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TBR News June 11, 2018

Jun 11 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 11, 2018: “A group, totally off the screen, not Muslim and probably American-based, have managed to crack the entrance information into the electronic, international banking wire and transfer system. These are:

  • SWIFT (Bruxelles)

Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions

  • CHAPS (London)

Clearing House Automated Payments System

  • CHIPS (New York) – Private Sector

Clearing House Interbank Payments System

  • FEDWIRE (New York) – US Government

Fedwire Funds Service

If, as the German reports have rumored, someone or some group successfully sabotages these systems, the world of international banking and the entire country would suffer a terrible blow that would take months, if not years, to recover from. Billions of dollars in bank transfers would vanish instantly and replicating the data, if the attackers know what they are doing, would take eons to try to replace. For instance, the BofA transfers $200.000,000 to a bank in Germany and in a nano second, the transfer vanishes. No money is sent and none received. I do not know if this operation is connected with other very disruptive activities that our Brave Defenders of Liberty are trying to track but the Germans seem to feel that the elements involved are not Arabs or Russians but Americans because of the idiomatic English in the messages they have decoded.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump lashes out again at allies over trade deficit and NATO spending
  • ‘Fair trade, fool trade’, Trump’s tweets spew ire on NATO allies, Trudeau
  • G7: Fact checking Trump’s tweets about trade
  • Trump’s trade tariffs pushing Europe closer to China & Russia
  • EU will act against U.S. tariffs on steel, aluminum: Merkel
  • Supreme Court upholds Ohio voter registration purge policy
  • Trump’s coal, nuclear bailout no shield from hackers: cyber experts
  • The great Js all die young — Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jesus.
  • The Second Coming
  • Poll shows deep divisions between Israeli and American Jews

 

Donald Trump lashes out again at allies over trade deficit and NATO spending

The US president has continued his verbal attacks on some of his country’s closest allies following a divisive G7 meeting. Germany came in for its share of lambasting over its NATO contributions.

June 11, 2018

DW

US President Donald Trump on Monday continued his vitriolic attacks on several close allies in the wake of his early departure from an unusually discordant G7 meeting in Canada, which saw him withdraw US support for a joint communique.

From Singapore, where he is set to hold a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he unleashed a volley of angry tweets targeting the European Union, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NATO allies, including Germany.

“Fair trade is now to be called fool trade if it is not reciprocal,” he wrote in one tweet that then went on to accuse Canada of imposing unfair tariffs on US dairy products.

“Sorry, we cannot let our friends, or enemies, take advantage of us on trade anymore. We must put the American worker first!” he later wrote.

NATO complaints

Trump also slammed Europe, writing: “The US pays close to the entire cost of NATO — protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on trade … The European Union had a $151 billion surplus — should pay much more for military!”

He singled out Berlin for criticism over its contributions to NATO, echoing previous remarks he has made.

“Germany pays 1 percent (slowly) of GDP towards NATO, while we pay 4 percent of a MUCH larger GDP,” he wrote, saying that the US was protecting Europe and being “clobbered on trade” in return.

US ambassador to Germany ‘confident’

Trump’s renewed comments on trade come amid a growing dispute between Washington and its top allies.

The president has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Europe, Canada and Mexico, fueling fears of a trade war as a number of countries mull retaliatory measures.

However, despite Trump’s heated rhetoric, the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, has expressed confidence that the trade conflict can be settled, but said it would take some time.

In comments published on Monday, he told newspapers from the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland association that “everyone knows how much is at stake.”

In view of threatened US tariffs on car imports, which would particularly affect Germany, Grenell said that he was a “big car fan” and knew how important the industry was.

Grenell is a somewhat contentious figure in Germany. He came under criticism last week for interview comments in which he vowed to “empower” right-wing movements in Europe, drawing fire for what many saw as illegitimate meddling in the democratic process.

 

‘Fair trade, fool trade’, Trump’s tweets spew ire on NATO allies, Trudeau

June 11, 2018

by Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom

Reuters

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump fired off a volley of tweets on Monday venting anger on NATO allies, the European Union and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the wake of a divisive G7 meeting over the weekend.

The escalating clash over trade between Washington and some of its closest global partners cast a cloud over Trump’s efforts to make history in nuclear talks in Singapore on Tuesday with Kim Jong Un of North Korea, one of America’s bitterest foes.

Having left the Group of Seven summit in Canada early, Trump’s announcement that he was backing out of the joint communique torpedoed what appeared to be a fragile consensus on the trade dispute between Washington and its top allies.

“Fair trade is now to be called fool trade if it is not reciprocal,” said Trump, who flew from Canada to Singapore on Sunday to prepare for the first-ever summit between a U.S. and North Korean leader.

“Sorry, we cannot let our friends, or enemies, take advantage of us on trade anymore. We must put the American worker first!”

The communique, which had appeared to have papered over the cracks that surfaced so uncharacteristically at the G7, said the leaders of the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Japan were agreed on the need for “free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade” and the importance of fighting protectionism.

“We strive to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies,” the statement said, which came despite Washington appearing intent on taking more punitive steps on trade.

Trump’s extraordinary outburst on Monday against NATO allies, the European Union and Canada appeared aimed at striking a chord with voters who support his “America First” agenda.

At the same time, however, it put Trump in the position of going into a crucial summit at odds with countries he needs on his side to pressure North Korea to move toward dismantling a nuclear arsenal that threatens the United States.

“Not fair to the people of America! $800 billion trade deficit,” he said. “Why should I, as president of the United State, allow countries to continue to make massive trade surpluses, as they have for decades, while our farmers, workers & taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay?”

It was left to Trump’s aides to figure out how to explain Trump’s airing of grievances against trading partners instead of focusing on his coming talks with Kim, which the president’s supporters hope will provide him with a major foreign policy win.

IRRITANTS WILL BE OVERCOME

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised European countries for helping to bring about the North Korea summit, alluding to their enforcement of sanctions against Pyongyang. He expressed confidence that U.S. relations with other G7 countries would continue to move forward, despite the weekend clash in Canada.

“There are always irritants in relationships,” Pompeo told reporters. He dismissed as “ludicrous” the notion that Kim would decide he could not trust the United States because of the G7 dispute.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said Trump was “rattling the cages right now on trade,” insisting there was no reason to believe there would be any negative fallout for the North Korea summit. “These are really unrelated baskets of issues.”

