Category: America

Martial Law and the Economy: Is Homeland Security Preparing for the Next Wall Street Collapse?

Can not stress this enough keep your eyes open and also upon the Lord!

 

By Ellen Brown

Global Research, October 07, 2013

Reports are that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is engaged in a massive, covert military buildup. An article in the Associated Press in February confirmed an open purchase order by DHS for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. According to an op-ed in Forbes, that’s enough to sustain an Iraq-sized war for over twenty years. DHS has also acquired heavily armored tanks, which have been seen roaming the streets. Evidently somebody in government is expecting some serious civil unrest. The question is, why?

Recently revealed statements by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the height of the banking crisis in October 2008 could give some insights into that question. An article on BBC News on September 21, 2013, drew from an explosive autobiography called Power Trip by Brown’s spin doctor Damian McBride, who said the prime minister was worried that law and order could collapse during the financial crisis. McBride quoted Brown as saying:

If the banks are shutting their doors, and the cash points aren’t working, and people go to Tesco [a grocery chain] and their cards aren’t being accepted, the whole thing will just explode.

If you can’t buy food or petrol or medicine for your kids, people will just start breaking the windows and helping themselves.

And as soon as people see that on TV, that’s the end, because everyone will think that’s OK now, that’s just what we all have to do. It’ll be anarchy. That’s what could happen tomorrow.

How to deal with that threat? Brown said, “We’d have to think: do we have curfews, do we put the Army on the streets, how do we get order back?”

McBride wrote in his book Power Trip, “It was extraordinary to see Gordon so totally gripped by the danger of what he was about to do, but equally convinced that decisive action had to be taken immediately.” He compared the threat to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Fear of this threat was echoed in September 2008 by US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who reportedly warned that the US government might have to resort to martial law if Wall Street were not bailed out from the credit collapse.

In both countries, martial law was avoided when their legislatures succumbed to pressure and bailed out the banks. But many pundits are saying that another collapse is imminent; and this time, governments may not be so willing to step up to the plate.

The Next Time WILL Be Different

What triggered the 2008 crisis was a run, not in the conventional banking system, but in the “shadow” banking system, a collection of non-bank financial intermediaries that provide services similar to traditional commercial banks but are unregulated.  They include hedge funds, money market funds, credit investment funds, exchange-traded funds, private equity funds, securities broker dealers, securitization and finance companies. Investment banks and commercial banks may also conduct much of their business in the shadows of this unregulated system.

The shadow financial casino has only grown larger since 2008; and in the next Lehman-style collapse, government bailouts may not be available. According to President Obama in his remarks on the Dodd-Frank Act on July 15, 2010, “Because of this reform, . . . there will be no more taxpayer funded bailouts – period.”

Governments in Europe are also shying away from further bailouts. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) in Switzerland has therefore required the systemically risky banks to devise “living wills” setting forth what they will do in the event of insolvency. The template established by the FSB requires them to “bail in” their creditors; and depositors, it turns out, are the largest class of bank creditor. (For fuller discussion, see my earlier article here.)

When depositors cannot access their bank accounts to get money for food for the kids, they could well start breaking store windows and helping themselves. Worse, they might plot to overthrow the financier-controlled government. Witness Greece, where increasing disillusionment with the ability of the government to rescue the citizens from the worst depression since 1929 has precipitated riots and threats of violent overthrow.

Fear of that result could explain the massive, government-authorized spying on American citizens, the domestic use of drones, and the elimination of due process and of “posse comitatus” (the federal law prohibiting the military from enforcing “law and order” on non-federal property). Constitutional protections are being thrown out the window in favor of protecting the elite class in power.

 The Looming Debt Ceiling Crisis

 The next crisis on the agenda appears to be the October 17th deadline for agreeing on a federal budget or risking default on the government’s loans. It may only be a coincidence, but two large-scale drills are scheduled to take place the same day, the “Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill” and the “Quantum Dawn 2 Cyber Attack Bank Drill.” According to a Bloomberg news clip on the bank drill, the attacks being prepared for are from hackers, state-sponsored espionage, and organized crime (financial fraud). One interviewee stated, “You might experience that your online banking is down . . . . You might experience that you can’t log in.” It sounds like a dress rehearsal for the Great American Bail-in.

Ominous as all this is, it has a bright side. Bail-ins and martial law can be seen as the last desperate thrashings of a dinosaur. The exploitative financial scheme responsible for turning millions out of their jobs and their homes has reached the end of the line. Crisis in the current scheme means opportunity for those more sustainable solutions waiting in the wings.

Other countries faced with a collapse in their debt-based borrowed currencies have survived and thrived by issuing their own. When the dollar-pegged currency collapsed in Argentina in 2001, the national government returned to issuing its own pesos; municipal governments paid with “debt-canceling bonds” that circulated as currency; and neighborhoods traded with community currencies. After the German currency collapsed in the 1920s, the government turned the economy around in the 1930s by issuing “MEFO” bills that circulated as currency. When England ran out of gold in 1914, the government issued “Bradbury pounds” similar to the Greenbacks issued by Abraham Lincoln during the US Civil War.

Today our government could avoid the debt ceiling crisis by doing something similar: it could simply mint some trillion dollar coins and deposit them in an account. That alternative could be pursued by the Administration immediately, without going to Congress or changing the law, as discussed in my earlier article here. It need not be inflationary, since Congress could still spend only what it passed in its budget. And if Congress did expand its budget for infrastructure and job creation, that would actually be good for the economy, since hoarding cash and paying down loans have significantly shrunk the circulating money supply.

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Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=5727

America’s police are looking more and more like the military

 

A Defense Department program transfers military-grade weapons and vehicles to local law enforcement. It’s the last thing we need

America’s streets are looking more and more like a war zone. Last week, in a small county in upstate New York with a population of roughly 120,000 people, county legislators approved the receipt of a 20-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, donated by the US Defense Department to the county sheriff.

Between the Armored Personnel Carriers locking down main streets in major American cities – mimicking our MRAPs in Afghanistan – or Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) and Special Forces units canvassing our country, if we’re not careful, this militarization of our domestic policing will make-over America, and fast.

Here’s how it all happened. A little-known Pentagon program has been quietly militarizing American police forces for years. A total of $4.2bn worth of equipment has been distributed by the Defense Department to municipal law enforcement agencies, with a record $546m in 2012 alone.

In the fine print of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1997, the “1033 program” was born. It allows the Defense Department to donate surplus military equipment to local police forces.

Though the program’s existed since the 1990s, it has expanded greatly in recent years, due, in part, to post-9/11 fears and sequestration budget cuts. The expanse, however, seems unnecessary given that the Department of Homeland Security has already handed out $34bn in “terrorism grants” to local polices forces – without oversight mind you – to fund counter-terrorism efforts.

