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On Watch in Washington April 8, 2015

On Watch in Washington April 8, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

STOPPING THE ‘LONE-WOLF’ TERRORISTS

As the Boston Marathon bombing trial wound to a close Monday, a parallel debate continues to rage inside federal law enforcement circles about whether the United States has the capability and resources to track down “lone wolves” like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who admitted helping his elder brother detonate two pressure cooker bombs amid a crowd of thousands.

The challenge of stopping a growing number of homegrown wannabe terrorists being courted by a romantic illusion of an Islamic State has been highlighted in recent weeks by FBI Director James B. Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who was quoted in a broadcast Sunday night as saying it is “one of the things that, frankly, keeps me up at night.”

Federal authorities have disrupted several recent suspected plots involving Americans, but the group that represents federal law enforcement agencies says its members don’t have enough staffing and adequate equipment to keep up with the quickening pace of the threat.

Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, told The Washington Times he is concerned that lawmakers are spending too much money on “footprints thousands of miles away” instead of defense in the homeland.

“There’s a fatal inverse relationship between the spending on foreign aid versus the spending on our homeland defenses and, in fact, the priority should be funding our homeland defenses and the law enforcement components here on our soil first,” Mr. Adler said.

The federal law enforcement community is getting hit in the personnel budget, Mr. Adler said.

Staffing levels for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division are on the level they were in the 1970s, he said. In addition, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has had to shutter the doors of dozens of its satellite offices in recent years and is experiencing other money problems.

In order to better cover the U.S., each federal law enforcement agency would need a 15 percent to 25 percent boost in its operating budget, Mr. Adler said.

Other law enforcement sources have raised similar concerns. An FBI whistleblower recently came forward to say staffing decisions for the secret surveillance teams that the bureau uses to track potential terrorists were being made for political reasons unrelated to merit, creating worries of shortages to deal with emerging threats.

While the debate rages among policymakers, the Boston trial provided a public case study of how a quiet student converted to pursue a deadly plot.

Mr. Tsarnaev “wanted to punish America,” a prosecutor told the jury in closing arguments Monday. His attorneys said Mr. Tsarnaev did indeed carry out the attacks but was under the influence of his brother, Tamerlan, who the attorneys said orchestrated the plot and built the bombs. Tamerlan was killed while trying to flee from police.

If found guilty of federal terrorism charges, the 21-year-old Dzhokhar will be imprisoned for life or executed.

The Tsarnaev brothers targeted the marathon because it was a day when the international spotlight would be shining on Boston, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty said in closing arguments.

“The defendant thought that his values were more important than the people around him,” said Mr. Chakravarty. “He wanted to awake the mujahedeen, the holy warriors. He wanted to terrorize this country. He wanted to punish America for what it was doing to his people.”

Prosecutors described Mr. Tsarnaev’s acts as deliberate retaliation for Muslim deaths in the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as an act of jihad. Although authorities say there is no evidence the brothers, of Chechen origin, were affiliated with an organized terrorist group overseas, they both became radicalized by online propaganda.

Mr. Tsarnaev had radical jihadi materials on every device he owned and had been listening to jihadi messages for over a year before the attacks, U.S. prosecutor William Weinreb said Monday.

The use of the Internet to spread such jihadi messages has local and federal law enforcement worried because it is hard to predict which potential lone-wolf actors may become radicalized and when.

“The one common characteristic they have — which is unfortunately not a great marker for finding them — is they are people who are troubled souls seeking meaning in life,” FBI Director James B. Comey said in a March 25 hearing.

“But there’s not a poverty marker. Some of them have jobs. They just have a misguided sense that they need to participate in the apocalyptic battle. Some of them are kind of losers who had a couple of jobs or petty crimes,” he said.

Mr. Johnson, the Homeland Security chief, echoed those concerns when questioned on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday night about the ability of federal law enforcement to track young adults being radicalized in the comfort of their homes via terrorist group websites.

Relying on members of the public to come forward about warning signs complicates the picture, he said.

“That’s the challenge, isn’t it?” Mr. Johnson said. “And that’s one of the things that, frankly, keeps me up at night. Because we would have little or no notice if somebody decides to commit an act of violence. So if the family member, the religious leader, the teacher trusts us enough to inform us, we’re in a position to make a difference.”

Within the past few weeks, federal authorities have made several arrests.

