REPUBLICANS SAY DRASTIC WATER RULES NOT THE ANSWER
For California Gov. Jerry Brown to crack down on shower-taking and toilet-flushing to save precious quarts of water as millions of gallons flow into the Pacific Ocean doesn’t make a lot of sense to Travis Allen.
The Republican Assembly member from Orange County is among those decrying the specter of dead lawns, dirty cars and neighborhood water watches as California braces for its first mandatory water reductions on urban consumption, which accounts for about 10 percent of the state’s usage.
“For the governor to come out and say, ‘Look, we all have to now take shorter showers and kill our front lawns and stop washing our cars,’ that is not the answer,” Mr. Allen said. “Forty percent of our water is going into the Pacific Ocean. The answer is, let’s stop sending that water into the Pacific, and let’s send it into our cities, into our homes.”
With everyday Californians now on the hook for drastic conservation measures, Republicans say the time has come to focus on the real culprit: a state and federal regulatory framework, fueled by environmental litigation, that requires a certain aquatic environment for at-risk fish while making it nearly impossible to build dams and other water-storage projects.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy described Mr. Brown’s April 1 executive order as the “culmination of failed federal and state policies that have exacerbated the current drought into a man-made water crisis.”
“Sacramento and Washington have chosen to put the well-being of fish above the well-being of people by refusing to capture millions of acre-feet of water during wet years for use during dry years,” the Bakersfield Republican said in a statement. “These policies imposed on us now, and during wet seasons of the past, are leaving our families, businesses, communities and state high and dry.”
Environmentalists have long blamed agriculture for absorbing more than its share of water, but figures from the California Department of Water Resources show that farming accounts for about 41 percent of applied water usage. Fully 48 percent is reserved for environmental purposes, which includes improving the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its most famous inhabitant, the delta smelt.
So far Republicans, farmers and business interests have been unable to drum up much outrage over the situation, but that may change with the Democratic governor’s historic restrictions, prompted by a record low snowpack and fourth year of drought.
The order calls for urban water agencies to achieve a 25 percent reduction through methods such as increased rates, reductions in kitchen and bathroom faucet flow rates and converting 50 million square feet of lawn into “drought-tolerant landscaping.”
Environmentalists laud the stricter conservation order.
“The days of casual waste and inattentive consumption are over in California,” Steve Fleischli, water program director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “Now everyone will be expected to do his or her part to help save water.”
California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins called the governor’s move “the right step at the right time. Now it’s up to all of us to do our part.”
But Mr. Allen says he already is getting calls from his constituents, who see such measures as a drop in the bucket.
“I think the biggest backlash is actually coming from just normal people, who are taking a look and saying, ‘Look, urban consumption of water in California is 10 percent or less. And so how does not watering my lawn or taking a shorter shower, how is that going to improve the overall water situation in California?’ And the answer is, it’s not,” Mr. Allen said.
Watering the delta
U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, California Republican, said voters may have a tough time swallowing higher water bills and stiff fines — the State Water Resources Control Board allows fines of up to $500 per day for infractions — even as the federal Bureau of Reclamation empties water into the delta to improve conditions for the fish.
“It’s going to be very hard for him [Mr. Brown] to summon any kind of moral authority to fine people $500 if they waste a gallon of water on their lawns or sidewalks and yet have no problems wasting millions of gallons of water in the pursuit of making the fish perfectly happy,” Mr. McClintock said Saturday in an interview with WND/Radio America.
Not that House Republicans haven’t sounded this alarm before. The House approved legislation most recently in 2014 to restore some of the water now washing into the delta — and, ultimately, the ocean — for agricultural users. That bill died in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
This year Mr. McClintock has sponsored H.R. 1668, the Save Our Water Act, which he describes as “this radical idea that maybe when an area is suffering a severe drought, they shouldn’t continue to release water in order to adjust river water temperatures.”
