Politifact, October 2008:
Politifact, December 2013:
As noted earlier, Politifact has already completed its transition from embarrassment to laughingstock.
Politifact, October 2008:
Politifact, December 2013:
As noted earlier, Politifact has already completed its transition from embarrassment to laughingstock.
CNN | – fewer than 60 of which made it through the House and Senate and were signed by President Barack Obama.
Adan Salazar | License plate scanners check police database in real time.
What follows is a brief explanation of each development and why I believe they are so significant.
1.) SYRIAN DEATH TOLL KEEPS CLIMBING AMIDST HORRIFIC CIVIL WAR & CHEMICAL WEAPONS USE IN DAMASCUS — Far and away, the greatest tragedy and humanitarian disaster in 2013 in the epicenter was the continued implosion of Syria.
A terrible evil has been unleashed. Syria is collapsing. It is hard to imagine putting the country back together any time soon. Indeed, we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of the geopolitical nation-state we have long known as “Syria.”
In August, Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that chemical weapons had been used in Syria. “What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality,” Kerry said. “Let me be clear. The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable. And despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable. The meaning of this attack goes beyond the conflict on Syria itself. And that conflict has already brought so much terrible suffering. This is about the large-scale indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago decided must never be used at all, a conviction shared even by countries that agree on little else. There is a clear reason that the world has banned entirely the use of chemical weapons. There is a reason the international community has set a clear standard and why many countries have taken major steps to eradicate these weapons. There is a reason why President Obama has made it such a priority to stop the proliferation of these weapons, and lock them down where they do exist. There is a reason why President Obama has made clear to the Assad regime that this international norm cannot be violated without consequences. And there is a reason why no matter what you believe about Syria, all peoples and all nations who believe in the cause of our common humanity must stand up to assure that there is accountability for the use of chemical weapons so that it never happens again.”
There was a moment when it looked as if the U.S., France and Britain were going to take military action against the Assad regime in Syria. Then President Obama and the Western powers backed down. As the year ends, Assad remains in power.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his security cabinet are mortified by what they are seeing unfold – not in Damascus, but in Washington,” I noted in September. “To be sure, Israeli leaders are concerned but not surprised by the horrific blood-letting that is underway between the evil Assad regime and the demonic forces of al-Qaeda and their radical Islamic partners. But the Israelis are stunned and dismayed by the vacillating, lurching, confused, and chaotic approach to decision-making of President Obama and his top advisers.”
Fortunately, in 2013 we did not see the absolute destruction of the city of Damascus, as foretold by ancient Bible prophecies. Still, interest in those prophecies — notably Isaiah 17 & Jeremiah 49 – grew this year and millions learned about the prophecies that may not have been familiar with them before. This was in part because of my novel, Damascus Countdown, and in part because of media coverage of the prophecies, both positive, negative, and comical.
2.) IRAN BEGUILES WEST WITH “CHARM OFFENSIVE” AS IT MOVES CLOSER TO THE BOMB – The good news in 2013 was that there was no evidence that Iran has yet finished building or deploying nuclear warheads, and war did not break out between Iran and Israel. The bad news is that the West blinked in its effort to derail the Iranian nuclear program, making a Persian Bomb more likely.
In June, Iran held rigged presidential elections. As I noted at the time, 686 candidates registered to run for president, but the regime allowed only eights candidates to actually compete. Then, two of those eight candidates suddenly dropped out of the race. In the end, Iranians had only six candidates to choose from, all of whom were carefully vetted, were deeply loyal to the Ayatollah Khamenei, and were fully committed to advancing Iran’s nuclear program. In the end, Hassan Rouhani was declared the winner. He was certainly no “moderate,” despite what the Western media said. Indeed, this former Iranian nuclear negotiator once boasted about deceiving the West while Iran steadily built its nuclear capabilities.
What was so stunning and disappointing, therefore, wasn’t that Rouhani launched a “charm offensive” to beguile the West while Iran moved closer to building an arsenal of nuclear weapons. That was fully expected. What was so painful to watch was that the West took Rouhani’s bait — hook, line, and sinker. The Obama administration, along with the rest of the world powers, seemed determined to strike a deal with Iran no matter what the cost. The agreement ostensibly reached in early November was described by the media as “historic,” yet it did not require Iran to stop enriching uranium, or dismantle a single centrifuge, even though economic sanctions on Iran will begin to be eased. What’s more, no sooner was the deal supposedly completed than Iran immediately began to refute the White House as to the substance of the deal. Then, the White House conceded that the agreement with Iran wasn’t actually finished, that there were a number of “technical” details that remained to be ironed out, that no deal had actually been signed in Geneva, and that implementation of the deal — merely an “interim agreement,” at that — wouldn’t begin until early 2014, at the earliest.
Israeli officials at the highest levels were stunned by how much the U.S. and Western powers gave away in the deal. Several leading Mideast analysts said there were real reasons to worry about the deal. As the year ends, Iran is increasingly close to the point of building not just an operational nuclear warhead but an arsenal of them.
