November 12, 2011

Israel tells USA They Will Act Alone

This development is the most significant and telling in  regard to Israel's intentions toward Iran.  According to news reports, Netanyahu has informed Obama that he will no longer abide by the long standing agreement between Irsael and the USA that Israel would first seek permission from the USA before launching a strike on Iran.

This 'slap in the face' move by Israel comes on the heels of a 'slap in the face' move by Obama and Sarkosy at the recent G-8 meetings in which they said they have to 'put up with' Netanyahu way to much, essentially dismissing him like a wining 2 year old about Iran's threat. 

The damage between those remarks and the continued disregard of Israel's sovereignty by both Obama and other European leaders, see the recent call by Obama to tell Netanyahu to not build any more houses outside of Jerusalem, is deep.  Israeli leadership has lost faith and trust in America to come to its defense in the case of an attack, thus they are sending the signal that it will act alone without the USA if it needs to.

This move was the final cut of whatever ties that once bound our two nations together in terms of how we would work together to deal with Iran.

The key points from the article below listed in bullet form:

  • Two weeks ago Israel tested a long-range ballistic missile capable of reaching Iran, its first since 2008.
  • Last week, a British official even suggested that an attack could come before Christmas.  
  • Tellingly, until last year, Israel's four most powerful military and security chiefs, including Mr Dagan, were all strongly opposed to military action. All four have now been replaced by younger men who may be less able to stand up to Mr Netanyahu, not that Israeli prime ministers are necessarily bound to heed objections from their top military advisers anyway.
  • Iran could blockade the Straits of Hormuz, through which 25 per cent of the world's oil exports are shipped, sending energy prices soaring

The US leader was rebuffed last month when he demanded private guarantees that no strike would go ahead without White House notification, suggesting Israel no longer plans to "seek Washington's permission", sources said. The disclosure, made by insiders briefed on a top-secret meeting between America's most senior defence chief and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's hawkish prime minister, comes amid concerns that Iran's continuing progress towards nuclear weapons capability means the Jewish state has all but lost hope for a diplomatic solution.
On Tuesday, UN weapons inspectors released their most damning report to date into Iran's nuclear activities, saying for the first time that the Islamic republic appeared to be building a nuclear weapon. It was with that grave possiblity in mind that Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, flew into Israel last month on what was ostensibly a routine trip.
Officially, his brief was restricted to the Middle East peace process, but the most important part of his mission was a private meeting with Mr Netanyahu and the defence minister, Ehud Barak. Once all but a handful of trusted staff had left the room, Mr Panetta conveyed an urgent message from Barack Obama. The president, Mr Panetta said, wanted an unshakable guarantee that Israel would not carry out a unilateral military strike against Iran's nuclear installations without first seeking Washington's clearance.
The two Israelis were notably evasive in their response, according to sources both in Israel and the United States.
"They did not suggest that military action was being planned or was imminent, but neither did they give any assurances that Israel would first seek Washington's permission, or even inform the White House in advance that a mission was underway," one said.
Alarmed by Mr Netanyahu's noncommittal response, Mr Obama reportedly ordered the US intelligence services to step up monitoring of Israel to glean clues of its intentions.
What those intentions might be remains distinctly murky. Over the past fortnight, Israel's press has given every impression that the country is on a war footing, with numerous claims that Mr Netanyahu and Mr Barak are lobbying the cabinet to support the military option.

Two weeks ago Israel tested a long-range ballistic missile capable of reaching Iran, its first since 2008. Shortly before, the Israeli airforce took part in Nato exercises in Sardinia that involved air-to-air refuelling, a key component of an aerial strike on Iran. A separate exercise in and around Tel Aviv tested civilian readiness in the event of a missile strike against the city. In a sign of the febrility of the public mood, many beach-goers apparently mistook the air raid sirens for a genuine Iranian attack and fled in panic for their cars. There were similar jitters in Iran yesterday, when a huge but apparently accidental explosion at arms dump outside Tehran killed at least 27 soldiers and shook the city.
Speculation about an imminent Israeli military action has been a regular occurrence over the years, but rarely as fevered as now. Last week, a British official even suggested that an attack could come before Christmas.