Steve Martarano, spokesman for the FWS’s Bay-Delta Office, told ThinkProgress that allowing water to flow uncaptured from the Sierra Nevada mountain range to San Francisco Bay may appear wasteful, but it provides a host of environmental benefits.
“You frequently hear the criticism that delta outflow is just being wasted in the ocean,” said Mr. Martarano, “but it provides many other ecosystem functions: It dilutes pollutants, provides habitat for waterfowl and provides water-freshening benefits to the delta.”
The delta smelt, regarded as an “indicator species” for the health of the delta, is listed as threatened by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Last month, however, fish biologist Peter Moyle of the University of California, Davis said the species is “approaching the point of no return” in the wild, with only six caught in last month’s state survey, the lowest in 47 years.
“Prepare for extinction of Delta smelt,” he said in his March 18 post on the California WaterBlog, adding that the fish won’t disappear altogether because it’s being bred in two hatcheries.
Other delta fish in danger include two salmon species, the longfin smelt and the green sturgeon, leading critics to ask whether keeping water in the delta at the expense of crops and consumers has actually done any good.
“[T]he frustration we have is the agencies that oversee the delta have used the solution of eliminating more and more water from agriculture and providing that to environmental purposes,” said Gayle Holman, spokeswoman for the Westlands Water District, the state’s largest agricultural supplier. “But there’s been no identifiable benefit showing that fish species are rebounding or that the health of the delta is rebounding.”
Mr. Brown came under criticism from the left for exempting agriculture from his order, but he argues that farmers have borne the brunt of past restrictions. The current federal Central Valley Project water allocation is zero — for the second year in a row — while the California State Water Project has a 20 percent allocation, Ms. Holman said.
‘We need more water’
Dry spells are nothing new in California, but critics say the situation took a turn for the worse with a 2007 ruling by a federal judge that resulted in less water being pumped out of the delta in order to improve its health as well as the survival chances of the delta smelt.
Hardest hit by the ruling have been San Joaquin Valley farmers who depend on water from the delta to irrigate their crops. A half-million acres now lie fallow — plowed but not planted — in California’s Central Valley, the agricultural powerhouse known for its rich soil and plentiful fruit and nut crops, and where double-digit unemployment is now commonplace.
“You drive up and down the state on the [Interstate] 5 freeway, and you see the signs: ‘We need more water.’ It’s a common thing,” Mr. Allen said. “Farmers aren’t getting the water, they’re losing crops, trees are dying, and long-term there’s an economic impact and an impact on communities. It’s not good for our state.”
Ms. Holman points out that other factors have been cited for the decline of the fish, such as invasive species like the largemouth bass, striped bass and Asian clam, as well as ammonia and wastewater discharges from a local sanitation district.
“We’re not saying we don’t care about fish or we don’t care about the health of the delta, but thus far the solution has been to eliminate agricultural water deliveries and divert that water for environmental purposes,” she said. “And so there hasn’t been a balanced approach.”
Another issue is water storage. The massive State Water Project, launched in 1960, remains unfinished for a host of reasons, including opposition over the environmental impact. Mr. McClintock notes the state hasn’t built a major dam since 1979.
As the water crisis spills into the backyards of urban residents, Mr. McClintock says he hopes the result will be a “major reevaluation of the many leftist laws that have built up in our system.”
“A year ago, I was beating the drum to sound warnings on these policies, and nobody paid any attention,” Mr. McClintock said. “The reason they’re not paying attention is they don’t believe me. They don’t believe our policy could be so breathtakingly stupid as to dump millions of gallons of precious water in the middle of a drought to adjust river water temperatures.
