Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Two Babylons



The Two Babylons
or The Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife


By the Late Rev. Alexander Hislop


First published as a pamphlet in 1853

--greatly expanded in 1858


Contents






Chapter II Objects of Worship Section I. Trinity in Unity (22k)






Chapter III Festivals





See Chapter V, Section IV regarding Cupid (St. Valentine's Day)



Chapter IV Doctrine and Discipline Section I. Baptismal Regeneration (47k)







Chapter V Rites and Ceremonies








Chapter VI Religious Orders




Chapter VII The Two Developments Historically and Prophetically Considered









Conclusion (28k)



When Personal Oversight of Details Is Inconsistent


God does not require you to take such a course that the workers in ----- or anywhere else shall not feel at liberty to make advance movements unless they can consult you, and ask what your judgment of the matter is, before they advance. I cannot sanction the idea that you must have a personal oversight of all the details of the work. If I did, the result would be that no worker would dare to exercise his own judgment in anything. The workers would have to rely upon one man's brain and one man's judgment, and the result would be that men would be left in inefficiency because of their inactivity. There are altogether too many of this class now, and they amount to next to nothing. I write this because I feel deeply on this point. We are not doing one half that we ought to do. {TM 298.1}

It is true that the ----- school must be sustained, but this need not hinder us from sustaining other schools. We should have primary schools in different localities to prepare the youth for our higher schools. It may seem to you that it is wise to close the school in -----, but I fail to see the wisdom of it. To close up this school will seem to reflect discredit upon all that the people have done, and will discourage them from making further advancement. I cannot see that you have gained anything in making the move that you have, nor can I feel that it is in accordance with God's order. It will work nothing but injury, not only to those that have complained about the debt, but also to the workers. Men who have property and could have helped this enterprise will breathe more freely. These moneyed men will be encouraged, not to do more for the cause than they have done, but to do less. They will feel at liberty to complain concerning anything that calls for an outlay of means. {TM 299.1}

God Will Employ Agencies That Will Surprise Us


Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning. There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world. God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.--TM 300 (1885). {LDE 203.3}

Do not imagine that it will be possible to lay out plans for the future. Let God be acknowledged as standing at the helm at all times and under every circumstance. He will work by means that will be suitable, and will maintain, increase, and build up His own people.--CW 71 (1895). {LDE 203.4}

The Comforter is to reveal Himself, not in any specified, precise way that man may mark out, but in the order of God--in unexpected times and ways that will honor His own name.--EGW'88 1478 (1896). {LDE 204.1}

He will raise up from among the common people men and women to do His work, even as of old He called fishermen to be His disciples. There will soon be an awakening that will surprise many. Those who do not realize the necessity of what is to be done will be passed by, and the heavenly messengers will work with those who are called the common people, fitting them to carry the truth to many places.--15MR 312 (1905). {LDE 204.2}


America's Power Unleashed


By Pastor Hal Mayer

My message this month is entitled “America’s Power Unleashed.” Revelation 13 makes some amazing predictions about what America will become. This is vital for you to know because it is leading to the most devastating result – the oppressive Universal Sunday Law.

But before we begin, let us pray. Our loving heavenly Father, Thank you for giving us the scriptures to guide our path in these last days. Make them come alive! Wake us up! Help us to see the onrushing events in their true light as we near the end of time. May this vital message today help us to prepare for Jesus coming. In His name I pray, Amen.

Rev 13:11-13 says, “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”

This interesting passage brings to light some things many do not understand. Students of Bible prophecy know that America is this Lamb-like beast. However, she is not going to remain docile like a lamb, but going to rise higher and higher in power and dominance on the world stage. She will become more and more arrogant until at last she decrees the “no-buy, no sell” law of vs. 17 and enforces the Sunday law, not only on her own people, but on the whole world.

Notice that “he exerciseth all the power of the first beast.” What kind of power did the first beast actually wield? Bible students have known since the time of the Reformation, that the Roman Papacy is the first beast. Its medieval power to coerce conscience consisted of controlling the state and using it to accomplish its own purposes. The old world Papacy depended on a coalition of feudal kings willing to wield the sword of steel to support her religious laws. This pagan principle of combining religion and civil government greatly served the interests of the church by controlling the masses.

This passage reveals that America will exercise the same type and force of power on the whole world today as the Papacy did in the old world. America will be the instrument that causes “the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed” vs. 13. Imagine that! America will become much more powerful and forceful than she is at present! America will dictate to all nations of the earth, not just to Americans, that they must worship the Papacy by hallowing her Sabbath.

How is America going to become as strong in the new world, as the Papacy was in the old? There are many who think that such an idea has little credibility. Yet that is what the Bible teaches. Since September 11, 2001 it is becoming easier to see how this can happen. Those who are daily studying the prophecies in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy with Jesus will be enlightened when events unfold around them, while others remain in darkness.
The Lamb becomes a Dragon

“He had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” In scripture Christ is the Lamb. When America began, it was Christlike and did not force the conscience. It permitted each citizen to practice his own religion according to his conscience. Many nations modeled their constitutions similar to the U.S. But eventually, America will speak like Satan the dragon, removing the religious freedom that for more than two centuries has blessed its inhabitants. This is totally unexpected by those who do not understand or who are not paying attention to fulfilling prophecy.
America Rises

After World War II the world was divided into partitions that then engaged in a cold war. The superpowers tended to balance each other. This balance was disrupted. The cold war ended. And most people hoped that the new world would be peaceful without the threat of annihilation. But instead of peace, the world is now full of little dictators many of whom are bent on increasing their share of political influence.

When the cold war ended, America became the only remaining superpower. Many people have failed to see the uniqueness of this situation and its relation to prophecy. No other power in history has been in the position that America is in now. The Roman Empire was quite large, but the Persian Empire, and the still larger China beyond were significant in their own right. Even when Britain was at its height of world power there were the other next greatest powers such as Spain, contending for the preeminent spot in politics.

But America is way out and beyond all other nations in world power. America for example, outspends the next twenty countries combined on its military (a vital component to world dominance).1 Its Navy, Air Force and space power are unrivaled. But America’s dominance goes beyond these international interests and includes its economy, technology, and even its language.

America is now in the position of being the only super, superpower on every front of international influence. And this dominance is leading to the ultimate political power, enforcement of oppressive religious laws on God’s faithful people worldwide.

Recently, I read an amazing document written by a group of individuals that are now household names to many of you. This document was written about twelve years ago and it was the vision of what America would become in the future. They did not describe America as merely the preeminent power in the world, but described their America as dominating world politics. What is the difference between preeminence and dominance? Preeminence would describe an America that is the most powerful country, but a benevolent power, unconcerned with controlling other nations and willing to let them hew their own course without intervention from America unless they would threaten our sovereignty or our nation’s geographical interests. These men spoke of America as a dominant power. This means something entirely different than a preeminent power. It refers to America as a controlling political force in the world. It refers to America as interfering in other nations affairs even if there is no direct threat to America.

