Update 642


How Does the Holy Spirit Work?; Fruit of the Spirit; God’s Spirit of Power

On June 7, 2014, Eric Rank will give the sermon, titled, “How Does the Holy Spirit Work?”

The live services are available, over video and audio, at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

NOTE: Sunday, June 8, 2014, is the Day of Pentecost. Services will be held and broadcast at 9:00 am and at 1:00 pm, both Pacific Time. Rene Messier will give the morning sermon from Oregon, titled, “Fruit of the Spirit”; the afternoon sermon will be given by Norbert Link, and it is titled, “God’s Spirit of Power.” Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Words Do Hurt!

by Dave Harris

There is an old rhyme which says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.”

From one standpoint, this is true—if we don’t allow ourselves to take offence at what others may say to or about us. However, words are powerful, and they can dramatically affect our lives. The Word of God gives abundant instruction concerning the words we use and the kind of fruit they bear. Note this admonition:

“An ungodly man digs up evil, And it is on his lips like a burning fire. A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:27-28).

The apostle James states, “For we all stumble in many things, If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a [mature] man, able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). James continues, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity” (verse 6); and, “It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (verse 8). He also warns us:

“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” (James 4:11-12).

How do we apply this instruction from God? How can we really begin to do what we are taught regarding the words we speak? The answer is that we must think before we speak. Even more foundational is the fact that we must learn to think right thoughts and here is what Paul said to those in Philippi:

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

In the days ahead, test yourself and practice thinking this way. Don’t imagine raging thoughts of hatred filled with anger and revenge—don’t even think this way! Rather, think godly thoughts so that your words will reflect the light of Christ in everything you say!

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We begin with interesting developments in Europe which may contribute to Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

We address the resignation of Spain’s King Juan Carlos, and the ongoing troubles in Thailand which have prompted the USA and Australia to suspend any military cooperation with their ally.

We report on the volatile situation in the Middle East, pertaining to Israel’s “relationship” with the newly formed “New Palestinian Unity Government” and Israel’s anger with the USA.

In other news, we present a potpourri of articles, reflecting on the Obama Administration’s inability to score any points in numerous fields, and we ask the question as to why this is. To give a few examples: We report on the resignation of Eric Shinseki, secretary of the Department of Veterans, even though his resignation may not do much for the veterans; President Obama’s West Point Speech which was described even by supporters as being “utterly banal” and “devoid of any systematic explanation… of what exactly American interests are in the 21st century and how they ought to be pursued”; the prisoner exchange of captured and highly controversial Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five of the most dangerous Taliban commanders in U.S. custody, without first informing Congress; and the horrendous humanitarian nightmare of tens of thousands of children, unaccompanied by their parents, who are illegally crossing the US border.

A supportive vote by the House for medical marijuana reflects a remarkable change in perception and sends a powerful message to the White House and the Federal Government who still stubbornly refuse to take into account the mounting evidence of benefits of MEDICAL marijuana [with little or no THC–the psychoactive component of marijuana] for at least some patients and illnesses. At the same time, the legalization of “recreational” marijuana in Colorado has led to many valid concerns and even supporters ask for stricter rules for its availability and consumption.

We conclude with reports on charges that some British chocolate bars contain pork; on mass extinction of animals caused by man; on new findings regarding the Neanderthal Man; on bad weather conditions in the Midwest and huge grasshopper swarms in New Mexico; on the real danger posed by over 8 million rats which have settled in New York City; and a terrible story involving our young Internet generation and its demonic activities.

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Britain Threatens Exodus If Juncker Becomes Next President of EU Commission

BBC News reported on May 31:

“German magazine Der Spiegel says British PM David Cameron warned that the UK could leave the EU if Luxembourg ex-PM Jean-Claude Juncker became president of the European Commission. It reported Mr Cameron as saying that the appointment could destabilise his government, which may bring forward referendum plans on EU membership.  Downing Street has not yet commented.

“Mr Juncker’s European People’s Party won the largest number of seats in the European parliament in the May polls.The centre-right party, which also includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, won 213 out of 751 seats in the Parliament and chose Mr Juncker as its candidate for the presidency, succeeding Portugal’s Jose Manuel Barroso. But David Cameron and several other European leaders have voiced opposition to his appointment, which has received the backing of Chancellor Merkel.

“Correspondents say Mr Cameron had made his views clear, at an informal EU summit earlier this week, that he wanted a reformer to take charge of the EU executive. Der Spiegel says the British prime minister issued the warning to Angela Merkel during the meeting in Brussels… Mr Juncker is known for his role in chairing the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers that had to make tough decisions about struggling debt-laden countries. Mr Juncker is not thought to be amenable to a wide-ranging renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with Brussels.”

The EUObserver added on May 30:

“Juncker was opposed even within the EPP party by the leaders of Sweden and Hungary, as well as outside the EPP group by Britain’s David Cameron and the Netherland’s Mark Rutte…

“For Juncker to become commission president, he needs a ‘qualified majority’ of member states, with bigger countries having a greater say. The UK alone, even if backed by Sweden, the Netherlands and Hungary, would not have enough votes to block the move.”

The Local added on June 2:

“‘… it’s not as though I don’t mind, for example, whether Britain is a member of the European Union or not,’ Merkel told a joint press conference with the visiting Georgian prime minister. Her spokesman had also earlier said that Britain belonged in the EU and that neither Merkel nor her government was ‘indifferent’ as to whether non-euro member Britain was part of the wider 28-nation bloc…

“Cameron is deeply wary of Juncker, an EU federalist, particularly after his party suffered a humiliating defeat to the Eurosceptic UKIP party in last month’s European elections. Besides Cameron, leaders in Sweden, Hungary and, according to several European sources, the Netherlands and Finland are also hostile to Juncker.”

Britain Must Choose

Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 3:

“Following last week’s elections for the European Parliament, Europe finds itself at a historical turning point. It faces two questions. The first is that of how seriously the European Union is about its promise to become more democratic. The second is whether Britain can remain a member of the EU.

“The extent to which those two questions are inextricably linked became clear last week when Prime Minister David Cameron refused to recognize the results of the European election and nominate winner Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive. Most countries and leaders in the European Council, the powerful body representing EU leaders, had previously agreed to this procedure. It was a significant promise to the people of Europe — they were to be provided with a greater say and they were supposed to be given a sign that their vote counts, that it has concrete effects. But Cameron threw a spanner in the works.

“The crisis in European democracy is also the consequence of an unsettled relationship. Both the EU and Britain have perceived their relations as a burden in recent years. People in Brussels suffer under a London that is constantly thwarting European unity, that has slammed the brakes on progress and has doggedly prevented a deepening of relations.

“In Britain, people suffer under the EU itself. It is a chronic suffering, one without any prospects of relief. During the May 25 European election, the anti-EU UKIP party garnered 27.5 percent of the vote, making it the strongest British party in the new European Parliament. And this, despite the fact that Britain’s other political parties — with the exception of the Liberal Democrats — are about as EU-friendly as Germany’s euroskeptic AFD.

“Great Britain and the EU are like a couple that make each other unhappy but shy away from doing anything about it.

“To be sure, it would be a tragedy if Britain were to leave the European Union — a political, economic and cultural loss. Indeed, the British are to be credited with much of that which makes the Continent so special today and of which people are so proud. They introduced democracy at a time when absolutism prevailed in Europe. They showed us the advantages of an economic liberalism that, despite all its weaknesses, ultimately transformed Europe into a prosperous Continent. At all times, the British have provided us with cultural enrichment.

“However, Great Britain has never had an appetite for European integration. The prevailing perspective in London is that the EU should be a glorified free-trade zone — at best a loose alliance of states, but don’t mention the term political union… In addition, one must not forget the fact that Britain wants to maintain a special relationship with the United States, one that is also intended to provide a counterweight to the European Union.

“Regardless, Europe has taken British sensitivities and particularities into account for long enough. The EU has allowed itself to be blackmailed and made to look like a fool time and again. It was patient to the point of self-denial. For decades England was forgiven for every veto it cast; every special wish was granted… the country is more distant from the EU today than it has ever been.

“The time has now come for a clarification. And it’s even possible the European Union will have to decide what is most important: a more democratic Europe or having Britain remain a member. This clarification must come now — with the appointment of the future European Commission president…

“This decision is due to be made at the next EU summit in June. At the summit, EU leaders must fulfill their promise and nominate Jean-Claude Juncker, even if that creates even greater difficulties for Cameron back home and even if he threatens to withdraw his country from the EU. The EU should implement the convictions of a majority and not those that are acceptable to one member state. Britain can then decide how it wants to respond to this new situation in Europe — whether it wants to go along with it or if it wants to leave.

