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Posted by on in On Watch In Washington
On Watch in Washington March 11, 2015

On Watch in Washington March 11, 2015 Plain Text PDF

OBAMA’S WORDS: A MAJOR SHIFT

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)

 

NETANYAHU COULD BE DEFEATED

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)

 

CLEANING UP THE CAMPUS BOONDOGGLES

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)

 

BOKO HARAM PLEDGES ALLEGIANCE TO ISLAMIC STATE

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)

 

TAXPAYERS PAY $21 BILLION FOR UNPLANNED PREGNANCIES

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)

 

NASA SPACECRAFT ORBITING DWARF PLANET

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)

 

HOROMONE DISRUPTOR IN PLASTIC COMMON IN HOUSEHOLD ITEMS

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. In general, male rats were more affected than females and demonstrated less maternal bonding than females.

Under the law, the Federal Drug Administration has no jurisdiction over cosmetic products and ingredients, including phthalates (with the exception of color additives), before they are sold to the public, and on its Web site the FDA says that it "does not have evidence that phthalates as used in cosmetics pose a safety risk."

Also, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Human health effects from exposure to low levels of phthalates are unknown. Some types of phthalates have affected the reproductive system of laboratory animals. More research is needed to assess the human health effects . . . " (Contributor: By Amy Ellis Nutt for The Washington Times)

Prayer focus: Conservative Americans treasure all remaining freedoms and do not relish additional government control. Yet we also realize that selfish profit motives in a fallen world can place the public at risk. Whether through ignorance or purposeful safety violations, some situations call for strict regulation for citizen safety. Pray that the U.S. Congress and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) might rise above lobbying pressures and “back home” interests. If you are a “concerned activist,” consider writing a letter to your representatives to about questionable products and risks.  

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night…. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” (Ps 1:1-3, 4-6)

 

STUDENTS PRAY ABOUT FRATERNITY INCIDENT IN PRAYER CIRCLE

Students and faculty gathered in the North Oval by the George Lynn Cross statue in response and watched a video of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members participating in a racist chant on a bus.

Attendees gathered in small circles and prayed, then they all joined together into one big circle for a large prayer. People prayed about the people affected by the video and asked for forgiveness for the ones involved in the incident.

“Don’t let the actions of a few people be indicative of an entire Sooner family,” one speaker in the prayer circle said.

Dillon Brown and his wife Sheyda Brown, both OU students, were the organizers of the prayer circle. Dillon Brown said that they both felt a need to gather God’s love in response to the events that transpired today.

“We were both just really broken,” Dillon Brown said. “Even though we aren’t black, hate hurts all.”

Sheyda Brown said she and her husband wanted to create a safe environment for people to express themselves about the video that was leaked on the Internet today.

“I had faith that God would do big things, and he did,” Sheyda Brown said. “People came and it was really inspiring to see… a bunch of people who didn’t know each other… get together and come together.”

After the group prayer circle, Dillon Brown instructed those at the event to pair up with another participant and “cover the campus in prayer.”

Many upstanding faces throughout the OU campus were present at the prayer circle, including the college of arts and sciences dean Kelly Damphousse, OU press secretary Corbin Wallace, and Student Government Association President Kunal Naik. Basketball players Isaiah Cousins and Frank Booker and football players Eric Striker and Charles Tapper attended as well.

One person with the group of students that included the athletes, who arrived later to the event, got the audience’s attention and told it to meet in the “academic center” dressed in “business casual” if they want to “help this cause.” Cousins said they were joining student advocacy group OU Unheard in its cause.

Unheard will demonstrate at 7:30 a.m. at the entrance of the North Oval tomorrow morning. OU’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter was disbanded by its national organization Sunday night as a result of the video leak. (Contributor: By Andrew Clark, Staff Reporter for The Oklahoma Daily)

WATCH VIDEO: <Click here!>

Prayer focus: This article demonstrates once again the power of prayer and God’s love over hatred and the evil spirit of racism. Give thanks that these prayer gatherings will show the OU student body, its faculty and other personnel, and the rest of our country that racial prejudice is arrogance at its worst. Pray for repentance and reconciliation and for OU to experience campus revival, with many conversions. Intercede for healing. Pray for Christian campus ministry organizations to take steps to show open hearts and open arms to people of all races and ethnicity, overcoming evil with good.

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another, not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12:10-12, 17-18, 21)

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On Watch in Washington March 4, 2015

On Watch in Washington March 4, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

NETANYAHU: U.S. ON VERGE OF ‘BAD DEAL’ ON IRAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu challenged Congress on Tuesday to stand firm in the face of terrorist threats whether from Iran or the Islamic State, and accused President Obama of naivety in his negotiations to try to constrain Iranian leaders’ nuclear program.

With negotiations reaching a critical point, Mr. Netanyahu said Mr. Obama, desperate to avoid war, is about to make concessions that would leave Iran less than a year from capability to construct nuclear weapons, known as “breakout.” The prime minister said that kind of “bad deal” is worse than no deal at all.

Mr. Obama, who pointedly avoided even watching the speech to a joint meeting of Congress, said he later skimmed the transcript and dismissed the prime minister’s remarks as nothing new. But his opposition to the speech likely made it even more important — and certainly more difficult for Democrats, who were left divided over whether to attend and how to evaluate what the prime minister said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the speech insulting to Congress, but her top foreign relations colleague, fellow California Democrat Brad Sherman, said Mr. Netanyahu was spot-on.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, moved quickly to exploit Democrats’ divisions by announcing that he would force debate next week on a bill requiring Mr. Obama to submit any deal with Iran to Congress for its approval.

“This deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program, and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade,” Mr. Netanyahu told a House chamber packed as if it were hearing a State of the Union address from a U.S. president. “That’s why this deal is so bad. It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

Making his third such speech to Congress over the past two decades, Mr. Netanyahu delivered a lecture on nuclear centrifuges, timetables for enrichment, intercontinental ballistic missiles and the dangers Israel would face if it had to live in the shadow of a nuclear Iran.

Analysts said it was the most charged address by a foreign leader to a joint meeting of Congress in modern political history. Security outside the Capitol was at a maximum, with phalanxes of police patrolling the grounds and monitoring protesters. Inside, Democratic lawmakers wrestled with the question of whether to attend the speech.

Those who did show up faced difficult decisions about whether to applaud Mr. Netanyahu’s portrayal of the negotiations and his criticism of Mr. Obama’s diplomatic approach, where he is working with Germany and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the so-called P5+1 — to keep a unified front.

Mrs. Pelosi was particularly incensed, occasionally waving her hands in frustration and keeping a running commentary with her lieutenant, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who sat next to her studiously writing notes about Mr. Netanyahu’s speech.

“I was near tears throughout the prime minister’s speech,” Mrs. Pelosi said in a statement afterward. “Saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5+1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.”

Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats said two factors made the speech unseemly: House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, invited the Israeli prime minister before notifying the White House, and Mr. Netanyahu faces a re-election contest in Israel in two weeks.

The president refused to meet with the prime minister during his visit to Washington. Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who normally would preside over the session with Mr. Boehner, arranged to be out of town. His place was taken by Senate President Pro Tempore Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican.

Mr. Netanyahu began his speech by apologizing for the fuss. He specifically credited Mr. Obama with being a friend of Israel, both publicly and privately.

“I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy,” he said. “I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention.”

But Mr. Netanyahu repeatedly questioned the administration’s negotiating stance and said the president ignores Iran’s long history of backing terrorism, its territorial aims and its stated goal of destroying Israel.

He also warned against using Iran’s cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State as a reason to believe it wants to be a cooperating member of the international community.

“When it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy,” he said. “The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.”

Mr. Obama, who scheduled a video conference with European leaders to discuss Ukraine at the same time as Mr. Netanyahu’s speech, later said there was little in the remarks to interest him.

“What I’m focused on right now is solving this problem,” he said. “I’m not focused on the politics of it, I’m not focused on the theater of it. And my strong suggestion would be that members of Congress, as they evaluate it, stay similarly focused.”

Mr. Obama said no deal with Iran has been finalized and that negotiations so far have pushed Iran somewhat further from nuclear weapons capability.

The Obama administration’s goal is to create a situation in which it would take Iran a year to create a nuclear bomb once it made the decision to go ahead.

Mr. Netanyahu, however, said the terms the White House is considering would leave “breakout” less than a year away and the goal should be to prohibit Iran from taking any path toward nuclear weapons capability.

The galleries were packed for Mr. Netanyahu’s speech, just as they were less than two months ago for Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address, but a practiced eye could spot the differences. The members of the Congressional Black Caucus who normally packed the aisle seats for a chance to be photographed with Mr. Obama were absent from those prime seats, replaced by Republicans eager to get Mr. Netanyahu’s attention.

In the spot where first lady Michelle Obama has sat for the past six years was Nobel Prize winning author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who received two standing ovations from the crowd. (Contributor: By Stephen Dinan for The Washington Times - Dave Boyer contributed to this report.)

Prayer focus: Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the joint session of Congress speaks for itself. It will inevitably be interpreted according to the observer’s political convictions and worldview. Our encouragement to intercessors is to view this entire event through both historical and biblical lenses and to continue to pray for both our own U.S. leaders and for Israel. Focus, too, on the upcoming Israeli elections in two weeks. Proclaim God’s sovereign rule and control.

“The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; let the earth be moved! The Lord is great in Zion, and He is high above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name— He is holy.” (Ps. 99:1-3)

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.” (Ps. 46:1-3)

 

REPORT: OBAMA THREATENED TO SHOOT DOWN IAF IRAN STRIKE

The Bethlehem-based news agency Ma’an has cited a Kuwaiti newspaper report Saturday, that US President Barack Obama thwarted an Israeli military attack against Iran's nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.

Following Obama's threat, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was reportedly forced to abort the planned Iran attack.

According to Al-Jarida, the Netanyahu government took the decision to strike Iran some time in 2014 soon after Israel had discovered the United States and Iran had been involved in secret talks over Iran’s nuclear program and were about to sign an agreement in that regard behind Israel's back.

The report claimed that an unnamed Israeli minister who has good ties with the US administration revealed the attack plan to Secretary of State John Kerry, and that Obama then threatened to shoot down the Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.

Al-Jarida quoted "well-placed" sources as saying that Netanyahu, along with Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon, and then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, had decided to carry out airstrikes against Iran's nuclear program after consultations with top security commanders.

According to the report, “Netanyahu and his commanders agreed after four nights of deliberations to task the Israeli army's chief of staff, Benny Gantz, to prepare a qualitative operation against Iran's nuclear program. In addition, Netanyahu and his ministers decided to do whatever they could do to thwart a possible agreement between Iran and the White House because such an agreement is, allegedly, a threat to Israel's security.”

The sources added that Gantz and his commanders prepared the requested plan and that Israeli fighter jets trained for several weeks in order to make sure the plans would work successfully. Israeli fighter jets reportedly even carried out experimental flights in Iran's airspace after they managed to break through radars.

Brzezinski's idea

Former US diplomat Zbigniew Brzezinski, who enthusiastically campaigned for Obama in 2008, called on him to shoot down Israeli planes if they attack Iran. “They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?” said the former national security advisor to former President Jimmy Carter in an interview with the Daily Beast.

“We have to be serious about denying them that right,” he said. “If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a 'Liberty' in reverse.’"

Israel mistakenly attacked the American Liberty ship during the Six-Day War in 1967.

Brzezinski was a top candidate to become an official advisor to President Obama, but he was downgraded after Republican and pro-Israel Democratic charges during the campaign that Brzezinski’s anti-Israel attitude would damage Obama at the polls. (Contributor: By Mark Langfan for Israel National News)

Prayer focus: Intercessors need not speculate on this story. The air-strike confrontation did not happen, and the report, whether completely factual or not, is history. Meanwhile, these are historic days of near-biblical proportions. Pray that the international community will choose correctly between supporting Israel or Iran. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the covenant land that was given to Abraham, then passed on to Isaac and to Jacob in perpetuity. Pray for God’s purpose to triumph.

“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)

“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)

 

NETANYAHU: MY DUTY IS TO ENSURE ISRAEL'S SECURITY

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a visit to the Western Wall on Saturday night, just hours before flying to Washington on one of the most contentious visits there by an Israeli prime minister in recent memory.

With the Wall as his backdrop, Netanyahu said he wanted to visit Judaism’s holiest site before embarking on his trip Sunday morning to Washington, where his scheduled speech before Congress on Tuesday has placed him at loggerheads with the White House.

“I want to take this opportunity to say that I respect US President Barack Obama,” he stressed. “I believe in the strength of the relationship between Israel and the US and in their strength to overcome differences of opinion, those that have been and those that will yet be.”

Netanyahu reiterated his position that, as Israel’s prime minister, it is his obligation to worry about the country’s security, “and for that reason we strongly oppose the agreement being formulated between the world powers and Iran that could endanger Israel’s very existence.”

This is the first time since he became prime minister for the second time in 2009 that Netanyahu visited the Wall before embarking on a trip to the US. It came two days after a visit to his father’s grave in Jerusalem. His father, Netanyahu explained to the haredi radio station Kol Barama on Friday, always gave him advice at critical junctures in his life.

“He said to always look at the threats endangering our people,” Netanyahu said of his father, Benzion, a noted historian who died in 2012. “He said that one of the things that was lacking in Jewish history was seeing in real time what endangers our existence.”

The obligation incumbent on Israel’s leaders, Netanyahu said, is to identify the dangers in time and do everything they can to scuttle them.

“My responsibility is to worry not only about the State of Israel, but also the future of the Jewish people,” he said, “to stand up and raise our voice. Seventy, 80 years ago no one could raise their voice when there were plans to destroy us. Today there is, and it is my obligation.”

Netanyahu pointed to former prime ministers David Ben-Gurion, Levi Eshkol, and Menachem Begin as leaders who took action they felt was necessary, even though it ran contrary to strongly stated US policies.

“When there is something that is connected to our very existence, what do they expect the prime minister to do, bow his head and accept something that is dangerous in order to have good relations?” he asked. “I think the relations are strong enough to overcome the disagreements, and that Iran with an atomic bomb is much more dangerous than one disagreement or another [with the US].”

Government officials said that, as is Netanyahu’s custom, work on the speech to Congress will continue until it is delivered at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning. The officials said that Netanyahu genuinely believes this is an historic moment, and that in the best case scenario the speech could compel “policy makers to rethink concessions that they are willing to make to the Iranians.”

Netanyahu is scheduled to arrive in Washington Sunday afternoon and deliver a speech to AIPAC’s annual policy conference Monday morning that will focus on the strength of the US-Israel relationship. He is to have lunch with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders on Tuesday afternoon after delivering his address to Congress, and then fly back to Israel, arriving a few hours before the onset of Purim.

The prime minister noted the timing, saying that just as Jews on Purim remember the attempt in Persia in antiquity to destroy the Jews, “it is the same Persia with a regime that is waving the banner of destroying the state of the Jews. The means by which they intend on implementing this threat is with many atomic bombs.”

Netanyahu will be accompanied to Washington by Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, who was in Jerusalem last week helping him prepare for the trip with his top advisers and his wife, Sara. (Contributor: By Herb Keinon for The Jerusalem Post)

Prayer focus: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to the U.S. and yesterday, March 3, stood by invitation before our badly divided House and Senate, and gave a historical speech to a joint session of Congress. Mr. Netanyahu excelled in at least three ways. First, he warned Iran that Israel would not stand by to be annihilated; second, he made clear that Israel and the U.S. are friends, leaving it up to President Obama to agree or disagree; and finally, he spoke to the world that Israel will defend itself with or without the help of other nations. Give thanks for this Israeli statesman, for his courage and boldness. Please pray for him and for the U.S. Congress as you are led.

“As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.” (Ps. 103:15-18)

 

NAACP SUES THE RADIANCE FOUNDATION

Abortion doesn’t advance colored people. And since we’re all colored people, killing our Posterity doesn’t advance any community. Abortion is a violent injustice that, like slavery, requires that we accept the lie that some human beings aren’t as equal as others. The NAACP (which inaccurately goes by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) believes and promotes the lie. Since February 2013, the nation’s oldest civil rights group has spent over half a million dollars suing The Radiance Foundation ... for what it charges as “trademark infringement, confusion and dilution.” This so-called infringement included The Radiance Foundation’s news articles that detailed the NAACP pro-abortion actions, suggesting a name more befitting of the abortion-pushing organization. Apparently, truth and parodying an organization’s name are not protected under the First Amendment.

We filed a declaratory action because the NAACP threatened to sue us, including monetary “damages”, for this bogus “trademark infringement”. Our suit simply asked the judge to dismiss this legal threat on the basis that it was our First Amendment right to criticize the NAACP’s abortion advocacy through parody/satire in news commentary. That request was denied.

The irony in this is rich. Rush Limbaugh has parodied the NAACP’s name since Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation, claiming that the organization is only concerned about the advancement of a certain kind of folk–liberal colored people. He continues to use the parody any time he speaks of the leftist organization. However, the NAACP isn’t suing a wealthy white broadcaster (who has an audience of millions every single day) for causing “confusion” of their brand. They’ve chosen, instead, to sue a black man, with far less means for daring to call them out. Is this yet another example of black-on-black crime?

In federal court, the once great civil rights group convinced Judge Raymond Jackson to disregard our civil rights as well as all of the documentation proving how radically pro-abortion the NAACP has become. The judge ruled against The Radiance Foundation, declaring that the parody we employed isn’t, technically, a parody because he didn’t find it to be “funny”. So, he banned us from even mentioning the parodied name or ever parodying the NAACP’s name in the future. Contradicting all presented evidence, Judge Raymond Jackson declared “the NAACP has no formal position or policy regarding abortion” despite the fact that the NAACP itself declared, in its own press release, that it “took an historic pro-choice position” back on February 24, 2004. (Download and read the outrageous Opinion and Order and the Permanent Injunction Ruling.)

There is no question about the NAACP’s position on abortion. They passed a resolution at their annual convention in 2004 erroneously entitled: “The March For Life”. Never let it be confused that the organization, which historically fought for the most disenfranchised among us, actually supports the March for Life that brings hundreds of thousands of prolife advocates to the nation’s capital each year to be educated and motivated to fight the social injustice of abortion. The NAACP resolution proudly supported the National Organization for Women (NOW), Planned Parenthood and NARAL radical abortion march on DC. (It was originally named the “March Against Fear” but renamed to the “March for Women’s Lives”.) This unapologetically pro-abortion event was originally pushed by NOW because Congress had passed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. So the NAACP’s public foray into advocating for abortion was to demand what most Americans consider the most heinous and most violent form of abortion–partially birthing a child, then (for no medical reason) severing the child’s head from its body or crushing the skull and sucking the child’s brains out and dismembering the rest of the child, piece by piece.

The judge wrongly claimed on page 41 of the Order: “The NAACP has intentionally refrained from taking a stance on abortion, and certainly has not been alleged to advocate for the abortion of people of color.” Never mind the NAACP not only promoted the pro-abortion “March for Women’s Lives”, it led from the stage. Former NAACP President Julian Bond was a featured speaker at event as well as the keynote speaker at a fund-raising dinner for NARAL, the same year, where he praised the fact that “black women exercise this precious [abortion] at rates far exceeding their percentage of the population.” Never mind Planned Parenthood is a corporate sponsor of the NAACP’s annual conventions. Never mind the NAACP filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona for its Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act, which banned sex-selection and race-based abortions. Never mind the recent president of the NAACP, Benjamin Jealous, was the keynote speaker at a Planned Parenthood of Southeast Georgia fundraiser where one could purchase a $1000-a-Margaret-Sanger-Founders-Circle package to help raise money for the political arm of the abortion chain.

Sixty percent of viable black pregnancies are aborted in New York City, the home of NARAL and Planned Parenthood. As highlighted in our TooManyAborted.com initiative, more black babies are aborted in New York City than are born alive: 1,223 black babies are aborted for every 1,000 born alive. Yet the NAACP has officially endorsed Governor Cuomo’s radical pro-Gosnell “Women’s Equality Act” that would eliminate all restrictions on abortion in a state that already aborts over 100,000 per year through the 249 abortion facilities in the state.

Over the years, The Radiance Foundation has published numerous articles on various news sites (all of which Judge Jackson ordered destroyed on our sites) about the NAACP’s pro-abortion actions. We’ve pointed out that Planned Parenthood co-sponsors the NAACP’s annual conventions and how the NAACP has shown its support of the nation’s largest abortion chain by frequently defending it. So, we satirically referred to the organization with a name more befitting of their pro-abortion advocacy–a name which we can’t even mention. We are prohibited by Judge Raymond Jackson of the U.S. District Court in Norfolk, VA to speak or write, not only of the parody that we’ve used to describe the actions of the NAACP, but to ever parody the NAACP in the future.

The irony never ends: the nation’s second oldest civil rights group suing a black man for exercising his second most basic civil right—the freedom of speech. This lawsuit is nothing more than a multi-million dollar organization’s attempt to bully someone who’s simply telling the truth. Our inner-cities are crumbling, two-parent married families barely exist, 72.3 percent of black children are born into homes without fathers, and the NAACP wants to silence us for pointing out its documented support of the killing of over 16 million black lives since Roe.

I believe this trial in life will have a happy ending. We’ve now officially appealed this case to the Fourth Circuit of Appeals and are being defended by Alliance Defending Freedom. Our hope is that truth and justice prevail and that our guaranteed, precious right to free speech is protected. Even more importantly, we hope that so-called “leaders” in the civil rights movement have their consciences awakened to realize no right is more valuable and in need of defense than the foundational Right to Life. Read supporting documents <Click Here!> (Contributor: Radiance Foundation - Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney Charles M. Allen with the Glen Allen, Va. firm Goodman, Allen & Filetti PLLC is defending Bomberger and Radiance in The Radiance Foundation v. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA.)

Prayer focus: Christians who know the Bombergers and the work of the Radiance Foundation are virtually unanimous in supporting what these folks are doing and what they long to accomplish on behalf of black women and their exceedingly high abortion rates, women who are often used, abused, and deserted. We cannot tell the story of the Radiance Foundation here, but we can ask for prayer on their behalf and support them with much intercession. They are genuine, without guile, and want only God’s grace and help to pursue their unselfish ministry. Please pray for them and their family.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isa. 41:10)

“Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:1-4)

 

THE FATAL FLAW IN THE IRAN DEAL

A sunset clause?

The news from the nuclear talks with Iran was already troubling. Iran was being granted the “right to enrich.” It would be allowed to retain and spin thousands of centrifuges. It could continue construction of the Arak plutonium reactor. Yet so thoroughly was Iran stonewalling International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors that just last Thursday the IAEA reported its concern “about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed . . . development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”

Bad enough. Then it got worse: News leaked Monday of the elements of a “sunset clause.” President Obama had accepted the Iranian demand that any restrictions on its program be time-limited. After which, the mullahs can crank up their nuclear program at will and produce as much enriched uranium as they want.

Sanctions lifted. Restrictions gone. Nuclear development legitimized. Iran would reenter the international community, as Obama suggested in an interview in December, as “a very successful regional power.” A few years — probably around 10 — of good behavior and Iran would be home free.

The agreement thus would provide a predictable path to an Iranian bomb. Indeed, a flourishing path, with trade resumed, oil pumping and foreign investment pouring into a restored economy.

Meanwhile, Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile program is subject to no restrictions at all. It’s not even part of these negotiations.

Why is Iran building them? You don’t build ICBMs in order to deliver sticks of dynamite. Their only purpose is to carry nuclear warheads. Nor does Iran need an ICBM to hit Riyadh or Tel Aviv. Intercontinental missiles are for reaching, well, other continents. North America, for example.

Such an agreement also means the end of nonproliferation. When a rogue state defies the world, continues illegal enrichment and then gets the world to bless an eventual unrestricted industrial-level enrichment program, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is dead. And regional hyperproliferation becomes inevitable as Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others seek shelter in going nuclear themselves.