But one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged: “The timing for all this is not very good at all.”

The prospect that Trump could be moving toward an even greater protectionist trade policy is likely to chill financial markets worried about tit-for-tat escalation that could lead to a full-blown global trade war.

“Business confidence, and subsequently capital spending, is at risk if this tension continues through the summer,” said Tai Hui, J.P. Morgan Asset Management Chief Market Strategist for Asia Pacific. “This could cast a long shadow over global growth, which has rebounded in recent weeks after a soft start to the year.”

Nevertheless, markets were relatively calm on Monday after an early wobble.

Trump also lambasted fellow members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) for paying disproportionately less than the United States to maintain the Western alliance.

“The U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO – protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on trade (they pay only a fraction of the cost – and laugh!),” he tweeted. “The European Union had a $151 billion surplus – should pay much more for military!”

“Germany pays 1 percent (slowly) of GDP toward NATO, while we pay 4 percent of a much larger GDP. Does anybody believe that makes sense?”

“We protect Europe (which is good) at great financial loss, and then get unfairly clobbered on trade. Change is coming!”

Trump also renewed attacks on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had hosted the G7 meeting in Quebec.

“Justin acts hurt when called out!” the U.S. president said in his latest Tweet. On Saturday, he called the Canadian prime minister “very dishonest and weak.”

PLACE IN HEAVEN

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow accused Trudeau of betraying Trump with “polarizing” statements on trade policy that risked making the U.S. leader look weak ahead of the historic summit with Kim.

“(Trudeau) really kind of stabbed us in the back,” Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council who had accompanied Trump to Canada, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Trade adviser Peter Navarro told “Fox News Sunday” that “there is a special place in hell for any leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy” with Trump.

Pompeo, at the Singapore briefing, pointedly ignored a reporter’s question about Navarro’s comment and left the podium while he was being pressed for an answer.

Trudeau, in Quebec City for bilateral meetings with non-G7 leaders after the summit, did not comment as he arrived.

But he got direct personal support from some European leaders.

British Prime Minister Theresa May “is fully supportive” of Trudeau and his leadership, a senior UK government source said, while European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: “There is a special place in heaven for @JustinTrudeau.”

Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom and Vidya Ranganathan in Singapore; Marius Zaharia in Hong Kong; Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

 

G7: Fact checking Trump’s tweets about trade

June 11, 2018

by Andrew Walker

BBC World Service economics correspondent

BBC

President Trump has lashed out at his partners in the G7 group of leading rich economies following a summit in Canada.

He wrote some highly critical tweets which appear to be a response to comments from the host, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said that Canada would respond to new tariffs – taxes on imports – imposed by the US on steel and aluminum.

President Trump’s tweets complained about the defence spending of US allies (too low in his view) and the trade barriers they impose (too high).

He also reminded the world that he is considering extra tariffs on imports of cars.

So does he have a point?

On trade he mentioned the possibility of further tariffs on “automobiles flooding the US market “.

It is certainly true that the US imports more cars than it exports. Last year, the US exported 52 billion dollars’ worth of passenger cars but imported more than three times that amount.

It’s also true that the US tariff on imported cars is relatively low – 2.5% compared to the EU’s 10%, although Japan’s are zero.

But it’s often possible to pick particular products to make a point about how unfair a particular country is.

In the case of the US, you could take its tariffs of 25% on light vans.

To get a better indication of how much a country protects its own industry it makes more sense to look at average tariffs. There are several ways of calculating an average but the general picture that emerges is that the US has tariffs that are among the lowest. Other rich countries do tend to have slightly higher averages, though not by very much.

If we pick out agriculture, then the developed countries, including the US, do generally have higher tariffs than for industrial goods.

For farm trade the US averages are lower than other rich countries by a more significant margin.

President Trump in one of his latest tweets complained about Canada’s 270% tariff on dairy imports. Canada does indeed have a highly regulated and protected dairy sector and one of the tariffs (on a specific type of dairy product) listed in the World Trade Organization database is indeed precisely that. There are others that are in the same very high range.

But the levels of tariffs that countries impose are to a large extent the outcome of negotiated agreements – globally within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or between smaller groups of countries with trade deals such as the US, Canada and Mexico in the North American Trade Agreement (Nafta).

That is why President Trump often criticises previous administrations over the trade deals they have done.

He also often uses trade imbalances as evidence to demonstrate his view that the US is treated unfairly.

It is indeed true that the US has a deficit with the rest of the world – it imports more than it exports, to the tune of about half a trillion dollars. President Trump gave a larger figure of $800 billion, which is the deficit for goods only. It’s partly offset by a surplus in services.

In any event most economists take the view that the trade balance is driven by savings and investment rather than trade policies. If a country saves less than it invests, it will have a trade deficit.

In another tweet, President Trump complained about the EU and Canada imposing what he called “non-monetary trade barriers against the US”.

All countries have them, usually known as non-tariff barriers, or NTBs. There is a wide range. They include regulatory restrictions for safety or environmental reasons, labelling rules and restrictions on who can provide certain services.

Compared with tariffs, NTBs are much harder to quantify and compare.

There is often a perfectly good reason for the rules, but they can also make it more difficult for suppliers in other countries and it is possible that in some cases that is the aim.

To take some examples of NTBs in agriculture and food – and there are examples in many other areas too – US farm groups often complain that their products are excluded from the EU market by rules limiting the use of genetically modified crops, hormones in cattle and the now famous issue of chicken washed with chlorine.

The US also has its own regulatory barriers, including for example restrictions on some offal and on cheese made from unpasteurized milk. Haggis and many European cheeses are excluded by these rules.

On defence, President Trump wrote “….the U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO”.

The US accounts for more than two thirds of all defence spending by Nato members. In terms of total defence spending, Nato has a guideline for its members – 2% of national income or GDP. The US is one of only six countries that meet the target (the UK is another).

Calling that “close to the entire cost” is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but there is no question that the US does carry far more than its share of the financial burden.

He gave specific figures for the US (4% of GDP) and Germany (1%). The figures are correct but rounded to the nearest whole number. According to Nato the figures for 2017 are 3.58% for the US and 1.22% for Germany. That’s a large gap, although rounding the numbers makes it look even bigger.

These figures refer to all defence spending. Spending on Nato’s own costs is allocated in line with national GDP. The US pays 22.1% and Germany 14.8%.

