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On Watch in Washington February 19, 2014

On Watch in Washington February 19, 2014 Plain Text PDF Version

COLLEGIATE DAY OF PRAYER FEBRUARY 27

John R. Mott called a generation of students to pray for their campuses, believing that if students prayed for the Lord would send forth laborers, the students themselves would get caught up in both the intercession and sending of missionaries.

A new generation of students is joining in intercession and missions. Students are meeting to pray, pooling finances to support missionaries, and answering the call.

February 27, 2014 is the Collegiate Day of Prayer. Whether you’re a student or not, you can participate in two ways.

 

  • Go to CollegiateDayOfPrayer.com and adopt a campus to pray for.  Let students know you stand with them!
  • Join us on a prayer conference call, 12:15 PM to 12:45 PM on February 27, 2014 on behalf of our colleges. We will be joined by Collegiate Day of Prayer operations coordinator Thai Lam.   Call 712-432-0075 and enter participant code 1412452#.

IRANIAN LEADER PREDICTING FAILURE BEFORE SIX NATIONS NUKE TALKS EVEN START

The Obama administration will open a fresh round of six-nation talks Tuesday aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, but Iran’s top leader predicted on the eve of negotiations that diplomacy will fail.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday that he accepted the talks at the urging of other Iranian leaders but added that Washington will be to blame when the negotiations collapse.

“The nuclear issue is an excuse,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a speech broadcast on state TV. “Iran will not violate what it has promised, but Americans are hostile toward the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic republic.”

The talks in Vienna will bring together the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the U.S., France, Britain, Russia and China — and Germany with the goal of finalizing an interim deal reached in November in Geneva. Under that six-month deal, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for reduced economic sanctions by the West.

Ahead of the talks, Secretary of State John F. Kerry blasted Iran and Russia for continuing to support the Syrian regime in its 3-year-old civil war, after he arrived Monday in the United Arab Emirates.

President Obama has said the chances of reaching a comprehensive agreement on Iranian denuclearization are no more than “50/50,” but that the U.S. must try anyway.

Analysts expect the talks to last at least six months as negotiators work on resolving issues such as dismantling Iran’s 10,000 centrifuges that enrich uranium and converting the heavy-water plant at Arak, which could be used to create plutonium bombs.

“I’d call it ‘Mission Implausible,’” said Middle East analyst Aaron David Miller, vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. “It’s going to be excruciatingly difficult to find the right balance of interests that would satisfy all the constituencies.”

The U.S. and its allies believe Iran’s $100 billion nuclear infrastructure is intended to produce an atomic weapon. Iran denies that and says its program is aimed at peaceful purposes such as power generation and medical treatment.

To fulfill commitments under the interim deal, Iran stopped enriching uranium to 20 percent Jan. 20 and started neutralizing its stockpile enriched to that level — just steps away from weapons-grade material.

U.S. officials are seeking a permanent deal that would allow Tehran, which insists it will never dismantle equipment, to save face with its citizens. Mr. Obama has said any accord must provide a “dignified path for Iran to forge a new beginning with the wider world.”

Mr. Miller said one proposed solution would be for a third party to take possession of Iran’s centrifuges, which would allow Tehran to claim its program is still intact.

Other thorny issues include what to do with Iran’s deeply buried uranium enrichment plant at Fordow. The U.S. and its allies insist that the bomb-resistant site be dismantled because it could enable Iran to create a weapon before Western forces could destroy the complex.

Another question is the length of any potential agreement, Mr. Miller said.

“I would think you’d have to build in some degree of longevity here, a time span that goes well beyond four to eight years,” the analyst said. “Otherwise, what have we done? The best you can do is put enough time on Iran’s nuclear clock that you would have hopefully at least a year to detect, deter or set the stage through diplomacy for an attack.”

The talks are crucial for Mr. Obama, who will meet soon with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as he seeks ways forward on Syria’s civil war, Palestinian-Israeli relations and unrest in Egypt. Iran’s influence in the region hangs over many of those issues.