Wasn’t Obama’s great international cause a nuclear-free world? Within months of his swearing-in, he went to Prague to so declare. He then led a 50-party Nuclear Security Summit, one of whose proclaimed achievements was having Canada give up some enriched uranium.

Having disarmed the Canadian threat, Obama turned to Iran. The deal now on offer to the ayatollah would confer legitimacy on the nuclearization of the most rogue of rogue regimes: radically anti-American, deeply jihadist, purveyor of terrorism from Argentina to Bulgaria, puppeteer of a Syrian regime that specializes in dropping barrel bombs on civilians. In fact, the Iranian regime just this week, at the apex of these nuclear talks, staged a spectacular attack on a replica U.S. carrier near the Strait of Hormuz.

Well, say the administration apologists, what’s your alternative? Do you want war?

It’s Obama’s usual, subtle false-choice maneuver: It’s either appeasement or war.

It’s not. True, there are no good choices, but Obama’s prospective deal is the worst possible. Not only does Iran get a clear path to the bomb but it gets sanctions lifted, all pressure removed and international legitimacy.

There is a third choice. If you are not stopping Iran’s program, don’t give away the store. Keep the pressure, keep the sanctions. Indeed, increase them. After all, previous sanctions brought Iran to its knees and to the negotiating table in the first place. And that was before the collapse of oil prices, which would now vastly magnify the economic effect of heightened sanctions.

Congress is proposing precisely that. Combined with cheap oil, it could so destabilize the Iranian economy as to threaten the clerical regime. That’s the opening. Then offer to renew negotiations for sanctions relief but from a very different starting point — no enrichment. Or, if you like, with a few token centrifuges for face-saving purposes.

And no sunset.

That’s the carrot. As for the stick, make it quietly known that the United States will not stand in the way of any threatened nation that takes things into its own hands. We leave the regional threat to the regional powers, say, Israeli bombers overflying Saudi Arabia.

Consider where we began: six U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding an end to Iranian enrichment. Consider what we are now offering: an interim arrangement ending with a sunset clause that allows the mullahs a robust, industrial-strength, internationally sanctioned nuclear program.

Such a deal makes the Cuba normalization look good and the Ukrainian cease-fires positively brilliant. We are on the cusp of an epic capitulation. History will not be kind. (Contributor: By Charles Krauthammer for The Washington Post)

Prayer focus: If we seem overloaded on a Middle East focus, it is because much of the free world, as well as Iran’s immediate neighbors, are zeroing in on whether the United States, through Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama’s complicated worldview, is giving that rogue nation too much leeway in the current nuclear talks, which appear to be going in Iran’s favor. This time in history has an urgency that impels intercessors to cry out to God for His mercy. Pray for President Obama to be given divine wisdom to see God’s perspective, as He rules and guides the destiny of nations.

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth. Why should the [nations] say, ‘So where is their God?’ But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.” (Ps. 115:1-3)

“For I know that the Lord is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth….” (Ps. 135:5-6a)

 

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: THE FAUSTIAN BARGAIN WITH IRAN

Having admonished young Russians to fight corruption and demand freedom, Joe Biden stared at a packed Moscow University auditorium and said: “Don’t compromise on the basic elements of democracy. You need not make that Faustian bargain.”

Four years on, the US vice president’s boss is the one brewing a pact with the devil, ceding moral values for mortal gains. That, at least, is how both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog see the evolving deal between Iran and the P5+1 world powers.

The deal has yet to be formally presented, but its reported contours are clear: a supervision regime that would force the Iranians to slow down and expose their industrial progress toward the ability to build a nuclear bomb, keeping the capability at least a year away at any point during the agreement’s duration.

The Iranian capability to weaponize would be curtailed by three restrictions concerning Tehran’s high-grade uranium: its quantity would be cut; its grade would be capped; and its processing would be shrunk.

The cutting would be done the way it already was last year, when Tehran diluted a portion of its high-grade uranium; the capping would be to 5 percent, which is sufficient for civilian purposes but insufficient for producing a bomb; and production would be squeezed by limiting the amount of centrifuges, the tools of uranium’s enrichment.

This formula’s rationale is that the sanctions, which would be lifted gradually in return for transparency and slowdown, could be restored at any point. If by the time the deal’s duration expires the powers agree that Iran has fulfilled its commitments, Tehran would be allowed to use nuclear power for civilian purposes without international supervision.

The time frame for this structure is, reportedly, 10 years – during which Iran’s production of nuclear fuel would be drastically cut, followed by five years during which it would be incrementally restored. The deadlines for the framework and final agreements are, respectively, March 24 and June 30.

The Islamic Republic’s interlocutors are not made of one skin. Russia and China don’t feel threatened by Iran’s quest, as opposed to the Western powers.

Moscow, at the same time, has an economic interest that Iran’s oil remain in its wells, lest it further flood an already glutted energy market – where Russia wins most of its bread.

Beijing’s interest is the opposite of Russia’s, as it lacks the latter’s oil and gas, and at the same time has a sprawling industrial sector the size of which Russia will not have even a generation from now. China therefore has an interest in oil prices’ further fall and in Iran’s oil returning to the markets, and in fact sees in Tehran a strategic business partner. Then again, Beijing also sees an unruly and provocative Iran as bad for business.

Despite these variations, the talks’ tone is set by the Western powers, and within them by the US – whose negotiators reject the comparison between their dialogue with Tehran’s mullahs and that of Neville Chamberlain’s with Hitler.

The way US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are conducting this negotiation, its analogy is to them not the Munich Pact with Nazi Germany but the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), which produced limited disarmament agreements between the US and USSR.

The American-Soviet arms limitation talks began in 1969 in Helsinki, and resulted three years later in an agreement signed festively in Moscow by president Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The two superpowers agreed to limit their anti-ballistic missiles operations to one site each.

The American rationale was twofold: military and diplomatic. Militarily, the deal left most of the sides’ vast lands exposed to each other’s potential attack, thereby upholding each others’ nuclear deterrence.

Diplomatically, it triggered and cultivated a culture of dialogue that the Americans hoped would, in due course, help sensitize the formidable Soviets.

The analogy to the Iranian situation lies in the staunchly anti-Communist Nixon’s conclusion that dealing with America’s arch-rival was worthwhile – even though it clung to its Communist faith, human rights abuses and global interventions.

That is how the two superpowers continuously conducted dialogue and bargained, even while their proxies clashed worldwide, ultimately producing further deals about limiting the number of strategic launchers.

Unlike Hitler’s deals, which he violated one by one, the Soviets abided by theirs. In fact, the spirit of those talks was so positive that even after US president Jimmy Carter halted the SALT II agreement’s ratification process following Afghanistan’s invasion, Moscow and Washington still fulfilled its terms, voluntarily.

The Iranian situation is obviously different. Iran is not a superpower, its interlocutors don’t perceive it as threatening them directly and it is no match for any of them on any possible parameter – militarily, industrially or economically. Moreover, by the time SALT was negotiated, the Soviet nuclear arsenal had long been intact and growing – whereas the Iranians have yet to hold their first bomb.

Even so, the unfurling American attitude is inspired by the same mentality with which Washington treated the unconventional arms of the USSR in its last decades.

It is a dramatic shift. As former secretary of state Henry Kissinger put it in a congressional hearing last month, what began as an effort to deny Iran’s nuclear military capability has since become a negotiation over that capability’s scope.

This unfolding nuclear acquiescence comes coupled with a political free ride that Washington never gave the USSR.

WHILE NIXON’S diplomats negotiated disarmament with the Soviets, American politicians pressured the USSR on its human rights record.

This effort’s main weapon was the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the US Trade Act, which tied US foreign trade to its partner’s human rights record. By withholding the USSR’s “most favored nation” status, the US waged on this front the war it avoided on the disarmament front: the war of ideas.

The war of ideas is for now a non-factor in the dialogue between Washington and Tehran. Obama’s tone for such tolerance was already set in his Cairo Speech of June 2009, where after faintly mentioning that “Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against US troops and civilians,” he affirmed that the US is “prepared to move forward” and that “the question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.”

That is how the sanctions against Iran remain confined to the nuclear situation, while for instance, Iran’s serial executions – 664 in 2013 and 721 last year, according to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center – and the ayatollahs’ jailing of thousands of dissidents, are treated as the Islamic Republic’s “internal affairs” and left diplomatically unopposed.

So is Iran’s regional meddling. With its recent snatching of Yemen, Tehran’s already decisive sway in Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut is now well on its way to its next strategic milestone, the Bab el-Mandeb strait – where Asia and Africa are but 28 kilometers apart, and where 4% of the world’s oil passes annually en route to the Suez Canal.

Iran’s expansionism is apparently under-appreciated by Obama.

A Yemen that orbits Iran is intolerable to nearby Egypt, which already has responded to the Iranian nuclear quest by two weeks ago signing a deal with Russia to build its own reactor. Similarly, Egyptian and Saudi messages of concern to Washington over the evolving deal with Iran have thus far fallen on deaf ears.

These aspects of Iran’s conduct are no factor in the negotiations, not to mention its role in the Syrian people’s butchery. As such, if sanctions are lifted without any Western demand concerning Iran’s domestic and regional conduct, the deal would be interpreted in Tehran as approval of its oppression and imperialism, not to mention its Islamism.

It follows, that all those displeased with the Obama administration’s Iranian policy will likely respond to his overtures by seeking a parallel sanctions effort that will aim not at Iran’s nuclear program, but at its treatment of its citizens and neighbors.

Responding to Israeli statements concerning the current negotiations, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said they were “a smoke screen” intended to divert attention from the Jewish state’s “atrocities against the Palestinians.”

It was the kind of broadside Soviet officials used to habitually make while talking arms control with the US, obviously unaware that their polity’s years were numbered. Then again, at no time since backing its establishment in 1948 did the Soviet Union deny the Jewish state’s right to exist.

In this regard, the current talks’ analogy is to Munich 1938 – and the bargain that Biden’s boss seems eager to strike is with the devil. (Contributor: Amotz Asa-El for The Jerusalem Post)

Prayer focus: In the weekly alerts, IFA is respectful of the office of the President of the United States. We are loyal citizens of our nation, knowing we live in the world’s best country, with the most freedom and opportunity, and enjoying the benevolent and most evident blessings of Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of life. We are not, however, subjects of a monarchy, and there is no disloyalty in questioning administration policies we believe violate God’s principles, such as we are experiencing in today’s social climate. Thus we present controversial articles to “watchmen on the walls.” Please pray and intercede as your conscience directs.

“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. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus….” (1 Tim. 2:1-5)

 

MOTHER OF JAMES FOLEY FORGIVES JIHADI JOHN FOR BEHEADING SON

American journalist James Foley was beheaded in Syria last August by ISIS militant “Jihadi John,” now identified as Mohammed Emwazi. Christian Today reports Foley’s mother Diane has now told the Times that she has forgiven her son’s killer.

"It saddens me - his continued hatred. He felt wronged, now we hate him - now that just prolongs the hatred. We need to end it,” she said.

"As a mum, I forgive him. You know, the whole thing is tragic."

Foley’s father had previously said that he knew his son was in Heaven.

“We know Jimmy's free. He's finally free. And we know he's in God's hands...and we know he's in Heaven,” John Foley said at the time of the murder.

According to Attorney General Eric Holder, the United States is now considering how a method to kill or capture Emwazi.

“I think there is something to be said for holding accountable [and] getting at the people who are responsible for these barbaric acts,” Holder said.

“The vow that I can make to the American people, along with our allies, is that we will hold accountable all of the people who have been responsible for these heinous, barbaric acts...That is something that we are focused on each and every day.” (Contributor: Carrie Dedrick for Christian Headlines)

Prayer focus: Let us give thanks for this brave, compassionate, and extremely gracious and kind mother. She understands that the path of forgiveness is the pathway to freedom. Apparently, this is a Christian family. Pray that her example will go far and wide and will help other suffering victims, some in the grip of hatred, to forgive and acknowledge that, ultimately, God will judge righteously.

“And Abraham came near and said [to God], … ‘Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?’” (Gen. 18:23a, 25)

“But I [Jesus] 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….” (Matt. 5:44)

 

PRO-LIFE EFFORT KEEPS MAILMAN BUSY AT WHITE HOUSE

Pro-lifers are being asked to flood the White House with a message supporting life.

Life Envelope DayIt was once called "Red Envelope Day" but because of a trademark dispute it is now "Life Envelope Day."

The empty envelope symbolizes a life that was taken by abortion.

Organizer Rich Lepoutre says idea surfaced in 2008 after Obama was elected president. The first envelopes were mailed to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in 2009, approximately 2.3 million of them.

Lepoutre explains the now-annual action: "Folks who were pro-life, dealing with the obviously very much pro-abort President Obama, should send a letter, or an empty envelope, in as a protest."

For Life Envelope Day this year, Lepoutre says the date to remember is March 22. That is 60 days after January 22, the annual memorial of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Pro-lifers can send the red envelopes to the White House and also to state and national lawmakers who support abortion.

The 'Life Envelope' website allows users to send cards to U.S. public officials through the website at a minimal cost.

Lepoutre hopes the campaign will generate a minimum of 1.2 million envelopes, which represents the annual estimated number of abortions. (Contributor: Charlie Butts for One News Now)

Prayer focus: Do you have an opinion on this idea? Apparently, most people do. As we considered this largely symbolic act of sending an empty envelope to the White House, we noted responses of others to the article. The consensus was that a better plan would be to write a short, polite, personal note stating your opposition to abortion. After writing to the White House (President Obama), perhaps follow up with similar notes to your U.S. representative and both of your senators. Send it with prayer that our country would awaken to the egregious national sin of killing the innocent unborn.

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (Ps. 139:13-16)

 

ISIS ERADICATING CHRISTIANITY FROM MIDDLE EAST

The abduction of hundreds of Christians by the Islamic State in Syria underscores the need for the U.S. to put an end to the war against Christians by radical Islamic jihadists.

"[These are] the atrocities we will continue to see if we don't figure out a strategy that the U.S. and the Western world can agree on implementing to stop this group," says Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice.

Sekulow, Jordan (ACLJ)The New York Times, among other media outlets, is reporting that Assyrian Christians were captured after Islamic State fighters took control of several villages in northeastern Syria during intense fighting near the Euphrates River.

Both civlilians and fighters were captured and are being held captive.

Sekulow notes that the Assyrian kidnappings come shortly after the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya, a clear sign that Islamic State – which is not truly Islamic, according to President Obama - intends to keep targeting Christians for execution.

Coptic Christians killed (not graphic)OneNewsNow reported in recent days that a Catholic leader is asking for unity among Christian believers after the Coptic Christians (pictured at right) were maryred for their faith, declaring their devotion to Jesus Christ as the Islamists cut off their heads.

The ACLJ spokesman sees Islamic State's brutality as an attempt to eliminate Christianity and its history, and most importantly its followers, in the Middle East.

Last summer, Islamic State reported that it had blown up the purported burial site of the Old Testatment prophet Jonah, located in Mosul.

"This is really focusing in on putting together a strategy to defeat the Islamic State and unite as a country," the attorney tells OneNewsNow. "It should not be a partisan issue. It should be an issue that the U.S. leads the world on."

President Obama and the White House, meanwhile, recently held a three-day conference on "Countering Violent Extremism," where Islamic leaders were invited to the White House to discuss "extremism" without mentioning Islam.

Stated plans to counter "extremism" include new funding to reach "disadvantaged" youth; holding workshops with the "creative arts" community and community leaders in Los Angeles; and a newly created CVE position at the Department of Homeland Security.

After the conference concluded, The New York Times reported that FBI director James Comey was not invited to the "Countering Violent Extremism" conference because its planners did not want law enforcement to be a focus of the event. (Contributor: By Bill Bumpas for One News Now)

Prayer focus: This is not a new issue. Intercede for the Church in America to raise prayers and a public voice of protest. Pray for President Obama to act decisively. America has been the world’s leading symbol of freedom and religious liberty. Intercede for our national leadership to speak and act. Our Scripture speaks of a kingdom age built on Messiah’s triumph. This cannot happen unless God protects His Church. A remnant will gather from every tribe and nation. (See all of Isaiah 11.)

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea. ‘And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.’ It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, …” (Isa. 11:9-11a)

 

PASTORS NATIONWIDE SUPPORT JUDGE ROY MOORE

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore told WND he’s not backing away from the state court versus federal court fight over marriage, because he believes, constitutionally, the states are allowed to define the institution.

And it will remain that way unless the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling on the merits, he contends.

Confusion abounds after the high court refused to extend a stay to a federal judge’s order that the state of Alabama recognize same-sex marriage.

The decision, which only affected the extension of a stay order and did not address the merits of the argument, drew opposition even from inside the Supreme Court.

Justice Clarence Thomas issued a rare dissent, stating: “In this case, the court refuses even to grant a temporary stay when it will resolve the issue at hand in several months. I would have shown the people of Alabama the respect they deserve and preserved the status quo while the court resolves this important constitutional question.”

Thomas, who was joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, pointed out that the justices essentially were admitting what they would decide, even before arguments, expected in April, are heard in a pending dispute over same-sex marriage.

In that case, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed measures in four states defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Other appeals courts had struck down traditional-marriage measures, setting up a conflict.

Thomas said the Monday decision “may well be seen as a signal of the court’s intended resolution.”

Moore sent a memoradum to the state’s 68 probate judges and others in the state judiciary that said they are not bound, according to federal court precedent, to follow the federal judge’s order. Moore argued the state constitution excludes same-sex duos from marriage, and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley would be the executive who would decide if penalties should be applied to anyone who violates the state constitution.

Several lower-court judges were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Monday.

In just a handful of states, voters or lawmakers have approved homosexual marriage. In dozens more, however, federal judges have imposed it and overridden the 10th Amendment principle that powers not delegated to the federal government – marriage isn’t mentioned in the Constitution – are reserved to the states. (Contributor: By Bob Unruh for WND News)

The following is submitted from Victory Baptist Church in Okeechobee, Florida.

On behalf of Judge Roy Moore

Whereas in 1787 the States united in America formed a Constitution that limited the newly formed Federal Government and:

Whereas Chief Justice Roy Moore in the State of Alabama honored that Constitution in rejecting U.S. District Judge Ginny Granades decision on the Sodomy (same-sex) Issue and:

Whereas the federal district and appellate courts have no binding authority on state courts and:

Whereas state probate judges are not bound by any federal same-sex ruling that rejects the vote and will of the people of Alabama and;

Whereas God's law, which is the foundation that the state of Alabama's definition of marriage rests upon, is the time honored definition of marriage that cannot change. (Gen. 2:18-25) and;

Whereas the legislatures of men, cannot make law, but can no more than ratify the laws of nature and nature's God has already made; for "There is one lawgiver" (Jam 4:12a) and;

Whereas if America does not heed this Great Lawgiver's decrees that we will be thrown on the scrap heap of history along with those other nations that did not heed the instructions of the Almighty such as Sodom and Gomorrah. For this Lawgiver is the one who is able to save and to destroy: (Jam 4:12b) and;

Whereas we would have already been destroyed if this Great Lawgiver, the Great God and a great King above all gods. (Ps. 95:3), had not left unto us a Remnant we would have already been like Sodom and Gomorrah (Isa 1:9) and;

Be it resolved that this supports and stands with Judge Roy Moore's honorable commitment to follow Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution or § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975." which reports the state's 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the 1998 law doing so.

This was unanimously passed. (Contributor: By Dr. Greg Dixon for Christian Newswire)

Prayer focus: This article is clear and points the way to intercession. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore deserves the accolades he has received. Some years ago (2001-2003), Judge Moore took a stand that a representation of the Ten Commandments could be publicly displayed. He lost that battle and his job, but was so appreciated by the people of Alabama that he was restored and elected chief justice. Now he defends traditional marriage, arguing it is a state’s right to define marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court will weigh in soon, but Moore believes truth will prevail. Please pray for him and his advisors.

“Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.” (Prov. 23:23)

“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. 1:27-28)

On Watch in Washington March 4, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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On Watch in Washington February 25, 2015

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COLLEGIATE DAY OF PRAYER 2.26.2015

As the students go, so goes our nation! If we win the spiritual battles across our nation but neglect our college campuses, all our progress will be undone in a generation. Therefore, students today need our support and earnest prayers. However, college students don't just need more prayer, they need our UNITED prayer. Without a greater degree of genuine, unified prayer, our hopes and dreams for this generation may never be realized. According to Matthew 18:18-20, the greater the number united in faith and prayer, the easier the battle for this generation can be won. Just as a team of horses can move a heavy load faster and easier together, so our greatest barriers can be better overcome through united prayer.

This kind of unified prayer is usually born out of a sense of urgency and need. In times of great need, men are willing to lay aside their differences so they can find a sure path to safety and blessing. For the Church, that path is united prayer. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of NEED." (Hebrews 4:16). A humble recognition of great need combined with great faith in Christ always awakens united prayer. When Jesus was moved with compassion upon seeing the needs of the multitudes, He urged His friends and disciples: "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray..." (Matthew 9:36-38). Biblically and historically, united prayer has always been the means of grace to bridge the gap between a great need and a great awakening! This generation needs our unified prayers — please join us in praying for America's college campuses!

"If added power attends the united prayer of two or three, what mighty triumphs there will be when hundreds of thousands of consistent members of the Church are with one accord day by day making intercession for the extension of Christ's Kingdom."  —John R. Mott

Prayer Focus: First & Foremost on Jesus Christ

Most importantly, start your prayer meeting by reflecting on the person of Christ with a significant time of worship and adoration. This will build corporate unity and put you in the right frame of mind to effectively pray together. An undivided focus on Jesus Christ is the best way to start and sustain a meaningful and rewarding prayer meeting. May God richly bless you in all your prayer efforts for this generation!

A Three Phase Approach to Praying for a Student Awakening:

1) Pray for an Open Heaven — A Posture of Worship & Adoration

  • Pray for the fullness of the power and presence of Jesus Christ.
  • Pray for an accurate view of the glory and majesty of Jesus Christ.
  • Pray for a renewed passion and an intimate affection for Jesus Christ.

2) Pray for an Open Heart — A Posture of Humility & Submission

  • Pray for a response of faith, humility and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
  • Pray for a turning away from anything that would hinder a strong relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • Pray for a revelation of the unfailing love, comfort and adoption of the Father through faith in Jesus Christ.

3) Pray for an Open Hand — A Posture of Joyful & Sacrificial Giving

  • Pray for students to joyfully share the hope of Christ's love through generous acts of compassion and evangelism.
  • Pray for students to defend the defenseless and care for the orphans and the widows.
  • Pray for students to finish the remaining task of evangelizing every tongue, tribe and nation in this generation for the glory and pleasure of Jesus Christ.

Watch Video!   Learn more!   (Contributor: Collegiate Day of Prayer)

Prayer focus: This is a promising and challenging intercessory opportunity! Praying for an Open Heaven, an Open Heart, and an Open Hand will provide an open window for God’s grace to “invade” many college and university campuses for evangelism and revival. Experienced intercessors will remember campus revivals of the past that led to widespread mission conferences. Thousands of students responded to God’s call to foreign and home missions that changed the world for Jesus Christ, nation by nation. May God move in such power once again!

“For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:13-17)

 

AMAZING ECHOES OF QUEEN ESTHER

Controversy surrounds the Prime Minister of Israel’s forthcoming appearance on Capitol Hill.

Invited by Republican House Speaker John Boehner to address Congress about the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed this opportunity to share his country’s existential concern as the Iranian regime comes ever closer to achieving the capability of fulfilling its avowed goal of the total annihilation of Israel. But the White House has made known its displeasure. A growing number of Democratic lawmakers said they would boycott his talk. Vice President Joe Biden, who as president of the Senate would normally oversee Netanyahu’s address, said he would be out of town. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she hoped the speech “doesn’t take place.”

