China Sells Nearly $50 billion in US Treasuries/UKRAINE:Protesters Seize Presidential Palace/Australia to buy eight Boeing Poseidon spy planes for $3.6 billion and more signs of JESUS’ soon return

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Final nuclear deal with Iran by July, top US negotiator says

The United States is committed to reaching a final deal with Iran by July which would ensure Tehran will never be able to produce nuclear weapons, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said Saturday. Speaking in Jerusalem, the top US negotiator in the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 world powers said there was only one measure of success, “and that is if an agreement means that Iran will never obtain a nuclear weapon and that the international community will have assurance in the exclusively peaceful nature of a nuclear program in Iran.” More

Christian Legal Group Urges Public Universities to Restore Bibles to Hotel Rooms

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – A prominent Christian legal organization has sent rebuttal letters to two public universities that recently decided to remove all Gideon Bibles from their hotel rooms in response to complaints from an atheist activist organization. As previously reported, the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University were contacted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) last month after they received anonymous complaints surrounding the Gideon Bibles that are placed in the university hotel rooms. The organization asserted that the presence of the Bibles at University of Wisconsin’s Lowell Center and Iowa State University’s Memorial Union violated the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” FFRF also contended that the Bibles signified the promotion of Christianity by a government-0wned university. More

Obama administration launches devious FCC plan to control all news sources in America and FAILS

The first amendment of the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom… of the press.” The words are clear and understood, but what if it’s not Congress trying to control the press? What happens when the President and departments of the executive branch go around the Bill of Rights and begin controlling the news stories that the free press presents to the people?  New documents reveal devious controls to be carried out through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In an attempt to control freedom of the press, the FCC has authored an investigation called the “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” (CIN) initiative. Proposed last May, the CIN initiative was proposed to gather information from television and radio broadcasters “to ascertain the process by which stories are selected.” Additionally, the information is collected to be used to designate “station priorities” to monitor content production quality and the populations served. Furthermore CIN initiative is designated to eliminate perceived station bias and regulate “perceived percent of news dedicated to each of the eight [critical information needs] and perceived responsiveness to under-served populations.” This plan could result in FCC agents visiting newsrooms. The FCC has identified what they believe are eight critical information needs, or key topics that the government thinks should be covered by news outlets. More

Hundreds of activists rallied in Arizona on Friday to protest the passage of a bill that would let vendors deny service to gay customers on religious grounds. The measure grants legal protection to business owners who want to refuse service to gays and others because doing so would violate his or her religious beliefs. Hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual activists and their supporters rallied outside the state Capitol building in Phoenix, while others gathered in the southern city of Tucson to protest the measure. The bill, officially known as SB 1062 or the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” was fully approved by Republican-controlled legislature of this conservative southwestern state on Thursday. Republican state Senator Steve Yarbrough says the bill is about protecting religious freedom and rights that “must be respected” and protected. More

Will Another Winter Storm Hammer the East This Week?

In just over a month’s time, The Weather Channel has named ten winter storms, which averages out to one every three to four days. The Northeast has been impacted by seven of these, while five storms have impacted — and in some cases, crippled — parts of the South. The week ahead will bring another threat of a winter storm, as fresh cold air is poised to pump into the nation’s Midwest, South and East, which will be coupled with an active jet stream. Let’s break down what we know, and still do not know, at this time.More

US suggests Iran may end up with limited, “Peaceful” nuclear program

Iran could be allowed a small peaceful nuclear program should an agreement be reached with the six world powers by July 20th, US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Saturday night in Jerusalem. “At the end of the day, if they [Iran] do want to have a small, discreet, limited program that addresses practical needs it is envisioned as a possibility in the joint plan of action,” Sherman said.  “It would have to highly constrained, monitored and verified on a regular basis,” Sherman said. She spoke both publicly and privately with Israeli journalist as part of a drive to solicit support for the diplomatic process, which was, she said the best way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. More

China Sells Nearly $50 billion in US Treasurys

China’s holdings of US Treasuries dropped to the lowest levels in two years after China dumped $47.8 billion in paper—equal to about 3.6% of its Treasury holdings as of November—bringing its total holdings to $1.27 trillion. Not that this should come as a shock. Yi Gang, a deputy governor of China’s central bank, hinted at the move when he announced in late November that the country no longer benefits from increasing its foreign reserves. Though this news is likely to stoke fears of a US bond market sell-off, it’s way too early to judge whether this is a fluke or a new PBoC strategy. If China continues to slash its Treasury holdings, that could be grim tidings indeed for the US Treasury market, especially with the Federal Reserve also winding down its bond-buying, as BNP Paribas’s Aaron Kohli told Caijing. (Note also that even as China and Japan offloaded US Treasury securities, overall foreign holdings of US Treasuries increased ever so slightly, thanks largely to a $56-billion Belgian splurge.) More

Is the US Trying To Start WWIII?

