Friday, July 27, 2012

Making sense of Syria

No one does it better than Hal Lindsey.  So many players, so much at stake in Syria, and the potential for a sudden Hal's thoughts, dated today.....

July 27th, 2012

Over the last year, I have watched Syria and occasionally reported on the crisis there. However, it seems that even though much has transpired there -- as many as 19,000 have been killed in the violence -- nothing really changed. The unrest in Syria began in the early days of the "Arab Spring," which erupted in February, 2011. Yet today, 17 months later, Bashar al-Assad's regime is still in control and maintains that control via a military that remains essentially intact.

Now it appears that the Assad dynasty may be nearing its end. Whether Bashar al-Assad is assassinated, hands over power peacefully, or makes his escape a few steps ahead of the pursuing rebel forces, it seems to be just a matter of time before Syria becomes a radically different nation. And that prospect is causing more than a few sleepless nights throughout the neighborhood.

As I look at the Middle East this week, one word springs to mind: "confusion." The civil war in Syria is no ordinary civil war. The nation of Syria is critical to several different players -- all of whom figure prominently in the end-times scenario:

-- The Iranians don't want Assad to fall because they don't want to lose their closest ally and proxy or access to Lebanon and the Mediterranean.

-- Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia want Assad to go because they want to see Iran's influence in the region diminished.

-- Russia doesn't want to lose a major arms client, access to its warm-water naval base at Tartus, or see Turkey's regional influence strengthened.

-- Egypt's new Muslim Brotherhood leadership wants to see him gone so their compadres, the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, can get a shot at the power.

-- Lebanon's Hezbollah doesn't want to lose its weapons pipeline from Iran.

-- And, paradoxically, Israel and Jordan aren't too excited about Assad's impending departure, either, because they know how to deal with him. But who's to say the nature of the Muslim nation that will replace him? (Egypt is a perfect example of this dilemma.)

But these competing agendas are not the only elements that complicate the crisis. Syria has major stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons -- many of which they received from Saddam Hussein shortly before the Coalition invasion of Iraq. They also have the missiles to deliver the bio/chem warheads.

The Syrian government has threatened to use these weapons of mass destruction if they are attacked by foreign forces. A Foreign Ministry spokesman reiterated this week that Syria reserves the right to use these weapons in the face of "external aggression." And, coincidentally, they will decide the definition of "external aggression!"

Recently, Syrian security forces have been observed moving these bio/chem weapons to various staging areas around the country. Of course, the main fear is that they will use them to suppress the rebellion. But it's not inconceivable that Assad may launch these weapons against Israel to draw other Muslim nations into the fray (and establish his legacy among Muslim leaders).

Of course, Israel has let it be known that any bio/chem attack against Israel will be answered swiftly and decisively. And the Prophet Isaiah's yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecy that Damascus will be destroyed overnight looms large at a critical moment like this.

As if this weren't enough intrigue for one week, the 2012 London Olympics begin today. The International Olympic Committee refuses to observe a moment of silence in memory of the Israeli athletes who died in the Munich Massacre 40 years ago. The London Sunday Times is reporting that Scotland Yard and Britain's intelligence service, MI5, have warned Israel that they've uncovered a potential threat to the Israeli delegation from an Iranian hit squad. And the BBC got into the act by refusing to identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on its official Olympics website. Israel is the only nation among the competitors that has a "seat of government," not a "capital." I suppose anti-Semitic bigotry can extend even to the pettiest gestures.

Finally, just to light the candles on the cake, last week Iran's Supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Kahmenei delivered a major address to the nation through the state media. In it, he reminded followers worldwide that we are now living in the "end of times." He didn't mince words when he notified the world of his and Iran's intentions. He said, "The issue of Imam Mahdi is of utmost importance, and his reappearance has been clearly stated in our holy religion of Islam.... We must prepare the environment for the coming so that the great leader will come."

