POPE FRANCIS in ISRAEL +FUKUSHIMA radioation in the US +CONGO: dangerous earthquake in volcanic region +landslides kill 9 in Indonesia + more signs of Jesus’ soon return

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Paul Walker on Christian Faith: ‘Who Couldn’t Believe There’s a God?’

Paul Walker, 40, will best be remembered by the public as the blond-haired, speed-loving, tough guy with a swagger Brian O’Conner of the successful “Fast & Furious” movie franchise. But less known is that Walker, who died in a tragic and fiery car crash on Saturday, was a Christian and had grown up in the Mormon Church. Walker was born on Sept. 12, 1973, in Glendale, Calif., and was raised up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but he graduated from Village Christian School in Sun Valley, Calif. ”I’m a Christian now. The things that drove me crazy growing up was how everyone works at fault-finding with different religions. The people I don’t understand are atheists. I go surfing and snow boarding and I’m always around nature. I look at everything and think, ‘Who couldn’t believe there’s a God? Is all this a mistake?’ It just blows me away,” Walker was quoted as saying by IMDb. The late actor was a non-denominational Christian who in a GQ UK magazine interview talked about how his Christian education and Mormon background influenced his thinking about family. ”It’s so funny, my daughter now lives with me full time and my original plan was to work up until I was 40 then reassess my life, even go in a completely different direction with things,” Walker had told GQ in an August 2013 interview. “I thought at this point in my life I would need to be home with her (16-year-old Meadow Rain Walker), but she wants me to keep acting so she can travel around the world with me. Would that be so bad? ”Thing is, I went to a born-again Christian high school, was brought up in a traditional Mormon family where these ideas about parenting are of structure and sacrifice. To think outside of that idea of family and parenting that I’ve grown up with is tough, but also very freeing.” More

Amazon testing delivery by drone, CEO Bezos says

Amazon.com is testing delivering packages using drones, CEO Jeff Bezos said on the CBS TV news show 60 Minutes Sunday. The idea would be to deliver packages as quickly as possible using the small, unmanned aircraft, through a service the company is calling Prime Air, the CEO said. Bezos played a demo video on 60 Minutes that showed how the aircraft, also known as octocopters, will pick up packages in small yellow buckets at Amazon’s fulfillment centers and fly through the air to deliver items to customers after they hit the buy button online at Amazon.com. The goal of the new delivery system is to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less, the world’s largest Internet retailer said. Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take “some number of years” as Amazon develops the technology further and waits for the Federal Aviation Administration to come up with rules and regulations, the company added. More

Joe Biden To Visit Demilitarized Zone Between North and South Korea

Vice President Joe Biden is preparing to visit the Demilitarized Zone, the heavily armed border between South Korea and North Korea. The White House is releasing details of Biden’s itinerary for his weeklong trip to Asia aimed at showing the U.S. remains focused on the region. Biden departs Sunday for Japan, China and South Korea. Biden will visit the DMZ Saturday following a ceremony honoring U.S. troops who died during the Korean War, which ended 60 years ago. The border visit will likely highlight the conflict over North Korea’s nuclear program. In Tokyo, Biden will meet with Japan’s prime minister and lawmakers. He’ll meet with China’s president in Beijing and with South Korea’s president in Seoul. Biden will also give a speech in South Korea on U.S. policy in Asia. Huff Post

‘The Bible’ Movie Adaptation ‘Son of God’ Trailer Released

Producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey will bring the life of Jesus to theaters in February with their film Son of God. The theatrical trailer released this week, giving audiences a first glimpse of the movie. Son of God, set to hit theaters Feb. 28, will include footage from the hit television series The Bible as well as new scenes. ”Told with the scope and scale of an action epic, the film features powerful performances, exotic locales, dazzling visual effects and a rich orchestral score from Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer,” the movie’s website says. ”Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus as the film spans from His humble birth through His teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection,” it continues. The Bible miniseries director Christopher Spencer directs the film, the first major motion picture about the life of Jesus since Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which released in 2004. Son of God will be distributed by 20th Century Fox. More

Homeschool Organization Joins Fight After Court Orders Children to Attend School for ‘Socialization’

