.

In Northern California, the Oakland City Council, under pressure from residents and civil liberties advocates, scaled back plans this year for a federally financed center that would have linked surveillance equipment around the city, including closed-circuit cameras, gunshot microphones and license plate readers. It also formed a committee to limit the use of this equipment and to develop privacy standards, like how long data may be kept and who will have access to it.

The authorities in Boston tested facial recognition technology but decided in 2013 not to adopt it, saying it crossed an ethical line. The software had been linked to surveillance cameras to secretly scan the faces of thousands of people at outdoor concerts in the city center. The images had then been fed into software capable of analyzing them.

“I don’t want people to think we’re always spying on them,” said William B. Evans, Boston’s police commissioner.

Yet the F.B.I. is pushing ahead with its $1 billion Next Generation Identification program, in which the agency will gather data like fingerprints, iris scans and photographs, as well as information collected through facial recognition software. That software is capable of analyzing driver’s license photos and images from the tens of thousands of surveillance cameras around the country. The F.B.I. system will eventually be made accessible to more than 18,000 local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies.

But people who are not criminal suspects are included in the database, and the error rate for the software is as high as 20 percent — meaning the authorities could misidentify millions of people.

Among the cities that use facial recognition technology are New York and Chicago, which has linked it to 25,000 surveillance cameras in an effort to fight street crime.

In many ways, though, San Diego County is at the forefront.

Here, beat cops, detectives and even school police officers have been using hand-held devices to create a vast database of tens of thousands of photos of people like Mr. Harvey and Mr. Hanson — some suspected of committing crimes, others not — usually without the person’s consent.

Not everyone is opposed to such programs. Last year, Tom Northcutt, a San Diego property manager, took an iPhone photo of a man moments before the man struck him in the arm with a two-by-four and fled. Mr. Northcutt, who did not know the aggressor, immediately sent the image to the police by email.

Less than 10 minutes later, a detective matched the man to a booking photograph of a suspect, who was arrested and later convicted of assault.

“It felt good knowing that they could do that,” Mr. Northcutt said.

Mr. Harvey, 27, remains upset about what happened to him. He said that when he refused to consent to having his picture taken, the officer boasted that he could do so anyway.

“He said, ‘We’re going to do this either legally or illegally,’ and pulled me out of the car,” Mr. Harvey said.

Mr. Harvey, who is African-American, said the San Diego Police had stopped him as a suspected gang member more than 50 times because his neighborhood, Lincoln Park, is among the city’s most violent.

He said he had been told he was in a gang database, even though he has never been a gang member. He recently spent nearly a year in jail on gang conspiracy charges that were dismissed in March. “I don’t know how good a gang member I could have been, not having a criminal record,” he said.

Mr. Hanson, who is white and lives in the city’s upscale Ocean Beach neighborhood, said his treatment by officers had been as intrusive as it was frightening.

“I’m not a lawyer,” he said, “but they didn’t appear to be following the law.” (Contributor: By Timothy Williams for The New York Times)

For prayer: Here is another case of an electronic tool that, like any other, can be used for people’s benefit or can be misused (or used prematurely) to bring confusion through false identification. Pray that human wisdom and knowledge will be applied with restraint, compassion, and proper motives. We come back again to our country’s need for sweeping revival and recognition of how deeply we, as a nation, need a return to God’s wisdom and His ways.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:6-9)



Viewers of the Republican presidential debate on Thursday August 6 might have been surprised by the question put to the candidates about whether God has spoken to them. This would be especially true of Europeans, who must have been asking themselves whether all Americans are nuts.

I lived in Europe for 11 years. I know how curious the American obsession with religion appears to a continent where God is largely dead.

Yet, American religion is central to American exceptionalism and presents an interesting contrast to Europe.

Days before the Millennium I became the first rabbi to win the London Times Preacher of the Year competition. (The Jerusalem Post reported at the time that I had received more points that anyone in the competition’s history.) While I was grateful to win in some sense it was a hollow victory. The competition, mostly from Church of England pastors, was not vigorous. Their academic, methodical and largely passionless delivery was not one to win over judges or the assembled audience.

Passion is the ultimate human magnet.

While people are reconciled to a life lived largely in the valleys, they thrill to those who can take them to the mountaintop, which explains why religion, with its lofty vision of a world of infinite possibility, has always excited the deepest artistic impulses of man.

This has been especially true in America, a country that believes in a “manifest destiny” and a nation which continues to invoke God’s blessing at every turn.

But this is not necessarily true of Britain and Europe, which have become increasingly godless. As rabbi in residence at Oxford for 11 years, I decided, in the early 1990s, to revive the celebrated Wilberforce-Huxley science- religion debate of 1860. Richard Dawkins was a star, as was Peter Atkins. Neither of these men had yet to become the militant atheists they would later be famous as. The engaging debates, which became an annual event drawing hundreds of Oxford students, even saw the religious side prevail at times, something largely unthinkable in today’s Britain where faith has become an empty ceremony of dead ritual.

Religion in Europe has only itself to blame for its decline, with a highly centralized religious structure crushing the creativity of individual pastors and the high formality of official European churches coming across as bland and humorless.

Europeans are in the habit of making fun of American evangelicals as backward religious knuckle-draggers who believe that Adam and Eve literally hung out with a talking snake.

But for all the condescension, evangelical Christianity in the US still represents the single largest voting bloc in the world’s sole superpower and one out of five Americans describes themselves as a born-again Christian, something inconceivable in Britain where weekly Church of England attendance hovers somewhere about two percent. Evangelicals build mega-churches that draw thousands of worshipers weekly and top evangelical pastors like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen enjoy vast cultural influence.

There is good reason. In the United States there is no official state church. There is no Archbishop of Canterbury. There is no Chief Rabbi. There is no queen as the official Defender of the Faith. Religion lives and dies like a commercial enterprise and is highly entrepreneurial. It pastors either excite their congregants with a message that is inspiring and relevant that will fill the pews or they will be passed over in favor of a different church. And if they send their congregants into a coma with stultifying boredom, their congregation will be lost because they will never awake.

Some might argue that the demise of religion in Europe is a good thing. It proves British sophistication, in sharp contrast to the religious hobos of American who talk in tongues. I beg to differ. In his magisterial work, A History of the American People, British historian Paul Johnson makes the case that the remarkable growth of the American people from pioneering backwoodsmen to the most powerful and innovative nation on earth was largely fueled by America’s religious fervor. From the piety of the pilgrims to the faith-based values of the Founding Fathers to the American belief in a divine destiny to even the marketing of Coca-Cola as “the real thing,” Americans tamed the wilderness in the belief that their nation comprised a new promised land, destined to illuminate the earth with the torch of freedom and the light of human dignity.

Europeans can claim that these are hollow statements of an arrogant superpower which thinks it can impose its will in Afghanistan and Iraq. But none can argue that this faith-fueled belief in itself has propelled America to its place as the most influential nation on earth.

European influence, in sharp contrast, has seriously declined. And while there are many factors involved, I would argue that the loss of national purpose bespeaks a dispiriting cynicism. It is a philosophy of nihilism in which nothing is sacred and all is an accident. While it has some brief, flashy moments, life does not necessarily have a grand design or purpose. There is no soul to illuminate, enrich and enliven. Existence slowly succumbs to the laws of entropy, decrepitude and death the only reality. This is especially true of the militant atheism stemming these days from Britain. Human love is a trick played on us by our genes ensuring the propagation of the species, and poetry and faith are shallow distractions masking the inevitability of our demise.

Men are insemination machines incapable of ever being truly faithful or loyal, and women are genetically programmed to seek out men with fancy cars and money, so much the better to support their offspring.

This inescapable pessimism of the decline of faith may account for why Britain, once the most intellectually advanced nation on earth, that gave the world parliamentary democracy and its most celebrated centers of learning, is today declining as a world leader of ideas.

Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807 and outlawed it completely three decades before the United States, doing so without half a million of its citizens dying in a civil war, and it was largely Christian abolitionists like William Wilberforce who were responsible for ending the abomination. But what is it that Britain exports today? America has many of social ills and serious partisan challenges. America also suffers from a religious obsession with issues like abortion and gay marriage even as the divorce rate hits 50% percent and out-of-control materialism suffocates the souls of its citizenry. But for all that, the spiritual underpinnings of the American republic ensure that values are constantly debated in the public arena and soul-searching is a never-ending element of the American public discourse.

It was in Britain that six of my nine children were born and, having arrived at the tender age of 22 it was in Britain where I learned to be a man. I owe the country much and serving as rabbi to the inquisitive minds of Oxford students was one of the greatest honors of my life, capped off just as I returned to the United States with the Preacher of the Year title. And it is for this reason that I hunger for a return to the robust British spiritual life that once served as the very foundation of British idealism and influence. (Contributor: By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for The Jerusalem Post - The author, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is founder of The World Values Network.

Prayer focus: Occasionally in this midweek prayer Alert, we run an “FYI” article that readers across the U.S. may not see via their local news outlets but which might show trends to assist with overall intercession for our own country. Here is an analysis by a Jewish rabbi who has spent many years in England and is now watching the Republican presidential nomination debates in the U.S. His conclusions are his own, though they may reflect to intercessors some of our country’s needs.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” (Ps 33:12)



The sky continues to be the limit for a Christian missionary organization that is committed to delivering gospel tracts and scriptures to restricted countries such as North Korea.

For years now, The Voice of the Martyrs has been using balloon drops to get the good news to people in North Korea. Political groups also use aerial drops to distribute anti-North Korea literature. Spokesman Todd Nettleton tells OneNewsNow that communist leaders object to the drops, but Voice of the Martrys is committed to the airborne delivery system.

"All of the balloon drops that are used make the North Korean government very upset,” he explains. “So anytime they have contact with the South Korean government, that's one of the issues they immediately want to put on the table, [arguing] Hey, you've got to put a stop to all these people launching balloons.

"But thankfully our Christian brothers and sisters in South Korea are very bold and they continue to do that even though there are some risks.”

More recently, they have been able to use a computer app to track where the balloons land.

North-South Korea border area"It's pretty exciting work, its kind of high tech, and sort of a secret agency - I guess that would be a word you could use,” he says. “But we know these balloons are reaching North Koreans, we know they are reaching them with the gospel message, and so that's a very exciting thing."

Nettleton acknowledges that North Korea presents challenges in spreading the gospel, but he adds that the Voice of the Martyrs continues to find creative ways to deliver the message. (Contributor: By Bill Bumpass for One News Now)

For Prayer: This is an important article for intercessors, illuminating what few in the West know about evangelizing North Korea, which has been dubbed the most closed and secretive nation on the Earth. Please pray for the careful and mostly hidden work of Voice of the Martyrs and the brave South Koreans who work diligently and in many ways to send the Gospel to this tightly closed country. Pray for the power of God’s Word to open many hearts to God’s love and salvation through Jesus Christ.

“[And] to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.” (1 Cor 9:22-23)



A pro-life activist says there are better ways to conduct scientific research than using aborted baby organs in rats.

petri dish stem cell research"Organs like the liver and the heart are being grown using adult stem cells, which are ethical," Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, tells OneNewsNow.

But other experiments are being done with rats by transplanting aborted baby organs in them to grow new organs, with the intention of one day growing organs for human transplant.

The adult stem cells, meanwhile, can easily be obtained from living people from skin, fat or other tissue.

"They can be donated by the living person for research," Tobias points out. "So the same results can be obtained and you do not have to kill an unborn child or use the remains of that unborn child in their research."

She points out that the money for the research comes from tax dollars earmarked by the federal government. (Contributor: Charlie Butts for One News Now)

For Prayer: Give thanks for Carol Tobias and the National Right to Life Committee, who do careful research and follow-up in honorable efforts to stem the abortion “industry” in which Planned Parenthood specializes. She points out in the article that the clandestine and often illegal black-market selling of aborted baby organs and tissue is unnecessary, contrary to Planned Parenthood’s assertions that such fetal tissue is “essential” to research. PP’s claims are spurious.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Prov 14:34)

On Watch in Washington August 19, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Informer August 12, 2015

On Watch in Washington August 12, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


Senate Republicans announced new legislation Tuesday to bar the government from forcing business to provide insurance for drugs and services that violate their moral beliefs, tapping into renewed debates over religious liberty, abortion and the persistent legal fight over Obamacare’s birth control mandate.

The bill, authored by Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, would allow private businesses and religious nonprofits to negotiate health plans that do not cover abortion or forms of birth control they object to, without risking heavy fines under the “contraception mandate” that stemmed from the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The bill would also let nurses or health providers seek legal recourse if they’re fired or otherwise discriminated against for declining to participate in abortions.

“It’s a basic principle that Americans should be able to live their faith,” Mr. Lankford said in a brief interview.

Sponsors said they detect increasing discrimination against organizations that try to live their faith in their public lives, and said that could particularly damage religious nonprofits, cutting their ability to provide needed care to “vulnerable populations.”

The effort adds new fuel to the fight over women’s health and faith-based objections to abortion or “morning-after” pills that some equate with the practice.

Already, Democrats charge that Republicans are leading a “war on women,” most recently an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of videos that seemingly show its employees negotiating over the sale of fetal body parts.

Under Mr. Lankford’s bill, an employer could buy a health plan that does not include abortion or contraceptives that violate their beliefs, so long as they found a willing insurer. Those negotiations could take place without the government mandating to the parties that they include the objectionable benefits.

The Department of Health and Human Services says it’s already struck the right balance with its policies, which accommodate family-owned corporations and faith-based colleges, charities and universities who object to the mandate.

Under HHS policy, those closely held corporations and religious nonprofits can notify either their insurers or the federal government of their objection to insuring certain contraceptives, and the insurers or plan administrators would then step in and make sure employees can get contraception without the religious charity having to pay for it.

Many nonprofits, though, still object, saying that the notification itself makes them complicit in sin. They’re still trying to fight their case in the courts, but have been rejected by a series of appeals courts.

The Senate GOP legislation would shift the battle back to Capitol Hill.

“This bill is an attempt to achieve legislatively what the nonprofit organizations have not been able to achieve in the courts, namely a wholesale exemption from the contraception requirement in the [health care law],” said Brigitte Amiri, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who fears the bill is overly broad and could result in a patchwork of what is covered from employer to employer.

Holly Lynch, a bioethics expert at Harvard Law School who closely tracks the debate, said the new bill didn’t balance its focus on rights of conscience with a women’s access to services.

“All these senators are doing is focusing on one side of the equation, and that is a serious problem,” she said.

Republican lawmakers have challenged the administration to find a way to pay for the contraceptives if it’s intent on providing them, and some in the GOP have offered legislation to let women buy contraceptives over-the-counter.

Mr. Lankford said community centers in just about every county in America have “some kind of access point” for women who cannot afford contraceptives.

His bill is similar to one his predecessor, Sen. Tom Coburn, filed in the last Congress. So far it has 13 Republican cosponsors — all of them male — although a House companion bill was filed by a female Republican, Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee. (Contributor: By Tom Howell Jr. for The Washington Times)

For prayer: This is the religious freedom issue in new clothing. Give thanks for Sen. Lankford and those supporting this legislation. Pray that his Senate colleagues have courage to carry through in spite of the president’s veto power. The issue is getting more exposure. We encourage intercessors to review the life of William Wilberforce and his more-than-18-year struggle against slavery in the British Parliament from 1787 until victory! Intercessors will pray until the issue is resolved.

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Tim.6:12)

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life that both you and your descendants may live…” (Deut. 30:19)



Chris Sununu is a pro-choice Republican, but when he voted Wednesday to defund Planned Parenthood clinics in New Hampshire, he viewed it as a vote in favor of women’s health, not against.

Before the New Hampshire Executive Council’s 3-2 vote denying the contract, he said he received separate calls from five young women — both pro-choice and pro-life — who told him they refused to set foot in Planned Parenthood clinics, even though they needed services and those were their closest options.

“All of them were unemployed and had actually gotten rides to other parts of the state so they could go to another provider that wasn’t Planned Parenthood and that didn’t have this umbrella of scrutiny hanging over them,” said Mr. Sununu. “And that sort of hit home.”

The New Hampshire vote, coming over the objections of Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, comes as the latest example of the backlash against Planned Parenthood following the release of five undercover videos raising alarm over the organization’s involvement in the trade of fetal organs from abortions.

“I’ve supported Planned Parenthood in the past to provide these services, but there are some women who just don’t want to support them because they’re too controversial,” Mr. Sununu said.

In New Hampshire, there’s also a political angle. Mr. Sununu, the son of former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, is said to be considering a run against Ms. Hassan in 2016, a race in which Planned Parenthood is already emerging as a campaign issue.

The Republican-controlled New Hampshire Executive Council denied state funding by turning down a $639,000 contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

The affiliate still receives funding from the federal government and other states in its purview.

The vote follows Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision last week to cut off state funds for Planned Parenthood in his state. Both decisions came after the release of the first video July 13 by the pro-life Center for Medical Progress.

At least 10 other states have reacted by launching investigations, but New Hampshire is not one of them. The executive council’s decision to deny state funding to Planned Parenthood came after Ms. Hassan refused calls to look into the group’s practices regarding fetal tissue.

The governor has said there is no evidence of illegality at the state clinics, which reportedly do not handle fetal tissue donations, adding, “We do not launch investigations in the state of New Hampshire on rumor.”

The Democratic governor also rejected a request from Republicans, including Mr. Sununu, to look into using other health care providers for nonabortion services offered by the Planned Parenthood clinics.

“The second request we made was, ‘Look, will you help us find alternatives to Planned Parenthood?’ In other sections of the state, other folks provide these services. In my district — I represent about a quarter-million people — Planned Parenthood is the only option,” Mr. Sununu said. “And I don’t think that’s right. I believe in having choice, in giving women choices for where they want to go.

“So that’s what I asked the governor to do: Let’s look for alternatives together as a team here,” he said. “She outright rejected that today.”

Ms. Hassan blasted the executive council’s vote in a Wednesday statement, saying, “I am incredibly disappointed in the outcome of today’s vote.”

“The council’s vote to defund Planned Parenthood will hurt the health and economic well-being of thousands of Granite Staters,” Ms. Hassan said. “Moving forward, I will continue to fight to ensure that women and families have access to the important health services that are essential to the economic security and vitality of our families.”

Councilor Chris Pappas, a Democrat, also criticized the Republican majority’s rejection of the Planned Parenthood contract.

“Voting against this contract is not going to stop one single abortion in New Hampshire, but it is going to stop thousands of people from accessing quality, affordable health care,” Mr. Pappas said, according to The Associated Press.

The council did vote to fund contracts for three other health care providers that do not perform abortions: Concord Feminist Health Center, the Joan G. Lovering Health Center on the Seacoast and Weeks Medical Center in the North Country.

Mr. Sununu argued that part of the executive council’s charge is to act as a check on government contracts.

“When you have a group like this here at the national level under all this investigation and scrutiny — look, if it were any other contractor, there wouldn’t even be a debate. Of course we wouldn’t be doing business with them,” Mr. Sununu said.

“But for some reason the Democrats seem to be going out of their way to find an excuse to keep Planned Parenthood around, and on the line and on contract,” he said. “There are lots of other providers of these services out there. All I’m saying is, let’s go contract with them and use these other health care providers to make sure we are giving adequate choice to these women.”

New Hampshire Democratic Party spokeswoman Lizzy Price charged that Mr. Sununu’s vote “proved that he is more concerned with his own political interests and trying to win a primary for higher office than he is with the health and economic well-being of New Hampshire women and families.”

Not so, said Mr. Sununu. “There’s too much ethical and legal scrutiny surrounding this organization right now for the state to just keep doing business with them,” he said. (Contributor: By Valerie Richardson for The Washington Times)

For Prayer: Several conservative states are not waiting for the U.S. Senate and House to act on the exposure of Planned Parenthood’s gross and macabre practice of selling tissue and organs of aborted babies to the highest bidder, thus profiting twice from the same murderous “procedure.” Give thanks for these brave people in New Hampshire, and please pray that other states will get on board in dumping this evil monster with its voracious appetite for blood and American taxpayers’ money.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa 5:20)



About a dozen Catholics wept and sang hymns outside their church as a man climbed to the top of the building and sliced off its steel cross with a cutting torch. It toppled with a thud.

"Aren't you ashamed of what you have done?" a teary woman yelled at the more than 100 security guards, who along with police and government workers kept the parishioners of Lower Dafei Catholic Church from protecting the symbol of their faith. The guards, who stood with shields and batons in the sun for nearly two hours, looked indifferent.

"Doesn't the government give us the right to religious freedom? Why are they taking down our symbol without any explanation?" another parishioner said hours earlier, as government workers arrived to build the scaffolding to reach the cross.

"We have violated no law. We do not oppose the government," said the parishioner, who gave his name only as Chen for fear of retaliation from authorities. "We have been good, law-abiding citizens."

Authorities in southeastern Zhejiang province are believed to be under a two-month deadline to remove crosses from the spires, vaults, roofs and wall arches of the 4,000 or so churches that dot the landscape of this economically thriving region.

In a rare move, even China's semiofficial Christian associations — which are supposed to ensure the ruling Communist Party's control over Protestant and Catholic groups — have denounced the campaign as unconstitutional and humiliating. They have warned that it could risk turning the faithful into enemies of the party.

The campaign is believed to be the will of President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, whose administration has launched the most severe crackdown in decades on social forces that might challenge the monopoly of the party's rule.

But Yang Fenggang, an expert on China's religions at Purdue University, said the party may have miscalculated and could be creating the very instability it is trying to avoid.

"The crackdown has alienated the Christians in China, who are otherwise law-abiding citizens," Yang said.

He said the campaign to assert state power over officially sanctioned churches has been ordered by the central government and is likely being carried out as a kind of experiment in Zhejiang, where the provincial party chief, Xia Baolong, is a trusted ally of Xi.

The massive campaign comes one year after the provincial leadership ordered the razing of several churches and hundreds of rooftop crosses deemed to be illegal structures. This summer, Zhejiang banned rooftop crosses altogether. Despite criticism that the new rule violates China's constitutional right of religious freedom, local enforcers are sending demolition crews to virtually all the province's churches.

They have met with resistance. Parishioners have kept vigils and tried to block entrances to church grounds with cargo trucks, and many churches have re-erected crosses in defiance.

Since Xi came into power in late 2012, Beijing has hushed voices critical of its policies and practices in China's social media, locked up members of the New Citizens Movement who had called for greater government accountability, and, most recently, rounded up rights lawyers who insist China's law must be followed to the letter and applied equally to the people and the state.

"The authorities are especially worried that those with religious beliefs have a strong sense of identity and belonging, which can translate into huge social forces," said Zhao Chu, an independent commentator.

In targeting Christians, the party is going after a group possibly bigger than itself. Yang said Christians probably number close to 100 million after more than three decades of rapid growth, though official figures are much lower. The Communist Party has nearly 88 million members.

In a troubling sign for the party, a sizable portion of its nominally atheist membership holds Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or other beliefs. The party is worried that religion — especially versions of Christianity rooted in the West — could subvert its rule.

The party tried to wipe out religion altogether during the ideological fervor of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, but later restored the right to worship. In ensuing decades, religious participation has grown as people seek to fill a spiritual void.

Still, Beijing retains tight controls over all religious groups, requiring them to register with the state or be labeled illegal. It claims the exclusive right to appoint Catholic bishops within China, instead of the Vatican.

In the western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, where Buddhist and Islamic beliefs mingle with ethnic identities, the government also has sought to curb some of the visible symbols of faith, including beards and veils, and installed surveillance cameras in and around monasteries and mosques.

The rules Zhejiang adopted in early July say crosses should be wholly affixed to a building facade and be no more than one-tenth of the facade's height. No rationale has been provided, and the provincial government did not respond to an Associated Press request for an interview.

The Catholic Patriotic Association of Zhejiang has said it is illegal to remove crosses from properly registered churches. The Christian Association of Zhejiang warned the act has caused animosity toward the ruling party. Both groups called for an immediate halt.

Yang said the rare open opposition from the government-sanctioned Christian associations, which serve as liaisons between the authorities and rank-and-file Christians, means the authorities could lose this important conduit. "Now this bridge has been burned," he said.

Fear, frustration and fury are probably most palpable in the municipality of Wenzhou, tucked between China's eastern coastline and rugged mountain ranges. With its 2,000 or so churches, Wenzhou, home to 9 million people, is as well-known as a bastion of Christianity as it is for its gritty entrepreneurship.

Almost every township has its own claim to a line of products — whether it be buttons, shoe soles, pet products or children's toys. Almost every village has a church or two, joining the landscape of rice paddies, farmhouses and factories.

Zhu Libin, president of the Wenzhou Christian Association, is torn between fellow Christians, who want him to speak on their behalf, and local authorities, who want him to persuade churches to comply.

"As a Christian, I want to see the cross lifted as high as possible, but as a citizen of China, I have to follow the rule when asked," he said in an interview at his downtown Wenzhou office.

When asked to comment on the continuing cross removals, he stood up and walked out. Moments later, he returned but refused to answer.

Zhu Weifang, an officially appointed bishop, declined to be interviewed, but he and two dozen other Catholic officials and priests signed a strongly worded letter calling the new rules unlawful.

"The more (authorities) suppress the call for justice, the more it shows they are faced with severe social crisis, that they have little confidence in their ability to rule, and that they are incompetent in dealing with issues," said the letter, which urges parishioners to "fight by law of reason to defend our very basic right to our religion."

In village churches, Protestants and Catholics are defying orders to remove crosses on their own and keeping around-the-clock vigils in slim hopes of holding off demolition crews. Many have defiantly re-erected the crosses.

Tears welled in the eyes of Tu Shouzhe when he recalled how authorities forcibly removed the cross from his Protestant church in the village of Muyang on a hot, humid summer afternoon.

"It was a surprise attack. We did not let them in, but they broke in by cutting off the lock. We demanded paperwork, but they showed us none. They cordoned us away from the church," Tu said. "They had 60-70 people. We had just about a dozen or so. Everyone was crying. Our hearts ached. We felt powerless to resist, and only prayed and sang hymns."

In the Zhejiang city of Jinhua, two pastors from the official Jinhua City Christian Church have been detained on suspicion of corruption after the two refused to remove the rooftop cross from a newly-built sanctuary, lawyer Liu Weiguo said Wednesday.

In Lower Dafei Village, the demolition crew descended one morning last week, but soon realized it could not scale the spire to get to the cross. They returned in the afternoon with poles for scaffolding and a cutting torch. Officials barred a photographer and videojournalist from the AP from documenting the demolition, but another reporter was present, apparently the first news media to capture images of such a cross removal.

One parishioner sat in the narrow entrance to the church grounds, trying to block the intruders, but was ordered to leave. He never spoke a word but kept his eyes on the cross and prayed silently.

As several men built the scaffolding, parishioners' tearful singing echoed over the church grounds: "He uses the love of the cross, the cross, to conquer the man." (Contributor: By Didi Tang for The Associated Press)

For prayer: For these Chinese believers, the government’s attack on the cross as the symbol of their Christian identity represents an attack on their faith and on them personally. And these are legally registered churches, which raises the point of how deeply afraid the godless regime is the symbol of Christian redemption and victory, representing the blood atonement of Christ. Pray for these faithful Christians to prosper and for the hidden (unregistered) churches to remain faithful when persecuted.  

“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal 6:14)



A powerful new technique for generating “supercharged” genetically modified organisms that can spread rapidly in the wild has caused alarm among scientists who fear that it may be misused, accidentally or deliberately, and cause a health emergency or environmental disaster.

The development of so-called “gene drive” technology promises to revolutionize medicine and agriculture because it can in theory stop the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as malaria and yellow fever, as well as eliminate crop pests and invasive species such as rats and cane toads.

However, scientists at the forefront of the development believe that in the wrong hands gene-drive technology poses a serious threat to the environment and human health if accidentally or deliberately released from a laboratory without adequate safeguards. Some believe it could even be used as a terrorist bio-weapon directed against people or livestock because gene drives – which enable GM genes to spread rapidly like a viral infection within a population – will eventually be easy and cheap to generate.

“Just as gene drives can make mosquitoes unfit for hosting and spreading the malaria parasite, they could conceivably be designed with gene drives carrying cargo for delivering lethal bacterial toxins to humans,” said David Gurwitz, a geneticist at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

A group of senior geneticists have called for international safeguards to apply to researchers who want to develop gene drives, with strict security measures placed on laboratories to prevent the accidental escape of “supercharged” GM organisms that are able to spread rapidly in the wild.

Last week the U.S. National Academy of Sciences initiated a wide-ranging review of gene-drive technology in “non-human organisms” and in this week’s journal Science a group of 27 leading geneticists call on the scientific community to be open and transparent about both the risks and benefits of gene drives.

“They have tremendous potential to address global problems in health, agriculture and conservation but their capacity to alter wild populations outside the laboratory demands caution,” the scientists say.

The researchers have drawn up a minimum set of safety rules to protect against laboratory escapes and have called for a public debate on the potential benefits as well as risks of a technology that allows geneticists to rapidly accelerate the inheritance of GM traits throughout an animal population within just a few generations.

Researchers have likened gene-drive technology to a nuclear chain reaction because it allows GM genes to be amplified within a breeding population of insects or other animals without any further intervention once the trait has been initially introduced. This is the case even if the trait is non-beneficial to the organism.

Laboratory experiments on fruit flies have shown that a modified gene introduced into one individual fly can take just a few generations to “infect” practically every other fly in the breeding population, in defiance of the normal rules of genetics which dictate a far slower spread.

Kevin Esfeldt, a gene-drive expert at the Wyss Institute at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said the technology was developed theoretically about 10 years ago but it has only been made possible in the lab in the past two years with the discovery of the sophisticated gene-editing tool Crispr/Cas9.

Dr Esfeldt explained that gene drives relied on a “cassette” of genetic elements that allowed a genetically modified gene to jump from one chromosome to another within the same individual so that eventually all of the sperm or eggs of the animal carried the GM trait, rather than half. This means that virtually none of the offspring is eventually free of an introduced GM trait.

Gene drives could benefit human health by altering insect populations that spread human diseases, such as mosquitoes that transmit malaria, dengue, chikungunya and Lyme disease, so that they were no longer a threat, he said.

They could also be used to reverse the mutations that make crop pests resistant to agricultural pesticides, or they might be used to spread genetic traits within a populations of an invasive species to help kill it off, such as making the skin of cane toads introduced into Australia non-toxic to indigenous predators.

“If we’re right about this, it’s a powerful advance that could make the world a much better place, but only if we use it wisely,” Dr Esfeldt said.

However, some scientists fear that the ease with which gene drives can be generated will make them a target for any malign individual or organisation with access to modern laboratory equipment.

Dr Gurwitz said the precise instructions for making gene drives should be classified, just like the technology for making nuclear weapons. However, Dr Esfeldt and the other 26 scientists who have written to Science disagreed, arguing that complete openness and transparency was the best defence against the use of gene drives as a bio-weapon because classifying the information would be technically ineffective and politically counterproductive. (Contributor: By Steve Connor, Science editor for Independent)

Further Reading: CRISPR/Cas9 and Targeted Genome Editing: A New Era in Molecular Biology

For prayer: This is a “Watchman, be aware!” article, which we contrast with reports calling for immediate intercessory prayer. We see here the development of a tool, similar to a gun, which morally upright people will use for good means, such as hunting game legally, while debased people will use for evil means, such as murder. So the gene drive development may be used for good or for evil purposes. Pray that much good will come from the gene drive for healing disease.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)



The supreme leader of Iran is apparently now an aspiring author but one thing is for sure: this is no love story.

According to a report on Saturday in the New York Post, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's new book Palestine outlines his case for why Israel must be wiped out and how. "The solution is a one-state formula," he writes, which is called "Palestine."

He said this "practical and logical mechanism" would have Israel under Muslim rule with some Jews being allowed to stay as a "protected minority" but only after proving "genuine roots." He advocates strict apartheid against Jews saying that they would not be allowed to vote in a future Muslim state while Arabs would have full rights.

He claims that his plan would promote "the hegemony of Iran" while removing "the West's hegemony" from the Middle East.

Khamenei, who is described in the book as "the flagbearer of Jihad to liberate Jerusalem," wrote that his views are not anti-Semitic but Islamic and based on "well-established Islamic principles." This goes on the opinion in Islam that land which was once owned by Muslims can never be ruled by non-Muslims again. Along with Israel, this also includes Russia, many parts of Europe, Thailand, India and parts of China and the Philippines.

However, Khamenei singles Israel out as an adou [enemy], doshman [foe] and a "cancerous tumor" for several reasons, the first of which is for being an "ally of the American Great Satan" which is waged in a war to overtake "the heartland of the Ummah [nation]."

Second, he says Israel is singled out because of his claim that it has waged a war on Muslims and therefore has become a kaffir al-harbi [hostile infidel].

Third, he claims that Israel "occupies" Jerusalem and calls it "Islam's third Holy City."

Khamenei says his plan entails low-intensity warfare based on wearing down the patience of Israelis and the international community. He writes that this plan does not entail "classical warfare" and he supposedly does not want to kill Jews.

His plan goes on the assumption that all Israelis have dual citizenship and would rather live in the US or Europe. He recommends therefore to make life in Israel so uncomfortable that they leave voluntarily to avoid threats on them.

He then describes using the tactic of "Israel fatigue" wherein the international community would decide to stop supporting Israel's military programs.

Another section of the book boasted past Iran-supported warfare against Israel using examples from Gaza and Lebanon. He writes that he aims to recruit West Bank "fighters" in units modeled after Hezbollah.

“We have intervened in anti-Israel matters, and it brought victory in the 33-day war by Hezbollah against Israel in 2006 and in the 22-day war between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip."

Though he doesn't reference an Iranian nuclear program directly, he mentions that a nuclear Iran would be able to deter Israel from taking any military action against the Islamic republic.

Referring to the Holocaust, Khamenei called it a "propaganda ploy" and writes that "we don't know why it happened and how."

The 416-page book is currently only available in Iran in Persian, but apparently an Arabic version is on the way. (Contributor: By Jerusalem Post Staff for The Jerusalem Post)


For prayer: The book is no surprise. Iran’s hatred for both Israel and the U.S. has long since been established. There is tragedy here, however. Before the Iranian nuclear talks, and despite President Obama’s many equivocations, Israel and the U.S. were strong allies. Now, the “Iranian deal” seems to have made Iran a virtual U.S. “ally,” leaving Israel quite alone and vulnerable. Is this what Americans want? We think not. A showdown is coming. Pray for divine mercy on our nation. God will triumph.

“Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing…. All nations before Him are as nothing …” (Isa 40:15, 17)

“There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.” (Prov 19:21)



China's cyber spies have accessed the private emails of "many" top Obama administration officials, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official and a top secret document obtained by NBC News, and have been doing so since at least April 2010.

The email grab -- first codenamed "Dancing Panda" by U.S. officials, and then "Legion Amethyst" -- was detected in April 2010, according to a top secret NSA briefing from 2014. The intrusion into personal emails was still active at the time of the briefing and, according to the senior official, is still going on.

In 2011, Google disclosed that the private gmail accounts of some U.S. officials had been compromised, but the briefing shows that private email accounts from other providers were compromised as well.

The government email accounts assigned to the officials, however, were not hacked because they are more secure, says the senior U.S. intelligence official.

The senior official says the private emails of "all top national security and trade officials" were targeted.

The Chinese also harvested the email address books of targeted officials, according to the document, reconstructing and then "exploiting the(ir) social networks" by sending malware to their friends and colleagues.

The time period overlaps with Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account while Secretary of State from Jan. 21, 2009 to Feb. 1, 2013. The names and ranks of the officials whose emails were actually grabbed, however, were not disclosed in the NSA briefing nor by the intelligence official.

A different NSA document leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that in late 2010 China had attempted to spy on the emails of four U.S. officials, including then Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. The document, posted on-line by Der Spiegel earlier this year, said the Chinese spies had tried to insert malicious software into their computers.

NBC News reported in 2013 that prior to the 2008 presidential election, Chinese cyber spies had targeted the presidential campaigns of then Sen. Obama and Sen. John McCain in order to read emails and policy papers, and had successfully compromised some emails, including private correspondence from McCain.

The "Dancing Panda" campaign revealed in the 2014 NSA briefing paper was among more than 30 "intrusion sets" launched by China that the NSA and other intelligence units identified last year in classified documents. NBC News reported last week that those campaigns resulted in more than 600 successful attacks on targets.

The NSA declined to comment. (Contributor: By Robert Windrem for NBC News)

For prayer: The intrigue deepens, and “spy vs. spy” stealing of emails is in the news daily. The privacy issue threatens the presidential campaign of Mrs. Clinton, who is being investigated for using a private email server for her State Dept. communications from 2009 through 2013. However that turns out, our nation is hurting, bleeding, and divided. Please pray fervently and faithfully, flooding heaven with continued, heartfelt prayers for widespread revival that will turn our nation back to God.

“For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17)

 “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Heb 4:13)



A national defense analyst is angered by reports of Middle Eastern men harassing U.S. military families in two western states.

In early July the FBI issued an alert to law enforcement agencies after getting reports that on numerous occasions, family members of military personnel in Colorado and Wyoming have been confronted by Middle Eastern men in front of their homes.

According to those reports, which have only attracted attention in recent days, the men have attempted to obtain personal information about the military member and their families through intimidation. Some of the family members have reported feeling scared.

Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis (USA-Ret.) is a senior fellow for national security at Family Research Council and a Pentagon advisor.

Maginnis, Bob"I'm angered, first of all," he begins. "If they're in this country and they're harassing someone because they're in uniform, I question why are they in this country. As far as I'm concerned if they're not citizens, I'd send them packing."

Maginnis says everyone must remember that America is a nation at war. "[But] the Obama administration refuses to understand that and to act accordingly," he laments. "As I stand here at the Pentagon, we've actually been shot at from the highway, which is only a few hundred meters away, because people don't like the military."

He says it would be prudent for authorities to recognize this threat and take immediate action. (Contributor: By Chad Groening for One News Now)

For prayer: The key comment may be that of Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis (USA-Ret.), who said, “… everyone must remember that America is a nation at war.” The harassment reported here is a disgrace and must stop, but it is encouraged by further division over President Obama’s “Iran Deal,” which members of his own party and U.S. military veterans are denouncing as a failure. We detest the thought of military families being harassed, but the issue is much larger. Pray as you are led.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa 55:6-7)

On Watch in Washington August 12, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Informer August 5, 2015

On Watch in Washington August 5, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


It took three videos showing Planned Parenthood doctors and executives discussing the culling and retailing of aborted baby parts, but Hillary Clinton finally managed to say that she found the videos “disturbing.”

For a professional politician like Clinton, whose every word is vetted by the vast right lobe of her brain, “disturbing” in the vernacular of less-scripted folk would be something like “horrifying” or “vile.”

But Clinton, whose base includes supporters of Planned Parenthood , as well as the mega-fundraising, pro-choice Emily’s List, tiptoed out on a limb. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it brave, but I also wouldn’t underestimate its significance. Even a passionately pro-choice presidential candidate has to pause at this juncture.

A tipping point may have already been reached, however, as people recoil from that which cannot be denied. Where once many could avert our eyes from the details of abortion, the details are now all we see and, thanks to the videos, hear.

In this excerpt from a fourth video, released Thursday, Dr. Savita Ginde, medical director and vice president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains; Jess, a Planned Parenthood medical assistant; and two actors posing as fetal tissue buyers discuss a product of termination:

Jess: Head, arms, I don’t see any legs. Did you see the legs?

Ginde: I didn’t really look, but —

A buyer: Yeah, there it goes. Yup, you got all of them right there.

Jess: Another boy. Should I just put it . . .

Ginde: Yeah, just put it over here, I’ll wash it out. Yeah, so you guys staying the night or are you leaving?

Buyer: Leaving . . .

Ginde: Do you have a car?

Just another day in the baby parts biz. Just another boy.

The videos, made clandestinely over a three-year period by an antiabortion group, are being released incrementally for sustained effect. It’s working.

Planned Parenthood, faced with a renewed push for federal defunding (to the tune of a half-billion dollars), has begun a public relations campaign of its own. As of Friday, two ads had been released, each featuring a breast-cancer survivor who says she wouldn’t have survived without the health care she received from the organization.

But is this true? Negligibly.

Planned Parenthood offers only a manual breast exam that any woman can do herself — and performs no mammograms. Rather, it refers women to other clinics. Thus, the ads are at least exaggerated if not purposely deceptive.

Also deceptive is the claim that defunding Planned Parenthood would strip women of health care. In fact, a Senate bill to defund Planned Parenthood, co-authored by Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), stipulates that all of its public funding be reallocated to federally qualified community health centers, which provide all women’s health-care services except abortion, without regard to a person’s ability to pay.

In other words, Planned Parenthood would still be able to provide abortions, since no federal funding can legally be used for abortion, anyway. And abortion opponents would no longer have to worry that their tax money was going to an abortion provider, even though the funds can’t legally be used for abortion.

The Senate bill [was] expected to come up for a vote this past Monday evening — the final moment of the session before August recess and the only time Senate Democrats would allow the vote. Meanwhile, as of [last] Friday afternoon, pro-life Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) were trying to cobble together an alternative to the defunding bill. Collins has expressed concern that defunding would deprive women in her state of health care. But would it, really?

Maine has four Planned Parenthood installations and 135 community health centers that could accommodate women’s basic health needs. Throughout the country, community centers vastly outnumber Planned Parenthood, totaling 9,059 to 669. It would appear that women could still get the health care they need.

In final ironies in this theater of the grotesque, Planned Parenthood doctors performing abortions often use sonograms so they can ensure that the imminently deceased baby’s organs aren’t damaged. Yet, Planned Parenthood has persistently fought “informed consent” laws requiring that women be shown their sonograms pre-abortion, arguing that abortion is hard enough without showing women what they’re about to destroy. (Contributor: By Kathleen Parker for The Washington Post)

Prayer focus: This is just one incensed commentary on what is arguably the most despicable and outrageous exposure of the money-driven and conscience-void abortion “industry” since Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s grisly enterprise was uncovered in 2011. Conservative columnist George F. Will called it “barbarity” (i.e., the work of barbarians). Nonetheless, Planned Parenthood is fighting back, including legally, and still has the “blessing” of President Obama and presidential hopeful, Hillary Rodham Clinton, among others. Pray that an awakened Church will rise up with her weapon of intercession!

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, …” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)  



The Obama administration has decided it will retaliate against China for orchestrating the devastating digital theft of over 22 million Americans' personal information, The New York Times reported.

The response is still unformed and may not come for weeks.

The decision to retaliate is a sudden reversal for the White House, which had previously indicated it might not even publicly blame China for the cyberattacks. Administration officials have only privately accused Beijing of ordering the digital strike.

“One of the conclusions we’ve reached is that we need to be a bit more public about our responses, and one reason is deterrence,” one senior administration official involved in the debate told The Times. “We need to disrupt and deter what our adversaries are doing in cyberspace, and that means you need a full range of tools to tailor a response.”

President Obama has been under mounting pressure to respond to the attacks, considered the largest ever digital theft of government data.

“What we’re seeing with these repeated hacks and repeated intrusions is that building your defense is not enough in and of itself,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters shortly after the hacks were first revealed. “There also has to be a deterrent.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper even seemed to break slightly with the administration line in a recent interview, saying that not responding to the OPM hack would invite future, bolder attacks.

“I think we'll see a progression and expansion of that envelope until such times as we create both the substance and the psychology of deterrents,” he said.

But the substance of the White House’s ultimate response is still in question. The administration apparently initially explored economic sanctions, similar to those levied on North Korea after the East Asian regime was blamed for a destructive cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“The analogy simply didn’t work,” a senior economic official told The Times, because Beijing has leverage to impose counter-sanctions against major American businesses operating in China.

The Justice Department is also reportedly exploring criminal charges against individuals or organizations behind the OPM hacks.

In May 2014, the DOJ indicted five members of the Chinese military for hacking the U.S. But those charges were for commercial economic espionage, not government intelligence espionage.

As a policy matter, the U.S. has tried to respond to intelligence with counterintelligence, not criminal charges, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report on the OPM hacks.

These factors will all complicate the ultimate response. But the administration has determined that the unprecedented scale of the OPM assault merits some type of public action.

“This is one of those cases where you have to ask, ‘Does the size of the operation change the nature of it?’” a senior intelligence official told The Times. “Clearly, it does.” (Contributor: By Cory Bennett for The Hill)

For prayer: The question for intercessors is, “What are the spiritual principles here?” We know this is not simply about China vs. America and cyber-warfare. The nations of the earth are locked in life and death struggles, and America is in steep decline. Pray for an awakened Church to minister as Christ’s presence in the world, guided and empowered by His Spirit. Pray for revival. Pray for the Church to focus on its true ministry: to spread the Gospel message.

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 6:4-5)



U.S. Homeland Security chief recently revealed that the government tactically made the decision to call Islamist terror attacks "violent extremism," avoiding the term "Islamic" or similar wording that would point to religious motivations in an effort to build bridges with the Muslim community.

Speaking at the Aspen Institute's annual security forum in late July, US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, says that it's "critical" to call such Islamic terror attacks "violent extremism" to "build trust" and "cooperation" with Muslims, according to Investor's Business Daily.

Johnson was pressed by the moderator, who asked, "Isn't government denying the fundamental religious component of this kind of extremism by not using the word Islamic?"

"I could not disagree more," Johnson replied, stating that Islam "is about peace."

Professor Ryan Mauro, national security analyst and adjunct professor of homeland security at The Clarion Project, a group that seeks to expose the danger of Islamic extremism, explained to The Christian Post the thinking of those who don't want to connect religion to terrorist activity: "The argument is that if you call them Islamic terrorists, you are conceding that they are acting in accordance with Islam and furthering a dangerous perception in the Muslim world that the U.S. is at war with Islam. In the Middle East, Muslims and non-Muslims use terms like 'Islamist' and 'Political Islam' and the difference is understood."

However some American Muslim activists have argued that to address the issue of Islamic extremism, the United States must take appropriate action and be honest about the situation.

Several U.S.-based Islamic organizations such as the Quilliam Foundation and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, act as counter-extremism think tanks that challenge anti-Western ideologies that contribute to radical Islam.

Members of the group often speak out against radical Islam and are dedicated to defending the U.S. constitution and religious freedom.

And in the United Kingdom, The Conscious Muslims Club is one of several grassroots organizations that seeks to open the doors to inter-faith dialogue and further communication about hot topics within Muslim communities.

"The vast majority of Muslims view Islamic State with as much concern and even fear as non-Muslims do. We are not immune to the terrors of what is happening and in fact are as much victim to it as anyone else. We are also nervous about how a group like this and its warped view of Islam will impact our lives," said the group's founder, Khatiija Sacranie, to CP.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently gave a speech on July 20 about the UK government's response to Islamic State and said: "simply denying any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremists doesn't work, because these extremists are self-identifying as Muslims. The fact is from Woolwich to Tunisia, from Ottawa to Bali, these murderers all spout the same twisted narrative, one that claims to be based on a particular faith.

"Now it is an exercise in futility to deny that. And more than that, it can be dangerous. To deny it has anything to do with Islam means you disempower the critical reforming voices; the voices that are challenging the fusing of religion and politics ...These reforming voices, they have a tough enough time as it is: the extremists are the ones who have the money, the leaders, the iconography and the propaganda machines. We need to turn the tables.

We can't stand neutral in this battle of ideas. We have to back those who share our values." (Contributor: By Hermoine Macura for The Christian Post)

Prayer focus: This dichotomy in the administration’s view of Islamic terrorism is confusing many U.S. citizens. We see President Obama’s concept of a “peaceful Islam” as misguided but understandable. While it is difficult for Americans of a certain age to deal with a president who was not taught from youth the values most of us cherish, still he was elected to the highest office not once but twice. We must pray for him, as only God can change his perceptions and clarify his thinking.

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all … who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1-4)

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.” (Prov. 21:1-2)



In the latest of a series of attempts to persuade U.S. voters to push their legislators to reject the Iran nuclear deal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver an address to the North American Jewish community next week to discuss the agreement, which he staunchly opposes.

The announcement, issued by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, comes a day after President Barack Obama held a mass conference call with supporters of the deal, to rally them behind the controversial agreement.

According to Conference of Presidents, Netanyahu will address U.S.' and Canadian Jewish communities through a live webcast on Tuesday afternoon. In addition to delivering remarks, the prime minister will also take questions from participants.

In a virtual twist on a town hall meeting, the Conference of Presidents and Jewish Federations in the U.S. and Canada are encouraging participants to join the call through computers and cell phones as well as through group viewings at Jewish institutions.

“The prime minister will deliver remarks directly from his office in Jerusalem, which will be transmitted to computers, cell phones and flat screens set up in synagogues, organizations and Jewish community centers large and small throughout the continent,” the Conference of Presidents said in an announcement Friday afternoon.

“The issues involved with the Iran nuclear agreement are complex and of great consequence to the North American Jewish population,” said Stephen M. Greenberg, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “We welcome this unique opportunity to present the prime minister, who has helped bring these vital issues to public attention.”

Conference of Presidents has hosted a number of information sessions on the deal, while its leaders have continued to express skepticism on some of the terms of the agreement reached in mid-July between Iran and the P5+1 member states. The Conference of Presidents is an umbrella organization that represents dozens of Jewish groups across the political spectrum, counting among its members both supporters and opponents of the agreement.

The Jewish Federations of North America, the event’s co-sponsor, has also had a delicate balancing act regarding positioning on the issue.

Some local federations have issued statements opposing the deal, while others have chosen to remain neutral as the agreement is debated in the halls of Congress.

“There is no doubt that at this time, the worldwide community is in the midst of a historic moment,” said Michael Siegal, chair of the Board of The Jewish Federations of North America. “Federation communities throughout the continent have been actively engaged on this issue for years, and they understand the complexities of these important discussions. We appreciate the opportunity to allow our constituents to engage with the prime minister directly in what will no doubt be an informative and enlightening session.”

The American Jewish community is seen as a key barometer for the fate of the deal, as Congress enjoys a 60-day review period of the agreement, before a crucial vote on a resolution of disapproval or approval in September. A number of Jewish organizations, including the Orthodox Union, have called on members to lobby their representatives to oppose the agreement, which critics say does not prevent Tehran from becoming a nuclear power in the long-term.

Other organizations, like the American Jewish Committee, say that they are still reviewing the details of the agreement, and have yet to determine an official stance on it.

J Street has been at the vanguard of the deal’s advocates, quickly announcing its support for the agreement and arguing that it presents the best opportunity to rein in Iran’s spinning centrifuges. The leftist lobbying organization was one of the participants in the Thursday afternoon conference call with Obama, during which the president warned against the power of mega-donors who opposed the deal and called on supporters to speak up in support of the agreement. (Contributor: By Rebecca Shimoni Stoil for Times of Israel)

Prayer focus: We believe Mr. Netanyahu makes a good case. It seems that serious spiritual and moral myopia has gripped President Obama and Secretary Kerry in what they have allowed to happen. Pray for the U.S. Congress—both House and Senate—to take a stand, regardless of personal politics, and to block approval of this “deal” with Iran. Pray for decision-makers to see the enormous implications. Pray for God’s mercy as He governs the world scene to fulfill His will and purpose.

“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast Their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: ‘Yet I have I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.’ ” (Ps. 2:1-6)



Aiming to jolt the rest of the world to action, President Barack Obama moved ahead Sunday with even tougher greenhouse gas cuts on American power plants, setting up a certain confrontation in the courts with energy producers and Republican-led states.

In finalizing the unprecedented pollution controls, Obama was installing the core of his ambitious and controversial plan to drastically reduce overall U.S. emissions, as he works to secure a legacy on fighting global warming. Yet it will be up to Obama's successor to implement his plan, which reverberated across the 2016 presidential campaign trail.

Opponents planned to sue immediately, and to ask the courts to block the rule temporarily. Many states have threatened not to comply.

The Obama administration estimated the emissions limits will cost $8.4 billion annually by 2030. The actual price won't be clear until states decide how they'll reach their targets. But energy industry advocates said the revision makes Obama's mandate even more burdensome, costly and difficult to achieve.

"They are wrong," Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said flatly, accusing opponents of promulgating a "doomsday" scenario.

Last year, the Obama administration proposed the first greenhouse gas limits on existing power plants in U.S. history, triggering a yearlong review and more than 4 million public comments. On Monday, Obama was to unveil the final rule publicly at an event at the White House.

"Climate change is not a problem for another generation," Obama said in a video posted to Facebook. "Not anymore."

The final version imposes stricter carbon dioxide limits on states than was previously expected: a 32 percent cut by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, the White House said. Obama's proposed version last year called only for a 30 percent cut.

Immediately, Obama's plan became a point of controversy in the 2016 presidential race, with Hillary Rodham Clinton voicing her strong support and using it to criticize her GOP opponents for failing to offer a credible alternative.

"It's a good plan, and as president, I'd defend it," Clinton said.

On the Republican side, Marco Rubio, a Florida senator, predicted increases in electricity bills would be "catastrophic," while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the rule "irresponsible and overreaching."

"Climate change will not be solved by grabbing power from states or slowly hollowing out our economy," Bush said.

Obama's rule assigns customized targets to each state, then leaves it up to the state to determine how to meet them. Prodded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a number of Republican governors have said they simply won't comply. If states refuse to submit plans, the EPA has the authority to impose its own plan, and McCarthy said the administration would release a model federal plan that states could adopt right away.

Another key change to the initial proposal marks a major shift for Obama on natural gas, which the president has championed as a "bridge fuel" whose growing use can help the U.S. wean itself off dirtier coal power while ramping up renewable energy capacity. The final version aims to keep the share of natural gas in the nation's power mix at current levels.

Under the final rule, states will also have an additional two years — until 2022 — to comply, yielding to complaints that the original deadline was too soon. They'll also have an additional year to submit their implementation plans to Washington.

In an attempt to encourage earlier action, the federal government plans to offer credits to states that boost renewable sources like wind and solar in 2020 and 2021. States could store those credits away to offset pollution emitted after the compliance period starts in 2022.

Twenty to 30 states were poised to join the energy industry in suing over the rule as soon as it's formally published, said Scott Segal, a lobbyist with the firm Bracewell and Giuliani who represents utilities. The Obama administration has a mixed track record in fending off legal challenges to its climate rules. GOP leaders in Congress were also weighing various legislative maneuvers to try to block the rule.

The National Mining Association lambasted the plan and said it would ask the courts to put the rule on hold while legal challenges play out. On the other end of the spectrum, Michael Brune, the Sierra Club's executive director, said in an interview that his organization planned to hold public rallies, put pressure on individual coal plants and "intervene as necessary in the courts" to defend the rule.

By clamping down on emissions, Obama is also working to increase his leverage and credibility with other nations whose commitments he's seeking for a global climate treaty to be finalized later this year in Paris. As its contribution to that treaty, the U.S. has pledged to cut overall emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005.

"We're positioning the United States as an international leader on climate change," said Brian Deese, Obama's senior adviser.

Power plants account for roughly one-third of all U.S. emissions of the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming, making them the largest single source. (Contributor: By Josh Lederman for The Associated Press)

Prayer focus: As readers know, IFA will not be drawn into political debate over this still-disputed “science,” where strong disagreement is found among so-called experts. Instead, we urge prayer for the spiritual stewardship of the planet and its major resource, human life. This political “football” is being tossed about while millions of innocent and helpless babies’ lives are snuffed out and their corpses sold to the highest bidder as “salvage.” Intercede in the midst of a distorted value system.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12)

“They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace.” (Jer. 6:14)



An ordained ministers’ volunteer credentials have been revoked by the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) because he couldn’t sign a statement vowing to refrain from informing juvenile inmates that homosexual behavior is sinful [and according to Romans 1, an abomination to God].

Arguing that the state was administering unconstitutional religious discrimination against the Kentucky minister by violating his right to express his sincerely held religious beliefs, the nonprofit legal group Liberty Counsel issued a letter to the Commissioner, demanding the Christian counselor’s reinstatement. Attorneys with the international litigation, education and policy organization gave the DJJ until the end of July to reinstate evangelist David Well’s volunteer visitor credentials — if it wanted to avoid legal action.

Serving for more than a decade as a volunteer at the Warren County Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Wells devoted his prison ministry to visiting and mentoring juvenile inmates.

“Many juveniles are in DJJ custody because of sexual crimes,” Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver maintained. “David Wells must be able to discuss what the Bible says about matters of sexuality with the juveniles he is trying to help.”

Removing a scalpel from a surgeon’s hands

Staver insisted that the DJJ cannot lawfully keep the pastor — serving out of Pleasant View Baptist Church in McQuady, Kentucky — from staying true to the calling of his ministry’s job.

“To remove the Bible from a pastor’s hands is like removing a scalpel from a surgeon’s hands,” Staver argued. “Without it, they cannot provide healing.”

Citing DJJ Policy 912 IV(H), which is dubbed “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” the department prohibited Wells from visiting, counseling or leading worship services for juveniles within the facility.

“[Volunteers] shall not refer to juveniles by using derogatory language in a manner that conveys bias towards or hatred of the LGBTQI community,” the policy reads. “DJJ staff, volunteers, interns, and contractors shall not imply or tell LGBTQI juveniles that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful, or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Can’t preach another gospel

In the demand letter, Liberty Counsel attorneys explained that the very nature of Wells’ ministry to inmates requires him to deal with the issue of sexuality in a biblical way.

“[T]he Bible explicitly prohibits any expression of sexuality outside of the confines of man-woman marriage,” Liberty Counsel’s letter to the DJJ states. “It recognizes that every person, regardless of personal proclivities or attractions, is separated from God because of sin, whatever form that sin may take. Many juveniles are in DJJ custody because of sexual crimes, and Mr. Wells must be able to discuss the Bible and matters of sexuality with inmates, and he therefore was unable to sign the form.”

Staver pointed out the hypocrisy of the DJJ demanding tolerance for the LGBT community’s practices while blatantly discriminating against the Bible’s teachings.

“DJJ 912 equates the teaching of biblical morality with ‘derogatory,’ ‘biased,’ and ‘hateful’ speech,” Staver noted. “In so doing, the DJJ policy creates an unconstitutional, religious litmus test for DJJ access.”

The Christian legal expert emphasized that Wells’ rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution were violated, and that no policies the DJJ creates to accommodate the homosexual agenda can justifiable take away his free speech rights.

“The First Amendment prohibits the government from viewpoint discrimination,” Staver concluded. “This detention center may not prohibit the expression of biblical morality simply because a few DJJ policymakers object to the Bible and its teaching.” (Contributor: By Michael F. Haverluck for One News Now)

The prayer focus here is obvious. This is not the first such case of discrimination due to biblical convictions, and it will soon be common place. Christians do not want to “get used to it,” but must be prepared to suffer in various ways for their godly beliefs. Pray for Rev. Wells and his family.

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” (Prov. 29:2)



The Boy Scouts have made a fateful and fatal decision to allow homosexuals to serve as mentors to young boys. This will be and should be the end of this once noble organization.

Why? Because of the well-established link between homosexuality and pedophilia.

As Peter Sprigg writes for the Family Research Council: "The percentage of child sexual abuse cases in which men molest boys is many times higher than the percentage of adult males who are homosexual, and most men who molest boys self-identify as homosexual or bisexual."

Research published in the Journal of Sex Research indicates that homosexuals are responsible for a staggering "one-third of the total number of child sex offenses." This is despite the fact that, according to the CDC, male homosexuals comprise only about one percent of the population.

Ponder that: one percent of the population is responsible for 33 percent of all sex crimes against children. This is just another clear indication that there are unmistakable pathologies associated with the homosexual lifestyle. This is not a lifestyle any rational society should celebrate, endorse or promote, let alone sanction with the term "marriage."

According to the Archives of Sexual Behavior, most pedophiles consider themselves homosexual. According to this peer-reviewed journal, "eighty-six percent of offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual."

Much of the problem with child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church is linked, in my view, with the growing numbers of homosexual priests who filtered into the priesthood in the 1960s as the Church scrambled to fill its ranks as increasing numbers of heterosexual males chose marriage and family over the priestly vocation.

Now we may freely stipulate that heterosexuals offend against children as well. But when we see such an alarming imbalance in the ratio at which homosexuals offend against children, it is the height of irresponsibility to deliberately place homosexuals in positions where they have frequent access to young boys. It is inexcusable and virtually criminal.

Terry Bean, the co-founder of the Human Rights Campaign, the leading pro-homosexual organization in the country, is currently in legal trouble for having sex with more than one teenage boy.

The LDS church, which sponsors more Boy Scout troops than any other organization in the country, has over the years found itself in court repeatedly fending off charges that scout leaders took sexual advantage of the vulnerable young males in their care. I predict the LDS church will bolt the Boy Scouts out of a desire to protect the young boys in Mormon families and to keep themselves from being bankrupted. If the LDS church allows homosexual scoutmasters, they will be in court until the end of time.

No father who is thinking clearly would put his young son in proximity to an adult homosexual. Is this to say that all adult homosexuals offend against children? Of course not. But a father and his vulnerable son may not find which homosexuals they should have been concerned about until it's too late.

Fortunately, there is a solid, biblically based alternative to the BSA: Trail Life USA. Every dad who is aware and informed will flee the Boy Scouts and head for the refuge Trail Life USA affords. And they will do it today. Dads, you don't have a moment to lose. Protecting the sexual integrity of your young sons is just too important. (Contributor: By Bryan Fischer for One News Now)

For prayer: Much to pray about here. This article predicts an exodus of Mormons from the Boy Scouts, and such discussions are underway. Mormon leaders cite “troubling implications” of staying with the Boy Scouts in the light of this decision to allow homosexual leaders. Families must be vigilant. No doubt many will leave, and this may be the death knell for the Boy Scouts. Pray for homosexual Scout leaders to find freedom in Christ. Pray for Trail Life USA to prosper.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’ ” (Eph. 5:11-14)

On Watch in Washington August 5, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Informer July 29, 2015

On Watch in Washington July 29, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


The Kremlin says its nimble new satellites are just for communications. But they look—and act—an awful lot like prototype weapons.

On Christmas Day in 2013, a rocket blasted off from the Russian Federal Space Agency’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome, about 500 miles north of Moscow. The 95-foot-tall, 118-ton Rokot booster—an unarmed version of a Cold War nuclear-tipped missile—lanced into low orbit, shedding spent stages as it climbed.

Seventy-five miles above the surface the earth, the Rokot’s nose cracked open and its payload spilled out. The rocket carried Rodnik communications satellites, according to Russian officials.

It’s customary for Rodnik sats to deploy in threes, but in a notification to the United Nations, Moscow listed four spacecraft inside the Christmas Rokot.

The discrepancy was strange...and got stranger.

Rodnik sats, like most orbital spacecraft, don’t have engines and can’t move under their own power. So it came as a shock to some observers on the ground—a group including amateur satellite-spotters with radios and telescopes; radar-equipped civilian researchers; and military officials monitoring banks of high-tech sensors—when the Rokot’s fourth satellite, designated Kosmos-2491, moved, propelling itself into a slightly different orbit.

Whatever Kosmos-2491 was, it wasn’t some innocuous communications satellite. And over the next year and a half, Russia launched two more of the mysterious, maneuvering spacecraft, each time sneaking it into orbit as part of a routine commsat launch.

No one outside the Russian government, and perhaps the Pentagon, knows for sure what Kosmos-2491, -2499, and -2504 are for. But it’s clear enough what the three mystery sats could do, in theory. Zipping across orbital planes hundreds of thousands of feet above Earth, the nimble little spacecraft—which are apparently the size of a mini-refrigerator—are able to get really close to other satellites. Close as in a few dozen feet away.

And if they can get that close, the little robots could spy on, hijack, and even destroy other sats.

In other words, Kosmos-2491 and its triplets might be space weapons, the likes of which few other nations possess. And if so, they could upset the orbital balance of power, at a time when government agencies, armies, scientists, and everyday people—in the United States, especially—depend on satellites for communications, surveillance, science, and navigation.

“Our nation’s advantage in space is no longer a given,” U.S. Air Force Gen. William Shelton, then head of Air Force Space Command, told Congress in March 2014. “The ever-evolving space environment is increasingly contested as potential adversary capabilities grow in both number and sophistication.”

Space Sleuths

Kosmos-2499 joined Kosmos-2491 in low orbit on May 23, 2014, piggybacking on another cluster of three commsats. Kosmos-2504 made its debut on March 31 this year—again, boosting into space alongside a trio of communications satellites.

The three mystery sats have stayed busy, firing their tiny engines to climb and dive hundreds of miles at a time, altering their velocity by hundreds of feet per second while playing chase with abandoned rocket stages and other hunks of space junk, apparently practicing for close passes on active satellites.

The U.S. military has watched all these maneuvers carefully. “As we do with all space objects—for space situational awareness purposes and to promote safe and responsible space operations—we are using our global network of sensors to watch Kosmos-2491, -2499, and -2504,” said Capt. Nicholas Mercurio, an Air Force spokesman.

But the Pentagon won’t say exactly what it thinks the satellites are for. Nor, of course, will the Kremlin specify the crafts’ purpose. In a brief statement in December, Russian Federal Space Agency chief Oleg Ostapenko insisted the mystery sats were peaceful in nature and not, as outside observers feared, “killer satellites.”

“You can probably equip them with lasers, maybe put some explosives on them. If [one] comes very close to some military satellite, it probably can do some harm.”

But Ostapenko did not specify what supposedly peaceful purpose the craft do serve. And since then, Moscow has kept silent about the satellites. The Russian space agency didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Undeterred by the lack of official comment, an international band of space nerds has taken it upon itself to solve the mystery of the three nimble spacecraft. In the summer of 2014, Russian radio enthusiast Dmitry Pashkov detected signals that he eventually traced back to Kosmos-2499.

Fellow radio aficionado Cees Bassa, who is Dutch, picked up similar chirps from the direction of the other mystery sats and connected the dots. "I was one of the first to confirm that the recent Kosmos-2504 satellite was transmitting on the same frequency as Kosmos 2491/2499, confirming the similarity between them," Bassa said.

Uniting the space sleuths is Anatoly Zak, a Russian-born journalist and self-described “space historian.” Now living in the United States, Zak aggregates observations of Kosmos-2491 and its siblings at his website, Russianspaceweb.com.

Combining all the evidence, Zak concluded that the mystery craft are all similar in size and shape to Russia’s 200-pound Yubileiny experimental satellite—and are most likely weapons.  “You can probably equip them with lasers, maybe put some explosives on them,” Zak said of the Kosmos triplets. “If [one] comes very close to some military satellite, it probably can do some harm.”