“Britain is important to be sure. But the choice between a more democratic EU and Britain’s continued membership is clear. Europe must choose democracy.”    

The Daily Mail added on June 5:

“A former French prime minister has angrily called on Britain to leave the European Union – to stop it dying. Michel Rocard said the UK had only joined the EU to help big business – and called on it to leave before it caused further damage.

“Mr Rocard also accused David Cameron of ‘pretending’ to want to leave – and of provoking a crisis in order to serve the interest of Britain’s banks.”

“The EU Is an Anti-Democratic Monster”

On June 3, Der Spiegel Online published an interview with French right-wing populist Marine Le Pen. We are bringing you the following excerpts:

“The French want to regain control of their own country. They want to determine the course of their own economy and their immigration policies. They want their own laws to take precedence over those of the European Union. The French have understood that the EU does not live up to the utopia they were sold. It has distanced itself significantly… I want to destroy the EU, not Europe! I believe in a Europe of nation-states. I believe in Airbus and Ariane, in a Europe based on cooperation. But I don’t want this European Soviet Union…

“The EU is deeply harmful, it is an anti-democratic monster… In our glorious history, millions have died to ensure that our country remains free. Today, we are simply allowing our right to self-determination to be stolen from us… from an economic standpoint, the euro is German… Germany has become the economic heart of Europe…

“… It makes no sense that we took on 10 million foreigners within a period of 30 years… Yes, we support putting a stop to immigration… We have 1 million unemployed and cannot afford any more immigration. Where are they supposed to live? It is not viable…

“Our political class no longer has any convictions… That’s why democracy is collapsing here in France…

“I have a certain admiration for Vladimir Putin because he doesn’t allow decisions to be forced upon him by other countries. I think he focuses first and foremost on what is good for Russia and the Russians. As such, I have the same respect for Putin that I do for Ms. Merkel… there are many things said about Russia because they have been demonized for years at the behest of the USA. It is part of the greatness of a European country to develop one’s own opinion and to not view everything through the US lens. We have no lesson to teach Russia if we concurrently roll out the red carpet to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and China…

“The Americans are trying to expand their influence in the world, particularly in Europe. They are defending their own interests, not ours. I am in favor of a multi-polar world in which France once again takes its position as the leader of non-aligned states, not with the US, not with Russia and not with Germany. One should strive to be neither slave nor master.”

Unfortunately, much of what Le Pen is saying does not sound as weird and crazy to many French and even many other Europeans, as it should sound. But what she wants—“France over all”—will never happen.

Secret Meeting of Right-Wing Parties with Russian Eurasian Movement

The Local reported on June 3:

“The [Austrian] Freedom Party (FPÖ) has taken part in a secret meeting with other western European right-wing populists, as well as the leader of the Russian Eurasian movement, according to a Swiss newspaper.

“FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache and chairman of the Vienna FPÖ Johann Gudenus are said to have joined the meeting on Saturday at Vienna’s Palais Liechtenstein. The Tages-Anzeiger reports that the event was hosted by the Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeew and his foundation Saint Basil the Great. Alexander Dugin, known as the chief ideologue of the Eurasian Movement, is also said to have attended the meeting.

“Dugin has repeatedly called for a war of aggression against Ukraine. He was a professor of sociology at the State University of Moscow and is seen by some to have some influence on President Vladimir Putin’s thinking. Last month he referred to Austrian Eurovision Song Contest Winner Conchita Wurst as ‘the devil personified’.

“Members of the French National Front, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, granddaughter of the party’s founder and the niece of Marine Le Pen, also took part, along with right-wing politicians from Bulgaria and Croatia, according to the report. The official theme of the secret meeting was the historic Vienna congress, which 200 years ago aimed to provide a long-term peace for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.

“The invitation to the event elaborated on the theme, saying that today Europeans and Christians are once more faced with historical and geopolitical conditions which make it necessary to ‘revive the spirit of the Holy Alliance’, according to Tages-Anzeiger. There was also reportedly discussion of how Europe could be saved from liberalism and the ‘satanic’ gay lobby.”

Lithuania Last Baltic State to Join the Euro

BBC News reported on June 4:

“Lithuania is set to adopt the euro on 1 January 2015, after the European Commission said it had met the criteria for joining the single currency. It will become the 19th member of the eurozone out of 28 countries in the European Union, and the last of the Baltic states to join… The UK and Denmark are the only EU states with opt-outs from the euro. All other countries are expected to join. Estonia was the first Baltic state to become a member of the eurozone in 2011, followed by Latvia on 1 January 2014…

“Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, on a visit to Poland, welcomed the decision: ‘We’ll be in the club of the strongest, we’ll be able to take part in the decisions ourselves – currently we are on the other side of the door.’ Looking forward to dropping the existing currency, the lita, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said joining the euro also gave Lithuania added security in the face of the Ukrainian crisis.”

The European War in Ukraine

Der Spiegel Online wrote on June 4:

“Fighters from Russia’s Caucasus region have joined the separatists in eastern Ukraine, while Kiev has intensified its efforts to win back control of the region. Just 10 days after the presidential election there, the conflict is quickly turning into a war…

“After months of obfuscation, Russia’s direct involvement in eastern Ukraine is becoming visible. And last week, it became clearer than ever that Russian and Chechen mercenaries are supporting the separatists in Donetsk, fighting side-by-side with Ukrainians against troops sent by Kiev. At first, the presence of Russian fighters was but a rumor, but then, last Thursday, a column of vehicles carrying 34 coffins draped with red cloth left Donetsk heading for the border. Two-thirds of the some 50 rebels who died in heavy fighting 10 days ago were Russian citizens…

“… despite the use of artillery and air strikes, Kiev’s military does not appear to be able to regain control of the separatist regions… some 12,000 pro-Russian militants are now fighting against Kiev government forces in the area of Donetsk with an additional 5,000 in the Luhansk region. And these men are better organized and better armed than the army, secret service and police. Just on Thursday of last week, the rebels managed to shoot down a National Guard transport helicopter, killing at least 12.

“The [Ukrainian] army has no money and no fuel… it hardly even exists as a fighting force. They need helicopters for the fight against the separatists, but the generals sold most of them to Africa. The few Russian helicopters that they still possess are poorly armed and can be shot down like balloons…

“There is no functioning police force, no tax authority, no effective border control and no judiciary to speak of. The natural gas ultimatum issued by Russia has expired, though Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom on Monday allowed Kiev six more days in ongoing negotiations in Berlin. And Maidan is to be cleared and parliament dissolved…”

Spain’s King Juan Carlos Resigns

Deutsche Welle wrote on June 2:

“Spain’s King Juan Carlos has announced he has abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Crown Prince Felipe. The king said he is stepping down so a ‘new generation’ can lead the country’s monarchy… The 76-year-old king’s abdication will bring an end to an almost four decade reign. He came to power in 1975 two days after the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco, who had named Juan Carlos as his successor. The king subsequently oversaw Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy.

“Juan Carlos endeared himself to many Spaniards when he helped defuse an attempted military coup in February 1981. He was also lauded for his reaction to the Madrid train bombings in March 2004, when he and his wife Queen Sofia threw protocol aside at a memorial service to personally comfort the families of some of the victims.

“In recent years, however, his popularity has dipped following a string of royal scandals. His image took a blow after taking a luxury elephant-hunting vacation in the middle of Spain’s financial crisis in April 2012. He broke his right hip during the trip and had to be flown on a private jet from Botswana back to Spain for medical treatment… The king, who has played a largely figurehead role as an ambassador for the country, has had repeated health problems in recent years.”

The Associated Press added on June 2:

“King Juan Carlos goes down a path increasingly traveled by European royalty.

“Last year Belgium’s King Albert handed over the throne of his fractious kingdom to his son, Crown Prince Philippe. Two months earlier, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands stepped down after a 33-year reign in favor of her eldest son, who was appointed King Willem-Alexander.

“It was a break with tradition, but not as big as the decision early last year by Pope Benedict XVI to resign, a move that stunned Catholics around the world.”

No New Elections in Thailand For a Year…

Deutsche Welle reported on May 30:

“The head of the military junta that seized power in Thailand last week has said elections will not be held for at least a year. He also repeated a warning against renewed protests or dissent… He said it would take about a year to draw up a new constitution and put an interim government in place. Only when these steps are completed, he said, would the country be ready to go to the polls…

“Since the Thai military seized power on May 22, the army has moved to silence its critics, arresting more than 250 people, including members of the government it ousted, other politicians, activists, scholars and journalists. Around 70 remain under arrest.”

