Must read: “More Christians died for the faith in the twentieth century than in the previous nineteen centuries of Christian history combined.”

Jesus-onthecrossRead a sobering yet fascinating article this morning about the magnitude of Christian persecution in our age. It was written by George Weigel, the distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Weigel is Catholic and writes from this vantage point in an on-line magazine called, First Things.

Regardless of whether you’re Catholic or Protestant, however, it is worth noting what Weigel is saying, especially in light of Christ’s warning in Matthew 24 that persecution will increase in the last days before His return.

Let us be praying faithfully for persecuted Christians in the Middle East, and around the world.

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Excerpts from article by George Weigel:

We have been living, and we’re living now, in the greatest era of persecution in Christian history.

More Christians died for the faith in the twentieth century than in the previous nineteen centuries of Christian history combined.

And while the character of the persecutors has changed, from the lethal heyday of the twentieth-century totalitarianisms to the first decades of the twenty-first century, the assault on the Christian faithful today is ongoing, extensive, and heart-rending.

Solidarity with the persecuted Church is an obligation of Christian faith. Reflecting on how well each of us has lived that obligation is a worthy point on which to examine one’s conscience during Lent. And that brings me to a suggestion….spend ten minutes a day reading John Allen’s new book, The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution.

 The longtime Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and CNN’s senior Vatican analyst, Allen has recently moved to the Boston Globe as associate editor, where he (and we) will see if talent and resources can combine to deepen a mainstream media outlet’s coverage of all things Catholic, both in print and on the Web.

Meanwhile, Allen will continue the Roman work that has made him the best Anglophone Vatican reporter ever—work that has given him a unique perspective on the world Church, and indeed on world Christianity.

His extensive experience across the globe, and his contacts with everyone who’s anyone in the field of international religious freedom issues, makes him an ideal witness to what he calls, without exaggeration, a global war on Christian believers.

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Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

BREAKING: New Fed Chief Just as Delusional as the Last One

Guest post by Michael Snyder

On Tuesday, new Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen went before Congress and confidently declared that “the economic recovery gained greater traction in the second half of last year” and that “substantial progress has been made in restoring the economy to health”. This resulted in glowing headlines throughout the mainstream media such as this one from USA Today: “Yellen: Economy is improving at moderate pace“. Sadly, tens of millions of Americans are going to believe what the mainstream media is telling them. But it isn’t the truth. As you will see below, there are all sorts of signs that the economy is taking a turn for the worse. And when the next great economic crisis does strike, most Americans will be completely and totally unprepared because they trusted our “leaders” when they told us that everything would be just fine.

It is amazing how deceived people can be. Just consider the case of 56-year-old Brian Perry. He is a former law clerk that has applied for nearly 1,500 jobs since 2008 without any success. But he says that he is “optimistic” that he will get another job soon because he believes that the economy is recovering

By his own count, Brian Perry has applied for nearly 1,500 jobs since being let go as a law clerk in 2008. The 56-year old Perry lives in Rhode Island, where the 9.1 percent unemployment rate is 2.5 percentage points above the national average.

Perry remains optimistic that a job is forthcoming. He thinks a more robust economy would create better opportunities for the long-term unemployed like him.

Let us certainly hope that Perry does find a new job soon. But if he does, it won’t be because we are experiencing an “economic recovery”. Just consider the following facts…

-In January, we were told that the U.S. economy “created” 113,000 new jobs. But that figure was arrived at only after adding a massive seasonal adjustment. In reality, the U.S. economy actually lost 2.87 million jobs in January. During the past decade, the only time the U.S. economy has lost more jobs in January was during 2009. At that time, the U.S. economy was suffering through the peak of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

-Prominent retailers are closing hundreds of stores all over the United States. Things have gotten so bad that some are calling this a “retail apocalypse“…

  • JC Penney, which lost $ 586 million in three months in 2013, is planning to close 33 stores in 19 states and lay off 2,000 people. JC Penney’s stock has lost 84 percent of its value since February 2012.
  • Sears has decided to shut down its flagship store in Downtown Chicago, and it has closed 300 stores in the United States since 2010. Stock analyst Brian Sozzi noted that Sear’s inventory levels have fallen by 23.7 percent since 2006. He also noted that Sears had $ 4.4 billion in cash and equivalents in 2005 but $ 609 million in cash and equivalents in 2012. Sozzi, who calls himself a guerrilla analyst, has a blog full of disturbing pictures of empty Sears stores.
  • Macy’s, one of the few retail success stories, is planning to close five stores and eliminate 2,500 jobs.
  • Radio Shack is preparing to close 500 stores, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • Best Buy recently closed 50 stores and eliminated 950 jobs at stores in Canada.
  • Target announced plans to eliminate 475 jobs and not fill 700 empty positions to reduce costs.
  • Aeropostale is planning to close 175 stores.
  • Blockbuster has closed down all of its stores.

