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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The risk of a new depression.......

The risk of a new depression — a sustained, severe recession — has struck fear into the heart of markets and driven monetary policy in developed economies since the current financial crisis began.

“We’re in a very unfortunate position to be here,” Richard Duncan, author of The New Depression, warned on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” Monday.

“When we broke the link between money and gold, this removed all constraints on credit creation. This explosion of credit created the world we live in, but it now seems that credit cannot expand any further because the private sector is incapable of repaying the debt it has already, and if credit begins to contract, there’s a very real danger that we will collapse into a new Great Depression,” he argued.

“If this credit bubble pops, the depression could be so severe that I don’t think our civilization could survive it.”

The explosion in cheap credit has been widely blamed for the global financial crisis, but the debate about how to fix the problem continues.

In the past few years, central banks including the U.S. Federal Reserve , the European Central Bank and the Bank of England have pumped liquidity into their financial systems through a number of ways, including quantitative easing and the ECB’slong-term refinancing operation (LTRO).

“We could keep deferring the depression, but that could just encourage the bad guys. If you do this, you possibly do more harm than good,” Roger Nightingale, economist and strategist at RND Associates, told CNBC Monday.

“You can defer, but not prevent.”

Nightingale argued that previous credit booms, for example in Japan in the 1980s, have led to sustained recessions.


U.S. Military building missile defense radar station in Qatar

On the heels of the defense secretary announcing his approved late last week to send an aircraft carrier to the Middle East several months early to make sure at least two carriers will constantly be present in the troubled region, the Wall Street Journal reports today of another defense effortto “[organize the Pentagon's] biggest-ever minesweeping exercises in the Persian Gulf.”

The WSJ reports the Pentagon is building a missile-defense radar station in Qatar to address the potential for “Tehran’s arsenal of ballistic missiles and its threat to shut down the oil-shipping lanes of the Strait of Hormuz by mining them.”

The minesweepers give the U.S. greater flexibility to counter any Iranian effort to mine the strait at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, which is already routinely patrolled by Iranian and U.S. warships. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strategic waterway, which is the transit route for about a fifth of the world’s oil supply, in retaliation for increased Western-led sanctions.

(Image via Wall Street Journal)

Here’s more from WSJ on the plans:

The Pentagon chose to place the new radar site in Qatar because it is home to the largest U.S. military air base in the region, Al Udeid Air Base, analysts say. More than 8,000 troops are stationed there and at another U.S. base in Qatar.

Qatari officials in Washington and Doha didn’t respond to requests for comment. Qatar has taken on roles in conflicts in Libya and Syria, winning U.S. praise. Qatar guards a more neutral stance when it comes to Iran, maintaining close relations with Tehran, which shares ownership with Doha of the region’s largest natural gas field.

The Blaze

Babylon Rising Ringing in Satan’s Kingdom

Notice that 8:12 AM sum 11

Joseph Herrin

A week ago I received a letter from a minister in England telling me of an invitation being sent out to churches across the United Kingdom to participate in what is officially designated as Work No. 1197. The London Olympic Committee is urging all people across the UK to ring bells at precisely 8:12 A.M. on July 27th, which is the day the Olympics officially open. The bell ringing is to last for three minutes, and all people are urged to ring the bells as loudly, and urgently as possible during this time. Not only are churches with bells encouraged to ring them, but every other type of bell, from those on civic buildings, alarm bells, doorbells, handbells, etc., are to be employed in this national cacophony.

Furthering this bell ringing theme it has been announced that the Opening Ceremony for the London Olympics will begin with the ringing of the world’s largest tuned bell. This 23 ton bell is being produced especially for this ceremony, and will be hung in the Olympic Village after the games. The bell is to be inscribed with the words, “Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises.” These words are taken from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.

The Tempest has been adopted as the theme around which the Olympic Games in London will be styled. Discerning that there was some dark portent in this, and not ever having been a fan of Shakespeare, I downloaded a copy of this play a couple days ago and read it from start to finish. There is much in this play of which Christians should take note.

