"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Saturday, December 28, 2013

9 High Budget Biblical Based Movies to Come Out in 2014

It appears that there will be at least 9 movies coming out in 2014 that will be based, at least somewhat, on the Bible. Links to the trailers are there for the first three. 

In Son of God and Noah, it is obvious, even from the trailers that the directors have taken some privileges with the Scriptures. Let's hope, and pray, that they at least get the basic gospel right. 

The movies were not inspired by a sudden revival in Hollywood, but by the unexpected success if the mini-series The Bible. It's all about the money!

Son of God will release just before Easter and will re-tell the story of the birth, life, ministry death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado has the lead role. [click on link to see trailer]

 Noah is a $125 million extravaganza starring Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson will play his adopted daughter(??),  and Jennifer Connelly about the catastrophic judgment of mankind recorded in the Book of Genesis and one man and his family who are saved. It releases March 28th. [click on link to see trailer]

Heaven Is For Real will release on April 16th, based on the New York Times best-selling non-fiction book about a boy who dies, but after being brought back to life by a team of doctors tells his family that he went to heaven while he was dead and describes what he saw in vivid detail. [click on link to see trailer]

The saint-like image of a hooded woman looms out from the movie poster, her arms outstretched as a divine light bursts from the sky. A message written above is simple and unambiguous: “You Will Believe.” So goes the promotional campaign for the forthcoming Hollywood blockbuster Mary Mother of Christ....whose title character will be played by Odeya Rush, a 16-year-old Israeli-born actress, is one of a series of unashamedly Christian biblical epics due to appear next year, marking an unprecedented overture by Hollywood to America’s evangelical heartland.
It will be interesting to see if this movie is made by Catholics and deifys Mary.

Noah will be followed by Sir Ridley Scott’s Exodus, in which Christian Bale,   as Moses, will part the Red Sea. Scenes from ancient Egypt have been   reconstructed in southern Spain, with Bale wielding a bow and arrow (??) and   Sigourney Weaver playing the Pharaoh’s wife.

Another movie of Moses’s life called Gods and Kings is also planned. Steven Spielberg was due to make it but has been replaced by Ang Lee, who won the Best Director Oscar this year for Life of Pi.

Will Smith is said to be planning a film based on the story of Cain and Abel.

Brad Pitt is rumoured to be playing Pontius Pilate in a separate project.

There will also be Resurrection, in which a Roman soldier is sent to investigate Christ’s death. It has been likened to “Gladiator, with a mystery bent."

I've been waiting a long time to see a movie based on the life of Paul. Guess I'll have to wait a little longer.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Unpredictable Czar Putin is in Control

Excerpts from an interesting article in the New York Times:

Earlier this month, Mr. Putin shocked Moscow’s political and media circles with a surprise announcement that he would remake RIA-Novosti, the semi-independent state news agency, under the direction of a Kremlin loyalist.      
See: http://northwoodsministries.blogspot.ca/2013/12/putin-takes-control-of-russian-media.html

In that post and the one immediately before it, I discuss Putin's ambition to recreate the influence of the old Soviet Union, with one exception - he will be Czar over the Russian Federation.

Nothing in this article gives any kind of hint that my assessment is incorrect. As his executive power increases, he is scary enough, but I would not be surprised if, in some emergency, he shut down the Duma and ran the country by himself. 

Such an event could be pivotal in the Russian, Muslim war on Israel prophesied by Ezekiel in chapters 38 and 39 of his book.

The decisions demonstrate Mr. Putin’s singular ability not only to wield executive power but also to bend the legislative and judicial branches of government to his will, and to exert heavy control over the Russian news media.      

What we are seeing is a president who has no limits on his power in a country that never was democratic, that never had anything called a balance of power — where one of the estates could balance the power of another,” said Vladimir Posner, one of Russia’s most prominent television journalists, with his own nightly show on Channel One, the premier government-controlled station.    
“There is no Fourth Estate,” he said. “And as a matter of fact there is no Second or Third Estate. There is just the First, just the presidency. That’s the way things are today in Russia.”    
As he prepares to begin his 15th year as Russia’s paramount political leader, Mr. Putin’s sweeping authority gives him far more leverage than his counterparts in the West to influence the course of events and, at times, to set the agenda in world affairs.      

In defiance of the United States, Russia granted temporary asylum to the former national security contractor Edward J. Snowden, with Mr. Putin portraying him as a whistle-blower.

Mr. Putin also averted an American military strike on Syria with a plan to disarm its chemical weapons.
Yet all of his recent moves carry serious risks. Releasing Mr. Khodorkovsky could well set loose a vengeful rival, with the money and will to do everything possible to force Mr. Putin from power. The bailout of Ukraine could easily turn into a financial debacle, exacerbating Russia’s own creeping economic problems, should Ukraine continue stumbling toward default.      

Czar Putin

And scrapping RIA-Novosti, a respected news agency, in favor of a replacement already being derided as a Soviet-style propaganda arm could undermine the credibility needed to cultivate the public image that Mr. Putin has sought for Russia as a re-ascendant power, able to challenge the West.  
Supporters of Mr. Putin say that his actions reflect sure-footed pursuit of a plan to build a greater Russia, evidenced by mega-vanity projects like the Sochi Olympics that will burnish the image of both the president and his country. A magnanimous gesture like freeing Mr. Khodorkovsky, they say, demonstrates his statesmanship and deflects any criticism of authoritarianism.

Critics say the recent moves are tactical, aimed at retaining power that is sure to slip as the flood of cash from the country’s vast fossil fuel reserves, which generated unprecedented wealth during his tenure, slowly recedes. By this view, Mr. Putin is impulsive and increasingly isolated, unchecked by opponents or even by formerly trusted advisers....

Experts said Russia’s slowing growth was another factor in Mr. Putin’s recent decisions, prompting him to take steps to improve the investment climate to attract foreign capital, as well as to lift his own popularity in case the economy takes a dive. In part because of a slowing economy and rising prices, Mr. Putin’s approval rating stands at 61 percent, its lowest point since 2000, the first year of his presidency, according to the Levada Center, a polling agency here.

Chris Weafer, a senior partner at Macro-Advisory, a consulting firm based in Moscow, said that the release of Mr. Khodorkovsky was a positive sign, but that more would be needed to reassure skittish foreign investors. “The reason investors are wary is not because of the arrest of Khodorkovsky 10 years ago,” he said. “It’s the corruption, the poor business climate, the perception that there is little respect for the rule of law.”

Sergei M. Guriev, a former rector of the New Economics School in Moscow, said in a telephone interview that he, too, believed that the president’s recent decisions had been dictated in part by economic challenges.

“There is no external crisis, and yet the Russian economy is growing only at one-and-a-half percent a year,” he said. “Oil prices are high, and yet the Russian government is balancing the budget with difficulty. Not everything is going so well.”

Re-writing Early History of Mankind - Again

An exhibit shows the life of a Neanderthal family in a cave in the new Neanderthal Museum in Krapina, Croatia. A new analysis of Neanderthal DNA in a Siberian cave reveals rampant inbreeding. (REUTERS)
Actually, the display is a picture of the artist's imagination.
I doubt that they were so refined looking and so white skinned, or so clean.
Neanderthals liked to keep it in the family with DNA sequencing of an ancient toe revealing long-term inbreeding amongst a Siberian-based population.

