Friday, March 30, 2018
HE IS RISEN AS HE SAID. ALLELUIA !! • All four Gospels tell the story of the Resurrection of Jesus. • The Gospel of Saint Matthew tells the story of the Resurrection in Chapter 28 (King James Version) : "In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid : go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him : but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost : Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." • Saint Luke tells the Resurrection story as well, but in the longer, narrative fashion Luke always used in his Gospel. It is in Luke, Chapter 24 (King James Version) : "Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments : And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass. And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people : And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken : Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself : handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day : And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy : And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God." • • • THE HALLEL PRAYERS FOR PASSOVER. Hallel means praise. Hallel is the name given to the group of Psalms 113-118, which are preeminently psalms of praise. It is called “The Egyptian Hallel,” because it was chanted in the Temple while the Passover lambs were being slain. It was chanted also on other festival occasions, as at Pentecost, the feast of Tabernacles. Here is the Hallel to celebrate Passover that began on Friday evening : • Psalm 113. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, you his servants; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people. He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord. • Psalm 114. When Israel came out of Egypt, Jacob from a people of foreign tongue, Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion. The sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back; the mountains leaped like rams, the hills like lambs. Why was it, sea, that you fled? Why, Jordan, did you turn back? Why, mountains, did you leap like rams, you hills, like lambs? Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water. • Psalm 115. Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. All you Israelites, trust in the Lord -- he is their help and shield. House of Aaron, trust in the Lord -- he is their help and shield. You who fear him, trust in the Lord -- he is their help and shield. The Lord remembers us and will bless us : He will bless his people Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, he will bless those who fear the Lord -- small and great alike. May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind. It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence; it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. Praise the Lord. • Psalm 116. I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord : “Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.” What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord -- in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the Lord. • Psalm 117. Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. • Psalm 118. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.” When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down. I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." • • • DEAR READERS, I wish you all a very Happy Easter and Passover. Be blessed and safe, and may your hearts be full of compassion and joy in this season. [Our next blog will be posted on Monday, April 2.]
Thursday, March 29, 2018
FRIDAY, MARCH 30, HAS SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE THIS YEAR. It is Good Friday, the day on which Christ was crucified, and it is the beginning of Passover. There is much in common about Good Friday and Passover. And, there is much predicted about how the Jewish and Christian people will come together at the last days. • • • GOOD FRIDAY. The events of the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and Easter are recorded in all the Gospels. The history told by Saint Mark begins with the Last Supper when Jesus and the Twelve Disciples celebrated Passover, at Mark 14:12-26 (New International Version) : "On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me -- one who is eating with me.” They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." Saint Mark tells of the Crucifixion at Mark 15:21-41 (NIV) : "A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews. They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there." • • • THE TEARING OF THE TEMPLE VEIL. In the site "What Christians Want to Know," Jack Wellman writes about the significance for Christians of the tearing of the Temple curtain, or veil, at the death of Jesus. Wellman describes the Temple veil : "The veil was a long, woven curtain that was purple, scarlet and blue. This curtain or veil was for the purpose of separating the Most Holy Place which held the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat. Sitting on top of the Ark was a gold lid. This was the place for the propitiation of sins by the sprinkling of the innocent sacrifice’s blood. Only the High Priest could enter this Most Holy Place and only then, once a year on the Day of Atonement....the Temple veil protected humans from death. The veil was a symbol of the separation of God from sinful mankind. It marked the boundary between God’s pure holiness and the wickedness of mankind. It was not possible to go beyond the veil because our sins have separated us from a Holy God. The profane and the Holy can not be joined together. Jesus died at the moment that the sacrifice for Passover was held. At that same time that Jesus breathed His last breath, the Temple veil was rent. The veil’s being torn, by God Himself, symbolized the fact that mankind’s separation from God had been removed by Jesus’ supreme sacrifice at Calvary. Since Jesus was without blemish, without sin, and kept the Law perfectly for us, His death was the propitiation or satisfaction of the wrath of God against humanities sins. Isaiah 59:2 declares that “your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear you.” Now that Jesus’ once and for all sacrifice was given, we now have access to the very throne of God. Before, He would not even hear us, not to mention allow us to approach Him." • Wellman describes the Temple veil : "It was not a small curtain like you see in some movies. The veil was 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and was four inches thick. The veil was so massive and heavy that it took 300 priests to manipulate it. An important point here is that no one could simply tear the veil themselves. It would take more than human strength to tear it....It had to be done by God alone and that’s the point. No one can remove our separation from God but God Himself (Isaiah 59:2)....Since Jesus’ death atoned for our sins, Jesus’ sacrifice allowed for the veil to be torn and thus, the separation between God and man was able to be removed." • Wellman says that it is no coincidence that the Temple sacrifices by Jewish Christians ceased that year and for the years to follow. Why? "The sacrifices were stopped because of Jesus’ offering of Himself....Hebrews chapter 10 reveals that no other sacrifices where given, at least by the Jewish Christians. Luke’s account of the birth and early history of the church in the Book of Acts never mentions any of the Christians continuing to sacrifice. They understood that the veil had been removed by Jesus’ offering on the cross and therefore, there was no further need to provide sacrifices, even at Passover or on the Day of Atonement." • • • PASSOVER. Passover is one of the most important Jewish holy days, marking the time when Moses led the Children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. The festival, Pesach in Hebrew, lasts seven days in Israel. It has been marked every year since about 1300 BC and involves ceremonial food, special prayers and the Passover Seder nights. • This year it begins at sundown on Friday, March 30 -- Christians' Good Friday -- and ends on April 7. • Israel Today, in discussing Passover, reported on Monday that religious Jewish factions say they are moving ever closer to the realization of the Third Temple in Jerusalem : "The latest evidence of this is police authorization, granted on Sunday, for a Passover sacrificial ceremony to be held just tens of meters from where the Second Temple once stood. Religious groups have been holding public Passover sacrifices, in accordance with the biblical outline, for years. But never before have they been permitted to conduct the ceremony so close to the Temple Mount, which the Moslems claim as their own, even as they deny the holy site holds any religious or historical significance for the Jewish people. Last year, the Passover sacrifice was conducted in the courtyard of the nearby Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, some 450 yards from the Temple Mount. This year, it will take place at the Davidson Center, an archaeological park situated at the southern foot of the sacred plateau, and just below the Al Aqsa Mosque." • The story of Passover is told in the Book of Exodus. The Children of Israel had been slaves in Egypt for 210 years. God promised he would release them from slavery, but not before Pharaoh had refused their release and God had visited ten plagues on Egypt to demonstrate his power. (Exodus 3: 19-20) The first nine plagues were : the Plague of Blood -- God turned the water of the River Nile into blood so that the fish died and the water stank. All the water in Egypt was turned into blood // the Plague of Frogs -- Egypt was overrun with frogs in beds, in ovens, and frogs jumping on people. // the Plague of Lice -- Dust was turned into lice which crawled on people and animals. // the Plague of Flies -- Swarms of flies arrived in Egypt and poured into Pharaoh's palace, the houses of his officials, and all over the land. // the Plague on Livestock -- All animals belonging to the Egyptians died - horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep and goats. // the Plague of Boils -- Festering boils broke out on the Egyptian people and their livestock. // the Plague of Hail -- The worst hailstorm ever to hit Egypt struck, beating down crops growing in the fields and even killing people and animals caught in it. // the Plague of Locusts: A swarm of locusts settled in Egypt and devoured anything left growing after the hail. // the Plague of Darkness -- Egypt became totally dark for three days. The plagues only affected the Egyptians. The Israelites were unaffected. And then came the tenth and worst Plague -- an avenging angel would go from house to house killing every first-born son. Israelite children would not be killed and thus God would show that they were his chosen people. So that the angel would know which houses were Israelite homes, the Children of Israel were to follow very specific instructions -- each household was to take an unblemished, male lamb, look after it, and slaughter it at twilight four days later. Blood from the lamb was to be brushed on the door frames. This would tell the avenging angel that it was an Israelite home and to 'pass over.' Then the families were to roast the lamb and eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. Every bit of the lamb had to be eaten and any remaining bones burned. The Israelites were to perform this ritual dressed for