One Archeological Site At A Time…
Krac des Chevaliers, Between Homs and the Lebanese border.
Visiting archeological sites in Syria can arouse within one a rather sharp and distinct feeling of trekking along the same paths traveled a century ago by the field archaeologist, and later colonel in the British Army, T.E. Lawrence. Indeed there are a number of still-visible “Lawrence of Arabia” footprints to be found here—both in Damascus as well as deep in the Syrian countryside.
In Damascus, for instance, one may marvel at the Khan As’ad Pasha, the majestic 18th century residence of the Ottoman governor of Damascus—As’ad Pasha al-Azem—whose palatial domicile today houses the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions. Most foreigners like to spend time at Azem, and Lawrence was frequently there as a guest of Emir Faisal, a son of Sharif Hussein, of Mecca. It was Faisal’s irregular troops that Lawrence fought alongside while sabotaging the railway lines of the overstretched Ottoman forces and significantly contributing to their defeat.
As Ottoman domination crumbled, in no small measure due to the Arab revolt around Damascus, Lawrence tried in vain to salvage something for the Arabs, whom he loved and admired even if he sometimes expressed his affection for them in an elitist English orientalist turn of phrase. By the summer of 1917, it had become clear to both Lawrence and Faisal that the four-century rule over Arabia by the Ottoman Turks was about to collapse, thanks in no small part to the revolt and the bravery and sacrifices of those who joined it. Also clear to Lawrence, if not to his friend Faisal, who was a bit naïve on the subject of Western history, was that his country, England, a pillar of the “Big Four” at the Versailles Peace Conference, conference which included the President Woodrow Wilson, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, France’s Georges Clemenceau and the Prime Minister of Italy, Vittorio Orlando was planning once again, and not for the last time, to stab the Arabs in the back and renege on the very promises that Lawrence had been commanded to deliver.
Photos of Lawrence and Faisal hang today on the walls of what was Lawrence’s bedroom and office at the Azem Palace—and it is clear from his facial expressions that Lawrence sensed what was coming to Syria and Palestine. Before he died, in a motorcycle accident shortly after his return to England at the age of 46, Lawrence increasingly discussed what he regarded as his personal failure, during the closing years of the war, when he told friends and family that he had failed to convince his superiors in the British government that Arab independence was in their interests. The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and Britain, according to Lawrence, was an abject betrayal of the promises of independence he had made to the Arabs and for which he felt personally responsible.
This observer crossed paths with Lawrence, in a manner of speaking, once again a few weeks ago, at Palmyra, the archeological and UNESCO World Heritage site which lies across the Syrian desert to the northeast of Damascus. The area was recently liberated from Islamist jihadists, and it was here I came across the words of Lawrence himself, inscribed on a plaque: “Nothing in this scorching, desolate land could look so refreshing…Moslem story-tellers ascribe the building of Palmyra to the Jinn commandeered by Soloman…”
Frankly, this observer is reluctant to demure from Lawrence’s description, but in the many years since he spoke those words, it has become clear that the “Tadmor” (Arabic and Hebrew name for Palmyra) referred to in the Torah is not the Tadmor of Syria, but rather refers to a different site, one now lost to the sands of Palestine, if it ever existed at all. Lawrence in fact would probably be sorely vexed to learn that his words linking Palmyra to Soloman are today being misused by cheap, tawdry, Zionist land seekers prowling to assert a bogus claim over Palmyra in Syria as part of God’s putative philanthropy, with the expectation, undoubtedly, of swallowing more Arab land for the ever-expanding Eretz Israel. But the misuse of Lawrence’s quote at Palmyra for political purposes is a subject for another Syrian update.
Lawrence and Lamb also crossed paths (again in a manner of speaking that is) on 5/15/14 in the course of this observer’s six-hour excursion up and around the medieval fortress known as Krak des Chevaliers (Castle of the Kurds—who reportedly first inhabited the area in the 11th century). The Syrian Arab Army recaptured the castle and the nearby village of al-Hosn from rebel forces on March 20, 2014. Both the castle as well as the village of 10,000 had been seized by rebels (aka ‘takfiri terrorists’), with the “Krak” sustaining extensive damage from especially violent clashes in 2012 and again in July and August of 2013. My excellent companion and government guide during my day at the Krak was “Mohammad,” a Syrian army security commander with 40 troops under his command. The detachment has been stationed inside the fortress, this so as to keep anyone from attempting to retake it “by a nighttime sneak attack,” I was told.
Krac des Chevaliers..liberated from rebels on 3/20/14
Apparently a history buff, Mohammad’s first comment, as we began to ascend the steep three floors of medieval steps, was to quote—who else?—T.E. Lawrence.
“We are walking in the footsteps of Lawrence,” he informed me as we made our way, gazing from time to time at the marvelous, gothic ceilings. “He called this fortress—” then, to my surprise, reciting from memory: ‘perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world, and a castle which forms a fitting commentary on any account of the Crusading buildings of Syria.”
Many historians have agreed with that assessment by Lawrence, including Hugh Kennedy, who wrote that “the defenses of the outer wall were the most elaborate and developed anywhere in the Latin east…the whole structure is a brilliantly-designed and superbly-built fighting machine.”
Indeed, Krak des Chevaliers is considered one of the greatest and best preserved castles in the world due to its unique architecture in terms of its defense facilities, building materials and decorations. In 2006, the castle was inscribed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage sites along with its “sister fort,” the Citadel of Saladin, further north in Lattakia.
Among the approximately 400 damaged or destroyed antiquity sites that are now back under government control, Krak des Chevaliers is viewed by locals as a sort of “success story” because, for sure, it is still standing! A major restoration project was begun in April, and is now well underway, with the effort being directed by fifteen fulltime restoration specialists, who in turn are assisted by volunteers. Government officials, including the Ministers of Culture and of Tourism, drop by from time to time and praise their work, and a “Krak des Chevaliers reopens to the public” event is scheduled for 6/1/14. Whether many foreign tourists (or any at all) will be able to attend the gala happening is dubitable.
But hopefully conditions will allow for the return of tourists to the country at some point soon. One of my traveling companions the day I feasted my eyes on the Krak was a Syrian tour operator who pronounces himself more than willing to pitch in and help rebuild the tourist industry, Syria’s second largest foreign-exchange earner, which in 2010, prior to the outbreak of the conflict, brought in more than $1.5 billion.
Less fortunate than the castle is the formerly picturesque village of al-Hosn, which too was packed with rebels, and where current conditions now rival those in some parts of the cities of Aleppo and Homs for complete and total destruction. This observer did not see one bird, one feral cat, or even a fly in what locals call “the village of death.” Two weeks ago, a four man unit from Mohammed’s battalion at Krak did discover two hold-over rebels hiding out in the rubble. They killed them on the spot.
After 12 centuries of invaders trying to conquer this land, and a number succeeding—such as when the Muslims took it from the Christians in the seventh century employing the time tested ‘surrender or starve’ tactic—things have a way of getting rebuilt and repaired. And this time will likely be no different.
This observer’s purpose in visiting Krak was to detail the damage caused by 18 months of fighting over the fortress. The notes I made on my trip on 5/15/14 include the following:
- Complete destruction of the staircase and halls in front of the internal building of the fort.
- Partial damage in the façade of the Hall of the Knights, including some damage to the decorations and arches inside the Hall.
- Traces of fire behind the church and damage to the library hall, opposite the leader’s tower, and a part of the staircase leading to the roof of the library hall.
- Damage in the façade of the King’s Daughter’s Tower and partial destruction in the wall between the tower and the roof of the church.
- Partial destruction in the entrance to the stairs in front of Qalawun Tower; damage and destruction in some parts of the tower itself.
- Damage to one wall of the warehouse adjacent to the main offices of the castles overlooking the courtyard.
- Destruction of a part of the pillar supporting the ceiling of the library tower opposite the tower of the knights.
- Severe damage in the office of the Ottoman House, as well as the administration offices.
- Partial damage and destruction of some walls in several places of the castle, including minor damage in the outer wall of the castle.
- Surface damage caused by domestic fires built by rebels for heating and cooking, this by the dozens of rebel families that occupied different areas of the vast fortress.
To this observer it is clear that the Syrian public and their officials, in all 14 of the country’s governorates, are committed to the complete restoration of their nation’s peerless and incomparable archeological heritage sites as soon as security conditions permit.
With the FCC policy to allow a two-speed internet, the die is cast that corporate favoritism is the focus of government, as Internet 2 accelerates to replace the network that has served the public so well for decades. Internet 2 turns 15, asks. Has it delivered on its promise?
“Internet 2 was created by 34 university research institutions in 1996, when the commercial and non-commercial branches of the Internet’s evolutionary tree split off and went their separate ways. The mission of Internet 2 was to provide reliable, dedicated bandwidth to support the ever-growing demands of the research and educational communities, and in doing so, to develop technologies that would advance the state of the ‘commodity’ Internet.”
As major ventures like the 16 Major Technology Companies Announce Cloud Service Partnerships to Benefit the Nation’s Universities, collaborate to control and store the data stream certainly benefits the corporatist economy, but significantly reduces if not eliminates the independence of personal choices on the web. Make no mistake about it, the big tech giants are so deep in bed with government dominance freaks, that advancing opportunities for constructive commerce would be a mere byproduct to the new system.
Can two different internet platform steams coexist? Do not confuse the rise of the “Social Internet” with the higher speed gateway IN2 interconnect. Intra academic connect-ability is poised to include the next generation of corporate affiliations. With this association, the quaint notion of academic freedom will never pass the algorithm test.
The recent EU Court Decision in Google Search Info Removal Case Appalls Analysts article is a warning of restrictions to come.
“A court decision in the European Union that could force Google to remove offensive information in searches at the request of individuals is receiving harsh criticism from IT analysts who say that such a policy could ultimately diffuse the credibility of the Internet itself.”
In an Internet 2 environment, the influence of government lawmakers, agencies and courts will be far more prevalent then the experience that seldom blocked “Politically Incorrect” results. Any surfer of the search engines knows that restricting, and even eliminating, content once freely accessed, has become routine. Today a Google search (both text and images) provides sites that restrict outcomes that were once available. Imagine the greater degree of limitations under a supervised bureaucratic culture that relegates critical conclusions of the governance society under Internet 2.
Whenever the corporatists see the prospects to carve out, more efficient monopolies, they seize the opportunity. The deist’s that idolize the synergism partnership of the corporate-state, play into the hands of the non-compete economy.
Townhall the NeoCon publication maintains a political partisan position in the article, Neutrality Nuts Won’t Be Happy Until Government Controls the Internet. Author Phil Kerpen criticizes the Free Press opposition to the FCC endorsement of a paid priority internet.
“Together we’ll dance, drum and shout that the agency must throw out its destructive plan and reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service. This is the only way to restore real Net Neutrality.”
“Restore” is an odd word choice, because the reclassification of broadband Internet as a Title II telecommunications service, also known, ironically, as POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service), would bring about total government economic control on the Internet that has never previously existed.”
Now where do you suppose the corporatist will come down on greater regulation? Yep, you guessed it! When you write the legislation and dominate the lobbying of regulators, squeezing out the upstarts or free market entrepreneurs, is right up your alley.
Assigning utility status to the Internet, especially when the U.S. is on the path to turn over administration of the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), to international control, is another step to total global Corporatocracy.The introduction of an Internet 2 connection will foster requirements for playing in the sandbox of the tech titans. Opine all you want, the need for speed comes at a great price, far more than just financial changes. A mobile world of ads and trivia breeds functional illiterates. Texting is not a skill, but a curse.
Burying an uncensored internet is the goal that corporate governance wants. Their draconian design for an OpenID Connect may usher in a new era of federated online identity, is part of the Internet 2 wish list.
“Here’s the nut of this issue: governments need ways to authenticate the growing numbers of citizens going online to access digital services. Around the globe, hundreds of millions of people want digital services, increasingly provided through connected mobile devices. For instance, just think about renewing a driver’s license or passport, reserving space in public parks, or accessing records.Driven by policy needs and political realities, the Obama administration put forward a National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) in 2011 that adopted a federated approach to online identity, enabling people to use a validated identity from a private entity to identify themselves to government. Governments verify and validate identity providers under trust frameworks. After years of development, NSTIC pilots for federated identity are now being tested in Michigan and Pennsylvania, along with other locales and agencies.”
After inducing the public into accepting the promises of anytime video steaming, the Internet 2 future will suck in the instant gratification set, while relegating the cost conscience consumer into a second-class existence. Once critical mass is established, and the package of greater government regulation is in place, the plug is ready for pulling free expressive content at will. When DAPRA funded the research that developed the crucial internet protocols, and CERN contributed to making information exchange more efficient, the world was not able to demand a digital identity for every inhabitant.So much of world commerce, now conducted on the internet, necessitates that the corporate elites want their government agents to safeguard their financial interests, often at the sacrifice of personal liberty. Hence, the overwhelming need for balance at every stage of transition in the Internet, so that individual rights are as protected for the public as for business.
Imagine: you are dressed up for a night on Broadway, but your neighbours are involved in a vicious quarrel, and you have to gun up and deal with the trouble instead of enjoying a show, and a dinner, and perhaps a date. This was Putin’s position regarding the Ukrainian turmoil.
The Russians have readjusted their sights, but they do not intend to bring their troops into the two rebel republics, unless dramatic developments should force them.
It is not much fun to be in Kiev these days. The revolutionary excitement is over, and hopes for new faces, the end of corruption and economic improvement have withered. The Maidan street revolt and the subsequent coup just reshuffled the same marked deck of cards, forever rotating in power.
The new acting President has been an acting prime minister, and a KGB (called “SBU” in Ukrainian) supremo. The new acting prime minister has been a foreign minister. The oligarch most likely to be “elected” President in a few days has been a foreign minister, the head of the state bank, and personal treasurer of two coups, in 2004 (installing Yushchenko) and in 2014 (installing himself). His main competitor, Mme Timoshenko, served as a prime minister for years, until electoral defeat in 2010.
These people had brought Ukraine to its present abject state. In 1991, the Ukraine was richer than Russia, today it is three times poorer because of these people’s mismanagement and theft. Now they plan an old trick: to take loans in Ukraine’s name, pocket the cash and leave the country indebted. They sell state assets to Western companies and ask for NATO to come in and protect the investment.
They play a hard game, brass knuckles and all. The Black Guard, a new SS-like armed force of the neo-nazi Right Sector, prowls the land. They arrest or kill dissidents, activists, journalists. Hundreds of American soldiers, belonging to the “private” company Academi (formerly Blackwater) are spread out in Novorossia, the pro-Russian provinces in the East and South-East. IMF–dictated reforms slashed pensions by half and doubled the housing rents. In the market, US Army rations took the place of local food.
The new Kiev regime had dropped the last pretence of democracy by expelling the Communists from the parliament. This should endear them to the US even more. Expel Communists, apply for NATO, condemn Russia, arrange a gay parade and you may do anything at all, even fry dozens of citizens alive. And so they did.
The harshest repressions were unleashed on industrial Novorossia, as its working class loathes the whole lot of oligarchs and ultra-nationalists. After the blazing inferno of Odessa and a wanton shooting on the streets of Melitopol the two rebellious provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms and declared their independence from the Kiev regime. They came under fire, but did not surrender. The other six Russian-speaking industrial provinces of Novorossia were quickly cowed. Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa were terrorised by personal army of Mr Kolomoysky; Kharkov was misled by its tricky governor.
Russia did not interfere and did not support the rebellion, to the great distress of Russian nationalists in Ukraine and Russia who mutter about “betrayal”. So much for the warlike rhetoric of McCain and Brzezinski.