“It’s such a bizarre notion, it doesn’t pass the smell test,” he said. “But those are the policies, they are being carried out, and, as our reservoirs [are] near empty, people are beginning to focus on that finally.” (Contributor: By Valerie Richardson for The Washington Times)
For Prayer: As regular readers know, we have encouraged prayer for the California water situation. Now we read that a huge amount of fresh water from the mountains is being dumped into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to regulate water temperature to help preserve an endangered fish. While fully appreciating environmental concerns, it makes little sense to put a fish above human needs. U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) said, “They (environmentalists) don’t believe our policy could be so breathtakingly stupid as to dump millions of gallons of precious water in the middle of a drought to adjust river water temperatures.” This places a frame of “politics” around the issue. Intercessors, please pray for balancing wisdom so that in the choices that must be made, the governor and political leaders will put the value of human life above that of the fish.
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God … Therefore justice is far from us, nor does righteousness overtake us; we look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness!” (Isa. 59:1-2, 9)
“,,, professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” (Rom. 1:20-23)
FBI HOLDS “SPECIAL” MEETING IN JUÁREZ TO ADDRESS ISIS
Responding to Judicial Watch’s report earlier this week of ISIS activity along the Mexican border, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) supervisors called a “special” meeting at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez.
A high-level intelligence source, who must remain anonymous for safety reasons, confirmed that the meeting was convened specifically to address a press strategy to deny Judicial Watch’s accurate reporting and identify who is providing information to JW. FBI supervisory personnel met with Mexican Army officers and Mexican Federal Police officials, according to JW’s intelligence source. The FBI liaison officers regularly assigned to Mexico were not present at the meeting and conspicuously absent were representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It’s not clear why DHS did not participate.
Publicly, U.S. and Mexico have denied that Islamic terrorists are operating in the southern border region, but the rapid deployment of FBI brass in the aftermath of JW’s report seems to indicate otherwise. A Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector were among the sources that confirmed to JW that ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas. The base is around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as “Anapra” situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
Another ISIS cell to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas, targets the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming for easy access to the United States, the same knowledgeable sources confirm. During the course of a joint operation last week, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation.
“Coyotes” engaged in human smuggling – and working for the Juárez Cartel – help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. To the east of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, cartel-backed “coyotes” are also smuggling ISIS terrorists through the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing.
Last August JW reported that ISIS, operating from Ciudad Juárez, was planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level U.S. federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources confirmed then that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border had been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies were placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning the imminent terrorist threat. (Contributor: Judicial Watch)
For prayer: We have little comment here except to encourage intercessors and “watchmen on the wall” to pray fervently for God’s mercy for the United States. Judicial Watch is a trusted, steady source of investigative news concerning the law, and this report suggests that there are individuals in our own government who might be working against national security. Please pray as you are led. Try to discover all the facts in these situations to guide your intercession.
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24-25)
U.S. MILITARY ‘HOSTILE’ TO CHRISTIANS
Soon there may only be atheists in the foxholes. Christians are leaving the U.S. military or are discouraged from joining in the first place because of a “hostile work environment” that doesn’t let them express their beliefs openly, religious freedom advocates say.
Michael Berry, senior counsel at the Liberty Institute, a Texas-based legal organization dedicated to defending religious liberty in America, said recent high-profile cases of military chaplains facing punishment for private counseling sessions that reflected the teachings of their religion could cause devout Americans who are qualified for military service to think twice about joining the military.
In December, a chaplain for a Ranger training battalion received an administrative letter of concern after a soldier complained that he advocated Christianity and used the Bible during a mandatory unit suicide-prevention training session. The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers said the chaplain “used his official position to force his personal religious beliefs on a captive military audience” in an article the group posted on its website.
And, last month, a Navy chaplain was removed from his post and may lose his career after some sailors complained about his private counseling, in which he reportedly advocated against homosexuality and sex outside of marriage.
Mr. Berry represents both chaplains in question.
“People of faith are going to stay away from the military,” said Mr. Berry in an interview with The Washington Times.
“I can’t tell you how many moms and dads I’ve spoken to who say, ‘My son or daughter wants to join the military, [but] in light of what you’ve described, I’m not sure I want to let them join the military anymore,’ and I don’t blame them. I would have serious reservations about my own kids joining,” Mr. Berry said.