Why all this animosity toward the leader of a long-standing ally, the only democracy in the middle east, to whom President Obama has long pledged his unswerving loyalty? Because the administration has made clear its fury at a supposed breach of protocol. The White House insists it was not consulted before the invitation was given. That breach of etiquette, it stoutly maintains, trumps any benefit Congress might gain from the insights of the Prime Minister of the country to be most immediately and severely affected by the present negotiations being concluded with Iran.

This isn’t the first time the issue of protocol lies at the heart of an Iranian threat to destroy the Jewish people.

Remarkably, this is not the first time the issue of protocol lies at the heart of an Iranian threat to destroy the Jewish people. There is biblical precedent. Eerily echoing today’s story, the Book of Esther recounts the first recorded instance of attempted genocide against Jews in the ancient empire of Persia, today known as Iran. When, more than two millennia ago, Mordecai learns of Haman’s plot “to destroy, to slay and to exterminate all Jews, young and old, children and women, in a single day” (Esther 3:13), he prevails upon his adopted daughter Esther, now Queen, to intercede.

But Esther is afraid. If she were to approach her husband to appeal Haman’s decree, she would be breaking royal protocol. “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces are well aware,” Esther responds to Mordecai, “that if anyone, man or woman, approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned, there is but one law for him: that he be put to death, except for the person to whom the king shall extend the gold scepter so that he may live. Now I have not been summoned to come to the king for the past thirty days” (Esther 4:11).

Nonetheless, the Book of Esther tells us that after begging the Jews to pray and fast on her behalf, Esther chose to disregard protocol in the face of possible extermination of her people. Esther succeeded in averting the evil decree. As a result, Jews to this day around the world celebrate the Festival of Purim.

In Jewish tradition, the Purim story marks the commemoration of a different kind of miracle. In its unfolding, it is a miracle of coincidences so statistically improbable that they together speak to us of the hidden hand of the divine in human events. For that reason the book of Esther is the only one in the entire Bible in which God’s name is not to be found even once. Here God hides His face - but is as much involved as when He split the sea before the Jews fleeing the Egyptians. For Jewish commentators it is the message of the famous – and ironically anonymous – adage that “Coincidence is merely God’s way of choosing to remain anonymous.”

And so perhaps the most remarkable serendipitous aspect of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech is that it is scheduled for the very day before Jews will be observing the Fast of Esther and Purim this year, to recall a time when a heroic Queen decided that the survival of her people took precedence over protocol. (Contributor: By Rabbi Benjamin Blech for AISH)

Prayer focus: We commend Rabbi Blech for citing the analogy between Queen Esther’s courage and faith in her day and what Israel faces today. In both cases, demonic forces were and are involved in a determination to destroy the Jews. The historical settings differ, and the comparison won’t work if we seek a parallel between Esther and Prime Minister Netanyahu. But without divine intervention, the wicked Haman would have succeeded, and in today’s conflict, Israel is vulnerable unless God steps in. Pray much for Mr. Netanyahu’s U.S. visit and speech. Consider prayer with fasting as you are led.

[Jesus laments:] “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34)

“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.” (Rom. 10:1-3)

 

SUPREME COURT CASE AGAINST OBAMACARE FACES OBSTACLES

A legal challenge that threatens to unravel President Obama's health care law has been stricken by a series of ill-timed setbacks before next month's Supreme Court showdown.

The four plaintiffs' qualifications to bring the lawsuit have been cast in doubt because of their low incomes and potential eligibility for other government benefits. At least one of the four Virginians must show that the law constitutes a burden.

The legal theory behind the complaint — that Congress intended to deny financial aid to consumers in states that use a federal health insurance exchange — has been refuted by the law's authors. Officials from 22 states told the court they were never warned of that possibility.

The assumption that the administration, Congress or the states would rescue millions of purchasers if the court strips away their federal tax credits has been discredited (in the case of Congress acting anytime soon) or disputed (by officials in several states).

"Piece after piece after piece of evidence that they have put forward to try to support their far-fetched interpretation of the statute has fallen apart as we approach oral argument," says Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel at the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center. "That's legally relevant, because it demolishes their claim that anyone thought the law works this way at the time."

Unlike 2012, when opponents came within one Supreme Court vote of killing the law before it ever was implemented, supporters have mounted a strong counterattack this time, from legal briefs to the blogosphere.

The question looming ahead of the oral arguments March 4 is whether any of the atmospherics will influence the nine justices who have Obama's signature domestic policy achievement in their hands. If so, they could once again uphold the law, or at least demand more proof of injury from the challengers.

"The Supreme Court decides things on the law, but they're not isolated from what's happening in the population," said Robert Weiner, a former Justice Department official who oversaw the earlier legal defense of the law.

That was evident during oral arguments three years ago, when Justice Antonin Scalia raised the "Cornhusker Kickback" — a Medicaid reimbursement offer briefly floated in an effort to win the vote of then-Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb. The battle for Nelson's vote was raised in the media, not in court briefs.

The forces behind the new challenge to Obamacare refuse to characterize recent developments as setbacks. In their final brief to the court, submitted Wednesday, they did not address the issue of their plaintiffs' legal standing to sue the government.

Rather, they have doubled down on their central thesis — that the 906-page law passed in 2010 specifies that federal tax credits will be offered in exchanges "established by the State." That language, they say, precludes such assistance in exchanges operated by the federal government in up to 37 states.

"The government cites nothing, in legislative history or elsewhere, supporting the notion that Congress did not 'intend' what its enacted language unambiguously said — nor rebuts the considerable contrary evidence," the challengers' attorney, Michael Carvin, argued.

Trying To Prove Injury

The plaintiffs' legal standing could be the biggest obstacle for the challengers to surmount.

In declarations filed with the federal district court in 2013, David King, Douglas Hurst, Brenda Levy and Rose Luck said that without subsidies, the most inexpensive coverage allowed under Obamacare would cost more than 8% of their estimated 2014 household income. That would allow them to go uninsured without paying a penalty.

During those court proceedings, the government contended that even with subsidies, King and Luck might have to pay more than 8% of their income, so they would not be subjected to the penalty.

"The entire premise of this lawsuit — which is that plaintiffs are injured by premium tax credits because, without those credits, they allegedly could obtain 'cheaper, high-deductible catastrophic coverage' — is incorrect," the government's appellate court brief said.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that Hurst and Levy would have to choose between buying insurance under the law or paying a penalty, which it called an "actual or imminent" harm. Still, it ruled against the challengers, who then convinced the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Since then, The Wall Street Journal and Mother Jones magazine have raised more questions about all four of the plaintiffs — such as whether King and Hurst qualify for veterans' benefits and whether Levy and Luck would fare better under the health care law than without it.

"The flimsiness of the injury ... does highlight that this is not a remedial case," Weiner said. "It's a political case that is part of an overall political battle raised by opponents of the Affordable Care Act."

'Trifle' Of Harm Sufficient

The lawsuit's originators say there are millions of people who can claim harm under the 8%-of-income test — and it doesn't matter if the plaintiffs also are Obamacare opponents.

"There's tons of cases where you have ideological plaintiffs," Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, said. "If this is what (proponents) are spending their time on, they must not have anything else."

Plaintiffs' legal standing has been an issue in three other cases pending against the federal exchange subsidies. In two, the states of Oklahoma and Indiana were approved only as employers who faced increased costs or penalties. In the other case, the only plaintiff found by the court to have standing would have paid less than $21 annually with the subsidy he refused to take.

"Those consequences may be small, but even an 'identifiable trifle' of harm may establish standing," the appeals court said.

Michael Cannon, a Cato Institute health economist who helped to conceive the court challenges, said the difficulty in finding plaintiffs stems from taking on the Internal Revenue Service.

"They don't want to get audited," Cannon said, "and this administration has a history of using the IRS for ideological purposes." (Contributor: By Richard Wolf for USA TODAY)

 

Prayer focus: IFA is not a partisan political organization but a ministry to encourage intercessory prayer for America and its leaders. We pray “for” or “against” issues when moral questions call for decisions that represent truth vs. evil or injustice. Many citizens believe they have been deceived in the confusion of the federal government’s health care law. Pray that the Supreme Court be led (or restrained) by God’s Spirit in their decisions for what is right and best for the U.S., based on God’s moral law. Pray for God’s will to prevail.

 

“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. No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.” (Isa 59:1-2, 4)

 

WALKER’S ANTI-UNION LAW HAS LABOR REELING IN WISCONSIN

At the old union hall here on a recent afternoon, Terry Magnant sat at the head of a table surrounded by 18 empty chairs. A members meeting had been scheduled to start a half-hour earlier, but the small house, with its cracked walls and loose roof shingles, was lonely and desolate.

“There used to be a lot more people coming,” said Magnant, a 51-year-old nursing assistant, sighing.

The anti-union law passed here four years ago, which made Gov. Scott Walker a national Republican star and a possible presidential candidate, has turned out to be even more transformative than many had predicted.

Walker had vowed that union power would shrink, workers would be judged on their merits, and local governments would save money. Unions had warned that workers would lose benefits and be forced to take on second jobs or find new careers.

Many of those changes came to pass, but the once-thriving ­public-sector unions were not just shrunken — they were crippled.

Unions representing teachers, professors, trash collectors and other government employees are struggling to stem plummeting membership rolls and retain relevance in the state where they got their start.

Here in King, Magnant and her fellow AFSCME members, workers at a local veterans home, have been knocking on doors on weekends to persuade former members to rejoin. Community college professors in Moraine Park, home to a technical college, are reducing dues from $59 to $36 each month. And those in Milwaukee are planing a campaign using videos and posters to highlight union principles. The theme: ­“Remember.”

But recalling the benefits that union membership might have brought before the 2011 law stripped most public-sector unions of their collective-bargaining rights is difficult when workers consider the challenges of the present.

“I don’t see the point of being in a union anymore,” said Dan Anliker, a 34-year-old technology teacher and father of two in Reedsburg, a tiny city about 60 miles northwest of Madison.

The law required most public employees to pay more for health insurance and to pay more into retirement savings, resulting in an 8 to 10 percent drop in take-home pay. To help compensate for the loss, Anliker said he took an additional 10-hour-a-week job.

“Everyone’s on their own island now,” he said. “If you do a good job, everything will take care of itself. The money I’d spend on dues is way more valuable to buy groceries for my family.”

Sean Karsten, a 32-year-old middle and high school reading instructor in his first year of teaching in Reedsburg, said the unions are “just not something I concern myself with.”

“I just look to keep improving my teaching in the best way I can and try to keep my nose out of the other stuff,” he said.

Walker has pointed to the unions’ membership troubles as a victory — presenting himself as a conservative warrior unafraid of taking on big battles against liberal interests.

Walker’s administration has said forcing public employees to contribute more to retirement plans and health insurance helped local governments save $3 billion. The governor also has credited the 2011 law with saving homeowners money on property taxes while giving school districts the ability to make reforms that increased third-grade reading levels and high school graduation rates. And the law has emboldened Republican state lawmakers to further challenge Wisconsin’s labor movement this year by pushing right-to-work legislation that would allow private-sector workers to opt out of paying union dues — a measure Walker has said he would sign.

“We took the power away from the big-government special interests and put it firmly in the hands of the hard-working taxpayers,” Walker told Iowa Republicans recently. “That is what we need more of in this great country. The liberals don’t like that.”

Union officials declined to release precise membership data but confirmed in interviews that enrollment is dramatically lower since the new law was signed in 2011.

The state branch of the National Education Association, once 100,000 strong, has seen its membership drop by a third. The American Federation of Teachers, which organized in the college system, saw a 50 percent decline. The 70,000-person membership in the state employees union has fallen by 70 percent.

The decline is politically significant in Wisconsin, a presidential battleground where the unions have played a central role in Democrats’ get-out-the-vote drives.

John Ahlquist, a University of Wisconsin political scientist who specializes in labor movements, said Walker had “effectively dismantled the financial and organizing structure of unions in Wisconsin.”

“Although it is too early to tell if unions are near the end of their political power here, they are in a very vulnerable position,” Ahlquist said.

The mass protests that gripped the state Capitol have subsided, but anxiety remains high in union halls across Wisconsin.

At Magnant’s meeting in King on a frigid February afternoon, union members finally began trickling in, one by one, filling a few of the empty seats.

A groundskeeper at the veterans home complained that supervisors were no longer assigning overtime based on seniority because “there was no union.” Others complained that there were no longer enough nursing assistants on shifts, while management positions seemed to grow.

“This is what we are trying to live with,” Magnant said. “But we can’t continue like this.”

Dean Johnson burst through door with a big grin on his face. Johnson, 55, told the story of how he felt so bold at work that he yelled “Join the union!” in the middle of the veterans home. A stalwart union supporter, he vowed he’d do anything to keep the movement going.

But Johnson said he could no longer do it as an employee. He told the group he was retiring — prompting a discussion about the new mantra for those choosing to leave union work: “Goodbye tension, hello pension.”

While some union members have been energized by the fight, they say they notice a new, more vocal animosity toward them. It has been particularly pronounced in rural areas, where public-sector jobs were some of the most prized gigs in town.

In King, population 1,700, Magnant said she couldn’t change a sign at the union hall without someone giving her the finger. Farther west, in Stanley, prison workers said they ditched their favorite pizza pub because the owner stood by while other customers called them “leeches.”

In Reedsburg, that tension surprised Ginny Bourgeois, 52, who clerks at a local Kwik Trip. The community had always been divided, defined as much by the factories manufacturing car parts as it was by cornfields now blanketed in snow. Still, it was a place where the community got together for spaghetti and corn feeds and filled bleachers to watch the Reedsburg Beavers play. Now, she said, people were fighting over politics at gas stations.

Still, she felt unions needed to sacrifice.

“Everyone knows teachers’ insurance was some of the best you could get,” Bourgeois added.“They do fairly well around here, and they do a good job teaching. But everyone in this town has had to tighten their belts. They should too.”

Judy Brey, a 58-year-old speech therapist who taught in the community for 22 years, said such sentiment hurt teachers’ morale. She said she grew up admiring her dad, who put six children through college on his union-supported job as a forester. “ ‘I don’t make a lot, but we’ll be okay with retirement,’ ” she said he told her. That, she was taught, was the reward for public service in Wisconsin.

“Now I’m always nervous that everyone will think they’re moochers,” Brey said. “That I’m a moocher....” (Contributor: By Robert Samuels for The Washington Post)

Prayer focus: Intercessors, be alert! As you know, IFA is not a political voice. However, we remind readers that now, early in 2015, the 2016 presidential campaign is already “unofficially” underway. We offer readers this example: former Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, has not said he is a presidential candidate, though he is “out there” making speeches and has become a “target” for liberal news outlets, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. In the past week alone, the Post has run six anti-Walker stories. One calls him “spineless” (Feb. 22). It will get worse. An ideological war is waging. IFA is neither for nor against Governor Walker. Other conservatives will be pilloried. We will report. Please pray as you are led.     

“For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (Jas. 3:16-18)

 

WILL JORDAN FALL TO ISIS?

With the barbaric murder of Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh -- the Jordanian pilot locked in a cage and burned alive by operatives of the Islamic State, for all the world to see -- Jordan’s King Abdullah faces the most dangerous moment since ascending to the throne in 1999.

ISIS jihadists in Syria and Iraq have publicly threatened to invade Jordan and “slaughter” the Abdullah, whom they denounce as a “tyrant.” Extremists inside Jordan took to the streets last summer shouting, “Down, down with Abdullah!” The latest ISIS propaganda video attacks the king as an “ally of the crusaders.” One figure in the video proclaims, "all Arab tyrants should…be burned."

While Jordan has remained a source of calm in the region, the roots of radical Islamic extremism run deep there. A Jordanian, Abu Musab Zarqawi, was the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq -- the precursor to ISIS -- before he was killed by a U.S. airstrike on June 7, 2006. Today, an estimated 2,000 Jordanian nationals are fighting with ISIS. What happens when they come back to Jordan?

Meanwhile, 1.3 million people, mostly Muslims, have fled Syria and are currently residing in Jordan. Some 600,000 are contained inside refugee camps. The rest are freely moving about the country. How many are plotting against the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and how advanced and sophisticated are their plans?

The urgent question right now is whether American leaders fully understand just how catastrophic it would be for Jordan to fall to ISIS.

The good news is that King Abdullah understands full well that he is in a winner-take-all showdown with ISIS, which he describes as “a Third World war.”<http://www.cbsnews.com/news/jordan-king-abdullah-on-isis-middle-east-conflict/> As a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad, the king sees himself as a moderate Arab reformer. He believes Islam is the answer to the challenges facing his region, but he does not believe violent jihad is the way forward. He has built good relations with the West, maintains a solid peace treaty with Israel, and has worked hard to protect Christians in Jordan. But he is acutely aware that the jihadists are gunning for him. Indeed, upon hearing the news of the pilot’s murder, he immediately cut short his visit to Washington and returned to Amman to launch an “earth-shaking” military response to ISIS.

The urgent question right now is whether American leaders fully understand just how catastrophic it would be for Jordan to fall to ISIS, and whether they are truly committed to taking all measures necessary to crush ISIS and stand firm with Jordan, one of our most important Arab allies.

Friends and enemies alike have pointed out that President Obama has been indecisive and inconsistent in responding to the turmoil caused by the extremists. U.S.-led airstrikes have slowed the jihadist advance in Iraq, but ISIS is steadily expanding its control of Syria. Yet inexplicably, the White House has failed to set forth a clear strategy to defeat the Islamic State in either Iraq or Syria, even as the rest of the neighborhood -- from the shores of Tripoli to the Hindu Kush -- is falling apart before our eyes.

Obama is now asking for congressional authorization for his half-hearted war on ISIS. Yet his very request shows how unsure and unserious he is. Congress should pass a resolution authorizing the use of "all means necessary" to defeat the enemy. But the president's draft explicitly rules out any serious use of ground forces, even if America's military leaders deem them essential.

Obama specifically refuses to put an adequate number of U.S. special forces and technical advisers on the ground to help Iraqi forces retake their country. Last month, retired four-star U.S. Army General Jack Keane testified before Congress that at least 10,000 U.S. special operators are needed in the theater to prosecute an effective war against ISIS. Thus far, the administration adamantly disagrees.

At the same time, President Obama refuses to directly and adequately arm the Kurds in their fight against ISIS, despite their heroic efforts on the battlefield. Obama should be providing Jordan and the Iraqis far more arms and other resources to fight ISIS, but he hesitates.

Meanwhile, he exhibits a dangerously dysfunctional attitude toward two key American allies in the region, namely Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Like Jordan’s King Abdullah, both Netanyahu and al-Sisi clearly see the grave threat posed by the Shia brand of radicalism advanced by Iran and Hezbollah, and the similarly ominous threat posed by the Sunni brand of violent extremism advanced by ISIS, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Netanyahu and Sisi are quietly but actively working together – and with Jordan – against these threats. Yet Obama’s public disdain for the Israeli and Egyptian leaders in the midst of a hot war is both counterproductive (the Egyptians are now turning to Moscow for help) and risks undermining the trust and confidence of Jordan’s leaders, as well as that of other Mideast allies.

With so many other major challenges in the Middle East at present, it would be easy for American policy-makers to overlook Jordan’s importance -- easy, but a mistake. Jordan is the cornerstone of any future Arab-Israeli peace plan. If it fell to ISIS, Jordan would quickly become a launching pad for terrorist attacks against America and its allies.

Fortunately, the American people instinctively understand the magnitude of the threat posed by ISIS. In a recent survey 74 percent of Americans said they worry ISIS will launch a “catastrophic terrorist” attack inside the U.S. if they are not defeated soon. Nearly as many Americans (72 percent) worry ISIS will soon try to launch a massive attack against the State of Israel. At the same time, 65 percent are afraid ISIS “will also try to overthrow the King of Jordan – an important, moderate Arab ally of the United States – and use Jordan as a base camp to launch terrorist attacks against America and Israel.”

Not surprisingly, therefore, Americans want President Obama and congressional leaders to work closely with America’s most trusted allies in the Middle East – including Jordan -- to crush ISIS quickly and decisively. God help us if the president does not start making the right moves before it is too late.

Joel C. Rosenberg is a New York Times best-selling author of novels and non-fiction books about the Middle East. His latest political thriller, The Third Target, centers on an ISIS plot to attack the U.S., Israel and Jordan. (Contributor: Joel Rosenberg for Fox News)

 

Prayer focus: Thankfully, Joel Rosenberg is a friend of truth and an insightful and fair reporter. The situation in Jordan is, as he explains, complicated, intense, and dangerous. We urge intercessors not only to pray but to share your intercessory vision with Christian friends and church leaders. God will respond to the effectual, fervent, and unified prayers of His people. Pray for the Church to have a great awakening and renewed vision to help change the world through united prayer and fasting. Pray that international leaders receive an infusion of divine wisdom to handle the threat to Jordan.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jas. 1:5-8)

 

ITALY AND VATICAN ON GUARD AFTER ISIS THREAT

The Italian government is on high alert after threats from the Islamic State called Italy "the nation signed with the blood of the cross." And the country would probably need help to confront the militant group.

Italy is one of a handful of major Western counties that has not been victim of a large-scale terror assault since the Sept. 11 attacks in the USA. The Vatican — the de facto seat of worldwide Christianity — is in Rome, so the city could be a target.

Italian officials fear extremists could enter the country amid the growing tide of refugees arriving by boat from North Africa. About 500 extra troops have been stationed to guard symbolic targets in Rome and monitor the streets of the capital for suspicious activity.

The video threat, released with images of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt who were beheaded this month, warned that Islamic State forces were "south of Rome," in Libya. At its closest point, Libya is little more than 100 miles from the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

This comes four months after the Islamic State's propaganda magazine Dabiq ran a cover photo of the militant group's flag flying above the obelisk in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican with the headline: "The failed crusade."

"The risks are real," said Sabrina Magris, president of the International University School of Rome and Florence, the only European institution that prepares negotiators for hostage and terror threats. "The goal may be an actual attack of some kind or simply using threats to create an atmosphere of fear. But the risks shouldn't be underestimated."

Pope Francis waves to people from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square during the Angelus noon prayer at the Vatican on Feb. 22. (Photo: Riccardo De Luca, AP)

The Vatican has made no official comment about being a potential target for the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, or other extremist groups, and Pope Francis resists many security measures, delving into crowds whenever possible.

At Sunday's Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, extra security was evident. Police patrolled the area and were stationed around the Vatican's perimeter.

The people on hand said they didn't mind.

"It's a dangerous world, and the pope and the Vatican have a very high profile," said Karen Phifer, 44, a teacher from Philadelphia spending a year in Italy while on sabbatical. "Every step that can be taken to protect them should be taken."

Italy responded to the latest threats by boarding up its embassy in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned extremists not to provoke Italy and threatened military action.

According to the Ministry of Defense, although Italian intelligence services are among the best, major military cutbacks in 2013 mean only about 5,000 troops are ready for deployment, making a preventive military strike against the Islamic State unlikely.

Within days of his initial remarks, Renzi backed away from warning of any unilateral action and called for the international community to intervene against the Islamic State in Libya.

"The last thing Italy and Renzi need right now is a foreign policy crisis," said Sebastiano Sali, an Italian doctoral candidate with the War Studies Department at King's College in London.

Massimo Blanco from the National Association of Public and Private Security Experts called the Islamic State's threats against Italy and the Vatican a kind of "psychological war" that may be having its intended effect.

"It's something people in Italy are talking about," Blanco said. "But if the government is forced to take major steps in response to the threats, whether big controls or disruptions to regular life, then it's already a kind of victory for these groups."

Blanco said that despite the threats, Italy and Europe remain more focused on Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Greek debt crisis and anemic economic growth across the continent.

"I still don't think the Islamic world is a high enough priority for Europe and Italy," Blanco said.

Italians say they are aware of the threats, but fear is not having an impact on their daily lives.

