Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why Christians shouldn't celebrate Halloween!!!


Published on Oct 25, 2012

Halloween is a deeply rooted pagan holiday.

Rob Bell's 'spirituality over religion' talk with Oprah Winfrey will air Sunday

Teresa Mirandette hugs Rob Bell during a book signing for "Love Wins" at the Woodland Mall Barnes & Noble in Kentwood Sunday, April 3, 2011. Bell is the is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville. (Cory Morse | The Grand Rapids Press)


By Matt Vande Bunte |
on October 31, 2013 at 9:13 AM, updated October 31, 2013 at 9:22 AM

GRANDVILLE, MI – Not only has Rob Bell been profiled by the New Yorker, written a new book to follow up "Love Wins" and come out in support of gay marriage since he left the pastorate of Mars Hills Bible Church in early 2012, but he also has chatted with Oprah Winfrey.

At 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 3 - about the time scores of church services will be held across West Michigan – Bell and Winfrey will “discuss why more people are identifying with spirituality over religion,” according to a promo on A brief video shows Bell saying that “we’re wired for the mysterious,” and Winfrey calling him “a different kind of preacher.”

The Super Soul Sunday show can be seen on television on the Oprah Winfrey Network, or online.

RELATED: Rob Bell's writing 'wowed' Oprah Winfrey; founder of Mars Hill to appear on mogul's talk show

Bell nurtured the congregation that meets at the former Grand Village Mall into one of the area’s largest churches, before leaving in early 2012 to pursue other ministries in southern California. On Wednesday night he posted a photo of Oprah and himself on his Facebook page, and tweeted this promo:

Matt Vande Bunte covers government for MLive/Grand Rapids Press. Email him at or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.


Coast Guard visits mysterious 'Google barge'

Go to article to see video:

Natalie DiBlasio hosts NewsBreak covering the 'Google Barge' mystery.

Agency mum on trip and San Francisco vessel's purpose, citing "commercial confidentiality."

(Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

Story Highlights
Google refused to acknowledge any connection to the barge and three others like it
But a Treasure Island worker offered the barest of details
One observer thinks it may have something to do with Google Glass

SAN FRANCISCO — The Coast Guard on Wednesday visited the mysterious "Google barge" floating in San Francisco Bay, but the agency would not reveal anything about the tech giant's hush-hush vessel.

Google has refused to acknowledge any connection to the barge and three others like it. But it is zealously guarding its privacy around the four-story stack of containers docked at a pier on Treasure Island and a companion in Portland, Maine.

At least one Coast Guard employee has been required to sign a non-disclosure agreement with the company regarding the San Francisco project, Petty Officer 2nd Class Barry Bena told Reuters. An inspector with an unidentified California agency said he, too, had to sign such a document.

Bena told USA TODAY on Wednesday that he was later instructed by superiors to say nothing.

"Commercial confidentiality prohibits me from talking about this," said Bena, a spokesman with the Alameda district office. He added that he is not authorized to sign non-disclosure agreements.

Before the cone of silence fell on the Coast Guard's public affairs office, still another spokesman confirmed to the Portland Press Herald that Google "is involved or associated with the barge but there is a non-disclosure agreement in effect."

All the Coast Guard would say about its visit is that it was not for a fire or medical emergency, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

STORY: The mystery of Google's floating barges

The steel-hull barge belongs to By and Large LLC, of Wilmington, Del. Built in 2011 by C&C Marine in Belle Chasse, La., it is almost 250 feet long and 16 feet deep — significantly longer and deeper than a standard freight barge.

Its purpose remains shrouded in the fog of secrecy, however.

Tech site CNET has speculated that it might be a floating data center, while the local CBS TV affiliate points to a floating store for Google's wearable Glass computer.

The executive director of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission told the Mercury News that attorneys for the project said they planned on "using the vessel as a tool to teach about technology."

A Treasure Island worker offered the barest of details about what has been going on behind the shrouded scaffolding:
Bob Jessup, a construction company superintendent who works in a building across the street, said Google spent the past year working on the project. He said they fenced off a wide area and brought in at least 40 welders a day, who worked around the clock and refused to say a word.
"They wouldn't give up any of the information," Jessup said. "It was a phenomenal production. None of them would tell us anything."
He said they worked on the inside and the outside of the shipping containers, outfitting them with electronics — "very hush hush" — and then loaded them onto the barge with a crane. They put sides on the containers, with glass windows in some of them. They had to weld them very precisely so they could stack, Jessup recounted.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Joshua Dykman told the Mercury News that he had been ordered not to discuss the barges for "legal reasons." He said he had not signed a non-disclosure agreement.

"Once the project is completed, we will be releasing information," he said.

As for its Maine companion, work is not expected to begin until after the San Francisco job is finished, a local Coast Guard spokesman told the Portland newspaper.

Ensign Connan Ingham said that no non-disclosure agreements had been signed but that some local agency officials "have been asked by the owner not to talk about it."

"They are fully aware of what's on that barge," he said.


N.S.A. Said to Tap Google and Yahoo Abroad

Published: October 30, 2013

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency and its British counterpart have apparently tapped the fiber-optic cables connecting Google’s and Yahoo’s overseas servers and are copying vast amounts of email and other information, according to accounts of documents leaked by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden.

WikiLeaks, via Associated Press

Edward Snowden, the ex-N.S.A. analyst, leaked documents showing the United States and Britain were collecting data.


No U.S. Action, So States Move on Privacy Law (October 31, 2013)

Tap on Merkel Provides Peek at Vast Spy Net (October 31, 2013)

Related in Opinion

Nicholas D. Kristof: The Spies Who Loved to Damage Our Reputation (October 31, 2013)

More Tech Coverage

News from the technology industry, including start-ups, the Internet, enterprise and gadgets.
On Twitter: @nytimesbits.

In partnership with the British agency known as Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, the N.S.A. has apparently taken advantage of the vast amounts of data stored in and traveling among global data centers, which run all modern online computing, according to a report Wednesday by The Washington Post. N.S.A. collection activities abroad face fewer legal restrictions and less oversight than its actions in the United States.

Google and Yahoo said on Wednesday that they were unaware of government accessing of their data links. Sarah Meron, a Yahoo spokeswoman, said that the company had not cooperated with any government agency for such interception, and David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, expressed outrage.

“We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping, which is why we have continued to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links,” Mr. Drummond said in a statement. “We do not provide any government, including the U.S. government, with access to our systems. We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform.”

In a statement, the N.S.A. did not directly address the claim that it had penetrated the companies’ overseas data links. But it emphasized that it was focused on “foreign” intelligence collection — not domestic — and pushed back against the notion that it was collecting abroad to “get around” legal limits imposed by domestic surveillance laws. It also said it was “not true” that it collects “vast quantities” of Americans’ data using that method.