The sequencing results, published today in the journal Nature, also reveal Neanderthals, early modern humans and a sister group to Neanderthals, Denisovans, met and reproduced in the Late Pleistocene between 12,000 and 126,000 years ago.

Alan Cooper, a professor at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide, says the study "completely rewrites what we know about human evolutionary history".

"We now have a reasonably definitive picture of the mixing and matching of [hominin] groups through time," he says.

First author of the paper Kay Prufer, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany says the findings are based on DNA extracted from a toe bone found in the Siberian cave where the first Denisovan fossils were discovered in 2008.

The toe bone belonged to a Neanderthal woman who they estimate lived about 50,000 years ago, he says, adding that DNA analysis shows the woman's parents were very closely related.

"We conclude the parents of this Neanderthal individual were either half-siblings who had a mother in common, double first cousins, an uncle and a niece, an aunt and a nephew, a grandfather and a granddaughter, or a grandmother and a grandson," the researchers write.

Reason for extinction?

Prufer says the analysis shows this inbreeding was not a rare event.

"The parents were very closely related, but even if you ignore that [DNA analysis shows] … the past parents of the parents were related," he says.

Prufer says the inbreeding suggests the Neanderthal population was quite small or fragmented and this may have played into their demise.

"Of course if you have a small population size you begin to move into the danger zone [for extinction]," says Prufer.

Cooper, who was not involved in the study, agrees: "If you are breeding with your uncle, your population is on the way out. The fact this group has been doing it for a while suggests it was in decline."

Interbreeding across species

As part of the study, the international team also compared genomes of Neanderthals, Denisovans and modern-day humans.

Previous research has shown that while Neanderthals contributed to the genetic heritage of all modern populations outside Africa, Denisovans contributed exclusively to populations in Southeast Asia and Oceania.

However Prufer says the analysis reveals the picture may be more complex.

Their study shows gene flow from Neanderthals to Denisovans indicating interbreeding between the two groups.

The Denisovan DNA also contained genetic material from an "unknown archaic human that lived a million years ago", says Prufer. They should come and get some DNA from me; I'm an unknown archaic human, though not quite a million years old, sometimes I feel like it.

He says this "unknown archaic human" could be Homo erectus, but further analysis is needed to determine its origins. Could be an oragutan, or a wooly mammoth. Still looking for that missing link, I guess.

Ancient human relative's DNA puzzles scientists

Prufer says by comparing the genome of the various hominin groups, researchers will also be able to pinpoint the "defining changes" in genome that genetically make modern humans.

Their work suggests the proportion of Neanderthal-derived DNA in all people outside Africa is about 1.5 to 2.5 per cent.

Cooper says the findings show evolution works in a "complicated and messy fashion".

"And when you try and reconstruct evolutionary history by looking at modern genetic data you get it completely wrong," he says.

Ah! An honest scientist, willing to admit that almost everything they know is wrong and re-written by almost every significant new discovery.

While the work is "very convincing" Cooper says it is unlikely to be the final version of evolution.

"Five years ago we didn't even know of the existence of the Denisovans," he says.

"It is an incremental process [but] these discoveries are really changing how we think about human evolution."

Cooper says the sequencing of the genomes also opens up the possibility to "identify what bits of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA survive in us and what they might be doing".

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Daystar Offers 'Duck Dynasty' Prime Time TV Slot

Just days after Phil Robertson’s biblical beliefs regarding homosexuality were made public, Daystar has extended an offer to air Duck Dynasty during prime-time hours.

See: http://northwoodsministries.blogspot.ca/2013/12/duck-dynasty-star-suspended-for-calling.html for original story.

“My wife, Joni, and I are standing with Mr. Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty for family values and biblical values,” says Marcus Lamb, founder and CEO of Daystar Television Network. “Our American constitution guarantees its citizens freedom of speech and freedom of religion. As a result, Daystar Television Network is offering a primetime slot to Duck Dynasty.”

Daystar stands with Phil Robertson, and believes that Christianity should not be shut out of the media conversation. If A&E refuses to recognize Phil Robertson’s personal Christian beliefs, then he, along the rest of the Duck Dynasty family, is welcome on Daystar.

"Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson was suspended "indefinitely" from the A&E show following anti-gay remarks he made in an interview with GQ, but a new statement from his family hints that the future of the entire show is now at risk as long as he's gone.

"Phil would never incite or encourage hate," the
Robertson family wrote in the statement posted to their Duck Commander website. "We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right."
Now the rest of the Robertsons might just be ready to take a voluntary hiatus if the situation stays the same.

"We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm," they said.

The Robertsons are now in talks with A&E to find out just "what that means for the future" of "Duck Dynasty."

The quintessential word on this from a real Christian perspective can be found in my blog list (below, right). Click on Holy Experience and read Ann Voskamp's perspective. It's worth it.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gay Rights Activists Object to Christian Law School

Canada's first faith-based law school has been approved over objections from gay-rights advocates and hundreds of law students.

TWU is located in Langley, British Columbia.

Trinity Western University's code of conduct states students can be expelled if they have same-sex relationships. Or, if they have any sexual relationships outside of marriage!

Critics say the law school will produce lawyers with an anti-gay bias in a country with anti-discrimination laws and legal gay marriage.

The university has said it welcomes gay and lesbian students.

"We are thrilled with this news," university president Bob Kuhn said in a statement, adding "all students [gay or straight] are welcome to attend Trinity Western University, providing they meet our academic requirements and agree to respect our community values".

In a statement, British Columbia's minister of advanced education, Amrik Virk, said the university had proven that graduates "could meet the national standards to practice law".

The school reportedly plans to enrol its first class of law students in 2016.

A letter petition in March against approving TWU's law school attracted signatures from more than 1,000 students at Canadian law schools, the CBC reported.

So this means that more than 1000 law students in Canada think that Christians are unfit to become lawyers.

Critics had specifically pointed to Trinity's Community Covenant Agreement, which says students should abstain from "sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman".

The university "reserves the right to discipline, dismiss or refuse a student's re-admission" if the agreement is broken, said the agreement.

Duck Dynasty Star Suspended for Calling Gays Sinners

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson is off the hit A&E reality series indefinitely after disparaging gays as sinners akin to adulterers and swindlers, the network said.

A&E announced Wednesday what it called a "hiatus" for Robertson, 67, after he disparaged gays in the January edition of GQ magazine. He also said that, growing up in Louisiana before the Civil Rights movement, he never saw mistreatment of blacks.
Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson
Of course, growing up in pre-Civil Rights Louisiana, he might not fully comprehend what mistreatment is.

In a statement, A&E said it was extremely disappointed to see Robertson's anti-gay remarks, which it said were based on his personal beliefs and do not reflect those of A&E Networks or the show. A&E called itself a supporter of the lesbian and gay community.

The channel's move was lauded by the gay and lesbian media advocacy group GLAAD, which had quickly condemned Robertson's comments.

"What's clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike," said GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz. Robertson's removal "has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value."

Robertson and his extended family became wealthy manufacturing duck calls and were turned into TV and pop culture stars by Duck Dynasty, which has set cable ratings records for a non-fiction series. Several family members appeared in this year's Macy's Thanksgiving parade.

In his GQ interview, Robertson was asked his definition of sinful behaviour. "Start with homosexual behaviour and just morph out from there," such as bestiality, he said.