Putin’s respect for others’ sovereignty is exasperating. I understand this sounds like a joke, — you hear so much about Putin as a “new Hitler”. As a matter of fact, Putin had legal training before joining the Secret Service. He is a stickler for international law. His Russia has interfered with other states much less than France or England, let alone the US. I asked his senior adviser, Mr Alexei Pushkov, why Russia did not try to influence Ukrainian minds while Kiev buzzed with American and European officials. “We think it is wrong to interfere”, he replied like a good Sunday schoolboy. It is rather likely Putin’s advisors misjudged public sentiment. « The majority of Novorossia’s population does not like the new Kiev regime, but being politically passive and conservative, will submit to its rule”, they estimated. “The rebels are a small bunch of firebrands without mass support, and they can’t be relied upon”, was their view. Accordingly, Putin advised the rebels to postpone the referendum indefinitely, a polite way of saying “drop it”.
They disregarded his request with considerable sang froid and convincingly voted en masse for secession from a collapsing Ukraine. The turnout was much higher than expected, the support for the move near total. As I was told by a Kremlin insider, this development was not foreseen by Putin’s advisers.
Perhaps the advisors had read it right, but three developments had changed the voters’ minds and had sent this placid people to the barricades and the voting booths:
1. The first one was the fiery holocaust of Odessa, where the peaceful and carelessly unarmed demonstrating workers were suddenly attacked by regime’s thugs (the Ukrainian equivalent of Mubarak’s shabab) and corralled into the Trade Unions Headquarters. The building was set on fire, and the far-right pro-regime Black Guard positioned snipers to efficiently pick off would-be escapees. Some fifty, mainly elderly, Russian-speaking workers were burned alive or shot as they rushed for the windows and the doors. This dreadful event was turned into an occasion of merriment and joy by Ukrainian nationalists who referred to their slain compatriots as “fried beetles”. (It is being said that this auto-da-fé was organised by the shock troops of Jewish oligarch and strongman Kolomoysky, who coveted the port of Odessa. Despite his cuddly bear appearance, he is pugnacious and violent person, who offered ten thousand dollars for a captive Russian, dead or alive, and proposed a cool million dollars for the head of Mr Tsarev, a Member of Parliament from Donetsk.)
2. The second was the Mariupol attack on May 9, 2014. This day is commemorated as V-day in Russia and Ukraine (while the West celebrates it on May 8). The Kiev regime forbade all V-day celebrations. In Mariupol, the Black Guard attacked the peaceful and weaponless town, burning down the police headquarters and killing local policemen who had refused to suppress the festive march. Afterwards, Black Guard thugs unleashed armoured vehicles on the streets, killing citizens and destroying property.
The West did not voice any protest; Nuland and Merkel weren’t horrified by this mass murder, as they were by Yanukovich’s timid attempts to control crowds.
The people of these two provinces felt abandoned; they understood that nobody was going to protect and save them but themselves, and went off to vote.
3. The third development was, bizarrely, the Eurovision jury choice of Austrian transvestite Conchita Wurst for a winner of its song contest.
The sound-minded Novorossians decided they want no part of such a Europe.
Actually, the people of Europe do not want it either:
It transpired that the majority of British viewers preferred a Polish duo, Donatan & Cleo, with its We Are Slavic. Donatan is half Russian, and has courted controversy in the past extolling the virtues of pan-Slavism and the achievements of the Red Army, says the Independent.
The politically correct judges of the jury preferred to “celebrate tolerance”, the dominant paradigm imposed upon Europe.
This is the second transvestite to win this very political contest; the first one was Israeli singer Dana International.
Such obsession with re-gendering did not go down well with Russians and/or Ukrainians.
The Russians have readjusted their sights, but they do not intend to bring their troops into the two rebel republics, unless dramatic developments should force them.
Imagine: you are dressed up for a night on Broadway, but your neighbours are involved in a vicious quarrel, and you have to gun up and deal with the trouble instead of enjoying a show, and a dinner, and perhaps a date. This was Putin’s position regarding the Ukrainian turmoil.
A few months ago, Russia had made a huge effort to become, and to be seen as, a very civilized European state of the first magnitude. This was the message of the Sochi Olympic games: to re-brand, even re-invent Russia, just as Peter the Great once had, as part of the First World; an amazing country of strong European tradition, of Leo Tolstoy and Malevich, of Tchaikovsky and Diaghilev, the land of arts, of daring social reform, of technical achievements, of modernity and beyond — the Russia of Natasha Rostova riding a Sikorsky ‘copter. Putin spent $60 billion to broadcast this image.
The old fox Henry Kissinger wisely said:
Putin spent $60 billion on the Olympics. They had opening and closing ceremonies, trying to show Russia as a normal progressive state. So it isn’t possible that he, three days later, would voluntarily start an assault on Ukraine. There is no doubt that… at all times he wanted Ukraine in a subordinate position. And at all times, every senior Russian that I’ve ever met, including dissidents like Solzhenitsyn and Brodsky, looked at Ukraine as part of the Russian heritage. But I don’t think he had planned to bring it to a head now.
However, Washington hawks decided to do whatever it takes to keep Russia out in the cold. They were afraid of this image of “a normal progressive state” as such Russia would render NATO irrelevant and undermine European dependence on the US. They were adamant about retaining their hegemony, shattered as it was by the Syrian confrontation. They attacked Russian positions in the Ukraine and arranged a violent coup, installing a viciously anti-Russian regime supported by football fans and neo-Nazis, paid for by Jewish oligarchs and American taxpayers. The victors banned the Russian language and prepared to void treaties with Russia regarding its Crimean naval base at Sebastopol on the Black Sea. This base was to become a great new NATO base, controlling the Black Sea and threatening Russia.
Putin had to deal quickly and so he did, by accepting the Crimean people’s request to join Russian Federation. This dealt with the immediate problem of the base, but the problem of Ukraine remained.
The Ukraine is not a foreign entity to Russians, it is the western half of Russia. It was artificially separated from the rest in 1991, at the collapse of the USSR. The people of the two parts are interconnected by family, culture and blood ties; their economies are intricately connected. While a separate viable Ukrainian state is a possibility, an “independent” Ukrainian state hostile to Russia is not viable and can’t be tolerated by any Russian ruler. And this for military as well as for cultural reasons: if Hitler had begun the war against Russia from its present border, he would have taken Stalingrad in two days and would have destroyed Russia in a week.
A more pro-active Russian ruler would have sent troops to Kiev a long time ago. Thus did Czar Alexis when the Poles, Cossacks and Tatars argued for it in 17th century. So also did Czar Peter the Great, when the Swedes occupied it in the 18th century. So did Lenin, when the Germans set up the Protectorate of Ukraine (he called its establishment “the obscene peace”). So did Stalin, when the Germans occupied the Ukraine in 1941.
Putin still hopes to settle the problem by peaceful means, relying upon the popular support of the Ukrainian people. Actually, before the Crimean takeover, the majority of Ukrainians (and near all Novorossians) overwhelmingly supported some sort of union with Russia. Otherwise, the Kiev coup would not have been necessary. The forced Crimean takeover seriously undermined Russian appeal. The people of Ukraine did not like it. This was foreseen by the Kremlin, but they had to accept Crimea for a few reasons. Firstly, a loss of Sevastopol naval base to NATO was a too horrible of an alternative to contemplate. Secondly, the Russian people would not understand if Putin were to refuse the suit of the Crimeans.
The Washington hawks still hope to force Putin to intervene militarily, as it would give them the opportunity to isolate Russia, turn it into a monster pariah state, beef up defence spending and set Europe and Russia against each other. They do not care about Ukraine and Ukrainians, but use them as pretext to attain geopolitical goals.
The Europeans would like to fleece Ukraine; to import its men as “illegal” workers and its women as prostitutes, to strip assets, to colonise. They did it with Moldova, a little sister of Ukraine, the most miserable ex-Soviet Republic. As for Russia, the EU would not mind taking it down a notch, so they would not act so grandly. But the EU is not fervent about it. Hence, the difference in attitudes.
Putin would prefer to continue with his modernisation of Russia. The country needs it badly. The infrastructure lags twenty or thirty years behind the West. Tired by this backwardness, young Russians often prefer to move to the West, and this brain drain causes much damage to Russia while enriching the West. Even Google is a result of this brain drain, for Sergey Brin is a Russian immigrant as well. So are hundreds of thousands of Russian scientists and artists manning every Western lab, theatre and orchestra. Political liberalisation is not enough: the young people want good roads, good schools and a quality of life comparable to the West. This is what Putin intends to deliver.
He is doing a fine job of it. Moscow now has free bikes and Wi-Fi in the parks like every Western European city. Trains have been upgraded. Hundreds of thousands of apartments are being built, even more than during the Soviet era. Salaries and pensions have increased seven-to-tenfold in the past decade. Russia is still shabby, but it is on the right track. Putin wants to continue this modernisation.
As for the Ukraine and other ex-Soviet states, Putin would prefer they retain their independence, be friendly and work at a leisurely pace towards integration a la the European Union.
He does not dream of a new empire. He would reject such a proposal, as it would delay his modernisation plans.
If the beastly neocons would not have forced his hand by expelling the legitimate president of Ukraine and installing their puppets, the world might have enjoyed a long spell of peace.
But then the western military alliance under the US leadership would fall into abeyance, US military industries would lose out, and US hegemony would evaporate. Peace is not good for the US military and hegemony-creating media machine. So dreams of peace in our lifetime are likely to remain just dreams.
What will Putin do?
Putin will try to avoid sending in troops as long as possible. He will have to protect the two splinter provinces, but this can be done with remote support, the way the US supports the rebels in Syria, without ‘boots on the ground’. Unless serious bloodshed on a large scale should occur, Russian troops will just stand by, staring down the Black Guard and other pro-regime forces.
Putin will try to find an arrangement with the West for sharing authority, influence and economic involvement in the failed state. This can be done through federalisation, or by means of coalition government, or even partition. The Russian-speaking provinces of Novorossia are those of Kharkov (industry), Nikolayev (ship-building), Odessa (harbour), Donetsk and Lugansk (mines and industry), Dnepropetrovsk (missiles and high-tech), Zaporozhe (steel), Kherson (water for Crimea and ship-building), all of them established, built and populated by Russians. They could secede from Ukraine and form an independent Novorossia, a mid-sized state, but still bigger than some neighbouring states. This state could join the Union State of Russia and Belarus, and/or the Customs Union led by Russia. The rump Ukraine could manage as it sees fit until it decides whether or not to join its Slavic sisters in the East. Such a set up would produce two rather cohesive and homogeneous states.
Another possibility (much less likely at this moment) is a three-way division of the failed Ukraine: Novorossia, Ukraine proper, and Galicia&Volyn. In such a case, Novorossia would be strongly pro-Russian, Ukraine would be neutral, and Galicia strongly pro-Western.
The EU could accept this, but the US probably would not agree to any power-sharing in the Ukraine. In the ensuing tug-of-war, one of two winners will emerge. If Europe and the US drift apart, Russia wins. If Russia accepts a pro-Western positioning of practically all of Ukraine, the US wins. The tug-of-war could snap and cause all-out war, with many participants and a possible use of nuclear weapons. This is a game of chicken; the one with stronger nerves and less imagination will remain on the track.
Pro and Contra
It is too early to predict who will win in the forthcoming confrontation. For the Russian president, it is extremely tempting to take all of Ukraine or at least Novorossia, but it is not an easy task, and one likely to cause much hostility from the Western powers. With Ukraine incorporated, Russian recovery from 1991 would be completed, its strength doubled, its security ensured and a grave danger removed. Russia would become great again. People would venerate Putin as Gatherer of Russian Lands.
However, Russian efforts to appear as a modern peaceful progressive state would have been wasted; it would be seen as an aggressor and expelled from international bodies. Sanctions will bite; high tech imports may be banned, as in the Soviet days. The Russian elites are reluctant to jeopardize their good life. The Russian military just recently began its modernization and is not keen to fight yet, perhaps not for another ten years.
But if they feel cornered, if NATO moves into Eastern Ukraine, they will fight all the same.
Some Russian politicians and observers believe that Ukraine is a basket case; its problems would be too expensive to fix. This assessment has a ‘sour grapes’ aftertaste, but it is widespread. An interesting new voice on the web, The Saker, promotes this view. “Let the EU and the US provide for the Ukrainians, they will come back to Mother Russia when hungry”, he says. The problem is, they will not be allowed to reconsider. The junta did not seize power violently in order to lose it at the ballot box.
Besides, Ukraine is not in such bad shape as some people claim. Yes, it would cost trillions to turn it into a Germany or France, but that’s not necessary. Ukraine can reach the Russian level of development very quickly –- in union with Russia. Under the EC-IMF-NATO, Ukraine will become a basket case, if it’s not already. The same is true for all East European ex-Soviet states: they can modestly prosper with Russia, as Belarus and Finland do, or suffer depopulation, unemployment, poverty with Europe and NATO and against Russia, vide Latvia, Hungary, Moldova, Georgia. It is in Ukrainian interests to join Russia in some framework; Ukrainians understand that; for this reason they will not be allowed to have democratic elections.
Simmering Novorossia has a potential to change the game. If Russian troops don’t come in, Novorossian rebels may beat off the Kiev offensive and embark on a counter-offensive to regain the whole of the country, despite Putin’s pacifying entreaties. Then, in a full-blown civil war, the Ukraine will hammer out its destiny.
On a personal level, Putin faces a hard choice. Russian nationalists will not forgive him if he surrenders Ukraine without a fight. The US and EU threaten the very life of the Russian president, as their sanctions are hurting Putin’s close associates, encouraging them to get rid of or even assassinate the President and improve their relations with the mighty West. War may come at any time, as it came twice during the last century – though Russia tried to avoid it both times. Putin wants to postpone it, at the very least, but not at any price.
His is not an easy choice. As Russia procrastinates, as the US doubles the risks, the world draws nearer to the nuclear abyss. Who will chicken out?
(Language editing by Ken Freeland)
What does the United States have in common with Japan’s economy? Demographics of an aging population have consequences for both countries. As Japan News reports, National debt hits record high.
“Japan’s national debt totaled a record-high ¥1.02 quadrillion as of the end of March, up ¥33.36 trillion from a year earlier, the Finance Ministry said.
The central government debt, which increased ¥7.01 trillion from the end of December last year, kept rising mainly due to ballooning social security costs in line with the aging of the population.”
Last year Forbes viewed their debt crisis as staggering. “Currently at 240% of GDP, the International Monetary Fund estimates that it will get to 250% by year-end. Why is this an issue? Well, when you have government debt at 24x government revenue and interest expenses taking up 25% of government revenue, it becomes a very big issue.”
Around the same time, Matt Phillips wrote that with a quadrillion in debt, there’s only one way out for Japan, jumpstart growth.
“So, yes, while Japan does have a ton of debt, the outright level is not the best way to keep track of it. The more important gauge is debt as a percentage of the country’s annual economic output, or GDP. And at more than 200%, Japan’s debt load is the highest among all developed nations.
But still, how will Japan ever manage to pay it off it’s debt? Well, actually, it won’t.
The goal for countries isn’t paying off debt, it’s getting its debt-to-GDP ratio in better shape.”
There is a huge problem with growing a GDP when the international economy is still suffering from the global financial meltdown, when your own nation has fewer spending consumers as the population ages. OECD warns Japan’s economy may suffer inflation without wage growth. “The Paris-based club of 34 advanced nations said in its biannual report that the world’s third-biggest economy would expand 1.2 percent this year, downgraded from its November forecast of 1.5 percent in terms of inflation-adjusted gross domestic product growth.”
Added to this sluggish and lackluster forecast, the WSJ article that Japan Current Account Surplus Smallest on Record, indicates a serious downward trend in foreign trade earnings.
“The ¥789.9 billion ($7.76 billion) surplus in the broadest measure of a nation’s trade with the rest of the world was sharply lower than the ¥4.2 trillion surplus registered a year earlier, data from the Ministry of Finance showed Monday. Until recently, the country routinely produced a surplus in excess of ¥10 trillion a year.”
Is the day on the horizon when Japan will mirror the trade deficits that have so long plagued the American economy? Just look to the practice that many Japanese manufacturers are shifting their production offshore. Besides, the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster has the country consuming more imported fossil fuels to meet energy needs.
