Category: America

Drought Returns to Huge Swaths of U.S., Fueling Fears of a Thirsty Future

  • April 17, 2018
  • By David Montgomery

Residents line up in February to fill plastic water bottles and containers at a natural water spring on the site of a local brewery in Cape Town, South Africa. As a waterless Cape Town has become a potential reality, its story has sparked new concerns over the growing scarcity of the planet’s most basic resource.

AUSTIN, Texas — Less than eight months after Hurricane Harvey pelted the Texas Gulf Coast with torrential rainfall, drought has returned to Texas and other parts of the West, Southwest and Southeast, rekindling old worries for residents who dealt with earlier waves of dry spells and once again forcing state governments to reckon with how to keep the water flowing.

Nearly a third of the continental United States was in drought as of April 10, more than three times the coverage of a year ago. And the specter of a drought-ridden summer has focused renewed urgency on state and local conservation efforts, some of which would fundamentally alter Americans’ behavior in how they use water.

In California, for example, officials are considering rules to permanently ban water-wasting actions such as hosing off sidewalks and driveways, washing a vehicle with a hose that doesn’t have a shut-off valve, and irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians. The regulations, awaiting a final decision by the California State Water Resources Control Board, were in force as temporary emergency measures during part of a devastating five-year drought but were lifted in 2017 after the drought subsided.

Water restrictions, either forced or voluntary, are nothing new to states and communities where battling drought is often a part of life. In Amarillo, Texas, the city’s water department stresses conservation with the message, “every drop counts,” and urges customers to do “at least one thing a day to save water.” A similar mantra — “squeeze every drop” — is part of the water-saving culture in Oklahoma City, where officials enforce mandatory lawn-watering restrictions and impose higher rates for excessive water use.

Years of studies by government and environmental groups have warned that future demand for water is threatening to outstrip availability, particularly in the drought-plagued West and Southwest, unless policymakers take steps to reverse those trends.

“More and more cities around the world are running into limits on how much water they have available to meet their needs,” said Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Oakland-based Pacific Institute and an expert on water and climate issues.

To understand the potential dangers, U.S. officials might look halfway around the world, to parched Cape Town, South Africa, where residents this year faced a crisis that seems straight from science fiction. After three years of drought, the city of 4 million spent months united in a struggle to fend off Day Zero, when Cape Town was projected to become the world’s first major urban center to run out of water.

Residents skimped on dishwashing and laundry, took minishowers, washed their hands with sanitizer, flushed the toilet with leftover shower water, and made numerous other sacrifices to daily routines. The objective: to cut individual water consumption to 50 liters a day, or 13.2 gallons, far below the U.S. average of 80 to 100 gallons. Hundreds queued up for daily water rations as the city deployed law enforcement officers — widely dubbed “the world’s first water police” — to enforce restrictions.

The day of reckoning was originally expected to fall in mid-April, but was postponed to May and then to June.

The draconian conservation campaign had enabled Cape Town to proclaim at least partial success in March when it pushed back Day Zero to sometime in 2019. But the executive deputy mayor, Ian Neilson, said the city is still in crisis mode until it completely replenishes its water supplies.

Cape Town Scenarios in the U.S.?

The picture of a coastal metropolis going without water once seemed inconceivable. But as a waterless Cape Town has become a potential reality, its story has sparked new concerns over the growing scarcity of the planet’s most basic resource.

U.S. government and environmental experts generally agree that no major city is in imminent danger of the kind of scenario confronting Cape Town. But residents in some small communities have struggled, and at the same time, U.S. experts worry that protracted global warming, worsening droughts, vanishing groundwater and growing populations will erode future supplies and make Americans increasingly vulnerable throughout the 21st century.

One critical water resource threatened by shortages is the Colorado River System, which includes parts of seven states and provides water for up to 40 million people. In the absence of “timely action to ensure sustainability,” the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said in a 2012 assessment of the river basin, “there exists a strong potential for significant imbalances between water supply and demand in coming decades.”

Lake Mead, a reservoir sprawling 120 miles behind the Hoover Dam in Nevada, is less than half full after years of drought. The reservoir, which is part of the Colorado River System, serves nearly 25 million people in Nevada, Arizona and California.

Burgeoning population growth is also straining water resources. The Texas Water Development Board has authorized $6.2 billion in financing for 48 municipal and regional projects after state water planners warned that the population of the second-most-populous state would grow by 70 percent over the next 50 years. Available water supplies were projected to fall by 11 percent during that same period without new investment.

The Environmental Protection Agency, in a January 2017 snapshot of the impact of climate change, predicted that the Southern Plains will face more “extreme heat” in the future, saying that the number of days of 100 degrees or hotter will quadruple by 2050.