Federal law enforcement on March 26 thwarted a plot to kill soldiers at an Illinois military facility by an Army National Guard specialist and his cousin. On Thursday, authorities charged two Queens, New York, women — ages 28 and 21 — with planning to attack military, government or police targets on behalf of the Islamic State. On Friday, authorities charged a 30-year-old Philadelphia woman with similar crimes.

The FBI has expanded its counterterrorism efforts to track down these types of people to all 50 states, Mr. Comey said. To date, agents have not identified a pattern that links the lone wolves as potential terrorist threats, he said.

Trying to stop the lone wolf — even with additional law enforcement spending — may be fruitless, said Dan Byman, director of research and a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

“The lone wolf — the true lone wolf — is by definition inherently difficult because you are trying to identify someone who does not have a track record and does not have associations,” he said. “And those associations are usually how someone finds out about a threat.”

Agents became wary of a potential uptick in lone-wolf attacks in January after the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS, released a video on social network sites encouraging lone-wolf attacks in Western countries, said Michael Steinbach, assistant director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division.

The video suggested that lone wolves should launch attacks on soldiers, law enforcement officers and members of the intelligence community.

In the weeks after the “call to arms” video, several incidents have occurred in the U.S. and Europe, indicating that the social media message has resonated among Islamic State supporters and sympathizers, Mr. Steinbach told Congress in February.

“The FBI remains concerned the recent calls by ISIL and its supporters on violent extremist Web forums and the recent events in Europe could continue to motivate homegrown extremists to conduct attacks in the homeland,” he said. “Online supporters of ISIL have used various social media platforms to call for retaliation against the U.S. in the homeland.

“In one case, an Ohio-based man was arrested in January after he obtained a weapon and stated his intent to conduct an attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Using a Twitter account, the individual posted statements, videos and other content indicating support for ISIL, and he planned his attack based on this voiced support,” Mr. Steinbach said. (Contributor: By Maggie Ybarra for The Washington Times)

For prayer: We urge intercessors to pursue this multi-faceted situation as they are led by the Holy Spirit. At the most basic level, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a traitor to the United States and a killer without apparent remorse, a terrorist whose acts of premeditated murder are indisputable. As such, he deserves execution. He is also a lost soul with no knowledge of the One true God and no sense that the Savior, Jesus Christ, died in his place and for his sins to be forgiven. If imprisoned, he might be reached with the Gospel and be saved. Pray for God’s will to be accomplished and for God to be glorified even through this horrific and tragic bombing. The young man’s crimes are inexcusable but, in God’s mercy, not unforgivable.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (1 Pet 3:9)

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions … be made for all men… For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth…. ” (1 Tim 2:1, 3-4) 

 

GETTING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RIGHT

“They won’t go to Indiana, but they will go to Saudi Arabia.” That’s Carly Fiorina speaking about Apple CEO Tim Cook and his well-publicized opposition to Indiana’s religious freedom law.

Mrs. Fiorina, a former CEO herself, was underscoring what she quite rightly views as hypocrisy. Here Mr. Cook is, excoriating Indiana lawmakers for protecting the freedom of business owners to act according to their consciences. Yet he has no qualms when it comes to doing business in countries where homosexuality is a crime punishable by death.

The double standard is truly remarkable. Maybe the oxygen content in room air gets thin at the top levels of some corporations. Something has to account for this myopia. Whatever the cause, it’s contributing to a level of near-hysteria about Indiana’s law (30 other states provide the same legal standard) — and making it nearly impossible for its true goals to be understood.

Supporters of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act — or RFRA, which is modeled after the federal version President Bill Clinton signed two decades ago — aren’t trying to protect discrimination. That makes for a catchy sound bite for the other side, and they’re only too happy to throw it around in an effort to shut down debate before it can even occur. But they’re wrong.

What if, they’ll ask, a bed-and-breakfast owner believes homosexuality is sinful and doesn’t want to rent a room to a gay couple? Wouldn’t this law protect that?

No. Under RFRA, the couple could take the owner to court, and it would be up to the court to decide if the owners had a legitimate case. They may. They may not. But no one could simply refuse to rent a room to this couple and then that be the end of it.

The point is that those with legitimate religious objections — as determined in a court of law, where a burden of proof is required — would have the opportunity to make their case. They won’t be left with no choice but to violate their religious beliefs.