If you are looking for answers, you better read the essay by Alan Gula in Wall Street Daily, Japan’s Most Valuable Resource is Vanishing. “Through quantitative easing and large budget deficits, Abenomics has produced currency weakness and higher stock prices… but it’s failed to generate real wage growth.Currency weakness has contributed to soaring energy prices, and the recent sales tax increase will effectively exacerbate inflation and crimp consumer spending. So despite an escape from the jaws of deflation, problems persist in Japan.
In fact, it’s likely that Japan has stagnated because of 15 years of zero interest rate policy (ZIRP), not in spite of ZIRP.”
Finally, Mr. Gula’s points to the fact that, “children under 15 make up just 12.8% of the Japanese population, the lowest ratio among nations with populations of at least 40 million people.” When you factor in that Japan ranks number eight among developed economies in household debt, the persistent legend that Japanese are the world’s savers, is rapidly vanishing.
Over ten years ago Research at Shorenstein APARC, Stanford addressed theCauses of Japan’s Economic Stagnation. However, the global economy has changed dramatically after 2008. In many ways, Japan has experienced several major setbacks.
“If Japan’s current account surplus turns into a current account deficit, the country will have to attract money into its financial markets in order to pay its bills. That may be difficult given that Japan has some of the lowest interest rates and highest debt in the world. Interest rates would probably have to rise substantially, which would worsen the government’s finances and could cause a crisis – causing the yen to weaken even further.
To make matters worse, if the government is successful in its drive to raise the inflation rate, that will only further reduce the real interest rate on Japanese bonds, which is already the lowest of the major bond markets. That’s going to be a hard sell and that’s why I expect the yen to trend lower over the next several years.”
The global financial system, based upon debt fiat money, affects industrial countries the most. Japan was once an island nation, immune from international intervention. The Princeton Press published a paper, Why Study Japanese Political Economy?Most analysis of economic developments in foreign countries only glosses over the political factor that influence and often shape economic policy.
Looking at Japan may well be a valuable mirror on the future of American society. The Japanese tragedy, very easily can turn into the lost decades for our own marketplace. The notion that domestic business or for that matter, the global economy can continue to operate on ever rising debt obligations is paternally absurd. Better, learn this lesson now, before it is too late.
“The introduction of genetically modified foods (GMO) tampers with the essence of life in an experiment with an unknown outcome and no real way to undue the damage. The FDA purposely does not require labeling of GMO food, since no one who understands the issue would ever purchase it. This makes it all the more difficult to locate healthful food.” Byron J. Richards, The Leptin Diet: How Fit Is Your Fat?
This series exposes the outright fraud against peoples’ lives and the contempt for American citizens (and citizens of the world who eat our grains) with the injection of Genetically Modified Organism foods by the highest representatives in our U.S. Congress.
Call it a “financial cartel” that allows GMOs to be fed to our citizenry, but worse, for the love of money, those power elites accelerate the destruction of our Natural World.
We humans grow too clever and too arrogant to understand the long-term penalties we heap on Mother Nature until she finds no other answers but to claw back at us, i.e., cancers, disease and more aberrant environmental disasters to come.
Every crop in America, Canada, Australia and much of the third world where GMO advocates like ADM and Monsanto can force their “Frankensteinization” on farmers—they push it.
Even with all the evidence piling up, those same elites hammer any opposition into the ground. They “bribe” the FDA officials to not label any GMO foods so you don’t know what you’re eating.
We destroy our own bodies by our actions, but we also obliterate the Natural World and its inhabitants.
Today around the world, trillions of bees suffer “colony collapse” via GMO crops. Nature cannot figure out how to deal with plants that suffer genetic modification or DNA change-ups.
GMO foods represent a pitcher throwing an orange to the catcher in a Major League Baseball game. Within several pitches, the orange wouldn’t hold its form from the violent treatment. If the batter connected with the orange, it would splatter all over the field. Result: the game couldn’t continue. The players could not play and the spectators would go home.
But in GMO production, the consequences cannot be seen as quickly, however those “errors” against Mother Nature will surface well into the future.
Ethan Huff, science writer for Natural News said, “A pair of studies recently published in the journal Science raises dire warnings about the continued decline of crop-pollinating insects all over the world, and what this means for the future of the world’s food supply. Both studies highlight the fact that wild pollinators like bumblebees, butterflies, and beetles are basically disappearing, and that industrial agriculture, which includes genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), are a major factor causing this insect genocide.
“At least half a dozen other studies published in the last couple of years have arrived at similarly disturbing findings. They do, however, shed further light on how the situation has progressed throughout the decades, pointing to corporate monoculture practices, shrinking forests and wild lands, and general changes in physical landscapes as some of the primary culprits in promoting this ruinous trend.”
We not only change the DNA of our fellow planetary travelers, but we destroy their habitat. We seem to think no consequences will befall us.
“The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
― Chief Seattle
Last week, I interviewed with Ross Kaminsky at www.KOA.com in Denver, Colorado. Mind you, this young man, about 30, sounded brilliant and highly articulate. I liked him. I spoke about America adding 100 million immigrants and a total of 138 million people by 2050—a scant 36 years from now. I brought facts and compelling information to the show. I attempted to show him and the public the ramifications of adding 138 million people—and that, we could not sustain such numbers and our environment.
He sat across from me saying, “We don’t have a population problem. We have plenty of water and oil. The oceans can absorb all our carbon footprint.”
I said, “You’re speaking with assumptions as if they were facts. You make statements based on belief where I make them based on facts from my research.”
He dumbfounded me with his arrogance that we can keep adding endless people with no consequences. He wanted everyone to live a free life. I countered with the fact that as our population numbers rise, our freedoms decline along with balance in our Natural World. That fact cannot be disputed.
I explained how our oceans suffer acidification and that reefs die with carbon footprint and how marine life cannot endure the onslaught.
He wouldn’t hear of it. Mind you, this young man, traveled on six continents like I have traveled. He lives in denial and defends it. Along with him, the majority of the American public feels the same.
We see the same denial with our leaders who advocate for GMOs in plants and fish—in the face of facts.
“In one of the studies, researchers from Montana State University (MSU) compared insect data collected in the late 1800s to similar data collected in the same test location in the 1970s,” said Huff. “They then compiled current data from the same area to compare to both of these other two data sets, upon which they discovered that the number of unique wild bee species had dropped by nearly half.
“What is perhaps more disturbing, however, is the fact that researchers observed modern bees to be generally interacting less with plants than they used to in previous generations. According to the data, the overall number of interactions between bees and plants has also dropped by roughly half, indicating a serious problem as far as the general food supply is concerned, as about 75 percent of global food crops rely on pollination by animals.”
Managed honeybees do not pollinate crops as well as wild honeybees
The second study troubles me further: having found that pollinating insects in general, which include a wide range of insects and other animals, continue vanishing from their normal habitats and foraging areas.
“Based on field trials conducted in 20 different countries, wild insects are clearly on the decline everywhere, and managed honeybee colonies established to replace them in many areas are failing to pick up where the wild honeybees left off,” said Huff.
“In landscapes with lower diversity and lower abundance of wild insects, the crops had less fruits,” explains Lucas Garibaldi, author of the second study. “Wild insects pollinated way more efficiently: Flowers produced twice as many fruits after being visited by wild insects and were more consistent in their production than when visited by honeybees.”
“Some “leaders” blame climate destabilization and other outside factors for this mysterious decline in crop pollinators,” said Huff. “But the major elephant in the room, and the one that the mainstream media is desperately trying to avoid, is GMOs and the chemical-based technologies used to grow them. As we have covered time and time again, neonicotinoids and other pesticide and herbicide products are responsible for weakening and killing off bees and other crop pollinators, particularly in North America where GMOs are most widely cultivated.”
“The proof is obvious that one of the major reasons of the bees’ decline is by the ingestion of GMO proteins,” explains a report by Brit Amos from Global Research about the decline of bee colonies. “The truth is that organic farming is relatively untouched as the bee crisis is concerned. Organic farming maintains the diversity of the eco-system and preserves the quality of the foods produced.”
The more I research into what we and our children face with our “disfiguring” the Natural World with our poisons and GMO assault, the more sickened I am in my mind and heart. Since I lack any power or influence, someone like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet needs to fund campaigns to stop GMO production. After all, it’s their kids, too, who must live in this world.
All of this GMO nightmare stems from too many people needing food for survival with too many elites willing to sacrifice the Natural World in order to make endless billions of dollars to live in big homes, drive expensive cars and fly Lear Jets.
You can learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/039582_pollinators_gmos_food_supply.html#ixzz2zSIQSIhn
Go to www.responsibletechnology.org to get involved and learn how to avoid GMOs. Look for Non-GMO Shopping Guide.
Start buying non-GMO today.
Help stop the genetic engineering of our food supply.
You may become involved:
Read the book—Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risk of Genetically Engineered Foods by Jeffrey M. Smith.
I wrote about the controversy swirling around the so-called Christian organization World Vision here. For those who are unaware of what occurred on March 24, WV announced that they had plans to hire “married” homosexuals.
The backlash was fast and furious. Christian leaders, Roman Catholics, the pro-family movement and others in the faith community made it abundantly clear that they opposed WV’s decision to hire people in counterfeit marriages on the grounds that the Bible teaches that homosexuality’s a sin. It’s no secret that Bible-believers hold to the teaching that God established the marriagesacrament for the purpose of bringing Him glory; thus marriage other than that which He designed does not bring glory and honor to Him. One would assume that WV’s president and board members had an understanding of what the Bible teaches on marriage – but maybe not.
They learn fast, though. The board noticed a storm brewing when donors began to withdraw their financial support and they quickly changed course. The public’s reaction was so strong that they reversed their decision faster than greased lightning.
In part 2 we will examine whether or not World Vision’s truly a Christian organization. I mean, that’s the burning question, isn’t it? One way to find out is to take a look at its website. On the homepage they make the claim that they are a,
Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
Perhaps because I’ve spent a number of years exposing false teaching in the Church, likewise the cults and the occult, when I read the phrase “full potential” Anthony Robbins immediately came to mind. Robbins is one of many Human Potential magnets. He has taken on the trendy title “life coach.” The life coach’s aim is to get you to a place where you can tap into your full potential. Robbins’ beliefs are rooted in the New Thought movement. (Those who wish to know more about New Thought can do so here.) In essence “Syncretism between Christianity and early New Thought was a hallmark of this movement,” says cult expert Marcia Montenegro.
So – why would a “Christian humanitarian organization” choose to define itself using anti-Christian language inspired by New Thought rubbish?
Any organization that calls itself Christian should have as its main goal reaching families and communities around the globe with the gospel of Christ. And if that’s not its stated goal then how is it any different from other secular organizations such as the American Red Cross or the World Food Programme. What sets Christian relief organizations apart from all the others is that they have a biblical mandate to evangelize the lost. Jesus commanded His followers to:
Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)
For many years my husband and I sponsored children through WV. Because it calls itself a Christian organization we just assumed that those in the field would be about the business of providing relief as well as evangelizing lost souls bound for hell. When it became apparent to us that WV was moving more toward what is deemed a “social justice” organization, we wrote to express our concerns. No response was forthcoming. Eventually we stopped sponsoring children through WV and chose another organization.
The social gospel is a false gospel. (Discover more about social justice here.) What does Scripture tell us about spreading a false gospel?
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)
I fully expect WV’s supporters will want me to demonstrate that WF prohibits proselytizing (sharing the gospel of Christ.) In the process of researching for this piece I discovered all the proof doubters will need — and it comes right from the horse’s mouth. I visited the homepage…clicked on Our-Impact…clicked on Faith-in-action and unearthed their goals and accomplishments:
Our faith in Jesus is central to who we are, and we follow His example in working alongside the poor and oppressed. We serve every child in need that we possibly can, of any faith, or none. We partner with churches throughout the world, equipping them to meet the needs of their communities.
Scroll down the page to Our Approach and here’s what you’ll find:
Do You Talk To People About Jesus?
In all ways appropriate for a local context, we seek to witness to Christ — through our deeds of love and mercy, the character and conduct of our staff, and through our words of testimony. As we demonstrate the unconditional love of God to others, we are ready to give the reason for the hope within us, but expect people to evaluate the truth of our message by our actions.
God created men and women in His image, giving each of us a free will. Therefore, we respect individuals — including their culture, faith, and beliefs. We respect the dignity and the right of all people to maintain and change their religious beliefs. We seek in every instance to be faithful ambassadors of the good news of Jesus through our actions (2 Corinthians 5:20) and hope that our lives will reflect God’s generous love for people, ultimately bringing glory and praise to Him.
Do you expect the people you help to share your beliefs?
We serve all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. We do not proselytize, and we pledge never to exploit vulnerability to obtain a profession of faith. We do not feed the hungry as a means to an end. We feed the hungry because God cares about people who are hungry, and He wants them to be fed (Psalm 145:13-17).
Insisting that people hear a certain message or affirm a specific belief as a prerequisite to receiving our assistance violates codes of conduct established for disaster, relief, and humanitarian groups of which we are a member. However, our hope is that our work and lives would contribute to people becoming followers of Christ.
How does being a Christian organization impact your work?
Our faith in Jesus Christ is core to who we are. As an expression of God’s unconditional love for all people, especially vulnerable children, we serve alongside the poor and oppressed. We hope to live as followers of Christ by being active, visible bearers of God’s love.
Relying on God’s grace and Spirit, we affirm the truth of the gospel and our hope in Christ through our character, speech, actions, and in the signs of God’s power at work in individual lives, in the communities where we work, and in all creation. (emphasis added — Source)
By its very words WV is a Christian organization that professes a belief in the gospel. On its website it states that “Jesus is core of who we are.” Yet its policy is not to proselytize?
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Instead of sharing the good news with those who are perishing, WV is all about doing “good works.” Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t do good deeds and be “active, visible bearers of God’s love.” But good works and sharing Christ with the lost go hand in hand. Romans 10:17 tells us that “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
In Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, the meaning of “hearing” is explained:
When it is said that faith cometh by hearing, it is not meant that all who hear actually believe, for that is not true; but that faith does not exist unless there is a message, or report, to be heard or believed. It cannot come otherwise than by such a message; in other words, unless there is something made known to be believed. And this shows us at once the importance of the message, and the fact that people are converted by the instrumentality of truth, and of truth only. (Source)
Just prior to WV doing an about face, Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, slammed the organization over its plans to hire unrepentant homosexuals. Perhaps his, and articles like it, is the reason Richard Stearns and the board reversed their decision and decided to repent. The question many people are asking at this juncture is how do we know that the leadership has sincerely repented of their willingness to mollify the radical homosexual lobby’s demand for them to hire gay people? Time will tell. However, it’s evident that at least for the time being, board members have decided it’s not in WV’s best interest to go against Bible believers and faith groups because they’re the ones who pay the bills!
I’m out of room so I’ll end with an excerpt from Albert Mohler’s stinging rebuke – before WV repented:
Writing to the Corinthian Christians, the Apostle Paul stated: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” [1 Corinthians 6:9-10]
The leader of World Vision U.S. now claims that the Bible is not sufficiently clear on the sinfulness of same-sex sexuality and relationships, but he also claims a “mission of building the kingdom.” The Apostle Paul makes homosexuality a kingdom issue, and he does so in the clearest of terms.
Of course, Paul’s point is not that homosexuals are uniquely sinful, but that all of us are sinners in need of the grace and mercy of God that come to us in the gift of salvation. Thanks be to God, Paul follows those words with these: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” [1 Corinthians 6:11]
The worst aspect of the World Vision U.S. policy shift is the fact that it will mislead the world about the reality of sin and the urgent need of salvation. Willingly recognizing same-sex marriage and validating openly homosexual employees in their homosexuality is a grave and tragic act that confirms sinners in their sin — and that is an act that violates the gospel of Christ. (Source)
Short list of Christian Leaders who have rebuked World Vision:
The dust has settled a bit since Christian humanitarian aid organization World Vision’s March 24 announcement that it would hire gay couples who are legally married in the state in which they reside. Since “World Vision-gate” remains a hot topic, it’s time for some introspection; likewise to do some digging to find out if WV truly is a Christian organization, as it claims.