Would you like to know who these men are that wrote this document more than a decade ago? I will tell you. You will no doubt recognize most of them. They include Dick Cheney, vice president of the United States, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State, Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of State, John Ashcroft, the leader of the Department of Justice. These men are now in the position of making the very things they envisioned for America come into existence. They did not write their document from their own imagination. They could see the future. All you really need to know is a bit of history and the agenda of the New World Order, and you can predict about as accurately as they did what is going to happen in the future.

But we have a “more sure word of prophecy” to go on. We don’t have to sit in darkness trying to figure out what is going to happen by guessing at it. We can see it because it is all spelled out in the Bible. Revelation 13 now reads like the morning news paper. If you understand prophecy, you can tell what these and other men will do. American leaders are determined to gain unlimited control over the affairs of this world. So what if there is opposition! They are worried about that! They don’t have prophecy like we do, but they know that they and their successors are destined to rule the world from Washington. Think about it. Where does the UN reside? The United States. That is no accident. Where is the World Bank located? The United States. That is no accident either. Where is the most powerful military located? The United States of America. Again, this is no accident. It has been prophesied and has come to pass just as God said it would. Isn’t it wonderful that God’s word is so reliable?

There are many, some even among SDAs that say that the traditional interpretation of Revelation by Seventh-day Adventists is outdated and irrelevant today, and that it will not come to pass. Do you think that? I don’t. I believe that God’s word and his prophets spoke of things that are certainties. They will come to pass. They didn’t speak things that they speculated about.

Today there are many that speculate by giving false interpretations of prophecy. Just look at the popularity of the “Left Behind” series. People are being deceived by the millions. Yet Seventh-day Adventists have been predicting the very things that are now coming to pass for 160 years. These seemingly impossible prophecies are now fulfilling. Aren’t you glad to be alive right now to watch as these things unfold?

Let’s move on. Since the cold war ended, America has been stealthily building its military resources in order that it could effectively control the new world order that is being imposed by the UN. In reality, there has been a quantum leap in military superiority during the decades following the end of the Soviet Union. Thanks to technology, the American military stands positioned to enforce its political objectives on the rest of the world if it desires to do so, not with more nuclear bombs, but with smart bombs and GPS ordinance and air power that can reach targets with pinpoint precision and a minimum of collateral damage. Other nations would not admit it, but they are running scared. One can tell by their rhetoric that they know the implications of American dominance. The trouble is that there is not even an alliance of nations that can rival America’s power.
September 11 Helps America Rise

Prior to September 11, 2001 America had not had opportunity to demonstrate all of its dormant powers. There have been hints of it during some peace keeping missions that America was involved in. But after September 11, there was a political realignment. Suddenly nations like Pakistan who stood on the sidelines, strategically joined America in the war on terrorism. Even Russia and China, who at one time flirted with the idea of an anti-American alliance, have joined the American camp and have not pressed political competition.2

But more importantly, September 11 gave America an opportunity to demonstrate its huge military advantage in Afghanistan. The hardened Taliban regime, favored by terrain and climate, was no match for the American military. With a sum total of only 426 men on the ground,3 America breathtakingly destroyed the fanatical Muslim government with a ferocity that even surprised its allies. And it was done with smart weaponry and other high tech tools of war.

There is now no question in international circles that America has risen to the height of world-wide military superiority and dominance. Now the only question that remains among other nations is how to manage themselves in light of this huge unrivaled power.
The Role of the UN in American Dominance

After World War II, the United Nations was theoretically established in an ongoing effort to prevent another world war. But the goal has always been world government. During the cold war which many of you remember, the UN was an intermediary between the huge competitive powers. While ever this political standoff existed the UN would not have been able to increase in power beyond mere arbitration. The big competition had to stop so that the UN could establish its universal governing power by managing smaller conflicts with lesser stakes and build its credibility. The cold war had to end. When it did the UN could insert itself, with American leadership, into local unrest and impose its own solutions. American leaders also recognize the UN as a useful means of assisting their own agenda to become more powerful in the world stage.

In the last 15 years America greatly aided the growth of UN power by building broad based coalitions with other nations in the name of the UN. But it has always had its own goals in mind. The UN is destined to become the government of the New World Order, but it is also going to be the front organization for the international objectives of the United States wherever possible.

Now that the UN has become recognized as a legitimate governing body, there is no underlying need for America to exercise the level of discretion in using broad-based coalitions as it has used in the past. True there are still political relationships that need to be cultivated, but deep down America is about to unleash its political muscle on the whole world. The conflict in Iraq was the first example, with more nations to follow. Just the example that has been made of Iraq is a strong deterrent to other nations hostile to the United States. Libya has reconciled recently with America. Iran, North Korea, Syria and other nations are under sever diplomatic pressure to yield to the demands of the United States.

Instead of a UN authorized coalition of powers working together for global peace and justice, America is willing to dictate international policy. Even if other nations don’t like it, what can they do to stop it? Who can stand up against America? Some nations can veto UN resolutions. But can UN sanctions against America have any force if no nation or even a coalition of nations is able to effectively oppose the American military? American allies have already recognized that America is going to use UN authority as cover for her own purposes, and if the UN doesn’t cooperate they can see that America will act on its own, or with a “coalition of the willing.”

In other words, now that the UN has its governmental systems in place, and now that it is recognized as having authority in international politics, America doesn’t need to work with all the nations like before. Now it will simply control the UN when ever it can, but will act on its own when it cannot.
Realignment of the Americas

There are other ways by which America is rising to dominance. The dollarization of South and Central America is underway. Ecuador is the guinea pig. Its official currency is now the US dollar. Dollarization is not about economic development of the host country. It is about control. It aligns the economy of the country with the U.S. It does bring certain conveniences, but there is a loss of control. When America controls the economics of a number of S. American countries by a dollar system, those countries are at the mercy of American political control as well. Argentina is next perhaps, and then Venezuela or Bolivia or others. There is talk also of a Federal Reserve Banks in these countries. The Federal Reserve controls the economy of America by manipulating the availability of cash. It will have the same purpose in S. A. as well.

Free trade zones are being developed throughout N. and S. America. This is not about freedom, it is about control. It is about the whole hemisphere being aligned with the US and about the US controlling the economies and expanding ITS ability to manipulate the whole region.

Another process is taking place. Thousands and thousands of manufacturing and service jobs have been lost in the last decade in America. These jobs have gone off shore to countries like Mexico, China, Taiwan and S. E. Asia. This is essentially gutting America’s middle class and will leave only the rich and the poor. When you have the environment, the economy stagnates. The rich have no motivation to improve the economy, and the poor are so busy making ends meet that they have no extra to invest. Coupled with the cost of the military to maintain its global dominance, this will drain America’s resources and lead to collapse of its economy. I believe that the timing of this will be related to the coming of the Sunday law. “National apostasy brings national ruin.”