Few in Israel believe that is likely and the difficulty of mounting an operation over winter, when cloud cover hampers aircraft targeting systems, means that if military action is being considered it will not come before the spring or summer of next year.

Many observers also believe that the bellicose rhetoric voiced by a number of senior Israeli figures in recent days is largely bluff, designed to goad the international community into imposing sanctions of such severity that Iran would be forced into economic ruin if it persisted with its nuclear ambitions. Israel says that if Iran's central bank were sanctioned and a ban on Iranian oil exports enforced by an international naval blockade, military action would not be necessary.

Mr Barak has already publicly stated that he does not believe the West can overcome Russian and Chinese opposition to the sanctions Israel wants, leaving military action increasingly as the only alternative.

Mr Netanyahu may have another reason to bluff. In recent months, Meir Dagan, who retired as director of Mossad at the beginning of the year, has made a series of unprecedented speeches countenancing against Israeli military action - describing it as "the stupidest idea I've ever heard".
His comments have infuriated the Israeli establishment - senior officials have said they would like to see him behind bars - because they fear it could convince Iran's Mullahs that Israel's sporadic talk of war is a fiction.

Hints by Mr Netanyahu that he is considering the military option may be designed to resurrect Iran's paranoia of Israel, something seen in the Jewish state as a powerful deterrent, says Yossi Melman, a leading intelligence analyst and journalist.

"Meir Dagan made a laughing stock of military action," Mr Melman said. "Netanyahu believes he damaged the deterrent and he wants to repair it."

Yet the fact that Mr Dagan chose to speak out - extraordinary in itself for a just-retired Mossad chief - suggests that he believes Mr Netanyahu is intent on attacking Iran.
Tellingly, until last year, Israel's four most powerful military and security chiefs, including Mr Dagan, were all strongly opposed to military action. All four have now been replaced by younger men who may be less able to stand up to Mr Netanyahu, not that Israeli prime ministers are necessarily bound to heed objections from their top military advisers anyway. In 1981, Menachem Begin did just that when he bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak.

If Israel is to attack Iran, many in the country believe time is running out. Last week's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) highlighted Iran's apparent determination to build a nuclear warhead, but did not indicate how long it might take.
Some in Israel, however, believe it is very close.

"It is my personal opinion that, if the Iranian regime decides to do so, it can produce a nuclear explosive device within a year, plus or minus a few months," said Ephraim Asculai, a former IAEA official and leading Israeli expert on Iran's nuclear programme.

Not everyone agrees. Some argue that a covert espionage operation has caused such delays that Iran still needs another three years to build a bomb. Sabotage efforts by Israeli, American and British intelligence have successfully slowed Iranian progress, most notably via the Stuxnet computer virus that caused the centrifuges at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant to explode. Mossad agents on motorbikes are also believed to have planted magnetic explosives on the cars of at least two key Iranian nuclear scientists as they weaved through Tehran's traffic jams. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the scientist and Revolutionary Guards officer who is thought to be the ultimate mastermind of the nuclear programme, is now believed to be under round-the-clock protection as a result. But, whatever the time frame, some in Israel believe there is additional cause for urgency that could prompt military action sooner rather than later.

According to western intelligence assessments, Tehran is preparing to move the bulk of its nuclear production to a plant beneath a mountain near the holy city of Qom that would be far harder to hit from the air.

According to Ronen Bergman, senior military analyst for Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper and the author of a forthcoming book on Mossad, that makes a strike necessary well before Iran actually perfects its programme.

"Today Israeli intelligence talks of what is known as the 'framework of immunity'," he said. "In other words, it is not the point at which Iran acquires a nuclear device, but the point at which the project has reached such an advanced stage that a strike any time after would be ineffective."
An Israeli attack could probably manage at most a dozen targets, using more than 100 F-15 and F-16 aircraft.

Three German-designed Dolphin submarines equipped with conventional cruise missiles could also be ordered into the Persian Gulf to take part, although it is thought that Israel's Jericho-3 ballistic missiles are to inaccurate to play a role.

