Current events and my own personal commentary on things that relate Bible prophecy.

Oct 1

The Hijackers Are Burning In Hell

Since the events of Sept 11, I've read 100s of stories on the subject of the terrorist attacks, and nearly every conceivable angle has been discussed. There is one point of view the press failed to even bring up once - where are the hijackers now?

Life is full of mysteries and measures of uncertainty, but some things are so obvious, you just know them to be true. The sun rises every morning, street lights come on at night, and suicidal terrorist that kill 6000 innocent people go directly to a fiery place called hell.

It seems to be an open and shut case that the terrorist are in a the infamous place of eternal torment. I can understand the liberal media's failure to address this reality. Nearly 90 percent of them are atheists or agnostic about the afterlife.

However, I think the Church should be ashamed of it wimpy approach to such a serious matter. I think the Church's lack of response to this growing trend of suicidal killings is a clear indication it lacks conviction on what it believes to be true. Some would say, we don't want to judge these terrorists, but I afraid this is no middle ground here.

The lack of decisiveness is slowly destroying the Christian faith. Was Jesus correct when he said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me?" No one wants to say Jesus was a liar, but we're doing just that when we sheepishly proclaim other religions are alternative paths to God.

Is it really true these men are now up in heaven having sexual relations with their harem of 40 virgins. Is Allah now patting each of them on the head and praising them for killing all those infidels? I tend to think not. I'm sure it must have been quite a shock when these men realized they had made the ultimate judgment error.

The US and Europe now finds itself forced to spending billion of dollars on anti-terrorism measures. Because we've already allocated billions to this cause, it's doubtful we'll solve the problem by throwing more money at it.

I think education is the most logical counter measure. It is not a very common thing for an individual to be willing to die for a cause. God designed man with a natural desire for self-preservation. It takes some doing to overcome this mechanism.

Most suicidal terrorists need to undergo a lengthy period of indoctrination before they're ready to carry out their diabolical deeds. If they were confronted beforehand with a message that says terrorism is evil in God's sight, and self-murder is an unforgivable act, I'm sure many of them would reconsider their plans.

The Israel in the Middle

There are many possible long and short term results from a US lead strike on terrorist cells in Afghanistan and possibly other regions of the Middle East. My greatest concern is over what will happen if Israel becomes entangled in the situation.

Right now the American government is trying to line up support from a number of Arab countries. It greatly bothers me how we continually put ourselves in the position of having to beg Arab states to help us. It was the US and Western Europe that saved the Gulf States from being swallowed up by Saddam Hussein's army.

Our so-called Arab friends have repeatedly proven themselves unreliable, and that would include Saudi Arabia. After the Kobar Towers were bombed in 1996, killing 19 US service members, the investigation trail was leading to Iran. When Saudi Arabian officials realized we were getting close to the source, they deadlocked the inquiry by abruptly ending their cooperation. It appears the Saudis didn't want any trouble with Iran.

In the aftermath of one of the greatest terrorist attacks in human history the Saudis flatly refused to allow US and British fighters the right to use its bases to launch air strikes against Osama bin Laden. The Saudi Arabian government has no qualms with the Western allied forces defending them against an Iraqi invasion.

If Israel was to get involved in a major conflict with the Palestinians, it's very possible the coalition we're trying to build would suffer a huge setback. The US is already telling Israel to show restraint in the face of continued terrorist attacks. Of course, it's rather ironic for us to be telling the Israelis to use restraint as the answer to terrorism while at the same time we're preparing to use bombs and missiles as our response to the same type of lawlessness.

National ID Cards: don't leave without it

Not since World War II have the demand for a national ID card been greater. In England Winston Churchill scrapped identity cards after the War, acting partly on a court statement that British women should not be made to suffer the indignity of producing the documents while out shopping.

The US never had an national ID card, but it did have ration cards.

The British government agreed in the early 1950s to abandon the system after Lord Goddard, the Lord Chief Justice, ruled that giving police the power in peacetime to demand an ID card ''from all and sundry, for instance, from a lady who may leave her car outside a shop longer than she should'' was ''un-British'' and might cause resentment.

In the aftermath of devastating terrorist strikes against the New York and Washington, a number of people in the US and Britain are calling for the reintroduction of compulsory national ID cards - carried at all times, shown on demand.

An opinion poll published in the tabloid News of the World claimed 85% of Britons would welcome their reintroduction. The US would be a harder sell but nearly half of the population would now welcome a national ID card.

Some Britons say the cards would reassure them the government is taking action against terror attacks. ''I think that we are all worried at the moment ... everybody feels very, very vulnerable,'' said Una Padel, director of the Center for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London. ''We are looking for something to be done, some reassurance.'' Home Secretary David Blunkett promised that he would not make a ''snap judgment,'' but said the issue of ID cards ''is not going to go away.''

Many police unions have given the idea their backing. But civil libertarians, crime experts, and many politicians warn the cards would do little to prevent terrorism on a scale of the Sept. 11 attacks.

''I'm not really sure that the populace as a whole actually wants to carry around a card with all this information,'' said Apricot Hulse of the Institute of Public Policy Research, a think tank that has long argued against the cards. ''Even more,'' she said, ''I doubt people are really that keen on giving police the right to stop them and demand to see it.''

I was surprised to learn that British driver licenses do not carry a photograph. During World War II, officials said the cards would guard against Nazi spies, but the IDs carried only a number and official stamps, making them easily forged.

Some people are saying a commercial digital ID might be more acceptable and a great convenience in many ways. A combination license, passport, Social Security number, credit card, debit card and door key - an entire, bulging wallet on a single piece of data-impregnated plastic.

Up until now we had book's like George Orwell's 1984 teaching us that an all-knowing government is a terrifying thing, and how can we forget the grotesque images of tattooed Nazi concentration camp victims. I tend to doubt the events of Sept. 11 be enough to mandate the national ID card, however, if their other major terrorist attack, all bets would be off. We've already gone from the impossible to maybe, another strike would have people lining up for their new card.

I'm thinking a majority of you folks that read my comments here are already ahead of me. Yes of course, a national ID card would fit very closely to the Mark of the Beast. I've been asked, "Todd, if they come out with a national ID card will you except it?" I'm answer is, "Sure."

I would not have a problem with a card that has my personal data on it. I don't really care of Big Brother knows every time I buy a Snickers bar at the convenient store. The problem with "the Mark of Beast" will be the requirement that comes with it. By except the Antichrist's mark, will be required to submit to his authority. That oath of allegiance might very well require you to confess that he is divinity.

"He causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." (Rev 13:16-18)

24 Sept

The Hand Of God; The Hand Of Satan

One of my favorite books in the Bible is Job. I've always been particularly fascinated with the part that describes how Satan was granted power to bring a series of calamities to Job's life. As soon as God agreed to give the devil free reign, he was able to totally turn Job's life upside down.