No matter how you look at it, the obvious and undeniable fact remains, America is rising to much more power than ever before. And this power will corrupt it and make it drunk with blood, first the blood of those who stand in its political path, then with the blood of those who stand in its religious path.
Islam and the New America

Religious implications play no small role. How will Islam and other nations that are not Christian come into line with America’s power? How will huge portions of the world that hate America, or despise its global ambitions going to submit to its authority concerning the worship of the “first beast?” Will there not be more conflict and terrorist attacks as America pushes against Islam? Certainly, but these token victories for America’s enemies, will only strengthen America’s resolve and justify its actions, while deflecting attention from its political ambitions.
America Deceives Hostile Nations

Notice how Revelation 13 continues. “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast…” Rev 13:13-14.

Some are tempted to think that this reference to fire is about bombs. But this wonder-working power is not referring to the military superiority of the United States. Though damaging, bombs aren’t miraculous and don’t deceive nations. Even nuclear bombs and sophisticated smart weaponry are the result of human ingenuity, and technological advancement. America will have access to a supernatural, miraculous power above and beyond its military, and will use it deceptively. This miraculous power makes it appear that God sides with America.

The Pope understands these hostile forces. “Malachi Martin made an enlightening statement. “There will come a day, John Paul believes, when the heart of Islam—already attuned to the figures of Christ and of Christ’s Mother, Mary—will receive the illumination it needs.“4 The Pope, in other words, believes that Islam will eventually be “illuminated” and will join the religious coalition that will rule the world (and ultimately persecute God’s true people).
Prophetic Significance

Imagine the earth on the brink of a great crisis. Terrorists have done much damage. Suppose that in conjunction with the decisions of American leaders there are miraculous and obviously supernatural interventions on behalf of American interests. Suppose there are also apparitions telling Islam to back off, and that Islam must listen to the Pope and seek peace with America. Suppose a kind of supernatural weaponry comes into play on America’s behalf that strikes fear into the hearts of Islamic fanatics, such as fire from heaven that no human hand could have devised. What then? It is very significant that American presidents have been very friendly with the Pope and bishops. Both sides see a very connected future, and so should we.

Will Islam, Hinduism and other religions yield to American global dominance? America will insist that the whole world should worship the image of the beast. All nations will be pressured to worship the Papacy by honoring Sunday. Amazing as it may sound, these non-Christian nations will one day align with the Pope and the United States to enforce the global Sunday law, create a universal “no buy, no sell” decree to freeze the assets of God’s people, and eventually order them executed. They will be left to the mercy and sustaining hand of God.

America is taking the next step in power building. In spite of international political objections, the world is ready for it. Some nations will protest because they don’t like the idea of another nation telling them what to do. But they will yield. America could never fulfill its prophetic role unless it has much more power in the coming years than in the past.

My dear friends, there are many who do not have the benefit of understand prophecy that you and I have. They are concerned about what they see. They see ominous developments on the horizon. They see that things in this world are changing forever, and not for the better. They are worried. So worried in fact that the Bible tells us in Luke 21:26 that men’s hearts will fail them for fear because of what is coming upon the earth.

Do you remember when Jesus healed the blind man in Mark 8? He spit on his eyes and touched him. What did the man see? He saw “men as trees walking.” Vs. 24. Then Jesus healed him by touching him a gain and he “saw every man clearly.” Vs 25. Many people are like this today. They see the developments in the world and they recognize that something is happening that is very serious. But they don’t know how to understand it. They see “men as trees walking.” They can only see vaguely. They cannot see clearly. They are burdened by what they see. Their minds have many questions.

Recently I was sitting next to a pilot on an airplane. She was on her way home from work as a pilot so she was sitting with the regular passengers. Providentially, I was assigned a seat next to her. As we talked about the events taking place in our world. I began to explain some things to here about the future. With every point I made, she was quick to agree and could see that what I said was true. She did not have the benefit of prophecy, so she could only see “men as trees walking.” But as I unfolded some things to her, she could quickly grasp the truth of the situation. She was ready for more. What was it that made her ready for more? It was the Holy Spirit that had been drawing her attention to these events and the things coming upon the world and He raised the questions in her mind. All I needed to do was be God’s instrument to share with her the larger picture.

You see, it is prophecy that gives us the big picture. It is prophecy that helps us see the Great Controversy being played out in the universe. It is prophecy that gives us a certainty of the future. When you have the big picture, you can then see what happens in the news and tell what is really important from what is not. You know, the news commentators usually magnify those things that are not important and minimize the things that are important. We have the privilege to sort it all out and make sense of that which confused most people.

On another occasion I was sitting next to a man who was a history teacher at the University of California, Riverside. His specialty was South American history. Since we both teach history we hit it off together quickly. As we talked I began to pray that God would open a way into his mind. As we talked about current events, he was very quick to point out certain things that helped me to see that he might be open to more definite spiritual concepts though he was of no religion at all. He was agreeing with me on almost every point I made concerning the things we are talking about today. He even said that laws are expanding and that some will be drawn into the legal net and prosecuted for things never originally intended in the first place.

I continued to pray that God would lead me. Then he asked me what I see coming in the future. In my heart, I said “thank you lord.” I took him back in history and showed him that those who were persecuted the most were Sabbath keepers. This took him by surprise, but I backed it up with historical facts, including Hitler’s persecution of the Jews during WWII. Then I reminded him of what he told me about the expanding laws and their unintended victims. I pointed out that if there is a major crises, that the religious right will try to get everyone in church on Sunday. Then I asked him where does that leave us Sabbath keepers? He got the point. I promised to send him a copy of Great Controversy, which I did. He is now in possession of the richest mine of truth available today other than the Bible. I am praying that he will find his way to the truth of God.

Brothers and sisters, we are very near the end of time. The things that are happening are fulfilling the very prophecies that we have long believed. Now is the time for us to share with others the clearest and plainest testimony concerning the nearness of Jesus coming. Many in this world are ready for it. They are hungering to hear the truth and have their vague impressions given substance. They are looking to you and me. God has appointed us to be His messengers to this darkened world. He will put you together with those who are searching for something more solid than what their ministers have to offer. Go to them. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you believe. You know far more about history and prophecy than they do. God has given you the tools in your hands. Keep it simple, but share it.

Now watch carefully. We are very near the final rapid movements. Thanks to Bible prophecy we can see many things shaping up before they happen. Watch and pray. Leave nothing concerning your soul to chance.

Let us pray. Father, it is with grateful hearts that we hear this message. We realize that the end is near. We realize that the world is marshalling her forces for the last great conflict. We thank you for prophecy that makes this all so clear to us. Let us not miss our opportunity to cooperate with the holy angels in sharing the final warning message, and bring people out of Babylon into the true faith that was once delivered to the saints. May we be faithful overcomers today and everyday. In Jesus’ name, Amen

1. Krauthammer, Charles, Imprimis , January 2003, Hillsdale College, Speech given December 4, 2002 Mayflower Hotel, Washington DC.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Martin, Malachi, The Keys of This Blood, (Simon & Schuster) pp. 285.