And even if the mystery sats aren’t armed themselves, they could be prototypes for bigger and better follow-on spacecraft that are armed, Zak added. “Looking at the history of space technology, it often starts with a small and cheap satellite that’s easy to launch, then the same technology gets incorporated into something larger.”

Late to Orbit

To be clear, if indeed the Kosmos triplets are weapons, they’re certainly not the only ones in Earth orbit. The United States, Sweden, Japan, and China have all tested maneuvering satellites that could perform the close-flying, sat-frying tricks that the new Russian craft are apparently capable of doing. It’s all being done in the name of satellite maintenance and repair. But the same tech can be deployed for more aggressive purposes.

The U.S. Air Force launched two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program satellites in July 2014. These sats “will have the capability to perform Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO),” according to an Air Force website. “RPO allows for the space vehicle to maneuver near a resident space object of interest.”

Just like the Kosmos triplets can do. The big difference is where the U.S. spacecraft are—30 times higher than the Russian crafts’ low orbit. Boosting a satellite to such a lofty orbit is “much trickier, technically” but conveys big advantages, according to Dr. Laura Grego from the Union of Concerned Scientists, based in Massachusetts.

For one, geosynchronous orbit is where the most valuable communications satellites are. If you want to threaten another country’s orbital infrastructure, that’s the best starting point. Moreover, the lofty orbit gives the situational-awareness sats “a clear, unobstructed and distinct vantage point for viewing resident space objects,” the Air Force website explains. In other words, these spacecraft can keep an eye on other spacecraft—potentially including weaponized craft such as the Russian mystery sats.

In launching the secretive Kosmos-2491, -2499, and -2504, Russia is playing catch-up, in a sense. The United States tested its first satellite-killer way back in 1962—albeit inadvertently. The Starfish Prime nuclear test, which exploded an atomic bomb 250 miles over the Pacific, had the unfortunate side effect of knocking out a full third of the satellites then in orbit. Today U.S. Navy destroyers carry SM-3 missiles that can hit spacecraft in low orbit.

But from the American point of view, it’s still highly provocative for Moscow to deploy potential space weaponry. That’s because more than any other country, the United States counts on its spacecraft to maintain a military and economic edge.

America’s satellites spy on the ground and sea, support vital scientific research, and relay radio messages including the signals that control drones and help soldiers—not to mention millions of commuters—find their way via GPS. Of the world’s roughly 1,200 active satellites, nearly half are American, while Russia and China each possess a 10 percent share of orbital hardware.

Ironically, that means America is also “more vulnerable” in space, Grego said. The United States offers up more satellites as targets and arguably needs those sats more than other countries need their own spacecraft. Grego said the only way to preserve orbital peace is for no country to deploy space weaponry: “It does not benefit anyone to pursue completely unfettered development of anti-satellite technology.”

But it’s probably too late for total orbital disarmament. The trend is toward more military assets in space—and more anti-satellite systems.

When Russia quietly boosts three highly maneuverable and potentially armed spacecraft into orbit and then declines to explain their purpose, it’s sure to keep U.S. military officials awake at night, staring into the night sky, wondering just what the fleet-footed little Russian robots are up to...and how they might counter them. (Contributor: By David Axe for The Daily Beast)

For prayer: This is an “FYI article”—for information but with no urgent call to prayer. We include it because U.S.-Russian relations are important and because Russia has emerged as a major player on the international scene. Some intercessors pray faithfully about America’s ties with Russia for various reasons. Pray that our country be spared from further military engagements, except for national defense. Sadly, a longed for “Peace in our time” seems unlikely, but we take heart that God reigns.

“Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.” (Isa. 40:15)



Islamic State (Isis) are plotting to use toy drones to bomb major events like football matches and music festivals in Britain, it emerged today.

Terrorists want to use the unmanned machines - available for as little as £100 on the high street - to drop explosives on large crowds at popular sporting and cultural gatherings.

Defense chiefs fear they could launch a multi-drone attack carrying several bombs, even using airborne cameras to film the bloody carnage below for twisted propaganda videos.

Senior MI5 figures believed that Isis has already tested how much plastic explosive the flying machines can carry, getting as far as experimenting with detonation devices.

A counter-terrorism source said: "Islamist plotters have been trying to launch a drone-borne bomb attack for some time, as these machines are getting more hi-tech every year.

"They want the spectacular devastation of such a raid, which would cause murder and maiming in a crowd, while filming it for a sick video.

"Isis is obsessed with re-creating the horror of 9/11 and believes this may be possible by launching a multi-drone attack on large numbers of people in a synchronized attack."

Toy drones, which are popular with amateur photographers, are available from mainstream retailers like Amazon and Maplin and cost as little as £100.

Each agile machine could carry enough explosive to kill or maim a person if detonated nearby, and the effects of a fleet of drones dropping bombs on a crowded area would be bloody and devastating.

It is thought that evil Islamist fanatics could be looking to target crowds at open-air music festivals and Premier League football grounds for maximum effect.

Colonel Richard Kemp, who has advised the Government on terrorism, told the Mirror: "There is a genuine threat from Islamists wishing to deliver high explosives by drone to crowded areas. The effects could be devastating."

It would be easy for Isis to get its hands on cheap drones, with more than 127,000 being bought and sold on online auction site eBay in the last year alone.

Alternatively, it is thought the terrorists may attempt to build a copycat drone of their own to avoid having to buy one and potentially raise the suspicions of police and security services.

More worryingly still they could attempt to buy commercial drones like ones used by the military. These machines would be able to carry enough explosive and shrapnel to kill scores of people in a single attack. (Contributor: By Nick Gutteridge for Express News)

For prayer: While this report is from a British news source and focuses on threats within the U.K., it is equally true that apart from divine protection, no country is safe from modern terrorism, no matter the immediate source. Pray for God’s mercy and protection in our own nation. Pray for revival and renewal in the Church. Intercede for and support renewal in the wider Church that leads to renewed evangelistic outreach. The first calling of the Church is evangelism.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa. 55:6-7)

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ ” (Matt. 28:18-20)



President Barack Obama headed to Kenya last Thursday for a global economic summit. It is Obama's first visit as president to his father's homeland.

While some hope the trip will bring closer ties between our two countries, there's one subject many Kenyans don't want the president to talk about: gay rights and same-sex marriage.

The streets are already buzzing in anticipation of his arrival, with polls showing Obama enjoys widespread popularity among Kenyans.

"I think this is a guy who really appreciates his roots," said one resident of the capital city.

"Because he is our brother, we welcome him," Peter, from Nairobi, said.

The president's visit, however, is not without controversy.

Seven hundred Kenyan evangelical pastors have written an open letter asking the president not to come to their country and talk about the gay agenda.

Mark Kariuki is the key architect of that letter. He leads an alliance representing 38,000 churches and 10 million Kenyan Christians.

"We do not want him to come and talk on homosexuality in Kenya or push us to accepting that which is against our faith and culture," Kariuki said.

Kariuki welcomes the president's visit but says leave "the gay talk" in America.

"Let him talk about development; let him talk about cooperation; let him talk about the long-time relationship Kenya has had with America," he said. "But about our beliefs and culture-- keep off!"

Obama has used previous trips to Africa to urge governments to respect gay rights. Kariuki said the open letter is a warning to the president.

"The family is the strength of a nation. If the family is destroyed, then the nation is destroyed," he said. "So we don't want to open doors for our nation to be destroyed!"

Pro-family activists took to the streets of Nairobi this month, urging President Obama to avoid the subject when he visits.

"Since Obama has a Kenyan descent, I think he should be more familiar with our culture. Africa has a conservative culture," said one of the participants in the pro-family rally.

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya and 37 other African countries. In fact, Kenya's penal code says any individual "who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature" can face 14 years jail time.

Bishop Kariuki said he'll fight to keep homosexuality a crime in Kenya.

"It is an abomination to God. Kenya is 82 percent Christian. So, as far as our conviction and our faith are concerned it is not a natural thing," he said.

Top Kenyan politicians are also weighing in.

"God did not create man and woman so that men would marry men and women marry women," the country's deputy president is quoted saying.

Another lawmaker warned, "We shall tell him to shut up and go home" if he talks about gay rights.

After June's U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage in America, one Kenyan politician said allowing such a thing in her country would open "floodgates of evil synonymous with the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah."

Many citizens have also taken to Twitter using the hashtag #KenyansMessageToObama to warn the president about spreading his gay agenda beyond America's shores.

Meanwhile, Bishop Kariuki said the president is destroying America with his support for gay marriage.

"I believe that with all my heart with that agenda he is ruining America because America has been known as a Christian nation," he said. "It has been known as a nation that has sent missionaries out. Now it is a different nation all together because it is an agenda against God!" (Contributor: By George Thomas for CBN News)

Update: The tense exchange between Obama and Kenya’s president on gay rights - Los Angeles Times

For prayer: We have never written here disrespectfully of President Obama, but we have prayed he would display less arrogance and more humility. Ironically, an American president visits Kenya and calls for a change in its laws against homosexuality, while Kenya’s president tells him to mind his own business. Mr. Obama’s views on this, and those of the U.S. Supreme Court majority, are wrong, while Kenya’s position is in line with Scripture. We need not tell intercessors how to pray.

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1-4)



In the wake of the United States reaching a nuclear “deal” with Iran, Israel warns that the Islamic Republic has defiantly called for “death to America,” despite the numerous concessions the White House has recently made to the terrorist regime.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter that America’s nuke agreement with Iran — which many critics refer to as the Islamic Republic straight-arming the Obama administration — was nothing more than a fool’s bargain.

"We are told the whole world supports this bad deal; well, that's just not true,” Netanyahu asserted in his meeting with Carter on Tuesday.“ Israel and many Arab states oppose this deal, and, in any case, sometimes the entire world can be wrong."

Dealing with the enemy?

Netanyahu wasn’t the only top Israeli official warning the U.S. that it struck a deal with a dangerous enemy — one that poses as much of a threat to America as it does to Israel. In fact, Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold explained to the media that besides calling for the annihilation of America, the jihadist regime is operating inside U.S. borders.

"When we're speaking about Iran, we're dealing with a country whose leadership calls for death to America," Gold told reporters, according to CBN News. "It's not as though Israel is taking action because it alone is in the crosshairs of the Iranian military. The United States is in the crosshairs of the Iranian military."

Gold reminded those on Capitol Hill — as Netanyahu did this spring before Congress — that Iran is nothing less than an Islamic terrorist state seeking to wipe America off the face of the earth.

"America is targeted by Iran," Israel’s foreign diplomat added. "Hezbollah today — which is, let's be clear about it — Hezbollah is an extension of the Iranian security apparatus.”

He went on to try and convince the U.S. that Hezbollah has already infiltrated its borders and is alive and well throughout Europe — spanning its operations across dozens of countries around the globe.

“It has networks in Europe and in the United States,” Gold insisted. "And we say that both the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah are operating in 30 countries, according to our best information."

Don’t say we didn’t warn you

Paying little to no heed to Netanyahu’s warning given during his controversial address in Washington, D.C., in March — when President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden and many other White House officials snubbed the prime minister during his visit — the Obama administration’s dealings with Iran over the past week has been viewed by many conservatives as handing its enemy a loaded weapon.

After Kerry reportedly left the door open for Iran’s continued nuclear inspection violations, did nothing to free U.S. captives from illegal imprisonment in brutal Iranian prisons, and lifted sanctions on the nation to allow a windfall of money to funnel into the Islamic regime, it was conceded that the funds could be used on weapons against America and its allies.

In fact, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice recently admitted that there is no way to make sure that Iran wouldn’t use the additional money it brought in from lifted sanctions to fund its aggressive military’s operations. Rice went as far as to concede that Iran would most likely use its added funds to augment its controversial weapons arsenal — which many nations, including Israel, believe consists of nearly completed nuclear warheads with the capability of striking Israel and the U.S.

Corroborating this account, CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell reports that the U.S.-brokered deal with Iran gives the jihadist nation license to make an exorbitant amount of money through scores of newly revived global economic trade opportunities.

“Despite the worldwide influence of Hezbollah and Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the agreement gives a long list — 70 pages worth of Iranian companies, entities and individuals — freedom from sanctions,” Mitchell informed. “That will represent a windfall for Iran's economy — and critics warn some of that money will be used to fund terrorist activities around the world.” (Contributor: By Michael F. Haverluck for One News Now)

For prayer: It has been conceded by analysts of both major U.S. political parties (and many in between), that Secretary of State Kerry’s team, guided by President Obama, lost far more than was gained in the Iranian nuclear “deal.” We will not discuss details here, as Intercessors do their “homework” well. Please pray that our senators and representatives will show fortitude, wisdom, and courage to speak for their constituents. Pray for Israel, whose safety was ignored in the negotiations.

“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision.” (Ps. 2:1-4)

“For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” (Luke 8:17-18)



When Harriet Beecher Stowe met Abraham Lincoln in the White House on Nov. 12, 1862, he is supposed to have greeted her with the approximate statement that she was "the little woman who began the big war." She was. Ten years earlier, she had published Uncle Tom's Cabin, which quickly became a sensation. The goal of the book, according to Wikipedia, was "to educate northerners on the realistic horrors of the things that were happening." It did. The key word of these is "realistic." People avoid pain, and contrive to side-step ugly things that are not directly in front of them, as we do every day with many atrocities, as we did with slavery until 1865, and with segregation for one hundred years after.

In each case it was the "realistic presentation of horrors" that made the big difference, whether Mrs. Stowe's book, the church bombing in Birmingham or the numerous cases of televised violence. In the taped expose of Planned Parenthood's methods, the pro-life movement has uncovered its Uncle Tom's Cabin. It won't start a war, but it will start a battle. And this may be one it can win.

The arguments made in defense of these methods are almost as bad as the methods themselves. "The details are gruesome, as are many medical procedures, and how doctors and nurses tell stories," says the Washington Post Metro columnist Petula Dvorak, who sees nothing sinister. Michelle Goldberg in the Nation made the same argument: The group's employees made the "mistake of talking the way doctors talk in front of the wrong people … any conversation about the logistics of adult organ donation would likely sound similar." No, it would not. "Medical procedures" are designed to cure, not kill people. Organs taken from adults are taken with their consent after they die on their own of natural causes, while in these cases small human beings who never consented have been torn apart. These people were taped without their consent, but so was Mitt Romney in his "47 percent" campaign blunder. They weren't coaxed, but were lulled into thinking they were among friends, so they felt free to reveal their true feelings: Swirling wine to release the bouquet while talking of "crunchy" abortions, and moving the forceps to mangle only the child's less salable parts. "I'm not gonna crush that part, I'm gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact."

The thing being crushed had no import whatever: "They take the products of conception and sell it to whoever," a spokesman for Planned Parenthood said. But even Goldberg herself was forced to admit that "Politically, this is terrible for the organization and for the reproductive-health movement… [her] breezy tone and big glass of red wine and her discussion of doctors' prowess in getting 'heart, lung, liver' out intact is hard to watch."

"One of the turning points for the civil rights movement … was when the network news broadcast film of scenes like Bull Connor…turning fire hoses on black civil rights marchers," writes Steve Hayward on Powerline. "The videos of the grotesque callousness of Planned Parenthood that are coming out may prove to be a turning for late-term abortion," which two-thirds of Americans already want halted. When making a point, it always helps to get personal, to show the effect of one set of policies in its physical impact on one human being. Call this a "crushing defeat" for the abortionist lobby. Describing the process of "crushing the baby” is one way to get the job done. (Contributor: By Noemie Emery for Washington Examiner)

For prayer: The momentum is strong against Planned Parenthood (PP) in this exposure of making the barbaric act of abortion even worse by the marketing dead babies’ body parts. Despite its desperate fighting back with lies and distortion of the facts, a majority of Americans, including many feminists, know the truth. PP’s exposure should be conclusive. Let us pray in unity that God will lead the House of Representatives to cut off federal funding to this hate-filled, evil organization. Pray as led.

“For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” (Luke 8:17-18)



Like many of you, when I first heard the undercover video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing in a detached and macabre manner the selling of aborted baby parts, I was physically sickened.

Regardless of whether you identify as pro-life or pro-choice, the impact of the ghoulish and craven nature of the negotiation for body parts is profoundly disturbing. Yet there are liberal individuals and institutions, like Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, the White House and The New York Times, methodically defending Planned Parenthood, making very sure whatever is left of their critical minds doesn’t disturb them with a reminder of the rank obscenity of the situation.

One thing I can tell you — the feminist movement was supposed to be about ensuring equal rights for women, which included being trusted to make our own reproductive choices.

Horrifyingly, in the 21st century it has devolved into abortionists exploiting women’s bodies and selling baby parts over a glass of chardonnay while giggling about wanting a Lamborghini.

My reaction carries a more personal component as my political activism began in the 1980s with abortion rights. I’ve written extensively about my journey from the left to the right in my three books. Ten years ago in “The Death of Right and Wrong,” I chronicle and warn about the bullet train of moral relativism controlling the liberal activist and political machine and their attempts to drag our entire society into their gruesome descent into moral chaos.

With the exposure of Planned Parenthood, we see the ultimate liberal destination: a world with a disconnect from humanity so profound, so disturbed, that a woman discussing where she chooses to “crush” an in-utero baby in order to not damage the human organs discussed for sale is approached as blase and routine.

As the second video was released last week, again of a female official at Planned Parenthood negotiating the sale of baby parts, I thought to myself, “Why isn’t anyone from the pro-choice movement condemning Planned Parenthood for this?” Then I realized I was one of those people, and instead of waiting for someone else to step up, I would.

The pro-choice argument, for me, has been about wanting government out of our lives; even when on the left my work was based in the desire to be left alone by intrusive government, issues of violence against women, and economic equality informed my activism. I knew then, and still believe, that moral legislation, like prohibition or anti-abortion laws, impact only the disenfranchised. People with money will always get what they want; the poor or powerless not so much.

At the same time, if you’re having an abortion in the 21st century you have failed. With so many birth control options, the first “choice” women have begins with saying the word “no” before you have sex with someone that could result in a pregnancy.

The modern feminist movement abandoned women long ago when they monetized women’s bodies with the issue of abortion, literally needing to romanticize abortions into something that, as one national feminist leader put it at a speech I attended in the early 1990s, an act a woman should be proud of.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Besides the ghastly nature of the Planned Parenthood tapes per se, any normal human being has to question, how did this happen? Who have we become? While I agree to some degree that the current Planned Parenthood issue has nothing to do with abortion rights and everything to do with corruption and moral obscenity, it doesn’t end there. As a feminist I must consider how the argument for abortion-rights, and the left’s narrative rejecting the humanity of a baby in-utero, has contributed to this atrocity.

Our liberal culture in general worships self-obsession, consumption and the throw-away society, where the lives of the voiceless are more invisible than ever before. As the concept of family disintegrates, children (and pregnancies) more often become loose threads that threaten to undo the fabric of our well-crafted lives.

Our liberal media gatekeepers are making animals and even children more like accessories for our reality-television focused culture, to be made in an effort to reassure ourselves, or others, of our increasingly doubtful humanity.

And then there’s the Planned Parenthood videos. It was inevitable with moral relativism and the death of right and wrong. In this world, no one, and no thing, is to be judged, certainly no one from one of the protected classes of the left, and absolutely not one of their citadels, like Planned Parenthood.

We watch as the movement to empower women is brutalized by the left into a scheme which enslaves women to a liberal politics that uses them and their bodies like dirty dishrags. And then we’re told to shut up about it. Because of political correctness.

There is a scramble on the left by politicians like Mrs. Pelosi and Mrs. Clinton, and their legacy media water-carriers like The New York Times, to “save” Planned Parenthood. These moral terrorists must obfuscate and crawl even further into the gutter to do so, because the cost of admitting the truth of what they’ve become is too monstrous to admit.

We, however, have another choice. We can choose to not let that monster prevail. There are actions that can be taken immediately to reclaim the decency we are all worthy of, and that includes making sure we end our complicity in this atrocity by cutting off the $500 million dollar a year taxpayer subsidy of Planned Parenthood. They report a $1 billion profit every year. Let them suffer with a paltry $500M profit by making them pay for the non-abortion services they contend they provide.

The left is always complaining about massive corporate profits, and ending “corporate welfare.” Let’s start with Planned Parenthood. Ending taxpayer support can be our first step in taking our nation back by refusing to enable and finance the cruel inhumanity of the left. (Contributor: By Tammy Bruce for The Washington Times)

For prayer: A recent informal and unofficial poll among Christian workers showed that the two most serious sins the group could imagine are 1) sexual molestation of a child, and 2) the wanton killing of babies in the womb, especially for financial profit, along with this revelation of Planned Parenthood’s further profiteering through the sale of fetal tissue. Please pray urgently for the closing of all Planned Parenthood “clinics,” which prey on many women under pressure in unplanned pregnancies.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20)



Government health experts warn in a new report that the risks of consuming marijuana-infused edibles like weed brownies and other snacks mustn’t be understated following the suicide last year of a man whose death has been blamed on pot.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said on Friday that there’s “a potential danger” that comes with consuming marijuana-infused edibles, evidenced by an incident last March in which a 19-year-old man jumped to his death from the fourth-floor balcony of a Denver, Colorado, hotel while high.

Levy Thamba ate an entire marijuana cookie that had been purchased from a licensed and legal pot shop in Colorado, despite the clerk having advised that it be split up and consumed in small portions. Soon after he began to exhibit what witnesses described as erratic behavior, then, according to the Denver coroner’s report, “The decedent eventually reportedly jumped out of bed, went outside the hotel room and jumped over the balcony railing.”

Thamba’s death was officially attributed to “multiple injuries due to a fall from height,” but the coroner acknowledged at the time that marijuana intoxication was indeed a contributing factor.

Now upon release of the CDC’s latest report more than a year later, the agency confirms that the tragedy is the first reported death in Colorado that can be linked to marijuana consumption since it was approved for recreation use there in 2012.

“This case illustrates a potential danger associated with recreational edible marijuana use,” the CDC said, adding that roughly 45 percent of licensed pot sales that have occurred in Colorado since adults have been able to legally purchase the plant and byproducts at the start of 2014 are from THC-infused food, drink and pills.

“It’s not new news to Coloradans,” Jessica Hancock-Allen, an epidemic intelligence officer with the CDC who worked on the report, told CBS News. “If you ingest a large quantity of edible marijuana in a short amount of time, you risk over-consumption, and in increased risk of mental health effects.”

An autopsy of Thamba taken more than 24 hours after his death had determined that his body contained 7.2 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. In Colorado, individuals are considered too impaired to drive if their blood contains 5 nanograms per milliliter of THC, the high-inducing compound in cannabinoids.

“This is not a lethal amount he ingested,” Dr. Robert Glatter, a New York City emergency physician, told HealthDay. “You could eat several of these cookies and be put into a euphoric state, and possibly have anxiety, but that, in and of itself, would not be lethal.”

“He likely may have had a predisposition or some underlying mental illness we didn’t know about, that became unmasked when he ate the cookie,” he said. “That’s probably the issue here.”

The CDC’s warning is included in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published Friday. Earlier this year, meanwhile, an Oklahoma man fatally shot himself this past March while vacationing in Colorado after having consumed several pieces of legally purchased pot candy. In that case, the mother of the man, Luke Goodman, said she thought her son’s death was “completely a reaction to the drugs.” (Contributor: By Andrew Blake for The Washington Times)

For prayer: We cannot make sense of this story, except to grieve and to pray for the young victim’s family. Most people understand that an otherwise dangerous substance may have a specific medical benefit and is so used while being very tightly controlled via a doctor’s prescription. But no sane person puts such a substance, which can have the same lethal effect as poison, in cookies sold at retail, just because it is “legalized.” Please pray for a return to sanity in such matters, where money doesn’t rule the bottom-line decisions.

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Tim. 6:9-10)

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The Informer - July 22, 2015

On Watch in Washington July 22, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


A secretly videotaped business lunch released Tuesday shows a top Planned Parenthood official discussing the buying and selling of body parts of aborted fetuses, prompting national outrage among conservatives and pro-life activists.

Two adults, posing as buyers of fetal tissue, met with Dr. Deborah Nucatola, a senior official with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 2014.

Over wine and salads, they discussed Dr. Nucatola’s expertise in abortions, which included performing them in such a way as to obtain “intact” organs, such as livers, hearts, lungs and muscles, for research, according to the Center for Medical Progress, which released the video and a 60-page transcript Tuesday.

One topic — the in-utero turning of fetuses to deliver them feet first so the heads and brains can be delivered without excessive damage — strongly implied the use of the outlawed partial-birth abortion procedure.

The buying or selling of human tissue also is a federal offense, and members of Congress who learned of the video promised to act quickly. A Capitol Hill press conference could be held as early as Wednesday.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called the video “shocking and gruesome” for its discussions about “the systemic harvesting and trafficking of human body parts.”

Mr. Jindal, who is also a Republican presidential candidate, said he was directing the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to immediately investigate Planned Parenthood — which is seeking to open a clinic in New Orleans — in this “alleged evil and illegal activity.” He added that he also was seeking FBI assistance because of the broad nature of the potentially criminal activity.

“This latest news is tragic and outrageous,” Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said on her Facebook page. “This isn’t about ‘choice.’ It’s about profiting on the death of the unborn while telling women it’s about empowerment.”

“This video is beyond disturbing,” Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and a former prisoner of war, said on his Twitter feed.

According to the Center for Medical Progress, the two adults on the video were “actors posing as buyers from a human biologics company.”

They met with Dr. Nucatola because she trains their doctors, performs abortions up to 24 weeks, and is knowledgeable about biomedical research and its use of human tissues.

When the “buyers” asked Dr. Nucatola about obtaining specific organs, she replied, “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver. Because we know that, so I’m not going to crush that part, I’m going to crush below, I’m going to crush above, and I’m going to see if I can get it all intact.”

Costs to the buyers could be $30 to $100 per specimen, Dr. Nucatola said.

She said women are typically asked for their consent to have the aborted child used for research, and some agree because they think it will do “this extra bit of good,” Dr. Nucatola said.

‘No financial benefit’

The video also implies that Planned Parenthood’s national office wants to keep its distance from the trade in fetal parts — “it’s too touchy an issue for us to be the official middleman” — but affiliated groups are willing.

“At the national office, we have a Litigation and Law Department which just really doesn’t want us to be the middle people for this issue right now,” she said. “But I will tell you that behind closed doors these conversations are happening with the affiliates.”

A Planned Parenthood official responded to the “heavily edited” video, saying it helps its patients who want to donate tissue to scientific research, but with “no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood.”

The Center for Medical Progress posted the entire two-hour, 40-minute video Tuesday afternoon.

Actual costs, such as to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, as is standard in the medical field, said Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood.

Moreover, he said, tissue donations are performed like “every other high-quality health care provider does — with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards.”

“Similar false accusations” about abortion services have been made for decades, Mr. Ferrero said.

The groups making the claims “have been widely discredited, and their claims fall apart on closer examination, just as they do in this case,” he said.

Dr. Nucatola, whose office is in Los Angeles, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. She reportedly had a Twitter account earlier in the day, but it was taken down, said LifeNews, citing pro-life activist Jill Stanek.

Pro-life activists galvanized

“There has long been suspicion that Planned Parenthood is involved in the selling of body parts after an abortion. Now the proof has been caught on video in Planned Parenthood’s own words,” said Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life.

Mr. Clapper applauded Mr. Jindal, saying, “If this is what Planned Parenthood intends to do at their abortion facility in New Orleans, Louisiana does not want any part of it.”

Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life, said it was “stomach-churning” to hear that “intact heads” of aborted fetuses could be put on order with Planned Parenthood facilities.

“Today is like the day we learned about Gosnell,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, referring to Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who now is serving time in prison for murder.

Planned Parenthood not only receives $528 million in government funds each year, but it also “takes the lives” of over 320,000 unborn children, Ms. Mancini said. Now comes the news that Planned Parenthood also “exploits them even further,” by potentially harvesting their organs and putting a price tag on livers and hearts, she said.

“Congress must take immediate action to stop all taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and end the bankrolling of this horrific human rights abuser,” said Lila Rose, leader of Live Action, which is known for its many undercover investigations of abortion clinics.

Congressional action

The video “demands a response from Congress, and we will provide one,” said Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican and co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

“Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider, wounding women and profiting off of the death of children, first by dismembering unborn children and then by selling their organs piece by piece. This horrific abuse must stop,” Mr. Smith said.

Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, and Rep. Tim Murphy, Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee, said Congress should act to protect women and unborn children.

David Daleiden, project leader of the Center for Medical Progress‘ three-year investigation of Planned Parenthood and aborted fetal parts, welcomed the public outcry over the video.

“Planned Parenthood’s criminal conspiracy to make money off of aborted baby parts reaches to the very highest levels of their organization,” he said.

The abortion giant should “be held accountable to the law,” and its taxpayer funded should be stopped, he said.

Several pro-life groups said the video reopens an issue that they have long fought to have investigated.

Mark Crutcher of Life Dynamics exposed the sale of baby body parts 15 years ago, said Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

“We have on our website, BabyBodyParts.com, the images of some of the order forms that were discovered back then — forms that ask that eyes, livers, brains, legs and other body parts be shipped on wet ice to the researchers who want them,” Father Pavone said.

“This activity violates state and federal laws that prohibit the sale of human body parts,” he said. In addition to investigating and defunding Planned Parenthood, he said, Congress should pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would “protect many of the babies whose bodies are being cut up and sold in this manner.” (Contributor: By Cheryl Wetzstein for The Washington Times)

For prayer: This news broke on July 14. Public reaction was swift, ranging from dismay to shock, then to disgust and revulsion. As we prepared The Informer for e-mailing on 7/22, a second undercover video was released depicting “a Planned Parenthood (PP) senior official haggling over payments for baby body parts…” (FRC). The question is, will there will be a showdown? Will the Congress act? PP is a favorite “charity” of President Obama’s, over which he pronounced, “God bless you.” PP specializes not only in barbaric killing of the unborn but also harvesting fetal organs for profit. Pray against this despicable sacrilege. Along with intercession, ask God how else you might respond.

[God speaking as Wisdom:] “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.” (Prov. 8:34-36)



Pro-choice lawmakers in the U.S. House are taking aim at the federal provision that for decades has blocked taxpayer-funded federal health programs from paying for abortions.

“It’s past time to repeal [the] Hyde” amendment, said Rep. Barbara Lee, California Democrat, who was joined by numerous other members of Congress at a press conference Wednesday.

Their new bill, called Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Heath Insurance or EACH Woman Act, would ensure health coverage for abortion in federally funded health care programs, including Medicaid, which serves low-income populations.

“Each and every day, the rights of women are under attack in America. Today, we push back because every person has a right to health care,” said Ms. Lee. According to supporters, the bill has more than 70 co-sponsors, but all are Democrats — not a good sign for a bill in a Republican-majority chamber.

Yamani Hernandez, executive director of National Network of Abortion Funds, said the Hyde amendment has brought “terrible wrongs” to poor women since 1976.

The Hyde amendment, named for late Illinois Republican Rep. Henry Hyde, is actually a rider attached to health care appropriations bills since 1976. It says federal funds cannot be used to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or where the woman’s physical life is in danger.

Abortion-rights supporters said Wednesday that because of the Hyde provision, one in four women who wanted an abortion but lived in states where Medicaid funding was restricted had her baby because she couldn’t afford an abortion.

The new bill would also prohibit political interference in decisions by private health insurance companies regarding abortion care.

“As a Catholic, my social justice tradition calls me to speak up for the conscience rights of all people — particularly the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. “In fact, the majority of American Catholic voters believe insurance — whether public or private — should cover abortion services in certain cases.”

A Hart Research poll of 950 voters released at Wednesday’s press conference said 86 percent of voters agreed with the statement that, “however we feel about abortion, politicians should not be allowed to deny a woman’s health coverage because she is poor.”

The All Above All campaign, joined by feminist and youth organizations, applauded the bill.

Pro-life groups, in contrast, have coalesced behind a bill called the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which is sponsored by Reps. Christopher Smith, New Jersey Republican, and Daniel Lipinski, Illinois Democrat.

That bill, H.R. 7 — which passed the House in January — would “make permanent the life-affirming principles of the Hyde Amendment” to the Affordable Care Act and other federally funded health care programs operating in states and the District, said Americans United For Life.

A companion bill, S. 582, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Roger F. Wicker, Mississippi Republican. (Contributor: Cheryl Weinstein for The Washington Times)

For prayer: Many readers remember the tall, stately figure of Rep. Henry Hyde and his persuasive and relentless battle to prevent taxpayers’ money from paying for abortions. Today, even some of his fellow Roman Catholics have switched sides, as well as members of both parties once thought to be strongly pro-life. It appears that despite last November’s elections, with apparent conservative results, the national tide is turning, and the Hyde amendment may fall. The war zones are heating up. Intercessors know how to pray. We must prepare ourselves for continuous battles. Revival in the Church always bring life into a humanistic culture of death.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Gal. 6:7-9)



US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter arrived in Israel on Sunday night as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated an unwillingness to speak about any “compensation” the US could provide to make Israel feel more secure after last week’s signing of the Iranian nuclear deal.

Netanyahu, in an interview Sunday on ABC, said there was much talk about compensating Israel.

The question that needed to be asked, the premier said, was, “If this deal is supposed to make Israel and our Arab neighbors safer, why should we be compensated with anything?” Furthermore, he said, “how can you compensate a country, my country, against a terrorist regime that is sworn to our destruction and is going to get a path to nuclear bombs and billions of dollars to boot for its terror activities against us.”

Carter is scheduled to meet Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Monday, and hold a press conference with him. On Tuesday, he is scheduled to meet Netanyahu.

Carter is expected to visit IDF troops in the North, as well as travel to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, where there is also a great deal of unease over the nuclear deal.

The dispatch of Carter to Israel so soon after the signing of the deal was widely interpreted as an effort to ease Israel’s considerable concern about the security implications of the agreement.

US President Barack Obama, in a New York Times interview last week, said, he is prepared to go “further than any other administration’s gone before” in terms of providing Israel with additional US security ssurances.

US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, in a briefing with Israeli diplomatic reporters last week, said that Obama, during his phone conversation with Netanyahu soon after the announcement of the deal, tried to “talk about ways that they might enhance future security cooperation with Israel,” but that Netanyahu was “not ready to have that discussion yet.”

Asked on ABC whether he would personally lobby Congress, which has 60 days to review and vote on the agreement, Netanyahu said it was “very important” for him as the “prime minister of the one and only Jewish state to make our case against a deal that we believe endangers our security, our survival even, and the security of the Middle East and the world.”

Netanyahu said that rather agree to this accord, another deal should have been negotiated along the lines of “dismantle for dismantle” – Iran dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, in exchange for the dismantling of the sanctions.

“That was the original administration position,” he said.

Another alternative, he said, was to partly dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, and keep the international pressure on the Islamic Republic until it stopped its terrorism and subversion around the region and the world.

Now, he said, Iran gets to keep its nuclear infrastructure, while the sanctions will be dismantled in a short time.

Netanyahu pushed back against the idea that the whole world was celebrating this deal, except for Israel.

“The Arab leaders who are talking to me are not celebrating it,” he said, though he did not elaborate with whom he was speaking. He pointed out that there is bipartisan agreement in Israel that “this is a very bad deal.”

At the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu addressed one of the US administration’s main arguments: Neither Israel – nor anyone else – provided any viable alternative to this deal.

“The alternative to this failed agreement, which we proposed repeatedly, is the continuation and strengthening of the sanctions on Iran and conditioning the lifting of the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, and the lifting of the pressure on Iran, only if it changes its policy,” he said. “As long as the Iranian leadership is encouraging calls of ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel,’ there is no reason to make any concessions to them.”

Netanyahu said that if anyone thought the “extraordinary con - cessions” made to Iran would lead to a change in its positions, they received a “crushing answer over the weekend,” when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made clear that the deal would not alter Iran’s policies in the region. (Contributor: Herb Keinon for The Jerusalem Post - Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.)

For prayer: Regular readers know IFA is not a political organization. But as Christian and evangelical, we fully support Israel’s right to exist peacefully and to flourish by its own democratic efforts in the international trade market. In addition, we strongly believe President Obama’s nuclear “deal” with Iran is a failed agreement that will inevitably—barring direct divine intervention—result in global war, as Iran seeks to become the dominant nation in its region. Our unified prayer focus is clear: we must call on the true and living God in Jesus’ name, for mercy. We urge unified prayers for God to overrule all agreements and “deals” and to bring about His will.

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Prov. 21:1)

“Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides. They continue this day according to Your ordinances, for all are Your servants.” (Ps. 119:89-91)



Seeking tighter controls over firearm purchases, the Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, a move that could affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others.

The push is intended to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws regulating who gets reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which is used to prevent gun sales to felons, drug addicts, immigrants in the country illegally and others.

A potentially large group within Social Security are people who, in the language of federal gun laws, are unable to manage their own affairs due to "marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease."

There is no simple way to identify that group, but a strategy used by the Department of Veterans Affairs since the creation of the background check system is reporting anyone who has been declared incompetent to manage pension or disability payments and assigned a fiduciary.

If Social Security, which has never participated in the background check system, uses the same standard as the VA, millions of its beneficiaries would be affected. About 4.2 million adults receive monthly benefits that are managed by "representative payees."

The move is part of a concerted effort by the Obama administration after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., to strengthen gun control, including by plugging holes in the background check system.

But critics — including gun rights activists, mental health experts and advocates for the disabled — say that expanding the list of prohibited gun owners based on financial competence is wrongheaded.

Though such a ban would keep at least some people who pose a danger to themselves or others from owning guns, the strategy undoubtedly would also include numerous people who may just have a bad memory or difficulty balancing a checkbook, the critics argue.

"Someone can be incapable of managing their funds but not be dangerous, violent or unsafe," said Dr. Marc Rosen, a Yale psychiatrist who has studied how veterans with mental health problems manage their money. "They are very different determinations."

Steven Overman, a 30-year-old former Marine who lives in Virginia, said his case demonstrates the flaws of judging gun safety through financial competence.

After his Humvee hit a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2007, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury that weakened his memory and cognitive ability.

The VA eventually deemed him 100% disabled and after reviewing his case in 2012 declared him incompetent, making his wife his fiduciary.

State police lead students from Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., after a shooting. The Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at the school left 26 people, including 20 children, dead. (Shannon Hicks / Newtown Bee)

Upon being notified that he was being reported to the background check system, he gave his guns to his mother and began working with a lawyer to get them back.

Overman grew up hunting in Wisconsin. After his return from Iraq, he found solace in target shooting. "It's relaxing to me," he said. "It's a break from day-to-day life. It calms me down."

Though his wife had managed their financial affairs since his deployment, Overman said he has never felt like he was a danger to himself or others.

"I didn't know the VA could take away your guns," he said.

The background check system was created in 1993 by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, named after White House Press Secretary James Brady, who was partially paralyzed after being shot in the 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan.

The law requires gun stores to run the names of prospective buyers through the computerized system before every sale.

The system's databases contain more than 13 million records, which include the names of felons, immigrants in the U.S. illegally, fugitives, dishonorably discharged service members, drug addicts and domestic abusers.

State agencies, local police and federal agencies are required to enter names into the databases, but the system has been hampered by loopholes and inconsistent reporting since its launch.

The shortcomings became clear in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, in which Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people. Cho had been declared mentally ill by a court and ordered to undergo outpatient treatment, but at the time the law did not require that he be added to the databases.

Congress expanded the reporting requirements, but Social Security determined it was not required to submit records, according to LaVenia LaVelle, an agency spokeswoman.

Someone can be incapable of managing their funds but not be dangerous, violent or unsafe. They are very different determinations. - Dr. Marc Rosen, Yale psychiatrist

After 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, 20 children and six school staffers in Newtown in 2012, President Obama vowed to make gun control a central issue of his second term.

The effort fell flat. Congress ultimately rejected his proposals for new gun control legislation.

But among 23 executive orders on the issue was one to the Department of Justice to ensure that federal agencies were complying with the existing law on reporting to the background check system.

One baseline for other agencies is the VA, which has been entering names into the system since the beginning. About 177,000 veterans and survivors of veterans are in the system, according to VA figures.

The VA reports names under a category in gun control regulations known as "adjudicated as a mental defective," terminology that derives from decades-old laws. Its only criterion is whether somebody has been appointed a fiduciary.

More than half of the names on the VA list are of people 80 or older, often suffering from dementia, a reasonable criterion for prohibiting gun ownership.

But the category also includes anybody found by a "court, board, commission or other lawful authority" to be lacking "the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs" for a wide variety of reasons.

The agency's efforts have been criticized by a variety of groups.

Rosen, the Yale psychiatrist, said some veterans may avoid seeking help for mental health problems out of fear that they would be required to give up their guns.

Conservative groups have denounced the policy as an excuse to strip veterans of their gun rights.

Republicans have introduced legislation in the last several sessions of Congress to change the policy. The Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, now under consideration in the House, would require a court to determine that somebody poses a danger before being reported to the background check system.

Social Security would generally report names under the same "mental defective" category. The agency is still figuring out how that definition should be applied, LaVelle said.

About 2.7 million people are now receiving disability payments from Social Security for mental health problems, a potentially higher risk category for gun ownership. An addition 1.5 million have their finances handled by others for a variety of reasons.

The agency has been drafting its policy outside of public view. Even the National Rifle Assn. was unaware of it.

Told about the initiative, the NRA issued a statement from its chief lobbyist, Chris W. Cox, saying: "If the Obama administration attempts to deny millions of law-abiding citizens their constitutional rights by executive fiat, the NRA stands ready to pursue all available avenues to stop them in their tracks."

Gun rights advocates are unlikely to be the only opponents.

Ari Ne'eman, a member of the National Council on Disability, said the independent federal agency would oppose any policy that used assignment of a representative payee as a basis to take any fundamental right from people with disabilities.

"The rep payee is an extraordinarily broad brush," he said.

Since 2008, VA beneficiaries have been able to get off the list by filing an appeal and demonstrating that they pose no danger to themselves or others.

But as of April, just nine of 298 appeals have been granted, according to data provided by the VA. Thirteen others were pending, and 44 were withdrawn after the VA overturned its determination of financial incompetence.

Overman is one of the few who decided to appeal.

He is irritable and antisocial, he said, but not dangerous. "I've never been suicidal," he said. "To me that solves nothing."

More than a year and a half after Overman filed his challenge, the VA lifted its incompetence ruling, allowing his removal from the background check system before the VA ever had to determine whether he should be trusted with a gun.

Overman, who hasn't worked since leaving the military, said he and a friend are now thinking of opening a gunsmith business. (Contributor: By Alan Zarembo for The LA TimesFox News)

Prayer focus: This article is for awareness, not for debate on gun control. The issue is constitutional and revolves around the Second Amendment (the right of the citizenry to be armed). The terrible crimes being committed in America by those using guns recklessly do not implicate our U.S. military veterans who are themselves often the victims of drug-crazed or hate-filled shooters. Pray for our nation, first for transforming, widespread revival; and then for a return to constitutional government.  

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Ps. 20:7)

“Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them;
Who keeps truth forever, who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.”
(Ps. 146:3-7)



A few days ago I shared a YouTube video with a young father detailing the effects of the gay agenda on children in other countries that are further "down the road" than we are in America. He was utterly shocked as well as sobered, realizing where we are headed.

At the end of this commentary I will give you the YouTube site. I'd like to challenge you to watch the video and realize what is coming, barring a spiritual awakening in our country. After the Supreme Court ruling on homosexual "marriage," we've entered hostile territory and we need to be prepared. And I'm not being a "Debbie Downer" by citing this!

Larry Tomczak is not a pessimist. I am an optimist, but also a realist. I am also not a doomsayer focusing exclusively on negative reports, but neither am I a "Pollyanna" avoiding negative developments so I'll be popular and perceived solely as upbeat and positive while emphasizing the American revival some are seeing that I personally don't (although I fervently pray for it regularly). We have to see church-wide repentance first for our apathy that got us where we are.

The end-time scenario prior to the Return of our Lord can be described as both gory and glory. According to Scripture, it will be a season that is not merely bad but mad. This is the meaning of the term "perilous" in 2 Timothy 3:1 describing this tumultuous period. This is also why the Old Testament closes with the prophecy signaling these twin aspects of the close of the age: "the great and terrible day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5).

I am persuaded we have entered this scary season. We're seeing the beginning of the great "falling away" (2 Thess.2:3) scripture warns about. Jesus prophesied about how difficult these days will be when He said, "If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive" (Mt.24:22).

So join me on this journey as we see what's already happening since the SCOTUS infamous ruling. Are these coincidences or consequences? God is angry. May we hopefully become more motivated to pray and proclaim truth to rescue our nation before it's too late. The gospel is the only hope for mankind and when hearts are transformed then the truth of the Bible is taught resulting in changed lifestyles.

In the meantime let's "put on our big boy pants" and face up to the reality of the avalanche falling upon us.As Ravi Zacharias says, "Our culture is at the crossroads.A century ago these times were imagined and they are now here.How do we live as Christians in such times?"

"Jesus replied, 'When evening comes you say, it will be fair weather for the sky is red, and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times" (Mt.16:2-3).

Consider these five major "signs of the times" unfolding these past few weeks. They're not insignificant—they're apocalyptic. These are seismic shifts. Are you heeding what's happening?

Remember, the United States Supreme Court institutionalized homosexual "marriage" as the law of the land, wiping out millennia of history, opening the floodgates for radical reconfigurations of "marriage," removal of benefits for Christian institutions plus accelerating the erosion of religious freedoms. This represents a day of infamy for America. Since then...

Planned Parenthood Harvests Organs and Little Sisters of the Poor Defeated

Planned Parenthood, the nation's number one abortion provider, was caught in an undercover sting exposing one of their top leaders casually elaborating on harvesting human organs from aborted babies while sipping wine and eating her lunch. This barbarism comes at the same time the Obama Administration wins in court crushing faith and forcing the 175-year old Little Sisters of the Poor to participate in providing contraceptives against their religious convictions. The leader of the nuns, Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire, said, "We simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith." Unbelievable, this hijacking of these dedicated servants of humanity.

Israel Abandoned and Middle East Nuclear Race Launched

President Obama announced his gamble, a diplomatic debacle with Iran which many astute observers see as a Neville Chamberlain "peace in our time" deception. It is literally a death sentence for Israel whom we have abandoned. We ended the sanctions; handed them $140 billion; required no "anytime" inspections or restrictions on their sponsorship of terrorism; no dismantling of their nuclear program; no provision to release American Pastor Saeed Abedini from a torturous prison; and, all this while Iranian people danced in the streets as they and their leaders continue chanting "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!"

Israel declared, "Today a terrorist, nuclear superpower is born and it will go down as one of the darkest days in world history." Senator and presidential candidate, Lindsey Graham, R-SC., stated: "This agreement is far worse than I ever imagined it could be. Over time, it will prove to be a nightmare for our own national security, the region as a whole, and eventually the world at large." The Middle East nuclear arms race has officially begun as Obama's "deal" delays, does not banish, Iran's nuclear weaponry.

Boy Scouts Accepts Homosexual Scout Leaders

The Boy Scouts of America just unanimously approved homosexuals as Scout leaders. This overturns 105 years of the venerable institution's policy and opens floodgates similar to the SCOTUS ruling. On July 27, this unprecedented decision will undoubtedly be ratified by the National Board. Implications of this historic decision are staggering (see larrytomczak.com for related article).

Christian Institutions Capitulating

Already Christian colleges and universities are capitulating to LGBTQ pressures and changing policies to "conform" to the homosexual lifestyle. Baylor University, Belmont University, Notre Dame University, Hope College are just some that are caving.

Society and Schools Begin Shaping Children to LGBTQ Agenda

School boards and publishing houses are already changing curriculums to align with LGBTQ developments. I have in my possession some books that really are shocking. Recently CBN news reported what is transpiring in Virginia and for the sake of discretion I'll not be graphic, but it is grievous.

 What Will America Look Like in a Few Years with Gay Propaganda?

The fallout from a culture's acceptance and endorsement of homosexual practices translates into sexual experimentation among the young and impressionable. Studies by even pro-homosexual researchers reveal that children in gay-affirming environments are more likely to experiment sexually, break gender norms and identify as homosexual or bisexual.

  • The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry stated that 24% of children raised by lesbian mothers had "been involved in a same – gender sexual relationship."
  • A Tasker-Golombok study, "Adults Raised as Children in Lesbian Families," revealed that the percentage of the young women raised by lesbians who later went on to self – identify as lesbians was nearly 8 times the rate of the general population (11% vs. 1.4%).

Here's the deal: Children are the victims when adults steamroll over them for homosexual pleasure-giving relationships. When they sit in schools and see in the media homosexuality portrayed as normal, natural and simply an alternative lifestyle choice, they're easily enticed and persuaded.

This is why Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia said the following: "Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, and scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools or as borders in their home... They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive."

"Love Wins?" Not our children and grandchildren, as so-called "progressive" LGBTQ advocates are passionate about inculcating diabolical ideas into the hearts and minds of our children and grandchildren. They have an agenda and are well organized, well funded and hell-bent on seeing it come to pass in the next generation.

At this defining moment in our nation's history, we must not tolerate any group of arrogant judges, political leaders, educators, and, yes, even ministers promoting their radical social experiment by legitimizing homosexual behavior in the eyes of vulnerable children and grandchildren. We must not let this dye be cast.

In closing, let me jolt you with the developments in Europe as the LGBTQ advocates push their propaganda. I will warn you in advance, this is explicit, yet truthful about what happens when God's people, especially His leaders, lack the courage to speak up and stand up as "salt" and "light" in the day of testing. May it never be said of us. We need a spiritual awakening!

"Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power..." (Ps. 110:3).

"Surely I am coming quickly." "Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!" (Rev.22:20).

For an eye-opening experience, go to YouTube and scroll to the "Trans Norway" (12:35) video of April 8, 2015 [VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED]

(Contributor: By Larry Tomczak for Charisma News -  Larry Tomczak is a best-selling author of eight books with 43 years of trusted ministry experience. He is a cultural commentator whose weekly articles appear on sites reaching 26 million monthly. Connect and view short video commentaries at larrytomczak.com.)

Prayer focus: We have watched the YouTube video, “Trans Norway,” and while not overtly sexually graphic, it is more apt to make viewers weep than become nauseated (for some it may do both). This “brave new world” is as shocking as it is evil. Children are being victimized as social experiments. Christian parents who see these trends will guard and cherish their children as they celebrate girls being girls and boys being boys. Transgender “training” is not in God’s design. Pray for wisdom for parents, church leaders, teachers, and school officials as social scientists insist on “playing God.”

“The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!” (Ps. 110:1-2)

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt. 18:6)



Hours before the Tennessee shooting that killed five U.S. servicemen, the suspected gunman texted his close friend a link to a long Islamic verse that included the line: "Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, then I have declared war against him."

His friend thought nothing of it at the time, but now wonders if it was a clue to Thursday's rampage in Chattanooga, which has re-ignited concerns about the radicalization of young Muslim men.

"I didn't see it as a hint at the time, but it may have been his way of telling me something," the friend told Reuters on Saturday. He requested anonymity for fear of a backlash.

The suspect, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, a 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born naturalized U.S. citizen, was killed in a gunfight with police. The FBI is investigating the attack as an act of terrorism, but said it was premature to speculate on the gunman's motive.

While a firm connection between the suspect and radical Islam has not been established, the shooting follows a series of attacks or thwarted attacks in the United States and other countries by Muslims claiming to be inspired by Islamic State or other militant groups.

Abdulazeez's friends said he had returned from a trip to Jordan in 2014 concerned about conflicts in the Middle East and the reluctance of the United States and other countries to intervene.

He later purchased three assault rifles on an online marketplace and used them for target practice, the friends said.

"That trip was eye-opening for him. He learned a lot about the traditions and culture of the Middle East," said the close friend who received the text message.

Abdulazeez was upset about the 2014 Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza and the civil war in Syria, he said. "He felt Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia were not doing enough to help, and that they were heavily influenced by the United States."

Another friend said, "He had always talked about it, but I'd say his level of understanding and awareness really rose after he came back."

U.S. authorities said Abdulazeez sprayed gunfire at a joint military recruiting center in a strip mall in Chattanooga, then drove to a Naval Reserve Center about 6 miles (10 km) away, where he killed four Marines before he himself was shot dead.

Three other people were injured, including a U.S. Navy petty officer who died from his wounds on Saturday.

The Navy did not give the name of the sailor, but his step-grandmother identified him as Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith of Paulding, Ohio, who left behind a wife and three young daughters.

"He was an awesome young man," Darlene Proxmire told Reuters. "He loved his wife and children. He loved the Navy."


Abdulazeez, an engineer, went to the Middle East in 2010 and visited several countries, according to his close friend. He then went to Jordan in 2014 to work for his uncle, and lived with his uncle and his grandparents there, he said.

After Abdulazeez returned, he seemed more mellow, less interested in partying. "That is part of what drew us closer. He was a guy who wanted to settle down and get his life going. That connected us," he said.

The night before the attack, just after 10 p.m., the close friend received a text from Abdulazeez with a link to a Hadith, or Islamic teaching: sunnah.com/nawawi40/38.

The friend said he had been asking Abdulazeez for job advice, and continued to text him that evening and into Thursday but did not get a reply.

The friend said he was interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI declined to comment on Saturday.

For jihadists and ultraconservative Salafist Sunni Muslims, the Hadith "is usually understood within the context of al-wala wa-l-bara (or) love for Islam and hatred for its enemies," said David Cook, an associate professor who specializes in Islam in the department of religion at Rice University in Texas.

According to Abdulazeez's friends, he had purchased three guns on armslist.com after returning from Jordan, including an AK-74, an AR-15, and a Saiga 12. They said he also owned a 9mm and a .22 caliber hand guns.

Armslist.com is an online listing site on which individuals can buy and sell firearms through private transactions. Critics say it enables people to obtain weapons without background checks, though the site has a disclaimer that it requires users to agree to follow all state and federal firearms laws.

Emails seeking comment from Armlist.com and Armslist Legal Defense Fund, created to defend Armslist against lawsuits, were not immediately answered.


Abdulazeez had occasionally smoked marijuana and drank alcohol, and struggled to reconcile that with his faith in Islam, his friends said. At one point, in 2012 or 2013, Abdulazeez received therapy for his drugs and alcohol use, they said.

"He used it to de-stress, when things were difficult at home, or whatever," the close friend said, adding that tensions between Abdulazeez and his Palestinian parents had upset him. His parents nearly got divorced in 2009, according to court records.

In April, Abdulazeez was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. He was facing a July 30 court date for his DUI charge.

Abdulazeez also had problems with local youths that sometimes took on a religious and racial tone, his friend said.

"There were rednecks, ignorant people, who sometimes would cause problems. Mo never fought, but he used to get worked up and yell and stuff," he said. "Afterwards he would calm down, and just say it doesn't matter."

Over the past few months, Abdulazeez and his friends practiced shooting in the Prentice Cooper state forest near Chattanooga, sometimes two or three times a week.

"He was always interested in guns, since he was young. He started with a BB gun and paintball, and went on from there. We would go out shooting quite often," said the close friend.

Abdulazeez also liked driving fast in the hills surrounding Chattanooga.

Two nights before the attack, he and some friends went joyriding in Abdulazeez's rented gray convertible Ford Mustang, passing through the towns of Whitwell, Dayton and Jasper.

"Fast car on a rainy night. We were flying, doing tight turns and drifting," said the friend, adding that they returned home at about 3 o'clock in the morning.

"He seemed totally normal. We made plans to hang out on the weekend," he said.

He said Abdulazeez had a good paying job and many plans for his life, including possibly starting a computer sales business in Chattanooga. "He wanted to buy a car. He wanted a video console, to make a man cave - every guy's dream."

He said it was difficult to understand how his friend became the suspect in the rampage.

"The signs just weren't there," he said. "The only thing I can think of is that it was a combination of things - what is happening overseas, his family problems, maybe some of the issues with the less educated people here. I don't know." (Contributor: By Richard Valdmanis for Reuters - Additional reporting by Frank McGurty in New York, Mark Hosenball in Washington, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Tiffany Wu)

Prayer focus: Pray that the news media (mainly TV networks) will shake loose from President Obama’s unwillingness to name such attacks as terrorism; and to name the perpetrators as terrorists. These attacks on military personnel have been called “workplace violence,” though they were carried out by radicalized Muslims. There is a movement in several states to be sure such personnel are armed, which will cause a political battle. Pray for the families of the victims, five in all. Give thanks for officials who lowered the flag to half-staff, which finally brought the administration to follow.

“. . . weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” (Rom. 12:15-16)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4)



The Cuban flag will rise in Washington, D.C., for the first time in five decades on Monday in the latest step toward normalized relations between the two countries.

The flag-raising will be part of a daylong series of events commemorating the opening of a full Cuban embassy in Washington. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, who led negotiations with the Cubans to reach the historic agreement, will be at the building, about two miles from the White House. Since 1977, the building has served as a Cuban "interests section," where officials process visas and conduct basic consular services.

Later in the day, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to host a joint news conference with Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez at the U.S. State Department, where the Cuban flag will be added to the collection of flags from countries that have formal relations with the United States. The two first met in April during the Summit of the Americas in Panama, where they worked on normalizing relations and reopening the embassies.

Kerry is expected to travel to Cuba later this summer to conduct a similar ceremony, during which U.S. officials will raise the American flag outside what is now the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. But starting Monday, the building, which has been the target of Cuban demonstrations for decades, officially will begin operating as a U.S. embassy.

Monday's event in Washington, while largely symbolic, marks the latest step in the changing relationship that started when President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced in December that the Cold War foes would move to restore diplomatic relations. Ever since, American politicians, business owners and tourists have flooded the island in anticipation of an  increase in trade and travel with the island.

Yet many oppose Obama's opening to the communist government, which continues to maintain a tight grip over all aspects of Cuban life and suppresses free expression.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, who oversees the State Department's budget in the House Appropriations Committee, said on Wednesday that she would try to block any funding designed to convert the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to an embassy. State Department officials have said they'll need more personnel to conduct the added diplomatic work that comes with a full embassy

On Monday, a group of Cuban-American members of the House of Representatives are scheduled to hold a news conference in Miami objecting to the changed relationship.

While Congress may be able to limit some funds for the embassy, the decision to change the status of an American diplomatic mission abroad rests solely with the president. The State Department had to provide 15 days of notice to Congress before making the move, and Monday marks the conclusion of that notification period.

Obama has argued that establishing better ties with Cuba will spur the Castro government to allow more economic and political freedom in the country, a view opponents of the policy change doubt. (Contributor: By Alan Gomez for USA Today)

Prayer focus: We do not purport to tell intercessors how to pray, though we urge much prayer as each is led, and we join our readers in praying for God’s will and purpose to be accomplished. One grave concern is that this unilateral decision by President Obama, as with many of his decisions, has caused division in the country and in the Congress, especially by those of Cuban heritage who feel that recognition of the Castro dictatorship is a betrayal of Cuban ideals and the early refugees who fled to the U.S. at great risk and loss. Scripture reminds us that God is over all the nations.           

“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’ [But] He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: ‘Yet have I set My King on My holy hill of Zion.’”
(Ps. 2:1-6)

On Watch in Washington July 22, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Informer July 15 2015

On Watch in Washington July 15, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


When Republicans took full control of Congress in their triumphant 2014 election, it was clearly the beginning of the end of Barack Obama’s presidency.

His second-term agenda, if ever he had one, was dead, forcing him to turn to a series of unconstitutional executive orders that will be bottled up in the courts for the rest of his tenure, or overturned by judicial decree.

Even his signature program, Obamacare, is threatened to be emasculated by the Supreme Court challenge that questions whether its government subsidies are lawful.

He had hoped to end his trouble-filled presidency with the passage of a 12-nation, Trans-Pacific trade agreement — until it was ignominiously shot down by his own party in the House, perhaps fatally.

But that’s only a part of the policymaking wreckage he has strewn across the nation’s political landscape.

He came into office in the midst of a severe recession, confidently declaring that he’d return a dying economy to full health and vigor. Yet in the seventh painful year of his presidency, it remains chronically sluggish, unable to stand on its own two feet without the support of the Federal Reserve’s costly assistance.

It wasn’t reported on any of the major nightly network news shows, but the nation’s central bank said as much Wednesday in its dismal economic growth projections for the rest of this year.

The Fed downgraded its growth forecasts to between 1.8 percent and 2 percent, far below its 2.3 to 2.7 percent estimates in March.

Fed economists were also a little less optimistic about a lower unemployment rate for the year. In March they said it would fall to as low as 5 percent by the end of the year. Now they are forecasting that it would decline to just 5.2 percent, at best.

“If they’re correct, annual [economic] growth would be the worst since 2011 and would be far from the breakout performance some economists had hoped for this year,” writes economic analyst Jim Puzzanghera on the CTnow website.

Fed Chairman Janet Yellen went to great lengths at her news conference to avoid any hint of when the board would begin raising interest rates, and continued to insist that the slowing economy was only transitory.

Yet in a somewhat more pessimistic speech last month, she said, “The various headwinds that are still restraining the economy will likely take some time to fully abate, and the pace of that improvement is highly uncertain.”

In recent decades, recessions have on average lasted about two years, as was the case in the Reagan recovery of 1983 when it came soaring out of a deep recession in 1981-82.

“The end of 1983 marked a year of recovery from one of the longest and deepest post-World War II recessions . Overall, real GNP grew by about 6 percent over the year,” wrote economists Eugene H. Becker and Norman Bowers in an analysis for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Compare robust 6 percent growth in only two years as a result of the Reagan tax cuts to this week’s Fed forecast of 1.8 percent economic growth in the seventh year of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

The reason for the wide disparity between the two is all about competing policies. Mr. Obama copied FDR’s New Deal stimulus to end the depression with massive government spending on public works projects. He spent nearly $1 billion on similar government, “shovel-ready” programs. Neither worked.

Ronald Reagan’s across-the-board tax cuts put money back into the blood stream of the economy and into the hands of consumers, workers and business investment.

In just two years, it was morning in America again. And in 1984, the country voted on how Reagan’s policies were doing at the grass roots. He carried 49 states.

Now Hillary Clinton is running, along with a clutch of other Democrats, to succeed Mr. Obama in the White House. She has yet to fully spell out what her economic and other domestic policies will be, but she has supported the president’s failed policies and, as a candidate, adopted many of them in her campaign speeches.

Here’s a sampling of proposals from Vermont’s ultra-leftist Sen. Bernie Sanders — one of Mrs. Clinton’s rivals for the Democratic nomination — many of which she supports:

Raising the federal minimum wage, splitting up the big banks, public campaign financing, enacting a single payer health insurance for everyone, universal pre-kindergarten, free college education, a federally mandated 10 days off for workers, and a much broader federal jobs program.

What about cutting tax rates to spur capital investment, business expansion and new entrepreneurial start-ups, as President Kennedy proposed and that her husband Bill Clinton fully embraced in his second term?

Forget about it. In today’s extreme hard-left Democratic Party, pro-growth tax cuts of any kind are the political kiss of death in nominating primaries.

According to a voter survey this week by the Gallup Poll, “Democratic candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination face a significantly more left-leaning party base than their predecessors did over the last 15 years.”

The Gallup survey found that “47 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents now identify as both socially liberal and economically moderate to liberal.”

This compares with “39 percent in these categories in 2008, when there was last an open seat for their party’s nomination, and 30 percent in 2001,” Gallup said.

While this is the hard-left political environment Mrs. Clinton must appeal to if she is to secure the nomination, it also pushes her even further to the left (than she already is) of the broader electorate in the general election.

If that happens, she risks becoming the Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis of the 2016 presidential election. (Contributor: By Donald Lambro for The Washington Times - Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.)

For prayer: It appears President Obama had the political leverage to get most of what he wanted on the trade bills. Conservatives are still wondering who blinked first on the negotiations. Be that as it may, the author’s point is well made that continued government growth and socialist-like trade expansion is inimical to a strong economy at home. Is America descending to second-rate status among the world’s leading countries? Pray for spiritual renewal first, then national healing.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord….” (Ps. 33:12)

“Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.” (Hos. 6:1)



Even as the U.S. military struggles to contain the Islamic State and deals with other terrorist threats across the globe, President Obama increasingly is recruiting the Pentagon to advance his sweeping climate change agenda.

Mr. Obama’s Defense Department calls global warming a true national security threat and has begun instituting a host of environmental measures, ranging from building clean energy projects at military installations to the use of expensive green fuels in planes.

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office highlighted yet another example — the commitment of U.S. military forces to monitor sea ice levels in the Arctic, with the administration arguing that decreasing ice could force the Pentagon to institute a “military and homeland security presence in the region.”

Critics charge the president is distracting the military from its true mission of protecting America by turning the Department of Defense into yet another weapon in his fight against climate change. But Mr. Obama has made no apologies for his environmental philosophy and has cast global warming as one of the top problems facing the Pentagon in the 21st century, a position many top Defense Department officials seem to agree with.

“I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act — and we need to act now,” the president told U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduates last month, laying out his vision for a military that focuses as much on climate change as it does on virtually any other threat.

Making the military greener is just one piece of Mr. Obama’s broader environmental agenda. In perhaps the most vital piece of the plan, the Environmental Protection Agency will, by the end of summer, release final carbon regulations for existing power plants — a proposal that will drive up electricity prices, government data show.

The White House on Monday tried once again to justify its climate change goals by unveiling a new report claiming tens of thousands of lives will be saved through carbon restrictions and other policies. The report comes as Republicans on Capitol Hill take aim at the EPA budget and look to restrict the president’s global warming agenda through funding cuts.

So far the administration has been undaunted by complaints from Congress, legal challenges, reports of economic harm from climate policies and other obstacles.

Even before the president warned graduating Coast Guard officers about climate change, the Pentagon last fall released the “Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap,” a sweeping document that said global warming will affect military weapons systems, maintenance plans, transportation routes, stormwater management facilities, drinking water resources and a host of other military components.

Meanwhile, American forces also are being used to conduct research into the effects of climate change.

A recent Government Accountability Office report examined the Defense Department’s role in the Arctic, which increasingly will include “monitoring the changing Arctic conditions,” such as ice levels.

The administration contends that changing ice levels in the Arctic could require additional U.S. military presence in the region, justifying the need for the Pentagon to commit significant time and resources to monitoring the effects of climate change.

“Difficulty in developing accurate sea ice models, variability in the Arctic’s climate, and the uncertain rate of activity in the region create challenges for DOD to balance the risk of having inadequate capabilities or insufficient capacity when required to operate in the region with the cost of making premature or unnecessary investments,” reads a portion of the study, which was released Friday. “DOD plans to mitigate this risk by monitoring the changing Arctic conditions to determine the appropriate timing for capability investments.”