When WV announced its decision to hire gay people, not surprisingly Bible believing Christians found the decision unsettling. Clearly WV’s Board of Directors chose to ignore the plain teaching of Scripture regarding homosexuality. As a result, a large number of believers, including some high-profile evangelical leaders, took to the blogosphere in protest and thousands stormed WV’s website. Board members hadn’t counted on the huge uproar their unbiblical decision would cause. Certainly they expected WV’s financial support to take a minor hit from unhappy sponsors. But evidently no one anticipated just how big the hit would be. According one source 10,000 sponsors pulled out. (More on this in a moment.)
Within 2 days the board reversed its decision. Immediately Richard Stearns, president of World Vision issued a public apology. The following is an excerpt of his apology from Christianity Today:
“The last couple of days have been very painful,” organization president Rich Stearns told reporters this evening. “We feel pain and a broken heart for the confusion we caused for many friends who saw this policy change as a strong reversal of World Vision’s commitment to biblical authority, which it was not intended to be.”
“Rather than creating more unity [among Christians], we created more division, and that was not the intent. … Our board acknowledged that the policy change we made was a mistake … and we believe that [World Vision supporters] helped us to see that with more clarity … and we’re asking you to forgive us for that mistake.”
“We listened to [our] friends, we listened to their counsel. They tried to point out in loving ways that the conduct policy change was simply not consistent … with the authority of Scripture and how we apply Scripture to our lives. … We did inadequate consultation with our supporters. If I could have a do-over on one thing, I would have done much more consultation with Christian leaders.”
“What we are affirming today is there are certain beliefs that are so core to our Trinitarian faith that we must take a strong stand on those beliefs. … We cannot defer to a small minority of churches and denominations that have taken a different position.”
“Yes, we will certainly defer on many issues that are not so central to our understanding of the Christian faith. … But on the authority of Scripture in our organization’s work [and employee conduct] … and on marriage as an institution ordained by God between a man and a woman—those are age-old and fundamental Christian beliefs. We cannot defer on things that are that central to the faith.”
Here’s what Stearns said about the large number of child sponsorships that were cancelled:
“That grieves us, because the children we serve will suffer because of that. … But our choice is not about money or income. It’s a sincere desire for us to do the right thing. To be consistent with our core values and to respond to the legitimate feedback and counsel we have received from supporters and friends of World Vision.” (Source)
Doing the right thing meant WV had to throw gay people under the bus.
Stearns now wants us to believe that the organization needed feedback and counsel from supporters and friends to help them realize that homosexuality is a sin and as such practicing homosexuals must repent and turn to God.
As previously stated, it was alleged that10,000 kids lost their sponsorship in those 2 short days after the original announcement. Who made this claim? Far left blogger Matthew Paul Turner. And who did Turner blame for the loss of support? “So-called born again Christians.” In a blog post Turner grumbled:
Last Monday, the day of the announcement, World Vision’s call center received 7000 calls and a loss of 2000 child sponsorships. That’s just in 12 hours on Monday! The following day those numbers swelled. And then on Wednesday, within minutes of World Vision announcing that it was reversing its decision, the calls stopped and, according to Stearns, “the bleeding stopped.” … It took several days to count the total loss of sponsorships, a number that eventually rose to “just about 10,000 children,” according to Stearns. A handful of people did call back, hoping to start up their sponsorships again. But the majority did not.
Later in his piece Turner cuts lose on the born again believers who dared to withdraw their sponsorship:
There’s nothing “moral” about using a kid as a bargaining chip to punish a Christian organization for making a decision that you don’t agree with. There’s nothing honoring about using children to force an organization’s hand. There’s nothing “pro life” about that. There’s nothing remotely “Christlike” about that. It’s downright disgusting, manipulative, and sad. If I was a Pentecostal, I might even call it demonic. (Source)
Demonic? No! What really happened here is that Bible believing Christians sent a message to World Vision: We will not sponsor organizations that compromise biblical truth.
Amy Spreeman of Stand Up For the Truth who’s been closely following World Vision-gate isn’t buying Turner’s allegations. She brings to light two things we need to ask and consider:
1. Is there proof that 10,000 kids are now abandoned?
2. Do “sponsorship fees” really go to the kids?
Nope and nope. First, WV president Richard Stearns this week gave out this figure via phone conference to a small group of hand-picked bloggers who are pro-gay marriage. The blogger with the biggest audience is Matthew Paul Turner. He works for World Vision. ‘Nuff said. (emphasis added — Source)
When it comes to the Bible’s clear teaches on homosexuality and marriage, WV board member Jacqueline Fuller appears to be as biblically ignorant as Matthew Paul Turner is. On April 3 she resigned from the organization “because she disagreed with the agency backtracking on a policy that would have recognized employees’ same-sex spouses.” (Source)
Here’s the crux of the matter as stated by The Cripplegate’s Jesse Johnson:
The homosexual agenda continues to advance and Christians really ought to come to terms with the fact that it is only a matter of time when our view of marriage will be plainly illegal. As has been said elsewhere, as that agenda moves forward in our country at breakneck speed, ambivalence is not an option; you will be made to care. As World Vision’s recent announcements illustrates, it will soon not be practically possible to simply love others and preach the gospel, without having a clear explanation about what the Bible says about homosexuality. (emphasis and link in original — Source)
Spenser vs. World Vision
In 2007 WV found itself in Federal court defending its right to hire only those who shared in its Christian beliefs. The lawsuit went on for four years. Then in October 2011 the decision came down on the side of World Vision. The headline in Christian Headline News read:
VICTORY FOR RELIGIOUS HIRING IN WORLD VISION CASE
According to the report:
As a requirement for employment, Silvia Spencer, Ted Youngberg and Vicki Hulse had acknowledged their agreement and compliance with World Vision’s statement of faith upon being hired. In November 2006, however, the three were terminated by World Vision after an internal investigation determined Spencer, Youngberg and Hulse did not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ and denied the doctrine of the Trinity (“There is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit), a fundamental tenant of the organization’s core values.
Claiming discrimination, the disgruntled employees filed a complaint against the Federal Way-based humanitarian aid organization in 2007. The lower court granted World Vision a summary judgment and, in 2009, the plaintiffs appealed the district court’s decision.
Judges found the reason for firing was not in dispute. On August 23, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 that World Vision was a “religious organization” and therefore exempt from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars religious discrimination in hiring.
From the same article:
“I am pleased, relieved and gratified with the court’s action,” said World Vision’s U.S. president, Richard Stearns, in a statement. “After four years of litigation, we at World Vision U.S. may now put this matter behind us, and continue our policy of hiring only Christians.” (Source)
Reading this statement from Sterns makes one wonder why, after battling for four years to have the right and freedom to hire only those who cling to WV’s supposed biblical views and values, would this professed Christian organization decide to hire “married” homosexuals?
Stay tuned for Part 2.
The freedom of the press and the freedom of religion are two of the most important elements of a free society. These were so important to America’s Founding Fathers that they were protected in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A free and independent press serves as watchdogs for liberty, while a free and independent church serves as watchmen for liberty. Sadly, both watchdog and watchman are, for the most part, missing in today’s America.
Just about everyone knows that the vast majority of the national press corps has a strong liberal bias. That’s a given. But, it’s actually worse than that. Instead of being watchdogs on the government, the mainstream media has become little more than lap dogs for the government. Instead of reporting the truth, most of the media is actually more concerned with covering up the truth. With precious few exceptions, investigative reporting is dead in the national news media.
Oh, sure. Republican administrations are depicted more negatively by the mainstream media than are Democrat administrations. No doubt about that. Can anyone recall the media hoopla over Vice President Dan Quayle’s misspelling of the word “potato”? The liberal media talked about that almost nonstop for months. But did you hear much of anything when President Barack Obama recently misspelled the word “respect”? I mean from media sources outside of FOX News? Nope. Nary a word.
But when it comes to investigating the truth behind what government spokesmen tell us, it doesn’t matter to a tinker’s dam whether it is a Republican or Democrat administration: about the only thing national newscasters know to do is to report whatever the official story of the government is. Once in a blue moon, a mainstream newspaper, such as the New York Times, will dare to print a report that questions an official government story, but not very often. And when such a report is printed, it digs only so deep. For the last several years, about the only major newspaper that has had the guts to actually do some real investigative reporting is the London Guardian. Even the Washington Times prints mostly milquetoast exposés.
CBS reporter, Sharly Attkisson, recently left the network due to its liberal bias and aversion to investigative reporting. Politico said this about Attkisson’s leaving: “Attkisson, who has been with CBS News for two decades, had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network’s liberal bias, an outsize influence by the network’s corporate partners and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting, several sources said. She increasingly felt that her work was no longer supported and that it was a struggle to get her reporting on air.”
See the Politico report here:
In an interview with the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia, Chris Stigall reported, “Responding to comments regarding a Phoenix television reporter yesterday who initially claimed that the White House pre-screens questions from reporters, Attkisson said, ‘I wouldn’t [be] surprised if sometimes there is that level of cooperation with some questions. If I need something answered from the White House and they won’t tell me, I’ll call our White House Correspondent. They’re friendlier with the White House Correspondents in general. So the White House Correspondent may ask Jay Carney or one of his folks about an issue and they will be told “ask that at the briefing and we’ll answer it.” They want to answer it in front of everybody. They do know it’s coming and they’ll call on you. There’s that kind of coordination sometimes. I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s sometimes more coordination. I don’t think it’s everybody on every briefing, every day. I’m pretty sure it’s not. But I think people would be surprised at the level of cooperation reporters have in general with politicians.’”
See Stigall’s report here:
Attkisson was putting it very mildly. There is more than just coordination going on between the federal government and the national news media; it’s more like coziness and calculated manipulation.
Since when has the major media dared to investigate and report the truth regarding any of the major events that have transpired in this country? The last time there was even a semblance of genuine investigative reporting seen in the national press corps was during the Watergate scandal when Richard Nixon was President–and that was politically-motivated from start to finish.
The mainstream media didn’t bother to seriously investigate Ruby Ridge or Waco or the Oklahoma City bombing or TWA Flight 800 or the Sandy Hook shootings or (and especially) the attacks which occurred on 9/11/01. These events took place with both Republicans and Democrats at the helm: it didn’t matter. Government spokesmen gave the media the official story, and the media repeatedly regurgitated the official story until anyone who dared to question the official story was turned into a conspiracy nut. That’s not reporting the news, folks. That is manipulating the news to disseminate propaganda. Joseph Goebbels had nothing on the major media in America today.
Again, the modern American media are not watchdogs over government; they are lap dogs for government. Reporters who try to truly dig and investigate are seldom rewarded–just the opposite. Their stories are buried–if published at all. They are disinvited from interviewing notable dignitaries. They are passed over for promotions–or even dismissed. It doesn’t take people in the news business long to get the message that if they want to go anywhere, they must toe the line and become good little puppets. The First Amendment freedom of the press has been negated by the press itself.
Likewise, the First Amendment freedom of religion has also been negated. A free and independent clergy is essential to the maintenance of liberty. But, for the most part, America has not had a free and independent clergy in decades.
The IRS 501c3 designation for churches, along with State incorporation, has turned America’s watchmen into little more than glorified CEOs. The average pulpit is just as politically correct as the national news media. Plus, the average church is as much about the bottom line as news shows.
Did you know that there used to be a time when the major television networks expected that their news shows would not operate in the black financially? It’s true. Back then, it was more important that news shows reported and investigated the news than turn a profit. Therefore, corporate donations and government chagrin had little impact upon newscasters and reporters. Those days are long gone.
By the same token, did you know that there used to be a time in this country when most of our pastors and ministers (regardless of denomination) were more concerned about being Biblically correct than being politically correct? For example, so prominent was the role that Presbyterian pastors played in the American Revolution that as news of the rebellion spread throughout England, Horace Walpole told his fellow members of the British Parliament, “There is no use crying about it. Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson, and that is the end of it.” Of course, Presbyterians were not the only clergymen in Colonial America to champion the cause of liberty and independence from behind their pulpits.
In truth, if it wasn’t for clergymen such as John Leland (along with political statesmen such as Patrick Henry, of course), it is doubtful that there would even be a First Amendment–or the rest of the Bill of Rights, for that matter.
But, back then, pastors were not motivated by the desire to build big buildings or impress political potentates or climb ecclesiastical elevators. They were motivated by courage and commitment. And you could tell it every time you went to church. They didn’t mince words; and their sermons seldom concluded in less than an hour. They were watchmen.
Sadly, in the same manner in which the national news media have abandoned their responsibility as America’s watchdogs, so, too, the vast majority of pastors have abandoned their responsibility as America’s watchmen. The First Amendment protection of the freedom of the press and religion is not enough to protect the freedom of the press and religion from themselves.
To be sure, many of our pastors and ministers today are sincere, compassionate, and honorable men. But they have never been taught the Biblical principles of liberty; they have never been taught how to apply the liberty principles of Scripture to our everyday lives–including our political lives; they have never been taught the true meaning of Biblical submission in general and Romans 13 in particular. However, more and more of these men are coming awake to these things. Of course, others stubbornly refuse to even consider the truth of these matters.
But, listen up, folks! Truth will always find a way to reveal itself: the dear Lord will make sure of that. As the mainstream media became toadies of Big Government, along came independent radio talk shows, newspapers, and the Internet. And in all likelihood, more people are getting their news and information from online sources today than from network or cable news shows. As a result, more and more people are awakening to the truth every day.
And, by the same token, as many establishment churches and pastors have become toadies of the IRS and political correctness, new, independent, unorganized, non-501c3 churches and fellowships are sprouting up all over America. Some of these groups are led by ministers whom God has led out of the establishment church. Others are led by laymen who have likewise left the establishment church. I hear from these people every day. And, by the grace of God, I hope to be more personally involved in helping Christian people around the country form liberty-oriented churches. More on that soon.
The First Amendment was designed to protect America’s watchdogs and watchmen. And it is a truism that there can never be a revival of liberty in this land without a resurrection of our watchdogs and watchmen. The good news is that resurrection is already taking place.
What happens when an institution becomes more important than the cause for which the institution was formed? How long should people who believe in the cause remain loyal to such an institution? And at what point does loyalty to such an institution comprise an abandonment of the cause itself?
I’m afraid the majority of Americans have been institutionalized in a manner not unlike the way prisoners are institutionalized after a long period of confinement. After a point, a prisoner is so conditioned to accepting the circumstances of his confinement that, should he be released from confinement, he truly would be unable to cope. Such seems to be the mentality of a majority of us today.
Christians have been institutionalized. The reason and purpose of the church or Christian organization is no longer relevant. Generations have grown up reciting the same liturgies, regurgitating the same prayers, and rehearsing the same programs until the reason for it all doesn’t even matter. But take the institution away from them, and they would not be able to cope.
The Pharisees despised the Lord Jesus because He challenged the religious institutions that had come to govern people’s lives. I am convinced if Jesus came to America today, He would be just as despised by the vast majority of our religious leaders as He was by the Pharisees.
The Church that Jesus built in the Book of Acts owned no buildings, was indebted to no lenders, took no tax benefits from the civil government, had no denominational hierarchy, and identified itself with no ecclesiastical brand. And the Church was just as persecuted by the religious establishment as Christ was.
One of the reasons one may know that the modern church is so unlike Christ and the apostles is by the persecution that it never experiences. Just as the Pharisees were bosom buddies with the Roman Empire’s governing elite, so are our religious leaders today. Caesar was very generous in sharing the fruit of his tyrannically-extracted bounty with his allies in the Jewish Sanhedrin. And they were happy to return the favor by insisting that the Hebrew people submit to Caesar’s harsh rule over their lives.