But how effective the mission would be is another matter. At best, Israel can hope to delay Iran from building a bomb by two to four years, experts assess. Optimists hope that within such a period, Iran's Islamist regime could collapse and give may to a more moderate government. But it could equally redouble its nuclear efforts, this time arguing that it now had every right to produce a weapon.
As Mr Panetta warned during a Pentagon briefing last Thursday, such a strike would also have a "serious impact" on the region. Iran could blockade the Straits of Hormuz, through which 25 per cent of the world's oil exports are shipped, sending energy prices soaring. US military assets in the Gulf could come also come under attack from Iranian Scud missiles.

Iran would almost certainly fire its Shahab ballistic missiles at Israeli cities and press Hizbollah and Hamas, the militant Islamist groups it funds and equips, to unleash their huge rocket arsenals from their bases in Lebanon and Gaza.

Despite this, last week Mr Barak - making a rare venture in such sensitive territory - predicted that fewer than 500 fatalities would arise "if people stayed at home". 
Such are both the political and military risks involved that many Israelis say it is inconceivable that Mr Netanyahu would go to war without the United States alongside him.
"I think personally that if such action is taken, there will be come kind of consultation with the United States," said Ilan Mizrahi, Mossad's former deputy director and Israel's national security adviser until 2007.

"If Iran breaks all the rules, then military action will be needed, but definitely not alone by a tiny country like Israel," added Uzi Eilam, a retired general who held senior positions at the Israeli defence ministry.

But not everyone is so sure. Mr Obama's willingness to take on Iran militarily is openly questioned in Israel. And while many Israelis do not believe Iran has any intention of actually firing a nuclear missile at them, the the key question is whether their prime minister is one of them.

In Mr Netanyahu's eyes, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is another "Hitler" whose aim is to complete what the Holocaust failed to do by wiping out the Jewish race.
"People outside Israel don't understand how profound memories of the Holocaust are, and how they affect future policy making," said Mr Bergman, the military analyst. "At the end of the day, this policy of 'never again' would dictate Israel's behaviour when intelligence comes through that Iran has come close to a bomb."

November 11, 2011

Emergency Test Drill in the USA

Why now? 

In the name of improving Ameria's readiness to prepare for emergency situations, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) launched the 1st ever nation wide emergency alert system.  This test constituted a broadcast of a message across all media outlets including radio, tv, and internet. 

Is this a precursor for war?  The last time time something remotely like this, we were in the middle of the cold war, in terms of national broadcasting of warnings and widespread  precautionary measures performed by government bodies against unknown threats. 

From CNN:

When millions of Americans hear that warning at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, the words will sound familiar, but the occasion will be historic. It will mark the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, a system with Cold War roots that enables the president to address the American public within 10 minutes from any location at any time.

Although state and local communities regularly use the system to notify communities about tornadoes, child abductions and other events, all previous tests of the system have been local or regional, and involve the voluntary compliance of broadcasters. Wednesday's test is the first national test featuring a live "presidential" alert code, which instructs TV and radio stations that the alert takes priority over all other programming.

November 8, 2011

November 5, 2011

Death Penalty allowed, but only on the innocent

Ronald Reagan once said:

'If we ever forget we're one nation under God we shall be a nation gone under."

Kennedy v. Louisiana, forgetting the child of rape:

In the landmark case Kennedy v. Louisiana in 2008, the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty too harsh a penalty for those who commit the crime of rape.  An excerpt from the trial is below.