Italo Fienelli, 77, owner of a tobacco shop near the Pantheon in Rome, said he keeps an eye out for suspicious activity but has not changed his day-to-day routine.

"I was a child during World War II and have seen good and bad times since then," he said. "I have learned it is important not to overreact to either extreme."

Alessandro Tivoli, 29, a tour guide, said, "You can't live your whole life in fear."

Some Italians have used social media to fight the threats with humor by using the Twitter hashtag "#We_are_coming_o_Rome" to suggest specific restaurants or sites for the would-be invaders and to predict the militants would be brought to their knees by Italian bureaucracy or oppressive traffic.

"You have to laugh," said Raffaelle Caruso, 78, a retired technician. "It helps prevent you from being frightened." (Contributor: By Eric J. Lyman for USA TODAY)

Prayer focus: We include this article is to emphasize that international terrorism knows no limits and honors no national or spiritual boundaries. Whether threatening Pope Francis and Italy or ruthlessly murdering humble Christians in the most barbaric way — and all without a vestige of conscience — the radical Islamist terrorists show themselves to be demon-driven and without restraint. Pray for continued conversions to Christ among Middle East Muslims who are also victims. Pray that Protestant and Catholic Christians come together to intercede for God’s mercy. Political leaders of all persuasions in the U.S. are urging President Obama to give full recognition to this terrorist threat.  

“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Col. 4:2-6)

 

MAJOR STRAINS IN U.S. FARM ECONOMY

Across the U.S. Midwest, the plunge in grain prices to near four-year lows is pitting landowners determined to sustain rental incomes against farmer tenants worried about making rent payments because their revenues are squeezed.

Some grain farmers already see the burden as too big. They are taking an extreme step, one not widely seen since the 1980s: breaching lease contracts, reducing how much land they will sow this spring and risking years-long legal battles with landlords.

The tensions add to other signs the agricultural boom that the U.S. grain farming sector has enjoyed for a decade is over. On Friday, tractor maker John Deere cut its profit forecast citing falling sales caused by lower farm income and grain prices.

Many rent payments – which vary from a few thousand dollars for a tiny farm to millions for a major operation – are due on March 1, just weeks after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated net farm income, which peaked at $129 billion in 2013, could slide by almost a third this year to $74 billion.

The costs of inputs, such as fertilizer and seeds, are remaining stubbornly high, the strong dollar is souring exports and grain prices are expected to stay low.

How many people are walking away from leases they had committed to is not known. In Iowa, the nation's top corn and soybean producer, one real estate expert says that out of the estimated 100,000 farmland leases in the state, 1,000 or more could be breached by this spring.

The stakes are high because huge swaths of agricultural land are leased: As of 2012, in the majority of counties in the Midwest Corn Belt and the grain-growing Plains, at least 40 percent of farmland was leased or rented out, USDA data shows.

"It's hard to know where the bottom is on this," said David Miller, Iowa Farm Bureau's director of research and commodity services.

Signs Of Trouble

Grain production is, however, unlikely to be affected in any major way yet as landowners will rather have someone working their land, even at reduced rates, than let it lie fallow.

But prolonged weakness in the farm economy could send ripples far and wide: as farms consolidate, "there would be fewer machinery dealers, fewer elevators, and so-on through the rural economy," said Craig Dobbins, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University.

Possibly Also Fewer New Farmers.

Jon Sparks farms about 1,400 acres of family land and rented ground in Indiana. His nephew wants to return to work on the farm but margins are tight and land rents high. Sparks cannot make it work financially.

"We can't grow without overextending ourselves," Sparks said. "I don't know what to do."

Landowners are reluctant to cut rents. Some are retirees who partly rely on the rental income from the land they once farmed, and the rising number of realty investors want to maintain returns. Landlords have also seen tenants spend on new machinery and buildings during the boom and feel renters should still be able to afford lease payments.

"As cash rent collections start this spring, I expect to see more farm operators who have had difficulty acquiring adequate financing either let leases go or try and renegotiate terms," said Jim Farrell, president of Farmers National Co, which manages about 4,900 farms across 24 states for land-owners.

Take an 80-acre (32 hectare) farm in Madison County, Iowa, owned by a client of Peoples Company, a farmland manager. The farmer who rented the land at $375 an acre last year offered $315 for this year, said Steve Bruere, president of the company. The owner turned him down, and rented it to a neighbor for $325 -- plus a hefty bonus if gross income tops $750.

There are growing numbers of other examples. Miller, of the Iowa Farm Bureau, said he learned about a farmer near Marshalltown, in central Iowa, who had walked away from 650 acres (263 hectares) of crop ground because he could not pay the rent. Just days later, he was told a north-central Iowa farmer breached his lease on 6,500 acres.

Courts or Loans

Concern about broken leases has some landlords reviewing legal options, according to Roger A. McEowen, director of the Iowa State University Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation. His staff began fielding phone calls from nervous landowners last autumn.

One catch is that many landlords never thought to file the paperwork to put a lien on their tenants' assets. That means landowners "can't go grab anything off the farm if the tenant doesn't pay," McEowen said. "It also means that they're going to be behind the bank."

Still, farmers could have a tough time walking away from their leases, said Kelvin Leibold, a farm management specialist at Iowa State University extension.

"People want their money. They want to get paid. I expect we will see some cases going to court over this," he added.

To avoid such a scenario, farmers have begun turning to banks for loans that will help fund operations and conserve their cash. Operating loans for farmers jumped 37 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 over a year ago to $54 billion, according to survey-based estimates in the Kansas City Federal Reserve bank's latest Agricultural Finance Databook.

Loans with an undefined purpose -- which might be used for rents, according to the bank's assistant vice-president Nathan Kauffman -- nearly doubled in the fourth quarter of 2014 from a year earlier to $25 billion.

Total non-real estate farm loan volumes jumped more than 50 percent for the quarter, to $112 billion.

"It's all about working capital and bankers are stressing working capital," said Sam Miller, managing director of agricultural banking at BMO Harris Bank. "Liquidity has tightened up considerably in the last year." (Contributor: By Jo Winterbottom and P.J. Huffstutter for Reuters News Service - editing by Tomasz Janowsk)

Prayer focus: Nothing is more basic to a country’s stability than its food production, starting with farming. Perhaps you have seen a bumper sticker proclaiming, “If you ate today, thank a farmer.” This is a serious matter for intercession. If you pray for “the land,” pray also for our nation’s farmers. How desperately America needs to return to God, both to honor Him and to receive His blessings. Modern Israel has yet to experience the full restoration promised through Joel. Pray that an awakened Church will intercede in unity, display a broken and repentant heart, and reap a portion of that blessing today.  

“‘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—a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?’” […] “‘So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame.’” (Joel 2:12-14, 25-26)

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On Watch in Washington February 18, 2015

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FEDERAL JUDGE HALTS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S  AMNESTY

A federal judge late Monday halted President Obama’s deportation amnesty, ruling he overstepped his powers in trying to grant legal status and “benefits and privileges” to millions of illegal immigrants, in a stunning decision that chides the president and throws the White House’s plans into disarray just a day before applications were to be accepted.

The White House said it will appeal Judge Andrew S. Hanen’s decision, but it’s unclear whether the case could reach the circuit court in New Orleans or even the Supreme Court before Wednesday, which is when the Homeland Security Department had planned to begin accepting the first applications under the new amnesty.

“The DHS was not given any ‘discretion by law’ to give 4.3 million removable aliens what the DHS itself labels as ‘legal presence,’” Judge Hanen wrote in issuing an injunction. “In fact, the law mandates that these illegally-present individuals be removed. The DHS has adopted a new rule that substantially changes both the status and employability of millions. These changes go beyond mere enforcement or even non-enforcement of this nation’s immigration scheme.”

In the immediate sense, the ruling will become a major part of the debate over homeland security funding that has roiled Capitol Hill, with Republicans insisting Mr. Obama’s actions were unconstitutional and should be halted through Congress’s spending power, and Democrats backing their president by filibustering to block funding for the Homeland Security Department altogether.

The ruling doesn’t mean those illegal immigrants are going to be deported immediately — indeed, Judge Hanen said they are likely not to be deported at all under Mr. Obama, who had set “priorities” putting them in little danger of ever being kicked out of the country, even without the formal amnesty.

The judge said Mr. Obama does have the right to set those priorities, but said it is likely a step too far for him to have set up a proactive program to grant them other benefits.

“The DHS may continue to prosecute or not prosecute these illegally-present individuals, as current laws dictate. This has been the status quo for at least the last five years and there is little-to-no basis to conclude that harm will fall upon the defendants if it is temporarily prohibited from carrying out the … program.”

One immigrant-rights group called his decision “judicial vigilantism,” while another called it a “minor legal bump” and said it’s “merely a matter of time” before they win legal status.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest was dismissive of the judge’s ruling, saying it contradicted Mr. Obama’s own lawyers, who told him he was “well within his legal authority.”

“Top law enforcement officials, along with state and local leaders across the country, have emphasized that these policies will also benefit the economy and help keep communities safe. The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision,” Mr. Earnest said early Tuesday.

Judge Hanen’s exhaustive opinion, which ran to 123 pages, eviscerated the administration’s legal arguments. Where Mr. Obama claimed he was only issuing “guidance” and using his powers of prosecutorial discretion to make decisions on a case-by-case basis, the judge ruled that wording was “disingenuous” and ignored the substance of what the president was trying to do.

He also said Mr. Obama hurt his own case by saying he’d acted to “change the law,” implying a much more substantive legal program than his administration was arguing in court.

The president’s new plan, known as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, announced in November, was designed to cover more than 4 million illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, granting them a three-year stay of deportation, Social Security numbers and work permits to compete legally for jobs. The November order also expanded a 2012 program for so-called Dreamers, or illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

The initial Dreamer program is still in place, and covers more than 600,000 illegal immigrants, but Judge Hanen halted its expansion, as well as the new program for parents.

About 95 percent of those who applied for the 2012 Dreamer program were approved, while nobody who didn’t meet the strict criteria was — both factors that Judge Hanen said suggested this wasn’t “discretion,” but rather a new substantive legal policy that should have gone through the usual rule-making process.

“While [the program] does not provide legal permanent residency, it certainly provides a legal benefit in the form of legal presence (plus all that it entails) — a benefit not otherwise available in immigration laws,” the judge wrote. “In this case, actions speak louder than words.”

Still, almost none of those who would have been approved for the amnesty are in danger of deportation, thanks to Mr. Obama’s other, less-noticed policies that order immigration agents only to go after illegal immigrants with serious criminal records. That likely means only a couple million of the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. are likely to be in any danger of deportation.

Immigrant-rights advocates had expected the ruling and had been working ahead of time to discredit Judge Hanen, saying he had a “bias” against them, based on a December 2013 ruling.

In that ruling, Judge Hanen had spotted the surge of illegal immigrant children crossing the border earlier on, and had been critical of how Homeland Security officials had handled it, accusing them of being complicit in human trafficking because they would deliver the children to their illegal immigrant parents in the U.S. without trying to deport either party.

Last summer’s spike in illegal immigrant children from Central America bore out Judge Hanen’s concerns, with the administration belatedly admitting that the ease of getting across the border and being connected with family here in the U.S. was helping spur the surge. (Contributor: By Stephen Dinan for The Washington Times)

Prayer focus: As readers of these alerts know, we suggest a prayer focus to enable widespread intercessors to pray in unity and for root causes rather than symptoms. It is not unpatriotic to observe that the difference between Judge Hanen’s ruling and President Obama’s position is that the judge is guided by constitutional law, while the president has set the Constitution aside in favor of his political ideology. IFA takes no position on immigration issues, although — like most Americans — we want the law upheld with compassion. Our country is broken over this. Pray for God’s mercy. Intercession is a marathon, not a sprint. The amnesty debate is far from over. Pray for revival.

“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)

 

SENATOR JEFF SESSIONS: TIMELINE OF THE DISMANTLING OF U.S. IMMIGRATION LAW

As Republicans work to overcome a Democratic filibuster of a House-passed Department of Homeland Security bill that blocks President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is highlighting the Obama administration’s long history of dismantling immigration laws.

In a lengthy timeline released Monday, Sessions — the chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest — lists every instance of the Obama administration ignoring, rewriting, delaying and breaking the nation’s immigration laws.

The timeline begins in January 2009 with the administration ending worksite enforcement actions and, 50 pages later, ends on February 13, 2015 with the House Judiciary Committee’s revelation that the administration included a “sneaky” avenue for illegal immigrants granted deferred status to be placed on a pathway to citizenship.

Sessions’ list comes at a pivotal point in Republicans’ fight to preserve the nation’s immigration laws. In November, after the midterm elections, Obama announced he would provide unilateral amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.

In January, House Republicans passed a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that also blocked Obama’s executive amnesty. In the Senate, however, Democrats — including those who said they were opposed to the president’s unilateral actions — have blocked debate on the legislation.

Funding for the department expires on February 27 and the path forward remains hazy with Republicans considering ways to break the filibuster.

The release of Session’s timeline comes less than two weeks before DHS funding expires and a less than a year after he released an earlier edition in May 2014. Since May the timetable has seen nearly 100 more additions.

Timeline: How the Obama Administration Bypassed Congress to Dismantle Immigration Enforcement

In September 2011, President Obama said, “We live in a democracy. You have to pass bills through the legislature, and then I can sign it.” Yet, since that time, and indeed before then, he has systematically voided existing laws and unilaterally created new measures that Congress has refused to adopt under either Democratic or Republican control.

Most recently, the President announced he would do what he once said only an “emperor” could do – grant unilateral amnesty, work permits, and access to government benefits to more than five million illegal immigrants. This unprecedented action, combined with new “enforcement priorities” for Department of Homeland Security personnel that exempt the vast majority of illegal immigrants from the threat of removal, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals directive, the “Morton” memos, and numerous other lesser-reported but far-reaching Executive actions, has threatened not only our constitutional system, but our national sovereignty. Indeed, the idea of national, sovereign borders is being daily eviscerated by the President’s determination to write his own immigration rules in defiance of Congress and the American people.

Below is a detailed timeline of how the Obama Administration systematically dismantled immigration enforcement, undermining the very rule of law upon which our nation was founded and upon which its greatness depends.

Read the full report online <Click Here.> (Contributor: By Caroline May for Breitbart News)

Prayer focus: This needs little comment and is closely aligned with the article above. Sen. Sessions’ report is accurate. It may be ignored, but it cannot be denied. The question is — and will continue to be under President Obama’s method of governance — will the U.S. Congress (both House and Senate) insist on a return to guidance by our Constitution? This defining document has worked even across strong political party differences for more than 225 years. Or will our nation descend into a form of anarchy in which any president may lead by his own political ideology?

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves…. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” (Rom. 13:1-2, 7)

 

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: ‘IMAGINE THE OUTCRY’ IF CHRISTIANS BEHEADED 21 MUSLIMS

The Rev. Franklin Graham laments what he believes is a religious double standard following the public’s response to a brutal five-minute video purporting to show Islamic State militants beheading more than 20 Egyptian Christians.

“Can you imagine the outcry if 21 Muslims had been beheaded by Christians?” he asked in a Facebook post Monday. “Where is the universal condemnation by Muslim leaders around the world?

“As we mourn with the families of those 21 martyrs, we’d better take this warning seriously as these acts of terror will only spread throughout Europe and the United States,” wrote Mr. Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham. “If this concerns you like it does me, share this. The storm is coming.”

Within five hours of being published, the post had been shared nearly 70,000 times.

Mr. Graham’s comments come after 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, who had been abducted in Libya by members of the Islamic State, or ISIL or ISIS, were reportedly executed in a video, titled “A Message Signed With Blood, To The Nation of the Cross,” which was posted online Sunday.

The White House on Sunday condemned the killings, saying the action “only further galvanizes the international community to unite against ISIL.”

“We call on all Libyans to strongly reject this and all acts of terrorism and to unite in the face of this shared and growing threat,” the Obama administration said in a statement released by press secretary Josh Earnest. “We continue to strongly support the efforts of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General Bernardino Leon to facilitate formation of a national unity government and help foster a political solution in Libya.” (Contributor: By Jessica Chasmar for The Washington Times)

Prayer focus: Give thanks for the Rev. Franklin Graham’s willingness to raise his voice to protest these barbaric atrocities against Christians. This is an answer to many intercessory prayers for God to raise up more respected prophetic voices in the U.S. to call attention to the systematic murder of Christians by radical Islamic terrorists. Pray that President Obama will be convicted by the Holy Spirit to identify this killing rampage for what it is, especially now that those responsible for these mass executions are boasting that their evil deeds are being done “in the name of the Prophet.”   

“Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue me from their destructions, my life from the lions. I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people. Let them not rejoice over me who are wrongfully my enemies; nor let them wink with the eye who hate me without a cause. For they do not speak peace, but they devise deceitful matters against the quiet ones in the land.” (Ps. 35:17-20)

 

FRANK WOLF CALLS FOR SAFE HAVEN FOR MIDEAST CHRISTIANS

Over the weekend, a terrorist group with links to the Islamic State (ISIL) released a video, showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya. On Monday, Egypt and Libya launched warplanes in an air assault on Darna in eastern Libya, where the group is based.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “This wanton killing of innocents is just the most recent of the many vicious acts perpetrated by ISIL-affiliated terrorists against the people of the region, including the murders of dozens of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, which only further galvanizes the international community to unite against ISIL.”

All those beheaded worked inside Libya, and terrorists kidnapped them in December. In the video, an English-speaking terrorist said, “Safety for you crusaders is something you can only wish for.”

Last week, President Obama asked Congress to endorse his plan to use the military to defeat and destroy the Islamic State. So far this year, the terror group has killed hostages in Syria, including Japanese Christian journalist Kenji Goto and American aid worker Kayla Mueller.

Frank Wolf, the recently retired congressman, urged six additional steps to protect Christians and other religious minorities from genocide, including creation of a safe haven in Nineveh, northwest Iraq.

In a letter to Congress on Feb. 11, Obama said, “If left unchecked, ISIL will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland. I have directed a comprehensive and sustained strategy to degrade and defeat ISIL. As part of this strategy, US military forces are conducting a systematic campaign of airstrikes.”

Yet, on the same day, Wolf in a statement said Christians and other groups are on the “edge of extinction” due to terrorism and policy-makers must do more.

“If the Islamic State is not defeated and ultimately destroyed, there will be no future for these ancient faith communities who now face an existential crisis and genocidal onslaught in lands they have inhabited since antiquity,” Wolf said. The retired Virginia congressman recently co-founded the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and accepted an appointment to a newly endowed chair for religious freedom at Baylor University.

In January, Wolf and several others from the Wilberforce Initiative traveled to northwest Iraq to meet with refugees from the region. The Wilberforce delegation said they were within 1.5 miles of the Islamic State frontline. They spoke with dozens of Christians and Yazidis (another at-risk minority group) and met with top officials in the Kurdistan Regional Government, religious leaders, and humanitarian groups.

On return, the Wilberforce group developed six proposals to secure the future of Christians, Yazidis, and others:

  • Create the Nineveh Plains province in Iraq to shelter Christians and other minorities.
  • Establish the Nineveh Protection Unit, a defensive National Guard. (This is already in formation.)
  • Allow faith-based relief and development groups to operate openly in the region.
  • Require the return of property, especially churches and monasteries, confiscated by the Islamic State.
  • Require the Kurdistan regional government to insure religious freedom for all groups.
  • Prosecute terrorists for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and if needed, for genocide.

“A decade ago, Iraq's Christian population numbered 1.5 million,” said Randel Everett, Wilberforce Initiative president and former Texas pastor. “Today, roughly 300,000 remain, and most have no jobs, no schools, and no places of worship. The Nineveh Plains had been one of the last relatively safe havens for Christians, Yazidis, Shabak, Turkmen and other minority groups. With the fall of Mosul and surrounding areas last summer, Iraq’s minorities want to remain in their homeland, but have no place to go.”

Wolf’s New Role

In the new position at Baylor, Wolf will be responsible for outreach on Christianity’s role in addressing social issues and will collaborate on international projects and how to integrate religious freedom in foreign policy. Funding for the new job came from Jerry and Susie Wilson, a Dallas couple who donated $2 million to the school in December.

“Congressman Frank Wolf has been widely recognized as the ‘conscience’ of the Congress and a champion of religious freedom in both US domestic and foreign policy,” said Baylor president and chancellor Ken Starr. “This appointment represents a remarkable opportunity to advance the study and protection of the essential right of religious freedom and to vigorously address the profound issues of religious liberty and Christianity’s contributions to human flourishing throughout the world.”

CT previously noted how Wolf, then 74, announced in 2013 that he would not seek reelection after serving in Congress for 34 years. He was lead sponsor for the Religious Freedom Act (which led to the creation of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom) and ambassador-at-large and special adviser for international religious freedom in the State Department. During his time on Capitol Hill, Wolf traveled to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East to raise awareness of religious persecution and human rights abuses, Roll Call reports.

Wolf called on the US church to advocate for Iraqi Christians in a 2008 CT interview. He later articulated his thoughts about the role American government should play in human rights and religious freedom in a 2011 interview with CT:

“I think America has lost much of its influence partially because our leaders aren't articulating human rights as a driving issue… Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution should stand as a covenant not only between American citizens, but also between America and a Chinese dissident in Beijing, a Coptic Christian in the upper Nile, or a Chaldean who is being gunned down in Iraq. By maintaining economic ability to deal with issues of persecution, America can still be the dominant power to defend human rights and religious freedom.”

That same year, he challenged Gary Locke, the President's nominee for ambassador to China, to “publicly identify with the persecuted” by visiting an unregistered house church in China.

“I am looking forward to working with colleagues at Baylor University to advance the case for religious freedom,” Wolf said in a press release from Baylor. “I have been involved in promoting religious liberty for many years in Congress, and now I look forward to collaborating with scholars, religious leaders, and the laity in what I believe is one of the most important struggles of our time.”

CT has covered Wolf extensively, including his 2013 call for the federal government to support technology breaching Internet firewalls established by authoritarian regimes. (Contributor: Timothy C. Morgan and Ruth Moon for Christianity Today)

Prayer focus: Give thanks for former congressman Frank Wolfe. For more than 30 years, Mr. Wolfe has been a faithful Christian and conservative voice inside and outside congressional halls. His distinguished record as a champion of human rights around the world is virtually unparalleled. He has earned the right to be heard. Pray for him as he takes up this new position and platform at Baylor U. Pray that President Obama, the U.S. Congress, and the Christian Church in America will be open and responsive to his piercing convictions about the rights of Christians and others to survive. Pray in faith, remembering that in the end, righteousness will prevail and God’s glory will be manifest.

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction, but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 20-25)

 

JEWS FACE RENEWED DOUBT OVER THEIR FUTURE IN EUROPE

Denmark's synagogue attack is the latest in a series across Europe.

Denmark will do everything it can to protect Jews, said its Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt to reporters Monday. But across town, the thousands of bouquets that had been laid at the gates of a synagogue where a gunman killed a Jewish man over the weekend were a painful reminder that they hadn’t been protected enough. Here and across Europe, the attack added to a growing fear among Jews that the continent was once again not safe for them.

Coming so soon after a similar attack in Paris, in which two gunmen killed cartoonists and editors at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, while another killed five in two other incidents, the Copenhagen events have sharply undermined the small Danish Jewish community’s already deteriorating sense of security.

“It’s terrifying,” says Marianne Isaksen, a member of the congregation where Dan Uzan was killed. She and her husband Alf, both in their 70s, knew Uzan, and had come out to Krystalgade to commiserate with other synagogue members and pay their respects. “We knew things were getting worse, but we never thought it could happen here.”

A police officer guards the street around the Noerrebro train station in Copenhagen on Feb. 15, 2015 where a man has been shot in a police action following two fatal attacks in the Danish capital.