a journey. At midnight every Egyptian firstborn -- from the firstborn of Pharaoh to the firstborn of the prisoner in his cell -- and even of the livestock -- was struck down by the angel. The Egyptians were terrified and demanded Pharaoh banish the Israelites there and then. Pharaoh summoned Moses and ordered him to get his people out of Egypt immediately. The Egyptians were so glad to see the back of the Israelites that they gave them silver and gold and other valuables to encourage them to go. The Israelites took their unleavened dough with them -- they hadn't had time to add the yeast -- and lived on this for the first few days of their Exodus. • • • RELIGIOUS CHRISTIANS AND JEWS TODAY. Israel Today wrote on Thursday that : "US President Donald Trump's unabashed support for the Jewish state and his public recognition of Jerusalem as its capital have many Israelis electrified. The current American leader's positive attitude toward Israel seems nearly illogical, especially after decades of far more hostile trends. A prominent Israeli rabbi believes the reason for this unprecedented shift is that Trump has a big role to play in the building of the Third Temple and the coming of Messiah. Rabbi Yosef Berger is the rabbi in charge of King David's Tomb on Mount Zion, and the son of a widely revered Hasidic leader. In remarks to Breaking Israel News, Rabbi Berger cited a medieval rabbinical source that predicted that while the first two Temples were built by Israel, the third would be built by the "descendants of Edom," a phrase that in some later rabbinical literature is a euphemism for the Christian world. This is so that the Christians, and the ancient peoples they have come to represent in rabbinical thought, can make restitution for millennia of wrongdoing toward the Children of Israel. Rabbi Berger explained : 'No leader in history has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the Jews and Israel. [Trump] has already created a great tikkun (reparation) for the Christians through his unprecedented relationship with Jerusalem. Trump is the representative of Edom that will perform that final historic reparation for his entire nation by building the Temple.' " • Breaking Israel News calls itself the "Latest News. Biblical Perspective." On February 26, it published an account by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz of the death of the Reverend Billy Graham. Berkowitz wrote : "Strangely and unexpectedly, Reverend Billy Graham will be buried on the upcoming Purim festival, a Jewish holiday that signaled the hidden beginnings of a redemption process that culminated in the building of the Second Hebrew Temple. Reverend Graham’s pioneering of a new framework for Jewish-Christian relations based on not proselytizing to Jews was revolutionary, changing a millennium of difficult interactions between the two religions. This was expressed by Reverend Graham himself in his description of his first visit to Israel in 1960 at the behest of his friend, former US President Dwight Eisenhower. 'When I first took a preaching tour of Israel, I stayed with Mrs. Golda Meir, who was then foreign secretary, and promised her that I was not there to proselytize,' Graham wrote of that trip. 'Rather, I was there to thank the Jewish people for proselytizing me.' Rabbi Tuly Weisz, director of Israel365 and publisher of Breaking Israel News, believes that Reverend Graham was a revolutionary in relating to Jews and Judaism in this manner. 'This approach by Reverend Graham’s went contrary to his background as an Evangelical,' Rabbi Weisz told Breaking Israel News. Rabbi Weisz touches upon this in an op-ed titled, ‘Billy Graham and the Topsy-Turvy Holiday of Purim,’ [later published] in the Jerusalem Post. In the editorial, Rabbi Weisz writes that 'Graham was one of the first Christian leaders to publicly acknowledge the debt of gratitude owed toward Judaism and to move Evangelicals away from evangelizing Jews.' Tommy Waller, the founder of 'Hayovel,' an organization that brings Christian volunteers to work in the vineyards of Samaria, never met Reverend Graham but views him as one of the pioneers of the evangelical Christian movement that his organization is part of. In particular, Waller agrees with Rabbi Weisz that the Reverend Graham’s positive relationship with the Jews was a revolution in the Christian world. 'Reverend Graham had a huge respect for the Jewish people and Jewish identity,' Waller told Breaking Israel News. 'There was a gospel that if you agree with Christianity, then you can be saved. This was exemplified in the Inquisition and a lot of Christians still operate from this assumption.' Waller believes that the state of Israel was an essential factor in bringing about this revolutionary change in the perception that many Christians have of the Jewish people. 'The change in Christianity happened when we witnessed Israel become a nation in 1947 and we realized we were seeing God move outside of Christian dogma,' Waller explained. 'Billy Graham obviously saw this as prophecy being revealed through Israel.' 'Christianity disconnected from prophecy and Jerusalem but this is beginning to change,' he continued. 'When Christians agree that God placed his name on the Temple and Jerusalem, then we can walk together.' • Reverend Billy Graham’s prophetic vision of Jerusalem and the Jewish Third Temple was illustrated in a story told in the book, “A Day in the Life of Billy Graham : Living the Message,” written by Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald S. Strober. The Strobers related how, during a visit at the behest of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, the Reverend Graham arrived in Jerusalem where he was led on a tour of the city by then-Mayor Teddy Kollek. Prior to his visit, Graham had read in evangelical publications that many Israelis wanted to build a third Temple and pressing Kolleck about the subject, Graham asked if there were such plans in the works. “We have absolutely no interest in constructing another Temple,” Kolleck had responded. “We feel that the wall is enough of a sacred place to provide a focus for Jewish spiritual observance.” • In his op-ed, Rabbi Weisz referenced analyses of Jewish commentators on the Book of Esther to connect Reverend Graham’s revolutionary relationship with the Jews to the way many gentiles in the Persian empire looked at Jews by the end of the Purim story. And in every province and in every city, when the king’s command and decree arrived, there was gladness and joy among the Yehudim, a feast and a holiday. And many of the people of the land professed to be Yehudim (mityahadim), for the fear of the Yehudim had fallen upon them. Esther 8:17 “Bible commentators debate the meaning of mityahadim, which comes from the same Hebrew word Yehudim, referring to the Jews,” Rabbi Weisz wrote. “[Some commentators] explain that the local gentiles...developed fondness towards the Jews. Mordechai went from being an outcast to a respected leader, and those who were anti-Semites earlier became our allies at the end of the story.” • Ultimately, Graham’s burial on the day that Purim was celebrated in Jerusalem, could not be more timely. He envisioned the rebuilding of the Hebrew Temple and Jerusalem, and Purim was the beginning of the process that led to the building of the Second Temple. Moreover, as the Purim story took place in the 70th year of Babylonian exile, Graham’s passing happens to occur not just before Purim but on the 70th year since Israel’s rebirth. • • • WILL THERE BE A THIRD TEMPLE? This is often discussed these days because there is great interest in the "Last Days" -- when the Second Coming will announce the biblical Millennium of a thousand years of peace on Earth. • The founder of the Lamb and Lion Ministries is Dr. David R. Reagan, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Texas, with graduate degrees in the field of International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy of Tufts and Harvard Universities, and the former Director of Pepperdine University’s Center for International Business in Los Angeles, wrote an article before the election of President Trump, about the Third Temple from the Christian viewpoint. Dr. Reagan says : "The Bible clearly teaches that a new Temple -- which will be called The Third Temple -- will be built in the future. The First Temple was the one that Solomon built and which was destroyed in 586 BC. The Second Temple (516 BC to 70 AD) was built after the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity. The platform on which it sat was greatly expanded and beautified by King Herod, as was the Temple itself, but since the sacrifices were never stopped during this renovation and expansion, the new Temple was still considered to be The Second Temple. The Third Temple will exist during the Great Tribulation. Daniel refers to this Temple when he says that “the prince who is to come” (the Antichrist) will enter it and stop the sacrifices in the middle of the Tribulation (Daniel 9:27). The Apostle Paul mentions it when he declares that the “man of lawlessness” will profane the Temple by entering it and declaring himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). The Third Temple is also mentioned in the book of Revelation when John is told to measure it -- a symbolic way of telling him to assess its spiritual condition (Revelation 11:1-2)." • But, Dr. Reagan says the obstacle to the building of the Third Temple is the attitude of the Jewish people and their leaders...[they] know that any attempt to build a third Temple would result in immediate war with the Moslems. Only a handful of ultra-Orthodox Jews have a passion for The Third Temple. They are the ones who have made all the preparations. But they have no popular support. Something will have to happen to create a surge of nationalistic pride that will demand a new Temple. This catalytic event could be the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant. There is a distinct possibility that the ancient Temples were not located where the Dome of the Rock currently sits. There is strong evidence that their location was to the north of the Dome and that the sacrificial altar inside the Dome was the one that Solomon built in 'the middle of the court' to handle the thousands of special sacrifices which he offered to the Lord on the day The First Temple was dedicated (2 Chronicles 7:7). If that is so, then The Third Temple could be built north of the Dome of the Rock, putting the Dome in the Court of the Gentiles. This may well be the solution the Antichrist will come up with when he negotiates a peace between the Jews and the Arabs (Daniel 9:27)." Dr. Reagan summarizes : "There is definitely going to be a third Temple. It will most likely be erected at the beginning of the Tribulation in the form of a tent Temple, like the Tabernacle of Moses. A more permanent structure will then be built around and above it. The Antichrist will desecrate this Temple in the middle of the Tribulation. The Third Temple will be destroyed at the Second Coming of Jesus. The great earthquake at that time will radically change the topography of Jerusalem and all the earth (Revelation 6:12-17). In Jerusalem it will result in the provision of a very large level area where the Millennial Temple will be constructed. This is the Temple from which Jesus will reign over all the earth. It is described in detail in Ezekiel 40-46." • • • BUILDING THE THIRD TEMPLE HAS SUPPORT. The Times of Israel wrote on Thursday that Jews must abide by strict rules when visiting the Temple Mount, the site where the First and Second Holy Temples once stood, located above and behind the Western Wall in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City. Although the area is under Israeli sovereignty, the Mount -- known to Moslems as Haram al-Sharif -- is controlled by the Islamic Wakf, a joint Palestinian-Jordanian religious body. As the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, whose golden dome overlooks the city, the Temple Mount attracts daily crowds of Moslem worshipers. • But when Rabbi Chaim Richman -- the international director of the Temple Institute, an organization based in the Old City with the singular goal of rebuilding the Holy Temple in Jerusalem -- stands only feet from the Dome of the Rock, surrounded by Moslem visitors, he whispers a chapter of Psalms : “God will answer you on your day of trouble. The name of the God of Jacob will protect you.” On previous visits to the mount, Richman says he’s sung the entire Hallel prayer under his breath. A frequent presence on the Mount who knows the guards by name, Richman says : "Our goal is to fulfill the commandment of ‘They shall make a Temple for me and I will dwell among them.’ ” Richman is quoting Exodus. “ • Following the Second Temple’s destruction in 70 CE, most rabbis adopted the position that Jewish law prohibits reconstructing the Holy Temple prior to the age of messianic redemption, or that the law is too ambiguous and that the messiah must come first. The Temple Institute takes a different position. Richman says : “There are no Jewish legal barriers to rebuilding the Temple." The institute isn’t shy about advocating what many see as a radical goal : replacing the mosque at the Dome of the Rock with a new Jewish Holy Temple. A painting in the Institute’s exhibition depicts this scenario, with the city’s light rail line taking residents to the Temple Mount. The Temple Institute is dedicated to laying the groundwork for this vision. The organization has formulated a program for where the temple will stand and what its vessels will look like, aided by 20 men who study Temple law full-time. The Institute’s crowning achievement -- the Temple’s golden, 200-pound, seven-branch menorah -- stands outside in a case overlooking the Western Wall. Unlike art or history museums, the Institute’s goal is to remove the objects from their cases and bring them to the mount for use as soon as possible. • The Times of Israel says : "Many Israelis view the goal as a danger to the status quo that has kept this site holy to Moslems and Jews from turning into a tinderbox. In 1984, Israel’s security services stopped a group of Jewish terrorists conspiring to blow up the mosque at the Mount who reportedly got very close to achieving their goal. Ever since, authorities say they have kept a close watch on any attempts to disturb the peace on the Mount. Though observant Jews pray thrice daily in the Amidah prayer for the Temple to be rebuilt, few do anything about it. That’s as it should be, says Michael Melchior, an Orthodox rabbi and former Knesset member who is considered a religious moderate. Melchior says : "“We pray for holiness, but we also need to be careful of others’ desire for holiness. The moment you want to translate that into building a Temple, you upset the sensitive balance we’ve created here, by which we exist here.” He called Temple construction advocates “irresponsible.” • Given the obstacles to breaking ground on a Holy Temple, the Institute also has taken up a more modest cause : expanding Jewish rights on the Temple Mount to allow unrestricted access and prayer. In that endeavor, Richman is joined by several right-wing Knesset members and a group of archaeologists who say the Wakf is reckless with archaeological remains at the site. Eilat Mazar, a Hebrew University archaeologist, said of the site : “It has exceptional historical importance. There needs to be access for everyone. Authorities don’t take care of it.” Moshe Feiglin, a nationalist Likud Knesset member, made a practice of visiting the Temple Mount monthly until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu banned him from the site in order to prevent provocations there. Last month, Feiglin wrote on Facebook : “Whoever turns his back on the Temple Mount is also giving up on construction in the city.” Richman says support for the Institute’s goals is growing. For him, the issue involves far more than politics, archaeology or even Jewish legal research. The Temple Institute, he says, is doing God’s work. For Richman : “The point is that we can’t live without the Temple. It’s not about building, it’s about a concept: the idea that all of human experience can be elevated to a sense of divine purpose.” • • • A THIRD TEMPLE COIN. Israel Today published an article on February 26 reporting that : "One of the various Israeli groups preparing for the building of the Third Temple has issued a half shekel Temple tax coin featuring the images of Persian's King Cyrus and US President Donald Trump. Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to the Land of Israel following their captivity in Babylon, and facilitated construction of the Second Temple. The Hamikdah Betzion (The Temple in Zion) organization believes that Trump's December 6 declaration recognizing Israel's sovereignty in Jerusalem set him on a similar path. Professor Hillel Weiss, chairman of the group, told Israel National News : "This is a historic act for which the Jewish people is grateful." But, Weiss cautioned that Trump must not stop now if God's full blessing on his administration is to be bestowed : "The Trump Declaration must continue with a declaration of the role of the Jews in establishing the Temple in its place. Only then will President Trump's international ambitions come true in the Middle East." • The newly minted coin featuring President Trump and King Cyrus on the front, and a stylized image of the Third Temple on the obverse, has been featured in media around the world, graphically illustrating that support for the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount is now a global phenomenon that is transcending political and religious boundaries. There were 1,000 of the coins minted in the hope that the message on the coin that calls out to the US President to support the Jewish claim to the Temple Mount, would resonate with enough people to cover the total expense of the coins. They offered the coins to the public for a minimum donation of $50, and the response has exceeded all their expectations. The story about the coin, which quickly became a sensation in the Israeli press and was followed by stories in the New York Times, Newsweek, Reuters, Associated Press, and other major international media. The organizers are also being interviewed by the Swedish, British, and Chinese press. Mordechai Persoff who established the Mikdash Educational Center, told Breaking Israel News : “This goes beyond political boundaries.” Persoff said they have begun shipping coins to Hong Kong, Ireland, Poland, China, Brazil, Australia, Germany, Belgium, although most of the orders have been from the United States. Rabbi Hillel Weiss, the spokesman for the Sanhedrin, was surprised by the overwhelming response, but the message was clear to him : Support for the Third Temple is growing : “This is enormously popular among America’s friends and very unpopular among the people who hate America." • • • DEAR READERS, for well over a decade, the Palestinian Authority has gotten away with using a significant portion of the international foreign aid it receives to encourage terrorist violence against Israelis, despite the fact that the various peace agreements that the Palestinian Authority has signed with Israel obligate it to cease all such incitement. The reason for this intolerable situation was that the international community was too afraid of upsetting the delicate Israeli-Arab peace process, and so turned a blind eye to the Palestinian leadership's violations. But, President Trump has no such fears. Trump recently signed into law a congressional bill that includes the so-called "Taylor Force Act," which slashes hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid to the Palestinian Authority until it stops giving part of that money to Palestinian terrorists and their families. Killing Jews has become a lucrative career in the Palestinian-controlled territories, with the Palestinian Authority providing to the families of jailed and deceased terrorists stipends that far outstrip the average monthly household income. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the Trump Administration for finally righting this wrong, and thereby putting the peace process back on a solid foundation. Netanyahu's statement read : "The Taylor Force Act is designed to deny to the Palestinian Authority hundreds of millions of dollars that they invest in encouraging terrorism and lavish on terrorist families and the murderers themselves. I think that this is a very powerful signal from the US, which is changing the rules. It is unwilling to accept the truth of the past or, I should say, the lies of the past, and live with them. It is simply exposing lie after lie and is standing up on truth after truth. I congratulate the American Congress and President Trump for these decisions." • The Taylor Force Act is named after an American student and retired US Army officer who was stabbed and killed by a Palestinian terrorist while strolling the Jaffa promenade south of Tel Aviv during a visit to Israel in 2016. • Good Friday, Passover, and Easter on Sunday have come together this year as Americans and Israelis work to bring peace to the Middle East. Added to this is the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the growing interest in building the Third Temple. Religious Christians and Jews see these actions as signs of the completion of this era and the Second Coming and beginning of the Millenium of peace. • All this is something to think about as we celebrate the major Christian and Jewish religious events that begin this weekend.