That’s what is at issue here: a balancing test. We don’t have a situation where the couple gets steamrolled with no recourse. But we also don’t have one where the owner gets steamrolled. In the spirit of fair-minded American jurisprudence, we do our level best to make sure everyone gets heard, and no one’s rights are arbitrarily infringed.

Unfortunately, our hashtag-addicted, ADD culture doesn’t grasp nuances well. We’d rather, say, bully a pizzeria into closing for honestly answering a question about whether they’d be willing to cater a same-sex wedding. We won’t listen. We’d rather shout.

Had we listened, we’d know the owners of Memories Pizza hadn’t refused service to a soul. They were responding to a hypothetical situation. And they never said they’d turn away a customer who ordered a pizza. They said they wouldn’t cater a same-sex wedding, which they feel would imply that they condoned the union.

You can agree or disagree with that belief. But what could be more American than respecting their right to believe it and act upon it, free of persecution?

Now, if a case goes to court, and the government proves that it has a compelling reason to insist that the owners act in defiance of their beliefs, so be it. Due process has been followed. But to simply say their beliefs are garbage? That they aren’t to be respected because they don’t align with our own ideas of political correctness? That’s wrong.

As Founding Father James Madison, our fourth president, put it: “The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.”

RFRA is designed to protect this right and ensure that it remains “unalienable.” The question now is will we give in to the shouting heads? Or stand up for what’s right? (Contributor: By Ed Fuelner for The Washington Times – Ed Feulner is founder of the Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).

For prayer: We took a risk last week, suggesting that the “Indiana story” will be one of the key news events of 2015. This week proves it was a safe prediction. Whether it remains in the headlines or not, the main focus is the immediacy with which the relentless homosexual lobby descended on Gov. Mike Pence, the Indiana legislature, and the good people of Indiana with a fury of media attention and threats of the most severe retaliation. And, as you’ll recall, the response was not, “You leave us alone, and we will leave you alone.” No, not at all. These folks preaching tolerance will not hesitate to put out of business and to prosecute business leaders having religious principles against supporting the homosexual lifestyle. Intercessors, please pray accordingly. This article’s perspective is helpful.

“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. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Ps 1:1-3)

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them…. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.” (Eph 5:6-7, 12)

 

OBAMA’S IRAN DEAL FALLS ON OMINOUS BIBLE DATE

When President Obama announced a “framework” nuclear agreement with Iran – which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns threatens the very existence of his nation – few noticed the significance of the date.

On the Jewish calendar this year, April 1 coincided with Nisan 13, the date in history when a Persian king signed an agreement calling for the destruction of the Jews.

“King Obama has issued his decree putting the Jewish nation at risk of annihilation on the very same day that King Ahasuerus’ scribes came together and issued their statement to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language and sent letters by posts into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day.”

The ominous historical reference comes from Mark Biltz, pastor of El-Shaddai Ministries in Bonney Lake, Washington, and author of “The Feasts of the Lord,” “Blood Moons” and “Studies in our Hebrew Roots.”

The Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran have been shrouded in secrecy for months, and even now, only the broad outline of a proposed agreement has been disclosed. At one point the administration suggested there was not even a written agreement in place but rather a “gentlemen’s agreement.”

Already, another development in the attempt to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons has fallen on a significant date in Jewish history.

On the eve of the Purim holiday, March 3, Netanyahu addressed a rare joint session of Congress to discuss the Iran deal, warning it could lead to the destruction of Israel.

He told Congress that in just a short time the Jewish people would begin the celebration of a holiday established while they were in captivity to a Persian king.

“We’re an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we’ll read the Book of Esther,” Netanyahu told Congress. “We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.”

After Netanyahu’s speech, the Obama administration strongly rebuked the prime minister and concerned Congress members, insisting that a deal would take place by March 31.

At the last minute, the administration announced the deadline would be postponed for a day. On April 2, President Obama announced in a ceremony from the Rose Garden that a tentative deal had been reached the day before, Nisan 13.

The book of Esther declares, in Esther 3:12, 13, that on Nisan 13 the Persian king Ahasuerus was tricked by a viceroy by the name of Haman into signing an agreement to destroy all the Jews in the land at a future date.

Coincidental?

Joel Richardson, author of “End Times Eyewitness,” “When a Jew Rules the World,” “The Islamic AntiChrist,” “Mideast Beast” and more, said it might be a message from God.

