A DIFFERENT SPIRIT

A DIFFERENT SPIRIT
by Gary Wilkerson

“But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit . . .” (Numbers
14:24, ESV).

What was it about Caleb that caused the Bible to say he had a different spirit?
Are you a man or woman who hungers and thirsts and cries out to God, “Make me
a man or woman of a different spirit”? Or are you a middle-of-the-road
Christian, willing to wander in the wilderness, willing just to spend your life
in mediocrity?

What was it within Caleb and Joshua that set them apart? Why did they have a
different spirit? What sets apart any man or woman who has a different spirit?
Why do they not seem ordinary? What do they have and why do some of us not have
it? How do these men and women get this different spirit? And the most important
question of all, how can I get it?

A young man in our church has set his face like a flint to follow Jesus. When I
am with him I say to myself, “Jesus, I want the kind of desperate spirit this
young man has. I want more of that fire and that unction, that purity and that
holiness.”

This young man says, “I have determined to follow Jesus, not in my own
strength but in the power of the Holy Ghost.” His heart says to me, “I have
determined to walk with clean hands and a pure heart.” In an age of
compromise, he has determined to keep His eyes on Jesus. When others around him
are willing to put on a light show with smoke and mirrors to draw a big crowd,
he is crying out, “Lord, I don’t want that. Yes, I want to have thousands
saved, but I’m hungry for something more of You.”

When I am around this young man of a different spirit, I am provoked to
jealousy. The Holy Spirit allows us to be jealous or envious of someone who has
more of Jesus!

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EU Budget Summit Fails in Echo of Debt-Crisis Stalemate

European Union leaders failed to agree on the 27 nation bloc’s next seven-year budget, replaying the clash between rich and poor countries that has stymied the response to the euro debt crisis.

National chiefs plan another summit early next year, when northern countries including Britain and Germany may have the upper hand in seeking to cut subsidies to lesser-developed southern and eastern economies clamoring for EU investment.

“Anything short of admitting that our talks have been extraordinarily complex and difficult would not reflect reality,”Jose Barroso, head of the European Commission, which manages the subsidy programs, told reporters after a two-day meeting in Brussels.

Britain’s defense of its cash-back guarantee and France’s clinging to farm aid gave the summit the flavor of EU negotiations in the 1970s or 1980s, diluting efforts to equipEurope with a budget to make it more competitive. Eastern and southern countries said reduced financing for public-works projects would condemn them to lag behind the wealthier north.

The euro rose to $1.2977 at 7 p.m. in Brussels from $1.2880 late yesterday. The Euro Stoxx 50 index rose 0.9 percent to 2,557.03.

In the EU’s last budget round, it took two summits, in June and December 2005, to strike a bargain. No date was set for the next negotiations. In the absence of an accord by late 2013, the EU would roll over its annual budget.

One Percent

At stake is a spending plan for the years 2014-2020 that would total about 1 percent of EU-wide gross domestic product. While that sum is paltry compared to the average 50 percent of GDP that each country spends inside its borders, the political resonance is far larger.

Wealthier countries such as Germany, the U.K., Denmark,Sweden and the Netherlands banded together to cut what they pay to the collective pool, pounding away at the original proposal of 1.033 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) that came out in mid-2011.

Germany has led a bloc demanding austerity in Greece and three other bailed-out euro countries in exchange for rescue aid.

By the time the leaders convened yesterday, the figure on the table was 973 billion euros. It was soon trimmed to 971 billion euros, still too much for financially stronger countries that pressed for another 30 billion euros in cuts.

“For the upcoming weeks and months, my feeling is that we can go further, but it takes some preparatory work and it has to be balanced,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy, said.

Cameron’s Rebate

The alliance of spending cutters unraveled, when it came to the financing side of the budget. While U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron defended a rebate won by Margaret Thatcher in 1984, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden sought better terms for their own refunds and Denmark made a bid to join the money- back club.