USA and Australia Suspend Military Ties with Thailand

Deutsche Welle added on May 31:

“Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the US had suspended military ties with Thailand, and was reassessing its future assistance to the country’s armed forces. Hagel condemned Thailand’s ‘retreat from democracy,’ calling for the coup leaders to ‘move immediately to restore power to the people of Thailand, through free and fair elections.’… [He was] urging the Royal Thai Armed Forces to end curbs on free speech and civil liberties – which include a ban on gatherings of five or more people – and to free scores of detainees.

“Regional power Australia also suspended military cooperation with Thailand on Saturday, with three training exercises for Thai soldiers in coming weeks being suspended. ‘The Australian government continues to have grave concerns about the actions of the military in Thailand,’ said Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. ‘In line with our concerns, Australia is reducing our engagement with the Thai military and will lower the level of our interaction with the Thai military leadership,’ she said.”

Israel on Collision Course with New Palestinian Unity Government

The Associated Press reported on May 31:

“The formation of a Palestinian unity government backed by rival factions Hamas and Fatah will be announced Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday, adding that Israel already warned him it would take punitive steps against the new alliance.

“Abbas said Saturday that he would respond to any Israeli punitive measures, such as withholding the monthly transfer of some $100 million in taxes and customs Israel collects on behalf of his Palestinian Authority. The funds are vital to keeping the self-rule government afloat.

“The long-running Hamas-Fatah rivalry escalated in 2007 when Hamas seized the Gaza Strip from the internationally backed Abbas in 2007. Hamas, which has carried out scores of bombing, shooting and rocket attacks against Israeli targets, is considered a terror group by Israel and the West.

“After the April collapse of a US-mediated Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the Palestinian rivals revived reconciliation efforts. Negotiators met repeatedly to agree on a government of technocrats backed by both sides that is to prepare for general elections in 2015. In recent days, there were last-minute disagreements, but Abbas’ announcement suggests the issues have been resolved… ‘The Israelis informed us today that they are going to boycott us immediately after we form the government. They are going to withhold our money,’ he said, referring to the monthly transfers. ‘This is our money, not aid from Israel, and we will not stay silent. They want to punish us because we have an agreement with Hamas, which is part of our people.’…

“Abbas said that ‘we are going to react to any Israeli action.’  He did not elaborate. However, Abbas and his aides have said in the past that they might step up efforts to gain further international recognition of a state of Palestine. The United Nations General Assembly recognized such a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — lands Israel captured in 1967 — as a non-member observer in 2012.

“Palestinian officials have said a state of Palestine is eligible for membership in 63 international organizations, treaties and conventions. Last month, Abbas signed membership requests for 15 conventions, and his aides have said the Palestinians planned to sign up for more in several stages. Earlier Saturday, Hamas said it will not agree to the continuation of Palestinian security cooperation with Israel once it teams up with Abbas…”

BBC News added on June 1:

“Israel has called on world leaders ‘not to rush to recognise’ a new Palestinian transitional government involving Fatah and the Islamist group Hamas… ‘Hamas is a terrorist organisation that calls for Israel’s destruction, and the international community must not embrace it,’ Mr Netanyahu told his cabinet in Jerusalem on Sunday… The US said last month it was ‘disappointed’ by the deal and warned it could seriously complicate peace efforts with Israel.”

Israel Furious With USA

The Times of Israel wrote on June 2:

“Jerusalem on Monday night slammed the United States for announcing that it will work with the new Palestinian unity government, sworn in earlier Monday. In strikingly bitter comments, officials said that rather than cooperating with a government backed by a terror group, Washington ought to be urging Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to disband his pact with Hamas and resume peace negotiations with Israel.

“‘We are deeply disappointed by the comments of the State Department regarding working with the Palestinian unity government. This Palestinian government is a government backed by Hamas, which is a terror organization committed to Israel’s destruction,’ Israeli government officials said. ‘If the US administration wanted to advance peace, it should be calling on Abbas to end his pact with Hamas and return to peace talks with Israel,’ they added. ‘Instead, it is enabling Abbas to believe that it is acceptable to form a government with a terrorist organization.’ …

“As recently as Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry called Abbas and… expressed concern about Hamas’s role in any such government and the importance that the new government commit to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements with it…

“In a decision approved at a special meeting of the Ministerial Committee for National Security Affairs, Netanyahu and eight top ministers said they would not deal with the new government…”

JTA added on June 3:

“The new Palestinian unity government brought together rivals Hamas and Fatah, but it has opened a divide between allies Israel and the United States… The Obama administration’s announcement this week that it would continue working with and funding the Palestinian Authority under the new Hamas-backed unity government appears to have taken Israel aback. It represents something of a shift for the United States, which previously had voiced sympathy for Israeli concerns about the Palestinian unity government. Analysts said the sharpness of the Israeli reaction should be seen in the context of anxieties that this and other U.S. moves could leave Israel isolated on vital matters.”

How USA Betrays Israel

On June 3, The Times of Israel published the following article by its founding editor, David Horowitz:

“Mere hours after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a government backed by the Islamic extremist Hamas group, the US State Department legitimized the arrangement, declaring that it would work with the new government because it ‘does not include members affiliated with Hamas.’

“What was saddest about Washington’s insistence on accepting Abbas’s paper-thin veneer over his government’s new nature — his ‘technocrat’ ministers were all approved by Hamas — is that it represents only the Obama administration’s latest abrogation of leadership, logic and leverage at Israel’s expense. Rather than rushing to embrace a Palestinian government in which an unreformed Hamas is a central component, what was to stop the US conditioning its acceptance on a reform of Hamas? What was to stop Washington saying that it would be happy to work with Abbas’s new government, the moment its Hamas backers recognized Israel, accepted previous agreements and renounced terrorism? Not a particularly high bar. What was to stop the US making such a demand, one of tremendous importance to its ally Israel? Only its incomprehensible reluctance to do.

“… you’d think a powerful ally would insist that a state that calls for, and works toward, the destruction of Israel be denied the capacity to achieve that goal. There is simply no justification for allowing Tehran a uranium enrichment capability. It lied to the international community about its nuclear program. It built secret facilities to advance towards the bomb… The Obama administration’s curious disinclination to use its economic leverage to achieve a deal that dismantles Iran’s nuclear program leaves Israel in real danger, undermines the security of other US interests in the region, and risks sparking a Middle East nuclear arms race — the very opposite of the president’s cherished vision of eventual nuclear disarmament…

“The peace process has collapsed and Israel is getting a disproportionate amount of the blame. Hamas, committed under its own charter to the obliteration of Israel, is now part of an internationally recognized Palestinian government. And the P5+1 nations, led by the US, are working toward a deal that will enshrine Iran’s uranium enrichment capabilities. Israel may not be a perfect ally, but we deserve better than this.”

German Prosecutor Launches Investigation Against NSA

Der Spiegel Online reported on June 4:

“After extensive review, Germany’s federal prosecutor [Harald Range] has announced he is launching formal investigative proceedings into allegations that the NSA monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone. The claims have burdened trans-Atlantic relations for months… On Wednesday, Range informed the Legal Committee of the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, of the pending investigation.

“The move marks the next significant chapter in the spying scandal surrounding America’s signals intelligence authority, the National Security Agency. It is also the first formal act taken by a German government agency in response to the revelations made public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The probe could further exacerbate trans-Atlantic relations that have been deeply burdened by the scandal…

“Chancellor Merkel is said to still be furious about the tapping of her phone and she complained directly to US President Barack Obama. That complaint helped convince prosecutors that the allegations of spying on her phone are credible…

“Political support for an investigation appears to be broad. In the Chancellery, it appears that anger over the spying has outweighed concerns about the negative effect proceedings might have on Berlin’s relationship with Washington. Despite several hours of talks with Obama at the beginning of May in Washington, Merkel remains indignant about the spying. During a joint press conference with Obama at the time, she said there could not and would not be a return to business as usual.

“Indeed, the German government not only appears ready to deal with anger from the US — it has also quietly been paving the way for the investigation behind the scenes… It would also be difficult to imagine Range opening an investigation without official support… ‘We should stir up as much trouble as possible for domestic policy in America,’ said Armin Schuster, the man responsible for domestic policy in parliament for Merkel’s Christian Democrats…”

Shinseki Resigned… But Will This Solve Anything?

The New York Times wrote on May 30:

“Eric Shinseki resigned as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday, leaving behind a sprawling bureaucracy embroiled in scandal and burdened with a decades-old legacy of overwhelmed facilities and management failures that his successor must now confront.

