CHOSEN: End Times Newsletter – Issue 118

The Minister’s Corner
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:32

Hope in The End Times
By Regina
The first mention of the word ‘hope’ in the Scriptures occurs in the book of Ruth. After that, it is mentioned many times in the book of Job and as you probably already know, and in case you don’t, Job is an account of a man who has lost everything he once had that was of value to him. He experienced great loss and struggled to hold on to hope in his future. He lost his family, his home, his livelihood and today, we see and hear of a lot of these same things happening to those around us whether it be happening to us, or we hear about it through friends and family or in the news. Many are struggling and so desperately need hope. These are terrible times for many but things are also byproducts of the Great Tribulation – a time in which our faith is tested and hope, for some, can become a glimmering thing of the past.
It seems an opportune time to discuss hope, with the New Year just a few days away, because each year we celebrate this time of year with great merriment and hope. It’s a new year and another chance to make things right, particularly if your current year or previous years have been less than good. We even make resolutions that are designed to structure the upcoming year and fill it with good things that will promote change in our lives and in these things we also have hope. But what most don’t realize is that we can celebrate a New Year any day of the year – for the time being anyway – if only we resolves ourselves to following in Christ’s footsteps and placing our faith, trust and hope in God.
When we ministers speak of the Great Tribulation, the Rapture and of Armageddon in an effort to warn people of what is happening and what lays just ahead so that they might prepare their hearts and have hope for the future, many people without belief, faith and hope refer to us as ‘doomsayers’ who predict misfortune or disaster or calamity at every opportunity. But where they are wrong about this is that a doomsayer does not share a message of hope, and we do. Because you see, what we know and see and wish to share with all of you is not the end – but a beginning.
Psalm 25:1 LORD, I turn my hope to You.

Psalm 31:24 Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD.

Psalm 33:22 May Your faithful love rest on us, LORD, for we put our hope in You.

Psalm 37:9 For evildoers will be destroyed, but those who put their hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

Psalm 39:7 "Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.

Psalm 42:5 Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.
As you can see in the scriptures quoted above, the book of Psalms brings many messages of hope and these are just a handful of them! None of them describe putting hope in anyone but the One who can rescue – our heavenly Father Yahweh. 
So yes, this world stinks right now. It is depressing, full of hatred, wars, violence and the love of many things that are not righteous or even important in the big scheme of things. But we have hope and we want to share that hope with you! Hope because while we are experiencing the Great Tribulation which leads to Armageddon and the pouring out of Father’s wrath, there will also be a Rapture of Yahweh’s faithful from the earth to safety for those who have accepted Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior and also have a good heart condition. Hope because while this earth and everything on it will pass away, the earth itself will not – it will be transformed and made new new again. Hope because while there will be a time of great destruction it will lead to an eternity of peace. 
1 Thessalonians 5:7-10 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But since we are of the day, we must be sober and put on the armor of faith and love on our chests and put on a helmet of the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us
While we all currently live in this world and are eye-witnesses to many terrible things, we must all also look beyond this world because this is what brings hope and happiness. We look beyond this world because we have been enlightened, we are of the day and the eyes of our hearts can see, and in seeing we have accepted Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior and the message as truth and because of this are being prepared for what lies ahead so that we might be strong, courageous and remain faithful in Father’s sight.
In having the hope of salvation from this old dying world we reach for Father’s light and hold on…with both hands. With both hands because we cannot cling to this world with one hand while reaching for Father with the other – we would risk be torn apart. But instead with full faith and hope we do not sit on the fence; instead we have chosen our side and set our sights on Yahweh and Her promise and we move forward with gusto and zeal. There’s no turning back, no looking back…just holding on with great hope, and great love for our Creator who will rescue Her faithful children from calamity. 