And yet increasingly, it does happen throughout Europe. Across the continent, anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise. On Sunday, hundreds of Jewish tombs were desecrated in the town of Sarre-Union in eastern France. Last July during the Gaza war, eight French synagogues were vandalized or petrol-bombed among many other similar incidents across Europe.

Many Jews do not consider themselves safe in Europe. A 2013 survey of Jewish communities in eight European Union states (Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the U.K.) carried out by the E.U.’s Fundamental Rights Agency found that over three-quarters of respondents believed anti-Semitism had increased in their country over the past five years. Nearly a third had considered emigrating from Europe because they did not feel safe as a Jew, with the figure reaching between 40% and 48% in Hungary, France and Belgium.

Those concerns can be felt throughout the E.U.’s population of 1.1 million Jews. In the small French town of Eze, freelance writer Clara Kagan keeps her Judaism to herself. “I would never feel safe in Paris or in my village wearing my Jewish star,” she says. “When I go to America, I wear it but I have only worn it once or twice in France and felt I was being looked at so I stopped.”

The same fears are echoed, if more fiercely, by Linda Ban, the wife of a rabbi in Budapest, where the Jobbik party went as far as to call for the drawing up of a list of Jews in 2012 (the Jobbik member of parliament later amended his call to focus only on those Jews who hold double Israeli-Hungarian citizenship). “In Hungary, people find open anti-Semitism in the media, so they think they can say the same things. People think if they can say it on the radio or on the floor of parliament, so can I. I’m not sure if there’s more anti-Semitism now than there was ten years ago, but it’s definitely louder. The taboo has been broken.”

The unease is felt across Europe. “I would say that it is very hard for Jews to live in Europe today,” says Arie Zuckerman, special adviser to the president of the European Jewish Congress. “I would not be so extreme as to say it’s starting to be impossible, but it is very hard. Jews are thinking twice before going to the synagogue on Saturday, and though it’s better in London, we hear it a lot from Jews in France, which has the biggest Jewish community in Europe. And definitely in Belgium, and definitely in the Scandinavian countries. Jews don’t feel comfortable to be identified as Jews in the streets.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took advantage of those fears to address Europe’s Jews in a statement on the Copenhagen attacks. “This wave of terror attacks can be expected to continue, including anti-Semitic and murderous attacks. We say to the Jews, to our brothers and sisters, Israel is your home and that of every Jew. Israel is waiting for you with open arms.”

Denmark’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, objected to Netanyahu’s remarks, telling the press on Feb. 15 that “terror is not a reason to move to Israel. People from Denmark move to Israel because they love Israel, because of Zionism, but not because of terrorism. If the way we deal with terror is to run somewhere else, we should all run to a deserted island.”

But more and more, Jews in other countries are weighing their options. In 2014, 7,000 of France’s roughly 500,000 Jews moved to Israel, double the number of the previous year. According to the Jewish Agency, immigration to Israel from Western Europe as a whole is up 88%; 620 of those immigrants came from the U.K., a 20% increase.

If the Isaksens aren’t considering following suit, it’s at least partly because, historically, Denmark has been the exception in Europe, protecting its Jews where other countries failed. During World War II, it transported nearly the entire community to safety in neutral Sweden when the Germans invaded.

But in recent years, even Denmark has seen a rise in anti-Semitic attacks. Cans painted with the label of Zyklon B, a chemical used to produce gas in Nazi extermination camps during World War II, were left on the fence of the Copenhagen synagogue in 2013. That was just one of 43 anti-Semitic incidents that occurred that year according to the Jewish community in Denmark’s security unit. “It seems to be getting worse and worse,” says Isaksen, noting that he himself had been assaulted on the street. “Certainly we’re afraid.”

Still, he and his wife were grateful for the outpouring of support from other Danes. Peter Krogell was one of them. A minister at the German Lutheran church on the same street as the synagogue, Krogell brought his two boys to lay tulips outside the temple. “We came because we wanted to show our unity,” he said. “And because as Danes we believe that the only way to fight terror is with freedom and democracy. And love.” Throughout Europe, 1.1 million Jews are hoping that’s enough. (Contributor: By Lisa Abend for Time)

Prayer focus: As we have documented in these alerts, cruel and severe anti-Semitism is increasing rapidly all over the world. This article gives an accurate profile of the pressure on European Jews. Note that Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu has invited them to move to Israel, though many resist or reject that solution either through fear or a lack of interest in Israel. We should remember as we intercede for Jewish people and the nation of Israel that God’s love extends to both Jews and Gentiles as individuals who need personal salvation in Jesus Christ, Savior and Messiah.

“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. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time…” (1 Tim. 2:3-6)

“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)

 

DELAWARE GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES 'CHARLES DARWIN DAY'

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) has declared Feb. 12 as "Charles Darwin Day" in the state.

Praising Darwin's theory of evolution as "the foundation of modern biology, an essential tool in understanding the development of life on earth," Markell's proclamation says Feb. 12 -- Darwin's birthday -- "is a time to reflect and celebrate the importance of his scientific achievements."

As Patheos notes, the proclamation was issued at the request of Chuck Dyke, a member of the Delaware Atheist Meetup group. (According to the governor's website, any organization based in or connected to Delaware may request special recognition for a day, week or month.)

Darwin Day has been celebrated by groups in the U.S., Europe and Canada on the British naturalist's birthday since 1980. In 2013 and 2014, then-Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) introduced legislation to designate a national Darwin Day. Despite support from some House Democrats, the proposal never got off the ground. Former Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) made a similar attempt in 2011.

A 2013 Pew Research Center poll found that 60 percent of American adults believe that humans and other creatures have evolved over time, while 33 percent reject the theory. A 2014 Gallup poll found that 42 percent of Americans believe humans were created by God in their present form, while about 50 percent said they believe humans evolved.

The Pew study also found belief in evolution differs strongly by party affiliation, with 67 percent of Democrats expressing belief in the theory, compared with 43 percent of Republicans. Markell was first elected governor in 2008.

Darwin died in 1882. (Contributor: By Jesse Rifkin for The Huffington Post)

Prayer focus: Darwin was not an atheist, but his theories offer a more “convenient” explanation for life’s origins than belief in God as Creator. His legacy is now an anti-God cult that insists on a choice between God and “natural selection” or chance. What the atheistic Humanist Society has achieved in Delaware, it wants to press across the U.S. to create a national “Darwin Day” that will enshrine the naturalist forever as an icon of evolutionary development. Pray for the Church to awaken to take a strong, vocal stand for the biblical position. Pray for Christian parents to make sure their teens understand the truth before they step into a college classroom, where young faith will be attacked by “systematic unbelief.”       

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1)

“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)

 

MUNICIPAL ID LAW HAS ‘DELETE IN CASE OF TEA PARTY’ CLAUSE

Get the shredders ready — the Tea Party could be coming.

The city’s new municipal ID program allows for personal info provided by applicants to be destroyed at the end of 2016, in case a conservative Republican wins the White House and demands the data, the law’s co-sponsor told The Post on Monday.

City Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn) said the measure was crafted so data submitted by those seeking the cards can be destroyed on Dec. 31, 2016.

The cards are aimed at undocumented immigrants.

“In case a Tea Party Republican comes into office and says, ‘We want all of the data from all of the municipal ID programs in the country,’ we’re going to take the data,” he explained.

The next president assumes office Jan. 20, 2017.

“That date is an important signal to the future of immigration reform. That allows us to prepare for any new leadership,” Menchaca said.

In order to get an ID, residents must provide their names, addresses, aliases, dates of birth and other information, making it easy for the feds to identify undocumented immigrants.

Menchaca said the Obama administration has shown no interest in going after the data, but he didn’t want to take any chances on the next administration.

“Though we have not seen documents like this get requested at the level of the federal government, that could be a possibility, so that really allows us to protect the data,” he said.

Immigrant advocates praised the provision.

“It’s no secret that one of the biggest sticking points in the ID programs is ensuring that there’s confidentiality, that immigrants are comfortably giving their information to the city,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

“The sunset is part and parcel of the effort to ensure confidentiality.”

The bill lets the city destroy the info if it determines it’s no longer needed.

The cards were first available early last month. Demand has been overwhelming, with more than 200,000 appointments made for the cards in less than a month. (Contributor: By Tara Palmeri for The New York Post - Additional reporting by Bob Fredericks)

Prayer focus: Once again, the real prayer need is below the surface, not about the petty politics of planning to “hide” the personal data of illegals from the next administration. Our country is sick and deeply divided by partisan politics. Pray that intercessors will rise across the country as a unified voice of effective prayer. Intercede that the Church will awaken to take its rightful place as a prophetic trumpet of truth to call Christians to spiritual warfare and that a heaven-sent revival will bring another Great Awakening to once again invoke God’s blessings. Our country, this deeply divided, is at risk.  

“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.’” (Matt. 12:25)

 

JINDAL BLOCKING PLANNED PARENTHOOD ABORTION CLINIC IN NEW ORLEANS

Gov. Bobby Jindal's office has been a part of the effort to block construction of a new Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in New Orleans, The Washington Post reports.

A sign declaring that "High-Quality, Affordable Health Care for New Orleans" would begin "Seeing Patients Early 2015," is now lying on the ground behind a chain link fence, but Raegan Carter of Planned Parenthood Center for Choice told The Times-Picayune that the banner was damaged by weather, and that the group still intends to build the clinic.

Planned Parenthood is appealing a ruling from Jindal's administration that the need for the new clinic was not proven and that "it did not meet the clear requirements."

Louisiana's new rules regarding abortion clinics are similar to those in Texas, in which any doctor working at an abortion clinic must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility.

Jindal's office isn't the only adversary Planned Parenthood is facing. Archbishop Gregory Aymond has threatened to boycott any contractor who works on the project.

Several subcontractors backed out of the project after Aymond wrote in an open letter, "the archdiocese, including its churches, schools, apartments for the elderly, and nursing homes, will strive in its privately-funded work not to enter into business relationships with any person or organization that participates in actions that are essential to making this abortion facility a reality."

Jindal didn't comment on the issue, but the Post quoted him from a statement made last week in which he said, "It matters how we treat the unborn and the elderly. Every life is sacred and we should have the courage to defend it."

Jindal is expected to run for president as a Republican in 2016, and the pro-life issue is important to much of the party's base, including evangelical voters, the Post notes.

Americans United for Life told the Post that during Jindal's time in office, Louisiana has been the most pro-life it has ever been.

"He’s not just been pro-life behind closed doors," Louisiana Right to Life's Benjamin Clapper, told the newspaper. "He’s also been proudly pro-life across our state." (Contributor: By Greg Richter for Newsmax)

Prayer focus: Whatever Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s political ambitions might be, he isn’t ashamed of his strong prolife and sanctity of life convictions. Please intercede for Governor Jindal, and for prolife state governors like him, to find success in their determination to reduce or bring to zero the number of abortion centers and abortions in their respective states. As IFA has reported elsewhere, this year (2015) holds the clear possibility to see the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision allowing abortion on demand.

[God’s word through Moses:] “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)

 

SCIENTISTS STORE DATA INSIDE DNA THAT COULD LAST MILLIONS OF YEARS

Just one gram of DNA can store the equivalent of 14,000 Blu-ray discs.

But although the potential for DNA as an alternative to hard drives has been known about for years, it is not the most reliable and secure way to keep data safe.

The latest breakthrough could be about to change that, however.

Chemists subjected spheres of DNA to extreme temperatures designed to mimic chemical degradation and found the material - and the data stored on it - could be successfully decoded.

The research was led by Robert Grass from ETH Zurich's Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences.

'DNA lends itself to this task as it can store large amounts of information in a compact manner,' said the researchers.

'Unfortunately, the data is not always retrievable error-free: gaps and false information in the encoded data arise through chemical degradation and mistakes in DNA sequencing.

'[We] have revealed how the long-term, error-free storage of information can be achieved, potentially for more than a million years.'

In 2013, researchers demonstrated that data could be saved and read from DNA, but during tests the time between 'writing' the information and reading, or sequencing it, was relatively short.

Even during this short time, mistakes were spotted in the writing and reading of the data stored on the DNA.

Over a longer term, DNA can change significantly as it reacts chemically with the environment, and this is the biggest obstacle to using DNA as a long-term storage option.

With this in mind, Professor Grass took inspiration from fossilised bones.

Despite being thousands of years old, it is possible to obtain genetic material found within the bones.

He concluded that this DNA is protected because it is 'encapsulated and protected'.

With this in mind he devised a way to protect the information-bearing DNA with a synthetic 'fossil shell', in the same way.

His team began by encoding Switzerland's Federal Charter of 1291 and The Methods of Mechanical Theorems by Archimedes in the DNA.

The researchers then placed the DNA segments into spheres of silica with a diameter of roughly 150 nanometres.

For the recent breakthrough, the researchers took inspiration from fossilised bones. Despite being thousands of years old, it is possible to obtain genetic material because the DNA is protected inside the bones. The experts designed a similar 'fossil shell' to protect the information-bearing DNA in the same way.

In order to simulate the degradation of DNA over a long period of time, researchers stored it at a temperature of between 60°C (140°F) and 70°C (158°F) for up to a month.

These high temperatures replicate the chemical degradation that takes place over hundreds of years within just a few weeks.

By doing this, the researchers could compare the storage of DNA in silica glass with other common storage methods such as on impregnated filter paper and in a biopolymer.

The DNA encapsulated in the glass shell turned out to be particularly robust and the researchers were able separate it from the shell, using a fluoride solution, and read information from it.

Storing Data Inside DNA

In 2013, researchers from the European Bioinformatics Institute at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire 'downloaded' all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on to strands of synthetic DNA.

Scientists were then able to decode the information and reproduce the words of the Bard with complete accuracy.

The same technique made it possible to store a 26-second excerpt from Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' speech and a photo of the Cambridgeshire laboratory where the work took place.

For their experiment, the scientists used a tiny amount of synthetic, dry DNA.

Five genetic 'letters' from the genetic code - A,C,G and T - were used to represent the zeros and ones that make up 'bytes' of digital information.

For instance, the upper case T in the word 'Thou' from the second line of Shakespeare's Sonnet XVIII - 'Thou art more lovely and more temperate' - was encoded by the sequence TATAT.

The scientists then incorporated an 'error correction', similar to that found laptops and mobile phones.

This involved overlapping short strands of DNA and independently writing every million-molecule fragment of code four times.

Effectively, three backups were created for each fragment, greatly reducing the chances of mistakes.

This was a similar method used by Reinhard Heckel from ETH Zurich's Communication Technology Laboratory for the recent study.

The researchers from EBI stressed that the DNA used was wholly artificial and different to the genetic molecules of life, and if it was added to a human body, it would degrade and be disposed of.

Theoretically, 100 million hours of high definition video could be stored in a cupful of DNA - equivalent to every film and TV show ever created. A DNA archive also requires no constant supply of electric power like hard drives and data centers do.

Currently the technology is restricted by the length of time it takes to sequence DNA and its high cost - around $12,300 per megabyte of stored material.

Even so, DNA-based storage could today be cost effective for archives of several megabytes over long time periods of 600 to 5,000 years, computer models predict.

Theoretically, 100 million hours of high definition video could be stored in a cupful of DNA - equivalent to every film and TV show ever created.

A DNA archive also requires no constant supply of electric power like hard discs do.   (Contributor: By Victoria Woollaston for Mail Online)

Prayer focus: This may be good science in the future, but at present it is very uncertain. News outlets tend to report laboratory research prematurely. We present such reports for “watchmen on the walls” — those who follow trends to discern where “science” may be going. Like earlier stem cell research, tinkering with DNA, the building blocks of life and the Creator’s gift, may lead to ethical violations with the bodies of aborted babies. We urge intercessors to “watch and pray” and remain alert to where this trend is going. Man’s natural tendency is away from God’s design. Pray as you are led.    

“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.” (Matt. 6:33-34)

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On Watch in Washington February 11, 2015

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2015 GRAMMY AWARDS: MADONNA’S BIZARRE, SATANIC PERFORMANCE OFFENDS CHRISTIANS

While world-famous pop singer Madonna is known for her shocking, often promiscuous music, her performance at the 2015 Grammy Awards reached disturbing new heights due to its overtly Satanic themes.

After being introduced by Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj as a "bada**, trouble-making international star," Madonna gave the first live performance of her new single, Living For Love, off her new album, "Rebel Heart" at the 57th Annual Awards on Sunday. Wearing a risque matador outfit, complete with red devil's horns, the 56-year-old mother-of-four danced across the stage with men dressed as demons.

The demons, who also wore revealing outfits,  leaped around the "Crazy For You" singer and even simulated sexual acts with her while she sang the Gospel-influenced dance track.

Madonna then demanded the audience stand up and join in as she belted out lyrics, 'Love, love lift me,' before being pulled up into the air as the demons bowed down underneath her.

While the elaborate performance was praised by many critics, the satanic imagery and sexual overtones disturbed Christians, who took to social media to voice their opinions.

"It looks like Hollywood's fascination with demons and darkness is not going to end anytime soon...'And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.' John 3:19" wrote radio host and pastor Geoffrey Grider.

"I'm disappointed by Madonna. It seems to me, that these global stars think they are just having a bit of fun...when what they are doing is literally playing with the devil... in their heart of hearts, do they really want to participate in the corruption of the masses? Is there anyone left I can admire?" wrote a YouTube user under a video of the performance.

This is not the first time performances at the Grammy Awards have offended those in the Christian community. Last year, Maddona, along with other artists, participated in a mass wedding involving 33 homosexual and heterosexual couples following a demonic perfromance by pop singer Katy Perry, prompting Christian singer Natalie Grant to leave the show.

At the time, Grant wrote on her Facebook page, "We left the Grammy's early. I've many thoughts about the show tonight, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I'll say this: I've never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I've never been more sure of the path I've chosen."

She later added, "I've judged no one. I hate no one. And I believe that every person has been created in the image of God. I will never stand on a street corner and wave a sign, I won't use my platform to engage in political arguments that will only divide and not unite. I will continue to pray that my life will be my message. I do have my own personal convictions that I live by, and I will continue to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord (Philippians 2:12).” (Contributor by Leah Marieann Klett for The Gospel Herald)

The ultimate idolatry is to replace God with Satan, whose ultimate idolatry was the desire to be “as the Most High.” It is in human hearts to worship. Even atheists hold to the idol of unbelief. Madonna was born into a Roman Catholic home, and some predict she will say her performance was simply artistic expression. The danger to performers is that they often worship themselves and see the adulation of their fans as no more than the homage they deserve. Satanic worship is growing. Pray that the Church awakens and speaks its message of life in a simple and compelling manner.

“And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Ex. 20:1-3)

“Professing to be wise, they (natural man) 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. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Rom. 1:22-25)

 

NETANYAHU: US, IRAN GALLOPING TOWARDS DEAL WHICH THREATENS ISRAEL

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated once again his promise to stop at nothing to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear capabilities, or maintain the ability to do so quickly through a deal with the west.

His comments came US Secretary of State Kerry met with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif Friday and again Sunday in Munich, where the top US diplomat stressed Washington's commitment to seeing the deadline met.

"The major powers and Iran are galloping toward an agreement that will enable Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons, which will endanger the existence of the State of Israel," Netanyahu said at Israeli government's weekly cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu took aim at Kerry and Zarif, saying that their intention to complete a framework agreement by the end of March, forces Israel to take action. "From this (commitment stems the urgency of our efforts to try and block this bad and dangerous agreement.

"We will continue to take action and to lead the international effort against Iran's arming itself with nuclear weapons. We will do everything and will take any action to foil this bad and dangerous agreement that will place a heavy cloud over the future of the State of Israel and its security," Netanyahu said.

Kerry ruled out extending a March 31 deadline for Iran nuclear talks unless the basic framework of an agreement is hammered out, speaking in an interview aired Sunday.

"The only chance I can see of an extension at this point in time would be that you really have the outlines of the agreement," Kerry said in the interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" taped Saturday in Munich.

Global powers have been struggling for more than a year to pin down a comprehensive deal to rein in Iran's suspected nuclear program, after an interim accord was struck in November 2013.

After their meeting Sunday, Zarif appeared to rule out any new extension to tough negotiations with world powers.

Kerry said outlining the basics of the agreement was crucial before a possible extension could be considered, but reiterated his preference for sticking to the target date.

"But if we're not able to make the fundamental decisions that have to be made over the course of the next weeks, literally, I think it would be impossible to extend," he told NBC.

"I don't think we would want to extend at that point. Either you make the decisions to prove your program is a peaceful one, or if you're unable to do that, it may tell a story that none of us want to hear."

After missing two previous deadlines, the group known as the P5+1 - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States - set a March 31 deadline for a political agreement.

That would be followed by a final deal setting out all the technical points of what would be a complex accord by June 30.

But the atmosphere has been complicated by hardliners both in Iran and the United States, with US lawmakers threatening to impose new sanctions on Iran if the March deadline is missed. (Contributor: YNet News - AFP contributed to this report)

Most Christian intercessors already carry two major concerns. One is for Israel’s preservation and “new birth” in Jesus, their Messiah. The other is for the Church of Jesus Christ to awaken with a renewed vision to its primary purpose, which is to preach the Gospel of the kingdom in all the world before the end of this age. The present political situation is highly complex, with implications for the U.S. and Israel, as well as the growing influence and demands of Iran. Pray for divine wisdom so that you might intercede in accordance with God’s heart and purpose.

“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 because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:6-7, 12-14)

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” (Lk. 18:1)

 

FRANKLIN GRAHAM RESPONDS TO OBAMA'S ISIS-CHRISTIAN PRAYER BREAKFAST ADDRESS

Leading Evangelist Franklin Graham took to Facebook on Thursday to respond to President Barack Obama's implication at the National Prayer Breakfast that ISIS' brutality abuse of religious minorities in Iraq and Syria is similar to that of Christian brutality over 1,000 years ago.

In a post on his public Facebook page, Graham, the son of world-renowned Evangelist Billy Graham and the current president of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and humanitarian organization Samaritan's Purse, argued that just because people have used Jesus' name for "evil" purposes in the past does not mean that Jesus actually called on his followers to do such horrible acts, like the Crusades.

"Today at the National Prayer Breakfast, the President implied that what ISIS is doing is equivalent to what happened over 1000 years ago during the Crusades and the Inquisition," Graham wrote. "Mr. President — Many people in history have used the name of Jesus Christ to accomplish evil things for their own desires. But Jesus taught peace, love and forgiveness."

Graham further wrote that unlike Jesus, who lived His life without sin, Mohammed took many innocent lives.

"[Jesus] came to give His life for the sins of mankind, not to take life. Mohammad on the contrary was a warrior and killed many innocent people," Graham asserted. "True followers of Christ emulate Christ — true followers of Mohammed emulate Mohammed."

Graham and some other Christian advocates expressed disappointment that President Barack Obama used the brutality of Christians during the Crusades and Christians' use of slavery in America as a plea for religious tolerance.

Many critics claim that he should have focused on today's plethora of Muslim oppressors, who use the name of Mohammed to justify their attacks.

"Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history," Obama said. "And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.

"So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith," the president continued. "No God condones terror. No grievance justifies the taking of innocent lives, or the oppression of those who are weaker or fewer in number."

Outspoken Christian and a leading social conservative activist Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, also criticized Obama for his easy willingness to condemn Christian brutality but inability to acknowledge terrorist ties to Islam.

Perkins told Fox News' Megyn Kelly that he thinks the president squandered a chance to bring more awareness to the lives of people currently being oppressed by Muslim oppressors, which currently includes an American citizen.

"What we have here is the president refusing to acknowledge that Islam and that ideology that is behind it that has been radicalized is being used to kill Christians," Perkins said. "This was a great opportunity for the president to draw attention to the genocide that is happening in the Middle East at the hands of Islam. This was a great opportunity for pastor Saeed Abedini, he could have used this opportunity to demand that Iran release him and send him home."

In his speech, Obama mentioned a recent trip he took to India where people of all faiths are targeted by people of other faiths. Perkins further criticized the president for not even bothering to mention his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, a Muslim kingdom in which some commenters claim has a religiously intolerant penal code that is as brutal as the Islamic State.