“The God of Heaven and Earth frequently orchestrates world events in such a way as to demonstrate His perspective,” Richardson explained. “Those who are quick to brush aside the correspondence of profound global events, particularly as they affect the state of Israel, with important biblical dates often miss what may very well be purposeful thunderclaps from heaven.

“It is the cynic that dismisses the possibility of a divine hint as mere coincidence. I think we need to be looking at this very seriously and asking ourselves what it is indicating.”

Jonathan Cahn, author of “The Harbinger,” the inspiration behind “The Isaiah 9:30 Judgment,” and the creator of “The Mystery of the Leper King,” “The Hanukkah Endtime Mystery” and more, told WND that while the conflict between Iran and Israel is not new, it is noteworthy that America has chosen to intervene at this time and appears to be on the side of the Iranians.

“It’s an ancient war that begins when the Hebrews emerge out of Egypt and are attacked by the armies of Amalek,” Cahn said. “The war has continued down through the centuries through the Book of Esther and Haman and, amazingly, into modern times, even right now.

“Again we find the existence of the Jewish people is in jeopardy, and there are forces plotting their destruction. Again, the powers that be seem oblivious to the existential danger. And, amazingly, again, it all focuses on the land of Haman, Persia, and Iran. Only this time, America is involved and, unfortunately, it appears as if our government is placing Israel in danger.”

Franklin Graham, president of both the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Samaritan’s Purse relief organization, confirmed as much.

In a Facebook posting, he said: “In an interview with the New York Times, President Barack Obama said he is committed to seeing that Israel maintains a military edge over Iran. With the possibility of nuclear weapons at stake, there’s a lot more to this than a military edge. Iran does not recognize the right of Israel to exist. In previous speeches their mullahs have said they would burn Tel Aviv. One nuclear weapon can wipe out this city of 400,000+ people. It’s not about maintaining a military edge, Mr. President; it’s about keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of people who have said they would use them.”

Graham noted Iran already has its soldiers in southern Lebanon serving with Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border and in Syria on Israel’s northeastern border.

“Iran already has its soldiers serving with the Iraqi army and now has controlling influence in much of the Iraqi government. Mr. President, the Iranian government is in many ways as brutal as ISIS and to give them an opportunity to possibly produce nuclear weapons would be devastating, not only to Israel, but to the Iranian people who would suffer their own nuclear holocaust when Israel would be forced to retaliate in their own defense. I pray that you will listen to Israel on this issue.”

Critics contend Obama’s deal only delays Iran from getting the bomb.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu told Congress that despite the agreement to destroy Israel in Esther’s time, the “plot was foiled.”

“Our people were saved,” he said.

Cahn had similar sentiments.

“We must remember, that the war is an ancient one, and God has sworn to be involved. As in the Book of Esther, when it looks as if there’s no deliverance for the Jewish people, the hand of God begins to move.”

Blitz told WND that the outcome may already be written down.

“History repeats itself, so may we keep the nation of Israel in our prayers!”

The Bible records Haman was hanged on the very scaffold he had prepared for Mordecai, a Jew, and the king dispatched a letter exposing Haman’s plot, instructing Jews to defend themselves.

The result, the site explains, is that 75,000 enemies of the Jews were slain. (Contributor: By Jack Minor for World Net Daily)

For prayer: This is a vitally important article, primarily for the number of significant commentators who offer insights, plus the historical continuity of references to the ancient Persian Empire, Queen Esther, and the radical course of intervention taken by Mordecai and Esther, including a three-day fast from both food and water. The events of more than 2,500 years ago are in focus again through today’s headlines, up to and including the significance of the calendar dates. Pray that God will help His people see the pattern of what is happening and what it reveals through the lens of divine perspective. Intercessors, imagine what could happen in the current Iran-Israel standoff if great numbers of Christians will awaken to the potential power of united and unified fasting and prayer for a godly resolution. Pray for a divine visitation to the Church that will result in action.

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’” (Jer 6:16-17)

“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.’” (Psalm 122:6-8)

 

A DEAL WITHOUT STABILITY

The response in the Middle East to the preliminary accord on Iran’s nuclear program began even before the agreement was reached. The Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen and the announcement last weekend of a new multinational Arab military force reflected a determination by Sunni-led regimes to counter what they see as mounting Iranian aggression. The Obama administration, for its part, happened to choose Tuesday to disclose that it was resuming full military aid to Egypt, even though its autocratic regime has met none of the human rights requirements established by Congress.

