New Evangelical Movement Seeks Split From Pro-Israel Line

Dissent within the fold. “This message is resonating with the rising generation,” says Brog.

WASHINGTON — Figures with deep roots in America’s religious right have launched a quiet effort aimed at pushing evangelical Christians away from decades of growing loyalty to Israel and toward increased solidarity with the Palestinians.

The campaign by a coalition of religious leaders, international nonprofits, and activists has taken place in recent years largely behind the scenes and away from the prying eyes of the political press — and it’s being driven by a generation of Evangelicals alienated by the way their faith was yoked to Republican foreign policy during the Bush years. Now, organizations like the Telos Group and the large Christian nonprofit World Vision have joined a small army of ministers and Christian opinion-makers working to reorient Evangelicals’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — producing documentaries about the plight of Palestinian Christians, providing theological rationale for a more “balanced” view of the issue, and taking Evangelicals on trips to the Middle East.

The goal is to soften the bulletproof political alliance between American Evangelicals and Israel — forged over decades of successful courtship by Israeli governments and pro-Israel forces in the U.S. — and to make room on the religious right for Palestinian sympathies. If the movement is successful, it would represent a move toward mainline, politically liberal Christian denominations that have long been aligned with the Palestinian cause. The Presbyterian Church USA, for instance, briefly adopted a policy of divesting from some companies doing business in Israel.

The campaign has alarmed America’s most committed Christian supporters of Israel, who acknowledge their rivals’ message is gaining momentum within the church.

“This effort is being led by Palestinian Christians who, while not always Evangelicals, are quite adept at using evangelical language and imagery in their effort to blame Israel and Israel alone for Palestinian suffering,” said David Brog, executive director of Christians United For Israel, a key group in rallying American Christians to the Jewish state. “The movement has gotten louder because they have more money to spend. So we’re seeing more anti-Israel Christian films, speakers, and conferences. It’s very much grasstops, not grassroots.”

Brog said his rivals’ fledgling success should push Zionists to engage more actively in the evangelical debate over Israel.

“We’re also seeing some signs that this message is resonating with the rising generation of Evangelicals — the millennial Evangelicals,” Brog added. “So we can’t afford to wait. We must speak out and correct the record before more of our young people are led astray.”

One of the evangelical leaders calling for a more “nuanced” view of the conflict is Todd Deatherage, who spent five years in the Bush State Department before co-founding the Telos Group to expose Evangelicals to the complexities of the issue. He said their purpose is not to persuade Christians to turn against Israel, but rather “to affirm and support the dignity of all the people of the Holy Land, to be truly pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian at the same time.”

To achieve this, his group organizes about 15 trips to Israel every year, where American participants — mostly Evangelicals determined to be open-minded and influential in their respective communities — meet with peace activists, victims of violence on both sides of the conflict, and members of the Bethlehem Bible College, which trains Arab Christian pastors. The objective, Deatherage says, is to “change the conversation” among conservative Christians in the U.S.

“We want people to go on these trips and then go back and change others’ minds by talking about their own experience, taking the things they’ve learned and using them to help others understand what it means to be global citizens,” he said.

Lynne Hybels, an evangelical writer and minister heavily engaged in what she calls the “pro-peace” movement in Israel, was even more blunt about their intentions. She said they hope to “build a political constituency that supports peace and supports policymakers with the courage and commitment to work for peace.” As Hybels sees it, that means occasionally standing up for Palestinians — and not allowing Christian critics to get away with accusing them of “abandoning God’s chosen people.”

There has always been a small vocal minority of American evangelical provocateurs who rail against modern-day Israel at progressive political rallies and in the pages of Sojourners magazine. But the current campaign is attracting attention in large part because its leaders boast the kind of conservative Christian credentials even Mike Huckabee could appreciate.

For example, a 2010 documentary questioning the wisdom of Evangelicals’ unwavering commitment to Israel was endorsed by a top official at World Vision, one of the largest Christian humanitarian organizations in the world. The film has since been screened several times at World Vision events, and it received a favorable review in America’s leading evangelical magazine,Christianity Today, which declared, “Christian Zionism is officially on notice.”

Meanwhile, Gabe Lyons — a young evangelical organizer and graduate of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University — has put on series of Christian conferences aimed, in part, at promoting an “open, honest discussion” on the Middle East conflict. Like many of his peers, he believes the evangelical conversation on this topic has been hijacked by political activists — and he wants to reclaim it.

“The evangelical community has only heard one narrative on this issue. Part of the responsibility we have is to make sure they hear the rest of it,” said Lyons, who believes he’s witnessing a shift in opinion among “younger Evangelicals who are just getting full exposure to what’s really happening in the region.”

The foreign policy of the conservative Christian movement has long been defined by a fervent, often biblically inspired, devotion to Israel, with top Republican leaders frequently citing their faith as a driving force in their commitment to protecting the “Promised Land.” This dynamic was most visible during the presidency of George W. Bush, a political icon of Christian conservatism who often framed his agenda for the Middle East — which included an unwavering alliance with Israel — in terms of divine destiny. In the 2012 Republican primaries, Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared, “As a Christian, I have a clear directive to support Israel.”

The case for Israel in American politics is hardly based solely on faith. Evangelicals, like other Americans, hear arguments about Israel’s place as a free-market democracy in a region that’s broadly hostile to American interests. But for many believers, the widespread evangelical view that modern-day Israel represents the fulfillment of God’s covenant with the Jewish people is rooted in the “dispensationalist” theories of 19th-century theologian John Nelson Darby. The idea was popularized among U.S. Christians over several decades, with books like the 1970 best-seller The Late Great Planet Earth — a sort of end-times catalog of world events that supposedly proved Armageddon was only a decade away — and the massively popular Left Behind series. For the vast majority of conservative Evangelicals, it has become an article of faith that Israel deserves the absolute support of America’s diplomatic efforts and military might.