“There are forms of Iranian behavior outside of the nuclear issue that continue to affect the way Washington looks at the mullahs — particularly Iran’s continuing support for [Syrian President Bashar] Assad,” Mr. Miller said. “These are beyond the scope of the agreement, but they influence and color the political space that is required to sustain an agreement.”

Mr. Miller said Mr. Obama’s bottom line is to avoid a nuclear-capable Iran during his tenure.

“Since the Iranian nuclear issue is the only issue that could seriously muck up the remaining years of his presidency, his objective is to see whether for not he can extract out of this something that’s credible and at the end of the day will not allow anybody to say that Iran on Barack Obama’s watch crossed the nuclear threshold,” he said.

As the talks resume, Tehran’s leaders are leaving no doubt that they mistrust the Obama administration’s intentions.

“Even if one day, against all the odds it is solved based on the Americans’ expectations, then Americans will seek another issue to follow it,” said Ayatollah Khamenei, who has final say in all of Iran’s policies. “Just pay attention to the spokespersons of the U.S. government, who have also raised the issue of human rights, missiles and arms.”

After the interim deal was reached, the U.S. and the European Union announced the lifting of sanctions on petrochemical products, insurance, gold and other precious metals, the auto industry and passenger plane parts and services. They also plan to release $4.2 billion in Iranian assets from oil revenue blocked overseas, in eight installments over six months. The first installment of $550 million was provided to Iran on Feb. 1, Iranian officials said.

Last week, while hosting a visit by French President Francois Hollande, Mr. Obama vowed to enforce existing sanctions against Iran and warned potential violators that “we will come down on them like a ton of bricks.”

He made the comments after Paris allowed some French business executives to go to Iran.

Mr. Obama said that while some businesses may be evaluating opportunities before a final deal is reached on Iran’s nuclear program, “I can tell you that they do so at their own peril right now.” (Contributor:  By Dave Boyer for The Washington Times)

Ask God for spiritual discernment that you and fellow intercessors pray according to the will of God. Intercession is spiritual warfare, not against flesh and blood but against forces of spiritual darkness. Iran’s people are not our enemies. Offer thanks for the many Christian believers in Iran who have been called out of sin’s darkness to Christ by God’s grace. However, Iran’s leaders are virulently anti-Israel, wishing (planning?) for its destruction. Therefore, we pray those plans will fail, that God preserve His covenant people, and for the peace of Jerusalem, that its divisions be resolved. Pray that our nation’s negotiators have divine wisdom not to be misled.

“Jesus answered [Pilate], ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’” (John 18:36-37)

“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.” (Psalm 122:6-9)

 

NORTH KOREA’S KIM JONG-UN FORCED MOTHERS TO DROWN NEWBORN BABIES: U.N. REPORT

North Korea forces women to undergo abortions and young mothers to drown their newborn babies, and has starved and executed hundreds of thousands of detainees at secret prison camps — atrocities that the chairman of a U.N. panel that documented the abuses compares to those of Nazi Germany.

“The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” the U.N. Commission on Inquiry said in a 372-page report released Monday on North Korea’s atrocities. These crimes are ongoing because “the policies, institutions and patterns of impunity that lie at their heart remain in place.”

In an unprecedented act, commission Chairman Michael Kirby wrote to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warning that he could be tried for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

At the State Department, spokeswoman Marie Harf said the Obama administration “strongly” welcomed the report. She said it “provides compelling evidence of widespread, systematic, and grave human rights violations” by the North.

“The report reflects the international community’s consensus view that the human rights situation in the [North] is among the world’s worst,” Ms. Harf said.

Rep. Edward R. Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, praised the report as a “clear-eyed account” and the “commission’s commitment to draw attention to North Korea’s human rights horrors.”

“North Korea is the world’s most oppressive dictatorship, and this report gives unprecedented detail on the Kim regime’s brutality,” the California Republican said in Tokyo, where he was meeting with Japanese officials. “This international attention is long overdue.”

“I’ve long argued that U.S. policy toward North Korea must include a strong human rights focus. This report helps build that case,” Mr. Royce said.

The report documents crimes against humanity, including “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”

It is based on evidence provided at public hearings in Seoul, Tokyo, London and Washington by about 80 victims and witnesses. More than 240 confidential interviews were conducted with victims and other witnesses.