French President Francois Hollande, for example, paired his farm-aid advocacy with calls for savings elsewhere, since France is among the 11 countries that pay more into the EU budget than they get out. As a result, agriculture was the relative winner as the leaders strengthened some budget lines and pared others.

The latest proposal added 8 billion euros back to the farm budget, taking it to 372 billion euros. Cuts elsewhere left infrastructure at 460 billion euros and immigration and border control at 17 billion euros. The biggest cuts came in foreign policy, down by 5 billion euros to 60.7 billion euros. The proposal left staff costs untouched at 62.6 billion euros.

Hollande’s Check

Taking aim at Cameron’s rebate, Hollande said: “France pays more than Britain; I could ask him for a check.”

For Britain, the summit was about more than euros and cents, testing Britain’s EU influence at a time of mounting pressure for a national referendum on whether to stay in the bloc.

Demanding spending cuts at home, Cameron made a special target of the 50,000 civil servants at EU institutions ranging from the commission and European Parliament, to the Court of Justice and agencies that regulate sectors from fishing to medicines.

“More than 200 Brussels staff earn more than I do,” Cameron said. “Brussels continues to exist as if it’s in a parallel universe.”

Aid Multipliers

Led by Poland, defenders of EU financing pointed out that spending at the European level goes further than money that stays within national borders, since EU subsidies back international projects like pipelines, bridges and airports.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz countered the wealthier countries’ insistence on paying less with the contention that it is cheaper for them to promote European projects, since contracts in Latvia or Slovenia go to companies in places like Germany and Sweden.

“Every euro invested by the EU attracts an average of between 2 and 4 euros in additional investment,” Schulz said. “The EU budget is not a zero-sum game in which one country wins what another loses. Synergies are generated which benefit the net contributors as well.”

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Islamic Terrorists Bomb Egyptian-Gaza Border Base

Terrorists destroyed part of an Egyptian base at Rafiah, challenging Cairo’s control over the Sinai after the ceasefire with Israel.


Islamic terrorists destroyed part of an Egyptian security building at Rafiah Saturday night, challenging Cairo’s control over the Sinai after the ceasefire with Israel. No one was injured in the explosion at the base, under construction n the Egyptians side of Rafiah, the smuggling capital of Gaza.

The attack came 48 hours after Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi granted himself extensive new powers, which were challenged by Cairo’s judiciary.

A separate explosion injured three people further south in the Sinai, where Egypt is building a facility to help it protect the pipeline that ships natural gas to Israel and Jordan. Terrorists have bombed the pipeline more than a dozen times the past two years in an effort to scuttle the agreement to sell gas to Israel.

Saturdays night’s bombing underlined Egypt’s difficulty in re-asserting control over the Sinai, where Hamas terrorists from Gaza, along with Bedouin allies and Al Qaeda-linked terrorist cells, have carved out regions of authority. They have staged increasingly frequent terrorist attacks on Israel. Several Israelis have been killed in the attacks.

Maintaining peace and quiet in the Sinai is a primary task for Egypt, experts said; the new government needs to prove to the United States, Israel, and Hamas that it can carry out its promise to protect Israel from terrorists.

Attacks from the Sinai could undermine the truce, moving the field of battle into the Sinai and eventually spreading back into Gaza, even if Hamas abides by the ceasefire that ended the eight-day Pillar of Defense counterterrorist operation

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Egypt’s Brotherhood calls for protests, judges urge for strikes

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood called for protests across the country on Sunday to support President Mohammed Mursi, while the country’s judges urged for a nationwide strike against a decree they saw as granting Mursi new, extensive powers.

The Brotherhood’s protest requests came as Egypt’s Judges Club, a body that represents judges throughout the country, called for “the suspension of work in all courts and prosecution administrations,” after several hours of emergency talks in response to what they called Mursi’s “ferocious attack on Egyptian justice.”

On the ground, clashes erupted outside the High Court between supporters and opponents of Mursi’s new constitutional declaration while the Judges Club held an hours-long emergency meeting inside.