If Evangelicals’ minds are beginning to change — as advocates on both sides of the church’s Israel divide contend — the trend has yet to be borne out in public polling. A Pew survey last year found that a staggering 82% of white Evangelicals believe God gave Israel to the Jewish people — more than twice the proportion of American Jews, and up 10 points from a similar poll in 2005.

Still, Deatherage says Evangelicals don’t need to abandon their theological beliefs about Israel in order to feel Christian sympathy for the suffering of the Palestinians. In fact, Deatherage said the most eye-opening experience for many of the people he takes on Telos trips is interacting with the Palestinian Christian community.

“The fact is that there is a church on the ground,” Deatherage said. “We imagine this conflict to be between Jews and Muslims, and so when people see that there are Christians there, and even Palestinian Evangelicals, they didn’t know that. I mean, there’s a Bible college in Bethlehem, where people talk about their faith the very same way they do, they read the same books, many of them studied in the same universities in the U.S.”

And as several advocates pointed out, even a minor retreat from the religious right’s current hard-line position on Israel would give Republicans substantially more flexibility in their foreign policy. Already, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — whose frequent dustups with Israel hawks in his party have been well-documented — is emerging as a legitimate contender for the 2016 GOP nomination. What’s more, Rex Elsass, a Paul adviser with close ties to the conservative Christian movement, said the senator has managed make inroads with conservative Christian voters despite his mixed record on Israel.

“I love Israel. It’s a place I have a lot of passion for, and a lot of interest in personally,” said Elsass, who is making his third trip to the Holy Land, with Huckabee, later this year. “But obviously, Palestinian Christians need to be treated with respect, and their rights need to be respected… We always prefer that the weapons of war be beaten into ploughshares. And that is certainly something the Judeo-Christian faith is ultimately called to.”

Click to http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/new-evangelical-movement-seeks-split-from-pro-israel-line

ACTS OF FAITH by Gary Wilkerson – David Wilkerson Today – MONDAY, JANUARY 20, 2014

ACTS OF FAITH
by Gary Wilkerson

Once the apostle Peter was miraculously freed from prison (see Acts 12:7-11),
he went to the house of prayer to report the miracle to those who had been
interceding for him. As Peter knocked, the group was still fervently praying
inside. They had no idea how effective their prayers for their brother had
been.

Indeed, Scripture says their prayers were “earnest”—meaning they were
holding on to God and not giving up. This is the kind of prayer Christ calls
His church to. It is persistent and passionate in its desire to see a loved
one, friend or even a city set free.

But an interesting thing happened when these believers learned that their
prayers had been answered: They didn’t believe it! A servant girl told them
Peter was at the gate. “In her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and
reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, ‘You are out
of your mind.’ But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying,
‘It is his angel!’” (12:14-15, ESV). Apparently they believed Herod had
already killed him.

God is in the delivering business. He does the impossible with a single word
and when He sets His people free, they are free indeed. But maybe you have
noticed something in your own life that happens when you struggle with a
problem. That is, God opens the first few gates for you—and then leaves the
last one for you to open by faith. He supernaturally opened gates for Peter,
but this last one required the faith and action of the man.

Why does the Lord do this? He knows that even with our most fervent prayers, we
may still have a tiny corner of unbelief in our hearts. Yes, God is sovereign in
His power but He wants His bride to be involved in His acts of redemption. Every
genuine move of God throughout history has required men and women to stand up
and say, “I want to be counted. I might be weak or shy, but God honors those
who act in faith.”

Yes, it all begins with prayer. Fervent, effectual prayer moves God to open
iron gates and set captives free. Peter’s story makes that clear. But this
scene also shows that if we don’t act in faith to open that last gate, some
captives will remain standing outside. So here is the last part of fervent
prayer: faithful action.

Click to http://sermons.worldchallenge.org/en/node/26156?src=devo-email

International marine science organization releases report on radiation in Pacific Ocean

(NaturalNews) If you’ve heard about Fukushima radiation spreading to the Pacific Coast of North America but were “corrected” by sources both official and expert that this was based more on rumor than reality, then consider the information presented at the October 2013 North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) annual meeting.

Researchers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirmed that the radioactive plume from Fukushima is indeed reaching the shores of Canada and the United States – and was detected at least six months ago – carried both in the ocean surface water and the atmosphere on similar but slightly different courses.

In a presentation titled “Communicating the forecasts, uncertainty and consequences of ecosystem change,” (read here: http://www.pices.int) the Canadian researchers gave evidence that the bulk of radioactivity from Fukushima is shifting almost entirely from the western portion of the North Pacific (Japan) to the eastern portion (North America) over the course of the next five years. As of 2012, it had already reached the central region of the Pacific Ocean, and a previously unpublished map shows that, as of 2013, it had reached the shores of Alaska and British Columbia, with the most intense area of the plume yet to arrive.

The Fall 2013 discussion centered around competing calculations of the severity of effects from cesium-137, based around two differing models of the radiation’s trajectory. The first, published by German researcher Erik Behrens and his colleagues at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in 2012, drastically understates the potential dangers, predicting only modest levels of 2 becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m^3) by 2015 for the 49th parallel near British Columbia and Washington state – scarcely above the background levels from the continued fallout of Chernobyl.

Meanwhile, the second, published by Vincent Rossi and other colleagues from the Climate Change Research Centre in 2013, presents a much more consequential picture. It predicts alarming maximum levels reaching 25 Bq/m^3 at their monitoring station in British Columbia by 2015 and peaks above 30 Bq/m^3. Cesium levels at the 30th parallel – reaching Baja California in Mexico – wouldn’t peak until about 2019, though projected maximum levels would reach only about 15-20 Bq/m^3.