-McDonald’s is reporting that sales at established U.S. locations were down 3.3 percent in January.

-In January, real disposable income in the U.S. experienced the largest year over year decline that we have seen since 1974.

-As I wrote about the other day, the number of “planned job cuts” in January was 12 percent higher than 12 months earlier, and it was actually 47 percent higher than in December.

-Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

-What is happening to the U.S. stock market right now very closely resembles what happened to the U.S. stock market just before the horrific stock market crash of 1929. Just check out the chart in this article.

For dozens more statistics that show that the U.S. economy is not improving, please see this article and this article.

Meanwhile, things continue to unravel all around the rest of the globe as well.

In previous articles, I have detailed how the reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve has inflated massive financial bubbles in emerging markets all over the planet. Now that the Fed is “tapering”, those bubbles are starting to burst and we are witnessing a tremendous amount of economic chaos. Here are three more examples…

#1 Ghana:

Ghanaian Economist Dr. Theo Richardson says Ghana’s economy will crash by June this year if the Bank of Ghana continues with its kneejerk measures to rescue the cedi.

“The government is facing liquidity problems and if we don’t get the appropriate remedies to address the issues at hand the situation may worsen and by June the economy may crash,” Dr. Richardson said.

#2 Kazakhstan:

With only $ 24.5 billion left in FX reserves after valiantly defending major capital outflows since the Fed’s Taper announcement, the Kazakhstan central bank has devalued the currency (Tenge) by 19% – its largest adjustment since 2009. At 185 KZT to the USD, this is the weakest the currency has ever been as the central bank cites weakness in the Russian Ruble and “speculation” against its currency as drivers of the outflows (which will be “exhausted” by this devaluation according to the bank). The new level will improve the country’s competitiveness (they are potassium heavy) but one wonders whether, unless Yellen folds whether it will help the outflows at all.

#3 India:

In the wake of a global stock market sell-off driven by worries over slower growth in emerging markets, the head of India’s central bank, Raghuram Rajan, criticized the U.S. Federal Reserve as it pressed on with plans to dial back its monthly bond purchases: “International monetary co-operation has broken down,” said Rajan, who added that “the U.S. should worry about the effects of its polices on the rest of the world.”

We have reached a “turning point” for the global financial system. Things are beginning to fall apart both in the United States and all around the world.

But at least the dogs at the White House are eating well. Just consider the following photo that was recently tweeted by Michelle Obama

Read more Michael Snyder

Doug Ross @ Journal

CHART: Top 10 sites consuming the most Internet bandwidth

Since I’m not a gamer, I had no idea what “Twitch” is. Not Twitchy. Twitch. And it’s apparently consuming tremendous amounts of bandwidth on the intratubes.

Twitch, the startup which lets players broadcast and watch live streams of video gaming action, is not yet a huge public company. Yet it ranks among these web titans as one of the largest sources of broadband traffic during prime-time hours, according to a new study from the cloud and network infrastructure firm DeepField.

Twitch announced today that is now has more than 1 million different users broadcasting on its platform each month. That helped it push more traffic across the web than big names in the streaming video and music business like Hulu, Amazon, and Pandora. “We don’t keep track of our share of global internet traffic, so that chart was news to us,” says Matt DiPietro, Twitch’s vice president of marketing. “But I think it was gratifying for our infrastructure team to see, because they have been working like crazy to help us keep up.”

The rapid rise in broadcasters is due in part to a new platform for Twitch’s streaming service, a home-console system. Before the release of the newest Playstation and Xbox units, Twitch was for PC gaming only. “About 20 percent of our broadcasters are now coming from the Playstation 4,” says DiPietro. “That shows us there is a whole new audience with a hunger for the ability to stream their games.” Twitch also integrates with the Xbox One, though that feature has not officially rolled out yet.

In order to deal with its rapidly rising bandwidth, Twitch is upgrading its “points of presence” — locations where it owns or rents servers — so that it has enough horsepower near big audience clusters to deliver smooth video. “We just finished a 400 percent expansion to our Chicago site and the same in Stockholm. We are looking to do the same for our audience in Russia, Korea, and Brazil,” notes DiPietro. The company is using the $ 20 million it raised back in September of 2013 to fund this expansion.

But don’t worry, the forthcoming merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is bound to improve Internet performance and customer service!

Doug Ross @ Journal