“Some supporters of the declaration shot off fireworks at the gates of the court, and police fired teargas at protesters after they attempted to storm the building,” reported Egypt Independent.

Protesters favoring the declaration started chanting “the people demand the execution of Abdel Maguid,” according to the newspaper, in reference to former Prosecutor General Mahmoud Abdel Meguid, who was sacked after Mursi’s new declaration and was attending the meeting inside.

During Saturday’s meeting, defiant Egyptian judges demanded the president retract a decree granting himself sweeping powers that put him beyond judicial oversight.

As the judges met, civil groups led former U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, and former presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabbahi, Amr Mussa and Abdelmoneim Abul Futuh, said there could be no dialogue with Mursi until he rescinded the decree.

“We refuse any dialogue with the president until he cancels the constitutional declaration,” according to a joint statement read out at a news conference.

Several judicial bodies have condemned Mursi’s decree, with the Supreme Judicial Council, denouncing it as “an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings.”

Earlier on Saturday, the Judges Club of Alexandria announced a strike in the provinces of Alexandria and Beheira and said they “will accept nothing less than the cancellation of (Mursi’s decree),” which violates the principle of separation of powers, club chief Mohammed Ezzat al-Agwa said.

In the same vain, Egypt’s Shura council (upper house of parliament), dominated mainly by Islamists, said it will hold a meeting Sunday morning to discuss the repercussions of the declaration, according to Al Arabiya.

The president already held both and executive and legislative powers, and his Thursday decree puts him beyond judicial oversight until a new constitution has been ratified in a referendum.

The decree also means that the Islamist-dominated panel drawing up a new constitution can no longer be touched and gives it a two-month extension until February to complete its work.

Rallies by Mursi supporters, foes

A hard core group of opposition activists spent the night in Tahrir Square — the epicentre of the anti-Mubarak uprising — where they erected some 30 tents, an AFP correspondent reported.When others attempted to join them in the morning, police fired volleys of tear gas and forced them to retreat into surrounding streets, reported AFP.

The mainly secular liberals say they are determined to keep up the momentum of protests against Mursi’s decree and have called a new mass protest in Tahrir onTuesday.

The Muslim Brotherhood called on its own supporters to take to the streets on Tuesday in Abdeen Square, just streets away from Tahrir, to show their support for Mursi.

“Egypt is at the start of a new revolution because it was never our intention to replace one dictator with another,” activist Mohammed al-Gamal told AFP, showing his broken spectacles and hand in a plaster cast than he said were the result of police action.

Washington, which only Wednesday voiced fulsome praise for Mursi’s role in brokering a truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers to end eight days of deadly violence, led international criticism of the Islamist president’s move.

But a spokesman for the Freedom and Justice Party, headed by Mursi before his election, said the president’s decree was necessary to cut short the turbulent transition.

“We need stability,” said Murad Ali. “That’s not going to happen if we go back again to allowing the judges, who have personal reasons, to dissolve the constituent assembly in order to prolong the transitional phase.”

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How Can America Turn Back To God?

What can we do to help bring this country back to God? Take a look in 2 Chronicles 20 and see what happens when a nation turns back to God.

It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi).  And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.  So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?  Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?  And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying,  ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’  And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit.  O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.

Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly.  And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.  Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.

 So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”  And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:

“Praise the Lord,
For His mercy endures forever.”

 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.  For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.

 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much.  And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, for there they blessed the Lord; therefore the name of that place was called The Valley of Berachah  until this day.  Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies.  So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the Lord.   And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.   Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.

2 Chronicles 20: 1 – 30

We should look at how Uganda repented of their sins and see the many more blessings America would receive, if we turned back to God.

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JESUS IS OUR JUBILEE!

JESUS IS OUR JUBILEE!
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to
preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the
brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the
prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and
the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn . . . to give unto
them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for
the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the
planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3).