These moves reflect the reality that, in the short term at least, the largest effect of the nuclear agreement will be to juice the ongoing proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia and their allies. If the deal is fully implemented, Iran will receive hundreds of billions in additional revenue, and Tehran is likely to devote much of it to funding its murderous militias in Iraq, the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, and the Houthi movement in Yemen — not to mention Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Obama administration has enabled Iran’s aggression by refusing to respond to it while negotiating the nuclear accord. Now the president appears to be rushing to offer “reassurance” to traditional U.S. allies in ways that are not particularly wise. Shipping F-16s and tanks to the Egyptian military will do nothing to counter Iran or stabilize the region. Providing intelligence and logistical support to the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen, as the administration has begun to do, encourages an ill-advised offensive that is unlikely to achieve the goal of restoring the previous regime.

What’s missing is a coherent U.S. strategy for stabilizing the region that integrates the nuclear accord with measures to check Iran’s hegemonic ambitions and rebuild crumbling Arab states. Such a policy would focus on the areas where Iranian forces are most active, and most destabilizing — Iraq and Syria.

The administration finally used its leverage with the Iraqi government last month to downgrade the role of Iranian-backed militias in the battle to recapture Tikrit from the Islamic State. Now it must seek to further marginalize those forces and the threat they pose by stepping up support for Kurdish and Sunni tribal forces and insisting that the Iraqi government take command of Shiite units and demobilize those guilty of sectarian abuses.

The key to a serious Mideast strategy, however, is in Syria. There the United States must finally deliver on promises to train and equip a moderate Syrian opposition force and back it against the Assad regime. As senior U.S. officials outside the White House have argued for three years, only by supporting such a force will the United States have the leverage to foster a political settlement that allows a new Syrian order to emerge.

While there is a need to rebuild relations with Arab allies, the approach cannot be one of handing over high-tech weapons while ignoring issues of human rights and democracy. The future of the region depends on the emergence of secular liberal forces in Egypt and other Sunni states; defending and encouraging those progressives should be a higher U.S. priority than appeasing royal families or reactionary generals. (Contributor: By Editorial Board of The Washington Post)

For prayer: While IFA does not rely on The Washington Post’s editorial agreement to guide our intercessory prayers, it is significant when one of the nation’s leading liberal newspapers expresses serious concern over President Obama’s policy decisions and their implications. This lead editorial appeared in the Post’s Sunday edition (April 5) as a strong caution regarding the president’s direction, which it says lacks “a coherent U.S. strategy for stabilizing the region that integrates the nuclear accord with measures to check Iran’s hegemonic ambitions and rebuild crumbling Arab states.” That is tantamount to a strong rebuke to the administration’s careless concessions to Iran’s demands. The president’s goals are not at all clear in this “framework deal.” Please pray accordingly.

“For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (1 Cor 14:8)

“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matt 5:37)

 

AS WATER RUNS DRY, CALIFORNIANS BRACE FOR A NEW WAY OF LIFE

His lawn was thick, healthy and gorgeous, and Mike Duran was in love. “It was so green. It was so lush,” he said. But the relationship had financial issues. Watering the grass cost about $1,200 every other month in this drought-stricken state.

“The money I was spending for water, I had to make a change,” Duran said. The yard has been an arrangement of sand and cactus for three months now. “Emotionally, it took me a little time to adjust, to say the least,” he said.

When Gov. Jerry Brown (D) told Californians last week that watering grass every day is “going to be a thing of the past” and announced the first mandatory water restrictions in the state’s history, people in a region full of swimming pools, pretty lawns and flowers bursting in technicolor began to worry that the place would start to look a lot more like Arizona.

“Without water, you can’t live in California,” said Bill Whalen, who works on politics, and the politics of water, at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. “It ties into the California psyche.

“They have plush lawns and nice gardens that require lots of water. They have the ocean and Lake Tahoe skiing. You have a nice car. You want it clean. You need water,” said Whalen, who was a speechwriter for former governor Pete Wilson (R). “You can’t have California agriculture without water. You lose the nation’s salad bowl.”