Douglas Lee, president of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, whose job it is to find people who want to be chaplains and make sure they’re also qualified to serve in the military, said growing religious hostility within the military is making it harder for him to find potential recruits and for the armed forces to maintain the chaplains it does have.
“I know people who get out, officers and chaplains, who’ve said, ‘I can’t serve the way I want to in this environment,’” said Mr. Lee, who also served as an Army chaplain. “People who’ve said, ‘Because of the religious liberty challenges I see, I think I’ll serve somewhere else.’”
Not being able to recruit or retain these individuals is very dangerous from a national security standpoint, said Mr. Berry, because they could be the military’s next group of leaders, but will never serve because they don’t think they’re welcome.
“We all used to sit around and talk about planning on spending 20 years, but at some point enough is enough,” he said.
Mr. Berry said he thinks the “hostile work environment” that is forcing the most religious persons out of the military is only getting worse, and that while in the past problems were mainly in the Air Force, religious liberty issues have spread throughout all the services.
“The problem is getting worse, not better, despite our efforts,” he said. “There is a culture [of] hostility [toward] religion in the military right now.”
While problems in the past have touched all religious groups, Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, said he’s seen a recent uptick and pattern of Christians facing persecution for religious expression.
Mr. Lee blamed a lack of education among commanders about where the line is to express religion in the workplace that causes a knee-jerk reaction to any show of religion.
A commander recently told a gate guard on a base in Georgia that he could no longer tell someone to have a “blessed day,” for example, though further review found that wasn’t a religious imposition, he said.
In the chaplain example last month, Navy Chaplain Lt. Cmdr. Wes Modder was removed from his position counseling sailors and could be kicked out of the military for expressing his views on marriage and homosexuality in private sessions. Mr. Berry is representing Lt. Cmdr. Modder, who is still on active duty in Charleston, South Carolina, as the case is reviewed at a higher level.
Mr. Berry said this case even could set a precedent usable outside the military by establishing, as a principle, that the government can punish religious leaders based on the state’s moral disapproval of the church’s teachings, especially in matters of sex.
“If what happened to Chaplain Modder is allowed to stand, it could foretell more instances in which the government tells priests, ministers, chaplains, etc. that their views are unacceptable,” he said.
Mr. Weber said these types of punishments affect both troops and chaplains, since chaplains will feel the need to constantly be looking over their shoulder to avoid punishment, and service members will wonder if chaplains are being honest or just saying what they can say without getting in trouble.
Michael Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said that while chaplains can believe whatever their religion teaches, those who think they must act on religious teachings about sex or sexuality have no place in the military.
“You can continue to believe that internally, but if you have to act on that, the right thing to do is to get out of the U.S. military, because you have no right to tell a member of the military that they’re inferior because of the way they were born,” he said.
The military had 2,837 active-duty chaplains as of December 2014, according to numbers provided by the Defense Department. The largest group was the Southern Baptist Convention, with 437 members. More than 200 chaplains are affiliated with the Roman Catholic church, while 26 are Jewish, and just one is Hindu.
“The Department of Defense respects, places a high value on and supports by policy the rights of members of the military services to observe the tenets of their respective religions or to have no religious beliefs,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, spokesman for the Defense Department. “The mission of the chaplain corps is to provide care and the opportunity for service members, their families and other authorized personnel to exercise their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”
Advocates agreed that chaplains play a crucial role in allowing troops to exercise their freedom of religion, no matter what religion that is.
Commanders have also relied on chaplains to act as combat multipliers, dealing with issues in the ranks like marriage crises or financial troubles that commanders often can’t address, Mr. Lee said.
Mr. Weinstein, however, said he thinks the chaplain corps would work better if chaplains were totally outside the military force structure and didn’t have a military rank.