The Tempest begins with a scene depicting a ship experiencing a supernaturally severe storm. We learn that a sorcerer, or great wizard, on a nearby island has conjured up this storm for there are people on board the ship that have wickedly betrayed him and he is seeking to set things right. We learn that the storm has been produced by a spirit controlled by this magician. The Magician’s name is Prospero and the spirit is called Ariel.

The British have a long history of romanticizing the role of wizards and conjurors. From the wizard Merlin of Arthurian legends, to Gandalf of J.R.R. Tolkiens Hobbitand Lord of the Rings, down to the present day characters in the Harry Potterseries of books, we find that the British are fond of casting practitioners of the dark arts as good and noble characters. In contrast, Yahweh has forbidden mankind to practice ritual magic, sorcery, or to even consult a conjuror or a medium.

Deuteronomy 18:10-12
"There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to Yahweh; and because of these detestable things Yahweh your God will drive them out before you.”

Shakespeare (Francis Bacon, or whomever actually wrote the plays) committed the same transgression as many others in calling that which is good evil, and that which is evil good. In The Tempest the sorcerer Prospero is the protagonist, cast as a wise, noble, and forgiving character, and the spirit he uses to accomplish his purposes is similarly described in a positive light. The deceit is put forward that there are good practitioners of the magic arts as well as evil practitioners. Yahweh, however, does not discriminate. All who practice such arts are detestable in His sight.

Prospero represents that noble and wise group of learned men who are capable of administering rule and justice to the world. Members of the Illuminati, higher level Freemasons, and other servants of Satan have bought into the lie that there are certain men in this world who are more intellectually, morally, and spiritually advanced than others, and it is their duty to guide and shepherd the lower castes of mankind. We see this role portrayed vividly in the character of Gandalf in Tolkien’s writings. His wisdom, powers, and skills are used in behalf of mankind, hobbits, and all other creatures. He even shows pity for Smeagol/Gollum, the evil, murderous and tormented character in the same books.


In the same way, Prospero is shown to demonstrate mercy toward Caliban, a creature born of the union of the devil and a witch. Although Caliban plots to kill Prospero, he is shown mercy at the end of the book as Prospero pardons his folly. It is Caliban, the spawn of the devil, who is credited with the words inscribed on the bell to be rung during the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics. The words are taken from the following speech.

Art thou afeard? Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not....

What Caliban is referring to are the sounds made by the spirit Ariel and those other spirits in league with him. Why then, were the words “Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises” chosen to be inscribed on the mammoth bell to be rung at the Olympic ceremony? Surely these words make reference to the same “noises” that were mentioned in Shakespeare’s play. The voices of evil spirits are being invited to the land, and there are some, like Prospero, who believe they can make use of these spirits to further their own goals and desires.

In the previous post on The Shard I shared the following:

The relic can lure in thousands of evil-intentioned beings with its magical call, creating a grand army for its wielder and so-called master.

These words refer to the power of the shard in the Dungeons and Dragons books and games. It was mandated that the building called The Shard be completed and open to the public BEFORE the London Olympics began. The building was inaugurated, and serves as a great beacon to invite every unclean spirit and fallen angel to enter into the land of the United Kingdom, that land where Satan, the great dragon, has chosen to establish his rule.

Now, all of the citizens of the United Kingdom are encouraged to ring bells throughout the land as quickly and loudly as possible for a duration of three minutes on July 27th, which I have noted previously is the 9th of Av on the Hebrew Calendar. The London Olympics are set to begin on the date noted for greater calamity and suffering for the people of God than any other. Following is an excerpt from part 5 of this series.

There is no more calamitous date for the people of God than Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. Jewish history records the following events befalling the people of Yahweh on this date:

1312 B.C.: The spies returned from looking over the land of Canaan. Ten of the spies gave out an evil report to the children of Israel as they spoke of fortified cities and giants in the land. The people’s hearts rebelled against Yahweh and he declared judgment upon them. All those above the age of twenty would die in the wilderness. They would not be permitted to enter the promised land of their inheritance.

421 B.C.: The Temple Solomon built was destroyed by the Babylonians under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar. For many years the prophet Jeremiah had called the nation to repentance, but they would not repent. Because they served other gods and acted wickedly, Yahweh gave them into the hands of their enemies. The 9th of Av sealed this judgment as the Temple was destroyed.