The amount of atmospheric cesium being transported across the ocean via winds remains the unknown yet potentially greater factor. It partially explains the drastic difference in projections, as there are no monitoring stations for airborne radiation in the Pacific and no reliable methods of predicting the scale of its effects. Further, it has only recently been publicly admitted that 300-400 tons of contaminated water have been pouring into the Pacific per day since the meltdown began in March 2011.

The fact is that the initial findings of radioactivity from Fukushima on the shores of Alaska, British Columbia, California and Mexico – confirmed privately within the scientific community months ago – are just the beginning. They are consistent with previous predictions of cesium-137 hitting the West Coast of the continental United States in late 2013 and early 2014. Scientists have acknowledged that it will continue to spread into the Arctic Ocean, reaching eastern Russia and eventually pouring into the Atlantic Ocean.

All models point to increased radiation from here on out. Just how bad it will get remains to be seen, but red flags were raised last week when health officials dismissed concerns about readings taken in San Francisco and posted on the Internet that showed levels as high as 150 counts-per-minute – about five times higher than normal background radiation levels.

Though public authorities continue to ignore warning signs – and refuse to inform the public about the scientific findings in order to quell panic – these radioactive nucleotides bioaccumulate in the food web, and in the human body, and should not be so handily dismissed.

Above normal levels were already detected in milk from the West Coast two years ago, tipping off the scientific community to the fact that rainwater, dairy, produce and meat supplies were already being hit with cesium-137, iodine-131 and possibly strontium-90. Bioaccumulation can greatly concentrate the amounts of radiation present in the environment, such that exposure to cesium through milk or meat – which aggregates the total amounts of radiation present in the water, grass, hay etc. consumed by the cow – could reach dangerous levels in humans.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.turnerradionetwork.com

http://enenews.com

http://www.pices.int

http://iopscience.iop.org

http://www.sciencedirect.com

http://rt.com

http://www.enviroreporter.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

Click to http://www.naturalnews.com/043585_Fukushima_radiation_Pacific_Ocean_marine_science_organization.html

Report: Persecution of Christians reveals most abuse in Muslim countries

Nine of top 10 countries where Christians suffer are Islamic, according to Open Doors USA.

The majority of anti-Christian persecution in the world in 2013 took place at the hands of Muslims, according to a list by Open Doors USA .

The nondenominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide recently released its 2014 World Watch List, that describes and ranks anti-Christian persecution in a list of the 50 worst countries for the past year.

It reported increasing violence against Christians in Africa, and said radical Muslims were the main source of persecution in 36 countries on its list – both in Islamic countries and in non-Muslim countries such as Kenya (ranked 40th), Ethiopia (17th) and Tanzania (49th).

The top country where Christians suffer, for the 12th consecutive year, remained communist North Korea, though the nine following countries in the top ten were Islamic: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen.

Open Doors said earlier this month that it had documented 2,123 “martyr” killings over the year, compared with 1,201 in 2012. There were 1,213 such deaths in Syria alone last year, it said.

“The one glaring fact that emerges from this report,” American-born scholar Raymond Ibrahim said in his analysis of the statistics on the Christian Broadcasting Network News website, “is that the overwhelming majority of Christian persecution around the world today is being committed at the hands of Muslims of all races, languages, cultures and socio-political circumstances: Muslims from among America’s allies (Saudi Arabia) and its enemies (Iran); Muslims from economically rich nations (Qatar) and from poor nations (Somalia and Yemen); Muslims from ‘Islamic republic’ nations (Afghanistan) and from ‘moderate’ nations (Malaysia and Indonesia); [and] Muslims from nations rescued by America (Kuwait).”

Ibrahim, the son of Coptic Christian Egyptian parents, is a Shillman fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum and author of a new book, titled Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians, that documents the suffering of Christians in the region.

He noted that in countries that underwent “Arab Spring” uprisings, increased persecution occurred after the regimes collapsed.

“Muslim persecution of Christians,” Ibrahim said, is “part of a continuum that started nearly 14 centuries ago.”

Click to http://www.jpost.com/International/Report-charting-persecution-of-Christians-worldwide-reveals-most-abuse-in-Muslim-countries-338682

Scientist exposes flu shots lies and doom-and-gloom media propaganda

(NaturalNews) The mainstream media has utterly abandoned science in the push for more flu shot propaganda, entirely failing to mention any of the risks associated with vaccines. According to nearly every story published in the mainstream media, flu shot vaccines offer almost certain protection against the flu while carrying absolute zero risk (risk is never mentioned).

Such a position is utterly anti-scientific. All medical interventions carry inherent risk, and this is especially so when vaccines admittedly contain mercury, MSG, formaldehyde and aluminum, all potent neurotoxic chemicals or heavy metals.

This is why vaccines routinely cause seizures in children, fevers, vomiting, comas and even death. The risk of this becoming known to the public is so great that a private, unconstitutional court called the “vaccine court” was established in order to pay off parents of vaccine-damaged children while requiring them to sign non-disclosure agreements to force them into silence. (Click here to see the astonishing video revealing this.)

Media stories that don’t mention flu shot risks are irresponsible and may cause harm to the public

Any media source that publishes an article pushing flu shots without offering a reasonable discussion of the inherent risk from doing so is acting in a highly irresponsible manner, potentially putting millions of children in harm’s way. Yet mainstream media journalists routinely fail to discuss any risks whatsoever of vaccines, almost as if such risks did not exist.

These journalists are either scientifically illiterate and not aware of such risks, or they are actively deciding to censor such discussions from their stories, thereby conspiring with the vaccine industry to keep the public ignorant of a medical intervention which may cause them serious harm or death. Such actions are highly unethical and smack of a complete lack of journalistic professionalism.