But this is a very small share of defence spending. It makes more sense to focus on total budgets in this area. A Nato official put it like this:

“These national figures can be considered indirect contributions to NATO, because Allied armed forces contribute to our collective security.”

 

Trump’s trade tariffs pushing Europe closer to China & Russia

June 10, 2018

RT

US President Donald Trump’s introduction of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the EU will force them to build new trade ties, professor at Aalto University and CUHK, Carl F. Fey, told RT.

“US actions will surely push the EU to strengthen trade relationships with other countries such as China. Russia, being a near neighbor could also benefit,” he told RT, adding “it’s unlikely that short-term this will cause the EU to lift sanctions against Russia.”

According to the expert, “One of the largest political results of US actions is likely to be that it will have more difficult in getting the EU, which basically agrees with many of the US complaints against China, to join them in unison in their trade actions against China.”

US President Donald Trump’s introduction of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the EU will force them to build new trade ties, professor at Aalto University and CUHK, Carl F. Fey, told RT.

“US actions will surely push the EU to strengthen trade relationships with other countries such as China. Russia, being a near neighbor could also benefit,” he told RT, adding “it’s unlikely that short-term this will cause the EU to lift sanctions against Russia.”

According to the expert, “One of the largest political results of US actions is likely to be that it will have more difficult in getting the EU, which basically agrees with many of the US complaints against China, to join them in unison in their trade actions against China.”

Fey agreed with Trump’s statement that the US has not had as great trade deals historically as it could have, but he strongly disagrees with the president’s approach. “As Trump seeks to renegotiate/rebalance these arrangements it will end up being at the expenses of trading partners to some degree,” he points out.

Implementing tariffs is not the way to go, Fey said. “In my view, and the view of most economists and business professors, normally nobody wins in a trade war.”

Fey pointed out the irony that it was the US that historically has been the leader pushing the world towards free-trade, and now it is making a substantial switch to being against it. “Recent US actions in implementing new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from its closest allies like the EU and Canada do not seem the way to behave towards allies,” said Fey. He explained it is dangerous when one country introduces tariffs to protect strategically important industries while other countries will then react similarly, and then the US should not complain.

It is a dangerous game with a slippery downward slope,” the professor stressed.

According to Fey, the EU has made a swift and unified response to US trade actions imposing its own counter tariffs on select US goods. It has wisely chosen the goods to place tariffs on, he said, while “key swing states in the US are dependent on exports.”

“The real test for the EU, however, will come as negotiations with the US move forward since different countries in the EU are dependent on exporting products from different industries.”

 

EU will act against U.S. tariffs on steel, aluminum: Merkel

June 10, 2018

by Michael Nienaber

Reuters

BERLIN (Reuters) – Europe will implement counter-measures against U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum just like Canada, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday, voicing regret about President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw support for a G7 communique. Trump’s announcement on Twitter, after leaving the Group of Seven summit in Canada early, that he was backing out of the joint communique torpedoed what appeared to be a fragile consensus on a trade dispute between Washington and its top allies.

“The withdrawal, so to speak, via tweet is of course … sobering and a bit depressing,” Merkel said in an ARD television interview following the G7 summit.

The summit did not mark the end of the transatlantic partnership between Europe and the U.S., Merkel said. But she repeated that Europe could no longer rely on its ally and should take its fate into its own hands.

Like Canada, the European Union is preparing counter-measures against U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, in line with World Trade Organisation rules, Merkel said.

“So we won’t let ourselves be ripped off again and again. Instead, we act then too,” Merkel said in an unusually combative tone.

Asked if she was concerned that Trump could retaliate against EU counter-measures by imposing tariffs on cars, Merkel said: “First of all, we’ll try and see if we can prevent this… And then hope that the EU will respond again in the same unity.”

Merkel said the G7 leaders had agreed to review their trade ties and assess the scope of existing tariffs in order to avoid further trade barriers.

The center-right leader said a tariff-free area among G7 allies would be an ideal outcome, but she made clear that any talks about such a trade bloc would have to include non-tariff barriers to trade as well as free access to public tenders.

Turning to Russia, Merkel said she could imagine Moscow re-joining the G7 format at some point, but there first had to be progress in the implementation of the peace plan for Ukraine.

Russia was pushed out of what was then the G8 after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Merkel said she expected Italy’s new coalition government to vote for the extension of European sanctions against Russia.

Touching the thorny issue of Germany’s relatively low defense spending, Merkel acknowledged that Trump’s criticism was partly correct and that Berlin had to do more to reach NATO’s goal of spending to 2 percent of economic output on defense.

“Trump is in a way right. And that’s why we need to increase our defense spending,” Merkel said.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber, additional reporting by Andreas Rinke, editing by Larry King

 

Supreme Court upholds Ohio voter registration purge policy

June 11, 2018

by Andrew Chung

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday revived Ohio’s contentious policy of purging infrequent voters from registration rolls in a ruling powered by the five conservative justices and denounced by liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor as an endorsement of the disenfranchisement of minority and low-income people.

In the 5-4 decision in a closely watched voting rights case in which all four liberal justices dissented, the high court overturned a lower court’s ruling that Ohio’s policy violated the National Voter Registration Act, a 1993 federal law that forbade removing voters from registration lists for failing to vote.

Voters purged from registration rolls who sued to challenge the policy in the Republican-governed state argued that the practice illegally erased thousands of voters from registration rolls and disproportionately impacted racial minorities and poor people who tend to back Democratic candidates.

The state said the policy was needed to keep voting rolls current, clearing out people who have moved away or died.

Under Ohio’s policy, if registered voters miss voting for two years, they are sent registration confirmation notices. If they do not respond and do not vote over the following four years, they are purged.

Republican President Donald Trump’s administration backed Ohio, reversing the stance taken by Democratic former President Barack Obama’s administration against the policy.

“This decision is validation of Ohio’s efforts to clean up the voter rolls and now with the blessing (of the) nation’s highest court, it can serve as a model for other states to use,” Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said the court was not deciding whether Ohio’s policy “is the ideal method for keeping its voting rolls up to date. The only question before us is whether it violates federal law. It does not.”

Democrats have accused Republicans of taking steps at the state level, including laws requiring certain types of government-issued identification, intended to suppress the vote of minorities, poor people and others who generally favor Democratic candidates.

The challengers criticized what they called Ohio’s “use it or lose it” policy that they said violated registered voters’ right to choose when to vote, noting that some voters do not cast a ballot when they do not support any of the candidates running.

