Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu advised visiting Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey Friday, Jan.20 that the time for action against Iran was now, for two reasons: First, the conviction that Iran has passed the point of no return for developing a nuclear weapon; and second, the diminishing prospects for a US-led embargo on Iranian oil to catch on before it is too late.
The Obama administration disputes the Israeli prime minister on both points, insisting there is still time for tough sanctions to incapacitate the Iranian economy and stop Tehran before it reaches the point of no return in its drive for a nuke. Israel insists that this pivotal point was reached four years ago in 2008.
Gen. Dempsey was exhaustively briefed on the Israeli position during his whirlwind interviews Friday with President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and three conversations with Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, one with key General Staff officers.
It was not by chance that Maj. Gen. (ret.) Asher Yadlin, until last year Israel chief of military intelligence, maintained in a detailed article in the Tel Aviv daily Maariv: “If Iranian leaders were to convene tonight and decide to go ahead with the secret production of a nuclear bomb, they already possess the resources and components for doing so. This [capability] was once defined as the point of no return. [As matters stand] now, Iran’s nuclear timeline no longer hinges on the calendar; it rests entirely on a decision in Tehran.”
The former intelligence chief was saying that for four years, the US and Israeli governments colluded in propagating the false assumption that Iran had not reached a nuclear weapon capability. Presenting a highly problematic oil embargo in 2012 as capable of putting Iran off its nuclear stride is equally illusory.
Yadlin’s disclosure provided backing for Netanyahu who Thursday, Jan. 19, at the end of a visit to Holland, asserted for the first time: “Iran has decided to become a nuclear state” and called for “action now to stop Iran before it’s too late.”
Some of Israel’s cabinet ministers tried to soften the impact of the prime minister’s words by suggesting that his bluntness aimed at pushing President Barack Obama into implementing the sanctions he signed into law on Dec. 30 targeting Iran’s central bank and oil sales, and giving him an extra lever for bringing the European Union and Asian powers aboard.
But Netanyahu soon put them right. According to debkafile’s Jerusalem sources, he lined them all up to inform Gen. Dempsey – and through him President Obama – that they did not believe in those sanctions and suspected the Obama administration of orchestrating their buildup as a tool for holding Israel back from a unilateral strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Debkafile’s oil sources in Asia and Europe report that updated figures confirm how little traction the oil embargo campaign has achieved so far: There is no evidence that China, Japan, South Korea, India, Turkey and the European Union members, which purchase in total 85 percent of Iran’s total average export of 2.5 million barrels a day, have cancelled any part of their orders.
While China – which in 2011 bought from Iran 550,000 barrels a day, covering 11 percent of its oil – cut its orders down in January by 285,000, this had nothing to do with ab embargo. Beijing was simply exploiting the threat of an embargo to squeeze from Iran a discount on prices and reduction of its debt for previous purchases. China made it clear to the Security Council that is opposed to “sanctions, pressure and military threats” against Iran. After settling its price dispute with Tehran, China fully intends to return to its former level of trade, even if it decides to partially diversify its oil sources to Saudi Arabia following Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s Middle East trip this month.
The European Union, which buys some 450,000 barrels per day from Iran, holds a special meeting Monday, Jan. 23, after failing last week to approve a cutback on purchases from Iran. Iran provides Greece, Italy and Spain respectively with about 25 percent, 13 percent and 10 percent of their oil. They are holding out for a very partial embargo and want it delayed until the end of 2012.
Japan, while pledging publicly to keep reducing its purchases of Iranian crude by 100,000 barrels a day, is waiting to see whether China and India join the ban. “The United States should try and talk more with India and China as they are the biggest buyers of Iranian crude,” said Japan’s foreign minister Koichiro Gemba this week, clearly passing the buck.
South Korea is only willing to forgo 40,000 bpd, but is asking for a waiver.
India’s Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said this week that India, which as Iran’s second biggest buyer after China relies on Iran for 12 percent of its imports (3,500,000-4,000,000 bpd), will continue to trade with Tehran and not abide by sanctions.
In anticipation of a US-led ban on Iran’s central bank, Delhi announced this week that the CBI would open an account with an Indian bank for receiving payment for its oil, partly in Indian rupees instead of US dollars.
Turkey, keen to position itself as broker between the West and Tehran and the venue for future nuclear negotiations, is maintaining its import level of 200,000 bpd of crude from Iran.