70 A.D.: The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans under the command of Titus on the 9th of Av. Over two million Jews were slain and one million deported throughout the Roman Empire. More than 100,000 were sold as slaves, fulfilling the words of Yahshua.

Matthew 24:1-2
Then Yahshua went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Yahshua said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

Luke 19:43-44
“For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

132 A.D.: A further rebellion of the Jews called the Bar Kochba Revolt is crushed. 100,000 Jews die.

133 A.D.: To put an end to Jewish rebellion Rome levels Jerusalem and plows the ground with salt on the 9th of Av. This fulfills the prophecy of Micah:

Micah 3:9-12
Now hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, who build up Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with iniquity: Her rulers judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on Yahweh, and say, "Is not Yahweh among us? No harm can come upon us." Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.

On the former site of Jerusalem the Roman city called Aelia Capitolina is built by the Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian's new plans included temples to the major regional deities, and certain Roman gods, in particular Jupiter Capitolinus. Hadrian also built a large temple to the goddess Venus, which later became the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

1095 A.D.: Pope Urban II declares the first crusade on the 9th of Av in this year. 10,000 Jews are killed in the first month of the crusade. The crusades totally obliterate many Jewish communities in France and Germany.

1290 A.D.: On the 9th of Av King Edward I expels all Jews from England. Jews do not regain the right of settlement until the year 1657.

1492 A.D.: On this date Spain expels all Jews. Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II and Isabella (Jezebel) I purge Spain of all non-Catholics in what has become known as the Spanish Inquisition.

These are just some of the events that occurred on Tisha B’Av throughout history that have resulted in great suffering and loss for the people of God.
[Source: http://parablesblog.blogspot.com/2012/02/babylon-rising-part-five-tisha-bav-and.html]

Understanding that the Olympics are a Satanic celebration, what then is the purpose of the bell ringing all across the nation? One can find the answer by observing the role bells play in ritual magic. The following quotation is taken from a source book on ritual magic.

High Magic: Theory and Practice
U.D. Frater

Introduction to Ritual Magic (XI)

The Magic Bell
Apart from the fact that many magicians like to implement the use of sound in order to highlight certain phases or sections of a ritual, the magic bell has a great deal of symbolical significance, just as all other ritual weapons do. It’s considered to be a sort of “astral bell” that’s used to announce the establishment of contact to “another world” literally “ringing it in.” It therefore serves as a tool for both capturing attention and warning, but also for celebrating majestic passages of a hymn on intensifying the communication with the invoked powers, and can therefore be used as an instrument of ecstasy.
[End Excerpt]

The bell is considered a “ritual weapon.” It is used to establish contact between mankind and Satan’s kingdom. Satanists, magicians, witches and sorcerers literally “ring in” the kingdom of darkness. The bells are used to intensify the communication between Satan’s kingdom and mankind. Does this not fit well with the words of Caliban inscribed on the Olympic bell? “Be not afeard. The Isle is full of noises.” These noises are the voices of fallen angels and unclean spirits.

Look at the cover of the book from which the information on bells was taken.

Look particularly at the image in the circle at the lower center. The pyramid and all seeing eye symbol is found throughout Satan’s kingdom. Compare this to the lights that completely surround the Olympic Stadium in London.

The symbols of Satan’s kingdom and his servants, the “illumined ones” are everywhere. There is much symbolism in the fact that these pyramid structures are actually light fixtures. They will “illuminate” all who are gathered to watch the events in this stadium.

Illuminati Symbol

The all-seeing eye represents not only Satan, but those servants of his who attain to the highest levels of his kingdom. They are esteemed to have attained to a complete wisdom and full knowledge of the world. They believe Satan to be god, and it is he whom they worship and pay allegiance unto. The very mascots chosen for the London Olympics perpetuate this image of the all-seeing eye of Satan and his illumined ones.