The 1993 federal law, known by its acronym NVRA, was enacted to make it easier to register. Many states over the decades had erected to voting, sometimes targeting black voters.

In a dissenting opinion, Sotomayor said the ruling “ignores the history of voter suppression against which the NVRA was enacted and upholds a program that appears to further the very disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters that Congress set out to eradicate.”

Major cases before the U.S. Supreme Court: tmsnrt.rs/2Mjahov

‘BLATANT UNFAIRNESS’

“Communities that are disproportionately affected by unnecessarily harsh registration laws should not tolerate efforts to marginalize their influence in the political process, nor should allies who recognize blatant unfairness stand idly by,” added Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

A 2016 Reuters analysis found roughly twice the rate of voter purging in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods in Ohio’s three largest counties as in Republican-leaning neighborhoods.

The challengers, represented by liberal advocacy group Demos and the American Civil Liberties Union, sued Husted in 2016 to end the policy. One of the lead plaintiffs was software engineer and U.S. Navy veteran Larry Harmon, who was registered but blocked from voting in a 2015 marijuana-legalization initiative.

Demos attorney Stuart Naifeh criticized the ruling.

“If states take today’s decision as a sign that they can be even more reckless and kick eligible voters off the rolls, we will fight back in the courts, the legislatures and with our community partners across the country,” Naifeh said.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2016 blocked Ohio’s policy, prompting the state’s appeal to the Supreme Court. Ohio’s policy would have barred more than 7,500 voters from casting a ballot in the presidential 2016 election had the appeals court not ruled against the state, according to court papers.

Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, in a dissent joined by the other liberal justices, said, “Using a registrant’s failure to vote is not a reasonable method for identifying voters whose registrations are likely invalid.” Since people tend not to send confirmation notices back to the government, it is not a reliable way to determine whether someone has moved away or not, Breyer added.

The challengers said there are six states that remove voters from their registration lists for failure to vote, but that Ohio is the most aggressive.

The decision marked the second time in three weeks that Trump’s administration was on the winning side of a Supreme Court case after reversing an Obama-era position, following a May 21 ruling allowing companies to require workers to sign away their ability to bring class-action claims against management.

Reporting by Andrew Chung; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham

 

Trump’s coal, nuclear bailout no shield from hackers: cyber experts

June 11, 2018

by Timothy Gardner

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Bailing out nuclear and coal-fired power plants will not toughen the U.S. power grid against cyber attacks as the Trump administration claims, according to cyber experts, because hackers have a wide array of options for hitting electric infrastructure and nuclear facilities that are high-profile targets.

U.S. President Donald Trump this month directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take emergency steps to stem a surge in coal and nuclear plant retirements in recent years, arguing that more shutdowns would leave the country less able to bounce back from disruptions caused by storms, physical attacks, and hackers.

The announcement came as the National Security Council debated a Department of Energy (DOE) memo that said cyber and physical threats are “minimized” at nuclear and coal plants because they can store months of fuel on site to survive a supply cut – unlike natural gas facilities that rely on pipeline networks, or wind and solar installations that need the right weather.

While the administration had been arguing for months that “fuel secure” facilities were important to America’s ability to rebound from storms and physical attacks, its efforts to link plant closures with protection from cyber attacks appeared to open a new front in its support for the coal and nuclear industries.

Chris Bronk, a professor of computer and information systems at the University of Houston, said he could not endorse the idea.

“I don’t see where a policy of keeping open aging infrastructure that would shut unless there was federal markets intervention keeps us any safer from cyber attacks,” he said.

Bronk said coal plants, train deliveries and transmission systems are just as susceptible to hackers as gas pipelines, and added that, while nuclear facilities are tough targets, the stakes involved in a successful nuclear cyber attack are enormous – potentially involving an accident that leaks radioactivity and hits surrounding communities.

Nuclear power backers stress that reactors are protected from hackers by so called “air gaps” isolating them from unsecured networks.

But Bronk said air gaps are not impervious to attackers that may seek to gain information such as worker and maintenance schedules from administrative networks over long periods of time.

“Those are the control systems that frighten me to no end,” Bronk said.

Sergio Caltagirone, the director of threat intelligence at cyber security company Dragos, agreed that bailing out nuclear and coal plants offers little protection.

“I do not expect this policy shift to deliver any additional cyber security resilience based on the threats we’re actively monitoring,” Caltagirone said.

“ONE FELL SWOOP”

A DOE official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the agency recognizes that cyber security risk permeates every energy source.

But the official said there is concern that natural gas’s role has grown too rapidly in the last decade, making the grid vulnerable to hacks on pipelines that could knock out 10 to 15 natural gas plants “in one fell swoop.”

While the administration talks about gas pipelines, nuclear plants have also been attacked.

In March, the Trump administration blamed Russia for seeking to penetrate multiple types of infrastructure including nuclear, water and manufacturing.

And last July, news reports said Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp, which runs a nuclear power plant in Kansas, had been targeted by hackers. Wolf Creek said there was no operational damage and sensitive systems were separate from the corporate network.

Ben Garber, a cyber security engineer for Ultra Electronics, 3eTI, said the government should put greater focus on encouraging power utilities to strengthen security against attacks, as it has with the financial and health industries.

The DOE said in February it is forming an office of cyber security to do that. Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget included $96 million to fund it but Trump has not yet nominated a leader to run it.

Cameron Camp, a researcher at Slovakian anti-virus software maker ESET said the push to subsidize coal and nuclear seemed more about saving blue collar energy jobs than boosting resiliency.

“It’s trying to kill multiple birds with one stone, rather than take a holistic view of the structural problems with the grid itself,” said Camp.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Marguerita Choy

 

Who Cares What Trump “Gives” North Korea at the Summit? What Matters Is Preventing Him From Starting a Nuclear War.

June 11, 2018

by Jon Schwarz

The Intercept

Last March at the Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, D.C., President Donald Trump joked, “I won’t rule out direct talks with Kim Jong Un — I just won’t. As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that’s his problem, not mine.”

This may be the only genuinely funny thing Trump has ever said. And it was funny ’cause it’s true. Trump’s behavior toward North Korea in 2017 was berserk and terrifying. Equally so was his recent hiring of ultrahawk John Bolton — who believes it would be perfectly legal and admirable for the U.S. to attack North Korea right this second — as his national security adviser. Trump’s bombastic exchange of threats with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was a key reason why the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its “Doomsday Clock” to two minutes to midnight, the closest it’s ever been.