"He didn't mention his stop in Saudi Arabia on his way back to this country and the fact that they rank by his own State Department as one of the worst abusers of religious freedom in the world," Perkins explained.

Republican Louisianna Governor Bobby Jindal issued a statement on Friday responding to Obama's speech, stating that the president needs to wake up to the "reality" of today's religious extremism.

"It was nice of the President to give us a history lesson at the Prayer breakfast," Jindal said. "Today, however, the issue right in front of his nose, in the here and now, is the terrorism of Radical Islam, the assassination of journalists, the beheading and burning alive of captives. We will be happy to keep an eye out for runaway Christians, but it would be nice if he would face the reality of the situation today. The Medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President. Please deal with the Radical Islamic threat today."

Although the National Prayer Breakfast also featured a heartfelt keynote speech by hall-of-fame NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip about how Christ transformed his life, the event was "overshadowed" by Obama's "high horse" comment, Perkins said.

"That was overshadowed by the president talking about how faith is a weapon," Perkins said. "Faith is not a weapon. What we see is ISIS is using weapons to kill Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and the president cannot bring himself to say that." (Contributor: By Samuel Smith for Christian Post)

Give thanks for Rev. Franklin Graham, who spoke out forcefully about President Obama’s outrageous “history lesson” at the National Prayer Breakfast when he compared Church history with the killing record of Islam. Mr. Graham’s response was an appropriate rebuke. Old Testament prophets risked their lives to speak truth to kings. Surely, today’s Christian prophetic voices should be raised to correct elected fellow citizens when necessary, including our U.S. president. Pray for a consistent “conversation” to take place when elected officials profane Jesus Christ and the Christian religion.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Tim. 2:1-6) 

 

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY AND JORDAN SAYS ISIS IS '20% DEFEATED'

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry says fifth of ISIS-held land taken back. In revenge for burning of pilot, Jordan strikes 56 air raids since last Thursday.

Jordan announced it has carried out dozens of air strikes on the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group, as a top US envoy said Iraqi troops would begin a major ground offensive against the jihadists in the weeks ahead.

Jordanian air force chief Major General Mansour al-Jobour said Sunday the kingdom had launched 56 air raids since Thursday as part of an international assault against ISIS that Washington says is beginning to bite, reports AFP.

Jordan has vowed an "earth-shattering" response after the Sunni extremists captured one of its air force pilots, Maaz al-Kassasbeh, burned him alive and released a gruesome video of the execution.

"On the first day of the campaign to avenge our airman Maaz al-Kassasbeh, 19 targets were destroyed, including training camps and equipment," Jobour told reporters.

John Allen, the US coordinator for the anti-ISIS coalition of Western and Arab countries, said Sunday that Iraqi troops would begin a major ground offensive against the jihadists "in the weeks ahead."

"When the Iraqi forces begin the ground campaign to take back Iraq, the coalition will provide major firepower associated with that," he told Jordan's official Petra news agency, stressing that the Iraqis would lead the offensive.

ISIS have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, brutally ruling the territory by Sharia Islamic law.

20% defeated

Jordan has vowed to crush the group after they released a highly choreographed video showing the murder of its pilot, who was captured in December when his F-16 warplane went down in Syria.

The air force chief said air strikes since last Thursday had destroyed dozens of targets, including barracks, training camps, ammunition and fuel depots, and residential centers.

"So far, the campaign has destroyed 20% of the fighting capabilities of Daesh," Jobour said, using another name for ISIS.

Jobour said more than 7,000 ISIS terrorists had been killed since Jordan began participating in coalition air strikes.

John Kerry said the aerial campaign, launched in September, was beginning to win back territory and deprive the jihadists of key funds.

There have been 2,000 air strikes on ISIS since the coalition's formation in August, Kerry told a security conference in the German city of Munich.

The air war has helped to retake some 700 square kilometers (270 square miles) of territory, or "one-fifth of the area they had in their control", he said.

The top U.S. diplomat did not specify whether the regained territory was in Iraq or Syria.

But he added the coalition had "deprived the militants of the use of 200 oil and gas facilities...disrupted their command structure...squeezed its finance and dispersed its personnel."

State media reported that a squadron of United Arab Emirates F-16 fighter jets arrived in Jordan on Sunday, escorted by pilots and technicians.

The UAE had withdrawn from the coalition's strike missions after the Jordanian pilot's capture over fears for the safety of its own airmen. But the US had said on Friday that UAE flights were likely to resume "in a couple of days."

C-17 transporters and refuelling planes were part of the UAE squadron sent on the orders of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the Petra news agency said.

Turning point for Jordan

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said Sunday that Kurdish forces had retaken from ISIS more than a third of the villages around Kobane, a strategic town on the Syrian-Turkish border.

The Kurds recaptured Kobane on January 26 after four months of fierce fighting backed by Syrian rebels and coalition air strikes.

But Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told ABC television that while the bombing campaign had "degraded" ISIS capability, the group was still in control of "vast territory."

Interior Minister Hussein Majali said in remarks published on Saturday that Kassasbeh's gruesome murder by ISIS was a "turning point" in the kingdom's fight against extremism.

As Jordan escalated its assault, ISIS claimed on Friday that an American aid worker it had taken hostage - 26-year-old Kayla Jean Mueller - had been buried alive under rubble by a coalition strike on its self-proclaimed capital of Raqa in Syria.

Mueller's parents said they were hopeful their daughter was still alive and appealed to ISIS to contact them in order to ensure her safe return.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Washington was seeking clarification on Mueller's fate.

"We're learning as much as we can as quickly as we can about Ms. Mueller's situation," he told CNN. "Our thoughts, our prayers are with her family right now." (Contributor: By Arutz Sheva Staff for Israel National News – Arutz Sheva and AFP News)

Even the most experienced intercessors agree with God’s Word when it tells us, “… we do not know what we should pray for as we ought…” In this case, we do not have facts, but we must ask, “Even if we did, would that be helpful?” Answer: No! It is not in “knowing” that we are strong but in the obedience of faith to pray for outcomes that will save the most lives and bring glory to God. Pray with awareness that our nation is in serious decline spiritually and morally. Pray for an awakening in the Church so Christians will put on God’s armor and fight for truth with spiritual weapons.

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom. 8:26-27)

“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, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

 

GALLUP: THE BIG LIE: 5.6% UNEMPLOYMENT

Here's something that many Americans -- including some of the smartest and most educated among us -- don't know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.

Right now, we're hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is "down" to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.

None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job -- if you are so hopelessly out of work that you've stopped looking over the past four weeks -- the Department of Labor doesn't count you as unemployed. That's right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news -- currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren't throwing parties to toast "falling" unemployment.

There's another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you're an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 -- maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn -- you're not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

Yet another figure of importance that doesn't get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find -- in other words, you are severely underemployed -- the government doesn't count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

There's no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.

And it's a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory. A good job is an individual's primary identity, their very self-worth, their dignity -- it establishes the relationship they have with their friends, community and country. When we fail to deliver a good job that fits a citizen's talents, training and experience, we are failing the great American dream.

Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck. Right now, the U.S. is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44%, which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older. We need that to be 50% and a bare minimum of 10 million new, good jobs to replenish America's middle class.

I hear all the time that "unemployment is greatly reduced, but the people aren't feeling it." When the media, talking heads, the White House and Wall Street start reporting the truth -- the percent of Americans in good jobs; jobs that are full time and real -- then we will quit wondering why Americans aren't "feeling" something that doesn't remotely reflect the reality in their lives. And we will also quit wondering what hollowed out the middle class. (Contributor: By Jim Clifton for Gallup.com - Jim Clifton is Chairman and CEO at Gallup.)

 

Among polling organizations, none has any higher “trust rating” than Gallup, so when the Chairman speaks, everyone should listen. Intercessors should not only listen but pray. Sadly, many examples exist that demonstrate how much the public is being deceived by our government day after day. Pray especially for those whom you may know that are struggling just to meet survival expenses. Some are only a month or two away from homelessness. Please pray for national awakening and revival, so that U. S. leaders will be led to faith in Jesus Christ and become lovers of truth.

 

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…” (Rom. 1:18-20)

 

BRITAIN MOVES STEP CLOSER TO ALLOWING BABIES WITH 3 PEOPLE’S GENES

Britain moved a step closer Tuesday to becoming the first country to legalize so-called three-parent babies, as lawmakers moved closer to allowing fertility labs to use genetic material from a mother, father and a female donor.

The debate in the House of Commons reflected the deep passions on both sides of the issue of allowing in vitro procedures that could prevent the passing on of inherited and incurable diseases through mitochondrial DNA, which is carried from mother to child.

Supporters say changing the law would offer hope to couples who otherwise would risk transferring diseases such as muscular dystrophy to their offspring. But a wide range of critics question the ethics of the proposal, saying it would be another step toward creating “designer babies.”

The proposal passed, 382 to 128, and moved to Parliament’s upper chamber, the House of Lords, where a vote is expected soon, although no date has been set. Commentators say the first three-parent baby could be born next year if the legislative effort succeeds.

“This is a bold step for Parliament to take, but it is a considered and informed step,” the parliamentary undersecretary for public health, Jane Ellison, said before the vote. “For many families affected, this is, indeed, that light at the end of the dark tunnel,” she added

The technique, called mitochondrial donation, involves replacing a woman’s faulty mitochondrial DNA with healthy DNA from a female donor. Even if the bill passes, couples seeking treatment would need the permission of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, Britain’s fertility regulator.

Religious leaders have voiced concerns, warning the government against rushing into a decision and arguing that more research is needed.

Fears over genetic manipulation are not unique to Britain. In the 1990s, the United States pioneered a technique called cytoplasmic transfer, aimed at helping infertile women to have their own babies. As part of the procedure, donor material containing mitochondrial DNA was added to the mother’s egg. Fewer than 100 babies were born before the Food and Drug Administration effectively banned the practice over medical and ethical concerns.

If the British procedure gets the green light, a baby conceived through the technique would receive its key genetic material from its mother and father, and just a small amount of DNA from a donor female, who would remain anonymous.

The aim is to help the estimated 2,473 women in Britain who are at risk of passing on possibly disease-triggering mitochondrial DNA to their children.

Mitochondria are tiny structures inside cells that act like batteries, providing energy to the cells. They also have their own DNA. When they do not function properly, the results can be devastating. Faulty mitochondria have been linked to blindness, deafness, dementia and muscular dystrophy.

A mitochondrion’s 37 genes are a small fraction of those in the human genome, and unlike nuclear DNA, mitochondrial DNA does not affect appearance characteristics such as hair color. The ban on tinkering with nuclear DNA would remain in place.

Still, should the law change, babies could be born with a very small fraction of their DNA, about 0.2 percent, from a female donor. Some opponents of the proposed legislative change speak of Britain’s stepping on to a slippery slope.

Fiona Bruce, a member of Parliament from the Conservative Party, said the move would be tantamount to letting “the genie out of the bottle.”

The bulk of the British scientific community, however, appeared to welcome the result of the vote and widely interpreted it as providing clear guidelines on what is acceptable.

“I don’t agree with the slippery slope argument at all,” said professor Alison Murdoch of Newcastle University, which has been at the forefront of mitochondrial research in Britain. “By having a legal framework that says you can do this but you can’t do the other without criminal sanctions, there is an absolute barrier.” (Contributor: By Karla Adam for The Washington Post - Karla Adam is a reporter in the Washington Post’s London bureau. Before joining the Post in 2006, she worked as a freelancer in London for the New York Times and People magazine.)

Intercessors, please handle this report as led and according to the knowledge and insights your experience has provided. Is it a ploy for genetic tampering? Is it a legitimate scientific breakthrough to facilitate healthier prenatal development? Most laypersons don’t know. The Christian viewpoint we hear is that to experiment with the Creator’s DNA and genetic code design carries great risk. Pray for discernment, and be watchful for signs of political manipulation. Most modern day scientists reason from a Darwinian evolutionary base, and their non-biblical conclusions are suspect.

“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. 146:5-7)

“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)

 

 

MILITARY UPSET THAT SUSAN RICE TELLING GENERALS HOW TO FIGHT

Sunday on Fox News Channel’s “Fox News Sunday,” veteran journalist Bob Woodward said people in the military are complaining to him that the Obama administration has no strategy to defeat ISIS other then having people like Susan Rice “micromanage” military responses.

Woodward said, “If you talk to people in the White House and the military, I think there’s agreement and John McCain is right and General Flynn is right, there is no strategy. They have not sat down and said this is where we want to go and this is how we want to do it. And the measure of that, when you head into the weeds here, people from the White House are micromanaging the tactical situation on a daily and weekly basis. That’s not their job. They have to kind of do strategic planning and say what do we want to accomplish in the next year.”

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When host Chris Wallace asked, “Wait a minute, are you saying that — forgive me, Susan Rice, is telling the generals what to do?” Woodard confirmed it by saying, “And they have got all these people in the White House. You talk to people in the military who are there and they say ‘we are being micromanaged and we’re not given a real plan to say what are we going to do here.’ And it’s not the way to run a war or try to win a war.” (Contributor: By Pam Key for Breitbart News)

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that [1] Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that [2] He was buried, and that [3] He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.”  (1 Cor. 15:1-5)

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Rom. 1:16)

 

'PINEAPPLE EXPRESS' DOUSES U.S. WEST COAST; BOSTON BRACES FOR MORE SNOW

A new band of Pacific storms was headed toward the U.S. West Coast on Saturday, bringing more rain to drought-stricken California, while a different storm system threatened the Northeast with more snow and cold, forecasters said.

The West Coast storm system, known as the "Pineapple Express" because it develops in moist air moving across the Pacific Ocean, has dropped up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain across Northern California, Oregon and Washington state since Thursday, forecasters said.

"The storm is coming in several waves, and one of the largest was yesterday," said Patrick Burke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The so-called "atmospheric river of rain" had tapered off on Saturday, with another well-defined wave of precipitation and strong winds beginning on Sunday, Burke said.

The rainfall was a boon to California, suffering its worst drought on record, but would not increase snow pack in the mountains, Burke said.

Honeydew, a town on California's northern coast, has already received 11.4 (29 cm) inches of rain, while Hoodsport, Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula, has seen 8.06 inches (20 cm), the National Weather Service said.

Thousands of people temporarily lost power on Friday and nearly 200 flights were canceled out of the San Francisco area, local officials said.

Along the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, several homes were evacuated when the Duckabush River flooded in Jefferson County, the sheriff's office said.

Across the country, the third winter storm in two weeks was heading toward the Northeast, promising light snow in New Jersey and New York City on Sunday into Monday and nearly a foot (30 cm) in parts of New England, including snow-socked Boston, Burke said.

Philadelphia, on the southernmost edge of the storm, will likely see rain, forecasts show.

To the north, parts of New York state, including Albany, Connecticut and Massachusetts will get 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) of new snow, Burke said.

The snowfall in Boston will come on top of 48 inches (122 cm) that has fallen since Jan. 23, according to forecasts.

Later in the week, much of the East Coast, from Virginia to Maine, will see the most frigid conditions yet this season, with temperatures in the single digits Fahrenheit in many areas, Burke said. (Contributor: By Victoria Cavaliere for Reuters and Yahoo News - Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Frank McGurty and Dan Grebler)

Give thanks to God for the abundance of rain now reaching California and the northwest coast. Yes, the coastal deluge of rain (more than 10 inches in some areas) has brought commensurate issues of flooding and inconvenience in travel, but ongoing drought can turn the most comfortable oasis into a desert if it continues too long. We have prayed several times in these Alerts for relief from the drought in the Southwest and other California areas. This rain may save farms and much livelihood. Pray that the people will see God as the Provider and give thanks to Him.

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” (Ps. 107:21-22)

 

HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE CLEARED BY U.S. HIGH COURT TO START IN ALABAMA

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex weddings to start in Alabama, letting the number of homosexual-marriage states climb in advance of a constitutional showdown that may mean legalization nationwide.

In a 7-2 order, the justices rejected Alabama’s bid to stop a federal trial judge’s legalization order from taking effect Monday. The state now will become the 37th where homosexuals can marry. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

The rebuff brings homosexual marriage to a state whose chief justice, Roy Moore, has told officials not to comply.

The Alabama request was the first to reach the high court since its Jan. 16 decision to take up the issue. Previously, the justices had let homosexual marriage start in Idaho, Alaska and Florida.

Each new state magnifies the potential complications should the high court rule against marriage rights. A ruling potentially would nullify lower court decisions that have required states to issue licenses, creating uncertainty about the rights of people who wed in the interim.

A federal judge in Mobile struck down Alabama’s ban last month, and her ruling is set to take effect Monday. A federal appeals court in Atlanta refused to step in, prompting Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to turn to the Supreme Court. Governor Robert J. Bentley supported Strange’s request.

‘Proper Way’

Thomas, in a dissent joined by Scalia, wrote that “the court looks the other way as yet another federal district judge casts aside state laws without making any effort to preserve the status quo pending the court’s resolution of a constitutional question it left open” in 2013.

“This acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the court’s intended resolution of that question. This is not the proper way to discharge” the court’s responsibilities.

The high court will hear arguments on homosexual marriage in late April and in all likelihood rule in late June. The number of homosexual marriage states has tripled since 2013, when a Supreme Court ruling on a federal benefits law cast doubt on state bans.

Since then, four federal appeals courts have backed marriage rights. The justices will review the sole appellate decision that said states could restrict marriage to heterosexual unions, hearing appeals from couples in four states -- Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio.

In addition to the 37 states, the District of Columbia allows homosexual marriage, as do parts of Missouri.

The Alabama case is Strange v. Searcy, 14A840. (Contributor: By Greg Stohr for Bloomberg News)

American culture continues to descend into moral confusion as “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” (Declaration of Independence) are further distorted. Alabama becomes the 37th state to issue same-sex “marriage” licenses. If there is divine power to bring national change, it resides in God’s people praying with “all prayer” and in unity. Will the Church in America awaken to the challenge? Consider joining IFA’s first Friday prayer conference call, 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. ET. Call 712-432-0075, code 1412452#. On Feb. 6, more than 400 people from across the country took part by phone.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”(Gal. 6:9-10)

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication….” (Eph. 6:17-18) 

 

‘INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE CAMPAIGN’ DEBUTS AT UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Dozens of posters plastered across the University of Michigan caution students not to say things that might hurt others’ feelings, part of a new “Inclusive Language Campaign” at the state’s flagship public university that cost $16,000 to implement.

Words declared unacceptable through the campaign include “crazy,” “insane,” “retarded,” “gay,” “tranny,” “gypped,” “illegal alien,” “fag,” “ghetto” and “raghead.” Phrases such as “I want to die” and “that test raped me” are also verboten.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald told The College Fix in an email the campaign aims to “address campus climate by helping individuals understand that their words can impact someone and to encourage individuals to commit to creating a positive campus community.”ILCinside

Students have been asked to sign a pledge to “use inclusive language” and to help their peers “understand the importance of using inclusive language,” according to campaign materials.

Though only in existence for one semester, the Inclusive Language Campaign has maintained a strong presence throughout the university. Students roaming the campus frequently encounter posters of all sizes reminding them: “YOUR WORDS MATTER,” and asking questions such as: “If you knew that I grew up in poverty, would you still call things ‘ghetto’ and ‘ratchet’?”

Representatives of the Inclusive Language Campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The College Fix.

Junior Kidada Malloy, who helps promote the program on campus, told the Michigan Daily the campaign “is a great program because it will improve the day-to-day language of students on campus by providing education around words that are offensive.”

Fitzgerald told The College Fix the university budgeted $16,000 for the campaign. The program comes at a time when the university has raised tuition and fees for the last two consecutive years.

“This program is intended to be educational, not regulatory,” Fitzgerald said of the campaign. “We hope there is only the understanding that we all participate in, and have the power to influence campus culture.”

ILC’s Facebook page includes a variety of inclusion-based material, inspirational quotes, personal stories, and even a video that details how to address a person by the correct pronouns. It operates in conjunction with two other campuswide initiatives, Expect Respect and Change It Up!, both of which emphasize inclusive words in and out of the classroom.

Students living in university housing are urged to take part in a Change It Up! workshop, which “brings bystander intervention skills to first-year housing residents for the purpose of building safe, inclusive, and respectful communities.”

Before and after completing these workshops, students fill out surveys in which they reflect on internal biases that may pose a threat to an “inclusive campus.”

As the Inclusive Language Campaign has enlarged its influence on campus through various kick-off events, interactive programming and provoking visuals, some students have called into question how it reconciles with the university’s policy on free speech, which “encourages open and vigorous discussion and strives to maintain an environment where the free exchange of ideas and opinions can flourish.”

Asked if the campaign stifles free speech, Fitzgerald said “we believe this program has just the opposite effect.”

“We believe it will make discourse more constructive by respecting the views and perspectives of others,” he said. “A campus conversation about the impact of words is good for everyone.”

The University of Maryland launched a similar campaign three years ago that cost $15,000. (Contributor: By Samantha Audia for University of Michigan - College Fix reporter Samantha Audia is a student at the University of Michigan.)

This is “common courtesy” to Christians, as basic Bible instruction is to be kind to others in daily discourse. However, Jesus displayed anger when appropriate, and he spoke harsh truth to religious leaders who used their exalted positions to deceive unwary followers. But the essence of His expression was kindness, calling people to repentance with words of forgiveness. The aim of these inclusive initiatives may well be laws later that will bring punishment to church leaders if they call homosexuality what it is or continue to define marriage as God does. Be in prayer and on watch.

“… but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— “ (Eph. 4:18)                             

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32)

“Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16)

 

CHRISTIANS WHO FIGHT FOR TRUTH, STAND FOR CHRIST, WILL BE HATED

Former Senator Rick Santorum, gave a rousing interview on Wednesday, warning Christians that they will face persecution for standing up for Christ.

Santorum gave the interview after the screening of "One Generation Away," a new docudrama that suggests Americans may be only one generation away from facing religious persecution. In it, he addressed the situation future American Christians may be dealing with for living their lives for Christ.

"I know how these stories end," Santorum told CNS News, "and if you're a believer you all know how it ends. And we know the good guys win, truth wins. And so your job is to just focus on being faithful, standing by the truth, fighting for the truth, understanding the world is broken, and that they will hate you and persecute you because you stand for Him and what He taught. And that's a great blessing, not something to be avoided but something to be embraced."

In a separate interview with The Christian Post, Santorum spoke more in-depth, and clarified his definition of persecution in the United States.

"If we don't nip it here, things get a lot worse. I used the term earlier in our conversation to describe what's going on in America is persecution but when I say that, I usually step back and say, you know, persecution here in America is fairly mild compared to what's going on in the Middle East … You've gotta use that term very advisably. Nothing like that is happening here in America, thanks be to God, but things weren't always that way in other parts of the world, either. It starts with a gradual erosion," Santorum explained.

Santorum is CEO of EchoLight Studios, which worked with the Family Research Council to produce the film, which is titled after a quote from former president Ronald Reagan, who said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." It is available on DVD now. (Contributor: By Sami K. Martin for Christian Post)

Christians in the West should take former Senator Rick Santorum’s words very seriously; indeed, please give thanks for his timely wake-up call to the Church in the U.S. We have been so fully protected from real persecution that we can easily forget it was both promised and prophesied by Jesus and New Testament writers. Let us meditate on the supporting Scriptures below and prepare our hearts for what it has meant in every age and almost every culture to be a follower of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Lord. We add extra Scriptures for emphasis.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt. 5:10-11)

“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)

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will[a] have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“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 February 11, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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On Watch in Washington December 3, 2014

On Watch in Washington December 3, 2014 Plain Text PDF Version

ABORTIONS FALL TO RECORD LOW IN U.S.

The number of reported abortions fell to a historic low in 2011, the federal government said this week in its annual tally of most of the nation’s states.