“Increasing temperatures and more frequent and severe droughts,” the EPA said, “are expected to heighten competition for water resources for use in cities, agriculture and energy production.”

Adding to America’s water insecurity is a decadeslong decline in groundwater resources, which supply half of the nation’s residents and nearly all of its rural population, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Sustained groundwater pumping has steadily taken its toll on aquifers throughout the country, lowering groundwater levels by hundreds of feet in some places. Water levels in the High Plains aquifer system, which underlies parts of eight states, have dropped by more than 100 feet in places, largely as a result of extensive irrigation, according to the USGS.

“As more wells and deeper wells have been drilled to access groundwater, it exacerbates the groundwater level decline and there is often no way to get that back,” said Breton Bruce, a scientist with USGS in Denver. “Basically, we are pumping groundwater faster than it recharges.”

Large sections of the United States are all too familiar with drought and its devastating impact on both surface and groundwater. Over the past decade, Texas and California endured — and are still recovering from — record multiyear droughts that plunged lake levels, killed millions of trees, and cost billions of dollars in lost crops and livestock. Georgia went through four droughts from 1998 to 2016. Arizona has been confronting drought throughout the 21st century.

Two small communities, East Porterville in California and Spicewood Beach in Texas, drew national attention during their states’ droughts after their wells ran dry and outsiders came to the rescue with water deliveries. As many as 30 other Texas communities came close to running out of water during the drought, according to press reports.

“Things were grim. I didn’t get water for 20 months,” recalls Jim Burr, a peace justice and 33-year resident of Terlingua, a small community of about 800 people in the remote Big Bend region of Texas. After his 16-foot-deep well ran dry during the height of the last drought, Burr was forced to dig another that extended 45 feet deep.

The E.V. Spence Reservoir near the town of Robert Lee in West Texas ran so dry in 2011 that there were fresh water stations for residents. Texas droughts are expected to have long-term environmental and financial impacts. Many state officials worry about how U.S. cities will handle extreme drought.

Water Policy Is Fraught With Conflict

The latest wave of droughts has descended on more than a dozen states across the country. The largest band stretches across the Southwest and includes parts of southern California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma. Pockets of drought are also in the Northern Plains, including parts of Montana and the Dakotas, and the southeastern states of Georgia and South Carolina.

Brian A. Fuchs, associate geoscientist and climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said the Southwestern drought that started in October is “the most intense significant drought area that we have going on right now.” The ultimate impact, he said, depends on how long it lasts. For now, he added, “the jury is still out.”

“It’s one of those situations where time is definitely going to tell,” he said. “If we see conditions continue to worsen over the next six months without any improvement, the situation is going to be a lot more significant than where we’re at right now.”

Most of the states on the front lines of the current drought already have spent decades shoring up their defenses, operating on a proven regimen that whenever one drought ends, another is lurking not far in the future. But at the same, the search for effective state water policy also has been fraught with conflict, often displaying the competing interests of agriculture, property owners, big cities, small communities, energy developers, conservationists and environmentalists and a host of others. Solutions never come easy.

“Water is fundamental to all the interests,” said Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas, “and, at times of scarcity, it can be a feeding frenzy, where all the interests are competing for a finite supply.”

Water necessity has also led to innovation. Two Texas cities — Big Spring and Wichita Falls — have drawn accolades from environmentalists with projects to recycle waste water into potable water. In 1980, Arizona enacted what has widely been hailed as a pioneering initiative with its Groundwater Management Act, which, among other things, required new developments to prove they could assure enough water to last 100 years.

“Arizona has had a longtime history of marshaling its water forces,” said Doug MacEachern, communications administrator for the Arizona Department of Water Resources. MacEachern said the state uses less water overall today than it did in 1957 when there were at least 5 million fewer people.

California has also produced an array of water-saving initiatives, including enacting its version of a groundwater management act in 2014. The same year, Californians approved a $7.5 billion bond package on water projects that included expanding water storage, protecting rivers and lakes, bolstering groundwater sustainability and water recycling. In June, voters will be asked to spend another $4.1 billion for initiatives that include water infrastructure and flood protection projects.

“We’re running fast to try to make ourselves resilient for the long term,” said Felicia Marcus, who chairs the California State Water Resources Control Board.

In Texas, memories of destructive droughts and fears of future water shortages prompted voters in 2013 to create the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) to help ensure abundant water supplies through 2070. The initiative empowered the Texas Water Development Board to authorize low-interest loans and other incentives to finance municipal and regional projects envisioned under the state’s long-range water plan.