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS THAT IT IS 1984. We just don't realize how much it is true...yet. • • • FACEBOOK LABELS US ON A VERY CONSERVATIVE TO VERY LIBERAL SCALE. Fox News reported on Tuesday that Facebook thinks it knows whether you're liberal or conservative : "Hidden in plain sight under Ad Preferences is a section called Your Information. If you click on that tab, you’ll see an option for Your Categories, which contains a section called US Politics -- in parentheses, Facebook will have you labeled as Very Liberal, Liberal, Moderate, Conservative or Very Conservative." Facebook says it fills up these categories “based on information you've provided on Facebook and other activity.” The other activity includes lumping you into the same political category as that of other users who have 'liked' the same pages you 'liked,' without asking you. • No wonder the Federal Trade Commission confirmed on Monday that Facebook is under investigation by the FTC about whether Facebook violated the terms of a 2011 settlement entered into after an earlier data leak. • Facebook faces a backlash in the US and Europe from users, advertisers and lawmakers for having allowed Cambridge Analytica to allegedly amass information on 50 million of its users. Fox News says : "The company’s core business that powers around $4 billion in monthly revenue is monetizing everything you do on Facebook to serve its advertisers. However, users may not know that the powerful social network already has an opinion about your political leanings -- and it’s fairly easy to find out what Mark Zuckerberg’s company thinks of your political preferences." Here is Fox's advice to get yourself 'unlabeled' -- after accessing "Ad Preferences," click on "Your Information" and you’ll see an option for "Your Categories" that contains a section called US Politics -- in parentheses, Facebook will have you labeled as Very Liberal, Liberal, Moderate, Conservative or Very Conservative. If you don’t want the algorithm to factor in your presumed political affiliation for advertising purposes, just hover over the box, click the X and see how the tweak impacts your experience on the site. • • • FACEBOOK UNDER THE UK PARLIAMENT'S MICROSCOPE. Meanwhile, Fox News says a new poll shows only 41% of Americans trust Facebook with their personal data. This did not stop Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg from declining to testify in front of British lawmakers about the data scandal, but the CEO and co-founder has reportedly expressed willingness to do so in the United States. • Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg's decision not to appear before MPs is "astonishing", said the committee chairman who invited him to attend. Damian Collins, the head of a British parliamentary inquiry into fake news, urged Mr Zuckerberg to "think again." Facebook and data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica are at the center of a row that actually started in the UK over harvesting personal data. Zuckerberg has apologized for a "breach of trust" but said he will not appear in front of the parliamentary inquiry. Instead, he will send one of his senior executives, Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox, who will give evidence to MPs in the first week after the Easter parliamentary break. • MP Collins, the chairman of the Department for Culture Media and Sport select committee, said : "Given the extraordinary evidence that we've heard so far today... it is absolutely astonishing that Mark Zuckerberg is not prepared to submit himself to questioning. These are questions of a fundamental importance and concern to Facebook users, as well as to our inquiry as well. I would certainly urge him to think again if he has any care for people that use his company's services." Facebook's answer to Parliament was that Cox is "well placed to answer the committee's questions." Last weekend, Zuckerberg took out full-page advertisements in several UK and US Sunday newspapers to apologize, adding the company could have done more to stop millions of users having their data exploited by Cambridge Analytica. • It may be that Mark Zuckerberg is trying to seek shelter from European law, which treats privacy as a fundamental human right. Companies cannot use personal data without notifying and obtaining permission from consumers. A new data privacy regime going into effect this year in the EU fines companies up to 4% of global revenue for each violation. • • • FACEBOOK, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA, BREXIT, AND THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN. The select committee on Tuesday heard testimony from former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie, who claimed the UK may not have voted for Brexit had it not been for "cheating" by the Leave campaign. Wylie told the committee that Canadian company Aggregate IQ -- which has been linked to Cambridge Analytica -- received funding from Vote Leave and played a "very significant role" in the referendum result. He also claimed that his predecessor died in suspicious circumstances in a hotel in Kenya after a "deal went sour." • According to the BBC, the data Aggregate IQ possessed was used to target between five and seven million people during the Brexit referendum campaign. Aggregate IQ said it had a "conversion rate" of 5-7% in persuading people to vote a specific way. Wylie, whose allegations were first published in the Observer newspaper over a week ago, has accused Cambridge Analytica of gathering the details of 50 million users on Facebook through a personality quiz in 2014. He alleges that because 270,000 people took the quiz, the data of some 50 million users, mainly in the US, was harvested without their explicit consent via their friend networks. Wylie claims the data was sold to Cambridge Analytica, which then used it to psychologically profile people and deliver pro-Donald Trump material to them to assist the presidential election campaign. He described his former boss, Cambridge Analytica's CEO Alexander Nix, as a salesman with no background in politics or technology but a lot of wealth. On one occasion, the two of them were running late because Mr Nix had to "pick up a £200,000 chandelier", MPs heard. Nix played on his Eton background, Mr Wylie said. • Cambridge Analytica claims that Wylie "misrepresented himself and the company" to the committee. It described him as a "part-time contractor" who left the firm in July 2014 after less than a year working there. Wyllie "had no direct knowledge of the company's work or practices since that date", it said. Cambridge Analytica also said it was "disgusted" by his "use" of the "tragic death of a member of our team as a means to further his own agenda. An investigation by Kenyan authorities concluded that there was nothing suspicious about our colleague's death, and we as a company were deeply saddened by the loss," it said. • Cambridge Analytica also denies any of the data acquired was used as part of the services it provided to the Trump campaign. Lawyers for Aggregate IQ have said the firm had "never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica" and it had "never knowingly been involved in any illegal activity." Vote Leave has denied accusations that they broke the spending rules during the UK's 2016 referendum on whether or not to stay in the European Union. In a blog on Friday, Vote Leave's Dominic Cummings said the claims were "factually wrong" and the Electoral Commission had approved donations in the run-up to the referendum. • • • FACEBOOK IS ALSO IN TROUBLE WITH CONGRESS. Mark Zuckerberg didn't 'voluntarily' decide to testify before the US Congress. But, he has finally caved in to pressure to testify about the social network’s data-privacy scandal. The New York Post reported on Tuesday that : " 'Facebook’s 33-year-old chief executive is in talks with the House Energy and Commerce Committee to “determine a day and time...to testify,' Elena Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the panel, confirmed in a Tuesday statement. Zuckerberg’s decision comes after repeated calls by US lawmakers for him to submit to a Capitol Hill grilling." The New York Post also reported that "at least 37 states and UK’s Parliament" are seeking Zuckerberg's testimony. • Information about Facebook's falling stock prices and the impact its data-privacy crisis will have on the tech industry are now almost an hourly feature on CNBC. Facebook’s stock has tumbled, falling 21.2% from its 2018 high on February 1. Since the scandal broke, Zuckerberg’s net worth has fallen by about $13 billion over 10 days, to roughly $62 billion. On Tuesday, shares of Facebook 'tanked' 4.9% to $152.22. Google and Twitter shares were trading sharply lower Tuesday. • Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony promises to be a media spectacle, as he scrambles to contain the damage over revelations that Facebook spilled the data of over 50 million users to Cambridge Analytica. Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, also invited Zuckerberg -- along with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey -- to a hearing on data privacy on April 10. Senator John Thune, chairman of the Commerce Committee, and Senator Bill Nelson, the committee’s ranking Democrat member, have said they would work with Facebook “to find a suitable date for Mr. Zuckerberg to testify in the coming weeks.” • In an interview with CNN last week, Zuckerberg said he was “happy to [testify]...if it’s the right thing to do,” before hedging further : “What we try to do is send the person at Facebook who will have the most knowledge." That got a swift answer from Representative Greg Warden, an Oregon Republican who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the committee's ranking Democrat Frank Pallone, who said : "We believe, as CEO of Facebook, [Zuckerberg] is the right witness to provide answers to the American people.” • There were also reports on Tuesday, according to the New York Post, that Facebook is shopping for top-notch Washington lobbyists : "That move may have been pushed along by Monday’s announcement by the Federal Trade Commission that it has launched a probe into whether Facebook violated the terms of a 2011 settlement entered into after an earlier data leak." • • • GOOGLE AND FACEBOOK COLLECT USERS' PHONE AND TEXT INFORMATION. The news reported on Tuesday by USA TODAY -- that Facebook’s Android app has been collecting call and text histories -- is yet another black eye for the social media giant. But just why was Facebook able to siphon off records of who its users were contacting -- and when -- in the first place? USA TODAY's answer is : "Because Google let it. The longer answer : Well, it’s complicated. The social network acknowledged on Sunday that it began uploading call and text logs from phones running Google’s Android system in 2015 -- first via its Messenger app and later through an option in Facebook Lite, a stripped-down version of its main app. Facebook added that only users who gave appropriate permission were affected, that it didn’t collect the contents of messages or calls, and that users can opt out of the data collection and have the stored logs deleted by changing their app settings." • Is this the civilian version of Obama national security advisor Jim Clapper's collection of metadata on Americans? I can't answer that question, but here are some details of the Facebook-Google phone and message data collection, according to USA TODAY : "There’s a reason Facebook’s actions were restricted to Android phones. Apple locks down app permissions tightly, which offers more privacy protection to iPhone users. 