We are familiar with this passage as a proclamation of Christ’s victory over
death and sin. Yet Isaiah is using the language of Jubilee here. He is saying,
“Let the trumpets blast announcing the cheerful, joyous year of liberty our
Savior has given us!”

This passage also refers to the scene of Christ’s ascension into glory. The
heavenly Father, after beholding the awful sufferings of His blessed Son,
prepared for Jesus a glorious entrance into heaven. Indeed, as Christ made His
ascension, He was escorted by a host of angels and multitudes of chariots: “The
chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among
them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high” (Psalm
68:17-18).

Our finite minds cannot begin to conceive of this glorious event. As Christ
approached the eternal city of God, riding on His white horse, He was escorted
by this huge procession. And as He entered the gates, the trumpets of God began
to sound: “God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet”
(Psalm 47:5).

This was the joyful sound—the trumpets blaring, announcing the believers’
year of Jubilee! The sound proclaimed to all humankind, “I have made provision
for you to walk out of prison, to be restored to your family, and to have
everything you need for a fulfilled life. You are free to live without fear of
any enemy. Enter now into My joy!”

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UGANDAN PRESIDENT REPENTS OF PERSONAL, NATIONAL SINS

‘We confess idolatry, witchcraft, political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue’

Should a president lead citizens in a national prayer of repentance?

Uganda’s Christian president believes so.

The Ugandan newssite New Vision reports President Yoweri Museveni celebrated Uganda’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain at the National Jubilee Prayers event by publicly repenting of his personal sin and the sins of the nation.

“I stand here today to close the evil past, and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness,” Museveni prayed.

“We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation. We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal,” Museveni said.

“Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict,” Museveni prayed.

Next, the president dedicated Uganda to God.

“We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own,” Museveni prayed.

Uganda won its independence from Britain Oct. 8, 1962. Resistance leader Milton Obote was the country’s first prime minister.

Massachusetts pastor and activist Rev. Scott Lively believes Museveni is a model for other national leaders.

“The Museveni prayer is a model for all Christian leaders in the world. The leaders of the West have declined in proportion to their degree of rejection of God,” Lively said.

Lively also believes Uganda will rise as a major African power as America continues to decline. He uses Britain as an example.

“Britain was at its height as a world power when it honored God as the Ugandan president has just done. America’s greatness has similarly diminished as we have shifted from a Christian to a secular-humanist country. But watch now for Uganda to be blessed by God for their desire to be His,” Lively said.

Lively added that Museveni is definitely drawing a contrast between Uganda and the West.

“This incident is also important as a contrast to the picture being painted of Uganda by the godless left of a backwards, violent and savage culture intent on murdering homosexuals,” Lively said.

“On the contrary, Museveni is calmly and confidently setting the course of his nation by the guidance of the Bible, in a way that also shows great courage and resolve,” Lively said.

Homosexual activist groups have criticized the government of Uganda and Museveni for passing laws criminalizing homosexual behavior. A current bill before the Ugandan Parliament increases the jail sentences for homosexual acts and includes criminal penalties for those who encourage or promote homosexuality.

The bill had included the death penalty for those who commit multiple acts of homosexual behavior, but the provision has been removed, BBC News reports.

The government of Uganda could not be reached for comment on this story.

Lively said he didn’t agree with the death penalty provision but supports the nation’s strong stance against homosexual behavior.

While Museveni is being held as a model for Christian leaders, Dave Daubenmire, PT Salt Ministries’ president and founder and social commentator, said the problem for Western nations goes deeper than the political leaders.

The problem in the United States, he said, is the pastors.

“Sadly, I think our lack of repentance is the fault of the pulpit. Individual Christians are so awash in sin that they think politicians are merely better at sin than they are,” Daubenmire said.

“There is no fear of the Lord and we are getting essentially a two-kingdom message. We hear that the devil is the god of this world and that Jesus will even the score later,” Daubenmire said. “The problem is that most Christians are convinced that this world is in control of Satan and therefore are not interested in applying the kingdom principles for which Christ died.”