"And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee." (Job 1:14-19)

In this passage Satan demonstrated he has the power to control the minds of the ungodly, he made known he could produce fire from the sky, and he also revealed has power over the wind. His ability to manifest all these disasters at the same time indicated he has enormous intellectual capabilities.

As we get closer to the tribulation, I fear Satan's influence will grow stronger. Once God lifts his hand of protection, mankind stands little chance of being able to resist a demonic attack.

I've been wondering if the World Trade Center and the Pentagon terror attacks were a Job like occurrence. If Satan had free latitude to bring about these events, it wouldn't matter how many security personnel we had on duty that day.

If Osama bin Laden has Satan's protection, we may find the task of capturing or killing him a near impossibility. During World War II, Adolf Hitler was so possessed by the devil, he miraculously survived numerous attempts on his life.

I firmly believe, in the past, prayer had more to do with defeating our enemies of the past than tanks, bombs, and smart weapons. Today all the prayers I'm hearing seem misdirected or wishy-washy.

The Islamic Lie

One of the most surprising thing I've observed the last couple of weeks is the liberal media's unending apologetic support for Islam. We are constantly being told by the press, the terrorists that attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon do not represent the opinion of general Muslim populous.

The liberal media has been worried sick that people will take a negative view of Islam. I've heard a number of times the word Islam means "peace." This is an outright falsehood. Islam doesn't mean "peace" it means "submission." And if you know your Islamic history, this faith's interpretation of submission can be only found coming from the edge of a sword or out of the barrel of a gun.

We're told that the terrorist were part of a small group of radical fanatics, and that your average Muslim would never condone this type of behavior. It is true people that are willing to die for the faith are a rare breed of individuals, however, the teachings that inspire them are not so unique.

The Koran clearly says dying in Martyrdom will guarantee a person's passage into heaven. "Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance from their Lord. They rejoice in the Bounty provided by Allah...the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve. They rejoice in the Grace and the Bounty from Allah, and in the fact that Allah suffereth not the reward of the Faithful to be lost (in the least)." (3:169-71)

Throughout the world brutality seems to be the calling card of the encroachment of Islam. In the Philippines tourist are kidnapped and beheaded for the cause of setting up an Islamic state, in Algeria entire villages are wiped out by Muslim rebels, in Sudan Christians are forced into slavery, in Afghanistan you can be publicly shot for having a beard that is too short, and in Chad children's arms and legs are chopped off as a tool of Islamic terror control.

Instead of the Sept 11 terrorist attacks being a huge black eye to Islam, to my amazement, I'm seeing the resulting PR campaign as being used as a net positive. Muslim web sites are seeing heavy traffic, mosques are opening their doors to the public, and Islamic clerics are being invited to interfaith prayer services.

Pope John Paul II has joined the bandwagon, calling for harmony between Christians and Muslims. Speaking to thousands of people including many Muslims at an open-air mass, the Pope spoke of the "logic of love" which could bring together the two faiths. "I call on all Christians and non-Christians to love each other."

This lovefest is tends to be a one way street. In Europe and America, Muslim enjoy the benefits of freedom. If you were to go to Saudi Arabia or Iran, you would not find any reciprocal freedom of religious expression. The Quran says don't even be friend with a non-believer. [al-Ma'idah 5:51.8] " Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them."

Christians that think that any old religion will do, needs to read Jesus' words in John 14:6: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Despite the overwhelming contradictions between Islam and Christianity the Antichrist will someday join together all faiths into one super religion that will have him as the supreme leader. The oddity that Islam did not suffer the common backlash of hatred that normally follows any similar type of incident indicates to me the Harlot Church of Revelation must not be too far off.

God's Judgment?

One of the most asked questions of the past couple weeks has been, "Was this terrorist attack a Judgment from God?" I would put the answer as being most likely - Yes.

Jerry Falwell, once again, brought embarrassment to the cause of Christ when he first correctly laid the blame at the feet of immoral groups in America, but then he cowardly retreated when the press put fire to his feet.

Here is what Falwell said on The 700 Club:
"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way - all of them have tried to secularize America - I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"

Here is what Falwell later told ABC News:
"I do not believe they endanger America. I misspoke totally and entirely."

In Jerry Falwell's world it would appear truth depends greatly on how the liberal media views your theology. I've said it in the past, because this man has a gift for repeatedly putting his foot in his own mouth, I think he should decline from making public statements.

David Wilkerson, founder of the Time Square Church in New York is someone that does not retreat from calling things as he sees them. Here is what he had to say about the subject of Judgment:

Doesn't this all sound very familiar? The Lord himself used an evil enemy to send a warning of chastisement to his people. He wanted to wake them up to their compromise, bring them back to himself, pour out his blessings on them, and surround them with his protection. Yet, throughout their days of grief and horror, God's people never once acknowledged his hand in it all. No one asked, "What is the Lord saying through all this? Is he trying to speak to us?" No one thought for a moment that such a proud, great nation could be humbled and chastised. On the contrary, the people used the occasion to defy any such thought. They refused to hear God's warning to them.

I ask you: does Israel's example hit home with you, after everything we've witnessed in recent weeks? Please don't misunderstand me. I thank God we have a moral President leading our country. I thank the Lord for all the devout Christians who serve in high office. Our church prays diligently for our nation's leaders. And we're grateful for the temporary outpouring of prayer nationwide. It's encouraging to see people sobering up and beginning to rethink their lifestyles.

Yet, even so, we risk missing God's message to us. Think about it: when our public assemblies call for a moment of silence, we think it's true repentance. When we see politicians singing "God Bless America," we think our nation has turned back to God. When we see sporting events observe a silent minute at halftime, we think it's a spiritual experience.

But is this all that's going to come out of our recent disaster? Will people in sports stadiums stand in silence for a minute, then go back to painting their bodies in wild colors, chug beer after beer, and scream maniacally for their favorite team?

Like most Americans, I wept as I saw Senators and Congressional leaders standing on the steps of the Capitol, singing, "God bless America...stand beside us, and guide us..." Yet, as I was crying, the Lord reminded me, "Many of the leaders you see singing have worked to rule me out of American society. They are even determined to remove my name from American history books. And they've allowed the murder of millions of babies through abortion."

Suddenly, I was struck by the absolute hypocrisy of it all. We give lip service to God, but we continue our slide into the mire of immorality."

Rapture Index at a New High

Since 1987 I've maintained an index of 45 end time categories that I call the Rapture Index. Because the index is so specialized, it's almost something that only fitting for my personal use. I get a lot of questions on how I rate categories. Most of the time I get complaints about me rating categories too low.

What makes the index broadly useful is the fact the same measure is each time to rate the index. On the RR Message Board I have several ways of tracking the traffic that come to the site. Some of the traffic counters conflict greatly with each other. One says there was 25,000 hits to the board, while another says there was 77,000 hits. Both of these number were records from 17 Sept, and that was double what we normally see on a given day.