Watch the new Health Ranger video explanation

To learn more about flu shot propaganda, media lies and the abandonment of real science by the vaccine industry, watch this new screencast video I just posted:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IR4_0nK7gA

Click to http://www.naturalnews.com/043575_scientist_flu_shot_lies_media_propaganda.html

America’s Number One Prescription Sleep Aid Could Trigger ‘Zombies,’ Murder and Other Disturbing Behavior

Ambien is becoming better known for triggering bizarre behavior than it is for treating insomnia.

On March 29, 2009, Robert Stewart, 45, stormed into the Pinelake Health and Rehab nursing home in Carthage, North Carolina and opened fire, killing eight people and wounding two. Stewart’s apparent target was his estranged wife, who worked as a nurse in the home. She hid in a bathroom and was unharmed. Stewart was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder; if convicted, he could face the death penalty. Even though there was evidence that Stewart’s actions were premeditated (he allegedly had a target), Stewart’s defense team successfully argued that since he was under the influence of Ambien, a sleep aid, at the time of the shooting, he was not in control of his actions. Instead of the charges sought by the prosecutors, Stewart was convicted on eight counts of second-degree murder. He received 142 – 179 years in prison.

Ambien, a member of the class of medications known as hypnotics, was approved by the FDA in 1992. It was designed for short term use to combat insomnia and was a welcome change from the prevailing sleep aid at the time, Halcion, which had been implicated in psychosis, suicide, and addiction and had been banned in half a dozen countries. Ambien works by activating the neurotransmitter GABA and binding it to the GABA receptors in the same location as the benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium. The extra GABA activity triggered by the drug inhibits the neuron activity that is associated with insomnia. In other words, it slows down the brain. Ambien is extremely effective at initiating sleep, usually working within 20 minutes. It does not, however, have an effect on sustaining sleep unless it is taken in the controlled release form.

Although the Ambien prescribing information warned, in small print, that medications in the hypnotic class had occasional side effects including sleep walking, “abnormal thinking,” and “strange behavior,” these behaviors were listed as extremely rare, and any anecdotal evidence of “sleep driving,” “sleep eating,” or “sleep shopping”—all behaviors now associated with Ambien blackouts—were characterized as unusual quirks, or attributed to mixing the medication with alcohol. It wasn’t until Patrick Kennedy’s 2006 middle-of-the-night car accident and subsequent explanation to arriving officers that he was running late for a vote that the bizarre side effects of Ambien began to receive national attention. Kennedy claimed that he had taken the sleep aid and had no recollection of the events that night. After its approval, Ambien quickly rose to dominance in the sleep aid market. Travelers swore by it to combat jet lag, and women, who suffer more insomnia than men, bought it in droves. Sanofi, Ambien’s French manufacturer, made $2 billion in sales at its peak. In 2007 the generic version of Ambien was released, Zolpidem, and at less than $2 per pill, it still remains one of the most prescribed drugs in America, outselling popular painkillers like Percocet and prescription strength ibuprofen.

Shortly after the Kennedy incident, Ambien users sued Sanofi because of bizarre sleep-eating behaviors while on the drugs. According to Chana Lask, attorney for the class action suit, people were eating things like buttered cigarettes and eggs, complete with the shells, while under the influence of Ambien. Lask called people in this state “Ambien zombies.” As a result of the lawsuit, and of increasing reports coming in about “sleep driving,” the FDA ordered all hypnotics to issue stronger warnings on their labels.

In addition to giving consumers extra information so they could take the medication more carefully, the warning labels also gave legitimacy to the Ambien (or Zombie) defense. In March of 2011, Lindsey Schweigert took one Ambien before getting into bed at 6pm. Hours later, she woke up in custody with no idea how she’d gotten there. In the following weeks, Schweigert pieced together the events of that night. She’d gotten out of bed, drawn a bath, and left the house with her dog. She started driving to a local restaurant but crashed into another car soon after leaving her house. Police described her as swaying and glassy-eyed. She failed a sobriety test and was charged with DWI and running a stoplight.

Schweigert had a job that required a security clearance. She had never been in trouble with the law before and was terrified of losing her job and having a criminal record. Prosecutors initially wanted to impose a six month jail sentence in addition to other punishments, but Schweigert’s lawyer argued that Lindsey’s bizarre behavior on the night in question was a result of a medication which warned right on the label that “After taking AMBIEN, you may get up out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing. The next morning, you may not remember that you did anything during the night…Reported activities include: driving a car (“sleep-driving”), making and eating food, talking on the phone, having sex, sleep-walking.”  In fact, the lawyer argued, Schweigert should have been taken to a hospital, not to jail. Prosecutors dropped the charges and allowed Lindsey to plead to the lesser charge of careless driving, which meant that she could keep her security clearance. Her license was suspended for a year, however, and she had to pay upwards of $9,000 in legal fees.

As a result of the Schweigert verdict, an attorney successfully used the Ambien defense to overturn a 2006 DWI conviction for a New Jersey woman by arguing that the drug’s labeling had changed six months after his client’s arrest. The court agreed, saying that it would be an “injustice to hold her responsible for the undisclosed side effects of a popular and readily available medication that she was lawfully prescribed and properly administered.”

The Ambien defense was also used in the case of Julie Ann Bronson, a 45-year-old flight attendant from Texas. In April of 2009, Bronson took a couple of Ambien to help her sleep. She had been drinking wine earlier in the day, and went to bed early. She awoke the following morning in jail, still in her pajamas, barefoot and terrified. When she was told that she had run over three people, including an 18-month-old girl who suffered severe brain damage as a result of the wreck, she was horrified. “It was surreal. It was like a bad dream.” In May of 2012, Bronson pleaded guilty to the felonies of intoxication assault and failure to stop and render aid. “I did the crime but I never intended to do it,” she testified. “I wouldn’t hurt a flea. And if I would have hit somebody, I would have stopped and helped. We’re trained in CPR.” Bronson faced ten years, but because of the Ambien defense, she will serve six months in prison and have ten years of probation.