When One Door Closes
By Johanna
Recently I took in 3 horses of 8 that had been abandoned and were in my yard everyday. I called the Sheriffs department about them. Well one thing about me that you may not know is that I am a very big horse lover. I have always wanted to have horses. I thought that Father sent them to me to save them. Well needless to say myself and a friend ended up saving them. We were told that an ad was to be ran in the local papers for two weeks concerning the horses. My friend took 5 while three stayed here with me. After the two weeks the horses would go to the sale barn to be sold. I was told that we could have the first chance to buy the horses back. The day before Thanksgiving the owners showed up to claim their horses. Since I had went through the Sheriffs office to begin with I refused to hand them back over until a deputy could come out. When the deputy got here I was told that I didn’t have to hand them over until they paid me money for feeding their horses. Later that evening the deputy called me back and told me that I had to hand them over to the owners that had abandoned them. I was heart broke along with my children. I had grown attached to them when I should have known better.
I went to Father through prayer to heal my children’s heart along with mine. I prayed that the horses would be took care of. It is really hard for me to put into words how I felt after the horses were gone. It was a devastating ordeal that I had to learn from.
I felt that Father did indeed lead those horses to me to save their lives through Her. Not only that but Her sending them to me taught me in a short time things about horses that I would probably have never learned. One being that a piece of my heart felt fuller than before the horses. I was very happy to go out and feed, water and clean up after them. It was a very wonderful experience for us all.
A few days after those three horses left I came across a mare that had been rescued. I felt that she would be perfect for my family. She was family and dog friendly. I was very excited that I had the money to get her. Father made sure I had the money I needed. Well the lady that had the mare for sale didn’t have a trailer and neither do I. Also the lady wanted to hand pick someone to take care of this special horse.
I tried for two days to find someone to borrow or rent a trailer from so we could go up and see her. Not only that I was praying over and over that the lady would pick my family to adopt Monty. It just wasn’t working out for us to adopt her. I didn’t feel like it was Father’s will because things just weren’t falling into place no matter what I tried to do.
I went back to browsing the internet for horses in my area that cost the same as what I had. I found a stallion 20 minutes away from where I live but he was higher than I had. I could not get Gus out of my mind. On Friday my husband and I were driving around after his family’s Thanksgiving get together so I asked him if I could call the owner of Gus and see if we could go out and see him. Once we got there I asked what the price was for Gus. I was bracing myself because the ad had the price for him. She looked at me and named the exact amount of money I had to spend on a horse.
The reason I shared this story with you is because I was reminded by my dear sister Regina that when Father closes one door that She will always open another one for us.
It was really an eye opening lesson for me as well as other people who have heard it.
Gus was delivered to us today and I couldn’t be happier. He seems to be right at home and already showing me the love that Father has blessed him with. It really is amazing when you stop and pay attention to everyday life because no matter how good or bad the day or even the week was you have learned many things during those days that will stay with you forever and strengthen your Faith in Father.
Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Inspired Writings
Avoiding Extremes 
Ecclesiastes 7:16-18 — Don't be excessively righteous, and don't be overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Don't be excessively wicked, and don't be foolish. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp the one and do not let the other slip from your hand. For the one who fears God will end up with both of them. 

Proverbs 13:25 — A righteous man eats until he is satisfied,
    but the stomach of the wicked is empty. 

Proverbs 30:8-9 — Keep falsehood and deceitful words far from me.
    Give me neither poverty nor wealth;
    feed me with the food I need.
    Otherwise, I might have too much
    and deny You, saying, "Who is the LORD?"
    or I might have nothing and steal,
    profaning the name of my God.
Something that was quite interesting was a reminder of a television show where a cartoon character was in a pie eating contest, and after eating so many pies, he later looked for more food, and stated that he still felt empty inside. It is also recalled how after eating too much a couple times, that this same occurrence could be related to. It is also taught in the Way to avoid gluttony as a part of one's attitudes, and this makes a lot of sense. In a way, a person can become gluttonous by trying to be excessively righteous. Reading too much scripture all at one time without stopping to really soak in Father's Spirit can also be gluttonous, but so can other activities. It is an interesting concept, as well, that the very opposite, which would be to not even dedicate any further time towards studying Father's Word, can be gluttonous to a sense, too.
In other words, starving and depriving oneself of Father's nourishment, which comes in many forms, is a form of gluttony for physical strife, which is also an attitude that is stated to be avoided in scripture.
1 Timothy 4:3-4 — They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer. 
At the same time, there is also the following scripture concerning our bodies:
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 — Don't you know that you are God's sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone ruins God's sanctuary, God will ruin him; for God's sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are. 
This would also consider our hearts and our minds. At the same point, we are always inside of Father, as Creation resides within Her. Thus, it would be very wise to take good care of all that Father has provided, and to also seek Her Wisdom in how She would have us take care of what She has provided, responsibly so.
In the current time, and perhaps in the near future for various individuals, it may become a very difficult time, and some individuals may be able to relate to how Jonah felt when he said the following:
Jonah 4:3-4 — And now, LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." 
    The LORD asked, "Is it right for you to be angry?"
Yet, amongst all the emotions one may be faced with, one should not turn those feelings down upon themselves and submit to despair or self destruction. It is already well known that suicide is a horrible act against oneself, and especially Father. If one's hope is in Father, that hope should never fade or die out. Father will certainly provide a rescue in Her due time, and one should not be afraid of the path that Father leads oneself through, as She is always able to protect.
Revelation 13:10 — If anyone is destined for captivity, into captivity he goes. If anyone is to be killed with a sword, with a sword he will be killed. Here is the endurance and the faith of the saints. 