“President Obama announced Mr. Shinseki’s departure after a 45-minute Oval Office meeting between the two men that ended a week of mounting demands from both parties for the secretary to step down. Mr. Obama, who appeared pained at the turn of events, hailed Mr. Shinseki as having an unquestioned commitment to the nation’s veterans, but he said the political storm had made Mr. Shinseki’s continuing leadership untenable…

“Fixing the problem at the department now becomes an urgent political matter for the president, once again raising questions about whether the candidate who pledged in 2008 and 2012 to make government work efficiently has lost grasp of the government he now leads. The department’s troubles, however, remain a far more serious concern for the millions of veterans whose access to timely health care has been steadily eroding as waves of wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan have converged with those who returned from earlier wars.

“Most of the veterans now seeking treatment at department facilities are aging Vietnam-era service members, many with chronic illnesses like diabetes that require long-term care or with cancer and cardiovascular disease that require complicated and expensive treatment. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are further straining the system with mental health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder…

“The effort to resolve the fundamental problems at the department will also play out in Congress, where Republicans say the problem is not a lack of money — the department’s $154 billion annual budget has more than doubled since 2006 — but rather inefficiencies in the delivery of care. Democrats say that the problem is a serious shortage of doctors and not enough hospitals…

“One immediate question is whether the departure of Mr. Shinseki will have any real impact on the agency’s deep-seated problems…”

President Obama’s Worldview—But What Exactly Is It?

The Huffington Post reported on May 30:

“In his May 28 West Point speech on foreign policy President Obama took a swipe at ‘so-called realists.’… What’s more problematic about the president speech is that it was devoid of any systematic explanation — notwithstanding that he had close to an hour — of what exactly American interests are in the 21st century and how they ought to be pursued. Obama spoke of defending the homeland and the American way of life (who could disagree with that?) and waxed eloquently about the virtues of democracy. But he offered no compelling interpretation of what we should be doing in the world, how, where, why, for how long, and at what cost.

“… there was not one word about his favorite weapon in the war against terrorism: drone strikes… they continue to take civilian lives and increase hatred toward the United States… they have made the problem worse, not better…

“The president will doubtless be excoriated from the right for presenting a foreign policy that’s wimpy and defeatist and signals American retreat and thus makes the world more dangerous and America less secure… The more serious problem is that the president failed to outline a coherent foreign policy strategy at West Point. Instead, he offered sweeping generalities that bypassed numerous specifics and took no account of America’s changing circumstances at home and abroad or of the ways in which the world has changed. In this sense, what he said was utterly banal.”

Freedom for Sgt. Bergdahl… But at What Price?

The Weekly Standard wrote on May 31:

“The Obama administration announced today that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been held by the Taliban for several years, has been freed from his captors. Reading the stories of his newfound freedom it is impossible not to feel joy for Bergdahl and his family…

“Unfortunately, America is not the only party in this war that is committed to leaving no man behind. So are the Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked groups. But the president did not say who America exchanged for Bergdahl: five of the most dangerous Taliban commanders in U.S. custody.

“The Taliban has long demanded that the ‘Gitmo 5’ be released in order for peace talks to begin in earnest. The Obama administration has desperately sought to engage the Taliban as American forces are drawn down in Afghanistan, but those talks have gone nowhere to this point.  At first, the administration set preconditions for the talks, including that the Taliban break its relationship with al Qaeda. When it became clear that this was a non-starter, the administration decided to make the Taliban’s desired break with al Qaeda a goal, and no longer a precondition, for its diplomacy.

“There is little hope that the peace talks will be more successful now. But the president seems to believe that Bergdahl’s exchange for the Gitmo 5 (who are reportedly being transferred to Qatar) may break the ice…

“The Obama administration says that security measures have been put into place to make sure that the Gitmo 5 do not pose a threat to American national security. Let’s hope that is true; it certainly has not been the case with many ex-Gitmo detainees in the past… There are good reasons why the Taliban has long wanted the five freed from Gitmo. All five are among the Taliban’s top commanders in U.S. custody and are still revered in jihadist circles…

“Here are short bios for each of the five Taliban commanders. All quotes are drawn from declassified and leaked documents prepared at Guantanamo.

“Mullah Mohammad Fazl (Taliban army chief of staff): Fazl is ‘wanted by the UN for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites.’ Fazl ‘was associated with terrorist groups currently opposing U.S. and Coalition forces including al Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), and an Anti-Coalition Militia group known as Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami.’ In addition to being one of the Taliban’s most experienced military commanders, Fazl worked closely with a top al Qaeda commander named Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, who headed al Qaeda’s main fighting unit in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 and is currently detained at Guantanamo.

“Mullah Norullah Noori (senior Taliban military commander): Like Fazl, Noori is ‘wanted by the United Nations (UN) for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims.’ Beginning in the mid-1990s, Noori ‘fought alongside al Qaeda as a Taliban military general, against the Northern alliance.’ He continued to work closely with al Qaeda in the years that followed.

“Abdul Haq Wasiq (Taliban deputy minister of intelligence): Wasiq arranged for al Qaeda members to provide crucial intelligence training prior to 9/11. The training was headed by Hamza Zubayr, an al Qaeda instructor who was killed during the same September 2002 raid that netted Ramzi Binalshibh, the point man for the 9/11 operation. Wasiq ‘was central to the Taliban’s efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight alongside the Taliban against U.S. and Coalition forces after the 11 September 2001 attacks,’ according to a leaked JTF-GTMO threat assessment.

“Khairullah Khairkhwa (Taliban governor of the Herat province and former interior minister): Khairkhwa was the governor of Afghanistan’s westernmost province prior to 9/11. In that capacity, he executed sensitive missions for Mullah Omar, including helping to broker a secret deal with the Iranians. For much of the pre-9/11 period, Iran and the Taliban were bitter foes. But a Taliban delegation that included Kharikhwa helped secure Iran’s support for the Taliban’s efforts against the American-led coalition in late 2001. JTF-GTMO found that Khairkhwa was likely a major drug trafficker and deeply in bed with al Qaeda. He allegedly oversaw one of Osama bin Laden’s training facilities in Herat.

“Mohammed Nabi (senior Taliban figure and security official): Nabi ‘was a senior Taliban official who served in multiple leadership roles.’ Nabi ‘had strong operational ties to Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) groups including al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), some of whom remain active in ACM activities.’ Intelligence cited in the JTF-GTMO files indicates that Nabi held weekly meetings with al Qaeda operatives to coordinate attacks against U.S.-led forces.”

Freeing a Deserter or Traitor?

Newsmax reported on June 2:

“What began as a debate over negotiating with terrorists escalated Monday into anger among many armed services members at the attention being given to Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a man who reportedly fled his post five years ago only to be captured by Afghan insurgents… CNN, Rolling Stone, and other media reminded Americans that at least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl in rugged Paktika Province in the ensuing days and weeks after he deserted… ‘He walked off,’ said former Pfc. Jose Baggett, a former comrade. ‘He left his guard post. Nobody knows if he defected, or he’s a traitor, or he was kidnapped. What I do know is he was there to protect us, and instead he decided to defer from America and go and do his own thing. I don’t know why he decided to do that, but we spent so much of our resources, and some of those resources were soldiers’ lives.’

“Bergdahl walked away from his base, reportedly without a weapon, in June 2009 and was captured by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network. Moreover, CNN reported that soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika Province in the days and weeks following his disappearance…

“According to a 2012 report in Rolling Stone, Bergdahl, now 28, had become disillusioned with his role in America’s longest war, sending emails to his parents prior to his disappearance. ‘The future is too good to waste on lies. And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong,’ Bergdahl reportedly wrote his father. ‘I have seen their ideas, and I am ashamed to even be american (sic). The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting… The title of US soldier is just the lie of fools… I am sorry for everything here. These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live…’

“… Bergdahl — who was promoted from private first class to sergeant during his time in captivity — is said to have become increasingly disillusioned with the war after a close friend was killed in Afghanistan…

“The five Taliban prisoners released by the United States into the custody of Qatar were described by Sen. John McCain on Sunday as the ‘hardest of the hardcore.’ … The government of Qatar negotiated the deal for the prisoner exchange and is supposed to keep the five Taliban members from leaving the country for at least a year…”

Whatever the Obama Administration seems to touch, it turns out to be a problem. Now, in a sharp departure from prior policy, they negotiated with terrorist groups and, arguably, broke the law by effecting the release of Bergdahl without congressional approval—for which “oversight” (so the White House) President Obama is now openly being compared with a “monarch” or an “emperor”  (see Daily Caller, June 3). What we see here is King Midas in reverse. Surely, this country and its government are by no means blessed by God. But we need to ask the unsettling question, Why is that? Because after all, a country is led by a government which it deserves, and the government mirrors the views and actions of the majority of the people, and vice versa.