California is faced with a double whammy of high temperatures — the state just had its warmest winter on record — and low rainfall that is exacerbated by an atmospheric pattern that for three years straight has diverted winter storms away from the state, depriving it of crucial precipitation. The outlook, if global greenhouse gas emissions are not decreased, is a megadrought lasting 30 years for California and several Southwestern states, a NASA study said.

The state is in the fourth year of a severe drought. With its snowpack level near zero, the lowest ever recorded, Brown ordered California’s 400 water agencies to cut their output by 25 percent or face fines of up to $10,000 per month, a state official said, a penalty that can be passed to homeowners who fail to comply.

A survey last month by the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonprofit think tank in San Francisco, shows that Californians realize they are running out of water. Nearly 70 percent said supplies will be inadequate in 10 years.

A divide over agriculture

Brown’s announcement, however, created a divide by targeting urban residents but not farmers, who use 80 percent of the state’s water and grow crops such as rice and almonds that require prodigious amounts of water.

“We don’t like when we see a double standard,” said Adam Scow, the California director of Food and Water Watch, a nonprofit environmental group. “Everybody’s going to have to do their part. The guys using all the water — you’re not asking them to do their part? It’s dishonest.”

He called Brown’s exclusion of farmers a “failure to lead” and “be a governor for all” state residents.

In a state where governors often give deference to the $40 billion agriculture industry, Scow said Brown’s exclusion was “not a surprise.” Farmers have sucked out so much groundwater for crops over the past decade that it cannot be replaced naturally. Yet there was no plan to regulate its removal until Brown signed legislation to manage groundwater last year.

“There’s booming almond production in the Central Valley,” Scow said. “It takes four times as much water to grow almonds in the heat of the valley. The solution is to buy out the farmers and put the land to other uses.”

But that threatens people’s livelihoods, said state agriculture officials and others who defend the farmers. As water drained, 400,000 farm acres were taken out of use and nearly 20,000 jobs were lost last year.

Farmers are getting only 20 percent of the water they request from the State Water Project, which captures water in the northern parts of California and pumps it to various water agencies.

“Agriculture is already taking a hard hit,” said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. She called the 80 percent to 20 percent difference in urban and agricultural use “an artificial breakdown” and said that “urban users depend on agricultural production. It’s not about finger-pointing. It’s about everybody having to step up.”

Whalen called Brown’s restrictions a defining moment for both him and the state: “It’s rare that something comes out of Sacramento that hits on all levels. This is one of those things.”

Everybody takes a hit, Whalen said. Other governors were thrown out of office when that happened — Gray Davis (D) was recalled in the early 2000s, when, among other problems confronting his administration, rolling blackouts robbed Californians of power for days.

But in his second term and final four years as governor under term limits, Brown knows his time is short and “wants to do big things,” Whalen said. It is his chance to bring a diverse group of stakeholders to his office to talk about water.

“First thing to talk about is agriculture’s use of water, forcing them to look at whether we need thirsty crops like alfalfa,” Whalen said. Developers who build edi­fices with huge fountains, environmentalists who call for too many restrictions and other fixes, and urban planners should all be at the table, he said.

“It’s a conversation that can lead to action.”

In the Pasadena area, a few miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, homeowners do not appear ready to take action. Along the winding roads leading to the storied Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, dozens of workers trimmed lawns and watered flowers Friday.

“It worries me,” said Duran, who lives in the city known for the Rose Bowl, the Rose Parade and homes with huge emerald yards adorned with thirsty azaleas.

“I know a lot of people don’t care. But what’s going to happen in years to come? These houses, these mansions. They have the money. They don’t care,” Duran said. He thought a mean thing: “I hope they fine them. I hope they charge them a lot.”

Duran said that by making a switch from grass to sand and succulents, he saved $900 on a water bill that arrives every two months.

“But my neighbors are not ready to do it,” he said.

Down the street, Lenon Mitchell said he will not rip out his turf for a desert motif.

“I’m not interested in that,” he said. “I’ll just keep it like it is and water it less till the rain comes back.”

Mitchell moved to the neighborhood more than 40 years ago and has steadily watered his modest lawn and plants less and less because of increasing water rates and decreasing rain. He pointed at the house next door, with a yard that looked like his, and his neighbors across the street with lawns that were green with lots of brown patches.

The street stretched for a mile, showcasing traditional lawns with a mixture of palms, bird of paradise plants and azaleas on an 80-degree day.