“In general, there’s enough water for the projected future population … if we do it right,” said Janice Bezanson, executive director of the Texas Conservation Alliance. She acknowledges the potential of “case by case” shortages in small communities, but said that the state is “planning far enough in the future” to assure its cities of sufficient water resources.

The Texas plan calls for the creation of 26 new reservoirs as well as for other initiatives: recycling, an expanded push for desalination and replacing infrastructure to get rid of aging, leaking pipelines blamed for water loss. Some of the proposed new reservoirs have ignited a fierce pushback from landowners and conservationists, who say new lakes would threaten farm and ranch land, endanger wilderness areas, and encroach on wildlife habitat.

Meanwhile in Cape Town, Executive Deputy Mayor Neilson said the race against Day Zero has fundamentally redefined the city’s water strategies. Officials there, too, want to find alternatives.

The city, which doesn’t have a reliable source of groundwater, draws its supplies almost exclusively from surface water in its six major reservoirs. Neilson said officials have learned that they’ll need to diversify their water supply to other sources: groundwater where possible, along with water re-use and desalination.

And what about Day Zero? Neilson said the city is placing its hopes on good fortunes from the upcoming rainy season as well as quick steps such as building temporary desalination plants, which would eventually be followed by permanent plants.

City officials will then reassess toward the end of the year, he said.

“You start off from having years of luxury and having plentiful water,” he said. “You have certain behaviors that you develop, and you then have to teach yourself to do things differently.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9136

‘New world order’ could stem from US-China trade battle

  • A tit-for-tat trade standoff between the U.S. and China has fueled market fears that the dispute could soon spiral into a full-blown trade war.
  • “The signal must be there is a new order emerging, and how that new order emerges will depend upon the wisdom, the patience and the understanding of the top leaders,” Andrew Sheng, chief advisor at China’s Banking Regulatory Commission, said Friday.
  • Sheng added he was hopeful of a positive outcome given that the world wants to see “a sensible and measured way of negotiations.”

Sam Meredith | @smeredith19

Published 7:12 AM ET Fri, 6 April 2018 CNBC.com    

A trade showdown between the world’s two biggest economies could be the flashpoint for a new international order, according to the chief advisor of China’s Banking Regulatory Commission.

A tit-for-tat trade standoff between the U.S. and China has fueled market fears that the dispute could soon spiral into a full-blown trade war. Washington and Beijing have been embroiled in escalating tariff threats since early March — with market participants concerned about the potential impact of an ensuing trade war.

“The signal must be there is a new order emerging, and how that new order emerges will depend upon the wisdom, the patience and the understanding of the top leaders,” Andrew Sheng, chief advisor at China’s Banking Regulatory Commission, told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick on the sidelines of the European House Ambrosetti Forum in Italy Friday.

When asked whether he was optimistic about the prospect of political leaders finding an effective solution to the world’s problems, Sheng replied: “I think so … We are now seeing a much more complex, much more subtle (and) much more nuanced search for the new order.”

‘Sensible and measured’

Late on Thursday, President Donald Trump instructed the U.S. Trade Representative to consider $100 billion of additional tariffs on Chinese goods. The further charges were being proposed “in light of China’s unfair retaliation” against prior U.S. trade actions, Trump said in a statement.

China on Wednesday announced it would introduce tariffs on 106 U.S. products, including soybeans, cars and whiskey. The duties were introduced as a retaliatory measure against Trump, who just 24 hours prior, had unveiled a list of Chinese imports he planned to target with tariffs.

Sheng said the world was finally getting to grips with the “massive labor shock” brought about by globalization. And while Sheng said the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China was a “very confusing situation,” he added that he was hopeful of a positive outcome given the world wants to see “a sensible and measured way of negotiations.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9128

Trump prepares for visit by Saudi prince who has rocked the kingdom

Saudis demanding same rights given the Iranians to produce nuclear power power and enrich uranium

By Jerome Cartillier Today, 3:55 am 3

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump will host Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in Washington Tuesday, giving the president a receptive audience to denounce rival Iran and a chance to take stock of significant changes the prince is engineering in the kingdom.

Ten months after the last face-to-face meeting between Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh, the 71-year-old president and the 32-year-old strongman prince are expected to deepen an already warm and congenial relationship.

But they are also expected to take up major developments for Saudi Arabia, both internally and externally: the end of a ban on Saudi women driving, the unprecedented detention of dozens of people that was billed as a high-level anti-corruption purge, Saudi involvement in the war in Yemen, and the crisis with the Gulf state of Qatar.