Patrick O. Kennedy, a man from suburban New Orleans, Louisiana, was sentenced to death after being convicted of raping his eight-year-old stepdaughter. The rape was uncommonly brutal: it tore the victim's perineum "from her vaginal opening to her anal opening. [It] tore her vagina on the interior such that it separated partially from her cervix and allowed her rectum to protrude into her vagina. Invasive emergency surgery was required to repair these injuries."[1]. Kennedy maintained that the assault was committed by two neighborhood boys, and refused to plead guilty when a deal was offered to spare him from a death sentence.  Nevertheless, he was convicted and sentenced under a 1995 Louisiana law that allows the death penalty for the rape of a child under the age of 12.[2]
On appeal, Kennedy challenged the constitutionality of executing a person solely for child rape, and the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected the challenge on the grounds that the death penalty was not too harsh for such a heinous offense.[3] The court distinguished the U.S. Supreme Court's plurality decision in Coker v. Georgia (1977), concluding that Coker's rejection of death as punishment for rape of an adult woman did not apply when the victim was a child. Rather, the Louisiana Supreme Court applied a balancing test set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in more recent death penalty cases, Atkins v. Virginia and Roper v. Simmons, first examining whether there is a national consensus on the punishment and then considering whether the court would find the punishment excessive. The Louisiana Supreme Court concluded that the adoption of similar laws in five other states, coupled with the unique vulnerability of children, satisfied Atkins and Roper.[4]
Whether or not you agree with this conclusion, this ruling was passed knowing that the legendary Roe v. Wade ruling was already made--which made it okay for the product of that rape, the child, to be 'aborted' just minutes from being born.  Is this not a contradiction?

Dissenting opinion from Justice Byron White:
The upshot is that the people and the legislatures of the 50 States are constitutionally disentitled to weigh the relative importance of the continued existence and development of the fetus, on the one hand, against a spectrum of possible impacts on the mother, on the other hand

The scales were completely swung in the opposite direction in Roe v. Wade, given 0% rights to the unborn while 100% rights to the mother of that child.  A recent 180 movie documentary, which you can watch below asks the question, "When is it okay to kill a baby in the womb?"  The answer of course to any sane mind is of course no.  This question really begs the real question, which is "When does life begin?"  Is it when you cut the umbilical cord? or when you cut the cord? When the babies head is outside of the womb? or only half outside the womb? For anyone who has listened to their conscience, seen a babies heart beating on an ultra sound at week 6, or held a new born baby in their arms, one cannot but value life.  Life begins when all life begins--at the beginning, at conception.

 Presidential candidate recently brought this up a town hall event in Iowa:

Thus, as it stands in America at the 21st century: Rapists are not allowed to be given the death penalty, but the product of that rape is.

November 3, 2011

Evening Lyrics

Life is like an elevator, a lot of ups and downs
People pushin' your buttons and gettin' jerked around
I used to lurk around town tryin' to work around
Workin' so that I could hit the ground with the perfect sound

Just another fool tryin' to cover he's confused, that ain't cool
Sometimes I hate the man in the mirror
Cuz I know he's a liar and a cheater and a killer
People say they love him but they love what he can give 'em,
But deep inside he knows that there's a reason for him livin'

Here I go again, I'm still chasin' the wind, I can't win
When it gets hot, it boils down to sin
If Heaven ain't a gift, then I ain't getting' in (man)

I can't even find the words for the way I feel
So I paint a picture, I paint a picture
I've been goin' down this road, seen some crazy things
So I paint a picture, you gots to see it

Replacing the Fallen

It is not man who picks his leaders, but God who raises up leaders and orchestrates events that raises them to power.

Psalms 75:  "For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But GOD is the Judge.  He puts down one, and exalts another."

We question death.  When it comes, it should not take us as a surprise.  However, when the occurrence of death occurs before what we deem as the appointed time, we question why. Death is not natural;  it symbolizes a world of evil that is suffering under punishment and the bondage of sin.  We are born into this world, both the just and the un-just face the same cold realities of evil.  None are excluded.  

The story below is what many would call a tragedy,  a young man dying young with a bright future ahead lost forever.  But did his death escape the eye of the Creator God who not only knit his soul together in his mother's womb but also orchestrates events as well as raises up leaders at the appointed time?  In Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper, Piper gives an illustration in which he compares two ladies dying in their early 60's in an accident in the middle of the African wilderness trying to reach rural tribes with the Gospel with a retired couple living in Florida collecting shells.  He asks, which one was a tragedy?  The answer is clearly, the one who refused to give up comfort and ease of this life for the rewards of the next.    Can it be a tragedy if one dies fulfilling the will of God in one's life?   

Death is not a tragedy in itself---the failure to accomplish what God has called you to do while living is.