Even though the set of numbers might be wrong they are useful in the fact they give me a good bench mark for measuring the ups and downs of traffic flow. During the early 90's, the Rapture index would be lucky to get above the 130's. With the range of the Index for the past few years running from highs of the 170's to lows of the 160's and 150's, it is clear we're seeing higher levels of activity.

There is no set number where if we get above a certain range, the rapture will occur. As far as the significance of numbers goes, I view the numeric range as a prophetic speedometer. We don't know when the rapture is coming, but we know will get there faster will the index at 179 as opposed to 140.

I never dreamed the index would ever get this high. There are only a few categories that are at low ratings. The "Israel Peace Process" and "Interest Rates" are the only two items with a 1 rating. As we get closer to the tribulation, it's logical and prophetically correct to expect a greater amount of activity.

Sept 17

This Is Not The Big One

I woke up Tuesday morning to the sound of my phone ringing. When I answered the phone, it was my friend Marty from Iowa, and he was urgently telling me to turn on my TV. As I clicked on the nearest News channel, I instantly saw the World Trade Center Towers on fire. My first thought was that this was an accidental fire, but Marty quickly told me two planes had crashed into both towers, and another one had hit the Pentagon.

As I watched both towers collapse, I told my friend, "This is the most shocking thing I ever seen in my life." Up until now, I've always viewed the Jan. 28, 1986 Challenger accident as the most startling event of my lifetime.

As dreadful as this past week has been, I believe this is not the big one I've long feared. If Marty had called me and said, "Todd, turn on your TV somebody just nuked New York City" I would have probably had less of a surprised reaction.

For several years now there has been an unending concern at the back of my mind that one day the US or Israel will suffer a surprise nuclear, chemical or biological attack. My anxiety is not founded on Bible prophecy. It simply based on the growing availability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction.

The two aircraft that crashed into the World Trade center caused heavy damage to about a dozen buildings, leaving 5,000 people dead. If the terrorists had used a nuclear bomb to attack the same area, the explosion would have damaged or destroyed over 1000 buildings and kill at least 500,000 people.

There is evidence bin Laden's umbrella organization al-Qaeda, "the Base," is seeking nuclear weapons. A FBI complaint made public in New York stated that al-Qaeda has tried since 1993 to buy enriched uranium "for the purpose of developing nuclear weapons.

If plutonium remains unavailable, terrorists will have the option of using chemical or biological weapons. There are countless numbers of ways a terrorist group could expose a densely populated urban area to chemical or biological agents.

Oklahoma City officials recently conducted a drill using an outbreak of smallpox as a simulated source of an attack. The exercise ended with more than 1,000 people dead and 15,000 reported smallpox cases. There was no resolution to the epidemic. Of course, in reality we won't have the option of simply ending the exercise.

I would like to warn Bible prophecy buffs to not be so quick to apply major prophetic passages to the Sept 11 terrorist attack. Jesus said, in the final hour it would be so bad, men would drop dead from fear induced heart attacks.

The world's darkest hour is yet to come, but we Christians have the Lord's promise of deliverance: "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Rev 3:10-11).

What Happens Next

Winning a war in Afghanistan is not going to be easy. these same Islamic rebels fought the Soviet Union for 10 bloody years. I'm sure many American's would like us to bomb Afghanistan back into the stone age. Unfortunately, the implantation of that task would imply an improvement of the living conditions for that backward country.

Push button warfare is not going to work in this case. I like what commentator George Will said Sunday, "It doesn't make any sense for us to send a million dollar cruise missile to destroy a tent that cost 14 dollars."

Saddam Hussein is also a potential target in this new war on terrorism. If we go after Saddam, he has a proven history of trying to involve Israel in the conflict as a ploy to rally Arabs to his side. Because he failed in 1991 to draw an Israeli response, this time around it's very likely he would try to force Israel to counter-attack by using chemical weapons.

The Bible says, Israel will be involved in a huge conflict with her Arab neighbors, and Russia will be on their side - this battle is known as the Gog war. Many folks that study prophecy believe that a war of a lesser scale will be necessary to draw Russia into the region.

Another area to watch is the European Union. If The US suddenly decided to turn in its badge and resign from the job of world sheriff, the EU, with its strong economic ties to most Arab nations, will have little choice but to assume the role.

Bible Prophecy tells is the general outline of the seven year tribulation. What we don't know is the details that will lead us to the Time of Jacob's Trouble. If the pre-tribulation rapture is going to be a surprise event, I'm guessing we can't get too much closer to the main action without spoiling that surprise.

Rapture Rehearsal

I've been rather amazed at how the reaction to the terrorist attacks has followed my prediction of how people will react to the rapture. I believe the rapture will make the events of this past week seem trivial by comparison.

The terror strikes directly affected two small areas of our nation - lower Manhattan and the Pentagon. The rapture will wreak a measure of havoc on every city in this nation. With 4000 planes in the air at all time, it's possible this nation may see a repeat of jets crashing to the ground.

Just as it happened with the events of last Tuesday, the media will go into 24 news coverage; the stock market will likely close or go into a free fall; the President, or who's ever next in line, will address the nation; and news sites will see their traffic flows soar.

But after a few days of panic, life on earth will eventually return to normal. Just as it has in this case, the TV networks will return to normally scheduled programming, airlines will resume their regular flights, the financial markets will stabilize, and people will go back to their daily routines.

As far as the number of missing people goes, America will obviously be the hardest hit nation on earth. It's sad when realize the internet is global and only 1 percent of Rapture Ready's traffic comes from foreign nations. I receive the most domain and email hits from Australia of all nations.

Spiritually speaking, Europe is in very bad shape. I realize there's a language barrier that lowers the chance of Christians in Germany or France from visiting this site, but there's always England to consider. Great Britain is the Bible belt of Western Europe. If I'm getting mostly silence from this nation, it doesn't speak very well for the rest of Europe.

If the rapture is getting very near, we believers need to be doing everything we can to convince people to get ready. After the blessed hope takes place, we will all become like the ghosts in the Charles Dickens' classic "The Christmas Carol." We will see a world in need of the gospel message, but we will be powerless to "interfere, for good, in human matters."

Sept 14

There's A Time To Observe And There's A Time To Comment

Because there is so much speculation about the September 11 terrorist attack and the situation remains so fluid, I've decided to hold my remarks until next Monday.

I've already seen a number of prophecy commentators repeatedly make some rather foolish remarks. Some jokers have gone as far as to claiming God gave them special warning of the attacks. I'm sure there's about 5,000 to 10,000 dearly departed souls that are wishing these Nostradamus wannabes would have spoken up sooner.

Speaking of Mr. Nostradamus, I've noticed there been a great deal of monkeying around with his 16th century gibberish writings to make them appear to apply to the current situation. The same prophecy that used in 1999 to predict Y2K is now reapplied to the Washington and New York attack.