Psalm 38:15 — I put my hope in You, LORD; You will answer, Lord my God.

Nourishment From The Throne
“For the LORD gives wisdom. From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6
Regina: From some research I performed online:
(This looks like a scene!) Orion (see illustration) is a mighty man with a club in his raised right hand and the skin of a slain lion in his left hand. His left foot is crushing the enemy. He wears a girdle around his waist from which hangs a sword. In the oldest illustrations of Orion, the hilt and handle of the sword are drawn as the head and body of a lamb. From his raised foot flows a river (of fire).

The Pleiades:  The Pleiades have been known since ancient times. They were mentioned by Homer about 750 B.C., by biblical Amos about 750 B.C., and by Hesiod about 700 B.C. At least 6 member stars are visible to the unaided eye, while under excellent conditions this jumps up to more than a dozen. Vehrenberg, in his Atlas of Deep Sky Splendors, mentions that in 1579, well before the invention of the telescope, astronomer Moestlin had correctly drawn 11 Pleiades stars, while Kepler quotes observations of up to 14. The Pleiades is also known as "The Seven Sisters", based on an ancient Greek myth, where the stars of the cluster are the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione: Alcyone, Asterope, Celaeno, Electra, Maia, Merope, and Taygeta, all half-sisters of the Hyades. According to the myth the sisters were pursued thru the woods by the hunter Orion for five years until an angry Zeus placed all of them, including Orion's dog (Canis Major) in the night sky.
I also found a reference that pointed to the Book of Enoch – "In ancient Aram, the constellation was known as Nephila, Orion's descendants were known as Nephilim." 
I'm really not sure of the above's validity because when I look at the illustration above, Orion would seem more to me to represent Michael The Word Christ Jesus ('The Coming Light'), who tramples evil and who holds the slain Little Lion (Dawn) in his hand. The River Judge seems to me to be the Lake of Fire, and The Judge, Father and Her coming wrath.
What feels right to me though, is that these constellations speak of the Spiritual War and give insight on what is soon to come as well. From browsing through sites, it seems that the common denominator between all the different beliefs is pointing to a time of great change.
Apparently, there is also a connection between these two constellations' alignments and The Great Pyramid. There's a lot to sift through though, as much of the information given online seems to be a mixture of truth and falsehoods. 
From Wikipedia: The Orion Correlation Theory was first put forward by Bauval in 1995. One night, while working in Saudi Arabia, he took his family and a friend's family up into the sand dunes of the Arabian desert for a camping expedition. His friend pointed out Orion, and mentioned that Mintaka, the smaller more easterly of the stars making up Orion's belt was offset slightly from the others. Bauval then made a connection between the layout of the three main stars in Orion's belt and the layout of the three main pyramids in the Giza necropolis. The idea has been further expounded by Bauval in collaborative works with Adrian Gilbert and Graham Hancock, as well as in their separate publications. The basis of this theory concerns the proposition that the relative positions of three main Ancient Egyptian pyramids on the Giza plateau are (by design) correlated with the relative positions of the three stars in the constellation of Orion which make up Orion's Belt— as these stars appeared ca. 10,500 BC.
Matching up…or lining up… makes me think of a plan and a timeline. Which, on that train of thought, I recall a vision and dream (one of each) that I had in the past in which a timeline was referred to – and also numbers lining up. 
Deborah: One of the interesting things I found are references to Artemis… also known as Diana.
An interesting sermon by a fundamental Baptist preacher….
Very interesting paper with emphasis on Hebrew words and translations…. I need to go back and read this more when I'm not so tired.
Mayan, Egyptian, 2012 info….
Ancient echoes
The constellation of Orion, according to the pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch, was formed of the banished soul of Semyaza, the first leader of the Watchers, the “Sons of God” — fallen angels of Jewish lore who taught the arts and sciences to early humans. These heavenly beings then proceeded to mate with human women, as it says in Genesis 6:1-2:
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all that they chose.
The descendants of these were the “mighty men which were of old, the men of renown” (Gen. 6:4) — the Nephilim, a race of giants.
Curiously, the Sons of God are generally described as tall and fair-skinned, like the Nordics. Yet a fragment of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Testament of Amran, apparently describes a conflict between several leaders of the Watchers — between a Nordic-looking Michael, and the demon king Belial, with a face “like a viper”.
Johanna: Amos 5:8 
8 The One who made the Pleiades and Orion, 
who turns darkness [a] into dawn 
and darkens day into night, 
who summons the waters of the sea 
and pours them out over the face of the earth  —
Yahweh is His name. 
REFERENCE TO AMOS 5:8
Genesis 1:2-3 2 Now the earth was [a] formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