The Pharisees also enjoyed a cozy relationship with the moneychangers. The moneychangers were descended from a long line of corrupt banking interests that dated all the way back to the Edomites. We are not talking about your friendly local banker here. These were highly organized, well-positioned money-manipulators. Jesus was so incensed with their manipulation and theft within in the Temple that he used physical violence to remove them from the property. He is recorded as doing this twice in the Gospel narratives. Note that after the second time in which it is recorded that He drove out the moneychangers (with a whip, no less), the Pharisees soon had Jesus crucified. There is no question that one of the reasons Pilate ordered Jesus to be scourged with a whip was in direct retaliation for the manner in which Jesus whipped the moneychangers. Remember, the moneychangers were from a very well-ensconced, elitist national (and even international) organization.
And lest you think all of this is irrelevant to today, the moneychangers are still very much with us. The Rothschilds, Rockefellers, and other members of the international banking elite, are the direct descendants of the moneychangers of Jesus’ day. And if you ever have an opportunity to ask one of them about it, they will proudly admit it.
Yes, the Pharisees institutionalized religion. This accomplished two things: 1) it helped enslave the people, 2) it helped make them rich. The institutionalized church is accomplishing much the same things today.
The establishment church is doing as much to enslave people as any other institution in the world. Our political institutions and educational institutions have nothing on the church for making good little subjects and serfs to the all-powerful state. And if you don’t think that a host of church leaders are not reaping the spoils from assisting our taskmasters, you’re not paying attention.
Many, if not most, of these big-name TV evangelists have as many houses and yachts and Swiss bank accounts as any big-name Hollywood actor or politician. In some cases, more. Most of these big-church pastors are bathing in luxury. Many of them take the kinds of vacations that only CEOs of the biggest corporations or presidents could afford. Do you really think that the IRS rules and regulations governing these non-profit corporations, called churches, really bother these church leaders? Get real!
No wonder all of these “successful” preachers are constantly teaching their congregations to always submit to the government. No wonder they have no interest in abandoning their 501c3 tax-exempt status. They are in the exact same position as were the Pharisees of old. And they are just as effective in helping to enslave people today as were the Pharisees.
The institution of the church–along with its programs, formalities, buildings, rituals, etc.,–has become more important than the purpose for which the church was created. Instead of preaching the liberating message of the Cross, which frees men from the fetters of sin–and that includes sinful political and financial fetters–the church is preaching a message of subjugation and enslavement. It is teaching people to submit to all kinds of oppression, including religious oppression.
Some of the most oppressed and subjugated people in the world are religious people. There are churches and Christian colleges that are every bit as tyrannical as anything coming out of East-bloc or Muslim countries. About the only thing missing is physical torture and execution. Spiritually, however, the oppression is the same.
How could real men who love the liberty they have in Christ allow themselves–and especially their wives–to be told how to dress, how to wear their hair, what kind of music to listen to, what kind of vacations to take, what restaurants they may or may not eat at, what forms of entertainment they may or may not participate in, etc., etc., ad infinitum?
I tell you the truth: many Christians in America are already slaves. To talk to them about freedom is a complete waste of time. The chains of tyranny are already clamped around their hearts. Why should it matter to them if chains are clamped around their necks? When they talk about “defending the faith,” they are talking about defending the institution. They are slaves to the institution. And the same is true for many unchurched Americans.
What is more important: liberty, or the government that is supposed to secure liberty? To a sizeable number of Americans today, it is more important to preserve the institution than the freedoms that the institution was created to protect.
Our Declaration of Independence states, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [the God-given rights of life, liberty, etc.], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Did you see that: “any form of government”? ANY FORM. The form of government is only as good as its ability to secure liberty.
I hear a lot of politicians and media personalities talking about “American exceptionalism.” This is a potentially dangerous mindset. If one means that America is exceptional in our history and the manner in which our Constitution and Bill of Rights were established to protect liberty, well and good. But if it means that America has carte-blanche to do anything it wants–no matter how unconstitutional or tyrannical–because it is “exceptional,” it is a bunch of hooey.
What difference does it make if we have a 50-State Union or not? There is a bill in the California legislature that would divide that State into six states. Five counties in Western Maryland are trying to secede from Baltimore. Ten northern counties in Colorado are trying to secede from Denver. If a State refuses to secure the liberties of the people of that State, they have every right under God to separate. The State is not nearly as important as the liberties of the people within the State.
The spirit of secession is actually growing like wildfire all over the world. In recent history, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo all separated from Yugoslavia. Transnistria broke free from Moldova. Abkhazia and South Ossetia fought free from Georgia. The Slovaks seceded from Czechoslovakia. And now Crimea is separating from Ukraine.
To be sure, not every country that secedes from another country is motivated purely by the love of liberty. But for those of us in America, the issue that has propelled the desire to separate from one country or one State has always been liberty. It was the love of liberty that created the United States and that created the free and independent states of Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, and West Virginia–all of which seceded from existing U.S. states.
Furthermore, what difference does it make if Washington, D.C., is our federal capital, or, if say, Helena, Montana, would become the federal capital of a mountain state confederation of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Northern Colorado, eastern Washington and Oregon, the Dakotas, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, and Alaska? Or if Austin was the federal capital of an independent Republic of Texas? Preserving some sort of political union (especially if it is a forced and coerced union) is not nearly as important as preserving liberty.
Again, it is not the political institution that is important. What is important is the liberty that the political institution is supposed to secure.
Many great minds in this country are already philosophizing over the possibility that secession is an idea whose time has come–again. A few years ago, Walter Williams wrote, “Like a marriage that has gone bad, I believe there are enough irreconcilable differences between those who want to control and those want to be left alone that divorce is the only peaceable alternative. Just as in a marriage, where vows are broken, our human rights protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution have been grossly violated by a government instituted to protect them. Americans who are responsible for and support constitutional abrogation have no intention of mending their ways.
“Americans who wish to live free have two options: We can resist, fight and risk bloodshed to force America’s tyrants to respect our liberties and human rights, or we can seek a peaceful resolution of our irreconcilable differences by separating. That can be done by peopling several states, say Texas and Louisiana, control their legislatures and then issue a unilateral declaration of independence just as the Founders did in 1776. You say, ‘Williams, nobody has to go that far, just get involved in the political process and vote for the right person.’ That’s nonsense. Liberty shouldn’t require a vote. It’s a God-given or natural right.
“Some independence or secessionists movements, such as our 1776 war with England and our 1861 War Between the States, have been violent, but they need not be. In 1905, Norway seceded from Sweden, Panama seceded from Columbia (1903), and West Virginia from Virginia (1863). Nonetheless, violent secession can lead to great friendships. England is probably our greatest ally and we have fought three major wars together. There is no reason why Texiana (Texas and Louisiana) couldn’t peaceably secede, be an ally, and have strong economic ties with United States.
“The bottom line question for all of us is should we part company or continue trying to forcibly impose our wills on one another?”
See William’s column here:
In the eyes of God, marriage is the most sacred of all unions. It is far more sacred than any political union. If our Creator has authorized the separation of a husband and wife under certain circumstances in which one party violated the sacred terms of the holy contract (and He has), who among us has the audacity to say that political unions may not be abandoned when government commits political adultery by forsaking its oath to the people?
Again, are we more interested in preserving an institution or the liberty that the institution is supposed to secure?
As an institution, the Church at large is apostate. Yet, millions of Christians continue to prop up an institution that has abandoned the purpose for which it was created. They are more interested in preserving the forms and liturgies and tapestries and buildings of the institution. And, all the while, they are being spiritually enslaved by the very institution they are helping to prop up.
And as an institution, the U.S. federal government is apostate. Yet, millions of citizens continue to make excuses for it, justify it, and condone it. They are more interested in preserving the agencies and entities and power of the institution. Yet, all the while, they are being enslaved by the very institution they are helping to prop up.
What happens when an institution becomes more important than the cause for which the institution was formed? When the institution is civil government and the cause is liberty, tyranny is what happens.
You have to hand it to the game-makers in the two major parties: they have done an outstanding job of putting the problems of the world into a convenient left-right paradigm. To the average conservative out there, Republican equals conservative, which equals good–while Democrat equals liberal, which equals bad. And to the average liberal out there, Democrat equals liberal, which equals good–while Republican equals conservative, which equals bad. So, all the party game-makers have to do is paint the other guys as liberal or conservative and all of the sheeple within the two parties will blindly and robotically go to the voting booth and pull the party lever, believing that they have just had a hand in defeating the “bad” guys.
But it’s not just the game-makers of the two major parties that participate in this charade; the majority of talking heads on the radio and television talk shows, as well as most newscasters from the network news shows, also participate. The entire political world is seen through the jaded lenses of left and right. Granted, liberal game-makers control the vast majority of the print and television media (with the exception of FOX News), but conservative game-makers dominate the radio talk show circuit.
So, why is it that no matter which political party wins the election (congressional or presidential), nothing changes? Nothing changes with out-of-control deficit spending. Nothing changes with foreign policy. Nothing changes with the Federal Reserve. Nothing changes with federal entitlements. Nothing changes with continuing federal encroachment on personal liberties and State sovereignty. Nothing changes. Liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, left or right: nothing changes. Nothing!
It is an absolute fact that, for all intents and purposes, there has been virtually no discernable difference in presidential administrations since Ronald Reagan left office. George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, G.W. Bush, and now Barack Obama have been nothing more than one very long and continuous administration. Yet, supposedly both the left and the right have had almost equal terms in office. But, as the game-makers in “The Hunger Games” movies use illusion and manipulation to control people, so, too, the game-makers in Washington, D.C., and New York City use illusion and manipulation to control us. The left-right, conservative-liberal paradigm is an illusion, folks.
Hardly anyone in Washington, D.C., of either major party truly believes in limited government. Their only disagreements surround how increasing federal expenditures will be spent and who will decide how it’s spent. Hardly anyone in Washington, D.C., of either major party truly gives two-cents for what the Constitution says about anything. Most of them never even mention the Constitution–except when they are on the campaign trail. Hardly anyone in Washington, D.C., of either major party truly gives a tinker’s dam about the erosion of the Bill of Rights. The only time they even talk about reclaiming freedom is when the other party is in power. To most of them, tyranny is fine–as long as the tyrant is a member of their political party.
The reality of the situation is that a very real caste-system has developed in this country. Once most of them (Republican or Democrat) are ensconced in Washington, D.C., they see themselves as having become part of the ruling class. From then on, everything that happens–and I mean EVERYTHING–is designed to augment the pleasure, prosperity, and power of the ruling class. In a word, this is ELITISM. The problem is not liberalism or conservatism; the problem is elitism.
Have you noticed how much time and money is spent on campaigning? Even after a politician wins office, he or she continues to campaign. Constituents are bombarded constantly with mailers, phone calls, emails, television and radio addresses, etc. What motivates most politicians? Defending freedom? Reducing government overreach? Preserving the Constitution? Maintaining the Bill of Rights? No, no, no! A thousand times, no! The only thing that motivates the vast majority of our elected office holders is staying elected. Why? So that they might enjoy the perks of power for the rest of their lives. Honest patriots such as Ron Paul, Steve Stockman, the late Helen Chenoweth, the late Jesse Helms, and the late Larry McDonald are as rare as hen’s teeth in Washington, D.C.
Do you really think that the majority of congressmen and senators in Washington, D.C., are worrying about the medical tsunami that Obamacare is producing? Are you kidding? They, and their families, have the finest medical insurance (and care) in the world. Do you really think that the majority of congressmen and senators in Washington, D.C., are worried about whatever gun control legislation might be enacted? Were you born yesterday? They enjoy the benefits of the tightest security–including armed security–money can buy. Do you think that the majority of congressmen and senators in Washington, D.C., are concerned about your loss of liberty? Come on! They make a living exempting themselves from the restrictive laws to which the rest of us are expected to submit.
Again, the problem is elitism. Elitism dominates the politics of both major parties inside the Beltway. It also dominates the newscasters and talking heads–from both the left and the right–that you are watching on television.
Bob Costas rails against our right to keep and bear arms, while every day of his life, he is protected by a host of armed security personnel. The same is true for the likes of Michael Bloomberg and Joe Scarborough. These multi-millionaires (and billionaires, in some cases) sit in their ivory towers completely insulated from the problems that the rest of society must endure every day.
Most of the time, elitists are absolutely superb at masking their feelings of superiority, but, occasionally, one of them will slip up and put their elitism on display for all to see. Such an event happened last week on the floor of the U.S. Senate. And the only report I saw about it came from overseas: The London Guardian newspaper. Remember, the newscasters and talking heads in this country are mostly elitists, too, and they will not be quick to shame a fellow elitist–regardless of his or her political persuasion. Their brotherhood among the elite is vastly more important than whatever political disagreements they may have.
Not only was the story covered by an overseas newspaper, the man who went public with the story was none other than the man that most of the elitists declare to be a traitor: Edward Snowden.
According to The Guardian, “The whistleblower Edward Snowden accused the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee of double standards on Tuesday, pointing out that her outrage at evidence her staff were spied on by the CIA was not matched by concern about widespread surveillance of ordinary citizens.
“Snowden, the former contractor whose disclosures to journalists revealed widespread surveillance by the National Security Agency, was responding to an explosive statement by Senator Dianne Feinstein about the CIA’s attempts to undermine a congressional investigation into interrogation and detention.
“In a surprisingly combative statement on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Feinstein, who has been widely criticised by privacy experts for failing to hold the NSA to account, accused the CIA of conducting potentially unconstitutional and criminal searches on computers used by her staff.”
See the report here:
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: the public display of an angry elitist. Senator Feinstein doesn’t give a plug nickel whether the NSA (or any other government agency) is spying on the American people, but when they start spying on her–or her staff–it has suddenly become a constitutional crisis. So, why does it take a foreign newspaper and a man who fled the country for fear of his life to notice Feinstein’s hypocrisy? Again, it’s because the majority of the American media is controlled by Feinstein’s fellow elitists.
But, the story gets even more comical. According to the New York Daily News:
“California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Sunday that her fight against the unregulated use of drones is now personal after one of the surveillance devices got a bit too close to her for comfort.
“The Democratic Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that a drone peeked into her window when a group of protestors from Code Pink recently gathered outside her house to rally against government surveillance.”
The News report continued saying,
“‘I’m in my home and there’s a demonstration out front, and I go to peek out the window and there’s a drone facing me,’ she said of the incident. ‘When is a drone picture a benefit to society? When does it become stalking? When does it invade privacy? How close to a home can a drone go?’
“According to Politico, Code Pink members have claimed that the device that flew by Feinstein’s house was just a toy helicopter.
“Feinstein, who has defended the general use of drones to gather government intelligence, nevertheless stressed the importance of regulating their operation.”
See the report at:
Now, the elitist Dianne Feinstein–the one who sees nothing wrong with the government spying on you and me–is so paranoid about the government spying on her that she mistakes a toy helicopter for a drone and goes on national television to complain about it? Someone, please help me get off of the floor!
The fact is it is not adherence to the Constitution, or commitment to liberty, or compassion for the common man that drives and motivates these elites in Washington, D.C., and New York City. It is kickbacks, and favors, and contacts, and greed, and lust, and payoffs, and wining and dining, and yacht trips, and trips to foreign countries, ad infinitum, that motivates them.
As long as the American people continue to be duped by the game-makers by falling into this left-right, conservative-liberal, Republican-Democrat paradigm, nothing is going to change in this country. Nothing! If you want to restore the republic, forget what you hear from the political and media elite. Their only job is to continue the illusion; and their only desire is to continue to bask in the benefits of being part of the ruling class.
Reportedly, the CIA and its friends have taken a strong interest in Mick Jagger (seen above with Obama).
The CIA plan is to control the minds of the musicians and then use the musicians to control the minds of the populace.
The CIA uses drugs and Satanism when it mind-controls the stars.