Mountain Media Ministries Seminars @ Palmetto, FL


Nov. 29 & 30 - Palmetto, FL - Palmetto SDA Church


We are very pleased to announce that we will be conducting Country Living Seminars at the Palmetto, FL SDA Church on the weekend of November 29 and 30.
The seminars are scheduled to begin at 2:30 PM on Sabbath and at 9:30 AM on Sunday. Topics include:

  • Ready or Not - a foundational presentation from the scriptures and inspiration on the rationale of preparation. Are we to prepare physically as well as spiritually? Do we have a part to do? Preparing to be a help and blessing to others in the days ahead.

  • Principles of Independent Living - graphically demonstrates how vulnerable our society is for even the basic necessities of life. How does one go about becoming less dependent on others for these necessities?

  • Alternative Energy - we have become extremely dependent on electricity for so many things, even necessities of life. And many technologies we use to do god's work involves electricity. This seminar explains how one can successfully generate and use their own electricity with little or no dependence on the system. Especially important information in light of the energy crisis.

  • Affordable Country Housing - you might be surprised to find out how affordable it can be to set up a simple homestead. Tips from a builder's point of view on how to save money. Lots of valuable information.

  • Independent Water Systems - water is one of the most basic necessities. This seminar teaches how one can develop a water systems that is totally independent. Also covers useful features to look for when searching for a piece of land.

  • Equipping for the Mountains - this seminar focuses on the essential equipment needed for operating in a rural environment. We recommend the best equipment for the money so you don't have to make the costly mistakes that others already have.


Location:Palmetto SDA Church3307 10th Street West
Palmetto, FL 34221Click Here For An Online Map


Flyer:To download a half-fold flyer for these seminars, simply right-click on the following link then select "save target as" or "download file" or something like that.
Download Palmetto Flyer


The Book of the Law Found (Josiah's Reforms)


1Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years.

2And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.

3For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.

4And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.

5And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem.

6And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about.

7And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.

8Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land, and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the LORD his God.

9And when they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites that kept the doors had gathered of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin; and they returned to Jerusalem.

10And they put it in the hand of the workmen that had the oversight of the house of the LORD, and they gave it to the workmen that wrought in the house of the LORD, to repair and amend the house:

11Even to the artificers and builders gave they it, to buy hewn stone, and timber for couplings, and to floor the houses which the kings of Judah had destroyed.

12And the men did the work faithfully: and the overseers of them were Jahath and Obadiah, the Levites, of the sons of Merari; and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to set it forward; and other of the Levites, all that could skill of instruments of musick.

13Also they were over the bearers of burdens, and were overseers of all that wrought the work in any manner of service: and of the Levites there were scribes, and officers, and porters.

14And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the LORD given by Moses.

15And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan.

16And Shaphan carried the book to the king, and brought the king word back again, saying, All that was committed to thy servants, they do it.

17And they have gathered together the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers, and to the hand of the workmen.

18Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.

19And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes.

20And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Abdon the son of Micah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king's, saying,

21Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book.

22And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that effect.

23And she answered them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell ye the man that sent you to me,

24Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah:

25Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched.

26And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to enquire of the LORD, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard;

27Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD.

28Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again.

29Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem.

30And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the LORD.

31And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book.

32And he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.

33And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the LORD their God. And all his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.


2 Chronicles 34

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obama Names Volcker to Head Panel on Reviving Economy

11/26/2008 9:21 AM ET

TOP MARKET NEWS
Iran intensifying uranium enrichment
Stocks Turning In A Strong Performance In Early Afternoon Trading - U.S. Commentary
Farm Machinery Sector Led Lower By Deere's Lower Q4 Earnings
Obama Names Paul Volcker To Head Economic Recovery Board
Stocks Stage Significant Turnaround After Seeing Early Weakness - U.S. Commentary



(RTTNews) - President-elect Barack Obama is expected to name former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker as the head of a new economic recovery board Wednesday, several media outlets are reporting. Volcker, who served as Fed Chairman through 1979 - 1987, received praise for the unpopular decision to ratchet up the Federal Funds rate to combat inflation.

Under Volcker, inflation peaked at 13.5 percent in 1981. Volcker hiked up the federal funds rate, sending the economy into a recession with unemployment rates at their highest since the Great Depression. However, by the end of his efforts, inflation was successfully lowered to 3.2 percent by 1983.

In 2008 the problem is not inflation, but concerns about a deep recession and deflation in the midst of financial and housing crises. The economic board is designed to assist Obama in helping the struggling economy recovery. Obama will detail the board in his press conference Wednesday, scheduled for 10:45 am ET.

In addition, media reports are hinting that Obama is set to retain Robert Gates as defense secretary for at least the first year and pick retired General James Jones to be his national security adviser.

Gates, a former CIA director and a moderate Republican with long-standing ties to the Bush family, has served as the outgoing President George Bush's defense chief for two years. His appointment, when confirmed, would fulfill an Obama pledge to include a Republican in his Cabinet.

An anonymous Democratic official said Jones, the former marine commandant and commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Europe, was Obama's pick to head the National Security Council.

U.S. media reports also suggested that retired Admiral Dennis Blair, the former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command and a veteran of the NSC, CIA and Joint Chiefs of Staff, would be appointed the director of national intelligence.

However, there was no official announcement from the Obama Transition Team regarding these appointments -- including those of Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and Susan Rice as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations-- which will formally be announced after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com





Source: http://www.rttnews.com/Content/Policy.aspx?Id=786545

Obama's agenda and gay rights


by Lisa Keen, Keen News Service2008-11-26


The LGBT movement seems determined not to make the same mistakes with the administration of President-elect Barack Obama that it made with President Bill Clinton back in 1992. There is a palpable caution against laying forth in public an ambitious list of demands and expectations are buckled close to the vest.



And yet, Obama has promised more support to the LGBT community than Clinton ever did; was elected by a margin 2 million votes larger than Clinton procured during his initial step into the White House; and has expressed unqualified support for undoing two anti-gay laws which Clinton helped put in place.

But starting with Obama's first high-level appointment during the past week, the community has essentially been put on notice that the door to the Oval Office will not likely be opened wide enough to accommodate gay rights in the new president's first year.

Obama announced the appointment of former Clinton senior adviser Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff. Emanuel racked up a perfect 100 score from the Human Rights Campaign for each of his three terms as a U.S. representative from Chicago. But longtime gay political activists still remember him as an obstacle, during Clinton's first year in office, to their efforts to end discrimination against gays in the military.

In his 1996 book, Stranger Among Friends, longtime gay Democratic activist David Mixner, the most influential gay activist in relation to the Clinton White House at the time, described a scheduled meeting he had with Emanuel at the White House that lasted only about 10 to 15 minutes and was riddled with interruptions.