“It’s jaw-dropping how many policy changes the Saudis have pursued at home and in the region since that last meeting,” said Lori Plotkin Boghardt, a former CIA analyst now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Many of these changes have touched US security interests.”

One example is the summit that the administration had hoped to host this year with the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which could be difficult to arrange given the continuing crisis with Qatar.

In June, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) began an air and sea boycott against Qatar, which they accuse of financing terrorism and being overly friendly with Iran.

Prince Mohammed, known by his initials MBS, was named crown prince that month by his father, King Salman.

Early on, the prince announced an ambitious “Vision 2030” initiative to build an economy less dependent on oil, while luring more foreign investment.

Toward that end, Riyadh wants to greatly accelerate the pace of its civilian nuclear energy program. The goal: to build 16 reactors over the next 20 years, at a cost of some 80 billion euros ($98 billion), according to officials and analysts.

As the Saudis pursue the technology needed to undertake the ambitious project, they are expected to play potential rivals against one another, reminding their American counterparts that China, Russia and France are also capable of filling their needs.

“It would be virtually impossible for the Saudi government to accept terms that are less than what Obama gave the Iranians — the possibility of future enrichment,” a source close to the Saudi government told AFP, referring to the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that was completed when Barack Obama was still president.

In an interview with CBS broadcast on Sunday evening, the prince defended at length his anti-corruption purge which saw many of the kingdom’s princes detained for several weeks inside Riyadh’s luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel.

“What we did in Saudi Arabia was extremely necessary” and legal, he said. One goal of the operation, which was marked by physical abuse according to a New York Times investigation, was to recover an amount exceeding $100 billion.

“But the real objective was not this amount or any other amount,” he said. “The idea is not to get money, but to punish the corrupt and send a clear signal that whoever engages in corrupt deals will face the law.”

 Bloody war in Yemen

The United States and Saudi Arabia are historic allies. Ever since Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud on a US naval ship in the Suez Canal in 1945, every American president has carefully nurtured relations with the Saudi royal family.

But the unstinting support Trump offered when he chose Riyadh as the destination of his first overseas trip as president brought the relationship to a new level.

While Barack Obama said in 2015 that it was important “not to perpetuate any long-term confrontation with Iran, or to even marginalize Iran,” Trump, who has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the nuclear deal reached that year with Tehran, has chosen a very different path.

“Everywhere we go in the Middle East it’s Iran, Iran, Iran,” he said a few days ago. “Every problem is Iran.”

Even before setting foot on American soil, Prince Mohammed struck a scathing tone toward Iran in an interview with CBS, comparing the territorial ambitions of that country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to those of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.

And he warned that if Iran were to develop a nuclear bomb, Saudi Arabia would do the same “as soon as possible.”

But critics are cautioning the White House not to blindly embrace every stance taken by the Saudi prince, particularly as concerns its role in the bloody civil war in Yemen.

Fighting between the Huthi movement, supported by Iran, and Yemeni government forces, backed by the Saudis and the UAE, has claimed nearly 10,000 lives and left the country on the verge of a disastrous famine.

In an opinion column early this month in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman, writing in the form of an open letter to Trump, urged the president not to give in to Prince Mohammed’s “bad impulses” as he seeks to modernize Saudi Arabia’s “economy and religious/social structure.”

He then adds: “If you think you can just applaud his anti-Iran stance and religious reforms and all will work out fine, you’re wrong.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9086

New U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo must respect Turkey, Ankara says

Reuters Staff

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Turkey hopes to build good relations with new U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo but he must respect the country, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday, amid deep tensions over Syria policy and other issues.

FILE PHOTO: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo

Turkish media has seized on a tweet purportedly made by Pompeo after a failed coup in July 2016 – and before he became CIA director – which referred to Turkey as a “totalitarian Islamist dictatorship”. The tweet was later removed.

Relations between the NATO allies had started to improve recently after a visit to Turkey by Rex Tillerson, whom U.S. President Donald Trump sacked on Tuesday as secretary of state.

Pompeo, seen as a Trump loyalist, had previously headed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks during a press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

“We would like to work with the new secretary of state with the same understanding, with bilateral respect and understanding,” Cavusoglu told a news conference in Moscow, where he was on an official visit.

“This is the choice of the United States (on who serves as secretary of state). We do not want to comment on it but whoever it will be, they need to first learn how to behave, approach and respect us.”

Cavusoglu said talks planned between the United States and Turkey for March 19 could be delayed owing to Tillerson’s departure.

In a column on Wednesday, Murat Yetkin of the Hurriyet Daily News wrote that Pompeo had “prejudgments” regarding Turkey, citing the deleted tweet, and he added that it was not easy to erase people’s memories.