In his book, The Ultimate Evil, Maury Terry wrote that between 1966 and 1967, the (CIA-linked) Satanic cult called the Process Church, “sought to recruit the Rolling Stones.”
‘Kenneth Anger’ (right)
Jagger has been influenced by Kenneth Anger, a follower of Aleister Crowley.
Crowley worked for the UK spy service MI5.
Author Tony Sanchez wrote that Mick Jagger “listened spellbound as Anger turned them on to Crowley’s powers and ideas.”
(Tony Sanchez, Up and Down WIth the Rolling Stones, p.155)
Invocation of My Demon Brother
While in the UK, Anger worked on a film ‘dedicated to Aleister Crowley’, called Lucifer Rising, which was renamed “Invocation of My Demon Brother.”
Mick Jagger had a starring role in the film and he composed the music.
The CIA-connected Satanist Anton LaVey played the part of His Satanic Majesty.
Chris Jagger (left) with father and Mick.
Chris Jagger, brother of Mick ‘was originally to take the role of Lucifer’.
Then it was decided that Lucifer would be played played by Bobby Beausoleil, a member of the Manson Family, and Anger’s homosexual lover.
Beausoleil (above) committed the first of the Manson family’s series of murders.
Process Church follower Marianne Faithfull went to Egypt to take part in the film’s depiction of a Black Mass.
Anita Pallenberg and Mick Jagger.
In London, ‘Anger recruited Anita Pallenberg to Satanism’.
She became the lover of three members of the Rolling Stones.
Anger said of Anita, said, “I believe that Anita is, for want of a better word, a witch…The occult unit within the Stones was Keith and Anita…and Brian. You see, Brian was a witch too.”
Tony Sanchez wrote of Pallenberg in his book, Up and Down with the Rolling Stones, “She was obsessed with black magic.”
Keith Richard’s house was located near the East Coast headquarters of the Process Church.
According to an article in the English newspaper Midnite, a Connecticut police officer, Michael Passaro, who had responed to the “suicide” reported “strange singing” from the woods a quarter mile from the Richard’s mansion.
According to the newspaper, “There have been several bizarre satanic rituals in the area over the past five years.”
In 1967, the Rolling Stones released Their Satanic Majesties Request.
Mick Jagger was considered for the leading roll in the film of Anthony Burgess’s novel, A Clockwork Orange.
Burgess reportedly worked for the security services and took an interest in mind control.
Anthony Burgess wrote Honey for the Bears, which reportedly is about CIA-funded mind control experiments, of the sort carried out by Dr Ewen Cameron from 1957-63.
(Anthony Burgess by Roger Lewis, 2002. Chapter 5).
At one point Jagger owned the rights to the Burgess novel Clockwork orange.
It has been alleged that the death of Meredith Hunter, which took place during a Stones concert, just outside San Francisco, was a human sacrifice.
It has been alleged that the audience were whipped into a frenzy, in open praise of the Devil.
Mick Jagger played the part of Lucifer in one of the bands songs.
By the end of the concert, four people were dead and dozens left beaten and injured.
The death of Meredith Hunter
Tony Sanchez, in Up and Down with the Rolling Stones, describes the ‘satanic ritual’.
“Several of the kids were stripping off their clothes and crawling to the stage as if it were a high altar, there to offer themselves as victims for the boots and pool cues of the Hells Angels.”
LSD expert David Snyderman with Keith Richards in 1967.
Mick Jagger’s first link to LSD seems to have been David Snyderman, ‘a CIA operative’.
According to Alex Constantine: “A CIA operative arrived in the lives of the Stones.
“He claimed to be a James Bond figure and he turned up with a valise full of every drug you can imagine.
“At this point the Stones still hadn’t done LSD.
“They woke up one morning at the home of Keith Richards and here was this character slipping LSD into their tongues as they were waking up.”
Why did the Rolling Stones’s pal David Sniderman/Schneidermann have “a whole collection of different passports in different names and with different nationalities on them.”
(Michael Cooper quoted in Tony Sanchez’s book – Up and Down with the Rolling Stones.)
The CIA-linked Ken Kesey.
The CIA and British intelligence carried out experimentation with LSD, in the early sixties, in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.
The project was “run under the code-name MK-Ultra.”
One of the people involved in the distribution of free LSD tablets to an unsuspecting public was the CIA-linked Ken Kesey.
Sir Mick Jagger and Sir Jimmy Savile are both linked to the spooks and to boys.
LSD can lead to a person becoming mentally ill and dangerous.
MK-Ultra mind-control operations involve the use of drugs and Satanism.
Charles Manson is believed to have been a victim of the CIA’s MK ULTRA brainwashing.
Manson supplied sex and drugs “to Hollywood actors, actresses, promoters, partners and rock stars.”
Large numbers of people today believe that modern secular science has proven the earth and cosmos to be billions of years old, and that every living thing, from fish to dogs, apes and humans, evolved from a single cell which itself is the result of chance combination of chemicals. Most believe that primordial matter resulted from the Big Bang. Certain high profile Christians like Hugh Ross and the influential Evangelical theologians and scholars who support him, teach that God is both the energizing force behind the Big Bang and the director of evolutionary process.
Against this way of thinking, the Word of God authoritatively teaches a six day historical creation, which today is vastly unpopular with and downright offensive to scientifically enlightened theologians and their followers.
The rejection of the literal six day creation is an aberration of modernism, meaning liberal (pantheist) Protestantism and its’ openly hostile ‘secular’ antitheist and atheist counterparts such as Marxist Communism and Secular Humanism.
Of the many early Church Fathers who wrote on Genesis, all but Augustine, who erred by teaching instantaneous creation, affirmed a literal, historic six day account of creation.
For instance, St. Cyril of Alexandria argued that higher theological, spiritual meaning is founded upon humble, simple faith in the literal and historic meaning of Genesis and one cannot apprehend rightly the Scriptures without believing in the historical reality of the events and people they describe. (Genesis, Creation, and Early Man, Fr. Seraphim Rose, p. 40)
In the integral worldview teachings of the Fathers, neither the literal nor historical meaning of the Revelations of the pre-incarnate Jesus, the Angel who spoke to Moses, can be regarded as expendable. There are at least four critically important reasons why. First, to wrest and distort Genesis so as to conform it to Big Bang and other secular scientific assumptions is to contradict and usurp the authority of God, ultimately deny the deity of Jesus Christ; twist, distort, add to and subtract from the entire Bible and finally, to imperil the salvation of believers.
It’s important that we understand that the Church Fathers weren’t primitive, unscientific goat-herders as dishonest modernists have made them out to be, but rather highly intelligent, well-educated men. Many came from backgrounds of evolutionary pantheism, occultism and pagan animism thus were intimately familiar with much of what passes for contemporary secular science such as Big Bang and Steady State theories (evolutionary cosmogonies), inflationary models, vast ages, chance, the universal life force (serpent power, Zoë, evolution) and much more, even though by other designations.
Long before Darwin, Greek nature philosophers (600–100BC) were teaching primitive evolutionary conceptions, abiogenesis, chance, determinism, natural selection, transmigration, reincarnation and vast ages together with many other modern assumptions.
The fragments of Anaximander’s (c. 610–546 BC) evolutionary speculations show he taught that ‘humans originally resembled another type of animal, namely fish’ while Democritus (c.460–370BC) taught that primitive people began to speak with ‘confused’ and ‘unintelligible’ sounds but ‘gradually they articulated words.’ (Evolution: An Ancient Pagan Idea, Paul James Griffith, creation.com)
The Greek Atomist Epicurus (341–270BC), the father of contemporary materialism and many of its’ secular scientific assumptions, taught there was no need of a God or gods, for the Universe came about by a chance movement of atoms. (ibid)
Darwinism affirms the claim made by Epicurus that living beings created themselves, while modern evolutionary biology affirms Anaximander’s claim that humans evolved from lower order life-forms.
With respect to old earth or vast ages, Plato and many other Greek philosophers taught that the present universe came about millions of years ago. Writing in the fourth century AD, Lactantius said:
“Plato and many others of the philosophers, since they were ignorant of the origin of all things, and of that primal period at which the world was made, said that many thousands of ages had passed since this beautiful arrangement of the world was completed … .“ (ibid)
After the Greeks, the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (AD23–79) said we are so subject to chance,
“….that Chance herself takes the place of God; she proves that God is uncertain.” (ibid)
Greek and Roman philosophers received these ideas from ancient Sumerians (Babylonians), Egyptians and Hindus whose Mysteries, nature philosophies and evolutionary cosmogonies extended back centuries before Greek and Roman civilization. For example, one Hindu belief was that Brahman (the Void or Universe) spontaneously generated itself (the modern theory of abiogenesis) as something like a seed or singularity (Cosmic Egg or Big Bang) about 4.3 billion years ago and then evolved under its’ own power by which it expanded and formed all that exists:
“These Hindus believed in an eternal Universe that had cycles of rebirth, destruction and dormancy, known as ‘kalpas’, rather like oscillating big bang theories. We also read in the Hindu Bhagavad Gita that the god Krishna says, ‘I am the source from which all creatures evolve.” (ibid, Griffith)
In India the doctrines of evolution/reincarnation/karma were thoroughly established from ancient times. They were expounded first in the Upanishads (c. 1000 BC – AD 4), the philosophical-mystical texts held to be the essence of the Vedas.
Representing the young earth view and resurrection of the dead (Acts 17: 16-34) the Apostle Paul contended against the Greek Epicureans (materialists) and Stoics (pantheists), representatives of Cosmic Egg theories (Big Bang), vast ages (old earth view), universal life force (evolution), void, atoms, animism (i.e. Karl Marx’s animated ‘divine thinking’ matter), fate, determinism, and reabsorption after death.
Speaking to the nature sages, Paul said “this is what I’m going to proclaim to you,”
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth… he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
When Greek sages heard about the resurrection of the dead, many of them sneered due to their belief that the body is a rotting tomb within which their souls were trapped. Since they believed that the fall consisted of an inexplicable plunge from being as one with the impersonal One Substance, then salvation was reabsorption of soul into the One Substance, therefore the idea of bodily resurrection was repulsive. In “Adversus nationes” (2:37) Arnobius complains,
“If souls were of the Lord’s race…They would never come to these terrestrial places (and) inhabit opaque bodies and (be) mixed with humors and blood, in receptacles of excrement, in vases of urine.” (The Pagan Temptation, Thomas Molnar, p. 27)
The framework behind the way of thinking which Paul contended against is naturalism, the ancient idea that living beings make themselves. Naturalism is like a leopard, meaning its’ spots cannot be changed even by defiant Scriptural retrofitters like Teilhard de Chardin, Leonard Sweet, Hugh Ross and other natural science and evolution compromisers.
As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun. What once was will be again. In this light, when Peter prophesied about the “scoffers” in “the last days” who claim that“everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4) he is speaking of this generation of God-haters and theological compromisers, who being wise in their own wisdom, willingly reject the Authority of God and six day special creation in preference of ancient ways of thinking revised and revamped for our own age.
The real issue behind objections to literal six day special creation is what kind of God progressive creationists and evolutionary theists believe in and peddle to unsuspecting believers. This is a question that needs to be addressed because by espousing Big Bang and old earth views theological compromisers have elevated naturalism in the guise of secular science and evolution above the Word and Authority of God resulting in an upside-down exegesis
Their inverted creation account is in the claim of a six day creation that occurred at the end of billions of years of evolutionary process. Logically, this means that billions of creatures lived and died long before man arrived on the scene, making the Word (John 1:1), our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the cause of death and suffering rather than the fall of Adam. By making the fossil record the measure of a sequence of long ages, God becomes the cause of death and suffering because the history of life appears to be a record of ineptitude, extinctions and constant brutality for billions of years. In the words of the atheist astronomer and evolution promoter Carl Sagan (1934-1996), if God,
“….is omnipotent and omniscient, why didn’t he start the universe out in the first place so it would come out the way he wants? Why is he constantly repairing and complaining? No, there’s one thing the Bible makes clear: The biblical God is a sloppy manufacturer. He’s not good at design, he’s not good at execution. He’d be out of business if there was any competition.” (Refuting Compromise, Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., F.M., p. 220)
The Big Bang, old earth view also leads to a philosophy of moral relativism because if men were once something else, a genderless blob of matter and then later on lizards and even later still some kind of ape-like creature, then not only are we going to become something else–maybe divine supermen, god-men, super robots or cosmic beings—but nothing can be said about transgender, ‘gay,’ and lesbianism since all life forms ascended from a genderless blob of matter generated by the inexplicable explosion of a Cosmic Egg which may or may not involve a stumbling God shaped and molded by theologians who require Him to ignite the Big Bang.
With regard to soul/spirit, if life arose from chemicals and then billions of years later man evolved from lower life-forms, then his rational nature, his soul, differs not qualitatively but only quantitatively from the beasts. Like beasts, man is not a person but a creature of the earth. Like them he has no spirit—free will, higher mental faculties, and conscience. He is a fleshy androgynous robot or hominid whose brain is organized by the genome and the genome shaped by natural selection.
Dr. Sarfati argues that denial of the literal and historic meaning of Genesis (young earth view) is foundationally the result of ‘imposing outside ideas upon the Bible.‘ Thus, it has‘baneful consequences which don’t just stop with Genesis,’ but adversely affect many areas. The atheist Frank Zindler enthusiastically agrees:
“The most devastating thing that biology did to Christianity was the discovery of biological evolution. Now that we know that Adam and Eve never were real people the central myth of Christianity is destroyed. If there never was an Adam and Eve, there never was an original sin. If there never was an original sin there is no need of salvation. If there is no need of salvation there is no need of a savior. And I submit that puts Jesus…into the ranks of the unemployed. I think evolution absolutely is the death knell of Christianity.” (“Atheism vs. Christianity,” 1996, Lita Cosner, creation.com, June 13, 2013)
The faith of the Christian Church and of the average Christian has had its foundation as much in the literal and historic meaning of Genesis as in that of the person and deity of Jesus Christ. Belief in a six day creation period about 6,000 years ago has been the authoritative teaching of the Church for most of its history and is essential for consistency in doctrine and apologetics. Only with a firm, unshakable foundation in Genesis are Christians able to stand strong in their faith.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…” “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1: 1-2, 14
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” John 8:58 & 17:5
If God is really Who He said He is, if He is the God Who revealed Himself to man through Jesus Christ (Messiah), then He can call everything into existence in six literal days (Gen. 1), bring about a virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23), be both God and man (Gen. 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Zechariah 12:10 & 13:7; 1 Chron. 17:1014), remove the curse due to Adam’s fall (Gen 5:21-29), resurrect Himself from the dead and ascend unto Heaven (1 Pet. 1:3; Romans 1:4; Matthew 27:53) because for the Word Who became flesh, all of these things are very simple matters.
So what kind of God do you believe in? The limited, bumbling God of death and suffering, the incompetent ‘sloppy manufacturer’ peddled by evolutionary theists and progressive creationists or the all-powerful personal loving God Who called everything into existence in six literal days? The first one is an untrustworthy deity that cannot save you. The second one is the God of eternal life. Only He can resurrect the faithful unto eternal physical life in a physical paradise.
What will paradise be like? C.S. Lewis describes paradise as a place of matter, of weight and mass, and the blessed inhabitants in their resurrected bodies are the beautiful “bright solid people.” N.T. Wright explains,
“…there will be a new mode of physicality, which stands in relation to our present body as our present body does to a ghost….a Christian in the present life is a mere shadow of his or her future self, the self that person will be when the body that God has waiting in his heavenly storeroom is brought out…and put on…over the self that will still exist after bodily death.” (Eternal Perspectives, Randy Alcorn, p. 154-155)
Tuck away the many horror stories of the wrong limbs being amputated, things being left in surgery patients, terrible infections picked up in hospitals and totally wrong diagnoses. More relevant is a bureaucratic hospitalization horror that far too few Americans covered by Medicare are aware of.