If you recall, Imam Mahdi is Islam's messiah figure. He has been dead for centuries, but is predicted to reappear on earth amid an apocalyptic and catastrophic war. He will defeat Islam's enemies and subdue the world for Islam. Many Muslims -- including Ayatollah Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- believe it is their duty to create the conditions that will usher in the Mahdi. That means they feel it's their responsibility to start an apocalyptic war. And they say so publicly, even from the podium of the United Nations!

Yet western leaders and the media refuse to take them at their word. Instead, they insist that evangelical Christians who believe in the Rapture of the church and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ are the ones who want to start Armageddon so Jesus will return!

Oh, well, that's just the sort of upside-down thinking (and blindness) the Bible prophets predicted for these days -- the "end of times."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Statues of limitation

Statues of limitation 
from the Chicago Tribune

.........Rather than remove the statue (Paterno), it should have been kept intact, and three other statues should have been commissioned. Statues of former President Graham B. Spanier, former Senior Vice President-Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz and Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley.

The four statues could stand silent watch outside the empty football stadium. Passers-by could wonder what kind of men they were, before reading the words carved into stone underneath each one:

Protecting a college football program was more important to him than protecting children from a rapist. 

The idea of statues of disgrace isn't mine. It comes from the Olympic Games, which open this week in England. The idea comes not from the modern games, the games of performance-enhancing drug tests and athletes selling athletic gear and sugared soft drinks and TV ratings, but from the ancient Games.


Friday, July 06, 2012

Stories, Old Friends, A Good Time 'Til The End and "A Privilege to Die"

Bishop Ramirez says .... he asked his grandmother, Panchita, "'What have you been doing lately?'

"And she said, 'I've been having a good time.' "

"Wow," Ramirez recalls saying. "What do you do, at 90 years old, to have a good time?

"She says, 'Oh son, I have been going to funerals.' "

Ramirez then asked his grandmother if that meant what it seemed: that she'd been having a good time at funerals.

"'Oh yes," Ramirez recalls his grandmother answering. "Yes, we drink coffee, we tell stories, we meet old friends — it's wonderful. We have a great time.' "

"I said, 'Grandma, how can you have a good time when somebody dies?'

"She looked at me, straight into my eyes. And she was serious, almost scolding me. And she said, 'Son, haven't you learned yet, that it is a privilege to die?'

"In all my years of study, in theology and listening to sermons, I had never quite heard it that way."

Only weeks later, Panchita died.

"She was in the hospital, recovering from a heart attack, but we knew she probably wouldn't make it, at her age," Ramirez says. "And she kept repeating, like a mantra, 'Solo quiero ver a Dios' — I just want to see the face of God.'

Stories, Old Friends, A Good Time 'Til The End | WYPR

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Smartest Man in Europe

The Smartest Man is a Firedancer

“The next step will be for every central bank in the world to keep printing money.  Ultimately this will bring on a higher level of inflation, but I think the world is ready to accept that.  World leaders will agree that growth should be their objective and inflation will be the price they will have to pay for it.  This may result in some instability among currencies.  Before this happens there will have to be more suffering.  Spain and Greece will default.  There won’t be outright financial disaster because by the time the defaults take place the banks will have sold most of the troubled sovereign debt on their balance sheets to the European Central Bank.  France’s deficit will get worse as Hollande implements some of the programs he talked about in his campaign.  Human beings and governments have an unlimited imagination and they will use it to delay the day of reckoning.  In the longer term the crisis may turn out to be a good thing because the pain of what we are about to go through will prevent it from ever happening again."


“So what am I doing with my money?  It is hard to hide in stocks.  Even Danone is reporting disappointing earnings; people are so worried they aren’t even buying yogurt.  The French auto companies are in trouble.  I think gold is going much higher.  I am buying energy stocks because I want to own something real.  Preserving capital is my focus now, not making money, but I like IBM and Apple.  Also some Swiss multi-nationals.  If Obama wins in November the market will go down.  A Romney victory will create a rally, but once he gets into office he will find there is not much he can do to make things better.”

Monday, July 02, 2012