I've seen pictures floating around the internet, featuring the devil's image in the smoke emanating from the burning World Trade Center Towers. Why would we need a Photoshop edit of a still frame to prove to us Satan was behind this demonic act? The conspiracy folks are not without their comments. They're saying this was all planned by our own government.

I don't think anyone has a clear idea how this massive act of terrorism will influence Bible prophecy. It will take several days just to fully realize the scale of this attack. If you are long familiar with my site, you know I don't like to speculate beyond logical reasoning.

Even if the culprits are found not to be related to the ongoing Middle East conflict, there's already a growing list of end time factors that will be propelled forward by the events of this week.

Barring the rapture or another terrorist attack, I'll have my regular commentary posted this coming Monday night.

Sept 10

Rapture Ready's New Message Board

Since June of last year, we have been using Ezboard to host our message board. I've generally been very happy with the service we've gotten from Ezboard. If it wasn't for one small factor - survivability, I would see no reason for us to move. Unfortunately, the future of ad based services are very cloudy, and with Ezboard being a site that relies heavily on banner ads, survivability has become a daily question.

Rather than waiting for the day Ezboard fades to black and leave us scrambling for an alternative host, the admin group and I have decided it's time for us to open our own board. Christine and several other folks have been busier than bumble bees - finding a provider big enough to host our board, locating the software, designing the new board to best match the old one, and also coming up with improved features.

Of course, we now need everyone to move over to the new board. Please be patient in this move. You may run into minor glitches or features you're not familiar with. If you have trouble, first ask a fellow board members and if they can't resolve your problem, contact an admin person or myself. I Don't want to read grumblings like: I don't like a certain color scheme, can you forward my topic threads?, or why can I have my post count transferred? - I had over a thousand posts."

Here's the link:

It's Worse Than I Thought

Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church of England and Wales, has publicly proclaimed something that's been common knowledge for years now - In England Christianity is almost vanquished.

The cardinal said that young people were particularly indifferent to Christian values, and that Christ was being replaced by music, New Age beliefs and the environmental movement.

He said: "It does seem in Britain today, especially in England and Wales, that Christianity, as a sort of backdrop to people's lives and moral decisions, has now almost been vanquished."

After O'Connor's long belated warning cry, I thought there would be a lot of calls for a return to biblical truth. After searching for reactions to the speech, I was nearly jarred out of my chair. The general reaction from the religious leadership was for the Church to become more worldly. What could be more telling than the type of advertising garbage being used to win back converts:

One campaign that deliberately avoids explicit references to the Church or Christianity is using posters produced by the Churches' Advertising Network that show stark pictures of a neo-Nazi raising a finger to the camera and lines of cocaine on a mirror set against the slogan "What would love do now?" The posters are designed to evoke a spiritual response rather than promote an overtly Christian message.

The images will be displayed on high street hoardings across the country and pinned up in telephone booths to compete with cards advertising the services of prostitutes. The only indication of their sponsors will be a small cross at the bottom of the picture. The initiators of the new advertising campaign hope that it will attract people who have abandoned their allegiance to the traditional Christian Churches but who retain a sense of religion.

"It is spiritual, rather than institutional. What has come out of the Church for the last 40 years has not always resonated with the public, but we hope that the tone and language of communication in these posters will engage people. We hope that the advertising will transcend the traditional barriers."

The Churches' Advertising Network, which is run largely by Anglican clergy but operates independently of the Churches, has faced controversy before. It was responsible for a 1999 poster depicting the Last Supper as a boardroom meeting of multi-national companies with Judas representing Microsoft, which was condemned as "disgraceful" by many.

A short video produced by another group contains references to drugs and violence with the Judas figure portrayed as a drug-taking schoolgirl who betrays Jesus for a "hit" of cocaine. At one point Jesus accompanies Mary Magdalene to an abortion clinic, although he says he "hates" what she has done. In the end she decides to keep the baby.

Yet Another poster campaign will soon advertise Jesus Christ using an image of the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. The national poster campaign uses the red and black image of Guevara that adorned Left-wing students' bed-sits in the Sixties and Seventies. But instead of a beret, the figure wears a crown of thorns.

Organizer group behind the ad said it was deliberately using the image in the hope of challenging a "sentimental Sunday school" view of Jesus Christ. It amazes me that they would use an enemy of religion to promote of all things churchgoing.

This situation has 2 Tim 3:1-2,5 written all over it: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,... Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."

Shark Attacks: A Good Example Of Media Manipulation

Ever since 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast had his arm torn off by a bull shark and then reattached after a daring rescue by his uncle, the press has been full of stories of shark attacks.

Sergei Zaloukaev, 28, of Oakton, Va., died of blood loss from multiple shark bites after Monday's attack off the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. His girlfriend, Natalia Slobodskaya, 23, was in critical but stable condition in a hospital in Norfolk, Va. In Virginia Beach 10-year-old David Peltier was fatally mauled by a shark.

Is this trend in shark attacks a sign of the end times? Do we need to call out the shark hunting crew from the movie Jaws? After being asked, I decided to look into the matter.

It turns out there is no significant rise in the number shark attacks. There are usually between 70 and 100 shark attacks every year, resulting in 5 to 15 deaths worldwide. In 2000, 10 fatalities were recorded. When you look at the number of shark attack by decade, they correlate with the amount of people in the water. When you look at the most recent numbers, the shark attack rate is lower than in previous years on a per person basis.

During a normal year, shark attacks would not make the national news. With the cameras now pointed in the direction of the sea, any new attack will only add to the impression that sharks are attacking people in greater numbers.

The liberal media has a very powerful influence over how we perceive the world around us. We're told racism is a big problem, but reality tells us we're living in the zenith of race relations.

The press also tries to make us think all of our national forests are being cut down, however, the truth is thanks to overly aggressive conservation, our forests have never been so dense with growth. The density problem has become so serious, the risk of massive forest fires has become a great concern.

The media's most dubious work is in the area of morality. If the devil handed out awards to the creative folks that helped make sin acceptable, the actors; writers; and producers of Hollywood and the advertising gurus of Madison Avenue would repeatedly sweep the competition.

Sept 3

Racists Gather In Durbin, South Africa

If you're someone that hates Israel and you didn't journey to the World Conference On Racism, you missed a gathering that would have put you in hate monger heaven. If Hitler was alive today, he would have made a fitting key note speaker for this conference.

Apparently, the UN decided to find out what nation was the source of all the world's evil, and Israel's name mysteriously came up. If it wasn't for the United State's strong protests, we would have certainly seen the return of the UN's resolution that stated "Zionism was equal to racism."

The final wording of the resolution won't go as far as equating Zionism with racism, but it will come very close. At this conference the voted on resolutions are divided into a declarative section and a section called a "plan of action."

In the declarative section, Israel is referred to as a "racist, apartheid state" that is "colonial" and commits "racist crimes." The document also excoriates Israel for "inhumanity in denying food and water to the Palestinians," the "victimization of women and children," and "the discrimination of Palestinians in Israel."