Not all prosecutors will consider the Ambien defense, and its position within established criminal rules is tenuous. It doesn’t really fall under “voluntary intoxication,” in which someone is responsible for his own intoxication and any events that occur as a result of that intoxication. The Ambien defendants knowingly took the drug, but they were not aware that they were drugging themselves in a way that could produce anything other than sleep. Nor does the Ambien defense fit under “involuntary intoxication,” which is when someone commits a crime after being drugged without his knowledge, or has an unpredictable reaction to a prescribed medication. The defendants knowingly took the medication, and the reactions, although surprising, were not unpredictable because they are listed as potential side effects in the prescribing information. Finally, there is the “unconsciousness/sleepwalking” defense, in which the person is not responsible for the crime if he did not intentionally cause the sleepwalking or unconsciousness. The whole motivation for taking Ambien in the first place is presumably to cause unconsciousness so this defense doesn’t really apply either.

Not everyone who engages in bizarre behavior as a result of taking Ambien ends up in legal trouble. And some people enjoy the high they get from the drug so much that they are willing to overlook the blackouts and negative consequences that result from their drug use. Most recreational users started out taking the drug to treat insomnia, but found that if they fought the drug’s sleep-inducing effect, they could get really high. “It’s like having that last drink at the bar when you know you should go home — I’d fight the pill’s effects and stay up, often telling my friends insane things like how to turn the light in the room into energy, or how paintings of forest scenes on their walls were actually drawings of mermaids bathing themselves in blood,” writes one young woman whose addiction to Ambien caused increasingly bizarre and alienating behavior. She continued taking the pill and staying awake regularly until one morning she woke up with two black eyes and a cut across her nose. Her pillows were bloody, and there was a stranger, naked and wrapped in a rug, on her floor. Neither she nor the stranger had any recollection of the events of the previous night. That situation, though jarring, was not enough to get her to give up Ambien; the high was too good. She took a break, but was soon back to taking it regularly, filled with rationalizations for her erratic behavior (All 20-somethings take drugs!) It wasn’t until she was found wandering the Brooklyn streets in the middle of the night, nearly naked, that she was able to give it up for good.Ironically, you are more likely to be successful using the Ambien defense if you injure or kill someone than if you just crash into a parked car or a tree. DWI laws usually just require the prosecution to prove that the defendant was loaded and got into a car to drive. There’s no requirement to show intention. When someone is harmed, however, it is up to the prosecutor to prove that the defendant was aware enough to be guilty of the crime. If people on Ambien are acting in an automatic, or unconscious state, it’s hard to claim that they have knowledge of their actions. That’s why people like Lindsey Schweigert get suspended licenses while Donna Neely, who was sleep-driving on Ambien and killed a mother of 11, was acquitted of vehicular manslaughter.

Rapper Eminem, whose albums have titles like “Relapse” and “Recovery,” has been open about his battles with prescription drug addiction, including his near overdose on methadone, his relapse, and his eventual detox.  He blames Ambien, however, for huge lapses in his memory over five years and an extended period of writer’s block. “…a lot of my memory is gone. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken Ambien, but it’s kind of a memory-eraser. That shit wiped out five years of my life. People will tell me stories, and it’s like, “I did that?” I saw myself doing this thing on [television network] BET recently, and I was like, “When was that?”” Eminem has kept some of his writing from that period, admitting to Rolling Stone that “It fucking creeps me out…Letters all down the page – it was like my hand weighed 400 pounds. I have all that shit in a box in my closet. As a reminder that I don’t ever want to go back.”

Tiger Woods was also famously associated with Ambien when one of his mistresses claimed that she and the golfer would have “crazy Ambien sex.” Ambien lessens inhibitions and erases memories, an ideal combination for someone who is cheating on his spouse. The buzz created by the drug appears to enhance sex as well. One woman described feeling “very relaxed and sensual” when she had sex on Ambien. “I suddenly have floaty energy. . I am tired, but energetic. It’s almost like I’m in a dreamlike state. I might compare it a little to weed, but nothing that I’ve done really compares, to be honest.”

The darker flipside to Ambien’s purported sex-enhancing qualities is that it is becoming increasingly used as a date rape drug. In fact, the only case of “sleep-sex” that appeared in a 2008 medical journal review of case reports on Ambien-related sleep behaviors involved the Ambien taker being raped.  The same lack of inhibition combined with amnesia that allows people to commit crimes, indulge in dishonest behavior, and have great sex on Ambien is also an ideal formula for a sexual predator. Ambien is also much more widely available and easily accessible than rohypnol, the drug usually associated with date rape.

Ambien is an effective sleep aid and a huge money maker for its manufacturer. Most people take it as prescribed and treat their insomnia successfully with no problems. But the problems that do occur with the drug are often extreme and tragic, and they seem to be increasing. (These cases only scratch the surface – currently a man in Northern California is using the Ambien defense to fight a charge of second degree sexual abuse of a minor and third degree sexual abuse of a minor. He allegedly molested a 10-year-old girl in April of 2012. He has no recollection of the alleged molestation and a polygraph test supports his claim. His court case is set for March. There is also a whole website,Ambien Outrage, dedicated to making “the public aware of the dangers of Ambien, Ambien CR and Zolpidem.” Additionally it maintains a database of “victims of Ambien,” those people who have either been harmed or killed by people on Ambien, or who have themselves committed bizarre acts while on Ambien.)

In May of last year, the FDA acted again to change the labeling on Ambien, this time lowering the recommended dose and warning people who take the controlled release version that they “should not drive or engage in other activities that require complete mental alertness the day after taking the drug because zolpidem levels can remain high enough the next day to impair these activities.”  If the whole idea of taking a sleep aid is to treat insomnia so that you can function more effectively during the day, being instructed to avoid driving and other activities that require mental alertness seems to defeat the purpose of taking the drug in the first place.