Psalm 104:6-9
6 You covered it with the deep
as if it were a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains. 

7 At Your rebuke the waters fled;
at the sound of Your thunder they hurried away  —

8 mountains rose and valleys sank [a] —
to the place You established for them. 

9 You set a boundary they cannot cross;
they will never cover the earth again. 
This scripture makes me think of the Ark that is waiting for Fathers faithful children. I would have to agree with Regina as well about how the things she read are pointing to a great change.
Amos 4:13
13 He is here:
the One who forms the mountains, 
creates the wind, 
and reveals His[a] thoughts to man, 
the One who makes the dawn out of darkness
and strides on the heights of the earth. 
Yahweh, the God of Hosts, is His name. 

Amos 9:5-6
5 The Lord, the GOD of Hosts—
He touches the earth; 
it melts, and all who dwell on it mourn;
all of it rises like the Nile
and subsides like the Nile of Egypt. 

6 He builds His upper chambers
in the heavens 
and lays the foundation of His vault
on the earth. 
He summons the waters of the sea
and pours them out on the face of the earth. 
Yahweh is His name. 
Other than what everyone else posted I decided to add these scriptures that are in reference to the Amos scripture. There were more but those where already mentioned. 
Regina: Something else that came to mind in regards to The Pleiades is that they are also known as the Big Dipper…and the Big Dipper is also a cup, or bowl…
This was also quite interesting.. The 7 Sisters and the 7 Churches of the book of Revelation….
Revelation 1:11-22  11 saying, "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea."
12 I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me. When I turned I saw seven gold lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was One like the Son of Man, dressed in a long robe, and with a gold sash wrapped around His chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool—white as snow, His eyes like a fiery flame, 15 His feet like fine bronze fired in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of cascading waters. 16 In His right hand He had seven stars; from His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was shining like the sun at midday.