In addition to posing a problem if a chaplain outranks whoever is seeking counseling, having religious leaders in the military serves as propaganda for Islamic extremist groups, who try to paint the U.S. military as the latest group of religious crusaders, he said. (Contributor: By Jacqueline Klimas for The Washington Times)
For prayer: Imagine yourself on a battlefield, seriously wounded. You wonder if you have more than a few minutes to live. A “chaplain” approaches. Perhaps he will say something to quiet your fears and bring you hope. You ask, “What’s on the ‘other side’?” Chaplain: “I have no idea.” You ask, “Will I ever see my Christian wife and our baby again?” Chaplain: “I doubt it.” No help, no hope; only, “Keep your chin up, buddy; be brave.” Such is the U.S. “chaplaincy of the future” if all voices of faith are silenced. With due respect for the freedom of unbelief, what else can an atheist offer? Jesus said, “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit.” Pray for Chaplain Wes Modder and others like him. Pray for the U.S. troops he and other Christian chaplains might have ministered to, that God will lead them to the truth of the Gospel another way. Pray for a revival that will restore God-given rights to Christian ministers.
“So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’” (Acts 4:18-20)
ISLAMIC JIHAD COMES TO CAMPUS
The world is witnessing a resurgence of global anti-Semitism not seen since the 1930s and the “Final Solution.” In the Middle East, Hitler-admiring regimes like Iran, and Hitler-admiring parties like Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, are openly planning to finish the job the Nazis started. Even in America, until now the most hospitable place outside of Israel for Jews, the atmosphere is more hostile than at any time in the last 70 years.
According to the FBI, three-fifths of all religious hate crimes in America are now committed against Jews, while a recent Pew poll revealed that 54 percent of Jewish students have either been the subject of an anti-Semitic attack or witnessed one. The frequency of these attacks among college-aged students, moreover, is five times that of any other age group. The reason for this is obvious: Across the United States student groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, specifically Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Students Association, are engaged in a vitriolic campaign against Israel and those students who support its right to exist. These organizations promote the propaganda of the terrorist organization Hamas, and call for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Students for Justice in Palestine, the more active of the two groups, claims to support a left-wing agenda of “social justice,” and “universal human rights.” Like the left itself, though, Students for Justice in Palestine doesn’t stand for the rights of Palestinians in the territories controlled by Palestinians, including the rights of Palestinians to disagree with each other without being targeted by their terrorist rulers. Instead, SJP’s sole agenda is the destruction of the Jewish state.
While SJP’s self-professed purpose is “to promote self-determination for the Palestinian people,” the organization defines the boundaries of this liberation as extending “from the river to the sea,” i.e., from the Jordan River on Israel’s eastern border to its western border on the Mediterranean. To advance this genocidal agenda, SJP endorses the lie that Israel was created on territory stolen from the Palestinians and, therefore, Jews illegally occupy Arab lands from which they must be purged.
In fact, Israel was created on land that had belonged to the Turks, who are not Arabs, for 400 years previously. In 1948 when Israel was created, there was no Palestinian political entity, no movement for a Palestinian state, and no people calling itself Palestinian. These core genocidal lies make up the primary agenda of SJP and its anti-Jewish allies, and are crowned by the ludicrous claim that Israel is an “apartheid state” with policies worthy of the “Nazis.” In fact, Israel is the only democratic and ethnically tolerant state in the Middle East, the only place where gays, Christians and women are safe. The real Nazis in the Middle East are the Arabs who openly call for the extermination of the Jews.
Despite its anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist agendas, SJP is funded by university fees. University administrations officially recognize the organization and grant it the privilege of erecting walls of hate, and conducting “die-ins” and other propaganda stunts in campus centers where other students can’t avoid being assaulted by their noxious accusations.
University administrators who refuse to rein in this hatred operate under pressure from faculty and student activists of the anti-Israel “social justice” left. These include the self-hating Jews of J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace, who join hands with their mortal enemies to condemn anyone who confronts SJP and the malignant forces it represents as “Islamophobes.”