The declarative section is "milder" than the section that deals with a plan of action. Here are some examples of the plans of action:

* Article 160 calls for the enforcement of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which includes measures to be employed against apartheid, a "protection force," and the dismantling of "Jewish Israeli colonies."

* Article 161 calls for the right of return of all Palestinians.

* Article 162 calls for the reinstitution of UN Resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism, the repeal of Israel's Law of Return granting citizenship to all Jewish immigrants, and the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to "try Israeli racists."

* Article 163 calls for the UN to prepare educational packets for schools and universities on the "Israeli racist apartheid system."

* Article 164 calls for the establishment of UN special committee on Israeli apartheid.

* Article 165 calls for UN programs and institutions to "combat the racist media distortion, stereotyping, and propaganda that demonizes and dehumanizes Palestinians as being violent terrorists."

* Article 166 calls for the launch of an international "anti-Israeli-apartheid" movement.

* Article 167 calls on the international community to impose a policy of "complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state, as was done in the case of South Africa... sanctions, embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, and military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel."

* Article 168 calls for "the condemnation of those states supporting , aiding, and abetting the Israeli apartheid state, and its preparation of racist crimes against humanity, including ethnic cleansing, and acts of genocide."

I'm surprised there isn't an article 169, requiring all Jews to wear a gold star for easy visual identification.

I'm glad to hear the US finally walked out of this nutty meeting. I think we made a terrible mistake by going and lending legitimacy to this joke fest.

The dispute between the conference's intended agenda and the delegates mindset is so vast, a group of pedophiles gathered under the banner of sexual morality would have a difficult time topping this meeting.

The Bible says in the last days Israel will be hated of all nations. The Bible also warns, if you're no friend of Israel; your no friend of God. "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee" (Gen 12:3 KJV).

A Jew As A Victim? We Can't Have That

I found a very sad news story about the murder of Jewish man that had befriended a Palestinian village. Because the story didn't fit the liberal media's negative bias towards Jews, the press buried the story.

In a week where the Israelis is being compared to the Nazis, it's quite a contradiction to read about a Jew seeking to live in peace with the Arabs:

Tears were shed for Amos Tagouri, a 60-year-old Israeli cab driver beloved here for his affinity for Arab culture and his generosity toward his many Palestinian friends.

Tagouri, a Jew who moved to Israel from Libya, was murdered Thursday morning as he waited for a breakfast of eggs and beef sausage that was being prepared by his young Palestinian friend Mursi Amira. MO< A masked gunman walked up to Tagouri's table at Fast Food, a restaurant that Amira and his brother opened just a week ago in their home village because they were no longer able to reach their old jobs in Israel. The gunman shot Tagouri multiple times at close range and escaped through a field across the street. Tagouri, who died on the spot, was the victim of an apparent attempt by extremists to radicalize a Palestinian village that has been sitting out the intifadah.

''The whole village is angry,'' Amira said yesterday in the living room of the cool stone house that is home to him, his parents, eight brothers, and three sisters. ''The people of this village spit on this. It is an act of cowardice.'' As the call to prayer for the Muslim Sabbath echoed through the shuttered storefronts of the town, Amira's mother, Rahmeh Amira, 44, asked bitterly, ''Why they attack a 60-year-old man who is helping us? Why not attack soldiers?'' She answered her own question.

''They killed him to create problems, so that people will support the intifadah,'' she said. ''They think if they kill him, the Israelis crack down, and the village will be radicalized. I hope it will not happen.'' The village has not had much to do with the intifadah, said Munir Amira, 23, who is a partner with his brother in the new restaurant they opened with Tagouri's help. ''We do not support these events.''

Wisecracked another brother: ''We are participating in the intifadah by being unemployed.'' But as of yesterday, the villagers said, the Israelis did not seem intent on cracking down. A curfew imposed Thursday was lifted to accommodate Friday prayers.

Israeli soldiers who came to investigate the killing, Mursi Amira said, ''were polite.'' ''They did not accuse me,'' he said. ''Many soldiers came, and they saw that we were distressed and crying. They did nothing against us.''

Local youth and family members crowded around yesterday as Mursi Amira delivered a eulogy. It was unlike anything heard here since the early days of the strife, when Israeli youth mourned the shooting by Israeli soldiers of an Arab youth who had participated with them in a peace-building program in Maine. ''Amos was one of us. He knew our culture,'' said Amira, his face red and puffy from crying. ''If he prayed with us he would have been one of us completely. ... This is a bigger loss for us than for the Jews.

''He was a pacifist man, and he helped people here a lot,'' Amira said grimly, smoking one cigarette after another. ''He was not rich, but he drove the farmers to sell their cactus fruit and figs in Israel, and if they didn't have enough money to pay until after the market, he accepted that.''

''For the past four or five years, he was coming every day,'' the 22-year-old Palestinian said. ''Sometimes the [Israeli] soldiers would stop him at the checkpoint,'' warning him it was dangerous to enter Palestinian-dominated areas, ''but he argued with them, told them, `This is my country. If God decides I die here, then he decides.'''

Mursi and Munir Amira met Tagouri when he was a customer and they were cooks at the Sandwich Bar in Modi'in. When they could not get a lift from a supervisor or co-worker, he would drive them home. When the unrest began late last September, Israeli troops sealed off Palestinian areas and the brothers were unable to work in Modi'in, so they decided to set up their own restaurant on their side of the divide.

With help from the Sandwich Bar's owner, who gave them kitchen and restaurant equipment, and from Tagouri, who ferried the equipment from Modi'in to Ni'elin for free, they succeeded. A week ago Thursday, on opening day, Tagouri bought a Coke. He paid for it with a 100 shekel bill - worth $25 - and would not accept change. It was nothing out of the ordinary. So Mursi Amira was happy to whip up a little breakfast for the old man when he showed up before opening time this Thursday, while Amira was chopping salads for the day's work.

''He sat down outside, where he could talk with people at the vegetable shop next door, and I went in back and put the eggs on,'' Amira said. ''Then I heard about seven shots. I ran out and saw him there, covered with blood from his head to his waist. I yelled `Amos! Amos!' but he was dead.'' Yesterday, dust blowing along the main street of Ni'elin already had mostly obscured the stain where Tagouri's blood had flowed onto the concrete floor, but anger among the people of the street was unabated.

''He was like my brother, my father,'' said Mustafa Amira, 33, the owner of the fruit and vegetable stand next to the new restaurant. He is not a relative of the restaurant owners, but is a member of their extended clan.

''He helped us. He respected us, we respected him,'' Mustafa Amira said. ''Hamas, Fatah - I don't know'' who killed him. ''I know they are a gang. He was our outlet to Israel. It will be difficult to find another such person.'' Sentiments were similar across the Green Line - the border between pre-1967 Israel and the territories it occupied in the Mideast war that year.