North Korea refused to participate in the investigation, barred visits by the commission and rejected its findings as “a product of politicization of human rights on the part of EU and Japan in alliance with the U.S. hostile policy.”

The commission will present its findings March 17 to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Its recommendations include U.N. Security Council sanctions against those who appear to be most responsible for crimes against humanity, but the North’s diplomatic isolation and protection by ally China make it hard to hold its leaders accountable. As a permanent Security Council member, China has used its veto power to shield North Korea from U.N. action.

Like the Nazis

According to witness accounts, North Korean women repatriated from China are forced to undergo abortions because they are believed to be carrying babies conceived by Chinese men. The women are not asked about the fathers’ ethnicity.

“Secondary sources and witness testimonies point to an underlying belief in a ‘pure Korean race’ in the DPRK to which mixed race children (of ethnic Koreans) are considered a contamination of its ‘pureness,’” the report says, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.

One witness said she saw seven women given injections to induce abortions. In most cases, guards at the detention facilities “force either the mother or a third person to kill the baby by drowning it in water or suffocating it by holding a cloth or other item against its face or putting the baby face down so that it cannot breathe,” the report says.

Most of the abortions and infanticides were committed at holding centers, and interrogation and detention centers known as State Security Department (SSD) facilities. A former SSD official explaining the concept of “pure Korean blood” to the commission said having a child who is not “100 percent” Korean makes a woman “less than human.”

Mr. Kirby, the commission chairman, said there are “many parallels” between North Korea and the Nazis in World War II: “I never thought that in my lifetime it would be part of my duty to bring revelations of a similar kind.”

The report also identifies North Korean security forces being responsible for detentions, executions and disappearances at secret prison camps known as “kwanliso.” The inmates have been “gradually eliminated” by starvation and executions, says the report, which estimates that hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have died in the camps over the past five decades.

“North Korea’s political prison camps have lasted twice as long as the Soviet gulags and five times as long as the Nazi concentration camps,” Sokeel Park, the Seoul-based director of research and strategy at Liberty in North Korea, told The Washington Times in an email. Liberty in North Korea is a nongovernmental organization that works with North Korean refugees.

North Korean authorities last month sent Kenneth Bae, a U.S. pastor detained for 15 months, back to a labor camp. Mr. Bae was last seen Jan. 20, when he was presented to journalists in Pyongyang. He urged the U.S. to work for his release.

‘Formula for change’

North Korea’s 30-something leader came to power after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in December 2011. Hope arose that the Swiss-educated successor would provide an opening for the North to improve relations with South Korea and the West.

But Kim Jong-un quickly dashed those hopes: Since he has taken charge, the North has tested a nuclear weapon and threatened to attack the U.S. and South Korea, with which it is still technically at war since a cease-fire ended hostilities in the Korean War in 1953.

In December, Mr. Kim shocked the world with the swift arrest and execution of his uncle, Jang Sung-taek, who was widely seen as the second most powerful man in North Korea.

“There was a lot of hope when Kim Jong-un became the supreme leader that things would change. … That is ashes in our mouth now, especially after the execution of his uncle,” Mr. Kirby said Monday at a press conference in Geneva.

Mr. Kirby, a retired Australian judge, said the international community must take North Korea to task: “We should be ashamed if we do not act on this report.”

Mr. Park said the international community has not paid adequate attention to the human rights crisis in North Korea.

“Twenty-four million North Korean people face one of the worst protracted humanitarian and human rights crises in human history, but the world’s focus has typically gone to Kim Jong-un, the nuclear issue and even [Dennis] Rodman’s bizarre visits,” said Mr. Park, referring to recent visits by the former NBA star to North Korea.

The international community must “increase support for multiple strategies to bring forward change in North Korea, including by working with North Korean refugees and people inside the country to accelerate bottom-up economic, information and social changes that are already happening in North Korean society,” Mr. Park said.

Mr. Kirby said his commission has “given the formula for change” with its report.