“Each time he returned his attention to me,” wrote Mixner, “it was as though he were dealing with a house servant. I was certainly not a peer, and he clearly hated being bothered about the problems of the march.”


Read more story below....

Mixner had sought to advise President Clinton on what he could do for the 1993 national gay-rights march on Washington. The march had run into some resistance from the National Park Service, which was holding up a permit for the march on the National Mall, claiming the marchers would destroy the grass. During his brief meeting with Emanuel, said Mixner, Emanuel suggested “some of your rich boys” in the movement should be tapped to pay for the grass.

Mixner said he told Emanuel he didn't think the movement should have to put up “that kind of money simply to exercise our right to petition our government.”

“We have to raise millions as it is for AIDS and to fight these damned [ anti-gay ballot ] initiatives,” said Mixner, referring to Colorado Amendment 2 and other anti-gay ballot measures which were springing up all over the country at the time. “We can only raise so much.”

“Geffen can do it,” said Emanuel, according to Mixner's account. He was referring to openly gay movie mogul and multimillionaire David Geffen, a friend of President Clinton. “So can several others. They'll want to please the president.” Emanuel then suggested the money could be put up as a sort of bond. Mixner said he'd make some calls to see if there was support for that idea.

Later, when President Clinton said publically that he “wouldn't rule out” an idea to allow the military to segregate openly gay service members from straight ones, Mixner tried again to contact the White House—this time for an explanation.

“We don't have to explain or justify our actions to you,” said Emanuel, according to Mixner. “If the President of the United States never does another thing for you people, you should get on your knees and be thankful. He's already done more for you all than anyone. How dare you question his actions!” Mixner said Emanuel ultimately finished the phone conversation by saying “I will not talk to you anymore” and hanging up. Emanuel, he said, “made it very clear that he would decide what would be recommended to the President.”

From his point of view, Emanuel told the Wall Street Journal, Mixner “unjustly criticized” Clinton.

“If somebody criticizes the president,” he said, “then I think they are persona non grata.”

Though others also recalled Emanuel as an obstacle in their communications with the president, Mixner's anger has softened. When asked about Obama's choice of Emanuel for chief of staff, Mixner called him an “excellent choice.”

“He should just remember it is 16 years later and a lot of things have changed since then,” said Mixner. “I am sure he is aware of it.”

Much changed when Emanuel became a member of the U.S. Congress. He's voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and for including sexual orientation and gender identity in hate-crimes prevention legislation. He's voted against an anti-gay marriage amendment and adopted an inclusive non-discrimination policy for his Congressional office. And he helped secure $1.25 million in funding for the Chicago LGBT community center.

That record in the Congress has gone a long way to heal the wounds of his Clinton years.

“I remember at the time I thought he didn't like us, that he was just putting up with these gay people,” said Tanya Domi, who, during the Clinton years, was head of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Military Freedom Project. “But his voting record [ in Congress ] has been good and now I think he was just trying to protect the president.”

As Obama's chief of staff, he'll have even more power.

But ironically, it's not the chief of staff that most LGBT leaders mention when they are asked to rattle off the most important appointments they'll be looking at over the next several weeks and months. Instead, they name positions such as attorney general, secretary of health and human services, secretary of defense and White House domestic policy advisor. Less commonly cited, but positions that also have considerable influence over LGBT-related matters include many within the Department of Justice ( DoJ ) , including the solicitor general, who makes decisions about the government's position on important cases before the U.S. Supreme Court; the assistant attorney general for civil rights, the special counsel for the DoJ's Civil Rights Division, and the commissioner of immigration and naturalization. Also important are appointments within the Department of Education.

LGBT leaders are also very interested in how many openly LGBT people the new president appoints, and to what positions. Many in the community were heartened soon after President George W. Bush took office in 2001 with his appointment of an openly gay man, Scott Evertz, as director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. But by re-election time, the list of openly gay appointees under Bush numbered only 16 and half of those were on an AIDS Advisory Council. President Clinton appointed at least 50 openly gay appointees. ( Both the Clinton and Bush administrations claimed to have appointed more but did not make public their names. ) But Clinton's claim to fame was naming both the first openly gay appointee to a position that required Senate confirmation ( Roberta Achtenberg as an assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development ) and the first openly gay ambassador ( James Hormel to Luxembourg ) .

In hopes of improving chances for openly LGBT candidates to win appointments, the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute formed “Presidential Appointments Projects” to solicit and vet applications from members of the community and then submit them to the new administration. More than 1,300 people have applied. The group is also hosting a four-day conference in Washington, D.C., in early December to convene LGBT leaders in a discussion of appointments and what the new administration means for the movement.

In the meantime, some say Obama's choice of former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta to head up his transition team is a very good sign for LGBT people. One of those people is Winnie Stachelberg, a former political director at the Human Rights Campaign. When anti-gay politicians in the U.S. Senate were holding up James Hormel's appointment as ambassador, she said, “John Podesta was the first person I went to, and he immediately got it, and went to work on it.” Stachelberg is now a senior vice president at the Center for American Progress, where Podesta is president.

©2008 Keen News Service






Biographical information on Timothy Geithner


By The Associated Press – 1 day ago


NAME — Timothy F. Geithner (GYT'-nur).

AGE-BIRTH DATE-LOCATION — 47; Aug. 18, 1961, New York City.

EXPERIENCE — Nominated by President-elect Barack Obama as Treasury secretary, Nov. 24, 2008; chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 2003-present; senior fellow in international economics, Council on Foreign Relations, February to August 2001; director of the Policy Development and Review Department of the International Monetary Fund, 2001-2003; under secretary of the Treasury for international affairs, 1998-2001; assistant financial attache at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, assistant secretary and senior deputy assistant secretary of Treasury for international affairs, Treasury Department, 1988-1998; Kissinger Associates Inc., 1985-1988.
EDUCATION — B.A., government and Asian studies, Dartmouth College, 1983; M.A. in international economics and East Asian studies, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, 1985.

FAMILY — Wife, Carole Sonnenfeld Geithner; two children.




Note: CFR boldened and higlighlited for emphasis.............Arsenio

Timothy Geithner: Obama's Teflon Treasury Secretary


November 26, 2008 07:36 AM ET James Pethokoukis


Who is Timothy Geithner that upon news of his impending nomination by Barack Obama, Matt Drudge would wonder -- in huge headline type -- if he was the man would "save the economy?"