Given the snaillike progress of the international oil sanctions campaign against Iran, the Israeli Prime Minister informed Gen. Dempsey Friday that he could not see his way to giving the Obama administration more time for these penalties to work. He stressed that the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program had reached the critical point where time was of the essence for preempting a nuclear-armed Iran. source – DEBKA
Freedom lives on…for now, at least
SAN ANTONIO — U.S. lawmakers stopped anti-piracy legislation in its tracks on Friday, delivering a stunning win for Internet companies that staged an unprecedented online protest this week to kill the previously fast-moving bills.
Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, followed suit, saying his panel would delay action on similar legislation until there is wider agreement on the issue.
“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy. It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products,” Smith said in a statement.
The bills, known as PIPA in the Senate and SOPA in the House, are aimed at curbing access to overseas websites that traffic in pirated content and counterfeit products, such as movies and music.
The legislation has been a priority for entertainment companies, publishers, pharmaceutical companies and other industry groups who say it is critical to curbing online piracy, which they believe costs them billions of dollars a year. source – MSBC
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s first specialty license plate that benefits gay causes is now available for purchase. Bureau of Motor Vehicles spokesman Graig Lubsen said the Indiana Youth Group plate has been available since Dec. 28. The plate bears a logo with hands in rainbow colors reaching up.
Some $25 from sales of each $40 plate goes to the group serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. The Indianapolis-based organization operates an activity center, helps develop Gay Straight Alliances in high schools and assists communities in forming youth services. The group serves about 1,400 youths and young adults ages 12 to 21, The Indianapolis Star reports in a Wednesday story.
“All the money will go directly for services to these young people,” Youth Group Director Mary Byrne said. She said Indiana is the second state in the nation with a specialty plate benefiting gay youths. Maryland was the first, she said.
“It’s an incredible way for people to support IYG; for people, especially youth, to know about IYG; and for people to show their pride in who they are,” Byrne said.
The Youth Group sued the state in 2010 after the BMV turned down its request for a specialty plate in 2008 and 2009. The Youth Group alleged the BMV used arbitrary and unconstitutional standards in deciding whether to approve plates for nonprofit groups. Lubsen said the Youth Group was rejected because of concerns that it did not have statewide impact and did not ensure that funds from plate sales would not be used for salaries.
Both sides later reached an agreement and the lawsuit was dismissed. The Youth Group then applied again and the plate was approved. The Youth Group is one of 10 organizations approved for specialty plates for 2012, bringing the total number of Indiana specialty plates to 104, Lubsen said.
More than 420,000 specialty plates were sold last year, generating more than $11 million for the sponsoring organizations, he said. source – Courier Journal
Internet censorship in the time of the One World Government
On Wednesday, January 18, thousands of websites will go dark to protest the massive Internet censorship bill before Congress right now.
From Ars Technica: Imagine a world in which any intellectual property holder can, without ever appearing before a judge or setting foot in a courtroom, shut down any website’s online advertising programs and block access to credit card payments. The credit card processors and the advertising networks would be required to take quick action against the named website; only the filing of a “counter notification” by the website could get service restored.
It’s the world envisioned by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) in today’s introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act in the US House of Representatives. This isn’t some off-the-wall piece of legislation with no chance of passing, either; it’s the House equivalent to the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act, which would officially bring Internet censorship to the US as a matter of law.
Calling its plan a “market-based system to protect US customers and prevent US funding of sites dedicated to theft of US property,” the new bill gives broad powers to private actors. Any holder of intellectual property rights could simply send a letter to ad network operators like Google and to payment processors like MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal, demanding these companies cut off access to any site the IP holder names as an infringer.
The scheme is much like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) “takedown notices,” in which a copyright holder can demand some piece of content be removed from sites like YouTube with a letter. The content will be removed unless the person who posted the content objects; at that point, the copyright holder can decide if it wants to take the person to court over the issue.
Here, though, the stakes are higher. Rather than requesting the takedown of certain hosted material, intellectual property owners can go directly for the jugular: marketing and revenue for the entire site. So long as the intellectual property holders include some “specific facts” supporting their infringement claim, ad networks and payment processors will have five days to cut off contact with the website in question.
The scheme is largely targeted at foreign websites which do not recognize US law, and which therefore will often refuse to comply with takedown requests. But the potential for abuse—even inadvertent abuse—here is astonishing, given the terrifically outsized stick with which content owners can now beat on suspected infringers.