Other examples of the military embracing Mr. Obama’s climate goals include the construction of a massive solar power project at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the Navy’s move toward a “green fleet” that is far less reliant on fossil fuels.

Opponents say the administration, under the guise of protecting the environment for future generations, is saddling the military with unnecessary work and potentially putting at risk U.S. national security.

“It’s kind of a sad commentary that the military is going along with it without any pushback. And it’s ridiculous that the secretary of the Navy is running around talking about the great ‘green fleet’ while the Chinese are basically building artificial islands in the Pacific so they can launch invasions against the Philippines, Japan and Korea,” said Michael McKenna, president of the lobbying firm MWR Strategies and a former Energy Department official. “Considering global warming as an important national security threat is just laughable.”

Many lawmakers on Capitol Hill have voiced similar criticism and say Mr. Obama is foolish to equate climate change with the Islamic State and other true threats to American interests.

“The president’s speech … is a severe disconnect from reality,” Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said last month after the president’s Coast Guard address.

But barring a major course correction by the next administration, the Pentagon will make climate change a central part of all future planning.

“Politics or ideology must not get in the way of sound planning,” then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote in the Pentagon’s climate road map. “By taking a proactive, flexible approach to assessment, analysis and adaptation, the Defense Department will keep pace with a changing climate.” (Contributor: By Ben Wolfgang for The Washington Times)

For prayer: What began as “global warming” became scandal-ridden with falsified data and unproven conclusions, so the issue evolved into “climate change.” As commander-in-chief of the military, President Obama’s focus on Arctic ice levels cannot be legitimately questioned, whether a wise use of resources or not. However, a future day of “heat” is coming to the Earth, promised in Scripture through Peter. Pray that mercy and repentance might precede that day, so many might be saved.

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:10-13)  



As a conservative, I don’t have much use for foreign aid, preferring to support private charitable efforts overseas. But when Washington politicians began to dole out huge sums of money several decades ago, existing nonprofits lined up for their share of the take.

Groups like CARE, Population Services International (PSI), and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) are still thought of as charities, but have less and less in common with America’s vibrant voluntary tradition. They are too busy administering population control programs for USAID.

Take CARE, for instance. Today’s CARE bears little resemblance to the food relief organization that was set up by Christians in the wake of World War II. CARE packages full of canned goods have been succeeded by “Sexual and Reproductive Health” (SRH) manuals and programs, which in practice means abortion, sterilization and contraception.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to CARE itself: “Effective programming in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is a vital component of CARE’s work to reduce poverty and social injustice. and must be addressed to achieve sustainable reductions in poverty.”

Well, no. It is not at all clear that forcing birth rates down is the road to riches. The opposite is certainly true — Europe and Japan are dying precisely because higher living standards invariably result in lower birthrates — but CARE’s views reverse cause and effect.

Now you may agree or disagree with its new population control agenda, but it is undeniable that CARE doesn’t care in the same way it used to. Its foreign aid programs have become indistinguishable from those of its largest donor, the U.S. government. In fact, CARE receives about half of its annual budget, or $266 million, from the U.S. and other governments.

However low it has since sunk, CARE at least had an honorable beginning. The same cannot be said of so-called non-governmental organizations like Population Services International (PSI) that were, from the beginning, little more than government subcontractors.

Founded by a purveyor of sex toys, PSI initially received almost all of its funding from the U.S. government. There was, it seems, a natural fit between Phil Harvey’s porn business and USAID’s anti-population bomb agenda: Lots of sex and no babies. And of course there is the necessary back-up when contraception fails: PSI’s patented “Safe Abortion Kits.”

Even today, with revenues of 349 million in 2011, PSI continues to receive the lion’s share of its funding from USAID and European government agencies focused on population control. PSI would scarcely exist but for the vast infusions of government money that it receives on an annual basis.

PSI is, in effect, a mask worn by Western governments to avoid the unpleasantness that would ensue if U.S. officials themselves were to tell Africans or Latinos that they were having too many children. Better to let employees of a government-funded “charity” — possessing an incomprehensible acronym instead of a proper name — give them the bad news.

Finally, there are charities like Catholic Relief Services (CRS) who are still ostensibly trying to maintain their own identity in the face of what is essentially a hostile takeover by the government. At least that’s what organizations like Catholic Relief Services (CRS) would have us believe that it is doing.

But how Catholic can “Catholic” Relief Services be when over half of its funding comes from the federal government? This comes to several hundred million dollars a year.

And not as if this money comes with no strings attached. Say you apply for a grant from the U.S. government as a Catholic organization and thus want to preferentially hire Catholics, serve Catholics, and work through Catholic Church abroad.

“Sorry,” says the Obama administration. “That would be discrimination on the basis of religion. If you want a grant you have to hire all comers — including former Planned Parenthood employees and others who flout the teachings of the Church. Not only that, you can’t work through the Church overseas, you have to work around it.”

CRS‘ senior executives understand who’s paying their salaries, and it isn’t the ordinary pewsitter.

This dual loyalty means that the population control priorities of USAID sometimes win out, as when CRS was caught supervising the distribution of abortifacient contraceptives in Madagascar’s Santenet2 program. Or scandalizing Kenyan Catholics by promoting population control programs. All paid for by the U.S. taxpayer, of course.

I don’t know which is worse: Front organizations that were created by former USAID employees who engaged in the equivalent of insider trading by taking advantage of their knowledge and contacts to get huge new government grants. Or “real” charities, the majority founded by Christians, which have been baited by the lure of all that easy government money into vehicles for delivering population control programs into the bedrooms of the world’s poor.

Truth be told, I am less bothered by the first than the second. The first is a merely a manifestation of greed and opportunism, while the second marks a real perversion of purpose away from the noble intentions of their founders. (Contributor: By Steven W. Mosher for The Washington Times - Steven W. Mosher is president of the Virginia-based Population Research Institute, a charity that receives no government funding.)

For prayer: Such reports of charitable abuse can tempt even strong Christians to become cynical and demoralized; or, by God’s grace and a renewed infusion of spiritual vision, can help those who pray and give to press on with faith and confidence that God will ultimately judge with righteous judgment. Pray that Christian givers, seeking God’s wisdom, will discern where their financial gifts should go.

“We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” (2 Cor. 8:20-21)

 “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” (Rom. 12:17 NIV)



A new class of heart medications could be a game-changer for many people with high cholesterol, providing an alternative to statin drugs and more effectively preventing heart attacks, a top cardiologist tells Newsmax Health.

“The approval of a new treatment for cholesterol is always exciting because it means that we have another tool in the cardiology tool chest,” said Chauncey Crandall, M.D., director of preventive medicine at the Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic. “These new drugs could help people who are at high risk for heart attack that we can’t help in any other way.”

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel this week recommended approval for two new drugs – alirocumab (Parluent) and evolocumab (Repatha). The FDA must still give final approval, but it rarely rules against its advisory committee.

The advisors made their recommendation based on short-term studies that showed the new drugs reduce LDL cholesterol, the so-called “bad” cholesterol, by up to 60 percent. It won’t be known if the drugs actually reduce heart attacks or death until the results of long-term studies are announced in 2017, although it is widely assumed they will.

The committee limited use of the drugs to people with inherited high cholesterol – an estimated 650,000 Americans. But these numbers could balloon by a million more if, as expected, people for whom statins don't work effectively are added along with those who cannot tolerate the older drugs' side effects.

Many people cannot take statins because the medications give them severe muscle pain.

Statin drugs lower cholesterol by suppressing its manufacture in the liver. The new drugs work differently. They mimick mutations in a gene, PCSK9, that blocks cholesterol production. Thus far, the studies have found no adverse side effects.

But the new drugs do have drawbacks, said Dr. Crandall. They must be injected every two weeks or monthly.

“Some people won’t like the idea of giving themselves shots, so that could be a turnoff,” he said. “But on the other hand, others may prefer a once-a-month shot to taking a pill every day.”

The new drugs are also likely to cost about $10,000 a year, which is far more expensive than statin therapy. “Unless these drugs prove to have a clear benefit in reducing heart attack and death, the government is unlikely to approve them as a first line treatment,” Dr. Crandall said. What's more, insurance companies may balk at paying for the drugs.

Even though the medications dramatically lower cholesterol, they should not be viewed as a “cure-all,” said Dr. Crandall. Most people can bring their cholesterol levels down to acceptable levels through lifestyle changes, without the need for statins or any other drug, he said.

“All of these drugs should be seen as a bridge to better health, not the answer to living a bad lifestyle,” said Dr. Crandall, author of the monthly newsletter, the Heart Health Report.

“The medications should be used to get you to target quickly so you can make changes – like losing weight, and getting more exercise and sleep – and then you lower your heart risk without the need for any drug.” (Contributor: By Charlotte Libov for News Max)

Prayer and Praise: If this medication is successful, it will be a welcome supplement. Christians know that in Jesus Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). And without disparaging the years of patient and painstaking research, we give primary thanks to God, knowing that all such advances come from divine grace, mercy, and wisdom to the research community. Pray that among the key scientists, many will acknowledge God.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22-23)



Rand Paul overnight changed the dynamics of the Republican presidential race on Thursday when he released his Fair and Flat Tax plan. As he said when he unveiled the plan on video: “this is the boldest rewrite of the income tax system in 100 years — and even Ronald Reagan — who dramatically improved the federal tax system — wasn’t proposing this sweeping a cleanup of the tax code.”

For full disclosure, I spent the last several months helping design this plan with Sen. Paul — so I’m biased. But there can be no doubt that a plan that reduces income tax rates from as high as 40 percent and business taxes from 35 percent down to a flat 14.5 percent rate can only be described as explosively pro-growth and pro-jobs. See chart.

The 14.5 percent tax would apply to wages, salaries, capital gains, rents, and dividend income. The plan eliminates the estate tax, telephone taxes, Internet taxes, gift taxes and all customs and duties.

This plan would take America from being one of the highest income tax rate nations in the world to the lowest. This would remove capital and jobs from the rest of the world almost immediately to these shores. America would move from a nation off-shoring jobs, to one that would start in-sourcing millions of them. It gives U.S. workers a fair advantage.

Under the current tax system, the IRS taxes what is produced in America and sold overseas. Under Rand’s plan, when goods are produced on these shores and sold abroad, no tax is applied. But when China brings goods into the United States for sale, a 14.5 percent tax at the border is applied. This will reward production and jobs here — big time. Industrial unions should love this plan because the business tax is a GATT-legal tariff on all imported goods.

For low income and middle class families of four, the first $50,000 of income would be tax free. Moreover, because this plan eliminates the payroll tax withheld from worker paychecks, the average worker would with a $40,000 income would get a $3,000 take home pay raise. At a time of falling wages, that would be a big boost to middle class financial security.

Perhaps the strongest case for the Fair and Flat Tax is that it eliminates all of the special interest loopholes and carve-outs in the tax code. Tax lobbyists in Washington would become an endangered species — and it couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people. The richest one percent get the preponderance of the tax write-offs, so getting rid of the big deductions, would increase their taxable income while lowering the rate.

This plan is the essence of a fundamental principle of good and fair tax policy: broad base and low rates. This means investment decisions will be based on rates of return, not on political calculations.

Opponents are saying this is a European-style value added tax. Wrong. In Europe, Vats were imposed in top of corrupt and high rate income tax structures. This plan is not an add-on tax, but a replacement consumption tax that will reduce, not add to the size of the welfare state.

Would this hike the deficit? The Tax Foundation says 2 million jobs would be added and the GDP would be 10 percent larger after a decade under this plan. This means in a decade the United States would have about $2.5 trillion a year more output, and the added jobs and income will add to tax collections. This is right out of the JFK and Ronald Reagan play book: grow the economy to increase revenues.

Some skeptics at The New York Times and elsewhere are complaining that the Flat and Fair Tax can’t work in practice. Consider the Hong Kong experiment. More than half a century ago Hong Kong adopted a 15 percent flat tax and has been a glittering model of prosperity and tax efficiency ever since. Hong Kong is now one of the wealthiest places on the globe thanks in part to low tax rates and tax simplicity.

So this is a tax plan that will add to American dynamism by lowering tax distortions and by reducing the role and size of government in our lives. The tax code is the power center in Washington and this plan shuts that down for good. That’s bad for K Street but very good for main street USA.

So Rand Paul has suddenly injected a tax policy game changer into the presidential debate. All the other candidates on the Republican side will have to alter their tax reform ambitions accordingly. Rand just hit the equivalent of a Stephen Curry three pointer from half court. No doubt the rest of the candidates are studying the Fair and Flat Tax and wondering: wow, why didn’t I think of that? (Contributor: By Stephen Moore for The Washington Times - Stephen Moore is a Fox News contributor and author of “Who’s the Fairest of Them All” (Encounter Books, 2014).)

For prayer: This article speaks for itself. It may not be enough to deliver a presidential nomination to Sen. Rand Paul, but a simplified tax plan for American wage earners is long overdue. The average citizen is overcome with taxes and an incomprehensible tax code. Congress has the authority to simplify things, but burgeoning federal government has a stranglehold. Pray for God’s mercy on our nation as some presidential candidates will try to outdo others with more “promises.”

“How can you say, ‘We are wise, and And the law of the Lord is with us’? Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; so what wisdom do they have?” (Jer. 8:8-9)



While covering the arraignment for Charleston shooting suspect, Dylann Roof, MSNBC reporter Thomas Roberts suddenly choked up as he described the inspirational scene before him at a vigil which took place at the same time.

Roberts seemed astounded as he reported how the shooting victims' family members had spoken one-by-one to the 21-year-old suspect, telling him they'd forgiven him for killing their loved ones.

"Can we look over here right now? I mean, it's kind of heartbreaking," said Roberts while choking up. "They're singing, and a whole flood of people showed up at the same time... that this arraignment was taking place."

Obviously very moved, Roberts began haltingly describing the crowd that had formed outside and had begun singing Gospel songs.

"...They're singing a Gospel song? ... and you heard from the family members ... of those who were lost.... You can see the outpouring of support for this community; it goes all the way down the street... I'm sorry...."

Unable to go on at one point, another MSNBC announcer took over, as Roberts just stared at the crowd, seemingly stunned.

Watch the YouTube video of his report, here. (Contributor: By Aimee Herd for Breaking Christian News)

For prayer and praise: This is a “give-thanks-to-God” article. Any who watched reporter Thomas Roberts’ genuine, unscripted emotional response to hearing a group of Charleston Christians singing hymns while admitted killer Dylann Roof was being arraigned, do not need further encouragement to give thanks. We do not know Mr. Roberts’ personal beliefs, but one could almost hear an echo of Jesus’ words to a wise seeker centuries ago, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

“Then one of the scribes came, and … asked Him, ‘Which is the first commandment of all?’ Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. And the second … is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” … So the scribe said …, ‘Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’” (Mark 12:28-34)



Russians bear a “holy duty” to be patriotic as the country commemorates the 74th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, President Vladimir Putin said.

“It’s our holy duty to be faithful to the great values of patriotism, to keep the memory of our fathers’ and grandfathers’ achievements, and to honor our veterans,” Putin said during a televised ceremony honoring cities for their sacrifices during the war.

The Chechen capital Grozny, Staraya Russa in the Novgorod region, the Leningrad region town of Gatchina, Karelia’s Petrozavodsk, and the Crimean port Feodosia were also named “Cities of Military Glory” in the Kremlin ceremony.

Putin, who also laid a wreath at Russia’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, has appealed to patriotism to rally support as the economy heads for its first recession since 2009. Sergei Ivanov, the Kremlin chief of staff, told reporters that he wasn’t surprised the European Union decided to extend sanctions on the war anniversary. (Contributor: By Stepan Kravchenko for Bloomberg News)

For prayer: We cannot fathom Mr. Putin’s concept of “holy” in his “holy duty” speech. And we would ask whether the “fathers’ and grandfathers’ achievements” include, in his mind, the mass starvation of Soviet citizens under Josef Stalin’s murderous regime. Nonetheless, we recognize that Mr. Putin, though lacking Gospel truth, is a human made in the image of God, and we can gladly and sincerely pray that God will call him to repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ.

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out…. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:37, 39-40)

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” (John 14:6)



The seven young men sitting before some of Capitol Hill’s most powerful lawmakers weren’t graduate students or junior analysts from some think tank. No, Space Rogue, Kingpin, Mudge and the others were hackers who had come from the mysterious environs of cyberspace to deliver a terrifying warning to the world.

Your computers, they told the panel of senators in May 1998, are not safe — not the software, not the hardware, not the networks that link them together. The companies that build these things don’t care, the hackers continued, and they have no reason to care because failure costs them nothing. And the federal government has neither the skill nor the will to do anything about it.

“If you’re looking for computer security, then the Internet is not the place to be,” said Mudge, then 27 and looking like a biblical prophet with long brown hair flowing past his shoulders. The Internet itself, he added, could be taken down “by any of the seven individuals seated before you” with 30 minutes of well-choreographed keystrokes.

The senators — a bipartisan group including John Glenn, Joseph I. Lieberman and Fred D. Thompson — nodded gravely, making clear that they understood the gravity of the situation. “We’re going to have to do something about it,” Thompson said.

What happened instead was a tragedy of missed opportunity, and 17 years later the world is still paying the price in rampant insecurity.

The testimony from L0pht, as the hacker group called itself, was among the most audacious of a rising chorus of warnings delivered in the 1990s as the Internet was exploding in popularity, well on its way to becoming a potent global force for communication, commerce and criminality.

Hackers and other computer experts sounded alarms as the World Wide Web brought the transformative power of computer networking to the masses. This created a universe of risks for users and the critical real-world systems, such as power plants, rapidly going online as well.

Officials in Washington and throughout the world failed to forcefully address these problems as trouble spread across cyberspace, a vast new frontier of opportunity and lawlessness. Even today, many serious online intrusions exploit flaws in software first built in that era, such as Adobe Flash, Oracle’s Java and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

“We have the same security problems,” said Space Rogue, whose real name is Cris Thomas. “There’s a lot more money involved. There’s a lot more awareness. But the same problems are still there.”

L0pht, born of the bustling hacker scene in the Boston area, rose to prominence as a flood of new software was introducing such wonders as sound, animation and interactive games to the Web. This software, which required access to the core functions of each user’s computer, also gave hackers new opportunities to manipulate machines from afar.

Breaking into networked computers became so easy that the Internet, long the realm of idealistic scientists and hobbyists, gradually grew infested with the most pragmatic of professionals: crooks, scam artists, spies and cyberwarriors. They exploited computer bugs for profit or other gain while continually looking for new vulnerabilities.

Tech companies sometimes scrambled to fix problems — often after hackers or academic researchers revealed them publicly — but few companies were willing to undertake the costly overhauls necessary to make their systems significantly more secure against future attacks. Their profits depended on other factors, such as providing consumers new features, not warding off hackers.

“In the real world, people only invest money to solve real problems, as opposed to hypothetical ones,” said Dan S. Wallach, a Rice University computer science professor who has been studying online threats since the 1990s. “The thing that you’re selling is not security. The thing that you’re selling is something else.”

The result was a culture within the tech industry often derided as “patch and pray.” In other words, keep building, keep selling and send out fixes as necessary. If a system failed — causing lost data, stolen credit card numbers or time-consuming computer crashes — the burden fell not on giant, rich tech companies but on their customers.

The members of L0pht say they often experienced this cavalier attitude in their day jobs, where some toiled as humble programmers or salesmen at computer stores. When they reported bugs to software makers, company officials often asked: Does anybody else know about this? (Contributor: By Craig Timberg for The Washington Post)

For prayer: Pray God’s protection on our exposed citizens. An old axiom says those who fail to learn from the past will repeat its mistakes. No one knows the full damage to our country’s security through the cyberattacks that have stolen personal data from millions of Americans. We do know that our nation is weaker and more vulnerable. No government official has accepted responsibility. We can give thanks for God’s mercy, but we must pray for national spiritual restoration.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Ps. 127:1)



Fasting diets could help people to live longer as well as make them slimmer, according to new research.

A pilot study by American and Italian researchers shows that people put on a calorie-restricted diet for five days a month have more anti-ageing “regeneration” markers in their blood and fewer red flags of disease.

In a study of 37 healthy people, half ate a regular diet while the rest were put on a fasting-type diet for five days a month over three months -- consuming between 34 and 54 per cent of the calories in a normal diet.

Compared to regular eaters, those who fasted had fewer risk factors linked to ageing, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, without any negative effects on their health.

Researchers were prompted to do the human trial after an earlier study in mice found that a fasting-type diet improved metabolism and cognitive function, decreased bone loss and cancer incidence, and extended longevity.

Their findings, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, showed that mice put on a fasting diet for four days twice a month, produced more stem cells, while cells in their bone, muscles, liver and brain, as well as their immune cells, were regenerated.

It was the first time many of the regenerative effects had been shown in a short-term diet.

The mice lived longer, with less inflammatory diseases and cancer, improved learning and memory, and reduced bone loss.

Lead researcher Valter Longo from the University of Southern California, whose previous studies showed that fasting improved how cells resisted stress, said the mice were fed a diet low in protein and carbohydrates but high in healthy fats.

“This is arguably the first non-chronic anti-ageing and healthspan-promoting intervention shown to work and to be very feasible as a doctor or dietitian supervised intervention,” Dr Longo said.

But he said the pilot study was based on small numbers and the results needed to be replicated in a larger study.

The diet program would be tested in another 60-70 people ahead of a bigger trial of up to 1000. (Contributor: By Cathy O'Leary for The West Australian)

For prayer: Most Christians know they must not confuse health-related, dietary fasting with the spiritual discipline of fasting in accordance with God’s principles. While fasting for physical health has benefits for the body, fasting dedicated to the Lord to enhance the believer’s focus on prayer can bring about results far beyond what is immediately seen or felt. Study Isaiah 58 and pray accordingly.

“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? … The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isa. 58:6, 11)

[Jesus said:] “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matt. 6:16-18)

On Watch in Washington July 15, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Informer July 8, 2015

On Watch in Washington July 8, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


Adolf Hitler started World War II by attacking Poland on September 1, 1939. Nazi Germany moved only after it had already remilitarized the Rhineland, absorbed Austria and dismantled Czechoslovakia. Before the outbreak of the war, Hitler's new Third Reich had created the largest German-speaking nation in European history.

Well before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Imperial Japanese government had redrawn the map of Asia and the Pacific. Japan had occupied or annexed Indochina, Korea, Manchuria and Taiwan, in addition to swaths of coastal China. Attacking Hawaii, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia was merely the logical 1941 follow-up to more than a decade of Japanese aggression.

Fascist Italy, by the outbreak of World War II in Europe, had already been remaking the map of the Mediterranean region in imitation of ancient Rome. Strongman Benito Mussolini had annexed what is now Ethiopia, Albania and most of Libya. He promised Italians that the Mediterranean would soon be mare nostrum, "our sea."

All of these hegemonies had arisen without triggering a global war. Had Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese just been satisfied and consolidated their winnings, there was no evidence that the tired Western democracies would ever have stopped them.

The contemporary world is starting to resemble the 1930s, and maps again must be redrawn.

The Islamic State plans to take Baghdad to make it the capital of a radical Sunni caliphate from what is left of Syria and Iraq.

Its enemy, theocratic Iran, is forging its own Shiite empire. Through its proxies, Iran now effectively runs much of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. When Tehran gets a nuclear bomb, it will urge on Shiite minorities to overthrow the Sunni monarchies in the rich, oil-exporting Persian Gulf nations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks he can reconstitute the empire of the czars and the later Soviet Union. American "reset" diplomacy green-lighted his annexation of the Crimea and his occupation of areas of Ukraine. Should Putin wish to absorb Estonia or other Baltic States, NATO probably would not stop him.

A terrified Eastern Europe, which not that long ago was part of the old Soviet Warsaw Pact, is already making the necessary political concessions in hopes that the unpredictable Putin leaves them alone.

China is vastly increasing its strategic air force and navy — and reminding its neighbors from South Korea to Australia of its new military clout. It has recently instigated various territorial disputes with Japan, Malaysia the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. As a clever way to control key sea lanes and oil-rich areas in the South China Sea, the Chinese are building new military bases by turning small coral reefs into islands of sand.

Is this 1939 or 2015?

Well before World War II, Great Britain and France allowed Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese to acquire what they pleased. The Western European democracies were terrified of confrontation and mired in economic crises. They had their own long-standing empires to worry about.

The United States — struggling with the Great Depression, squabbling over the New Deal, and bitter over its prior intervention in World War I and the failure to achieve European stability — also kept quiet.

Nothing much has changed 75 years later. Western Europe is terrified of Putin and mostly disarmed. The European Union is awash with debt.

Meanwhile, Japan rearms and is trying in vain to forge a common anti-Chinese front with the Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea.

As in the 1930s, an isolationist United States is again watching the new map unfold from the sidelines. President Obama assumes Americans are tired of the Middle East and want to be left alone. Afghanistan is a quagmire. Iraq collapsed once the administration pulled out all U.S. troops. The bombing of Libya proved a disaster.

In 1945, after some 60 million had perished in World War II, the Western democracies blamed themselves for having appeased and empowered fascist empires. That sadder but wiser generation taught us two lessons: Small sacrifices now can avoid catastrophic ones later on, and dictatorial regimes on a roll never voluntarily quit playing geostrategic poker.

If the present trajectories continue, a reconfigured Middle East will be bookended by radical Islamic empires — the Islamic State caliphate and a new Persian empire. China will control most of the Pacific and adjudicate trade, commerce and politics west of Hawaii and to the south and east of India. The client states of a new Russian empire will border central Europe and be under constant pressure to leave the EU, NATO or both.

How does all this end? One of two ways.

America and its allies can reawaken, gradually restore deterrence and re-establish the old postwar order without a global war.

Or the United States will not be bothered — at least until this new generation of dictators bothers us at home. (Contributor: By Victor Davis Hanson for The Washington Times and Town Hall)

For prayer: Christians often suffer the most when national boundary lines change due to religious oppression or forceful land acquisition. Such actions echo Jesus’ words about “wars and rumors of wars.” Yet, even amidst terrible suffering and unspeakable atrocities, substantiated reports tell us of thousands of Muslims turning to God, calling on the name of the Lord, and becoming followers of Christ. We see “signs of the times” everywhere. Pray for the suffering Church and new converts.

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matt. 24:6-8)

Nevertheless [God] did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17)



An African-American millionaire can buy a home in any expensive suburb. Color is no longer a barrier. Despite this progress, President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development is accusing expensive towns of racism, simply because most minorities can’t afford to live there.

Westchester County, N.Y., has struggled under a federal monitor since 2009 to compel the county to comply with HUD’s demands for multi-unit affordable housing in expensive areas [shades of Marxism]. Hillary Clinton claims to be a warrior against inequality. But her adopted hometown of Chappaqua, an upscale Westchester village that one resident describes as “a little piece of heaven,” is battling HUD’s demands.

The legal war in Hillary’s backyard is a preview. The Obama administration is pulling out all the stops to launch a legal and regulatory assault on suburbs nationwide. HUD’s soon-to-be-released regulation, in the works since 2013, will compel affluent suburbs to build more high-density, low-income housing, plus of course sewers, water lines, bus routes and other changes needed to support it. All in the name of housing “fairness.”

Mr. Obama’s social engineers will eliminate local zoning, such as one-acre minimum lots, to achieve what the HUD rule calls “inclusive communities.” Property values be damned.

If you’ve worked hard to afford a home in an affluent neighborhood of single-family houses, you have a lot to lose under this HUD plan.

The HUD rule twists the original and laudable intent of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which is to bar discrimination in renting, selling or financing housing. The new rule states that towns must “affirmatively further” diversity. If low-income minorities want to move to a town but can’t afford it, the town must “provide adequate support to make their choices viable.”

Whether the HUD plan goes forward will depend largely on how the Supreme Court rules in Texas Department of Housing v. The Inclusive Communities Project, a lawsuit brought to demand that public housing be located in wealthy Dallas suburbs. Before the end of June, the justices will decide whether Texas is guilty of racism simply for locating public housing in lower-income areas of Dallas, close to existing public transportation, rather than in costly areas. Activists claim that even without intent to discriminate the state is depriving poor minorities of the advantages of living in affluent neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are trying to halt HUD’s new plan by depriving it of funding. To do that, the House passed the Gosar Amendment, sponsored by Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, last Thursday but its success in the Senate is uncertain. Democratic members of Congress whose constituents live in some of the most expensive suburbs in the nation are nevertheless toeing the party line and supporting HUD.

HUD’s plan is frightening. Phase one will collect data on poverty, school testing scores, and public transit sites from every census division to spot towns that have too few poor residents. If your town is guilty, HUD regulators will charge racism and demand more public housing. Race is being cynically exploited here as a pretext to accomplish something different — economic integration.

The HUD plan is a power grab. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution empowers the federal government to do this. Zoning is a local government power.

HUD makes the silly argument that transplanting low-income minorities into suburbs will solve the causes of their poverty and “improve an individual or family’s life trajectory.” That ignores the factors stacked against poor kids. A family headed by a single mother is nearly five times as likely to live in poverty as a family headed by two parents, no matter where they live. Building wedding parlors on inner-city street corners and promoting two-parent families would do more to break the cycle of poverty than redesigning suburban America.

If the justices and Congress fail to stop HUD’s scheme, expect Hillary “Rodham Hood” Clinton to champion it (with a carve-out for Chappaqua, of course). HUD Secretary Julian Castro is even being mentioned as Clinton’s running mate. Short of taxing the rich to death, these inequality warriors would like nothing better than to prevent the rich from enjoying the suburbs, far from urban woes. (Contributor: By Betsy McCaughey for The Washington Times - Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.)

For prayer: Many loyal, patriotic citizens believe President Obama’s goals for America do not coincide with the ideals of the Constitution or free enterprise. While the Bible warns against pursuing riches, it does not condemn having wealth. This article is less about housing and more about redistribution of money. Government is to serve its citizens, not rule over them. When Americans are free to direct their spending, more money goes to charity, including to the Church and Christian missions.

“And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this [coin]?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” (Matt. 22:20-21)



American generosity is the marvel of the world. The open heart, accompanied by the open pocketbook, is the American way to relieve the pain and loss of disaster. It’s how a wealthy society can spread largesse to those struggling with survival.

Six of 10 American households give to charity. Americans gave $335.17 billion to charities in 2013. The largest source of charitable giving came from individuals at $241.32 billion, or 72 percent of the total, followed by foundations ($50.28 billion, 15 percent), bequests ($26.81 billion, 8 percent), and corporations ($16.76 billion, 5 percent). Americans obey the Biblical injunction to be their brothers’ keepers in hard times.

This vast amount of money has inevitably attracted parasites and spawned a welter of bureaucracy and professional aid administrators. Some are more conscientious than others. A danger is that the bureaucracy is self-perpetuating and looks first to feather its nest.

The American Red Cross has raised $500 million to relieve the misery of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010. Haiti is one of the poorest countries anywhere, and an exhaustive investigation by National Public Radio and the activist group Pro Publica could not find where the Red Cross expenditures went.

Suspicion of Red Cross aid is not new. The Red Cross, as any reporter with experience covering fires, floods and storms would typically tell you, arrives to set up an impressive public-relations operation, issuing streams of press releases. The Salvation Army and the churches arrive with blankets, clothes, sandwiches, coffee and doughnuts.

David Meltzer, the chief Red Cross lawyer and head of its international division, cites his charity’s aid during a cholera outbreak when the Haitian government was in “disarray,” which it usually is. The Red Cross nevertheless declines to provide a list of specific programs it ran, how much they cost and how much the charity spent on “administration.”

The Red Cross gave much of the money it collected to other groups to do the hands-on work, after first taking its customary administrative cut. The charities that received the money took their own fees as well. According to NPR-Pro Publica, the Red Cross collected an additional cut for what it calls the “program costs incurred in managing” these third-party projects. In one program reviewed by NPR-ProPublica, these costs ate up a third of the money that was intended to help impoverished Haitians. There is no dearth of highly polished pamphlets describing programs that function only to feed the bureaucracy.

A press conference in the capital of Port-au-Prince early this month, called by the Red Cross to answer charges in the NPR-Pro Publica investigation, descended into mostly noise. The Red Cross spokesman, Walker Dauphin, says the NPR-Pro Publica account had “misleading allegations” and that “in total, more than a hundred projects were implemented.” But Haiti’s most prominent newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, published an account of the press conference under the headline, “When the Red Cross drowns the fish.”

Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota, a Democrat, has called for the House oversight committee to look further into the Red Cross program in Haiti. That certainly seems appropriate. But given the growing list of national and international disasters to which American charity is devoted, something more is in order. More government regulation — especially given the scandalous way the Internal Revenue Service has ruled on the tax deductibility of charitable contributions — is clearly not the answer.

The major national and international charities themselves must set up the means to regulate themselves, to avoid further exploitation of American cash and good will, and to save the fish. (Contributor: By The Washington Times editorial team)

Prayer and Praise: Give thanks for America’s largesse of heart in leading worldwide giving to national and international emergencies and disasters. Much of this comes from hearts of faith informed by biblical instruction. As with all good causes, those with selfish motives can infiltrate, and some organizations are simply not run efficiently. Pray for those like The Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, and others, where practical help is accompanied by a clear Christian witness.

[Paul to the Ephesian elders:] “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

“He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.” (Prov. 19:17)



America has reversed direction from its origin of limited government and unlimited economy. Today, America is increasingly defined by an expanding government and a retreating economy. The question now is: When we will recognize this reversal?

America’s original perspective on government and the economy came from our Colonial past. Confronted with what they perceived as unlimited government — in the form of Colonial executive power and their exclusion from legislative power in the British Parliament — the Founders created a very limited government in the Constitution.

James Madison in Federalist No. 45 summed up the approach to government: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.” The federal government was to be held in check internally by its three branches and externally by the Constitution on one side, and the state governments on the other.

Contrasting with this very narrow view of federal power was an expansive vision of economic power. Again, it originated in America’s Colonial past. As a colony, America’s economy could be thoroughly controlled by the British government. It was intended to be a producer of raw materials and a market for British manufacturing. Ultimately, the increasing regulation of the Colonial economy — as much as the British government’s increasing encroachment — separated Colonial America from its British parent.

The Constitution is as notable for its lack of economic control over the young country as its intended restraint of the new federal government.

Taxes were minimal, with the government financed almost completely by tariffs and land sales. When the government tried to intervene economically, it failed spectacularly. The C&O Canal, championed by the early government, was replaced by the railroad even before its completion. And the federal capital, Washington, D.C., was a sleepy backwater town compared to the many new cities that arose from the nation’s burgeoning economic growth.

America’s model of limited government and unlimited economy prevailed until the 20th century. It was occasionally interrupted — even seriously by World War I — but would resume. However, with the Depression and World War II in quick succession, the altered relationship between government and economy did not fully revert. Both America’s government and its economy had begun the migration from their opposite poles.

The federal budget demonstrates how far government has traveled from its original limited form. In 1930, with the country just entering what would become the Great Depression, the federal government spent just 3.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). In 2014, the last full fiscal year, the federal government spent 20.3 percent of GDP. Federal outlays are simply the most quantifiable area of the government’s reach, but that reach has also greatly expanded in the areas of taxation and regulation.

Arthur Laffer provided a glimpse of increasing government’s effect four decades ago. Looking just at taxation, he described the diminishing returns from increasing rates of taxation in the now famous Laffer Curve.

Simply looking at the old Soviet system, we intuitively understand Laffer’s Curve. In that case, under a system of state ownership of the means of production, the effective tax rate was 100 percent. The resulting economic sclerosis would lead to the USSR’s collapse within just three generations.

Why would not the Laffer Curve also pertain on a government-wide scale that includes regulation, spending and borrowing, as well as taxes? Why, as government becomes less limited and these areas of its economic impact increase, would there not come a point of negative effect?

As unquestionably limited as the federal government was at its origin, it is equally undeniable that its limits have been eroding. At the same time, it is equally clear that what was once a robust economy has been anything but — not just since the Great Recession, but before it as well.

If we cannot agree as a nation that an growing government has had a role in our shrinking economy, then current circumstances should at least prompt this discussion. How far and for how long must government expand before it has a negative economic impact?

For those who deny the principle behind the question, it is wise to remember that in no other area of the economy does the law of diminishing returns not prevail. Are we to believe that government’s impact on the economy is the sole exception? If it is not an exception, at what point does this diminution occur? And finally, has America already begun to feel its effect in practice?

Where once there was a limited government and unlimited economy, today there is a comparatively unlimited government and a limited economy. Following this progression, at what point do we begin to seriously measure, regulate and mitigate the impact of government’s increasingly destructive impact upon the economy? (Contributor: By J.T. Young for The Washington Times - J.T. Young served in the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004 and as a congressional staff member from 1987 to 2000.)

For prayer: In summary, this article asks, “Can an out-of-control government be restored to the original intentions of the Founders?” No one knows the answer. At present, the government consumes, and the economy is being consumed. Obviously, there is an endpoint at which both government and economy implode (note the situation in Greece). Many feel the only solution is a country reawakened by transforming revival. We ask intercessors to pray in unity to that end.

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1-4)

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)



First there was the New Mexico wedding photographer. Then there was the Indiana pizza maker. Now there is the Maryland disc jockey.

The national debate about how to balance religious conscience protections and gay equality flared in the large, mostly liberal Washington, D.C., suburb of Montgomery County Friday, when Dani Tsakounis tried to help her brother hire Ultrasound Deejays for a party. An owner of the business told Tsakounis he would not provide the DJ because Tsakounis’s brother, a Silver Spring therapist, is married to another man and the birthday party they are hosting is for their 60-year-old roommate, who is also gay.

“I just said, ‘We won’t be able to do it, we’re a Christian organization and it would go against our faith, I’m sorry,’” Michael Lampiris, co-owner of Ultrasound Deejays, said Friday.

Tom Tsakounis, 46, was so upset when his sister told him that he posted the news on his neighborhood listserv, prompting calls of sympathy from neighbors. He also registered a complaint with the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission, which hears cases of alleged discrimination.

Maryland state law has banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodation — which includes businesses “offering goods, services, entertainment” the law says — since 2001. But the question of whether such laws infringe on the rights of religious conservatives, however, has received increased attention as more gay equality advocates have stepped up to file complaints and religious conservatives have argued that their conscience rights are being violated.

In this case, both Lampiris and Tsakounis were surprised the issue erupted – but for different reasons.

Tom Tsakounis said he had never been denied services in his life because he is gay and was floored to see it happen in Montgomery County – a liberal suburb where he has lived for 15 years. Lampiris, 54, has been living in the county for 30 years and said he had never heard of the law forbidding such discrimination.

Ultrasound Deejays, which he founded in the 1980s with his brother, has a written company policy stating “we will not be involved in any event involving homosexual celebration or activity. We follow biblical morality.”

The company policy states that they are a “family friendly” firm and won’t play vulgar music, tolerate provocative dancing or be involved with strippers, “fortune tellers, psychics, or magicians.”

“We will always try to provide a bright, entertaining, wholesome and fun deejay style where no one is left out,” the site says. “Let us work together to keep America clean and good!”

Hearing his sister tell what happened, Tsakounis said, and reading the Ultrasound policy “made me feel like I got hit in the stomach. You feel like: ‘C’mon, in my neighborhood?’ But: Wow, yes — in my neighborhood.”

Lampiris sounded unconcerned about a possible legal challenge. Their firm, which has at times had a roster of 40 DJ-contractors, has turned down other events, he said, such as when a teacher wouldn’t promise to work to stop raunchy dancing among students, or when he found out a bridal party included several lesbians.

Dani Tsakounis and Lampiris characterized their conversation the same way: Friendly at the start, with Lampiris telling her he could send a DJ and then asking for a few more details in order to find a good match of a DJ. Once she told him it was a 60th, Lampiris joked that she sounded too young to have a peer who was 60 — was this her father? That led to her describing that the man having the birthday was a long-ago partner of her brother, who was now married to another man. The three now live in the same house.

“I said: ‘Are they together in a union?’ And she said ‘Yes.’ It took me back and I said: ‘I don’t know if anyone would want to do it, I just don’t know,'” Lampiris recalled saying. Then he told Tsakounis his objection was religious. “She said ‘Forget it,’ and hung up.”

In this case, Lampiris said he had never heard of a related law, “but it’s important for us to make a stand. We don’t want to go against the law, but we also sometimes are called to do that if it goes against your faith. To me it would be like a synagogue having to cater to a neo-Nazi party or black DJ having to do a KKK dance,” he said. Gay clients don’t pose a “physical threat – it’s a conscience thing, and conscience is very important for everybody. In fact, I think it’s the most important thing.”

Jer Welter, managing attorney of FreeState Legal, which provides legal advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Maryland, said several dozen cases like this come into county and state civil rights offices each year and are mostly resolved through mediation. Some have been litigated, he said. Most cases of discrimination never get filed as complaints, he said.

However U.S. courts are still hashing out a balance between religious conscience protections and protection from discrimination. One legal expert who specializes in religious liberty, but didn’t want to speak by name about the DJ case without knowing more details, said courts have looked at questions such as: What are a business’ general policies and culture? What kind of specific activity were they asked to engage in? For example, the attorney said, there might be a difference between simply refusing to serve a gay couple and refusing to work at an event that is centered on “celebrating homosexuality.”

He noted that in April a Kentucky Circuit Court ruled that a Christian T-shirt maker had the right to refuse to make gay pride festival shirts.

What will happen next wasn’t clear. Efforts to reach the state and county civil rights offices late Friday were not successful.

Tsakounis said his sister and other friends were trying to help him and his husband find another DJ for the party for their friend– who is Tom’s long-ago boyfriend and now their roommate. They had never considered any potential discrimination issue and the space booked for the party, which is in August, is the Knights of Columbus Hall, which is a Catholic Church-affiliated building, he said.

After the Friday incident with Lampiris, Tsakounis said he left a voicemail with the Knights.

“Now I’m really nervous. What if they say no? My sister said, ‘I’d never walk into a Knights of Columbus hall and say: I’m straight, I’m having a straight party.’ We just haven’t had to think about these things.”

Lampiris said he hopes the issue won’t become a standoff in any way. But if it did, “we would make a stand if the good Lord is willing,” he said, citing the New Testament book of Acts: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Contributor: By Michelle Boorstein for The Washington Post - Washington Post researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.)

Intercessors know how to pray in this situation. We have been here several times before, though names and faces change. Our prayer is that a homosexual person or couple can hear and accept the straight person’s concerns and convictions and simply seek another vendor. The demand to seek agreement and compliance is neither honest nor fair. Please pray as you are led, not forgetting the obvious larger issues.

“But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’” (Acts 5:29) 

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.’” (Dan. 3:16-18)



For nearly two decades, the U.S. Army has provided an honor guard for an Independence Day celebration at a Baptist church that predates the founding of the nation. But this year – that tradition has come to an end.

Officials at Fort Gordon say they will not be able to send an honor guard to a July 5th service at Abilene Baptist Church because it violates a military policy banning any involvement in a religious service.

“While there are conditions under which the Army can participate in events conducted at a house of worship, we cannot participate in the context of a religious service,” Public Affairs Officer J.C. Mathews told me.

He said officials at Fort Gordon as well as the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate reviewed the church’s request and determined they were in fact holding a “religious service.”

So it’s OK to invite the troops so long as you don’t pray, talk about Jesus or read the Bible?

“As a result, the Army is not permitted to take part,” Mathews said.

That policy would be an offense to most churches in America – but it is especially offensive when you consider the Army just refused to provide an honor guard for a church whose first pastor was a chaplain in the Revolutionary Army.

Abilene Baptist Church was founded in 1774 – one of Georgia’s most historic churches and the second oldest in the state. The founding pastor was arrested by a colonial magistrate for “preaching in Georgia” and the first pastor, Reverend Loveless Savage, was a chaplain in the Revolutionary Army.

“It was an absolute shock,” said Brad Whitt, the current pastor of Abilene Baptist Church. “What a sad commentary on the state of affairs in America – when we cannot even allow the flags to fly if they are in a church building.”

“We’ve had a tremendous working relationship with the fort,” he told me. “We’ve hosted all sorts of events for military families. We really try to show our love and respect and we try to honor our military folks.”

The July 5th church service is scheduled to be a “God and Country”-themed celebration with patriotic music and lots of red, white and blue. Afterwards, the church is hosting a Sunday picnic – complete with hot dogs and hamburgers. And for the sake of full disclosure, I’ve been invited to speak at the church service – as well as eat a hamburger afterwards.

Pastor Whitt said they were genuinely confused by the Army’s slight – seeing how Fort Gordon has been providing an honor guard for the past 20 years.

“They have participated for the past two decades and now they are saying – no,” he said. “This is just another example of the secularization of America.”

The church sent me photographs of the honor guard on the main platform of the church in 2007 and 2010. Last year, the church held their service in a local park – and once again – the military sent an honor guard.

So what changed?

Fort Gordon’s Public Affairs Office pointed me to Army Regulation 360-1 – dated May 2011.

The lengthy regulation states Army participation must not selectively benefit (or appear to benefit) any religious group. It also mandates that Army Public Affairs not support any event involving the promotion, endorsement or sponsorship of a religious movement.

According to public affairs, the 2007 church service was designated by the military as a “non-sectarian musical and patriotic program.”

According to the military’s calculations, 80 percent of the program was musical and the other 20 percent included narration and other patriotic elements.

“Because this was not a religious service, our participation was permitted,” he said.

He said the key is not whether the event is sponsored by a religious organization or held in a house of worship.

“Instead, the key factor is, whether or not the event is an actual religious service,” Mathews said.

So it’s okay to invite the troops so long as you don’t pray, talk about Jesus or read the Bible?

“That’s what makes this so sad,” Pastor Whitt told me. “This is what we’ve come to in our nation – where even just representing the colors is some sort of political thing.”

While the Pentagon won’t allow an honor guard to set foot in a church, they have no problem allowing them to march in a gay pride parade.

Last year the Department of Defense gave permission for an honor guard to participate in Washington, D.C.’s gay pride parade – a historic first. An honor guard is also expected to march in the 2015 Capital Pride parade.

So if a military honor guard can celebrate gay pride in a public parade, why can’t they celebrate American pride inside a Baptist church? (Contributor: By Todd Starnes for Fox News - Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." )

For prayer: Christians must pray and prepare for far worse than this social insult. Our nation is officially post-Christian. The next step is “anti-Christian.” Leaders willing to tell the truth are alerting Christ’s followers to prepare for more. Our Lord said that “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against [His church].” He also said that the path of those who chose to follow Him would not be exempt from suffering and that believers should be prepared to die if identified with Him.

“Jesus answered [Pilate, saying], ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’” (John 18:36)

“‘These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.’” (John 16:1-4)



British atheist writer and comedian Pat Condell's latest YouTube video targets American progressives who seek to sabotage the First Amendment in a desire to criminalize speech they deem offensive.

Watch Video: <Click Here!>

With his tongue planted firmly in cheek, Condell delivers a scathing, though humorous, rebuke of Americans who are sitting on the sidelines watching their fundamental birthright being purged before their very eyes in the name of progress. His British perspective is unique as he admits his home country has long since bullied the right to free speech out of its citizens.

"The progressive tide is coming in, America, and it's looking irreversible," he warns. "Not least because the next generation is being carefully programmed right now by a progressive educational establishment to hold the First Amendment and all it represents in morally superior contempt."

Though many of his videos are blows against liberal government, a great bulk of Condell's offerings have targeted Islam and religion in general, including Christianity. Many have been offended by Condell's words and many have leveled threats. Yet, Condell continues to exercise what little freedom he has left via these mini-episodes of free speech with a perspective perhaps only one from across the pond could truly understand. That is perhaps why his warning to America is so imperative:

You see, what you need to understand, America, is that feelings are the new truth, and truth is the new blasphemy in this brave new progressive world of ours. (I'm sorry, did I say brave? I meant cowardly, of course.)

To this mentality, the First Amendment isn't simply an inconvenience, or an obstacle to be overcome. It's a crime against humanity.

So the days of that pesky, troublesome First Amendment are clearly numbered, folks. And when you think of all the trouble it has caused, you can't say that's a bad thing. Well, you can now, obviously, but not for long. (Contributor: Trey Sanchez for Truth Revolt)

For prayer: In light of many assaults our own government and other anti-Christian forces wage against free speech and other aspects of religious liberty, the weapons to counter such attacks are not physical but spiritual. Christians may intercede with fasting, offer a strong biblical witness, seek redress in court, and peacefully resist. After that, if we do not prevail, we must accept the penalty and suffering meted out—and we must forgive our persecutors. Nothing more. Let’s pray accordingly.

“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Phil. 1:29)

 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Tim. 3:12-13) 

On Watch in Washington July 8, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Informer June 10, 2015

On Watch in Washington June 10, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress on Wednesday that even illegal immigrants who didn’t pay taxes will be able to claim back-refunds once they get Social Security numbers under President Obama’s temporary deportation amnesty.

The revelation — which contradicts what he told Congress last week — comes as lawmakers also raised concerns Mr. Obama’s amnesty could open a window to illegal immigrants finding ways to vote, despite it being against the law.

“While we may disagree about whether your deferred action programs were lawfully created and implemented, we are confident that we can all agree that these programs cannot be permitted to impair the integrity of our elections,” Republican members of Congress from Ohio wrote in a letter to Mr. Obama Wednesday, ahead of a hearing on the issue in the House on Thursday.

Mr. Obama’s new deportation policies, which carve most illegal immigrants out of danger of being removed, and could proactively grant as many as 4 million illegal immigrants work permits and Social Security numbers, are increasingly under fire for ancillary consequences such as tax credits and competition for jobs.

Mr. Koskinen, testifying to the House oversight committee, said the White House never asked him or anyone else at the IRS about the potential tax effects of his amnesty policy.

“I haven’t talked to the White House about this at all,” he said.

He also clarified his testimony to the Senate last week, where he acknowledged illegal immigrants who had paid taxes using substitute Social Security numbers but who gain real Social Security numbers when they are approved for the amnesty can apply for back-refunds of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

On Wednesday, he said even illegal immigrants who didn’t pay taxes will be able to apply for back-credits once they get Social Security numbers.

The EITC is a refundable tax credit, which means those who don’t have any tax liability can still get money back from the government.

“Under the new program, if you get a Social Security number and you work, you’ll be eligible to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit,” Mr. Koskinen said.

He said that would apply even “if you did not file” taxes, as long as the illegal immigrant could demonstrate having worked off-the-books during those years.

That expands the universe of people eligible for the tax credit by millions. He said only about 700,000 illegal immigrants currently work and pay taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, but as many as 4 million illegal immigrants could get a stay of deportation and work permits under the temporary amnesty, which would mean they would be eligible to claim back-refunds if they worked those years.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, the South Carolina Republican who grilled Mr. Koskinen on the tax credits, said he was stunned the White House never checked with the IRS on the tax implications of its move.

“That’s just outrageous,” he said. “If Congress had passed a law doing exactly what the president did, we would have had not only an estimate of the costs, but we would have also been required to propose ways to pay for the programs. This is just another example of the administration operating outside the rule of law.”

Mr. Koskinen said he didn’t know how much money the tax refunds would cost, and said the White House never checked with him before announcing the amnesty. He said the maximum annual credit is between $500 and $600 for an individual.

Meanwhile, the concerns over voting are beginning to bubble up.

Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, will hold a hearing on the issue Thursday.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who has told Mr. Obama that illegal immigrants could find ways to vote thanks to his policy, is slated to testify. (Contributor: By Stephen Dinan for The Washington Times)

Prayer focus: Serious friction exists among the branches of U.S. government. Partisan public debate is not uncommon and may be healthy and in order. Note the direct comment in this article over the inexplicable IRS fiasco, as Representative Mick Mulvaney (R–SC) said, “That’s just outrageous … another example of the administration [i.e., Pres. Obama] operating outside the rule of law.” The charge is very serious. Intercede for a renewal of national unity that can only come through revival in the Church and a national return to God. Let us all seek the Lord for a spiritual awakening.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa. 55:6-7)

“But [Jesus], knowing their thoughts, said to them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.’” (Luke 11:17)



President Obama and his administration continue to support the global Islamist militant group known the Muslim Brotherhood. A White House strategy document regards the group as a moderate alternative to more violent Islamist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The policy of backing the Muslim Brotherhood is outlined in a secret directive called Presidential Study Directive-11, or PSD-11. The directive was produced in 2011 and outlines administration support for political reform in the Middle East and North Africa, according to officials familiar with the classified study.

Efforts to force the administration to release the directive or portions of it under the Freedom of Information Act have been unsuccessful.

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan declined to comment on PSD-11. “We have nothing for you on this,” she said.

The directive outlines why the administration has chosen the Muslim Brotherhood, which last year was labeled a terrorist organization by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as a key vehicle of U.S. backing for so-called political reform in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia in recent months appears to be moderating its opposition to the Brotherhood in a bid to gain more regional support against pro-Iran rebels in Yemen.

The UAE government also has labeled two U.S. affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society, as terrorist support groups. Both groups denied the UAE claims. Egypt is considering imposing a death sentence on Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed former president who was ousted in military coup in July 2013.

Critics of the administration’s strategy say the Brotherhood masks its goals and objectives despite advocating an extremist ideology similar to those espoused by al Qaeda and the Islamic State, but with less violence. The group’s motto includes the phrase “jihad is our way.” Jihad means holy war and is the Islamist battle cry.

Counterterrorism analyst Patrick Poole said the Brotherhood in recent weeks has stepped up its use of violent attacks in Egypt.

“The failed Obama Doctrine that so-called ‘moderate Islamists’ were going to usher in a glorious era of peace and democracy in the Middle East was adopted by the administration because that’s what the foreign policy establishment going back to the George W. Bush administration proclaimed as gospel,” Mr. Poole said.

“And now we see as a result Egypt fighting a terror campaign by the ‘moderate’ Muslim Brotherhood; we have a failed state in Libya; and we see NATO ally Turkey turning from secular democracy to religious totalitarianism under Obama’s pal [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan.

“This dangerous foreign policy was launched by PSD-11 and the administration’s open embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, and now we can see its catastrophic effect,” Mr. Poole added.

Frank Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy, extensively documented Muslim Brotherhood subversion efforts, both in the United States and abroad.

Mr. Gaffney has said the Muslim Brotherhood is the most dangerous group promoting the totalitarian and Islamist supremacist doctrine of Shariah. Several Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been identified as key advisers to Mr. Obama, according to Mr. Gaffney.

Egyptian press reports after the ouster of Mr. Morsi have revealed extensive cooperation between the CIA and the Muslim Brotherhood during Mr. Morsi’s presidency. (Contributor: By Bill Gertz for The Washington Times - Staff writer Rowan Scarborough contributed to this column.)

Prayer focus: No added commentary is needed here. The integrity of Bill Gertz’s work as a veteran news researcher and reporter in Washington, D.C. is beyond reproach, and Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy has a similar reputation. Pray for truth to be revealed and all secret deals that might harm our country to be exposed. Ask God for His mercy to turn America back to Himself.

“Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.” (Prov. 23:23)

“Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.” (Ps. 130:1-4)



America’s welfare state keeps growing because Congress allows bureaucrats to expand programs, immune from accountability to voters.

A fresh example is the proposal to give free Internet service to tens of millions of people, to be granted by the five nonelected commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission. All were appointed by President Obama. Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his intent for the expansion; he likely expects to steamroller the FCC’s two Republican members again, just as he did in the fight over so-called net neutrality.

Millions of people already get free phones through a fraud-ridden FCC program infamously nicknamed “Obamaphones.” The correct title is “Lifeline.” Expanding this to the Internet (or should it be “Obamanet?”) could add tens of millions of people, according to FCC’s loose eligibility criteria.

The cost would be borne by the rest of us through surcharges on our cellphones, landlines and business lines. Amounts vary; $12 a year per phone line is typical. The U.S. has 700 million to 800 million phone numbers in use, so even small charges add up to big bucks.

But this “universal service” charge is collected in a sneaky Obamacare-style manner that hides the cost to consumers. The FCC labels it a “contribution” and not a tax, assessing it in a way to protect elected officials from accountability.

By letting the FCC do the dirty work, Congress avoids the accountability that other elected officials must face when they cast votes on taxes and fees for services such as water, sewer and trash collection. The FCC simply calculates how much it wants to spend on the service and notifies telephone service providers about how much of a “contribution” is required.

Phone companies typically pass along the charges to consumers and businesses. Telecom companies often line-item a universal service fee on customers’ bills, but the additional cost sometimes is rolled into the overall bill for services or for long-distance charges.

How big is the program now, and how big might it soon become?

According to an audit by the Government Accountability Office, “In 2014, over 12 million households participated in Lifeline, up from about 7 million in 2008. At its peak enrollment in 2012, Lifeline served about 18 million households.”

The growth coincided with Obama administration policies and the 2012 elections. The subsequent decline coincided with audits showing massive fraud, duplicate accounts and ineligibility in giving away the Obamaphones.

The Lifeline program began during the Reagan presidency, expanded some in the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton years, but exploded under Mr. Obama.

Phone carriers are supposed to verify eligibility of applicants, then apply to the FCC for reimbursement. The GAO notes, “Lifeline is unlike any other federal low-income support program in outsourcing eligibility verification.” That is significant because over 80 federal programs give away public assistance benefits. Collectively, these 80-plus programs constitute our welfare state.

Those who qualify for one benefit often get other benefits automatically. The FCC criteria say that households automatically get free phones if they are receiving certain other benefits. Those same guidelines would determine who would be eligible for free or partially free Internet service.

Eligible individuals would include the 70 million people covered by Medicaid, 21 million people on SSI disability, the 48 million Americans on food stamps, plus several million more who get housing subsidies or free school lunches. Plus anyone at 135 percent of the official poverty level. (In calculating income, government benefits that lift people above that threshold are disregarded.) That massive eligibility covers tens of millions of people.

The silver lining is that not everyone applies. The dark cloud is that multiple liberal advocacy groups actively promote the giveaways and push to expand participation. Their websites include FreeGovernmentCellPhones.net, CheapInternet.com, and, of course, Obamaphone.com.

Those advocacy groups recognize that the more people become dependent on government, the more they vote for Democrats. But the buzzwords they use are that we must close the “digital divide” between those who have Internet service and those who do not. Their remedy is to perpetuate a national divide between those who give and those who receive.

How long will the givers have these surcharges on their phone bills? If not forever, it will be close to it.

We once had another tax that added 3 percent to all telephone bills. It was created to pay for the Spanish-American War, which lasted only 3 months in 1898. Congress took 108 years — until 2006 — to end that tax. The universal service tax is 30 years old, but Mr. Obama’s FCC intends to keep that tax alive and well forever. (Contributor: By Ernest Istook for The Washington Times - Former Rep. Ernest Istook is founder and president of Americans for Less Regulation (www.AmericansForLessRegulation.com). Subscribe to his free email newsletter at: eepurl.com/JPojD.)

Prayer focus: For many years, phone bills have been a convenient vehicle for government, at various levels, to add small increments of tax for various “causes.” Often, this has been unnoticed, and usually unchallenged. Although these unaccountable tax increases are irritating, they are merely “skirmishes,” not the real battle. We encourage intercessors to pace themselves, to see the bigger picture, and to follow King David’s example when he “strengthened himself in the Lord.” As we intercede faithfully, God will bring justice in His timing.

Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened [encouraged] himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Sam. 30:6)

“Then [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…” (Luke 18:1)



Alcohol problems affect almost 33 million adults and most have never sought treatment. That's according to a government survey indicating that rates have increased in recent years.

It's the first national estimate based on a new definition of "alcohol use disorders" in a widely used psychiatric handbook that was updated two years ago. Fourteen percent of adults are affected.

The new definition combines alcohol abuse and dependence, which had been two separate disorders. It adds craving as one symptom and eliminates alcohol-related legal problems as another. Problem drinkers have at least two of 11 symptoms, including drinking that harms performance at work, school or home and frequent hangovers. (Contributor: By Lindsey Tanner for Associated Press and US News - The study was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.)

Prayer focus: Some of the statistical increase in alcohol abuse is among veterans who, many times, come home from fields of battle without receiving the medical and emotional support they need and deserve. Here is a potential door of ministry for the Church to reach out in love and non-judgmental ministry. Pray that people addicted to alcohol and drugs will find help, support, and freedom in Christ.

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.” (Ps. 145:18-19)

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Ps. 147:3)



While America was undoubtedly founded upon a bedrock of religious freedom, it is equally true that the Christian faith has been probably the greatest contributor to the social fabric of this country.

Even as the country seems to drift away from Christian values, there are still far more people in church on Sunday than at the football stadium. Despite the fact that gay marriage and out-of-wedlock births have become more prevalent, the overwhelming majority of Americans continue to celebrate the Christian holidays. In fact, the reason why many homosexuals seem to have fought for the right to marry is not because they merely want the same social benefits and legal rights as heterosexual married couples, but they also crave the spiritual and communal benefits bestowed upon marriage by the Christian faith.

The debate over whether one can be both a practicing homosexual and a devout Christian has been waged from the pulpits and in the media very intensely over the years. Many Christians see such practices as homosexuality, abortion and sex outside of marriage as sinful and something that Christian values militate against. Many homosexuals in the church feel that God loves sinners, for who is without sin at all?

At the end of the day, Christian values still matter because even those among us who are not Christian rely upon the Christian values among the rest of us, on Christian kindness, patience, charity and chastity. For it is those values that create spaces, whether in soup kitchens, homes for the sick and elderly or safe places of refuge for everyone.

In fact, Christian values act as a sort of spiritual inoculation for the country. Like vaccines, values prevent the spread of harm, both physically and spiritually. The value that upholds the sanctity of life protects against murder, mayhem and physical abuse of people at the hands of their neighbors. The value that upholds the sanctity of marriage preserves families and affords children the opportunity to grow up in a loving, stable environment, surrounded by parents who are committed by faith to work toward a higher spiritual union. The sanctity of marriage helps preserve bloodlines and reduces the confusion and hurt that arises when parentage becomes uncertain. The value that says one must not covet one’s neighbor’s belongings inoculates society against the ravages of jealousy, theft and enmity.

Once a sizable number of people in a society receive inoculation against a disease — say, measles or polio — it reduces the overall number of people in the society who are susceptible to the germs, and so even those who don’t get the direct vaccine benefit. It is the same with Christian values. Because so many Americans have grown up with Christian values — even those who no longer actively practice the religion — it benefits those who do not practice those values.

And so people who do covet, who do steal, who do kill nonetheless live in a society in which their actions are not immediately met with unbridled recrimination and endless blood lust. For the most part, they too are treated justly and humanely, even when they are caught and punished.

We have grown so comfortable as a society with the benefits of Christian values that we don’t really know any alternative. We have never lived in a society in which the strongest rule by might. We have not experienced a society in which someone in power can take another person’s wife or daughter and have his way with her. We are in a sense inoculated against social harms — not just by the letter and power of the law — but because, for the most part, our neighbors are good and decent Christians.

But these days there are a growing number of people who are opting out of getting basic vaccines for their children — the anti-vaxxers, as they are known. They look around and say, ‘Hey, no one I know has ever caught tetanus or polio. Why should I even bother with getting my child vaccinated?’ And then from there, egged on by their friends, they make all kinds of specious arguments about whether vaccines needlessly overload the immune system of children and make them susceptible to other conditions like autism.

However, the fact is that the science is clear: Vaccines have clearly eradicated many diseases that once killed millions of Americans each year, and there is absolutely no known scientific correlation between increase in vaccine usage and the increase in autism.

It is the same with Christian values. There are people who wake up in the morning and say, ‘Well, I’m a nice person who obeys the law and pays my taxes. Why should I care about those Christian values?’ The fact of the matter is that those values were implemented long ago in a society in ancient Egypt where it was commonplace for people to steal from, deceive and do violence against one another. The problem was especially prevalent among the more politically powerful — those who thought they were immune to legal justice. But then the society just got so corrupt that God ultimately destroyed it — or rather, it destroyed itself because of inbreeding and corruption.

Even as Christianity comes under attack in the secular media, and as Christians, in many cases, are ridiculed as backwards or ignorant, it is Christian values that form the thread that holds the social fabric together. And even those who would deny its truth cannot help but benefit from its protections. (Contributor: By Armstrong Williams for The Washington Times)

Pray that America's Christians will demonstrate the love that our Lord has for His creation in ways that will move upon the hearts of the lost souls throughout the land. Pray for the salvation of those who are lost in this world of sin while there is yet time.

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men;" 1 Timothy 2:1-6 (KJV)



The future of Obamacare teeters, waiting for a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, and many Americans are concerned over budget-breaking rate increases in their health insurance coming in 2016. Proposed rates from major insurance companies look to be arriving on a runaway train and those Americans appear to be tied up and lying across the tracks. This was not the way President Obama promised it would be.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have posted online a list of insurers by state that propose rate increases of 10 percent or higher for next year. In New York, for example, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Empire Health Choice and Excellus are among companies requesting an average increase of almost 16 percent. Insurers in South Carolina, which include Aetna, Consumers’ Choice and Coventry, want to increase premiums by nearly 28 percent. Insurers cite unexpectedly heavy use of medical services by policyholders.

Consumers can only cross their fingers that insurance regulators slash those eye-popping figures. Salaries increased merely 2.6 percent on average for the 12-month period ending in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and only 1.6 percent for the year before that. Double-digit premium increases for families besieged by bills and declining ability to pay them, are as frightening as a shark in the swimming pool.

Moving the goalposts is standard operating procedure for the Obama administration. Though the White House had originally anticipated 13 million enrollees by its target date of March 31, it cut that goal to 9 million to enable it to “celebrate” when the total reached 10.2 million. But no one can move the goalposts far enough to accommodate Mr. Obama’s pledge, made in 2007 when he was a mere senator, that the insurance scheme he would deliver would “cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.” The average annual family premium in 2014 was $16,834, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and that was 26 percent higher than in 2009, when Mr. Obama took office.

A much larger threat than exploding premiums could bring Obamacare tumbling to an early grave this month. The U.S. Supreme Court is to decide in King v. Burwell whether the law as written extends federal subsidies to residents of the 34 states that declined to establish Obamacare exchanges. If the high court decides that subsidies were meant only for enrollees in state exchanges, as the law plainly states, 6.4 million Americans would be required to pay the full cost of their coverage — an amount adding up to $1.7 billion a month nationwide. Many hanging onto a budget by a shoestring would likely drop their coverage, though Republicans in Congress are considering a temporary extension of subsidies.

Sometimes, the masterminds in Washington are too clever by half. Their robbing of $700 million from Medicare to pay for Obamacare, their wasting of another $700 million on unworkable Obamacare exchange websites for Massachusetts, Oregon, Maryland, Hawaii and Nevada, and their shifting of health care expenses from older, ailing Americans to the young, are of a piece with the wealth redistribution ploys that invariably doom pie-in-the-sky socialist schemes.