Nations cannot say they did not know the extent of the crimes taking place in North Korea, he said. “Now the international community does know. There will be no excusing a failure of action because we didn’t know.”  (Contributor: By Ashish Kumar Sen for The Washington Times)

Will we, as intercessors, be honest and courageous enough to avoid self-righteous anger at Korea’s Kim Jong-un? Instead, let us compare him with American abortionist Kenneth Gosnell (et al.). While Kim forced mothers to drown their babies, Dr. Gosnell did the job himself, killing live-born infants in his Philadelphia “clinic” by snipping their spinal cords with scissors. Give thanks that Gosnell has been deposed and is in prison for murder. Pray the U.N. will deal with Kim similarly. Pray, too, for a return to moral sanity in the U.S. and that the growing movement to overturn Roe v. Wade succeed.

“But we [Christians] have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Cor. 4:2-4)

“So when [the Pharisees] continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’ And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last….” (John 8:7-9)

 

POPE OPENS BIG WEEK WITH SEX, DIVORCE ON AGENDA

Meetings this week between Pope Francis and his cardinals will deal with some of the thorniest issues facing the church, including the rejection by most Catholics of some of its core teaching on premarital sex, contraception, gays and divorce.

German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has called for “changes and openings” in the church’s treatment of divorced and remarried Catholics, will give the keynote speech Thursday to the pope and cardinals attending a preparatory meeting for an October summit on family issues.

The cardinals are in town for Saturday’s ceremony to formally install 19 new “princes of the church,” the first batch named by Francis to join the group of churchmen who will elect his successor. Saturday’s ceremony is the high point of an intensive week of meetings presided over by Francis that include the first proposals to put the Vatican’s financial house in order.

Ahead of Saturday’s consistory, cardinals will meet for two days behind closed doors to begin preparations for the October summit on family issues.

Francis scheduled the summit last year and took the unusual step of sending bishops around the world a questionnaire for ordinary Catholics to fill out about how they understand and practice church teaching on marriage, sex and other issues related to the family.

The results, at least those reported by bishops in Europe and the United States, have been eye-opening. Bishops themselves reported that the church’s core teachings on sexual morals, birth control, homosexuality, marriage and divorce are rejected as unrealistic and outdated by the vast majority of Catholics, who nevertheless said they were active in parish life and considered their faith vitally important.

“On the matter of artificial contraception the responses might be characterized by the saying, ‘That train left the station long ago,'” Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, recently wrote on his blog, summarizing his survey’s findings. “Catholics have made up their minds and the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful) suggests the rejection of church teaching on this subject.”

German and Swiss bishops released similar survey results earlier this month. German bishops reported this: “The church’s statements on premarital sexual relations, on homosexuality, on those divorced and remarried and on birth control … are virtually never accepted, or are expressly rejected in the vast majority of cases.”

The Swiss bishops went further, saying the church’s very mission was being threatened by its insistence on such directives.

Kasper, who retired in 2010 after a decade as the Vatican’s chief ecumenical officer, has for years held out hope that the Vatican might accommodate these remarried Catholics who are forbidden from participating fully in the church’s sacraments unless they get an annulment.

“What is possible with God — namely forgiveness — we should be able to succeed within the church, too,” he told Germany’s Die Zeit in December.

Church teaching holds that unless that first marriage is annulled, or declared null and void by a church tribunal, Catholics who remarry cannot receive Communion because they are essentially living in sin and committing adultery. Such annulments are often impossible to get or can take years to process, a problem that has left generations of Catholics feeling shunned from their church.

Last year, the German diocese of Freiburg issued a set of guidelines explaining how such remarried Catholics could get around the rule. It said if certain criteria are met — if the spouses were trying to live according to the faith and acted with laudable motivation — they could receive Communion and other sacraments of the church.

The Vatican’s chief doctrinal czar immediately shot down the initiative, insisting there is no way around the rule. Cardinal-elect Gerhard Mueller, like Kasper a German theologian, cited documents from popes past and his own office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in rejecting arguments that mercy should prevail over church rules or that people should follow their own consciences to decide if their first marriage was valid or not.