3.) SAUDIS PREPARING TO PURCHASE PAKISTANI NUCLEAR WARHEADS – One of the biggest fears in the Middle East is that if Iran actually gets operational nuclear weapons that this will spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Such fears began to be realized in 2013.
As details emerged of the deal the West cut with Iran, Arab leaders were horrified. They deeply fear a nuclear-armed Iran and have long pressed the White House to do everything necessary to stop this from happening. Now they fear they are being betrayed. “A deal with Iran would be like discovering your partner of many years is cheating on you with someone he or she claims they hate,” a senior Arab official from a U.S. ally in the region told the Wall Street Journal.
Then came the news that the Saudis are in the process of purchasing nuclear warheads from Pakistan, so convinced they have become that the Obama administration has no idea how to stop Iran. “Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will,” the BBC reported. “While the kingdom’s quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran’s atomic programme, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic….Earlier this year, a senior NATO decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery. Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, ‘the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.’ Since 2009, when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned visiting US special envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross that if Iran crossed the threshold, ‘we will get nuclear weapons,’ the kingdom has sent the Americans numerous signals of its intentions….Gary Samore, until March 2013 President Barack Obama’s counter-proliferation adviser, has told Newsnight: ‘I do think that the Saudis believe that they have some understanding with Pakistan that, in extremis, they would have claim to acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan.’”
If that weren’t enough, we began hearing reports that the Saudis are so fearful of an Iranian nuclear arsenal that they have been building a secret alliance with Israel to take military action against Iran if diplomacy fails. “Riyadh has agreed to let Israel use its airspace in a military strike on Iran and cooperate over the use of rescue helicopters, tanker planes and drones,” reported the Times of Israel and the Sunday Times of London. “The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,” said an unnamed diplomatic source.
4.) EGYPT’S COUNTER-REVOLUTION BRINGS DOWN THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD — One of the most positive developments in 2013 was a counter-revolution in Egypt that crushed the Radical Islamic leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The rise of the Brotherhood to power in Egypt in 2012 caused darkness to fall on the land.
After more than 22 million Egyptians sign petition calling for President Mohamed Morsi to step down, the Egyptian military mobilized troops and tanks, arresting Morsi and top Muslim Brotherhood leadership, outlawing the Brotherhood, and promising new elections and a new constitution. Morsi and his fellow Radicals had come to power after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak calling for the imposition of Sharia law and new hostilities with Israel. Shortly before being elected in 2012, Morsi had given a speech”He added, This nation will enjoy blessing and revival only through the Islamic sharia [law]….”
5.) ISRAELI LEADER DECLARES BIBLE PROPHECIES ARE COMING TRUE IN OUR LIFETIME — “In our time the Biblical prophecies are being realized,” Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu declared before world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly in September. “As the prophet Amos said, they shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them,” Netanyahu said. “They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine. They shall till gardens and eat their fruit. And I will plant them upon their soil never to be uprooted again. Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel have come home never to be uprooted again.”
Netanyahu also alluded in the speech to the Biblical prophecies of a Persian king named “Cyrus” that would rise up one day and set the Jewish people free from captivity. “The Jewish people’s odyssey through time has taught us two things: Never give up hope, always remain vigilant. Hope charts the future. Vigilance protects it,” Netanyahu said. “Today our hope for the future is challenged by a nuclear-armed Iran that seeks our destruction. But I want you to know, that wasn’t always the case. Some 2,500 years ago the great Persian king Cyrus ended the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people. He issued a famous edict in which he proclaimed the right of the Jews to return to the land of Israel and rebuild the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. That’s a Persian decree. And thus began an historic friendship between the Jews and the Persians that lasted until modern times.”
Isaiah was the Hebrew prophet who prophesied that a great Persian king named “Cyrus” would emerge one day to bless the Jewish people, release them from captivity, send them back to the land of Israel, and rebuild the city of Jerusalem. (See Isaiah 44:28 through 45:13.)
A Persian king named “Cyrus” did, in fact, emerge to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecies.
I don’t personally recall a single other Israeli leader in the modern era who has spoken so clearly of the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Netanyahu’s interest in the Scriptures has been growing significantly in recent years, as I have noted on the blog, and are increasingly pronounced in his public statements. At a speech at the Auschwitz death camp in 2009, for example, Netanyahu declared that the prophecies of Ezekiel 37 — the dry bones of the Jewish people coming back together miraculously to form the State of Israel — had come to pass in his lifetime.
The declaration by an Israeli leader of the importance of the Bible to Jewish lives, and to all humanity, in our modern times should not be underestimated.
During the 2013 Epicenter Conference we held in Jerusalem in July, I noted in my opening message that “amidst the terrible geopolitical crises in Syria and Egypt — and the nuclear threat growing from Iran — the Middle East faces a far greater crisis: the absolute disconnect between the people and the Word of God. Israel and the Middle East is the land where the Bible was written. Yet most of the people in the epicenter have never read the Word of God.” How sad.