Additional militarization, then, deserves congressional attention as the program is harmful and must be scaled back for a number of reasons.

First, the program is transforming our police into a military. The results of such over-militarized law enforcement are apparent from the dispersion of Occupy protesters in Oakland to the city-wide lockdown in Boston. As retired police chief Norm Stamper stated to the Associated Press:

We make a serious mistake, I’m convinced, in equipping domestic law enforcement, particularly in smaller, rural communities, with this much military equipment.

Tanks, grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and assault rifles are just a few of the items that have been transferred from military control to municipal police forces. Law enforcement agencies need only to arrange and pay for shipment in order to receive the items of their choice (pdf). One particularly egregious example is found in South Carolina, where Richland County’s sheriff acquired a tank with 360-degree rotating machine gun turrets. Sardonically, the vehicle has been named “the Peacemaker“.

Swat teams, furthermore, are no longer found only in large, high-crime areas. Instead, even small rural towns now have the equipment to arm their own paramilitary units. Investigative reporter Radley Balko estimates that around 150 Swat raids are performed every day in the United States.

Second, the program encourages waste. Never mind, for a moment, that neither the Defense Department nor the Homeland Security Department has been audited – the only two unaudited government departments incidentally. Any waste from the 1033 program, then, has gone unnoticed thus far.

Municipalities’ stockpiles have grown exponentially with billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry and equipment they simply do not need. This giveaway has created a shopping frenzy among law enforcement officials keen to scoop up equipment before someone else does.

Take a look at these examples. A small town in Georgia without a body of water acquired boats and scuba gear. The same town ordered a shipment of bayonets, which is now collecting dust. In Texas, a town of only 835 residents received more than $3m worth of equipment, including deep-fat fryers, televisions, and playground equipment. The stories abound.

Authorities often claim that the program assists local law enforcement without incurring costs for taxpayers. Yet the program requires that localities accept equipment “as is”, meaning that taxpayers foot the bill (pdf) for all repairs, storage, or maintenance of the growing stockpile. Thus, the arms race ignited by these policies is as wasteful and costly as it is dangerous.

Lastly, the program’s lack of oversight is irresponsible. Indeed, the amount of unaccounted for weapons, fraud, and abuse is alarming. Officially, state coordinators are required to ensure that local law enforcement agencies keep full inventories (pdf) of the equipment they receive, and the localities must report any missing equipment and return any that is unused. But in practice, federal and state authorities infrequently check – if ever – to ensure that inventories are up to date. Effectively, then, it is the recipients of weapons who are left to regulate themselves. The results have been disastrous.

For example, a sheriff in Illinois was accused of lending the assault rifles, which he got through the 1033 program, to his friends. Meanwhile, a firearms manager in North Carolina pled guilty to selling his on eBay. Worse, 11 districts in Indiana were completely suspended from the program because of the high volume of weapons they lost. And a county in Arizona acquired $7m worth of weapons and Humvees before giving them to unauthorized persons and attempting to sell them to boost their budget.

The lack of oversight is appalling. State coordinators admit that they conduct very few in-person inspections. In New York, the state is apparently outsourcing the majority of their inventory work to a part-time, unpaid intern. And in Mississippi, it took six years before federal authorities discovered that a state office, which was ineligible for the program, had received $8m worth of equipment, despite the fact that the Defense Department is supposed to review the program every two years.
 
The Pentagon program cannot continue in this manner. Congress should acknowledge the failure of this program and permanently ban military-grade weaponry, armored vehicles and aircraft from transfer to municipal police forces. If the Defense Department is to continue to lend surplus equipment to localities, it must vastly tighten oversight and ensure that no item go unaccounted for. On-site inspections must be frequent and consequences for noncompliance should be severe.

If America is concerned about helping its police forces prevent violence, there are more cost effective ways of doing that. Since we know that cities and states with lower levels of violence have higher levels of education, healthcare coverage and economic opportunity, and lower levels of poverty and income inequality, that is where we should be investing taxpayer dollars.

But when local police forces carry assault weapons and patrol America’s main streets with tanks and drones, the lines blur between the military and law enforcement. The growing militarization of the United States appears to be occurring at home as well as abroad, a phenomenon which is troublesome and sure to continue without decisive action. Scaling back the 1033 program is a much-needed start and would cast some light on the blurring line between military forces and the local police who are meant to protect and serve.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=5722

Shhh … NSA’s Utah Data Center may be open already

By Thomas Burr | The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Sep 26 2013 01:01 am • Last Updated Sep 26 2013 05:02 pm

Washington • Don’t look for balloons or a big “Grand Opening” sign outside the National Security Agency’s new Utah Data Center.

The facility is expected this fall to quietly begin sucking in massive amounts of information for the intelligence community and storing it in the cavernous buildings in Bluffdale, according to NSA officials — and it could be open now even as the agency faces scrutiny over efforts to collect data on Americans domestically.

Top-secret technicians

About 200 people, mainly technicians, are expected to work at the Utah Data Center, which is closed to the public and protected by NSA’s police force.

NSA officials declined to say whether the center is already online, but the secret agency isn’t known for celebrating the opening of classified buildings.

“We turn each machine on as it is installed, and the facility is ready for that installation to begin,” NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said recently in an interview.

The data center, one of several large computer facilities run by the agency, is one of six major hubs for the NSA and will not only serve as backup storage but also be networked into the government’s intelligence gathering so analysts from other sites can access it in real time.

The $1.5 billion building, based on the Utah National Guard’s Camp Williams straddling Utah and Salt Lake counties, will be the NSA’s largest computing center in the world with about 1 million square feet of space, a tenth of that taken up by computer servers.

But the Utah center opens amid a firestorm over the NSA’s data collection after news reports, mainly in The Guardian and The Washington Post, revealed classified documents showing the agency is collecting data about Americans’ domestic phone calls and is able to tap into social-media platforms in its searches.

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee and has been critical of the NSA’s methods, said this week that he plans in the next few days to sketch out what authority the agency is using to justify its collection of domestic intelligence and that hearings will be held.

“There is no question there is going to be increased scrutiny of these kinds of practices,” Wyden said, “because Americans understand this is a dangerous time, but the government, if it’s going to collect [this information], ought to have to say here’s how it contributes to security of the American people. They have not made that case.”

A week before former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began leaking classified information on the agency’s previously secret activities, Deputy Director John Inglis said that the Utah Data Center should be welcomed to the state because it plays such a critical role in protecting national security. Folks who live in its shadows or see it while driving on Interstate 15 or Redwood Road shouldn’t fret, he said.