PURCELLVILLE, Va. – A nationally-recognized homeschool organization has filed a friend of the court brief in support of a mother who was homeschooling her children until she was ordered by the court to send them to school to socialize. Therese Cano of Florida has been in an ongoing child visitation battle with her husband, and during the process of arbitration, the court had appointed a psychologist and a guardian ad litem to oversee the matter. During a recent hearing, the psychologist testified that the children, who were being homeschooled by their mother, were doing well academically. However, the guardian ad litem told the court that her “gut reaction” was that the children should be sent to public school where they could socialize with others. As a result, the judge ordered that the children attend public school and lectured Cano about keeping them at home.  “When are they going to socialize?” he asked the mother, according to reports. “Is homeschool going to continue through college and/or professional schooling? At which point are these children going to interact with other children, and isn’t that in their best interest?” Cano’s husband, Alejandro, had raised no objection to the way the children were being schooled. Therefore, following the ruling, Cano contacted the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and explained her story. The organization then decided to file an amicus brief in support of the right to homeschool and to prove that homeschooled children receive adequate socialization.  More

15 Signs That We Are Near The Peak Of An Absolutely Massive Stock Market Bubble

One of the men that won the Nobel Prize for economics this year says that “bubbles look like this” and that he is “most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market.”  But you don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winner to see what is happening.  It should be glaringly apparent to anyone with half a brain.  The financial markets have been soaring while the overall economy has been stagnating.  Reckless injections of liquidity into the financial system by the Federal Reserve have pumped up stock prices to ridiculous extremes, and people are becoming concerned.  In fact, Google searches for the term “stock bubble” are now at the highest level that we have seen since November 2007.  Despite assurances from the mainstream media and the Federal Reserve that everything is just fine, many Americans are beginning to realize that we have seen this movie before.  We saw it during the dotcom bubble, and we saw it during the lead up to the horrible financial crisis of 2008.  So precisely when will the bubble burst this time?  Nobody knows for sure, but without a doubt this irrational financial bubble will burst at some point.  Remember, a bubble is always the biggest right before it bursts, and the following are 15 signs that we are near the peak of

BLOODBATH AS TERRORISTS MURDER 70 CHRISTIANS

At least 70 Christians in Nigeria have been killed in coordinated attacks by Fulani tribesmen and the Islamic jihadist organization Boko Haram. Fulani tribesmen reportedly killed 37 Christians in at least four coordinated attacks on the same day. Boko Haram is reported to have killed as many as 34 Christians during the same three-day period. William Stark, Africa analyst for the human-rights organization International Christian Concern, said the recent killing “spree” of Christians in Nigeria’s northern and middle belts regions “is, unfortunately, tragic and typical at the same time.” “Boko Haram attacks, and attacks perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen on Christians, [are] well documented in Nigeria. What is most disturbing about the attack that took place this week was the coordination of the attacks on four villages,” he said. Stark said many leaders believe that Boko Haram and its affiliates are inciting the Fulani to attack the Christians. The increasingly aggressive posture of the Fulani tribe is further reason for northern Nigerian Christians to be apprehensive, he said. “It’s a fact that many Christians in northern Nigeria are forced to live in constant fear,” Stark said. “The government has proven to be either unable or unwilling to protect Christians from attacks of this nature.” More

RADIOACTIVE JAPANESE WAVE NEARS U.S.

In the wake of the deadly tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 and severely damaged a nuclear reactor, Japanese officials say the levels of radiation are safe for everyone outside the reactor area itself. But as radioactive water from the plant nears the West Coast of North America — the water is expected to hit in 2014 — can we be sure it’s safe? The nuclear reactor continues to leak radioactive water due to poor management, while Japanese subcontractors at the plant have admitted they intentionally under-reported radiation and that dozens of farms around Fukushima that were initially deemed safe by the government actually had unsafe levels of radioactive cesium. Fukushima locals also claim they’re seeing cancer at higher rates and the Japanese government is covering up the scale of the problem. So what do independent estimates say? The first measures come from the U.S. government. The FDA has stepped up its monitoring of radiation in seafood due to the Fukushima incident. More