Turkey has been angered by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in the fight against Islamic State. Turkey sees the YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9084

BIBI IN AMERICA: Netanyahu Wows At AIPAC, Vows To Stop Iran From Producing Nuclear Weapons

Pointing to a map where Iran’s inroads in the region were painted in black, Netanyahu said that the Islamic Republic was trying to establish a land bridge from Tehran to Tartus on the Mediterranean, and not only establish permanent military bases in Syria, but also manufacture precision-guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon.v

by Geoffrey Grider March 6, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was welcomed with a resounding ovation Tuesday morning at AIPAC, where he gave a 30 minute speech on the “good, bad and beautiful” in Israel and the region. Netanyahu steered completely clear of his legal woes piling up at home.

“Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey, Upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.” Esther 8:11,12 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Like Donald Trump in America, Israeli PM Netanyahu is beset by endless attacks from the media all seeking to end his run as leader. And like President Trump, Bibi has survived all such attacks so far, and not just surviving but thriving as well. In America this week, Netanyahu was the keynote speaker at AIPAC, and reminded his audience of the very real and ongoing nuclear threat from Iran. He invoked the book of Esther, and the threat from the Persian people back in 425 BC, as well as from the Persian government of Iran in 2018 AD.

The prime minister, showing no outward signs of the impact of his domestic situation, strolled away from the podium and used slides broadcast on large screens to talk about Israel’s contributions in the spheres of agriculture, water preservation and security, as well as its growing diplomatic standing in the world.

Pointing to the slide which was painted in blue representing all the countries with whom Israel has diplomatic ties, Netanyahu said to a resounding ovation, “There are those who talk about boycotting Israel, we will boycott them.”

While the good news coming out of Israel – regarding its technology and security expertise – is very good and getting better, the bad news, he said, “is that bad things are getting worse and are very bad.”

The overwhelmingly bad thing, he said, is Iran.

“We have to deal with this challenge,” he said. “If I have a message today it is simple: We must stop Iran.” Netanyahu, who last spoke at AIPAC in 2015 during the visit to Washington where he spoke out against the Iranian deal in Congress, said that what he warned then is transpiring.

He recalled that he said at the time that as a result of the nuclear deal Iran would not become more moderate and peaceful, but rather more extreme and “much more dangerous, and that is exactly what is happening.”

Pointing to a map where Iran’s inroads in the region were painted in black, he said that the Islamic Republic was trying to establish a land bridge from Tehran to Tartus on the Mediterranean, and not only establish permanent military bases in Syria, but also manufacture precision-guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon.

“I will not let that happen, we will not let that happen,” he said. “Last week we read in the Book of Esther about an earlier Persian attempt to destroy our people,” he said referring to Purim. “They failed then, they will fail now.”

Netanyahu also spent a few minutes talking about the Palestinian Authority’s payment of $350 million a year to terrorists and their families, asking what message this sends to Palestinian children.

“I believe President Abbas should find better use for his money, “ he said. “Build roads, schools, hospitals and factories. Invest in life, invest in peace.”

The “beautiful,” in his “good, bad and beautiful” equation, was the Israeli-US relationship

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9065

United States may help expand Saudi nuclear capability

The negotiations appear pressing, as the White House directed US Energy Secretary Rick Perry to cancel planned travel to India for talks in London with his Saudi counterpart.

By Michael Wilner

February 27, 2018 20:23

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is in talks with Saudi Arabia over a deal that would allow Riyadh to enrich and reprocess uranium domestically in exchange for the US building nuclear reactors there.

The negotiations appear pressing, as the White House directed US Energy Secretary Rick Perry to cancel planned travel to India for talks in London with his Saudi counterpart.

State Department officials are in parallel talks with European governments over the future of the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, which allows that country to enrich uranium domestically under UN supervision.

American companies, including Westinghouse Electric Corporation, are interested in building reactors in the Saudi kingdom, US media reported this week. In light of the Iran deal, Riyadh has repeatedly previewed its interest in matching Tehran’s nuclear capacity and has announced plans to build up to 16 nuclear power plants over the next 20 years.

The Obama administration, which negotiated the Iran deal, opposed the nuclearization of other powers in the region at the time. At a Camp David summit on the pending nuclear agreement in 2015 with Gulf Arab nations, Ben Rhodes, a senior foreign policy adviser to Obama, told The Jerusalem Post that Tehran’s path to nuclear power should not be seen as a model for others.