Yet the Washington, D.C., foreign policy “Blob” (as dubbed by Ben Rhodes, one of Barack Obama’s top aides) cannot perceive what’s right in front of its face – that the danger in this situation comes almost wholly from the United States in general and Trump in particular. Under these circumstances, Trump’s willingness to spurn the Blob and meet Kim in Singapore on Tuesday is an unmitigated good, and the only thing that matters about the outcome is whether it will place roadblocks between Trump and a catastrophic, potentially nuclear war. Anything beyond that is lagniappe.

The Blob, however, has spent the past several weeks fretting that the U.S. is gifting North Korea with an unearned photo op, or that Trump will be outmaneuvered and duped into an imperfect deal — in other words, concerns that are, at this moment in history, totally irrelevant. Top Senate Democrats have even attacked Trump from the right, demanding that any agreement that provides any sanctions relief to North Korea must require the country to surrender not just its nuclear weapons but all chemical and biological weapons as well.

Daniel Ellsberg, famed for leaking the Pentagon Papers, began his career studying U.S. nuclear strategy at the RAND Corporation. He recently published “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” which warns that the risk of humanity destroying itself with nuclear weapons is far higher than Americans understand. Ellsberg agrees “entirely, and wholeheartedly” that the Blob’s handwringing is ludicrous. “I personally can’t imagine” says Ellsberg, “an agreement that would be worse — which would not be incomparably better — than a war with North Korea.”

The U.S.-North Korea standoff has been called “the Cuban missile crisis in slow motion.” This is accurate, but for reasons that are never discussed in the United States.

The most important thing to understand about the Cuban missile crisis is why there was such a thing, but never an “Italian missile crisis” or a “Turkish missile crisis.” When the Soviet Union stationed nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962, the U.S. found it intolerable because the missiles were just 2,000 kilometers and mere minutes away from Washington, D.C. But the Kennedy administration had already deployed medium-range nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey, about the same distance from Moscow. The Soviets, however, did not immediately engage in nuclear brinkmanship. In other words, the “crisis” part of the Cuban missile crisis was that the U.S. was unwilling to live under the same threat to which we had subjected others.

Exactly the same is true with North Korea. The U.S. has possessed the capacity to destroy North Korea with nuclear weapons for all of North Korea’s existence. But this has never constituted a crisis, even though the U.S. engaged in one of the cruelest air campaigns in history during the Korean War from 1950-53, dropping more conventional bombs on North Korea than we used in the entire Pacific theater during World War II. The situation has only become a crisis now because Kim Jong Un’s regime may be able to do to us some of what we’ve always been able to do to them, and Trump has declared that this cannot stand.

This was the context when Trump threatened North Korea in August 2017 with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” The next month at the United Nations, he insultingly referred to Kim as “Rocket Man” and proclaimed that the U.S. may “have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” One of Trump’s top Senate allies on foreign policy, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, blithely declared that Trump had told him that “There is a military option to destroy … North Korea itself.”

It was tempting to believe that Trump was bluffing as part of some grand scheme, but there’s no evidence of that, especially since Trump is no more capable of conceiving and executing a grand scheme than a golden retriever is. On the contrary, reporting throughout 2017 and early 2018 depicted Trump as focused on plans for an attack on North Korea, with members of his inner circle trying to steer him away from any rash decision. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Trump was prepared to conduct a “very, very brief” war with North Korea that would be “one of the worst catastrophic events in the history of our civilization” with “mass casualties, the likes of which the planet has never seen.”

In any case, even if Trump had been bluffing, his deranged rhetoric by itself made war far more likely. James Blight and Janet Lang are perhaps the premier academic experts on the Cuban missile crisis, and have studied the behavior of its participants based on interviews with officials on all sides. They believe foreign leaders facing Trump in a serious crisis will ask if they can“afford to bet that he is bluffing” and decide the answer is no: “The Cuban missile crisis strongly suggests that you will prepare for nuclear war, and that every preparation you make for that war raises the odds that the war will actually happen.”

The U.S. has never understood, says Blight, the lesson of Cuba’s behavior in 1962, which also applies to North Korea today. The U.S. did not comprehend that Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro was convinced that America was determined to invade and destroy Cuba, and urged Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to immediately use nuclear weapons against the U.S. the moment that American troops landed on the beach — so that Cuba’s sacrifice would have some meaning. “Small, independent, recalcitrant countries dedicated to preserving their sovereignty and dignity, however they define it, have commitment, the willingness to martyr themselves if it comes to that, by taking down as many of the enemy as they can. … They aren’t irrational. They are just committed to their objectives, which we seem never to take seriously.” And whether or not Trump was bluffing, Blight contends, Kim almost certainly is not. “Small countries confronting big countries seldom bluff,” he explains. “They can’t afford to.”

Humanity made it out of the Cuban missile crisis by the skin of our teeth, but until recently, the U.S. appeared ready to roll the dice again, except with Trump as president rather than John F. Kennedy. Everyone on earth is indebted to South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the adroit diplomacy that broke that downward spiral; we’re also fortunate that Trump’s all-consuming lust for ratings is working for rather than against us, for once. There’s even a chance that the summit will lead to genuinely positive outcomes rather than just forestalling Armageddon.

But we should be overwhelmingly grateful if that’s all it does. We should all pray that Tuesday is the beginning of long, drawn-out negotiations — whether extremely successful or empty and fruitless — since as long as discussions continue in any form, it will be exceedingly difficult for Trump to mobilize the necessary support for war. Should we open 37 McDonald’s locations in Pyongyang? Invite Kim Jong Un to the Mar-a-Lago Christmas party? Ask him to host “Saturday Night Live”? Sure, why not. All that truly matters is that the world just holds on until the United States has another president.

 

The great Js all die young — Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jesus.

Jesus H. Christ was born (ironically enough) around five to six years “before Christ” (B.C.) due to a scheduling mixup.

Generally depicted in art as a white guy with blue eyes and dirty blonde hair, the location of Jesus’ birth and his ethnicity suggest that he probably looked a lot more like Osama bin Laden than Brad Pitt. His parentage has been the subject of much controversy. His mother is generally agreed to have been a woman named Mary, and upwards of 2 billion people would make some sort of claim to the effect that his Father was Yahweh, the Jewish God (as opposed to Zeus, Durga, Allah, Jupiter, Anubis, Quetzalcoatl or Keanu Reeves).