Companies like Google that operate Internet services — including email, online document and photo storage and search queries — send huge amounts of data through fiber-optic lines between their data centers around the world. Those data centers are kept highly secure using heat-sensitive cameras and biometric authentication, and companies believed the data flowing among centers was secure. But Google said last month that it began the process of encrypting this internal traffic before reports of N.S.A. spying leaked during the summer, and accelerated the effort since then. Google security executives were suspicious that outside parties, like governments, could tap into the cables, but did not have hard evidence that the spying was occurring, according to three people briefed on Google’s security efforts who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The N.S.A. could physically install a device that clips on the cable and listens to electric signals, or insert a splitter in the cable through which data would travel, said Nicholas McKeown, an expert in computer networking and a professor at Stanford. Or, he said, someone with remote login access to the cable’s switch or router could also redirect data flowing through the cables.

Level 3 is a company that provides these cables for Google, according to a person briefed on Google’s infrastructure who was not authorized to speak publicly.

In a statement, Level 3 said: “We comply with the laws in each country where we operate. In general, governments that seek assistance in law enforcement or security investigations prohibit disclosure of the assistance provided.”

In July, the company denied a German television report that it had cooperated with American intelligence agencies to spy on German citizens using its network. The New York Times reported in September that for at least three years, GCHQ had been working to gain access to traffic in and out of data centers operated by Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft’s Hotmail. The program, described as having been developed in close collaboration with the N.S.A., was said to have achieved “new access opportunities” into Google’s systems by 2012, according to GCHQ documents provided by Mr. Snowden. But it was not clear what that meant.

The Post said that under a system code-named Muscular, GCHQ was storing data taken in from the interception in a rolling three- to five-day “buffer,” during which the two agencies decoded it and filtered out information they wanted to keep.

It also reported that the N.S.A. was using about 100,000 “selectors” as its search term filters — more than twice as many, it said, as the agency has been using from its Prism program inside the United States. In that program, the agency collects emails, search queries and other online activity of foreigners abroad from Google, Yahoo and other companies through a court-approved process authorized by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

GCHQ documents obtained from Mr. Snowden by The Guardian newspaper and shared with The Times reveal an intense focus over several years by British spies on the development of Muscular and a closely related project code-named Incenser. The documents suggest that both programs are to a large extent driven by N.S.A. intelligence needs and are highly prized by the Americans.

In November 2010, the British wrote that “Muscular/Incenser has significantly enhanced the amount of benefit that the N.S.A. derive from our special source accesses.” Those projects in some cases provide data that are unavailable from any other source, one document said, “highlighting the unique contribution we are now making to N.S.A., providing insights into some of their highest priority targets.”

In its article, The Post described a January document as saying that the N.S.A.’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., was taking in more than 180 million records a month from the project. It also reported that briefing documents said collection from Yahoo and Google had produced important intelligence leads against hostile foreign governments.

The Post published an N.S.A. slide labeled “Current efforts — Google” with a hand-drawn sketch showing that traffic flowed between Google’s data centers in “clear text,” because encryption was added only at the front-end server that interfaced with users’ computers and mobile devices. This notation included a smiley face.

The Post also published speaker notes from a presentation about Muscular. It included a reference to a February proposal to stop collecting Yahoo email account archives flowing through what it describes as a “lucrative” access point on what is apparently a fiber-optic cable linking Yahoo’s overseas servers and its servers on United States soil.

As The Post published its story, the director of the N.S.A., Gen. Keith B. Alexander, was being interviewed at a cybersecurity conference. He flatly denied a slightly garbled account of The Post story as “factually inaccurate,” but it was not clear that he understood that The Post was reporting infiltration of data links between overseas servers.

“There’s no evidence that they are actually breaking into servers,” said Alex Stamos, a security consultant at Artemis Internet, a security firm based in San Francisco. “But they are right outside Google and Yahoo’s data centers taking data that those companies believed was protected.”

Charlie Savage reported from Washington, and Claire Cain Miller and Nicole Perlroth from San Francisco. James Glanz contributed reporting from New York, and John Markoff from San Francisco.

A version of this article appears in print on October 31, 2013, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: N.S.A. Said to Tap Google and Yahoo Abroad.


Unprecedented Number of Jesuit-Educated Leaders in Australia

Tony Abbott has set forward his plans if he was to win the election. AAP/Alan Porritt

Unprecedented Number of Jesuit-Educated Leaders in Australia · October 31, 2013

In addition to the election of one of their own, Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina as pope, the Jesuit order has seized power in Australian politics in an unprecedented shift toward Jesuit-educated political leaders.

It culminated in the election of Jesuit-educated Bill Shorten as leader of the opposition Labor Party. That’s in addition to the Prime Minister Tony Abbott; Treasurer, Joe Hockey; finance minister, Mathias Corman; Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne; and Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce. Also, Liberal MPs Kevin Andrews, David Gillespie and Dan Telhan are also in the club. “During the three-way Liberal leadership contest between Malcolm Turnbull, Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott, all three men consulted with Jesuit priests.” There is at least one other at the state level, New South Wales Liberal Premier Nick Greiner.

“Yes, it’s amazing, isn’t it?” said one Liberal Jesuit. “‘[Expletive] man, they are everywhere. It’s worse than Opus Dei…’ said a non-Jesuit [trained] Catholic MP.”

Known as “Soldiers of the Church,” or “God’s Marines,” the Jesuits have a “long history of producing MPs and Senators, including former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer and former Victoria Deputy Premier Pat McNamara. Never before have there been so many Jesuit-educated men at the heart of Australian politics.” And at the heart of politics they are! Think about it, Jesuit-educated men are in charge of the top two political roles, money and finance management, education and food production, as well as legislative and other political roles.

“The rise of Jesuit-educated politicians in Australia is a remarkable conjunction in political leadership: a situation so rare that it may even be a first in the Western world.” And these won’t be the last apparently. “The rise of students from these schools is not a fluke but a consequence of the history, and sociology of Australian political parties…”

While most leaders educated at these elite schools are conservative, there have also been some among the Labor Party as well, such as the late Don Dunstan, former Premier of South Australia, Anthony Albanese and Gough Whitlam. Having these people in both political parties should be no surprise. Jesuits, and their students, have historically played roles on both ends of the political spectrum so that they can shape the future of the political order. It is often called the Hegelian dialectic where opposing sides guide the ultimate destination of any issue.

Though secondary school training may not be the only factor in the trajectory of a graduate’s life, Jesuit education instills a common understanding and way of thinking. Graduates of these schools know the ultimate direction the church thinks a nation should go. When they get in power, some take a conservative approach and some may take a liberal approach. But it serves the purposes of the church to have both sides under Jesuit management as much as possible.

The Jesuits have a higher profile than other types of educational background among leaders, such as Anglican or Presbyterian education, or even other types of Catholic education, partly because of the notoriety that Pope Francis has given to the order. However, there are other Catholics in Australian politics as well, such as Andrew Robb in the Abbott Ministry, and Stephen Conroy in the Shorten Shadow Ministry. They may not have the Jesuit mindset and training, but they can still influence the outcome as well. The Victorian government is also under the control of the Catholic-aligned Democratic Labor Party.