The DEA categorizes drugs according to their potential for abuse and addiction. Schedule I drugs are the most likely to be abused, and Schedule V drugs have the least potential for abuse or addiction. Ambien is a schedule IV drug, and can be prescribed and refilled without restriction. Some toxicologists, such as Janci Lindsay, believe that many Ambien-related tragedies would be avoided if the drug were upgraded to Schedule II, a category that includes controlled substances such as Ritalin and Oxycontin. Other countries, such as Australia, Taiwan, and Japan, have all issued special warnings about Ambien and have begun regulating the drug more carefully ever since reports started surfacing about “potentially dangerous” Ambien-induced behaviors.

Julie Ann Bronson took ambien and then later got out of bed and got behind the wheel in a blackout. She ended up running over people and causing a baby to have severe brain damage. Lindsey Schweigert also got out of bed, unconscious, and engaged in bizarre behavior before crashing her car. Even in the wake of these and other tragedies, Sanofi still maintains that “When taken as prescribed, Ambien is a safe and effective treatment for insomnia.” Sanofi also points out that the prescribing literature warns patients not to drive or to get out of bed after taking the medication.

Just think: If only Julie, Lindsey, and countless others had followed Sanofi’s instructions and not gotten out of bed, all these tragedies could have been prevented!

Merck is currently working on a new sleep medication which acts on different receptors than the hypnotic medications. In early studies, the drug appears to be effective at treating insomnia while lacking the disturbing side effects of the hypnotics. If successful, the drug would be a much needed alternative to the current group of sleep aids which all work the same way in the brain. It’s not clear, however, that any new medication could even make a dent in the $1.6 billion U.S. market for insomnia treatments currently dominated by Ambien.

Click to http://www.alternet.org/drugs/americas-number-one-prescription-sleep-aid-could-trigger-zombies-murder-and-other-disturbing?ak_proof=1&akid=.1121926.wDJK8-&rd=1&src=newsletter948677&t=11&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

TeshuvahRoad

Ambien is just as Dangerous as Narcotic and Dangerous Prescription Drugs!

California governor declares drought emergency

Low snowpack in the Sierra will not ease water woes.

SACRAMENTO — In what could become one of California’s biggest crises in years, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought emergency Friday, an action that sets the stage for new state and federal efforts.

The governor also wants to focus Californians on the possibility of water shortages.

“All I can report to you is it’s not raining today and it’s not likely to rain for several weeks,” Brown said in a news conference in San Francisco. On Thursday, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center forecast below normal precipitation for two-thirds of California through April.

Brown’s proclamation allows California to request a broad emergency declaration from President Barack Obama, which would expedite some water transfers, provide financial assistance and suspend some state and federal regulations.

The situation in most of California and northern Nevada is extremely dry, according to the most recent report Thursday from the U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal website that tracks drought nationwide. Almost 99% of California is considered abnormally dry or worse; almost two-thirds of the state is in extreme drought.

2013 became the driest year on record in California; San Francisco had the least rain since record keeping there began during the gold rush of 1849.

For the past few weeks, Golden State lawmakers and California residents have been urging Brown to make the drought official, a situation made clear with bleak news from the first Sierra snowpack measurement of the season Jan. 10.

The northern Sierra has a snowpack that’s only 8% of normal for this date, according to the latest measurements released Thursday from the California Department of Water Resources. The central Sierra is at 16% of normal; the southern Sierra at 22%. Last year at this time, snowpack was normal or exceeded it.

The mountain snowpack, while a boon for Lake Tahoe ski resorts, also acts like a reservoir during winter and early spring, providing the state with its biggest and most reliable water supply.

Brown is urging voluntary water conservation to the tune of a 20% reduction. But he stopped short of saying such a reduction should be mandatory — for now, at least.

“We ought to be ready for a long, continuous, persistent effort,” including the possibility of drinking-water shortages, he said. “I think the drought emphasizes that we do live in an era of limits, that nature has its boundaries.”

The chairwoman of the state Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee sees the problem as an opportunity for the state to change the way it deals with water.

“With a hotter and drier future, we can’t duplicate water policies of the 20th century to address challenges of the 21st,” Sen. Fran Pavley, a Democrat like Brown, from Agoura Hills in Southern California. “We need to be resourceful and create new water supplies with cost-effective, sustainable strategies.”

Brown’s executive order directs state officials to offer extra help to farmers and California communities by allowing water managers to move water more quickly to rights-holders. And it qualifies agriculture interests for federal programs meant to help with unemployment and financial losses.

Most of California’s farmers rely on irrigation to grow hundreds of crops including broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, melons, lettuce and tomatoes year-round that are shipped across the USA. Some growers have had to leave fields fallow as their water allocations have run dry, affecting crops and jobs.

Across the state, agriculture is responsible for more than three-quarters of California’s water use, according to a 2009 UCLA report.

“Drought conditions are wreaking havoc on farmers in California, especially in the San Joaquin Valley” from south of Sacramento to Bakersfield,” Tom Nassif, Western Growers president and chief executive, said in a statement thanking Brown for his executive order. “The situation is dire and requires the full attention of state and federal leaders, which is why the declaration is so important.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that counties in 11 states qualify as primary natural disaster areas. The designation for some counties in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah means eligible farmers can qualify for low-interest emergency loans from the department.

Brown also directed state agencies to use less water than they do now and to hire more firefighters for what already is a very dry winter. The state had six active wildfires Friday, including one that started as a campfire Thursday, destroyed five homes and threatened neighborhoods east of Los Angeles.

State water experts have compared current conditions to the bleak 1976-77 drought season in California, one that Brown also oversaw during his first term in office. The governor fielded a question about the comparisons Friday and simply said it’s a reminder that Californians need to look back at the conservation efforts of that era and how they use water in 2014.

“This effort is a call to arms,” he said.