“It is not for the individuals concerned to decide on its validity, but rather for the church,” he wrote in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

But Kasper has said the issue can and should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Francis himself has made clear he wants to help these Catholics and that the annulment process itself must be reviewed because the church’s tribunals currently are not able to deal with their caseload. He has said now was a “season of mercy.”

Francis is a big fan of Kasper. During his first Sunday noon blessing as pope, Francis praised Kasper by name, saying he was a terrific theologian who had just written a great book on mercy.

American canon lawyer Edward Peters, who has written extensively on the American annulment process, said Monday that compromise is not possible on annulments themselves since that is the only way baptized Catholics can remarry. But in a blog post, he said the Vatican might consider some “process-smoothing provisions” that were approved for the U.S. church back in the 1970s, including the elimination of the mandatory appeal to Rome. (Contributor: By Nicole Winfield for Associated Press and ABC News)

For intercessors, this is not only a Roman Catholic issue but a God-given call for widespread “house cleaning” within the Christian Church, which is in decline globally, with very low scores in positive influence. The Catholic Church of the 21st century still deals with the papacy scandals of the Middle Ages as well as the horrific pedophile sex crimes against children in modern times. The Church needs healing before it can dispense healing and freedom before it can minister freedom to its constituents. Pray accordingly, and include your own group or denomination. May God’s mercy impart to all Christians a heart of repentance. Let intercessors pull down strongholds in the name of Jesus Christ. (Note: The Isaiah passage was spoken to God’s covenant people, though rebellious and disobedient.)

“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now if the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”(1 Peter 4:17-18)

“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.’ For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:18-20)

 

NAVY READY TO DEPLOY LASER SYSTEM THIS SUMMER

Some of the Navy’s futuristic weapons sound like something out of “Star Wars,” with lasers designed to shoot down aerial drones and electric guns that fire projectiles at hypersonic speeds.

That future is now.

The Navy plans to deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, and it intends to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years.

For the Navy, it’s not so much about the whiz-bang technology as it is about the economics of such armaments. Both costs pennies on the dollar compared with missiles and smart bombs, and the weapons can be fired continuously, unlike missiles and bombs, which eventually run out.

“It fundamentally changes the way we fight,” said Capt. Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command.

The Navy’s laser technology has evolved to the point that a prototype to be deployed aboard the USS Ponce this summer can be operated by a single sailor, he said.

The solid-state Laser Weapon System is designed to target what the Navy describes as “asymmetrical threats.” Those include aerial drones, speed boats and swarm boats, all potential threats to warships in the Persian Gulf, where the Ponce, a floating staging base, is set to be deployed.

Rail guns, which have been tested on land in Virginia, fire a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound — enough velocity to cause severe damage. The Navy sees them as replacing or supplementing old-school guns, firing lethal projectiles from long distances.

But both systems have shortcomings.

Lasers tend to lose their effectiveness if it’s raining, if it’s dusty, or if there’s turbulence in the atmosphere, and the rail gun requires vast amount of electricity to launch the projectile, said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexington Institute.

“The Navy says it’s found ways to deal with use of lasers in bad weather, but there’s little doubt that the range of the weapon would be reduced by clouds, dust or precipitation,” he said.

Producing enough energy for a rail gun is another problem.

The Navy’s new destroyer, the Zumwalt, under construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine, is the only ship with enough electric power to run a rail gun. The stealthy ship’s gas turbine-powered generators can produce up to 78 megawatts of power. That’s enough electricity for a medium-size city — and more than enough for a rail gun.

Technology from the three ships in that DDG-1000 series will likely trickle down into future warships, said Capt. James Downey, the program manager.

Engineers are also working on a battery system to store enough energy to allow a rail gun to be operated on warships currently in the fleet.

Both weapon systems are prized because they serve to “get ahead of the cost curve,” Ziv said.

In other words, they’re cheap.

Each interceptor missile aboard a U.S. Navy warship costs at least $1 million apiece, making it cost-prohibitive to defend a ship in some hostile environments in which an enemy is using aircraft, drones, artillery, cruise missiles and artillery, Thompson said.