“When appearing as members of their order, [the Jesuits] wore a garb of sanctity, visiting prisons and hospitals, ministering to the sick and the poor, professing to have renounced the world, and bearing the sacred name of Jesus, who went about doing good… [But] under various disguises the Jesuits worked their way into offices of state, climbing up to be the counselors of kings, and shaping the policy of nations… They established colleges for the sons of princes and nobles, and schools for the common people.” The Great Controversy, page 235


Journalist Ray Suarez On Quitting Public Television: 'They Didn’t Have Much Of A Plan For Me'

By Lucia Suarez

Published October 28, 2013
Fox News Latino

Ray Suarez during the PBS Election Coverage panel on January 4, 2012 in Pasadena, California. (Getty Images)

Many fans of renowned Latino journalist Ray Suarez were shocked to hear about his resignation from PBS’ “NewsHour” after more than a decade as a senior correspondent two weeks ago.

While the Public Broadcasting Service has not elaborated on the reasons for his departure, Suarez spoke candidly with Fox News Latino about what led to his decision to leave his longtime post. He said it was the right “time to go – that was a choice that I made.”

“I felt like I didn’t have much of a future with the broadcast,” Suarez said Monday morning. “(They) didn’t have much of a plan for me.”

He said his resignation came because his contributions to the “NewsHour” were heavily minimized. Suarez (no relation to the writer) said he just “didn’t see 2014 and 2015 were going to be better" for him than the last couple of years.

The 56-year-old, who joined the “NewsHour” in 1999, said over the last couple of years his contributions to the broadcast were passed over and marginalized many times. He said decisions made recently by the company and new constrictions also played a part in his resignation — it just made it difficult to stay, he said.

“When you look at the prospects realistically, I was there 14 years,” Suarez said. “The responsibility, the high responsibility … had all been gradually taken away.”

He said his profile on the broadcasting network was in such decline that people on social media were asking what he was doing after the “NewsHour.”

An example, he said, was during the most recent presidential election where his coverage of the Latino vote was minimal, unlike during the 2004 elections where he co-moderated a bilingual debate with Univision.

“That was great fun,” Suarez said recalling the debate. “It anticipated where things were going to be going. People were not talking about the Latino vote then – it was a glimpse into the crystal ball.”

According to several reports, the show’s executive producer, Linda Winslow, told staff in a memo that Suarez was leaving to “pursue other ventures.”

“At the ‘NewsHour’ Ray has been a member of the Senior Correspondent team that has helped us cover an enormous array of topics and story developments over the years,” Winslow wrote in the memo. “My inbox is filled with rave reviews of his performances written by delighted station executives around the PBS universe.”

The news came out just days after “NewsHours” founders Jim Lehrer and Robin MacNeil announced they intended to transfer ownership of the program to producing partner WETA in Arlington, Va.

Suarez said although he is leaving the company, he is very proud of the work he accomplished during his tenure and holds no ill will towards anyone.

“I am not some bitter guy. It was just time to go,” he said, adding that his departure was amicable between both parties. “I left on good terms.”

He continued: “I love the people there. I think it’s important to have a strong news broadcast on public television. I was definitely doing important work. … I am not sitting here regretting all that time, not at all.”

But Suarez just didn’t see it getting any better.

“I don’t want this to sound like sour grapes,” he said. “People come and go.”

For his next move, the New York City-born-Puerto Rican said he has been fielding several offers that include going into academia and writing a book on the 2016 elections. He said he couldn’t go into specifics about his plans because contractual agreements are still being discussed, but that he would be going back to television broadcasting.

“I still have one more high-demand, high-stress job in me,” he said.

. . 
Latino Groups Rally Around Ray Suarez After He Claimed He Was Marginalized At PBS NewsHour

N.Y. survivors of Sandy ditch the city to 'bug out' in preparation for doomsday


Survivors of Sandy ditch N.Y. to prepare for doomsday
N.Y. survivors of Sandy ditch the city to 'bug out' in preparation for doomsday
Premiere Date: October 25, 2013 Rating: NR

 Some Hurricane Sandy survivors have begun to study up on "doomsday prepping" in case another environmental disaster hits. City slickers by day, survivalists in the NYC Preppers Network head up to the Catskill Mountains on the weekends, armed with just the basics to practice living off the land. Paul Solman reports.


JUDY WOODRUFF: Time for a change of pace.

It's been nearly a year since superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast. We will have reports tied to its anniversary next week on what's being done to prepare for extreme weather events.

But, tonight, a different take from a less conventional group of folks preparing for disaster, natural or manmade.

The NewsHour’s Paul Solman has the story.

NARRATOR: All across America, people are preparing.

PAUL SOLMAN: The once-August National Geographic Society's huge TV hit Doomsday Preppers.

MAN: I'm going to survive a genocidal siege by building a tunnel that will lead my family to safety.

PAUL SOLMAN: Now, whether they fear terrorist attack, a shift of the magnetic poles, zombie apocalypse, or, these days, more proximate threats like U.S. debt default and global economic chaos, Nat Geo's ever-more-popular preppers seem to be prepping for a war of all against all, which is why they practice bugging out: quickly leaving their lairs with just enough supplies for a couple of days en route to lives away from their fellow would-be antagonists.

Season three of Doomsday Preppers debuts October 29, the one-year anniversary of superstorm Sandy, which threatened to doom New York. Were there New Yorkers, we wondered, among the two million or so Americans who reportedly consider themselves preppers?

Sure enough, a meet-up group known as the New York City Preppers Network. And so we repaired, one Friday afternoon, to bug-out practice a couple of hours' drive, or, in case of catastrophe, a couple of days' walk, north of New York, in what passes for wilderness around Woodstock in the Catskill Mountains. The organizers had said they'd arrive between noon and 1:00 p.m.

MAN: Preppers?

PAUL SOLMAN: Improbably, given that this was prep for an emergency get-out-of-town evacuation, they were late.

Jason? Jason?

When fireman Jason Charles, who runs the meet-up group, arrived three hours later, he explained that he'd had to buy dog food before bugging out.

JASON CHARLES, New York City Preppers Network: My wife, she ran me on a bunch of errands before we had to go.

PAUL SOLMAN: Some buggers-out showed up even later.

WOMAN: I have been camping once in my life, and I had no intentions of ever going back.

PAUL SOLMAN: Jodi Paulovich is a realtor and local cable access TV host.

NARRATOR: Live from New York City, it's "The Jo Show."

JODI PAULOVICH, New York City Preppers Network: I am the antithesis of your stereotypical survivalist.

PAUL SOLMAN: But stormy weather had driven city slicker Paulovich and boyfriend Joe Suba, an actor and stuntman, out into the wild.

JOE SUBA, New York City Preppers Network: I was there when Sandy hit. So I have seen people in lines -- I have it on video, lining up down the block, Pampers, milk. And it's like, hey, are you going to stand there, or you are going to do something?

PAUL SOLMAN: Sandy had converted prison guard Preston Williams as well.

PRESTON WILLIAMS, New York City Preppers Network: I had just had surgery on my shoulder, and I was in a sling, and trying to run through waist -- I mean, thigh-deep water with an 8-year-old. It was scary, because you didn't know how high it was going to go. It made you step back and look at everything and say, wow, I need to be prepared.