There were 730,322 abortions in those 49 jurisdictions in 2011, with 91 percent occurring by the 13th week of gestation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its Abortion Surveillance report.

The abortion rate fell 5 percent and the abortion ratio fell 4 percent from the previous year, reaching “historic lows for all three measures of abortion,” it said, referring to the absolute number of abortions, abortions as a share of pregnancies, and the abortion rate for the female population of childbearing age.

As always, the CDC’s abortion report does not include data from all 50 states, the three exceptions this year being California, Maryland and New Hampshire.

As a result, the government’s numbers differ from that of the Guttmacher Institute, which surveys abortion providers every few years, but both sets of numbers agree on the broader trends.

In Guttmacher’s report for 2011, which was based on around 1,700 abortion providers, the research organization also found falling rates of abortion — with 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44, compared with 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women in 2008.

Guttmacher also reported 13 percent fewer abortions in 2011 than in 2008, with 1.05 million procedures compared with 1.21 million, and a lower abortion ratio.

Guttmacher analysts did not focus on reasons for the decline, but reproductive health experts believe women’s use of long-lasting contraceptives and the poor economy played significant roles.

Pro-life supporters say that their efforts to educate the public about the humanity of the unborn child and alternatives to abortion, plus enactment of new laws to regulate the abortion industry, were having an effect.

The CDC said in its new report that the 2011 abortion rate fell to 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44, and the abortion ratio fell to 228 abortions per 1,000 live births.

It also appears that “women are obtaining abortions earlier in gestation, when the risks for complications are the lowest,” the agency said. Notably, nearly 65 percent of abortions were performed by the eighth week of gestation in 2011, higher than in previous years, and 19 percent using nonsurgical, medication abortion, it said.

However, another 7.3 percent of abortions (37,456) were done between 14 and 20 weeks gestation, and 1.4 percent (7,325) at 21 weeks or more, the agency said.

Other highlights of the CDC report for 2011:

• Women in their 20s accounted for most abortions — 58 percent or 372,687.

• Teens, aged 15-19, accounted for 13.5 percent of abortions (86,885), far lower than in previous years, while teens 14 and younger accounted for 0.4 percent (2,728) of abortions.

• Among areas with data, white women and black women had the highest percentages of abortions (37 percent and 36 percent, respectively). However, white women had the lowest abortion rate (8 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44) and ratio (132 abortions per 1,000 live births), while black women had the highest abortion rate (29.7 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44) and ratio (459 abortions per 1,000 live births).

• In 2010, the most recent year for which data were available, 10 women died as a result of complications from known legal abortions. No deaths from illegal abortions were reported.

• The District of Columbia had the highest percentage of out-of-state abortion clients (53.6 percent), followed by Kansas (50.6 percent), North Dakota (32.4 percent) and Tennessee (24.2 percent). (Contributor: By Cheryl Wetzstein for The Washington Times)

 

Prayer focus: Reading this article may cause a mixture of emotions. First, the good news is summarized in this statement: “The number of reported abortions fell to a historic low in 2011…” (as reported by the federal government). For this, we truly give God thanks. Second, after plowing through the statistics and percentages, we still see that more than 730,000 innocent lives were thrown away primarily for someone’s convenience. Please keep praying. Intercede for God’s mercy until these “personal choice” laws are overturned.

“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.” (Prov. 24:11 NIV)

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” (Ps. 127:3)

 

PORT AUTHORITY, FBI INVESTIGATING BOMB THREAT AGAINST FLIGHT FROM SPAIN AT JFK

European security experts are reportedly trying to thwart an alleged terror plot in the skies as authorities here at home try to determine who was behind a bomb threat against a flight from Spain to New York on Sunday.

According to reports, officials in Europe have intelligence suggesting that terrorists have the goal of blowing up five European passenger planes before Christmas in a possible 9/11-style attack.

Meanwhile, the Port Authority and the FBI are investigating after a bomb threat was phoned in against an American Airlines flight from Spain on Sunday.

Flight 67 from Barcelona landed safely at John F. Kennedy Airport about noon Sunday, according to Laura Masvideo, a spokeswoman for the airline.

“You’re on a flight, you’re landing and the pilot comes on and says there was a bomb threat,” said passenger Chandra Hayslett.

The aircraft was taken to a location near the tarmac where the 200 passengers plus crew members were taken off the plane, according to Port Authority spokesman Joe Pentangelo.

Police searched the plane and its contents for two hours before determining there was no danger.

“They had to examine all the luggage first just to make sure it wasn’t a legitimate threat,” said passenger Donna Graham.

“It was two hours of my time, but it was two hours of my time that I’m still standing here talking to you guys,” said another passenger.

American Airlines issued a statement saying, “We apologize for ay inconvenience this may have caused. The safety of our passengers and crew is our top priority.”

Pentangelo said authorities were investigating the source of the call.

So far, security experts have not said if there is any link between the reports of terror threats in Europe and Sunday’s incident at JFK. (Contributor: By Janelle Burrell and Joe Pentangelo for CBS News)

Prayer focus: Because every bomb threat and even rumors must be taken seriously, pray for God’s mercy, so that our security forces will be overshadowed with divine wisdom in detecting suspicious clues as to aircraft safety. Intercede that the growing unity and collaboration of the larger Church in finding allies for united prayer will continue, and that God will be pleased to protect us. Such protection would be a great mercy-gift, as our nation is not recognizing or calling upon the Lord.

“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)

 

ISRAEL CALLS FOR REPARATIONS FOR MIDDLE EASTERN JEWS

Israel on Sunday marked the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries in the years after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin calling for financial reparations.

In a bid to draw attention to the plight of the forced migrants, Israel formally marked their displacement with a ceremony at the president’s house under a new law naming November 30 as the anniversary.

“It is not for nothing that this day is marked on the day after the 29th of November,” Netanyahu said, in reference to the anniversary of the UN adoption of the Palestine partition plan in 1947. “The Arab countries, which never accepted the UN declaration on the establishment of a Jewish state, compelled the Jews living in their territories to leave their homes while leaving their assets behind… We have acted – and will continue to act – so that they and their claims are not forgotten.”

In his address, Rivlin appealed for greater Sephardic representation in Israeli society, as well as for compensation for their suffering. He acknowledged that the troubles of Middle Eastern Jews were not mitigated upon arriving in Israel, where European Jews were firmly entrenched in power.

“Their voices were muted, but the words were in their mouths all along, even if they were said in Hebrew with a Persian or Arabic accent, which in Israel were thought of as enemy languages and viewed as a source of shame,” he said.

“The voice of Jews from Arab countries and Iran must be heard within the education system, in the media, in the arts, and in the country’s official institutions, as it needs to be heard in the international arena as well, in order to mend the historical injustice, and to ensure financial reparations,” Rivlin said.

The president also defended his decision to exclude singer Amir Benayoun from the event. Benayoun was disinvited last Tuesday from performing after he released a song that many criticized as expressing racist sentiment against Arabs.

In his address, Rivlin said he “objected to boycotts and I do not boycott anyone,” but maintained that his position required him to “be sensitive to public trends and opinions, and the atmosphere on the street, especially during such tense and sensitive times as these.

“Of course, an artist needs nobody’s permission to express themselves, within the limits of freedom of expression. However, the President’s Residence, as the home of all the citizens of Israel, must and should be careful to show care and respect to all citizens of Israel,” he said.

Meir Kahlon, chairman of the Central Organization for Jews from Arab Countries and Iran, said that “Nearly 800,000 came here [in the years after the establishment of the state] and the rest (around 56,000) went to the United States, France, Italy and elsewhere.”

Kahlon himself came to Israel as a child from Libya and spent his first years in the Jewish state in one of the tent camps set up to shelter the flood of newcomers.

Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), an international umbrella group of Jewish community organizations, says 856,000 Jews from 10 Arab countries, among them Morocco, Iraq, Tunisia and Algeria, fled or were expelled in 1948 and after, while violent Arab riots left many Jews dead or injured.

Although many migrants arrived with meager belongings packed in a single suitcase, they did not seek formal refugee status from the international community.

At the time, the newly established Jewish state was struggling to attract migration from the world’s Jews and to project its legitimacy as a sovereign state, able to care for its own people.

Its prime minister, David Ben Gurion, would not have wanted Jews returning to their “historic homeland” classed as refugees, Kahlon said.

In March this year, Canada — whose Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a staunch backer of Israel — formally recognized the refugee status of the Jewish emigres who fled or were expelled from Arab countries after Israel’s founding.

Some of the migrants to Israel say privately that the issue is being promoted to give Israel a bargaining card if stalled negotiations with the Palestinians should resume and the Palestinians submit compensation claims for the property and assets they left behind in what is now Israel.

“The point is to establish symmetry so that the dispute can be closed,” one migrant told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official with the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said the issue was entirely separate from Palestinian claims for reparations from Israel — and must remain so. “They can discuss this with Arab countries, it’s not our business,” she told AFP. “They are trying to find every possible means of circumventing and sabotaging the Palestinian refugees’ rights.”

JJAC executive director Stanley A. Urman said the campaign to seek restitution for Jews from Arab countries was not meant to negate Palestinian rights.

“History, geography, demography don’t allow any comparison between the plight of Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees,” he told journalists on Sunday, advocating a multilateral approach.

During the latest round of peace talks, which were shepherded by US Secretary of State John Kerry until their collapse in late April, there was talk about the establishment of an international peace fund, he said.

Such a fund would provide physical infrastructure for a Palestinian state, such as roads and sewers, as well as security for Israel in the form of final borders and the funding to allow for the establishment of security perimeters along those borders, he explained.

Thirdly, it would provide compensation “to all victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Palestinian and Jewish refugees alike.” (Contributor: By Marissa Newman and for AFP)

Prayer focus: Many of the readers of these Alerts are friends of Israel and pray faithfully for its protection and for “the peace of Jerusalem.” Some observers in the West do not know exactly where Prime Minister Netanyahu is going with this claim for reparations. Perhaps it is a bargaining chip for later talks in the region. God is patiently waiting and wooing His old covenant people to recognize their Messiah. How long will it take before Israel recognizes its Redeemer and Deliverer? Pray for God to remove the veil from Israel’s eyes.

“He (Jesus the Christ) came to His own [people] and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13)

“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)

 

DRUG-RESISTANT MALARIA IS 'DISASTER IN THE MAKING,' EXPERT WARNS

Professor Francois Nosten ran his finger over a map showing clusters of tiny dots — each marking a border village that make up ground zero for what experts fear will become the next global health emergency.

"It's already a disaster in the making, and as physicians we have to raise the alarm," he said. "We have to do something."

Nosten is the director of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, a sprawling hive of scientific activity on the Thai-Myanmar border that has become the front line in the fight against drug-resistant malaria.

"We should have declared a global emergency once we understood that the parasite had changed its genome and become resistant to the latest drugs we have," he said.

Those drugs are artemisinins, derived from a Chinese plant and once hailed as wonder cures. They have become the world's principal weapon against the most deadly form of malaria, and are responsible for slashing global mortality rates in recent decades.

But even with those huge advances, the disease still kills more than 600,000 people annually — mostly in Africa and mostly children. That's more than 100 times as many people as have died during the recent Ebola outbreak.

The fear is that types of malaria that are growing immune to artemisinins will spread to Africa, like other drug-resistant strains have done in the past, and with devastating results.

The disease is caused by parasites and transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes, thousands of which are collected and analyzed at Nosten's clinic. The experts here are searching for clues about a resistance first detected on the Thai-Cambodia border in 2007.

According to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, resistance is now widespread along Thai-Myanmar border. It has been detected in pockets of neighboring Vietnam and Laos and is edging ever closer to India.

"Once you go to India and to Africa, here you are talking about potentially hundreds of millions of people affected," said Professor Nicholas White, a senior author of the study who is based at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok.

Resistance to just about every major anti-malarial has started in the border areas. Nobody can agree quite why. Poor treatment practices, substandard and fake drugs are chief suspects. They're exacerbated by poverty, migration and conflict.

"We have to be bold, radical and decisive"

On a misty morning along the Moei River near Mae Sot, packed rickety boats move back and forth, linking dozens of unofficial border crossings between Thailand and a region of Myanmar that has been at on-off war with the central government for decades.

Resistance to chloroquine, an earlier anti-malarial that also began in these borderlands, took about a decade to reach Africa, White said.

"The price of our inability to contain it in South East Asia was millions of deaths — millions of children died. We mustn't let that happen again," he said. "This time it will probably move faster, because people move faster these days."

At the Wang Pha clinic near Mae Sot, doctors said that while the number of malaria patients they treat is falling, the cases are more resistant to treatment. Whereas in the past it would take perhaps 24 hours to clear the parasite using artemisinins, it can now take several days.

"The response to them is starting to get less and less and less," said White. Right now there is nothing available to replace the artemisinins.

"The drug development pipeline is better than it has ever been, but we still don't have anything as good as the artemisinins which will be readily available in the next three to five years," he said. "There's no quick fix."

Researchers have also discovered that many people are carrying the parasite without falling sick.

"It's better to try and eliminate malaria now while it is at its lowest level, rather than waiting to see it exploding," Nosten said.

He and White have come up with a radical and controversial plan: Flood the borderlands with anti-malarial drugs to be taken by everybody, sick or not, to eliminate the parasite once and for all.

It is not the first time this approach has been tried. Earlier programs in China and Nicaragua — which tried to medicate its entire 2.5 million population — raise practical as well as ethical issues.

"You have to persuade people to take the drugs even though they are not showing symptoms," said Ric Price, head of the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network. "And if you don't do it properly you can make the resistance worse."

He says earlier mass medication efforts have had "varied success," but that the dangers from resistance are now so great that "we have to be bold, radical and decisive."

Backed by the Gates Foundation and Global Fund, Nosten has already overseen the mass medication of four trial villages on the Myanmar side of the border. Malaria has largely vanished in the three that cooperated fully. He's extending the program to 800 villages, and his map with those tiny clusters of dots are the master-plan.

"It's clumsy, it's difficult," White concedes. "But I think we have to do everything we possibly can to stop it."

Nosten says the opening of Myanmar and the easing of conflicts are making working there and monitoring the treatment easier.

Another challenge is that mass medication doesn't kill the mosquitoes that transmit malaria. In earlier programs elsewhere, malaria has later returned.

But along the critical Thai-Myanmar border, the program might at the least provide a firewall and buy time.

"If we don't do anything, if we sit on our hands and have meetings, it's not going to go away. It's going to get worse," Nosten said. His statement is also a dig at the world's slow reaction to the Ebola emergency —from which he believes there are lessons to be learned.

White agrees: "The larger lessons are that you really have to respond quickly and you have to take tough decisions. Time is everything, and I think Ebola illustrates that more than anything." (Contributor: By Ian Williams for NBC News - Ian Williams is a correspondent based in Beijing.)

Prayer focus:  It is built into God’s creative process for living organisms to adapt for survival. In this case, the development of a drug-resistant strain of the virus spreading malaria is threatening literally millions of lives in Africa and Southeast Asia, mostly children. Intercede for wisdom and success for the research scientists working to develop better protection from this “super bug.” Pray for the self-sacrificing missionaries who place themselves at risk as they seek to evangelize the most vulnerable people groups. “Time is of the essence,” so intercessors appeal to God’s providence and mercy.

 “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies…” (Ps. 31:14-15)

“The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” (Ps. 145:8-9)

 

8 CLEAR SIGNS OF A COMPROMISING CHURCH

During the days of Nazi Germany there arose a Confessing Church movement that rose against the German Church movement, which became the religious arm of the Fascist Nazi Socialist movement. Of the 18,000 pastors in Germany during that time (from 1933 to 1945), less than 5,000 were aligned with the Confessing Church. Hence, only a remnant held fast to the biblical position with about half of the churches conforming due to political and societal pressure. Unfortunately, this demonstrates that, when push comes to shove, a large percentage of pastors, churches and so-called Christians will probably bow to pressure and allow the norms of culture to become their credo for Christianity.

We see the same thing today in churches in the USA and beyond. With the accelerated pace of the attack on religious liberty today, there could develop a great divide in the church between confessing churches and compromising churches similar to what happened in Nazi Germany. This will not be a divide based on denominational affiliation but based on the degree of loyalty to biblical fidelity. It is sad but true that more and more believers will be compromising core biblical values and standards rather than be stigmatized or persecuted, and lose influence in society.

In John 12:42-43 we see that many contemporaries of Jesus believed in Him but would not confess Him because they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

The following are contrasts between the confessing church and the compromising church.

1. In the confessing church, Christ is over culture. The compromising church accommodates Christ to culture. The confessing church believes Jesus is Lord over all creation. Hence, they attempt to reflect Christ in every area of culture. The compromising church has a posture of accommodation. Hence, the Christ they believe in and preach is shaped by the culture they live in.

2. The confessing church holds fast to the Word of God in spite of opposition. The compromising church alters the Word of God because of opposition. Soon in America it is quite possible that it will be illegal to preach from certain passages of the Bible dealing with human sexuality. Because of this, many will alter their theology to fit the culture while the confessing church will preach the Word of God in spite of governmental fines, penalties, lawsuits and even serving time in jail.

3. The confessing church puts the kingdom of God above their culture and ethnicity. The compromising church puts their ethnicity before the kingdom of God. The German Church during the Nazi era put nationalism and their Aryan heritage above the Word of God. Many pastors and believers today view the Scriptures more through the lens of their ethnicity and national heritage than through a proper exegesis of Scripture.

When, and if, our nation officially makes biblical Christianity illegal, we will soon see who will be the confessors and who will be the compromisers. In many ways, practicing biblical Christianity is already illegal when it comes to believers attempting to walk out their faith in the marketplace because private Christian-owned businesses do not have the same level of protection today as do local churches.

4. The confessing church alters their methods of preaching. The compromising church alters the message they preach. While it is wise and biblical for the body of Christ to be relevant to culture regarding the preaching of the gospel, it should never put being relevant above being faithful. The compromising church puts being relevant before biblical faithfulness. Hence, they not only change the method of preaching but also the message they preach.

5. The confessing church is a remnant in the minority of church and state. The compromising church wants to be in the mainstream of both church and state.  The confessing church endures long seasons of feeling like aliens and strangers in their own communities. The compromising church wants to be in the mainstream of culture more than living in the divine flow of God's favor and presence.

6. The confessing church is penalized by the state government. The compromising church is applauded by the state government. While the confessing church is hunted down and ostracized by the humanistic state, the compromising church is celebrated by the far-left radicals and used as a model of how church and state should function together.

7. The confessing church prophetically speaks truth to power. The compromising church conforms to those in power. The confessing church knows that at various seasons in their existence they will not gain a lot of converts and/or experience societal transformation. The best they can do is to maintain a prophetic witness to the cultural elites and surrounding communities. Since the compromising church enjoys the power and prestige the elites grant them, they always conform rather than confront.

8. The confessing church desires the praise of God. The compromising church desires the praise of men. Ultimately at the end of the day it boils down to this: Are we living for the praise of men or the praise of God? If things don't change in the coming days, we will be shocked at how many megachurches, mid-size churches and smaller churches compromise the word of God so they could continue to keep their doors open.

At some point we will all have to stand the ultimate test, which is whether we desire God more than we love our lives, or whether we love our pleasures, conveniences and material goods more than God. Truly, if we confess Christ before men He will confess us before His Father in heaven, but if we deny Him before men He will deny us before His Father in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33). (Contributor: By Bishop Joseph G. Mattera for Charisma News - Joseph Mattera is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church and Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, New York.)

Prayer focus: We have published the writings of Bishop Mattera before and found his work to be insightful for the larger Church. We urge a thorough reading of this article. We pray that some readers will share these thoughts with pastors and church leaders. Religious freedom in the U.S. is being threatened in our military complex and in churches and other Christian ministries. Pray that the Church, when pressured to compromise, will stand strong for biblical principles. Pray for repentance to lead to widespread renewal and revival.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure … that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life….”  (Phil. 2:12-16)

 

SOCIAL WORKERS NOW ASSESSING HOME EDUCATION?

The latest case of alleged government intrusion into the home comes out of Savannah, Georgia, where homeschooling parents were reported to a state agency by a social worker for the “educational neglect” of their 12-year-old daughter — who they have successfully and legally taught at their home for some time.

Without cause or warning, one social worker in northeastern Georgia contacted the Chatham County Department of Family and Children Services, alerting the agency that she suspected a family of neglecting the educational needs of their preteen daughter.

Not understanding the basis of the allegations or extent of her rights as a registered homeschool parent, the mother finally agreed to meet with the intrusive social worker outside of her home in order to get a better idea of exactly what she was being accused of regarding her daughter’s education.

After a brief discussion, the homeschool mom communicated to the social worker that she would give in and allow her inside of her home so that she could observe her daughter, but the mother would not agree to let the worker conduct a private interview with her 12-year-old.

Once the Homeschool Legal Defense Association was informed about the nature and conditions of the social worker’s visit, attorneys found the situation to be highly disturbing and unusual. As a member of HSLDA, the mother was quickly told that the intrusive investigation was extremely odd and problematic for two reasons: 1) the social worker, whose duties do not transcend into the realm of education, demanded to enter the homeschool family’s home and 2) the social worker aggressively pressed the family to allow her to observe the mother homeschool her daughter.

The rationale the social worker gave the homeschool mother for such an intrusive investigation was that she merely desired to ensure that her daughter was “getting the best education.” No concerns or allegations of misconduct or lack of learning were given to warrant any government invasion into her home.

As a matter of fact …

Once HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black gave the Savannah mom legal consultation as to how she should deal with the social worker moving forward, he proceeded to issue the government agent a letter clearly stating the homeschool parents’ constitutional rights to educate their own. He began by notifying the overreaching state employee that both parents were implementing a home study program for their daughter that was in direct compliance with Georgia state law.

Backing up his assertion, Black continued to lay out the facts pointing to legal documentation proving that the mother had already filed a mandatory declaration of intent for homeschooling, which she had submitted to the Georgia Department of Education at the commencement of this year’s fall semester. Also included in Black’s letter was a statement verifying that both parents were in full compliance with various other sections of the law by instructing their child above and beyond the minimum 4.5 hours per day, 180 days per year for the fall and spring semesters.

Black further notified the social worker that choosing to continue her invasive investigation would be a violation of the homeschool parents’ constitutional rights.

“The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protect[s] the family from any unreasonable searches or seizures, such as entry into their home would involve,” Black stated to the social worker in his letter.

On second thought …

In just a matter of days after Black had send his letter to the social worker on behalf of the homeschool parents, the mother received a phone call from the state employee, who took an extreme change of course.

The social worker made it clear to the Savannah homeschool mom that a visitation to her home to investigate whether her daughter was receiving satisfactory home education was no longer necessary. Furthermore, the social worker also changed her tone — and apparently her perspective on homeschooling, as well.

“I think you’re doing a good job,” the social worker expressed to the homeschool mom in her phone conversation.

Before the conclusion of the phone call, the social worker let the home educator know that she was officially drawing the investigation to a close. (Contributor: By Michael F. Haverluck for One News Now)

Prayer focus: Those aware of the ministry of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) know that the action of attorney Dewitt Black on behalf of their member in Georgia is all in a day’s work for him and his colleagues. Sadly, such attempts at home intrusion are not uncommon, and usually all an overreaching social worker needs is to be reminded of the law. Give thanks for this victory and the myriad of similar challenges homeschooling families overcome through HSLDA efforts. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. Officials interfere at times, often through ignorance of the law. Not all families are called to homeschooling, but those who are remain grateful for HSLDA.   

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1)

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4)

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6)

 

ABSTINENCE HIGH SCHOOL SPEAKER OUSTED: MESSAGE CALLED ‘HATE SPEECH’

Many public schools across the nation have regularly invited speakers from Planned Parenthood to inform high school and middle school students about under-age and premarital “safe sex” and how to use various forms of contraception, but when one abstinence speaker was scheduled to inform students in southeastern Pennsylvania about the rewards of saving sex until marriage and the dangers of casual sex, her speech was quickly cancelled, with critics calling it “hate speech.”