As it happens, “Islamophobe” is a term coined by the Muslim Brotherhood to demonize its opponents, and the center of a campaign seeking a universal ban on critics as religious blasphemers. The campaign’s success can be seen in President Obama’s refusal to call the terrorist Islamic State “Islamic,” or to describe the war waged by the Islamic State, al Qaeda and other Islamic terror organizations as a religious crusade.
Thanks to the savageries of the Islamic State, however, Americans have begun to wake up and to see Jews as canaries in the mine, and to understand that what is happening to Jews is also happening to Christians and others in the way of Islamic Nazis. Nonetheless, the continuing successes of front organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine are ominous indicators of the dangers that confront us, and should be a wake-up call, too. (Contributor: By David Horowitz for Front Page Magazine - David Horowitz is author of the newly published book The Great Betrayal (Regnery 2014), which is a chronicle of the Democrats treachery in the war on terror before 9/11 to the death of Osama bin Laden.)
For prayer: David Horowitz is a man worth listening to, as he has proven through his books and talks to have keen insight into the confusing riddles in the Middle East and the increase in anti-Semitism both worldwide and rapidly rising in our own country, as is persecution against Christians. Pray for a widespread resurgence of faith in the Church, for transforming revival, for united and unified prayer, and for increased illumination from the Bible as to the powerful place a fasting to accompany intercessory prayer. Pray for your own college and university students who are forming their own worldview in their campus years.
“Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they are mighty who would destroy me, being my enemies wrongfully …” (Ps. 69:4)
“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.” (John 15:20-21)
DESPITE VICTORY, NETANYAHU IS STRUGGLING TO FORM COALITION
With a resounding election victory last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to have an easy path toward quickly establishing a coalition government with his traditional nationalist, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies.
But after weeks of negotiations with potential partners, Netanyahu is finding the task harder than expected and is flirting with the idea of reaching out to his main dovish rivals to form a unity government. As he decides which path to take, he will seek an additional two-week extension to put his coalition together.
Which way Netanyahu goes will have broad implications. If he sides with the hard-line allies that he often calls his "natural" partners, Netanyahu will have a solid parliamentary majority of like-minded parties that could avoid much of the infighting that plagued the outgoing government and provide some welcome political stability at home.
But such a coalition — averse to peace moves with the Palestinians and in favor of expanded settlement construction in the West Bank — quickly would find itself on a collision course with the international community at a time when Netanyahu is already feuding with his allies over the moribund peace process and a nuclear deal with Iran that he loathes. A unity government that includes his leftist rivals would help blunt that looming international isolation.
Throughout the heated campaign, Netanyahu ruled out the possibility of joining forces with Isaac Herzog and his center-left Zionist Union and vowed to rule from the right.
Election results gave his Likud Party 30 seats and secured him a potential 67-seat majority of the 120-seat Knesset along with his traditional allies. In negotiations, however, these allies have made demands to head powerful government ministries, and an initial four-week window to form a new government is now set to expire.
On Monday, he is scheduled to meet Israel's largely ceremonial president, Reuven Rivlin, and seek a two-week extension. Under Israeli election rules, if he fails to form a coalition during that time Rivlin then can assign someone else the task of doing so.
Few expect it to come to that, and the 67-seat right-wing government seems to be the most likely outcome.
Netanyahu looks close to finalizing deals with two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and Yahadut Hatorah, who are seeking ministries and parliamentary committees with large budgets catering to their constituents. He also appears to be close to a deal with the centrist, economics-focused Kulanu party.
But large gaps remain with the two other pieces needed to complete the puzzle, the nationalist Jewish Home and Yisrael Beiteinu parties, both of whom are led by long-time Netanyahu associates who have a tumultuous relationship with the boss.