PAUL SOLMAN: What do you do now that you didn't do before Sandy?

PRESTON WILLIAMS: Well, I started dehydrating food. Usually, I will try to cook a big dinner, and then I will dehydrate it and pack it away and put it in a barrel.

JASON CHARLES: A disaster, it's -- it's a test, and this is a test. The basic idea is for everybody in the group to live out of their bug-out bag for two nights.

PAUL SOLMAN: So, armed with food and water, ropes and knives, tents and sleeping bags, the New York City Preppers trekked the two-mile trail up Slide Mountain.

The NewsHour’s suburban slickers, you may not be surprised to learn, trekked back down to spend the night at a motel. But we were back at the campsite at the crack of dawn to see how the preppers had fared.

The first casualty had been Preston Williams, the food dehydrator. He wound up with a case of, well, dehydration himself, a gastrointestinal illness that kept him confined to his cocoon. Jodi Paulovich had had better nights herself.

JODI PAULOVICH: Lying on the mud, and it was so hard, and there were all these tree roots under us, and even though our sleeping bags were pretty warm, it was still freezing. It was just freezing.

PAUL SOLMAN: As might be expected if one were really fleeing the ravages of an October storm in the Northeast.

So, first on the weekend agenda, learning to make a fire, then how to use a compass, read a map.

MAN: There's true north, grid north, magnetic north.

PAUL SOLMAN: Helpful when setting out to find water, though a word to Joe Suba: Next time, maybe ditch the bottle, and bring a flexible bladder bag, like everyone else.

Also, it turns out there's a reason for cargo pants. Then it was back to camp for a little gruel: some precooked chicken. Italian tuna fillets in olive oil?

JODI PAULOVICH: Why not? I mean, why bring those yucky cans, if I can could this?

PAUL SOLMAN: And, finally, the critically important first-aid class, with Jason Charles apologizing for his handiwork.

JASON CHARLES: This is by far the crappiest looking stretcher you will see.

PAUL SOLMAN: OK, we admit it: No matter how pervasive preppers are becoming, or how earnest they are, it's almost irresistible to make fun of them, especially urbanites first venturing out of the asphalt jungle.

But, in the end, we thought we learned something worth sharing. The basic vision of the prepper movement is that ours is a "Mad Max" world, in which, once disaster hits, you take from the other guys before they take from you, or, as Jodi Paulovich put it:

JODI PAULOVICH: We don't want to be stuck on a little island with crazy people in martial law.

PAUL SOLMAN: And yet here was a stunningly diverse group of random New Yorkers brought together by legitimate fears, with perhaps a whiff of paranoia, who were learning what? To prep for disaster by depending upon each other, to survive, but in community, trusting people they had never even met before with their very lives.

MAN: And when you're taking him out, always keep his head above the broken extremity.

PAUL SOLMAN: Community, not every man for himself, as the key to survival come doomsday, a hopeful punch line with which to end a news story for a change.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Final Warning


"I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Revelation 18:1, 2, 4.

This scripture points forward to a time when the announcement of the fall of Babylon, as made by the second angel of Revelation 14 (verse 8), is to be repeated, with the additional mention of the corruptions which have been entering the various organizations that constitute Babylon, since that message was first given, in the summer of 1844. A terrible condition of the religious world is here described. With every rejection of truth the minds of the people will become darker, their hearts more stubborn, until they are entrenched in an infidel hardihood. In defiance of the warnings which God has given, they will continue to trample upon one of the precepts of the Decalogue, until they are led to persecute those who hold it sacred. Christ is set at nought in the contempt placed upon His word and His people. As the teachings of spiritualism are accepted by the churches, the


restraint imposed upon the carnal heart is removed, and the profession of religion will become a cloak to conceal the basest iniquity. A belief in spiritual manifestations opens the door to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, and thus the influence of evil angels will be felt in the churches.

Of Babylon, at the time brought to view in this prophecy, it is declared: "Her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." Revelation 18:5. She has filled up the measure of her guilt, and destruction is about to fall upon her. But God still has a people in Babylon; and before the visitation of His judgments these faithful ones must be called out, that they partake not of her sins and "receive not of her plagues." Hence the movement symbolized by the angel coming down from heaven, lightening the earth with his glory and crying mightily with a strong voice, announcing the sins of Babylon. In connection with his message the call is heard: "Come out of her, My people." These announcements, uniting with the third angel's message, constitute the final warning to be given to the inhabitants of the earth.

Fearful is the issue to which the world is to be brought. The powers of earth, uniting to war against the commandments of God, will decree that "all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond" (Revelation 13:16), shall conform to the customs of the church by the observance of the false sabbath. All who refuse compliance will be visited with civil penalties, and it will finally be declared that they are deserving of death. On the other hand, the law of God enjoining the Creator's rest day demands obedience and threatens wrath against all who transgress its precepts.

With the issue thus clearly brought before him, whoever shall trample upon God's law to obey a human enactment receives the mark of the beast; he accepts the sign of allegiance to the power which he chooses to obey instead of God. The warning from heaven is: "If any man worship the beast


and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation." Revelation 14:9, 10.

But not one is made to suffer the wrath of God until the truth has been brought home to his mind and conscience, and has been rejected. There are many who have never had an opportunity to hear the special truths for this time. The obligation of the fourth commandment has never been set before them in its true light. He who reads every heart and tries every motive will leave none who desire a knowledge of the truth, to be deceived as to the issues of the controversy. The decree is not to be urged upon the people blindly. Everyone is to have sufficient light to make his decision intelligently.

The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. While the observance of the false sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God's law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God.

Heretofore those who presented the truths of the third angel's message have often been regarded as mere alarmists. Their predictions that religious intolerance would gain control in the United States, that church and state would unite to persecute those who keep the commandments of God, have been pronounced groundless and absurd. It has been confidently declared that this land could never become other than what it has been--the defender of religious freedom. But


as the question of enforcing Sunday observance is widely agitated, the event so long doubted and disbelieved is seen to be approaching, and the third message will produce an effect which it could not have had before.

In every generation God has sent His servants to rebuke sin, both in the world and in the church. But the people desire smooth things spoken to them, and the pure, unvarnished truth is not acceptable. Many reformers, in entering upon their work, determined to exercise great prudence in attacking the sins of the church and the nation. They hoped, by the example of a pure Christian life, to lead the people back to the doctrines of the Bible. But the Spirit of God came upon them as it came upon Elijah, moving him to rebuke the sins of a wicked king and an apostate people; they could not refrain from preaching the plain utterances of the Bible-- doctrines which they had been reluctant to present. They were impelled to zealously declare the truth and the danger which threatened souls. The words which the Lord gave them they uttered, fearless of consequences, and the people were compelled to hear the warning.

Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power--all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. In amazement they


hear the testimony that Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven. As the people go to their former teachers with the eager inquiry, Are these things so? the ministers present fables, prophesy smooth things, to soothe their fears and quiet the awakened conscience. But since many refuse to be satisfied with the mere authority of men and demand a plain "Thus saith the Lord," the popular ministry, like the Pharisees of old, filled with anger as their authority is questioned, will denounce the message as of Satan and stir up the sin-loving multitudes to revile and persecute those who proclaim it.