2012 Olympic Mascots

These are symbols of the enlightened ones. Note even the pyramid atop the head of the character on the left. Why would Christians want to participate in “ringing in” the spirits of the Olympics? In truth, they will be inviting Satan and all those unclean spirits with him to come and inhabit their land and to make their voices heard in this island kingdom.

The UK publication The Guardian had an article on the Olympic bell ringing. The title of the article reveals much.

Summoned by Bells

Between The Shard and the bell ringing of the entire nation, a profound invitation is being sent forth for Satan to come and establish his visible kingdom upon the earth, choosing London as the seat of his rule. Numerous sources on ritual magic found on the Internet reveal that bells are commonly used to initiate and conclude these dark rituals. Blind indeed are the people of God who will ignorantly participate in this occult ceremony by ringing bells across the nation.

As I was looking into the occult symbolism of the London Olympics I came across the following official video put out by the London Olympic Committee. It focuses upon the building of the Olympic Stadium. I was struck by the imagery of airborne entities flying toward the stadium. Watch closely at the 26 second mark as there are objects flying toward the stadium. I am reminded of evil spirits being summoned to this place. Beginning at 52 seconds into the video there are new airborne items that are reminiscent of the all-seeing eye, and they are seen looking over everything. Notice that as they appear that the huge Ferris wheel known as “The London Eye” is in the background. These flying eyes then move in to more closely inspect the London Eye. Is this not symbolic of lesser spirits being called to the great spirit that rules over London? At 1:17 into the video we then see birds flying toward the Olympic stadium. Birds in the Bible serve as symbols of Satan and unclean spirits.

Revelation 18:2
And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.”

At about 3:30 into the video we see things raining down from the sky upon those gathered in the Olympic Stadium. Is this symbolic of the influence of unclean spirits falling upon those gathered, and those who will watch these events by television? It is estimated that 4 billion people will view the ceremony. It will have the largest worldwide audience of any broadcast for the entire year.

Video Link:

Taken together, the various individual signs and events point to a summoning forth of Satan’s kingdom. The Olympics will serve as one great worldwide act of ritual magic participated in by millions. One further aspect of ritual magic is the use of sexual intercourse to increase the spiritual energy being released. Recent media articles have testified that there is a profound spirit of sexual immorality attendant at the Olympic games. During the Beijing Olympics the Olympic Committee ordered 70,000 condoms for use by the athletes staying in the Olympic village. This huge number proved to be too few, so another 20,000 condoms were hastily acquired and made available. For the London Olympics, an order of 100,000 condoms has been placed, and this is just for those who will be staying in the Olympic village for the two weeks in which the events will be held.


Do Christians and churches across the UK want to be involved in ringing in the spirit of this debauched event? Everywhere one looks the imprint of Satan is evident upon these games. Great darkness is rising in the earth and the London Olympics will be a key event in the rising of Satan’s kingdom.

Ephesians 5:11-12
Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.

Corn Prices Headed for Record Highs as Crop Shrinks

Corn futures are heading to record highs on reports of wider crop devastation, and as forecasts show continued hot, dry weather threatening even more of this year’s crop.

The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows that just 31 percent of the corn crop is in good to excellent shape, a sharp drop from the 40 percent level last week.

Soybean conditions also declined to 34 percent from 40 percent last week, but the soybean crop, unlike corn, still has time to recover. (Track commodities here)

“We feel we should get back to $8. Our numbers with our sharply adjusted demand imply only $7.90 for December corn, but we do feel trade enthusiasm in the next couple of weeks will push it up above $8,” said Rich Nelson, director of research at Allendale.

The record high was $7.99 per bushel, reached last June.

December corn futures, representing the crop currently in the field, reached an intraday high Tuesday to $7.84 per bushel, before pulling back on the possibility of rain for the eastern growing region.

Nelson said demand destruction should start to come into play in the next couple of weeks, and that should keep a lid on prices.

“You’re not going to have everyone talking about it, but then suddenly it’s a whipsaw.”

The impact of rising prices is already being felt by the livestock industry, one of the biggest users of corn.

“We haven’t seen significant change yet in the breeding curve for any of the three main species, but all three industries are talking about smaller numbers,” said Nelson.