U.S. general leads fresh assault on Obama policies

A prominent Army general, bolstered by other military and defense leaders, contends President Obama’s preferred counterinsurgency policy is proving to be “devastating” for America and rewarding to its enemies.  Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely, now retired, was deputy commanding general in the Army’s Pacific Command, is founder of Stand Up America and has been a military analyst for Fox News. Vallely says Obama has so degraded and demoralized the military in multiple ways – including a major purge of senior officers, with almost 200 relieved of duty over Obama’s five years as commander-in-chief and nine generals this year alone – that those remaining cannot speak out for fear of being forced out of the military. Essentially, Obama’s counterinsurgency, or COIN, doctrine is a form of warfare that makes soldiers trained to fight tank battles shift to a combat style that emphasizes politics, cultural awareness and protecting the local population from insurgent attacks, Vallely said. The result looks like failure, he said. “Today Iraq, which is still wracked by violence and heavily influenced by Iran, has provided no victory for America, and Americans do expect victory when the U.S. expends great losses of life and thousands of wounded and dead troops,” Vallely said. In Afghanistan, he said, a surge of more than 30,000 U.S. troops has produced a stalemate that leaves soldiers counting down to withdrawal at the end of 2014. More

BRAND-NEW FEARS FOR U.S. DOLLAR DISASTER

Republican lawmakers are balking at President Obama’s choice of Federal Reserve chairman, Janet Yellen, worried she will favor enhanced government intervention in the economy, including flooding the market with more dollars. A review of her previous work finds she divined a theory that was a precursor to the current progressive campaign for the government to ensure “fair” pay to employees.  Yellen’s confirmation in the Democrat-controlled senate is all but a certainty after she was approved by the Senate Banking Committee 11 days ago. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced he plans to vote against Yellen, citing fears she will enact policies to the detriment of long-term economic growth. “While Dr. Yellen is an accomplished individual, I will be voting against her nomination to chair the Fed because of her role as a lead architect in authoring monetary policies that threaten the short and long-term prospects of strong economic growth and job creation,” Rubio said in a statement. “Altogether, she has championed policies that have diminished people’s purchasing power by weakening the dollar, made long-term savings less attractive by diminishing returns on this important behavior and put the U.S. economy at increased risk of higher inflation and another future boom-bust,” he concluded. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., wrote in Time magazine the Federal Reserve “needs to be reformed to prevent Yellen, or any other future nominee, from using the enormous power of the Fed to aid and abet the allies of big government.” More

KINGDOM AGAINST KINGDOM – Iraq death total for November hits over 900

A suicide bombing at the funeral of an Iraqi anti-Qaeda fighter killed 12 people and wounded 28 others on Sunday. Spiraling November violence ahead of elections in the war-torn country has seen the number of dead rise by at least 940 people in one month. Iraqi ministries of health and defense have disclosed that 948 people were killed as a result of violence across November, 852 of them civilians, in addition to 53 policemen and 43 soldiers. However, the Interior Ministry put the figure at 1,121 people killed. All said that a further 1,349 were wounded in attacks. “I am profoundly disturbed by the recent surge in execution-style killings that have been carried out in a particularly horrendous and unspeakable manner,” UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement following the publication of the statistics. Among the locations aimed at by the terrorists, were cafes, restaurants and public football pitches, as well as police stations, army bases and checkpoints. The government places the blame with groups linked to the Iraqi wing of Al-Qaeda. The civil war in neighboring Syria may have also contributed to the violence, as Sunni rebels are acting against a government allied to Shiite Iran. The latter has given attacks a sectarian shade. As the assaults take place almost daily, it is very rare that any group ever accepts responsibility for them. More

DISTRESS OF NATIONS – ‘Revolution!’ Thousands pour in for pro-EU rally in Ukraine, storm govt buildings

Thousands of demonstrators chanting ‘Revolution!’ flocked into ‘Maidan’ square in Kiev on Sunday despite a court-imposed ban on rallies. The protesters reportedly took several government buildings. Chanting protesters displaced metal barriers that were installed by police on Independence Square, also known as Maidan (Ukrainian for “square”), as more were expected to flock into the capital from the regions. Ukrainian media said that some 700,000 people gathered, calling for the Ukrainian government and the president to resign over rejecting EU association earlier this week. By late evening tensions seemed to be dying down in the country’s capital, although the situation is still tense, RT’s Aleksey Yaroshevsky reports from Kiev. He estimates that there are still up to 20,000 people protesting at the central square. The Kiev City State Administration was vandalized with a sign saying “Revolution Headquarters.” The raging crowd, which split into several columns, also stormed the Mayor’s offices, breaking windows and opening the doors from the inside, Itar-Tass reported, citing local media.The protesters set up what they described as the temporary headquarters of the united opposition. The Trade Union building near ‘Maidan’ square has also been taken by the ‘provocateurs’ bearing emblems of the opposition parties. Other reports claim that the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers building was stormed.  More