Odds are that you do not know a key question to ask if you ever find yourself in a hospital for an overnight stay that could last from one or two days, or perhaps much more. What you and anyone accompanying you want to know is whether you are being classified as “under observation.” This means that legally you are not an inpatient. If the former, then you are likely to find yourself owing the hospital a large amount of money, because your Medicare or other health insurance will not provide the benefits associated with inpatient status. Many, many Americans nationwide that were classified as under observation have faced unexpected bills of many tens of thousands of dollars.
So pay very close attention to what you are about to read.
If you in a hospital, possibly in an emergency room, then you or family or friends should ask some tough questions of hospital staff if you are kept in the hospital after being handled in the emergency room. Ask if you will be kept in as an inpatient. If told that you will be in the observation category, then you might seriously consider whether you should stay in that hospital, or perhaps seek another one if you are not in immediate need of medical attention beyond what was received in the emergency department.
Indeed, ordinary Americans should recognize what Medicare does, namely that the decision made by the hospital to classify a patient as under observation for billing purposes is a “complex medical judgment.” What that means is that different interpretations and decisions can be made, either by someone else in the hospital or professionals in a different hospital. The critical decision to use the observation classification, with so much potential negative impact for patients, is “open to widely variable interpretation” as physician Steven J. Myerson has noted.
Because you may be in a very stressful state resulting from facing some medical condition, it is imperative that family and friends also need to become educated. Realistically, you may not be in a clear enough mental state when you enter a hospital to ask questions and demand good answers about how the hospital is classifying your stay.
Understand this: Nothing is crazier than entering a hospital for one or more nights and being designated as under observation, which amounts to being an outpatient, rather than an inpatient. Despite coverage by Medicare you will not have expected benefits.
Beyond hours in the emergency department, you can spend days in a hospital bed, receive regular nursing care, be given drugs and all kinds of tests. You might even spend time in a critical care or intensive care unit. But you can still be officially designated an outpatient in observation status. Even though you might stay in the hospital for more than just one or two nights, unless officially designated an inpatient you face major financial liability.
Under Medicare this means you are not covered by Part A which provides the best hospital coverage, but rather covered under Part B with far inferior coverage. This practice is as bad as anything you have ever heard about awful health insurance coverage. Furthermore, Medicare does not cover post-discharge care for Part B observation stays. For example, a patient in observation status for a broken bone will have to pay the full cost of rehabilitation or a nursing home. But for an inpatient Medicare pays for skilled nursing care following at least three consecutive inpatient days. Also, observation patients pay out-of-pocket for the medication they receive in the hospital and Subtitle D drug coverage may not cover these costs.
Hard to believe but your personal physician may not know that their patient has been classified by the hospital as outpatient or under observation. Though it would be very smart for you to raise this issue and make it clear that you do not want to stay in a hospital unless you are being admitted as an inpatient. But starting in an emergency room makes it difficult to push this issue, but not impossible.
Even the key public document from Medicare makes clear that “You’re an outpatient if you’re getting emergency department services, observation services, outpatient surgery, lab tests, or X-rays, and the doctor hasn’t written an order to admit you to the hospital as an inpatient.” Regardless of what a doctor has said, however, hospitals have the power to classify you as under observation. The government advises “If you’re in the hospital more than a few hours, always ask your doctor or the hospital staff if you’re an inpatient or an outpatient.” Note the word “always.” That is terrific, critically important advice.
You or your accompanying relative or friend must be prepared to challenge a decision of observation status and even raise the possibility of immediately leaving the hospital. Remember, this is after any actions given in an emergency department. Being prepared to challenge an observation status decision requires that you fully understand the considerable downside of this hospital classification.
Actually, Medicare maintains a one way communication street. Medicare doesn’t require hospitals to tell patients they are “under observation,” though many will do so. It only requires hospitals to tell patients they have been downgraded from inpatient to observation.
To be clear, if you are not classified as an inpatient, then you officially have not been admitted to the hospital though you have entered it. Toby Edelman of the Center for Medicare Advocacy has noted that “People have no way of knowing they have not been admitted to the hospital. They go upstairs to a bed, they get a band on their wrist, nurses and doctors come to see them, they get treatment and tests, they fill out a meal chart – and they assume that they have been admitted to the hospital.”
How much of a problem is observation status? In recent years, hospitals have increasingly classified Medicare beneficiaries as observation patients instead of admitting them, according to a Brown University nationwide analysis of Medicare claims. From 2007 through 2009, the ratio of Medicare observation patients to those admitted as inpatients rose by 34 percent. Worse, more than 10 percent of patients in observation were kept there for more than 48 hours, and more than 44,800 were kept in observation for 72 hours or longer in 2009 — an increase of 88 percent since 2007.
A recent New York Times article noted that under Medicare: “the number of seniors entering the hospital for observation increased 69 percent over five years, to 1.6 million in 2011.” And from 2004 to 2011, the number of observation services administered per Medicare beneficiary rose by almost 34 percent, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, while admissions per beneficiary declined 7.8 percent. In other words, this observation issue is not a trivial or minor issue affecting just a few people.
Data showing far greater use of the observation status option than widely reported were in a 2013 report to Medicare by the Health and Human Services Inspector General for 2012 hospitalizations. Some 2.1 million hospitalizations were designated observation status with 11 percent three nights or more and 80 percent originating in emergency departments, but another 1.4 million were long term outpatient stays that could and perhaps should have been coded as observation status. There were also 1.1 million short term inpatient stays (less than two nights) that also could have been coded as observation status. With increased enforcement by Medicare and penalties for hospitals, therefore, there is the possibility of 4.6 million or more annual observation status stays. Medicare patients should be aware of large differences among hospitals.
AARP did its own study and found that from 2001 to 2009 both the frequency and duration of observation status increased. Although only about 3.5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were in this class in 2009, Medicare claims for observation patients grew by more than 100 percent, with the greatest increase occurring in cases not leading to an inpatient admission. The duration of observation visits also increased dramatically. Observation service visits lasting 48 hours or longer were the least common, but had the greatest increase, almost 250 percent for observation only and more than 100 percent for observation with inpatient admission.
According to a survey by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) in 2013 more than 80 percent of US geriatric care managers reported that “inappropriate hospital Observation Status determinations were a significant problem in their communities and 75 percent noted that the problem was growing worse.
A University of Wisconsin study found that 10.4 percent of hospitalizations in 2010 and 2011 were in the observation status category and 16.5 percent of them exceeded 48 hours and concluded “observation care in clinical practice is very different than what CMS [the Medicare agency] initially envisioned and creates insurance loopholes that adversely affect patients, health care providers, and hospitals.” In an Invited Commentary on the Wisconsin study, physician Robert M. Wachter of the Department of Medicine at the University ofCalifornia, San Francisco, summed up the observation issue as having “morphed into madness.”
Note that Medicare guidelines recommend that observation stays be no longer than 24 hours and only “in rare and exceptional cases” extend past 48 hours. Obviously, this is nearly meaningless in the real world.
Why are hospitals placing more patients in observation status?
Like so much in American society, the answer is money.
Hospitals are at risk from Medicare audits that declare patients wrongly defined as inpatients. Payment is then rejected, potentially large amounts of money. The government has increased audits to such a degree that since 2009 four recovery firms have reviewed bills from hospitals and physicians nationwide and recuperated $1.9 billion in overpayments. Billion!
Two physicians writing in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine said: “When observation is used as a billing status in inpatient areas without changes in care delivery, it’s largely a cost-shifting exercise – relieving the hospital of the risk of adverse action by the RAC [Recovery Audit Contractor] but increasing the patient’s financial burden.”
To cut its spending, Medicare has accused hospitals of over-charging by “admitting” patients instead of putting them on “observation” status. For example, in July 2013, BethIsrael New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston paid Medicare $5.3 million to settle claims over this issue.
A new wrinkle under Obamacare is that hospitals can be penalized for readmitting patients in less than 30 days. But observation patients cannot be counted as readmissions if they happen to return because they were not officially admitted in the first place. To avoid this risk of financial loss, more patients can be classified as under observation.
A new Medicare rule taking effect April 1, 2014 requires doctors to admit people they anticipate staying for longer than two midnights, but to list those expected to stay for less time as observation patients. Many medical professionals doubt that this will improve things. Physician Ann Sheehy of the University of Wisconsin closely examined how this rule will work and concluded: “We found that four of five diagnosis codes were the same across length of stay, indicating that the cut point is arbitrary and really does not distinguish different patient groups, even though insurance benefits will be different based on length of stay.” Time, not medical condition or hospital actions, is being used. She also noted that the government will not count nights spent at different hospitals, and that 9 percent of their observation were transfers.
Dr. Sheehy made this great point: “Observation is an outpatient designation, which implies all services delivered could be done in an outpatient setting. This is totally not the case, which is why observation status is so frustrating.”
Because there is essentially no upside to being put into observation status, it is critically important for you or your advocate to be very assertive when entering the hospital. What actions can you take after you are in the hospital and you are likely in a better mental state to address this problem? Nothing that is likely to work for you.
The imperative is to check your status each day you are in the hospital and remember that it can be changed (from inpatient to observation, or vice versa) at any time by various hospital doctors or officials. Sadly, in many cases a patient may not be informed that they have been in observation status until the discharge process. That is why it is very important to ask the hospital, either through a doctor or nursing staff, what your status is and, if observation, to formally reconsider your case. Ask if there is a hospital committee that could review your status. Definitely ask your own doctor whether they are willing to press your case for inpatient status based on medical factors. In theory, you could appeal observation status with Medicare after you leave the hospital, but that is difficult and few have succeeded.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy makes available a Self Help Packet for Medicare “Observation Status.” This is definitely worth keeping handy and it would be great if hospitals distributed it. This group has an active legal case challenging the government’s policy of allowing hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries to be placed in “observation status,” rather than formally admitting them, and depriving them of their Part A coverage in violation of the Medicare statute and other laws. This group makes this important observation: “Neither the Medicare statute nor the Medicare regulations define observation services. The only definition appears in various CMS manuals.”
What is really needed is action by Congress to eliminate observation status for any overnight stay, but this is unlikely unless many millions of Medicare beneficiaries demand it. The ugly truth is that this observation status was a bureaucratic tactic to reduce Medicare spending. It puts hospitals in the difficult position of putting their patients in a very bad financial situation. In a real sense hospitals are being blackmailed into serving as agents to implement this awful observation policy. A vigorous national campaign by AARP demanding congressional action is needed.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. ~ Eph 5:11
Not surprisingly the movie “Son of God” has created quite a stir in the Christian community. Before I gave the theater my money I read several reviews, blog posts, Facebook comments and viewed TV interviews of husband and wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey promoting their film. Roma is a familiar face to many and is best-known for her role on the successful TV show “Touched by An Angel.” Mark Burnett is the executive producer of a string of hit TV shows such as “Survivor,” “The Voice, “Celebrity Apprentice,” “Shark Tank,” and he has won several Emmys.
When I first heard that another full-length feature film about the life of Christ was coming to the silver screen, I was skeptical for several reasons. First, Mark and Roma are Catholic and I was concerned that the movie would be produced from this perspective; a perspective that in many cases I disagree with.
Second, I learned that Roma earned a degree in “spiritual psychology” from the University of Santa Monica, a private graduate school founded by New Age spiritual and self-help quack John-Roger. P.J. Miller is not being flippant when he asks:
What do you call someone who is a student of new age psychology and spiritualism? Do you call them new agers? Do you call them seekers? Would you dare call them Christian? Well, if you’re Roma Downey, then yes, you would call yourself all the above. (Source)
Third, a movie trailer shows Jesus asking Peter to follow Him. Peter looks skeptical and asks Jesus what they’re going to do. Jesus grins and replies “Change the world.” Well, no. Jesus never said those words to Peter! Here’s what Jesus actually said:
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Mat 4:18-20)
Jesus commanded — Peter and Andrew dropped what they were doing to follow Him. (More on this in a moment.) Another clip shows a woman sitting in a boat on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus and the apostles during the storm where Jesus walks on water. But according to Scripture there was no woman in the boat:
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. (Mat 14:22)
In the movie Mary was the woman in the boat. But why would they have a woman in the boat when Matthew informs us that the disciples/apostles got into the boat. Mary wasn’t one of the twelve disciples/apostles – no woman was!
Finally, S. Michael Houdmann revealed in his review of the movie that, “the reason for Jesus’ death and the meaning of His resurrection are completely missing. The fact that Jesus’ death is the atoning sacrifice for sin is not mentioned at all (1 John 2:2).”
As I said, “Son of God” has elicited a great deal of controversy as did Mark and Roma’s “The Bible” miniseries produced by LightWorkers Media, a company owned by them. This “heretical and blasphemous” program aired on the History Channel last year. “We knew when we were shooting,” said Downey, “that the Jesus portion of our ‘Bible’ series was special and we shot much more footage and we’ve re-edited many more scenes into a stand-alone feature film called ‘Son of God.'” I don’t have the space to tackle the “The Bible” brouhaha. I will say, though, that several highly controversial pastors sat on the Board of Advisors. They include Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Richard Mouw andSamuel Rodriguez. (For more on “The Bible” go to Resources below)
The Son of God?
“Son of God” opened on February 28, so by now a lot of folks have had the opportunity to view it in theatres and many more will have it streaming into their living rooms in a few months. Naturally, reviews were quickly written, some good, some not so good. (You’ll find links to the reviews at the end of this piece.) Suffice to say that in a short amount of time a lot has been said about the film.
Many of you won’t be surprised to learn that Mark and Roma asked Saddleback Church founder Rick Warren to help spread their version of the “good news.” He happily agreed. “I’ve seen most of the films produced about Jesus in the past 50 years,” said the pastor, “and ‘Son of God’ is the best. We’re excited Jesus is back on the big screen, and we’re going to fill the theaters. I want every other faith leader in America to do the same.”
So – why would the man who is affectionately called “America’s Pastor” agree to promote a film that its critics describe as outright unbiblical?
Not only did Warren endorse the film, according to the Baptist Standard staff report :
Pastor and author Rick Warren partnered with LifeWay Christian Resources to release a Bible study related to the Son of God movie from 20th Century Fox, which hits theaters Feb. 28.
The small-group curriculum resource by Warren, Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You, is a companion piece to the movie produced by husband-and-wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.
The six-session study features video clips from the movie and videos from Warren explaining Jesus’ teachings and their impact on people’s lives. Topics include baptism, temptation, suffering, death, resurrection and ministry. (Source)
As a Southern Baptist preacher, Rick Warren knows perfectly well that the Roman Catholic Church holds to the view that it is the one true Church. Thus, any church outside the RCC is anathematized (excommunicated, cursed or damned). The Protestant Reformers held the view that the RCC’s gospel is not a gospel that saves; therefore the RCC is apostate. Anyone who rejects the true gospel – we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone – is an unbeliever. Period. Warren also knows what the Bible teaches regarding believers going into partnerships with unbelievers:
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness. (2 Corinthians 6:14)
Here’s the thing. Not everyone who professes the name of Christ has a true saving faith. What about Mark Burnett and Roma Downey? Do they have a true saving faith? Let’s examine the fruit.
Popular pastor and author Mark Driscoll’s church bought out 3,500 seats. In 2013 he and his wife shared a stage with Mark and Roma at Resurgence 13. Driscoll later remarked:
We watched the world premier trailer for The Son of God at the conference, and the footage choked me up as I thought of the millions of people who will hear about Jesus through this project. I am so encouraged by God’s work through this couple. (Source)
The connection between the Passover sacrifice (Exodus 12) and Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29) is not made. The fact that Jesus’ resurrection proves His victory over death and sin and guarantees a resurrected eternal life for all who believe in Him (1 Corinthians 15) is nowhere to be found. — S. Michael Houdmann
Another endorser of the film was “Social Justice Christian” Rev. Jim Wallis. In my column Liberalism created the culture of evil and death, part 3 I wrote:
This man wears many hats. He is the founder of Sojourner’s Magazine, speaker, author and activist. He’s also President Obama’s “spiritual advisor.” This alone speaks volumes. Rev. Wallis insists that he’s an evangelical Christian even though he has abandoned the biblical gospel for the “social gospel.” He believes he’s on a mission from God to assist the poor and oppressed to bring forth the Kingdom of God on earth.