'Apple’s fundamental approach is to collect the minimum amount of information to keep the service running, and keep customers in control of the information,' said Rich Mogull, CEO of the security firm Securosis. But Android has long been more indulgent. Until recently, in fact, Google let app developers gain access to a phone’s call and text logs. All they needed was an app that required access to user contacts. Once users agreed, Android would then also grant access to those communication histories. Starting in 2012 with its 'Jelly Bean' release, Android would notify people installing such apps that they were also giving apps access to their call and text logs, but still required them to agree to all those permissions at once. Rejecting the request meant the apps wouldn’t work. It wasn’t until 2015 when Google released Android 6.0, dubbed 'Marshmallow,' that Android phones finally split up those permissions. That meant users could agree to share contacts, but reject access to their messaging and phone histories. That’s the same year Facebook says its apps started collecting this information. But many Android users aren’t using the latest version of the software. In fact, they often can’t get it even if they want it. Apple owns both the software and hardware for iPhones, which allows it to push out new versions of its iOS operating software at will. Google, by contrast, is largely at the mercy of both mobile carriers and hardware makers when it comes to distributing new Android versions. There are nearly 20,000 Android phone models now in service, and carriers like to tweak the software for each to ensure that it will work as smoothly as possible on their networks. As a result, new Android versions reach users very slowly....Last October, Google began forcing all apps to follow the new rules when they issue updates, even on phones running older versions of Android." • USA TODAY says this leaves two big unanswered questions : "Why did Google set up Android permissions this way? And how many other apps have taken advantages of the same setup?" Experts and privacy advocates are quoted by USA TODAY. They say : "the answer to the first question is probably related to Google’s advertising-based business model, which -- like Facebook -- depends on collecting detailed information about users in order to target them with tailored ads. Apple, meanwhile, derives its profits from the sale of devices and services like Apple Music. Another possible factor : Android was playing catch-up with Apple for many years, and was eager to attract app developers in order to attain parity with Apple’s App Store. Some app developers may have found greater access to user data on Android attractive -- as Facebook did. Experts say it’s not clear if other apps are going as far as Facebook in terms of tracking call history and texts, but it’s very possible." • Bob O’Donnell, chief analyst at Technalysis Research, told USA TODAY : "In a lot of ways, Facebook is the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of other people doing this kind of data collection.” • • • FORBES ASKS 'WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG TO GET ANGRY?' Forbes wrote about the current Facebook crisis : "The most amazing thing about the recent Facebook crisis with Cambridge Analytica is how long it took people to care. More than three years. The Guardian first reported most of the story in December 2015, covering most of what is in the news today : In 2014, Cambridge University lecturer Aleksandr Kogan formed UK company, Global Science Research (GSR), developed a Facebook app involving a personality questionnaire, got Facebook users to use the app, and in the process scraped up their personal Facebook details and that of all of their friends. This was allowed by Facebook. Within months, Kogan claimed he had a massive pool of data on more than 40 million Americans. The Facebook data was used to create personality profiles based on five personality traits. Kogan then started working with UK company, Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL), on a 'large research project' to analyze US Facebook users. Kogan impermissibly shared the Facebook data that GSR had gathered with SCL and its US subsidiary, Cambridge Analytica. Financed by Republican financier, Robert Mercer, Cambridge Analytica performed targeted analysis using the Facebook data to help shape campaign messages. The company mission was to further hone the grassroots, digital profiling developed by the Obama campaign.Cambridge Analytica was hired to help with the presidential campaigns of Ted Cruz and Ben Carson and received fees of $750,000 from Cruz and around $220,000 from Carson. It also worked for John Bolton’s Super PAC and got about $2.5 million from Super PACs that Mercer or his family contributed to. Facebook claimed it was 'carefully investigating the situation' with respect to Cruz and stated that misuse of Facebook information 'is a direct violation of our policies and we will take swift action against companies that do, including banning those companies from Facebook and requiring them to destroy improperly collected data.' Sounds like today’s news, doesn’t it? The story died. Then, two years later, in March 2017, The Intercept published an article headlined, 'Facebook Failed to Protect 30 million Users From Having Their Data Harvested by Trump Campaign Affiliate.' It rehashed much of the same information as The Guardian article. The Intercept article did go a step farther, however. It began describing to readers how the Facebook data could be used for predictive purposes. It noted that a 2013 study by three of Kogan’s Cambridge colleagues, 'showed that [Facebook] likes alone could predict race with 95 percent accuracy and political party with 85 percent accuracy.' Dan Gillmore, director of Arizona State University’s Knight Center, noted in the article, 'It’s reasonable to believe that sooner or later, we’re going to see wide-spread manipulation of people’s decision-making, including in elections, in ways that are more widespread and granular, but even less detectable than today.' Again, ho-hum was the response by readers and regulators. So, what was it about the March 2018 articles in the New York Times and London Observer -- which covered much of the same ground as the Guardian and Intercept stories -- that set everyone’s hair on fire? The articles did reveal more information about Robert and Rebekah Mercer's and Steve Bannon’s involvement and the Trump campaign’s use of Cambridge Analytica’s data collected from 50 million Facebook users. Most importantly, however, the articles provided details on what data was collected and how it was analyzed and used to help Trump win the presidency." • So, other Republican and African candidates and Brexit groups could use the ill-gotten data to market their candidacies or Brexit positions, but when it became clear that Cambridge Analytica could be connected to Steve Bannon -- and indirectly, in the media's Progressive thinking, to Trump -- then, the Facebook scam made a splash on mainstream media, even though Cambridge denies that the data collected was used in the trump campaign. • Forbes calls this "the power of Big Data," noting that : "The widespread media coverage on Russian interference in our elections and their misuse of Facebook and other social media platforms to influence 126 million Americans has served as a continuing education of the American public about how seemingly innocuous, personal details may be used against them. The Facebook articles drove the point home." Forbes point is this : "For years, Americans have shrugged their shoulders over NSA surveillance and government access to digital data and said, 'I don’t care; I have nothing to hide.' Now they are starting to see that maybe they do have something to hide. They are starting to understand that their own preferences and those of their friends and family can be hoovered up and stored in perpetuity and fed through algorithms to produce manipulative messaging intended to move beliefs and influence actions." Forbes sees government investigations as window dressing : "the real hammer will be the market. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media platform, when users start to realize that the data they are sharing may be used against them or cause them to lose control over their beliefs or be manipulated, they will begin to shut off. If the company can’t be trusted with personal data, users simply will not use that platform and advertisers will go elsewhere." Roger McNamee, Mark Zuckerberg's long-time mentor, says Facebook usage in North America was down in the last quarter of 2017 for the first time, and he expects the same for the first quarter of 2018. Forbes says : "He may be right. Big names are drawing attention to Facebook's lack of governance and exploitation of individuals. Bloomberg quoted Apple's CEO Tim Cook as saying, 'The ability of anyone to know what you've been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life -- from my own point of view it shouldn't exist.' Elon Musk deleted SpaceX and Tesla's Facebook pages, Cher deleted hers, and #DeleteFacebook and #RegulateFacebook have become popular hashtags. It remains to be seen whether Facebook can regain the trust of its users and whether it will be the company that leads the tech industry into regulations, but Facebook’s crisis will be remembered. It is the Great American Privacy Wake-up Call." • • • DEAR READERS, Facebook and all social media platforms that collect personal data and information are under the gun. Facebook's cavalier treatment of its users' personal information has opened Pandora's Box and governments in Europe and the US will not let them hide behind their 'baby-face' facades. • The Washington Post wrote on Tuesday : "Silicon Valley executives have gone to great lengths to avoid testifying before both public committees and courts. During congressional hearings on Russian meddling last fall, lawmakers also called for the chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter to come forward. But, the companies sent their lawyers instead. In February, Google suddenly settled a protracted legal dispute with Uber over self-driving cars, the week that co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were expected to testify. Zuckerberg in particular appears to be far more comfortable when he can control his appearance. He once hired a personal pollster to gauge the most minor shifts in the public perception of him. His public statements are almost always only on Facebook’s own platforms; he hasn’t used Twitter in years. Even candid photos that appear of him, such as those that took place during his US tour last year, are carefully managed." • In Europe, Facebook may face serious legal consequences for its mistakes. But, in the US, Facebook’s use of people’s data is governed in part by a 2011 agreement with the US Federal Trade Commission. That agreement also requires that Facebook obtain consumers’ consent before making changes to how their data is shared or used. The agency is investigating whether Facebook broke that agreement when Cambridge Analytica took the profiles of individuals and their friends. This FTC investigation of social platforms may finally prove the value of the FTC itself, long considered as a second-tier antitrust regulatory body. • Even CNN on Monday published an opinion piece by Bruce Schneier, the author of "Data and Goliath : The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World." CNN noted that the opinions in the Schneier article are his own and not CNN's, but the article appeared under the CNN banner. Schneier wrote : "In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, news articles and commentators have focused on what Facebook knows about us. A lot, it turns out. It collects data from our posts, our likes, our photos, things we type and delete without posting, and things we do while not on Facebook and even when we're offline. It buys data about us from others. And it can infer even more : our sexual orientation, political beliefs, relationship status, drug use, and other personality traits -- even if we didn't take the personality test that Cambridge Analytica developed. But for every article about Facebook's creepy stalker behavior, thousands of other companies are breathing a collective sigh of relief that it's Facebook and not them in the spotlight. Because while Facebook is one of the biggest players in this space, there are thousands of other companies