Netanyahu: I will not ‘shut up’ when Israel’s interests are at stake

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his predecessor Ehud Olmert battled over Israel’s Iran policy Sunday, with Olmert slamming Netanyahu for “waging war” against the US administration and Netanyahu responding that he would speak out loudly when Israel’s security is at stake. “As opposed to others, when I see that interests vital to the security of Israel’s citizens are in danger, I will not be quiet,” Netanyahu said in Rome in a clear reference to comments Olmert made earlier in the day. Speaking at a Hanukka candle- lighting ceremony at the Great Synagogue in Rome, where he is on a two-day visit, Netanyahu said it was “very easy to be silent, very easy to get pats on the shoulder from the international community, and to bow one’s head.” But, he said, “I am committed to the security of my people and to the future of my state, and in contrast to periods in the past, we have a loud and clear voice among the nations and we will sound it to warn during times of danger.” Earlier in the day, at a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Olmert slammed Netanyahu for his outspoken opposition to the US’s support of the recent international agreement reached in Geneva with Iran over its nuclear program. More

 

Strong, dangerous earthquake strikes volcanic region of Congo

Congo, AFRICA – This is a very dangerous earthquake basically because of the combination magnitude and shallow depth. The epicenter was located in the eastern volcanic area of the DR Congo. M5.4 for a shallow quake is damaging level in this area of the world. As the distance to major towns is rather big (also to Rwanda and Burundi), the earthquake may not have been felt so far (no mentions from this otherwise very communicative area). Smaller villages and settlements (Like Bikule and Mukingiti, only a few km from the epicenter are however at risk.  The epicenter is also Gorilla nature area (Maiko National Park) and has a number of dormant volcanoes in the area. More to the east are some active volcanoes. This is also a location where rebels are fighting the army, this already for many years and with very cruel atrocities going on (HRW reports). Even if some damage has been inflicted, we will probably never know it, as the area is highly unsafe with almost no press present. We will however scan reports from the area to get some more information, eventually from environmentalists and conservationists (gorillas). EP

Heavy torrential rain spurs landslide, killing 9 in Indonesia

KARO, Indonesia (AP) A disaster agency official says a landslide triggered by torrential rain near a rumbling volcano in western Indonesia has killed at least nine people. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho from Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency says several houses were buried when mud gushed down surrounding hills late Saturday in Gundaling village. It’s about 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) east of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province. He said the bodies of a mother and her 2-year-old son were retrieved from a mound of mud late Saturday. Six victims were found early Sunday, followed by the body of a 10-year-old boy drifting in a river. Seasonal downpours cause dozens of landslides and flash floods each year in Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or fertile flood plains. EP

U.S. RELEASED IRANIAN SCIENTIST AS PART OF NUKE NEGOTIATIONS

The U.S. released a top Iranian scientist Mojtaba Atarodi in April as part of the dealings with Iran in Geneva recently, the Times of Israel reported. The secret back channel of negotiations between Iran and the United States, which led to this month’s interim deal in Geneva on Iran’s rogue nuclear program, has also seen a series of prisoner releases by both sides, which have played a central role in bridging the distance between the two nations, the Times of Israel has been told. In the most dramatic of those releases, the US in April released a top Iranian scientist, Mojtaba Atarodi, who had been arrested in 2011 for attempting to acquire equipment that could be used for Iran’s military-nuclear programs. Reportedly, American hikers Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal were individuals the Iranians released in 2010 and 2011 as part of the dealings. In 2012, the United States began to reciprocate with its own release of Iranian prisoners Shahrzad Mir Gholikhan, Nosratollah Tajik, and Amir Hossein Seirafi. According to the Times of Israel, Gholikhan was convicted on three counts of weapons trafficking. Tajik, a former Iranian ambassador to Jordan, was initially caught attempting to buy night-vision goggles from U.S. agents.
He was later released after the U.S. decided not to follow up an extradition request it submitted to the British. In January of 2013 Seirafi was released; he was arrested in Frankfurt and convicted in the U.S. of attempting to purchase specialized vacuum pumps that could be used in the Iranian nuclear program. In the meantime, Americans Robert Levinson, Amir Hekmati, and Saeed Abedini are currently imprisoned in Iran. U.S. State Department spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday, “The P5+1 talks focused exclusively on nuclear issues, but we have raised—repeatedly raised—his case and the cases of other detained American citizens including Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini in our bilateral discussions with Iran, including President Obama’s phone call with President Rouhani in September, so as recently as then, and we will continue to do so.” Breitbart