When this purveyor of the false social justice gospel was asked for advice by the couple, he gladly gave it to them:
What won me over to the whole series was the clip about Jesus meeting Peter, the fisherman. In a Washington, D.C., premiere of “The Bible” series a few weeks ago, I had wonderful conversations with Mark and Roma. Mark asked me if they were right to have Jesus say that he wanted to change the world. Those words are not literally in the scriptures, but it seemed to him and Roma that’s exactly what Jesus was talking about. Absolutely correct, I told them both. And we went through the first few chapters of Mathew which demonstrate that truth. I love the clarity and courage of the statement from Jesus in “The Bible.”
Sunny Shell disagrees:
Christ came into the world to save sinners from the righteous wrath of God, which is the just penalty for our sins. He never said He came to change the world. He said He came to transform people by giving them new hearts and new minds through repentance and faith in Christ alone. (Source)
The Examiner listed the names of churches and organizations that distributed tickets for a so-called “Theater Take-Over”:
Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Tex., who is distributing 8,000 tickets donated by an anonymous donor; Jerry Falwell, Jr., of Liberty University which has more than 12,000 students; Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch which has 18 campuses in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles with over four million members and Miles McPherson of the Rock Church with weekly attendance of more than 10,000 in San Diego, Calif. (Emphasis in original – source)
In an article that appeared on Fox News, Mark and Roma wrote:
In all our combined years in the entertainment industry, we’ve never seen anything like this kind of grass-roots support for a project. It is truly miraculous.
So, too, is the unprecedented depth and breadth of those who have endorsed the film. Pastors like Rick, as well as scholars and faith organizations, have graciously supported our effort to share this story of our Savior – though they belong to different denominations, adhere to varying theological doctrine, worship God in their own unique ways.
Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Dallas said “the audience will be enthralled, encouraged and inspired.”
S. Michael Houdmann was not enthralled by the movie. In his review he writes:
The Son of God presents a Jewish Messiah who is crucified, dies, comes back to life, and commissions His followers to spread the word. But why did He have to die? What is the meaning of the resurrection? What is the message the apostles were supposed to proclaim, and why was it worth dying for?
More from the Fox News article…
Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston called it “an epic work that touches the heart.”
The Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez says it’s “a very important movie because it gives us the opportunity to realize God’s presence in our own lives.”(Source)
Certainly there are by now “Church leaders” that are sincerely shocked to find out that they endorsed a movie produced by New Age Catholics. Here’s more proof from a 2010 article Roma Downey Happy Out of the Spotlight that shows she’s an advocate of New Age/New Thought spirituality:
Says Roma, who lives in Malibu, ‘My kids go to school about a 40-minute drive away. I’m open to the group’s opinion about what we listen to on the way there. On the way back, I get my own selections — books on tape by Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins…My husband says I’m so self-realized I’m practically levitating.’
For those who are unfamiliar with Eckhart Tolle, he’s a New Ager. A few years ago Tolle paired up with Oprah Winfrey to do 10 online classes on XM Satellite radio on his blockbuster book “A New Earth: Are You Ready to Be Awakened.” Oprah and Tolle took participants through his book chapter by chapter. Regrettably, a large number of professing Christians took the class!
Human Potential guru and “coach for success” Anthony Robbins once said: “My definition of success is to live your life in a way that causes you to feel tons of pleasure and very little pain.” Evidently no pain is experienced after completing a barefoot firewalk, a self-empower technique Robbins’ teaches to get an otherwise sane person to walk on a bed of burning hot coals during his “Unleash The Power Within” seminar. On this video you’ll hear the sound of drums beating and the crowd chanting “YES! YES! YES!” as Robbinswhips them into a frenzy in preparation for the firewalk.
Roma appeared on “psychic medium” John Edward’s TV show and allegedly spoke to her deceased mother. What does the Bible have to say about consulting a medium?
And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. (2 Kings 21:6)
Well, it’s apparent that Roma, who says she loves the Bible, is unaware—or doesn’t care–that God says consulting a medium is evil.
Later she collaborated with Edwards by providing a CD to accompany a book he wrote:
Roma prays the entire rosary on the beautiful CD that comes along with this book. It’s quite lovely and gives you the special opportunity and a unique spiritual closeness to Roma to be able to pray right along with her as if she was right there at your side.” (Source)
So now you know a bit about two New Age gurus Roma Downey looks forward to listening to each day and an occultist she collaborated with. The worldview of these men is as far from Christianity as the Earth is from Pluto.
P.J. Miller sat listening to Jim Bakker introduce Mark and Roma on Bakker’s TV show and recalled “their previous work on the History Channel’s The Bible and how they managed to literally re-write the Bible itself, and presented another gospel message altogether. I was captured by their … aggressive but subtle attempt to portray themselves as ‘believers’. The sappy spiritual love fest that permeated on set showed me that something was indeed changing within Christianity, and that something was another Jesus being introduced to the masses.”
Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (Mat/ 24: 23-24)
After several weeks of due diligence I’ve decided that “Son of God” is not a film I wish to see. In addition to the concerns I have included in this article, my research has turned up many more — way too many to incorporate here. Most troubling is the astonishing lack of discernment shown by some of our so-called Christian leaders. The Son of God I serve is best described in the Bible which is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God. Inspired means that God moved through the writers to convey to those who read it the words He wanted us to hear. So to change the words that Christ spoke is prideful and wicked.
It’s unfortunate that those who are unfamiliar with the biblical Jesus and see this film will not come away with a clear understanding of His mission here on Earth.
He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1John 2:2)
“Son of God” Reviews
‘Son of God’ Is Most Certainly Not the Son of God by Sunny Shell
Son of God Review by S. Michael Houdmann
Is the Son of God Biblical by Ben Kayser
“The Bible” Review
History Channel’s ‘The Bible’ Exalts Man Over God by Sunny Shell
Jim Wallis Produces Commentaries for “The Bible” by Stand Up For The Truth
Religious leaders of all stripes endorse Son of God by Stand Up For The Truth
New Age/New Thought Movement
Rick Warren and Joel Osteen acquiesce to Oprah by Marsha West
A subtle and dangerous shift in Christianity by Marsha West
Rick Warren’s ‘Son of God’ Study Kit by Stand Up For The Truth
Rick Warren and Teaching of Demons by Ken Silva
What Still Keeps Us Apart? by Michael Horton
Rome anathematized itself at the Council of Trent
Purpose Driven Dismantling of Christianity, Part 1 by Marsha West
“Please don’t go to Haiti — it could be dangerous down there!” several worried friends begged me right before I left. But boy were they wrong. Haiti is totally fun! I never had so much fun in my life as I did this past week in Haiti. And this is my very own tourist guidebook to all the neat stuff that I’ve done down here. Not exactly the Lonely Planet. But boy am I having a good time.
The most frequently asked question before I left was, “Are you going down there to do humanitarian work?” No no no. I’m going down there to be a tourist!
To start with, I got a really great bargain deal on Expedia — $800 to fly me from SFO to Port au Prince and five nights in a convenient, clean and quiet hotel called the Diquini Guest House. This was absolutely the smartest thing that I did on this trip. Why? Because the manager of the guest house, a former member of the Haitian diaspora and long-time resident of Washington DC, took me under his wing and for a reasonable fee let me hire his driver, translated for me, kept me fed on nicely-flavored Haitian stew and rice — and then took me off to explore Port au Prince. www.diquinigh.com.
First we went to the famous Hotel Oloffson where the ghosts of past American ex-pat writers such as Graham Greene and Lillian Hellman roam its gardens, terraces and gingerbread-style balconies; where Mick Jagger and even Jacqueline Kennedy have stayed — and where the famous vudou-inspired RAM band was playing that night. http://hoteloloffson.com/
The next day we explored what is left of the 2010 earthquake ruins, from what was left of the tragically beautiful stone-filigreed huge rose window of the old cathedral and the site of the historic National Palace to various small tent cities dotting Port au Prince that still house earthquake victims today, and the ruined buildings that still have market stalls precariously tucked into whichever concrete slabs are still left standing.
“So, Jane, how is Port au Prince actually doing now, four years after the quake?” you might ask, now that I’m an actual eye-witness to the scene of the crime. It’s not doing super-good, but not doing as badly as I had expected either. Most of the tent cities are gone now — as a lot of the homeless victims have by now squashed themselves in with relatives, left for the countryside or otherwise made do.
“But what are Haitians really like?” you might ask next. You can tell what Haitians are really like by the way that they drive. There are only a handful of traffic signals in Port au Prince and even fewer rules of the road. And Haitians drive very fast. But they also drive in a way that is almost polite. Everyone wants to get where they are going (and to get there fast) — but no one wants to actually hurt anyone else. I didn’t see any road rage there. Just people trying to get by.
Basically, Haitians are just people trying to get by after having been dealt a very rough hand for a very long time, from the moment they were kidnapped from Africa and sold as slaves here — starting in 1503, just eleven years after Columbus discovered the island. And those slaves were expendable too, worked to death in a few years at most and then replaced by other new slaves.
Then after having fought for and achieved its freedom in 1804, Haiti was also constantly attacked, exploited and/or invaded for the next 200-plus years by America, Canada and various combinations of European nations. And now Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, resembling the slums of Uganda or the slums of Zimbabwe. And yet despite their poverty, which is dire and extreme, Haitians still remain stoically polite.
Next we went off to the Iron Market bazaar to buy Haitian stuff to hang on my walls when I get home. And then we drove all over Port au Prince — the grand tour. And that night we went off to Carnival in the Carrefour district. Are you jealous yet?
Carrefour’s pre-Lenten carnival was like one gigantic block party and was actually as much fun as Berkeley in the 1960s, the benchmark against I always measure how much fun something is.
I also wanted to go see San Souci and the Citadel, UNESCO world heritage sites up in Cap Haitien, but it was a seven-hour drive to get there, so we went to Fonds des Negres instead, which was only a three-hour drive, and I met a vodou master there. “No one is cursing you,” he told me. Not even the NSA? Good to know. Then he performed a candlelight ritual to help my knees get better. Then he pulled out a business card for his son who owns a botanica in SoCal who, for a price, could finish my knee treatment when I got back home .
And there’s also a cave in the mountains near Fonds des Negres where a “Suzan,” a vodou spirit, resides. But you have to get there by motorcycle and we didn’t have time to do all that on this day trip. So I just bought a sequin-covered vodou flag instead.
“Have you seen any zombies in Haiti?” might be your next question. Sorry, no. But on my plane ride down here, we ran into a bunch of really scary turbulence over Chicago and I thought I was going to die. So I had an epiphany. “When you are in your mother’s womb, the only way out is by going through a whole bunch of pain first — and death is also like that. First you pass through a whole bunch of pain and then, poof, you are out on the Other Side.” As a zombie? Let’s hope not.
The next day we went out searching for Jean-Bertrand Aristide and then ended the day in that famous five-star hotel in Petionville — just to see how the other 1% lives. Trust me, they are living well.
What else have I done down here? I can’t remember exactly. But I will tell you this: I have really had fun. And if you ever want to go to Haiti too, I totally recommend it highly. And, no, I’m not getting paid to say this.
PS: While in Haiti, I also watched the winter Olympics on TV — thus getting a chance to compare Port au Prince and Sochi. One city has far too little city planning and one city had far too much!
According to journalist Roi Tov, “With less than 350,000 denizens, [Sochi] has been occupied by at least 25,000 police officers, 30,000 soldiers, 8,000 special forces, and an undisclosed number of FSB agents.”
Port au Prince is nothing like that. The streets go every which-way like a patchwork quilt. But it does have one thing in common with Sochi — abuse of its fragile labor force.
And let’s also compare Port au Prince with Havana. I’m currently reading Carlos Eire’s autobiography, “Learning to Die in Miami”. Eire appears to believe with all his heart that the Castro experience was a nightmare — and yet just compare Cuba and Haiti today. Haiti has been under the thumb of American and European corporatists for ages and ages. And now, despite all its amazingly fertile soil and impressive mineral riches, Haiti is currently one of the poorest countries in the world. Seven out of ten Haitians live on less than $2 a day, according to the International Red Cross.
But in Havana under the Castro brothers, everyone has a good chance of getting a college education.
But, hell, most Haitians are lucky to have a chance to even get as far as fourth grade!
If Fulgencio Batista and the American corporatists who owned him back in 1959 had remained in power and Castro had never taken over Cuba, Cuba today would more than likely look just like Haiti today. And does anyone with a working brain really think that having American and European oil companies, bankers, war profiteers and neo-cons in control in Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine are going to help those countries either? Hell, just look at what those guys did to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya — and to Detroit!
As you may know, I bicycled for a year in South America, top to bottom. I enjoyed the Amazon jungle, the wildlife and especially the insect life. I took pictures of tens of thousands of butterflies dancing on an endless canopy of flowers. Many of my columns deal with saving the natural world such as an international 25-cent deposit-return law for all plastic, glass and metal containers. We must keep plastics from destroying our fellow creatures—especially in our oceans.
Today, I appeal to you to use the links provided to send the chemical giant Monsanto a letter to demand they stop marketing “Round-up” ; “Weed-b-gone” and other poisons that threaten the extinction of the Monarch butterfly.
Monarch butterflies vanish faster with each passing year — and all signs point to Monsanto as the main culprit.
Major press outlets worldwide reported last month that Monarchs face “grave danger”, with their population reaching the lowest numbers ever recorded. Now, an independent study linked the monarch’s decline with Monsanto’s “Round-up” herbicide.
One of the most beautiful phenomena in the natural world — the annual mass migration of 60 million monarchs from Canada to Mexico – stands on the verge of being a relic of history. We need to fight this now, before it’s too late for the butterflies.
Join me and tell Monsanto to pull its butterfly-killing herbicide before it’s too late.
“This corporate giant knows what it’s doing,” said a spokesperson for Sum of Us. “But Monsanto says we should balance the butterfly’s survival with what it calls “productive agriculture”(read: Monsanto’s bottom line equals money not nature.).
Tell Monsanto to pull its butterfly-killing herbicide before it’s too late.
The annual mass migration of 60 million Monarchs from Canada to Mexico represents one of the most beautiful phenomena in the natural world. I know because on one of my many cycle trips along the coast of California, I saw millions of Monarchs hanging from trees during their rest stops.
But Monarchs stand on the verge of being a relic of history, and a key link in our food chain.
“The monarch butterfly is in a serious, decades-long decline,” said the spokesperson. “The World Wildlife Fund reported that this winter, the monarchs are only occupying an area of 1.7 acres in Mexico, down from 45 acres in 1996. An evolutionary strategy based on eating a common weed seemed smart — until Monsanto came along. Just one state along the monarchs’ migration route, Iowa, is reported to have lost 98 percent of its milkweed.”
Monsanto products like Roundup dominate the agricultural market worldwide. This corporate giant sells matching genetically-engineered plants resistant to its pesticides — and encourages factory farms to douse fields with gallons of Monsanto’s herbicides.
“But sprayed over vast areas, these poisons effect the entire ecosystem,” a spokesperson said. “Monsanto’s Roundup wipes out the monarchs’ primary food source — a plant called milkweed. Scientists have linked the monarch’s rapid population decline to the spread of Monsanto’s pesticides. Losing these butterflies means wiping out insects, birds and small mammals that rely on the monarch and its place in the food chain.”
Take a few minutes to visit the website and send in your letter to Monsanto. Tell Monsanto to save the monarchs by pulling its ecosystem-threatening herbicide.
Every second wasted nails another spike into the butterfly’s coffin leading to extinction. Let’s harness that awareness to save the monarchs from Monsanto!