Getting by with less water

Los Angeles has more carwashes than any other city in the United States, and California has more than any other state, said Brad Hooper, board president for the Western Carwash Association. Hooper said carwash owners saw the writing on the wall when they were hit with high water bills years ago and started using reclaimed water.

For beautiful lawns, Californians turn to landscapers such as Larry Rohlfes of the California Association of Landscapers. At first, he said, his members were worried about water loss, but now they think Brown’s announcement could be a godsend.

People will still want their homes to look nice, and they will need experts to make over their lawns with a stunning desert flair. Change “is going to come as a shock to many of our members,” Rohlfes said, “but they will have the tools to help clients make the shift to a different landscape. There are many ways to make them beautiful and use less water.”

On the other hand, said Barbara Alvarez, the owner of a landscape maintenance company, the governor’s pledge to rip up 50 million square feet of thirsty turf will devastate people who sell sod.

“They are really going to suffer,” she said.

But California has to do something, said Kerry Townsend, who lives in Redondo Beach with her husband and two children. California is hotter than ever, she said. She feels it every day.

“When I moved here nearly 10 years ago, we actually had a change of seasons through the winter,” she said. “It was lovely. Now it feels like summer all the time, and it never rains. It has just gotten hotter over time.”

(Contributor: By Darryl Fears for The Washington Post – Darryl Fears has worked at The Washington Post for more than a decade, mostly as a reporter on the National staff. He currently covers the environment, focusing on the Chesapeake Bay and issues affecting wildlife.)

For prayer: We have been following the California drought issue for several months. Gov. Jerry Brown has now imposed water-use restrictions, sending shock waves across the state. Without significant rain soon, Californians cannot maintain a normal lifestyle. The plentiful water that so many Americans take for granted is absolutely essential. Without judging California as “more sinful” than any other segment of the population, we wonder how many are ready to recognize God’s hand in this shortage? We assume California churches and Christians are praying and asking others to pray. Is the concept of God and His provision through rain even in the picture, or is the painful situation being assigned to “climate change” or chance? The Bible clearly depicts weather and climate as under God’s control. Pray for clarity and revelation.

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” (James 5:16-18)

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12)

 

QUIETLY OPENING DOOR FOR HOMOSEXUAL BOY SCOUT LEADERS

A pro-family leader is asking whether the Boy Scouts will enforce a policy against homosexual leaders.

A new policy went into effect January 1, allowing open homosexuals as members of the Boy Scouts, but not adults.

Last week, the New York Chapter of the Boy Scouts hired an openly homosexual 18-year-old Eagle Scout to work as a camp counselor this summer.

Matt Barber, an attorney and founder of Barbwire.com, predicts the BSA policy on homosexual adults will change too.

“They are employing an incrementalist strategy here – death by a thousand cuts,” Barber says of the Scouts.

The national office of the Boy Scouts is aware of the New York decision but there’s been no word on whether the policy will be enforced.

Rather that revoking the national policy, he predicts, the BSA leaders will slowly allow open homosexuals to take leadership roles within the Boy Scouts, “and take boys on camping trips.”

Barber calls that troubling, citing the Archives of Sexual Behavior that shows homosexual men are 10 times more likely to sexually assault boys than heterosexual men.

“So this will place boys at a risk rate of 10 times the previous rate for being sexually assaulted on these camping trips,” Barber warns.

Barber says there is an alternative, Trail Life USA, which is a faith-based organization that began after the Boy Scouts accepted gay scouts. (Contributor: By Charlie Butts for One News Now)

For prayer: This is a clear example of what Matt Barber (see article) calls “incrementalist strategy.” It reminds us of the fable about the camel that only wanted his nose in the tent on a cold night, yet ended up, little by little, fully inside the tent! And because the homosexual lobby appears too strong to lose any social debate, an immediate solution is for an awakened Church to embrace united and unified intercession. A second consideration would be for parents to be fully alert to keep their boys out of even the potential of “harm’s way.” Reasonable people understand, of course, that not all homosexual or heterosexual adult men are predatory, but the 10 to 1 ratio cited above would put these boys at a large statistical risk. Please pray for parental wisdom and for the Boy Scouts’ national leadership to uphold its own rulings, which will take unusual courage.

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

“Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice.” (Prov 23:23-25)

On Watch in Washington April 8, 2015 Plain Text PDF Version

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