Timothy Franz Geithner. New York Federal Reserve President. Technocrat. Bureaucrat. Career civil servant. Didn't like Paulson's financial regulation overhaul. Engineered the Bear Stearns "rescue." Heartily agreed that Lehman shouldn't be saved. Kinda thought Lehman should be saved. Worked at Henry Kissinger's consulting firm. A moderate Republican turned registered independent turned Obamacrat. Has a master's degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins. Put together the AIG rescue plan. Just 14 days younger than Obama. Dartmouth guy. Has lived in Japan, India and Thailand. Had a "general understanding" of the complex issues involved when Long-Term Capital imploded (via Alan Greenspan.). Worked at the Treasury department under Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers. Faced a "steep learning curve" when he came to the Fed (via Gerald Corrigan.). Good softball player. Self-deprecating sense of humor. Thinks income inequality and entitlements and too little saving are big problems. Not an economist. Never run a company. Married with a couple of kids. Surfs.

Enough answers for you? I dunno, I still have a few questions I would love to ask him. "Please describe your role during the the demise of Lehman." "How has the AIG bailout been good for taxpayer?" "What role did did Fannie and Freddie play in the subprime mortgage bubble?" "What role has government policy played in creating the housing and credit crisis?" "How does tax policy affect economic growth?" "What should be done to fix Social Security?" "Should the government more directly aid homeowners?" "What is the growth potential of the U.S. economy?" "Should unions represent more workers and how would that affect productivity?" "Should China be pushed to strengthen its currency." "Does America need a stronger dollar?" "How do budget deficits affect real interest rates."

But this is the most important one: "Mr. Geithner, the job of the New York Fed is to -- now I am quoting its own web site -- 'supervise and regulate financial institutions in the Second District [Wall Street]. Its primary objective is to maintain safe and competitive U.S. and global banking systems.' You have been in your current post since 2003 and during that time the U.S. financial system has come close to complete disintegration. Why do you deserve a promotion?"


What is the difference between Pilgrims and Puritans?




Pilgrims/Puritans



Pilgrims were separatists who wanted to separate themselves from the Church of England. They also wanted to separate themselves from those who were not believers, the damned. Pilgrims believed they were elected by God for salvation and they wanted to worship only with other “saints” who had also been saved by God.


Puritans were followers of the teachings of Calvin and believed, like the Separatists, that man was born in sin and they all bore the guilt of Adam and Eve. To become saved, they would have to prove they were worthy while here on earth. To be worthy one would prosper, be faithful, and lead a successful life. Instead of separating from the Church of England, they wanted to “purify” the Church of the influence of the Catholic Church within the Anglican Church, thus the name, Puritans.






Amen is not a question!


When did preachers begin to use "Amen" as a question?




I've noticed that it has become quite popular for preachers and evangelists to use the term Amen as a question. I thought that Amen was an affirmation; A confirmation of the previous statement, such as a hear-hear: It represents a listener's agreement with the point being made by a speaker.

When did Amen become a question? It is the complete opposite.


I don't know if it's a Southern Thing, or a Black Thing? I just know it's spreading like wildfire, since everyone that preachers from Moody Radio (Evangelical Lutherans), to even SDA Pastors have jumped on the bandwagon and are currently using it.
Along with the other modern trends like making anecdotes, joking, laughter, applause, drama, and being irreverent; I wish some will recognize that we have strayed off the path, and return to the Lord's will to prepare a people to stand on The Day Of The Lord.

Amen.



For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. ....

2 Corinthians 1:20 (King James Version)


It's only a sign of the times when a word that means Yes Lord, can be used as Yes Lord?

It shows that not only the world has lost its faith (if it ever had), but also the pulpit (those claiming to preach the Gospel).

Arsenio.

The Shaking


The Shaking



I saw some, with strong faith and agonizing cries, pleading with God. Their countenances were pale and marked with deep anxiety, expressive of their internal struggle. Firmness and great earnestness was expressed in their countenances; large drops of perspiration fell from their foreheads. Now and then their faces would light up with the marks of God's approbation, and again the same solemn, earnest, anxious look would settle upon them.


Evil angels crowded around, pressing darkness upon them to shut out Jesus from their view, that their eyes might be drawn to the darkness that surrounded them, and thus they be led to distrust God and murmur against Him. Their only safety was in keeping their eyes directed upward. Angels of God had charge over His people, and as the poisonous atmosphere of evil angels was pressed around these anxious ones, the heavenly angels were continually wafting their wings over them to scatter the thick darkness.

As the praying ones continued their earnest cries, at times a ray of light from Jesus came to them, to encourage their hearts and light up their countenances. Some, I saw, did not participate in this work of agonizing and pleading. They seemed indifferent and careless. They were not resisting the darkness around them, and it shut them in like a thick cloud. The angels of God left these and went to the aid of the earnest, praying ones. I saw angels of God hasten to the assistance of all who were struggling with all their power to resist the evil angels and trying to help themselves by calling upon God with perseverance. But His angels left those who made no effort to help themselves, and I lost sight of them.

I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will cause a shaking among God's people.


I saw that the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance; all who truly receive it will obey it and be purified.

Said the angel, "List ye!" Soon I heard a voice like many musical instruments all sounding in perfect strains, sweet and harmonious. It surpassed any music I had ever heard, seeming to be full of mercy, compassion, and elevating, holy joy. It thrilled through my whole being. Said the angel, "Look ye!" My attention was then turned to the company I had seen, who were mightily shaken. I was shown those whom I had before seen weeping and praying in agony of spirit. The company of guardian angels around them had been doubled, and they were clothed with an armor from their head to their feet. They moved in exact order, like a company of soldiers. Their countenances expressed the severe conflict which they had endured, the agonizing struggle they had passed through. Yet their features, marked with severe internal anguish, now shone with the light and glory of heaven. They had obtained the victory, and it called forth from them the deepest gratitude and holy, sacred joy.

The numbers of this company had lessened. Some had been shaken out and left by the way. The careless and indifferent, who did not join with those who prized victory and salvation enough to perseveringly plead and agonize for it, did not obtain it, and they were left behind in darkness, and their places were immediately filled by others taking hold of the truth and coming into the ranks. Evil angels still pressed around them, but could have no power over them.

I heard those clothed with the armor speak forth the truth with great power. It had effect. Many had been bound; some wives by their husbands, and some children by their parents. The honest who had been prevented from hearing the truth now eagerly laid hold upon it. All fear of their relatives was gone, and the truth alone was exalted to them. They had been hungering and thirsting for truth; it was dearer and more precious than life. I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, "It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud cry of the third angel."


Great power was with these chosen ones. Said the angel, "Look ye!" My attention was turned to the wicked, or unbelievers. They were all astir. The zeal and power with the people of God had aroused and enraged them. Confusion, confusion, was on every side. I saw measures taken against the company who had the light and power of God. Darkness thickened around them; yet they stood firm, approved of God, and trusting in Him. I saw them perplexed; next I heard them crying unto God earnestly. Day and night their cry ceased not: "Thy will, O God, be done! If it can glorify Thy name, make a way of escape for Thy people! Deliver us from the heathen around about us. They have appointed us unto death; but Thine arm can bring salvation." These are all the words which I can bring to mind. All seemed to have a deep sense of their unworthiness and manifested entire submission to the will of God; yet, like Jacob, every one, without an exception, was earnestly pleading and wrestling for deliverance.