Not surprisingly, the new bill is getting pushback from groups like NetCoalition, which counts Google, Yahoo, and small ISPs among its members. “As leading brands of the Internet, we strongly oppose offshore ‘rogue’ websites and share policymakers’ goal of combating online infringement of copyrights and trademarks,” said executive director Markham Erickson in a statement.
“However, we do not believe that the solution lies in regulating the Internet and comprising its stability and security. We do not believe that it is worth overturning a decade of settled law that has formed the legal foundation for all social media. And finally, we do not believe that it is worth restricting free speech or providing comfort to totalitarian regimes that seek to control and restrict the Internet freedoms of their own citizens.”
Dozens of law professors have also claimed the original PROTECT IP Act, which contains most of the same ideas, is unconstitutional. But the drumbeat for some sort of censorship is growing louder. source – ARS Technica
The Vatican and the New World Order
Related Story: Walking Away From Rome
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:16-17)
On October 24, 2011, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, issued a 41-page text entitled, “Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority.”
It is the Vatican’s call for a gradual creation of a “world political authority” with broad powers to regulate financial markets and rein in the “inequalities and distortions of capitalist development.” The document referenced the teachings of popes over the last four decades on the need for a universal public authority that would go beyond national interests. The document cites the current growing inequality of the rich and the poor of this world as the main factor underlying the need for creating such authority. Considering the current European debt crisis and the birth of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Vatican has moved a step closer to fulfilling biblical prophecy of a New One World System.
The Vatican’s document mentioned that one major step should be to reform the international monetary system. It actually envisions the creation of a “central world bank” that would regulate the flow of monetary exchanges, further saying that the International Monetary Fund had lost the ability to control the amount of credit risk taken on by the system.
Further proposals in this document included:
- Some taxation measures of financial transactions where a “world reserve fund” will be created from revenues.
- Recapitalization of public banks that lead to conditional supports based on “rewarding virtuous behavior” aimed at developing the real economy.
- Looking into a more effective management of financial shadow markets that are largely uncontrolled today.
“The document calls for a new global economic authority that could impose penalties on member states as “way of ensuring that they possess efficient markets,” said Roman Catholic Bishop Mario Toso at a press conference.
While the Vatican document focused on financial issues, it envisioned a much wider potential role for the global political authority. The agenda also includes peace and security, disarmament and arms control, protection of human rights, and management of migration flows and food security. (James Thavis, “Vatican Issues Major Document on Global Financial Reform,” Catholic News Service, October 24, 2011)
“‘In a world on its way to rapid globalization, the reference to a world authority becomes the only horizon compatible with the new realities of our time and the needs of humankind,’ it said. ‘Helping to usher in this new society is a duty for everyone, especially for Christians’” (ibid).
Somehow, the Vatican’s push for a “global public political authority” and a “central world bank” is all too similar to a familiar scene in Bible prophecies of such a system.
The Bible mentions in Revelation 13 two beasts that will rise into power. The first beast was described to be a political leader and system that was given power over all kindreds, tongues and nations, and all that dwell upon the earth was amazed and followed after this beast (Revelation 13:1-8). But the Bible also describes a religious leader or system known as the “false prophet” in Revelation 19, which is actually also the second beast in Revelation 13.
He is one who performs great signs in the presence of men and he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs he was given to perform. This false prophet is the one who will eventually lead the nations into worshiping the first beast, the political leader. The false prophet causes all to be given a mark on the right hand or forehead that will allow people to buy or sell. Without this mark, no one will be able to access this new world economic system! (Revelation 13:11-17)
The Bible describes this religious leader as seemingly “Christian” but in reality is of the devil, for he is described as one with two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. (Revelation 13:11)
Now isn’t this a stark resemblance of the Vatican’s push for a new global economic authority that could “reward virtuous behavior” as well as “impose penalties” on member states! Talk about paving the way to the New World Order.
“What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” Philippians 1:18
DENVER (CBS Denver) – Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has seemingly made himself the poster boy for Christianity, praying on the field after a win, putting Bible verses on his eye black during games and even starring in an anti-abortion ad during the Super Bowl, but one atheist group believes he’s doing it all for personal gain.
American Atheists — a New Jersey based group that promotes the separation of church and state — tells CBS Denver that the only reason Tebow is popular is because he constantly injects his Christianity among the public.