As the controversy extends into new fields and the minds of the people are called to God's downtrodden law, Satan is astir. The power attending the message will only madden those who oppose it. The clergy will put forth almost superhuman efforts to shut away the light lest it should shine upon their flocks. By every means at their command they will endeavor to suppress the discussion of these vital questions. The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and, in this work, papists and Protestants unite. As the movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against commandment keepers. They will be threatened with fines and imprisonment, and some will be offered positions of influence, and other rewards and advantages, as inducements to renounce their faith. But their steadfast answer is: "Show us from the word of God our error"--the same plea that was made by Luther under similar circumstances. Those who are arraigned before the courts make a strong vindication of the truth, and some who hear them are led to take their stand to keep all the commandments of God. Thus light will be brought before thousands who otherwise would know nothing of these truths.


Conscientious obedience to the word of God will be treated as rebellion. Blinded by Satan, the parent will exercise harshness and severity toward the believing child; the master or mistress will oppress the commandment-keeping servant. Affection will be alienated; children will be disinherited and driven from home. The words of Paul will be literally fulfilled: "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2 Timothy 3:12. As the defenders of truth refuse to honor the Sunday-sabbath, some of them will be thrust into prison, some will be exiled, some will be treated as slaves. To human wisdom all this now seems impossible; but as the restraining Spirit of God shall be withdrawn from men, and they shall be under the control of Satan, who hates the divine precepts, there will be strange developments. The heart can be very cruel when God's fear and love are removed.

As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel's message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. When Sabbathkeepers are brought before the courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to stir up the rulers against them.

In this time of persecution the faith of the Lord's servants will be tried. They have faithfully given the warning, looking to God and to His word alone. God's Spirit, moving upon their hearts, has constrained them to speak. Stimulated


with holy zeal, and with the divine impulse strong upon them, they entered upon the performance of their duties without coldly calculating the consequences of speaking to the people the word which the Lord had given them. They have not consulted their temporal interests, nor sought to preserve their reputation or their lives. Yet when the storm of opposition and reproach bursts upon them, some, overwhelmed with consternation, will be ready to exclaim: "Had we foreseen the consequences of our words, we would have held our peace." They are hedged in with difficulties. Satan assails them with fierce temptations. The work which they have undertaken seems far beyond their ability to accomplish. They are threatened with destruction. The enthusiasm which animated them is gone; yet they cannot turn back. Then, feeling their utter helplessness, they flee to the Mighty One for strength. They remember that the words which they have spoken were not theirs, but His who bade them give the warning. God put the truth into their hearts, and they could not forbear to proclaim it.

The same trials have been experienced by men of God in ages past. Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, Tyndale, Baxter, Wesley, urged that all doctrines be brought to the test of the Bible and declared that they would renounce everything which it condemned. Against these men persecution raged with relentless fury; yet they ceased not to declare the truth. Different periods in the history of the church have each been marked by the development of some special truth, adapted to the necessities of God's people at that time. Every new truth has made its way against hatred and opposition; those who were blessed with its light were tempted and tried. The Lord gives a special truth for the people in an emergency. Who dare refuse to publish it? He commands His servants to present the last invitation of mercy to the world. They cannot remain silent, except at the peril of their souls. Christ's ambassadors


have nothing to do with consequences. They must perform their duty and leave results with God.

As the opposition rises to a fiercer height, the servants of God are again perplexed; for it seems to them that they have brought the crisis. But conscience and the word of God assure them that their course is right; and although the trials continue, they are strengthened to bear them. The contest grows closer and sharper, but their faith and courage rise with the emergency. Their testimony is: "We dare not tamper with God's word, dividing His holy law; calling one portion essential and another nonessential, to gain the favor of the world. The Lord whom we serve is able to deliver us. Christ has conquered the powers of earth; and shall we be afraid of a world already conquered?"

Persecution in its varied forms is the development of a principle which will exist as long as Satan exists and Christianity has vital power. No man can serve God without enlisting against himself the opposition of the hosts of darkness. Evil angels will assail him, alarmed that his influence is taking the prey from their hands. Evil men, rebuked by his example, will unite with them in seeking to separate him from God by alluring temptations. When these do not succeed, then a compelling power is employed to force the conscience.

But so long as Jesus remains man's intercessor in the sanctuary above, the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit is felt by rulers and people. It still controls to some extent the laws of the land. Were it not for these laws, the condition of the world would be much worse than it now is. While many of our rulers are active agents of Satan, God also has His agents among the leading men of the nation. The enemy moves upon his servants to propose measures that would greatly impede the work of God; but statesmen who fear the Lord are influenced by holy angels to oppose such propositions with unanswerable arguments. Thus a few men will


hold in check a powerful current of evil. The opposition of the enemies of truth will be restrained that the third angel's message may do its work. When the final warning shall be given, it will arrest the attention of these leading men through whom the Lord is now working, and some of them will accept it, and will stand with the people of God through the time of trouble.

The angel who unites in the proclamation of the third angel's message is to lighten the whole earth with his glory. A work of world-wide extent and unwonted power is here foretold. The advent movement of 1840-44 was a glorious manifestation of the power of God; the first angel's message was carried to every missionary station in the world, and in some countries there was the greatest religious interest which has been witnessed in any land since the Reformation of the sixteenth century; but these are to be exceeded by the mighty movement under the last warning of the third angel.

The work will be similar to that of the Day of Pentecost. As the "former rain" was given, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the opening of the gospel, to cause the upspringing of the precious seed, so the "latter rain" will be given at its close for the ripening of the harvest. "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth." Hosea 6:3. "Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for He hath given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain." Joel 2:23. "In the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh." "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Acts 2:17, 21.

The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the


former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are "the times of refreshing" to which the apostle Peter looked forward when he said: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus." Acts 3:19, 20.

Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. Satan also works, with lying wonders, even bringing down fire from heaven in the sight of men. Revelation 13:13. Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand.

The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. The publications distributed by missionary workers have exerted their influence, yet many whose minds were impressed have been prevented from fully comprehending the truth or from yielding obedience. Now the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord's side.

The Great Controversy,  pp.603-612

White House Logs Show Visits by CGI Official, Classmate of Michelle Obama

Tuesday, 29 Oct 2013 08:29 AM

By Andrea Billups

Toni Townes-Whitley, a college classmate of Michelle Obama and a senior executive at besieged Obamcare website contractor CGI Federal, has visited the White House several times for both personal and professional reasons.

Townes-Whitley visited the White House complex on four occasions earlier this year to meet with administration officials in her role as vice president for at CGI Federal, which secured a $678 million no-bid contract to build the Obamacare exchange web portal.

Townes-Whitley, a Princeton University classmate of first lady Michelle Obama, and her husband, John Whitley, who works as an engineer for CBS News, also attended a White House Christmas gathering together in 2010, posing for photos with the president and first lady.

The records from the White House visitors log show the CGI Federal vice president, who graduated Princeton in 1985, the same year as Michelle Obama, had a deeper connection with federal business than simply a college connection to the first lady.