American diplomacy in the Ukraine crisis was summed up earlier this month by State Department senior official Victoria Neuland, a leading neocon: “F….k Europe.” On Friday, Europe responded by brokering a sensible compromise to Ukraine’s increasingly dangerous crisis just as the army was about to intervene. If the pact holds, Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovich will relinquish some of his powers, a unity government will be formed, elections held, and jailed protestors freed. The fate of imprisoned nationalist leader, Yulia Timoshenko, remains unclear. Here was an intelligent diplomatic solution to a crisis that might have led to a head-on clash between NATO and Russia, both nuclear powers. But what if the European Union had not brokered this deal and the US hardline approach had been followed? More

 

Restaurants add health care surcharge to tab

If you dine out at any of the Gator’s Dockside restaurants in Jacksonville, you may notice a little extra added to your bill. The chain of restaurants is adding a 1 percent surcharge to their checks, asking customers to help pay for health insurance it will be required to provide for employees under the Affordable Care Act.  The owners say the alternative would be cutting employee hours. Glenda Thomas, who visits Gator’s Dockside on 103rd Street for the oysters, good service and nice people says it’s a small price to pay. ”We always have felt very welcome here,” Thomas said. “We’ve been coming here for, gosh, probably a decade, if not longer.” The restaurant says the Affordable Care Act surcharge will help the company offset the cost of health care, which will be required for all employees by next year. More

Half Of Water Taps Test Positive For Bacteria That Causes Legionnaires’…

The data is scary: Nearly half of water faucets sampled across the United States tested positive for the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. While the study was small — researchers only sampled 67 public and private water sources such as kitchen sinks and drinking fountains – it’s the first one to chart the presence of the potentially deadly bacteria in water taps. According to the EPA, the organization that conducted the research, 32 taps contained the bacteria, and 11 of those contained it in multiple samples. Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia that causes chills, fever, headache, a cough and more. It can be deadly. CBS Philly

Protesters Seize Presidential Palace.

KIEV, Ukraine — Abandoned by his own guards and reviled across the Ukrainian capital but still determined to recover his shredded authority, President Viktor F. Yanukovych fled Kiev on Saturday to denounce what he called a violent coup, as his official residence, his vast, colonnaded office complex and other once impregnable centers of power fell without a fight to throngs of joyous citizens stunned by their triumph. As President Yanukovych’s nemesis, former Prime Minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko, was released from a penitentiary hospital, Parliament found the president unable to fulfill his duties and exercised its constitutional powers to set an election for May 25 to select his replacement. But with both President Yanukovych and his Russian patrons speaking of a “coup” carried out by “bandits” and “hooligans,” it was far from clear that the day’s lightning-quick events were the last act in a struggle that has not just convulsed Ukraine but expanded into an East-West confrontation reminiscent of the Cold War. More

Merkel to back Kerry’s Mideast peace efforts during Israel visit

BREAKING NEWS:  German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will lobby on behalf of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts led by US Secretary of State John Kerry when she visits Israel on Monday. Kerry, who held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris on Thursday, is trying to nudge both sides at least to agree on a framework deal by the end of April although months of negotiations have made little visible progress.  Kerry says he is still seeking an overall accord to end the decades-old conflict, whose main issues include borders, security, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem. ”We need a stable two-state solution as soon as possible, with a Jewish state of Israel as well as a state for the Palestinians,” Merkel said in her weekly video podcast on Saturday. Without such an agreement, neither Israel nor the Palestinians would have a prosperous future, she said. More

California drought: Why farmers are ‘exporting water’ to China

While historic winter storms have battered much of the US, California is suffering its worst drought on record. So why is America’s most valuable farming state using billions of gallons of water to grow hay – specifically alfalfa – which is then shipped to China? The reservoirs of California are just a fraction of capacity amid the worst drought in the state’s history. ”This should be like Eden right now,” farmer John Dofflemyer says, looking out over a brutally dry, brown valley as his remaining cows feed on the hay he’s had to buy in to keep them healthy. In the dried-up fields of California’s Central Valley, farmers like Dofflemyer are selling their cattle. Others have to choose which crops get the scarce irrigation water and which will wither. ”These dry times, this drought, has a far-reaching impact well beyond California,” he said as the cattle fell in line behind his small tractor following the single hay bale on the back. ”We have never seen anything like this before – it’s new ground for everybody.” More