The location of his birth is inconsistently reported, even in the Bible. Christmas carols record it as Bethlehem, other accounts say Nazareth, the town in which young Jesus grew to maturity, with his virginal mother and cuckolded father, Joseph.

In the Bible, Jesus was a precocious child, given to lecturing rabbis on the finer points of Talmudic law and chiding his parents for being so attached to him. A few unauthorized biographies of the “mysteriously-not-burnt-by-the-Catholics” variety, such as the Infancy Gospels of James and Thomas, relate salacious anecdotes about the prepubescent Jesus and his Bart Simpson-like antics — such as using divine powers to blind fellow children who presumed to roughhouse with His Fine Self. Don’t have a cow, man!

When Jesus grew to adulthood, he took up preaching as a career choice. In turn-of-the-Aeon Israel, preaching was a hot career much like computer programming in the 1990s. Everyone was doing it. Amidst a crowded field, however, Jesus stood out as an overachiever and soon people were talking. He gathered a core group of 12 groupies, who would later become known as The Apostles, and took his show on the road at age 30.

Jesus’ pitch was something new — he talked about God as a loving, forgiving figure, in sharp contrast to God’s previous reputation as a pillar-of-salt-transforming smiter of iniquity. He also made a name for himself as a miracle-worker, enabling the blind to see and the deaf to hear, casting out demons, walking on lakes, changing water into wine and making the Statue of Liberty disappear during a prime-time special.

Jesus spent a lot of time curing sick people, feeding the masses and disrupting the money-making activities at local temples. These activities did not endear him to the Jewish authorities, who began researching ways to get rid of him. Eventually they settled on the tried and true method of betrayal by a close friend, and hired Judas Iscariot, one of the Apostles, to do the job for 30 pieces of silver.

In a needlessly elaborate Passover plot, Judas led authorities to the Garden of Gethsemane after supper (which would in retrospect be designated “Last”), telling them to arrest the first person he kissed.

The accounts of what followed are somewhat muddled, but the general idea is this: For both political and religious reasons, the Jewish council of priests didn’t want to personally execute Jesus, so they turned him over to the Romans on charges of inciting revolution.

The Roman governor Pontius Pilate was extremely suspicious of this development, since the Jews did not suffer occupation gracefully and there were plots on every street corner. Suspecting he was being set up as the fall guy, Pilate tried to make Jesus somebody else’s problem, but nobody else was interested. Under heavy pressure from the council, Pilate eventually waffled his way through the dilemma by essentially condemning Jesus to death by Crucifixion but insisting it was the Jews’ fault (a deniability strategy that would eventually be cited by the insane Third Reich as a justification for the Holocaust).

The crucifixion went off without a hitch. Jesus was marched up to a hill, nailed to a cross and died. Or did he?

The official story is that Jesus died on the cross, was tossed in a grave but not embalmed (due to the impending Passover Sabbath) and miraculously rose again in three days. Not surprisingly, this account has been the subject of much dispute after the fact.

Again according to the party line, the Risen Jesus spent 40 days hanging with his Apostles, before bodily ascending into Heaven for the duration of human history. When he departed, or so the story goes, Jesus (allegedly) put Peter in charge of the Church, a fateful (alleged) decision that would lead to centuries of bad blood among the various Christian sects.

About five minutes after Jesus was out of the public eye, the controversy began.

It’s universally accepted that Jesus was granted his surname, Christ, around this time. Christ is Greek for “Messiah,” the fabled Jewish savior was foretold in the Old Testament. Prior to this time, the Jewish vision of the Messiah was a bit more conventional, involving Kingship and leading their armies to victory against the Gentiles.

The early Christians usurped the whole Messianic complex and voted Most Likely to Save. After that, things got sticky. Although there are no reliable historical accounts of the first decades of Christianity, the early Christians had divided into camps based on their favorite apostles by 100 A.D. These various sects had a lot of strange ideas, such as the Gnostics, who claimed that Jesus never died on the cross at all.

When the followers of the peaceful and loving Jesus realized that disagreements existed, they naturally began viciously attacking each other. A period of internecine warfare commenced, with the followers of the Peter Tradition coming out victorious. The surviving entity, known as the Roman Catholic Church, proceeded to spend a couple centuries systematically destroying all opposition, only to be completely screwed a thousand years later when Martin Luther nailed a laundry list of complaints to a church door.

The Mormons believe Jesus made a post-Resurrection visit to the future home of the United States, where he befriended Native Americans and notably didn’t give them smallpox. In later years, the discovery of such alleged artifacts as the Shroud of Turin led some researchers to speculate that Jesus H. Christ (no one knows what the H. stands for) didn’t actually die on the cross (but in a different way than the Gnostics believed it).

According to these theories, Jesus was taken down from the cross still alive and nursed back to health. He then sired a child with Mary Magdalene, who took the kid to France and raised him there. The Knights Templar formed to protect this secret, codenamed “Holy Grail,” and the descendants of Jesus eventually became a line of French kings known as the Merovingians (which would then lead to a neat little inside joke in The Matrix Reloaded).

According to this theory, which is far more convoluted and labyrinthine than the above paragraph might suggest, you can actually meet the living descendent of Jesus today. Unfortunately for residents of George W. Bush’s America, he’s a Frenchman — a guy by the name of Pierre Plantard, who runs a not-so-secret-anymore society and generally sits around quietly waiting for the world to acknowledge him.

As for Jesus himself, word has it that there’s a Second Coming in the works, which would in all likelihood be the precursor to the Apocalypse. The Second Coming is scheduled to take place around the time of Armageddon, the final war that concludes the history of humanity and vanquishes the forces of the Antichrist, the chief general of Satan.

All this talk of a Second Coming has naturally led to many mentally unbalanced people to assume they are it, including (but not limited to) David Koresh, Sun Myung Moon, Marshall Applewhite, The Beatles and John Ashcroft.

To date, none of these figures have successfully walked on water or returned from the dead, so the search, such as it is, goes on.

The Second Coming

by Thomas Shutt, DD

Christian Journals Feb/March 2018

In the great push by the American President and his eager Administration to launch a brutal military attack on Iraq, the reasons speculated for this almost hysterical hawkish behavior are varied and uncertain.