Soon after they had commenced their earnest cry, the angels, in sympathy, desired to go to their deliverance. But a tall, commanding angel suffered them not. He said, "The will of God is not yet fulfilled. They must drink of the cup. They must be baptized with the baptism."



Soon I heard the voice of God, which shook the heavens and the earth. There was a mighty earthquake. Buildings were shaken down on every side. I then heard a triumphant shout of victory, loud, musical, and clear. I looked upon the company, who, a short time before, were in such distress and bondage. Their captivity was turned. A glorious light shone upon them. How beautiful they then looked! All marks of care and weariness were gone, and health and beauty were seen in every countenance. Their enemies, the heathen around them, fell like dead men; they could not endure the light that shone upon the delivered, holy ones. This light and glory remained upon them, until Jesus was seen in the clouds of heaven, and the faithful, tried company were changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, from glory to glory. And the graves were opened, and the saints came forth, clothed with immortality, crying, "Victory over death and the grave"; and together with the living saints they were caught up to meet their Lord in the air, while rich, musical shouts of glory and victory were upon every immortal tongue.



Early Writings, E. G. W., pp. 269-273.

"The Eleventh Hour Laborers"



1For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

2And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

4And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

5Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

6And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

7They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

8So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

9And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

11And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

12Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

13But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

14Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

15Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

16So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.






Matthew 20: 1-16.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ADRA offers resources for 20th annual National AIDS Day



15 million children around the world infected with HIV

November 25, 2008 Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

Nadia McGill/ANN



The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) will commemorate the 20th annual World AIDS Day, December 1, with the 2008 ADRA World AIDS Day kit, containing information and resources about the global AIDS pandemic and tips for communities working toward eradication of the disease.

The ADRA World AIDS Day kit contains a World AIDS Day Guide, with testimonies from people living with HIV/AIDS, important facts, and ways to get involved. Also included is a newsletter or church bulletin insert, a pulpit announcement, and a poster to raise awareness of World AIDS Day in local churches, schools, community centers, and businesses.

"With these resources, ADRA is empowering every person to advocate in their own communities on behalf of the millions of people around the world who have been [affected] by HIV and AIDS," said Hearly Mayr, director for public awareness at ADRA International.

Around the world, an estimated 33 million are currently living with HIV. Of that number, more than 15 million are children under the age of 15. World AIDS Day, which was first created by the World Health Organization and the United Nations General Assembly in 1988, has brought increased awareness about the disease, combating prejudices, and providing increased understanding worldwide.

ADRA is offering free commemorative World AIDS Day ribbons that can be worn to show support for the cause. Both ribbons and kits can be ordered at www.adra.org, by email at RibbonsofHope@adra.org, or by phone at 1.800.424.ADRA (2372). Resources are available in the U.S. and Canada while supplies last.

Copies of ADRA's 2009 Really Useful Gift Catalog are also available upon request. The catalog features a collection of development projects including HIV and AIDS initiatives in Ghana, Liberia, and Swaziland.





For more information, visit adra.org.




"Source: Adventist News Network"





Source: http://news.adventist.org/data/2008/1227629296/index.html.en

eHarmony Agrees to Provide Same-Sex Dating Service


By Beth DeFalco
Associated Press Writer
Thu, Nov. 20 2008 10:53 AM EST

TRENTON, N.J. – Online dating service eHarmony said Wednesday it will launch a new Web site which caters to same-sex singles as part of a discrimination settlement with New Jersey's Civil Rights Division.

The settlement is the result of a complaint New Jersey resident Eric McKinley filed against the online matchmaker in 2005. McKinley, 46, said he was shocked when he tried to sign up for the dating site but couldn't get past the first screen because there was no option for men seeking men.

"It's very frustrating and it's very humiliating to think that other people can do it and I can't," he said. "And the only reason I can't is because I'm a gay man. That's very hurtful."

Neither the company nor its founder, Neil Clark Warren, acknowledged any liability. Under the settlement, eHarmony will pay New Jersey state division $50,000 to cover administrative costs and will pay McKinley $5,000.

McKinley called the settlement "fabulous" and said he was happy with the outcome. He's considering signing up for the new site once it launches.

Pasadena, Calif.-based eHarmony said it plans to launch its new service, called Compatible Partners, on March 31.

The site will be free for the first 10,000 users who register within a year of its launch. After that, pricing for the new site will be equal to that of eHarmony.

"With the launch of the Compatible Partners site, our policy is to welcome all single individuals who are genuinely seeking long-term relationships," said Antone Johnson, eHarmony's vice president of legal affairs.

Theodore B. Olson, an attorney for eHarmony, said that even though the company believed McKinley's complaint was "an unfair characterization of our business," it choose to settle because of the unpredictable nature of litigation.

"eHarmony looks forward to moving beyond this legal dispute, which has been a burden for the company, and continuing to advance its business model of serving individuals by helping them find successful, long-term relationships," Olson said.

The popular online matchmaker has been sued before for discrimination.

Last year, a Northern California woman sued the online dating service. She also alleged discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

In 2005, a San Francisco man filed a similar complaint to McKinley's, but the state determined no discrimination laws were violated.

Another California man sued eHarmony in 2005 for refusing to help him find a date. The company said there was one good reason for that: He was still married. That case was dropped on the eve of trial.



IBM plans 'brain-like' computers


Mimicking synapses like this one is crucial to the effort


Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008

By Jason Palmer Science and technology reporter, BBC News


IBM has announced it will lead a US government-funded collaboration to make electronic circuits that mimic brains.

Part of a field called "cognitive computing", the research will bring together neurobiologists, computer and materials scientists and psychologists.

As a first step in its research the project has been granted $4.9m (£3.27m) from US defence agency Darpa.

The resulting technology could be used for large-scale data analysis, decision making or even image recognition.

"The mind has an amazing ability to integrate ambiguous information across the senses, and it can effortlessly create the categories of time, space, object, and interrelationship from the sensory data," says Dharmendra Modha, the IBM scientist who is heading the collaboration.

"There are no computers that can even remotely approach the remarkable feats the mind performs," he said.

"The key idea of cognitive computing is to engineer mind-like intelligent machines by reverse engineering the structure, dynamics, function and behaviour of the brain."

'Perfect storm'

IBM will join five US universities in an ambitious effort to integrate what is known from real biological systems with the results of supercomputer simulations of neurons. The team will then aim to produce for the first time an electronic system that behaves as the simulations do.

The longer-term goal is to create a system with the level of complexity of a cat's brain.

Dr Modha says that the time is right for such a cross-disciplinary project because three disparate pursuits are coming together in what he calls a "perfect storm". We are going not just for a homerun, but for a homerun with the bases loaded

Dharmendra Modha
IBM Almaden Research Center

Neuroscientists working with simple animals have learned much about the inner workings of neurons and the synapses that connect them, resulting in "wiring diagrams" for simple brains.