This man below died doing something he was passionate for and something God no doubt is rewarding him for in heaven.  Going back to Psalms 75, we cannot forget that God is the one who raises up leaders to serve his purpose.  When those leaders fail or are taken before the plan is completed, God raises up another.  Remember Moses?  Joshua marched Israel into the promise land.  Remember Malthius?  God raised up Paul to serve as the 12th disciple.  Remember John Wesley? How about Billy Graham? Has there ever been a time when God has not raised up ministers to preach the gospel?

God will raise someone up to fill this man's shoes.  I do not doubt he will like he has in the past.  Who will carry this man's Olympic torch, perhaps it is I? 
Also, the role of suffering in God's eternal plan for our lives.  

Pro-Life Student Advocate Jon Scharfenberger Passes Away

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | | 10/18/11 12:22 PM

Jon Scharfenberger, a staff member for Students for Life of America, passed away Tuesday morning from complications suffered after a tragic automobile accident that also claimed the lives of Kortney Blythe Gordon and her unborn baby Sophy.

Gordon, Scharfenberger and two pro-life students were driving back from the Students for Life of America Georgia conference when their vehicle was struck by another head on in a massive collision. The driver of the other vehicle was reportedly speeding and passing cars on a two-lane road. Gordon and her unborn child, Sophy, were immediately killed upon impact and Scharfenberger was in critical condition following the accident.
“The team at SFLA is beyond saddened by the news that Jon Scharfenberger, Pregnant on Campus Coordinator and Campus Support Coordinator for Students for Life of America, passed away this morning due to complications from injuries he sustained from the same car accident that claimed the life of SFLA leader Kortney Blythe Gordon and her pre-born daughter, Sophy, on October 8th,” SFLA said in a statement.

“Jon had many successes in his short time with us at SFLA, including establishing a pro-life campus group at Florida International University that was successful in saving the life of a pre-born baby, a mere one week after its creation,” SFLA said. “We continue to offer prayers of support for Jon’s family and friends and grieve during this incredibly difficult time for our organization and mission.”
“Because of your outpouring, the team at SFLA was able to pay Kortney and Sophy’s burial costs 100%. We encourage all of our supporters to donate to help pay for Jon’s burial costs as well.  All proceeds are tax-deductible and 100% of gifts received through this page or otherwise noted will be donated to the Scharfenberger family,” SFLA said. “All of our love and prayers to Jon, Kortney, Sophy, and the Scharfenberger, Blythe, and Gordon families.”
On Monday of last week, SFLA executive director Kristan Hawkins he was not doing well and she had flown to Georgia to be with Jon and his family.

After the accident, Gerard Nadal, the director of Medical Students for Life and a LifeNews blogger, kept the pro-life community informed of Jon’s condition. Yesterday, Nadal reported that Scharfenberger was facing significant medical difficulties.

“Late yesterday I received word that the physicians have induced a 72-hour coma in Jon. In the meantime, we wait, and hope, and pray,” he wrote Monday morning. Later in the day, he added, “Jon has spiked a fever of 108 degrees F, which can be lethal. Urgent prayers are needed as this battle has taken a terrible turn for him.”
Scharfenberger was the Campus Support Coordinator and Pregnant on Campus Coordinator for Students for Life of America and he traveled to college campuses working with pro-life groups to create and obtain tangible goals that impact both their campus and local community. He worked to provide a vision and plan to the over 600 campus pro-life groups across the nation by creating guides and projects that pro-life groups can use in order to provide timely and essential resources to students facing unplanned, crisis pregnancies.

A native of Warwick, New York, Jon graduated with a BA in Philosophy from Ave Maria University in the spring of 2011. He served as President of AMU Students for Life where he led many successful pro-life initiatives. In his years as President, he helped fundraise over $30,000 for the club and committed membership soared from 30 members to over 150 by his final year. In September, 2009 he organized a successful overnight prayer vigil to protest the opening of a new Planned Parenthood, which gained widespread media coverage.

He interned for SFLA in the summer of 2010 and also gained experience on Capitol Hill as an intern for Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS.) Jon joined SFLA in the summer of 2011 to continue to train and equip the next generation of pro-life leaders. Jon also interned at the National Right to Life Committee.