With a laser operating on about 30 kilowatts of electricity — and possibly three times that in the future — the cost amounts to a few dollars per shot, Thompson said.

The “Star Wars” analogy isn’t a bad one.

Just like in the movies, the Navy’s laser directs a beam of energy that can burn through a target or fry sensitive electronics. Unlike the movie, the laser beam is invisible to the human eye.

The targeting system locks onto the target, sending a beam of searing heat. “You see the effect on what you are targeting but you don’t see the actual beam,” Ziv said.

Other nations are developing their own lasers, but the Navy is more advanced at this point.

Most folks are stunned to learn the technology is ready for deployment, Ziv said.

“It’s fair to say that there are other countries working on this technology. That’s safe to say. But I would also say that a lot of what makes this successful came from the way in which we consolidated all of the complexity into something that can be operated by (a single sailor),” he said. (Contributor:  By David Sharp for Associated Press)

Are we to pray for better weapons or for the cessation of warfare? “It fundamentally changes the way we fight,” says the program manager, which may be a positive thing if the war is just. Pray for our nation to experience revival with widespread conversions to Christ that will enable our national leaders to weigh global options carefully and to seek justice with godly wisdom at the negotiating table before committing our troops to combat. Psalm 20 is an example of how a righteous nation, with a righteous cause, may call upon the Lord. For intercessors, we are to cry out for spiritual victory.

“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; may the name of the God of Jacob defend you; may He send you help … We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners! … He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:1-2, 5-7)

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

 

MORE STATES LIKELY TO BAN SEXUAL-ORIENTATION CHANGE THERAPY

The push to ban sexual-orientation “change” therapy for children is growing as lawmakers in at least eight states have introduced bills to outlaw the practice and gay-rights advocates expect at least a few to become law this year.

In Maryland, Delegate Jon S. Cardin, a Democrat who is running for state attorney general, has filed legislation that would ban such therapy. He said leading medical and psychological organizations have declared that “being gay is not a disease or a choice.”

Lawmakers in Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia also have introduced bills to ban sexual-orientation change efforts for minors.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association oppose this form of therapy.

“These dangerous treatments that attempt to address depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior may only serve to reinforce self-hatred,” said a summary of a New York bill introduced last year by Assemblywoman Deborah Glick. New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman filed a companion bill.

Virginia’s bill has been killed in committee, but the others are expected to move toward passage this year.

The bills resemble laws in California and New Jersey that say “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy is unscientific and harmful, especially for children struggling with their sexual identification. The laws essentially permit children to have only “gay-affirming” therapy.

The bans on sexual-orientation change efforts are likely to “follow the path of marriage equality,” with Maryland and Massachusetts the most likely states to approve bills this year, said Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, an advocacy group that “fights the ‘ex-gay’ myth.”

Truth Wins Out has created a website, LGBTScience.org, to build the case against sexual-orientation change therapy, which it calls “junk science.”

There is even hope that if California state Sen. Ted Lieu, author of the nation’s first ban on sexual-orientation change efforts, wins his race to fill the seat of retiring Rep. Henry Waxman, a Democrat, he will push for a national ban on such therapy for children.

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, has filed a resolution with 17 co-sponsors saying that Congress views sexual-orientation change therapy as having no legitimate purpose, and is dangerous and harmful to minors.

But some proposed bans are meeting resistance. Virginia lawmakers swiftly killed such legislation in committee this month, and leaders of organizations that address “sexual brokenness” say sexual-orientation change efforts are essential to helping those who want to escape unwanted same-sex attractions and experiences.

“I know a number of men who felt suicidal because they thought they were stuck with homosexuality and had no hope until they found out about the therapy and ministry opportunities available,” said Anne Paulk, executive director of Restored Hope Network, an organization with nearly 40 ministries that address sexual and gender issues.

“Each person should have the right to choose the direction of their life and not be prohibited from living congruently with their faith and/or ethics,” she said.

“For children who struggle with same-sex attractions, like I did when I was 18, it’s important for them to know that there’s more than one option, other than, ‘Hey, just accept that you’re gay and find a good gay group and ride happily into the sunset,’” said DL Foster, pastor of Overcomers Network, a Bible-based ministry that helps people live and act in sexually moral ways.