Americans have repeatedly given Mr. Obama the benefit of the doubt in the face of his incompetent judgment, but he has proved that he is in over his head as president. Obamacare is in critical condition, and the conundrum over how to pay the nation’s health care bill could wind up right where it was stuck six years ago — in the lap of Congress. As an interim measure, Congress could create a special inspector general for Obamacare to control the exploding costs of health care. Such a watchdog, independent of meddling and supervision, is clearly in order. (Contributor: By The Washington Times)

Pray that the Supreme Court's decisions regarding Obamacare litigation will reflect the heart of God's will for this nation.

"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:"   Proverbs 1:5



Some anniversaries are important, some are remembered and some are forgotten. One of the most important anniversaries in the history of Western civilization that must not be forgotten will be marked this week for the 800th time. The rights derived from the Magna Carta, by which the Constitution lives, guard the lives of every American.

In an ahistorical contemporary society, where our schools and universities relegate the story of the past to the dustbin of history, it is good and proper to pause for a moment to remind ourselves how important was this moment in our history. The Magna Carta, whose spirit survived though often abused, is the cornerstone of the framework of modern society.

Ironically, the participants in the events which led to the 4,000-word document, inscribed in Latin on sheepskin parchment and sealed at Runnymede on the Thames near London, were likely unaware of their momentous undertaking. It was, after all, first an account of weights and measures, the placement of fish-traps, the treatment of French mercenaries and Welsh hostages. It was the product of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s attempt to prevent a war between King John and the English aristocrats, and failed to do that. King John immediately called on Pope Innocent III to annul it, which he did. War broke out, anyway.

Yet the very fact that a document had been signed which established the rights of the aristocrats, if not the people, curbed the authority of an absolute monarch and set a precedent that would eventually include the people, too. With considerable “editing,” the Magna Carta Liberatum — “the Great Charter of the Liberties” — was reissued in 1216, and again in 1217, this time with a memorable pledge that “neither we nor our heirs will determine anything by which the liberties contained in this charter be violated or weakened.” Over the centuries, British king after king called up ‘the Great Charter” as the basis of reaffirmation that they shared their power, first with the aristocracy, and then, if grudgingly, with the Parliament.

The fact that the original document concerned itself with mundane economic problems might have saved it. Section 39: “No free man shall be taken or imprisoned, or dispossessed or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go or send against him except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” Section 40: “To no one will we deny or delay right or justice.”

These additions were meant to arm the barons against the king, and it was these additions that established rights of free men, and armed them against the arbitrary whims and ambitions of rulers, and put them on the long and steady march of the Anglo-Saxon societies toward the representative governments we know today.

These concepts are still under attack in many parts of the world, and not only in the parts of the world beyond the seas separating the Old World from the New. Governments everywhere give up rights slowly and reluctantly, as the history of the Great Charter of the Liberties amply demonstrates. Celebrating the Magna Carta thus becomes an obligation, not mere ceremony. (Contributor: By The Washington Times)

Offer thanks unto the Lord for the recognition of the liberties from God that have been recognized by men in authority through the centuries and honored by freedom minded nations which are expressed by documents like the Magna Carta and the U.S. Bill of Rights to name a few.

"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." John 8:36



A controversial Obama administration plan to cede oversight of the non-profit that manages the Internet's infrastructure is on track to gain government approval by next year's presidential elections, the organization's chief said in an interview.

Some Republican lawmakers have raised concerns about the plan to hand over the stewardship of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to a global multi-stakeholder body, worried that it may allow other countries to capture control.

But ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé said such opposition was fading and that some opponents would come around once they see the accountability mechanisms and other assurances put in place.

"I think they see now that this is actually a good thing for the Internet. The fragmentation of the Internet is bad for everyone," he said.

"I'm never comfortable, but I am optimistic and I believe that all interests are now aligned... Everybody sees that this makes sense."

Since 1998, the United States, which gave birth to the Internet, has contracted out, through the Commerce Department, the management of the master database for top-level domain names like .com and .net and their corresponding numeric addresses to ICANN.

The Commerce Department has long expected to phase out its oversight and planned to do it at the end of the current ICANN contract in September, though the timing may slip slightly and may require an extension.

ICANN members are working to draft a proposal for how the group would operate as an independent body run by stakeholders from across the world, including academics and business and government representatives.

Chehadé, who plans to leave ICANN in March, said the community should produce the proposal by the end of the year for the U.S. government, including the administration and Congress, to review. He said the review process, according to government estimates, would take 60 to 90 days.

Chehadé said he remained optimistic that those steps could be concluded before the U.S presidential election in November 2016, which may result in a Republican hostile to an ICANN power shift controlling the White House.

Once the review process was completed, ICANN members would work to implement the plan. It remains unclear how long that process would take.

The White House on Tuesday issued a veto threat to a bill proposed in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that would restrict the Commerce Department's ability to use its funding to relinquish ICANN oversight. (Contributor: By Alina Selyukh for Reuters News Service - Editing by Christian Plumb)

Prayer focus: In the midst of many irritating and aggravating news articles, experienced intercessors find peace of mind by remembering two basic facts about their calling to pray. First, they meditate on God and His mighty power, reminding themselves that He is in control of all things. Second, they know God collects and keeps the prayers of His people and will act quickly to bring justice when He is ready. In this assurance, news stories are simply news stories.

“Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only  He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved…. My soul wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.” (Ps. 62:1-2, 5-6).



Last year’s high profile Supreme Court case involving Hobby Lobby has made the Christian world aware of some of the challenges produced by the Affordable Care Act. Whatever one’s political preferences and background, the fact that abortions and abortifacient drugs are mandated for all within the Act, does cause serious concern for Christian business leaders who take their faith seriously. What are the real issues here, and what can be done about it for the Christian community?

First, let’s address what is the key issue involved in these court cases brought by Christian businesses against the government. So far the media have mainly described these cases in terms of the anti-abortion/pro life issues. But really this is not at the crux of the matter, but rather just an expression of some of the issues. The government’s argument is that while the Constitution guarantees “Freedom of Worship” to people, it is government that actually controls what happens in the marketplace. Now of course, the Constitution says nothing about “freedom of worship,” but rather recognizes our God-given, inherent right to “Freedom of Religion.” This is a vital distinction, because in trying to reframe the argument in the language of “freedom of worship”, the government is effectively arguing that what happens in the context of worship (I.e. the practice of our faith within the faith environment of our churches) is up to us. But what happens in the marketplace is up to the government. On the contrary, our actual guarantee of freedom of religion is the freedom to practice our faith anywhere and everywhere, including in the marketplace.

If the Supreme Court were to effectively redefine “freedom of religion” to just mean “freedom of worship,” we would be on the road to the government also saying that we can’t have Bible studies at work and that a Christian baker has no right to decide whether or not they participate in a gay wedding by baking the wedding cake. Whatever you attitude on how the Christian couple should have handled being asked to bake a cake for a gay wedding, the legal issues are compellingly close to the issues surrounding the definition of marriage. It is these type of decisions that could lead to churches and other groups loosing their non-profit status if they refuse to comply with whatever decision will be made by the Supreme Court as to the nature of marriage. All of these issues are intertwined and impacted by every other decision of the courts.

Healthcare is one of the areas that is the focus of this line of reasoning. Hobby Lobby provides a really good quality health insurance for all of its full time employees. They are generous to a fault. But they don’t provide abortions or abortifacient drugs. The government is trying to force the issue by saying even if Hobby Lobby does not have to directly provide these services, they must be provided by the insurance company or the Third Party Administrator (TPA) who handles Hobby Lobby’s insurance plan. This means that Hobby Lobby still is effectively forced to pay for the costs of these services, but just under the insurance companies administrative budget rather than through the insurance premium. If we can’t force you to pay with your right hand, then we will force you to pay with your left!

How do we fight such tactics? Well, to start with, let’s follow the Biblical maxim to “be as wise as serpents and yet as innocent as doves!” If these battles are being won or lost in the courtroom, then we need to understand that issues and engage within the battlefield of the courts. Groups such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, among others, are at the forefront of such battles. We should pray for and actively support such groups.

Sedera Health is the company that I founded in 2014 to make sure Christian led companies are well represented in these battles. We actively work within the law to make sure that companies we work with to handle their healthcare costs are in compliance with the law’s mandates. But we also set up strategies, working alongside groups such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, to make sure that these companies are well prepared and effectively defended from the pressure of government trying to tell us how to live out our faith. No Christian business owner or CEO should be in the position of having to pay for the cost of abortions, including abortions for any of their own employees. Deuteronomy 8 tells us “that it is God who gives the power to create wealth in order that you may fulfill the covenant He confirmed to your ancestors.” Wealth generated is not for ungodly uses, but rather to honor the Lord.

Our faith should impact everything that we do. The Psalms teach us “that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” Within Sedera we have created a structure that applies the principles of the Biblical health care sharing model alongside a simple, ACA compliant minimum essential coverage pattern that allows companies to comply with the laws mandates even while providing the framework to fight the unjust imposition of ungodly requirements that go alongside the ACA’s regulatory environment.

We would love those of you seeing this article to pray for us as we seek to stand up for Jesus in the corporate world. Please also point Christian led companies to us so that we can show them how to comply effectively with the law even while helping to fight the very parts of the law that offend us as Christians. (Contributor: By Dr. Tony Dale Founder and CEO for Sedera Health)

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A first-of-its-kind lawsuit over whether Homosexual “conversion therapy” violates state consumer-fraud law is set to begin Tuesday in New Jersey.

Lawyers for four homosexual men and two of their mothers will tell a jury that their clients were tricked into believing counselors with Jews Offering Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) could relieve the men of their same-sex attraction.

Instead, the men and their mothers suffered emotional distress as a result of the therapy — which also failed to alter their homosexual [perversion] orientation — in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

“Conversion therapy is fraud, plain and simple,” said David Dinielli, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is part of the legal team representing the plaintiffs in Ferguson v. JONAH.

The lawsuit has national implications: The District of Columbia and three states — including New Jersey — have banned reparative or conversion therapy for teens and children, due to concerns that it is harmful and ineffective. The Illinois legislature passed a ban Friday, and more than a dozen states are considering similar bills.

“Love doesn’t need a cure,” said Rep. Ted W. Lieu, the California Democrat who introduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act in May.

Opponents of the bans say the therapy has been misrepresented for political purposes and the New Jersey case was launched to shut down debate on the issue of fluidity and change in sexuality. They also argue the bans represent an unwarranted intrusion into the relationship between a patient and his therapist.

The Southern Poverty Law Center wants to make this a test case, but it is “misusing the civil litigation system for essentially a political purpose,” said Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the board of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF). “There are lots and lots of people who have found this counseling helpful, and so the claim that it’s fraudulent is going to be fairly easy to overturn.”

The FCDF’s founder, Charles S. LiMandri, is a lead attorney for the defendants, which include the religious nonprofit group JONAH, its cofounder Arthur Goldberg, and affiliated counselor Alan Downing.

JONAH, named for the biblical prophet who fled God but repented and returned to fulfill his mission in Nineveh, was founded in 1998 to help Jews and others to address sexual issues, including “the false identity of homosexuality,” JONAH co-founder Elaine Silodor Berk said in an open letter issued a few years ago.

“Anything that the Torah forbids, the human being is able to control,” she wrote, citing the words of Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky.

The JONAH defendants are “not your typical target” in consumer fraud, Mr. LiMandri told the Associated Press in February. “They’re just trying to help people who are in distress get help if they want it.”

Defense briefs note that JONAH clients sign consent forms with a no-guarantee clause.

Mr. Dinielli, who spoke at Mr. Lieu’s May 19 press conference on his bill, said the four male plaintiffs — Michael Ferguson, Benjamin Unger, Sheldon Bruck and Chaim Levin — were raised in religious families “and were desperate to change from gay to straight.” But they were misled by JONAH and its affiliated therapists, who said “conversion therapy could heal them.”

Nothing in the therapy worked, including group sessions in which one client was told to hit an effigy of his mother with a tennis racket and a “sleep-away camp” where clients were encouraged to reenact traumatic events from their past “to reclaim their supposedly lost masculinity,” Mr. Dinielli said.

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. already has ruled that homosexuality cannot be described as a mental illness, disease or disorder, and lawyers for JONAH may not present certain people as experts or cite “success” statistics because JONAH has not tracked or maintained records on outcomes.

The jury will hear testimony on whether the defendants acted unlawfully, whether plaintiffs had ascertainable losses, and whether there was a causal relationship between the unlawful conduct and ascertainable loss. The case could involve constitutionally protected religious liberties if the jury decides that JONAH viewed homosexuality as “disordered” due to its religious views, Judge Bariso wrote.

The trial is expected to last for several weeks. (Contributor: By Cheryl Wetzstein for The Washington Times)

For prayer: From our perspective, JONAH no doubt represents good intentions but doesn’t appear to have a successful track record. The deeper issues of sexual identity are spiritual and require God’s intervention to heal through the Gospel and application of His Word to all of life. God’s purpose for men and women is reflected in the original couple, Adam and Eve. Pray for transforming revival, as the answers for a confused society must come through an awakened Church.

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Gen. 1:26-28)



The Supreme Court is soon to decide a case that could potentially impose same-sex marriage as a nationwide civil “right.” During one exchange in oral arguments in the case, Obama administration Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was asked by Justice Alito whether a religious school could lose its nonprofit status if it held that marriage is between one man and one woman. Here is the solicitor general’s response: “It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is it is going to be an issue.”

That certainly sounds like a “yes.” Will it end with religious schools? What about churches? Will Christian churches lose their nonprofit tax status if they hold firm to one of their foundational beliefs—a sacrament of their faith?

It is no exaggeration to say we are at a tipping point of one of the pillars of the American founding: Religious liberty. Can religious liberty be sustained in the America of today which understands itself, and the idea of liberty, in a different way than our forefathers did? John Adams, that venerable founder of our republic, once wrote that we are “a government of laws, not of men.”

To understand this statement, we need to understand what Adams meant when he used it. This idea of the rule of law, or of a government of laws rather than man, goes back to Aristotle. In his Politics, Aristotle makes it clear that law should govern a society, and men, even the good and qualified, should be only “guardians and ministers” of it. We see this idea again in Livy, when he writes, “Imperia legum potentiora fuerunt quam hominum” (roughly translated: government/command of laws is stronger than that of men). Why was this concept—already ancient by the eighteenth century—so important to the founding of our country, and how did they understand this concept?

We Need the Rule of Law Because We Are All Different

The Founders understood certain things when they established our republic. In “A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America,” Adams explains the need to have three branches of government, two in the legislature and one in the executive, with a judiciary to check all three. (I am using Adams’ use of the word “branches” here to indicate separate legislative houses as well as the executive, counter to our common contemporary understanding of the three “branches” as including the judiciary.)

He defends the need to set up the republic in this way based on this idea of a “government of laws,” and on Machiavelli’s warning in “Discourses on Livy” that “men never do good except out of necessity,” and that “in every republic there are two different tendencies, that of the people and that of the upper class, and that all of the laws which are passed in favour of liberty are born from the rift between the two.”

Laws that preserve and protect liberty, therefore, will arise out of a tension between people. (In our contemporary society, we tend to be more egalitarian and less class driven, but we retain group distinctions in the shape of special-interest groups vying for laws suitable to their specific agenda.) The branches into which our government’s power was separated are supposed to be suited to represent all sorts of majorities and minorities, and to keep and hold this tension as laws are made.

Moreover, these laws are not an end in themselves, nor is liberty found in the laws per se. Adams makes it clear that Livy nowhere “defined liberty to be subjection to the laws only.” In other words, our liberty as Americans (as the Founders saw it) does not come because we have a government of laws instead of a government of men.

Our liberty is a natural right protected via constant tension between all of our branches of government, representing the tensions between all of us as a people. It is through this tension that we ought to end up with equal and just laws that are good for society as a whole. This tension keeps our liberty from collapsing. This tension, bounded by our Constitution, keeps the individual desires of man in check.

Can the Constitution Still Protect Religious Liberty?

But, before we acquiesce to every possible minority with every possible claim, Adams says something else, something which should give us pause:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other. (emphasis added)

As early as 1776, he wrote the following in a letter to his first cousin, Zabdiel Adams:

Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, They may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies. (emphasis added)

This makes one wonder: If the majority of the people of this republic are no longer constrained by religion or morality, do we have any hope of saving our republic and securing lasting civil and religious liberties? If any minority seeks not to protect its liberty, but to subvert the moral conscience of the majority, does our majority have the conscience and morality to stand?

When the majority has already been steeped in the anti-moral doctrine that, effectively, “all ideas are equal,” the answer to these questions is clearly, “no.” Even if the most competent constitutional lawyers were to run around the country stamping out legal fires like the one in Houston several months back or Indiana recently, or the Supreme Court case just argued; if most people living in these United States no longer hold nor can agree on matters of religion or morality, how long before our Constitution, or “government of law,” collapses?

Asking this question sheds even more light on this idea of being a people governed by law rather than men: The logical conclusion of a collapsing moral and religious majority automatically collapses the laws of our nation. This is so because those guarding those laws requires men and women willing to uphold them. When the religion and morality intrinsically required to be “guardians and ministers” of our government of laws does not exist within the individual (or is enfeebled), we collapse into a nation governed by the whims of man.

I submit we have for some time been governed by the whims of men. Richard Samuelson wrote eloquently of this in his essay, “How John Adams Helps Explain the American Mind,” particularly in the final section, “Using the Administrative State to Remake America.”

What Is a Christian Response?

I know some Christians think “if we only had Christian laws in this country everything would be okay.” But this has historically been proven untrue, and the Founders knew it. Machiavelli in “Discourses on Livy” says we “must presume that all men are bad by nature; and that they will not fail to shew that natural depravity of heart.” He goes on to say that sooner or later this depravity comes out. Adams adds, “Machiavel’s translator remarks, that although this seems a harsh supposition, does not every Christian daily justify the truth of it, by confessing it before God and the world? And are we not expressly told the same in several passages of the holy scriptures, and in all systems of human philosophy?”

This may be hard to hear, but if we do not want to be hypocrites we must show our collapsing culture we can be honest even about ourselves, our own tendencies and temptations. We also are men of flesh and blood, and the only thing which tempers us is exactly what Adams said would be our only restraint—our religion and morality. As Thomas West and Douglas Jeffrey say in “The Rise and Fall of Constitutional Government,” “However superior the best among us may be in regard to wisdom and virtue, no creature of flesh and bones is exempt from self-interest. No one can be presumed free from the temptation to abuse power over others.”

Christians must hold in tension our personal desire for liberty, and religious liberty in particular, with the God-given desire to see the culture around us receive spiritual liberty from all the destructive desires which hold it in bondage. The best way we can do this, the best way I believe we can save this fragile and declined republic, is by going back to our founding principles—principles founded on the laws of nature and of nature’s God—even when rogue governors, tyrant judges, and media-enabled shout-downs are encroaching upon us.

Practically, this means in the public square we do our best to hold on to liberties we inherited from our Founding Fathers and keep those in tension with groups opposing us, while in the private sphere doing all we can to spiritually love our culture. The goal must be to bring, if we can, religion and morality back to our culture so that it is capable of desiring and keeping the patrimony of the Founders.

We must prepare for this to take a very long time, and along the way we will encounter setbacks: religious institutions losing tax-exempt status may or may not yet be one of the many we face. Our culture will give us repeated occasions to prove our integrity and sincerity. The fight is on two fronts: civil and spiritual. Both require our energy and commitment. Both require humility and peace-ability. (Contributor: By Luma Simms for The Federalist)

For prayer: This is a thought-provoking history lesson on the value of the U.S. Constitution. The nation’s founders placed “checks and balances” in federal government because they knew the sinful tendency of mankind to want to rule over others rather than be ruled by the law. Now the Constitution is often overturned or ignored, so the question is valid: Can we have religious liberty once again if we do not have a morally upright people who deserve it? The author says “yes” but envisions a long, arduous, and rocky road to restoration. Pray for national renewal, beginning in the Church..

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jer. 17:9-10)

“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17)    



Since the riots over robbery suspect Michael Brown’s death last summer in Ferguson, Mo., and several other deaths of black suspects, America has been awash in a “dialogue” about police and race.

Here’s the condensed narrative: Cops are bad, perps are oppressed, and crime is the product of racism and underfunded welfare programs. Disagree and you’re a racist.

Stung by an avalanche of bad publicity following the tragic death in police custody of Freddie Gray on April 19, the Baltimore police have retreated, booking half as many suspects as they did last year.

The result: In the first month after Mr. Gray’s death, 30 Baltimore homicides were recorded. Over Memorial Day weekend, despite the indictment of six police officers in Mr. Gray’s death, 28 shootings left nine more dead.

The pullback began during the Gray riots, about which Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake acknowledged giving “those who wished to destroy space to do that.”

Here’s a retired officer’s take: “You get sworn in to uphold the law. We would never give anyone ‘space’ to ‘destroy.’ ” Regarding the indictments, he said, “I’m not going to say they all acted perfectly, but this is nothing but riot control, and everyone knows it. Well, the riots are going to be after the acquittals.”

In Cleveland, the Justice Department announced a settlement on May 26. Cops must submit paperwork every time they unholster a gun, whether or not it’s fired. They can’t use neck holds and can use force against someone who is handcuffed only if it is “objectively reasonable and necessary to stop an assault or an escape.” They can’t fire warning shots, and cannot use force against people “who only verbally confront them.”

“Some of that’s reasonable,” my police friend said. “We couldn’t fire warning shots, because you might hit innocent people, or use neck holds. And you should use force only if the guy is a threat. But this stuff about not taking your gun out? Say it’s 2 or 3 in the morning and you’re approaching a vehicle in the dark. Sure you have your gun out, because [suspects] sure don’t keep theirs holstered. I know an officer who got shot right in the face.”

Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson said the rules are “built on the strong foundation of progressive change, sustained trust and accountability.” But Great Society “progress” over the last 50 years has destroyed the black family, turning many urban areas into hellholes.

The settlement came after a white Cleveland officer was acquitted in the fatal shooting of two unarmed blacks in 2012, and follows a Justice Department report in December accusing Cleveland cops of using “excessive force.”

Police are under fire all over the country. The Justice Department is investigating more than 20 departments and has 16 agreements with law enforcement agencies, including consent decrees with Baltimore and eight other cities.

The deaths that sparked outrage are tragic for the families and communities, and there is little doubt that some police can be guilty of abuse and excessive force. But the attacks on police will not make blighted areas any safer. In Baltimore, reducing police presence has emboldened armed criminals and turned residents into inmates in their own homes.

As New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani showed during the 1990s, policing even minor crimes greatly reduces major crime. Under current Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has eased enforcement, New York City is becoming less safe, with Manhattan’s murder rate up 45 percent this year over last year.

None of this seems to impress liberal pundits. In a blog post on the American Civil Liberties Union’s website, Salon writer Jason Williamson lamented the Michigan city of Grand Rapids’ police tactics, saying they’re racist.

“Between 2011 and 2013, the Grand Rapids Police Department either cited or arrested approximately 560 people for trespassing on business property ” Mr. Williamson writes. “In a city in which black people make up roughly 20 percent of the population, 59 percent of those detained for trespassing under this policy were black.”

The bias claim is worth examining, but crime has gone down in Grand Rapids in all categories. Rapes went from 90 in 2010 to 46 in 2012; thefts from 7,050 in 2005 to 4,433 in 2012; murders from 22 in 2006 to 10 in 2011.

Apart from cultural change and policies restoring marriage and families, aggressive policing is the best way to lessen crime, but it’s become problematic in the cop-bashing climate.

Could anyone now blame officers for avoiding scenes that could easily explode, leaving them as poster children for racism and police violence?

“You’re not really risking your career anymore; you’re risking your freedom,” my friend the cop said. “They’re looking to put officers away for life. Citizens need to think about what this means, when police say, ‘I’m in no hurry to get there.’ “

As we’re seeing in Baltimore, the thin blue line against chaos can be very thin, indeed. (Contributor: By Robert Knight for The Washington Times - Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a Washington Times contributor.)

For prayer: The author notes the increasingly difficult job the police have in today’s crime-ridden society. He says, “Apart from cultural change and policies restoring marriage and families, aggressive policing is the best way to lessen crime, but it’s become problematic…” Give thanks for the majority of police officers who approach their jobs with integrity. Pray for their safety and for wisdom as they seek to uphold the law, protect the public, and apprehend criminals. Many risk their lives daily. Pray for families who have lost loved ones and who need God’s comfort.

Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. … Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear…  Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms.” (Rom. 13:1, 3-5, The Message)



The IRS believes that a major cyber breach that allowed criminals to steal the tax returns of more than 100,000 people originated in Russia, two sources briefed on the data theft tell CNN.

On Tuesday, the Internal Revenue Service announced that organized crime syndicates used personal data obtained elsewhere to access tax information, which they then used to file $50 million in fraudulent tax refunds.

The IRS said the agency's Criminal Investigation Unit and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration are investigating the origins of the breach. The agency also alerted the Homeland Security Department of the breach, a DHS official confirmed. On Thursday, the FBI announced it had also opened an investigation into the incident.

An IRS spokeswoman said the agency does not discuss ongoing investigations.

The news that the IRS data breach is believed to have originated in Russia comes on the heels of the disclosure that Russian hackers had infiltrated both the White House and State Department computer systems.

The security of taxpayer data has been an IRS problem for years. In an October report, the IRS' independent watchdog called it the agency's number one problem.

"Computer security has been problematic for the IRS since 1997," according to the report.

And the new breach has lawmakers on Capitol Hill demanding answers.

Calling it the first step of many, Republican Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch announced Wednesday that he plans to haul IRS Commissioner John Koskinen before his committee next week to explain what happened and who is to blame.

"When the federal government fails to protect private and confidential taxpayer information, Congress must act," Hatch said.

Between February and May, criminals tried to access the tax accounts of 200,000 people, succeeding in about half the attempts, the IRS said. The agency said it plans to notify all 200,000 people to tell them that third parties appear to have access to their Social Security numbers and other personal information.

The roughly 100,000 taxpayers whose tax information was accessed will be offered free credit monitoring, the agency said. (Contributor: By Chris Frates for CNN)

For prayer: Is this a portent of the future? Has international spying and law-breaking at the technical level become so rampant that our government cannot guarantee U.S. citizen safety and privacy? This is a terrible blow to those affected, as well as to U.S. government cyber security. The reputation of the IRS is already deeply tarnished. Our nation is in serious decline spiritually. Are we desperate enough to turn back to God? Pray accordingly. America desperately needs God’s mercy and spiritual renewal.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Ps. 127:1)



U.S. military pilots carrying out the air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are voicing growing discontent over what they say are heavy-handed rules of engagement hindering them from striking targets.

They blame a bureaucracy that does not allow for quick decision-making. One Navy F-18 pilot who has flown missions against ISIS voiced his frustration to Fox News, saying: "There were times I had groups of ISIS fighters in my sights, but couldn't get clearance to engage.”

He added, “They probably killed innocent people and spread evil because of my inability to kill them. It was frustrating."

Sources close to the air war against ISIS told Fox News that strike missions take, on average, just under an hour, from a pilot requesting permission to strike an ISIS target to a weapon leaving the wing.

A spokesman for the U.S. Air Force’s Central Command pushed back: “We refute the idea that close air support strikes take 'an hour on average'. Depending on the how complex the target environment is, a strike could take place in less than 10 minutes or it could take much longer.

"As our leaders have said, this is a long-term fight, and we will not alienate civilians, the Iraqi government or our coalition partners by striking targets indiscriminately."

A former U.S. Air Force general who led air campaigns over Iraq and Afghanistan also said today's pilots are being "micromanaged," and the process for ordering strikes is slow -- squandering valuable minutes and making it possible for the enemy to escape.

“You're talking about hours in some cases, which by that time the particular tactical target left the area and or the aircraft has run out of fuel. These are excessive procedures that are handing our adversary an advantage,” said retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, a former director of the Combined Air Operations Center in Afghanistan in 2001.

Deptula also contrasted the current air campaign against ISIS with past air campaigns.

The U.S.-led airstrikes over Iraq during the first Gulf War averaged 1,125 strike sorties per day, according to Deptula. He said the Kosovo campaign averaged 135 strikes per day. In 2003, the famous “shock and awe” campaign over Iraq saw 800 strikes per day.

According to the U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS, U.S. military aircraft carry out 80 percent of the strikes against ISIS and average 14 per day.

Deptula blames the White House for the bottleneck.

“The ultimate guidance rests in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said. “We have been applying air power like a rain shower or a drizzle -- for it to be effective, it needs to be applied like a thunderstorm.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., recently complained that 75 percent of pilots are returning without dropping any ordnance, due to delays in decision-making up the chain of command.

A senior defense official at the Pentagon pushed back on the comparisons between the air war against ISIS and past air campaigns.

“The Gulf War and Kosovo are not reasonable comparisons. In those instances, we were fighting conventional forces. Today, we are supporting a fight against terrorists who blend into the civilian population,” he said. “Our threshold for civilian casualties and collateral damage is low. We don’t want to own this fight. We have reliable partners on the ground.”

McCain, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, also called for “forward air controllers,” as well as special forces and “more of those kind of raids that were so successful into Syria.”

Another former U.S. Air Force general agreed. “We need to get somebody to find the targets and [U.S.] airpower will blow them up ... period,” said retired Gen. Charles F. Wald, former deputy commander of United States European Command

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Wednesday, Rep. Duncan Hunter asked the secretary to consider arming the Sunnis tribes in Anbar directly in order to defeat ISIS. Like McCain, Hunter also wants to “immediately embed special operators and ground-air controllers to support ground operations against IS[IS].”

But a defense official pushed back on Hunter’s plan to bypass Baghdad and arm the Sunni tribes directly, telling Fox News, “[the plan] doesn’t take into account the presence of Iran inside Iraq right now… there could be unintended consequences and restore a sectarian war.” (Contributor: By Lucas Tomlinson for Fox News)

For prayer: We have numerous incentives to pray for our military forces. This is just one aspect. Critics of President Obama as commander-in-chief (including those of his own political party) have said that he needs to trust his experienced officers and implement a better-defined, active plan to overcome and push back the gains of the Islamic State. Pray for unity and wisdom as military leaders try to work amidst the dangers. Pray for the innocent, both Christians and Muslims, who are suffering in this seemingly endless conflict. Pray that our own country, which we love, will return to the Lord.

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1-4)



U.S. personnel working at an Army facility in Utah appeared to follow correctly all the outlined procedures to inactivate anthrax before they mistakenly shipped off live samples of the deadly bacteria, the Army's top general said on Thursday.

Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno said investigators were now reviewing the procedures themselves to determine why the bacteria was not rendered inactive.

"The best I can tell there was not human error," Odierno told reporters, cautioning that his information was based solely on preliminary reports.

U.S. officials disclosed on Wednesday that U.S. Army facilities mistakenly shipped live anthrax bacteria to laboratories in nine states and an air base in South Korea.

The Pentagon has said there was no known suspected infection or risk to the public.

But four U.S. civilians have started taking preventive measures called post-exposure prophylaxis, which usually includes the anthrax vaccine, antibiotics or both.

Twenty-two personnel at the base in South Korea were also given precautionary medical measures although none have shown sign of exposure.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun an investigation of the incident. Odierno said the CDC was reviewing whether "we have to change the procedures that are in place."

Odierno did not offer specifics and said he did not know how long the procedures had been in place.

"But we definitely believe no one is in danger. We believe we followed all the proper procedures," Odierno said.

The mishap comes 11 months after the CDC, one of the government's top civilian labs, similarly mishandled anthrax.

Researchers at a lab designed to handle extremely dangerous pathogens sent what they believed were killed samples of anthrax to another CDC lab, one with fewer safeguards and therefore not authorized to work with live anthrax.

Scores of CDC employees could have been exposed to the live anthrax, but none became ill.

That incident and a similar one last spring, in which CDC scientists shipped what they thought was a benign form of bird flu but which was actually a highly virulent strain, led U.S. lawmakers to fault a "dangerous pattern" of safety lapses at government labs.

In the latest case, the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah reported in March 2014 that gamma irradiation had inactivated the anthrax stock in question, and along with another Army facility, began shipments that continued through April 2015, a U.S. official said. (Contributor: By Phil Stewart for Reuters News - Additional reporting by Sharon Begley in New York and James Pearson in Seoul; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Further reading on this topic: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/06/01/anthrax-pentagon-scandal/28329125/

For prayer: This is one of those “what if?” articles that we need to be aware of as “watchmen on the walls,” but it need not engender fear or panic. Instead, give thanks for the many faithful and careful CDC workers who handle dangerous materials daily so that we, the public, may be kept safe. Give thanks that no one was harmed in the present situation. We live in a potentially dangerous world, never knowing how much God’s mercy keeps us safe and protected every day. A thankful heart is pleasing to the Lord.

“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’” (Lam. 3:21-24)



A Christian businessman living in the heart of one of the most densely populated Muslim cities in the world has erected a 14-story cross of steel and concrete "as a symbol of God," the Washington Post has reported.

The cross, expected to be completed this summer, is a long-term project of 58-year-old real estate mogul Parvez Henry Gill. While not the tallest cross in the world, it will be the tallest in Asia and will loom over Karachi's largest Christian cemetery, a frequent target of vandals who desecrate Christian graves and statuary.

According to the Washington Post, Gill said he was told by God in a dream four years ago to "do something different." He wrestled with various ideas for months, but finally settled on the cross to call attention to the abuse the Christian minority in Pakistan faces.

"I said, 'I am going to build a big cross, higher than any in the world, in a Muslim country,' Gill told the newspaper. "It will be a symbol of God, and everybody who sees this will be worry-free."

How do you build a 140-foot-tall cross in the middle of an Islamic country? For Gill, the answer was to avoid telling everyone what he was doing.

Gill, who is from a well-known Christian family that has employed both Christian and Muslim workers, left the construction crew in the dark as they were building the structure. According to the Washington Post, once it became apparent the structure was a cross, 20 of the Muslim workers resigned.

Some, however, stayed on citing their long-term relationships with the Gill family. One, Mohammad Ali, works on the cross 14 hours a day, seven days a week. He referred to the cross as a "work of God," the newspaper said.

"Henry has supported me well over the years, helping with the birth of my [seven] children, with medicine, their education, so I don't need a daily wage," said Ali, 40.

When completed, the cross overlooking the Gora Qabristan Cemetery will likely attract the attention of militant Islamists in the city. While Gill avoids daring extremists to knock it down, he says its sturdy construction (a concrete base 20 feet deep, steel reinforced construction) makes it "bulletproof."

"If anyone tries to hit this cross, they will not succeed," Gill told the Washington Post.

After the cross is completed, Gill said it will be polished and lit so it can be seen from a great distance, whether night or day. He also told the newspaper he would like to hold a dedication ceremony with Pope Francis, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Queen Elizabeth II and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as guests.

Christians in Pakistan, who make up only 1.5 percent of the country's population of 180 million, have suffered brutal persecution at the hands of Islamists in recent years. Strict blasphemy laws make even perceived offenses the cause of beatings and murder. Suicide bombings are common. Persecution often comes in the form of desecration of Christian graves like those in the Gora Qabristan Cemetery.

Most of Pakistan's Christians, about 1 million of them, live in Karachi near where the cross is being built. Persistent poverty, persecution and a lack of employment opportunities have caused those who are able to flee to leave the country. Gill said he hopes the cross will serve as motivation for Christians to stay in the country as a witness to other.

"I want Christian people to see it and decide to stay here," Gill told the Washington Post.

Asked how much the cross has cost, Gill told the newspaper he hasn't kept a record of costs. He and his sons simply pay the bills as they come in. And he said he is not worried about safety and security for himself or the cross. He regularly prays Psalm 91, in which God promises protection for believers, he told the newspaper.

America's tallest cross is in St. Augustine, Florida where at 208 feet high it marks the spot where it says "in 1565 the cross of Christianity was first planted in what is now the United States." (Contributor: By Gregory Tomlin for Christian Examiner)

For prayer: Pray for Mr. Gill’s safety and for the effectiveness of the witness he is trying to share by building and setting up of the largest cross in the Middle East. We have other reports that Muslims are turning to Jesus Christ in many Muslim strongholds. May this representation of the cross bear fruit.

“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14)



Obama administration attorneys urged a skeptical federal judge on Thursday to throw out a lawsuit by House Republicans over the president's health care law.

"The House cannot sue the executive branch over the implementation of existing federal law," Justice Department attorney Joel McElvain told U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in the first hearing on the politically charged case.

Collyer peppered him with questions, at one point asking, "You don't really believe that, do you?" and telling him, "I have a very hard time taking that statement seriously."

She seemed more receptive to the House's position that the administration has acted unconstitutionally in how it has implemented the law. At issue are payments to insurance companies not expressly appropriated by Congress but being made by the administration, anyway.

The House argues this constitutes an unconstitutional appropriation of Congress' power of the purse.

"We believe we have established what can only be viewed as a concrete injury," George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley argued for the House.

About an hour into the proceedings, Collyer, a 2003 appointee of Republican President George W. Bush, called a brief recess, after which the hearing was to resume.

The hearing comes as the Obama administration and lawmakers of both parties anxiously await a Supreme Court ruling on a different lawsuit that challenges other portions of the health law and threatens insurance subsidies for millions of Americans.

The House suit, authorized by frustrated House Republicans last summer over strenuous objections from Democrats, may not make it that far. Previous attempts by members of Congress to sue past administrations have been tossed out, although the House health lawsuit is the first by the full House against a sitting president.

In the lawsuit, the House contends that the Obama administration usurped the legislative role reserved for Congress by acting administratively to approve certain payments to insurers and delay deadlines in the law without Congress' say-so.

"This case addresses fundamental issues regarding the limits of executive power under our constitutional form of government," attorneys for the House said in court filings ahead of Thursday's hearing. "One fundamental tenet of our divided-power system of government is that all legislative power is vested in Congress, and Congress alone."

Government attorneys argued that the House could show no direct injury and instead based its lawsuit on general objections to how the Obama administration is implementing the law, which they said doesn't justify its suit.

"This novel tactic is unprecedented, and for good reason: The House has no standing to bring this suit," Justice Department attorneys argued. "The House here asserts only that the executive branch is implementing statutory provisions, which were enacted by a previous Congress, in a manner different from what the current House would prefer."

The lead attorney for the House is prominent George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley, who took the case on after two previous attorneys bowed out.

In a statement ahead of the hearing, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said: "The very fact that the administration wants to avoid scrutiny — judicial or otherwise — shows you why this challenge is so important. No one — especially no president — is above accountability to the Constitution and the rule of law."

House Republicans have voted more than 50 times to uproot all or pieces of the law known as "Obamacare," but have no hope of prevailing legislatively as long as President Barack Obama is in the White House.

"Over 16 million people now have health care. Women are no longer discriminated against. There's no longer discrimination for preexisting conditions. Young adults can stay on their parents' plan. So we are very proud of the Affordable Care Act, notwithstanding Republican partisan attempts to dismantle it," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Wednesday. (Contributor: By The Associated Press)

For prayer: The controversy over what is known as “Obamacare” continues to swirl around the president and his administration. Many concerns hark back to the proven deceitfulness and numerous specific lies the American public endured while the complicated law was set up. Now in the courts, the root issues will not easily be resolved. Pray that people in this plan will have the care and coverage they are paying for when they need it. The moral high road and (at one time) the American way is to give people the facts and let them decide. Pray for truth to emerge. The truth sets us free!

“Then Jesus said … ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. … Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.’” (John 8:31-32, 36)



Some of us now struggle to recognize the culture we live in. We are profoundly baffled and greatly disturbed by what seems like a complete inversion of values.

The zeitgeist looks at actions that to us seem utterly unremarkable and treats them as major social sins or even illegalities. Yet when other actions strike us as jaw-droppingly outrageous or corrupt, the larger culture shrugs without concern.

If nearly half the culture acts and believes in ways that are alien to us, but they are backed by the establishment media hordes, then we in the other half feel utterly adrift — or, as the Robert Heinlein title put it, strangers in a strange land.

Take, for example, the burgeoning controversies surrounding Hillary Clinton, which may finally be gaining a little traction in public consciousness — though the traction may be fleeting. What seems alien to us is that these scandals should be stampeding their way through every newscast and every front page of every newspaper, every day. Indeed, by rights, we should see one aspect of the many interlaced Hillary controversies as perhaps the biggest scandal in American governmental history.

Think about it. What’s the bigger story, the one that involves the more venal behavior while potentially harming the lives of more Americans: 1) a few goobers rifling through the office of the opposing political party and then having the president’s men try to cover up the petty hanky-panky; or 2) a former president and husband of the then-current secretary of state making hundreds of thousands of dollars while the couple’s foundation gets millions, in a deal approved by the former first lady’s own State Department, which results in about half of this nation’s uranium falling under the effective control of the proto-fascist, anti-American leader of the nation with the world’s second biggest store of nuclear weapons?

The Clintons aren’t mere grifters. They are in their own level of grifter superstardom while putting all the rest of us at substantially greater risk of annihilation.

Yet much of the media covers this story with the enthusiasm of a six-year-old swallowing castor oil, and much of the public still thinks Hillary is a minor deity. A goodly number of Americans apparently are aware of the scandal yet still fall at her feet.

They likewise excuse Barack Obama’s lies about “keeping your doctor” or “keeping your insurance plan” if you like them; they see him say harsh, even nasty things about his adversaries in a way prior presidents have rarely or never done, and generally coarsen public discourse, yet they still think he’s likeable. They say they believe quarterback Tom Brady cheated but say in the next breath that he’s a good role model for children.

These are somewhat random examples, but the theme is consistent: Behavior that once would have earned near-universal opprobrium or, in the case of the Clintons’ uranium deal, white-hot anger, now barely raises an eyebrow.

And this isn’t even to delve into the general coarseness of the culture that positively celebrates depravities — and splashes them across the glossy pages of, say, People magazine — among elites of Hollywood, the music industry, and other walks of life. (Literally as I was writing this, a commercial aired on my TV advertising the third season of the ABC show Mistresses. In prime time. Enough said.) It’s Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s “defining deviancy down” to a degree Moynihan himself may have found astonishing.

Yet at the same time that we old-school types are bombarded by cultural rot of every kind, we also are hounded by what Charles Krauthammer called “defining deviancy up.” He wrote: "There is a complimentary social phenomenon that goes with defining deviancy down. As part of the vast social project of moral leveling, it is not enough for the deviant to be normalized, the normal must be found to be deviant. Large areas of ordinary behavior hitherto considered benign have had their threshold radically redefined up, so that once-innocent behavior now stands condemned as deviant. Normal middle-class life then stands exposed as the true home of violence, abuse, misogyny, a whole category of deviant acting and thinking."

So we see, for example, college professors all over the country being disciplined or even fired for innocuous statements in class that random students find offensive. We see owners of various artistic businesses fined into oblivion for refusing to sell their artistic skills for ceremonies that violate their beliefs. We see ordinary words such as “arrogant,” “haughty,” and “thug” being denounced as racist (or sexist, or whatever). We see people taking offense at “micro-aggressions” that are neither aggressive nor even visible under ordinary social microscopes. We see parents sanctioned by the state for allowing their children to enjoy playgrounds unsupervised (oh, the horror, the horror). We see stories of verbal pleading leading to consensual sex that is later reclassified as rape. (Who knew that Bruce Springsteen in “Jungleland” was describing not romance but rape when he sang of “whispers of soft refusal, and then surrender”?)

We’re now told that we can’t spank a misbehaving child; that we can’t read Huckleberry Finn because it features the “n” word; that we can’t name sports teams in honor of Indians; that syllogistic or “linear” logic is culturally oppressive; that it’s offensive if we pray in public or say “Merry Christmas”; and that we can’t allow our own 20-year-olds to drink a glass of wine with us in our own homes as a civilizing part of a holiday meal, but that we’re disastrously prudish if we don’t give them condoms for the sex we should be glad they are engaging in as a necessary form of self-expression.

In short, we’re told that so much of what we know is good and normal is actually bad, while so much that’s objectively awful is actually no big deal or even something worth admiring. Nothing looks the same. The values, the culture, the standards, the frames of reference: All are skewed, tumped over, deconstructed, disorienting. We feel like we’re in a phantasmagoria, a Moody Blues lament in which “red is gray and yellow, white” — except that, unlike in the song, we are actually powerless “to decide which is right,” and the new cultural construct, unfortunately, is no illusion.

This isn’t only modernization we’re experiencing; it’s a veritable inversion of values and decency, and of the very nature of truth.

Among us relics of a bygone age, the debate is not whether the current state of affairs is atrocious; the debate is whether we’re only at a tipping point or instead already beyond it. The rough beast slouches ever closer, and we don’t know if we can stop him. We know, though, that we must try. (Contributor: By Quin Hillyer for National Review)

For prayer: A modern cliché says, “Abnormal is the new normal.” It’s all in perspective. When the Gospel came to Thessalonica (Acts 17), angry religious leaders said, “These who have turned the world upside down have come to our city.” That’s quite humorous. The truth was the opposite. Sin has turned us all “upside down” to God. The Gospel turns previously “upside down people” right-side up! As we live in and pray for our broken world, ask God to keep His people focused on His Word. In doing so, our perspective will be in line with God’s, who is “right-side” up! Note Paul’s testimony before King Agrippa about his own “turn-around” conversion and apostolic calling:

[“God said to me when I was converted,] ‘I will deliver you from [both Jews and Gentiles], to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’” (Acts 26:17-18)



Oklahoma legislators are protecting pastors in that state, even as homosexuals are asking them to perform "marriage" ceremonies.

Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law a bill that protects pastors and churches if they refuse to perform or host same-sex "marriage" ceremonies.

Timothy Tardibono of the Family Policy Institute of Oklahoma says the legislation is responding to the current moral and legal fight across the country. He cites religious freedoms that were once taken for granted – but not anymore.

"Because of the various cultural forces," he says, "we're having to put those religious freedoms into explicit language in statute."

A landmark decision is coming from the U.S. Supreme Court in June that conservatives fear will erode natural marriage laws across the country.

Homosexual activists, meanwhile, are demanding "marriage equality" while they go after bakeries, florists, photographers, and other wedding vendors.

OneNewsNow reported in recent days that Texas, like Oklahoma, has passed a state law that protects pastors.

Without the state law, says the Family Policy spokesman, there's the potential that same-gender couples could take action to force pastors to violate their religious beliefs.

Citing a non-discrimination policy, a city council in Kansas proposed an ordinance in 2012 that would have forced churches to rent their facilities to same-sex couples.

A retreat property in New Jersey, owned by the United Methodist Church, was forced by a judge to rent its facility to same-sex couples.

There's already a movement among the far-left to remove the tax-exempt status from churches, which some homosexuals tie to churches' stance against homosexual "marriage."

"Churches that lobby to have freedoms and rights taken away from ANYONE should absoutely have their 501(c)3 status revoke!" a Wyoming homosexual activist declared earlier this year in a Facebook post, a conservative website reported.

In 2004, 76 percent of Oklahoma voters declared natural marriage should be preserved as state law. Mirroring the pattern in other states, the state's marriage amendment was challenged in court and a federal appeals court overturned it last year.

Pastors took notice, says Tardibono, especially after their phones began ringing.

"They had three calls from couples asking if they could have a same-sex ceremony at their church, and done by their pastor," Tardibono tells OneNewsNow. (Contributor: By Charlie Butts for One News Now)

For prayer: Give thanks for Oklahoma’s stand to protect its pastors from having to perform same-sex “marriages.” However, here is an intercessory alert! In two to three weeks from this June 3 midweek Informer, the U.S. Supreme Court will present its joint decision on homosexual “marriage” rights. Will this deviant view become the law of the land? Many faithful and “faith-filled” Christian prayer leaders believe the court’s majority will make the wrong decision. Pray fervently they will not. But if so, everything about American life and religious freedom will change. Pray God’s mercy and grace for our nation. Remember, God’s Word does not change, but believers may face severe conflict.

“So [the religious leaders] called [Peter and John] and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’ So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.” (Acts 4:18-21)

On Watch in Washington June 3, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Informer May 27, 2015

On Watch in Washington May 27, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


The federal government spent $100 billion providing food assistance to Americans last year, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The lion’s share of spending comes from the food stamp program, which gave benefits to an average 46 million Americans in 2014, at a cost of $74.6 billion, according to a testimony from the GAO’s Director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security Kay E. Brown before the House Subcommittee on Nutrition Wednesday.

The national school lunch program was second, costing $11.3 billion, followed by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at $7.1 billion.

Other spending included $1.9 billion for nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico, and $10.7 million for the “Special Milk Program.”

Brown said there is a potential for overlap and “inefficient use of federal funds” due to the government’s “complex network of 18 food assistance programs, administered by three federal agencies,” which are unsure how effective the programs are.

“In 2010, research GAO reviewed suggested that participation in seven of these programs was associated with positive outcomes, such as improving nutrition among low-income households,” Brown said. “Little was known about the effectiveness of the remaining 11.”

The GAO provided a list of the 18 federal programs, which together served a total 109.9 million Americans in 2014. The list only provides the total number of participants for each program, and does not take into account the potential for individuals to participate in more than one program.

Brown said the GAO urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) address potential overlaps in their programs. The USDA commissioned a study on redundant programs in 2013, and then “decided to study the impact of participation in multiple food assistance programs on the nutritional status of participants.”

“While such a study will provide important information, it does not address GAO’s recommendation,” Brown said. “GAO continues to believe that further action is needed.” (Contributor: By Elizabeth Harrington for The Washington Free Beacon - Elizabeth Harrington is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Elizabeth graduated from Temple University in 2010. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, she worked as a staff writer for CNSNews.com.)

For prayer: It is no secret that the ever-expanding U.S. federal government has led, inevitably, to unavoidable waste, mismanagement, overlapping and competing authorities, non-accountability, “disappearance” of funds, and outright fraud. From “The Great society” onward, poverty issues and class struggles in America have not been solved but have continually increased. Until concerned, conservative citizens are willing to bring “Caesar” under control and into accountability through the ballot box, there will be no turning back. Please pray as conscience directs.

[Jesus said,] “‘Show Me the tax money.’ So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” (Matt. 25:19-21)



A court case working its way through the military justice system raises a basic question: Should a member of the military be allowed to post a religious passage in her place of work?

The case involves Monifa J. Sterling, a Marine veteran who was convicted in a court-martial at Camp Lejeune, N.C., of failing to go to an appointed place of duty, disrespecting a superior commissioned officer and four specifications of disobeying a lawful order. She was sentenced last year to a reduction in rank from lance corporal to private and given a bad-conduct discharge, a status that will stay on her military record and prohibits her from receiving benefits as a veteran.

It is a specific portion of Sterling’s past that is still in dispute, however. Sterling was found guilty of disobeying a lawful order in part because she refused to take down three signs in her workspace with the message: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” It’s a derivation of the biblical passage Isaiah 54:17, a motivational message that says that “no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper.”

Sterling, a Christian, had the message posted in three places around her computer – one for each part of the Holy Trinity, she said, according to court documents. Her boss, a staff sergeant, told her to take the signs down repeatedly, and did so herself when Sterling refused to do so. The senior Marine found their tone combative.

The case has been taken up by the Liberty Institute, a religious liberty advocacy group, and Paul D. Clement, a former solicitor general of the United States and current law professor at Georgetown University. Sterling should have been allowed to keep the religious signs in her Marine Corps office under provisions in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 federal law that granted broad freedom of religious expression, they argue.

A brief filed Tuesday by Sterling’s legal team requests that the case be reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which is considered one level below the U.S. Supreme Court. It comes after a lower court, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Appeals, denied another appeal with some similarities.

The new appeal says the lower court was wrong to say that there was no evidence that Sterling’s posting of the signs was an exercise of religion because it was never demonstrated to be “part of a system of religious belief.” The Navy-Marine Corps appeals court noted that Sterling had never told her staff sergeant that the signs had a religious connotation, and it was reasonable for her to assume that Sterling had simply posted reminders for herself that adversaries could not harm her.

The Navy-Marine Corp appeals court also ruled that the judge in Sterling’s original case was right to rule on whether removing the sign had a valid military purpose, something Sterling contested.

“Military orders are presumed to be lawful and are disobeyed at the subordinate’s peril,” the appeals court found.

Sterling’s lawyers argue that it was unreasonable for the Navy-Marine Corps appeals court to ignore the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“There can be little doubt that the [appeals court’s] improperly narrow construction of ‘exercise of religion’ was materially prejudicial to LCPl Sterling’s substantial rights, for under a correct interpretation of that term, her conduct plainly constituted an ‘exercise of religion’ ” subject to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, said the new request for a review by the higher court.

An attorney at the Liberty Institute, Michael Berry, said that if Sterling wins her appeal and the case is ultimately re-tried, legal protections exist so that Sterling could not be sentenced to a stiffer punishment. It’s also possible the Marine Corps could simply decide to let the case go, especially since she already has left the service.

“A lot of times, they end up just saying ‘You know what? I feel like they got their pound of flesh, and they’re ready to move on,’ ” said Berry, a former Marine lawyer who is now senior counsel of military affairs for the Liberty Institute.

Expunging the bad-conduct discharge from Sterling’s record would have life-long implications for her, Berry added. Any time she applies for a job now and lists her military service, the punishment is listed.

The Marine Corps did not respond to a request Wednesday for comment. It’s unclear whether the higher court will take up the case, but a decision is likely later this summer, Berry said.

At least one other religious liberty advocate thinks the lower court’s findings should be left in place. Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the Marines appear to have handled Sterling’s case right the first time. His organization regularly advocates for keeping religion out of the military.

“We are a secular nation, and particularly so in the U.S. military,” he said.

Weinstein cited the 1974 Supreme Court case “Parker vs. Levy,” which held that the military is a “specialized society from civilian society” where stricter guidelines on free speech are permitted. They are necessary to maintain unit cohesion, Weinstein said.

But Berry said that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and new instructions issued by the Pentagon last year, members of the military should be afforded the same religious freedoms as civilians.

“The standard applies inside the military as outside the military,” Berry said. “The same standard that applies to federal employees applies to military employees as well.” (Contributor: By Dan Lamothe for The Washington Post)

For prayer: It appears Marine veteran Monifa J. Sterling’s religious rights have been violated and she herself treated harshly for displaying a Bible verse in her work station. Please pray for her and that her case will be reviewed in a fair and non-prejudicial way at the Appeals Court level. In such legal matters, we keep hearing of Mikey Weinstein, a self-professed atheist who actively campaigns against any mention of faith in military circles. Intercessors could serve this man by praying for his salvation. In doing so, Christians would seek to “bless” one who, at present, is an enemy of the Gospel.

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Pet. 3:12)

“’But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.’” (Luke 6:27-31)



Days of flash flooding, tornadoes and historic rainfall across central Texas and Oklahoma swept away hundreds of homes and left at least five people dead and a dozen missing, emergency officials said Monday.

Rescuers in helicopters and pontoon boats rushed to save stranded residents across the southern Plains states over the Memorial Day weekend, as severe storms led fast-rising waters to overflow rivers and roads during flooding that the National Weather Service called “catastrophic.”

More than 1,000 people were evacuated and at least five were killed during hours of vicious winds and drenching storms, including a 14-year-old Texan whose body was found Monday in a deluged storm drain, officials said.

A longtime Oklahoma firefighter was swept away and killed Saturday night in Claremore, a small town outside of Tulsa, while helping save trapped families gathered for a girl’s fifth birthday party, TV affiliate FOX 23 reported.

A high school senior in Devine, Tex., died amid violently surging floodwaters while driving home from her prom Saturday night, police said.

An unidentified man’s body was recovered in San Marcos, Tex., along a flooded bank of the Blanco River. A 33-year-old Tulsa woman was also killed in a traffic accident Saturday evening after the car she was driving was rammed by a hydroplaning truck, police said.

In Mexico, a tornado that tore through the border city of Ciudad Acuña on Monday decimated a seven-block swath and killed at least 13 people, including three infants, authorities said. Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed, and more than 200 people were rushed to hospitals.

Twelve people, including three children younger than 10, were said to be missing Monday after two families took shelter at a house that was destroyed in the small town of Wimberley, Tex., where officials said more than 350 homes have been washed away.

The town, on the bank of the Blanco River between Austin and San Antonio, was one of the hardest hit in the weekend floods. The river swelled more than 30 feet there within three hours Sunday, scattering wet wreckage and overrunning nearby Interstate 35.

Torrential rainfall hurt search efforts, washing away police cars and flooding a fire station in San Marcos. The Oklahoma City Fire Department said it had rescued more than 70 people amid pummeling storms.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday added 24 counties — including Hays — to the 13 that were declared states of disaster this month, allowing them to tap extra resources to aid with the crisis.

Officials instituted a curfew Monday for the second night in a row, warning residents to stay away from rubble-strewn areas.

Tornadoes and heavy winds Sunday battered buildings in Texas and along the Mexico border, including at a ravaged Houston apartment complex at which two people were hurt. Emergency officials in Texas estimated the area had suffered millions of dollars in damage.

Dallas faced severe floods from the Trinity River, which joined the Red and Wichita rivers in rising far above its normal level. The city saw more than three inches of rain Sunday, making it the wettest May 24 in more than a century.

The rain has added to the wettest May on record for cities in several southern Plains states. Oklahoma City, which received four inches of rain last year, has recorded more than 27 inches this year.

The rain brought an end to Texas’s extreme droughts, and officials said Monday they were bracing for another round of battering storms and several inches of rain.

“It’s not over,” Hays County Judge Bert Cobb told a news conference Monday. “The rain is still here.” (Contributor: By Drew Harwell for The Washington Post)

For prayer: From earthquakes and tornadoes to drought, followed by unprecedented flash flooding with numerous fatalities, the forces of nature appear to be pummeling planet Earth with deadly force. We have asked in these alerts before — and we do so without supposing we have knowledge of God’s intentions — but the question must be considered: Is God, who controls the weather and all these natural phenomena, working to get the attention of our nation’s leadership? And, with that, does He want an awakened Church to call out in unity, with repentance for His mercy? Is this a divine testing, as in the days of Job?

“I am the Lord, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things. Rain down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together. I, the Lord, have created it.” (Isa. 45:6-9)



China has vowed to step up its presence in the South China Sea in a provocative new military white paper, amid warnings that a US-China war is "inevitable" unless Washington drops its objections to Beijing's activities.

In the new policy document published on Tuesday, China outlined its plans to shift from a defensive military posture to placing emphasis on offensive capabilities.

Claiming that it faces a "grave and complex array of security threats", including challenges to its sovereignty over the South China Sea, the policy document released by the State Council says the military will step up its "open seas protection"

China's forces will no longer be limited to defence of the nation's territory but will project its military power further beyond its borders at sea and more assertively in the air in order to safeguard its maritime possessions, the white paper states.

While the air force will shift focus from "territorial air defence" to both offence and defence, the Chinese army will increase its global mobility and its artillery will improve its "medium and long-range precision strikes", it said.

In an editorial in The Global Times, a tabloid owned by the Chinese Communist Party through another newspaper, the paper described the construction of runways, harbour facilities and buildings on the disputed Spratly Islands as the nation's "most important bottom line".

The article – which appeared just days after a US aircraft ignored repeated warnings from the Chinese military to fly a reconnaissance mission over the islands – said Beijing does not want a conflict with the US, "but if it were to come, we have to accept it. (Contributor: By Julian Ryall for Telegraph)

For prayer: Last week we suggested in this space that China’s aggressive military stance in the South China Sea (often called “saber-rattling) was a signal to pray for the more dangerous implications of a possible U.S.-China confrontation on a broader level. Students of biblical prophecy have taught for years that a possible end-times configuration of nations might include a China-Russia confederation with focused hostility toward Israel. (See Ezek. 38.) Is this shaping up as a future scenario? Please intercede as led. In the end, no nation will “win.” Indeed, only God wins, and His purposes will triumph!

Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing…. To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? … He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless.” (Isa. 40:15, 18, 23)



Bishop John McAreavey, chair of the council for Justice & Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishop's Conference, told the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade that Christian persecution is at an "unprecedented" high, pointing to statistics that show 11 Christians are killed every hour of the day.

Citing a Pew Research survery, McAreavey told the committee that Christian persecution is being gravely underestimated, as "Christianity is now the world's most oppressed religious group, with persecution against them reported in 110 countries."

He continued: "Many of these countries have significant trade links with Ireland. Persecution is increasing in China. In North Korea a quarter of the country's Christians live in forced labour camps. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the Maldives all feature in the 10 worst places to be Christian.

"According to the International Society for Human Rights, a non-religious organization, 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed against Christians."

At least 100,000 Christians are killed every year because of their faith in Jesus Christ, McAreavey said, adding that an even greater number of believers are "being tortured, imprisoned, exiled, threatened, excluded, attacked and discriminated against on a widespread scale."

The bishop also shared statements from the Chief Rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, who recently said that the suffering of Christians in the Middle East is "one of the crimes against humanity of our time," comparing it to Jewish pogroms in Europe and asserted that he's "appalled at the lack of protest it has evoked."

The killing and torturing of Christians in the Middle East is "a threat to our common humanity and to the religious and cultural patrimony of the world" and places "peace and stability of the entire planet" at risk, the bishop continued.

McAreavey also addressed leaders of Western nations who've so far refuse to commit to helping Christians in the Middle East.

"Perhaps because of a fear of being seen as less than aggressively secular in their own country," he said, many governments of majority Christian countries in the West seem reluctant to give direct aid to churches and religious minorities."

He went on to argue that the West risks losing its own understanding of the importance of religion by ignoring the conflict in the Middle East and urged his fellow Catholics to appeal "to all governments and societies to affirm the vital importance of respecting the right to religious freedom and conscience as a fundamental principle of genuine pluralism in a tolerant society."

Some Christian leaders in the West have spoken out about the lack of aid persecuted Christians are receiving in the Middle East, including Rev. William Devlin of Infinity Bible Church in Bronx, New York.

Devlin has traveled to over 11 different countries including Kurdish Iraq where the persecution of Christians is rampant. He's urged other leaders to help by traveling to these nations with him, but told The Christian Post in an interview last week that he's disappointed in some of the excuses he's heard, with the number one reason being that the pastors cannot afford it.

As an answer to their excuses, Devlin said he will pay for pastors' airfare to travel to persecuted nations.

"My efforts are bearing fruit, and just hope that we can continue to get the call out there because I think it is a total embarrassment, it's a black eye in the face of Jesus that we are not going over there," said Devlin told CP.

Devlin plans to return to Iraq in July and hopes other pastors will go along with him.

Christian leaders from the East, such as Sister Diana Momeka, an Iraqi Catholic nun who was driven out of her home by ISIS in August of 2014, are also speaking out.

Momeka recently traveled to the U.S. to address Congress on the militant Islamic group's persecution of Christians in the region, and said the killing of believers could lead to the destruction of commonality between the Eastern and Western cultures if it continues.

"This is cultural and human genocide," she said during a congressional hearing on Wednesday, adding that the eradication of the Christian community has "placed the whole region on the edge of a terrible catastrophe."

"Christians have for centuries been the bridge that connects Eastern and Western cultures. Destroying this bridge will leave an isolated, inculturated conflict zone emptied of cultural and religious diversity." (Contributor: By Vincent Funaro for The Christian Post)

For Prayer: There is no biblical basis for Christians to “fight back” physically against persecution and martyrdom. Instead, we are instructed to identify with persecuted believers and to “battle” in faith through persevering prayer. Our major hindrance in spiritual warfare is often apathy and the larger Church’s disunity. Now, however, more Church leaders are raising unified voices to pray for and bring aid to “the suffering Church” around the world. We pray for those who kill Christians to repent and be saved. But we must not ignore Scripture that predicts the certainty of God’s vengeance and judgment on those who persecute and kill His people, and do not repent. The Thessalonians passage below is harsh, but it is the Word of God that cannot be ignored.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (Ps. 116:15)

‘We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren … we ourselves boast of … your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, … manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer … [And] it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…” (2 Thess. 1:3-10)



A new Pew Research Center survey found the Christian share of the American population declined almost 8 percentage points from 2007 to 2014. Drawing from this point, many continued their breathless claims that the Christian sky is falling.

Rather than predict the impending doom of the church in America, this latest study affirms what many researchers have said before. Christianity isn't collapsing; it's being clarified. Churches aren't emptying; rather, those who were Christian in name only are now categorically identifying their lack of Christian conviction and engagement.

Gallup recently found that weekly religious attendance as a percentage of the U.S. population is about where it was in the 1940s — hardly a statistical collapse.

Simply put, the strains of a funeral dirge aren't being played at the graveside of American Christianity because there is no body for burial.

Evangelicalism is growing

Yes, you read that correctly. Evangelical Christianity is growing in America. From 2007 to 2014 the number of evangelicals in America rose from 59.8 million to 62.2 million, according to Pew. (Contributor: By Ed Stetzer for USA Today)

For prayer and praise: Give thanks for greater headway of the Gospel worldwide, and pray for additional conversions as well as the “clarification” of which this article speaks, where true believers and those who only claim nominal church affiliation are being sifted and separated. Pray for an emergence of true followers of Jesus and for repentance and faith among church members, but who do not believe the Gospel and so are not saved.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)

“For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:10-13)



With more ways to be led astray today than ever, many Christians are finding it harder and harder to keep aligned with God’s will for their lives.

A Closer LookNoting the difficulties and trials believers experience on a daily basis, Joseph Mattera, who serves as overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church and Christ Covenant Coalition, calls the slipping away from God’s course “mission drift.”

To help Christians steer back into God’s chartered waters, the renowned Christian author sets up seven buoys as warning signs that they are being tossed by waves in their lives that their Savior did not intend.

Seven signs of missing the mark …

Here are the seven signs Mattera lays out in Charisma News to sound the alarm for believers — so that they can reroute their lives and return to God’s primary purpose and mission for which they were created.

  1. Continual frustration ─ The first indicator sounding the alarm that you’re out of God’s will is continual frustration — a clear sign that you are not walking in your calling.

“Continual frustration is one of the most obvious signs you are not walking toward what God has internally wired you to pursue,” Mattera explains. “Frustration may be a God-given sign to awaken you to the real passion and purpose He has assigned for you.”

The acclaimed author of Ruling in the Gates: Preparing the Church to Transform Cities asserts that those who are rarely experiencing the peace and joy of using their God-given talents for His glory are wandering in the desert, drifting away from the Promised Land of being in His will.

“A person suffering from mission drift will be going against the internal impulses from God that give them delight while being engaged in them,” Mattera notes. “Going against these internal impulses means that you are also doing things that do not match your gifts, passion and grace, which will also give you much frustration.”