Terrible Economic Conditions in America

MarketWatch wrote on June 4:

“Over half of Americans (52%) have had to make at least one major sacrifice in order to cover their rent or mortgage over the last three years, according to the ‘How Housing Matters Survey,’ which was commissioned by the nonprofit John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and carried out by Hart Research Associates.

“These sacrifices include getting a second job, deferring saving for retirement, cutting back on health care, running up credit card debt, or even moving to a less safe neighborhood or one with worse schools.”

Tens of Thousands of Illegal Aliens Flood into the USA

Reuters wrote on May 28:

“Tens of thousands of children unaccompanied by parents or relatives are flooding across the southern U.S. border illegally, forcing the Obama administration and Congress to grapple with both a humanitarian crisis and a budget dilemma.

“An estimated 60,000 such children will pour into the United States this year, according to the administration, up from about 6,000 in 2011. Now, Washington is trying to figure out how to pay for their food, housing and transportation once they are taken into custody.

“The flow is expected to grow. The number of unaccompanied, undocumented immigrants who are under 18 will likely double in 2015 to nearly 130,000 and cost U.S. taxpayers $2 billion, up from $868 million this year, according to administration estimates.

“The shortage of housing for these children, some as young as 3, has already become so acute that an emergency shelter at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, has been opened and can accommodate 1,000 of them…

“The issue is an added source of tension between Democrats and Republicans, who disagree on how to rewrite immigration laws. With comprehensive legislation stalled, President Barack Obama is looking at small, administrative steps he could take, which might be announced this summer. No details have been outlined but immigration groups are pressing him to take steps to keep families with children together.

“The minors flooding over the border are often teenagers leaving behind poverty or violence in Mexico and other parts of Central America such as Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. They are sometimes seeking to reunite with a parent who is already in the United States, also without documentation. ‘This is a humanitarian crisis and it requires a humanitarian response,’ Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski said in an interview. The Maryland Democrat, a former social worker, has likened the flood of unaccompanied children to the ‘boat people’ of past exodus movements…

“Minors who escape domestic abuse in their countries have a good chance of winning a special protective status from U.S. immigration courts, even if they are caught at the border. But the law does not recognize gang activity as a reason to protect immigrant children.”

ABC added on May 31:

“After finding out busloads of undocumented immigrants were being dropped off in Phoenix, many wonder what’s happening to them when they step off the bus. A local organization is helping them by letting them use cell phones to call family in other states so they can get bus tickets out of Phoenix. Many of those bused to Phoenix are families with children. Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials say most are from Central America and were detained in Texas.

“Xiomara Maldonado told ABC15 that when she dreamed of coming to the United States, she never imagined how it would turn out. ‘They saw us like animals,’ she said about the holding facility in Texas. She and her son are from Honduras. They entered the U.S. illegally and were caught in McAllen, Texas.

“She said conditions were horrendous. ‘Everyone was packed in like sardines. Too close to sleep. They came in the middle of the night to drop off bread and bang on the doors,’ she said. They both hadn’t bathed or slept in days when they were taken from Wilcox, Ariz. and loaded onto a bus headed for Phoenix… Those who were dropped off were given court dates to check in with ICE officials to determine whether or not they’ll be deported.”

White House Without Answers to “Humanitarian Crisis”

The Washington Times wrote on June 2:

“Faced with 60,000 unaccompanied children trying to cross the border illegally this year, President Obama on Monday declared it an ‘urgent humanitarian situation’ and named a federal coordinator to make sure the children are cared for — but offered no new ideas for how to keep them from trying to enter. These ‘unaccompanied alien children’ are the latest hiccup for an administration that has asserted the border is secure, even as it struggles to balance enforcement with humanitarian concerns. The White House signaled that, at least for now, it sees the flow of children — which it predicts will more than double in 2015 — as an issue to be managed rather than a problem to be fought…

“The children are among the toughest cases in the immigration debate. Chiefly from Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, they are usually fleeing horrendous conditions of economic poverty or unfathomable gang violence. They brave harsh conditions and, in the case of the girls, often face being raped during their journey through Mexico and across the U.S. border…

“The Houston Chronicle reported this weekend that the flow has so overwhelmed border officials in Texas that they are shipping ‘busloads’ of immigrants to Arizona, giving them a notice to appear for eventual deportation hearings.

“Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer sent a letter to Mr. Obama on Monday demanding to know who devised the policy, which she called ‘dangerous and unconscionable.’ She said Homeland Security officials never gave state officials a heads-up. ‘I remind you that the daytime temperatures in Arizona during this time of year are regularly more than 100 degrees. Consequently, this federal operation seems to place expediency over basic humanitarian concerns,’ she wrote…”

Assad “Wins” Syrian Election

The Telegraph reported on June 5:

President Bashar al-Assad’s ‘victory’ in Syria’s election was attacked in the capitals of the West yesterday but welcomed in Moscow, Tehran and other centres of the growing anti-Western alliance. Mr Assad was said to have won 88.7 per cent of the vote on a turn-out of 73.4 per cent, according to the election commission… ‘Moscow sees the vote as an important event that safeguards the continued functioning of state institutions in Syria,’ a Russian foreign ministry spokesman said… Iran said the vote met ‘democratic standards’.

“Russia cited approvingly the findings of an observation mission perhaps unique in the history of election monitoring. It included members of the parliaments of Russia, Venezuela, Uganda and North Korea – the latter a country not known for its open electoral system.”

G7 Meeting in Brussels—Putin’s Isolation Only Partial

The Telegraph wrote on June 5:

“Putin had been scheduled to host the heads of leading industrialised nations at a summit of the G8 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi this week. But the G7 nations scotched those plans in protest against Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in March, and the leaders of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Italy and Japan held their summit without him…

“Putin’s isolation from the West is only partial. From St Petersburg he was flying to France, where he [had] supper with President François Hollande later on Thursday before taking part in D-Day 70th anniversary commemorations on Friday.

“Putin was also expected to hold separate meetings with German chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron while in France…”

BBC News, dated June 5, added that Mr. Cameron gave Mr. Putin a “very clear and firm set of messages”. According to Der Spiegel, dated June 5, the atmosphere was “frosty,” and the two leaders “did not even shake hands when they met.”

China Cuts Off Google—Again…

The website of Mashable.com reported on June 4:

“The Chinese government cut off access to Google search, Gmail, Google Calendar and more of the company’s services ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. Google has been largely inaccessible to Chinese citizens for about four days now as the government attempts to choke off any discussion of pro-democracy protests that took place in 1989 and resulted in a government crackdown that killed up to several thousand people. (An official death toll was never released.)

“According to the New York Times the blockage affects about 90% of Chinese users, just enough for the government to claim that the problems are on Google’s end, though the company says otherwise. ‘We’ve checked extensively, and there are no technical problems on our side,’ a Google spokesperson told Mashable…

“Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which is owned by Google, are already inaccessible throughout China, and Google’s search results there are regularly censored.

“Even international versions of Google, such as Google Australia, are inaccessible to most people in China right now.”

This is reminiscent of Hitler’s Nazi Germany and the Soviet oppression of East Germany after the war.

House Votes for Medical Marijuana and Against the Feds

The Washington Times wrote on May 30:

“The House voted early Friday to halt federal prosecutions of medical marijuana users in states that have legalized the drug’s use with a doctor’s prescription, marking the first time a chamber of Congress has approved such a broad decriminalization. The 219-189 vote wasn’t even particularly close, signaling a dramatic change in Congress on the issue of marijuana… House lawmakers approved language ordering the federal Justice Department not to interfere in any way with states’ medicinal marijuana laws… Minutes earlier, the House also voted to stop federal interference with states that want to grow industrial hemp. Both actions still need Senate approval to become law…

“Voters in two states — Colorado and Washington — have approved pot use even for recreational purposes. Friday morning’s vote, however, only prohibits federal prosecutions for medical marijuana use. It applies to the District of Columbia and the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.”