Three of the afternoon meetings, held in the Old Executive Office Building, were scheduled in advance, and one, Friday April 26, was not. Three of the meetings were held on Friday and one on Saturday.

The records show Townes-Whitley was alone in her visits.

The first meeting was held on Jan. 18. Townes-Whitley met with Danny Werfel, a principal deputy commissioner on the Affordable Care Act, who was named acting director of the IRS in May. Records for that day show Townes-Whitley arrived at the White House at 1:31 p.m. and left at 3:23 p.m.

Townes-Whitley visited again April 26, arriving at 3:43 p.m. and leaving at 4:27 p.m. She met with Jonathan McBride, who was at the time special assistant to the president and deputy director of the presidential personnel office. McBride was promoted in July to director of the presidential personnel office.

Townes-Whitley met again with McBride on June 1, a Saturday, for about five hours, leaving the White House at around 7 p.m.

On Friday, June 28, Townes-Whitley met with John McNaught, an economics staff assistant.

The White House logs do not indicate the reason for the visits.

Townes-Whitley joined CGI in May in 2010, less than two months after President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. She serves as the lead of the company's Civilian Agency Programs Business Unit for the Federal Group, according to a bio published on the CGI website. The unit serves 22 federal civilian agencies in the U.S. and 34 other countries.

A CGI executive testified before an angry congressional committee last week about the website's significant technical problems, which have caused a registration delay for consumers seeking health insurance from federal exchanges. The White House has promised that the site will be fully functional by the end of November, although members of Congress are seeking a pause in the registration deadline until repairs are complete.

Prior to her work at CGI, Townes-Whitley worked at Unisys Corp., as a vice president for global public sector, system integration and consulting. She is also a former Peace Corps volunteer in central Africa, serving for three years, from 1986-1989.

According to Federal Election Commission Records, Toni Townes-Whitley gave $500 in 2011 and 2012 to Obama's reelection, and another $1,000 to the Obama Victory Fund.

A story published by the Daily Caller on Monday said that while at Princeton, Michelle Obama and Townes-Whitley were both active in two Princeton University groups – the Organization of Black Unity and the Third World Center. They both now belong to the Association of Black Princeton Alumni.

Michelle Obama served on the governing board of the Third World Center and was active in the Organization of Black Unity, according to 2008 Boston Globe article.

"Although Obama had friends who were both black and white, her social world revolved around several of the black organizations on campus, as it did for many other black students,” the Globe reported. “Obama was a member of the Organization of Black Unity, a primary resource for black students on campus which arranged speakers and programs."

 . . 


Top Exec at ObamaCare Website Co. was in Radical Black Groups with Michelle Obama

October 26, 2013 By Daniel Greenfield

I don’t know if this is a smoking gun necessarily since we have yet to establish whether they kept in contact after Princeton, but it does add a troubling dimension to the question of why a company with a bad track record suddenly began receiving huge contracts from Obama Inc.

Including a huge no bid contract for the ObamaCare website.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Princeton classmate is a top executive at the company that earned the contract to build the failed Obamacare website.

Toni Townes-Whitley, Princeton class of ’85, is senior vice president at CGI Federal, which earned the no-bid contract to build the $678 million Obamacare enrollment website at CGI Federal is the U.S. arm of a Canadian company.

Obama and Townes-Whitley both worked with the Third World Center and with the “Organization of Black Unity”.

Third World Center didn’t just refer to the Third World, as you might assume, but to radical minority activists in the United States who began referring to themselves that way. Princeton has since changed the name as an outdated relic of radicalism.

Michelle Obama’s radical activism at Princeton has been discussed in detail before.

Princeton, 1984.

Michelle Obama attends and promotes a “Black Solidarity” event for guest lecturer Manning Marable, who was, according to Cornel West, probably “the best known black Marxist in the country.” The event is the work of the Third World Center (TWC), a campus group whose board membership is exclusively reserved for minorities.

Michelle Obama was a board member at the Third World Center which means that it’s quite likely she knew Townes-Whitley. Townes-Whitley joined CGI Federal under Obama and some press releases make it clear that Townes-Whitley was involved in government contracts.

CGI Federal (NYSE: GIB) has won a position on a $900 million blanket purchase agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development for information technology support.

The Fairfax, Va.-based IT and business process contractor said the potential five-year IT Forward BPA supports the agency’s IT reform efforts.

CGI has worked with the agency for more than a decade, said Toni Townes-Whitley, a senior vice president.

That’s a pretty huge contract, again for a company with a poor track record. And here’s an even bigger one.

The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI)/ Interior Business Center (IBC), Acquisition Services Directorate (AQD) has awarded CGI Federal Inc. (CGI), a wholly-owned U.S. operating subsidiary of CGI Group Inc. (NYSE:GIB)(TSX:GIB.A), a prime position on the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ), multiple-award contract for Foundation Cloud Hosting Services. The ID/IQ, which supports the DOI Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO), as well as other government customers including both civilian agencies and the Department of Defense has a total contract ceiling value of US $1 billion over nine years

CGI, the first large company Cloud Service Provider to receive FedRAMP provisional authorization to operate for a government specific community cloud, will support DOI-wide cloud hosting, data center consolidation and IT infrastructure tasks. CGI will deliver a range of services for storage, secure file transfers, virtual machines, database and web hosting, as well as development and test environment hosting.

“As a Federal cloud leader, CGI brings experience and innovation to the delivery of cloud-based services through this contract, enabling DOI and its bureaus to more effectively support their broad and important missions,” said Toni Townes-Whitley, Senior Vice-President for Civilian Agency programs at CGI.

It certainly seemed like Toni Townes-Whitley was front and center every time CGI Federal received strangely huge contracts from Obama Inc.


Sandy survivors to light up shore to mark 1-year anniversary of storm

Published October 29, 2013
Associated Press

Oct. 27, 2013: People line up along the beach in the Belle Harbor section of the Rockways during the "Rockaway Rising: Hands Across the Sand," beachside ceremony commemorating the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, in New York. The actual one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy is Tuesday, Oct. 29. (AP)

Oct. 27, 2013: From left, Thomas Robinson, Debiorah Roman, Carl Myrie and his mother Maureen, join other residents of Arverne on the Sea at they participate in a beachside ceremony "Rockaways Rising: Hands Across the Sand," beach side ceremony commemorating the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy in New York. The actual one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy is Tuesday, Oct. 29. (AP)

Oct. 27, 2013: Rachel Shapiro holds a lantern with a personal message during a beachside ceremony called "Hands Across the Sand," commemorating the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy in New York. The actual one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy is Tuesday, Oct. 29. After the hands ceremony, participants floated lanterns in the water. (AP)

Next Slide
Previous Slide

NEW YORK – Candles and flashlights will light up the shore along the East Coast as survivors of Superstorm Sandy pay their respects to what was lost when the storm roared ashore one year ago.

To mark Tuesday's anniversary, residents of coastal neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey that suffered some of the worst flooding are honoring that terrible day in ways both public and private.