“As for pork, they’ll see their smaller production level next summer. In terms of cattle, it will be March/April in terms of shortfalls,” Nelson said. “And the chicken people might start dropping numbers in the next couple of months. By spring of next year, we should start seeing the result of this issue hitting the consumer.” (Watch: Protein Shortage Ahead?)

U.S. feeder cattle futures fell Tuesday to a more than nine month low as rising corn prices squeeze feedlots, resulting in the purchase of fewer younger animals. Hog futures also were lower.

Nelson said he has reduced his expectation for the corn crop to just 12.053 billion bushels, the lowest since 2006. He also expects the corn yield per acre is at around 137.2 billion bushels per acre currently, and that it could fall to 129.1 over the next couple of weeks. The USDA last week forecast the crop yield at 146 bushels per acre, down from its original forecast for a record 166 bushels.

Analysts expect to see livestock farmers reduce use of corn, as they slaughter animals or reduce the amount of feed.

“What you end up seeing a lot of time is the magic of someone trying to make every bushel of corn stretch. You see slightly reduced feeding rates. They will feed cattle a little less every day. It will take them longer to get up to slaughter weight,” said Randy Mittelstaedt, director of research with R.J. O’Brien.

"If the crop is as low as I think it will be, we’re going to have to see a reduction in animal numbers,” he said.

Mittelstaedt expects to see a crop yield of 135 bushels per acre, the lowest in 10 years. He expects a total crop of 11.4 billion bushels.

“In terms of outright production, it’s the lowest in the last five years. When you look at total supplies, which is what is available for the entire year, it’s the lowest supply since 2003, 2004,” he said.

While meat prices will rise, cereals and other corn-based food products are unlikely to show as dramatic a jump.

Nelson said corn prices are only about 12 cents for each box of cereal. “A 40 percent rise in the grain price is actually only about a 2 percent rise in the product,” he said.

Food is a relatively small share of the corn crop, with the bulk going to grain feed and ethanol. The USDA projects livestock use of corn will be 4.8 billion bushels in the year beginning September 1, and ethanol production is expected to be 4.9 billion bushels.

Exports are expected at 1.6 billion bushels. The government expects a total crop of 12.97 billion bushels, down from its earlier forecast for an all-time high of 14.8 billion bushels but well above industry forecasts.

“We’re really going to see this ethanol story heat up and that’s probably going to be sooner than later. That’s going to be interesting how this thing plays out. Nobody’s going to make any major moves on the required ethanol use until they know what the crop size is,” said Mittelstaedt. Ethanol producers have been shutting down some production, as driving demand ebbed and margins were pinched.

The hot, dry weather is expected to continue in the Midwest and is nowspreading to the western and northwestern parts of the corn belt. The scorching heat has come at the worst possible time for corn. During the worst of the hot weather, much of the corn belt was in the “tasseling” stage , which is when corn pollinates and the size and quality of kernels are determined.

Mild, wet conditions earlier this spring resulted in farmers planting the corn crop much earlier than normal. As a result, 71 percent of the crop has pollinated or is pollination, compared to a five-year average of 36 percent, according to USDA. Only 16 percent of the soybean crop was in the critical “pod-setting” stage.

The current rain forecast is for one inch or more in each of the next two weeks, but it is unlikely to make much of a difference.

“I don’t think it changes much in terms of the crop size moving forward,” said Mittelstaedt. “The damage is done. The majority of the yield loss has already been assured.”

Crops trading on weather are highly volatile and very emotional, he said. “What you can’t say is what about the impact on the market. If it started raining tomorrow, and it rained for two weeks, corn would break $2 ” despite the damage, he said.


James Turk Gold will go to 8,000

GoldMoney's James Turk is one of my favorite experts I pay attention to. Gold is an excellent asset to own, but he needs to talk about silver a bit more. James emphasizes that gold has been money for over 5,000 years, so has silver.

In fact the average gold to silver ratio in those 5,000 years has been much lower than its' current 58 to 1 ratio. This is where silver will eventually outperform gold, and relative wealth will increase for those who own it now.If gold becomes money it will be worth several times what it was worth last time it was money. The gold is about the same but the population has exploded. 