But the dueling negotiations – over the nuclear capacities of two rival regional powers – may be a tool of leverage for the Trump administration, as it works to coax Europe into a new round of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

Critics of the Iran deal questioned why the US would ever agree to grant Tehran a “right to enrich,” after it had violated several UN resolutions and commitments barring certain nuclear activities. The Saudi deal would similarly allow Riyadh to enrich uranium on its own, according to reports, although details of the negotiations have not been confirmed on record by Saudi or US officials.

The Netanyahu government, which vociferously opposes the Iran deal, has not commented on the reported Saudi talks.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9060

Anne Graham Lotz Says Dad’s Death Is Heaven’s Wake-Up Call to the Church: ‘We’ve Lost Our Focus’

By Samuel Smith , CP Reporter | Feb 27, 2018 4:49 PM

Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, says that she believes her father’s death will serve as a “Heaven’s shot across the bow” to the Church today and stated that, in general, the failure of churches are the reason why the United States is in a spiritual “mess.”

The 69-year-old author and evangelist sat down with WRAL-TV for an interview on Monday to talk about the impact of her legendary evangelist father, who passed away last week at the age of 99.

“I believe my father’s death is Heaven’s shot across the bow. It’s time for the Church to wake up,” Lotz said. “It’s time for the world to wake up because you’re not promised tomorrow. You need to decide now where you’re going to spend eternity.”

Lotz asserted that she hopes her father’s death will “shake the Church.”

“You can’t leave it up to Billy Graham to share the Gospel anymore,” Lotz, the founder of AnGeL Ministries, contended. “That is our privilege. That is our responsibility and we need to be sharing the Gospel with others.”

Her father shared the Gospel in over 185 countries to some 215 million people.

Lotz argued that too many churches have seemingly become just merely “religious institutions.”

“[The Church] is not encouraging people and showing them how to read their Bibles. It’s not teaching them how to pray. It’s not bringing them into a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ,” Lotz said. “In fact, some of them will even argue with you if that is necessary. They are arguing with what the Bible says.”

Lotz argued that churches need to be telling people how they can have “peace in their hearts,” “a purpose to live for,” and “a hope of a heavenly home.”

“There is hope for the future. There is hope that is found in this world and it is found in Jesus,” Lotz said.

WRAL’s Scott Mason asked Lotz if she is suggesting that the Church has failed in some respect.

“I think it has [failed], generally speaking. I think it has,” she responded. “That’s why this nation is in a mess. Because we have lost our focus. We have lost our message. People go to church, but they’re not getting what they’re going for.”

Lotz said that she prays for her father’s death to lead to a spiritual awakening or a “revival of people who put their faith in Jesus and go out and share it with others.”

“That is the answer to what is going on in our nation,” she said. “We are so divided. There is so much anger and so much polarization and Jesus is the answer.”

“If you look at my daddy’s life, he cuts across all of those divides — whether it was a racial divide, political divide or social divide. People all across the spectrum love and honor Billy Graham,” she added. “Why? Because of his message and because he presented Jesus. Jesus is the one who unifies us, brings us together in front of the cross and makes us right with God. Once we are right with God, we will work on getting right with each other.”

Lotz was also asked what it was about her father that allowed him to touch so many people.

“It has to be the spirit of God,” she said. “There was a spirit in him and people were drawn to him. It was the spirit of Jesus. … Plus daddy was authentic. There wasn’t any fakeness in him at all.”

Graham’s body will lie in honor at the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and Thursday. He will become the first religious leader and fourth private citizen to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

On Friday, a private funeral will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9058

CONFIRMED: Donald Trump Will Officially Relocate The US Embassy To Jerusalem On May 14, 2018

The Trump administration will officially relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, timed with Israel’s 70th Independence Day, a State Department official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Friday. The official was responding to a message on Twitter by Transport Minister Israel Katz, who seemed to confirm the move would occur in the spring. “We’re planning to open the new US Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May,” the US official told the Post. “The Embassy opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.”

by Geoffrey Grider February 23, 2018

The Trump administration will officially relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, timed with Israel’s 70th Independence Day, a State Department official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Friday.

“For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.” Jeremiah 29:10 (KJV)

For quite some time now, we here at NTEB have been telling you that if any major fulfillment of prophecy related to the Rapture of the Church and the consequent start of the time of Jacob’s trouble was going to happen, it would be right around the time period of the 70th anniversary of the regathering of Israel on May 14, 2018.

So it is with a happy surprise and not just a little shock that our position received another nice validation today with this stunning news coming out of Israel, and here it is:

The Trump administration will officially relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, timed with Israel’s 70th Independence Day, a State Department official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Friday.

The official was responding to a message on Twitter by Transport Minister Israel Katz, who seemed to confirm the move would occur in the spring. “We’re planning to open the new US Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May,” the US official told the Post. “The Embassy opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.”