The Los Angeles Times added on May 30:

“Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, a physician, declared during floor debate that medical marijuana is a sham. Real medicine, he said, ‘is not two joints a day, not a brownie here, a biscuit there. That is not modern medicine.’ But in a sign of how the times are changing, he found himself challenged by a colleague from his own caucus who is also a doctor. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) spoke passionately in favor of the bill. ‘It has very valid medical uses under direction of a doctor,’ he said. ‘It is actually less dangerous than some narcotics prescribed by doctors all over the country.’…

“The rise of the tea party, meanwhile, has given an unforeseen boost to the legalization movement. Some of its more prominent members see the marijuana component of the War on Drugs as an overreach by the federal government, and a violation of the rights of more than two dozen states that have legalized cannabis or specific components of it for medical use…”

The Huffington Post wrote on May 30:

“While both the amendment and the bill aren’t guaranteed to make it through the messy appropriations process, supporters said it should leave no doubt where the House stands… A number of studies in recent years have shown the medical potential of cannabis. Purified forms may attack some forms of aggressive cancer. Marijuana use also has been tied to better blood sugar control and may help slow the spread of HIV. Legalization of the plant for medical purposes may lead to lower suicide rates, according to one study.”

The Huffington Post also published the following editorial on May 30:

“The ‘Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment’ was sponsored by Republican Dana Rohrabacher and Democrat Sam Farr, both from California — the first state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana, almost two decades ago. It uses the traditional congressional ‘power of the purse’ to ban the Justice Department from spending any money on arrests, raids and prosecutions of medical marijuana providers and patients that comply with their states’ medical marijuana laws. That’s the entire Justice Department, including federal attorneys, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“If the Senate follows the House’s lead, this will be the beginning of the end of the federal legal battle against medical marijuana — which is now legal at the state level in close to half of the states. Success is by no means guaranteed, however. The amendment has been attached to a budget bill, and there is no guarantee that any budget bills will make it to the president’s desk this year… The Senate may not even take up the amendment at any point. There are all sorts of ways it could be derailed, in fact…”

Breitbart added on May 30:

“Groups like Americans for Safe Access hailed the vote as a ‘game-changer’ that will help patients. ‘No longer will we have to look over our shoulder and worry when the next raid or indictment will prevent us from safely and legally accessing our medicine,’ said ASA executive director Steph Sherer.

“But critics warned passage would merely encourage more use of an addictive drug, and complicate efforts by the DEA to crack down on illicit dealers… Harris noted how other addictive drugs were not being promoted for their medicinal benefits like marijuana was, citing the example of nicotine, which has been proven helpful in treating epilepsy. ‘Why don’t we have therapeutic tobacco?’ he asked. ‘Nobody writes a prescription and says “Smoke a couple of cigarettes and cure your epilepsy.” But that’s what we are being asked to do.’”

Andy Harris clearly uses a “straw man” argument, as the smoking of tobacco is not illegal, and those who grow and use tobacco are not federally prosecuted—even though smoking tobacco has been proven to be unhealthy and is causing addiction. On an average, nonsmokers live 10 years longer than smokers, according to an article in news.at, dated May 30. However, the passing of the medical marijuana amendment is clearly a step into the right direction.

As we have repeatedly pointed out in our weekly Updates, the lack of evidence of any health risks and negative side effects [regarding the use of marijuana with the elimination of THC–the psychoactive component of marijuana–which might cause addiction] and the existing evidence for the benefits of MEDICAL marijuana [again eliminating addictive components] for at least some patients cannot be denied. To have states allow their medical use, while the federal government prohibits it, using an outdated and fictitious scheduling system, is an untenable and deeply unsettling situation. As mentioned before, the real reasons for the federal conduct do not seem to be any health “concerns,” but they seem to be strictly of a monetary and political nature, and grounded in powerful lobbies and medical companies. At the same time, as the next article shows, the legalization of marijuana for “recreational” purposes and its unrestricted access appear to be truly problematic.

“Recreational” Marijuana?

The New York Times wrote on May 31:

“Five months after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales, the battle over legalization is still raging. Law enforcement officers in Colorado and neighboring states, emergency room doctors and legalization opponents increasingly are highlighting a series of recent problems as cautionary lessons for other states flirting with loosening marijuana laws.

“There is the Denver man who, hours after buying a package of marijuana-infused Karma Kandy from one of Colorado’s new recreational marijuana shops, began raving about the end of the world and then pulled a handgun from the family safe and killed his wife, the authorities say. Some hospital officials say they are treating growing numbers of children and adults sickened by potent doses of edible marijuana. Sheriffs in neighboring states complain about stoned drivers streaming out of Colorado and through their towns…

“Despite such anecdotes, there is scant hard data. Because of the lag in reporting many health statistics, it may take years to know legal marijuana’s effect — if any — on teenage drug use, school expulsions or the number of fatal car crashes…

“Proponents of legalization argue that the critics are cherry-picking anecdotes to tarnish a young industry that has been flourishing under intense scrutiny. The vast majority of the state’s medical and recreational marijuana stores are living up to stringent state rules, they say. The stores have sold marijuana to hundreds of thousands of customers without incident… Marijuana supporters note that violent crimes in Denver — where the bulk of Colorado’s pot retailers are — are down so far this year… ‘Every major institution said this would be horrible and lead to violence and blood in the streets,’ said Brian Vicente, one of the authors of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in Colorado. ‘None of that’s happened. The sky did not fall.’

“… despite a galaxy of legal, regulated marijuana stores across the state, prosecutors say a dangerous illicit market persists… Many of Colorado’s starkest problems with legal marijuana stem from pot-infused cookies, chocolates and other surprisingly potent edible treats… On Colorado’s northern plains, for example, a fourth grader showed up on the playground one day in April and sold some of his grandmother’s marijuana to three classmates. The next day, one of those students returned the favor by bringing in a marijuana edible he had swiped from his own grandmother…

“Regulators are… considering whether to set lower limits on the amount of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, that can be packed into one cookie or chocolate bonbon. Even supporters of legalization such as Mr. Vicente say Colorado needs to pass stricter rules about edible marijuana…”

British Cadbury Chocolate Bars Containing Pork?

The Washington Post wrote on June 2:

“Last month, Malaysia’s Ministry of Health found traces of pig DNA in two types of Cadbury chocolate bars. Now, the Islamic Development Department has determined the products to be pork-free.

“The initial report caused upheaval among some Islamist groups in the country, as pork is forbidden under Muslim sharia law. Organizations such as the Association of Islamic Consumers are still calling for a boycott of all Cadbury products until the Ministry of Health debunks its original report.

“The pig DNA was found during a routine testing conducted by the Ministry of Health, which works to label products as ‘halal.’ Cadbury, the world’s second-largest confectionery brand, has stood by its halal (pork-free) certification but did recall the Dairy Milk Hazelnut and Dairy Milk Roasted Almond bars.

“Even if the health ministry does say its report was erroneous, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia have also started testing Cadbury products available in their countries. It’s still a mystery as to what caused findings of pork in the chocolate bars, but for now, the candy company isn’t completely controversy-free.”

And another important question remains! What about Cadbury chocolate in countries outside Malaysia?

Catholic Church under Heavy Attack in Ireland

The Washington Times wrote on June 4:

“The Catholic Church in Ireland has come under fire after a researcher discovered a mass grave filled with the bodies of 796 babies near a former orphanage and home for unwed mothers. The home, run by the Bon Secours nuns from 1925-1961 in County Galway, saw the hundreds of children dying of malnourishment and neglect, as well as contagious diseases like measles, tuberculosis and pneumonia, reported The Daily Mail. The babies were put in what was once a septic tank, with a simple shroud and no coffins, said researcher Catherine Corless, who discovered the death records, according to reports.

“A health board report in 1944 revealed the conditions of the home, The Daily Mail reports. A 13-month-old boy was described as ‘miserable, emaciated child with voracious appetite and no control over bodily functions and probably mentally defective,’ and 31 other children in the same room were described as ‘poor babies, emaciated and not thriving.’ The gravesite was discovered by locals in 1975…”    

The Neanderthal Man—No Brute Beast

The Washington Post wrote on June 4:

“Neanderthal, according to Merriam-Webster: ‘A man who is stupid and rude.’… Neanderthals, it is said, were hairy beasts — more creature than man, more brutish than sentient, more nose than brain. They belonged to a cadre of smelly hunters who carried sticks, dwelled in caves…

“But new research suggests this is a profound misunderstanding of the Neanderthal. According to a study recently published in Plos One that examined the 11 most common Neanderthal hypotheses, there is no evidence to support that Neanderthals were stupider than anatomically modern humans or that such intellectual inferiority spurred their demise…

“Myth No. 1: Neanderthals couldn’t plan. Researchers said that’s false because evidence suggests hominids hunted in groups. In southwestern France, they were smart enough to herd hundreds of bison to their death by steering them into a sinkhole. Another Neanderthal site yielded five woolly rhinoceroses at the base of a deep ravine, indicating that they could deploy complex hunting strategies. Another myth held that Neanderthals were too stupid to fashion tools using adhesives like humans. But according to the researchers, the Neanderthals did use a purified, distilled plant resin as an adhesive.