''The extremists do not want peace,'' said Sakhi Hayun, 34, owner of the Sandwich Bar in Modi'in and former employer of the Amira brothers. ''That's why they kill Arab and Israeli civilians in the road. Ninety percent of the people, both Israelis and Arabs, do not support this.'' ''Now there will be no relations,'' he said. ''They cannot come here. We cannot go there.''

Japan Has Me Worried

For nearly two decades Japan's economy has struggled to recover from the real-estate and equity bubble of the late 70's and early 80's. Just when it looked like Japan is about to get back on it's feet, down she goes again.

The lack of a recovery has been a huge failure for economists that thought we could do away with recessions through tight monetary management. The group suffering the greatest defeat has been the Japanese government. Since the big crash, Tokyo has spent 100's of billions of dollars on public works projects, trying to spend the nation out of its economic malaise.

In Japan there is a culture of fear where most Japanese citizens are so fearful of losing there job's, they save a large portion of their net income. His lack domestic spending has doomed the chances of seeing a positive GDP growth.

America's record boom of the 90's helped keep Japan afloat, but now that we've entered period of sluggish growth, this is obviously bad news for Japan. The fact that several major Japanese firms are laying off thousands of workers is proof enough the slowdown is spreading to Asia.

For the past few years there's been a great deal of concern over Japan's mammoth public debt. I've wondered many times, if this nation continues to slide backwards during good times, what will happen during bad times. I guess with Tokyo stocks at new 17-year lows and with fears of yet another recession at hand, we're soon going to find out.

Late last year a bond ratings firm gave Japan's public debt an embarrassingly low rating of near junk status. With the Japanese debt load being over twice that of the US, it wouldn't take a horror writer to envision the kind of nightmare scenarios that would erupt from a crash of the world's second largest economy.

Every time I make a commentary about financial strife I like to point out my observation that economic hardship is one of the greatest catalysts of end time progression. We've already moving at a fast clip. If a global downturn was to strike, the only thing I can think of saying is hold onto your hats.

Aug 27

Rosh Hashanah: Rapture Holiday

I'm one of those people that believes the Lord Jesus will come at any moment to rapture away is bride. This doctrine is known as imminency.

In the Olivet discourse Jesus replied to the inquiries of His disciples concerning the sign of his coming by saying, "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh" (Mat 24:42-44).

If the Lord can come at any moment, then we need to remain watchful 7 days a week; 24 hours a day. During the year, there are a few special days that might actually allow for an exception to this guideline. Whenever Christians in large numbers focus on a single date as being the possible day for Christ's return, that action has to invalidate the potentiality of the rapture taking place. You can't have a surprise on a day when people are expecting one.

The Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Pentecost have long been loved by date setters. Rosh Hashanah has to be the overall favorite. It was the zero hour of Edgar Whisenaunt's infamous booklet "88 Reasons Why the Rapture is in 1988."

This year Rosh Hashanah will occur on Sept 18, and I guessing speculation activity will soon kick in as the various date setters begin making their annual slew of prognostications.

I've always viewed Rosh Hashanah as a rapture holiday. If the Lord is coming at an unknown hour, this date would have to be classified as a known hour. So when you go to bed on the night of the 17th of September, you don't have to worry about being startled out of your sleep by an unannounced trumpet blast.

I know whenever I address this issue the Rosh Hashanahites always get mad at me for raining on their parade, but I would much rather have 364 days out of the year to expect Jesus' return than just one single day.

The New EU Currency Is Coming

For several decades prophecy commentators have been following the development of the European Union. Up until now we've seen baby steps towards realization of the Bible predicted Revived Roman Empire.

Come Jan 1, 2002 the EU integration process will be making a giant leap forward as Euro notes and coins officially enter circulation in the 12-nation euro zone.

You can relax travel restrictions, you can synchronize your regulatory policies, and you can set up a central parliament, but nothing says unity like a common currency.

This past week a huge fleet of armored cars, trains, ships, and other carriers has begun distributing euro notes and coins across Europe in conditions of secrecy that at times even exclude the police.

Between now and December 31, over 10 billion banknotes and a good chunk of the 50 billion coins being minted will have arrived in banks, post offices, and stores, with packets of small change available on December 15 to over 300 million people.

It is going to take a small army to get all this currency to market. In France alone, shipments last week included armored trains carrying about 32,000 tons of coins -- four times the Eiffel Tower's weight -- to some of the 81 regional depots which include naval bases and branches of the central bank.

Trucks were also used, ones in southeastern France were protected by 50 soldiers and policemen from a specially-trained force of thousands that are accompanied by dogs. Satellite surveillance is planned for certain shipments.

Woman To Have Brother's Child

Approval has been given to an infertile woman to have her brother's child through artificial insemination at a London fertility clinic.

The case, the first of its kind in Europe, has shocked the medical community and created deep divisions over the morality of treating the woman. Some specialists have condemned it as a form of social incest, although the woman will use a donor egg.

The woman, who is 47, said that she did not wish to discuss her decision or whether or not she had a partner who could have fathered the child.

Believed to be a doctor, she was referred to London through a clinic in France more than a year ago. The treatment is not legal in France or anywhere else in Europe. With official approval, the Bridge Center, one of Britain's largest clinics, has agreed to perform the treatment.

Gedis Grudzinskas, its director, said: "I do not consider this case to be any different from a woman receiving an egg donated by her sister. It is not incest. The brother's sperm will be washed and prepared, and used to fertilize an egg which has come from a completely different anonymous donor."

As she has reached the menopause, she will require a donor egg from a younger woman to become pregnant. Samples of her brother's sperm have been frozen and a quarantine. The London clinic will then use the brother's sperm to fertilize the donor egg and the resulting embryo will be inserted into his sister.

Some French commentators regard Britain's attitude to human life as immoral. Britain is the only country in Europe which permits donation of human embryos. Calls by France and Germany for a world law on artificial procreation are to be debated by the United Nations next month.

"In Europe they seem to get into problems with philosophical and religious concepts, whereas in Britain we are more pragmatic," said Bob Edwards, who created Louise Brown, the world's first test-tube baby, born in Britain 22 years ago.

There is no statutory requirement for the child to be told that its uncle is really its father, and its real mother is an unidentified stranger.

Aug 20

King Herod the Great's Temple

King Herod the Great ruled Judea from 37 to 4 BC. He was a excellent military leader who managed the task of securing control of the region in cooperation with Rome. Herod is known in history as the man that completely remodeled the Jerusalem Temple. His mark on the Temple Mount was so profound, archeologists refer to his rule as being the start of the Herodian Temple period.

For all the wonderful things King Herod did for Judea, you would think he would be regarded as a great man of God. To match Herod's Temple you have to go back to the Temple Solomon built as God's house. How could anyone in Jerusalem not look at it and praise Herod for his extensive renovation.

If you have a good understanding of New Testament, you would know King Herod was the king that tried to killed Jesus when he was a infant. When he heard reports of the "birth of a new king," Herod's natural instinct was to liquidate any potential rival - "He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under"(Matthew 2:16).