Silverman says if Tebow is truly a Christian, he would pray in private, not public. “It is not surprising Tebow ignores Matthew 6:5 in which Jesus says, ‘When you pray, do not pray like the hypocrites in the street,’” Silverman says. “They pray to be seen praying. Pray in the closet.”
“When we watch a sporting event, we are all united for our team,” says David Silverman, president of American Atheists. “Tebow takes religion and injects it into the mix and divides the fan base.”
Silverman states that Tebow’s repeated references to God into his post-game comments after a win is “bad for football.
“(Religion) injects the divisive force into football,” Silverman says. “Why in the world are we talking about religion when we are talking about football?”
Tebow’s popularity rose during the season with his improbable comebacks, the latest coming in a thrilling 29-23 overtime playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers after an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas.
The fascination over Tebow officially reached national heights when people across the U.S. started “Tebowing,” mimicking Tebow’s sideline prayers.
Silverman believes that Tebow is “full of crap” when he publically displays his Christianity on the football field and said his prayers are for publicity.
“It’s not that Tebow prays, it’s that he waits for the cameras to be on him to do it,” Silverman says. “He’s totally faking.”
As some criticize Tebow for his overt Christianity, the Christian Coalition believes the Broncos quarterback is being mocked for his religious stance.
“I think that atheists just need to get over it,” Michele Combs, spokeswoman for the Christian Coalition, tells CBS Denver. “He’s a Christian giving his ability to God. What’s wrong with that?”
Combs goes on to say that she believes people embrace his show of faith.
“I think more positive has come from this,” she says. “Young athletes look up to him.” source – CBS
Wrong. To think God is incapable of using ANYTHING to reach his flock is foolish. Why can’t that be a sport? NOTHING is impossible with God, and he is willing to do whatever it takes in order to reach us. Do you see any other celebrity right now with this much “religious” attention? Having said that, OF COURSE God cares about football.
The phrase I keep hearing lately is how Tim Tebow is being rewarded for his faith. That is a valid statement, without a doubt! But it’s not the big picture here. Before we tackle (pun intended of course) what IS the big picture, let’s take a look at the most recent Tebow facts, from the playoff game on January 8th, 2012, against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In this game, Tebow threw a total of 316 yards. He also averaged 31.6 yards per pass, and the TV ratings on this game were…you won’t believe this…31.6 million viewers. Maybe it’s just me, but is there some sort of repeating number pattern there??? Think that is a coincidence? Guess what…with God, there are no coincidences. That game made history in the sports world, setting records.
Twitter and Facebook practically blew up within seconds of Tebow’s history making overtime score. Twitter says 9,420 Tweets PER SECOND were sent after the win. PER SECOND. Wanna take a stab at how many people that reached? Can you honestly say you didn’t see something about the player or the game in your news feed last night or today?
Ok, with just those few facts, is there MAYBE a chance that God cares about football? I’d say yes, and here’s why. Although many want to say God is unfair, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, there are hard times on Earth, and no we don’t always get what we want in this life. God gives you free will to choose, but he also drops hints, and gives countless opportunities to “see the light.” Some people get it in church, some people get it from friends, some get it from the Bible. For those who don’t, though, perhaps God is using a very popular player on a very popular team in a very popular sport, to reach them.
Maybe that’s why on January 8th, 2012, John 3:16 was the most searched verse on Google. Perhaps God IS capable of using all these things to bring attention to him? Yeah, even football.
Speaking of bible verses and Tebow, everyone knows he used his face paint as a way to spread Bible scripture. Since he can no longer do that in the NFL, he now writes it on his armband and takes to Facebook. Here’s a fun little game for you…next time there’s a Bronco’s game, follow these steps:
1. Go to Tebow’s facebook or Twitter.
2. Write down the verse he’s posted (since he does so EVERY game day).
3. Take that info to Google.
4. Watch in amazement that before you’ve finished typing the name of the book, the full verse pops up. That’s because thousands and thousands of Tebow fans are looking for the same info. This is a search that many people may not normally do, yet on that day, its the top Biblical search on Google each time. God’s quarterback? That’s a given.
Now, evaluate all this information.Are there other ways of reaching us? Yes. Does the same thing work for everyone? No. Is football some secret event that only a few of us know about? Nope. So, knowing that God is not only able but willing to pull out all the stops in order to herd his sheep, tell me once more that God doesn’t care about football.