On Staten Island, residents will light candles by the stretch of waterfront closest to their homes at 7:45 p.m. in a "Light the Shore" vigil. Along the Jersey Shore, people plan to shine flashlights in a symbolic triumph over the darkness that Sandy brought.

It's a time of healing for many who suffered in Sandy's wake. But the day also brings back frightening memories for people who survived the waves and wind that lashed their homes.

"People are terrified of the ocean, even though we've lived here all our lives," said Lily Corcoran, who lives in the New York City coastal neighborhood of Belle Harbor. "We're all terrified of the water and what it can do."

Sandy made landfall at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2012, sending floodwaters pouring across the densely populated barrier islands of Long Island and the Jersey shore. In New York City the storm surge hit nearly 14 feet, swamping the city's subway and commuter tunnels and knocking out power to the southern third of Manhattan.

The storm was blamed for at least 181 deaths in the U.S. — including 68 in New York and 71 in New Jersey — and property damages estimated at $65 billion.

In Rockaway's Breezy Point, where nearly 130 homes burned to the ground during the storm, residents will plant sea grass on sand dunes. Small businesses on Staten Island are hosting a block party to celebrate their recovery and drum up business.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered flags on state buildings to be flown at half-staff on Tuesday. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to tour some of the hardest-hit areas in New York City. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie planned Sandy recovery events across the state.

In Staten Island, where Sandy roared ashore and killed 23 people, there are still plenty of reminders of the storm. Wallboard and debris are piled on front lawns. Bungalows are covered in plywood. "Restricted Use" signs are plastered on many front doors.

Resident Jean Laurie is about to break ground on a new home that will be constructed on stilts 13 feet in the air. Propped up on the grass on her tiny plot of land, mounted on a piece of poster board, are photographs taken of the devastated neighborhood after the storm.

"This is like our archives," Laurie said. "To let people know that this happened. It was here. And we survived."

Two people, James Rossi and Ella Norris, drowned here during the storm. Residents recently mounted a stone memorial in the grass near the creek to honor them.

"Jimmy walked his dog here every day," Rossi's cousin, Diane Hague, said as she knelt down before it silently on a recent afternoon. "It's fitting that we have something so beautiful to represent the people that we lost."


Friday, October 25, 2013

Bill Hughes- The Tale of Two Sticks.

Bill Hughes- The Tale of Two Sticks.
Jesus is going to win·27 videos

0 0

Published on Jul 28, 2013

What is the church and by what means are we saved? The Catholic church teaches that "outside the church there is no salvation." Whilst protestants disagree with the Catholics on this position, some of them ironically teach that unless one is part of their organisation they can not be saved. Even in the SDA church some have misunderstood this vital subject, and misquote Ellen White, believing that the organisation is the church and that salvation is dependent upon one's membership in it. In this presentation Pastor Hughes uses only the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy to address an issue that affects both conference and self supporting church members, showing that "From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth." and that there is no salvation by organisation.

Happy Sabbath

Barroso, Van Rompuy: EU-US relations must be based on respect, trust

Speaking in a press conference after the first meetings of a 2-day gathering of EU leaders in Brussels, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said that relations between the EU and the Us should be based on mutual 'respect and trust'.

Following allegations that the US had been tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone, Van Rompuy defended the Franco-German initiative of seeking further clarification from the US.

'Heads of states took note of the intention of France and Germany to seek bilateral talks with the USA with the aim of finding before the end of the year and understanding of mutual relations in that field. They noted that others EU countries are welcome to joint this initiative', Van Rompuy noted.
Date: Fri, 2013-10-25 11:05

Florida Blue, other health plans cancelling contracts to prepare for new health law rules

By Anna Gorman and Julie Appleby
Kaiser Health News

Published: October 23, 2013

Health plans in Florida and across the country are sending hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters to people who buy their own coverage, frustrating some consumers who want to keep what they have and forcing others to buy more costly policies.

The main reason insurers offer is that the policies fall short of what the Affordable Care Act requires starting Jan. 1. Most are ending policies sold after the law passed in March 2010. At least a few are cancelling plans sold to people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Florida Blue is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the state. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people – about half of its individual business in the state. Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20 percent of its individual market customers, while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45 percent.

An estimated 14 million people purchase their own coverage because they don’t get it through their jobs.

By all accounts, the new policies will offer consumers better coverage, in some cases, for comparable cost, especially after the inclusion of federal subsidies for those who qualify. The law requires policies sold in the individual market to cover 10 “essential” benefits, such as prescription drugs, mental health treatment and maternity care.

In addition, insurers cannot reject people with medical problems or charge them higher prices. The policies must also cap consumers’ annual expenses at levels lower than many plans sold before the new rules.

But the cancellation notices, which began arriving in August, have shocked many consumers in light of President Barack Obama’s promise that people could keep their plans if they liked them.

“I don’t feel like I need to change, but I have to,” said Jeff Learned, a television editor in Los Angeles, who must find a new plan for his teenage daughter, who has a health condition that has required multiple surgeries.

Both Independence and Highmark are cancelling so-called “guaranteed issue” policies, which had been sold to customers who had pre-existing medical conditions when they signed up. Policyholders with regular policies because they did not have health problems will be given an option to extend their coverage through next year.

Consumer advocates say such cancellations raise concerns that companies may be targeting their most costly enrollees.

They may be “doing this as an opportunity to push their populations into the exchange and purge their systems” of policyholders they no longer want, said Jerry Flanagan, an attorney with the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog in California.

Insurers deny that, saying they are encouraging existing customers to re-enroll in their new plans.

“We continue to cover people with all types of health conditions,” said Highmark spokeswoman Kristin Ash.

Some receiving cancellations say it looks like their costs will go up, despite studies projecting that about half of all enrollees will get income-based subsidies.

Kris Malean, 56, lives outside Seattle, and has a health policy that costs $390 a month with a $2,500 deductible and a $10,000 in potential out-of-pocket costs for such things as doctor visits, drug costs or hospital care.

As a replacement, Regence BlueShield is offering her a plan for $79 more a month with a deductible twice as large as what she pays now, but which limits her potential out-of-pocket costs to $6,250 a year, including the deductible.

“My impression was …there would be a lot more choice, driving some of the rates down,” said Malean, who does not believe she is eligible for a subsidy.

Regence spokeswoman Rachelle Cunningham said the new plans offer consumers broader benefits, which “in many cases translate into higher costs.”

“The arithmetic is inescapable,” said Patrick Johnston, chief executive officer of the California Association of Health Plans. Costs must be spread, so while some consumers will see their premiums drop, others will pay more “no matter what people in Washington say.”

Health insurance experts say new prices will vary and much depends on where a person lives, their age and the type of policy they decide to buy. Some, including young people and those with skimpy or high-deductible plans, may see an increase.

Others, including those with health problems or who buy coverage with higher deductibles than they have now, may see lower premiums.

Kaiser Health News ( is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The Administration's Signature Health Care Plan


If You Like Your Health Care Plan You Can't Keep It!