 

“They shouldn’t be worried because, A, we’re Americans,” Inglis said. “We understand what the principles are that govern the nation; [and] B, we take an oath to the Constitution, and we take that very seriously.”

Inglis added that the agency tells its employees it’s “not just important that we do something … it’s important that we do it the right way. We have to do it in a principled manner.”

Some Utah politicians have been invited to tour the facility and were there for a ceremony earlier this year to mark the multiyear project’s completion. The event was closed to reporters and some local officials.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=5706

Ohio State Gets Armored Fighting Vehicle: “Specifically Designed for Asymmetric Warfare”

If we’re not living in a militarized police state, then please explain what Ohio State University could possibly need with one of these.

The Ohio State University Department of Public Safety has acquired an armored military vehicle that looks like it belongs in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Gary Lewis, a senior director of media relations at OSU, told The Daily Caller via email that the “unique, special-purpose vehicle is a replacement” for the “police fleet.” He called the armored jalopy “an all-hazard, all-purpose, public safety-response vehicle” with “obviously enhanced capabilities.”

He noted that the vehicle was “acquired at no cost from Military Surplus.” He also bragged that it has “extremely low miles and is in nearly new condition” but elaborated no further concerning the acquisition.

“We are in the process of making it usable for our needs in an urban campus environment,” Lewis explained. “Specifically we are removing the top turret and repainting.”

The vehicle looks like an MRAP, which is the general name for an armored fighting vehicle designed to survive ambushes and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks. Lewis mentioned nothing about IEDs or ambushes in his email to TheDC.

Instead, the school envisions a number of uses for the vehicle including “officer rescue,” “hostage scenarios,” “bomb evaluation” and active killers loose on campus.

The vehicle also boasts a “sniper perch” and it is ideal “for crew protection under threat of explosives and small arms fire.”

Source: Daily Caller

According to the military, the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicle isspecifically designed for asymmetric warfare.

So let’s get this straight.

University students and teachers are forbidden from bringing a licensed handgun onto school property for personal protection in case of a hostage situation or active killer being loose, but it makes complete sense, because of the terroristic threats we face, to put a military fighting vehicle on campus?

Perhaps it’s yet another desensitization effort in the grand control grid. Our kids should get used to heavily armed vehicles and police, as they will soon be seeing them throughout communities all over America.

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Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=5688

America – Wake Up!

Please read the following string of articles. See what is coming our way, do not be cattle!

Suspended Student May Be Expelled for Rest of the Year for Playing With Toy Gun…in His Own Yard

Sep. 23, 2013 3:40pm Jason Howerton

A suspended seventh-grade student in Virginia Beach, Va., could be expelled for the rest of the school year for shooting an airsoft gun with a friend in his yard as they waited for the bus to come.

Khalid Caraballo, 12, and his friend, Aidan, were suspended for “possession, handling and use of a firearm” because they “shot two other friends who were with them while playing” with the airsoft guns, WAVY-TV reported.

Caraballo answered “no, sir,” when asked if he took the toy gun to the bus stop or to school.

“We were in our yard. This had nothing to do with school,” the student said.

Caraballo’s mother, Angel, said being punished for “possession, handling and use of a firearm” was “pretty harsh” for a toy that she bought for $25.

Tim Clark, Aidan’s father, told the news station that the school neglected to use common sense in the incident that occurred off school property. ”Has zero tolerance gone too far?” WAVY-TV asks.

Common Core: A Lesson Plan for Raising Up Compliant, Non-Thinking Citizens

Sep. 23, 2013 11:35am

John W. Whitehead – The Rutherford Institute

 

As I point out in my new book, A Government Of Wolves The Emerging American Police State                         , there are several methods for controlling a population.

You can intimidate the citizenry into obedience through force, by relaying on military strength and weaponry such as SWAT team raids, militarized police, and a vast array of lethal and nonlethal weapons.

You can manipulate them into marching in lockstep with your dictates through the use of propaganda and carefully timed fear tactics about threats to their safety, whether through the phantom menace of terrorist attacks or shooting sprees by solitary gunmen.

Or you can indoctrinate them into compliance from an early age through the schools, discouraging them from thinking for themselves while rewarding them for regurgitating whatever the government, through its so-called educational standards, dictates they should be taught.

Those who founded America believed that an educated citizenry knowledgeable about their rights was the surest means of preserving freedom. If so, then the inverse should also hold true: that the surest way for a government to maintain its power and keep the citizenry in line is by rendering them ignorant of their rights and unable to think for themselves.

When viewed in light of the government’s ongoing attempts to amass power at great cost to Americans—in terms of free speech rights, privacy, due process, etc.—the debate over Common Core State Standards, which would transform and nationalize school curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade, becomes that much more critical.

Essentially, these standards, which were developed through a partnership between big government and corporations, in the absence of any real input from parents or educators with practical, hands-on classroom experience, and are being rolled out in 45 states and the District of Columbia, will create a generation of test-takers capable of little else, molded and shaped by the federal government and its corporate allies into what it considers to be ideal citizens.

Moreover, as Valerie Strauss reports for the Washington Post: “The costs of the tests, which have multiple pieces throughout the year plus the computer platforms needed to administer and score them, will be enormous and will come at the expense of more important things. The plunging scores will be used as an excuse to close more public schools and open more privatized charters and voucher schools, especially in poor communities of color. If, as proposed, the Common Core’s ‘college and career ready’ performance level becomes the standard for high school graduation, it will push more kids out of high school than it will prepare for college.”

With so much money to be made and so many questionable agendas at work, it is little wonder, then, that attempts are being made to squelch any and all opposition to these standards. For example, at a recent public forum to discuss the implementation of these standards in Baltimore County public schools, one parent, 46-year-old Robert Small, found himself “pulled out of the meeting, arrested and charged with second-degree assault of a police officer” simply for daring to voice his discontent with the standards during a Q&A session with the superintendent.

“Don’t stand for this. You are sitting here like cattle,” shouted Robert Small to his fellow attendees as he was being dragged out of the “forum” on the Common Core standards. “Is this America?”

No, Mr. Small, this is no longer America. This is, instead, fascism with a smile, sold to us by our so-called representatives, calculating corporations, and an educational system that is marching in lockstep with the government’s agenda.

In this way, we are being conditioned to be slaves without knowing it. That way, we are easier to control. “A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude,” writes Aldous Huxley.

The original purpose of a pre-university education in early America was not to prepare young people to be doctors or lawyers but, as Thomas Jefferson believed, to make citizens knowledgeable about “their rights, interests, and duties as men and citizens.”