Devoting her life to informing America’s youth about the dangers of casual sexual activity, Pam Stenzel was looking forward to sharing her message with Warwick High School and Warwick Middle School students on November 19, but she was quickly informed that her two presentations were cancelled because a handful of people considered her abstinence standpoint as offensive.

There was far from an outpouring of protests — as only a few outspoken parents and students raised any objections to Stenzel’s message — but because of reported bullying from parents over the issue to school officials and biased media coverage, hundreds of students were unable to glean from Stenzel’s views on chastity and wholesome living.

The school district issued a statement explaining why Stenzel’s two daytime presentations were cancelled.

“[The cancellations were made] in order to protect the students and staff of Warwick School District from the credible threats to obstruct, intimidate and disrupt the educational process and rights of the students and families who elected to attend the school day presentations,” district officials announced.

Stenzel was invited to speak at both the high school and middle school, as well as at a nighttime presentation in the neighboring town of Lititz, located north of Lancaster in the Keystone State, but she ended up just sharing with about 500 students at the evening presentation, to which leftist activists also objected.

After many applauded Stenzel’s speech back in 2006, a local business decided to pay for Stenzel to speak on abstinence once again to give a broader perspective than what the schools offered through their sex education curricula. If so choosing, parents were granted the opportunity to opt their children out of the talks.

Reason for contention

The loud outcry of a few who took offense to Stenzel’s advice to abstain from all sexual activity before marriage reached various media channels.

One local resident was livid that Stenzel was originally scheduled to speak to students on a public school campus and she thought that the opt-out alternative was justnot enough. She went as far to call abstinence training “hate speech.”

“[The ability to opt out] completely misses the point,” local resident Allison Lakehart-Childs expressed to Superintendent April Hershey in a letter. “I do not want any students exposed to Ms. Stenzel’s hate speech.”

Leftist parents also had a problem with Stenzel communicating the message of purity until marriage.

“[Scheduling Stenzel was a] completely and totally irresponsible choice for a public school,” voiced parent Marie Firestone through Lancaster Online.

Local media also reportedly played up Stenzel’s menace to society, as Lancaster Online Reporter Kara Newhouse announced numerous times that she told West Virginia attendees, "If you take birth control, your mother probably hates you." Newhouse also reported that the abstinence speaker told them, "I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you're going to be promiscuous."

After being asked about her critics’ reaction, Stenzel said that they speak their vulgar remarks out of ignorance, since most have never even seen per present, and if they have, it was most likely via a brief YouTube excerpt.

“They talk about tolerance,” Stenzel asserts. “They're the most intolerant people.”

I really said that?

Addressing the allegations to LifeSiteNews.com, Stenzel attempted to set the record straight.

“I never in my life said that,” Stenzel insisted. “I say the same thing over and over again.”

Stenzel attested that anyone familiar with her presentations would know the truth about the allegations.

“You can go listen to it yourself; my talks are all over YouTube,” Stenzel continued. “What I said was that if you are on birth control, you are at a greater risk of becoming infected with an STD.”

Her claim of innocence was corroborated by George Washington High School Principal George Aulenbacher, who attended Stenzel’s assembly on his school’s West Virginia campus.

“I didn’t hear anything like that,” Aulenbacher responded to the Charleston Gazette after being questioned about Stenzel’s alleged quotes during her speech in the Mountain State.

It was later found that Newhouse’s left-leaning bent ties her to numerous feminist political movements, which some say explain her failure to report on Stenzel’s rejection of her allegations.

Stenzel also contended that just a limited few rose objections to her abstinence viewpoint, but made such a stir that the protest seemed much larger than it actually was.

“[It] really was a small group — less than a handful of people — but they were being really loud, and they wouldn't let it go,” noted Stenzel, who was conceived in rape, which is instrumental in her passion to share abstinence and self-control with youth.

Stenzel’s agent, who arranges her speaking engagements, was also cognizant of the small disturbance that led to the unwarranted cancellation.

“Some of the parents were opposing her,” said Enlighten Communications Program Director Colin Hearn. “A lot more were for her.”

“The administration supported Pam 100 percent,” Hearn added in a statement to LifeSiteNews.com. “The school administration just saw some activity on social media and were a bit concerned [and called things off] when it started to get into a problem of a safety concern.”

Hearn indicated that the last thing Stenzel wanted was a controversy — she just wanted an avenue to help steer kids away from a destructive path.

“We don't want to disrupt the school — that's not our intention at all,” Hearn disclosed. “Education is tough enough as it is.”

In fact, even though it caved in to the pressure, the Pennsylvania school district was quick to blame a few dissentients for ruining a good presentation for the rest of the school.

“[A negligible minority of parents] with differences of opinion used what can only be described as bullying tactics through social media to personally attack individuals, to attempt to discover the name of the business contributor in order to boycott and/or picket the business, to threaten the continued use of the local media and the additional use of national media to ‘make an example’ of the district, to continue to spread inaccurate and inflammatory information, and as a platform for planning to create an unsafe environment for our students,” school officials pointed out.

More false claims?

Besides having problems with the promotion of abstinence, a number parents were bothered about Stenzel’s faith — given that she delivers one presentation to school audiences and another one to church audiences. They brought up contentions that her religious affiliation could present a problem with the so-called “separation of church in state,” which, in fact, does not preclude the freedom to express religious beliefs on campus.

“I'm not bringing faith into it at all — never have, never will in a public school setting,” argued Stenzel, who is more about presenting students with as much information as possible about the dangers of casual sex.

Those protesting Stenzel’s presentation also contend that she skews her statistics, but her booking agent says that she actually underrepresents the figures that she receives from government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that of the 1.4 million chlamydia infections in the U.S., more than two out of three of them occur with people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Stenzel is not apologetic  about the fact that the only way to confidently avoid getting sexually transmitted infections is by not having extramarital sex.

“I could have sex a million times if my husband has only been with me and never use a condom and I will never get an STI,” Stenzel shared at the assembly. “All we can do is love you, tell you the truth, and hope you make good choices.”

When asked about not being able to speak as scheduled on the two public school campuses, Stenzel had this to say:

“Pam Stenzel didn't lose today — your kids did,” the devout speaker told the community’s parents, according to Lancaster Online. “And that's too bad.”

Once Stenzel concluded her speech, the students in attendance gave her a standing ovation for giving them the bare facts out of a genuine love and concern. (Contributor: By Michael F. Haverluck for One News Now)

Prayer focus: This is about those who call evil good and good evil. How any adult could characterize a call for abstinence before marriage as “hate speech” boggles the mind. Report after report indicate that those who “wait” for the appropriate expression of sexual intimacy within marriage seldom express regrets, whereas those who do not wait are often sorry later for the premature loss of purity. Only a biblical worldview through the gospel of Christ can open such blind eyes. Pray accordingly.

“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)

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)

On Watch in Washington December 3, 2014 Plain Text PDF Version

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The Mobilizer: Transformation Updates, April 2015

"It is our opinion - more than ever - that the great need of the Church is God's sovereign power. We believe this power will come to the degree the Word and Spirit are simultaneously combined."  (R.T. Kendall, Jack Taylor, and Charles Carrin)

Intercessors in every community are praying for greater unity in the Church. What does that look like? What does it mean to be "one"? In recognizing the wide diversity of faith practices and expressions in the broader evangelical church, how do we come together in order for God's power to be released in the greatest measure?

Christ is the center. He is the full expression of both the Spirit and the Word. Rather than seeing these two aspects of His nature as differences, they are actually distinctions of His character. Both are necessary in order for us to pray effectively.

"God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24) 

Prayer is a form of worship. When we pray "in truth" we are using Scripture as the foundation for everything that is eternal and right. When we pray "in spirit" we are listening for the revelatory voice of the Father in how we apply those truths to our current situation. Both are needed to receive the full counsel of heaven.

In many communities where intercessors are seeking the Lord for greater understanding in how to pray, the work of the Holy Spirit is essential in identifying specific roots of iniquity or patterns of sin on the land. In listening to the promptings of the Spirit, intercessors are given keys in bringing freedom to their cities.

Where the Holy Spirit may speak a spontaneous rhema word for the moment, God's written Word is His covenant. (The Greek rhema also refers to the Word of God; it is usually employed where a specific Scripture is quickened to a believer's heart and mind for immediate application.)

God's written Word is His established and unchanging promises that are guaranteed to us as His children. This is powerful when confronting strongholds and opposition. Notice what Jesus did when He faced the devil in the wilderness:

"The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:2-4 NIV)

Jesus specifically spoke the written Word because it represented God's covenant and promise. He was not using his own voice or paraphrase; He said exactly what His Father said. The enemy has no power where God's covenant is concerned.

Consider the power of the Spirit and the Word combined and thankfully embrace both distinctions and purposes. This can be the first step intercessors take in seeing the fullness of God's power released in their communities.

Prayer in Action: Encourage others in your prayer circle to rely on the written Word of God in your prayer times to illuminate and empower your direction in intercession.

  

 

What have intercessors been hearing?

 

Here are some key insights gained by those who have been actively praying for their cities in recent weeks:

 
1. The Lord is stirring many believers to prayer. The alert is, "All hands on deck!" Pray for God to draw this wide diversity of believers together to learn how to pray in one accord.
 
2. God is working more and more outside of the Church to bring His Presence to the marketplace and every sphere of the community. Pray that believers would recognize their respective callings in Christ and receive grace to minister right where they are.
 
3. This next season of prayer is preparing the Church for the harvest. God is releasing greater gifts of evangelism and sharing the Gospel. Pray for greater boldness in believers to share the good news of Christ.
 
4. It is not enough to repent. The Church must become a living, walking demonstration of the kingdom of God. Pray that our prayers will not simply change the circumstances, but more importantly, change us -- from the inside out. Pray that we would live and breathe from His Presence with resulting power.
 
"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." (1 Corinthians 2:4-5 NIV)
 
 
What is Deep Repentance?
 From "Prayer That Prevails" by Doug Small (CLICK HERE for link to entire article)
 

The thesis is simple: When the purposes of God are threatened and the people who carry God's name are at risk, God acts in His own behalf, for His own name! That may be our only hope. So much repentance today is self-interested, and it will never effect either a lasting revival in the Church or a change in the culture.

 

The quality of repentance rising out of shame and guilt, out of the fear of consequences, is different from repentance out of a heart broken because it has offended the holiness of God. To repent to make our life better, to start afresh, and/or to get out of trouble is the lowest quality of repentance. It uses faith for one's own narrow self-interest, only pretending to love God and righteousness. To repent in view of God's holiness, with deep contrition at our offense to God, is noble repentance.

 

Repentance in hopes of restoring the national economy and strengthen our freedom is too shallow. However, repentance as a nation preserved and blessed by the God we have abandoned and a Christ we have dishonored is different. It is the repentance that all the kingdoms of the earth might know that the Lord is God alone! These are the stakes; the world is watching. 

 

Prayer in Action: All believers still have temptations toward sin. Ask God to break your heart over your tendencies to allow even "respectable sins" to ensnare you. Aim towards who you are becoming in Christ, through sanctification, more than on what you are doing. If you succumb to a "sin which so easily ensnares us" (Heb. 12:1), confess to God and embrace His forgiveness. Then move on in His Spirit's power.

 

 

Praying "on site with insight"

 

Karen Vercruse is an intercessory prayer leader from Northern California who has worked with various communities in "praying through" generational and land issues. In an article from IFA's May 2015 edition of The Connecter, Karen shares the story of a small community in Philadelphia, Mississippi that prayed through some generational bondages that went back to major upheaval from the early civil rights movement in the 1960s.

 
Karen shares how she led the intercessors through the process of prayer. She shares seven keys in pursuing freedom from generational bondages on the land:
 
1. Know your story.
2. Come in the opposite spirit of what the enemy is doing.
3. Pray on site with insight.
4. Find, bless, and honor those with spiritual authority.

5. Seek reconciliation with those who have been grieved.

6. Repent on behalf of those who had committed injustice.

7. Persevere.

 

For the full story, click here for the page 2 article entitled, "Mississippi Turning."

If you're interested in receiving the free monthly printed newsletter, The Connecter, click HERE. 

 

Prayer in Action: Determine the roots of iniquity in your city and begin the process of research, prayer, repentance, and reconciliation.

 

 

Free downloadable materials from others in pursuit of effective prayer:

 
Looking for some biblical protocol for corporate prayer gatherings?
 
Free resource from One Cry on praying for your city:
 
Go deeper in the Word in declaring God's purposes over your city:
 
 
Click on icon below to listen to our recent call with Alistair Petrie
(Thursday, April 9) 
 
This hour-long call includes Q&A with Alistair Petrie and intercessors from across the nation regarding effective community prayer, dealing with diversity, praying with earned authority, long-term persistence, corporate discernment, and other related prayer topics.
 
NEXT CONFERENCE CALL with Alistair Petrie
 Thursday, May 28 
12:00 Noon (EST)
11:00 a.m. (CST)
10:00 a.m. (MST)
9:00 a.m. (PST)
 
Alistair will be on the call again, taking questions and encouraging community intercessors.
Opportunity will be given to email questions in during the call.
 
CALL: 1-712-432-0072
Access Code: 1412452#
 
Join us! All are welcome.
 

 

Intercessors for America is here to help you

 

We want to help equip leaders and intercessors in strategic and effective prayer through books, DVDs, instructional materials, and on-site training. We would love to hear from you about your congregational or community prayer ministries. Are you seeing answers? Sometimes our answers lie not in praying more, but in praying effectively.

 

Send us an email so we can connect.

 

 


 
 

Wanda Alger

IFA Regional Director of Mobilization

wandaalger@ifapray.org  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beth LaRock

 IFA National Coordinator of Communications 

and Mobilization

bethlarock@ifapray.org 

 

 

*These articles are taken from the monthly Mobilizer which includes additional articles, links, video clips and other resources on transforming revival.

 

To receive the full version of the monthly Mobilizer automatically to your email, CLICK HERE.

 

 

 

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March 19, 2015 

 

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Empowering for Transformation

Conference Highlights 

 

 

Hosted by Intercessors For America

Held at Evergreen United Methodist Church

 Leesburg, Virginia 

 March 6-7, 2015 

  

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Snow-covered roads throughout the northeast the night before didn't stop participants from five different states from attending IFA's two-day conference with featured speakers, Alistair Petrie and Doug Abner.

 

Alistair Petrie of Partnership Ministries shared principles of revival, transformation, and spiritual awakening. His insightful teaching from Scripture illuminated truth in a new way as he shared out of biblical scholarship coupled with prophetic insight into the work and move of the Holy Spirit in our time. He spoke with conviction and clarity about the signs of the times and our need to rightly interpret the headlines from a spiritual perspective. The depth of scriptural teaching and personal application impacted and challenged many, reminding us of the "householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old," referenced in Matthew 13:52. He said his passion is revival. And as he has visited and researched many historical revival sites, he shared significant insights. 

 

Doug Abner of the Appalachian Center for Transformation partnered with Alistair throughout the weekend, sharing the practical application of these truths and principles. His community experienced a supernatural move of God starting in 2004 in Manchester, Kentucky. His down-to-earth experiences, powerful testimonies, and humorous perspective on these processes were refreshing and applicable. Together, he and Alistair inspired and challenged the leaders to look deeper into the workings of the Holy Spirit in our communities and nation and to consider the long-term goals and implications of spiritual awakening and revival.

 

Several comments were shared by conference participants:

 

I thought the conference was great! The balance between building the spiritual framework and presenting the practical outworking was amazing. This was a great encouragement to continue pressing into the heart of God for visitation. (Lyman Eddy)

 

I think the most significant concept I heard about was not going into an area, praying, and leaving. You need to stay and follow through. (Tracey de Blank)

 

Personally I was enriched by the teachings that Alistair Petrie shared; he's a remarkable teacher. Through it, the Lord challenged me, confirmed things, and inspired me. What a treat Mr. Doug Abner was to the overall experience. The contrast between the two speakers was captivating, yet the joint labor was indeed a powerful demonstration of the Kingdom. His personal stories of his experience of transforming revival were deeply stirring and inspiring. Thank you for hosting them and making this possible in our region. I hope there will be future events hosted by IFA. (Brian F. Hume)

 

The primary voice I heard from this weekend was it's time to reengage. From both of our speakers this weekend, I felt called to engage with the Lord for personal and city transformation. (Bobby Alger)

 

I was impacted by the hope that God CAN and WANTS to transform our communities.  Doug's time speaking was inspirational. Knowing that my community's transformation story will not look like someone else's brings freedom to pursue what we see God unfolding for us without having to fit into a prescribed set of actions. It is not a formula. We just need to seek God's presence and repent and seek to right the wrongs we have made against God in our lives and community. (Kris Kubal)

 

We really enjoyed the conference and I have had a great time going over my notes to pull out the "must do" first items...I feel there was ministry going on at many levels simultaneously. (Joan Randell)

 

 

 

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Hear a sample 5-minute audio clip of Alistair teaching at the conference:

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(His subject is city intercession.)

 

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NOW AVAILABLE!

All the sessions recorded at the Empowering for Transformation conference...

 

 

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With Alistair Petrie and Doug Abner

 

This CD set includes all 7 sessions taught at the Empowering for Transformation conference in March 2015. Stories of transformation, biblical foundations, practical tips, and much more.
 
 
 IFA Bookstore: $29.99
 

By Alistair Petrie


This 80 minute DVD teaching challenges, informs, and equips the Body of Christ for coming revival and lasting transformation. This resource comes highly recommended by many on the field.

  
IFA Bookstore: $20.00

 

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Insights and Truths in Pursuing Revival and Transformation

(Alistair Petrie conference notes)

 

Non-negotiables in pursuing Transformation:

 

- An undergirding fear of the Lord

- A biblical worldview

- The ability to properly know and interpret the signs of the times

- A lifestyle of repentance

- A value and priority of healing the land

- The ability to guard, keep, and occupy the land

- The ability to persevere 

 

What attracts God's heart:

(In order of progression, starting personally, then overflowing to the corporate)

1. Humility

2. Holiness

3. Relational unity

4. Integrity

5. Transparency

6. Vertically informed; horizontally accountable

7. Prayer (leading to power encounters)

 

Quotable Quotes:

"If you can't guard, keep and occupy the land, don't ask for it." 

   "You can't declare until you prepare."

 

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http://files.ctctcdn.com/7f8599f5001/2b077750-38e0-4600-b29d-7f273837425b.jpgWhat have intercessors been learning?

 

Here are some key insights gained by those who have been actively praying for their cities in recent months:

 

1. Focus our prayers on declaring God's ultimate purposes rather than focusing on all the problems.

2. Address the underlying roots before addressing the outer symptoms.

3. Pray from a "Presence" reality instead of a warfare mentality (when God's Presence shows up, everything changes).

4. Our spiritual authority in prayer comes more from who we are than the words we say.

5. Our unity is determined by our oneness in pursuit more than our agreement on all the issues.

6. Transformation depends more on the positioning of our hearts than in understanding the principles.

 

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http://files.ctctcdn.com/7f8599f5001/43f62961-12ad-4bda-913e-7e6b8bcebe4c.jpgIFA's Community Transformation Web pages provide insights and tools for community intercession. Click Here or read below...

 

Preparing the way for our communities

 

In a community's pursuit of God's Presence, personal preparation must be the starting point. Before considering any corporate invitation for transforming revival, each community member must consider several key factors in adequately preparing the way of the Lord:

 

 Determine the cost of the call

To pursue God's Presence on a daily basis will require a change of routine and priorities. This is not a short-term plan, but a lifestyle of seeking God's face on a consistent basis. A pruning of what seems good may be needed in order to pursue what is best. Read more ...

Establish a prayer altar

A prayer altar is a sacred time and sacred place where one meets with God.  These should be established as individuals as well as families, congregations, and communities. Unfortunately, there are always distractions. Read more ...

Learn to hear and discern God's voice

A growing relationship with the Holy Spirit is vital in keeping our pursuit fresh and current.  Developing a sensitive spirit to the heart and activities of God will position us to quickly respond and become partners in transforming revival.  Read more ...

Pursue freedom from spiritual roadblocks

In order for the fullness of God's presence to fill us, ungodly beliefs and mindsets, wounds and hurts and strongholds of the past must be removed. As we humble ourselves before the Lord, we give Him permission to search our hearts for anything that would hinder His coming. Read more ...

 

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http://files.ctctcdn.com/7f8599f5001/0d3a697c-e6ef-4e36-a871-af9f3e6729e0.jpgA recorded word from nationally-recognized prophetic minister, Bob Hazlett, was shared during the conference as an encouragement to those who have been praying for this nation.

This 5-minute word was given just 2 weeks prior to our conference:

 

Audio Clip of Bob Hazlett's prophetic word for intercessors:    

  

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Recorded at Firestorm Conference, February 18-21, LIFE Center, Harrisburg, PA

Firestorm Conference Media

 

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Intercessors for America is here to help you...

 

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Are you seeing the fruit of effective intercession in your community? 

Do you or others you pray with need some tools, encouragement, or resources to keep the fire burning on the altar of intercession? 

 

We want to help equip leaders and intercessors in strategic and effective prayer through books, DVDs, instructional materials, and on-site training. We would love to hear from you about your congregational or community prayer ministries. Are you seeing answers? Sometimes our answers lie not in praying more, but in praying right.

 

What's happening in your community and how we can serve you?

What are the pressing issues you are facing in prayer? 

Send us an email so we can connect...

 

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Wanda Alger

IFA Regional Director of Mobilization

wandaalger@ifapray.org  

 

 

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Beth LaRock

IFA National Coordinator of Communications 

and Mobilization

bethlarock@ifapray.org 
 

 

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Intercessors for America | ifa@ifapray.org | http://www.ifapray.org
PO Box 915, Purcellville, VA 20134

1-800-USA-PRAY (872-7729)

 

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Gray

 

Subscribe now to start receiving the free monthly MOBILIZER in your inbox:

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Seeing America Transformed through Revival 

One Person, One Community at a Time

 

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You are receiving this email because you are connected to Intercessors for America's prayer mobilization effort 

OR you have expressed interest in transforming revival.

 

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Russia was pointedly disinvited from a gathering ... of the exclusive Group of Seven nations, but it was clear that the international big chill imposed on Moscow over its actions in Ukraine is starting to thaw President Obama and other leaders meeting here offered an olive branch to Russian President Vladimir Putin, inviting him to begin to resolve the seven-month Ukrainian crisis and rebuild trust with the West after an
estrangement that invited comparisons to the Cold War.

... A joint statement from the G-7 condemned what it called Russia’s illegal annexation and “unacceptable interference” in other areas of Ukraine and said the body will refuse to recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.

“We stand ready to intensify targeted sanctions and to implement significant additional restrictive measures to impose further costs on Russia should events so require,” the statement said. U.S. officials later said certain provocative actions such as Russian troops crossing the border into Ukraine would trigger more punitive measures. But they would not define exactly what Putin would have to do, nor would they set an exact deadline.

“Clearly sectoral sanctions are on the table,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. “If we see the status quo continuing, we are going to move.”

Obama and Cameron acknowledged that there are differences of opinion among the 28 European Union nations and that rallying them all to favor stricter sanctions would be difficult.
 
(Excerpted from the WASHINGTON POST)

We encourage intercessors to meditate on the Isaiah passage below. While it reads like poetry, the words are prophetic, inspired by God’s Spirit and given by revelation. As we pray into world affairs, let us remember that there is only one nation on earth that is bound to the Lord God by His specific covenant, and that is Israel (not the G7, including our own U.S.). The people of all nations, however, are precious to God, who loves them in Christ, and — through Christ — is not willing that any should perish.

“Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has taught Him? With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding? 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.” (Isaiah 40:13 -15)

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