that spy on and manipulate us for profit." Schneier quotes Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff, who calls it "surveillance capitalism." And, says Schneier : "As creepy as Facebook is turning out to be, the entire industry is far creepier. It has existed in secret far too long, and it's up to lawmakers to force these companies into the public spotlight, where we can all decide if this is how we want society to operate and -- if not -- what to do about it. There are 2,500 to 4,000 data brokers in the United States whose business is buying and selling our personal data. Last year, Equifax was in the news when hackers stole personal information on 150 million people, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver's license numbers. You certainly didn't give it permission to collect any of that information. Equifax is one of those thousands of data brokers, most of them you've never heard of, selling your personal information without your knowledge or consent to pretty much anyone who will pay for it. Surveillance capitalism takes this one step further. Companies like Facebook and Google offer you free services in exchange for your data. Google's surveillance isn't in the news, but it's startlingly intimate. We never lie to our search engines. Our interests and curiosities, hopes and fears, desires and sexual proclivities, are all collected and saved. Add to that the websites we visit that Google tracks through its advertising network, our Gmail accounts, our movements via Google Maps, and what it can collect from our smartphones." The smartphone, says Schneier, "is probably the most intimate surveillance device ever invented. It tracks our location continuously, so it knows where we live, where we work, and where we spend our time. It's the first and last thing we check in a day, so it knows when we wake up and when we go to sleep. We all have one, so it knows who we sleep with. Uber used just some of that information to detect one-night stands; your smartphone provider and any app you allow to collect location data knows a lot more. Surveillance capitalism drives much of the internet. It's behind most of the 'free' services, and many of the paid ones as well. Its goal is psychological manipulation, in the form of personalized advertising to persuade you to buy something or do something, like vote for a candidate. And while the individualized profile-driven manipulation exposed by Cambridge Analytica feels abhorrent, it's really no different from what every company wants in the end. This is why all your personal information is collected, and this is why it is so valuable. Companies that can understand it can use it against you." None of this is new, says Bruce Schneier : "The Wall Street Journal published an award-winning two-year series about how people are tracked both online and offline, titled "What They Know." Schneier notes that : "This might change soon. In 2016, the European Union passed the comprehensive General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. The details of the law are far too complex to explain here, but some of the things it mandates are that personal data of EU citizens can only be collected and saved for 'specific, explicit, and legitimate purposes,' and only with explicit consent of the user. Consent can't be buried in the terms and conditions, nor can it be assumed unless the user opts in. This law will take effect in May, and companies worldwide are bracing for its enforcement. Because pretty much all surveillance capitalism companies collect data on Europeans, this will expose the industry like nothing else. Here's just one example. In preparation for this law, PayPal quietly published a list of over 600 companies it might share your personal data with. What will it be like when every company has to publish this sort of information, and explicitly explain how it's using your personal data? We're about to find out." • In the wake of this scandal, even Mark Zuckerberg said that his industry probably should be regulated. Although he's certainly not advocating the sort of comprehensive regulation the GDPR is bringing to Europe, Zuckerberg is right. • While Schneier may call the tech personal data invasion "surveillance capitalism," it is in fact an outcome of the Progressive sense that all the world should be "connected," as Hillary Clinton spelled out in her "Global Village" book. It is the result of Progressive Globalism at work on communications, politics, education and social interaction. No American likes to call for regulation. It is not in our genes to be regulated by an overarching government. But, since we have succumbed to the siren song of tech-led connection for every facet of our lives, the companies that make the tech connectivity possible should be treated as public utilities -- they are indeed the telephone and TV and radio and post office utilities of the 21st century. Regulation is the only answer. • It is a hard lesson -- our children have led us to a place where privacy and personal control of our lives are no longer possible. The lesson we must teach our children is that with such total control over all human lives comes severe regulation and restrictions meant to protect us from them and their Global Village. • If we do not regain control of the mechanisms of communication and social and political discourse, we will become those who are controlled and stripped of memory and personal existence. Isn't that the goal of the unauthorized collection of our personal data? Isn't that the goal of finding the connection between our likes and dislikes and what we can be persuaded to think and to vote for or against? It is precisely, minus the physical torture, what George Orwell described in 1984 : "It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. And with good reason, for hardly a week passed in which The Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak -- 'child hero' was the phrase generally used -- had overheard some compromising remark and denounced its parents to the Thought Police....Within twenty years at the most, he reflected, the huge and simple question, 'Was life better before the Revolution than it is now?' would have ceased once and for all to be answerable. But in effect it was unanswerable even now, since the few scattered survivors from the ancient world were incapable of comparing one age with another. They remembered a million useless things, a quarrel with a workmate, a hunt for a lost bicycle pump, the expression on a long-dead sister's face, the swirls of dust on a windy morning seventy years ago : but all the relevant facts were outside the range of their vision. They were like the ant, which can see small objects but not large ones. And when memory failed and written records were falsified -- when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested....What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing, and then simply persists in his lunacy?" • You -- We -- can act.
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP GETS THINGS DONE. And, it's driving the mainstream media and ProgDems crazy. • • • CHINA TRADE DEFICIT. CNBC's Jim Cramer said : "After President Donald Trump placed up to $60 billion worth of tariffs on China last week, investors worried that the Chinese government would retaliate in kind. China's first move was to announce $3 billion in tariffs on mostly agricultural US goods like wine and fruit, a move many took as a sign that China was afraid of escalation. On Saturday, Chinese officials went a step further, announcing in the state-owned People's Daily that US companies including Apple, Intel and Boeing would be among the biggest losers in a US-China trade war -- a serious possibility given their sprawling China businesses." Then, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, on Fox this weekend, talked about progress in trade talks, saying perhaps the Chinese would show more respect for intellectual property [and] possibly lower tariffs on US exports. • No sooner had Treasury Secretary Mnuchin spoken on Sunday than China's new Premier Li Keqiang spoke to a conference of global CEOs on Monday, telling them that China would treat foreign and domestic firms equally. He added that China would not force foreign firms to transfer technology and would strengthen intellectual property rights. Premier Li Keqiang said China and the United States should maintain negotiations and he reiterated pledges to ease access for American businesses, as China scrambles to avert a trade war. CNBC reported that the US asked China in a letter last week to cut a tariff on US autos, buy more US-made semiconductors and give US firms greater access to the Chinese financial sector. CNBC was quoting a report in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, that cited unidentified sources. • Alarm over a possible trade war between the world's two largest economies has rattled financial markets as investors anticipated dire consequences should trade barriers go up because of President Trump's announcement of plans for $60 billion in tariffs to cut the US trade deficit with China. In their letter to Liu He, a China vice premier who oversees the Chinese economy, Secretary Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer listed steps they want China to take, the WSJ said, quoting sources with knowledge of the matter. The WSJ reported that Mnuchin is considering a visit to Beijing to pursue negotiations. • So, despite a steady stream of fierce rhetoric from Chinese state media lambasting the United States for being a "bully" and warning of retaliation, Chinese and US officials are busy negotiating behind the scenes. Chinese state radio reported that Premier Li told his CEO audience that : "With regard to trade imbalances, China and the United States should adopt a pragmatic and rational attitude, promote balancing through expansion of trade, and stick to negotiations to resolve differences and friction." For example, China has offered to buy more US semiconductors by diverting some purchases from South Korea and Taiwan, the Financial Times reports, citing people briefed on the negotiations. China imported $2.6 billion of semiconductors from the US last year. Chinese officials are also working to finalize rules by May -- instead of the end of June -- to allow foreign financial groups to take majority stakes in Chinese securities firms, the Financial Times said. • On Saturday, Liu reportedly told Mnuchin in a telephone call that the US inquiry violated international trade rules and China would defend its interests, the official Xinhua news agency reported. A US Treasury spokesman confirmed the call, but declined to comment on the content of any letter or on a possible visit by Mnuchin to Beijing. A Treasury spokesman told Reuters : "Secretary Mnuchin called Liu He to congratulate him on the official announcement of his new role. They also discussed the trade deficit between our two countries and committed to continuing the dialogue to find a mutually agreeable way to reduce it." • Why is President Trump so determined about the China trade surplus? China has a $375 billion trade surplus with the US, and Trump wants it to be cut by $100 billion. Privately, according to the Financial Times, Liu and Mnuchin exchanged letters in the past week on further opening China's financial services sector and cutting Chinese tariffs on imported cars. China has a 25% tariff on US cars and has talked recently of lowering it. China's imports of US motor vehicles totaled $10.6 billion in 2017, about 8% of China's overall US imports by value, according to US government data. • • • TRUMP CLOSES A RUSSIAN CONSULATE AND EXPELS 60 RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS. President Trump has ordered the closure of a Russian consulate in Seattle near a US Navy submarine base with a huge nuclear arsenal guarded by dolphins. The President also expelled 60 Russians from the United States. The shutdown of the consulate in Seattle is "due to its proximity" to US naval base Kitsap-Bangor, according to administration officials. Experts believe the Navy installation has the greatest concentration of nuclear weapons in the United States. CNBC reported that the closed Russina consulate is less than 30 miles from what is believed to be the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the United States, if not the world. And it is guarded by dolphins. • Trump ordered the closure of the consulate as part of a broader move against Russian diplomats and intelligence officials Monday. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later confirmed the move to expel dozens of Russian officers, as well as the closure of the Seattle consulate. In its rationale for the closure, the White House specifically cited the Seattle consulate's proximity to the Kitsap-Bangor submarine base and facilities belonging to major defense contractor Boeing. When asked whether the US had observed Russian spying on the crucial naval base, officials gave mixed signals. One official told CNBC: "These actions are not designated towards any particular or individual effort of collection by the Russian government. This is a holistic look at the Russian government's collection capabilities in the US and the consulate in Seattle is just a particular location that has been designated." Another official said the Seattle consulate serves a role in Russia's intelligence collection in the US but would not elaborate on any specific activities. The official said to CNBC : "We assess the Russian consulate in Seattle to be part of this broader problem of an unacceptably high number of Russian intelligence operatives in the United States. We think it sends a very clear signal, particularly since on the West Coast the Russians will have a degraded capability with regards to spying on our citizens." • Lisbeth Gronlund, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told CNBC : "In general, there will be two to three submarines in port with 200-300 weapons. There is also a storage center for nuclear weapons at the Bangor base that may hold several hundred additional warheads." Neither the Pentagon nor the US Navy responded to CNBC's request for comment. In addition to its storage of strategic nuclear weapons, CNBC reported that Kitsap-Bangor also serves as the homeport for more than half the Navy's ballistic submarines -- another significant interest to the Russian government. These stealth Ohio-class submarines are undetectable launch pads for intercontinental missiles. The number of submarines and other vessels berthed at Kitsap-Bangor makes the installation the third-largest fleet concentration in the United States. • Unique dolphin sentries from the Navy's Marine Mammal Program also help guard the base near Washington's Puget Sound. The installation uses Navy-trained dolphins to defend against intruders, identify mines and to recover objects. Since the 1960s, the US Navy has used dolphins and sea lions to work with sailors and Marines. • The closure of the Russian consulate and the expulsion of 60 Russians from the United States comes as a response to a nerve agent attack earlier in March on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent who worked for the UK secret service, and his daughter, Yulia. A senior Trump administration official said : "This was a reckless attempt by the [Russian] government to murder a British citizen and his daughter on British soil with a military-grade nerve agent. It cannot go unanswered. To the Russian government we say, when you attack our friends, you will face serious consequences." Russia continuesto deny any involvement and says Britain is orchestrating an anti-Russia campaign. In a coordinated allied effort, 14 EU member states said they would expel Russian diplomats, according to European Council President Donald Tusk, including Germany, France and Poland. Other EU countries expelling Russians are Croatia, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, and Sweden. Non-EU countries expellign Russians include Albania, Australia, Canada, Macedonia, Norway, and Ukraine. • Even the rabidly anti-Trump Washington Post published a Worldview article titled "Trump and the West give Putin the fight he needs." The WP article said : "On Monday morning the United States, Canada and the European Union carried out a coordinated mass expulsion of Russian diplomats, responding to Moscow's alleged role in the March 4 poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain. The Trump administration expelled 60 Russian intelligence and diplomatic officers in New York and Washington and ordered the shuttering of the Russian consulate in Seattle. At least 14 other NATO and European allies joined in, ejecting more than 100 Russian diplomats in total. It was the strongest sign yet of American solidarity with Britain -- and its allies in Europe -- in the face of apparent Russian misdeeds. Under President Trump, that's noteworthy. Over the past year, Trump's apparent personal softness toward Moscow and indifference toward NATO and the European Union led many in Europe to question his commitment to the transatlantic relationship. Just last week, he congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his reelection without mentioning Moscow's apparent use of a military-grade chemical weapon on British soil. [Note : French President Macron and other European leaders also phoned Putin to congratulate him.] But Monday's move marked a profound shift in tone. 'Today’s actions make the United States safer by reducing Russia’s ability to spy on Americans and to conduct covert operations that threaten America’s national security,' White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. 'With these steps, the United States and our allies and partners make clear to Russia that its actions have consequences.'....The common front against Russia is welcome news among Washington's divided European friends. Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Moscow who has criticized Trump's approach toward Russia in the past, supported the decision and suggested it could prove a genuine blow to Russia's intelligence-gathering operations....'These expulsions and closure of the consulate reinforce the reality of a relationship that continues on a downward spiral,' Angela Stent, a former intelligence officer who focused on Russia in the George W. Bush administration, said...'The Kremlin will surely retaliate, leaving even fewer areas where the United States and Russia can work together. What a change from the President’s congratulatory call to Vladimir Putin last week.' " The Washington Post took the position that : "Putin, who derives much of his legitimacy from his ability to rival the West, is only too happy to play this game. A resurgence of Cold War tit-for-tat expulsions and the thickening atmosphere of distrust between Russia and the West boosts his image in the mind of Russian nationalists. It 'helps to reconfirm a narrative that Putin has been pushing since 2012 about the US as a hostile actor,' McFaul told Today's WorldView. That's necessary given the actual weaknesses of the Russian state. The country's economy is smaller than that of Canada. Its entire military budget, noted Time's Ian Bremmer, is smaller than the extra amount Trump wants Congress to add to US defense spending. And although Putin won an election he was never going to lose, his hold on power is not as strong as it may seem. Putin 'knows that, no matter how many votes he ends up with, vast numbers of Russians are dissatisfied with their lot,' Stephen Sestanovich, a professor of international diplomacy at Columbia University, wrote in a recent column for The Washington Post. 'Nine of 10 consider corruption a big problem; just as many feel they are unable to do anything about it; and a shrinking number believe he will address it seriously. For a leader thought to have profited from foreign adventures, Putin’s support for specific policies has also started to look shaky. Polls show an astonishing 49% of Russians want out of Syria.” • The Washington Post noted that the Putin's campaign spokesman even thanked Britain for helping the Kremlin meet its voter-turnout target of 70%. “We were pressured exactly at the moment when we needed to mobilize,” said Andrey Kondrashov, adding that, in a moment of confrontation with a foreign adversary, “the Russian people unite around the center of power. And the center of power is certainly Putin.” Russian journalist Leonid Ragozin wrote : “The expulsion of diplomats strengthens the bond between Putin and his constituency, because it enhances the besieged fortress complex. A move against mafia state assets would, on the other hand, damage this bond, because Russians have no sympathy for London-based kleptocrats.” • What the WP did not allude to is the possibility that the nerve gas attack in Britain was calculated to do just that -- raise support for Putin right before the election. That may be disgusting to the West, but it would not be too surprising a move for the ex-KGBer Putin and his cronies. • • • JIMMY CARTER TRIES TO GIVE TRUMP A LESSON IN FOREIGN POLICY. The New York Post reported on Monday that former President Jimmy Carter says hiring John Bolton is Trump’s "worst mistake." Carter was speaking to multiple media outlets, including USA TODAY, on Monday when he tore into President Trump for his decision to hire the ex-US ambassador as his new national security advisor, calling it : “a disaster for our country. Maybe one of the worst mistakes that President Trump has made since he’s been in office is his employment of John Bolton, who has been advocating a war with North Korea for a long time and even an attack on Iran, and who has been one of the leading figures on orchestrating the decision to invade Iraq. I am concerned as a matter of fact about his deliberate moves to get into the key positions of government just people who agree with him. Access to different opinions before you make a final decision is very valuable, and in the last few days I think President Trump’s choice of close advisers, powerful advisers, have gone to unanimity rather than diversity.” • Again on CBS “This Morning” in an interview set to air Tuesday, Carter attacked the Bolton appointment : “I think John Bolton has been the worst mistake he’s made. I have been concerned at some of the things he’s decided.” BUT, Carter gave no specifics as to why Bolton was a bad choice for national security advisor, although Bolton has been known to criticize Carter for his handling of the Iranian Revolution in the late ’70s. Carter says he fears that Bolton will mishandle the negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. He told USA Today that his “first advice” to Trump, if they were ever to sit down and discuss the situation, would be to fire Bolton immediately : “What the North Koreans have wanted for a long time is just assurance confirmed by the Six Powers