Daubenmire quoted Matthew 28:18, in which Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

Christians, Daubenmire said, are exhorted later in the same chapter to go and make disciples of all nations.

“We are to teach them and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “All power in heaven and in earth belongs to Jesus. Unfortunately, most Christians don’t have the foggiest idea that He rules and reigns here and now, and that the kingdom principles that He taught us bring victory over evil wherever they are applied.”

He added that Christians too often play with sin.

“Since we do not hate sin anymore, we don’t demand repentance,” Daubenmire said.

He quoted British 17th century statesman Edmund Burke, who said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Daubenmire said that in America, “good men have yielded power to evil men.”

“Evil rules when evil men make the rules,” he said.

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Embattled Morsi calls out his backers

Both sides of Egypt’s political divide take to the streets as judges join protest against President’s controversial decree

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has called for a mass demonstration in Cairo this week to show support for the embattled President, Mohamed Morsi, who is facing widespread protests over his controversial decree granting him extensive new powers.

In a statement published on its website, the Brotherhood also called for demonstrations in public squares across the country after early evening prayers today.

The latest blow to Mr Morsi came yesterday when the Supreme Judicial Council, Egypt’s highest body of judges, called the move by the President to grant himself near-absolute power an “unprecedented assault” on the judiciary.

Through their statement, the judges joined a growing list of leaders and activists from Egypt’s political factions, including some Islamists, who have denounced the decree Mr Morsi says is necessary to “protect the revolution”. The council’s move reflects the anger within the judiciary.

Mr Morsi has accused pro-Mubarak elements in the judiciary, many of whom were appointed by the former president, of blocking political progress. In the past year, courts have dissolved the lower house of parliament as well as the first panel drafting the constitution, both led by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The council’s stand against the President sets the ground for an uneasy alliance between former regime officials and activist groups that helped to topple Mubarak’s regime and have in the past derided those officials as “felool”, or remnants.

The Presidents’ opponents see the judiciary as the only civilian branch of government with a degree of independence, as Mr Morsi holds both executive power and legislative authority.

The judges released their statement following an emergency meeting yesterday. They described Mr Morsi’s decree as an “unprecedented assault on the judiciary and its rulings” and called on the President to “distance himself from the declaration and all things that touch judicial authority, its specifications or interference in its members or its rulings.”

The primary court and the judges’ club in Alexandria announced that they and public prosecutors have suspended all work until the declaration is withdrawn, according to the state news agency, MENA.

Parties opposed to the decree have called for a protest on Tuesday in Cairo, though in a different square from the one where the Brotherhood called on its supporters to gather.

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Electronic tracking: new constraint for Saudi women

Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple.

The husband, who was travelling with his wife, received a text message from the immigration authorities informing him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh.

“The authorities are using technology to monitor women,” said columnist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the “state of slavery under which women are held” in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the “yellow sheet” at the airport or border.

The move by the Saudi authorities was swiftly condemned on social network Twitter — a rare bubble of freedom for millions in the kingdom — with critics mocking the decision.

“Hello Taliban, herewith some tips from the Saudi e-government!” read one post.

“Why don’t you cuff your women with tracking ankle bracelets too?” wrote Israa.

“Why don’t we just install a microchip into our women to track them around?” joked another.

“If I need an SMS to let me know my wife is leaving Saudi Arabia, then I’m either married to the wrong woman or need a psychiatrist,” tweeted Hisham.

“This is technology used to serve backwardness in order to keep women imprisoned,” said Bishr, the columnist.

“It would have been better for the government to busy itself with finding a solution for women subjected to domestic violence” than track their movements into and out of the country.

Saudi Arabia applies a strict interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, and is the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive.

In June 2011, female activists launched a campaign to defy the ban, with many arrested for doing so and forced to sign a pledge they will never drive again.