Mattera urges Christians to be diligent and assess whether they are headed on a wrong way road, while trying to determine what it was that threw them off course.

“Those in continual frustration need to take much time reflecting to detect the source of their frustration,” Mattera informed. “Merely continuing in life in frustration is foolish, because you may look back at the end of your years and realize you wasted your whole life working in the wrong vocation.”

  1. Burnout ─ A clear sign that you are not walking in God’s grace is burnout — spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

“Another telltale sign you are suffering from mission drift is that you have to work hard at accomplishing things with very little fruit to show for it,” Mattera contends. “Jesus has called us to enter His rest (Matthew 11:28-30) and cease from our own labors (Hebrews 4:9-11).”

Living your life in burnout is similar to expecting a bottle of water with zero calories to provide adequate fuel to nourish your body. It may temporarily quench your thirst, but it will not provide sustenance and the needed strength.

“When in mission drift, we are not walking in obedience to the Lord … Hence, we are not being sustained by His grace and are working merely with fleshly strength,” Mattera argues. “This can soon lead to emotional or spiritual burnout if we don't readjust.”

  1. Lack of fruit ─ When all of your daily toils produce little to nothing for God’s kingdom, you are likely wandering off of God’s chosen path for your life. But if you’re aligned in God’s groove, you are floating in His power and producing the results to prove it.

“When you are hitting your sweet-spot regarding your calling, you are doing things that few can match,” Mattera points out. “Every person is unique and has a calling unlike any other.”

The difference between living a life directed by God and one mapped out by ourselves is similar to the contrast between day and night.

“When you are hitting the mark in your purpose, you will bear a lot of fruit just the way Jesus called us to (John 15:8),” Mattera continued. “When you are in mission drift, you do not maximize your effectiveness, which results in a lack of fruit.”

  1. Straying from your original vocational purpose ─ If you are not following your original career path and calling in your life, you are descending down the road of unfulfillment, as other motivations leading us away from using our God-given talents will prove fruitless and meaningless.

“When in mission drift, you have strayed away from the original calling God has given to you,” Mattera says.

God’s will for our lives doesn’t change, but our goals and intentions do. Mattera warns us to be aware of following our own GPS — instead of God’s.

“Every once in a while, I review my prophetic journal to make sure I am still pursuing the original calling God gave me when I first started serving Him more than 30 years ago,” Mattera shared. “The methods may change as I mature, but the mission remains the same since He chose us before the foundation of the world and gave us a purpose before we were even born (2 Timothy 1:9).

  1. Not focused, too spread out ─ Those who cannot concentrate their gifting in one area and find themselves scattered with too many objectives and activities have already taken a step or two in the wrong direction — away from God’s will.

“Activity does not necessarily result in productivity,” Mattera contends. “Many people are very busy running around focusing on minor things and neglecting the primary things God has called them to.”

He says that Christians must always remember to put first things first … or the lesser things will dominate our lives and lead us away from God’s purpose.

“I am not saying we should neglect the mundane and ordinary routines of life, but that we make sure within those routines we prioritize and manage our time in such a way that the most important things are taken care of first,” Mattera stressed. “When we don't prioritize our time, our activities will not match our purpose.”

  1. No time for key relationships ─ If you have no time to invest in the most important relationships in your life, you’re in a place where God doesn’t want you.

“The kingdom of God is built upon relationships, not ministry or work,” Mattera informs. “Everyone is called to invest in key relationships, whether it be our immediate family, spiritual children, mentors or key people we are called to ‘do life’ with.”

In a world that seems to be built upon the success of programs and actions steps needed to become victorious, people are often pushed to the wayside as simply a means of reaching a goal.

“The enemy would love for all of us to put programs before people, because at the end of the day the only thing we will take with us into eternity are people — not programs, real estate, money or the material things in life,” Mattera insists. “When you have no quality time for those key relationships, then most likely, you are suffering from mission drift. We need to proactively pursue those people who are the most important to us in life.”

  1. Doing good, but not doing what you do best ─ Getting complacent doing something that you do well, but that doesn’t tap into the God-given talent that He’s bestowed upon you keeps you at bay from accomplishing the greater things for which God intended you to achieve for His glory — not yours.

“The enemy of best is usually something good,” Mattera attests. “The enemy does not come in a red suit with a pitchfork; he comes as an angel of light. Hence, one of his greatest strategies is to get you so focused on doing something good for God or your family that it blinds you to what is best.”

Mattera emphasizes that to get into God’s will and stay there, believers must not get caught up in the diversions the enemy puts before us … and justify staying there out of convenience or to please man.

“To avoid mission drift, we always have to keep first things first and keep the main thing the main thing,” Mattera concludes. (Contributor: By Michael F. Haverluck for One News Now)

For prayer: We are thankful for this article and others like it. It provides a wise and non-judgmental “self-test” for Christians to take a measure of what our lives are accomplishing. To deal with these various challenges is to invite the Holy Spirit’s conviction and prepare one’s heart for spiritual growth. New steps toward God’s will and purpose for one’s life can only bring increased peace and joy. Intercessors may be helped by considering these various criteria personally and prayerfully and adjusting perspectives as God leads.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6)



Planned Parenthood suffered a stunning loss this morning when the Fifth District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida upheld a trial court ruling that prohibited the abortion giant from running a "termination" mill at its office in Kissimmee. Life Legal Defense Foundation was supporting the enforcement of a valid deed restriction at the site. The case is listed as Planned Parenthood v. MMB Properties.

"Planned Parenthood followed its usual pattern when slipping into the Oak Commons Medical Court," said Mary Riley, Communications Director for Life Legal. "It decided that it didn’t have to abide by the agreement that governed properties at Oak Commons. It has no one except itself to blame for the frustration of its child-murder plans."

As the appellate court noted, "Planned Parenthood was aware of the restrictions and proceeded forward at its own peril."

Planned Parenthood purchased and occupied the property in Kissimmee, practically across the street from Disney World, in April of last year. When it became clear that the office was going to become an abortion mill, a cardiologist who also had an office at Oak Commons sued to enforce the restrictive covenant that forbade "outpatient surgical centers" at the site.

The trial court found for the cardiologist and his medical office and issued a temporary injunction against surgical procedures. But Planned Parenthood, intent as always on its primary purpose of killing babies, sued to challenge that decision. Incredibly, considering the facts, the appeals court issued a stay on September 24, permitting Planned Parenthood to go ahead with its abortion plans.

Today's decision by the Fifth District Court restores the temporary injunction. For now, Planned Parenthood won't be running one of its abortion mills at Oak Commons.

Planned Parenthood's activities at Oak Commons reflect a strategy operating nationwide. Aware that child-killing remains controversial, and that abortion facilities are undesirable neighbors, Planned Parenthood establishes its businesses by stealth:

In Aurora, Illinois, Planned Parenthood began construction of a giant abortion mill under the fictitious name "Gemini Office Development" – or "GOD" – so locals would think the new building housed clerical offices.

In Denver, Colorado, Planned Parenthood's contractor falsely listed United Airlines as property owner where he was building another abortion "clinic."

And, in South San Francisco, Planned Parenthood did a secret end-run around zoning laws with the help of a local politician who profited by renting his property to the Planned Parenthood.

"This morning's victory in the Oak Commons case is a solid rebuke to Planned Parenthood's deceptive strategy," said Riley. "Nevertheless, we expect them to continue to follow this pattern. They really don't have any choice. We intend to fight them wherever they sneak in. Keeping Planned Parenthood out saves children's lives." (Contributor: By Catherine Short for Christian Newswire and Life Legal Defense Foundation)

For thanksgiving and praise: Morally upright Americans can only give God great thanks and praise for every U.S. court level that sees through Planned Parenthood’s murderous ways and acts to curtail or strike down its implacable evil in relentlessly seeking to kill preborn, viable babies in the womb through any and all deceptive means possible. We are overjoyed at this ruling and pray for many more just like it. In the passage below, God is speaking as the voice of Wisdom.

“Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it. ‘Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds [Me] finds life, and favor from the Lord; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.’” (Prov. 8:33-38)



Texas lawmakers are ensuring pastors and religious freedom remain protected in the Lone star State.

The pastor protection bill that passed the House and Senate, and will become law with the governor's signature, comes after pastors in Houston were targeted last year during a lawsuit filed against the city and its lesbian mayor.

The pastors, known as the "Houston Five" by supporters, drew attention to a petition drive denied by the City of Houston and the lawsuit that followed. The petition's backers sued Houston but the city, responding to the suit, subpoenaed local pastors for copies of sermons that supported the petition or simply criticized homosexuality.

Mayor Annise Parker withdrew the subpoeanas last fall amid nationwide outcy that the pastors were victims of homosexual activism.

Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values Action says other Texas pastors are facing similar harassment, including being asked to perform same-sex marriages.

Saenz, Jonathan (Texas Values)"And so that has put pastors in a very difficult position," says Saenz. "And also it causes distraction from the work that they do best, which is providing for the members of their church and being a blessing to the community."

Some texas lawmakers, anticipating that homosexual activists would make further attempts to pressure pastors, got to work.

In a press release, Saenz credits state Rep. Scott Sanford and state Sen. Craig Estes for urging the bill's passage.

Saenz says Texas legislators passed a bill that declares "government, at any level, should not and cannot be allowed to punish our clergy and churches for following their faith on marriage." (Contributor: By Charlie Butts for One News Now)

For prayer and praise: It was obvious from the start of this ill-fated confrontation started by Houston’s lesbian mayor who inexplicably thought she had the authority to censor the city’s pastors in their preaching and teaching of biblical truth, including the shame and sinfulness of homosexual unions. Give thanks for the courageous opposition of these pastors, and intercede that this pastoral solidarity with spread. Also, because intercessors are merciful and concerned for the lost, pray for Mayor Parker’s conversion and that she become a dedicated follower of Christ.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isa. 5:20-21)

On Watch in Washington May 27, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Informer May 20, 2015

On Watch in Washington May 20, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


A major supporter of the National Security Agency’s anti-terrorism surveillance program, which allows the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, is pushing for an extension of the program, setting up a battle with critics who argue that Congress must fix the current law or let it expire.

"This has been a very important part of our effort to defend the homeland since 9/11," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday while defending the program in an interview on ABC's “This Week.” "We know that the terrorists overseas are trying to recruit people in our country to commit atrocities in our country."

McConnell, R-Ky., introduced a bill Thursday night that would temporarily renew the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act for two months.

The renewal would buy time for the Senate to debate, specifically, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which authorizes the government to collect personal records without a warrant and has been the target of controversy since NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 that it was being used by the NSA to capture and retain millions of Americans’ personal phone records.

The provisions are currently scheduled to sunset on June 1.

Meanwhile, the House on Wednesday passed the USA Freedom Act, a bipartisan bill lawmakers said would end the NSA’s ability to use Section 215 for that type of data collection. Instead, it would allow private telecom companies to keep the records. Federal law enforcement would have to get a court order proving a link to a specific criminal investigation to collect such phone record data, and must use specific search terms to get permission to pore through the information.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., passed by a margin of 338-88.

This sets up a fight in the Senate with McConnell, who supports renewing the Patriot Act provisions, including Section 215, with no changes. He is supported by a number of senators, including Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., both of whom have publicly advocated a “clean” renewal of the Patriot Act. Still, McConnell is opposed by a number of Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republican members of the majority, like Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who McConnell is supporting for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, has said he will filibuster any attempt to renew the act without reforms.

“We are going to demand amendments and we are going to make sure the American people know that some of us at least are opposed to unlawful searches," Paul told The New Hampshire Union Leader this week.

"Everybody threatens to filibuster. We'll see what happens," McConnell said Sunday on “This Week.” "But we're talking about the security of the country here. This is no small matter."

Extra time to debate it might be necessary, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, acknowledged to reporters on Thursday. The Senate also is grappling with Congress’ say in the Iran nuclear deal, and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) fast track trade deal – two things McConnell has said need to be settled first, plus the authorization of highway funding.

“There’s a range of views” on the NSA,” Cornyn said, according to The Hill newspaper. “I don’t know how you get all that done plus (the highway bill) before we break.” The Senate is scheduled to go on break from May 23-31, according to its calendar.

The phone data collection program had been a secret until Snowden leaked documents proving its existence nearly two years ago. In that leak to the press, he showed that the NSA had been collecting millions of phone records since 9/11 – not the conversations, but dates, times and numbers – for the purpose of surveillance. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the program illegal on May 7, saying, "the [Patriot Act provisions] have never been interpreted to authorize anything approaching the breadth of the sweeping surveillance at issue here.”

The court did not go so far as to halt the program with an injunction, but left it to Congress to pass reforms.

Given these legal implications, and the fact the House is overwhelmingly in favor of changes, McConnell’s “clean” alternative and his attempt to delay matters will likely hit resistance, said Steve Vladeck, an American University law professor who teaches constitutional and national security law.

“If the Senate doesn’t pass something close to the USA Freedom Act, then all hell breaks loose,” he predicted in an interview with FoxNews.com. "The June 1 deadline is looming, it’s just a couple of legislative days away.”

A tougher version of the USA Freedom Act passed the House last year, but failed to get the 60 votes necessary in the Senate to proceed to a floor debate.

But even the USA Freedom Act has its own detractors, mainly critics who believe Section 215, which allows the government to secretly comb personal records without warrant, should expire. While the American Civil Liberties Union has not endorsed or opposed a specific set of reforms, it warned House members ahead of its vote that the Sensenbrenner/Conyers bill is lacking a number of privacy protections and includes loopholes through which the government could still engage in bulk surveillance.

“Though an improvement over the status quo in some respects, the USA Freedom Act does not go far enough to rein in NSA abuses,” the ACLU said in a May 12 letter to the House. In actuality, critics suggest, the USA Freedom Act may serve to codify the very activities the court was warning against.

Fox contributor Judge Napolitano agreed, calling it a Band-Aid, that “would actually legitimize all spying, all the time, on all of us in ways that the Patriot Act fails to do.”

Vladeck said the critics have a point. "There is no question that the USA Freedom Act is better than the McConnell [clean] bill, but I also think there is no question that the act that passed the House doesn’t go nearly as far as other reform bills that have been introduced,” he said. “The question is now: What kind of compromise is everyone going to be happy with?”

Libertarians say they won't be happy until all of Section 215, if not the entire Patriot Act, is scrapped entirely. They say its sweeping law-enforcement powers have tipped the balance against innocent Americans' civil liberties without providing a clear rationale for their usefulness in terror investigations.

“It’s your classic conundrum, whether the Congress should swallow the bad in order to get the good. It’s time to get beyond fighting in the weeds here,” said Jacob Hornberger, president of the Future of Freedom Foundation, in an interview with FoxNews.com.

“It’s time for the American people to look beyond that and say, ‘Is this what we want for a free society? Do we really need a NSA? Do we even need a Patriot Act?’ My argument is we don’t. These are antithetical to a free society.”

The Hill reported Thursday that supporters of the USA Freedom Act are already lining up against any temporary extension of the Patriot Act on the House side, which would be required in order to thwart the June 1 deadline.

Nevertheless, there are national security hawks in the Senate who will likely embrace the extra room for debate, especially if they need more time to get members on board to pass a clean renewal. “Contrary to irresponsible rumors, the [bulk surveillance] program is lawful, carefully monitored, and protects personal privacy,” said Sen. Cotton and Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., in an Op-Ed on Friday.

“As members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, we have carefully studied this program and are convinced that it’s an integral tool in our fight against terrorism.” (Contributor: By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos for Fox News)

For prayer: The debate between personal privacy and the government’s collection of citizens’ information is nothing new. However, the far-reaching NSA surveillance is a markedly increased activity since the terrorist attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center on 9/11/2001. Differences on the issue are sharp, and it appears that robust discussion and deliberation are essential. Please pray as you are led and as you feel is in our country’s best interest. Pray for a national turning back to God through revival. God’s mercy and protection will follow for a nation that serves the Lord.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed.” (1 Pet. 3:12-13)



When the U.S. navy sent a littoral combat ship on its first patrol of the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea during the past week, it was watching the skies as well.

The USS Fort Worth, one of the most modern ships in the U.S. navy, dispatched a reconnaissance drone and a Seahawk helicopter to patrol the airspace, according to a little-noticed statement on the navy's website.

While the navy didn't mention China's rapid land reclamation in the Spratlys, the ship's actions were a demonstration of U.S. capabilities in the event Beijing declares an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the area - a move experts and some U.S. military officials see as increasingly likely.

"It's not inevitable but if we are betting paychecks I'll bet that they will eventually declare one, I just don't know when," said a senior U.S. commander familiar with the situation in Asia.

ADIZs are not governed by formal treaties or laws but are used by some nations to extend control beyond national borders, requiring civilian and military aircraft to identify themselves or face possible military interception.

China sparked condemnation from the United States and Japan when it imposed an ADIZ in the East China Sea, above uninhabited islands disputed with Tokyo, in late 2013.

Chinese military facilities now under construction on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys, including a 3,000-metre (10,000-foot) runway and airborne early warning radars, could be operational by the year-end, said the U.S. commander, who declined to be identified.

Recent satellite images also show reclamation work on Subi Reef creating landmasses that, if joined together, could make space for a similar sized airstrip.

Growing concern in Washington that China might impose air and sea restrictions in the Spratlys once it completes work on its seven artificial islands is likely to be on the agenda when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets Chinese leaders in Beijing this weekend for previously scheduled talks.

Tough To Enforce

Asia's rising power claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

China has said it had every right to set up an ADIZ but that current conditions in the South China Sea did not warrant one.

Enforcing such an ADIZ would be difficult even with two airstrips capable of handling fighter planes in the Spratlys, as well as an expanded airstrip on Woody island in the disputed Paracel island chain further north because of the distances involved, regional military officials and experts said.

The Spratlys for example lie more than 1,100 km (680 miles) from the Chinese mainland, putting China's well-equipped airbases along its coastline well out of reach.

"Even with the new reclamations, it is going to be a stretch for China to routinely enforce such a zone that far south," said Richard Bitzinger, a regional security analyst at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

The Japanese and U.S. military ignore the ADIZ above the East China Sea, as does Japan's two major carriers, ANA Holdings and Japan Airlines.

A study produced by the independent U.S. Congressional Research Service earlier this year noted that while China's air force actively monitors that zone with ground radar from its coastline, it had generally shown restraint in enforcement.

China's planes were unlikely to maintain a constant presence over the East China Sea, the study noted, citing a U.S. air force assessment.

Risk of Escalation

The South China Sea might prove more problematic for China given the complexity of the dispute and the possibility of challenges from the U.S. navy and air force.

Indeed, on Tuesday, a U.S. official said the Pentagon was considering sending military aircraft and ships to assert freedom of navigation around the Chinese-made islands.

China's Foreign Ministry responded by saying Beijing was "extremely concerned" and demanded clarification.

On Friday it accused the Philippines of working together with the United States to "exaggerate the China threat" over the Spratlys.

China had recently warned Philippine air force and navy planes at least six times to leave the Spratlys, the Philippine military commander responsible for the region said last week. The planes refused.

Zhang Baohui, a mainland security expert at Hong Kong's Lingnan University, said he was worried about the risk of confrontation from any U.S. show of force.

"It's reckless," he said, referring to Washington's latest plans.

"It has a built-in dynamic for unintended escalation," he added. "Are they willing to take the consequences of this escalation?"

At sea, tensions are already apparent.

The naval statement about the USS Fort Worth, which can also hunt submarines and support amphibious landings, noted the ship "encountered multiple People's Liberation Army-Navy warships" during its patrol. It did not go into detail.

"Our interactions with Chinese ships continue to be professional and (the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea) helps clarify intentions and prevent miscommunication," Commander Matt Kawas, the Fort Worth's commanding officer, said in the statement. (Contributor: By Greg Torode for Reuters - Additional reporting by Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo in YOKOHAMA, Japan; Editing by Dean Yates)

For prayer: Intercessors should consider the broader issue of Chinese-American relations, rather than focus only on China’s present “saber-rattling” in the South China Sea. On a parallel note, though not related to this article, Christians who track Chinese spiritual life are giving thanks to God for well-substantiated reports that churches in Hong Kong are presently experiencing revival in which thousands are turning from dead religion and finding life as followers of Jesus Christ. Even in the current democracy protests, Christians are leading the way with courage and non-violent responses. Read more on this at CT [Christianity Today] online.

“So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” (Isa. 59:19)



Military women washing out in two major tests this spring raises the question of whether a large enough female population exists to produce significant numbers of officers for front-line ground combat, an Army professor says.

Meanwhile, a feminist legal group has issued a report broadly critical of how the Pentagon is running the two-year transition assessment leading to a decision by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to open infantry and special operations to women by Jan. 1.

The National Women's Law Center said the program is mired in secrecy, is misusing women as research subjects and is allowing each service to go in its own direction in conducting research.

“Information has been scarce, progress to date has been spotty, and the services’ implementation processes raise several concerns,” the center said in a May 14 report. “The required quarterly progress reports of the services have not been made public. The extent to which the Department of Defense is overseeing the implementation of the plans is also unclear, but appears limited.”

In recent weeks, there were two important developments. Twenty-nine women attempted to pass the Marine Corps‘ Infantry Officer Course at the combat development base in Quantico, Virginia. All failed. The Corps hoped for a much larger group of volunteers — 100 or so. It says the relatively small turnout is a data point in deciding whether to recommend opening the infantry officer occupation to women.

The Army searched the ranks to find women who wanted to attempt its own grueling combat test: the Ranger course at Fort Benning, Georgia.

At the start, 113 women volunteered and entered the Ranger Training Assessment Course, a demanding, two-week exercise that also eliminates many men. Of the 113 women, 20 passed. One dropped out at the start of Ranger Course. Subsequently, the remaining 19 (16 officers and three enlisted) failed to complete the course. Of those, eight were recycled Thursday to attempt the course again, as is also permitted for men.

William J. Gregor, a professor of social sciences at the Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, has conducted studies on what he believes are the drawbacks of putting women in direct land combat. He says the Infantry Officer Course and the Ranger Course results show that the Pentagon will have to scramble to find even a small number of women who can be infantry officers and commandos — both highly demanding physical endeavors.

“The question then becomes, if you are recruiting for occupational specialties, where’s the next cohort? Where are the next 100 women?” Mr. Gregor said. “You just culled the Army for over 100 women, so where’s the next cohort? The same is true for every one of these programs.

“You’re expending valuable training time on populations that are unlikely to succeed. So what cost do you want to bear in continually trying with these experiments? This has nothing to do with raising an army.”

High cost of training

Former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced in January 2013 that he had revoked the military’s regulation against women in direct land combat. The stated goal was to create a training atmosphere in which significant numbers of women, not just an isolated few, become land combatants.

Mr. Gregor has his doubts that can happen unless combat physical standard are lowered, and he suspects a lowering eventually will occur. Senior Pentagon officials pledge that they are committed to keeping standards the same, or gender-neutral, but have not ruled out lowering standards.

A big question is, once infantry is officially opened to women, how many teenage females will apply for that occupation?

“Are you going to recruit women into the infantry and then have them fail initial training?” Mr. Gregor said. “How long are you going to do that before you realize the cost of doing that is too high? Not only do you lose the training slots, but once they fail, you’ve go to reclassify them into a new occupational specialty. So from a manpower procurement standpoint, it doesn’t make any sense.”

One development that counters that argument is that a number of enlisted Marine women — 120 out of 350 — were able to pass the Infantry Training Battalion Course earlier this year in a pilot program.

With officers, as the Marine Corps sees it, if infantry is opened to women and female officers first get through the Basic School, they then would be eligible to try the Infantry Officer Course.

Said Capt. Maureen T. Krebs, a Corps spokeswoman: “I wouldn’t characterize it as finding a ‘pool of women’ but rather female Marine lieutenants who truly want to be infantry or ground intelligence officers would have the same opportunity as the male Marines to be selected for those occupational specialties and go through the course, meet the standards of the course, graduate and lead Marines in those units.”

Two female ground intelligence officers have tried the IOC and failed since the Corps opened that occupation to women in 2013. If an officer cannot pass IOC, he or she cannot become a ground intelligence officer.

‘If you pass, you pass’

The National Women's Law Center is not happy with how the Pentagon is managing the transition phase.

The center, for example, criticized the Marine Corps approach of studying whether gender-integrated combat units perform as well as all-male units. That pilot program is the ongoing Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, scheduled to end in July.

A woman should succeed or fail on what she does individually, not as a group, the women advocate group said.

“This would improperly be evaluating all women’s qualifications based on the performance of a few women. Instead, both women and men should be evaluated on an individual basis — measured against valid occupational standards,” the group’s report said.

The report also criticizes the Army for making the Ranger Course closed to women in the first place.

“If this Army assessment is intended to inform a decision on whether to recommend that Ranger units remain closed to women, it has many of the flaws of the Marine Corps‘ studies,” the law center said. “Women are being asked to volunteer but will not be able to join a Ranger unit, even if they qualify by completing the school.”

On the question of whether the military’s women population will produce sufficient numbers who want to be in frontline land combat, the women's center asserted: “There is no reason for delay in assigning women in open occupations to closed units, particularly because there are many currently serving women who are highly interested in serving in a greater range of positions and units.”

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, defended how the military is moving toward combat integration.

“The successful integration of women into currently closed positions requires the department to be thoughtful and deliberate,” Lt. Cmdr. Christensen said. “The department is proceeding in a measured and responsible way to open positions to women. The department is committed to opening positions and occupations when and how it makes sense while preserving unit readiness, cohesion and the quality of the all-volunteer force.”

Since Mr. Panetta’s announcement, about 91,000 previously closed positions have been opened, he said.

It is a foregone conclusion that infantry will become mixed-gender. Mr. Carter has said that most, if not all, currently closed occupations will open sometime after the studies are submitted to his staff in September.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who will make recommendations to Mr. Carter on Navy and Marine Corps units such as SEALs and infantry, told midshipmen last week at the Naval Academy that everyone should be given a chance.

“The working assumption is all billets are going to be opened this year,” Mr. Mabus said. “My notion is you set up gender-neutral standards. If you pass, you pass. I don’t care what shape you are. I don’t care what gender you are.” (Contributor: By Rowan Scarborough for The Washington Times)

For prayer: There is little to be said here, other than the fact that we live in a topsy-turvy world. Someone has called the current military scene “Alice-in-Blunderland,” particularly with the blurring of male and female roles in direct combat. Please pray for the deeper philosophic issues and the damage being done by “politically correct” decisions that will damage both the women and the U.S. armed forces.  

“Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge … Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isa. 5:13a, 20-21)



Saudi Arabia has reached out to its ally Pakistan to acquire “off-the-shelf” atomic weapons as a nuclear arms race begins to shape up with Shiite rival Iran, US sources said.

“For the Saudis the moment has come,” a former US defense official told the UK’s Sunday Times. “There has been a longstanding agreement in place with the Pakistanis and the House of Saud has now made the strategic decision to move forward.”

The anonymous former official said the US did not believe that “any actual weaponry has been transferred yet,” but declared that “the Saudis mean what they say and they will do what they say.”

Tensions between Tehran and the kingdom have grown in the past few months as Saudi Arabia stepped up its air campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. King Salman of Saudi Arabia refused an invitation to attend a landmark summit hosted by US President Barack Obama last week, amid ongoing angst over US-led nuclear talks with Iran.

Former Saudi intelligence head Prince Turki bin Faisal expressed the kingdom’s desire for a nuclear weapon last month at the Asan Plenum, a conference held by the South Korean-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies. “Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too,” he said, according to The New York Times.

Faisal also warned that the Iranian nuclear deal “opens the door to nuclear proliferation, not closes it, as was the initial intention.”

According to the Sunday Times report, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for decades. Saudi Arabia has given Pakistan billions of dollars in subsidized oil, while the latter has unofficially agreed to supply the Gulf state with nuclear warheads.

“Nuclear weapons programs are extremely expensive and there’s no question that a lot of the funding of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program was provided by Saudi Arabia,” Lord David Owen, who served as England’s foreign secretary from 1977-1979, told the weekly publication.

“Given their close relations and close military links, it’s long been assumed that if the Saudis wanted, they would call in a commitment, moral or otherwise, for Pakistan to supply them immediately with nuclear warheads,” he added.

However, the report added, Lt.Gen. Khalid Kidwai, who helped pioneer Pakistan’s nuclear program, denied that Pakistan had ever granted Saudi Arabia access to its nuclear technology.

The main concern shared by US and European officials was that if Saudi Arabia were to acquire an atomic weapon, it could spur other Sunni nations to follow suit.

An anonymous British military official also told The Sunday Times that Western military leaders “all assume the Saudis have made the decision to go nuclear.”

The official added, “The fear is that other Middle Eastern powers — Turkey and Egypt — may feel compelled to do the same and we will see a new, even more dangerous, arms race.”

This position was also mirrored by other, non-Saudi Gulf states at a summit last week between the US and several Arab countries. One unnamed Gulf state leader attending the Camp David summit told The New York Times, “We can’t sit back and be nowhere as Iran is allowed to retain much of its capability and amass its research.” (Contributor: By Judah Ari Gross for The Times of Israel)

For prayer: The Middle East continues to draw the avid attention of Christian believers in that region as well as those from the United States. The primary focus and the biblical call for attention is to note how all the various Muslim nations’ activities will affect Israel and its new government coalition. Part of the unrest appears to be related to President Obama’s apparent vacillation on Israel, on one hand, and Iran’s nuclear development on the other.

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (Ps. 121:1-4)



In 2013, the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet hinted at a mysterious and "newly discovered threat" to American warships. Whatever it was, it was serious  —  and had America's admirals spooked.

We knew the threat was probably a missile, because the Navy's only mention of it was inside a contracting request for a new electronics countermeasures system designed for surface ships.

The Navy awarded a $65-million contract to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory to develop the system within a "critically short" time frame.

Military & Aerospace Electronics, which first noticed the request, suggested that the threat was a radar-guided anti-ship missile from a country or terrorist group in the Middle East. We suggested a Chinese anti-ship missile.

It's neither. The threat is most likely from a country the United States is still technically at war with  —  North Korea.

More precisely, the threat is probably a North Korean Kh-35 anti-ship cruise missile.

The Navy's hurried development of a missile-defense system, begun just a year before the existence of the new North Korean cruise missile became public in the West, is a window into how the Pentagon is keeping tabs on the reclusive, hostile country  —  and how the U.S. responds to new dangers.

It's also a window into the world of open source intelligence, where ordinary people dig through publicly available information for nuggets of information governments don't necessarily want them to know.

The Pentagon didn't specify the exact nature of its new countermeasures system  —  officially designated AN/SLQ-59. But most likely, the device can jam the radars of anti-ship missiles. Almost every modern anti-ship missile has a small radar that guides the weapon and helps detect targets.

If you want to prevent an incoming missile from sinking your ship, the best way is to overwhelm it with electromagnetic interference. It's easier than shooting it down.

The Naval Research Laboratory and defense contractor ITT Excelis had developed a prototype of the electronic warfare system in 2012, and wanted help from industry to field the first system by 2014. The Pacific Fleet needed up to 24 of the systems.

So why does this have anything to do with a North Korean missile? Well, there are several reasons why.

The Kh-35 first attracted attention outside of Western military and intelligence circles in June 2014, when arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis noticed something unusual in a North Korean propaganda video.

North Korean videos typically feature action-packed montages at their very end, sometimes with tantalizingly brief clues showing off new weapons and capabilities.

The missile resembles an anti-ship missile, similar to the American Harpoon and French Exocet. The missile's canister launcher is visible, and although it resembles the launcher of the Russian Kh-35 anti-ship missile, it isn't a perfect match.

A number of people  —  myself included  —  volunteered to comb the Internet for clues. A search of anti-ship missile launches on YouTube made it clear it wasn't a Western design. It wasn't Chinese, either.

Plus, the footage was unique. North Korea didn't steal some other video of a missile and fence it off as its own. Pyongyang may bluster and make threats, but it doesn't bluff regarding capabilities.

The missile was indeed a Kh-35. Made by Russian defense contractor Zvezda, the Kh-35 flies at Mach 0.8 at just 10 to 15 meters above the ocean surface. It has a range of 70 miles.

It packs a 320 pound shaped-charge warhead, making it extremely dangerous to destroyer-sized ships.

Now recall that the Navy's request for a countermeasures system came from the Pacific Fleet, meaning the threat was a country in the Asia-Pacific region. The only countries even potentially hostile to the U.S. in that region are China and North Korea.

The U.S. and China are nowhere near coming to blows  —  ruling out China as the source of an "urgent need."

North Korea, on the other hand, has attacked American and South Korean ships before, including the 1968 seizure of the spy ship USS Pueblo and the 2010 sinking of the South Korean corvette ROKS Cheonan.

Spontaneous acts of violence are part of North Korea's foreign policy. Defending ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet from the Kh-35 would be an urgent priority indeed.

Exactly how and why North Korea got the Kh-35 is a good question. North Korea and Russia have become increasingly close during the Kim Jong Un era, and Pyongyang could have bought the missiles from Moscow.

Another possibility is Myanmar, which has openly purchased the Kh-35 from Russia, and has bought weapons from Pyongyang. North Korean technical advisers have assisted Myanmar's ballistic missile program  —  and may have assisted its nuclear weapons program.

It's possible that Pyongyang received anti-ship missiles in return for weapons … or nuclear know-how.

The Kh-35 missile connection isn't definitive. Nobody knows for sure how North Korea got its missiles, and it's even possible  —  albeit remotely  —  that they might be a totally new design.

With North Korea, it's hard to rule out anything. But the announcement of the threat, clues about the threat and the sudden appearance of the Kh-35 is an awfully big coincidence.

We'll probably never know how U.S. intelligence found out about North Korea's Kh-35. Still, thanks to open source analysis, we civilians have a pretty good idea they're there  —  and where they might have come from. (Contributor: By Kyle Mizokami for The Week)

For prayer: This is an “FYI alert” (“For your information”) for intercessors. Many Christians in the U.S. pray specifically for North Korea, asking God to open doors for the Gospel and for protection for the underground Church that suffers but is active in that rogue nation. Please pray for political prisoners who suffer for their faith. Note the biblical promise for when righteousness reigns after judgment.

“The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, though hail comes down on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation.” (Isa. 32:17-19)



The resulting map <Click here for map.> depicts a variety of distinctive causes of death based on a wide range of number of deaths, from 15,000 deaths from HIV in Florida to 679 deaths from tuberculosis in Texas to 22 deaths from syphilis in Louisiana. The largest number of deaths mapped were the 37,292 deaths in Michigan from “atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, so described”; the fewest, the 11 deaths in Montana from “acute and rapidly progressive nephritic and nephrotic syndrome.” The state-specific percentage of total deaths mapped ranged from 1.8% (Delaware; atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, so described) to 0.0005% (Illinois, other disorders of kidney).

Some of the findings make intuitive sense (influenza in some northern states, pneumoconioses in coal-mining states, air and water accidents in Alaska and Idaho), while the explanations for others are less immediately apparent (septicemia in New Jersey, deaths by legal intervention in 3 Western states). The highly variable use of codes beginning with “other” between states is also apparent. For example, Oklahoma accounted for 24% of the deaths attributable to “other acute ischemic heart diseases” in the country despite having only slightly more than 1% of the population, resulting in a standardized mortality rate ratio of 19.4 for this cause of death, the highest on the map. The highest standardized mortality rate ratio after Oklahoma was 12.4 for pneumoconioses in West Virginia.

A limitation of this map is that it depicts only 1 distinctive cause of death for each state. All of these were significantly higher than the national rate, but there were many others also significantly higher than the national rate that were not mapped. The map is also predisposed to showing rare causes of death — for 22 of the states, the total number of deaths mapped was under 100. Using broader cause-of-death categories or requiring a higher threshold for the number of deaths would result in a different map. These limitations are characteristic of maps generally and are why these maps are best regarded as snapshots and not comprehensive statistical summaries. (Contributor: By Francis P. Boscoe, PhD; Eva Pradhan, MPH for CDC)

For prayer: These statistics will be of interest to some readers of our midweek alert as they follow such trends. As the authors conclude, the map is a snapshot, not an in-depth study. Pray accordingly.

“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Prov. 4: 20-23)



With the support of a vast majority of House Republicans, and due to the pro-life dedication of the House Republican leadership, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed landmark legislation, 242-184, to extend federal protections to unborn children who have reached 20 weeks fetal age, and those who are born alive during late abortions.

The bill was developed from model legislation developed by National Right to Life in 2010, enacted thus far in 11 states.

"This bill would save thousands of unborn babies annually from terribly painful deaths," said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. "It is now clear that the overwhelming majority of House Democrats believe that painfully dismembering babies, in the sixth month and later, is just fine – now let them try to explain that to their constituents."

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act has been the right-to-life movement's top congressional priority for the 114th Congress. Like the state bills, the proposed federal law would generally extend legal protect to unborn humans beginning at 20 weeks fetal age, based on congressional findings that by that point (and even earlier) the unborn child has the capacity to experience great pain during an abortion.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, notes that the bill also contains important new federal protections for babies who are born alive during abortions. Johnson expressed puzzlement that the Associated Press calls a human who is born alive during abortions at 20 weeks fetal age as "the fetus" (as in this story on May 11: news.yahoo.com/house-gop-abortion-bill-requires-docs-help-fetus-213013607--politics.html), but referred to humans at exactly the same stage of development (20 weeks fetal age, 22 weeks of pregnancy) as "premature babies" and "preemies" in a May 7 story about a major new study showing that one-fourth of these babies survive long term when given active medical treatment. (hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_MED_PREEMIE_SURVIVAL).

"Apparently, some journalists think if a baby is born alive during an abortion, he or she remains a 'fetus' indefinitely," Johnson commented.

A one-page summary of the revised federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is available here: www.nrlc.org/uploads/fetalpain/HR36RevisionOnePagerNRLC.pdf.

The text of the bill, as passed today, is available here: www.nrlc.org/uploads/fetalpain/FranksSubstituteAmendmentHR36.pdf.

In a nationwide poll of 1,623 registered voters in November 2014, The Quinnipiac University Poll found that 60% would support a law such as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks, while only 33% opposed such legislation. Women voters split 59-35% in support of such a law, while independent voters supported it by 56-36%.

Some of the extensive evidence that unborn children have the capacity to experience pain, at least by 20 weeks fetal age, is available on the NRLC website at www.nrlc.org/abortion/fetalpain and also here: www.doctorsonfetalpain.com. (Contributor: By Tatiana Bergum for National Right to Life and Christian Newswire)

For Prayer: Despite this victory in the House of Representatives, there is little or no chance such a bill will be approved by the Senate or signed into law by President Obama. Pro-life people of conscience in such matters of abortion and fetal pain should bear this in mind in preparing to vote in 2016. Pray for morally upright candidates to prevail. As you pray, let your current senators and congressional representatives know how you feel and how you intend to vote. Isn’t it time for abortion to become an absolute litmus test to win our votes?

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…” (Deut. 30:19)



Hundreds of Kenyan pastors have had enough of President Barack Obama’s aggressive push for African nations to forsake their religious convictions and fully embrace homosexual [sin] behavior and same-sex “marriage.

The Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, comprised of 700 pastors, welcomes Obama to visit their nation this summer — provided he stop pressuring Kenyans to forsake their religious convictions by endorsing the homosexual lifestyle.

“President Barack Obama is welcome to visit Kenya this summer — but please, leave the preaching to us,” the ecumenical coalition of religious leaders proclaimed.

Bishop Mark Kariuki, a megachurch pastor who advises some 700 pastors as the leader of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, says what isn’t welcome is a repeat performance of Obama scorning believers for not ascribing to his homosexual agenda.

“We would like to send a strong message to the U.S. president that the homosexuality debate should not become part of his agenda, as it has been his tendency whenever he comes to Africa,” Kariuki told Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper on Monday.

Mind your own business

Kariuki stresses that Obama’s past directives to the Kenyan nation — where his Muslim father was born — were not only authoritative in nature, but disrespectful of Kenyans’ traditions and belief systems.

“[Obama] should respect the faith, culture and people of Kenya when he comes in July,” Karuiki implored. “He should not put [homosexuality] as one of his main agenda[s] in the country.”

Christians aren’t the only ones in Kenya wary of Obama’s visit, as the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK), along with members of the Kenyan Parliament have scheduled a protest of the president’s visit to a country many critics consider his homeland.

“We are not prepared to accept, hear or listen to anyone lecturing us on how our culture is good or bad,” said IRCK Chairman Adan Wachu.

Showing more boldness in his foreign policy when it comes to homosexuality than to his war on terror, Obama is believed to be overstepping his authority and jurisdiction by making his aggressive LGBT agenda the centerpiece of his international campaign — especially throughout the African continent.

“In June 2013, Obama provoked a clash with the president of Senegal, Mackey Sall, over the nation's rejection of the LGBT political agenda,” LifeSiteNews reports. “Standing alongside Sall just the day after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, Obama said that people should be accorded rights based on ‘sexual orientation.’”

At that time, Obama insisted that the world should adopt his endorsement of LGBT “rights,” declaring, “And that's a principle that I think applies universally.”

Believing the president was insinuating that his west African nation enforced discriminatory policies, Sall quickly retorted that Senegal “is not homophobic” and is “very tolerant” of its people.

Obama may have skipped the land of his forefathers on his $100-million African vacation in 2013, when he condemned the continents’ nations for their “anti-homosexual” policies, but Kenyan leaders nonetheless reproved the president’s statements.

“[Homosexuality] goes against our customs and traditions,” Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto declared while speaking at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Maili Kumi. “We believe in God … This nation, the nation of Kenya, is sovereign and God-fearing.”

A call to destruction?

Archibishop of Nairobi Cardinal John Njue called out Obama and other international leaders for their role in the destruction of nations embracing the failed social experiment of homosexuality.

“Those people who have already ruined their society … let them not become our teachers to tell us where to go,” urged Njue, who also serves as president of the Kenyan Episcopal Conference. “I think we need to act according to our own traditions and our faiths.”

Many on the African continent have become disillusioned with the president since he took office in 2009, especially after completing his “evolution” to favor same-sex marriage in May 2012, when he ramped up his pro-LGBT agenda on a global scale.

“The standoff was a pretty pass for a president elected on the promise that he would restore tranquility and peace to America's relationship with other nations around the world,” LifeSiteNews’ Ben Johnson reports. “It was neither the first nor the last time that the president decided that advancing the homosexual agenda trumped indigenous African human rights issues.”

Support homosexuality … or else …

Using funding — or the retraction of it — to persuade other nations to be on board with the worldwide push to embrace homosexual behavior, Western nations are doing all they can to normalize the unbiblical practice around the world.

“In 2011, Western nations denied Malawi nearly $350 million, because the nation banned homosexual activity,” Johnson continued. “Wikileaks revealed the Obama administration coordinated with homosexual activists to promote the LGBT agenda in Sierra Leone.”

World Congress of Families Executive Director Janice Shaw Crouse says that Obama is indiscriminantly ramrodding the LGBT to uproot and destroy the religious and cultural mores that nations have embraced for millennia globally.

“[Obama’s actions are a form of] ‘cultural imperialism’ — exporting the sexual crusade of a very small minority of Americans with outsized influence [who have tried] to tear down the moral foundations of our nation, as well as the rest of the world,” Crouse told LifeSiteNews.

And it has been noted that Obama’s campaign to promote homosexuality has trumped his so-called war on terror.

“[R]ecently, both U.S. political and African religious leaders say the Obama administration withheld aid to help Nigeria fight Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist organization, because the nation rejects same-sex ‘marriage,’” Johnson recounted.

It is believed that, if elected, leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will follow in Obama’s footsteps when it comes to pushing the homosexual agenda both domestically and abroad.

“There is a whole movement in which many people in the Obama administration are involved — Hillary Clinton at the forefront — that is pushing the ‘sexual rights’ agenda,” asserted Sharon Slater, who produced Cultural Imperialism: The Sexual Rights Agenda. “[African political leaders] were being blackmailed, bribed and bullied into accepting sexual rights that run counter to their religious and cultural values.”

Corroborating Christians’ and conservatives’ fears that former secretary of state Clinton would follow up Obama’s full-fledged propagation of the homosexual agenda, she candidly proclaimed last month that faiths opposed to homosexual behavior must denounce the moral precepts undergirding their beliefs derived from their holy scriptures.

“Religious beliefs [against abortion and homosexuality] have to be changed,” Clinton insisted. (Contributor: By Michael F. Haverluck for One News Now)

For prayer: The Christian response to this article can only be sadness, shame, and repentance on behalf of America’s leadership, primarily President Obama and his administration. “Unconscionable” may best describe the president’s hubris in trying to tell other nations how to behave and govern in matters of sexual identification and moral conduct. Pray for President and Mrs. Obama and their daughters, asking God to reveal Himself and to bring salvation to the White House and first family.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20)

“For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” (Rom. 10:13)

On Watch in Washington May 20, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Informer May 13, 2015

On Watch in Washington May 13, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


It seemed like a typical day for President Obama. He taped a TV interview on trade, hosted the champion NASCAR team on the South Lawn and met with the defense secretary in the Oval Office.

Not so typical was something that didn’t appear that day on the president’s public schedule: notification to Congress that he intends to renew a nuclear cooperation agreement with China. The deal would allow Beijing to buy more U.S.-designed reactors and pursue a facility or the technology to reprocess plutonium from spent fuel. China would also be able to buy reactor coolant technology that experts say could be adapted to make its submarines quieter and harder to detect.

The formal notice initially didn’t draw any headlines. Its unheralded release on April 21 reflected the administration’s anxiety that it might alarm members of Congress and nonproliferation experts who fear China’s growing naval power — and the possibility of nuclear technology falling into the hands of third parties with nefarious intentions.

Now, however, Congress is turning its attention to the agreement. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to hear from five Obama officials in a closed-door meeting Monday to weigh the commercial, political and security implications of extending the accord. The private session will permit discussion of a classified addendum from the director of national intelligence analyzing China’s nuclear export control system and what Obama’s notification called its “interactions with other countries of proliferation concern.”

The White House’s willingness to push ahead with the nuclear accord with Beijing illustrates the evolving relationship between the world’s two largest powers, which, while eyeing each other with mutual suspicion and competitiveness, also view each other as vital economic and strategic global partners. The Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group, argues that the new agreement will clear the way for U.S. companies to sell dozens of nuclear reactors to China, the biggest nuclear power market in the world.

Yet the new version of the nuclear accord — known as a 123 agreement under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 — would give China leeway to buy U.S. nuclear energy technology at a sensitive moment: The Obama administration has been trying to rally support among lawmakers and the public for a deal that would restrict Iran’s nuclear program — a deal negotiated with China’s support.

Administration officials are using arguments similar to those deployed in the debate over Iran. They say the negotiations over the 123 agreement persuaded China to go a “long way” and agree to controls on technology and materials that are tighter than those in the current accord.

Congress can vote to block the agreement, but if it takes no action during a review period, the agreement goes into effect.

If Congress rejects the deal, “that would allow another country with lower levels of proliferation controls to step in and fill that void,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so he could talk more freely. “We go into it with eyes wide open,” he added. “Without it, we would be less able to press the Chinese to do better on this front.”

Although the current nuclear agreement with China does not expire until the end of the year, the administration had to give Congress notice with 90 legislative days left on the clock. Obama also hopes to seal a global climate deal in December featuring China — less than three weeks before the current nuclear accord expires.

Congress isn’t convinced yet.

“We are just beginning what will be a robust review process,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said in an e-mail. “These agreements can be valuable tools for furthering U.S. interests, but they must support, not undermine, our nation’s critical nonproliferation objectives.”

A quieter submarine?

Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, has been urging lawmakers to insist on requiring advance consent for the reprocessing of spent fuel from U.S.-designed reactors into plutonium suitable for weapons. He also is concerned about the sale of certain nuclear energy technologies, especially coolant pumps with possible naval use.

Charlotte-based Curtiss-Wright developed advanced coolant pumps for the U.S. Navy’s submarines. The same plant produces a scaled-up version for the Westinghouse AP1000 series reactors, each of which uses four big pumps. These pumps reduce noises that would make a submarine easier to detect.

That has become a bigger concern since China occupied and started building what looks like a military base on strategic (and disputed) reefs in the South China Sea.

An Obama administration official said the reactor coolant pumps are much too big to fit into a submarine. However, a 2008 paper by two former nuclear submarine officers working on threat reduction said that “the reverse engineering would likely be difficult” but added that “certainly, the Chinese have already reversed engineered very complex imported technology in the aerospace and nuclear fields.”

Sokolski thinks the choice between reactor sales and tighter controls is a clear one. “Since when does employment trump national security?” he asked rhetorically.

The United States has bilateral 123 agreements with 22 countries, plus Taiwan, for the peaceful use of nuclear power. Some countries that do not have such agreements, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Malaysia, have expressed interest in clearing obstacles to building nuclear reactors.

China and the United States reached a nuclear cooperation pact in 1985, before China agreed to safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency. IAEA safeguards went into force in 1989, but Congress imposed new restrictions after the Chinese government’s June 1989 crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square. The 123 agreement finally went into effect in March 1998; President Bill Clinton waived the 1989 sanctions after China pledged to end assistance to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and nuclear cooperation with Iran.

In December 2006, Westinghouse Electric — majority-owned by Toshiba — signed an agreement to sell its AP1000 reactors to China. Four are under construction, six more are planned, and the company hopes to sell 30 others, according to an April report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

When it comes to nuclear weapons proliferation, China is in a different category from other 123 agreement nations. It first tested a nuclear weapon in 1964 and now has an arsenal of about 250 nuclear warheads. So U.S. concerns have focused more on whether China has transferred technology to other countries.

“Concerns persist about Chinese willingness as well as ability to detect and prevent illicit transfers,” the CRS report said. “Missile proliferation from Chinese entities is a continuing concern.” The United States wants China to refrain from selling missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons, a payload of 1,100 pounds, as far as 190 miles. A State Department compliance report in 2014 said that Chinese entities continued to supply missile programs in “countries of concern.”

Reprocessing plutonium

Reprocessing is another key issue.

China has a pilot plant engaged in reprocessing in Jiu Quan, a remote desert town in Gansu province. Satellite photos show that it is next to a former military reprocessing plant, according to Frank von Hippel, a Princeton University physics professor who specializes in nuclear arms control. There is not even any fencing between the sites, he says.

“That’s been one of the hang-ups of the [reprocessing] deal” that China has been trying to negotiate with France for several years, von Hippel said.

Sokolski said the agreement proposed by Obama lacks a requirement for explicit, case-by-case U.S. permission for a reprocessing project using American technology or material from U.S. reactors. It gives consent in advance. And he fears that over the 30-year life of the new 123 agreement, China might want to compete with Russian and U.S. arsenals and make more bombs, for which plutonium is the optimal material.

Other weapons experts note that China already has enough surplus highly enriched uranium and plutonium to make hundreds of new bombs. China has indicated that it is interested in reprocessing so it can use plutonium as part of the fuel mix in civilian nuclear power plants. And it must offer the IAEA access.

Von Hippel is still concerned. “So if China right now is the great hope for the future of nuclear energy, soon it will be a major reactor exporter to the extent there’s a market,” he said. “So it’s a proliferation concern, and it’s also a nuclear terrorism concern. The more plutonium there is lying around, the more likely it is that someone will steal it.”

But the most politically sensitive issue in Congress might turn out to be dual-use applications of nuclear reactor parts.

The latest appropriations bill issued by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) last month would require an intelligence assessment of whether there was “minimal risk” that civilian nuclear technology would be diverted to any “foreign state’s nuclear naval propulsion program.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said that the bill “doesn’t mention China by name, though I can’t think of another country for which it would be more applicable.” He said, “I would be reluctant to approve a 123 agreement unless I knew that the individual contracts would be properly reviewed.”

A Senate Armed Services Committee aide, who was not authorized to speak on behalf of the committee members and commented on the condition of anonymity, said the Senate would also focus on military applications of reactor technology for submarines, given rising concern about China’s aggressive posture in the South China Sea.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the committee, would not comment for this article, but he has recently questioned continuing engagement with China while it maintains an aggressive approach to regional issues. Last year, he opposed a proposed visit by a U.S. aircraft carrier to a Chinese port; later, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Car­ter said it would not take place. McCain also said it was a mistake to invite China to the 2016 international maritime military exercise in the Pacific known as RIMPAC.

The senior Obama administration official warned that “if we were not to complete an agreement or if restrictions were so onerous, then a lot of the work we’ve done to bring China into the mainstream and understand the programs they’re pursuing would be lost, and meanwhile our commercial interests would also be hurt.”

But the Armed Services Committee aide said: “This is not simply renewing a past agreement. The senators are going to address it in new strategic circumstances.” (Contributor: By Steven Mufson for The Washington Post - Steven Mufson covers the White House. Since joining The Post, he has covered economics, China, foreign policy and energy.)

For prayer: This is an “intercessors-should-be-aware” focus. No direct threats are involved, but China continues to advance in power and potential on the world stage. In addition, China owns much more of U.S. debt than most citizens realize. Please pray accordingly and as you are led.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters… Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.” (Ps. 24:1-2, 10)



For Western states enduring a debilitating drought, the news is bone-dry bad: Anemic Lake Mead has hit a historic low level.

The surface of the sprawling reservoir outside Las Vegas late Tuesday afternoon fell to 1,079.76 feet above sea level — nearly 140 feet below capacity — as the prolonged drought continues to evaporate the beleaguered Colorado River system.

Mead's chalky white shoreline is advancing as the waters quickly recede.

For California, Arizona and Nevada, which draw water from Mead, a grim situation is about to get worse: Officials estimate that Mead will drop to the unprecedented low elevation of 1,073 feet as the hottest summer months bear down, with less snowpack in the Rocky Mountains to recharge the Colorado River.

"We're only at 38% full. Lake Mead hasn't been this low since we were filling it in the 1930s," said Rose Davis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Las Vegas. "All the way around, this is bad news. There's not much good to say about 15 years of drought, no matter how you look at it."

Lake Mead, which meanders miles into the parched Nevada desert, held back by the Hoover Dam, is drawing closer to the 1,075-foot level, below which officials would declare a water emergency and begin rationing water allotments to Nevada and Arizona.

The more the water level drops, the greater the chances that Hoover Dam's hydroelectric output might be seriously affected, federal officials say. Federal forecasters originally predicted that the Colorado River would flow at 71% capacity this summer, but they now say the figure could fall to 50% or lower.

In recent weeks, Gov. Jerry Brown has mandated a series of water-saving measures to reduce urban water use by 25%. Officials say the new low levels at Lake Mead are not surprising but still painfully noted.

"Things like this don't surprise anyone — that's why mandatory cutbacks have been ordered in California," said Richard Stapler, a spokesman for the state's Natural Resources Agency. "This is something we pay very, very close attention to."

The Colorado River provides water for 40 million people across the Southwest and parts of Mexico — the majority of them in U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and Las Vegas. But as populations continue to climb — Las Vegas' population of 2 million is expected to double by 2060 — water experts say consumers need to take drastic measures or the water will one day run out.

"The death of Lake Mead should be a wake-up call to people across the West that we need to boldly address this drought," said Howard Watts, a spokesman for the Great Basin Water Network, a nonprofit group composed of environmentalists, ranchers and Native Americans that seeks to preserve the health of the Colorado River system.

"We've been slow to act, slow to react. Nobody knows when this drought is going to end. We need to become far more aggressive in areas of conservation to protect lake levels from falling even lower."

Environmentalists call for such no-nonsense steps as slashing indoor as well as outdoor water use, charging more for water and punishing abusers with precipitously higher rates, and disclosing house-by-house water use in residential bills to create more social pressure to conserve.

"We do have to eat, so we're not opposed to using water for agriculture," Watts said. "But everybody is going to have to make shared sacrifices, even making shifts in what's being grown by the Southwest's farmers."

Lake Mead hit its previous low in August, at 1,080.19 feet, officials said.

Las Vegas has long been at a disadvantage when it comes to Lake Mead water. A 1922 Colorado River water-sharing agreement among seven Western states — one still in effect nearly a century later — gives southern Nevada the smallest amount of all; 300,000 acre-feet a year, compared with California's 4.4 million annual acre-feet. An acre-foot can supply two average homes for one year.

This summer, officials will make their projection for Lake Mead water in January 2016. If the estimate is below 1,075 feet, rationing kicks in: Southern Nevada would lose 13,000 acre-feet per year and Arizona would lose 320,000 acre-feet. California's portion would not be affected.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials say there is a 21% chance of Lake Mead plunging below 1,075 feet next January. The odds increase to 54% for 2017.

"This situation reaffirms the seriousness of this drought. This isn't a new drought — it's been going on for 15 years," said Bronson Mack, a spokesman for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, an umbrella organization comprising seven water agencies. "We have seen this situation coming for some time, and it requires an immediate response from southern Nevada, from everybody."

Meanwhile, Lake Mead now resembles a mammoth desert mud puddle evaporating after a hard summer's rain.

The lake is ebbing as though a plug has been pulled from a bathtub drain; its shoreline forming a soap ring around its edges, a ring that will only grow in the dry summer months. The water is already so low that boat launch ramps need to be extended to reach the water.

"It's a surreal landscape out there," Davis said. (Contributor: By John M. Glionna for the LA Times)

For prayer: This has never been strictly a west coast issue! Readers know that from our first focus on the drought situation, we urged prayer for the entire U.S. Now, with Lake Mead’s involvement, a much wider segment of the country and people’s need for water is front and center. A question: Is God, even in His amazing grace, waiting for Christian leaders to unite and call for national repentance and intercession, that He might release the desperately needed rain? Intercessors will not discount the possibility that this drought is divine judgment. Will we understand the “If My people. . .” promise?

12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’” (2 Chron. 7:12-14)



Many Democrats are bullish on their chances of winning back the Senate next year, and most sound confident they can hold on to the White House. Few think they have a prayer of taking back the House of Representatives. So now they’re playing the long game — turning to the courts to help deliver what the ballot box won’t.

Top Democratic attorneys are arguing before state and federal courts that district maps drawn in a handful of states violate the Voting Rights Act by improperly packing African-American voters into a small number of districts, limiting their influence.

In Virginia, a U.S. District Court ruled last year that the commonwealth’s one majority-black district, stretching from Richmond to Hampton Roads, limited those voters. Now, legislators have until Sept. 1 to draw new maps.

The U.S. Supreme Court in March ordered a lower court to consider whether Alabama’s legislature similarly packed African-American voters into state legislative districts to minimize their influence. Last month, the high court ordered North Carolina’s Supreme Court to consider whether legislators there had done the same thing.

And in March, Florida’s Supreme Court heard arguments over whether new district maps violate state constitutional mandates that prohibit gerrymandering on a partisan basis.

In each case, the district maps at the heart of the legal complaints were drawn by Republican-controlled legislatures. And in each state, those maps helped Republicans secure overwhelming congressional majorities. Republicans control 10 of 13 House seats in North Carolina; 17 of 27 in Florida; eight of 11 in Virginia and six of seven in Alabama.

“No question, 2010 redistricting hurt us,” said Kelly Ward, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Asked whether the party could win the 218 seats necessary to take back the majority, she said: “There’s always a chance, of course.”

The district lines drawn by Republicans after the 2010 census left Democrats with few real opportunities. David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report says just 28 House seats are truly competitive — and seven of those seats are held by Democrats. The party would need to win all of those, plus nine more solidly Republican seats, to win a majority.

The court cases in question today could change the balance of power in only a small handful of seats. Mark Gersh, a leading Democratic Party redistricting expert, estimated that his side could pick up two to three seats each in Virginia and Florida, and one to two seats in North Carolina.

But if courts rule in Democrats’ favor, those rulings would set a legal precedent for the next round of redistricting, when Democrats would have a stronger case against what they perceive to be racially-motivated redistricting that packs their voters into a smaller number of districts.

Republicans were able to draw those favorable maps after the 2010 census because of that year’s GOP landslide, which handed the party control of the House — and, more importantly, of state legislative chambers across the country, which are more subject to political waves than federal seats. All told, the GOP picked up more than 700 legislative seats that year — which translates into roughly 1 in 10 legislative seats in the entire country.

Because legislators in many states draw new maps every decade, the timing of the Republican wave couldn’t have been better for the GOP — or worse for Democrats.

“The 2010 redistricting situation was caused by this incredible Republican wave in which they won governorships and legislatures in states that would normally be competitive or lean-Democratic,” Mr. Gersh said. He pointed to states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida, which are competitive in presidential election years but which voted heavily Republican in that year’s midterm elections. (Contributor: By Reid Wilson for The Washington Post)

For prayer: This article gets into political intrigue, of which both major parties have been guilty. We urge intercessors to seek the Lord’s will in their voting and not to rely on redistricting techniques to win the 2016 election advantage. God often gives a nation the government it deserves. May the Church reawaken and call our country back to God’s ways. Moses challenged the people in his day, asking, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” How will America answer today?

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa. 55:6-7)

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Prov. 16:33)



Baltimore and other urban jurisdictions that have low levels of “intact” families are at high risk for social unrest, as evidenced in the recent violence, says a new report.

Families in the which the mothers are married to and living with their children’s fathers are the strongest generator of educated youth, low delinquency, economic growth and sexual mores, according to a report released Wednesday by the Marriage & Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at the Family Research Council.

Titled “Violence in Baltimore: Social Science Resources for Journalists and Public Officials,” the report notes that in Baltimore, only 16 percent of teens between the ages of 15 and 17 have been raised in home in which the children live with their married, biological parents.

This makes Baltimore one of the five “least intact” of the largest 45 U.S. cities, including Cleveland, at 15 percent; and the District of Columbia, Detroit and Memphis, Tennessee — each at 17 percent. The MARRI report bases its analysis on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s “American Community Survey, 2008-2010.”

(According to MARRI’s “Third Annual Index of Belonging and Rejection,” the five most intact cities are San Jose, California, at 56 percent; Seattle, at 54 percent; San Francisco, at 53 percent; Fort Worth, Texas, at 48 percent; and Mesa, Arizona, at 47 percent.)

“The crisis is in marriage and family,” said Bishop E.W. Jackson, a senior researcher for church ministries for the Family Research Council and president of Staying True to America’s National Destiny (S.T.A.N.D.).

The solutions lie in the direction of “love and fidelity and neighborliness to help those around,” said MARRI Director Patrick Fagan, who is also a senior researcher. “Government can do much good, but it cannot deliver love, fidelity or prayer. Leadership on these must come from other institutions.”

The MARRI report said data indicate that family intactness trumps race as a reason for societal ills: Regardless of whether families are white or black, crime rates are higher in chaotic, dysfunctional families, and lower in intact families.

“An impoverished boy from inner-city Baltimore will not escape criminal activity because Baltimore receives a stimulus bill from the President,” the report concludes.

“He will escape it if a caring teacher, compassionate pastor, or thoughtful adult mentors him so that he feels the support necessary to finish school, work at a job, and marry the mother of his children,” the report says. (Contributor: By Cheryl Wetzstein for The Washington Times)

For prayer: One of IFA’s founders, Bible teacher Derek Prince, taught that at the root of many of America’s family problems was what he called “renegade fathers,” that is, men unwilling to accept the responsibilities commensurate with fatherhood. Mothers typically stay and nurture; it is most often the men who leave. Sometimes they cannot stay due to imprisonment. When such men meet Jesus Christ, their hearts are changed. Pray for widespread family restoration, where the hearts of the fathers are turned to their children and the children to their fathers.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” (Mal. 4:5-6)  



The United States is becoming a little less Christian, and a little more unaffiliated to any faith, a major study on the nation's changing religious landscape suggested Tuesday.

"The United States remains home to more Christians than any other country in the world," with 70.6 percent of its population, or 173 million adults, identifying as Christian last year, the Pew Research Center said.

But that figure is down from 2007 when 78.4 percent called themselves Christian, Pew said in its 200-page study, titled "America's Changing Religious Landscape."

The decline is seen across many segments of American society, including whites, Latinos, women, men and those with or without a college education.

But it is particularly marked among younger American, and concerns Roman Catholics as much as mainstream Protestants.

At the same time, Christians are also a more diverse group, a reflection of the growing Latino population, the study found.

While Protestants in 2007 accounted for 51.3 percent of Americans with religious affiliation, that slipped to 46.5 percent in 2014, with 62 million Evangelicals and another 36 million belonging to mainstream Protestant denominations.

Roman Catholics, who in September will welcome Pope Francis on his first papal visit to the United States, number 51 million, down three million from 2007.

At the same time, the proportion of Americans claiming no religious affiliation -- the so-called "nones" -- has grown from 16.1 percent to 22.80 percent.

That group -- with a median age of 36 -- is increasingly younger, while non-Evangelicals and Catholics -- median age 52 and 49 respectively -- is trending older, the study found.

Non-Christian faiths grew in proportion from 4.7 percent in 2007 to 5.9 percent last year, with growth particularly robust among Muslims and Hindus, albeit from a small base, it said.

Interfaith marriages are meanwhile growing in number, accounting for four marriages in 10 since 2010 compared to fewer than one in 10 prior to 1960.

Pew, which posted its findings on its www.pewresearch.org website, based its study on interviews with more than 35,000 people from June through September last year. (Contributor: AFP and Yahoo News Services)

For prayer: A factor missing from the above statistics is that many people identifying as Christians are only “cultural Christians,” not born-again followers of Jesus Christ. Many are in liberal churches identified with apostate denominations, people without biblical convictions. Such is reality, not cited here with a mean spirit. We urge intercessors to pray for widespread revival to awaken lukewarm church members who will turn to the Lord while there is still time.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: ‘Awake you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’” (Eph. 5:11-14)



Bible translators are using tablets and smart phones on the mission field to efficiently work on projects. And technology is also helping to protect Bible translators.

Wycliffe Associates has launched a new initiative called "Tablets for National Translation," placing technology into the hands of national Bible translators who live and work in the most dangerous and hostile regions of the world, where Christians are targeted for severe persecution by extremists.

Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates, says smart phones and tablets are common around the world and so provide a cover for using the Bible in dangerous countries.

"Tablets arouse really little suspicion or no suspicion whatsoever from anybody who sees someone using a cell phone in public, whereas being caught with a Holy Bible or that kind of thing could be very awkward and very difficult in many circumstances around the world,” he explains.

“Having a cell phone arouses no concern at all and gives people direct access to either online or offline Bible resources that can be a part of assisting them and serving them as they do Bible translation themselves."

More than a dozen tablets have already been issued to national translators in the Middle East, and Wycliffe Associates hopes to distribute 500 tablets to national Bible translators in strategic locations around the world, at a cost of $300 per tablet. (Contributor: By Bill Bumpas for One News Now)

For prayer: Give thanks for the use of technology in making the Bible available to more people in more parts of the world, especially where owning or displaying a Bible is dangerous. Modern mission agencies, including Wycliffe Associates, have been quick to use technology to get out God’s Word, willing to be “all things to all people” in order to help people meet Jesus Christ through the Gospel.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:12-13)



The number of real-life “Dr. Moms” has been growing in recent years, as highly educated women make time to have children, a new study says.