Yet that’s where the problem arises for us today. Most citizens have little, if any, knowledge about their basic rights, largely due to an educational system that does a poor job of teaching the basic freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Many studies confirm this. For instance, when Newsweek asked 1,000 adult U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent of respondents couldn’t name the current vice president of the United States. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why America fought the Cold War. More critically, 44 percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights.

That Americans are constitutionally illiterate is not a mere oversight on the part of government educators. And things will only get worse under Common Core, which as the Washington Post reports, is a not-so-subtle attempt “to circumvent federal restrictions on the adoption of a national curriculum.”

Putting aside the profit-driven motives of the corporations and the power-driven motives of the government, there is also an inherent arrogance in the implementation of these Common Core standards that speaks to the government’s view that parents essentially forfeit their rights when they send their children to a public school, and should have little to no say in what their kids are taught and how they are treated by school officials. This is evident in the transformation of the schools into quasi-prisons, complete with metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs, and surveillance cameras. The result is a generation of young people browbeaten into believing that they have no true rights, while government authorities have total power and can violate constitutional rights whenever they see fit.

Yet as Richard Dreyfuss, Oscar-winning actor and civics education activist, warns: “Unless we teach the ideas that make America a miracle of government, it will go away in your kids’ lifetimes, and we will be a fable.”

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Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=5681

BILLY GRAHAM: NOW IS TIME FOR ‘FRESH AWAKENING’

Many see early signs of spiritual renewal in America

Published: 13 hours ago

By Troy Anderson

Believing the signs of the “end of the age” that Jesus Christ spoke of are now converging for the first time in 2,000 years, famed international evangelist Billy Graham is fervently praying for a “fresh spiritual awakening in America.”

“If ever there was a time this country needed the intervention of God, it is now,” said Graham, who is giving what could be his final message to the world during the “My Hope America with Billy Graham” evangelistic outreach on Nov. 7, his 95th birthday.

The sermon will be broadcast worldwide via satellite and the Internet. More information can be found by calling 1-877-MY-HOPE, or 1-877-769-4673.

“We can and should pray for America as a whole, but remember that when God sets out to change a nation, He begins by changing people,” Graham said. “It starts with individuals. The more I pray, the more deeply I feel that My Hope America is the right outreach for this country today.”

It seems God is listening to Graham’s prayers.

In nearly a dozen interviews with WND, prominent national faith leaders, pollsters and others said they are witnessing what appear to be early signs of a spiritual awakening – at least among segments of the American populace.

In his new book “God Is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America,” Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport claims the United States “may be on the cusp of a religious renaissance.”

Although he cites several reasons, Newport bases his prediction mostly on the fact that the number of Americans age 65 and older is expected to double over the next two decades, and research shows people become more religious at this stage of life.

Given the sheer size of the baby boomer generation, Newport says the “entire nation will thus tilt more religious in the years ahead.”

“It’s a huge shift,” Newport said. “We are going to see a doubling in the number of people at the age where they generally tend to be more religious, and, therefore, I think religiosity will increase for that reason alone.”

Across generations

But it’s not just the baby boomer generation that has seen the light.

Banning Liebscher, director of Jesus Culture, an international Christian revivalist youth outreach ministry based out of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., said he’s now seeing what he believes are the initial signs of a spiritual awakening among a segment of today’s youth, too.

“It may be in seed form,” Liebscher said. “It may not be a full, mature awakening, but it’s happening. In every city we go to, there are thousands of young people who come out whose hearts are awakened to the love of Jesus and the power of God. I would say absolutely an awakening is happening.”

Liebscher has studied the history of America’s Great Awakenings – a term that refers to several waves of increased religious enthusiasm over the last few centuries – and each came at a time like the one America is in now. As Graham wrote in an open letter to America last summer calling for repentance, the nation is in an “urgent hour,” Liebscher said, and “morality is in decline.”

Most people agree. A March report by the American Bible Society found 77 percent of Americans believe morals and values are declining. They cited a lack of Bible reading as the main culprit.

“As I read the history of revival – the outpourings and awakenings – these things all happened when a nation was in moral decline,” Liebscher said. “In the first and second Great Awakenings, it really was a time where society felt like it was in moral decline, but all of a sudden God would step in with an awakening.”

‘End of the age’

The indications of a potential religious revival in America come as a number of major evangelists and ministries – Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Reinhard Bonnke, Greg Laurie, Chuck Smith, Luis Palau, Liebscher and others – are turning their attention toward America in the hope of helping ignite what Graham describes as an end-times “great spiritual awakening.”

In addition to Graham’s worldwide outreach, numerous crusades and similar events are being planned in the coming months and years. Bonnke, founder of Christ for All Nations, will speak Sept. 27-28 at the Good News Orlando crusade at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., will speak Sept. 28-29 at Harvest America at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

In an exclusive interview with WND exploring the reasons behind My Hope America, Graham explained he believes the world is coming to the “end of the age, not the end of the world or the earth but the end of the age – the period that God has set aside for this particular time.”

“There’s a great deal to say in the Bible about the signs we’re to watch for and when these signs all converge at one place we can be sure that we’re close to the end of the age,” Graham said. “And those signs in my judgment are converging now for the first time since Jesus made those predictions.”

Recent polls indicate a substantial portion of the American public agrees with Graham, a man who has preached to more people – 2.2 billion – than any Protestant in history and who has appeared on Gallup’s list of the most admired men and women 55 times since 1955, more than any other individual in the world.

A recent OmniPoll conducted by the Barna Group found four in 10 Americans, and 77 percent of evangelical Christians, believe the “world is now living in the biblical end times.” A poll released Sept. 13 by LifeWay Research found one in three Americans see Syria’s current conflict “as part of the Bible’s plan for the end times.” One in four think a U.S. military strike in Syria “could lead to Armageddon.”

Paul McGuire, an internationally recognized Bible prophecy expert who is a regular commentator on Fox News and CNN and appeared on two highly rated History Channel specials, “7 Signs of the Apocalypse” and “Countdown to Apocalypse: Four Horsemen,” said a growing number of people are concluding the biblical end times have finally arrived and are turning to God.

“The average teenager and American has heard all kinds of bits and pieces of prophetic teaching and now they see these prophecies coming true,” said McGuire, the author of 22 Bible prophecy books, including “The Day the Dollar Died” and an upcoming one, “A Prophecy of the Future of America.” “They have heard about Ezekiel 38 and that Russia and Iran are in the Bible. They’ve heard about Armageddon and that a one-world government and economic system are coming. The teenagers and young people have also heard about the ‘mark of the beast.’”