“Neanderthals ‘were highly intelligent, able to adapt to a wide variety of ecological zones, and capable of developing highly functional tools to help them do so,’ explained  Smith, who has researched the hominids, but wasn’t involved with this research. ‘They were quite accomplished.’

“What’s more, Neanderthals exhibited traces of culture, a barometer of intellect. At Neanderthal sites, researchers have uncovered ornaments and ocher, an earth pigment likely used for body painting.”

Other evidence has shown that Neanderthals buried their dead and placed food and weapons in their graves, confirming their belief in an “afterlife.” We have long held the view that Neanderthals were modern human beings with a human spirit—belonging to the “homo sapiens” category. They were no animals or a link between animals and men.

Man Responsible for Mass Extinction

The Independent wrote on May 31:

“Humanity is responsible for speeding up the natural rate of extinction for animal and plant species by up to 10,000 times, as the planet is on the brink of a dinosaur-scale sixth mass extinction, a new study has warned. Species are disappearing around 10 times faster than is widely believed in the scientific community… researchers from Duke University in the US said.

“Although a combination of numerous factors is responsible for the acceleration in disappearance of species, the biggest is habitat loss caused by humans…

“Other major issues are invasive species introduced by humans crowding out native species… The oceanic white-tip shark used to be one of the most abundant predators on Earth, but they have been hunted so much they are now rarely seen… Other species at great risk include the Sumatran rhinoceros, Amur leopard and mountain gorilla.”

God commanded man to keep and preserve the animal and plant species. Man has miserably failed in doing so. And so, Jesus Christ will return and destroy those who destroy the earth (Revelation 11:18).

Huge Grasshopper Swarms in New Mexico

UPI wrote on June 2:

“Grasshopper swarms in Albuquerque have been so big they’re showing up on a weather radar, confusing local meteorologists. ‘Albuquerque has not seen these levels of grasshoppers since the early-mid 1990s,’ said John R. Garlisch, extension agent at Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service. The air is so thick with bugs, they’re appearing like rain on the weather radar, ABC News reported… ‘It is a nuisance to people because they fly into people’s faces while walking, running, and biking. They are hopping into people’s homes and garages, they splatter the windshield and car grill while driving, and they will eat people’s plants,’ Garlisch added.

“… Officials are blaming it on a drought. ‘There wasn’t enough winter to kill the egg pots. Because of the dry winter the eggs survived, hence the outbreak of grasshoppers,’ David B. Richman, professor emeritus at the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology, and Weed Science, New Mexico State University said.”

One is reminded of Exodus 10:1-20 and Joel 1:3-4. 

Rat Plague in New York

The Los Angeles Times wrote on May 30:

“By some estimates, there are more rats than humans in this city of 8.4 million, although it’s impossible to know for sure. One thing is certain: Most New Yorkers loathe rats, and the city this year is budgeting $611,000 for a new program targeting ‘rat reservoirs,’ where the rodents congregate, in hopes of diminishing their numbers… There’s too many people and too much trash…

“City officials concede that there is only so much they can do about rats…”

Of course, rats are known to pass on serious and deadly diseases to humans. The Bible warns that in the end time, 1/4th of mankind will die by the sword, hunger, death and through the “beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:8).

Baseball-Sized Hail, Storms and Flooding in the Midwest

The Associated Press reported on June 3:

“Homes and cars in parts of Nebraska and Iowa were pummeled Tuesday by baseball-sized hail and damaging winds as potentially dangerous storms targeted a swath of the Midwest, including the Omaha area, where flooding left dozens of drivers stranded and prompted home evacuations…

“Officials said the highest risk for severe weather was centered in parts of eastern Nebraska, western and southern Iowa, and northeast Missouri. Officials said there was the potential for a weather event called a derecho, which is a storm of strong straight-line winds spanning at least 240 miles… The storms, which are also expected to affect parts of Illinois, Kansas and South Dakota, caused heavy rain in the Omaha area….

“The bad weather impacted primary elections taking place in Iowa and South Dakota…”

New Internet-“Inspired” Demonic Activities

On June 4, the website of mashable.com published the following shocking article:

“A 12-year-old girl was stabbed 19 times by two of her friends this weekend who say they were inspired by a mythical Internet creature known as Slender Man… The girls, Morgan G. and Anissa W. of Waukesha, Wisconsin, lured the 12-year-old victim into the woods on Saturday for a game of hide-and-seek after a slumber party the previous night… The victim, police say, is lucky to be alive… The girls told police they did it for Slender Man…

“Slender Man is being called everything from ‘an online horror meme’ and ‘a paranormal figure’ to a ‘fictional web site character,’ a ‘fictional demon-like creature’ and a ‘character conceived on an Internet forum.’

“Slender Man’s origin story starts with a ‘paranormal pictures’ Photoshop contest held on the Something Awful web forum in June 2009, according to the meme-tracking website Know Your Meme. A user named Victor Surge is widely credited with its creation, posting black-and-white images — with creepy captions — that showed a tall, faceless creature stalking children…

“Fans of Slender Man have created YouTube videos, long-form fiction, and an endless amount of fan art over the years. Slender Man has become a true amalgam of a horror figure that lives in the minds of millions of Internet horror fans, a boogeyman for a generation that grew up on the web. ‘There is not just one Internet site they were accessing to get this information. There are multiple websites of a similar nature that deal with the particular incident,’ Jack, the police chief, said…

“The girls told police that they committed the crime as a sacrifice to Slender Man, believing that if they killed their friend they would become one of his ‘proxies.’ When asked why, the girls reportedly said they had to do it — or ‘he’ would kill their families.”

We can expect these horrible demonical activities to increase.

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Are there any true prophets in God’s Church today?

It depends on what is meant by the term, “prophet.”

Smith’s Bible Dictionary describes a biblical prophet as follows:

“The ordinary Hebrew word for prophet is nabi, derived from a verb signifying ‘to bubble forth’ like a fountain; hence the word means one who announces or pours forth the declarations of God. The English word comes from the Greek prophetes (profetes), which signifies in classical Greek one who speaks for another, especially one who speaks for a god, and so interprets his will to man; hence its essential meaning is ‘an interpreter.’”

Easton’s Bible Dictionary explains:

“(Hebrews nabi, from a root meaning ‘to bubble forth, as from a fountain,’ hence ‘to utter’, Comp. Psalm 45:1). This Hebrew word is the first and the most generally used for a prophet. In the time of Samuel another word, ro’eh, ‘seer’, began to be used (1 Samuel 9:9). It occurs seven times in reference to Samuel. Afterwards another word, hozeh, ‘seer’ (2 Samuel 24:11), was employed. In 1 Ch. 29:29 all these three words are used: ‘Samuel the seer (ro’eh), Nathan the prophet (nabi’), Gad the seer’ (hozeh). In Joshua 13:22 Balaam is called (Hebrews) a kosem ‘diviner,’ [the new King James Bible says here, “soothsayer”] a word used only of a false prophet.

“The ‘prophet’ proclaimed the message given to him, as the ‘seer’ beheld the vision of God. (See Numbers 12:6, 8.) Thus a prophet was a spokesman for God; he spake in God’s name and by his authority (Exodus 7:1). He is the mouth by which God speaks to men (Jeremiah 1:9; Isaiah 51:16), and hence what the prophet says is not of man but of God (2 Peter 1:20, 21; Comp. Hebrews 3:7; Acts 4:25; 28:25). Prophets were the immediate organs of God for the communication of his mind and will to men (Deuteronomy 18:18, 19). The whole Word of God may in this general sense be spoken of as prophetic, inasmuch as it was written by men who received the revelation they communicated from God…”

Even though the meaning of the word “prophet” most certainly includes godly understanding and inspired preaching, more is involved.

Wayne Blank defines a prophet in this way, in “Daily Bible Study” (on keyway.com):

“The English word ‘prophet’ originated from a Greek word which meant to tell before i.e. pro means before and phemi means to tell… The Hebrew word of the Old Testament that is translated as ‘prophet’  [nabi]… means an inspired speaker… The Greek term of the New Testament that is translated as ‘prophet’… also means an inspired speaker…

“The LORD’s prophets are often regarded as having only been there to prophesy coming destruction, but they only did so within the context of preaching and teaching God’s Truth – and what would happen to those who rebelled against it. The LORD’s prophets, who were therefore also experts in God’s Law, also prophesied great good that is coming upon those who obey God’s Law.”