California droughts

California periodically has peaks and troughs of precipitation across the state, but only once in almost 120 years — in 1982 — has the statewide average exceeded 40 inches. Below are the nine multi-year droughts in the state since 1900.

• 1918-20

• 1923-26

• 1928-35

• 1947-50

• 1959-62

• 1976-77

• 1987-92

• 2000-02

• 2007-09

Source: California Department of Water Resources

Click to http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/01/17/california-drought-emergency/4581761/

Calif. governor proclaims state in a drought

LOS ANGELES –  California is nearly as dry as it’s ever been. High water marks rim half-full reservoirs. Cities are rationing water. Clerics are praying for rain. Ranchers are selling cattle, and farmers are fallowing fields.

Gov. Jerry Brown formally proclaimed a drought Friday, saying California is in the midst of perhaps its worst dry spell in a century. He made the announcement in San Francisco amid increasing pressure from lawmakers and as firefighters battled flare-ups in a Southern California wildfire that chased thousands of people from their homes.

Unless the state gets significant rainfall in the next two months, television sets glowing with wildfires could play like reruns throughout the year.

Reservoir levels in the north and central parts of the state were more depleted than in Southern California, but Brown still asked Los Angeles to do its part to conserve — and gave a nod to the politics of water in the vast state.

“The drought accentuates and further displays the conflicts between north and south and between urban and rural parts of the state. So, as governor, I’ll be doing my part to bring people together and working through this.”

Farmers and ranchers in the nation’s No. 1 farm state already are making hard choices to conserve. Some cities are in danger of running out of water. And the first snow survey of the winter found more bare ground than fluffy white stuff — a key barometer of future supply.

“I am a fifth-generation cattle rancher, and it has never been this bad ever in my lifetime — and from my family’s history, it’s never been anywhere close to this bad ever,” said Kevin Kester, 58. He said his family’s records show the area’s worst drought previously was in the 1890s.

Kester’s Central California ranch normally gets 20 inches of rain between October and April. It’s gotten about a half-inch of precipitation since late fall. His cattle usually graze on lush green hillsides in winter. Now, they’re eating hay instead — a proposition that is too expensive to continue for long.

“I hope it’s something we can tell our great-grandkids about, but right now we’re just trying to figure out how we’re going to survive,” he said.

The drought doesn’t bode well for California’s notorious wildfire season, either.

Previous super-dry years led to catastrophic wildfire seasons in California in 2003 and 2007, said Tom Scott, a natural resources specialist with the University of California system. Fire crews beat back a wildfire southeast of Los Angeles earlier this week, but it was a stark reminder of the dry and dangerous conditions.

“People say that the fire season is starting early, but I guess you could say it never ended,” Scott said. “If you live in the backcountry, come July you probably should be thinking about putting your valuables in storage.”

Droughts also are persisting or intensifying elsewhere in the U.S.

On Wednesday, federal officials said they were designating portions of Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Oklahoma and California as primary natural disaster areas, highlighting the financial strain facing farmers in those regions.

Even in the moist Pacific Northwest, things were a little bit drier.

In Seattle, rainfall dropped by nearly 70 percent in December, with just 1.66 inches falling. Ski resorts are opening several weeks late, and a Bavarian-themed town in the Cascade Mountains had to modify its annual “ice fest” because there isn’t enough snow on the ground for activities. A plan to truck in snow was scrapped with high temperatures forecast this weekend.

And despite heavy flooding in Colorado in September, large portions of Colorado and Wyoming are abnormally dry, while ranchers on the plains of southeastern Colorado have severe drought conditions.

In California, the governor’s drought declaration will help battle unemployment in the agriculture industry as fields are left fallow.

Nearly 10,000 people lost their jobs during the last drought in 2009, said Karen Ross, California’s agriculture secretary. The drought also increases the burden on food banks in rural and agricultural communities.

The lack of rain also could have long-standing implications for the demand for crops that are almost entirely exclusive to California.

Eighty percent of the world’s almonds, for example, are grown in California, and the Almond Board of California receives 3 cents for every pound sold to build future demand for the nut. With many almond growers having to irrigate their crops three months early, a smaller crop might put a dent in the board’s ability to market almonds as broadly as it has been, said David Phippen, an almond grower who serves on the board.

“There’s huge implications everywhere you look,” he said. “What about five years down the road?”

Click to http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/01/17/calif-governor-proclaims-state-in-drought/

The Red Shield, Intel Security Group & Wearable Tracking Devices

Brian Krzanich, chief executive officer at Intel, spoke at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) about the rebranding of the newly acquired McAfee.

Although Intel will retain McAfee’s red shield logo; their “products will be rebranded” to match the new Intel Security Group (ISG).

Krzanich said: “Intel’s intent is to intensify our efforts dedicated to making the digital world more secure, and staying ahead of threats to private information on mobile and wearable devices.”

Doug Davis has been chosen as head of the Intel Internet of Things Solutions Group (ITSG). The group’s focus is on markets such as:

• Industrial automation
• Retail
• Aerospace
• Automotive
• Storage
• Communications systems

Krzanich demonstrated to the audience new devices such as:

• Wearable health and biometric devices
• Small wireless computers for appliances
• Stylish bowl-shaped mobile phone charger

Krzanich explained the benefits of having an electromagnetic energy pad that will recharge a cell phone.

Having appliances and electronics blend into everyday life, Krzanich believes that customers will appreciate that their electronics has lost their traditional look.

Krzanich remarked: “We’re looking at a broad ecosystem of wearables, not just the device or the silicon.”

One of the devices unveiled is intended for children.

This smartwatch is equipped with “geo-fencing” that will alert parents that their child has walked off, or possibly disappeared after not coming home on time.

Geo-fencing can be used at home, for school or in a familial neighborhood where the location of children can be assessed because they are wearing a device that uses GPS tracking and location.