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me, and said, "Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last, 18 and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades. 19 Therefore write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this. 20 The secret of the seven stars you saw in My right hand, and of the seven gold lampstands, is this: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Jeshaiah: Here are some things that also came to mind earlier:
The pyramids being a reflection mirrors things in heaven later taking place on earth.
This also shows that Father Yahweh makes Her plans known. Shows that Father has a way of teaching Her servants that is wholesome and incorporates many other lessons. 
Cherubic Commander: Riddle: A cup is turned upside down and pours out the wrath of Father upon those beneath it. It is dipped in the wrath of Father since the dawn of sin. Its presence is seen but its meaning eludes those that have no insight. Yet, it is visible for all to see as the dawn out of darkness shines above in the night time sky. He touches the earth and it melts with His wrath upon all who dwell on it. They mourn as Father's wrath rises like a river and then sinks them down into the pit of total destruction. For on high He displays His sign within the heavens where He chambers that which will be poured out, and lays the foundation of His vault for those left on the earth that will be cast out into the darkness for eternity. Just as Father built the ancient canopy by the hand of Michael long ago. His upper chambers filled with water in the heavens, and layed the foundation of His vault to receive an ungodly world of people for judgment to eternal destruction. So in these end times Michael has dipped the cup of wrath to its fullness in anticipation of pouring out Father's wrath of fire upon an ungodly world of present day people. As baptism is no longer by water, and judgment is no longer by the complete deluge of water, but instead, as the children of Yahweh are cleansed and baptized by fire, so too shall the fire of heaven cleanse away those that are non partakers of the promised kingdom.

Signs From Above
“He rescues and delivers, He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth, for He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:27
Video: NY witnesses watch glowing orbs morph into triangle shape
Examiner
Dec 20, 2009
Two witnesses in Oceanside, NY, watched two glowing orbs turn into four orbs, then form a triangle shape on December 17, according to testimony from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) database. The pair was driving at 10:30 p.m. when they noticed a bright light that appeared stationary in the sky. A closer looked revealed it was two glowing balls of light. They report that suddenly the two lights became four lights. They stopped the car and attempted to video tape the event with a cell phone camera, reporting that they now saw only two balls of light, but a third, dimmer, light appeared and caused the object to look triangular in shape.
Nevada UFO witnesses give video testimony
Examiner
Dec 18, 2009 
NV, October 2, 2009 – Strange lights in the NV sky. MUFON Case # 19777. My husband, son and I were driving home last night, we were 50 miles north east of McGill Nevada (home) and saw a big, bright orange ball of light appear out the front window of the truck directly in front of us (east) it just hung there for about 10 sec then disappeared. We all asked each other if we had seen it, we had. about 30 sec later it showed up again out the drivers window (north) and we all started yelling and I pulled over, by the time I had stopped it was gone. We got out of the car and it popped up in front of us again. So I took out my little camera and waited, a few sec later saw it way far off to the north east, really dim then it kind of blinked out and it was right in front of us again but there was 2 of them. They just hung there for about 10 to 20 sec, I got some video of them then they just disappeared. All the cars that had been behind us had pulled over and were watching, and a man pulled up next to us and asked if we were seeing this. While we were talking they re-appeared but this time there were 3 of them, they just hung there then kind of bounced up and down, hung there again, then they were just gone. 
Secret UFO file from China released
All News Web
Dec 21, 2009
Another fascinating UFO event (image below) that was studied by the Chinese government has come to light, thanks to the recent Kunming UFO exhibition. The event took place five years ago on 12 December 2004. A group of students walking through the streets of the Northern city of Jiayuguan noticed a classical saucer-shaped UFO hovering in the sky. One of the students managed to film the UFO for around six seconds before it started to gain altitude and eventually shot off into space. The UFO was emitting a bright, luminous, white light and the students reported feeling unwell after the sighting. The students estimated that the UFO was at least the size of a large passenger plane.
UFOs turn up in Michigan sky over Christmas display
Examiner
Dec 23, 2009
MI, November 27, 2009 – Noticed Lights and shape in 3 of my photos when uploading them the next day. MUFON Case # 21091. I went to town to see the lighting of the Christmas tree on November 27th, 2009. I got a new 2.8 lens and wanted to take some photos in a low light setting. I shot about 100 photos that evening from about 5:00 p.m. to around 8:00 p.m. The next day when I was uploading them to my computer I noticed some lights in the sky of one of them. When I zoomed in I saw a shape with the lights that intrested me, and that I didn't know what it was. I begain to look through my other photos and I found simular lights and shapes in 2 other photos. All 3 photos with the lights and shapes in question in the sky were while I was standing on front street facing west.
UFO news for Christmas morning December 25th 2009, Possible mother ship?
December 25, 11:17 AM
Sacramento UFO Examiner
Gregory Brewer
FO mother ship or something else. Greetings enthusiasts on this Christmas day. We stumbled upon the following video of what some may say might be space junk or the International Space Station. We have video footage of space junk and the ISS which looks nothing like this footage presented below. We presented footage months ago of an object that moved far more rapidly then what is shown here and some claimed that too was the ISS. It seems as though many skeptics continue to wish against the increasing activity leading up to what is about to happen denying what may very well be right in front of them. This statement can only be referring to the revealing of the truth regarding Extraterrestrial interaction with the human race. It can not be stopped. The time is closing in. We are being prepared like it or not.