GQ said he then paraphrases a biblical reference: "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

Robertson and his family had no comment on his hiatus, A&E said on their behalf. He may be in some previously taped scenes when the show returns Jan. 15 for its fifth season, a network spokesman said.

Robertson did respond to initial criticism of his GQ remarks.

"I myself am a product of the '60s" who indulged in sex and drugs until hitting bottom and accepting Jesus as his saviour, he said in a statement. Although his mission is to teach people that men and women are meant to be together, Robertson said he "would never treat anyone with disrespect" because they are different.

This is an example of what I wrote above. He is not fully aware of what might be mistreatment or discrimination. In my humble opinion, what he said was true and the Scriptures he paraphrased were accurate enough, but the way he said it was certainly offensive, although I don't know if there is any way of saying it that is not offensive.

The LGBT community and its supporters would like to have the many Scriptures condemning homosexuality removed from the Bible or, they would probably prefer to have the Bible outlawed as hate literature. 

That poses a dilemma for Christians who believe the Bible is the written word of God. We can say nothing and allow gay people to meet the fate God has promised them, or we can tell them what God said. Which is more loving - to allow someone to spend eternity in Hell, or giving them a chance to spend eternity in a new Heaven and earth by offending them?

While we Christians often articulate things very poorly and often fail to manifest the character of Jesus, especially in dealing with gays, I submit that the more loving thing to do is to tell gays of the consequences they will meet when they stand before Christ, rather than being silent for fear of offending them.

In the interview, he also said that in his Louisiana youth he picked cotton with African-Americans and never saw "the mistreatment of any black person. Not once."

"We're going across the field.... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people' — not a word!" Robertson told the magazine.

A&E said it had received no complaints about those remarks.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

North Carolina Outlaws Climate Change

A Tale of Two Cities: America's Bipolar Climate Future - Spiegel Online

When Veronica White and Tom Thompson stand on the coastline of their respective cities, 680 kilometers (423 miles) apart, they gaze out at the same ocean, but see different things.

White, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, believes "we have to prepare the entire coastline for disasters, including storms and rising floodwaters." Thompson, a former city planner in New Bern, North Carolina -- an eight-hour drive to the south -- argues the opposite. "All this panic about the climate always amazes me, but people like to believe horror stories," he says.

Since 1900, the sea level in both cities has risen by about 30 centimeters (12 inches). According to calculations by a group of climatologists working for New York City, the sea level in that city could rise by more than three-quarters of a meter (2.5 feet) by 2050, and by one-and-a-half meters 30 years later. The group of experts warns that by the end of the century, average temperatures in New York could be as high as they are in North Carolina today.

According to the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission (CRC), that state, like New York, will also see warmer temperatures by the end of the century, as well as a sea-level rise of more than one meter. But now the state government in North Carolina has muzzled the CRC with a new law that requires coastal communities to ignore its prognoses. The legislation states that the sea level off the North Carolina coast will not rise more quickly than it has in the last 100 years.

In the United States, two very different worlds have come into existence along the same coastline. In one of those worlds, people pay attention to climate predictions. In the other, they don't. While New Yorkers believe they have to do something against global warming, because it could spell the city's demise, the citizens of New Bern would rather put their faith in God's creation. In New Bern, climate change is a question of faith and conviction that touches on broader issues of American identity. Indeed, climate change has become central to a culture war over the future of America.

"If sea levels did go up by a meter," says Tom Thompson at the New Bern marina, "most of New Bern would be uninhabitable." He is 69 and despite his white hair, looks younger. He walks along the boardwalk, past a new riverfront park and the Hilton Hotel. All of it reflects his work as a city planner. Thompson has brought companies to New Bern, including Bosch-Siemens, which built a factory for electronic devices there, and he knows many people in the North Carolina business world.

He had just retired -- proud of the world he had created -- when the CRC delivered its prognosis that sea levels would rise by about a meter within the next 100 years, swallowing buildings, roads and public squares. It was the same number officials in other coastal states had come up with as a result of scientific research. For Thompson, however, that one-meter announcement was nothing less than a declaration of war, an assault on his legacy.

Shortly after the news appeared in the papers, Thompson worked from an office in the storage room of his wife's business, a home furnishings store on Main Street in New Bern. Sitting in a small space between two cuckoo clocks, Thompson began reaching out to the lobby he had once assembled to protect the local economy against regulation.

He called heads of chambers of commerce with whom he was on a first-name basis. He also spoke to the urban developers and chief executives of the companies he had brought to North Carolina. Thompson told all of them his horror story: of roads and highways that would have to be raised by at least a meter because of the predicted rise in sea level, of disappearing boardwalks and businesses fleeing the area. He also warned them that the building conversions, evacuation routes and property insurance would cost billions.

According to Thompson, some 5,200 square kilometers (about 2,000 square miles) of the state would be in jeopardy. His friends and business associates were alarmed. Was North Carolina about to become a billion-dollar grave?

Thompson told his story until, eventually, Pat McElraft, a Republican member of the state's General Assembly, wrote a paragraph into a bill known as HB 819, which included various anti-climate change provisions.

In April 2013, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety presented an official report on what a one-meter rise in sea level would mean to the state. The economic losses would be staggering, since the affected areas are covered with homes, office buildings and public facilities worth a total of $7.4 billion (€5.16 billion). Everything would have to be rebuilt to withstand the storm surges.

And why? "Just because a few scientists are claiming that that's what will happen," says Thompson. "But they have no evidence. We're supposed to spend money on something that might not happen at all."

Thompson is a God-fearing conservative fighting against the scientific finding that climate change exists. In his view, there are too many numbers and too many estimates that seem contradictory. To him, it feels more like a lottery than science.

It's early morning in Queens, New York. The sun is rising over the Atlantic, its shimmering surface broken only by gentle waves. Veronica White, 54, isn't exactly dressed for a fall walk on the beach. She is going to a gala dinner with the mayor in the evening, and she knows she'll be too busy to change her outfit first.

As commissioner of the Parks & Recreation Department, part of White's job is to protect New York from climate change and rising sea levels. She and her staff of roughly 6,000 employees are responsible for the city's beaches and coastal areas, monuments like the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the High Line and about 1,700 other city parks, 500 community gardens and 2,500 street medians known as Greenstreets. But Rockaway Beach, where she is now standing, is perhaps the best place for White to explain why New York is worried about climate change.

The view from the shore of the Atlantic, with its calm, blue waters and a few well-fed seagulls, seems perfectly idyllic. But when you turn around, the devastation becomes all too apparent: a beach that could no longer truly be called a beach.

Rockaway Beach after Hurricane Sandy
In October 2012, when Hurricane Sandy, dubbed a "Frankenstorm," struck the East Coast of the United States, Rockaway Beach was washed away, swallowed up by a raging storm surge.

What's left of the beach is now several meters below the coastal road, surrounded by sand bags. The boardwalk is gone. "It flew up into the air and, when it was all over, pieces of it were spread around the entire community," says White. The Rockaway community was flooded and littered with sand, overturned trees and utility poles with torn cables dangling from them. Residents were all but paralyzed. "We spent months just cleaning up," says White. "God, it was so discouraging."