“The Embassy will initially be located in Arnona, on a compound that currently houses the consular operations of Consulate General Jerusalem,” he continued. “At least initially, it will consist of the Ambassador and a small team.”

How’s THAT for a start to your day, all you prophecy watchers out there? Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than this. Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is not in Bible prophecy, but the events that this move could trigger certainly are. I believe with all my heart that the time period surrounding May 14 of this year, 70 years of Israel regathered, will be perhaps the greatest period of prophecy fulfillment in my lifetime. Here are some of the reasons why I believe that.

After 70 years the LORD will again visit Israel according to the prophet Jeremiah

The prophet Jeremiah in chapter 30 and verse 7 makes a reference to something he calls the “time of Jacob’s trouble”, which is the same thing Jesus mentions in Matthew 24 when He talks about the coming time of “great tribulation”.

“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:7 (KJV)

But just one chapter before that, Jeremiah mentions something that immediately preceded that, a visitation from the Lord after 70 years. Historically this is talking about the Jews in Babylonian captivity, but is also a prophecy of the Jews in the time of Jacob’s trouble in the end times.

“For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.” Jeremiah 29:10 (KJV)

It is interesting to note that in the book of Revelation, Jesus says that in the time of Jacob’s trouble Israel will be like “Sodom and Egypt”. (Remember the Boston Globe article calling Tel Aviv the “gayest city on Earth”?)  They have turned so far away from the LORD that this is how God now views them.

“And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” Revelation 11:8 (KJV)

But Revelation also directs our attention to spiritual Babylon that has now trapped the Jews just like physical Babylon did in Jeremiah’s day.

“And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Revelation 17:4,5 (KJV)

So I ask you, those of you who are Bible believers and understand that there is much prophecy yet to be fulfilled, is it possible that sometime around the 70th anniversary of the regathering of the nation of Israel, could the LORD be planning to once again visit Israel and His chosen people the Jews?

If so, then wouldn’t that of necessity place the Rapture of the Church before that visit? Yes, it would. The Church has no place in the time of JACOB’S trouble, it is Israel’s final refinement according to the Bible.

“Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Amos 3:1,2 (KJV)

The 70th anniversary of regathered Israel is 3 months away, and there are only 3 possibilities for what is mentioned in this article. It is possible that 1). some of it could happen, 2). none of it could happen, or 3). all of it could happen.

Are YOU ready for what comes next?

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9052

U.S. vs. China in South China Sea

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson left a four-day port visit in the Philippines on Tuesday and is leading a strike group to conduct a “freedom of navigation operation” in the South China Sea. (Associated Press) more >

By Bill Gertz – – Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Pentagon is stepping up its strategic messaging targeting China with the deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson now underway in the South China Sea.

The Vinson strike group, including the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain and guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy, left a four-day port visit in the Philippines on Tuesday.

The carrier will resume operations in the contested sea — close to where China is militarizing several disputed islets, including Scarborough Shoal, some 100 miles from the Philippines.

The Vinson is expected to conduct a “freedom of navigation operation” involving disputed islands in the sea in the coming days. It also is expected to make a port call in Danang, Vietnam, next month.

“U.S. presence matters,” Rear Adm. John Fuller, strike group commander, told reporters on board the warship. “I think it’s very clear that we are in the South China Sea. We are operating.”

A Navy official was more specific: “Vinson ops in the [South China Sea] are designed to promote freedom of navigation, show the U.S./Navy flag and work with our partners and allies — all to message China that these waters aren’t theirs.”

The Navy expects Chinese warships to closely shadow the Vinson and its accompanying warships throughout its operations. “Typically, the interactions are professional and predictable,” the official said.

The Vinson visit followed an incident involving U.S. and Chinese warships in the region last month. China’s Defense Ministry claimed a Chinese warship forced the guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper out of the South China Sea last month. The Pentagon denied that the warship was driven from the waters, where it was conducting a freedom of navigation operation.

The carrier deployment began in early January as part of a new Navy command arrangement called “3rd Fleet Forward” — control by the Navy’s 3rd Fleet, the force of ships based on the West Coast and Alaska.

In the past, 3rd Fleet forces automatically shifted command to the Japan-based 7th Fleet upon crossing the international dateline.

“The new 3rd Fleet Forward construct expands 3rd Fleet control of ships and aircraft across the Western Pacific and beyond the international dateline to India, enabling 3rd and 7th Fleet to operate together across a broad spectrum of maritime missions — 7th Fleet maintains the ‘fight tonight missions,’ and 3rd Fleet does the phase zero and presence missions,” the Navy official said.