In the 1990s, about a third of women in their early 40s who had a master’s or higher degree were childless, said the Pew Research Center report released Thursday. But by 2014, this was the case for only 22 percent of highly educated women.

Instead, “post-graduate education and motherhood are increasingly going hand-in-hand,” wrote Gretchen Livingston, lead researcher and author of the report.

Even women who are medical doctors or have a doctorate have decided to tackle the rigors of diaper-changing and bottle-washing: Only 20 percent of such highly educated women were childless by the time they reached age 40-44 in 2014, compared with 35 percent of similarly situated women in 1994.

Another trend is that highly educated women are “opting for bigger families than in the past,” said the report, which was based on an analysis of Census Bureau population data from 1976 to 2014.

Today, six-in-10 women with master’s degrees or higher have two or more children. This is an increase from 51 percent seen in 1994, Ms. Livingston wrote.

Fueled in part by these increases in childbearing among highly educated women, childlessness among all women ages 40-44 “is at the lowest point in a decade,” the report said.

In both 1994 and 2014, about 15 percent of women reach the end of their fertile years without giving birth.

This is significantly lower than the 20 percent childlessness seen around 2006, the report said. But it is still higher than in the 1970s and early 1980s, when only about 10 percent of women reached their early 40s without giving birth.

The Pew study found that among racial groups, Hispanic and black women were likely to have large families: Fully 20 percent of Hispanic women and 18 percent of black women have four or more children. In comparison, just 11 percent of white women and 10 percent of Asian women have such large families, the report said.

The report clarified that due to limitations in the data, it only counted women who had given birth as mothers. However, it noted, 7 percent of children who live with a parent are with either an adoptive parent or a step-parent. (Contributor: By Cheryl Wetzstein for The Washington Times)

For prayer: Ironically, many women wanting children today will still approve abortions for other women when “convenient.” We live in an upside-down world. However, we can give thanks for every baby’s life that is preserved. Pray for the protection and restoration of traditional families, which requires the preservation of traditional marriage.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” (Ps. 127:3-4)



The Hispanic owners of a barbecue restaurant in Milliken say they plan to host a "White Appreciation Day" next month.

What started as a joke is now on the calendar. Edgar Antillon and Miguel Jimenez recently purchased Rubbin Buttz BBQ on Broad Street. On June 11, they plan to offer a 10% discount to all white customers and no one else.

"We have a whole month for Black History Month," Antillon said. "We have a whole month for Hispanic heritage month, so we thought the least we could do was offer one day to appreciate white Americans."

The men expect they might receive backlash and say they realize there's a history of racism in the USA.

"It's a perpetuation of racism," said Ricardo Romero, a civil rights activist and community organizer in Weld County. "It's wrong, if you're going to give a discount, give it to the whole community."

There could be legal repercussions as well, according to Jennifer McPherson of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.

"If someone felt like they were being discriminated against, they could come to the civil rights division and file a complaint in our office and we would investigate that," said McPherson.

Antillon says the discount isn't meant to discriminate, but instead bring people together. He added that he has been the target of racism in the past. He hopes opening up the discussion will prompt others to think differently about race.

"We're all American, whether you came from a different country or you were born here," Antillon said. "We're all American."

Antillon said he would consider offering a discount to other racial groups, but said it's unlikely to actually happen. (Contributors: By Kevin Massey and Whitney Wild for USA Today)

For prayer: This is another “intercessors-should-be-aware” focus. We offer no specific prayer direction. The restaurant proprietors have rights, of course, which should be upheld. But they are being charged with racism, which is deeply seated in America in many forms and at many levels. Most Christian leaders believe it can only be eradicated through spiritual revival. All human hearts are darkened and deceitful apart from the light of God’s Word.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jer. 17:9-10)

“The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Ps. 119:130)



1.  Reminds the Lord of promises and appointments not yet met and fulfilled.

On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Isaiah 62:6-7 NASB

  1. Takes up the case of justice before God on behalf of another.

Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede... Isaiah 59:15-16a NASB

  1. Builds up the wall of protection against the demonic forces in critical times of battle.

O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins. You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the Lord. Ezekiel 13:4-5 NASB

  1. Stands in the gap between God's righteous judgment, which is due, and the need for mercy on the people's behalf.

"And I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads," declares the Lord God. Ezekiel 22:30-31 NASB

Bringing all four of these definitions together we see the following: An intercessor is one who relentlessly reminds the Lord of His prophetic promises while identifying the needs for justice in our generation. We do spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness in the mighty name of Jesus while lifting a cry for mercy upon our spheres of delegated rule for Christ's name sake!

Are you attentive? Are you on the Alert? Are you watching with Him? Are you waiting on Him or is He waiting on Us? "Attention! Be on the Alert!" (Contributor: By Dr. James W. Goll for Prayer Storm - excerpt from “God Quits When Man Quits”)

Special note: Occasionally, we will close the week’s Informer with an inspirational article intended to encourage faithful intercessors in their God-given task as “watchmen on the walls.” This short Bible study is not issue-oriented but describes the work of intercession in cooperating with God as He carries out His purposes among the nations.

On Watch in Washington May 13, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Informer May 6, 2015

On Watch in Washington May 6, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


Are the alarm bells finally clanging at the White House and in Congress? They should be. This week’s pitiful economic growth scorecard of 0.2 percent economic growth for the first quarter of this year means the Obama slow-growth machine grinds onward. It’s the slowest recovery in a half-century. The “Summer of Recovery” Joe Biden promised back in 2009 still hasn’t arrived — six years later.

This is a national crisis, not any less significant than the burning of Baltimore last week. Actually, the two may be tied together. Economist Arthur Laffer shows that racial rioting in big cities is negatively associated with an economic growth rate. In the late 1960s and 1970s, cities become war zones, but the rioting almost entirely disappeared in the high-flying 1980s and 1990s, when incomes were rising and job growth surged. Under President Obama’s slow-growth economy, urban unrest is bubbling over.

The attached figure compares the growth rate for this recovery versus those over the past 50 years. We are $1.6 trillion lower on current gross domestic product than we should be. Even more amazing: With a Reagan-style recovery, we’d have $2.5 trillion more output and income today. On average, every family in America would have $20,000 more annual income. That’s the crisis that has Americans feeling so angry. It is, to borrow a phrase from Mr. Obama about the Baltimore riots, “a slow-rolling crisis.” He could have meant the economy.

One finding in this latest GDP report is especially worrisome. Business “nonresidential fixed investment” — which is spending by companies on plant, equipment, facilities and technology fell by 3.4 percent. Spending on structures fell by an astounding 23 percent. This business spending statistic is a fairly good leading indicator of where the economy is headed. Business investment in this recovery has been slow, and that may be a result of the business bashing that goes on in Washington month after month. The Obama tax increases on capital gains and dividends — which are direct taxes on the returns from business investment — haven’t helped, either.

When we get bad news like this, there’s always some excuse from the White House. The weather. The labor strike at the ports this winter. Ebola. The euro-crisis. George W. Bush. Maybe next they can blame Herbert Hoover.

Some economists on the left such as Paul Krugman of The New York Times are blaming fiscal and monetary “austerity” in America and Europe. Austerity? The U.S. government has borrowed $7 trillion in six years. The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has expanded by $3.5 trillion. This is austerity?

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama is still trying valiantly to put lipstick on this economic pig. His spin forever will be that he saved America from a second Great Depression. Really? Mr. Obama’s own White House estimates on job growth show that the economy performed worse than it would have without the trillions of dollars of government borrowing. In other words, we would have been better off not borrowing $830 billion back in 2009.

A new book by James Grant titled “The Forgotten Depression” should be required reading at the White House. It tells the story of the early 1920s when the economy crashed after Woodrow Wilson’s disastrous “progressivism.” When the economy tanked, President Harding simply let the recession burn itself out. By doing so, along with the Harding-Coolidge tax cuts, the result was the Roaring ‘20s, which was one of the most prosperous decades in American history.

Fortunately, there are natural tailwinds that should accelerate growth over the next year or so. Low energy prices are an underappreciated stimulus. The strong dollar is bringing record amounts of new investment and construction to the United States. Profits, especially for the tech sector and companies such as Apple and Google are still very high.

But there’s no getting back that nearly $2 trillion of GDP that is now permanently missing. It’s one reason for black rage in the cities. The Obama growth deficit is this president’s enduring legacy. We can now officially declare Obamanomics a grand failed experiment. Let’s hope the history books get it right so we are never, ever foolish enough to try this again. (Contributor: By Stephen Moore for The Washington Times - Stephen Moore is a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a Fox News contributor.)

For prayer: One doesn’t need an advanced degree in economics to know that no individual, family, or country can become stabilized financially when it continues to amass debt without a plan to pay it off quickly and efficiently. Pray for God’s mercy and a divine “wakeup call” for a return to the fiscal restraint that marked America’s development into the leading nation in the world. That came through vision, courage, ingenuity, hard work, fair play, and God’s blessing. Our many divisions — politically, socially, and spiritually — require healing and restoration. America cannot be blessed while we have turned away from God. Pray for widespread revival.

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, ‘turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.” (Joel 2:12-13)

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24-25)



Top defense contractors are poised to compete in a major industry battle to develop autonomous missiles for the U.S. Navy that can kill enemy ships at sea and demolish air-defense radar sites inland.

Although the Navy has so far released few details on what it plans to buy, missile manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing are keeping a close eye on a program the Navy has dubbed “next-generation strike capability.”

The Navy is seeking funds in its 2016-2020 budget to begin the development of next-generation strike weapons, with the goal to start an industry competition in fiscal year 2017. But the Navy has yet to settle on specific requirements.

In about a decade or so, the next-generation strike capability, or NGSC, would supplement or replace the current Harpoon and Tomahawk cruise missiles. What remains unknown is whether next-generation strike will be a single missile or a mix of weapons that would include ship killers and land-strike missiles that would target enemy air defenses deep inland.

The decision to move forward with next-generation strike comes after years of internal debate on how the Navy should arm itself for potential maritime wars against rising powers like China. The U.S. Pacific Command has singled out a new anti-ship missile as an “urgent operational need.”

Of concern to PACOM and to naval advocates on Capitol Hill is the lack of anti-ship weapons aboard Navy surface combatants, and they fear that current ship-launched cruise missiles are not stealthy enough to be able to penetrate the most advanced air defenses. An extended reach of 1,000 nautical miles or more is a key priority in the next-generation strike program, so Navy ships can operate within range of Chinese surface combatants equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles.

The Navy already has tested a new anti-ship missile that can be fired from fighter jets and strategic bombers — known as the long-range anti-ship missile, or LRASM, made by Lockheed Martin. Started in 2009 under the auspices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the LRASM is a modified version of the joint air-to-surface standoff missile-extended range that Lockheed built for the U.S Air Force. DARPA announced in February that an LRASM prototype scored three-for-three in consecutive flight tests.

“Once operational, LRASM would play a significant role in ensuring military access to operate in open ocean/blue waters and the littorals due to its enhanced ability to discriminate and conduct tactical engagements from extended ranges,” DARPA said in a news release.

A key feature of this missile is a terminal guidance system that would allow it to reach a target even if the military were denied access to GPS signals or other network links.

Lockheed officials said the company is independently developing a ship-launched variant in anticipation of a future competition. The Navy chose the air-launched LRASM over other systems offered by Raytheon and Kongsberg. Lockheed is producing 90 missiles for the Navy that will be deployed on Super Hornet fighters and Air Force B-1 bombers by 2019.

In next-generation strike, the Navy merged what used to be two separate projects: One called “offensive anti-surface weapon increment 2” and another dubbed “next-generation land attack weapon.” The new missile, or family of weapons, would have greater range, destruction power and survivability than the current Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile and the Tomahawk ship-launched land attack cruise missile.

Analysts for years have questioned the Navy’s efforts to keep up with growing technological advances by China and other nations. “China is building a modern and regionally powerful Navy with a modest but growing capability for conducting operations beyond China’s near-seas region. The question of how the United States should respond to China’s military modernization effort is a key issue in U.S. defense planning,” wrote naval analyst Ronald O'Rourke, of the Congressional Research Service.

China has acquired Russian-made anti-ship cruise missiles that are carried by Russian-made destroyers and submarines, and has developed other missiles domestically, O’Rourke said.

The implication for the U.S. Navy is that it needs aircraft and weapons with longer ranges. The Navy is “going to have to adopt an offensive mindset,” naval strategist Bryan Clark, of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower and projection forces subcommittee.

“Today's surface fleet is more focused on defeating enemy missiles and torpedoes, than attacking the aircraft, submarines or sub-ships that have launched them,” Clark said. “Surface forces need to focus on killing the archer instead of shooting down its arrows.” The archers in this case are aircraft, submarines, and surface ships that are able to launch anti-ship cruise missiles, Clark said. “Today, the surface ships we deploy don't have weapons that are able to reach enemy aircraft, ships or submarines until we're already well within range of their anti-ship cruise missiles.”

Missile manufacturers believe the Navy will communicate its next-generation strike wish list some time in 2016. Competitors are weighing how best to position themselves. If the Navy chooses to combine the anti-ship and land-attack mission and select only one manufacturer, the stakes would be huge. Pressure to keep costs under control could benefit companies that spend their own funds to upgrade existing missiles.

Lockheed is viewed as having the inside track because it is already producing an air-launched anti-ship cruise missile and is developing a ship-launched variant. The company is expanding its manufacturing plant in Troy, Alabama, said Hady Mourad, tactical missiles advanced program director at Lockheed Martin. He said the company spent $32 million of internal R&D funds to mature the technology.

What specifically Lockheed would propose for next-generation strike is still to be determined, said company spokeswoman Amy Cochrum. LRASM is being designed as an anti-surface maritime weapon, but with minor retrofits it could be become a dual-role missile, prosecuting both land and sea targets, she told National Defense. “Until U.S. Navy requirements are defined and communicated to industry, final configurations or variants would be speculation at best.”

The Boeing Co. recently unveiled a modernized version of the Harpoon missile but that is not likely to be a contender for next-generation strike, a company spokeswoman said.

Boeing is waiting to hear more about what the Navy wants before it decides on its offering. Designing a new missile is one possibility, but it is too soon to say, said Deborah VanNierop, spokeswoman for Boeing Phantom Works. “Next-generation strike capability is in the very early stages and currently there are no requirements,” she noted. Boeing’s advanced weapons team has “briefed the Navy on key technologies and system options,” VanNierop told National Defense. “The team plans to continue to engage with the Navy as they formulate their requirements.”

Raytheon, meanwhile, expects to enjoy a key advantage as the manufacturer of the Tomahawk missile, as the Navy already has invested huge sums into the program. The company also makes the joint standoff weapon, an air-launched glide bomb that initially competed against LRASM. Raytheon has teamed with Norway’s Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace to develop an air-launched anti-ship missile and a ship-launched version for the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship.

Next-generation strike will likely include “improvements to current programs as well as potentially follow-on technologies,” Dave Adams, Tomahawk program director, said in a statement. “Raytheon is working with the Navy to minimize risk and costs by using the proven Tomahawk and JSOW weapon systems.”

Both Tomahawk and JSOW, Adams said, can defeat modern integrated air defenses. “And with the improvements we are developing for Tomahawk, we anticipate that this will hold any high value moving target at risk out to greater than 1,000 miles on land and at sea. And, both JSOW and Tomahawk are already fully integrated on U.S. Navy platforms, saving an enormous amount of integration costs.”

Raytheon recently announced it funded the development of a multi-mode seeker for the Tomahawk Block 4 cruise missile. “This is a critical step in enabling the missile to strike moving targets on land and at sea,” said Mike Jarrett, vice president of Raytheon Air Warfare Systems. (Contributor: By Sandra I. Erwin for National Defense Magazine)

For prayer: The purpose of a strong defense should be for the protection of the country’s citizens from enemies, both domestic and foreign, not for aggressive goals. Even then, it is the Lord’s hand and purpose that keep a nation safe. God will uphold governments whose leaders are committed to His glory and purpose. The U.S. is no longer a predominantly Christian nation, but we ask all intercessors to join us in praying for a return to the directives of our Constitution.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows … (Ps. 127:1-2a)



Most Americans think the government should protect religious liberties over gay rights when the two come into conflict, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds, though fewer think most businesses should be allowed to turn away gay couples because of religious beliefs.

The survey uncovered nuanced views on gay rights as the Supreme Court considers, in a case heard this week, whether the Constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry.

Americans are more likely to say that religious liberties are more important for the government to protect than the rights of gays and lesbians, by a 56 percent to 40 percent margin, the poll found. Just a quarter of Americans call gay rights a very or extremely important issue to them personally, while half call religious liberties a very or extremely important issue.

But fewer Americans — just 40 percent — think most business owners should be allowed to refuse service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds. That finding goes to the heart of the significant political fallout over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics charged was intended to allow businesses discriminate against gays and lesbians.

With public opinion apparently split, it’s an open question how gay rights will play in the 2016 campaign.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference, said Republicans would be wise to make religious freedom a central issue because the broad debate highlights intolerance against Christians. “Religious freedom will emerge as a centerpiece, and Democrats will have an impossible time defending against it,” said Rodriguez, whose organization aligns with conservative Republicans on this issue.

Others think the issue could be perilous for the GOP. “Religious liberty works well with religious people, which is the GOP’s base, but the argument is easily turned on its head when the issue is discrimination against gay people,” said veteran Republican strategist John Feehery. “I think the GOP is better off talking about economic security and national security, while leaving this particular issue to the courts to decide.”

Although only a minority of poll respondents thought businesses generally should be able to discriminate against gays or lesbians, support was stronger for letting wedding-related businesses in particular refuse service to same-sex couples — 52 percent said so. That was down slightly since the beginning of February, when 57 percent said so in an earlier AP-GfK poll.

The new poll found a distinct split between Republicans and Democrats on the issue. Most Democrats opposed any such discrimination by businesses; most Republicans thought businesses should have the right to refuse service, whether generally or for wedding matters.

On marriage, just under half of Americans want it to be legal for gay and lesbian couples to wed in their states, while just over a third are opposed, according to the poll.

There is a significant partisan divide over that issue, too, but it could be a moot point in the 2016 campaign if the Supreme Court affirms same-sex marriage.

On the court case, 50 percent said the justices should rule that gay marriage must be legal nationwide; 48 percent said they should not.

Kelly Huston, a retired autoworker from Newtown Falls, Ohio, says he doesn’t object to gay marriage, just as he doesn’t object to a business refusing to serve gay patrons.

“I think a business owner should decide what they want to do in their business,” Huston said. “I’m not against gays. I’m against the government telling people how to run their businesses.”

The issue could play differently in some regions than others. For example, the survey finds 60 percent of Southerners, but only 45 percent of Northeasterners or Westerners, say wedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service to gay couples.

In New Hampshire, which hosts the nation’s first presidential primary election, a leading Republican official warns prospective candidates against a heavy focus on religious freedom.

“For the average Republican presidential primary voter in New Hampshire, that’s not one of the top six or seven issues,” said Steve Duprey, New Hampshire’s national Republican committeeman. “I don’t think there’s anybody who could win the New Hampshire primary running on religious liberty.”

The AP-GfK poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online April 23-27, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them. Contributor: Associated Press and The Santa Fe New Mexican)

For prayer: Prospective voters should brace themselves, as polls seem to rule the day, and with nearly 20 months before next year’s presidential election, it appears that the pollsters desperately want to know what each citizens thinks about every aspect of American life. We were taught since grade school not to compare “apples and oranges,” but the poll discussed above compares religious liberty, a God-given right, with so-called gay rights, where the homosexual viewpoint is a preference. Meanwhile, the field of candidates running for president continues to grow.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20)

Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.’” (Dan. 2:20-22)



Health officials say the first region of the world to rid itself of German measles is North and South America.

World Health Organization officials on Wednesday said it has been more than five years since there's been a case that originated in the Americas. Now, the only German measles cases are imported from other parts of the world.

German measles — also known as rubella — is a viral disease spread through coughing or sneezing. It's generally a mild illness, involving a three-day rash and low-grade fever. But when pregnant women get it, the illness can cause birth defects.

In 2004, health officials declared it eliminated in the United States.

German measles is the third infectious disease to be eliminated from the Americas. The other two are smallpox and polio. (Contributor: Fox News and Associated Press)

For prayer: With so much bad news and negative reporting going on in today’s culture, this report is good news, indeed, and should inspire us to give thanks to God for His mercy and kindness. While we do not rejoice that other parts of the world still are subject to this infection, we can and should be thankful for its being overcome in our hemisphere and in our lifetime.

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, and praise Him in the company of the elders. (Ps. 107:31-32)



A new record in Bible translation may have been set in 2014 for the highest number of new Scripture translations published in one year. According to the 2014 Global Scripture Access Report, published this week by United Bible Societies, last year Bible Societies helped complete translations in 51 languages spoken by more than 1.3 billion people (1.2 billion Chinese speakers and 146 million speakers of other languages.)

Some of these translations were launched in countries facing significant challenges. In Nigeria, for instance, where militant Islamic group Boko Haram carried out deadly attacks, the Bible Society launched four new Bible translations. One of them, the Bura Bible, was completed and launched in December, despite a Boko Haram bomb attack on the Bura Bible translation office in September. All of these were first-time translations, potentially giving 2.1 million Nigerians access to the full Bible in their heart language for the first time.

Liberia, too, faced enormous difficulties last year, losing more people to Ebola than any other country, but the Bible Society there launched two first-time full Bible translations. The Bible in Kpelle and Southern Kisi, spoken by nearly a million people, arrived at a time when people needed God's Word in their language more than ever before. But Southern Kisi speakers, most of whom live in the worst affected area of Liberia - Foyah District in Lofa County - delayed their celebrations until January 2015, when the situation had stabilised.

"That day they forgot about Ebola and came out in great numbers to march in celebration of the first Bible in their language," notes Paul Stevens, who leads the Bible Society of Liberia.

These launches in Nigeria and Liberia were among 30 'first-time' translations published across the world last year in languages spoken by nearly 10 million people. 18 language groups received their very first full Bible, 10 received their first New Testament, and two received shorter portions of Scripture for the first time.

The full Bible is now available in 542 languages spoken by 4.9 billion people, while the New Testament is available in 1,324 languages spoken by a further 673 million people. 1,020 languages have shorter portions of Scripture, while 4,015 languages spoken by 460 million people are still without any Scripture at all. (Contributor: Andrea Rhodes for Christian Newswire and United Bible Societies)

For prayer: This is a praise report, as the written Word of God continues to advance and find eager readers in every tribe, nation, culture, and people group. Many years ago in Central America, a young American missionary named W. Cameron (“Uncle Cam”) Townsend was asked by a tribal leader, “Does God speak our language?” As a result, Wycliffe Bible Translators was born. The work of Bible translation is tedious and tiring, but the results allow people to hold a copy of the Scriptures in their hands. Often, they must be taught to read their own language after it is reduced to written phonetic symbols. Give thanks for those who have accepted this calling.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)



Two men opened fire outside an event holding a cartoon contest of the [false] Prophet Mohammed before they were shot dead by police in suburban Dallas Sunday night.

While details about the gunmen, including their religion or their motive, weren’t immediately known, the shooting — as was the case in France in January and Denmark in February — targeted a facility where depictions of the revered Muslim prophet was being caricatured.

And it quickly reignited the debate on free speech versus provocation.

The keynote speaker at the event in Garland was right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who was placed on an al Qaeda hit list. And it was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative — considered an anti-Muslim group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

“The Islamic jihadis are determined to suppress our freedom of speech violently.” Pam Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, told CNN. “They struck in Paris and Copenhagen recently, and now in Texas.”

Exchange lasted seconds

The men drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center in North Garland, got out of their car and began shooting just as the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” inside was ending around 7 p.m. (8 p.m. ET).

An unarmed security guard, Bruce Joiner, was shot in the ankle. He was later treated and released from a hospital.

Garland police, who were helping with security, fired back, killing both gunmen. The exchange lasted about 15 seconds, police said.

“The first suspect was shot immediately,” Garland Mayor Douglas Athas told CNN. “The second suspect was wounded and reached for his backpack. He was shot again.”

The gunmen’s identities weren’t immediately released.

“We have no other indication that anyone else was involved,” Athas said.

Early Monday morning, FBI and local officials were checking the gunmen’s vehicle for explosives and the area around the center was blocked off.

Surrounding businesses, including a Walmart, were evacuated, as were attendees from the Curtis Culwell Center.

There is no immediate threat to the area, police said; the check for explosives was a precautionary measure.

“It’s a very slow, tedious operation that goes on,” Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said.

Heavy security for event

The American Freedom Defense Initiative said it specifically picked the venue, a school district-owned facility, because it hosted an event denouncing Islamophobia in January.

The Sunday night event invited cartoonists to send in caricatures of Prophet Mohammad. The group said it received more than 350 submissions. The winning entry would get $10,000.

There were about 200 people at the event, police said.

“Most of the people who were there were from out of state,” Athas said.

Security was tight. The school district brought in extra officers, and the group itself hired several more. Security costs, the group said, were upwards of $30,000.

Only those who purchased tickets ahead of time were admitted. They had to go through metal detectors.

“We were prepared for something like this,” Harn, the police spokesman, said.

Shortly after the shooting, a security officer in military fatigues interrupted the gathering to herd the attendees into an auditorium.

“There was an incident outside, a police officer has been shot. Two suspects have been shot. Possibly have explosives on ’em, okay?” he said. “I just need everybody to remain calm, become orderly and we’re going to take you into the auditorium a little further away from the front of this building. All right?”

Someone asked, “Were the suspects Muslim?”

“I have no idea right now,” he responded.

Depiction considered blasphemy

Depictions of the [false] Prophet Mohammed are considered blasphemous by many Muslims.

The prohibition against illustrating the [false] Prophet Mohammed began as an attempt to ward off idol worship, which was widespread in Islam’s Arabian birthplace. But in recent years, it has taken a deadly toll.

In January, gunmen attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine that has a controversial history of depicting Mohammad, and killed 12 people.

The next month, a gunman attacked a free speech forum in Copenhagen, Denmark featuring cartoonist Larks Vilks, who infuriated al Qaeda with his depictions of Mohammed.

In the United States, cartoonist Molly Norris is still in hiding, four years after she depicted the likeness of Mohammed on several items and was deemed a “prime target” for execution by Islamic extremists.

Shortly after the Sunday night shooting, a prominent Muslim leader in Dallas tweeted that the incident was “just what we didn’t want.”

“The community stayed away from event,” wrote Imam Zia Sheikh. “Seems like a lone wolf type of attack. Just what we didn’t want.”

‘Freedom of speech is under violent assault’

Wilders, the keynote speaker at the Garland event, is controversial for his anti-Islam views. He was placed on an al Qaeda hit list for his film “Fitna.”

The film, which Wilders released online in March 2008 to international outcry, features disturbing images of terrorist acts superimposed over verses from the Quran in an apparent attempt to paint Islam as a threat to Western society.

In 2011, Wilders was cleared on charges of inciting discrimination and hatred with the movie.

“The day we give away humor and freedom of speech is the day that we cease to exist as a free and independent people,” he told the attendees at the Garland event Sunday night.

Likewise, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, is also notorious for its anti-Muslim stance.

Its president, Pamela Geller, is “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead,” the SPLC says.

“Who designated the SPLC as a legitimate authority? They are a radical leftist group who targets patriots, vets and even GOP presidential candidates,” she told CNN. “They have never named a jihadi group as a hate group.”

A conservative blogger, she first gained national attention with her group, “Stop the Islamicization of America,” and its vocal opposition to an Islamic community center planned near the site of New York’s ground zero, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed by Islamist hijackers on September 11, 2001.

She said Sunday night she wasn’t expecting such an attack, but wasn’t surprised that it happened.

“This incident shows how much needed our event really was. The freedom of speech is under violent assault here in our nation. The question now before us — will we stand and defend it, or bow to violence, thuggery, and savagery?”

The relevance of the venue

Because of the Sunday night shooting, the Garland Independent School District canceled Advanced Placement testing at the Curtis Culwell Center.

The center is owned by the school district and rented out for sporting events, concerts and other gatherings.

In January, it rented the facility for an event titled “Stand with the Prophet,” which was meant to counter Islamophobia after the Charlie Hebdo attack. It drew several hundred attendees and about 200 protesters, and went off without incident.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative said it intentionally booked the venue because of the January event.

Culwell Center Director John Wildborn told the Dallas Morning News that the venue has yet to turn down an event because of content.

As for Geller, she said she plans on holding similar events.

“I will not abridge my freedoms so as not to offend savages,” she said. (Contributor: By KTLA)

For prayer: We can justifiably give thanks that if anyone had to die, it was the assailants and not those who were expressing their free speech in displaying caricature cartoons. Authorities have since learned that both of the shooters were Muslims, one an American-born convert. A subsequent report claimed ISIS ties, though the authenticity of the connection was not established. At any rate, the shooters were shot and killed within 15-20 seconds after inflicting one wound on a guard who was treated and released. We give thanks for the alert actions of the Dallas-area police.

“These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” (Prov. 6:16-19)



Hundreds of traumatized Nigerian women and children rescued from Boko Haram Islamists have been released into the care of authorities at a refugee camp in the eastern town of Yola, an army spokesman said.

The 275 women and children, some of whom had bandaged heads and arms, arrived in the camp ran by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Saturday night after days on the road traveling in pick-up trucks.

Nearly 700 kidnap victims have been freed from Boko Haram's stronghold in the northeastern Sambisa Forest since Tuesday, with the latest group of 234 women and children liberated on Friday.

"We don't have the facilities and resources to take care of these," army spokesman said. "The best organization in the country to take care of these people is NEMA."

Initial indications are that none of more than 200 schoolgirls snatched from their school dormitories in Chibok town in April 2014 were among the three groups released this week.

While Boko Haram has been kidnapping girls and women and turning them into cooks, sex slaves and human shields even before the attack on Chibok, it was that one incident that drew global attention to the six-year-old insurgency.

It is not known how many people Boko Haram has abducted but Amnesty International estimates the insurgenst, who are intent on bringing western Africa under Islamist rule, has taken more than 2,000 women and girls captive since the start of 2014.

Boko Haram is thought to have killed thousands of people but Nigerian troops alongside neighboring armies from Chad, Cameroon and Niger have won back swathes of territory from them in the last couple of months. (Contributor: Reuters and The Jerusalem Post)

For prayer: Let all who read this report from a place of safety give thanks for their own freedom and for those who have been set free in Nigeria. Christian relief and mission agencies have already begun to assist with the former captives’ restoration and to supply basic needs for subsistence. The suffering these women have gone through is beyond comprehension to people who have never known such upheaval. As this and other stories unfold, will we in America learn what our own country and culture would look like if Islamic terrorists gain a substantial foothold in North America? Let us intercede, turning to God in repentance and renewed commitment to seek His mercy and protection.

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps. 73:25-26)

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Ps. 147:3)

On Watch in Washington May 6, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Informer April 29, 2015

On Watch in Washington April 29, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


The Supreme Court’s historic consideration Tuesday of whether the Constitution protects the right of [homosexual] couples nationwide to marry seemed to come down to a familiar arbiter: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

That’s normally a safe haven for [homosexual] activists — Kennedy has written each of the court’s major victories advancing their movement. But the question after the hearing seemed to be whether forcing reluctant states to allow same-sex unions was a logical extension of the court’s rulings or too much, too fast.

Kennedy seemed to be working it out. On the one hand, he pressed lawyer Mary L. Bonauto, representing gay couples challenging states’ bans, to explain why the court should change the tradition of marriage as only between a man and a woman when the concept of same-sex marriage is so new.

“This definition [of traditional marriage] has been with us for millennia,” Kennedy said. “And it’s very difficult for the court to say, ‘Oh, well, we know better.’ ”

But by the end of the arguments, questioning John Bursch, the attorney representing four states that want to keep restrictive laws, Kennedy sounded more like one of the lyrical passages in one of his opinions.

“Same­-sex couples say, of course, we understand the nobility and the sacredness of the marriage,” Kennedy told Bursch. “We know we can’t procreate, but we want the other attributes of it in order to show that we, too, have a dignity that can be fulfilled.”

The justices are considering two simple-sounding questions: whether the Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and, if not, whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where they are legal.

But the arguments were filled with discussions of equal protection and fundamental liberties, how an understanding of the Constitution changes with society, and when majority rule must give way to minority rights.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the member of the court who most seemed during arguments to be searching for middle ground, said a decision finding a constitutional right at this time would mean radical change and would short-circuit public debate.

“You’re not seeking to join the institution — you’re seeking to change what the institution is,” Roberts told Bonauto. “The fundamental core of the institution is the opposite-sex relationship, and you want to introduce into it a same-sex relationship.”

Roberts added later: “If you prevail here, there will be no more debate. I mean, closing of debate can close minds, and it will have a consequence on how this new institution is accepted. People feel very differently about something if they have a chance to vote on it than if it’s imposed on them by the courts.”

He also pointed to a different way to look at the case, rather than casting it as discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“I mean, if Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can’t,” Roberts said. “And the difference is based upon their different sex. Why isn’t that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?”

Bonauto wanted a clear ruling on the constitutional question. She said it was the states that had closed the debate, by passing constitutional amendments defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. Amending state constitutions and relying on majority vote for rights is not what the Constitution anticipates, she said.

“If a legal commitment, responsibility and protection that is marriage is off limits to gay people as a class, the stain of unworthiness that follows on individuals and families contravenes the basic constitutional commitment to equal dignity,” Bonauto said.

She was making her first argument before the Supreme Court but has been a pioneer in the legal movement to secure same-sex marriage, winning the first major case that found a right to same-sex marriage, in Massachusetts in 2003.

Bonauto received a boost from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who pointed out that definitions of marriage had already changed. “Marriage was a relationship of a dominant male to a subordinate female,” she said.

But there was resistance from the conservative justices, and a bit from one of the liberals, Justice Stephen G. Breyer. “Suddenly, you want nine people outside the ballot box to require states that don’t want to do it to change.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. asked that if the definition of marriage was simply a commitment between loving consenting adults, how could a state withhold that from siblings, or two women and two men who decided to marry. “Would there be any ground for denying them a license?” Alito asked.

Justice Antonin Scalia said that if the decisions on marriage continue to be made democratically by the states, those states could make religious accommodations that would not be possible if there was a decision that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.

“Is it conceivable that a minister who is authorized by the state to conduct marriage can decline to marry two men if indeed this court holds that they have a constitutional right to marry?” he asked.

Bonauto said it was well established that clergy are not forced to perform actions that violate their religious beliefs.

The Obama administration weighed in on behalf of the couples, and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. argued that withholding marriage violates equal-protection guarantees.

“In a world in which gay and lesbian couples live openly as our neighbors, they raise their children side by side with the rest of us, they contribute fully as members of the community . . . it is simply untenable — untenable — to suggest that they can be denied the right of equal participation in an institution of marriage, or that they can be required to wait until the majority decides that it is ready to treat gay and lesbian people as equals,” he said.

Bursch, a former Michigan solicitor general representing that state along with Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, pleaded with the justices to allow the democratic debate over same-sex marriage to continue.

“This case isn’t about how to define marriage,” he said. “It’s about who gets to decide that question. Is it the people acting through the democratic process or is it the federal courts? And we’re asking you to affirm every individual’s fundamental liberty interest in deciding the meaning of marriage.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor stopped him there. “Nobody is taking that away from anybody,” she said. “Every single individual in this society chooses, if they can, their sexual orientation or who to marry or not marry.”

Bursch said that the states’ interest in marriage was not to “deny dignity or to give second-class status to anyone. It developed to serve purposes that, by their nature, arise from biology.”

He said the states’ interest in marriage was keeping together men and women to care for the children that they intentionally or accidentally create.

Justice Elena Kagan asked Bursch if he believes that “if one allowed same-sex marriage, one would be announcing to the world that marriage and children have nothing to do with each other.”

He said the state has a child-centric interest in marriage, not to legitimize the relationships of committed adults.

Roberts dominated the second argument, about whether states could be forced to recognize marriages performed in states where they were legal.

The question would be moot if the court declares a constitutional right, but the second argument lent force to the idea that it might be the chief justice’s preferred path and could perhaps win a wider majority.

If states are forced to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, Roberts suggested, it would be “only a matter of time” before same-sex marriage settled in as a national norm. It would effectively allow “one state” or a minority of states to “set policy for the nation.”

At the same time, the Roberts line of questioning suggested he did not view that possibility with great alarm, at least as an alternative to a court decision holding that all states must permit same-sex marriages within their borders.

Isn’t it “quite rare for a state not to recognize” a marriage performed elsewhere? he asked.

The recognition of a constitutional right would mark the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion about gay rights and a dramatic change in the nation’s jurisprudence. Same-sex marriages were practically unheard of in the nation until a Massachusetts court decision cleared the way for unions there just a dozen years ago.

Now, more than 70 percent of Americans live in states where [homosexuals] are allowed to marry, according to estimates.

The questions raised in the cases that the court will consider were left unanswered in 2013, when the justices last confronted the issue of same-sex marriage. A slim majority of the court said at the time that a key portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act — withholding recognition of same-sex marriages — was unconstitutional and in a separate case allowed same-sex marriages to resume in California.

Since then, courts across the nation — with the notable exception of the Cincinnati-based federal appeals court that left intact the restrictions in the four states at issue — have struck down a string of state prohibitions on same-sex marriage, many of them passed by voters in referendums.

When the Supreme Court declined to review a clutch of those court decisions in October, same-sex marriage proliferated across the country.

Couples may now marry in 37 states and the District of Columbia.

Public attitudes toward such unions have undergone a remarkable change as well. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll showed a record 61 percent of Americans say they support same-sex marriage. The acceptance is driven by higher margins among the young.

When the justices declined in October to review the string of victories same-sex marriage proponents had won in other parts of the country, it meant the number of states required to allow gay marriages grew dramatically, offering the kind of cultural shift the court often likes to see before approving a fundamental change.

The combined cases now before the Supreme Court are Obergefell v. Hodges. (Contributor: By Robert Barnes and Fred Barbash for The Washington Post - Mark Berman and Sandhya Somashekhar contributed to this report. Robert Barnes has been a Washington Post reporter and editor since 1987. He has covered the Supreme Court since November 2006. Fred Barbash, the editor of Morning Mix, is a former National Editor and London Bureau Chief for the Washington Post.)

For Prayer: The oral arguments were heard in depth yesterday (Tuesday, 4/28). The justices were not pushovers for the same-sex marriage presentations, poking back at the liberal side’s pro-homosexual agenda with some surprising retorts. As always, “the [justices’] hearts are in the hand of the Lord” (to paraphrase Prov. 21:1). Intercessors have been primed and active this week, and we urge continued prayer that God will overcome the high court’s liberal majority bias toward finding new so-called “rights” within our tattered U.S. Constitution (“rights” that the founders never dreamed of). Please continue to pray. This struggle is not even close to being over, regardless of the court’s decision.

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” (Prov. 21:1-3)

“Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your mercy, Lord, and grant us Your salvation.” (Ps. 85:6-7)



The Senate Judiciary Committee cleared Sally Quillian Yates Thursday to be the next deputy attorney general, granting her bipartisan support that stood in stark contrast to the bitter partisan divide over Loretta Lynch, the women facing a final vote on becoming the top official at the Justice Department.

Ms. Yates was approved by the committee on an 18-2 vote, winning praise from Democrats who said she was qualified, and from Republicans who said she showed a willingness to be independent of the White House in a way that Ms. Lynch did not.

"The attorney general is not the president's lawyer," said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, who voted for Ms. Yates, saying she grasped that concept while Ms. Lynch, whom he planned to oppose, did not.

Ms. Yates's nomination now heads to the full Senate, where her approval is assured, given the support she had in committee.

Ms. Lynch, meanwhile, faces a vote later Thursday in the full Senate. If confirmed, she would be the first black woman to hold the top law enforcement post, earning a promotion from her current post as federal prosecutor in New York.

Ms. Yates, who is white, is a prosecutor in Georgia, and had strong support of that state's two Republican senators, which helped her nomination.

During her confirmation hearings she generally defended the president's policies but did say she viewed the role of the Justice Department as being an independent constitutional authority whose clients are the American people, not the president or Congress.

"This may seem to some like a small point. But it's important to me," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and chairman of the committee, who helped shepherd Ms. Yates's nomination through the panel.

He said Ms. Yates also showed a willingness to be forthcoming on certain questions, including confirming that the Justice Department gave legal advice by email to the White House on the prisoner exchange involving five Taliban warriors and Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, in May and June of last year. The swap happened on May 31, which Mr. Grassley said suggests the legal wrangling with the Justice Department continued even after the exchange went down.

Ms. Yates, who has been serving as acting deputy attorney general, said the department's Office of Legal Council won't release the substance of those emails because they are considered confidential legal advice.

"I do not intend to revisit that decision," she said in written responses to questions from Mr. Grassley. (Contributor: By Stephen Dinan for The Washington Times)

For prayer: The prayer focus here is not on Loretta Lynch personally but on the philosophy of government that has become paramount in the United States. A sense of gridlock exists that appears to have polarized and paralyzed the relationship between the executive branch (President Obama and his administration) and the U.S. Congress. Our country is deeply divided, and while ultimate solutions are in God’s hands, healing and reconciliation will only come as an awakened Church prays together in renewed unity. Please pray accordingly. Jesus said that a divided house or kingdom cannot stand.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.” (Ps. 133:1-3)

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24-25)



In a world first, Chinese scientists have reported editing the genomes of human embryos. The results are published1 in the online journal Protein & Cell and confirm widespread rumours that such experiments had been conducted — rumours that sparked a high-profile debate last month2, 3 about the ethical implications of such work.

In the paper, researchers led by Junjiu Huang, a gene-function researcher at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, tried to head off such concerns by using 'non-viable' embryos, which cannot result in a live birth, that were obtained from local fertility clinics. The team attempted to modify the gene responsible for β-thalassaemia, a potentially fatal blood disorder, using a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR/Cas9. The researchers say that their results reveal serious obstacles to using the method in medical applications.

"I believe this is the first report of CRISPR/Cas9 applied to human pre-implantation embryos and as such the study is a landmark, as well as a cautionary tale," says George Daley, a stem-cell biologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. "Their study should be a stern warning to any practitioner who thinks the technology is ready for testing to eradicate disease genes."

Some say that gene editing in embryos could have a bright future because it could eradicate devastating genetic diseases before a baby is born. Others say that such work crosses an ethical line: researchers warned in Nature2 in March that because the genetic changes to embryos, known as germline modification, are heritable, they could have an unpredictable effect on future generations. Researchers have also expressed concerns that any gene-editing research on human embryos could be a slippery slope towards unsafe or unethical uses of the technique.

The paper by Huang's team looks set to reignite the debate on human-embryo editing — and there are reports that other groups in China are also experimenting on human embryos.

Problematic gene

The technique used by Huang’s team involves injecting embryos with the enzyme complex CRISPR/Cas9, which binds and splices DNA at specific locations. The complex can be programmed to target a problematic gene, which is then replaced or repaired by another molecule introduced at the same time. The system is well studied in human adult cells and in animal embryos. But there had been no published reports of its use in human embryos.

Huang and his colleagues set out to see if the procedure could replace a gene in a single-cell fertilized human embryo; in principle, all cells produced as the embryo developed would then have the repaired gene. The embryos they obtained from the fertility clinics had been created for use in in vitro fertilization but had an extra set of chromosomes, following fertilization by two sperm. This prevents the embryos from resulting in a live birth, though they do undergo the first stages of development.

Huang’s group studied the ability of the CRISPR/Cas9 system to edit the gene called HBB, which encodes the human β-globin protein. Mutations in the gene are responsible for β-thalassaemia.

Serious obstacles

The team injected 86 embryos and then waited 48 hours, enough time for the CRISPR/Cas9 system and the molecules that replace the missing DNA to act — and for the embryos to grow to about eight cells each. Of the 71 embryos that survived, 54 were genetically tested. This revealed that just 28 were successfully spliced, and that only a fraction of those contained the replacement genetic material. “If you want to do it in normal embryos, you need to be close to 100%,” Huang says. “That’s why we stopped. We still think it’s too immature.”

His team also found a surprising number of ‘off-target’ mutations assumed to be introduced by the CRISPR/Cas9 complex acting on other parts of the genome. This effect is one of the main safety concerns surrounding germline gene editing because these unintended mutations could be harmful. The rates of such mutations were much higher than those observed in gene-editing studies of mouse embryos or human adult cells. And Huang notes that his team likely only detected a subset of the unintended mutations because their study looked only at a portion of the genome, known as the exome. “If we did the whole genome sequence, we would get many more,” he says.

Ethical questions

Huang says that the paper was rejected by Nature and Science, in part because of ethical objections; both journals declined to comment on the claim. (Nature’s news team is editorially independent of its research editorial team.)

He adds that critics of the paper have noted that the low efficiencies and high number of off-target mutations could be specific to the abnormal embryos used in the study. Huang acknowledges the critique, but because there are no examples of gene editing in normal embryos he says that there is no way to know if the technique operates differently in them.

Still, he maintains that the embryos allow for a more meaningful model — and one closer to a normal human embryo — than an animal model or one using adult human cells. “We wanted to show our data to the world so people know what really happened with this model, rather than just talking about what would happen without data,” he says.

But Edward Lanphier, one of the scientists who sounded the warning in Nature last month, says: "It underlines what we said before: we need to pause this research and make sure we have a broad based discussion about which direction we’re going here." Lanphier is president of Sangamo BioSciences in Richmond, California, which applies gene-editing techniques to adult human cells.

Huang now plans to work out how to decrease the number of off-target mutations using adult human cells or animal models. He is considering different strategies — tweaking the enzymes to guide them more precisely to the desired spot, introducing the enzymes in a different format that could help to regulate their lifespans and thus allow them to be shut down before mutations accumulate, or varying the concentrations of the introduced enzymes and repair molecules. He says that using other gene-editing techniques might also help. CRISPR/Cas9 is relatively efficient and easy to use, but another system called TALEN is known to cause fewer unintended mutations.

The debate over human embryo editing is sure to continue for some time, however. CRISPR/Cas9 is known for its ease of use and Lanphier fears that more scientists will now start to work towards improving on Huang's paper. “The ubiquitous access to and simplicity of creating CRISPRs," he says, "creates opportunities for scientists in any part of the world to do any kind of experiments they want.”

A Chinese source familiar with developments in the field said that at least four groups in China are pursuing gene editing in human embryos. (Contributor: By David Cyranoski & Sara Reardon for Nature.com)

For prayer: Intercessors, please note two opposing forces at work here. The first is that technology is developing rapidly that allows laboratory research to experiment with the building blocks of life at the gene level. This is now called “genetic editing.” The other “force” is the determination of the press to “get the story,” whether or not the news is ready for publication. Our own sense is to pray for caution and restraint in what is increasingly a research milieu that ignores the existence of God. The natural mind wants to create and control life, sort of like “building a tower to heaven” (see Gen. 11).

“And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’ But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, … ‘Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel …” (Gen. 11:4-9)

“Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Ps. 100:3)



To wage war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is using F-15 fighter jets bought from Boeing. Pilots from the United Arab Emirates are flying Lockheed Martin’s F-16 to bomb both Yemen and Syria. Soon, the Emirates are expected to complete a deal with General Atomics for a fleet of Predator drones to run spying missions in their neighborhood.

As the Middle East descends into proxy wars, sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks, countries in the region that have stockpiled American military hardware are now actually using it and wanting more. The result is a boom for American defense contractors looking for foreign business in an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets — but also the prospect of a dangerous new arms race in a region where the map of alliances has been sharply redrawn.

Last week, defense industry officials told Congress that they were expecting within days a request from Arab allies fighting the Islamic State — Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt — to buy thousands of American-made missiles, bombs and other weapons, replenishing an arsenal that has been depleted over the past year.

The United States has long put restrictions on the types of weapons that American defense firms can sell to Arab nations, meant to ensure that Israel keeps a military advantage against its traditional adversaries in the region. But because Israel and the Arab states are now in a de facto alliance against Iran, the Obama administration has been far more willing to allow the sale of advanced weapons in the Persian Gulf, with few public objections from Israel.

“When you look at it, Israel’s strategic calculation is a simple one,” said Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The gulf countries “do not represent a meaningful threat” to Israel, he said. “They do represent a meaningful counterbalance to Iran.”

Industry analysts and Middle East experts say that the region’s turmoil, and the determination of the wealthy Sunni nations to battle Shiite Iran for regional supremacy, will lead to a surge in new orders for the defense industry’s latest, most high-tech hardware.

The militaries of gulf nations have been “a combination of something between symbols of deterrence and national flying clubs,” said Richard L. Aboulafia, a defense analyst at the Teal Group. “Now they’re suddenly being used.”

Saudi Arabia spent more than $80 billion on weaponry last year — the most ever, and more than either France or Britain — and has become the world’s fourth-largest defense market, according to figures released last week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks global military spending. The Emirates spent nearly $23 billion last year, more than three times what they spent in 2006.

Qatar, another gulf country with bulging coffers and a desire to assert its influence around the Middle East, is on a shopping spree. Last year, Qatar signed an $11 billion deal with the Pentagon to purchase Apache attack helicopters and Patriot and Javelin air-defense systems. Now the tiny nation is hoping to make a large purchase of Boeing F-15 fighters to replace its aging fleet of French Mirage jets. Qatari officials are expected to present the Obama administration with a wish list of advanced weapons before they come to Washington next month for meetings with other gulf nations.

American defense firms are following the money. Boeing opened an office in Doha, Qatar, in 2011, and Lockheed Martin set up an office there this year. Lockheed created a division in 2013 devoted solely to foreign military sales, and the company’s chief executive, Marillyn Hewson, has said that Lockheed needs to increase foreign business — with a goal of global arms sales’ becoming 25 percent to 30 percent of its revenue — in part to offset the shrinking of the Pentagon budget after the post-Sept. 11 boom.

American intelligence agencies believe that the proxy wars in the Middle East could last for years, which will make countries in the region even more eager for the F-35 fighter jet, considered to be the jewel of America’s future arsenal of weapons. The plane, the world’s most expensive weapons project, has stealth capabilities and has been marketed heavily to European and Asian allies. It has not yet been peddled to Arab allies because of concerns about preserving Israel’s military edge.

But with the balance of power in the Middle East in flux, several defense analysts said that could change. Russia is a major arms supplier to Iran, and a decision by President Vladimir V. Putin to sell an advanced air defense system to Iran could increase demand for the F-35, which is likely to have the ability to penetrate Russian-made defenses.

“This could be the precipitating event: the emerging Sunni-Shia civil war coupled with the sale of advanced Russian air defense systems to Iran,” Mr. Aboulafia said. “If anything is going to result in F-35 clearance to the gulf states, this is the combination of events.”

At the same time, giving the gulf states the ability to strike Iran at a time of their choosing might be the last thing the United States wants. There are already questions about how judicious Washington’s allies are in using American weaponry.

“A good number of the American arms that have been used in Yemen by the Saudis have been used against civilian populations,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, an assertion that Saudi Arabia denies.

Mr. Kimball said he viewed the increase in arms sales to the region “with a great deal of trepidation, as it is leading to an escalation in the type and number and sophistication in the weaponry in these countries.”

Congress enacted a law in 2008 requiring that arms sales allow Israel to maintain a “qualitative military edge” in the region. All sales to the Middle East are evaluated based on how they will affect Israeli military superiority. But the Obama administration has also viewed improving the militaries of select Arab nations — those that see Iran as a threat in the region — as critical to Israeli security.

“It is also important to note that our close relationships with countries in the region are critical to regional stability and Israel’s security,” Andrew J. Shapiro said in a speech in 2011, when he was an assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. “Our relationships with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and many Gulf countries allow the United States to strongly advocate for peace and stability in the region.”

There is an unquestionably sectarian character to the current conflicts in the Middle East, nowhere more so than in the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen. The Saudis have assembled a group of Sunni nations to attack Houthi militia fighters who have taken over Yemen’s capital, Sana, and ousted a government backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States. Saudi officials have said that the Houthis, a Shiite group, are being covertly backed by Iran. Other nations that have joined the coalition against the Houthis, like Morocco, have characterized their participation in blunt sectarian terms.

“It’s a question of protecting the Sunnis,” Mbarka Bouaida, Morocco’s deputy foreign minister, said in an interview.

But Sunni nations have also shown a new determination to use military force against radical Sunni groups like the Islamic State. A number of Arab countries are using an air base in Jordan to launch attacks against Islamic State fighters in Syria. Separately, the Emirates and Egypt have carried out airstrikes in Libya against Sunni militias there.

Meanwhile, the deal to sell Predator drones to the Emirates is nearing final approval. The drones will be unarmed, but they will be equipped with lasers to allow them to better identify targets on the ground.

If the sale goes through, it will be the first time that the drones will go to an American ally outside of NATO. (Contributor: By Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper for The New York Times)

For prayer: The Middles East continues to be full of confusion. Who is a friend? Who is an enemy? It is not surprising that U.S. weapons are being recycled and turning up in various national alliances and agreements, many of which are focused against Israel. The greatest irony would be for American-made planes, weapons, and missiles, in some perverse twist, to be turned on Israel. Pray for the peace and protection of Israel in the midst of her sworn enemies. Ask God to bring restraint on those surrounding nations that want Israel destroyed. Pray, too, for Israel, as a nation, to turn to the Lord.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.’ For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, ‘Peace be within you.’” (Ps. 122:6-8)



The same day that the Senate reached a deal on abortion language in a bill to combat human trafficking, the House of Representatives began considering legislation that is igniting a new controversy over the divisive social issue.

The House Oversight Committee approved a resolution on Tuesday night with a party line vote that would attempt to overturn a law passed by the District of Columbia Council in December that bans employers from taking punitive action against any employees for using abortion services or birth control. The bill could be scheduled for a full House vote as early as next week.

The new House resolution, sponsored by Tennessee Rep. Diane Black, says the D.C. law, the "Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act," accomplishes the opposite of what its name implies.

"This coercive measure would ban pro-life organizations in D.C. from even considering a job seeker's views on abortion as a condition of employment," Black said in a statement. "This is an affront to the conscience rights of every American who believes, as I do, in the cause of protecting the unborn. Congress must not remain silent while this injustice unfolds."

The Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups have pressed the GOP-led Congress to block the D.C. law. In an analysis published by two Heritage policy analysts, the group asserts that anti-abortion rights groups based in Washington would be faced with decisions about hiring candidates that could conflict with their beliefs.

"Organizations whose mission is to empower women facing unplanned pregnancies with physical and emotional support or who advocate for policies that affirm the dignity and value of both mother and child could be forced to provide health insurance for the life-ending procedure they oppose," the report states.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called this latest GOP abortion bill "outrageous."

"Allowing employers to fire employees for using birth control, or in vitro fertilization, or any other reproductive health care service is an unconscionable intrusion into workers' personal lives," said Pelosi in a written statement on Monday. "By disapproving D.C.'s law, House Republicans would even allow employers to fire employees for the reproductive health decisions that their employees' spouses and dependents make."

Debate on the measure in the oversight panel became both heated and personal [last] Tuesday.

"This is a continued attack on religion and a person's 1st Amendment rights of freedom of belief," Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Michigan, said the committee's markup on the bill.

But Democrats on the panel argued the GOP was once again raising a controversial issue and imposing its views on the District of Columbia.

"It is absurd and arrogant and ignorant that in 2015 we would be having these discussions," Democratic Rep. Watson Coleman of New Jersey said Tuesday. She added she would come back for the vote but refused to listen to the debate on the issue.

Congress has the authority under the Constitution to nullify a law passed by the District of Columbia government. To roll back the bill, both the House and Senate need to pass a resolution of disapproval 30 days after the measure was transmitted to Capitol Hill. The resolution would need to be signed into law by the President.

But the chances that this move by the House will actually overturn the law are low. Time is running out, since the legislation was sent up to the Hill on March 6, and even if the measure is approved by the full House and Senate, the President Barack Obama is expected to veto it.

Earlier this year many of the anti-abortion rights groups were disappointed when House Republican leaders pulled a bill from the bill that would have banned so-called "late-term" abortions for women who are beyond 20 weeks into their pregnancy. The decision to move this legislation could help quell the criticism from those groups as GOP leaders are still negotiating changes to that bill to address internal divisions. (Contributor: By Deirdre Walsh for CNN News)

For prayer: To bring this into sharp focus, this could mean, for example, that a Christian, pro-life, pregnancy-counseling ministry in Washington, DC could not ask an applicant for a counseling position whether she (or he) held pro-life or pro-abortion views. Nancy Pelosi said that to do otherwise would be “outrageous.” This is another ruse to discriminate against those who want to preserve the freedom to remain 100 percent pro-life. Please pray with wisdom and discernment.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20)



With the evidence coming in from one study after another, scientists are now more certain than ever that oil and gas drilling is causing hundreds upon hundreds of earthquakes across the U.S.

So far, the quakes have been mostly small and have done little damage beyond cracking plaster, toppling bricks and rattling nerves. But seismologists warn that the shaking can dramatically increase the chances of bigger, more dangerous quakes.

Up to now, the oil and gas industry has generally argued that any such link requires further study. But the rapidly mounting evidence could bring heavier regulation down on drillers and make it more difficult for them to get projects approved.

The potential for man-made quakes "is an important and legitimate concern that must be taken very seriously by regulators and industry," said Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

He said companies and states can reduce the risk by taking such steps as monitoring operations more closely, imposing tighter standards and recycling wastewater from drilling instead of injecting it underground.

A series of government and academic studies over the past few years — including at least two reports released this week alone — has added to the body of evidence implicating the U.S. drilling boom that has created a bounty of jobs and tax revenue over the past decade or so.

On Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey released the first comprehensive maps pinpointing more than a dozen areas in the central and eastern U.S. that have been jolted by quakes that the researchers said were triggered by drilling. The report said man-made quakes tied to industry operations have been on the rise.

Scientists have mainly attributed the spike to the injection of wastewater deep underground, a practice they say can activate dormant faults. Only a few cases of shaking have been blamed on fracking, in which large volumes of water, sand and chemicals are pumped into rock formations to crack them open and free oil or gas.

"The picture is very clear" that wastewater injection can cause faults to move, said USGS geophysicist William Ellsworth.

Until recently, Oklahoma — one of the biggest energy-producing states — had been cautious about linking the spate of quakes to drilling. But the Oklahoma Geological Survey acknowledged earlier this week that it is "very likely" that recent seismic activity was caused by the injection of wastewater into disposal wells.

Earthquake activity in Oklahoma in 2013 was 70 times greater than it was before 2008, state geologists reported. Oklahoma historically recorded an average of 1.5 quakes of magnitude 3 or greater each year. It is now seeing an average of 2.5 such quakes each day, according to geologists.

Angela Spotts, who lives outside Stillwater, Oklahoma, in an area with a number of wastewater disposal wells, said the shaking has damaged her brick home. She pointed to the cracked interior and exterior walls, and windows and kitchen cabinets that are separating from the structure.

"There's been no doubt in my mind what's causing them," Spotts said. "Sadly, it's really taken a long time for people to come around. Our lives are being placed at risk. Our homes are being broken."

Yet another study, this one published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, connected a swarm of small quakes west of Fort Worth, Texas, to nearby natural gas wells and wastewater disposal.

The American Petroleum Institute said the industry is working with scientists and regulators "to better understand the issue and work toward collaborative solutions."

With the evidence coming in from one study after another, scientists are now more certain than ever that oil and gas drilling is causing hundreds upon hundreds of earthquakes across the U.S.

So far, the quakes have been mostly small and have done little damage beyond cracking plaster, toppling bricks and rattling nerves. But seismologists warn that the shaking can dramatically increase the chances of bigger, more dangerous quakes.

Up to now, the oil and gas industry has generally argued that any such link requires further study. But the rapidly mounting evidence could bring heavier regulation down on drillers and make it more difficult for them to get projects approved.

The potential for man-made quakes "is an important and legitimate concern that must be taken very seriously by regulators and industry," said Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

He said companies and states can reduce the risk by taking such steps as monitoring operations more closely, imposing tighter standards and recycling wastewater from drilling instead of injecting it underground.

A series of government and academic studies over the past few years — including at least two reports released this week alone — has added to the body of evidence implicating the U.S. drilling boom that has created a bounty of jobs and tax revenue over the past decade or so.

On Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey released the first comprehensive maps pinpointing more than a dozen areas in the central and eastern U.S. that have been jolted by quakes that the researchers said were triggered by drilling. The report said man-made quakes tied to industry operations have been on the rise.

Scientists have mainly attributed the spike to the injection of wastewater deep underground, a practice they say can activate dormant faults. Only a few cases of shaking have been blamed on fracking, in which large volumes of water, sand and chemicals are pumped into rock formations to crack them open and free oil or gas.

"The picture is very clear" that wastewater injection can cause faults to move, said USGS geophysicist William Ellsworth.

Until recently, Oklahoma — one of the biggest energy-producing states — had been cautious about linking the spate of quakes to drilling. But the Oklahoma Geological Survey acknowledged earlier this week that it is "very likely" that recent seismic activity was caused by the injection of wastewater into disposal wells.

Earthquake activity in Oklahoma in 2013 was 70 times greater than it was before 2008, state geologists reported. Oklahoma historically recorded an average of 1.5 quakes of magnitude 3 or greater each year. It is now seeing an average of 2.5 such quakes each day, according to geologists.

Angela Spotts, who lives outside Stillwater, Oklahoma, in an area with a number of wastewater disposal wells, said the shaking has damaged her brick home. She pointed to the cracked interior and exterior walls, and windows and kitchen cabinets that are separating from the structure.

"There's been no doubt in my mind what's causing them," Spotts said. "Sadly, it's really taken a long time for people to come around. Our lives are being placed at risk. Our homes are being broken."

Yet another study, this one published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, connected a swarm of small quakes west of Fort Worth, Texas, to nearby natural gas wells and wastewater disposal.

The American Petroleum Institute said the industry is working with scientists and regulators "to better understand the issue and work toward collaborative solutions."

The Environmental Protection Agency said there no plans for new regulations as a result of the USGS study.

"We knew there would be challenges there, but they can be overcome," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Thursday at an energy conference in Houston.

For decades, earthquakes were an afterthought in the central and eastern U.S., which worried more about tornadoes, floods and hurricanes. Since 2009, quakes have sharply increased, and in some surprising places.

The ground has been trembling in regions that were once seismically stable, including parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.

The largest jolt linked to wastewater injection — a magnitude-5.6 that hit Prague, Oklahoma, in 2011 — damaged 200 buildings and shook a college football stadium.

The uptick in Oklahoma quakes has prompted state regulators to require a seismic review of all proposed disposal wells. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, has ordered dozens of disposal wells to stop operating or change the way they are run because of concerns they might be triggering earthquakes, said spokesman Matt Skinner.

"There are far more steps that will be taken," Skinner said.

Last year, regulators in Colorado ordered an operator to temporarily stop injecting wastewater after the job was believed to be linked to several small quakes. (Contributor: Alicia Chang for Associated Press)

For prayer: While we do not take these smaller earthquakes across the U.S. lightly, not any of them compares with the mega-earthquake (7.8 on the Richter scale) that has devastated Nepal and was responsible for the loss of more than 4,000 (and counting) human lives. It had been predicted for years as inevitable “someday,” when the earth’s crust shifted as it did along two major plates or fault-lines. We might ask why did Jesus speak of earthquakes in various places as part of “the beginnings of sorrows” and associated with the last days? As we grieve and mourn with these who have lost so much, let us realize that we who escaped also live fragile lives, sustained by God’s grace and mercy.

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.” (Mark 14:8)

“My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:20-23)



A traditional values leader is exposing the Girl Scouts for its continued move toward far-left causes.

The latest announcement, says Linda Harvey of Mission America, is that little boys from kindergarten through high school can join the Girl Scouts, if the boy considers himself a girl.

"In other words, he calls the shots," Harvey says of young males. "He is the one that determines the rights and privacy of authentic girls."

Regarding transgender youth, the website for the Scouts states that if a boy is recognized as living as a girl, "then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe."

The Girl Scouts began the move by pushing liberal sex education, although some local groups refuse to follow along, and then the Scouts decided the girls could define God as they wish - or deny Him.

One News Now reported last year that the CEO of the Girl Scouts was trying to deflect ties to Planned Parenthood but pro-family watchdog groups, already tracking the association, reported otherwise.

The Girl Scouts were the targets of a "cookie boycott" last year after the group was accused of trumpeing Wendy Davis, the pro-abortion Democrat who ran for Texas governor.

In the latest news, a chapter is being organized for homosexual and lesbian families at the Utah Pride Center.

What the Girl Scouts are advocating, says Harvey, is "anything that is anti-Christian, and anything that would dishonor girls."

Meanwhile, a pro-family rival organization to the Girl Scouts, American Heritage Girls, is celebrating 20 years this year. (Contributor: By Charlie Butts for One News Now)

For Prayer: Many American parents, whether Christian or not, continue to grieve over the spiraling decline of the Girl Scouts from their once-noble history of helping to develop morally upright young women of character. The organization has become a political tool of the burgeoning Left-wing of American society. Pray for wisdom for Christian parents who must guard their daughters by removing them from the Girl Scouts and for the girls themselves who will leave friends and a familiar tradition. Give thanks for the American Heritage Girls and their growth as an alternative scouting program.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." (Psalm 32:8)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6)



U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is due to unveil an updated cyber strategy on Thursday that will stress the military's ability to retaliate with cyber weapons, a capability he hopes will help deter attacks.

The strategy presents a potentially far more muscular role for the U.S. military's cyber warriors than the Pentagon was willing to acknowledge in its last strategy rollout in 2011 and singles out threats from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

"The United States must be able to declare or display effective response capabilities to deter an adversary from initiating an attack," according to a copy of the document, obtained by Reuters ahead of its release.

The Defense Department, it said, must develop "viable cyber options" as part of the full range of tools available to the United States during heightened tensions or outright hostilities.

It should be able to use cyber tools to disrupt an enemy's command of networks, military-related critical infrastructure and weapons capabilities.

The full-throated acknowledgement of such possibilities in the unclassified document is a major shift from 2011 and reflects the U.S. hope that it will help dissuade potential enemies.

Officials note that other tools to respond include publicly identifying nations responsible and imposing sanctions.

Carter, speaking to reporters flying with him to California, where he is due to meet Silicon Valley executives and speak at Stanford University, said the primary focus of the cyber strategy was defense.