She walks quickly along a makeshift wooden platform and looks down at the construction site on the beach, where workers are pounding planks into the sand. They're building a barrier designed to protect Rockaway Beach from being washed away by the next storm. In the coming months, the US Army Corps of Engineers will bring in 2.7 million cubic meters (95 million cubic feet) of sand, which will be piled up and secured with the help of protective walls, geotextiles and beach grass, so that Rockaway Beach can become a real beach again. But will it be enough?

Even before the storm hit, the majority of New Yorkers supported Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plans to transform their city of superlatives into the world's greenest metropolis. "But Sandy brought home to people what climate change really means," says White, "just as 9/11 showed New Yorkers what's at stake in the war against terror."

White concedes that a single storm cannot be directly attributed to climate change. But she also points to the models developed by the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), which indicate that by the end of the century, storms like Sandy will likely occur once every two years. In New York City alone, the storm killed 44 people, destroyed thousands of buildings and hundreds of thousands of cars, and caused $19 billion in total damage.

And as the sea level rises, the consequences of every storm surge will spread to larger areas and affect more and more people. About 400,000 New Yorkers live in flood-prone areas today, a figure the NPCC estimates will double by 2050.

Sandy also caused damage in North Carolina. The Outer Banks, a group of barrier islands and one of the state's most popular tourism destinations, were cut off from the mainland for a period of time. But residents are accustomed to storm damage and have gotten used to rebuilding destroyed houses instead of investing a lot of money in precautions to avert future damage.

In Tom Thompson's world, they call it faith in God. It's a world in which a government that provides for its citizens is not seen as a moral necessity, but as an immoral temptation that makes hardworking people lazy. And it's a world shaped by the fear of a nanny state that deprives citizens of their freedom.

In Thompson's worldview, only socialists and cowards prepare for the worst. Although North Carolina had a Democratic governor until the beginning of the year, and a majority voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, it remains a state that defends its lax gun laws, closes abortion clinics and where many people flatly refuse to believe in the existence of climate change.

And so North Carolina continues to plod along, blithely ignoring the warnings of the scientific community. When the law was passed in July 2012, then Governor Bev Perdue merely warned: "North Carolina should not ignore science when making public policy decisions." She was referring to climate change. Nevertheless, she refused to veto the law, which dictates to the sea how high it is permitted to rise off the coast of North Carolina. Perdue did point out that the issue would be revisited in four years.

"If we discover in 10 years that the sea level is truly rising at a faster pace, we can always start building roads at higher levels," says Thompson. "But why start now?"

Friday, December 13, 2013

Did Pope Gregory XIII Get the Calendar Wrong?

Are we in the third millennium or still in the second since Jesus Christ?

Zero hour

Actually, a thousand years before Gregory modified the calendar system to what is widely accepted globally today, the Julian calendar was modified to ‘zero’ on ‘Anno Domini’ – the year of the birth of Jesus Christ. 

The Julian calendar predated Jesus by about 45 years.
A calendar from the Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad

The Gregorian calendar was a modification of the Julian calendar made in 1582 to make it more accurate and to bring Easter more in line with where it should probably be. 

At that time, Pope Gregory had an opportunity to correct what I consider to be a huge and obvious error in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars – the ‘zeroing’ of the calendar on the year of Jesus birth (or possibly His conception).

The Cross - center of all time and eternity

While it was a great day in the history of civilization, it was easily eclipsed 33 years later by Jesus’ death and resurrection. These were the two most important events in history and changed everything. 

Prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the world was under ‘the law’ – that is, the Law of Moses. With Jesus death and resurrection, grace became the driving force for those who believe in Christ, and is available to all who call on Him.

Satan had the ‘keys’ to death and Hell but was defeated on the Cross and no longer has that power.

The death and resurrection also made possible the re-connection between man and God which had been severed by the sin of Adam and Eve. Roughly two months after His death, the Holy Spirit was sent to Earth to indwell all who believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, thereby forming a spiritual connection to God.

So, with all that, and more, centered around the death and resurrection of Jesus, why wasn't the calendar ‘zeroed’ on that year? I think Gregory erred in not making that change.

End of the Millenium

Had the change been made, and knowing now that Christ was probably, actually born around 3 BC on the Gregorian calendar, that He died and resurrected at about age 33, we can assume that the second millennium will really end in the calendar year 2030.

Will that be the year Christ returns? Who knows? If it is, that would put the beginning of the Great Tribulation at 2023 – just over nine years from now, that is, if the Great Tribulation is a literal seven years as many believe.

When you look at the proliferation of evil and the ever-increasing abominations of man, that timing seems pretty good to me. But, only God really knows.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stunner - Kim Jong-un Executes Uncle Jang

This is stunning news from North Korea. (See second article below). This is not a good sign. While we can only conjecture what has really taken place between Kim and his uncle, it takes a serious amount of ruthlessness to execute your mentor and relative. What will happen now to the rest of Jang's family and friends? What does it mean for a peaceful resolution to the never-ending war with South Korea?

North Korean state media say Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong-un's uncle, has been executed, calling the leader's former mentor "worse than a dog."
Kim Jong-un and his uncle Jang Song Thaek

The announcement early Friday comes days after Pyongyang announced that Jang Song Thaek had been removed from all his posts because of allegations of corruption, drug use, gambling, womanizing and generally leading a "dissolute and depraved life."

Jang was considered the second most powerful official in the North. He was seen as helping Kim Jong-un consolidate power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, two years ago.

Jang was the latest and most significant in a series of personnel reshuffles that Kim has conducted in an apparent effort to bolster his power.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mandela Service Ruined for Deaf People Around the World

A man who appeared to provide sign language interpretation on stage for Nelson Mandela's memorial service, attended by scores of heads of state, was a "fake," the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa said on Wednesday.

The man, shown at Tuesday's memorial, also did sign interpretation at an event last year
that was attended by South African President Jacob Zuma, (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)
The scandal over the interpreter is another indication of bad organization of the historic memorial service at a huge soccer stadium on Tuesday. Other difficulties included public transportation breakdowns which hindered mourners from getting to the event and a faulty audio system that prevented many of the tens of thousands in the stadium from hearing the leaders's speeches. In an apparent security failure, police did not search the first wave of crowds arriving at the stadium.

The unidentified man seen around the world on television next to leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama "was moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for," Bruno Druchen, the federation's national director, told The Associated Press.

Collins Chabane, one of South Africa's two presidency ministers, said the government is investigating the matter but has not finished yet because it has been overwhelmed with work organizing public viewing of Mandela's body in the South African capital of Pretoria and his funeral Sunday in his hometown of Qunu. He added the "government will report publicly on any information it may establish."

No known sign language

Four sign language experts, including Druchen, said the man was not signing in South African or American sign languages and could not have been signing in any other known sign language because there was no structure to his arm and hand movements. South African sign language covers all of the country's 11 official languages, according to the federation.

Ingrid Parkin, principal of the St. Vincent School for the Deaf in Johannesburg, said she's received complaints from the deaf community from Canada to China about the man on stage and that his movements look "like he's signing gibberish." He also used no facial expression to convey the emotions of the leaders, a key element of sign language interpretation.

"This man himself knows he cannot sign and he had the guts to stand on an international stage and do that," Parkin said.
'Only he can understand those gestures.' - Nicole Du Toit

Nicole Du Toit, an official sign language interpreter who also watched the broadcast, said in a telephone interview that the man on stage purporting to sign was an embarrassment.