This wasn't Herod's first act of brutality. He is also believed to have killed some of his own children from time to time, and at least one of his numerous wives. No person was safe that stood in his way.

When Jesus and his disciples were in Jerusalem visiting the Temple, several of them remarked "about how the Temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God." Jesus was clearly unimpressed saying, "As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down." (Luke 21:5-6)

We have several Herodian Temples of our day that take on the form of so-called great ministries of God. One that keeps coming to mind is the Trinity Broadcasting Network. It's the largest Christian satellite network in the world, and is the home for a number of heavyweight ministries. With such earthly success, people can't help but assume this organization is greatly blessed by God.

When I added my Heresy Hunter page to the site, I received a strong reaction from some folks who were irate that I would attack anointed men and women of God. The most common letters I get simply rebuke me for posting negative comments. When I respond, I try to explain that these were not my words - they are in fact direct quotes.

At first, I too was beguiled by TBN's success. I just simply thought if it's watched by millions of Evangelicals and if its main star, Benny Hinn, has thousands of people attending his numerous crusades, it must have the Almighty's seal of approval.

Doubt settled in to stay the day I started looking at the fruits of this ministry. There are a number of doctrines being promoted by TBN that are in direct conflict with the Bible. The most striking error is how the gospel of salvation has been transformed into the message of prosperity.

Over a seven day period I took in 15 samplings of the programming TBN offers. In every case where I tuned in I never once heard anything related to salvation. I was amazed that so many different preachers could all be promoting the same basic message.

In short TBN is nothing more than a collection of get-rich-quick infomericals that operate from a Christian angle. Every verse in the Bible is translated by these prophet of profits into having a financial meaning behind them. Common phrases like: "grace upon your life," "finishing the coarse," "gifts of the spirit," "abounding in all things," "and adding to your faith" are all viewed as solely being wealth or health building tools.

I frequently heard "the anointing" being talked about as if it was a good luck charm. If you get "the anointing" to come on your life, positive things will come your way. There is an anointing of the Holy Spirit, but it's the Holy Spirit at work not some mysterious occultic entity called "the anointing." I believe "the anointing" that Benny Hinn and others of his ilk are constantly referring to is meant to be a demonic substitute for God's presence.

As I listened to this endless parade of Christian motivational speakers, I wondered whatever happen to the call for righteous living or repentance? I watched one sad program that had a live feed from a prison. Not once did the preacher in all his shouting and yelling ever mention the cross or the need for Christ's forgiveness. The only thing these prisoners were probably looking for was a Holy Ghost get-out-of-jail-free-card.

The Trinity Broadcasting Network has money rolling in by the bushel baskets and it's adding new stations all the time, but all I see is just another Herold's Temple. If the only thing you hear coming from TBN is: plans for financial blessings; herbal cures remedies; religious pep rallies; predictions that turn out to be false; or trivial political issues, I ask, what lasting benefit is being provided here?

The only thing that matters in the end is our standing with Jesus Christ. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?," Mat 16:26.

Jesse And Bob Are Back In Action

It must be my week to thump on wayward preachers because I can't go without commenting on two particular gems of the faith. I was mildly surprised to see Jesse Jackson shake off the controversy that erupted from the affair he had with one of his aids, and I was shocked to learn that Bob Tilton had risen from the abyss of shame and scorn.

There once was a time when ever a minister was caught in a major sin it would automatically mean that he would have to step down from his pulpit and resign from his leadership position. Today that's not the case. Damage is inflicted, but in many cases it can be overcome in a short period of time.

After Jackson proved himself to be the king of hypocrites, I found it distasteful that he's managed getting off scot-free. I'm not worry about him personally. The factor I'm concerned about is how the situation helps lower the standards of accountability to near zero. I'm sure thousands of people will feel no guilt about cheating on their spouses now that Jesse Jackson has proven that even "men of God" need to get a little on the side every now and then.

I've always regarded the late A.A. Allen as histories greatest charlatan preacher. You can read a little about him in my God's Billionaires article. Allen has to be most famous for his claim that he could command God to "turn dollar bills into twenties."

I would rank Robert Tilton a close second to Allen. Tilton is a man so lacking in remorse, he probably qualifies for handicap parking. I've looked at several web pages that detail this man's crooked life, and without a doubt, everyone's favorite Tilton quote has to be the complication he claims to have suffered from praying over pray requests: "I laid on top of those prayer requests so much that the chemicals actually got into my bloodstream, and . . . I had two small strokes in my brain."

In 1991 ABC News exposed Tilton's faith ministry as being a total fraud. All of his mail was sent directly to a Tulsa bank; the checks were removed and deposited, and the prayer requests were simply trashed. The magnitude of the shocking revelation instantly lead to his downfall.

Eventually, I may need to crown Robert Tilton as the greatest charlatan of all time. As unbelievable as it sounds, Mr. Send-me-money-now is back running his same old racket. I've seen some of his ads on various late-night cable channels, and he has been most notably spotted on the BET network.

The churches of today have lost their soul, and this why men like Jesse Jackson and Robert Tilton are able operate unhindered. Like in the days before the Great Flood, every man does what is right in his own eyes.

If I was to ever decided to seek to become an ordained minister, I would view the decision as being a very solemn one. Being a pastor requires total dedication of a person's life. I view the difference between a lay person and a minister as being similar to the difference between the mayor of a small town and the governor of a state.

People that just slap the title pastor onto their name really don't have a clear grasp of what their doing. The Bible says, "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation" (James 3:1).

Israelis Are Losing Faith In Sharon

So far Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has managed to holding his own against a wave of Palestinians terrorist attacks, but it now appears he's losing the battle on the home front. According to a newly released opinion poll, Israelis are losing faith in Ariel Sharon's ability to end nearly 11 months of conflict with the Palestinians,.

The Gallup poll for the Maariv newspaper showed 70% of respondents did not believe the right-wing Prime Minister, a former general dubbed "Mr. Security" by his supporters, would succeed in halting Palestinian violence. The figure is up 29 points from the previous survey.

More than half the respondents said Mr. Sharon was using too little force to quell the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation that flared in September after peace talks stalled. The latest poll was conducted following two suicide bombings in Israel on Aug. 9 and 12 that killed 16 people, including the bombers.

Mr. Sharon scored a landslide election victory over Labour Party incumbent Ehud Barak in February on a promise to restore security to Israelis. But the poll showed 53% of the 593 Israelis polled were unhappy with his efforts to keep his security promise, a 12-point rise from the previous poll. His satisfaction rating dropped 10 points to 49%.

Despite the fact more than half of respondents believed Mr. Sharon was using too little force, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, an aide to Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian President, said Israelis were becoming convinced that military means could not produce security. "The Israeli public has started to realize that a military solution is impossible and that their security will not be achieved by suppressing another people," he said.