Mike's America

Uploaded on Jun 16, 2010

Fox News report highlighting how empty Obama's promise "If you like your health care plan you can keep it" really is. A new government report reveals that 51% of employers may have to relinquish their current health care coverage by 2013 due to ObamaCare. That numbers soars to 66% for small-business employers.

With new restrictions on health insurance being issued by the Secretary of Health and Human Services millions of Americans will shortly be forced to accept government insurance. Exempted from these new rules will be labor unions.

Remember that Obama in a September 2009 speech to congress said: "If you misrepresent what's in the plan, we will call you out."

O.K. Obama misrepresented what was in his plan. It's time to CALL HIM OUT. Then THROW him out in 2012!
. .

Obama and Pelosi - Obamacare "Find out what's in it"


Published on Apr 5, 2012

Barack Obama promised transparency for health care reform - pledging "no more secrecy". When Nancy Pelosi announced that the Obamacare bill would have to be passed so people could "find out what's in it".... another Obama lie was exposed. A Bill that was written behind closed doors and forced on the American people without a single Republican vote...

CBS News reports that the Affordable Healthcare Website gives inaccurate estimates




CBS News Correspondent Jan Crawford reported that the Affordable Healthcare Act’s website,, gives drastically inaccurate estimates of healthcare costs to would-be consumers, in a story that was broadcast today, Oct. 23, 2013 on CBS THIS MORNING (7:00-9:00 AM) on the CBS Television Network.

“Industry executives we talked to literally could not believe that the government is providing these estimates, which they said were useless and could easily mislead consumers,” Crawford told co-hosts Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell, adding, “The website repeatedly states that actual prices could be lower but it makes no mention that they could be higher.”

A transcript of the story is below.

JAN CRAWFORD: Norah, Charlie, the administration announced it would provide this new "shop and browse" feature on Sunday, but it's not giving consumers the real picture about the plans that are available... because in some cases people could end up paying double of what they see on the website.

PRESIDENT OBAMA (VIDEO): "The website has not worked as smoothly as it was supposed to..."

As President Obama promises to fix, his administration is touting what it calls "improvements" in design—specifically a feature that allows you to "SEE PLANS NOW."

JAY CARNEY (VIDEO): "Americans across the country can type in their zip code and shop and browse."

But CBS News has learned the new "shop and browse" feature often comes with the wrong price tags.

JONATHAN WU: "Incredibly misleading for people that are trying to get a sense of what they're paying."

Industry analysts, like Jonathan Wu, point to how the website lumps people into two broad categories: "49 or under" and "50 or older." Prices for everyone in the 49 or under group are based on what a 27-year-old would pay. In the 50 or older group, prices are based on what a 50-year-old would pay. We ran the numbers for a 48-year-old in Charlotte, N.C.—ineligible for subsidies. According to, she would pay $231 a month. The actual plan on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina's website costs $360—a more than 50 percent increase. The difference: Blue Cross Blue Shield requests your birthday before providing more accurate estimates. The numbers for older Americans are even more striking. A 62-year-old in Charlotte looking for the same plan would get a price estimate on the government website of $394. The actual price is $634. An HHS spokeswoman said it added the "shop and browse" feature to provide "estimates of premiums without tax credits." Chini Krishnan's company helped design California's new health care exchange website. It requires people to enter their birth dates to get a real price quote.

CHINI KRISHNAN: "It is important that the users have a proper trustworthy honest brand experience when they interact with and I think providing accurate prices is an integral component of that."

JAN CRAWFORD: Now industry executives we talked to literally could not believe that the government is providing these estimates, which they said were useless and could easily mislead consumers. They also say, Charlie and Norah, that the website repeatedly states that actual prices could be lower but it makes no mention that they could be higher.

Click here to watch the video clip.


#Obamacare: Sebelius’ history of IT failures in Kansas

Posted by: Phineas on October 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm

**Posted by Phineas

“A track record of epic failure”

Naturally, this is the person you want leading the biggest, most complicated information technology project in US government history, involving a full takeover of 16% of the nation’s economy. For that, my friends, only the best will do:

Obama administration Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ failure at designing websites to provide government services began during her term as governor of Kansas, long before the Obamacare website debacle, Kansas political insiders told The Daily Caller.

Sebelius oversaw numerous costly and disastrous government website projects during her six-year governorship (2003-2009), including a failed update of the Department of Labor’s program to provide unemployment pay and other services and similar updates pertaining to the Department of Administration and the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) services.

The Department of Labor’s overhaul of its computer programs was a notable boondoggle, according to 14-year former Kansas state senator and former state Labor Secretary Karin Brownlee.

“In the Kansas Senate, I chaired the Commerce committee. We had oversight over the Department of Labor. For years, we watched as the Department of Labor under Sebelius worked on that computer program. After seven years and $50 million, something should work,” Brownlee told TheDC.

“In Kansas if you have a 40 or 50 million dollar project, that’s a lot of money,” Brownlee said, noting that the Labor Department project was funded by federal money while other Sebelius website projects sucked up state taxpayer dollars. “They started and stopped that project with at least 3 different major contractors.”

When Brownlee was appointed to head the state’s Department of Labor under new Republican governor Sam Brownback in 2011, she was tasked with cleaning up Sebelius’ technical mess.

Read the article for several example of Sebelius’s managerial incompetence. This line, though, poses a very good question:
“We pretty much expected to fail, because she has a pattern of failing on these big initiatives. We thought that was why she was not nominated originally,” Schwab said.
In other words, why did the administration hire someone with such a miserable performance record in just these kinds of projects?

Perhaps we shouldn’t wonder, though. Obama’s first nominee for HHS Secretary, former Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), had to withdraw from consideration under pressure of ethics and tax questions. And who can forget “Turbo-Tax” Timothy Geithner, whose nomination for Treasury Secretary was almost derailed by questions of tax evasion… until he convinced people he was just too dumb to work a simple tax program right.

Vetting is obviously not the President’s strong suit. After all, no one ever asked any tough questions about his background and qualifications (in either election), so why should he do the same for his own nominees? In fact, this excerpt from The New York Times via The Federalist makes one wonder if he was ever really interested in doing the job at all:
Even as the debate about arming the rebels took on a new urgency, Mr. Obama rarely voiced strong opinions during senior staff meetings. But current and former officials said his body language was telling: he often appeared impatient or disengaged while listening to the debate, sometimes scrolling through messages on his BlackBerry or slouching and chewing gum. In private conversations with aides, Mr. Obama described Syria as one of those hellish problems every president faces, where the risks are endless and all the options are bad.
That was in reference to Syria this last summer, which had turned into a genuine crisis for the administration. But we know Obama isn’t really interested in foreign affairs, except for the occasional apology tour. But Obamacare is his baby, the thing he’s most likely to be remembered for in the history books. It’s his New Deal, his Great Society, the great liberal project. Wouldn’t he want to be danged sure the person he put in charge was qualified to carry it out?

In real life, I manage a small staff. I hire, train, evaluate, and, if needed, get rid of each of them. We have a job to do, and seeing that they do their job right is part my job. And I am judged in part on how well my staff does their jobs. The same can be said of any boss, any manager, any…. Chief Executive.

Shouldn’t President Obama be held to that same standard?