Some attribute this unilateral example of naked military aggression to a desire for revenge on behalf of the first Bush president while others consider the vast oil fields of Iraq are a believable goal for the President’s controlling Brain Trust.

Others firmly believe that blind support for the state of Israel is the primary motive for the pending invasion and certain massive loss of life.

It is reasoned that because Israel is afraid of Hussein’s potential to attack them with rockets, American support is vital to protect Israeli lives and property.

It does not matter, of course, how many Americans might die in this process or what kind of domestic terror might be unleashed against the continental United States as long as Israel is made safe.

All of these postulations contain a great deal of logic and, no doubt, truth, but the real reason for the Bush savagery is based upon one word and one word only.

That word is not ‘oil’ or ‘Israel’ but Parousia.

Parousia refers to the Second Coming of Christ as understood by the Christian Pentecostal sect to which former President Bush,  former Attorney General Ashcroft and very influential numbers of his personal suite belonged.

This second coming assumes a first coming (here, the facts are not in evidence ) but the fixation on bringing about the latter appearance is intense and determined.

It is the belief of Pentecostals that when certain conditions are met, Jesus Christ will return to earth, take his elect (the Pentecostals) physically to Paradise in an event known as Rapture. Those not belonging to the Pentecostal elect will have to remain behind for Satan to deal with.

When Parousia happens, there will be a great battle fought at Armageddon between the forces of Jesus and the Devil and his antichrist and Jesus, quite naturally, will be triumphant.

All of this, the Pentecostals assure their membership, can be found in the book of Revelation.

Unfortunately for this interesting thesis, the struggle between good and evil at Armageddon is not found in the book of Revelations. Revelations 16:16 only mentions the name of the long-forgotten town but there is nothing about an epic struggle mentioned anywhere else other than twisted interpretations in Pentecostal cult literature.

In establishing their strange dogma, Pentecostals have had no problem whatsoever eagerly inventing Biblical passages, thoroughly misinterpreting original ones and in general producing a body of belief that is rivaled in fictional utterances and strange beliefs only by L. Ron Hubbard’s manic Scientologists.

The basis for the Pentecostal dogma is the Book of Revelations which reads like a chapter in a textbook on mental disorders.

This strange book was allegedly written by St. John the Devine, a disciple of Jesus when, in fact is believed by most reputable Biblical scholars to have been written by a certain John of Patmos who lived many years after the period ascribed to Christ’s ministry.

John of Patmos was a hermit/monk on the Greek island of Patmos and contemporary historical reference briefly dismisses him as a lunatic. No one has been able to understand a word of what he wrote, and his confused and mystic writings easily lends themselves to all manner of interpretations by various dimwitted and obsessed religious fanatics.

When Martin Luther prepared the Protestant Bible, he discarded Revelations, and other books then found in the Bible, as being ‘unworthy and filled with nonsense.’

The Second Coming has as one of its primary requirements that a Jewish nation must be reestablished in Palestine (which it was in 1948) and, even more important, that the great Jewish temple of Solomon must be rebuilt before Christ can return to earth and elevate his elect.

The first temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians and the more elegant second, by the Romans when they crushed the Jewish revolt in the first century.

Unfortunately for the Pentecostals, the former site of this temple is now occupied by the much-revered Muslim Dome of the Rock mosque.

The Jewish temple cannot be rebuilt, therefore, as long as the Muslim mosque occupies its space and therefore, it would be necessary to destroy this very holy building and replace it with a new edifice of another religion.

However, if this lunatic act were consummated , there would be an immediate and  terrible rising in the Muslim world and a savage religious war would burst forth on an already-ravaged Middle East.

The Pentecostals are, by their very nature, uncaring and fierce fanatics and such a war would, to them, be a fulfillment of the spurious prophecy of the manic Revelation’s non-existent Battle of Armageddon.

Already we can hear comments from prominent Pentecostals that the Muslims are the forces of the anti-Christ and must therefore be engaged by the forces of Jesus in a final hecatomb of blood and destruction. This pending bloodbath means nothing to Pentecostals because, according to their beliefs, they will be safe in Paradise and those left behind are of no consequence

These God-intoxicated fanatics managed to capture the White House and place their people in high official positions within the former Bush Administration.

In the face of all reason and logic, they are pushing a suicidal, hidden agenda that will have terrible consequences for everyone concerned.

In light of this, perhaps it is now far easier to understand what really stands behind the Administration’s apparent fierce determination to invade a shattered and disorganized Iraq while studiously ignoring a very real danger from North Korea’s declared intentions of building nuclear weapons.

After all, North Korea is not mentioned in Pentecostal dogma and there would be no Parousia because of a terrible nuclear war launched by that country.

In spite of the large amount of learned dissertations on the underlying motives for the Bush Administration’s war hysteria, one should note that the simplest answer to a complex problem is always the correct one.

Bush and his co-religionists committed the supreme error of making their personal religious beliefs a matter of state policy, horrifying as it may seem, and instead of elevating their numbers to a mythic paradise, they will most certainly create a wilderness of death and destruction for no sane justifying reason.

Jesus is quoted as saying that he did not come to “bring Peace but a Sword,” and this seems to be the real motivation of his more deranged followers.

St. Augustine [354-430 A.D.], proposed a formula that would enable True Believers to better discern the proximity of the Second Coming of Jesus. St Augustine was an anchorite who lived on top of a rock and ate his body lice. He also had visions which, in more enlightened times would immediately merit a trip to the back wards and the strait jackets. These guideposts make no sense whatsoever and illuminate the theory that in more modern terminology, “prophet” can be best explained by psychiatrists and not theologians.

  1. The return of the prophet Elias
  2. The conversion of the Jews
  3. The persecutions by the forces of the Antichrist; and then…
  4. The Parousia

The return of the prophet Elias.

In the view of the Pentecostals, the return to earth of the Old Testament prophet Elias, who in all probability never existed except in vague Hebrew legend, has been very clearly, to them at least, predicted in the following Biblical passages:

“For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John: 14 and if you will receive it, he is Elias that is to come”. [Matt. 11: 13,14]

Note: Many Pentecostals believe, without any source or logic that John the Baptist was the prophet Elias, the one who according to the prophecy of Malachias (IV: 5) was to come back to the world.