Agreement -- with China and Russia and Japan and South Korea and so forth -- that the United States will not attack North Korea as long as North Korea stays at peace with its neighbors.” • Now, let's get this straight -- the President who refused to support the Iranian Shah who was a US ally, thus letting the Ayatollahs take over Iran and form the first radical terrorist-Islamist state, the President who then allowed Iranians to storm the US Embassy in Terehan, sack it and take 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981, the President who was so inept in the face of the hostage-taking that he further allowed a poorly planned helicopter rescue mission known as Operation Eagle Claw to try send an elite rescue team into the embassy compound in Teheran, a mission halted by a severe desert sandstorm on the day of the mission that caused several helicopters to malfunction, including one that veered into a large transport plane during takeoff, ending with the deaths of 8 American servicemen, the President who had to stand down while his successor Ronald Reagan successfully negotiated the release of the 52 American hostages on his election day -- THAT President is now telling Donald Trump how he should run his foreign relations policy office and giving Trump advice about what North Korea "wants." DO NOT MAKE US LAUGH, President Carter. Like Hillary and her lies about Benghazi, you should go home and be quiet. • • • DEAR READERS, the Progressive left money men, their ProgDem puppets in the Swamp and the lapdog propagandist media that supports their program to destroy the Republic -- THAT part of America is unwilling to admit that President Donald Trump has been extremely effective in his foreign policy efforts. • He shamed the European allies of the US in NATO to pay up on their financial obligations to their own security. • He set straight the UN and its socialist-marxist majority in the General Assembly about the US commitment to Israel, following up with appropriate withdrawals of US financial support for UN entities that mistreat Israel and movng the US embassy to Jerusalem -- all this has been so successful that the EU is now telling the Palestinians to stop "antagonizing Trump." That was the message Germany's new foreign minister, Heiko Maas, delivered to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas this week, as Germany made an effort to kickstart the Israel-Palestinian peace process. Maas told Abbas to "not tear down bridges" with the Americans. In recent months, Abbas has taken great offense to Trump's open affinity for Israel, going so far as to publicly wish for the White House to collapse on the American leader's head. Wishing for someone's house to fall on their head is a common Arabic curse against one's enemies. While he's not busy personally insulting Trump and his administration, Abbas has been lobbying hard in Europe to launch a new peace process that doesn't include the Americans. But, according to Israel Today, he's "hit a brick wall, after European leaders unequivocally told Abbas that a comprehensive Middle East peace deal leading to the creation of a Palestinian Arab state is impossible without the involvement of Washington." Maas reiterated that position on Monday. What the Europeans have agreed to do is lobby the Trump Administration to abandon its outright support for Israel and its positions. But, the world has learned in the past year that when President Trump takes a position or says something, he means it and is not likely to back down unless his original position was simply part of a negotiating ploy -- a phenomenon that most Americans now recognize for its effectiveness -- and the world can be sure that the Trump policy about Israel is not a ploy of any kind. It is the real thing. • If the Palestinians don't yet understand that, they ought to talk to North Korea's Kim Jong-un. His bluster and "Rocket Man" antics have turned in to a call for negotiations and a promise not to fire any more missiles -- all because of President Trump's get-tough policy that frightened Kim to his knees -- and sent him scurrying to China for help. Asia expert Harry Kazianis on Monday told Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is reportedly visiting Beijing to curry favor with the Chinese and “to figure out how to get out of” the tough situation with President Trump. Bloomberg reported Monday that Kim made a surprise visit to China -- his first foreign visit since assuming power in 2011 -- citing three anonymous sources. Kazianis told Ingraham : "But I think there’s actually a bigger question you have to ask -- is Kim Jong-un actually panicking? Because we have to remember -- what do the North Koreans actually get out of the negotiations with the United States? Nothing. Because now the Trump administration is demanding that they give up their nuclear weapons. So what do the North Koreans get here? I have a feeling the North Koreans could actually be in Beijing to figure out how to get out of this and hope the Chinese can help them do that." Gordon Chang, a Daily Beast columnist and author of the book “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On The World,” told Ingraham that “what’s going on is that [Chinese President] Xi Jinping is trying to pull the strings on the North Koreans....look, China does control North Korea. When China really wants something, they get it. And I think that really right now what we are seeing is the Chinese telling the North Koreans, 'You've got to do what we, the Chinese, say.' " It is also possible that Trump's appointment of John Bolton as national security advisor had an intended effect on Kim Jong-un. News of Kim's reported trip also came less than a week after Trump appointed Bolton to replace national security advisor H.R. McMaster. The North Koreans fear Bolton, Chang said, because he "is going to put an end to" North Korea's weapons sales with countries like Iran. And I'm sure the North Koreans are very concerned -- also the Chinese, because the Chinese have been aiding in this deadly trade, and they're not going to like to see Bolton in 1600 Pennsylvania really putting an end to their support for North Korea." Kazianis concurred, saying that Bolton "is North Korea and China's worst nightmare," because he will follow Trump's lead and "drive very hard terms when it comes to negotiations." "Bolton's also going to drive hard terms in terms of trade...I think it's a fact that the Chinese have really been doing a lot of damage to our economy," Kazianis said. "Now that you're going to have maximum pressure on North Korea...you're also going to have maximum pressure on China." • Mark Weinberg, former assistant press secretary to President Ronald Reagan, wrote an excellent piece for Fox News on Tuesday. Weinberg says : "President Trump has been beset by criticism and controversies over his tweets and utterances since long before he took office. But it’s time to give credit where it’s due : contrary to sentiments expressed by the media, Donald Trump is one of the most effective communicators to ever serve as President. Take it from someone who worked for the man dubbed “The Great Communicator” himself. Ronald Reagan, like his successor, Mr. Trump, had an uncanny ability to connect with his base of supporters, including a number of blue-collar Democrats, often to the great frustration of his critics in the media who liked to portray him as simplistic, unknowledgeable, or just plain dumb. Sound familiar? In Reagan’s case, these were grossly unfair characterizations, as I knew well. But, President Reagan didn’t care much about them -- because he knew he was a skilled and savvy communicator who could easily go over the heads of the Washington beltway punditry." Weinberg notes that it is logical that "the two greatest communicators in recent presidential history came from the entertainment industry. Reagan, like Trump, spent many years in front of the camera, learning lines, hitting cues, and mastering the craft of self-expression. Like everyone in the entertainment world, they paid close attention to ratings, because ratings meant either life or death for their respective programs. This gave both men the talent of knowing what people wanted to hear, and how to make sure they were listening....President Reagan mastered the medium of television to convey his messages. His training as an actor and as a longtime television spokesman for General Electric Theatre gave him the skills needed to communicate big ideas to large numbers of people, as well as a technical appreciation for the stagecraft of the modern presidency. Trump, too, was a skilled television presenter. But he’s also mastered another mode of communication with which Reagan was obviously unfamiliar -- social media....both relished the role of an outsider coming to Washington to shake things up and fundamentally change the way the government serves the people....Donald Trump’s tweets earn a great deal of criticism, especially by folks in the media. But the point is often missed: the tweets are very effective. They give Trump an international platform to say whatever he wants to say. And he can change, or some might say manipulate, the global news cycle at will. If Trump doesn’t like a storyline in the media, he can with one tweet change the entire narrative. Reagan was a great communicator, but Donald Trump is an even more powerful one." Weinberg applauds Trump for using the sheer force of his ability to communicate -- a man with no political experience -- to singlehandedly "vanquish one of the deepest, most respectable and experienced benches of Republican presidential candidates ever -- as then go on to defeat the seemingly prohibitive odds-on favorite in the general election." Weinberg says : "That happened because Donald Trump communicated. Clearly. And continues to do so. We never wonder what he thinks. Trump is not afraid to let the country see how his mind works, and even his critics in the media begrudgingly praise his unprecedented allowing of live television coverage of some of the most important meetings of his presidency." And, adds Weinberg : "as demonstrated by Trump’s bold decision to meet with Kim Jong-un, he shares Reagan’s belief that when it comes to potential adversaries, it is always better to talk to people instead of about them. Reagan believed that if he could just get his Soviet counterpart in a room and tell him, man-to-man, that the US had no hostile intent, and would not tolerate any nation that sought to harm us, they could embark on a path to reduce the threat of nuclear war. Evidently Trump believes the same thing about the North Korean." • If the ProgDems and their dark money men and the Swampy Deep State and the mainstream media would give President Trump the space to do what he is so good at, instead of having to use part of his precious presidential time to fight back at their lies and stupidities as they remain in denial about his election victory and try to destroy him because he is not Hillary -- thank God -- Donald Trump would already be seen as a great President in the mold of Ronald Reagan. His genius is being diverted by the ProgDems. But, he will survive, and if his impressive list of early victories is any indication, when the Swamp and its storm troopers finally quit or end up in jail, President Trump will show the world what a dedicated conservative President who is a public servant, in the best sense of that word, can do for America and the world.