But he acknowledged that the new strategy was "more clear and more specific about everything, including offense."

"It will be useful to us for the world to know that, first of all, we're going to protect ourselves," Carter said, noting that deterrence included "a threat to retaliate against those who do us harm."

"We obviously have a capability to do that, not just in cyber but in other ways."

Carter's visit comes two months after President Barack Obama visited Silicon Valley, asking U.S. executives for closer cooperation in defending against hackers after high-profile attacks on companies like Sony Pictures Entertainment.

"The North Korean attack on Sony was one of the most destructive cyber attacks on a U.S. entity to date," the document said.

The document said Russia's cyber actors were stealthy but had unclear intentions and lambasted China's theft of intellectual property. Iran and North Korea had "less developed cyber capabilities" but overt hostile intent toward U.S. interests. (Contributor: By Phil Stewart for Reuter's New Service - Editing by Nick Macfie)

For prayer: It has been said that creating one level of weaponry for warfare constructs a platform for the next level that becomes even more damaging or lethal. If we must have sophisticated weapons, let them be for a strong defense and not for aggression against any nation. Someday, the Prince of Peace will reign, when swords will be turned into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Until then, please pray that our government will be strong to serve and defend its citizens.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Ps. 127:1)



The Florida Legislature passed a bill Friday that would require a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, [which allows a baby to live an extra 24 hours before being legally murdered by its mother] a time span Republicans said they hope will change some women’s minds before undergoing the procedure.

The issue prompted emotional debate in the Senate for nearly an hour, with Democrats saying the proposal was a roadblock to interfere with women’s rights [to murder her child in the womb] and Republicans saying that women should have to wait before making such a major decision [to legally murder her child]. The bill passed on a 26-to-13 party-line vote.

The bill now heads to Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who holds antiabortion views. (Contributor: The Washington Post)

For prayer: Intercessors will want to support any measure that protects the lives of preborn babies, even if a few hours, as so much can happen to encourage the mother or the couple to have a change of mind or heart concerning the planned destruction of that tiny, innocent life. Pray for the success of all such measures that extend the waiting period. Pray for God’s mercy on our nation, as we continue to allow such unbridled, wanton killing of millions of healthy, viable, pre-born children. Notice that God’s Word says at least twice that man’s way vs. God’s way leads to death.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12)

“He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he [but] … There is a way that seems right to a man … its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 16:20, 25)



Some have heard of the movie, “Mississippi Burning.” It is the true account of one struggle for civil rights in the South in 1964. Four young men who were part of a movement called “Freedom Riders” came to Neshoba County, Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to teach African Americans to read, and to register them to vote. They were brutally murdered by the KKK; and Mt. Zion Church, where they had met, was burned to the ground. The FBI surged through the county, spurred on by national calls for justice, and the federal case for civil rights violations was prosecuted. The case became significant to the passage of the national Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although defendants were found guilty for federal crimes, the state of Mississippi refused to prosecute the murders.

In 2001, a group of intercessors was called together to pray into the spiritual strengths and weaknesses of Neshoba County. For the next four years, they prayed and sought the Lord for direction in how to overcome the spiritual strongholds that had taken this county captive. Through this process, they learned several valuable principles in prayer: Know your history; pray in the opposite spirit of what the enemy is doing; find, bless and honor those in spiritual authority; seek reconciliation with those who have been grieved; repent on behalf of those who have committed injustice; and persevere.

In 2004, 40 years after the murders were committed, they saw breakthrough. The State Attorney General of Mississippi, Jim Hood, met with some members of a coalition formed in Philadelphia, who were seeking to reopen the murder case. After serious consideration, he agreed. The trial was held at the Neshoba County courthouse, where the intercessors had been prayer-walking. Testimony from the federal investigation in 1964 was read into the record by family members of those who had originally testified. The intercessors attended the trial along with KKK members who were there to intimidate the elderly saint who had bravely stood alone, the families of the aggrieved, and the national media. Some of the original defendants in the case had since passed away. But Edgar Ray Killen, an operative for the KKK, was found guilty on June 21, 2005, exactly 41 years to the day that the murders had been committed. He had been a pastor of a local church for all those forty years.

As Jerry Mitchel, a reporter from the (Jackson) Clarion-Ledger, later wrote: “What happened in Philadelphia in 2005 continues to serve as an example for this state and this nation as we continue to move toward redemption.” Much has been written about the turn of events surrounding this piece of national history, but little has been mentioned about the power of prayer that transformed Mississippi burning into Mississippi turning. Adapted from the article “Mississippi Turning” by Karen Vercruse in the May 2015 edition of The Connecter (see page 2). To read more about transforming revival, click on The Mobilizer, a monthly newsletter on personal and community transformation.

For prayer: Once each month, on the fourth Wednesday, IFA will share an account like the above from one of our sister publications (either our First Friday Prayer Letter (FF PL), The Connecter, or from The Mobilizer, a monthly e-mail letter promoting and encouraging prayer and fellowship toward transforming revival. Please pray for all aspects of IFA’s ministry. If you wish to receive other IFA publications, click on the provided links. You may sign up to receive these and other special reports and prayer news. Thank you for continuing to pray for IFA’s outreach to intercessors.

 On Watch in Washington April 29, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Informer April 22, 2015

On Watch in Washington April 22, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


For California Gov. Jerry Brown to crack down on shower-taking and toilet-flushing to save precious quarts of water as millions of gallons flow into the Pacific Ocean doesn’t make a lot of sense to Travis Allen.

The Republican Assembly member from Orange County is among those decrying the specter of dead lawns, dirty cars and neighborhood water watches as California braces for its first mandatory water reductions on urban consumption, which accounts for about 10 percent of the state’s usage.

“For the governor to come out and say, ‘Look, we all have to now take shorter showers and kill our front lawns and stop washing our cars,’ that is not the answer,” Mr. Allen said. “Forty percent of our water is going into the Pacific Ocean. The answer is, let’s stop sending that water into the Pacific, and let’s send it into our cities, into our homes.”

With everyday Californians now on the hook for drastic conservation measures, Republicans say the time has come to focus on the real culprit: a state and federal regulatory framework, fueled by environmental litigation, that requires a certain aquatic environment for at-risk fish while making it nearly impossible to build dams and other water-storage projects.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy described Mr. Brown’s April 1 executive order as the “culmination of failed federal and state policies that have exacerbated the current drought into a man-made water crisis.”

“Sacramento and Washington have chosen to put the well-being of fish above the well-being of people by refusing to capture millions of acre-feet of water during wet years for use during dry years,” the Bakersfield Republican said in a statement. “These policies imposed on us now, and during wet seasons of the past, are leaving our families, businesses, communities and state high and dry.”

Environmentalists have long blamed agriculture for absorbing more than its share of water, but figures from the California Department of Water Resources show that farming accounts for about 41 percent of applied water usage. Fully 48 percent is reserved for environmental purposes, which includes improving the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its most famous inhabitant, the delta smelt.

So far Republicans, farmers and business interests have been unable to drum up much outrage over the situation, but that may change with the Democratic governor’s historic restrictions, prompted by a record low snowpack and fourth year of drought.

The order calls for urban water agencies to achieve a 25 percent reduction through methods such as increased rates, reductions in kitchen and bathroom faucet flow rates and converting 50 million square feet of lawn into “drought-tolerant landscaping.”

Environmentalists laud the stricter conservation order.

“The days of casual waste and inattentive consumption are over in California,” Steve Fleischli, water program director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “Now everyone will be expected to do his or her part to help save water.”

California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins called the governor’s move “the right step at the right time. Now it’s up to all of us to do our part.”

But Mr. Allen says he already is getting calls from his constituents, who see such measures as a drop in the bucket.

“I think the biggest backlash is actually coming from just normal people, who are taking a look and saying, ‘Look, urban consumption of water in California is 10 percent or less. And so how does not watering my lawn or taking a shorter shower, how is that going to improve the overall water situation in California?’ And the answer is, it’s not,” Mr. Allen said.

Watering the delta

U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, California Republican, said voters may have a tough time swallowing higher water bills and stiff fines — the State Water Resources Control Board allows fines of up to $500 per day for infractions — even as the federal Bureau of Reclamation empties water into the delta to improve conditions for the fish.

“It’s going to be very hard for him [Mr. Brown] to summon any kind of moral authority to fine people $500 if they waste a gallon of water on their lawns or sidewalks and yet have no problems wasting millions of gallons of water in the pursuit of making the fish perfectly happy,” Mr. McClintock said Saturday in an interview with WND/Radio America.

Not that House Republicans haven’t sounded this alarm before. The House approved legislation most recently in 2014 to restore some of the water now washing into the delta — and, ultimately, the ocean — for agricultural users. That bill died in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

This year Mr. McClintock has sponsored H.R. 1668, the Save Our Water Act, which he describes as “this radical idea that maybe when an area is suffering a severe drought, they shouldn’t continue to release water in order to adjust river water temperatures.”

Steve Martarano, spokesman for the FWS’s Bay-Delta Office, told ThinkProgress that allowing water to flow uncaptured from the Sierra Nevada mountain range to San Francisco Bay may appear wasteful, but it provides a host of environmental benefits.

“You frequently hear the criticism that delta outflow is just being wasted in the ocean,” said Mr. Martarano, “but it provides many other ecosystem functions: It dilutes pollutants, provides habitat for waterfowl and provides water-freshening benefits to the delta.”

The delta smelt, regarded as an “indicator species” for the health of the delta, is listed as threatened by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last month, however, fish biologist Peter Moyle of the University of California, Davis said the species is “approaching the point of no return” in the wild, with only six caught in last month’s state survey, the lowest in 47 years.

“Prepare for extinction of Delta smelt,” he said in his March 18 post on the California WaterBlog, adding that the fish won’t disappear altogether because it’s being bred in two hatcheries.

Other delta fish in danger include two salmon species, the longfin smelt and the green sturgeon, leading critics to ask whether keeping water in the delta at the expense of crops and consumers has actually done any good.

“[T]he frustration we have is the agencies that oversee the delta have used the solution of eliminating more and more water from agriculture and providing that to environmental purposes,” said Gayle Holman, spokeswoman for the Westlands Water District, the state’s largest agricultural supplier. “But there’s been no identifiable benefit showing that fish species are rebounding or that the health of the delta is rebounding.”

Mr. Brown came under criticism from the left for exempting agriculture from his order, but he argues that farmers have borne the brunt of past restrictions. The current federal Central Valley Project water allocation is zero — for the second year in a row — while the California State Water Project has a 20 percent allocation, Ms. Holman said.

‘We need more water’

Dry spells are nothing new in California, but critics say the situation took a turn for the worse with a 2007 ruling by a federal judge that resulted in less water being pumped out of the delta in order to improve its health as well as the survival chances of the delta smelt.

Hardest hit by the ruling have been San Joaquin Valley farmers who depend on water from the delta to irrigate their crops. A half-million acres now lie fallow — plowed but not planted — in California’s Central Valley, the agricultural powerhouse known for its rich soil and plentiful fruit and nut crops, and where double-digit unemployment is now commonplace.

“You drive up and down the state on the [Interstate] 5 freeway, and you see the signs: ‘We need more water.’ It’s a common thing,” Mr. Allen said. “Farmers aren’t getting the water, they’re losing crops, trees are dying, and long-term there’s an economic impact and an impact on communities. It’s not good for our state.”

Ms. Holman points out that other factors have been cited for the decline of the fish, such as invasive species like the largemouth bass, striped bass and Asian clam, as well as ammonia and wastewater discharges from a local sanitation district.

“We’re not saying we don’t care about fish or we don’t care about the health of the delta, but thus far the solution has been to eliminate agricultural water deliveries and divert that water for environmental purposes,” she said. “And so there hasn’t been a balanced approach.”

Another issue is water storage. The massive State Water Project, launched in 1960, remains unfinished for a host of reasons, including opposition over the environmental impact. Mr. McClintock notes the state hasn’t built a major dam since 1979.

As the water crisis spills into the backyards of urban residents, Mr. McClintock says he hopes the result will be a “major reevaluation of the many leftist laws that have built up in our system.”

“A year ago, I was beating the drum to sound warnings on these policies, and nobody paid any attention,” Mr. McClintock said. “The reason they’re not paying attention is they don’t believe me. They don’t believe our policy could be so breathtakingly stupid as to dump millions of gallons of precious water in the middle of a drought to adjust river water temperatures.

“It’s such a bizarre notion, it doesn’t pass the smell test,” he said. “But those are the policies, they are being carried out, and, as our reservoirs [are] near empty, people are beginning to focus on that finally.” (Contributor: By Valerie Richardson for The Washington Times)

For Prayer: As regular readers know, we have encouraged prayer for the California water situation. Now we read that a huge amount of fresh water from the mountains is being dumped into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to regulate water temperature to help preserve an endangered fish. While fully appreciating environmental concerns, it makes little sense to put a fish above human needs. U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) said, “They (environmentalists) don’t believe our policy could be so breathtakingly stupid as to dump millions of gallons of precious water in the middle of a drought to adjust river water temperatures.” This places a frame of “politics” around the issue. Intercessors, please pray for balancing wisdom so that in the choices that must be made, the governor and political leaders will put the value of human life above that of the fish.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God … Therefore justice is far from us, nor does righteousness overtake us; we look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness!” (Isa. 59:1-2, 9)

“,,, professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” (Rom. 1:20-23)



Responding to Judicial Watch’s report earlier this week of ISIS activity along the Mexican border, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) supervisors called a “special” meeting at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez.

A high-level intelligence source, who must remain anonymous for safety reasons, confirmed that the meeting was convened specifically to address a press strategy to deny Judicial Watch’s accurate reporting and identify who is providing information to JW. FBI supervisory personnel met with Mexican Army officers and Mexican Federal Police officials, according to JW’s intelligence source. The FBI liaison officers regularly assigned to Mexico were not present at the meeting and conspicuously absent were representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It’s not clear why DHS did not participate.

Publicly, U.S. and Mexico have denied that Islamic terrorists are operating in the southern border region, but the rapid deployment of FBI brass in the aftermath of JW’s report seems to indicate otherwise. A Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector were among the sources that confirmed to JW that ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas. The base is around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as “Anapra” situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Another ISIS cell to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas, targets the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming for easy access to the United States, the same knowledgeable sources confirm. During the course of a joint operation last week, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation.

“Coyotes” engaged in human smuggling – and working for the Juárez Cartel – help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. To the east of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, cartel-backed “coyotes” are also smuggling ISIS terrorists through the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing.

Last August JW reported that ISIS, operating from Ciudad Juárez, was planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level U.S. federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources confirmed then that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border had been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies were placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning the imminent terrorist threat. (Contributor: Judicial Watch)

For prayer: We have little comment here except to encourage intercessors and “watchmen on the wall” to pray fervently for God’s mercy for the United States. Judicial Watch is a trusted, steady source of investigative news concerning the law, and this report suggests that there are individuals in our own government who might be working against national security. Please pray as you are led. Try to discover all the facts in these situations to guide your intercession.

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24-25)



Soon there may only be atheists in the foxholes. Christians are leaving the U.S. military or are discouraged from joining in the first place because of a “hostile work environment” that doesn’t let them express their beliefs openly, religious freedom advocates say.

Michael Berry, senior counsel at the Liberty Institute, a Texas-based legal organization dedicated to defending religious liberty in America, said recent high-profile cases of military chaplains facing punishment for private counseling sessions that reflected the teachings of their religion could cause devout Americans who are qualified for military service to think twice about joining the military.

In December, a chaplain for a Ranger training battalion received an administrative letter of concern after a soldier complained that he advocated Christianity and used the Bible during a mandatory unit suicide-prevention training session. The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers said the chaplain “used his official position to force his personal religious beliefs on a captive military audience” in an article the group posted on its website.

And, last month, a Navy chaplain was removed from his post and may lose his career after some sailors complained about his private counseling, in which he reportedly advocated against homosexuality and sex outside of marriage.

Mr. Berry represents both chaplains in question.

“People of faith are going to stay away from the military,” said Mr. Berry in an interview with The Washington Times.

“I can’t tell you how many moms and dads I’ve spoken to who say, ‘My son or daughter wants to join the military, [but] in light of what you’ve described, I’m not sure I want to let them join the military anymore,’ and I don’t blame them. I would have serious reservations about my own kids joining,” Mr. Berry said.

Douglas Lee, president of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, whose job it is to find people who want to be chaplains and make sure they’re also qualified to serve in the military, said growing religious hostility within the military is making it harder for him to find potential recruits and for the armed forces to maintain the chaplains it does have.

“I know people who get out, officers and chaplains, who’ve said, ‘I can’t serve the way I want to in this environment,’” said Mr. Lee, who also served as an Army chaplain. “People who’ve said, ‘Because of the religious liberty challenges I see, I think I’ll serve somewhere else.’”

Not being able to recruit or retain these individuals is very dangerous from a national security standpoint, said Mr. Berry, because they could be the military’s next group of leaders, but will never serve because they don’t think they’re welcome.

“We all used to sit around and talk about planning on spending 20 years, but at some point enough is enough,” he said.

Mr. Berry said he thinks the “hostile work environment” that is forcing the most religious persons out of the military is only getting worse, and that while in the past problems were mainly in the Air Force, religious liberty issues have spread throughout all the services.

“The problem is getting worse, not better, despite our efforts,” he said. “There is a culture [of] hostility [toward] religion in the military right now.”

While problems in the past have touched all religious groups, Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, said he’s seen a recent uptick and pattern of Christians facing persecution for religious expression.

Mr. Lee blamed a lack of education among commanders about where the line is to express religion in the workplace that causes a knee-jerk reaction to any show of religion.

A commander recently told a gate guard on a base in Georgia that he could no longer tell someone to have a “blessed day,” for example, though further review found that wasn’t a religious imposition, he said.

In the chaplain example last month, Navy Chaplain Lt. Cmdr. Wes Modder was removed from his position counseling sailors and could be kicked out of the military for expressing his views on marriage and homosexuality in private sessions. Mr. Berry is representing Lt. Cmdr. Modder, who is still on active duty in Charleston, South Carolina, as the case is reviewed at a higher level.

Mr. Berry said this case even could set a precedent usable outside the military by establishing, as a principle, that the government can punish religious leaders based on the state’s moral disapproval of the church’s teachings, especially in matters of sex.

“If what happened to Chaplain Modder is allowed to stand, it could foretell more instances in which the government tells priests, ministers, chaplains, etc. that their views are unacceptable,” he said.

Mr. Weber said these types of punishments affect both troops and chaplains, since chaplains will feel the need to constantly be looking over their shoulder to avoid punishment, and service members will wonder if chaplains are being honest or just saying what they can say without getting in trouble.

Michael Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said that while chaplains can believe whatever their religion teaches, those who think they must act on religious teachings about sex or sexuality have no place in the military.

“You can continue to believe that internally, but if you have to act on that, the right thing to do is to get out of the U.S. military, because you have no right to tell a member of the military that they’re inferior because of the way they were born,” he said.

The military had 2,837 active-duty chaplains as of December 2014, according to numbers provided by the Defense Department. The largest group was the Southern Baptist Convention, with 437 members. More than 200 chaplains are affiliated with the Roman Catholic church, while 26 are Jewish, and just one is Hindu.

“The Department of Defense respects, places a high value on and supports by policy the rights of members of the military services to observe the tenets of their respective religions or to have no religious beliefs,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, spokesman for the Defense Department. “The mission of the chaplain corps is to provide care and the opportunity for service members, their families and other authorized personnel to exercise their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”

Advocates agreed that chaplains play a crucial role in allowing troops to exercise their freedom of religion, no matter what religion that is.

Commanders have also relied on chaplains to act as combat multipliers, dealing with issues in the ranks like marriage crises or financial troubles that commanders often can’t address, Mr. Lee said.

Mr. Weinstein, however, said he thinks the chaplain corps would work better if chaplains were totally outside the military force structure and didn’t have a military rank.

In addition to posing a problem if a chaplain outranks whoever is seeking counseling, having religious leaders in the military serves as propaganda for Islamic extremist groups, who try to paint the U.S. military as the latest group of religious crusaders, he said. (Contributor: By Jacqueline Klimas for The Washington Times)

For prayer: Imagine yourself on a battlefield, seriously wounded. You wonder if you have more than a few minutes to live. A “chaplain” approaches. Perhaps he will say something to quiet your fears and bring you hope. You ask, “What’s on the ‘other side’?” Chaplain: “I have no idea.” You ask, “Will I ever see my Christian wife and our baby again?” Chaplain: “I doubt it.” No help, no hope; only, “Keep your chin up, buddy; be brave.” Such is the U.S. “chaplaincy of the future” if all voices of faith are silenced. With due respect for the freedom of unbelief, what else can an atheist offer? Jesus said, “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit.” Pray for Chaplain Wes Modder and others like him. Pray for the U.S. troops he and other Christian chaplains might have ministered to, that God will lead them to the truth of the Gospel another way. Pray for a revival that will restore God-given rights to Christian ministers.

“So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’” (Acts 4:18-20)



The world is witnessing a resurgence of global anti-Semitism not seen since the 1930s and the “Final Solution.” In the Middle East, Hitler-admiring regimes like Iran, and Hitler-admiring parties like Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, are openly planning to finish the job the Nazis started. Even in America, until now the most hospitable place outside of Israel for Jews, the atmosphere is more hostile than at any time in the last 70 years.

According to the FBI, three-fifths of all religious hate crimes in America are now committed against Jews, while a recent Pew poll revealed that 54 percent of Jewish students have either been the subject of an anti-Semitic attack or witnessed one. The frequency of these attacks among college-aged students, moreover, is five times that of any other age group. The reason for this is obvious: Across the United States student groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, specifically Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Students Association, are engaged in a vitriolic campaign against Israel and those students who support its right to exist. These organizations promote the propaganda of the terrorist organization Hamas, and call for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Students for Justice in Palestine, the more active of the two groups, claims to support a left-wing agenda of “social justice,” and “universal human rights.” Like the left itself, though, Students for Justice in Palestine doesn’t stand for the rights of Palestinians in the territories controlled by Palestinians, including the rights of Palestinians to disagree with each other without being targeted by their terrorist rulers. Instead, SJP’s sole agenda is the destruction of the Jewish state.

While SJP’s self-professed purpose is “to promote self-determination for the Palestinian people,” the organization defines the boundaries of this liberation as extending “from the river to the sea,” i.e., from the Jordan River on Israel’s eastern border to its western border on the Mediterranean. To advance this genocidal agenda, SJP endorses the lie that Israel was created on territory stolen from the Palestinians and, therefore, Jews illegally occupy Arab lands from which they must be purged.

In fact, Israel was created on land that had belonged to the Turks, who are not Arabs, for 400 years previously. In 1948 when Israel was created, there was no Palestinian political entity, no movement for a Palestinian state, and no people calling itself Palestinian. These core genocidal lies make up the primary agenda of SJP and its anti-Jewish allies, and are crowned by the ludicrous claim that Israel is an “apartheid state” with policies worthy of the “Nazis.” In fact, Israel is the only democratic and ethnically tolerant state in the Middle East, the only place where gays, Christians and women are safe. The real Nazis in the Middle East are the Arabs who openly call for the extermination of the Jews.

Despite its anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist agendas, SJP is funded by university fees. University administrations officially recognize the organization and grant it the privilege of erecting walls of hate, and conducting “die-ins” and other propaganda stunts in campus centers where other students can’t avoid being assaulted by their noxious accusations.

University administrators who refuse to rein in this hatred operate under pressure from faculty and student activists of the anti-Israel “social justice” left. These include the self-hating Jews of J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace, who join hands with their mortal enemies to condemn anyone who confronts SJP and the malignant forces it represents as “Islamophobes.”

As it happens, “Islamophobe” is a term coined by the Muslim Brotherhood to demonize its opponents, and the center of a campaign seeking a universal ban on critics as religious blasphemers. The campaign’s success can be seen in President Obama’s refusal to call the terrorist Islamic State “Islamic,” or to describe the war waged by the Islamic State, al Qaeda and other Islamic terror organizations as a religious crusade.

Thanks to the savageries of the Islamic State, however, Americans have begun to wake up and to see Jews as canaries in the mine, and to understand that what is happening to Jews is also happening to Christians and others in the way of Islamic Nazis. Nonetheless, the continuing successes of front organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine are ominous indicators of the dangers that confront us, and should be a wake-up call, too. (Contributor: By David Horowitz for Front Page Magazine - David Horowitz is author of the newly published book The Great Betrayal (Regnery 2014), which is a chronicle of the Democrats treachery in the war on terror before 9/11 to the death of Osama bin Laden.)

For prayer: David Horowitz is a man worth listening to, as he has proven through his books and talks to have keen insight into the confusing riddles in the Middle East and the increase in anti-Semitism both worldwide and rapidly rising in our own country, as is persecution against Christians. Pray for a widespread resurgence of faith in the Church, for transforming revival, for united and unified prayer, and for increased illumination from the Bible as to the powerful place a fasting to accompany intercessory prayer. Pray for your own college and university students who are forming their own worldview in their campus years.

“Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they are mighty who would destroy me, being my enemies wrongfully …” (Ps. 69:4)

“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.” (John 15:20-21)

With a resounding election victory last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to have an easy path toward quickly establishing a coalition government with his traditional nationalist, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies.

But after weeks of negotiations with potential partners, Netanyahu is finding the task harder than expected and is flirting with the idea of reaching out to his main dovish rivals to form a unity government. As he decides which path to take, he will seek an additional two-week extension to put his coalition together.

Which way Netanyahu goes will have broad implications. If he sides with the hard-line allies that he often calls his "natural" partners, Netanyahu will have a solid parliamentary majority of like-minded parties that could avoid much of the infighting that plagued the outgoing government and provide some welcome political stability at home.

But such a coalition — averse to peace moves with the Palestinians and in favor of expanded settlement construction in the West Bank — quickly would find itself on a collision course with the international community at a time when Netanyahu is already feuding with his allies over the moribund peace process and a nuclear deal with Iran that he loathes. A unity government that includes his leftist rivals would help blunt that looming international isolation.

Throughout the heated campaign, Netanyahu ruled out the possibility of joining forces with Isaac Herzog and his center-left Zionist Union and vowed to rule from the right.

Election results gave his Likud Party 30 seats and secured him a potential 67-seat majority of the 120-seat Knesset along with his traditional allies. In negotiations, however, these allies have made demands to head powerful government ministries, and an initial four-week window to form a new government is now set to expire.

On Monday, he is scheduled to meet Israel's largely ceremonial president, Reuven Rivlin, and seek a two-week extension. Under Israeli election rules, if he fails to form a coalition during that time Rivlin then can assign someone else the task of doing so.

Few expect it to come to that, and the 67-seat right-wing government seems to be the most likely outcome.

Netanyahu looks close to finalizing deals with two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and Yahadut Hatorah, who are seeking ministries and parliamentary committees with large budgets catering to their constituents. He also appears to be close to a deal with the centrist, economics-focused Kulanu party.

But large gaps remain with the two other pieces needed to complete the puzzle, the nationalist Jewish Home and Yisrael Beiteinu parties, both of whom are led by long-time Netanyahu associates who have a tumultuous relationship with the boss.

Despite disappointing election results, both parties are demanding top Cabinet posts and major influence that are disproportionate to their numbers. Netanyahu has yet to budge and has signaled he may leave them out.

Tsahi Hanegbi, the deputy foreign minister from Netanyahu's Likud Party, said the prospect of Herzog joining the coalition only was becoming a possibility due to the hard-ball approach of the right-wing parties.

"It is rising only as an extreme scenario whose chances of coming true are a result of the Jewish Home or Yisrael Beitenu, either both of them or one of them, stubbornly refusing to show flexibility," he told Israel's Army Radio Sunday.

While the threat may be a pressure tactic, there are large issues at stake. Despite his rhetoric, aides acknowledge that Netanyahu is concerned about clashes with his allies in the U.S. and western Europe.

Increased settlement construction, a prolonged absence of Palestinian peace talks and nationalist legislation that undermines Israel's democratic nature would surely draw a strong rebuke and perhaps even calls for sanctions and boycotts. With his relations with President Barack Obama at a low point following clashes over Mideast peace and the Iranian nuclear talks, there is a real fear that Israel's top ally may rescind its automatic protection of Israel at the United Nations and other international bodies.

Netanyahu has partnered with his adversaries in the past to shield himself from similar fallout.

In 2009, he added Labor Party leader Ehud Barak as his defense minister and point man to the West. And in his last government, he brought in dovish ex-foreign minister Tzipi Livni to be his chief peace negotiator.

Herzog is under heavy pressure from his followers not to offer Netanyahu that political cover again. Both men have denied reports of a secret meeting. Over the weekend, Herzog vowed to go to the opposition.

"Sitting in the opposition is not a default choice but a preference," he said. "Our place is in the opposition. We will replace the Likud government."

But Herzog's Labor Party, the main partner in the Zionist Union, has a long history of ousting its defeated leaders, so Herzog also may be tempted to jump at a chance to gain some influence and job security — most likely as Netanyahu's foreign minister. Herzog is the seventh leader of the party since it last won a national election in 1999.

Herzog's only hint of common ground with Netanyahu was a position paper issued by his party that backed Netanyahu's opposition to the recent U.S.-led framework nuclear deal with Iran. On this crucial matter, it said "there is no coalition or opposition" in Israel.

So far, Herzog's party rank-and-file seems to oppose joining Netanyahu and appears eager to watch a hard-line government fail. But there are also growing voices in Israel saying that Herzog's Zionist Union does not have the luxury to make that kind of cold political calculation.

"Its presence in the coalition is critical to preserving Israel as a liberal democracy," liberal columnist Carlo Strenger wrote in the Haaretz daily newspaper. "Ultimately, the idea of staying in the opposition is based on a deep illusion: It is that the liberal center-left is likely to regain power in the foreseeable future, and that Israel's electorate just has to realize how destructive the political right's policies are." (Contributor: By Aron Heller for The Huffington Post)

For prayer: Give thanks for reports like this, as it opens the eyes of Western Christians who like to think that Israel as a unified country standing as one in opposition to forces from Iran, ISIS, and Hamas. But such is not the case. Though God’s covenant with Israel and the land remains, and though the Israeli’s are tough people and determined to survive, most of the country’s various factions are out of step with each other and with God’s larger purpose, which is to open hearts to receive Jesus Christ, as Messiah. It has never been more urgent to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Pray for Israel to (re)turn to the Lord.

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him— “ (Joel 2:12-14a)



Christians from all over the world will join in prayer and fasting on the day of Pentecost, May 24, 2015. You are urged to lift your voice along with many others around the globe on that day, focusing prayers in biblical hope for the glory of Christ and the blessing of the nations.

Just as the first Pentecost was preceded by ten days of continuous prayer, many intercessors will begin joining prayers together for ten days, beginning on Thursday, May 14. To make it feasible for many to join in this ten-day vigil, a Ten-Day Prayer Guide is available. It’s easily downloaded at no cost to be freely distributed. Find the Ten-Day Prayer Guide on the WayMakers website. Pray these prayers yourself, or even better, find creative ways to pray with others during these ten days, May 14-23.

The Global Day of Prayer offers a wonderful way for local congregations to pray with the world by using six or seven minutes to pray the biblically-beautiful prayer called, “A Prayer for the World.” Download the PowerPoint and PDF files of this prayer. Despite its name, this prayer is really a way to pray with the world. Explore the possibility of using this prayer as part of your services on Pentecost Sunday with leaders of your church. You can find more about the Global Day of Prayer on the WayMakers website.

Pentecost stands as a living promise that God has begun, but He has not yet finished, the fulfillment of all that He has promised. Nothing could be more fitting and refreshing as to pray in unity with many others for His transforming blessing to abound among all peoples for the glory of Christ.

For prayer: We encourage the work of all Christian prayer ministries, and we believe this is a valid call to global (international) prayer in unity with thousands of Christians around the world. The Ten-Day Prayer Guide is helpful. Click on the link here to get a free downloadable copy. Give thanks and pray for multitudes to learn of this initiative and to participate. Believers praying in unity pleases the Lord. Pray for multitudes to turn to the Lord and be saved.

“And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me. Look to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath.” (Isa. 45:21-23)



"We in Australia believe it is our turn to bless the nation of America and pray for healing for the USA through prayer and fasting according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. We in Australia are grateful for the protection that America gave Australia and the nations of the free world during World War II." -Alison Jessup

The team behind Australia's National Day of Prayer and Fasting, along with other prayer leaders are calling the nations of the world to prayer and fasting for seven days for USA. This period of prayer will take place from April 30 - May 6, 2015. (Photo via Charisma News)

April 30 is America's National Day of Repentance, and May 7 is the 64th Annual National Day of Prayer.

Warwick Marsh, Australian coordinator, said, "April 30 is the 226th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as a devout Christian president and the 152nd anniversary of Lincoln's Day of 'Humiliation, Prayer and Fasting' held during the devastating times of the Civil War. The theme for the USA National Day of Prayer on 7 May, 2015 'Lord Hear Our Cry' is taken from 1 Kings 8:28: 'Give attention to your servant's prayer and his pleas for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.'"

View this prayer for America: click here. (Video)

Alison Jessup from Australia said, "We in Australia believe it is our turn to bless the nation of America and pray for healing for the USA through prayer and fasting according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. We in Australia are grateful for the protection that America gave Australia and the nations of the free world during World War II. The 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, led by the USA, was the turning point in the Second World War for Australia."

Matt Prater from Australia said, "We are calling the nations of the world to join in prayer and fasting with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the USA. Last year we had people from over 40 nations join with us. This year we are believing for over 100 nations to join us in prayer and fasting for the USA."

And Lana Vawser from Australia said, "There is a fight for the destiny of the USA right now. The destiny of America hangs in the balance. The Lord is calling His people to arise and pray for the United States of America. It is time to contend." (Contributor: Breaking Christian News)

For prayer (and praise!): This effort on the part of Australian Christians for the U.S. could not be more welcome or come at a better time. Our country continues on a downward spiral. The U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments later this month and ultimately rule on whether same-sex “marriage” will be the law of the land, accepted throughout the U.S. And in this unprecedented time frame, Christians from another nation, half a world away, have pledged themselves to prayer and fasting for our national welfare. May God allow us to humble ourselves here in America, and to join with our Australian friends as they intercede for the United States. Our Scripture is the verse chosen for the upcoming National Day of Prayer (May 7), whose theme is , “Lord, hear our cry.”

“Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today … “ (1 Kings 8:28)

“As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.” (Prov. 25:25)

On Watch in Washington April 22, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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On Watch in Washington April 15, 2015

On Watch in Washington April 15, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren appeared on one of the late night talk shows last week, beating the class warfare drum and arguing for billions of dollars in new social programs paid for with higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires. In recent years, though, blue states such as California, Illinois, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland and Minnesota adopted this very strategy, and they raised taxes on their wealthy residents. How did it work out? Almost all of these states lag behind the national average in growth of jobs and incomes.

So, if income redistribution policies are the solution to shrinking the gap between rich and poor, why do they fail so miserably in the states?

The blue states that try to lift up the poor with high taxes, high welfare benefits, high minimum wages and other Robin Hood policies tend to be the places where the rich end up the richest and the poor the poorest.

California is the prototypical example. It has the highest tax rates of any state. It has very generous welfare benefits. Many of its cities have a high minimum wage. But day after day, the middle class keeps leaving. The wealthy areas such as San Francisco and the Silicon Valley boom. Yet the state has nearly the highest poverty rate in the nation. The Golden State, alas, has become the inequality state.

In a new report called “Rich States, Poor States” that I write each year for the American Legislative Exchange Council with Arthur Laffer and Jonathan Williams, we find that five of the highest-tax blue states in the nation — California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois — lost some 4 million more U.S. residents than entered these states over the last decade (see chart). Meanwhile, the big low-tax red states — Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia — gained about this many new residents.

One liberal economic think tank — the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy — recently issued a report on the states with the most and least “regressive” tax systems. The conclusion was that states should raise their income taxes on the rich to be more “fair.” Except it turns out that people are leaving the states that the think tank ranks as fair, and they are moving to the states the think tank ranks as economically backward.

The least “regressive” tax states had average population growth from 2003 to 2013 that lagged below the national trend. The 10 most highly “regressive” tax states, including nine with no state income tax, had population growth on average 4 percent above the U.S. average. Why was that? Because states without income taxes have twice the job growth of states with high tax rates. Unlike the experts at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, most Americans think that fairness means having a job.

Ohio University economist Richard Vedder and I compared the income gap in states with higher tax rates, higher minimum wages and more welfare benefits with states on the other side of the policy spectrum. There was no evidence that states with these liberal policies had helped the poor much and, in many cases, these states recorded more income inequality than other states as measured by the left’s favorite statistic called the Gini Coefficient.

The 19 states with minimum wages above the $7.25 per hour federal minimum do not have lower income inequality. States with a super minimum wage — such as Connecticut ($9.15), California ($9.00), New York ($8.75), and Vermont ($9.15) — have significantly wider gaps between rich and poor than states without a super minimum wage.

States are supposed to be laboratories of democracy, right? These laboratories are providing us with concrete evidence that Robin Hood policies don’t help make the poor richer, they make most people poorer. In other words, the blue states have tried the Elizabeth Warren “progressive” agenda and people are voting with their feet by fleeing in droves. The kinds of income redistribution policies that Ms. Warren and others endorse can only work by building a Berlin Wall so no one can leave — though I hope I’m not giving them any ideas. (Contributor: By Stephen Moore for The Washington Times - Stephen Moore is an economist at the Heritage Foundation and a Fox News contributor.)

For prayer: Without being political, we note that these trends have been going on for years. The cause of mass relocation is clear to conservative thinkers and fuzzy to liberal thinking. The difference in viewpoint is not a reflection of intelligence but of philosophy of government. Thus, we show no disrespect toward Sen. Warren. A clear example is the exodus for several decades of well-known Christian ministries from (high tax) California to more favorable venues (Texas, Colorado, etc.). The facts speak for themselves. Our prayer focus is, of course, far beyond the changes in population. Pray for our country to return to its constitutional foundations, whereby government serves and protects its citizens, encouraging economic freedom and business aspirations with reasonable taxes. Or will government rule and increase its power at the citizens’ expense? Please pray for a shift in values.

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’” (Mat. 6:31-34)

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” (Ps. 33:12)



In its latest attack on religious liberty, the American Civil Liberties Union, wants to force Roman Catholic organizations to provide contraception and abortions to unaccompanied immigrant children pouring over America’s southern border.

The ACLU is suing the Department of Health and Human Services to obtain documents that it claims show that Catholic relief agencies are not providing abortions or referrals for abortion.

It’s part of a national strategy to force faith-based facilities to perform abortions or face ruinous litigation and the loss of government contracts, and it comes despite the Supreme Court’s ruling last June against the ham-handed Obamacare dictate to force Christian-owned companies such as Hobby Lobby to provide abortifacients.

In March 2013, the Seattle branch of the ACLU threatened to sue a hospital district over a proposed contract with Catholic health providers unless the providers gave up their faith-based opposition to abortion, contraceptives, euthanasia and sterilizations.

In November 2013, the ACLU sued the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, alleging that its pro-life stance against abortion resulted in negligent care for a Michigan woman with a troubled pregnancy who eventually lost the child.

“It’s not just about one woman,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the Michigan ACLU, in a Newsmax report quoted in The Washington Times. “It’s about a nationwide policy created by nonmedical professionals putting patients in harm’s way.”

Hard cases make bad law, which brings us to the ACLU’s ploy to use the flood of illegal immigrant children as pawns in the ongoing attack on Catholic health care institutions.

Since Congress began debating President Obama’s policy of amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have crossed into the United States from Mexico and Central America.

The lack of adult supervision has put many of the children at risk for beatings, robberies and rapes.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has contracts with the federal government to care for the arriving children. In 2014, the Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services had a total budget of $71 million, of which 93 percent was composed of federal grants and contracts, according to Breitbart.com.

The ACLU cites rape as a prime reason to force Migration and Refugee Services to dispense emergency contraception and to perform abortions or to refer the children to abortionists, either of which is a grievous sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

In an ACLU blog post, Brigitte Amiri, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project attorney, compared the bishops’ refusal to provide abortions with the controversy over Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Last week, Indiana lawmakers passed the RFRA bill, Gov. Mike Pence signed it, and then under media and corporate pressure they quickly amended it, turning it into a gay-rights bill in which “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” trump the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom.

Comparing Indiana’s original RFRA to the Catholic bishops‘ reluctance to violate their faith by providing abortions, the ACLU’s Ms. Amiri told reporters, “We think that the same principle applies here, that religious beliefs should not be used to harm others.”

Speaking of harm, Memories Pizza, a small, family-owned restaurant in Walkerton, Indiana, fell victim to a fierce social media onslaught, death threats and picketing, and was forced temporarily to close its doors. Its owner had told a local TV reporter in answer to a “gotcha” question that they gladly serve everyone but could not cater a same-sex ceremony because of their Christian beliefs in the sanctity of marriage. To no one’s surprise, the ACLU has not offered to defend them.

At an Easter prayer breakfast on Tuesday, Mr. Obama piled on, delivering a not-so-veiled shot at the pizzeria family and other Christians: “I have to say that sometimes when I listen to less-than-loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned. But that’s a topic for another day.”

Notably, Mr. Obama made no mention of the recent mass murder of Christian students by Somali Islamic militants at a university in Kenya, nor the Islamic State’s ongoing genocide of Christians in the Middle East. Nor the ACLU’s bullying of Catholic health agencies.

In the eyes of the president and his friends at the ACLU, apparently it all depends on who is being harmed by whom. (Contributor: By Robert Knight for The Washington Times - Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a contributor to The Washington Times.)


For prayer: This report is crystal clear, needing little comment. Sadly, President Obama walks in lock-step with the ACLU in his determination to force abortion financing from all sources, including the venerable Roman Catholic Church. His recent “Easter prayer breakfast” was a charade, as not a single conservative Christian voice was present, but only those representatives, including religious personnel, who share his determination to make abortion a “normal” decision where everyone pays. Intercessors know how to pray into this. Our Catholic friends are standing strong, though all will pay a high price until God mercifully brings salvation to the White House OR grants America a better administration that honors the choice of LIFE! Isaiah could be describing America’s present day.

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity.” (Isa. 59:1-3)



The Chinese Navy has deployed three ballistic missile submarines at sea capable of striking the United States with nuclear missiles, the commander of the U.S. Northern Command said Tuesday.

Adm. William Gortney, the commander, said the submarines are a “concern” and will be able to strike the United States when fully deployed with missiles and warheads.

The missile submarines are deployed in the South China Sea at a base on Hainan Island, according to a defense official.

“They’ve not loaded their missiles or begun strategic patrols,” the official said. “But we believe they are likely to begin this year.”

Gortney also stated explicitly that U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that North Korea is capable of mounting a small nuclear warhead on its new road-mobile KN-08 intercontinental missiles.

In a wide ranging interview with reporters at the Pentagon, the admiral also disclosed that Russia is engaged in political “messaging” by sending long-range nuclear bombers near the United States and will probably follow through with promises to fly Tu-160 Blackjack bombers near the southern U.S. coast.

On the Chinese sea-based nuclear threat, Gortney said: “They have put to sea their sea-launched ballistic missile submarines. I believe they have three in the water right now.”

Gortney said any time a nation has nuclear weapons and delivery systems that can reach the U.S. homeland, “it’s a concern of mine.”

It was the first time a senior U.S. military official voiced worries about Chinese nuclear missile submarines.

The four-star admiral in charge of the Colorado-based Northern Command in charge of homeland military defense said Chinese missile submarines are watched very closely.

“And you know, their very long-range capability is a function of how far do they reach,” he said. “So even from their own waters, they can reach part of our homeland. Hawaii is part of our homeland and they can reach Hawaii. And then the farther east they go, they can reach more and more of our nation.”

Asked if they have conducted sea patrols near U.S. coasts, Gortney suggested Chinese submarines could conduct underwater operations near U.S. shores in the future.

“We haven’t seen those patrols just yet, but it doesn’t mean that those patrols can’t exist in the future,” he said.

China in January conducted a flight test of the new JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile that is deployed on what the Pentagon calls China’s new Jin-class submarines.

A congressional commission reported that the JL-2 appears to have reached initial operating capability.

“The JL-2’s range of approximately 4,598 miles gives China the ability to conduct nuclear strikes against Alaska if launched from waters near China; against Alaska and Hawaii if launched from waters south of Japan; against Alaska, Hawaii and the western portion of the continental United States if launched from waters west of Hawaii; and against all 50 U.S. states if launched from waters east of Hawaii,” the U.S.-China Economic Security and Review Commission stated in its latest annual report.

Jin-class submarines can carry up to 12 JL-2 missiles, each of which is expected to have multiple warheads.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the House Armed Services Committee Feb. 3 that the first missile submarine patrols were expected this year.

“In 2014, China twice deployed submarines to the Indian Ocean,” Stewart said. “The submarines probably conducted area familiarization to form a baseline for increasing China’s power projection.”

Gortney said he is not alarmed at the evolution of Chinese nuclear forces from silo-based ICBMs to road-mobile missiles and now missile-firing submarines.

“It doesn’t surprise me that they’re doing it,” he said. “We do the same thing. We’ve done that for years.”

China also has adopted a policy of not being the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict that Gortney said “gives me a little bit of a good news picture there.”

Rick Fisher, a China military affairs expert, said that Chinese missile submarine patrols have been expected for years. The missile submarine patrols, when launched, will mark “the end of China’s 40-year quest to build a submarine-based nuclear second-strike capability,” said Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

Fisher said China also is building more advanced missile submarines and possibly a longer-range version of the JL-2.

“It is conceivable that China eventually will deploy six to 10 SSBNs with slightly less than or over 100 submarine-launched ballistic missiles,” he said. SSBN is the acronym for a ballistic missile submarine.

On North Korea’s nuclear missile threat, Gortney provided the most detailed explanation to date of U.S. assessments of Pyongyang’s nuclear missile capability.

“Our assessment is that they have the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 and shoot it at the homeland,” Gortney said, referring to North Korea’s six road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“We haven’t seen them test the KN-08 yet and we’re waiting to do that,” he added.

Asked if the assessment was based on excess caution, he said: “No, I think it’s a prudent decision by my assessment of the threat, and the threat to the nation.”

The assessment that the KN-08 could be armed with a nuclear warhead was made in the last one or two years, he said.

Gortney voiced confidence that U.S. missile defenses currently deployed on ships in Asia and at bases in Alaska and California can stop a North Korean missile attack.

“As the person that owns the trigger … I have high confidence that it will work against North Korea,” he said.

Gortney said he is “very concerned” by North Korea’s new KN-08 truck-mounted ICBM that can be moved on roads and hidden in shelters and caves.

“It’s a re-locatable target set that really impedes our ability to find, fix, and finish the threat,” he said.

“And so, as the targets move around, if we don’t have the persistence there and the persistent [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance], which we do not have over North Korea at this time, that re-locatable nature makes it very difficult for us to be able to counter it.”

However, if the North Koreans fire one of the missiles at the United States, “I’m confident that we’ll be able to knock it down,” he said.

The KN-08 is deployed on Chinese-made transporter-erector launchers that were shipped to North Korea in violation of U.N. missile sanctions.

The Northern Command is preparing for Russia to conduct provocative strategic bomber flights along U.S. southern coasts.

Moscow announced last year that it would begin conducting bomber flights in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

“The one that we expect would be either Blackjack bombers or large jet bombers, not the Bears that we see them flying elsewhere,” Gortney said.

“It wouldn’t surprise me that they do that,” he said. “We’re prepared for it, you know, to intercept them, should we need to, should we choose to.”

The Russians are conducting the flights as part of nuclear forces exercises and as political signals, he said.

“They’re messaging us, showing us that they have a long-range conventional reach or nuclear reach with their manned bombers,” he said.

Gortney said Russia under Putin has developed a far more capable military than the very large military of the former Soviet Union, and has a new military doctrine to go along with the buildup.

“You’re seeing that bear out. You’re seeing them employ that capability and that doctrine in the Ukraine,” he said. “At they same time they are messaging us … that they’re a global power.”

The aggressive flights were conducted with great frequency following the downing of a civilian airliner over Ukraine in July. At the time, Russian bombers were conducting flights near Canada, Alaska, and the English Channel.

Two Russian naval vessels also have been sailing near the United States. An intelligence gathering ship recently left Venezuela and another logistics ship sailed to Cuba.

Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic affairs policymaker, said the admiral is correct about Russia planning Blackjack flights for political messaging.

“The Russian message is nuclear intimidation,” Schneider said. “There is no reason to fly bombers that far south when they carry nuclear cruise missiles with ranges of thousands of kilometers. They do this because they know the intimidation factor will be higher if the bombers come close to the United States.”

The same rationale is behind recent, large-scale Russian nuclear forces exercises near Crimea and Kaliningrad, where Moscow is deploying nuclear-capable Iskander M short-range missiles and Backfire bombers, along with recent nuclear threats by a Russian ambassador directed at Denmark, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threatening language regarding Ukraine.

“They want to scare us but not so much that we take measures to enhance our nuclear deterrent,” he said. “As long as we do little or nothing in response, these threats will continue to escalate.”

On the threat posed by the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) terrorist group, Gortney said the threat that IS fighters will infiltrate through porous U.S. borders is less a worry than the current “very sophisticated” social media campaign being used by the group to recruit terrorists here.

“That’s how they are trying to attack us,” he said.

U.S. borders could be used, however by enemies that seek “seams” in defenses.

Gortney also said he is not in favor of building a third ground-based missile defense interceptor on the U.S. East Coast. He would prefer to spend the limited money available for missile defenses on other elements of missile defenses, such as sensors and other equipment.

“Our current approach is on the wrong side of the cost curve,” he said. (Contributor: By Bill Getz for The Washington Free Beacon)

For prayer: What was once called “saber-rattling” is now “missile-rattling.” Much of this is still “theoretical” to American daily life, as military and security experts don’t think an attack on the U.S. from a foreign power is imminent. However, our country’s enemies are real and potentially violent, and it is good for us to be reminded that national life is precarious and how necessary is God’s mercy. Please pray into Adm. Gortney’s observation that the current “very sophisticated” social media campaign is proving successful in our country in recruiting new potential terrorists. Whether “Brave” or not, it is a “new world” we live in, and every nation is vulnerable every day. Please pray as you are led.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows…” (Ps. 127:1-2)



The White House acknowledged last week that the unclassified computer systems at the U.S. presidential mansion were vulnerable to hackers.

Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, made the remarks in response to media reports that Russian hackers got access to some sensitive White House information, such as President Barack Obama's private schedule.

Rhodes would not confirm that sensitive information had been accessed, nor would he comment on where the threat originated. But, he said, "There's always vulnerability,'' which is why the White House operates a separate, secure system for classified data.

"We have classified systems that are secure and we take regular precautions to secure our own classified networks as well. I think we were very up front in acknowledging a cyber intrusion last year, so that is not new. We don't talk about where cyber intrusions originate from because we are constantly taking actions to prevent them," Rhodes told reporters.

The U.S. government has been hit by several cyberattacks, including the hacking of unclassified computers at the White House and State Department, as well as the Twitter and YouTube accounts of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the military campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

Who's to blame?

Some of the attacks have been blamed on hackers in Russia, China and North Korea.

Earlier this year, the White House announced the creation of a federal agency to analyze threats to the nation's cybersecurity and determine strategy to combat them.

The Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center will coordinate cyber threat intelligence from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies. The center will operate under the guidance of the director of national intelligence. (Contributor: VOA News)

For prayer: Modern cyber warfare and its commensurate electronic spying reminds one of an old comic strip called “Spy vs. Spy,” where each side tried to outwit the other. Techniques are so sophisticated that a new branch of the hacking game now trains technicians to discern between real data (what is true) and the false leads planted to lead other governments astray. Long before electronic sophistication, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower sent false signals to the Nazi Command and thus took Normandy Beach on “D-Day” (WW II). The U.S. conquered then because our cause was just and God showed mercy. Today’s international scene needs a chastened U.S. and a repentant Church to cry out to God with a united heart to say, “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done. . .” Pray as led.

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Ps. 20:7)

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him!’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” (Lam. 3:22-25)



The U.S. military command that scans North America's skies for enemy missiles and aircraft plans to move its communications gear to a Cold War-era mountain bunker, officers said.

The shift to the Cheyenne Mountain base in Colorado is designed to safeguard the command's sensitive sensors and servers from a potential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, military officers said.

The Pentagon last week announced a $700 million contract with Raytheon Corporation to oversee the work for North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command.

Admiral William Gortney, head of NORAD and Northern Command, said that "because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain's built, it's EMP-hardened."

"And so, there's a lot of movement to put capability into Cheyenne Mountain and to be able to communicate in there," Gortney told reporters.

"My primary concern was... are we going to have the space inside the mountain for everybody who wants to move in there, and I'm not at liberty to discuss who's moving in there," he said.

The Cheyenne mountain bunker is a half-acre cavern carved into a mountain in the 1960s that was designed to withstand a Soviet nuclear attack. From inside the massive complex, airmen were poised to send warnings that could trigger the launch of nuclear missiles.

But in 2006, officials decided to move the headquarters of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command from Cheyenne to Petersen Air Force base in Colorado Springs. The Cheyenne bunker was designated as an alternative command center if needed.

That move was touted a more efficient use of resources but had followed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of modernization work at Cheyenne carried out after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Now the Pentagon is looking at shifting communications gear to the Cheyenne bunker, officials said.

"A lot of the back office communications is being moved there," said one defense official.

Officials said the military's dependence on computer networks and digital communications makes it much more vulnerable to an electromagnetic pulse, which can occur naturally or result from a high-altitude nuclear explosion.

Under the 10-year contract, Raytheon is supposed to deliver "sustainment" services to help the military perform "accurate, timely and unambiguous warning and attack assessment of air, missile and space threats" at the Cheyenne and Petersen bases.

Raytheon's contract also involves unspecified work at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. (Contributor: AFP)


For prayer: Several national prayer leaders are agreed that our country cannot be protected without a return to God triggered by widespread revival and characterized by united, unified prayer from coast to coast and from south to north. “United” would mean all committed intercessors were praying, and “unified” would mean that they would be praying in “one accord.” If God’s people in our nation fully turn back to Him, He will respond in His mercy and power to once again be our Shepherd and Guide. Will that be our legacy here in the United States? Will the Church help shape history through prayer?

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.” (Ps. 133)



Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work outlined the Pentagon’s plans for an advanced war-fighting strategy involving robot weapons and remote-controlled warfare.

In a speech to the Army War College Strategy Conference, Mr. Work said the “third offset strategy” will rely heavily on autonomous systems that will allow machines and U.S. technological superiority to win wars.

The strategy follows two earlier “offsets” — the use of asymmetric means to counter enemy advantages. During the Cold War, strategic deterrence and tactical nuclear arms were used to offset the Soviet Union’s ground force numerical advantages. In the 1970s, precision-guided conventional weapons were deployed to offset the quantitative shortcomings of foreign conventional forces.

Mr. Work said precision-guided warfare is reaching the end of its shelf life as foreign states have developed countermeasures.

The third offset will be designed to defeat states like China, which is developing niche, offset weapons such as anti-ship ballistic missiles and anti-satellite arms.

“The real essence of the third offset strategy is to find multiple different attacks against opponents across all domains so they can’t adapt, or they adjust to just one, and they died before they can adapt again,” he said.

Mr. Work said defense strategists are divided between those who seek to continue to focus on low-end conflict and those who say future wars will require high-end forces for use against competitor states with large militaries, like China and Russia. “We don’t have an answer right now” on which direction the Pentagon will go, he said.

The deputy defense secretary said the offset strategy calls for adapting “three-play chess” to modern warfare, in which U.S. military forces will employ highly skilled people operating advanced technological machines against less-capable forces.

Mr. Work said the “Air Sea Battle” concept, designed to break into Asia against Chinese missiles and submarines, has evolved into “Air Land Battle 2.0.”

“Air Sea Battle, in my view, kind of went wrong,” said Mr. Work, one of the concept’s architects.

The revised concept will involve avoiding being targeted by massive Chinese missile salvos or submarine attacks through “getting into their networks, blowing them up and keep them from seeing you,” he said.

Next, salvo attacks will be countered with defenses designed to hit missiles and destroy submarines and missile-carrying bombers before they fire. Last, after surviving the massed strikes, joint assault forces will be injected to make it an “air-land battle.”

“I believe that what the third offset strategy will revolve around will be three-play combat in each dimension,” Mr. Work said. “And three-play combat will be much different in each dimension [air, sea, land], and it will be up for the people who live and fight in that dimension to figure out the rules.”

“We will have autonomy at rest, our smart systems being able to go through big data to help at the campaign level and to be able to go through big data at the tactical level. So autonomy at rest and autonomy in motion,” he said.

The most difficult domain for robots is the ground.

“Just getting robots to move over terrain is one of the most difficult things you can imagine,” Mr. Work said.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s high-tech development center, is working on a program called Squad X that is focusing on human-machine interaction at the tactical level. The program includes ground robots, microdrones and squad-sized military units equipped with intelligence and super-lethal weapons that can cover large areas.

“And this is not as far away as you might think,” Mr. Work said, noting that the Army is conducting experiments with “manned and unmanned teaming” of Apache attack helicopters.

Robot-driven vehicles also are coming, along with human-sized robots used as porters, firefighters, countermine robots, and counter sniper robots. (Contributor: By Bill Gertz for The Washington Times)

For prayer: The primary focus for prayer here is not about robot development. Instead, please pray about the continual reduction of U.S. defense and war power, as the administration directs the Department of Defense. With the reduction of naval ships and missile development, along with the push for women to share equally in combat roles (for which they were not made and are ill-equipped), American military strength continues to weaken. This is undisputable and clear to any who follow the present trends. Congress may be awakening to its shared responsibility to govern. Intercessors, please remain alert and pray accordingly. No Christian wants warfare, but the U.S. Constitution mandates that we maintain a strong military for defense of our freedoms. We must continue to pray.

“In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” (Isa. 59:13-14)



A small 'hot spot' in the U.S. Southwest is responsible for producing the largest concentration of the greenhouse gas methane seen over the United States - and is the subject of a major new investigation to find out why.

The hot spot, near the Four Corners intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, covers only about 2,500 square miles (6,500 square kilometers), or half the size of Connecticut.

A recent Nasa map shows is produces more than triple the standard ground-based estimate - and researchers say they don't know why.

The Four Corners area (red) is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher). The hot spot, near the Four Corners intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, covers only about 2,500 square miles.


Methane is very efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Like carbon dioxide, it contributes to global warming.

To calculate the emissions rate that would be required to produce the observed concentration of methane in the air, the authors performed high-resolution regional simulations using a chemical transport model, which simulates how weather moves and changes airborne chemical compounds.

Researchers from several institutions are now in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest with a suite of airborne and ground-based instruments, aiming to uncover reasons for a mysterious methane 'hot spot' detected from space.

'With all the ground-based and airborne resources that the different groups are bringing to the region, we have the unique chance to unequivocally solve the Four Corners mystery,' said Christian Frankenberg, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, who is heading NASA's part of the effort.

Other investigators are from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in Boulder, Colorado; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Last fall, researchers including Frankenberg reported that a small region around the Four Corners intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah had the highest concentration of methane over background levels of any part of the United States.

An instrument on a European Space Agency satellite measuring greenhouse gases showed a persistent atmospheric hot spot in the area between 2003 and 2009.

The amount of methane observed by the satellite was much higher than previously estimated.

The satellite observations were not detailed enough to reveal the actual sources of the methane in the Four Corners.

Likely candidates include venting from oil and gas activities, which are primarily coalbed methane exploration and extraction in this region; active coal mines; and natural gas seeps.

Researchers from CIRES, NOAA's Earth Systems Research Laboratory and Michigan are conducting a field campaign called TOPDOWN (Twin Otter Projects Defining Oil Well and Natural gas emissions) 2015, bringing airborne and ground-based instruments to investigate possible sources of the methane hot spot.

Shiprock, New Mexico, is in the Four Corners region where an atmospheric methane "hot spot" can be seen from space. Researchers are currently in the area, trying to uncover the reasons for the hot spot.

The JPL team will join the effort on April 17 and fly two complementary remote sensing instruments on two Twin Otter research aircraft.

The Next-Generation Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRISng), which observes spectra of reflected sunlight, flies at a higher altitude and will be used to map methane at fine resolution over the entire region.

Using this information and ground measurements from the other research teams, the Hyperspectral Thermal Emission Spectrometer (HyTES) will fly over suspected methane sources, making additional, highly sensitive measurements of methane.

Depending on its flight altitude, the NASA aircraft can image methane features with a spatial resolution better than three feet (one meter) square. In other words, it can create a mosaic showing how methane levels vary every few feet, enabling the identification of individual sources.

Hotspot of total column methane anomalies centered over the Four Corners region from 2003 to 2009, when a satellite-based methane-measuring instrument was operational. The April study will focus on verifying the hotspot and determining the methane sources producing the exceptionally elevated methane concentrations.

With the combined resources, the investigators hope to quantify the region's overall methane emissions and pinpoint contributions from different sources. They will track changes over the course of the month-long effort and study how meteorology transports emissions through the region.

'If we can verify the methane detected by the satellite and identify its sources, decision-makers will have critical information for any actions they are considering,' said CIRES scientist Gabrielle Pétron, one of the mission's investigators. Part of President Obama's recent Climate Action Plan calls for reductions in methane emissions.

The research team also includes scientists from the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder; the U.S. Bureau of Land Management; and the state of New Mexico.

Is this the cause? The Four Corners coal-fired power plant, near Farmington, is one of the targets Nasa wants to investigate as a possible cause of the methane

In each of the seven years studied from 2003-2009, the area released about 0.59 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere.

This is almost 3.5 times the estimate for the same area in the European Union's widely used Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research.

In the study published online today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers used observations made by the European Space Agency's Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography (SCIAMACHY) instrument, which measured greenhouse gases from 2002 to 2012.

The atmospheric hot spot persisted throughout the study period.

A ground station in the Total Carbon Column Observing Network, operated by the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory, provided independent validation of the measurement.

To calculate the emissions rate that would be required to produce the observed concentration of methane in the air, the authors performed high-resolution regional simulations using a chemical transport model, which simulates how weather moves and changes airborne chemical compounds.

Research scientist Christian Frankenberg of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, first noticed the Four Corners signal years ago in SCIAMACHY data.

'We didn't focus on it because we weren't sure if it was a true signal or an instrument error,' Frankenberg said.

The study's lead author, Eric Kort of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, noted the study period predates the widespread use of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, near the hot spot.

This indicates the methane emissions should not be attributed to fracking but instead to leaks in natural gas production and processing equipment in New Mexico's San Juan Basin, which is the most active coalbed methane production area in the country.

Natural gas is 95-98 percent methane.

Methane is colorless and odorless, making leaks hard to detect without scientific instruments.

'The results are indicative that emissions from established fossil fuel harvesting techniques are greater than inventoried,' Kort said.

'There's been so much attention on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, but we need to consider the industry as a whole.'

In just one place in the United States do four states meet. The borders of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona intersect at Four Corners, west of the confluence of the Mancos and San Juan Rivers.

Coalbed methane is gas that lines pores and cracks within coal.

In underground coal mines, it is a deadly hazard that causes fatal explosions almost every year as it seeps out of the rock. After the U.S. energy crisis of the 1970s, techniques were invented to extract the methane from the coal and use it for fuel. By 2012, coalbed methane supplied about 8 percent of all natural gas in the United States.

Frankenberg noted that the study demonstrates the unique role space-based measurements can play in monitoring greenhouse gases.

'Satellite data cannot be as accurate as ground-based estimates, but from space, there are no hiding places,' Frankenberg said.

In March 2014 the Obama Administration announced a strategy to reduce methane emissions under its Climate Action Plan.

The strategy includes improving the measurement and monitoring of methane emissions and assessing current methane emissions data. (Contributor: By Mark Prigg for Daily Mail)

Watch Video

For prayer: In this long article from The Daily Mail.com, we find several clues to alert intercessory “watchmen” as to where the reporter is focused. The “slant” of the article is that the methane buildup is not good and that the cause is from active or former coal mines. The reporter asks the question: “Is this the cause [of the methane buildup]? The Four Corners coal-fired power plant, near Farmington, is one of the targets NASA wants to investigate as a possible cause of the methane.” If the methane buildup is being caused by anything to do with coal, and the president and his administration want “to reduce methane emissions under its Climate Action Plan,” then we might expect legal action to pinpoint coal as a “global-warming culprit.” Please pray as you are led. This article is transitional, not urgent. Keep watching and praying. Our overarching need is for the U.S. to turn back to God.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isa. 55:6-9)

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On Watch in Washington March 18, 2015

On Watch in Washington March 18, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version


After a bruising campaign focused on his failings, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel won a clear victory in Tuesday’s elections and seemed all but certain to form a new government and serve a fourth term, though he offended many voters and alienated allies in the process.

With 99.5 percent of the ballots counted, the YNet news site reported Wednesday morning that Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party had captured 29 or 30 of the 120 seats in Parliament, sweeping past his chief rival, the center-left Zionist Union alliance, which got 24 seats.

Mr. Netanyahu and his allies had seized on earlier exit polls that showed a slimmer Likud lead to create an aura of inevitability, and celebrated with singing and dancing. While his opponents vowed a fight, Israeli political analysts agreed even before most of the ballots were counted that he had the advantage, with more seats having gone to the right-leaning parties likely to support him.

It was a stunning turnabout from the last pre-election polls published Friday, which showed the Zionist Union, led by Isaac Herzog, with a four- or five-seat lead and building momentum, and the Likud polling close to 20 seats. To bridge the gap, Mr. Netanyahu embarked on a last-minute scorched-earth campaign, promising that no Palestinian state would be established as long as he remained in office and insulting Arab citizens.

Mr. Netanyahu, who served as prime minister for three years in the 1990s and returned to office in 2009, exulted in what he called “a huge victory” and said he had spoken to the heads of all the parties “in the national camp” and urged them to help him form a government “without any further ado.”

“I am proud of the Israeli people that, in the moment of truth, knew how to separate between what’s important or what’s not and to stand up for what’s important,” he told an exuberant crowd early Wednesday morning at Likud’s election party at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds. “For the most important thing for all of us, which is real security, social economy and strong leadership.”

But it remained to be seen how his divisive — some said racist — campaign tactics would affect his ability to govern a fractured Israel.

Mr. Herzog also called the election “an incredible achievement.” He said he had formed a negotiating team and still hoped to lead “a real social government in Israel” that “aspires to peace with our neighbors.”