Turning to God

As people are watching events unfold that point to the approaching fulfillment of these ancient prophecies, McGuire said those who never would have looked to God or the Bible in the past are doing so now.

“What’s happened is that the pressures are so great that we now have the possibility that if we have repentance – and repentance has to come from the church first – we could have a national revival,” McGuire said. “We could see mass evangelism and a real change in America as millions of people turn to Christ as they did during the first and second Great Awakenings.”

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, said he certainly would like to see a spiritual awakening in America but noted “Great Awakenings are rare.”

Nevertheless, Stetzer said Newport’s new book does “point to the possibility of a religious awakening.”

This potential is counter-intuitive, especially in the wake of the cavalcade of recent polls and mainstream media stories, including a 2009 Newsweek cover story titled “The Decline and Fall of Christian America,” which claims the U.S. is fast becoming a “post-Christian” nation.

“The irony is Jon Meacham wrote that article, ‘The Decline and Fall of Christian America,’ and Newsweek has subsequently ended,” Stetzer said. “So the magazine that covered the end of Christian America no longer publishes a magazine.”

In his recent USA Today column, “Christianity isn’t dying,” Stetzer “cut through the recent hype” and noted that “no serious scholar believes that Christianity in America is on a trajectory of extinction.”

Rise of the nones

In recent years, polls have found that religious affiliation in the U.S has hit its lowest point in decades. Last year, one in five Americans claimed they had no religious preference, more than double the number in 1990. The polls also found one-in-three millennials – those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s – have no religious affiliation.

The “nones,” as they are called, are people who claim no faith or say they are unaffiliated with any organized religious system.

But Newport and Stetzer said this so-called “rise of the nones” has more to do with how people describe themselves than an actual drop in spirituality in the nation.

“I think it’s a change in labeling,” Newport said. “The data is fairly significant that suggests the people who over time have become more likely to say they have no religious identity are people who were already not religious.

“So what we are seeing is the hidden ‘nones’ who in the past told an interviewer, ‘Oh, I’m a Catholic,’ or ‘I’m a Baptist,’ because that’s how they were raised. Now, these people feel freer to tell an interviewer, ‘I don’t have a formal religious identity.’ I think to a significant degree that’s what we’ve been seeing with this increase in the ‘nones.’”

Stetzer agrees, noting the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey found 76 percent of Americans identified themselves as Christians, down from 86 percent in 1990.

“Absolutely, there has been a decline in self-identified Christians,” Stetzer said. “So, 76 percent of Americans still identify themselves as Christians. The thing is you and I don’t use the word Christian the same way that the culture uses Christian. Of that 76 percent who are Christians, think of three blocks – 25, 25 and 25. Roughly 25 percent have a convictional commitment, a born-again expression; about 25 percent would have some sort of connection to a church; and about 25 percent would just be a cultural expression of Christianity.”

As a result, what is collapsing, Stetzer said, is not Christianity, but “people who used to call themselves Christians.

“Today, they are increasingly saying they are nothing,” Stetzer said. “So the nominal Christians are becoming the ‘nones,’ which makes it look like we’re in decline and collapse, but remember there are more people who self-identify as evangelicals today than there were in 1972.”

Even more surprising, more Americans now belong to a local church congregation – 70 percent – than ever before in the nation’s history, wrote Rodney Stark, co-director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, in his recent book “America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists.” That percentage is up from 64 percent in 1990 and only 17 percent in 1776, Stark wrote.

Ramping up efforts

In terms of the possibility of what Graham calls a “fresh spiritual awakening,” Laurie, president of Harvest Crusades, said he’s encouraged that Graham, Bonnke, Liebscher and other evangelists are “ramping up their efforts in evangelism.”

As he looks at today’s youth, Laurie said he sees a hunger for the Bible and spiritual things.

“It gives me hope,” Laurie said. “I think one of the tragic things is we have a nearly completely biblically illiterate generation before us now, a generation for the most part that has not been raised with the Bible, and they have not been raised in church,” Laurie said.

That’s the bad news, Laurie said. The good news is they are “effectively a blank slate.”

“They don’t have any beliefs, and I think it’s a great opportunity for the church to step in boldly, without apology, with a message that is authentic and powerful and life-changing and to say to these young people: ‘You can know the God who made you. You don’t need to turn to drugs and alcohol or other things to fill that void in your life. You can find what you are looking for in a relationship with Jesus Christ,’ ” Laurie said. “This could be the church’s finest hour. I hope we seize it.”

As he’s traveled the nation, Bonnke said he’s seen some “wonderful hot spots” in terms of spiritual fervor.

“There are some hot spots, but I believe the picture as a whole is a picture of great need,” Bonnke said. “We have focused too much on preaching the gospel behind the closed doors of churches. The four walls of a church are the most evangelized real estate in America, but Jesus tells us to go the highways and byways. I believe we have to learn again to go to the highways and byways where the people are and proclaim the ABCs of the gospel, which is that Jesus saves.”

Franklin Graham, president and chief executive officer of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Graham’s son, said evangelism just doesn’t happen.

“It has to be planned,” he said. “You have to have a strategy. You have to make a concerted effort that we are going to evangelize, and that’s what we are hoping we can do with My Hope, is to work with the churches so the churches can catch a vision for evangelism, and let’s just see what happens.”

Graham said the plan for My Hope begins with praying for the unsaved.

“Praying for them and then using that as an opportunity to invite them to come to your home,” he said, “and then we work with you by putting together a telecast on television that will make it easy for you to turn to your friends and family and say, ‘You’ve heard the gospel. You’ve heard that Jesus Christ died for your sins. You’ve heard that He rose from the grave. Would you like to invite this Jesus of Nazareth into your heart?’”

Tom Crandall, who pastored the youth group at Bethel Church in Redding, Calif. that Jesus Culture emerged from, said he’s witnessing a spiritual hunger among youth all over America.

“It doesn’t matter if you are rich or you are poor, everybody is hungry,” Crandall said. “I think [Liebscher] is right. There are seeds all over America that are just waiting for water and the right timing for revival to break forth.

“We are trying to raise up mothers and fathers in our youth ministry who can handle the harvest. I praise God for these crusades and can’t wait for them to happen, but the church has to be ready for the new believers,” he said. “The body of Christ has to be ready to take new babies so the families can grow at a fast rate. I think the harvest is coming. Actually, I think it’s already here.”

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Georgia’s Own Doomsday Stonehenge Monument

By Jill Neimark

“Planned genocide has begun,” read the Facebook entry on one of the groups I browse daily. The link: a picture of five monoliths looming like an American Stonehenge over a lush and lonely hill in remote Elberton, Georgia. I was only an hour away at the time, and decided to visit them in person.