Gold is worth the labor it will buy.Gold is now starting its last Bull run which will take it to an all time high and simultaneously setup a 1oz purchase of 1 share of the DOW, this is likely to happen by as soon as the end of the year! Buy your Precious Metals now because it is VERY unlikely pricing will be better than it is right now. We are going to see moves of 5% in a day become a common event, I know its hard to believe but we are about to see a RUN on PMs like never before! Don't be a fool and continue to hold fiat currency, Precious Metals NOW!

Gold & Silver

Cell phone - a tracking device?

Federal ID cards: Iris imaging in, fingerprint swiping out

Updated technical specs for biometric data on federal ID cards include new options for using iris imaging in lieu of fingerprints and dropping swipe sensors as a means of gathering fingerprints for federal employees.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released for comment a second draft of Special Publication 800-76-2, Biometric Specifications for Personal Identity Verification. The document supports the revised Federal Information Processing Standard 201-2, also now in draft form, and when finalized will replace the current 2007 version of the specs.
Related coverage:

SP 800-76 spells out the technical requirements for biometric data that is used for authentication on PIV cards used by federal workers and contactors. The interoperable electronic IDs were mandated by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 and are supposed to be used both for physical and logical access.

The specifications describe technical acquisition and formatting requirements for the PIV system and establish minimum accuracy requirements for biometric authentication. Fingerprint templates remain the primary means of PIV biometric authentication, but options are being expanded.

“The addition of iris and face specifications . . . adds an alternative modality for biometric authentication and extends coverage to persons for whom fingerprinting is problematic,” the draft says. FIPS 201 allows the use of iris recognition although it is not required, and technical specification had not before been developed. “The recommendation to agencies to install and operate iris equipment in its PIV issuance processes allows agencies to additionally populate PIV cards with iris as an alternative authentication factor.”

Use of iris images is optional and not required. The latest draft of SP 800-76 modifies some specifications for the camera used to gather iris images and removes specs for image capture and recognition interfaces until technical standards are developed.

Another significant change in the current draft is the elimination of swipe sensors for gathering fingerprints for PIV authentication.
GCN (http://s.tt/1i3N2)

Christians kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam

A religious war, Gaza-style: The Orthodox Christian Church in the Gaza Strip is claiming that a group of armed Islamists kidnapped five Christian Palestinians, a young man and a mother and her three daughters, to force them to convert to Islam.

In a statement, the church said that "the dangerous Islamist movement is trying to convince Christian men and women to convert to Islam, destroying Christian families and the Christian presence in the Gaza Strip."

The church refused to divulge the name of the Islamist group it accused of these attempts.

The head of the Gaza church claimed that one of the Christians was abducted on Saturday after he had been heavily pressured to convert to Islam and had been prevented from seeing his family. According to the leader, the young man's parents filed a police complaint, but the police did nothing after learning that the person behind the alleged kidnappers was a senior cleric identified with Hamas.

The priest called on all official bodies in Gaza to intervene in the matter and stop abductions of Christians and attempts to force them to convert. He noted that the church was in contact with the Red Cross and with human rights groups in the Strip to arrange protection for local Christians.

On Monday, members of the Christian community held a rare demonstration in protest of the reported kidnappings. Participants rang church bells and called out "In spirit and blood, we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Jesus!" A solidarity protest was held at the same time in Bethlehem on the plaza of the Church of the Nativity.

A spokesman for the Hamas Police in Gaza, Ayman Batniji, flatly denied the church's allegations and said that one of the young men in question had already converted to Islam, and when he arrived to visit his family a fight broke out, causing the police to be summoned.

Batniji stressed that the youth had not been abducted and that he was being guarded by the aforementioned cleric out of concern that his family might try to harm him.

Iyad al-Alami, one of the directors of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights who intervened in an attempt to solve the matter, said that his people had held separate meetings with the young man and the mother.

He said that during the meetings, it became clear that they had both converted willingly and that there was no indication that they had been kidnapped or forced to do anything against their will.