“The public wants a change,” he said at an election-night party in Tel Aviv, before the Likud’s large margin of victory was revealed by the actual vote count. “We will do everything in our power, given the reality, to reach this. In any case, I can tell you that there will be no decisions tonight.”

Based on the results reported on YNet, Mr. Netanyahu could form a narrow coalition of nationalist and religious parties free of the ideological divisions that stymied his last government. That was what he intended when he called early elections in December. President Reuven Rivlin, who in coming days must charge Mr. Netanyahu or Mr. Herzog with trying to forge a coalition based on his poll of party leaders’ preferences , said shortly after the polls closed that he would suggest they join forces instead.

“I am convinced that only a unity government can prevent the rapid disintegration of Israel’s democracy and new elections in the near future,” he told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Both camps rejected that option publicly, saying the gaps between their world views were too large. Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Herzog started working the phones immediately after the polls closed, calling party heads to begin the horse-trading and deal-making in hopes of lining up a majority of lawmakers behind them.

The biggest prize may be Moshe Kahlon, a popular former Likud minister who broke away — in part out of frustration with Mr. Netanyahu — to form Kulanu, which focused on pocketbook issues. Mr. Kahlon leans to the right but has issues with the prime minister, and he said Tuesday night that he would not reveal his recommendation until the final results were tallied.

Kulanu — Hebrew for “All of Us” — won 10 seats , according to the tally YNet reported Wednesday based on 99.5 percent of ballots counted. That is enough to put either side’s basic ideological alliance over the magic number of 61 if they also win the backing of two ultra-Orthodox parties that won a total of 14 seats.

“The clearest political outcome is that Kahlon is going to be the kingmaker, and it really depends on how he is going to play his cards,” said Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute. “It very much depends on Kahlon.”

Silvan Shalom, a Likud minister, told reporters that the prime minister would reach out first to Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party and to Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu, two archconservatives, and “of course Moshe Kahlon,” predicting a coalition “within the next few days” of 63 or 64 seats.

“Israel said today a very clear ‘yes’ to Prime Minister Netanyahu and to the Likud to continue leading the State of Israel,” Mr. Shalom said. “We’ll do it with our allies. We’ll have a strong coalition that is able to deal with all the important issues.”

The Zionist Union said, essentially, not so fast.

Nachman Shai, a senior lawmaker from the Labor Party, which joined with the smaller Hatnua to form the new slate, said Mr. Herzog could still form a coalition, thought he did not specify how, and advised the public to “wait and see.” “They’re trying to cash the check and create a certain atmosphere of victory," Mr. Shai told reporters. “We’ll do the same.”

The murky exit-poll predictions led to a murky reaction from the White House, where a spokesman said that President Obama remained “committed to working very closely with the winner of the ongoing elections to cement and further deepen the strong relationship between the United States and Israel, and the president is confident that he can do that with whomever the Israeli people choose.”

The Joint List of Arab parties won 13 seats, making it the third-largest parliamentary faction. Its four component parties previously had 11.

The unity seems to have lifted turnout among Arab voters to its highest level since 1969, said the list’s leader, Ayman Odeh. Arab parties have never joined an Israeli coalition, but Mr. Odeh has indicated that he would try to help Mr. Herzog in other ways in hopes of ending Mr. Netanyahu’s tenure.

Yesh Atid, a centrist party that won a surprising 19 seats in the 2013 election, its first, earned 11 this time. The Jewish Home lost votes to Mr. Netanyahu’s swing to the right and ended up with eight, according to YNet, down from its current 12. The ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu had six, and the leftist Meretz four.

A new ultra-Orthodox breakaway faction apparently failed to pass the raised electoral threshold to enter Parliament, which means its votes will be discarded, costing the right-wing bloc.

As the results of Israel’s tight election roll in, Israelis reflect on the issues they hope the next prime minister will make priorities.

Turnout was near 72 percent, four percentage points higher than in 2013, which analysts attributed to the surprisingly close contest between the Likud and Zionist Union.

“For the first time in many years, we see a serious strengthening in the two major parties,” said Yehuda Ben Meir of the Institute for National Security Studies. “Both parties are higher up at the expense of the smaller parties, which is good for stability, and it’s a move to the center. The larger parties are always more to the center than the satellite parties.”

But Mr. Plesner of the Democracy Institute said the results showed the need for electoral reform because Israel’s “system is so fragmented, so unstable, so difficult to govern.”

Tuesday’s balloting came just 26 months after Israel’s last election, but the dynamic was entirely different. In 2013, there was no serious challenge to Mr. Netanyahu. This time, Mr. Herzog teamed up with Tzipi Livni to form the Zionist Union, an effort to reclaim the state’s founding pioneer philosophy from a right-wing that increasingly defines it in opposition to Palestinian national aspirations.

They promised to stop construction in isolated Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, to try to renew negotiations with the Palestinians, and to restore relations Mr. Netanyahu had frayed with the White House. Mostly, though, they — along with Yesh Atid and Kulanu — hammered the prime minister on kitchen-table concerns like the high cost of housing and food.

Mr. Netanyahu talked mainly about the threats of an Iranian nuclear weapon and Islamic terrorism, addressing economics only in the final days. That was also when he made a sharp turn to the right, backing away from his 2009 endorsement of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict and sounding an alarm Tuesday morning that Arabs were voting “in droves.”

Many voters complained about a bitter campaign of ugly attacks and a lack of inspiring choices.

“I am happy today to be able to vote, but I know I’ll be unhappy with the result, no matter who wins,” said Elad Grafi, 29, who lives in Rehovot, a large city south of Tel Aviv. Sneering at the likelihood of any candidate being able to form a coalition stable enough to last a full term, he added, “Anyway, I’ll see you here again in two years, right?”

In the Jerusalem suburb of Tzur Hadassah, Eli Paniri, 54, a longtime Likud supporter, said he “voted for the only person who should be prime minister: Netanyahu.”

“I am not ashamed of this,” Mr. Paniri said after weeks of Netanyahu-bashing from all sides. “He is a strong man and, most important, he stood up to President Obama.”

(Contributor: By Jodi Rudoren for The New York Times - Reporting was contributed by Irit Pazner Garshowitz from Tzur Hadassah, Israel, and Tel Aviv; Isabel Kershner, Myra Noveck and Carol Sutherland from Jerusalem; Michael D. Shear from Washington; Diaa Hadid from the West Bank; Rina Castelnuovo from Beit Zayit, Israel; and Gabby Sobelman from Rehovot, Israel.)

Prayer focus: Christians who love and support Israel will begin this day with thanksgiving to God for yesterday’s election results, with full confidence that the divine will and purpose are being worked out through Mr. Netanyahu’s victory. We now pray that he will be successful in completing the formation of a conservative coalition and carry on with his message that Israel has the right to exist and will defend itself at all costs from those whose goal is Israel’s destruction. Let us pray fervently for a turning point from strong international anti-Semitism, including within our own U.S. government and intercede that Mr. Netanyahu and Israel will turn to the Lord and be saved.

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Prov 16:33)

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa 55:6-7)



Wind power could provide more than a third of the country’s electricity by 2050 while yielding a net savings in energy costs paid by consumers, the Energy Department reported in a major study released Thursday.

Continued growth of wind energy—which has tripled since 2000 and now supplies nearly 5 percent of the country’s electric power—also could dramatically reduce air pollution and go a long way toward meeting the country’s goals on slowing climate change, the report said.

But the study also warned that consistent government policies were critical to avoiding “boom and bust” cycles for investment in wind energy. Congress must keep wind-friendly tax policies in place to minimize market uncertainty about future returns on investments in wind turbines, Energy Department officials said.

“With continued commitment, wind can be the cheapest, cleanest option in all 50 states by 2050,” Lynn Orr, the department’s undersecretary for technology and energy, said in unveiling “Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States

The report, an update on a similar study conducted in 2008, attempts to project the potential growth of the wind-power industry under a range of scenarios over the next 35 years, as well as the possible impacts on consumers and on the environment.

Already, it noted, the industry is experiencing dramatic growth in many parts of the country, aided by steadily falling costs that have made wind power an attractive option, even at a time of cheap natural gas prices. “In some parts of the U.S., wind is already the cheapest option for consumers,” Orr said.

Using what the report’s authors described as realistic, middle-of-the-road assumptions for future market conditions, the study projected that 20 percent of the country’s electricity would be generated from wind by 2030, and 35 percent by 2050. It predicted that significant wind-power facilities would soon be in place in every U.S. state as well as in off-shore wind farms along the coast.

The study does not examine the potential role of solar energy, which also has experienced dramatic gains in the past five years. A study earlier this month by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that most of the growth in U.S. electricity generation currently is coming from solar and wind.

Trade groups representing traditional fuels also have predicted significant, though somewhat more modest, growth in renewables over the coming decades. A January report by the American Petroleum Institute projected that wind and other renewables would account for 12 percent of American energy consumption by 2040. That figure also includes energy used in transportation.

The Energy Department report said the shift to wind could result in a net price increase of about 1 percent for consumers by 2030, but would produce a overall savings of 2 percent by 2030. That’s in addition to savings in environmental costs, including lower levels of asthma-causing smog and soot and reduced emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, it said.

Wind’s environmental benefits “can address key societal challenges such as climate change, air quality and public health, and water scarcity,” while also providing U.S. jobs, U.S. manufacturing, and lease and tax revenues,” the report said. It cited the potential for the creation of 600,000 U.S. jobs from wind energy alone, including manufacturing positions in factories constructing wind turbines.

The recent gains in renewables were trumpeted by Secretary State John F. Kerry on Thursday in a speech that called for increased investment in solar and wind for both environmental and economic reasons. Kerry will help lead the Obama administration’s efforts to negotiate an international agreement on reducing carbon emissions later this year in Paris.

Kerry said clean energy offered not only a way to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, but also “one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time” as countries build the infrastructure for a new energy grid that does not rely on foreign imports.

“Want to put people to work? This is the way you put people to work,” Kerry said in the speech to the Atlantic Council. “The global energy market of the future is poised to be the largest market the world has ever known.”

“This is not a choice between bad and worse,” Kerry said. “Pursuing cleaner, more efficient energy is actually the only way that nations around the world can build the kind of economies that are going to thrive for decades to come.” (Contributor: By Joby Warrick for The Washington Post - Joby Warrick joined the Post’s national staff in 1996. He has covered national security, intelligence and the Middle East, and currently writes about the environment.)

Prayer focus: Without detracting from human invention, Christians will first give thanks to God as He unlocks more divine “secrets” for mankind’s welfare. Whether drawing from the Sun’s energy or the potential of “air in motion” to harness wind power, God has the ultimate prior claim on everything that enables the inhabitants of the planet Earth to survive, even to thrive. Pray that development of wind energy will reduce the stranglehold oil currently has on international economics. Notice from God’s Word how nature obeys the will of God and the voice of God instantly.

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (Ex 14:21-22)

“And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But [Jesus] was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’” (Mat 8:24-27)



A 20-year-old man charged Sunday with shooting two police officers watching over a demonstration outside the Ferguson Police Department had attended a protest there earlier that night but told investigators he wasn’t targeting the officers, authorities said.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said suspect Jeffrey Williams told authorities he was firing at someone with whom he was in a dispute.

“We’re not sure we completely buy that part of it,” McCulloch said, adding that there might have been other people in a vehicle Williams is accused of firing from.

Williams is charged with two counts of first-degree assault, one count of firing a weapon from a vehicle and three counts of armed criminal action. McCulloch said the investigation is ongoing.

The police officers were shot early Thursday as a late-night demonstration began to break up following the resignation of Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson in the wake of a Justice Department report that found widespread racial bias in the police department.

“He was out there earlier that evening as part of the demonstration,” McCulloch said of Williams.

But several activists who’ve been involved in the protests since the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer told The Associated Press they were not familiar with Williams.

Williams used a handgun that matches the shell casings at the scene, McCulloch said. He also said tips from the public led to the arrest.

Williams, who St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said is black, is being held on $300,000 bond. County police spokesman Brian Schellman said he didn’t know whether Williams had an attorney or when he’d appear in court. A message left at the St. Louis County Justice Center was not immediately returned.

Brittany Ferrell, 26, a protest leader with the group Millennial Activists United, had just left a meeting with other leaders Sunday when word of the arrest circulated. She said no one in the group knew Williams, and they checked with other frequent protesters - who also hadn’t heard of him.

Ferrell suspected McCulloch tried to cast him as a protester to reflect negatively on the movement.

“This is a fear tactic,” she said. “We are very tight-knit. We know each other by face if not by name, and we’ve never seen this person before.”

John Gaskin, a St. Louis NAACP leader, said of Williams, “I don’t know him. I’ve never seen him.”

Williams, a north St. Louis County resident, was on probation for receiving stolen property, McCulloch said. “I think there was a warrant out for him on that because he had neglected to report for the last seven months to his probation officer,” he said.

Online state court records show a man by the name of Jeffrey Williams at the address police provided Sunday was charged in 2013 with receiving stolen property and fraudulent use of a credit/debit device.

There was no answer at the door at the small, ranch-style home. Several neighbors, including the people just across the street, said they didn’t know Williams. But one, 26-year-old Jason White, said “He was cool. I never heard of him doing nothing to nobody.”

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement Sunday that the arrest “sends a clear message that acts of violence against our law enforcement personnel will never be tolerated” and praised “significant cooperation between federal authorities and the St. Louis County Police Department.”

Belmar previously called the shooting “an ambush,” and had said the two officers easily could have died, like two New York City officers who were shot and killed in their police cruiser in December.

A 41-year-old St. Louis County officer was shot in the right shoulder, the bullet exiting through his back. A 32-year-old officer from Webster Groves was wearing a riot helmet with the face shield up. He was shot in the right cheek, just below the eye, and the bullet lodged behind his ear.

The officers were released from the hospital later Thursday, and Belmar said Sunday that they “were getting better, not getting worse.”

The Ferguson police department has been a national focal point since Brown, who was black and unarmed, was killed by now-former police officer Darren Wilson. Wilson was cleared by the Justice Department’s report and a grand jury led by McCulloch declined to indict Wilson in November.

The federal report found widespread racial bias in the city’s policing and in a municipal court system driven by profit extracted from mostly black and low-income residents.

Six Ferguson officials, including Jackson, have resigned or been fired since the federal report was released March 4.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III and the City Council issued a joint statement saying they support “peaceful protesting” but “will not allow, nor tolerate, the destructive and violent actions of a few to disrupt our unifying actions.” (Contributor: By Jim Salter for Associated Press and The Washington Times)

Prayer focus: Ferguson, MO and its residents, including police officers and other officials, have been the focus of unrelenting scrutiny, social pressure, and violence from outside the town. The situation continues to be complicated, and intercessors should take due notice, evaluate the latest news headlines as best they can, and seek to intercede as they are led. Pray that many fearful citizens who need salvation will turn to the Lord.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mat 11:28-30)



A Georgia Air Force base that made headlines after banning guards’ use of the phrase “have a blessed day” quickly reversed course and will now allow the saying, so long as those who use it “remain courteous and professional.”

Officials at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia, told gate guards that they could no longer “bless” those coming into the installation after a “non-religious” individual complained to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group dedicated to the separation of church and state.

The unnamed individual claimed that it was inappropriate for guards to say “have a blessed day” on a multitude of occasions, leading the base to preclude employees from using the saying and, instead, encouraged them to say, “have a great day,” according to WMAZ-TV.

The brief policy change was made after the complainant sent an email to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, claiming that he or she is an active-duty member of the Air Force who is stationed at the base, detailing the supposedly inappropriate greeting.

“On no less than 15 occasions over the last two weeks, I have been greeted by the military personnel at the gate with the phrase,” the email read. “This greeting has been expressed by at least 10 different Airmen ranging in rank from A1C to SSgt. I found the greeting to be a notion that I, as a non-religious member of the military community should believe a higher power has an influence on how my day should go.”

A response to that message from Military Religious Freedom Foundation president Mikey Weinstein noted that, after a conversation with the commander at the base, it was decided that a more non-sectarian greeting would be used, leading the complainant to send a response to Weinstein, thanking him for his efforts.

“Thank you for the quick response to the situation at my base,” it read. “After your actions, the personnel at the gates have immediately changed their greetings to a more professional, ‘Have a nice/good day sir/maam.’”

But it appears that the purported ban was short-lived, as conservative commentator Todd Starnes reported that it didn’t take long for the ban to be reversed and overturned, with the base now proclaiming that “have a blessed day” is “consistent with Air Force standards.”

Here’s the full response that Starnes received when he inquired:

“We are a professional organization defended by a professional force. Our defenders portray a professional image that represents a base all of Middle Georgia can be proud of. Defenders have been asked to use the standard phrase “Welcome to Team Robins” in their greeting and can add various follow-on greetings as long as they remain courteous and professional.

The Air Force takes any expressed concern over religious freedom very seriously. Upon further review and consultation, the Air Force determined use of the phrase “have a blessed day” as a greeting is consistent with Air Force standards and is not in violation of Air Force Instructions.”

Weinstein told the Air Force Times that he will consult with attorneys to see whether any clients would like to sue in federal court over the matter, concluding that the “Air Force has not heard the last of this.” (Contributor: By Billy Hallowell for WMAZ-TV and The Blaze)

Prayer focus: We suggest an individual response to this story as each reader is led. The barrage of protests against anything remotely “religious” in the military or with any government-related agency or facility has become constant and routine. In reality, such complaints and lawsuits are aimed at Almighty God and at the integrity and authenticity of Jesus Christ. Intercede for widespread revival through which the Church will display spiritual authority, proclaiming the Gospel message in a compelling way that will produce permanent fruit.

[Jesus said:] “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:16-18)



With the federal government due to hit its debt ceiling on Monday, the Treasury Department again will use financial maneuvers to stave off a default, including several involving federal retirement funds.

A letter to Congress Friday from Treasury Secretary Jack Lew notes that the government will be at its debt limit when a suspension enacted a year ago ends at midnight Sunday. “Because Congress has not yet acted to raise the debt limit, the Treasury Department will have to employ further extraordinary measures to continue to finance the government on a temporary basis,” he wrote.

One of those measures is called “disinvesting” the largest fund in the Thrift Savings Plan, the 401(k)-style retirement savings program for federal employees and military personnel, the government securities G fund. The fund consists of special-issue Treasury securities that are reinvested each business day and that count against the debt limit.

By not making the reinvestments, the Treasury in effect takes that obligation off the books, freeing up an equivalent amount of money for other uses. “After the debt limit impasse has ended, the G Fund is made whole. Therefore participants in the Thrift Savings Plan who contribute to the G Fund are unaffected,” the letter said.

As of February, the G fund held $193.9 billion of the $451.7 billion on investment with the TSP. The other TSP investment funds cannot be used for debt ceiling relief; they track stocks and other forms of bonds.

The Treasury has used a similar maneuver nine times in the past 20 years, most recently last February before the limit was suspended. Accounts continue to earn interest and the ability to take out loans or withdrawals against the money is unaffected.

“As always, we want to remind our participants that the G fund will be made whole once the debt ceiling issue is resolved and that participants will not lose a penny, thanks to the statutory protections afforded to the TSP,” TSP spokeswoman Kim Weaver said in an e-mail.

Although there is no direct financial impact on investors, in the past many have objected to use of the fund in that manner, since it consists of their personal investments, not a trust fund.

The Treasury meanwhile said it will also employ several other financial maneuvers, including one involving the federal retirement fund.

The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that such measures would provide sufficient operating cash for the government until October or November. (Contributor: By Eric Yoder for The Washington Post)

Prayer focus: This is all part of an ongoing political game in Washington, D.C., which is waged at least annually (if not more often) by the major political parties in Congress or by the Congress with or against the sitting president. No matter what happens and for all the shrill rhetoric, “the show goes on” and is ultimately settled. One political party usually blames the other side. This “juggling” often results in our country going deeper into debt. Pray for a widespread spiritual awakening and for the citizens to hold their congressional representatives accountable for guarding the treasury and lowering the debt. Elected officials are the people’s servants, not their rulers, and must be held accountable.

“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” (1 Cor 4:2)

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Heb 4:13)



For half a century, memories of the Holocaust inoculated the Continent against overt anti-Semitism. That period has ended—the recent fatal attacks in Paris and Copenhagen are merely the latest in a mounting tide. Today, right-wing fascist strains of Jew-hatred are merging with a new threat from radicalized Islamists, confronting Europe with a crisis, and its Jews with an agonizing choice.

“All comes from the Jew; all returns to the Jew.” — Édouard Drumont (1844–1917), founder of the Anti-Semitic League of France

  1. The Scourge of Our Time

The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, the son of Holocaust survivors, is an accomplished, even gifted, pessimist. To his disciples, he is a Jewish Zola, accusing France’s bien-pensant intellectual class of complicity in its own suicide. To his foes, he is a reactionary whose nostalgia for a fairy-tale French past is induced by an irrational fear of Muslims. Finkielkraut’s cast of mind is generally dark, but when we met in Paris in early January, two days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, he was positively grim.

“My French identity is reinforced by the very large number of people who openly declare, often now with violence, their hostility to French values and culture,” he said. “I live in a strange place. There is so much guilt and so much worry.” We were seated at a table in his apartment, near the Luxembourg Gardens. I had come to discuss with him the precarious future of French Jewry, but, as the hunt for the Charlie Hebdo killers seemed to be reaching its conclusion, we had become fixated on the television.

Finkielkraut sees himself as an alienated man of the left. He says he loathes both radical Islamism and its most ferocious French critic, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s extreme right-wing—and once openly anti-Semitic—National Front party. But he has lately come to find radical Islamism to be a more immediate, even existential, threat to France than the National Front. “I don’t trust Le Pen. I think there is real violence in her,” he told me. “But she is so successful because there actually is a problem of Islam in France, and until now she has been the only one to dare say it.”

Suddenly, there was news: a kosher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, in eastern Paris, had come under attack. “Of course,” Finkielkraut said. “The Jews.” Even before anti-Semitic riots broke out in France last summer, Finkielkraut had become preoccupied with the well-being of France’s Jews.

We knew nothing about this new attack—except that we already knew everything. “People don’t defend the Jews as we expected to be defended,” he said. “It would be easier for the left to defend the Jews if the attackers were white and rightists.”

I asked him a very old Jewish question: Do you have a bag packed?

“We should not leave,” he said, “but maybe for our children or grandchildren there will be no choice.”

Reports suggested that a number of people were dead at the market. I said goodbye, and took the Métro to Porte de Vincennes. Stations near the market were closed, so I walked through neighborhoods crowded with police. Sirens echoed through the streets. Teenagers gathered by the barricades, taking selfies. No one had much information. One young man, however, said of the victims, “It’s just the Feuj.” Feuj, an inversion of Juif—“Jew”—is often used as a slur.

I located an acquaintance, a man who volunteers with the Jewish Community Security Service, a national organization founded after a synagogue bombing in 1980, to protect Jewish institutions from anti-Semitic attack. “Supermarkets now,” he said bleakly. We made our way closer to the forward police line, and heard volleys of gunfire. The police had raided the market; the suspect, Amedy Coulibaly, we soon heard, was dead. So were four Jews he had murdered. They had been shopping for the Sabbath when he entered the market and started shooting.

I asked Finkielkraut a very old Jewish question: Do you have a bag packed?

France’s 475,000 Jews represent less than 1 percent of the country’s population. Yet last year, according to the French Interior Ministry, 51 percent of all racist attacks targeted Jews. The statistics in other countries, including Great Britain, are similarly dismal. In 2014, Jews in Europe were murdered, raped, beaten, stalked, chased, harassed, spat on, and insulted for being Jewish. Sale Juif—“dirty Jew”—rang in the streets, as did “Death to the Jews,” and “Jews to the gas.”

The epithet dirty Jew, Zola wrote in “J’Accuse …!,” was the “scourge of our time.”J’Accuse …!” was published in 1898.

The resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe is not—or should not be—a surprise. One of the least surprising phenomena in the history of civilization, in fact, is the persistence of anti-Semitism in Europe, which has been the wellspring of Judeophobia for 1,000 years. The Church itself functioned as the centrifuge of anti-Semitism from the time it rebelled against its mother religion until the middle of the 20th century. As Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, has observed, Europe has added to the global lexicon of bigotry such terms as Inquisition, blood libel, auto‑da‑fé, ghetto, pogrom, and Holocaust. Europe has blamed the Jews for an encyclopedia of sins. The Church blamed the Jews for killing Jesus; Voltaire blamed the Jews for inventing Christianity. In the febrile minds of anti-Semites, Jews were usurers and well-poisoners and spreaders of disease. Jews were the creators of both communism and capitalism; they were clannish but also cosmopolitan; cowardly and warmongering; self-righteous moralists and defilers of culture. Ideologues and demagogues of many permutations have understood the Jews to be a singularly malevolent force standing between the world and its perfection.

Despite this history of sorrow, Jews spent long periods living unmolested in Europe. And even amid the expulsions and persecutions and pogroms, Jewish culture prospered. Rabbis and sages produced texts and wrote liturgical poems that are still used today. Emancipation and enlightenment opened the broader culture to Jews, who came to prominence in politics, philosophy, the arts, and science—Chagall and Kafka, Einstein and Freud, Lévi-Strauss and Durkheim. An entire civilization flourished in Yiddish.

Hitler destroyed most everything. But the story Europeans tell themselves—or told themselves, until the proof became too obvious to ignore—is that Judenhass, the hatred of Jews, ended when Berlin fell 70 years ago.

Events of the past 15 years suggest otherwise.

We are witnessing today the denouement of an unusual epoch in European life, the age of the post-Holocaust Jewish dispensation.

When the survivors of the Shoah emerged from the camps, and from hiding places in cities and forests across Europe, they were met on occasion by pogroms. (In Poland, for instance, some Christians were unhappy to see their former Jewish neighbors return home, and so arranged their deaths.) But over time, Europe managed to absorb the small number of Jewish survivors who chose to remain. A Jewish community even grew in West Germany. At the same time, the countries of Western Europe embraced the cause of the young and besieged state of Israel.

The Shoah served for a while as a sort of inoculation against the return of overt Jew-hatred—but the effects of the inoculation, it is becoming clear, are wearing off. What was once impermissible is again imaginable. Memories of 6 million Jewish dead fade, and guilt becomes burdensome. (In The Eternal Anti-Semite, the writer Henryk Broder popularized the notion that “the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.”) Israel is coming to be understood not as a small country in a difficult spot whose leaders, especially lately, have (in my opinion) been making shortsighted and potentially disastrous decisions, but as a source of cosmological evil—the Jew of nations.

An argument made with increasing frequency—motivated, perhaps, by some perverse impulse toward psychological displacement—calls Israel the spiritual and political heir of the Third Reich, rendering the Jews as Nazis. (Some in Europe and the Middle East take this line of thought to an even more extreme conclusion: “Those who condemn Hitler day and night have surpassed Hitler in barbarism,” the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said last year of Israel.)

The previously canonical strain of European anti-Semitism, the fascist variant, still flourishes in places. In Hungary, a leader of the right-wing Jobbik party called on the government—a government that has come under criticism for whitewashing the history of Hungary’s collaboration with the Nazis—to draw up a list of all the Jews in the country who might pose a “national-security risk.” In Greece, a recent survey found that 69 percent of adults hold anti-Semitic views, and the fascists of the country’s Golden Dawn party are open in their Jew-hatred.

But what makes this new era of anti-Semitic violence in Europe different from previous ones is that traditional Western patterns of anti-Semitic thought have now merged with a potent strain of Muslim Judeophobia. Violence against Jews in Western Europe today, according to those who track it, appears to come mainly from Muslims, who in France, the epicenter of Europe’s Jewish crisis, outnumber Jews 10 to 1.

That the chief propagators of contemporary European anti-Semitism may be found in the Continent’s large and disenfranchised Muslim immigrant communities—communities that are themselves harassed and assaulted by hooligans associated with Europe’s surging right—is flummoxing to, among others, Europe’s elites. Muslims in Europe are in many ways a powerless minority. The failure of Europe to integrate Muslim immigrants has contributed to their exploitation by anti-Semitic propagandists and by recruiters for such radical projects as the Islamic State, or ISIS.

Yet the new anti-Semitism flourishing in corners of the European Muslim community would be impoverished without the incorporation of European fascist tropes. Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, a comedian of French Cameroonian descent who specializes in Holocaust revisionism and gas-chamber humor, is the inventor of the quenelle, widely understood as an inverted Nazi salute. His followers have taken to photographing themselves making the quenelle in front of synagogues, Holocaust memorials, and sites of past anti-Jewish terrorist attacks. Dieudonné has built an ideological partnership with Alain Soral, the anti-Jewish conspiracy theorist and 9/11 “truther” who was for several years a member of the National Front’s central committee. Soral was photographed not long ago making the quenelle in front of Berlin’s Holocaust memorial.

The union of Middle Eastern and European forms of anti-Semitic expression has led to bizarre moments. Dave Rich, an official of the Community Security Trust, a Jewish organization that monitors anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom, wrote recently: “Those British Muslims who verbally abuse British Jews on the street are more likely to shout ‘Heil Hitler’ than ‘Allahu Akhbar’ when they do so. This is despite the fact that their parents and grandparents were probably chased through the very same streets by gangs of neo-Nazi skinheads shouting similar slogans.”

The marriage of anti-Semitic narratives was consummated in January of last year, during a so-called Day of Rage march in Paris that was organized to protest the leadership of the French president, François Hollande. The rally drew roughly 17,000 people, mostly far-rightists but also many French Muslims.

“On one side of this march, you had neonationalist and reactionary Catholics, who had strongly and violently opposed gay marriage, and on the other side young people from the banlieues [suburbs], supporters of Dieudonné, often from African and North African background, whose beliefs are based in opposition to the ‘system’ and on victimhood competition,” Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, the Paris director of the American Jewish Committee, told me. “What unites them is their hatred of Jews.” That day, on the streets of Paris, the anti-Hollande message was overtaken by another chanted slogan: “Juif, la France n’est pas à toi”—“Jew, France is not for you.”

Howard Jacobson, the Man Booker Prize–winning writer whose latest novel, J, is a study of a future genocide in an unnamed but very English-seeming country of an unnamed people who very much resemble the Jews, told me the book emerged from an inchoate but ever-present sense of anxiety. “I felt as if I was writing out of dread,” he said when we met recently near his home in London.

“It will never go away, this hatred of Jews … and the proof of this is that barely 50 years after the Holocaust, the desire for Jewish bloodletting isn’t over,” he said. “Couldn’t they have given us a bit longer? Give us 100 years and we’ll return to it.”

“I know this is a dangerous thing to say … but the Holocaust didn’t satisfy.”

I’ve spent much of the past year traveling across Europe, in search of an answer to a simple, but pressing, question: Is it time for the Jews to leave? Europe is a Jewish museum and a Jewish graveyard, but after the war it became, remarkably—and despite Hitler’s best efforts—home once again to living, breathing Jewish communities. Is it still a place for Jews who want to live uncamouflaged Jewish lives? (Read complete article...) (Contributor By Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic)

Prayer focus: As intercessors will note, this is not a typical newspaper article but a lengthy and in-depth analysis in The Atlantic (magazine). The author is an award-winning journalist who is Jewish and deeply aware of the rise in active, global anti-Semitism and its implications. The facts and attitudes disclosed are alarming, but we post it for the “watchmen on the wall” among us who avidly and prayerfully follow all things Jewish as they “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Experienced intercessors will pray as they are led by the Holy Spirit of God. We have provided a link to the entire article, which we believe is worth reading now and for future reference as a prayer guide.

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom 10:1-4)

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.’” (Ps 122:6-7)



A powerful new surveillance tool being adopted by police departments across the country comes with an unusual requirement: To buy it, law enforcement officials must sign a nondisclosure agreement preventing them from saying almost anything about the technology.

Any disclosure about the technology, which tracks cellphones and is often called StingRay, could allow criminals and terrorists to circumvent it, the F.B.I. has said in an affidavit. But the tool is adopted in such secrecy that communities are not always sure what they are buying or whether the technology could raise serious privacy concerns.

The confidentiality has elevated the stakes in a longstanding debate about the public disclosure of government practices versus law enforcement’s desire to keep its methods confidential. While companies routinely require nondisclosure agreements for technical products, legal experts say these agreements raise questions and are unusual given the privacy and even constitutional issues at stake.

“It might be a totally legitimate business interest, or maybe they’re trying to keep people from realizing there are bigger privacy problems,” said Orin S. Kerr, a privacy law expert at George Washington University. “What’s the secret that they’re trying to hide?”

The issue led to a public dispute three weeks ago in Silicon Valley, where a sheriff asked county officials to spend $502,000 on the technology. The Santa Clara County sheriff, Laurie Smith, said the technology allowed for locating cellphones — belonging to, say, terrorists or a missing person. But when asked for details, she offered no technical specifications and acknowledged she had not seen a product demonstration.

Buying the technology, she said, required the signing of a nondisclosure agreement.

“So, just to be clear,” Joe Simitian, a county supervisor, said, “we are being asked to spend $500,000 of taxpayers’ money and $42,000 a year thereafter for a product for the name brand which we are not sure of, a product we have not seen, a demonstration we don’t have, and we have a nondisclosure requirement as a precondition. You want us to vote and spend money,” he continued, but “you can’t tell us more about it.”

The technology goes by various names, including StingRay, KingFish or, generically, cell site simulator. It is a rectangular device, small enough to fit into a suitcase, that intercepts a cellphone signal by acting like a cellphone tower.

The technology can also capture texts, calls, emails and other data, and prosecutors have received court approval to use it for such purposes.

Cell site simulators are catching on while law enforcement officials are adding other digital tools, like video cameras, license-plate readers, drones, programs that scan billions of phone records and gunshot detection sensors. Some of those tools have invited resistance from municipalities and legislators on privacy grounds.

The nondisclosure agreements for the cell site simulators are overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and typically involve the Harris Corporation, a multibillion-dollar defense contractor and a maker of the technology. What has opponents particularly concerned about StingRay is that the technology, unlike other phone surveillance methods, can also scan all the cellphones in the area where it is being used, not just the target phone.

“It’s scanning the area. What is the government doing with that information?” said Linda Lye, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which in 2013 sued the Justice Department to force it to disclose more about the technology. In November, in a response to the lawsuit, the government said it had asked the courts to allow the technology to capture content, not just identify subscriber location.

The nondisclosure agreements make it hard to know how widely the technology has been adopted. But news reports from around the country indicate use by local and state police agencies stretching from Los Angeles to Wisconsin to New York, where the state police use it. Some departments have used it for several years. Money for the devices comes from individual agencies and sometimes, as in the case of Santa Clara County, from the federal government through Homeland Security grants.

Christopher Allen, an F.B.I. spokesman, said “location information is a vital component” of law enforcement. The agency, he said, “does not keep repositories of cell tower data for any purpose other than in connection with a specific investigation.”

A fuller explanation of the F.B.I.’s position is provided in two publicly sworn affidavits about StingRay, including one filed in 2014 in Virginia. In the affidavit, a supervisory special agent, Bradley S. Morrison, said disclosure of the technology’s specifications would let criminals, including terrorists, “thwart the use of this technology.”

“Disclosure of even minor details” could harm law enforcement, he said, by letting “adversaries” put together the pieces of the technology like assembling a “jigsaw puzzle.” He said the F.B.I. had entered into the nondisclosure agreements with local authorities for those reasons. In addition, he said, the technology is related to homeland security and is therefore subject to federal control.

In a second affidavit, given in 2011, the same special agent acknowledged that the device could gather identifying information from phones of bystanders. Such data “from all wireless devices in the immediate area of the F.B.I. device that subscribe to a particular provider may be incidentally recorded, including those of innocent, nontarget devices.”

But, he added, that information is purged to ensure privacy rights.

In December, two senators, Patrick J. Leahy and Charles E. Grassley, sent a letter expressing concerns about the scope of the F.B.I.’s StingRay use to Eric H. Holder Jr., the attorney general, and Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security.

The Harris Corporation declined to comment, according to Jim Burke, a company spokesman. Harris, based in Melbourne, Fla., has $5 billion in annual sales and specializes in communications technology, including battlefield radios.

Jon Michaels, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies government procurement, said Harris’s role with the nondisclosure agreements gave the company tremendous power over privacy policies in the public arena.

“This is like the privatization of a legal regime,” he said. Referring to Harris, he said: “They get to call the shots.”

For instance, in Tucson, a journalist asking the Police Department about its StingRay use was given a copy of a nondisclosure agreement. “The City of Tucson shall not discuss, publish, release or disclose any information pertaining to the product,” it read, and then noted: “Without the prior written consent of Harris.”

The secrecy appears to have unintended consequences. A recent article in The Washington Post detailed how a man in Florida who was accused of armed robbery was located using StingRay.

As the case proceeded, a defense lawyer asked the police to explain how the technology worked. The police and prosecutors declined to produce the machine and, rather than meet a judge’s order that they do so, the state gave the defendant a plea bargain for petty theft.

At the meeting in Santa Clara County last month, the county supervisors voted 4 to 1 to authorize the purchase, but they also voted to require the adoption of a privacy policy.

(Sheriff Smith argued to the supervisors that she had adequately explained the technology and said she resented that Mr. Simitian’s questioning seemed to “suggest we are not mindful of people’s rights and the Constitution.”)

A few days later, the county asked Harris for a demonstration open to county supervisors. The company refused, Mr. Simitian said, noting that “only people with badges” would be permitted. Further, he said, the company declined to provide a copy of the nondisclosure agreement — at least until after the demonstration.

“Not only is there a nondisclosure agreement, for the time being, at least, we can’t even see the nondisclosure agreement,” Mr. Simitian said. “We may be able to see it later, I don’t know.” (Contributor: By Matt Richtel for The New York Times)

Prayer focus: Articles such as this one are hardly news any longer. It appears that complete privacy is something from the past. No individual citizen can change these trends, but we can intercede for morally upright leadership to rise again in America through spiritual awakening that will call our nation back to God. Pray for God’s mercy to be extended and for a return to our roots. Pray for a new awareness of God in America and the conviction that He sees and knows the secrets of our hearts.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Heb 4:12-15)



Despite residents’ concerns and a continuing need for services, the 25-bed hospital that served this small East Texas town for more than 25 years closed its doors at the end of 2014, joining the ranks of dozens of other small rural hospitals that have been unable to weather the punishment of a changing national health-care environment.

For the high percentages of elderly and uninsured patients who live in rural areas, closures mean longer trips for treatment and uncertainty during times of crisis. “I came to the emergency room when I had panic attacks,” said George Taylor, 60, a retired federal government employee. “It was very soothing and the staff was great. I can’t imagine Mount Vernon without a hospital.”

The Kansas-based National Rural Health Association, which represents about 2,000 small hospitals across the country and other rural care providers, says that 48 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, the majority in Southern states, and 283 others are in trouble. In Texas alone, 10 have closed.

“If there was one particular policy causing the trouble, it would be easy to understand,” said Mark Holmes, a health economist at the University of North Carolina. “But there are a lot of things going on.”

Experts and practitioners cite declining federal reimbursements for hospitals under the Affordable Care Act as the principal reasons for the recent closures. Besides cutting back on Medicare, the law reduced payments to hospitals for the uninsured, a decision based on the assumption that states would expand their Medicaid programs. However, almost two dozen states have refused to do so. In addition, additional Medicare cuts caused by a budget disagreement in Congress have hurt hospitals’ bottom lines.

But rural hospitals also suffer from multiple endemic disadvantages that drive down profit margins and make it virtually impossible to achieve economies of scale.

These include declining populations; disproportionate numbers of elderly and uninsured patients; the frequent need to pay doctors better than top dollar to get them to work in the hinterlands; the cost of expensive equipment that is necessary but frequently underused; the inability to provide lucrative specialty services and treatments; and an emphasis on emergency and urgent care, chronic money-losers.

Rural health-care experts say that unless the problems of rural hospitals are addressed by state and federal officials, there could be a repeat of the widespread closings that followed an overhaul of the Medicare payment system 30 years ago. That 1983 change, called the prospective payment system, established fixed reimbursements for care instead of payments based on a hospital’s reported costs. It rewarded large, efficient providers, but 440 small hospitals closed before the system was adjusted in 1997 to help them. Those adjustments created the designation of critical-access hospitals for some small, isolated facilities, and exempted them from the fixed-payment system.

“And now, beginning in 2010, we’ve had another series of cuts that are all combining to create another expansion of closures just like we saw in the ’90s,” said Brock Slabach, senior vice president of the Rural Health Association. “We don’t want to wake up with another disaster.”

In Mount Vernon, a town of 2,678 people nestled in grassland and dairy country about two hours east of Dallas, family practitioner Jean Latortue has taken out a lease on the now-vacant hospital building to convert it into an outpatient and urgent care clinic at his own expense. Reopening may be a risky move, he acknowledged, but the need is there.

“The community went into panic mode,” he said. “I figured I had to step up.”

The nonprofit ETMC Regional Healthcare System, based in Tyler, Tex., closed the Mount Vernon hospital and two others of its then-12 rural hospital affiliates because it could no longer sustain operating losses that had persisted for five years.

Perry Henderson, senior vice president of affiliate hospitals for ETMC, and other experts cite three reasons for the rash of closures nationally.

Sequestration, the across-the-board federal budget cut that arose out of the legislative impasse between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans, has resulted in a 2 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements since 2013.

“If Medicare is 50 percent of your revenue and you lose two points,” North Carolina’s Holmes said, “it can be a killer.”

Rural hospitals took a second hit from the health law’s reductions in special Medicaid payments to hospitals with large numbers of indigent and uninsured patients. Federal officials made the cuts assuming that most states would embrace the Medicaid expansion envisioned in the law, thus sharply reducing their number of uninsured. But 23 states, including Texas, have declined to do so.

Another issue is the deductibles charged by some of the new insurance plans created under the health law. In many cases, they “are running between $2,500 and $5,000,” and people can’t pay them, said Maggie Elehwany, chief lobbyist for the Rural Health Association.

Latortue, who came to Mount Vernon as an ETMC hospital doctor in 2008, appears undaunted by the challenges of reinventing the hospital, which was treating an average of eight inpatients a week when it closed. Still, he said, “I’m very busy, and patients need to be seen — we’ll be all right.”

At the new clinic, he intends to provide outpatient services, including lab work, and emergency care, stabilizing patients until they can be transferred to the Titus Regional Medical Center in Mount Pleasant, 16 miles away, or to a smaller facility in Winfield, eight miles away. He also plans a wellness clinic to treat obesity and will offer Botox and laser cosmetic services. A cardiologist and a gastroenterologist will make weekly visits, and he is also looking for an Ob-Gyn.

Still, none of this will replace the hospital, and his patients know it. “I live right behind the building,” said Mary Hunter, a fit grandmother of 73. “I’ve had very good health until my blood pressure spiked last week,” she said. “We retired in 2006 and moved here, partly because of the hospital. And now it’s gone.” (Contributor: By Guy Gugliotta for The Washington Post - This article was produced through collaboration between The Washington Post and Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service that is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)

Prayer focus: Readers in urban areas who have doctors, hospitals, and all necessary medical services nearby are no doubt hard-pressed to identify with the plight of those in rural small towns, especially senior citizens, who have watched hospitals close and feel acutely the loss of convenient and necessary facilities they previously relied on. Give thanks for those like Dr. Latortue who choose to stay in small towns and serve, even at personal sacrifice. Pray for the Christian churches in such areas that contribute funds, often distribute food, and provide volunteers to teach classes on nutrition and prevention of disease through proper diet and personal care.

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Col 3:12-15)



Turn on the news and you expect to see people of different races and politics denouncing each other. That’s why what happened last week on “The Kelly File,” Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program, was so remarkable.

Following the expulsion of Parker Rice and Levi Pettit, two Sigma Alpha Epsilon members at the University of Oklahoma, upon the video release of a racist sing-a-long they led, Isaac Hill, the president of the university’s Black Student Association, told Kelly the students should be forgiven.

Miss Kelly, who is normally in complete control, was stunned and nearly speechless. It was not what she — or any of us — expected. Judgment, retribution, rioting, censorship, shaming, loss of job and prestige are the norm, not forgiveness, especially when the offending students, at the time, hadn’t asked for it.

Mr. Hill told Miss Kelly: “It is not smart to fight hate with hate. It is only logical to fight hate with love.”

This brings to mind what Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

What would have better served the interests of OU, Mr. Rice and Mr. Pettit and the larger student body? Instead of focusing on punishment and expulsion, shutting down the fraternity house and evicting all its residents, the goal should have been redemption. Redemption is a harder road to travel, but the destination should be to change the students’ thinking, not bludgeon them into silence where any racist thoughts might fester and grow worse.

Turn on the news and you expect to see people of different races and politics denouncing each other. That’s why what happened last week on “The Kelly File,” Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program, was so remarkable.

Following the expulsion of Parker Rice and Levi Pettit, two Sigma Alpha Epsilon members at the University of Oklahoma, upon the video release of a racist sing-a-long they led, Isaac Hill, the president of the university’s Black Student Association, told Kelly the students should be forgiven.

Miss Kelly, who is normally in complete control, was stunned and nearly speechless. It was not what she — or any of us — expected. Judgment, retribution, rioting, censorship, shaming, loss of job and prestige are the norm, not forgiveness, especially when the offending students, at the time, hadn’t asked for it.

Mr. Hill told Miss Kelly: “It is not smart to fight hate with hate. It is only logical to fight hate with love.”

This brings to mind what Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

What would have better served the interests of OU, Mr. Rice and Mr. Pettit and the larger student body? Instead of focusing on punishment and expulsion, shutting down the fraternity house and evicting all its residents, the goal should have been redemption. Redemption is a harder road to travel, but the destination should be to change the students’ thinking, not bludgeon them into silence where any racist thoughts might fester and grow worse. (Contributor: By Cal Thomas for The Washington Times)

Prayer focus: Students of the Bible know that there is no power in human relationships stronger than forgiveness. Forgiveness emanates from God and is the basis of redemption and salvation for those who repent and cast themselves on God’s mercy. Among Jesus’ last words as he hung on the cross was, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Give thanks for Isaac Hill, president of the Black Student Association at Oklahoma University. As this account of his gracious spirit of forgiveness spreads nationally, pray for reconciliation to come out of this initially ugly situation.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?’” (Mat 5:43-46)    

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On Watch in Washington March 11, 2015

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President Obama’s winding path on same-sex marriage reached a major new milepost Friday when his administration told the Supreme Court that the Constitution does not allow states to prohibit gay couples from marrying.

The filing’s bold language — “these facially discriminatory laws impose concrete harms on same-sex couples and send the inescapable message that same-sex couples and their children are second-class families” — captures the enormous shift Obama has made since he first sought the presidency in 2007.

After endorsing same-sex marriage nearly two decades ago, and then rejecting that idea eight years later, Obama has made expanding LGBT rights a hallmark of his domestic policy agenda. Casting it as the next chapter of the civil rights movement, the president has used language to reframe the public debate over sexual orientation and gender identity and his executive authority to expand federal benefits and protections for these Americans.

But the president’s legal strategy has been more complicated. His administration announced in 2011 that it would not defend the constitutionality of the key section of the Defense of Marriage Act that excluded gay couples from federal marriage benefits. In a 5-to-4 decision in 2013, the Supreme Court agreed.

At the same time, the administration stopped short of asking the justices to strike down all state prohibitions on same-sex marriage. That is the question the court will decide this term, with oral arguments scheduled for April 28.

The government’s brief this time is unequivocal that all state restrictions must end. It says that restrictions on gay marriage violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and calls on the court to recognize that sexual orientation is a characteristic — like race or gender — that deserves special protection.

“In Loving v. Virginia, this court applied the ‘most rigid scrutiny’ under the Equal Protection Clause to invalidate state laws banning interracial marriage,” said the brief filed by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. “There is similarly no reason to water down the otherwise appropriate level of scrutiny here.”

The brief draws heavily on the court’s DOMA decision, U.S. v. Windsor. The reasoning of that decision has led courts across the country to strike state bans on gay marriage. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit disagreed and upheld restrictions in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. It is that decision the Supreme Court will review.

Since taking office, the president has repealed the U.S. military’s practice of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which allowed for the expulsion of service members based on their sexual orientation; banned discrimination against LGBT Americans in the federal civilian workforce and among federal contractors; and has advanced the legal understanding that prohibitions on sex discrimination also apply to acts based on an individual’s gender identity.

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who has played a key role in shaping the administration’s approach to gay rights, said in an interview before the filing, “We fight discrimination in every way we can.”

“We are delighted with the fact that when the president took office, same-sex marriage was legal in two states, and it is now legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia,” she said.

Obama has consistently advocated for greater legal rights for same-sex couples, although he has changed his position on same-sex marriage at points in his career. As an Illinois state senate candidate, he endorsed the idea in a 1996 questionnaire with an LGBT Chicago newspaper, a comment his aides later said was written by a campaign aide and not representative of his views. While running for U.S. Senate in 2004, Obama said marriage should be between only a man and a woman.

By December 2010, the president said his opinion on the matter was “constantly evolving,” and in May 2012, days after Vice President Biden surprised the White House by declaring that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage, Obama publicly endorsed it as well.

Most of the president’s allies had suspected for years that he backed the concept of same-sex marriage but was hesitant to embrace it in public for fear of losing support among African Americans.

Obama told BuzzFeed in an interview last month that he had made a distinction between his personal feelings and policy position. “I always felt that same-sex couples should be able to enjoy the same rights, legally, as anybody else, and so it was frustrating to me not to, I think, be able to square that with what were a whole bunch of religious sensitivities out there.”

Both he and Michelle Obama used the phrase that everyone “should be able to marry the person they love” in their stump speeches, a line that former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau said “often got some of the biggest applause” on the 2012 campaign trail.

On a more practical level, the administration has expanded benefits and safeguards for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Regardless of where they live, legally married same-sex spouses are now recognized for most federal and military benefits and can receive health-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Obama has appointed a record number of LGBT Americans to key senior administration posts, has nominated eight openly gay individuals to serve as U.S. ambassadors and has seated 11 openly-gay judges on the federal bench.

The administration’s brief was one of more than 70 filed with the Supreme Court supporting the couples in the four states and urging the justices to find that same-sex marriage should be available nationwide.

Among the supporters were GOP officeholders, religious leaders and more than 300 of the nation’s largest companies — including the Super Bowl champions New England Patriots and the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants.

Briefs on behalf of the states defending their laws and of their supporters will be filed in coming weeks. (Contributor: By Juliet Eilperin and Robert Barnes for The Washington Times - Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998. Robert Barnes has been a Washington Post reporter and editor since 1987. He has covered the Supreme Court since November 2006.)

Prayer focus: President Obama is only part of the issue here, though promoting a deviant position. He is who he is, and Americans twice have elected him to the presidency. He has proven to be elusive and “flexible” (to say the least) with his statements and on many positions. We know intercessors are praying for him and his family. Please continue to pray for salvation for the first family. The president is no more or less a sinner than others who need Jesus Christ for forgiveness, changed attitudes, and eternal life. Pray, too, for God’s mercy for our country, your church, and for the Church at large, as it is through His people that God will turn our nation back to Himself. Meditate on David’s prayer of contrition and repentance.

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” (Ps 51: 1-2, 6)

“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Prov 28:13)



A week from Tuesday, on March 17th, millions of Israelis will go to the polls for one of the most consequential national elections of our times. We will be casting ballots for the political party of our choice, and in so doing choosing the makeup of the next Knesset (parliament) and our next Prime Minister.

As I’ve been traveling across the U.S. in recent weeks on The Third Target book tour, people have been asking me whether Benjamin Netanyahu will return as Prime Minister, particularly in the wake of his impressive but controversial speech to Congress.

The honest answer is: I have no idea.

There is a groundswell of “Anybody But Bibi” voters. Some 30,000 Israelis turned out the other night for a rally in Tel Aviv calling for Netanyahu to be defeated and removed from office. Most of the Israeli media hates Netanyahu and are doing everything they can to disparage and discredit him. The left-wing parties in Israel can’t stand Bibi and are throwing all they can at him. Some on the center-right have policy disagreements and/or personal frustrations with him in his ninth year as Israel’s premier. And President Obama’s top operatives are in Israel working to unseat the PM.

That said, polls show Israelis trust Netanyahu to be Prime Minister and to keep the country safe from Iran, ISIS and other threats significantly more than Yitzhak (“Bouji”) Herzog, head of the Labor Party, and Tzipi Livni, head of the Hatnua Party. (The two have formed the “Zionist Union” faction as the main opposition party to Bibi; if they come out on top, they have pledged that Herzog would serve as PM for two years, and then Livni for two years.)

What’s more, most Israelis feel that Netanyahu was right to go to the U.S. to speak about the Iran nuclear threat, and most do not trust President Obama to cut a good deal with Iran that would keep Israel safe.

“Asked whom they trust more to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, 41% chose Netanyahu, while only 15% chose Obama, and a mere 6% chose Herzog,” noted Israel’s largest daily newspaper based on a new poll. “Some 46% of those polled said Netanyahu’s trip to Washington to address Congress was the right move, while 39% thought it was a mistake.”

At the moment, most polls show a dead heat between Netanyahu’s Likud Party and the Zionist Union, though one outlier poll yesterday showed Netanyahu’s team ahead by five seats.

It appears to be a jump ball between Netanyahu and Herzog. It could go either way. Thus, it is possible that Netanyahu could lose his position as PM this month, even as the showdown with Iran builds to a crescendo. I’m not predicting one way or the other, just trying to keep you up to speed.

Here’s the latest average of 12 Israeli polls conducted by 8 leading polling companies, according to a widely respected Israeli political analyst.

Zionist Union (Herzog/Livni) — 23.50

Likud (Netanyahu) — 22.83

Joint (Arab) List — 12.58

Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid) — 12.30

Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home/Naftali Bennett) — 11.91

Kulanu (Moshe Kahlon) — 8.25

Shas — 6.83

Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ — 6.66

Yisrael Beitenu (Avigdor Liberman) — 5.58

Meretz — 5.33

Yachad — 4.16

(Contributor: By Joel Rosenberg)

Prayer Focus: Conservative heroes and statesmen have frequently been disregarded and dropped by those who should be grateful. Primary examples: England’s treatment of Winston Churchill after WW2 and of Margaret Thatcher after she sided with the U.S. during the Cold War. Many Christians who support Israel believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu has acted courageously on behalf of his country’s interests — indeed, its survival. We believe, as Daniel did, that God raises up “kings” (national leaders) and puts them down. Pray for His determined will. Pray that God will be glorified and Israel will elect the leader and party to fulfill His purposes. Pray for Israel to turn to the Lord.

“Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.’” (Dan 2:20-22)



Readers of this column are familiar with my argument that a conservative tide is sweeping the country, contrary to the mainstream media. In the off-year elections of 2010 and 2014, the gains made by conservatives have been substantial in governors’ mansions and in state legislatures. To be sure, they have been substantial in Washington, too, at the House and Senate level, but I would argue that they have been more consequential at the state level. There, old conventions that have been in place since the left-wing 1960s are being heaved out and a clamor of protest is being heard from the evicted. It can only get worse.

Since the late 1960s, state universities have established departments and “learning” centers that have nothing to do with education and everything to do with advocacy for a certain narrow points of view — say, minority studies, feminist studies, advocacy for the poor, people with eating disorders, chronic bedwetters — that sort of thing. State governments also have allowed taxpayers’ dollars to be skimmed off into similar projects. Now state governments, recently taken over by conservative Republicans — possibly even by tea partyers — are closing down such boondoggles and provoking howls of indignation from the so-called aggrieved.

Last week North Carolina made national headlines when its board of governors — appointed by the Republican-controlled legislature — shut down the University of North Carolina School of Law’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity and two other so-called “academic centers.” The board claimed that the shutdowns occurred because the centers were not producing work that was useful to the state’s educational goals. As a matter of fact, it seemed to me that all they were producing was propaganda for the failed policies of the past. Why should North Carolinians pay for such propaganda mills as the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity and the other two bogus academic institutes, East Carolina University’s Center for Biodiversity and North Carolina Central University’s Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change. Needless to say, when the board of governors met to announce its decision there were noisy demonstrators and not much civic engagement.

Educators at these North Carolina universities have been complaining about fanciful threats to academic freedom and the specter of political partisanship, but their complaints have come at an awkward time, particularly for the University of North Carolina. It claims to be one of the premier institutions of higher learning in the land, but a recently released study, “Cheated,” by Jay M. Smith and Mary Willingham, has come up with shocking findings, findings that do not put North Carolina’s bogus academic centers in a very good light.

According to the authors of “Cheated,” both of whom have been on the university’s faculty, during the past two decades the university has tolerated cheating, plagiarism and lax standards such as students taking fake courses — mostly basketball players and football players but also non-athletes. The center for this corruption was none other than the African and Afro-American Studies Department under professor Julius Nyang’oro and a department administrator. The book mentions basketball players at the University of North Carolina who could barely read at a third-grade level. Its wider point is that these students were cheated out of an education. They will never have a second chance at higher education and the vast majority will not go on to play in professional sports.

Other states are, of a sudden, giving close scrutiny to the boondoggles that have burdened their budgets over the years, for instance, Texas, where university regent Wallace Hall has braved the threat of prosecution to blow the whistle on serious corruption. After all, what is a Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity doing on a college campus, or an Institute for Civic Engagement? At the University of North Carolina, where reportedly star athletes are proficient in Swahili, some cannot read English at a grammar-school level. Is it not time to teach these Tar Heels to read and write while foregoing the Swahili at least until graduate school? (Contributor: By R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. for The Washington Times - R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson Inc.)

Prayer focus: It is no secret that many university campus settings are in moral, social, and political crisis. Pray for Christian parents to have wisdom to prepare their children for campus environment and to choose the right college. We do not suggest that Christian colleges are free from risks, but statistics show that they are safer. Parents, are your children trained in how to protect themselves socially from predatory stalkers? Pray for a generation of young people to come forth with a grounded Christian worldview before going off to college. Pray for an awakened Church to preach and teach sound doctrine and not water down its message for popularity.

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (Col 2:6-7)

“… that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…” (Eph 4:14)



Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a new audio message believed to be recorded by the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau.

In the recording, a man identifying himself as Shekau vowed to follow Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and urged Muslims everywhere to pledge allegiance to the caliph, according to SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based organization, USA Today reported.

“We announce our allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims … and will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity, in hardship and ease, and to endure being discriminated against, and not to dispute about rule with those in power, except in case of evident infidelity regarding that which there is a proof from Allah,” Shekau said in a tweeted message that went along with the video, according to The Associated Press.

The message, which was posted Saturday on Boko Haram social media accounts, was confirmed by Flashpoint Intelligence, a global security firm and NBC News consultant.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has not yet responded to the message, but Laith Alkhouri, director of MENA research and analysis at Flashpoint, said it is likely Boko Haram would be accepted.

“Boko Haram is not only one of the strongest groups to support ISIS, it’s also in [an] area ISIS has very little, if any, control,” Mr. Alkhouri told NBC News. “This gives ISIS the extra credibility and the additional territory to further its growth around the world.”

Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence Group, added, “Boko Haram is now being elevated from a local jihadi group to an important arm of the Islamic State.”

On Sunday, hundreds of troops from Chad and Niger launched an offensive against Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, CNN reported.

“Early this morning, troops from Niger and Chad launched ground and air raids against Boko Haram into Nigeria, and the operation is still continuing,” said a military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, CNN reported. “It is an intensive operation that is aimed at pulverizing Boko Haram and crippling their capability.”

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language, is responsible for kidnapping hundreds of schoolgirls last year, killing thousands and causing nearly 1.2 million to flee northeastern Nigeria. (Contributor: By Jessica Chasmar for The Washington Times)

Prayer focus: Boko Haran goes in and out of news headlines depending on its most recent atrocious acts. This report is essentially saying “Terrorist group A has joined terrorist group B.” These separate identities all have a singular purpose, which is to bring murder and subjection to all non-Muslims. Pray for world opinion, including in the U.S., to reach the tipping point of indignation and righteous anger and take unified steps to say, “Enough!” We ask again, where is the World Court? Where is the United Nations?

“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Rom 12:19)

“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thess 2:9-12)



Unintended pregnancies cost American taxpayers $21 billion each year, according to a new analysis released by the Guttmacher Institute. That averages out to a cost of about $366 per every woman of childbearing age in the U.S. Overall, more than half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended, and roughly 1-in-20 American women of reproductive age have an unplanned pregnancy each year.

Nationally there were 1.5 million unplanned births in 2010. Public insurance programs like Medicaid paid for 68 percent of those births. "On average, a publicly funded birth cost $12,770 in prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care and the first 12 months of infant care; care for months 13–60 cost, on average, another $7,947, for a total cost per birth of $20,716," the study found.

Both the rate and cost of unplanned birth vary considerably by state. As a percent of all births, unplanned births ranged from 31.8 percent in New Hampshire to 56.8 percent in Mississippi. Overall, states in New England and on the West coast had the lowest rates of unplanned birth, while Southern states had the highest.

In some states -- Georgia, Mississippi and Oklahoma -- more than 80 percent of unplanned births were paid for by public dollars. Georgia taxpayers spent nearly $1 billion on unplanned births in 2010, as did taxpayers in Illinois. California spent $1.8 billion, while unplanned births cost the state of Texas nearly $3 billion dollars in 2010.

If these numbers seem high, they could be a lot higher. Current investments in family planning services, like contraception, family visits and STD testing, save taxpayers $15.8 billion and prevent 760,000 abortions each year, according to a 2014 analysis in the Milbank Quarterly. Guttmacher estimates that expanding these services further could cut the cost of unintended pregnancies by an additional $15 billion.

(Contributor: By Christopher Ingraham for The Washington Post - Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.)

Prayer focus: We will say up front that we are suspicious of the motivation behind this article. The Guttmacher Institute is no friend of the unborn, as it works closely with Planned Parent on all fronts to justify abortion as the “answer” to an unplanned (read: unwanted) pregnancy. Are people to be so shocked at these costs that they will choose to abort the innocent child because he or she is unplanned? Is that the goal? We urge caution and prayer for the right outcome. Please pray as conscience directs. Analyze this article personally and perhaps do research to discover what is behind all this talk of “expense.”

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Gal 6:7-9)



The largest celestial body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter welcomes its first visitor Friday.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was due to slip into orbit around Ceres for the first exploration of a dwarf planet. Unlike other orbit captures that require thruster firings to slow down, the latest event is ho-hum by comparison, unfolding gradually and automatically.

Since Dawn is out of contact with Earth during the encounter, flight controllers won’t receive confirmation until hours later.

“The real drama is exploring this alien, exotic world,” said mission chief engineer Marc Rayman at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $473 million mission.

Once circling Ceres, Dawn will spend the next 16 months photographing the icy surface to determine whether it’s active today.

Ceres is the last and final stop for Dawn, which launched in 2007 on a voyage to the main asteroid belt, a zone littered with rocky leftovers from the formation of the sun and planets some 4.5 billion years ago.

Dawn earlier spent a year at Vesta exploring the Arizona-sized asteroid and sending back stunning close-ups of the lumpy surface before cruising onto the Texas-sized Ceres.

The double trips are made possible by Dawn’s ion propulsion engines, which provide gentle yet constant acceleration and are more efficient than conventional thrusters.

As Dawn approached Ceres, it beamed back puzzling images revealing a pair of shiny patches inside a crater - signs of possible ice or salt.

Scientists hope to get a better glimpse when the spacecraft spirals closer to the surface to study whether previously spotted plumes of water vapor continue to vent.

Dwarf planets lately have become the focus of exploration.

This summer NASA spacecraft - New Horizons - is set to make the first visit to Pluto, which was demoted to dwarf planet.

Dawn almost never made it out to the inner solar system. The mission endured funding-related project cancellations and launch delays before it received the green light to fly. (Contributor: By Alicia Chang for The Associated Press)

Prayer focus: While all knowledgeable Americans marvel at the precise genius of NASA engineering and guidance systems, intercessors should note that the primary basis of space exploration is a search for life or of “life precursors” (water, etc.) that will further support Darwin’s evolutionary theory. (See the reporter’s glib assertion in paragraph 6 about “the formation of the sun and planets some 4.5 billion years ago.”) Pray that God, in His mercy, might reveal phenomena “out there” so startling and inexplicable that the academic and scientific communities will be forced to consider “Intelligent Design.” Give thanks for the Christians in science and math who are presenting facts and asking questions Darwin’s conclusions cannot answer.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.” (Ps 19:1-2)

“May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men.” (Ps 115:15-16)



New research regarding phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) a known hormone disruptor found in hundreds of plasticized consumer products, adds to the growing scientific consensus of the public health danger they pose.

Analyzing data collected from 362 women, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health found that in pregnant women higher levels of the hormone hCG, which is targeted by phthalates, was correlated with an abnormality in anogenital distance in male babies. The higher the hCG in the mother's blood, the shorter the distance between the anus and the scrotum in the male infants. Short anogenital distance is also strongly associated with lower sperm count in males.

"Our study is the first to show that hCG is a target of phthalate exposure in early pregnancy and to confirm previous findings that it is a critical hormone in male development," epidemiologist Jennifer Adibi told the Endocrine Society Thursday at its annual meeting in San Diego.

Phthalates made big news in 2008 when the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that infants exposed to infant-care products, specifically baby shampoos, baby lotions, and baby powder, showed higher than normal levels of phthalates in their urine. Because they are known to disrupt hormones, several of them were severely restricted by Congress in children's toys and certain child-care articles.

Nonetheless, various kinds of phthalates, which make plastic durable but flexible, are found in everything from raincoats to nail polish to vinyl flooring.

Last year at least three major studies raised concerns about the ubiquity of phthalates. In July, in the journal Environmental Health, scientists reported that infants with normal diets, especially diets high in whole milk, cream and poultry, consume double the amount of phthalates the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe. Phthalates are known to migrate into food in a variety of ways, including through plastic food-packaging, gloves used in the preparation of food, conveyor belts that carry food during the packaging process and through the tubing used to milk cows. Phthalates are also used in some printing inks and adhesive labels found on many food wrappers.

In November of 2014, scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health reported that because of phthalates in intravenous tubing, blood and fluid bags, premature babies can be exposed to 4,000 to 160,000 times the amount of phthalates considered safe.

And in December, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health linked prenatal exposure to phthalates to a more than six-point drop in IQ score compared with kids with less exposure.

In another study whose findings were presented at Thursday's Endocrine Society meeting, Canadian researchers found that phthalates in household plastic product as well as in the flame retardant coating on most furniture foam cushions, is associated with increased risk of autism. Rats exposed to phthalates showed behaviors similar to those seen in humans with autism spectrum disorders, including reduced social interactions and increased hyperactive movements.