“For those who don’t want to follow a path of being self-identified as gay, they need to have clear and credible options,” Mr. Foster said.

The therapy-ban issue is already before the Supreme Court: A petition for review was filed Feb. 6 over California’s first-in-the-nation law, SB 1172, in a case called Pickup v. Brown.

New Jersey’s law banning sexual-orientation change efforts for minors is also in the courts.

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, and colleagues have appealed U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson’s decision to uphold the New Jersey ban. That case, in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is King v. Christie.

Mr. Mat Staver also assisted with the Supreme Court petition for review. (Contributor:  By Cheryl Wetzstein for The Washington Times)

IFA’s prayer points in these alerts are suggestions only. Intercessors are individuals, not “one size fits all.” Yet we achieve unity when we pray, not from the news or human commentary but by the unchanging Word of God. What does Scripture clearly teach? Answer: mankind was created in God’s image, distinctly as “male and female.” The result was a man and a woman told to be “fruitful and multiply after their own kind.” Every baby since has been either a boy or a girl, both in God’s image. From that perspective, we may pray with compassion for individuals and families with any confusion in the matter. Knowing God’s design, we pray for freedom for all through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.      

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it….’” (Gen. 1:26-28)

“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.” (1 Cor. 15:45-47)

 

ASTEROID TO HURTLE PAST THE EARTH AT 27,000 MPH

A ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid which is three times the size of a football pitch and travelling at 27,000 miles an hour will pass close to Earth on Monday night.

Although the speeding chunk of rock – named 2000 EM26 – will be 1.6 million miles away it still represents a close shave for our planet in astronomical terms.

It will be tracked by the online Slooh Space Camera which monitors asteroids but scientists say it poses no threat to Earth.

During its closest approach, the asteroid will fly about 8.8 lunar distances from Earth.

A potentially hazardous object is a near-Earth asteroid or comet with an orbit that makes close approaches to the Earth and is of a size large enough to cause significant regional damage.

2000 EM26’s flyby is almost exactly a year after a meteor unexpectedly exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia, causing damage and injuring more than 1,000 people with falling glass.

“On a practical level, a previously-unknown, undiscovered asteroid seems to hit our planet and cause damage or injury once a century or so, as we witnessed on June 20, 1908 and February 15, 2013,” said Slooh astronomer Bob Berman.

“Every few centuries, an even more massive asteroid strikes us — fortunately usually impacting in an ocean or wasteland such an Antarctica.

“But the on-going threat, and the fact that biosphere-altering events remain a real if small annual possibility, suggests that discovering and tracking all NEOs, as well as setting up contingency plans for deflecting them on short notice should the need arise, would be a wise use of resources.”

Slooh routinely tracks dangerous asteroids which have the potential to cause significant damage if they hit the Earth.

Their work has the side aim of increasing awareness about the dangers of asteroids, and recruiting members of the public to help by scanning the skies with Slooh robotic telescopes.

Paul Cox, technical research director said: “We continue to discover these potentially hazardous asteroids — sometimes only days before they make their close approaches to Earth.

“Slooh’s asteroid research campaign is gathering momentum with Slooh members using the Slooh robotic telescopes to monitor this huge population of potentially hazardous space rocks. We need to find them before they find us. (Contributor: The Telegraph)

Here is an example of what might be called a titillating article. Of marginal interest to Christians, who know the “end of the world” is in God’s hands and according to His plan and purpose, it gives us a momentary respite from the intensity of “standing in the gap” in prayer (on this matter). First, as you read this, the event has passed. The asteroid, at once described as “potentially dangerous” and “posing no threat” to Planet Earth, passed us while 1.6 million miles away. Will our planet be destroyed by an asteroid collision? Perhaps, if God so wills, but not today. Christians may give thanks, while resting in God’s peace, for the assurance that our times are in His hands.

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand; Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion….” (Psalm 31:14-15; 19-20)

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,  looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless….” (2 Peter 3:10-14)

On Watch in Washington February 19, 2014 Plain Text PDF Version

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