3 Reasons Why People Don’t Operate in the Gifts

Even though there are countless churches that boast a statement of faith or creed claiming they believe in the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit, the truth is that many of these same churches deny the gifts’ operation in their meetings and services. The Holy Spirit is embraced in their word and doctrine but rejected in demonstration. How is it possible that churches that theologically acknowledge the modern activity of the Holy Spirit’s gifts can reject their demonstration? More

polarvortez2imageHey East Coasters — remember last month when your nose hairs transformed into ultrasharp needles and your skin turned a Smurflike blue? So many memories… NASA has rendered the much-hyped polar vortex, source of havoc and those nose-freezing temperatures on the U.S. East Coast, in incredible visual terms. Scientist Eric Fetzer explains the visuals using data from NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument in an accompanying video. AIRS, Fetzer explains, is an “instrument that flies on a NASA satellite in Earth’s orbit and collects data about Earth’s atmosphere.” More

Stunning Ice-Covered Great Lakes Seen from Space

A deep freeze has settled in over the Great Lakes this winter and a new image released by NASA shows the astonishing extent of the ice cover as seen from space. NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of the lakes on the early afternoon of Feb. 19, 2014. At the time, 80.3 percent of the five lakes were covered in ice, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Earlier this month, ice cover over the Great Lakes hit 88 percent for the first time since 1994. Typically at its peak, the average ice cover is just over 50 percent, and it only occasionally passes 80 percent, according to NASA’s Earth ObservatoryMore

US v China: is this the new cold war?

To the list of industries now dominated by China, there is one surprising new entry: Miss World. Beauty contests were banned in China by Mao Zedong as one of the worst forms of western decadence but their bland internationalism appeals to modern China’s desire to be included. Of the last 10 Miss World pageants, five have been held at the seaside resort of Sanya, on subtropical Hainan island, off China’s south coast. While the Miss World show is in town, the swimsuit photo shoots take place across the road, at the Sheraton Sanya Resort, which looks out on to the white sands of Yalong Bay, a crescent-shaped cove lined with palm trees. With a Ritz-Carlton on one side and a Marriott on the other, Yalong Bay is a transplant of multi­national tourism on China’s southernmost point. The resort has become hugely ­popular with prosperous Chinese families and on the day I visited, the hotel was hosting a corporate retreat for the Chinese subsidiary of Syngenta, the Switzerland-based company which sells genetically modified seeds. The hundred or so Chinese employees spent the afternoon playing games on the beach. As they enjoyed themselves, they barely looked up when a Chinese Type 054 frigate sailed casually across the bay, in plain view of the tourists. Yalong Bay, it turns out, has a double life. The brand-name hotels occupy only one half of the beach; at the other end lies China’s newest and most sophisticated naval base. More

Ukrainian protesters have been able to enter the president’s official and residential buildings in Kiev, after they were abandoned by police. They have stationed guards outside the entrances to offices, while the interior ministry has said in a statement that it supports the people. President Viktor Yanukovych’s aides say he is in Kharkhiv, close to Russia. The opposition have called for elections before 25 May, earlier than envisaged in Friday’s peace deal. In fast-moving events on Saturday, parliament voted for opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to be released immediately. She was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 for abuse of power. Her supporters had always maintained this was simply Mr Yanukovych taking out his most prominent opponent. More

 

Select Wall Street banks cleared to use own risk models.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Citigroup are among the banks that have successfully completed trial runs using their own models to assess risk and capital requirements. However, Citi said in a statement that the Fed allowed it to use its own models only after insisting it changed its capital calculation. Under the new calculation agreed with the Fed, Citi’s assets increased by $56bn and its main capital ratio fell from 10.5 per cent to 10.1 per cent. The announcement by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Friday gives those banks clarity on what methods they can use to calculate their capital requirements. During the trial run, banks had to show they could comply with a more tailored approach to meeting capital requirements for four consecutive calendar quarters before they could officially rely on that method. More

Detroit bankruptcy plan cuts pension benefits

Detroit officials are trying hard to restructure the city’s $18-billion debt by significantly cutting local workers’ pensions and payments to bondholders, US media reports. Officials filed the city’s bankruptcy plan on Friday. “The plan contemplates the city’s emergence from Chapter 9 this year and represents a crucial step toward the city’s rehabilitation and recovery from a decades-long downward spiral,” said a statement explaining the plan for the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history. It is to invest around $1.5 billion over the next decade to improve city services, according to the statement. The plan treats various classes of creditors differently, according to Los Angeles Times. It proposes reducing benefits to retired police and fire beneficiaries by 10 percent while other city employees and retirees could see pensions reduced by around 34 percent. More