Despite disappointing election results, both parties are demanding top Cabinet posts and major influence that are disproportionate to their numbers. Netanyahu has yet to budge and has signaled he may leave them out.
Tsahi Hanegbi, the deputy foreign minister from Netanyahu's Likud Party, said the prospect of Herzog joining the coalition only was becoming a possibility due to the hard-ball approach of the right-wing parties.
"It is rising only as an extreme scenario whose chances of coming true are a result of the Jewish Home or Yisrael Beitenu, either both of them or one of them, stubbornly refusing to show flexibility," he told Israel's Army Radio Sunday.
While the threat may be a pressure tactic, there are large issues at stake. Despite his rhetoric, aides acknowledge that Netanyahu is concerned about clashes with his allies in the U.S. and western Europe.
Increased settlement construction, a prolonged absence of Palestinian peace talks and nationalist legislation that undermines Israel's democratic nature would surely draw a strong rebuke and perhaps even calls for sanctions and boycotts. With his relations with President Barack Obama at a low point following clashes over Mideast peace and the Iranian nuclear talks, there is a real fear that Israel's top ally may rescind its automatic protection of Israel at the United Nations and other international bodies.
Netanyahu has partnered with his adversaries in the past to shield himself from similar fallout.
In 2009, he added Labor Party leader Ehud Barak as his defense minister and point man to the West. And in his last government, he brought in dovish ex-foreign minister Tzipi Livni to be his chief peace negotiator.
Herzog is under heavy pressure from his followers not to offer Netanyahu that political cover again. Both men have denied reports of a secret meeting. Over the weekend, Herzog vowed to go to the opposition.
"Sitting in the opposition is not a default choice but a preference," he said. "Our place is in the opposition. We will replace the Likud government."
But Herzog's Labor Party, the main partner in the Zionist Union, has a long history of ousting its defeated leaders, so Herzog also may be tempted to jump at a chance to gain some influence and job security — most likely as Netanyahu's foreign minister. Herzog is the seventh leader of the party since it last won a national election in 1999.
Herzog's only hint of common ground with Netanyahu was a position paper issued by his party that backed Netanyahu's opposition to the recent U.S.-led framework nuclear deal with Iran. On this crucial matter, it said "there is no coalition or opposition" in Israel.
So far, Herzog's party rank-and-file seems to oppose joining Netanyahu and appears eager to watch a hard-line government fail. But there are also growing voices in Israel saying that Herzog's Zionist Union does not have the luxury to make that kind of cold political calculation.
"Its presence in the coalition is critical to preserving Israel as a liberal democracy," liberal columnist Carlo Strenger wrote in the Haaretz daily newspaper. "Ultimately, the idea of staying in the opposition is based on a deep illusion: It is that the liberal center-left is likely to regain power in the foreseeable future, and that Israel's electorate just has to realize how destructive the political right's policies are." (Contributor: By Aron Heller for The Huffington Post)
For prayer: Give thanks for reports like this, as it opens the eyes of Western Christians who like to think that Israel as a unified country standing as one in opposition to forces from Iran, ISIS, and Hamas. But such is not the case. Though God’s covenant with Israel and the land remains, and though the Israeli’s are tough people and determined to survive, most of the country’s various factions are out of step with each other and with God’s larger purpose, which is to open hearts to receive Jesus Christ, as Messiah. It has never been more urgent to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Pray for Israel to (re)turn to the Lord.
“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him— “ (Joel 2:12-14a)
THE GLOBAL DAY OF PRAYER ON PENTECOST
Christians from all over the world will join in prayer and fasting on the day of Pentecost, May 24, 2015. You are urged to lift your voice along with many others around the globe on that day, focusing prayers in biblical hope for the glory of Christ and the blessing of the nations.