Labour dove Yossi Beilin, an architect of the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords and a minister in Mr. Barak's Cabinet, said more Israelis had been killed under Mr. Sharon than under Mr. Barak. "I would be worried, if I were Sharon, about my support," Mr. Beilin said. "Not all Israelis are stupid, and they understand that he sold them some non-existent merchandise about security." About 680 people have been killed since September, including more than 500 Palestinians and about 150 Israelis.

13 Aug

The Escalation Rolls On

I'm sure most of you folks know by now there was another major suicide bombing in Israel this past week. On Thursday, 15 people died as they were eating at a Jerusalem pizza restaurant.

There was a less well-planned attack on Sunday. A Palestinian man walked into a quiet coffee shop in northern Israel, confronted the waitress and pulled up his yellow shirt saying, "Do you know what I have here?" As she started to scream, he cried - "God is Great!" - and detonated a belt of explosives strapped to his torso, killing only himself.

These suicide bombings are shocking, but they're nothing we haven't seen for several years now. The current trail of bombings involving the Islamic group Hamus runs all the way back to a 1994 car bomb in the city of Afula.

The bombings are clearly the catalysts driving the Israelis and Arabs to another major war. In recent days the most ominous development came from outside Israel.

The Egyptian government said it is considering sending its 3rd Armored Army into the Sinai peninsula if Israel moves into Palestinian territories.

Syria and Iraq are planning to normalize relations after 17-years of hostilities. Syrian Prime Minister Mustafa Miro has jorneyed to Iraq, becoming the first by a premier from Damascus since ties were broken off in 1980.

In Lebanon, the leader of Hizbullah Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said the day for joining the battle with the Palestinians against Israel is drawing closer. Addressing the Palestinians, Nasrallah said in a speech, "When you consecrate the equation of martyrdom and Jihad operations, thus prolonging the battle of attrition against this enemy (Israel), this matter makes you closer to achieving victory."

Russian defense officials and strategists project that an Arab-Israeli war could erupt in the Middle East over the next three to six months. The widely-held scenario described a war that would engulf Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The officials and strategists said Egypt could be swept into such a conflict.

I realize Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has a tough job, and there may be issues he faces each day that people outside the government can not see. I still have to question his judgment in handling the uprising.

Whenever there's an act of violence against Israeli citizens, the Sharon government most common reaction is to launch retaliatory bombing strikes against empty buildings. They're empty because Israel is so kind to call ahead and warn the Palestinian Authority to evacuate. It too bad the PA never returns the favor. That pizzeria must have been rather crowded to kill and wound so many people.

When the Palestinian Police headquarters in Ramallah was bombed, Israel officials notified the Palestinians to stay away from the area after one of the bombs failed to explode. Yasser Arafat made a mockery of Israel's concern when he visited the bombed building before the unexploded bomb was dealt with.

Sharon's limp-wristed response to terrorism has only helped convey the idea that Israel's fear of world opinion will only allow it to go so far in its response to terrorism. His inability to take appropriate measures now will only result in a greater conflict down the road.

Arafat needs to be brought to the point of saying, "Ouch, that hurt." Bombing empty buildings is never going to hurt a man that lived most of his life under the gun.

Where Art Thou Iraqi Incursion?

Late last month the team of World Net Daily and Debka broke the story of Iraqi troops invading Jordan. After hearing that his troop's cover was blown, I'm wondering if Saddam Hussein ordered them to pack up and head back to Baghdad.

Call me a doubting Thomas, but I seriously do doubt there ever was any major Iraqi incursion into Jordan. The lack of further verification seems to indicate World Net Daily and Debka needs to get a better source for their Middle East "intelligence."

The story went from one site to another without anyone asking, "Is this really true?" I originally found it very odd that the US military would overlook several hundred Iraqis sneaking around in the Jordanian desert.

I consulted a map of the region, and I noticed there's a strip of land 200 miles long that any invader would have to cross just to get to central Jordan. Another question that this report brought to mind is "Why would the Jordanian government remain silent while their country was being invaded by Iraqi soldiers?" Whenever Iraqi brings its troops close to its southern boarder, Kuwait will automatically start yelling for Uncle Sam's help.

I've looked at several of World Net Daily's articles this past week, and much of the stuff on the site strikes me as being classic conspiracy theory mush. You have the government cover-up angle, "Silenced: Flight 800 and the Subversion of Justice," and you can't have a conspiracy site without the selling of gold, "Why Gold has a 20% profit already built in." Yes gold, the worst investment of all time.

I'm not too sure who maintains the web site. I really couldn't gather anything from their "About Us" page. It just seem to ramble on about nothing. I was told the site is based out of Israel, but I couldn't verify that fact. They do have a knack for digging up secret information, but most sources tend to be a, "senior official who asked not to be identified."

There are so many news organizations in the world with each one having reporters in every major nation on the planet. I see no reason to ever have to trust one single source for a major breaking news event.

New Daily News

Rapture Ready has a new news reader that displays the daily news updates. The old CGI news script kept crashing on us. It would get to 3 megs in size and then like clockwork, it would lockup on us. The only way to fix the situation would be to dump everything.

Our resident computer code expert, Joe Harris, deserves a big round of applause for putting the script files together - "clap, clap, clap, clap." I can handle HTML, but when it comes to Java and CGI script, I might as well be looking at a Chinese phone book.

The new format will help lower the heavy bandwidth demand the Newspro program was putting on the server. This program saves space by displaying the full news article on a separate page.

From Record Drought to Record Rainfall

While the central region of Iran suffers from a record drought that has wiped out a large portion of the nation's livestock, northeastern Iran may have seen some 300 people die from what is thought to be the region's worst flooding in 200 years.

At least 170 people have died in the floods and hopes were fading for another 160 still missing. Army and Red Crescent helicopters scoured swathes of flooded farmland for the fourth day looking for survivors.

``There is a high possibility that most of the missing may be dead, but because of the bad weather, we cannot find them,'' the IRNA news agency quoted Habibzadeh Dabagh, a local official in the afflicted area, as saying. ``Based on the reports of the rescue teams, the death toll will definitely rise.''

Rescue teams have so far picked up some 7,500 villagers, but some 800 others are still stranded in the worst affected areas in Golestan and Khorasan provinces, state radio said. The flash floods hit Friday after unseasonal heavy rains began to lash the area. Some 37,000 acres of farmland is now under water and about 1,500 houses have been destroyed.

Television showed pictures of buses and cars overturned by the floods and survivors perched on homes and small islands of dry land awaiting rescue. Bridges and roads were swept away in muddy torrents as rivers burst their banks. Gas supplies, drinking water and roads, including the main link to neighboring Turkmenistan have been cut off. Damage is estimated to run into the tens of millions of dollars.

At the United Nations in New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan extended his ``deepest condolences'' to the Iranian people and government and said ``the United Nations stands ready to assist in the relief and rehabilitation of the affected areas,'' according to his spokesman.

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