Only 16% of Israeli Jews say they ever read the Hebrew Bible known as the Tanakh (the five books of Moses, the prophets and the writings), according to a sweeping survey of Israeli attitudes towards faith conducted by the Guttmann Institute and the Israel Democracy Institute in 2009. The vast majority of Arab Muslims have never even seen a Bible, much less read one. Is there really any wonder then that if the half billion people in this region don’t know God’s Word, that they are not experiencing His peace, much less peace between nations and ethnic groups?
This is why the theme of the 2013 Epicenter Conference was, “The Power of the Word.” Only the Bible — the very words of the Living God — has the power to save souls, change lives, bring hope, and bring “peace that passeth all understanding.”
As you begin the new year, I would encourage you to watch or listen to the messages from the conference, all of which are posted online at http://www.epicenterconference.com/.
Guest post by Brian Kelly
Picture a woman going to register to vote in New Jersey only to find the State has passed a law requiring her to undergo a background check, pay a fee, show proficiency in civics and, after meeting all those requirements, having to write a summary justifying her Need to vote.
Now, after attempting to justify her need to exercise her right (let that statement sink in) she is denied by a judge who has arbitrarily determined that she didn’t have an urgent need to vote.
That judge’s lover and the local police chief’s sister-in-law however have miraculously passed all the above hurtles and can freely exercise that right with gleeful abandon.
Too farfetched? How about in the aftermath of 911, New Jersey passes a law requiring anyone wishing to practice Islam must apply for an Islam permit and show ‘justifiable need’ to pray to Allah. The State justifies this by claiming a large amount of terrorists are Islamic and therefore the Islam Permits will only be issued to very few people in order to protect the public, after all they can’t have NJ turn into the Gaza Strip.
If you find these examples offensive, you should, as they clearly violate an American’s rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and no amount of fearful justification merits such infringement. Unfortunately that same, arbitrary, subjective standard applies to most New Jersian’s right to protect themselves and their loved ones in public with a firearm.
New Jersey’s ‘Justifiable Need’ requirement to obtain a carry permit is the self defense equivalent of ‘Separate but Equal’ Jim Crow laws.
In a recent Appeal (http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a3704-11.pdf) the judiciary continued to defend the reprehensible concept of ‘justifiable need’. “applicants for carry permits generally must show “‘an urgent necessity . . . for self-protection’” by pointing to “specific threats or previous attacks demonstrating a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by other means.” Preis, supra, 118 N.J. at 571 (quoting Siccardi, supra, 59 N.J. at A-3704-11T4 17 557).”
Think about that for a second. So in order to show you need to carry a weapon for self-defense, which is a basic human right, guaranteed by the constitution, you have to first suffer an attack. So in the case of the recent Short Hills Mall Shooting, now that the victim is dead at the hands of violent criminals, he might meet the ‘justifiable need’ which doesn’t do him or his grieving family any good now.
It is tantamount to the government claiming you have no justifiable need to carry an umbrella because it isn’t currently raining. Ask yourself why do we as law abiding citizens have to wait until we are raped, beaten and killed before the State can see fit to grant us a right to self-defense which is a basic human right dating back to caveman times?
The other justification sited for the clear infringement on our right to defend ourselves before we are crime statistics is unfounded fear, “And the demonstration of particularized need that serves to limit “widespread handgun possession in the streets, somewhat reminiscent of frontier days, would not be at all in the public interest.” Siccardi, supra, 59 N.J. at 558.”
This is completely proven false by the overwhelming data available from the 41 states that actually allow their citizens to carry concealed weapons, five of which are Constitutional Carry not requiring any separate permit.
They have not turned into the Wild West with people shooting each other over parking spaces. In fact, in every state that has enabled their citizens to protect themselves with a firearm violent crime has gone down across the board. Here in NJ, violent criminals know they have little to fear from their disarmed, helpless victims unlike the majority of the other States in the Union where a criminal cannot be sure their target is defenseless.
The bottom line is, we are on our own and responsible for the defense of ourselves and our loved ones. The Supreme Court ruled that individuals have no right to expect protection from the police. (Castle Rock v. Gonzales, No. 04-278). It was also held the Police do not have a duty to provide police services to individuals (Warren v. District of Columbia). We are on our own when the majority of violent crime occurs and we require the means by which to defend ourselves. You ask for ‘Justifiable Need’ and the answer is simple, self evident and at the core of our founding as a nation.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.
If you are uncomfortable and wouldn’t dream of owning, let alone carrying a gun for protection that’s ok. Please, don’t deny law abiding citizens, like myself, the right a large majority of States already afford their citizens. My ability to carry is not only my best chance to protect myself and my loved ones; it could also save you and yours. In conclusion I leave you with the words of Thomas Paine from Thoughts On Defensive War,
“[A]rms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. . . Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.”
Hat tip: BadBlue Gun News.