Signs Down Below
But know this: difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of religion but denying its power. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Health Canada proposes putting anti-cancer drug into french fries, potato chips
National Post
by Tom Blackwell
December 21, 2009
Health Canada is proposing an unorthodox way of combatting a food ingredient suspected in some cancers: It wants to let manufacturers put small amounts of a cancer-fighting drug into potato chips and similar foods to curb production of the harmful chemical. Ever since acrylamide was discovered seven years ago in such foods as french fries and chips cooked at high temperatures, scientists have struggled for a way to get it out. The chemical is not added deliberately; it is an unintentional byproduct of cooking.
Oil crisis: uprisings from Nigeria to Peru
Blacklisted News
Race Wire
December 27, 2009
In the past few days, the wars over the world’s natural resources have been rekindled from the Amazon to the Niger Delta. This week, a landmark legal settlement brought a decisive, though partial, end to a bloody chapter in the history of Nigeria’s Ogoni people. Shell agreed to a $15.5 million settlement in a lawsuit, brought in US federal court, accusing the company of massive human rights abuses. The case stemmed from the government executions of activists, including groundbreaking environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who resisted the company’s decades-long plunder of Nigeria’s natural resources. Although Shell did not officially acknowledge its complicity, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which helped litigate the suit, called the settlement a victory in the broader movement to hold corporations accountable on human rights.
Thug Walid Salem boasts he is untouchable as the householder he tormented is jailed
Daily Mail
by Colin Fernandez and Ryan Kisiel
December 21, 2009
A career criminal who violated a man's home with two other knife-wielding thugs boasted that the law could not touch him. Walid Salem, 57, was set free by a judge while Munir Hussain, the householder, was jailed for two-and-a-half years. In court Munir's wife Shaheen, 49, who has recently suffered a stroke, described her ordeal. After the raiders burst into their home, she said: 'They were hitting my husband. When I asked them to stop or looked up they started hitting him again. 'They told us to lie face down and not speak, or they would kill us. It was very terrifying. Just thinking about it makes me shiver.'
Health care deals smell like bribes
TH Online
by THE TH EDITORIAL BOARD
December 27, 2009
The old saying about not wanting to watch the sausage being made was never more true than in watching U.S. Senate Democrats assemble the votes needed to pass their health care reform bill. Senators cast their vote Christmas Eve morning. And this legislation, like the sausage, is full of pork. If a major corporation promised a senator millions of dollars for his or her state in exchange for his or her vote, we'd call it bribery, plain and simple. When the Senate majority leader makes the same deal, we call it compromise.
Britain's economy has worst slump for 90 years
The Independent
by Sarah Arnott
December 23, 2009
Britain's economy performed marginally better than expected in the third quarter, according to official statistics published yesterday, but the revised figures still confounded hopes of a return to growth. The report, produced by the Office for National Statistics, shows gross domestic product contracted by 0.2 per cent in the three months to September, a minor upward revision from previous estimates of 0.3 per cent. But GDP was still 5.1 per cent lower than in the same quarter of 2008 – and six per cent below its early 2008 peak – leaving the UK on course for a 4.5 per cent contraction over 2009 as a whole, the worst slide since 1921. 