"It was horrible, an absolute circus, really, really bad," she said. "Only he can understand those gestures."

The man also did sign interpretation at an event last year that was attended by South African President Jacob Zuma, Druchen said. At that appearance, a deaf person in the audience videotaped the event and gave it to the federation for the deaf, which analyzed the video, prepared a report about it and a submitted a formal complaint to the ANC, Druchen said.

In their complaint, the federation suggested that the man should take the five years of training needed to become a qualified sign language interpreter in South Africa. But the ANC never responded, Druchen said.

Druchen said a fresh complaint will be filed to the ANC about the interpreter he called a "fake" with a demand for an urgent meeting.

"We want to make a statement that this is a warning to other sign language interpreters who are fake and go about interpreting," Druchen said. "I am hoping the South African government will take notice of this."

Bogus sign language interpreters are a problem in South Africa, because people who know a few signs try to pass themselves off as interpreters, said Parkin, the principal of the school for the deaf. And those hiring them usually don't sign, so they have no idea that the people they are hiring cannot do the job, she said.

"They advertise themselves as interpreters because they know 10 signs and they can make some quick money," said Parkin. "It is plain and simple abuse of the deaf community, they are taking advantage of the deaf community to make money."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kim Jong-un Dismisses Uncle and Consolidates Power

Kim Jong-un consolidates power in North Korea by dismissing his Uncle and his associates. 

Yesterday, http://northwoodsministries.blogspot.ca/2013/12/putin-takes-control-of-russian-media.html, I wrote about how USSR communists consolidated power in the days of the CCCP - by murdering their political opponents. Stalin murdered millions of people as he suspected everyone, even his own family of being against him.

His paranoia was fed by the fledgling predecessor of the KGB which found it expedient to exaggerate the threats to communism, taking the position that there were no neutral countries. That all countries that did not support them were conspiring to destroy them.

With that contrived paranoia, the small intelligence agency was able to grow into an enormously powerful entity in the Soviet Union and in the entire world. 

It wasn't long, however, that the KGB began to believe their own propaganda and true paranoia set in. That paranoia became embedded in all communist countries very quickly and still is. In China, there is still the suspicion that Christianity is a western plot to overthrow communism, although this is diminishing.

In North Korea's time bubble, the paranoia runs very deep still. While it is unlikely that Uncle Chang will end up dead, he may find himself, his family and his cohorts living in one or more of the hundreds of prisons built by Kim Jong-un's father.

What this shake-up means for North Korea and South Korea is anyone's guess right now. South Korea is very wary, as they should be, however, this may turn out to be a good thing. The European educated Kim Jong-un may have a lot less paranoia than his father or grandfather. 

It shouldn't take long before we find out which way he will take his country. Meanwhile, we should be praying for him to open the doors to the world and abandon the absurd rhetoric and propaganda that they plague their citizens with.

South Korea's president has warned that ties with the communist North could become more unstable following the removal of a major powerbroker.

President Park Geun-hye said the North was "carrying out a reign of terror", after news of the purge of Chang Song-thaek, uncle of leader Kim Jong-un.

North Korea confirmed on Monday that Mr Chang was stripped off official posts.

The move has been seen as the biggest shake-up in Pyongyang since the death of leader Kim Jong-il in December 2011.

"North Korea is currently carrying out a reign of terror, undertaking a large-scale purge in order to strengthen Kim Jong-un's power," Ms Park said during a cabinet meeting.
Kim Jong-un
"From now on, South-North Korea relations may become more unstable."

Mr Chang, who is married to Kim Jong-il's sister, was seen as a powerful figure guiding the administration of Kim Jong-un.

But on Monday, North Korean state media confirmed South Korean reports that he had fallen from grace, accusing him of forming factions against the state, corruption and "depraved" acts such as womanising and drug abuse.

State news agency KCNA on Tuesday reported on a meeting of the Workers' Party central committee on 8 December that it said laid bare Mr Chang's crimes.

It said that Mr Chang's group dared to "challenge the party through factional acts, while attempting to undermine the unitary leadership of the party".

"The party eliminated Jang [Chang] and decisively purged his group, dealing a telling blow at its dangerous factional acts," KCNA said.

The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, for its part, carried an editorial on its front page on Tuesday calling for unity under Kim Jong-un and said North Korea would "never forgive any traitors".

Monday, December 9, 2013

Global Warming, Climate Change, Is It Our Fault? Can We Fix It?

I am not endorsing Professor Plimus' stand here, but he sure does raise some interesting points.

Ian Rutherford Plimer is an Australian geologist, professor emeritus of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne, professor of mining geology at the University of Adelaide, and the director of multiple mineral exploration and mining companies. He has published 130 scientific papers, six books and edited the Encyclopedia of Geology. 

These are his extensive credentials.

Born               12 February 1946 (age 67)
Residence       Australia
Nationality       Australian
Fields              Earth Science, Geology, Mining Engineering
Institutions       University of New England,University of Newcastle,University of Melbourne,University of Adelaide
Alma mater      University of New South Wales, Macquarie University
Thesis              The pipe deposits of tungsten-molybdenum-bismuth in eastern Australia (1976)
Notable awards Eureka Prize (1995, 2002),Centenary Medal(2003), Clarke Medal (2004)

Where Does the Carbon Dioxide Really Come From? 

Professor Ian Plimer's book in a brief summary.

PLIMER: "Okay, here's the bombshell. The volcanic eruption in Iceland . Since its first spewing of volcanic ash has, in just FOUR DAYS, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT you have made in the past five years to control CO2 emissions on our planet - all of you.Of course, you know about this evil carbon dioxide that we are trying to suppress - it’s that vital chemical compound that every plant requires to live and grow and to synthesize into oxygen for us humans and all animal life. 

I know....it's very disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the inconvenience and expense of driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up till midnight to finish your kids "The Green Revolution" science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, vacationing at home instead of abroad,nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your 50 cent light bulbs with $10.00 light bulbs.....well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tubes in just four days.

The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth's atmosphere in just four days - yes, FOUR DAYS - by that volcano in Iceland has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon. And there are around 200 active volcanoes on the planet spewing out this crud at any one time - EVERY DAY.

I don't really want to rain on your parade too much, but I should mention that when the volcano Mt Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it spewed out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in all its years on earth. 

Yes, folks, Mt Pinatubo was active for over One year - think about it.

Of course, I shouldn't spoil this 'touchy-feely tree-hugging' moment and mention the effect of solar and cosmic activity and the well-recognized 800-year global heating and cooling cycle, which keeps happening despite our completely insignificant efforts to affect climate change.

And I do wish I had a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud, but the fact of the matter is that the bush fire season across the western USA and Australia this year alone will negate your efforts to reduce carbon in our world for the next two to three years. And it happens every year. 

Just remember that your government just tried to impose a whopping carbon tax on you, on the basis of the bogus 'human-caused' climate-change scenario.

Hey, isn’t it interesting how they don’t mention 'Global Warming' anymore, but just 'Climate Change' - you know why? 

It’s because the planet has COOLED by 0.7 degrees in the past century and these global warming bullshitartists got caught with their pants down.

And, just keep in mind that you might yet have an Emissions Trading Scheme - that whopping new tax - imposed on you that will achieve absolutely nothing except make you poorer.

It won’t stop any volcanoes from erupting, that’s for sure.