The new command system “allows us to keep pressure on competitors and reassure allies, splitting the focus among two staffs. This is a good thing,” the official said.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said last week that Chinese militarization in the sea was part of the reason he shifted U.S. defense strategy from terrorism to dealing with China and Russia.

“What made the competition explicit was the turning of atolls and features in the South China Sea in the military outposts,” he said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry so far have not directly criticized the Vinson deployment. Beijing appears to be holding its propaganda fire until after the Vinson’s freedom of navigation operation.

The Communist Party-linked newspaper Global Times quoted a Chinese military expert denouncing the Vinson’s deployment.

“The Trump administration is trying to pressure China by creating more issues, including the South China Sea issue, as it feels uneasy and unsatisfied by China’s raising competitiveness,” said Liu Weidong, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “Additional provocative moves by the U.S. such as entering the South China Sea can be expected in the future.”

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins told reporters aboard the Vinson last week: “International law allows us to operate here, allows us to fly here, allows us to train here, allows us to sail here, and that’s what we’re doing and we’re going to continue to do that.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9047

The Rev. Billy Graham, prominent Christian evangelist, dead at 99

Watch as America’s spiritual leader has gone to his reward!

Things are going to move quickly now!

Keep looking up!

Fox News

Evangelist Billy Graham dead at 99.

The Rev. Billy Graham , the Christian evangelist whose worldwide crusades and role as adviser to decades of U.S. presidents made him one of the best known religious figures of his time, died Wednesday at age 99 at his home in Montreat, N.C, Todd Shearer of DeMoss Associates told Fox News.

Graham, who had been in ill health for a number of years, was regularly listed in polls as one of the “Ten Most Admired Men in the World.”

Shearer told Fox News that Graham died from “natural causes.”

His Christian crusades took him from the frenzy of Manhattan to isolated African villages and according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, he preached to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history.

The BGEA put his lifetime audience at nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories, with “hundreds of millions more” viewing him on television, video, film and webcasts.

“My one purpose in life,” he said, “is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ.”

Graham was last hospitalized in 2011 at Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C. for what was described as “evaluation and treatment of his lungs.” He was also hospitalized that year due to pneumonia.

William Franklin Graham Jr. was born Nov. 7, 1918 and raised on a dairy farm in Charlotte, N.C.

At 15, he made his personal commitment to Christ at a revival meeting in Charlotte. After attending Bob Jones College and the Florida Bible Institute, Graham was ordained a Southern Baptist clergyman in 1939.

In 1943, he graduated from Wheaton College, where he met fellow student Ruth McCue Bell, daughter of a medical missionary, who had spent the first 17 years of her life in China.

They married in August 1943 and had five children, 19 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.

Ruth Graham died in June 2007 after 64 years of marriage.

Graham vaulted to national prominence with his 1948 Los Angeles crusade, scheduled for three weeks and extended to eight.

Subsequent crusades in various cities around the globe also lasted far longer than scheduled – in New York, he ran nightly for four months at Madison Square Garden in 1957.

In 1950, Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, based in Minneapolis, Minn. until it relocated to Charlotte in 2003.

Through the BGEA he conducted his weekly “Hour of Decision” radio program and published “Decision” Magazine as well as producing television programs for Christian networks.

In addition, Graham wrote 33 books, including his autobiography “Just As I Am.” His last book, “Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, And Our Life Beyond The Now” was published in 2015.

In the 1960s, he ardently opposed segregation, refusing to speak to segregated audiences.

“The ground at the foot of the cross is level,” he once said, “and it touches my heart when I see whites standing shoulder to shoulder with blacks at the cross.”

Graham also was noted for consulting and praying with every U.S. president from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama, who in April 2010 visited Graham at his mountaintop cabin in North Carolina. He also met with President Harry Truman in what was initially a contentious meeting after Graham spoke to the press, but the two men later viewed the episode as a humorous incident.

The White House later said Obama was “extraordinarily gratified” that Graham took the time to meet with him.

Graham presided over the graveside services for President Lyndon Johnson in 1973 and spoke at the funeral of President Richard Nixon in 1994.

On September 14, 2001 he led a national prayer service at Washington National Cathedral after the 9/11 attacks.

He and his wife were both awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1966.

But Graham found himself the target of criticism in 2002 and again in 2009 following the release of tapes of 1973 conversations he had with Richard Nixon that were critical of Jews.

He remained active well into his 70s but in recent years had been slowed by Parkinson’s Disease, which he’s had since 1992, and other medical problems.

His last crusade was in 2004. His elder son, Franklin, has long been expected to succeed his father as head of his ministry.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9045