Just as the first Pentecost was preceded by ten days of continuous prayer, many intercessors will begin joining prayers together for ten days, beginning on Thursday, May 14. To make it feasible for many to join in this ten-day vigil, a Ten-Day Prayer Guide is available. It’s easily downloaded at no cost to be freely distributed. Find the Ten-Day Prayer Guide on the WayMakers website. Pray these prayers yourself, or even better, find creative ways to pray with others during these ten days, May 14-23.
The Global Day of Prayer offers a wonderful way for local congregations to pray with the world by using six or seven minutes to pray the biblically-beautiful prayer called, “A Prayer for the World.” Download the PowerPoint and PDF files of this prayer. Despite its name, this prayer is really a way to pray with the world. Explore the possibility of using this prayer as part of your services on Pentecost Sunday with leaders of your church. You can find more about the Global Day of Prayer on the WayMakers website.
Pentecost stands as a living promise that God has begun, but He has not yet finished, the fulfillment of all that He has promised. Nothing could be more fitting and refreshing as to pray in unity with many others for His transforming blessing to abound among all peoples for the glory of Christ.
For prayer: We encourage the work of all Christian prayer ministries, and we believe this is a valid call to global (international) prayer in unity with thousands of Christians around the world. The Ten-Day Prayer Guide is helpful. Click on the link here to get a free downloadable copy. Give thanks and pray for multitudes to learn of this initiative and to participate. Believers praying in unity pleases the Lord. Pray for multitudes to turn to the Lord and be saved.
“And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me. Look to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath.” (Isa. 45:21-23)
AUSTRALIA CALLS WORLD TO PRAY & FAST FOR 7 DAYS FOR USA
"We in Australia believe it is our turn to bless the nation of America and pray for healing for the USA through prayer and fasting according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. We in Australia are grateful for the protection that America gave Australia and the nations of the free world during World War II." -Alison Jessup
The team behind Australia's National Day of Prayer and Fasting, along with other prayer leaders are calling the nations of the world to prayer and fasting for seven days for USA. This period of prayer will take place from April 30 - May 6, 2015. (Photo via Charisma News)
April 30 is America's National Day of Repentance, and May 7 is the 64th Annual National Day of Prayer.
Warwick Marsh, Australian coordinator, said, "April 30 is the 226th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as a devout Christian president and the 152nd anniversary of Lincoln's Day of 'Humiliation, Prayer and Fasting' held during the devastating times of the Civil War. The theme for the USA National Day of Prayer on 7 May, 2015 'Lord Hear Our Cry' is taken from 1 Kings 8:28: 'Give attention to your servant's prayer and his pleas for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.'"
View this prayer for America: click here. (Video)
Alison Jessup from Australia said, "We in Australia believe it is our turn to bless the nation of America and pray for healing for the USA through prayer and fasting according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. We in Australia are grateful for the protection that America gave Australia and the nations of the free world during World War II. The 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, led by the USA, was the turning point in the Second World War for Australia."
Matt Prater from Australia said, "We are calling the nations of the world to join in prayer and fasting with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the USA. Last year we had people from over 40 nations join with us. This year we are believing for over 100 nations to join us in prayer and fasting for the USA."
And Lana Vawser from Australia said, "There is a fight for the destiny of the USA right now. The destiny of America hangs in the balance. The Lord is calling His people to arise and pray for the United States of America. It is time to contend." (Contributor: Breaking Christian News)
For prayer (and praise!): This effort on the part of Australian Christians for the U.S. could not be more welcome or come at a better time. Our country continues on a downward spiral. The U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments later this month and ultimately rule on whether same-sex “marriage” will be the law of the land, accepted throughout the U.S. And in this unprecedented time frame, Christians from another nation, half a world away, have pledged themselves to prayer and fasting for our national welfare. May God allow us to humble ourselves here in America, and to join with our Australian friends as they intercede for the United States. Our Scripture is the verse chosen for the upcoming National Day of Prayer (May 7), whose theme is , “Lord, hear our cry.”
“Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today … “ (1 Kings 8:28)
“As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.” (Prov. 25:25)