The Christian community in Gaza has been shrinking. A few years ago, the Strip was home to 3,500 Christians, whereas today Christians number only 1,500. Some are concerned that the rapid and significant decline could eventually cause the community to disappear, either due to emigration or the decision of some Christians to convert to Islam.

"If things go on this way, there won't be any Christians left in the Gaza Strip," the mother of the youth who converted said. "Today, it's him. Who will be next?"


Jordan moving to ward off possible Syrian chemical attack

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan’s Foreign Minister said the kingdom has taken precautions to ward off a possible Syrian chemical attack.

Nasser Judeh said “the matter is of grave concern to us, and we have taken all necessary measures to confront that.” He declined to say what measures were taken.

“We will not allow anything to threaten the internal security of the kingdom,” he told reporters Tuesday at a joint news conference with visiting British Foreign Minister William Hague.

Israel and others have expressed concern about Syrian chemical weapons. Syria does not comment on the subject.

Despite threats in 1970 and 1982, Syria has never attacked Jordan.

Syria opposes Jordan’s alliance with the United States and its peace treaty with Israel, but Jordan is hesitant to rile Syria, its powerful neighbor.

The Times of Israel

Assad’s kinsman Shawqat and defense minister Rajiha killed by suicide bomber

Bashar Assad’s survival is in serious question after the deaths of his top allies, his brother-in-law Security Chief Assif Shawqat and Defense minister Gen. Dawoud Raijiha by a suicide bomber, while holding a top-level meeting in the National Security building in Damascus, Wednesday, July 18. Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim Shaair is in critical condition.

This was the deadliest blow to the Assad regime in the 17-month Syrian uprising, striking deep inside the president’s inner circle and family: Shawqat was married to his sister. It took place on the fourth day of fierce fights with rebel forces which seized parts of Damascus and are battling superior government forces backed by heavy tank, artillery and machine gun fire and helicopters.

The bomber must have had an inside track to the top level of the Assad regime to have come close enough to reach a cabinet meeting with security officials in the heavily fortified National Security building and blow himself up among them.
To ward off the rebel assault on the capital, the Syrian regime engaged in the high-risk tactic of letting them enter the southern districts of Damascus, to trap them and then finish them off with superior fire power.

Assad meanwhile scattered his key government departments in fortified buildings around Damascus: The General Staff was assigned the military complex on Shuhada Street and the cabinet met at the National Security building. Now the Syrian ruler is forced to believe that all his security arrangements are deeply penetrated by his enemies who knew exactly where and when to strike.


Arpaio: birth record definitely forged

Investigators for an Arizona sheriff's volunteer posse have declared that President Barack Obama's birth certificate is definitely fraudulent.

Members of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's posse said in March that there was probable cause that Obama's long-form birth certificate released by the White House in April 2011 was a computer-generated forgery.

Now, Arpaio says investigators are positive it's fraudulent.

Mike Zullo, the posse's chief investigator, said numeric codes on certain parts of the birth certificate indicate that those parts weren't filled out, yet those sections asking for the race of Obama's father and his field of work or study were completed.

Zullo said investigators previously didn't know the meaning of codes but that the codes were explained by a 95-year-old former state worker who signed the president's birth certificate. Zullo said a news reporter who has helped out in the probe let investigators listen in on an interview he concluded of the former state worker.

"Considering the fact that Hawaii appears to be very lax in its distribution of birth certificates, it is possible, though certainly not proven, that President Obama, through the actions of others, may have benefited by the ease with which one can obtain a birth certificate proving U.S. citizenship," Zullo said, according to CBS affiliate KPHO in Phoenix.

The Obama campaign declined to comment on Arpaio's allegations.

When asked by a KPHO reporter how anyone could believe the sheriff's findings, Arpaio shot back.

"That's an insult," Arpaio said. "Look at the evidence and forget who's in bed with who. Talk about the evidence."

Arpaio said his investigation has also found evidence tat Obama's Selective Service registration form was fraudulent, KPHO reports.

So-called "birthers" maintain Obama is ineligible to be president because, they contend, he was born in Kenya.

Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama's citizenship.

Obama released a copy of his long-form birth certificate in an attempt to quell citizenship questions.

Courts have rebuffed lawsuits over the issue.