The nearly twenty-foot granite slabs, known as the Georgia Guidestones, have sparked controversy around the world – praised by Yoko Ono, defaced by conspiracy theorists, featured on the History Channel, and the subject of the conspiracy web series Guidestones. The monument – five upright stones topped by a capstone – weighs nearly 240,000 pounds and is inscribed in eight languages with ten instructions for humans post-apocalypse. Three decades after being erected, the monument’s true purpose is still being argued, and its quasi-commandments can seem either sincere or satanic.

The most controversial instruction is the first: that humanity should be maintained under half a billion. Nearly as controversial is the sixth instruction, which proposes that nations resolve disputes in “a world court.” The stones also boast a few odd astronomical features – a hole through which you can see the North Star each night; a slot through which you can watch the sun rise during the summer or winter solstice; and a hole on the capstone which functions as a solar calendar at noon.

“Let these be Guidestones to an Age of Reason” reads the capstone in classical Greek, Sanskrit, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Babylonian cuneiform.

Curious Origins

The Guidestones were erected in 1980 and have captured the curiosity of astronomy buffs, peaceniks, pagans, and preachers over the decades since. Conspiracy theorists have decoded them; pagans have held rituals around them; graffiti artists have defaced them. They are as riveting for their curious origins and enigmatic intentions as they are for the cacophonous range of responses they evoke in observers.

The monument was commissioned in 1979 by a now deceased, anonymous donor calling himself “R.C. Christian.” According to the also deceased Joe Fendley, then president of the Elberton Granite Finishing Company, Mr. Christian was a tall, well-dressed stranger who showed up in his office on a Friday afternoon and offered to pay a substantial sum of money for the construction of the monument. Fendley sent him over to Wyatt C. Martin, then president of the Granite City Bank.

Within a few weeks, Christian had wired money to the bank and brought in a wooden model of the monument, and the quarrying and construction had begun. Over 4,000 letters were ultimately etched into the surface of the stones. A year later, on March 22, 1980, the Guidestones were unveiled – on a former cow pasture on U.S. Highway 77.

 

A Visit to the Rough-Hewn Giants

Last August I drove into the sleepy town of Elberton, past signs boasting “Granite Capital of the World,” along remote and winding roads, to see the Guidestones.

I wondered what this American Rorschach would feel like to me. They cast a strange spell that sunny afternoon – outstandingly incongruous on a well kept grassy knoll in the proverbial middle of nowhere. Perhaps if they’d towered over the north rim of the Grand Canyon they would have blended with rock and sky. But nesting like alien tombstones in the rural south, down the road from the white spires of Baptist and Methodist churches, the stones seemed eerie, and brought to mind Henry James’ famous impression of Stonehenge: “You may put a hundred questions to these rough-hewn giants as they bend in grim contemplation of their fallen companions, but your curiosity falls dead in the vast sunny stillness that enshrouds them.”

Meeting the Man Who Knows

A few days later I visited the only man alive who actually knows who built the Guidestones – and he isn’t telling. Banker Wyatt Martin, who is now 82, now lives with his second wife in quaint Greensboro, Georgia.

“You just missed the History Channel,” he greeted me, motioning to a chair on the porch. “They filmed me right here for three hours.” We sat and talked as a light rain drizzled down upon the oak and pecan trees, and Martin speculated that a large part of the enduring controversy is due to the mystery of the stones’ origins.

“People ask, ‘Isn’t it hard being the only one left alive who knows who he really was?’” said Martin. “They could put a gun to my head and kill me, I will never reveal his real name. In my age and my profession you stuck by a promise of confidentiality.

“Last year I went with a few friends over to an old bridge on Lake Oconee and we dumped all correspondence associated with the Guidestones into a metal barrel and burned them. Then we poured the ashes into the lake. It’ll never be known. And that’s what he wanted. He always said if you want to keep people interested, you can let them know only so much.”

 At the time the stones were built, Martin reminded me, it was the height of the Cold War, when Armageddon and nuclear winter loomed over America. In a chapbook on the Guidestones that Christian wrote and published, he states, “We are entering a critical era. Population pressures will soon create political and economic crisis throughout the world… We are like a fleet of overcrowded lifeboats confronted with an approaching tempest… There are alternatives to Armageddon. They are attainable.” The guides of the ‘graven stones’ were meant to provide those alternatives.

Was Christian a Christian?, I ask Martin. Martin thinks he was. Others suspect he was influenced by Rosicrucian thought. Rosicrucians formed a European secret society in the 1600’s known as “the brotherhood of R.C.” or the “Fraternity of the Rosie Cross.” According to their first manifesto in 1614, “The word R.C. should be their seal, mark and character.”

Those who believe the stones are influenced by Rosicrucian thought point to the text on the capstone, which echoes the title of Thomas Paine’s famous apologia “The Age of Reason.” Paine was both a deist (one who believes the existence of God can be proven by reason and observation) and a Rosicrucian.

Martin has been hectored for his association with the Guidestones. “Some evangelicals, of which I am one, claim it’s the work of the devil and the Antichrist,” he explains. Conspiracy theorists, meanwhile, claim the stones are the work of the New World Order, a purported global elite that intends to depopulate the world through controlled genocide and then rule it. In 2008, vandals defaced the surface of the slabs, spray-painting “Jesus will beat u satanist” and “No one world government.”

One of the monument’s most prominent conspiracy theorists is computer analyst Van Smith, of Arkansas. His website, Van’s Hardware, offers extensive analysis of the stones.

“The purpose of the monument’s ten edicts,” Smith wrote me by email, “is to establish the groundwork for a totalitarian global government. The proportions of the stones predict the exact height in feet of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, now the world’s tallest building. Both the Guidestones and the Burj allude to the Tower of Babel. Also be aware that there is a supposed to be a time capsule buried a few feet west of the monument… According to the story, the capsule is only to be opened when signs are made obvious by the monument of an impending global cataclysm. And the North Star sighting hole is probably the feature that was intended for detecting the feared cataclysmic event, if the story I was told is true. The hole is similar to a device created by the Hopi to detect a similar calamity.”

The True Message

In truth, according to astronomer Loris Magnani, of the University of Georgia, the astronomical features of the Guidestones are mediocre at best. “I visited in order to see if they could really function as an observatory, which Stonehenge could have. The Guidestones are an abacus compared to Stonehenge’s computer. They’re very ordinary. You could do the same thing with concrete in your back yard.