No law specifically forbids women in Saudi Arabia from driving, but the interior minister formally banned them after 47 women were arrested and punished after demonstrating in cars in November 1990.

Last year, King Abdullah — a cautious reformer — granted women the right to vote and run in the 2015 municipal elections, a historic first for the country.

In January, the 89-year-old monarch appointed Sheikh Abdullatif Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh, a moderate, to head the notorious religious police commission, which enforces the kingdom’s severe version of sharia law.

Following his appointment, Sheikh banned members of the commission from harassing Saudi women over their behaviour and attire, raising hopes a more lenient force will ease draconian social constraints in the country.

But the kingdom’s “religious establishment” is still to blame for the discrimination of women in Saudi Arabia, says liberal activist Suad Shemmari.

“Saudi women are treated as minors throughout their lives even if they hold high positions,” said Shemmari, who believes “there can never be reform in the kingdom without changing the status of women and treating them” as equals to men.

But that seems a very long way off.

The kingdom enforces strict rules governing mixing between the sexes, while women are forced to wear a veil and a black cloak, or abaya, that covers them from head to toe except for their hands and faces.

The many restrictions on women have led to high rates of female unemployment, officially estimated at around 30 percent.

In October, local media published a justice ministry directive allowing all women lawyers who have a law degree and who have spent at least three years working in a lawyer’s office to plead cases in court.

But the ruling, which was to take effect this month, has not been implemented.

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TEXAS STUDENT SUCCESSFULLY DEFIES ‘TOTAL SURVEILLANCE STATE,’ CITING ‘MARK OF THE BEAST’

The idea of being tracked wherever one goes by a government computer chip may sound like something out of Science Fiction dystopia films like “V for Vendetta” or “Total Recall,” but apparently, it’s actually happening. And at least one Texas high school student has embarked on a mission to stop it.

Meet Andrea Hernandez, a sophomore at Texas’ John Jay High School Science and Engineering Academy, and a resistor against a new program there that enables the school to track its pupils: The proposed “tracking” method would require students to wear badges containing Radio Frequency Initiation (RFID) chips, and then track the chips embedded in the badges, presumably as a means of ensuring students don’t play hooky or go off-campus without permission, etc.

But Hernandez refuses to play along with the badges, even braving the threat of expulsion to do so. Why? Because she believes they’re Satanic, according to the blog God Discussion:

The choice has not been without controversy, as several parents have come forward with negative comments regarding their children.

Hernandez is claiming religious principles for refusing to carry her ID card, stating that she believes it is satanic, specifically calling it the “mark of the beast,” in reference to one of the interpretations of Christian biblical prophecy as outlined in the apocalyptic book, Revelation.

And while Hernandez’s reasons might strike some as odd, she’s having more success than one might initially expect, due partially to legal support from the nonprofit Rutherford Institute, which just successfully blocked her expulsion in court. Russia Today reports:

 

Andrea Hernandez was told she’d be expelled from John Jay High School’s Science and Engineering Academy in San Antonio starting next week if she insists any further on disobeying a new policy that requires students to wear ID badges equipped with tiny Radio Frequency Identification (“RFID”) chips. Now attorneys with the Rutherford Institute say Hernandez has been granted a temporary restraining order that will prohibit the Northside Independent School District from relocating the student to another facility.

“The court’s willingness to grant a temporary restraining order is a good first step, but there is still a long way to go — not just in this case, but dealing with the mindset, in general, that everyone needs to be monitored and controlled,”Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead says in a statement.

“Regimes in the past have always started with the schools, where they develop a compliant citizenry. These ‘Student Locator’ programs are ultimately aimed at getting students used to living in a total surveillance state where there will be no privacy, and wherever you go and whatever you text or email will be watched by the government.”

According to San Antonio’s KENS5 News, a judge gave Hernandez a temporary restraining order from the school district and ruled on Wednesday that the principal’s orders to make the surveillance mandatory were a violation of the student’s speech and religion.

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