Two years ago, Texas was the scene of the implementation of the Student Locator Project (SLP) which used radio frequency identification technology (RFID) to “make schools safer, know where our students are while at school, increase revenues, and provide a general purpose ‘smart’ ID card.”

The “smart” ID card allow students to:

• Check out library books
• Register for classes
• Pay for school lunch daily

This scheme also allowed for tracking of students to deter them from skipping classes.

RFID chips used in cell phones can track a user within centimeters of their GPS location thanks to new technology being employed in smartphones.

Apple, Google and Microsoft have been tracking their customers for years, storing personal digital data and collaborating with law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In Maryland, school districts installed PalmSecure, a biometric scanning system that requires elementary students to place their hand on infrared scanners in order to pay for their school lunch.

In 43 schools, Maryland installed a surveillance system with $300,000 of taxpayer money.

The unique nuances of each child’s individual hand will be catalogued and the image encrypted with a numerical algorithm that is combined with the cost of school lunches.

It is predicted that in 75 years “microchips can be installed directly in the user’s brain. Apple, along with a handful of companies, makes these chips. Thoughts connect instantly when people dial to ‘call’ each other. But there’s one downside: ‘Advertisements’ can occasionally control the user’s behavior because of an impossible-to-resolve glitch. If a user encounters this glitch — a 1 in a billion probability — every piece of data that his brain delivers is uploaded to companies’ servers so that they may “serve customers better.”

click to http://www.occupycorporatism.com/red-shield-intel-security-group-wearable-tracking-devices/

Where do religions stand on genetically modified foods? Ethics and Religion Talk

This week’s Ethics and Religion Talk column probes the issue of genetically modified organisms, which are used in food and are a point of contention as to their perceived threats to public health.

By Rabbi David Krishef

“Dennis” writes: I’m wondering about what religions think about Genetically Modified Organisms, particularly for food, when the modification makes it “unnatural” but it also holds out some promise of helping alleviate hunger in the world.

Sandra Nikkel, Ministry Coordinator of the Grand Rapids East Classis and Pastor of the multicultural Ministry at Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, responds:

“Even though there are a lot of benefits that have come to us from genetically modifying organisms, specifically food, I believe that there are great risks involved. No matter how much we have advanced, our knowledge is partial. We do not know all the ways in which this ‘new food’ will affect our bodies. We take something out and put something, we twist and tweak, the quicker the better, and it might take us years to discover how it’s affecting us. The other problem I see is that often it is not any kind of ethical code that rules this practice but the desire to make money—at any cost.”

Sister Mary Timothy Prokes, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, responds:

“Obviously, Sacred Scripture and Tradition do not address “genetically modified organisms” as such. They do, however, provide principles for evaluating them. Among these principles are justice, truthfulness, reverence for creation, and charity. The genetic modification of foods is complex and calls for the application of each of these principles.
In justice, human persons have the right to know that what is presented/sold as food is eatable and if dangers or risks accompany their consumption. In the US, there are no requirements to label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Milk, bacon, beef, chicken, cereals, and many processed foods already contain genetically modified ingredients.

“Major seed companies (who hold patents on modifications developed and employed by them) need to be truthful concerning the impact their products have on farmers, consumers, the seeds of the world, and the environment. Sadly, a major portion of the world’s foods has already been penetrated by GMOs without determining their long term effects on humanity or the earth. Eliminating so-called ‘superweeds’ and ‘superbugs’ that result from the use of pesticides and herbicides containing GMOs requires an increased use of toxic poisons. Reverence for creation requires careful determination of the long term consequences of artificially-contrived seeds and foods, a responsibility that is often dismissed in the struggle for commercial dominance.

“Charitable concern for farmers who want to protect organically grown crops is lost when there is insufficient distance between their fields and GMO-penetrated land, causing cross-pollination. Although commercial firms seek fruits and vegetables of ideal size and color, the natural tastes and textures of GMO-produced foods are altered. In sum, the ethical issues surrounding GMO’s and food are immense.”

Aly Mageed, a physician and Shura member (roughly equivalent to an elder or a member of the Board of Trustees) of the Islamic Mosque and Religious Institute of Grand Rapids, responds:

“[Regarding] GMO’s, I believe that the field is very vast and very rapidly growing and therefore would be difficult to have a general statement. It is also growing faster than bioethicists can have a chance to study all its implications. Without systematically studying all the potential harms and benefits, an opinion will not be truly objective. I would like to see it regulated at least with demanding specific labeling so that the issue can begin to be appropriately studied.”

Fred Wooden, the senior pastor of Fountain Street Church, responds:

“Long before modern science we had genetically modified species. Corn and wheat and other natural plants were once inedible. They were slowly modified by cross breeding and selective fertilization to be the staples we now enjoy. Animals from the horses to the chickens have been bred by humans to suit our needs more than theirs. If we were to be perfectly natural, meaning not interfering with nature in any way, we would have to abandon vaccinations, most drugs, most manufacturing mining and even farming. Clearly, we all ok with modifying nature.

“As saying an absolute no is not possible, we should ask if there is a moral or ethical principle that can prevent us from making a terrible mistake? No, sadly, but there are several principles that can help. One is the principle of stewardship, articulated in Genesis as the responsibility to ’till the garden and keep it.’ Another would be compassion, making choices that avoid causing suffering or permitting it when we can alleviate it. Your question reveals how ethical rules can come into conflict as stewardship would say no to GMO and compassion would say yes.

“What makes us uneasy is not deliberate evil, but unwitting evil. What if some of these changes bring about unknowable horrors in the future? Robert Oppenheimer thought that exact thought when watching the first atomic bomb. And I expect that GMO could be like that – a tremendous blessing and a terrible risk.”

Click to http://www.mlive.com/opinion/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2014/01/where_do_religions_stand_on_ge.html