As we warned last week, stockpiles of iron-ore have reached record levels in China as end-demand slumps but, as Bloomberg notes, this is potentially creating massive dislocations in other markets. Record imports of iron ore and copper, driven by traders who use them as loan collateral, risk repeating the vicious cycle of repayment difficulties and falling prices already seen in the steel-trading market. A stunning 40 percent of the iron ore at China’s ports are part of finance deals (having replaced copper after China’s last shadow-banking crackdown) and with the glut, prices drop (driving down the value of collateral on loans) and “borrowers, forced by their bankers to repay loans or to top up collateral, will have to sell the metals, sinking market prices even further and begetting a vicious cycle.” More

U.S. government seeks to cut Medicare payments to insurers, Risk to Elderly

The U.S. government on Friday proposed a cut in payments to private health insurers for 2015 Medicare Advantage plans, a move Republican lawmakers said would hurt benefits for the elderly and disabled. The proposal, released in a document by a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, appeared to cut payments by more than the 6 to 7 percent the insurance industry had expected, one Wall Street analyst said. ”Now the lobbying begins: can the plans get Congress to help make the cut less severe?” CRT Capital analyst Sheryl Skolnick said, adding that her assessment of the hundreds of pages of information was preliminary. Friday’s notice of proposed rates opens a window for negotiations on the final ruling, due April 7. Insurers and lawmakers have said cuts will mean smaller networks of doctors and hospitals and higher out-of-pocket costs. Insurers have said they could only maintain benefits if there was no change in payments for 2015 from 2014. More

Man Wearing Pro-Gun T-shirt Thrown Out of Voting Booth

Chris Driskill was prevented from voting at the Waller County Courthouse on Tuesday after officials claimed he was violating Texas Election Code section 85.036, which states that “a person may not electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, or political party” in or within 100 feet of a voting location. “I heard a gentleman’s voice over my shoulder say ‘he can’t vote with that shirt on. You’ll have to either turn it inside out our you’ll have to leave,’” Driskill told KVUE. The officials used the election law to throw Driskill out of the voting booth even though the shirt simply stated “Second Amendment – 1789 – America’s Original Homeland Security” on the front without any mention of a political candidate or proposition. This is simply an attack on free speech and voting rights through the color of law as well as another example of the continued demonization of gun owners across America. More

Did the Abstinence Movement Actually Help Christians Save Sex for Marriage?

When Jimmy Hester evaluates the effectiveness of True Love Waits, an abstinence-based movement he is co-founder of, the Southern Baptist leader questions where society might be without it. ”What would have happened if this had not happened? What kind of impact might our culture have had on students if there had not been a sexual abstinence movement in ’93, ’94?” Hester asked, in an interview with The Christian Post. For Hester, who expresses cynicism about using statistics to measure the outcome of his work (“you can shape them however you like”), anecdotes such as Christian singles telling him they still carry their abstinence pledge cards or testimonies from young adults who tell him that his work impacted their lives, provide more than sufficient evidence that his work was worthwhile. Hester’s campaign is the focus of a new documentary produced by Lifeway – the same Southern Baptist organization from which True Love Waits was founded – and was released on February 16. “True Love Waits: The Complicated Struggle for Sexual Purity” seeks to provide a frank analysis of the once-explosive movement, and follows up with a number of the movement’s most influential and original cheerleaders. More

A mid growing Western efforts to engage with Iran diplomatically and economically as an interim agreement inked in Geneva in November is implemented, a senior Iranian cleric and prayer leader dedicated his weekly Friday sermon to the threat of US military aggression against Iran, saying Iran would easily deliver a “crushing response” to any such attack. Speaking to a crowd of students at Tehran University Friday, Tehran’s provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said, “We are eager for your options on the table.”  He was referring to statements by US and other Western officials, saying that while Western powers would pursue the diplomatic track to prevent Iran from achieving military nuclear capability, other options — such as a military strike — would remain on the table in case diplomacy proved fruitless. More

Without a lot more rain and snow, many California farmers caught in the state’s drought can expect to receive no irrigation water this year from a vast system of rivers, canals and reservoirs interlacing the state, federal officials announced Friday. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released its first outlook of the year, saying that the agency will continue to monitor rain and snow fall, but the grim levels so far prove that the state is in the throes of one of its driest periods in recorded history. Farmers who rely on the federally run Central Valley Project received only 20 percent of their normal water allotment last year and were expecting this year’s bad news. Some communities and endangered wildlife that rely on the federal water source will also suffer deep cuts. The state’s snowpack is at 29 percent of average for this time of year, which means that for farmers it’s going to be a hard year. More

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Australia to buy eight Boeing Poseidon spy planes for $3 6 billion: India and Japan Upgrades

Human & Animal DNA Manipulation – As in the Days of Noah

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