But, hey, .....go give the world a hug and have a nice day.

There is no question that the planet is warming. I have no idea where Professor Plimer came up with the idea that it has cooled by 0.7 deg. C in the past century, but I would love to know. 

That man's activities contribute to that warming is also not in question. What the question is is, how much are we contributing, and if we reduce carbon emissions, how much of an affect would it have on global warming. Professor Plimus is saying that the answers to both questions is, 1) 'not very much' and 2) 'not at all'. 

If he is right, then carbon trading and a whole bunch of other 'green' measures are nowhere close to being worth the effort or expense.

Greenpeace, Pussy Riot to be Given Amnesty

The members of the Pussy Riot punk band, Greenpeace activists and protesters jailed after the May 2012 Bolotnaya demonstration will be freed in an amnesty dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution, Russian media report.

A total of 25,000 people will be freed under the amnesty initiated by President Putin, Interfax cited Vladimir Vasilyev, deputy speaker of parliament, as saying.
Two members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot in prison since March 2012
“Around 1,300 people will be released from prison, and 17,500 people will be relieved of non-custodial sentences. In addition, criminal proceedings against nearly 6,000 can be terminated,” Vasilyev said.

Several Russian media including Izvestia and Vedomosti newspapers have obtained a copy of the draft amnesty, which was submitted to the parliament by President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

According to the papers, the participants in such high-profile cases as the Pussy Riot Cathedral protest, Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise boarding of an oil rig and the Bolotnaya Square riots will all be granted amnesty.

Putin Takes Control of Russian Media

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has abolished the country's state-owned news agency RIA Novosti.

In a surprise decree published on the Kremlin's website on Monday, Mr Putin announced it would be replaced by a news agency called Russia Today.

The new agency will be headed by journalist and keen Kremlin supporter Dmitry Kiselev.

The state-owned Voice of Russia radio station has also been closed. The decree was effective immediately.

Sergey Ivanov, the head of the Kremlin administration, has told journalists in Moscow that the news agency is being restructured in order to make it more economical while increasing its reach, Interfax reports.

"Russia pursues an independent policy and robustly defends its national interests. It's not easy to explain that to the world, but we can and must do this," he said.

For many Kremlin critics in Russia, that phrase suggests this is a sinister move by President Putin, says the BBC's Daniel Sandford in Moscow.

In the post immediately below, I suggested that Putin longed to rebuild the Russian Federation to its former prominence in the world. It appears he believes that it must also return to the propaganda methods of the former paranoid communist state. Apparently, balanced reporting does not work for Russia, or at least Mr Putin.

In the old days, a communist president of Russia would establish his authority by murdering his political rivals. These days it's done by taking control of the media, which may or may not include murder.
Daniel Sandford, BBC Moscow

Mr Kiselev is known for his ultra-conservative views, including recently saying that gay people should be banned from giving blood, and that their hearts should be burnt rather than used in transplants.

Of all the state-owned media organisations, RIA Novosti has made the greatest attempt to produce balanced coverage in recent years. This was in part because of its international clients in media organisations around the world. It would have lost credibility otherwise.

But now the agency is being taken over by the Russia Today brand, which for opposition-minded Russians is more of a government mouthpiece, giving carefully selected news with a clear pro-Kremlin bias.

The word "propaganda" - never far from the Kremlin's opponents' lips when they are discussing state-controlled Russian television news - is now also being used to describe the new news agency.

Reporting on its own demise, RIA noted in its news report that "the move is the latest in a series of shifts in Russia's news landscape, which appear to point toward a tightening of state control in the already heavily regulated media sector".

Russia Today is the parent of RT.com which I have quoted a few times on this blog. Their pro-Kremlin bias was obvious yesterday in a piece blaming the west for inciting the riots in the Ukraine, but taking no responsibility for any actions by Russia.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Orange Revolution all over Again

"This is the third Sunday in a row that we've seen a giant crowd in the centre of Kiev"
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in the Ukrainian capital Kiev seeking the resignation of the government for refusing a deal on closer ties with the European Union.

Protesters, who oppose a customs union with Russia, toppled a statue of Lenin and smashed it with hammers.

This is a kind of replay of the Orange Revolution of 9 years ago. It's all about whether Ukraine forms stronger ties with the EU or with Russia. Most Ukrainians want the relative prosperity that comes with association with the EU, but the President has close ties with Russia and has refused the advances of the EU.

Russian President Putin has long had a desire to rebuild the Russian Federation to it's former CCCP status, and is pulling strings to make sure Ukraine remains closer to them than to the EU. Many Ukrainians simply don't trust Russia or Putin, and with good reason.

But understand this, this is an east vs west power-play that will not easily be resolved.

President Viktor Yanukovych has said he shelved the EU deal after Russian opposition.

Protest leaders have given him 48 hours to dismiss the government.

As darkness fell, protesters were blockading key government buildings with cars, barricades and tents.

Witnesses said a group of protesters toppled the statue of Soviet leader Lenin at the top of Shevchenko's Boulevard using metal bars and ropes. Then they began smashing it up with hammers.

Others stood by chanting "glory to Ukraine".

Correspondents say the statue has symbolic importance as it underlines Ukraine's shared history with Russia.

One opposition MP, Andriy Shevchenko, tweeted: "Goodbye, Communist legacy!"

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov compared the toppling of the statue to the Taliban's destruction of the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001, Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.

"War on monuments is always barbarity," he said.

The BBC's David Stern says the attack on the statue has heightened tension in Kiev.

In another development on Sunday, the Ukrainian Security Service said it was investigating some politicians on suspicion of what it called "actions aimed at seizing state power". It did not name the politicians.

The European Commission has said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Ukraine this week "to support a way out of the political crisis".

Waving EU and Ukrainian flags, protesters on Sunday congregated on Kiev's Independence Square - the scene of previous clashes with police.

Ukraine's special police force, Berkut, has been widely condemned for beating protesters in the square - known as Maidan.

The opposition party of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has urged people to "chase" the president "until he falls".
Yulia Tymoshenko

"We are on a razor's edge between a final plunge into cruel dictatorship and a return home to the European community," Mrs Tymoshenko said in a message to the crowd read out by her daughter.

"Don't give in, not a step back, don't give up, the future of Ukraine is in your hands," the message read.

Another opposition leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, said: "It's not just a simple revolution. It's a revolution of dignity."

Opposition MP Serhiy Pashynskyy said that "starting from today and until our demands are met, the government quarter will be blocked with protest rallies".

Analysts say that although the protests were sparked by President Yanukovych's U-turn on the EU deal, many on the streets want rid of what they believe is a corrupt system.

The protests are the largest since the pro-democracy Orange Revolution in 2004.

A smaller pro-government rally was held close to the opposition march with police separating the two.

Both Russia and Ukraine denied that the issue of Kiev joining the customs union along with Belarus and Kazakhstan came up during the Putin-Yanukovych meeting in Sochi, in southern Russia, on Friday.

Correspondents had earlier speculated that an agreement on Ukraine joining the customs union might be reached in return for reduced energy prices. The two neighbours have also been trying to resolve a long-running dispute over energy supplies.

Ukraine depends on imports of Russian gas, but the supplier, Gazprom, has recently complained that Kiev had fallen behind in payments.

Disputes over supplies to Ukraine before 2009 saw Gazprom temporarily cutting off supplies.