Supercomputing, in turn, can simulate brains up to the complexity of small mammals, using the knowledge from the biological research. Modha led a team that last year used the BlueGene supercomputer to simulate a mouse's brain, comprising 55m neurons and some half a trillion synapses.

"But the real challenge is then to manifest what will be learned from future simulations into real electronic devices - nanotechnology," Dr Modha said.

Technology has only recently reached a stage in which structures can be produced that match the density of neurons and synapses from real brains - around 10 billion in each square centimetre.

Networking

Researchers have been using bits of computer code called neural networks that seek to represent connections of neurons. They can be programmed to solve a particular problem - behaviour that appears to be the same as learning.

But this approach is fundamentally different.

"The issue with neural networks and artificial intelligence is that they seek to engineer limited cognitive functionalities one at a time. They start with an objective and devise an algorithm to achieve it," Dr Modha says.
The ultimate goal is to create a circuit with the complexity of a cat's brain

"We are attempting a 180 degree shift in perspective: seeking an algorithm first, problems second. We are investigating core micro- and macro-circuits of the brain that can be used for a wide variety of functionalities."

The problem is not in the organisation of existing neuron-like circuitry, however; the adaptability of brains lies in their ability to tune synapses, the connections between the neurons.

Synaptic connections form, break, and are strengthened or weakened depending on the signals that pass through them. Making a nano-scale material that can fit that description is one of the major goals of the project.

"The brain is much less a neural network than a synaptic network," Modha says.

First thought

The fundamental shift toward putting the problem-solving before the problem makes the potential applications for such devices practically limitless.

Free from the constraints of explicitly programmed function, computers could gather together disparate information, weigh it based on experience, form memory independently and arguably begin to solve problems in a way that has so far been the preserve of what we call "thinking".

"It's an interesting effort, and modelling computers after the human brain is promising," says Christian Keysers, director of the neuroimaging centre at University Medical Centre Groningen. However, he warns that the funding so far is likely to be inadequate for such an large-scale project.

That the effort requires the expertise of such a variety of disciplines means that the project is unprecedented in its scope, and Dr Modha admits that the goals are more than ambitious.

"We are going not just for a homerun, but for a homerun with the bases loaded," he says.



Catholics and Muslims to fight terror and defend faith

A Cardinal (L) looks at a religious book with a Muslim scholar during a meeting at the Vatican November 4, 2008.
REUTERS/Osservatore Romano


Thu Nov 6, 2008 3:31pm EST

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Catholic and Muslim leaders at unprecedented Vatican meetings vowed on Thursday to jointly combat violence committed in God's name, to defend religious freedom and to foster equal rights for minority faith groups.

After three days of meetings, the 58 scholars and leaders -- 29 from each faith -- issued a joint declaration that also appealed for respect for religious figures and symbols.

The meetings came two years after the pope gave a speech hinting Islam was violent and irrational, sparking angry protests in the Middle East. The Muslim participants formed a group to challenge that and seek better mutual understanding.

The joint manifesto, A Common Word, called for dialogue based on shared principles of love of God and neighbor.

"We profess that Catholics and Muslims are called to be instruments of love and harmony among believers, and for humanity as a whole, renouncing any oppression, aggressive violence and terrorism, especially that committed in the name of religion, and upholding the principle of justice for all," said the statement describing the talks as "warm and convivial."

Religious minorities were "entitled to their own places of worship, and their founding figures and symbols they consider sacred should not be subjected to any form of mockery or ridicule," it said.

The Vatican has long defended minority Christians in places such as Saudi Arabia, where they cannot worship publicly, and urged safety for Iraqi Christians. Muslims in western countries say they face discrimination and suspicion by the majority.

The declaration's words about avoiding mockery or ridicule reflected continued Muslim concern about the 2005 publication in a Danish newspaper of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad that sparked violent protests in the Islamic world.

VAST FIELD FOR COOPERATION

Earlier in the day, Pope Benedict received the delegations at the Vatican and said the faiths should cooperate much more.

"There is a great and vast field in which we can act together in defending and promoting the moral values which are part of our common heritage," the German-born pope said.

"Let us resolve to overcome past prejudices and to correct the often distorted images of the other which even today can create difficulties in our relations," he added.

The Abu Dhabi-based Bishop of Arabia Paul Hinder said he discussed with Muslim delegates the Vatican wish's to build churches in Saudi Arabia for Catholic migrant workers there.

"I don't think we'll get any right away, but things are changing," he told journalists.

The Vatican has also participated in interfaith talks launched this year by Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, who will meet at the United Nations in New York next week with other heads of state to further promote his initiative.

These and other dialogues reflect a new urgency Muslim leaders have felt after the September 11 attacks, the "clash of civilizations" theory and the pope's 2006 speech in Regensburg showed a widening gap between the world's two largest faiths.

Benedict said the Catholic-Muslim Forum, the official name for this dialogue now set to take place every two years, was "now confidently taking its first steps."

The Catholic delegation included Vatican officials, Catholic scholars of Islam and bishops leading minority communities in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Three were women.

The Common Word group, an independent union of Islamic thinkers from across the Muslim word, sent Sunni and Shi'ite religious leaders and scholars from the Middle East, Africa, Asia and western countries, including two women.

Ingrid Mattson, a convert who heads the largest Muslim organization in North America, said the Common Word represented "the broad mainstream of the Muslim world ... Those who oppose us, their voices will become increasingly marginalized."






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Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/inDepthNews/idUSTRE49T54420081106?sp=true

Government warns of "catastrophic" U.S. quake




Thu Nov 20, 2008 6:42pm EST


By Carey Gillam

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - People in a vast seismic zone in the southern and midwestern United States would face catastrophic damage if a major earthquake struck there and should ensure that builders keep that risk in mind, a government report said on Thursday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said if earthquakes strike in what geologists define as the New Madrid Seismic Zone, they would cause "the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States."

FEMA predicted a large earthquake would cause "widespread and catastrophic physical damage" across Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee -- home to some 44 million people.

Tennessee is likely to be hardest hit, according to the study that sought to gauge the impact of a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in order to guide the government's response.

In Tennessee alone, it forecast hundreds of collapsed bridges, tens of thousands of severely damaged buildings and a half a million households without water.

Transportation systems and hospitals would be wrecked, and police and fire departments impaired, the study said.

The zone, named for the town of New Madrid in Missouri's southeast corner, is subject to frequent mild earthquakes.

Experts have long tried to predict the likelihood of a major quake like those that struck in 1811 and 1812. These shifted the course of the Mississippi River and rang church bells on the East Coast but caused few deaths amid a sparse population.

"People who live in these areas and the people who build in these areas certainly need to take into better account that at some time there is ... expected to be a catastrophic earthquake in that area, and they'd better be prepared for it," said FEMA spokesperson Mary Margaret Walker.