Signs in Humanity
Another Peril in War Zones: Sexual Abuse by Fellow G.I.’s 
The New York Times
by Steven Lee Myers
December 27, 2009
BAGHDAD — Capt. Margaret H. White began a relationship with a warrant officer while both were training to be deployed to Iraq. By the time they arrived this year at Camp Taji, north of here, she felt what she called “creepy vibes” and tried to break it off. In the claustrophobic confines of a combat post, it was not easy to do. He left notes on the door to her quarters, alternately pleading and menacing. He forced her to have sex, she said. He asked her to marry him, though he was already married. He waited for her outside the women’s latrines or her quarters, once for three hours. “It got to the point that I felt safer outside the wire,” Captain White said, referring to operations that take soldiers off their heavily fortified bases, “than I did taking a shower.”
Woman knocks down pope at Mass
The Washington Times
by Ariel David
December 25, 2009
VATICAN CITY | A woman jumped the barriers in St. Peter's Basilica and knocked down Pope Benedict XVI as he walked down the main aisle to begin Mass on Christmas Eve. The 82-year-old pope was unhurt and quickly got up, said a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini. Footage aired on Italy's RAI state TV showed a woman dressed in a red, hooded sweat shirt vaulting over the wooden barriers and rushing the pope before being swarmed by bodyguards.
Street protests flare in Iran
The Independent
By Ali Akbar Dareini
December 28, 2009
Iranian security forces killed at least five people yesterday, including a nephew of the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, during the fiercest clashes with anti-government protesters in months. Amateur video footage purportedly from the centre of Tehran showed an enraged crowd carrying away one of the casualties, chanting: "I'll kill the one who killed my brother."
Shoppers ignore recession as Boxing Day sales skyrocket
The Independent
By Rachel Shields
December 27, 2009
Thousands of bargain hunters descended on high streets and shopping centres around the country yesterday for what were thought to be the biggest Boxing Day sales ever. Stores extended their opening hours to cope with the surge in shoppers, which retail analysts believe is due to Boxing Day falling on a Saturday, and shoppers' desire to snap up big-ticket purchases such as TVs before VAT rises to 17.5 per cent on 1 January. London's Oxford Street saw die-hard shoppers queuing outside some stores as early as 2am, while four shoppers in Manchester were treated for minor injuries yesterday morning after being hurt when a ceiling panel fell on them in Selfridges.
Salvation Army Major Philip Wise Gunned Down Christmas Eve In Front of His Three Kids
By EMILY FRIEDMAN
ABC News
Dec. 28, 2009 
Two suspects are being sought in the fatal shooting of a Salvation Army official on Christmas Eve while his three young children looked on. Philip Wise, a 40-year-old major at the North Little Rock Salvation Army center, was returning from driving home two bell ringers when he was approached by two black males wielding handguns, according to Arkansas' North Little Rock Police Sgt. Terry Kuykendall.

Arks of Safe Haven
The mission of Arks of Safe Haven is to connect via an extensive network and online message board forum, those individuals and families who have been affected by recent economic downfalls and are in need with those individuals who are ready, willing and capable of providing assistance to those in need with employment, shelter, work, food, clothing and other necessities.

Coupled with our primary mission of delivering the Kingdom Message of Salvation, the assistance of Arks of Safe Haven is available to all who are in need. Our purposeful intention is to follow in the footsteps of Christ as our example, by providing hope to the hopeless and answering the prayers of those who have been forced to live outside of society.
How You Can Help?
In order to provide for those whose outcry of prayers have reached our heavenly Father's ears, Arks of Safe Haven is seeking out those who are able to provide shelter, whether it be an extra bedroom, empty rental property or a work for room and board agreement. Additionally, we also act as a liaison in connecting those with tangible items to donate to those in need like Food, Water, Clothing, & Other Personal Items. We pray that your heart is motivated to make a contribution, no matter how small. Visit http://www.arksofsafehaven.org and view the many posts from those in need to see if you're able to help with advice, prayers or goods & services.
Joe5Wife – Omaha, NE. – 3375. I can not seem to get that number out of my head. $3375 is what is stopping me from keeping the roof over my family's head. 3375 is how patient my landlord has been with me. I am a strong, hard working mother of four. I recently decided to go back to school to secure their future. But academic awards do not pay the bills. My husband is a self employed concrete worker who does everything he can to support us. We live in Omaha, NE. where the little guy doesnt always get the job. He is very skilled and experienced at framing, siding, and truely just about anything construction related. We do not have a lot of options and our time is slowly running out. We need help!! What are our options?? We need a Christmas miracle!! We have received some help through the state and we are still trying to qualify for anything we can. What do we do when presents are the last thing on our minds financially? We need to secure the roof over our children's head to make our Marry Christmas come true. If there is any, any advice you can give us, we would be very grateful. Happy Holiday's to All!! MT