As can be seen from the foregoing, one of the responsibilities of a true biblical prophet is to foretell the future.

The website of bible.org gives interesting points regarding the meaning of the word “prophet”. Even though we do not agree with everything stated there, we quote a few correct excerpts, pointing out that a prophet has certain tasks. He is given the commission:

“To make known to men the laws of God [compare Zechariah 1:6]

“To call the people back to obedience to God’s laws [compare 2 Chronicles 24:19]

“To exhort the people to sincerity in worship [compare God’s directive to the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 7:1-11]

“To warn them of Divine judgment upon sin, both personal and national [compare God’s directive to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 36:27, 30-31]

“To foretell future events which God had willed [compare God’s directive to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 30:1-3]…”

So we see that we must not limit the role and function of a true prophet to “just” foretelling the future, but this aspect is most certainly included.

The above-mentioned website (bible.org) continues to point out the difference between true and false prophets, as follows:

“God had told Jeremiah to announce that Jerusalem would be captured by the Babylonian army, as a punishment for the sins of the people. False prophets opposed Jeremiah and denied his words, suggesting that he was a traitor. But God said that the false prophets themselves would die by the sword of the Babylonians. This was literally fulfilled, and thus the words of Jeremiah were proved to be God’s message, while the popular message of the false prophets was shown to be lies, even though they had dared to use the name of [God].”

Another website, biblebell.org, explains that there are “two categories of prophetic activities,” in that “a prophet speaks forth God’s messages in two main categories,” that of “preaching” and  “foretelling.” Examples for a “preaching” prophet can be found in Isaiah 1:16, 19: In uttering God’s words, the prophet Isaiah “encourages, comforts, or reproves the people.”

The author adds that “from this standpoint, a pastor who preaches, in full and accurate accord with God’s Bible, is functioning as a prophet.”

An example for a “foretelling” prophet can be found in Isaiah 7:14, in that he “gives the people the word of God concerning the future.”

You might want to review our Q&A on prophets in the Church of God today. We explain that the Church of God does have prophets today in the sense of inspired preaching, including preaching on prophetic events which are specifically described in the Bible, but the Church of God does NOT have today “ordained” or “appointed” prophets who are receiving revealing godly visions and dreams about the future; who are directly inspired by God concerning prophetic events which are not set forth in Scripture; and who proclaim those previously unknown future events with unerring and infallible godly authority.

We stated:

“We do not claim that there are presently any ministers in our organizations who have been ordained by God to the rank and function of apostle or prophet; nor do we believe that God has given anyone else outside our organizations such ranks and functions. When God chooses to set aside some of His ministers for such responsibilities (as He will, for instance, in regard to the two witnesses), the fruit of such persons will make this fact abundantly clear to those in God’s Church. For instance, God manifested and revealed without doubt the apostleship of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, the late human leader of the former Worldwide Church of God, who died in 1986. Today, even though some claim godly approval for stating that they are apostles and/or prophets, it is our judgment that their claims are false, as in our opinion, they have not manifested the signs of an apostle or prophet in their lives.”

At the same time, we explained in our Q&A about the two witnesses that true godly prophets will arise in the future, as for instance the two witnesses will clearly be such prophets. We stated that “at the very end, just prior to the return of Jesus Christ to this earth, two extraordinary human beings will prophesy and warn this world for 3 1/2 years. During the time of their testimony, no one can harm them, as they will have supernatural protection and powers from God… they will be human beings, sent by God to give this world a last warning, going before the returning Christ ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ and Moses (compare Luke 1:17).”

In addition, we pointed out in our Q&A on the prophetess Deborah, that even though there were true prophetesses in the Old Testament, no such office of a prophetess exists in the New Testament Church. We stated: “There is no Biblical record that women were called or ordained to an office of prophetess in the New Testament Church. In fact, God does not permit a woman to preach or to prophesy in Church services… Men have served as prophets and women as prophetesses, as the Word of God clearly illustrates. In the Church of God, today, men may still be called to be prophets (among other offices)–which is by ordination (Compare Acts 11:28; 21:10-11; 1 Corinthians 12:27-28; Ephesians 4:11; Hebrews 5:4). Women, such as the four daughters of Philip [compare Acts 21:9], may also be chosen to speak prophetically through the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit, but not in Church services, and not as ordained ministers or as ordained prophetesses. The ONLY ordained office within the Church of God that is held by women is that of DEACONESS–an appointment based on solid maturity and selfless service.”

Finally, in our Q&A on “THAT” or “THE” Prophet, we explained:

“The Prophet who was [spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 and who was] to come was none other than Jesus Christ [compare Acts 3:19-26]. Jesus has many titles and designations; apart from being the Son of God and the Savior and Messiah (the Anointed One), He is also the only Mediator between God and man, our High Priest and the King of kings and the Lord of lords; He is the Apostle of those apostles whom He appoints (Hebrews 3:1; Ephesians 4:11), as well as THAT Prophet of those holy prophets whom He sends. Anyone who misappropriates any of those titles to himself (or approvingly permits such misappropriations to be applied to him) is claiming privileges and designations which are limited and strictly belong to, and which are reserved for Jesus Christ; and such a person will have to give account for what he claims to be, says and does, whoever he might be.”

To summarize, there are most certainly “prophets” in God’s Church today who preach with godly inspiration and who speak on prophecies which are recorded in the Bible. God might also give some of His servants special insight today into prophetic events and details, which might not be specifically mentioned in Scripture, but which would be in line with prophecies contained in the Bible (compare Amos 3:7-8; Isaiah 44:26; Revelation 19:10). But at this point, there are no ordained prophets in God’s Church anywhere, and we do not believe that those who claim otherwise are telling the truth. We do find, however, that in the future, the Church of God will have again ordained apostles and prophets, in accordance with the directions of Jesus Christ, the living Head of the Church (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new Member Letter has been written by Pastor Brian Gale in which he cautions that we must ignore the mockers and scoffers who question the return of Jesus Christ, but that we are to look forward to the time of Christ’s return with great anticipation.

“What Language Did Jesus Speak?,” is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

During Pope Francis’ recent trip to Israel, an exchange occurred between him and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the language that Jesus spoke. While Netanyahu claimed that Jesus spoke Hebrew, Francis responded that He spoke in Aramaic. Netanyahu replied, “He spoke Aramaic, but He knew Hebrew.” Could neither the pope nor Netanyahu be right? What does the Bible say?

Our new booklet, “Old Testament Laws—Still Valid Today?” has been sent to the printer.

“Gibt es Heute Propheten in Gottes Kirche?,” is the title of this week’s new German sermon. In English, the title is, “Are there Prophets in God’s Church today?”

“Pfingsten 2014—Gottes Geist der Kraft” is the title of the sermon for Pentecost. In English, the title is: “Pentecost 2014—God’s Spirit of Power.”

“How Wise Are You—Really?,” is the title of last week’s sermon, given by Norbert Link. Here is a summary:

Are we wise in God’s eyes, or do we possess the wisdom of this world, which God describes as foolishness? What is true wisdom, and how does it manifest itself? How can we obtain godly wisdom? The Bible speaks of knowledge, understanding and wisdom. What is the difference? Why is it necessary that we have all three qualities, even though they do not guarantee that we will not fall away from God? What else is there to consider?

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A Sweet Aroma

by Delia Messier

Starting out as a foster child, our baby boy was a gift from God, given to us when he was 15 months old. He really had just started walking and was still a little shaky. What a beautiful tiny little boy he was, with hazel eyes and blond curly hair. Holding him, filled my heart with joy!

Only one thing, he had a foreign smell, a sour smell to his skin. He did not smell like my own; the sweet smell our own babies had. He had been living on a poor diet, which was visible by his big stomach and swayed back.

In time, with a good diet of wholesome foods and proper care, his countenance began to change. His little cheeks and lips glowed pink and his body filled out, his back straightened and his tummy flattened. He was not such a tiny small boy after all, but a big boy in the making.

Then the day came, that day, when I held him. There it was, a “SWEET AROMA”! The aroma of my own.  The smell of my own baby. The sweetest aroma for a mom.

Remembering this, I also want to be a sweet aroma to my Father.  Am I recognizable to My Father as His own?  Has my countenance changed enough from the old person I was, to one of His own children?

Am I a SWEET AROMA to my Father?

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

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