FAST FOOD STRIKES PLANNED IN 100 CITIES

Seeking to increase pressure on McDonald’s, Wendy’s and other fast-food restaurants, organizers of a movement demanding a $15-an-hour wage for fast-food workers say they will sponsor one-day strikes in 100 cities on Thursday and protest activities in 100 additional cities.  As the movement struggles to find pressure points in its quest for substantially higher wages for workers, organizers said strikes were planned for the first time in cities like Charleston, S.C.; Providence, R.I.; and Pittsburgh. The protests have expanded greatly since November 2012, when 200 fast-food workers engaged in a one-day strike at more than 20 restaurants in New York City, the first such walkout in the history of the nation’s fast-food industry. “There’s been pretty huge growth in one year,” said Kendall Fells, one of the movement’s main organizers. “People understand that a one-day strike is not going to get them there. They understand that this needs to continue to grow.”
The movement, which includes the groups Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15, is part of a growing union-backed effort by low-paid workers — including many Walmart workers and workers for federal contractors — that seeks to focus attention on what the groups say are inadequate wages. The fast-food effort is backed by the Service Employees International Union and is also demanding that restaurants allow workers to unionize without the threat of retaliation. Officials with the National Restaurant Association have said the one-day strikes are publicity stunts. They warn that increasing pay to $15 an hour when the federal minimum wage is $7.25 would cause restaurants to rely more on automation and hire fewer workers. Industry officials say that only a small percentage of fast-food jobs pay the minimum wage and that those are largely entry-level jobs for workers under 25. More

US urges release of American detained in N. Korea

The family of an 85-year-old Korean War veteran detained for more than a month by North Korea said late Saturday that they have been told he is in good health. In a statement, the family of Merrill Newman said that the State Department had informed them that Newman had been visited at a Pyongyang hotel by the Swedish ambassador to North Korea. Sweden handles consular issues for Americans in North Korea as the U.S. and North Korea have no diplomatic relations. ”We were very pleased to hear that the Ambassador was allowed to pay this first visit to Merrill,” the statement said. “As a result of the visit, we know that Merrill is in good health. … Merrill reports that he is being well treated and that the food is good.” Newman’s family said the ambassador’s visit eased their concerns about his health, and pleaded with North Korean authorities to take his health and age into account and let him go as an act of humanitarian compassion. The family’s statement came hours after North Korea claimed that Newman had apologized for “hostile acts” against that country during a recent trip and alleged crimes against North Korea during the Korean War. North Korean authorities released video showing Newman wearing glasses, a blue button-down shirt and tan trousers, reading his alleged apology, which was dated Nov. 9 and couldn’t be independently confirmed. Pyongyang has been accused of previously coercing statements from detainees, and the four-page statement Newman read was riddled with stilted English and grammatical errors, such as “I want not punish me.”  More

NTSB to upright train to search for possible other victims in deadly NYC derailment

NEW YORK – The NTSB says the cars from a derailed New York City train will be turned upright to check for any other possible victims after four people were killed and more than 60 injured in the early morning incident. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a NTSB briefing Sunday afternoon that the track didn’t appear to be faulty, leaving speed as a possible culprit for the crash. Sixty-three people were injured — 11 critically — in the accident that occurred at 7:20 a.m., about 100 yards north of the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, according to authorities. A Metro-North spokesman tells FoxNews.com the derailment involved a southbound Hudson Line commuter train departing Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County at 5:54 a.m. — the second train to leave that station, Sunday. The train was due to arrive at Manhattan’s Grand Central Station at 7:43 a.m. Passengers were removed from the wreck by authorities, with dozens bloodied and scratched, holding ice packs to their heads. More

faceintheclouds
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PAUL BEGLEY

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