“To see the North Star, which is at a latitude of 34 degrees, you just drill a hole due north at a 34 degree angle. The hardest part is drilling the concrete. As an astronomer, I can tell you there’s nothing much there. As to the instructions on the stone, that’s a whole other issue.”

And it is the instructions, indeed, that speak to our hopes and fears. Though they trace their origins to the Cold War era, they arouse unease today over a different kind of Armageddon. As I stood there before them I thought of our present realities of climate change, soaring global population, and the devastation of species. We were 3.4 billion when the Guidestones were erected. We are now 7 billion headed to 10 billion by 2050. “Be not a cancer on this earth,” the tenth and final inscription on the stones commands. “Leave room for nature. Leave room for nature.” That afternoon, those rough hewn giants could not have been more eloquent.

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Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=5644

ARE TERRORISTS SETTING U.S. WILDFIRES?

Joe Kovacs

As the 2013 season of devastating wildfires continues to rage across the American West, the question of arson as a form of major terrorism is again being raised.

Already this year, 35,440 reported fires have burned a total of 3.9 million acres, with a quarter-million acres scorched the iconic Yosemite National Park.

Large blazes continue to burn in several states, with six alive in Idaho, five each in California and Montana, and one each in Alaska, Louisiana, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, says at this time last year, 45,278 fires had burned 7.9 million acres, and in 2011, there were 55,619 fires devastating 7.2 million acres.

In July 2012, William Scott, a former National Security Agency official and Aviation Week editor, told the American Center for Democracy that terrorists are using fire as a tactical weapon of war.

“Perhaps the most simple form of economic warfare is wild land arson,” Scott said in his “Fire Wars” presentation. “That’s just setting fires in U.S. forests [and] grasslands.”

“For any terrorists that are determined to inflict significant damage with very little investment or risk, fire is an extremely high-leverage weapon of mass effect.”

Scott explained that after U.S. Navy SEALs killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, they “captured a treasure trove of material that provided some unprecedented insight into the al-Qaida plans. And one of those was a detailed campaign for starting fires throughout the [American] West.”

“U.S. officials have pretty much determined that some of the fires that burned in California [in 2011] were ignited by al-Qaida operatives,” Scott said.

An editorial in June by the Washington Examiner noted, “Those trying to downplay the threat of terrorism have dismissed such a possibility as paranoid. As Americans learned in 2001, and again as recently as 2012 in Benghazi and 2013 with the Boston Marathon bombing, terrorist threats are not something to take lightly.”

This year’s wildfire in Yosemite started Aug. 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest, but authorities believe it was not an act off terror. They say a hunter’s illegal fire swept out of control, torching 394 square miles of timber, meadows and sensitive wildlife habitat. The Associated Press reports it has cost more than $89 million to fight, and officials say it will cost tens of millions of dollars more to repair the environmental damage alone.

 

Yosemite National Park has been decimated by fire in the summer of 2013.

As WND reported in June, an expert on Islamic terrorism believes a wildfire that ravaged the outskirts of Colorado Springs, Colo., killing two people and destroying more than 500 homes, should be examined by terror investigators.

“One thing that my investigators have given me the authority to state is that they have all but ruled out natural causes as the cause of this fire,” said Sheriff Terry Maketa at the time. “I can’t really go any further on that, but I can say we are pretty confident it was not, for instance, a lightning strike.”

That single blaze in Colorado caused more than $85 million in damage, but that figure is expected to rise to possibly $120 million.

The causes for most forest fires are limited to electrical problems, out-of-control campfires or grills, accidents such as a car fire and sparks from chain saws or other back-country tools.

Those causes, to an expert investigator, are readily identifiable.

But authorities said they were focusing on a 28-foot square patch where they believe the fire started, examining some portions with a magnifying glass.

At the American Center for Democracy, noted terror funding expert Rachel Ehrenfeld suggested circumstances are a little suspicious.

Ehrenfeld, once targeted by a Saudi official with a foreign lawsuit over her work in the United States, was the reason the “Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitution Heritage Act” was adopted by Congress.

It put an end to lawsuits brought in foreign jurisdictions where speech protections do not exist or are not as robust as in the United States which were simply intended to censor or chill speech in the U.S.

“Bill Scott, who’s a senior fellow at ACD, warned about such a scenario last July, speaking at the ACD-EWI Economic Threats briefing on Capital Hill,” Ehrenfeld wrote. “An expert on aerial firefighting, he presented a sobering analysis of the devastating (2012) Waldo Canyon Fire [in Colorado], pointing out that the striking rise [in] Western U.S. wildfires may be caused by elements other than nature.

“He noted that in spring 2012, al-Qaida’s English-language online magazine, Inspire, published an article called ‘It Is of Your Freedom to Ignite a Firebomb,’ which featured instructions on how to build an incendiary bomb to light forests on fire.”

She explained that Russia’s security chief, Aleksandr Bortnikov, also has warned, “Al-Qaida was complicit in recent forest fires in Europe” as part of terrorism’s “strategy of a thousand cuts.”

“Since then, more fatwas advocating that ‘fire is a cheap, easy and effective tool for economic warfare’ have been issued,” Ehrenfeld wrote. “They’ve included detailed instructions for constructing remote-controlled ‘ember bombs, and how to set fires without leaving a trace.’”

Israel’s forests also have been targeted, she noted.

“While many of the fires that have scorched millions of acres and destroyed thousands of homes in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and other states have been identified as arson, none has been publicly attributed to criminal or terrorist groups, despite the presence of Mexican gangs and [a] large number of other illegals in our Western states,” she said.

Mother Jones reported Don Smurthwaite, a Bureau of Land Management spokesman, “downplayed” Ehrenfeld’s ideas, “but he didn’t dismiss the notion outright.”

“We don’t have any hard evidence that any wildfires in the U.S. were started by terrorists in recent years,” he told the publication. “But is it a possibility? Certainly.”

He noted the last confirmed weaponized wildfires were in World War II, when the Japanese sent incendiary balloons across the Pacific.

However, the Christian Broadcasting Network reported al-Qaida was advising would-be terrorists how best to burn America.

The terror group’s magazine included pictures, diagrams and explanations on how to start fires to obtain the most damage.

CBN analyst Erick Stakelbeck said the extreme detail provides reason for concern. The information, he said, is “all designed to cause the maximum amount of carnage and death.”

CBN noted that in the U.S., more houses are built in the countryside than in the cities and cited a Montana fire chief who said the prospect of a wildfire terrorist attack was not farfetched.

WND also reported websites run by jihadis made claims of arson in a number of California wildfires.

WND reported in 2004 that an Arabic-language jihadi website also posted a message purporting to be “al-Qaida’s plan of economic attack” on the U.S. that including proposals to turn the nation’s forests into raging infernos.