Pipelines passing through Ukraine also pump Russian gas to many EU member states.

"Any signature to a deal on forming a new Soviet Union means the breakup of the country," said Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a prominent opposition member.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Atheist Ad Campaign Refused by Pattison Group

Poster ad campaign by atheist group refused by Pattison Outdoors
An atheist group is considering a human rights complaint after it says a billboard company refused to run its advertisements in Vancouver.

The Centre for Inquiry Canada created a billboard design depicting a smiling woman alongside a few phrases written in a biblical style.

“Jenn 13:1,” it reads. "Praying won’t help. Doing will.

Below the group's name, the ad says: "Without God. We're all good."

Atheist ads also vanished from some Kelowna buses.

Pat O’Brien, board member for The Centre for Inquiry Canada, said the organization submitted the ads to Pattison Outdoor but was told they were unacceptable.

God bless you Jim Pattison and your staff for not running this offensive ad. I'm sure they will find someone more greedy and less discerning to hang up their posters, but I'm proud that it wasn't you. 

Computer savvy Christians with some time on their hands can find a ministry in the "comments" section of news stories like this one on CBC.CA/news/. A calm mind, a gentle spirit, and a lot of patience may make a great deal of difference in someone's life. And perhaps, God will give you a specific word for someone who will read your comment.

God bless.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New DNA Discovery is Outlier to Archaeological Theories, Big Surprise

Scientists have reached farther back than ever into the ancestry of humans to recover and analyze DNA, using a bone found in Spain that's estimated to be 400,000 years old. So far, the achievement has provided more questions than answers about our ancient forerunners.

Isn't this often the case, new discoveries rarely fit into archaeological understanding without the application of a great deal of imagination. This, of course, means that much archaeological theory on the origins of man is imagination based.

The feat surpasses the previous age record of about 100,000 years for genetic material recovered from members of the human evolutionary line. Older DNA has been mapped from animals.
This artist's rendering provided by Madrid Scientific Films shows hominins whose remains were found at a site in Spain called Sima de los Huesos. The fossils have anatomical features reminiscent of Neanderthals. (The Associated Press)
Note that archaeological artists have great imagination, example - Nebraska Man the "missing link" built up from a single tooth, which turned out to belong to a pig. 
Experts said the work shows that new techniques for working with ancient DNA may lead to more discoveries about human origins.

Results were presented online Wednesday in the journal Nature by Matthias Meyer and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, with co-authors in Spain and China.

They retrieved the DNA from a thighbone found in a cave in northern Spain. It is among thousands of fossils from at least 28 individuals to be recovered from a chamber called the "Pit of the Bones." The remains are typically classified as Homo Heidelbergensis, but not everybody agrees.
DNA was recovered and analyzed from the thigh bone of a Sima de los Huesos hominin estimated to have lived about 400,000 years ago. Previously, the oldest hominin DNA ever analyzed was around 100,000 years old. 

The age of the bones has been hard to determine. A rough estimate from analyzing the DNA is around 400,000 years, which supports what Meyer said is the current view of the anthropologists excavating the site. Todd Disotell, an anthropology professor at New York University, said geological techniques suggest the remains are older than 300,000 years but it's not clear by how much. By comparison, modern humans arose only about 200,000 years ago.

The researchers mapped almost the complete collection of so-called mitochondrial DNA. While the DNA most people know about is found in the nucleus of a cell, mitochondrial DNA lies outside the nucleus. It is passed only from mother to child.

Researchers used the DNA to construct possible evolutionary family trees that include the Spanish individuals and two groups that showed up much later: Neanderthals and an evolutionary cousin of Neanderthals called Denisovans. They assumed the DNA would show similarities to Neanderthal DNA, since the Spanish fossils have anatomical features reminiscent of Neanderthals.

But surprisingly, the DNA instead showed a closer relationship to Denisovans, who lived in Siberia and apparently elsewhere in Asia, far from the Spanish cave. Scientists are uncertain of how to explain that, Meyer said.

The picture should get clearer if scientists can recover the other kind of DNA, found in the nucleus, from the Spanish bones, he said. Nucleus DNA would give more comprehensive information about evolutionary relationships between species, perhaps telling a story much different from the mitochondrial DNA evidence, Meyer said. Nucleus DNA is harder to recover, but Meyer said he's optimistic that some small fraction might be retrievable.

A chamber at Sima de los Huesos called the 'Pit of Bones' contains thousands of fossils from at least 28 individuals, who are thought by many scientists to belong to the species Homo heidelbergensis. (The Associated Press)
He also noted that the cave has acted as "the perfect fridge" to preserve the DNA for eons, and said it will be hard to find comparable situations elsewhere.

Experts in ancient DNA called the new paper exciting because it showed scientists can recover older DNA than many had thought outside the deep freeze of permafrost areas. Much of human evolution happened in warmer places.

"We had been operating for a while under the assumption that the oldest DNA we're going to get is about 100,000 years," said Disotell. Now, "we might take a shot at some older samples that we just never would have bothered with in the past."

In warm places like Africa, where DNA does not preserve well, even getting genetic material that is just tens of thousands of years old would be an advance, said David Reich of Harvard Medical School.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

There is No Limit to Man's Cruelty to Man, or Woman, or Child

Up to 30,000 Eritreans have been abducted since 2007 and taken to Egypt's Sinai to suffer torture and ransom demands, new research says.

The study, presented to the European parliament, says Eritrean and Sudanese security officers are colluding with the kidnap gangs.

At least $600m (£366m) has been extorted from families in ransom payments, it says.

Victims are kidnapped in Ethiopia, Sudan and Eritrea and taken to Sinai.

Eritrea has denied its officials are involved in the kidnappings.

Most of those targeted are Eritrean refugees fleeing the country, says the report - The Human Trafficking

Almost every Eritrean knows somebody who has been held hostage”, says Meron Estefanos, rights activist.
Meron Estefanos Rights activist
 "Their captors are opportunistic criminals looking to profit from their vulnerability," the report says.

"[The victims] are then taken to the Sinai and sold, sometimes more than once, to Bedouin groups living in the Sinai."

The report was authored by Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean human rights activist in Sweden, and Prof Mirjam van Reisen and Dr Conny Rijken of Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

The report says Eritrea's Border Surveillance Unit (BSU) and Sudanese security officials are among the "actors" colluding with the gangs that hold people hostage in the the largely lawless Sinai.

"[The hostages] are chained together without toilets or washing facilities and dehydrated, starved and deprived of sleep," the report says.

"They are subject to threats of death and organ harvesting... Those who attempt to escape are severely tortured." 

This is hardly believable, and yet, there is no limit to man's cruelty to man, or woman, or child.

Ms Meron told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme that one of her cousins was freed after a ransom of $37,000 was paid.

The cousin was abducted in Sudan, before being taken to Sinai where her captors tortured and raped her, Ms Meron said.

"Almost every Eritrean knows somebody who has been held hostage. It's a very common thing," she told the BBC.

The report said the trafficking would have been impossible without the direct involvement of Eritrean security officials, given the "restrictions on movement within the country, the requirement of exit visas at the border and the shoot-to-kill policy for illegal border crossings".

However, Eritrea's UK ambassador, Tesfamichael Gerahtu, said Eritrea was a "victim of human trafficking".

The government was "working hard" to arrest and bring to justice criminal gangs operating along its border, he told Focus on Africa.