“Behold I [God the Father] will send you Elias the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord”. [Mal. 4: 5]

“But he [Jesus] answering, said to them: Elias indeed shall come, and restore all things. 1 But I say to you, that Elias is already come, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they had a mind. So also the Son of man shall suffer from them. Then the disciples understood, that he [Jesus] had spoken to them of John the Baptist. [Matt. 17: 11- 13]

The third and last manifestation of Elias is finally confirmed, at least in the eager eyes of Pentecostals, by John of Patmos, creator of the Book of Revelations under the guise of one of the: “two witnesses”, “two olive trees”, “two candlesticks” [Rev. 11:3-5]. This “twosome” is considered by some scholars to be Enoch and Elias [according to Scriptures (Eccl. 44:16, 48:9-10 and 49:16), they never died]. By others, the “twosome” is considered to be Moses and Elias. That this makes no sense whatsoever is beside the point. It is garbled enough to be believed, and it is.

Pentecostals  also see references about that mighty “twosome” in Zacharias 4:1-14. Elias is the common figure in either illuminated opinion. Therefore, they do not speak of the return of the prophet Elias without acknowledging the reality of the “two witnesses”,

  1. The Conversion of the Jews.

“For I say to you, you shall not see Me henceforth till you say: Blessed is that cometh in the name of the Lord.”[Matt. 23: 39]

Therefore, according to the Pentecostals muddy reasoning, conversion of the Jews must, for the exact fulfillment of the words of Jesus, also precede the Second Coming. This theory does not please most Jews who want nothing at all to do with such idiocy.

“And again another scripture saith: They shall look on Him whom they pierced”. [John 19:37]

  1. The Persecutions By The Forces Of The Antichrist.

“Let no man deceive you by any means, because the apostasy will come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, the adversary, the one who relishes in whatever is of God or holy, until finally sitting himself in the temple of God, conducting himself as if he were God.”[2] [2Thes. 2: 3,4]

“And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns [2], like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon”. and “And it was given him to give life to the image of the beast, and that the image of the beast should speak; and should cause, that whosoever will not adore the image of the beast, should be slain”. [Rev. 13: 11; 15]

  1. The Parousia

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all tribes of the earth mourn: and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty.”[Matt. 24: 30]

It must be noted that these “tribes” are believed by the Pentecostals to be all the nations of the earth as opposed to the “tribes of Israel”.

Scripture References: John 14:1-6; Acts 1:9-11; Matthew 2425; Luke 21:5-36; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Revelation 1:7; Revelation 19; Zechariah 14; Daniel 2:44-45.

What Is Meant by the Second Coming:

It is the literal, personal, return of the same Jesus who lived on the earth almost 2,000 years ago to the earth.

Just as Jesus’ first coming included various events — birth in Bethlehem, Baptism, Lamb of God, Redeemer at Calvary, so his second coming is believed by Pentecostals  to include a number of events.

The Rapture, “Parusia” (appearing, presence, arrival), secretly, suddenly, to catch away believers (Matthew 24:3651; Luke 17:34-37; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; Revelation 5:8-9).

  1. The Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-28).
  2. The rewarding of the believers to share in His kingdom on earth during the millennium (Revelation 20:1-6; Matthew 15:14-31).
  3. The visible return of Jesus Christ with his saints. to establish the Messianic Kingdom (Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:27-31; 25:31-46; Revelation 19:11-21; Zechariah 14:4-21).

What is Armageddon?

‘Armageddon’ is actually purported to be a battle. According to Pentecostal interpretations, the Bible states that Armageddon will be a battle where God finally comes in and takes over the world and rules it the way it should have been ruled all along. After this vaguely-defined battle of Armageddon, Pentecostals firmly believe that there will follow 1000 years of peace and plenty which, according to their lore and legend, will be the sole lot of their sect and no other religion.

The actual scene of the fictional battle is referred to by Pentecostals as being clearly set forth in Revelation 16:14-16. It is not. The specific citation reads, in full:

“14. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

“15. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

“16. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”

This sparse mention of Armageddon has given rise to the elaborate but entirely fictional legend of the Final Battle between the forces of good and evil. There is no mention in Revelations 16: 14-15 whatsoever of Parusia or the second coming of Jesus, the apocryphal Anti-Christ, the Rapture or the many other delightful inventions designed to bolster the Pentecostal elect and daunt their adversaries. These adversaries consist of all other branches of the Christian religion with especial emphasis placed on Jews and Catholics. The Pentecostals also loathe Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, and an endless list of anyone and everyone whose views clash with theirs such as scientists and any academic who views the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel as anything but tissues of lies.

 

Poll shows deep divisions between Israeli and American Jews

June 10, 2018

AP

JERUSALEM (AP) — An opinion poll published Sunday shows deep divisions between Israelis and American Jews, particularly in relation to President Donald Trump, highlighting the growing rift between the world’s two largest Jewish communities.

The survey of the American Jewish Committee showed 77 percent of Israelis approved of the president’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations, while only 34 percent of American Jews did. Fifty-seven percent of U.S. Jews disapproved, while only 10 percent of Israelis did.

The polarizing Trump recently recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocated the American Embassy there, upending decades of U.S. foreign policy and an international consensus that the city’s fate should be decided through peace negotiations. The Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as their future capital, were outraged by the move and cut all contacts with the U.S. in response.

Eighty-five percent of Israelis supported the embassy move, while only 46 percent of American Jews did.

The AJC surveyed 1,000 Israelis and Americans and had a margin of error of 3.1 and 3.9 percent, respectively.

The survey was released ahead of the opening of the AJC Global Forum in Jerusalem, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address later Sunday.

Netanyahu has forged a close bond with Trump, and their hard-line policies toward the Palestinians have strong support in Israel and among its Republican backers in the U.S. But most American Jews are Democrats who are highly critical of Trump and Netanyahu. Experts have been warning for years that the two communities are drifting in opposite directions politically, undermining the kinship between the two groups, which make up the vast majority of Jews in the world.

The poll showed 59 percent of Americans favoring the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel but only 44 percent of Israelis supporting the idea.

The communities share similar views on the importance of good ties between the “extended family.” But they differ greatly on matters of religion and state, particularly on the ultra-Orthodox monopoly over religious affairs in Israel. The vast majority of American Jews identify as either Reform or Conservative, the more liberal streams of Judaism that have a very small foothold in Israel.

On one of the most contentious issues, regarding a mixed-gender prayer area next to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, 73 percent of American Jews express support, compared to just 42 percent of Israelis.

 

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