The National Terror Alert Response Center report said: “We are NOT implying that the California fires are an act of terrorism; however, the threat of pyro-terrorist attacks pose a significant risk to the U.S. and the fires in California and Greece earlier this year should be a wake-up call.”

Even in 2003, an FBI memo warned that national forests in the West could be the next target for terror by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network.

The memo, obtained by the Arizona Republic, warned law enforcement that a senior al-Qaida detainee told interrogators he planned to spark multiple, catastrophic wildfires simultaneously in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming to strike a blow to the U.S. economy.

WND also reported documents recovered from a remote area along the Pakistan border revealed that bin Laden wanted al-Qaida to launch a “global fireball” by lighting forest fires in Europe, the United States, Australia and South America.

The documents, uncovered during an operation led by the British intelligence service MI6, were described by experts in that agency as “the most worrying [plot] that the world is facing

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Are We Living in the ‘End Times’ as Prophesied in the Bible? Shocking Poll Reveals Americans’ Views

A startling proportion of Americans believe that we’re currently living in the End Times, according to a stunning new poll that was conducted by the Barna Group, a research firm that focuses on faith. In fact, more than four in 10 individuals (41 percent) over the age of 18 believe that “the world is currently living in the ‘end times’ as described by prophecies in the Bible.”

While this number is certainly noteworthy, among various cohorts, the results were even more stunning. While 54 percent of Protestants agreed that we are currently living in these times, the vast majority of evangelicals — 77 percent, to be exact — embrace this same sentiment.

Meanwhile, more generally, Catholics took on very different views on the matter. Seventy-three percent felt that the End Times are not upon us; 45 percent of practicing Catholics (a more narrow group) answering affirmatively, though, potentially showing a closer tie between the literal practice of faith and the belief in End Times theology.

On the racial front, there were also some intriguing disparities. While 39 percent of white Americans said that we’re living in the End Times, 48 percent of Hispanics and 54 percent of African Americans said the same. Those who are married (46 percent) and families with kids at home (47 percent) reported the same. Both of these latter statistics are larger than the national average (41 percent).

The thought-provoking question was commissioned by WatchWORD Bible New Testament producer Jim Fitzgerald, whose Bible digitization project was featured by TheBlaze back in May 2012. The results of the intriguing curiosity shocked him, as the numbers ended up much higher than he had anticipated.

“Even I was surprised by the findings. I thought the numbers could possibly be as low as 10% for the overall population and maybe 30% for Christians in general, or less,” he said. “I had no way to know before the survey. But the response of the overall population was higher than what I expected from Christians, and the Evangelical’s response was nearly twice what I thought.”

The original question, “Do you, personally, believe that the world is currently living in the ‘end times’ as described by prophecies in the Bible, or not?,” was asked of 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older in a Barna Group survey that was conducted online from July 29 through Aug. 1, 2013. The sample was representative of all U.S. adults, with a margin or error of +/- 3.2 percentage points.

The study comes on the cusp of a plethora of interest in the Bible’s End Times theology. While some might argue that 1,000 is a small sample size, it is considered scientifically sound. Past studies have also found that nearly four in 10 Americans see some of the signs and events of late to be evidence of the End Times as well, corroborating some of the elements in this most recent inquiry.

Regardless of where you stand, interest in the subject is nowhere near subsiding.

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IS U.S. MILITARY SAUDI MERCENARY FORCE?

Joseph Farah

I can’t believe what I’m hearing in Washington these days.

Did John Kerry, who achieved national fame as an anti-war protester, really say that the Arabs have agreed to pay for the overthrow of the Syrian regime?

Did the man who opposed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein after he voted for it in the U.S. Senate become the No. 1 war hawk in the country?

Did the man who accused U.S. military men in Vietnam of routinely committing all manner of atrocities a la Genghis Khan suddenly come to the conclusion that missiles are more discriminating in their destructive power than soldiers with consciences?

Honestly, the hypocrisy of the political left is so thick and so blatant, I can’t believe duplicitous, double-talking monsters like Kerry and Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel and Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton are even taken seriously anymore.

Why does anyone believe anything they say?

Please don’t tell me they are anti-war. They are anti-war only when it suits their purpose. They are anti-war only when the going gets tough. They are anti-war only when they are not running things. They are anti-war only when it is convenient for them. They are anti-war only when it is politically expedient for them.

There is no principle in them whatsoever.

They are liars – pure and simple.

I can almost understand John “the poker player” McCain. He never met a war he didn’t like. I get that. He’s dead wrong. But at least there is some consistency. He’s a hawk. On Syria intervention, his only question is whether lobbing some cruise missiles at unspecified targets is doing enough. He doesn’t know good guys from bad guys or bad guys from really bad guys. He’s become a walking anachronism. But, give him his due, he’s consistent – even if he’s consistently wrong.

How does one begin to comprehend the newfound machismo and phony bravado of the Obama inner circle?

How does Kerry, after dining so famously with Bashar Assad, his wife and Teresa Heinz-Kerry and characterizing the Syrian leader as a positive force for peace and stability in the Middle East, now enthusiastically call for bombing him?

I’ll tell you how.

I’ve said it before.

And since I said it others have come suddenly come to the same conclusion.

The Saudis are demanding it.

Kerry as much as admitted it when he said “the Arabs” are willing to finance the whole war with Syria. What Arabs do you think he means? It’s not Jordan. It’s not Egypt. It’s the oil sheikhs.

And we all know when the Saudis speak those who listen and respond adoringly wind up as wealthier men after they leave their temporary elected or appointed political offices. It’s a better deal than the K Street lobbyists offer.

Jimmy Carter is no longer farming for peanuts after doing their bidding.

Bill and Hillary Clinton no longer have to worry about writing any more unjustifiably big-advance, low-selling books.

George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush certainly don’t have to worry about where their bread is buttered.

And we all know Kerry, who twice fell in love with and married heiresses, is always looking for opportunities for more personal wealth.

Could it be that simple?

Just study Occam’s razor, the principle that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions is probably right.

That leads me to conclude that these men and women are content with the hideous, almost unspeakable notion that the U.S. military can and should be used as a Saudi mercenary force if it is in their best personal interests.

I know it’s almost too unbelievably horrific to imagine, but try to explain why American leaders are seriously debating a wildly unpopular military attack on a faraway nation that poses no threat to U.S. security and is disconnected with any U.S. vital interests.

This is what Congress should be investigating. This is what Congress should be holding hearings about. This is what Congress should be debating – not whether to authorize an attack Syria, but why the executive branch is so determined to do so, with or without Congress’ approval.

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