The UN estimates that 3,000 Eritreans fled their repressive and impoverished country each month last year.

Many headed for the swollen refugee camps of neighbouring eastern Sudan, now home to more than 90,000 people.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Amazing Testimonies of Heaven and God's Miraculous Healing

Below is an exchange on Facebook where my wife, Patricia, has a lot of PH friends. My wife was instantly healed of PH when a group of friends and I prayed for her. The story is on the link just below. 

I post it to give glory to God Who still heals today, and to give hope to those who are dealing with chronic problems. Don't give up hope. Whether your healing comes in this world or the next, it will come if you believe in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.

Meanwhile, please pray phor a cure for PH. There are way too many people suffering and dying from this horrible disease.

Patricia McFarland-Myers -Yesterday as I stood in line at the Post Office I was overwhelmed by God's Grace. 2 yrs ago I could not stand in line. I was in a Wheelchair. 1 yr. ago I had the incurable disease PH (Pulmonary Hypertension).

We moved back to B.C. to be closer to more family...after Gary & friends prayed Drs. are saying they can't find it. See full story.

2 days ago either our son Bob or Hubby & I had no place to live after Christmas. (We are using his small cute apt.) I stood in line at the Post office to send a very modest rent to a young man in England. We will be house sitting his beautiful furnished high-rise apt. for possibly the next 6 yrs. Humbled by Gods Grace. I feel like Tye Pennington had just yelled "Move that Bus!"

For those of you who don't know, my PHriend who posted above Alice Jaehne has a great experience too. She was all but dead 3 months ago. She was on life support...She saw Heaven. 4/5days later she was back at home. God is listening. If you don't think so. .just ask Him.
about an hour ago via mobile · Edited · Like

Alice Marie Jaehne - Hello, I am the ph friend Patricia is referring to.

On Sept 30 my husband called 911 and my last memory was him running down the hall for the phone, next memory I was in a place so bright it was absolutely stunning! I knew I was in heaven, my brother died in 2012, he was with me, he had become a quadriplegic 10 yrs ago when he rolled his big rig to avoid what he thought was a card load of kids! His voice was barely a whisper with all the tubes, but in heaven when he talked to me it was his voice before the accident, I was just stunned, then I heard another voice telling me it was not my time!

Then I woke up and it was 4 days later, I was still on the life support and failed the first breathing test, 24 hours later I passed on day 5 and got off the breathing machine and went home on day 6. I had gone into renal failure and had full blown sepsis shock and the dr. told my husband if they could bring me back I would be on dialysis the remainder of my life. 

We know the Lord was working with those dr's because they were in shock that when I woke they tested my kidneys and today I do not have even 1 percent of kidney damage. PRAISE GOD! I looked up full blown sepsis shock and its not pretty but for me to have full working kidneys and come off life supports also is truly a miracle, not to mention getting to see a glimpse if heaven. 

So for any that are not sure if there is a God or heaven Patricia McFarland and I can tell you there is and the Lord was with us both, Patricia's miracle just touches my heart so deeply, it shows how powerful prayer is and that God listens to us all no matter how big or small! I know that people on here were praying for me, and my husband by my side praying, I want to thank you all because your prayers worked and I am very grateful!

Velma Jean Ettlin God is so great and I do love when we get yes but some times he says no with the same love.
I experienced a miracle healing of a blown disk in my lower back in 1975 and a no when the disk in my neck blew. Later God did heal me thru a dr and surgery. He taught me to praise with a yes and to praise louder with a no. We dont always get a yes but God is in control.
about a minute ago via mobile · Like

Velma Jean Ettlin I write this for those that have prayed and didn't get a yes. Just know God always hears and answers for your best.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Restorative Justice - The Power of Forgiveness

On the morning Joanne Nodding met the man who raped her, she was struck by something she never expected. “He looked terrified. He was like a scared little boy. He was afraid of what I was going to say,’ she says. “But I felt calm. If I had been there just to scream at him, the meeting would never have happened.”

They sat face to face, separated by a low table, in an anonymous room. She thanked him for meeting her and told him how she had felt during the assault, how he had affected the lives of her immediate family and how she thought she was going to be killed during the attack.

“I needed to tell him in my own words how I felt, and I wanted him to understand the enormity of his crime. When I told him I had thought he was going to murder me, he burst into tears. Literally. I didn’t expect him to do that,” she says. “I wasn’t expecting him to say ‘sorry’, but he did. It seemed a genuine ‘sorry’. I also wanted him to move on from the rape, as I had begun to do.”

The meeting between the two took place five years after the rape had occurred. Her attacker had been sentenced to life after a high-profile court case, following a brutal assault in a public building.

But for Joanne, who is now 41 and is a primary school teacher based in Lincolnshire, northeast England, the court process had offered little respite from being a victim.

Joanne Nodding forgave her rapist
She still felt robbed of self-confidence and her life was paralysed by fear. The judge’s comments at the end of case only reinforced how helpless she felt.

He said the attacker had “ruined her life” and that she would be a victim forever. Eventually, she realised the only way to stop her life being defined by the rape was to confront her rapist.

The meeting was organised as part of a “restorative justice” programme, aimed at allowing victims to speak with the person responsible for a crime. “Anger had eaten me up for so long. I could have stayed a victim forever, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to be a survivor. It was like, either let the anger eat you up or try to make a difference to your life – and his. I didn’t want his life to be destroyed either,” she says “I walked into that room a victim and I left a survivor. It gave me my life back.”

Most modern justice systems focus on a crime, a lawbreaker and a punishment. But restorative justice is a different way of resolving conflict: it considers harm done and strives for agreement from all concerned – the victims, the offender and the community – about making amends.

“This is the way forward,” says Fr Peter McVerry, a social-justice campaigner and an advocate for this approach. “It’s a different way of resolving conflict. What is important is that it seeks to bring together those involved in a conflict to try to resolve a problem in a way that’s acceptable to all, and to restore broken relationships.”

At a time when our prisons are struggling to cope with problems such as violence, overcrowding and recidivism, restorative justice is proving to be a quiet success story of the justice system.

Research into projects which have been operating in the Dublin area and in Tipperary show highly encouraging signs of how it has the potential to reduce the level of reoffending, and to save the State significant sums in the process.

A restorative justice programme costs between €1,500 and €3,500; detaining a prisoner costs about €97,000 a year.

It is also highly effective in reducing recidivism. Research into restorative justice projects here indicates that as many as 80 per cent of participants had not reoffended within a two-year period.

Nodding feels so strongly about the power of restorative justice that she visited Ireland last week to share her experiences. She is also helping victims of serious crimes here who are considering using it as a way of coming to terms with what happened to them.

Looking back, she is still surprised by how life-changing the process was, and how it offers both victims and offenders a way out.

“During the meeting, I looked at him and said, ‘What I’m about to say to you, a lot of people will find difficult to understand. I forgive you for what you've done to me. And if you haven’t forgiven yourself, I want you to because I want you to go on and have a successful life.’ ”

Nodding thought the meeting had taken 10 minutes. In fact, she was later told by facilitators, it had lasted an hour and a half. “It was as if a door had been left open, and now it was closed. My hurt and anger were gone.”

"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matt 6:14

There is more on this story at: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/i-was-a-rape-victim-now-i-m-a-survivor-1.1612128?page=1