Signs in Natural Disasters
“You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” Matthew 24:6-7
QUAKES - 
12/23/09 - 
5.6 KEPULAUAN BABAR, INDONESIA 
5.2 KEP. TANIMBAR REGION, INDONESIA 
6.0 KEP. MENTAWAI REGION, INDONESIA 
5.2 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION 
12/22/09 - 
5.2 HALMAHERA, INDONESIA
5.2 TONGA 
5.1 TONGA
5.2 CYPRUS REGION
5.2 KYRGYZSTAN 
12/21/09 - 
5.4 LUZON, PHILIPPINES 
5.4 NORTHERN QINGHAI, CHINA 
12/20/09 - 
5.0 HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION 
5.0 MOLUCCA SEA 
5.2 TONGA 

12/19/09 - 
5.3 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA
6.0 MALAWI
5.2 TONGA
6.4 TAIWAN
5.0 ROTA REGION, N. MARIANA ISLANDS
5.0 TONGA 
12/18/09 - 
5.0 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.2 OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.2 COLOMBIA 
5.1 TONGA 
5.3 SOUTHERN ALASKA 
12/17/09 - 
5.2 KEPULAUAN SANGIHE, INDONESIA
5.5 WEST OF GIBRALTAR 
5.0 NEAR S. COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.2 EASTERN HONSHU, JAPAN
5.0 NEAR S. COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.0 SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION 
5.8 RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS 
5.4 AZORES ISLANDS REGION 
Sun, moon may cause San Andreas quakes – Tidal forces parallel to a segment of the San Andreas Fault in central California may be causing non-volcanic tremors that could help predict earthquakes, researchers said. Low-level tremors have long been associated with volcanoes, because they often warned of impending eruptions. These tremors beneath the San Andreas Fault could provide similar clues about earthquakes. The researchers say the faint tug of the sun and the moon on the fault causes tremors well below the level where earthquakes occur. The finding suggests that rock far underground is lubricated with pressurised water, allowing the rock to slip easily and weakening the fault. "If you could go down there and push the rock with your hand you would cause a tremor." The study found a strong correlation between non-volcanic tremor activity and extremely small, tidal stresses parallel to the San Andreas Fault. 
INDONESIA – A massive undersea earthquake is long overdue beneath the Mentawai islands in Indonesia and could cause another deadly tsunami, say scientists mapping one of the world's most quake-prone zones. Unlike the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed around 226,000 people, this tsunami is expected to be smaller but may be just as deadly as it would hit Sumatra's densely populated coast. "The size of the tsunami may not be as big, but the problem is the size of the population is about three times as great as Aceh." A major quake measuring around 8.6 magnitude is expected beneath Siberut Island, along the Sunda megathrust. The Sunda megathrust extends from Myanmar in the north and sweeps in a south-east arc through Sumatra, Java and towards Timor. "There is only one piece of data that tells us it last broke in 1797. If we are wrong, it may be that the last event was the 1680s. If that is the case, we could have a significantly greater uplift and significantly larger tsunami." The northern 1,600 km (1,000 mile) section of the fault, from Myanmar to Aceh, ruptured in 2004 sending the deadly Boxing Day tsunami out into the Indian Ocean. Recent studies suggest a second scenario, where another big quake could occur along the same section of the megathrust that caused the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. While the middle of this section ruptured up to 25 metres (76 feet) in 2004, the lower part only slipped 10 metres (30 feet), leaving hundreds of years of stress still to be released. "We are wondering whether there could be another big earthquake down in the south end of the 2004 section, which could break sometime in the next few decades as well." Scientists say there is little data linking a major quake with Indonesia's super volcanoes, like Sumatra's Lake Toba, saying a volcano must be ready to erupt in the first place. 
MALAWI – A four-year-old boy and two adults were killed and up to 250 people injured on Sunday when a 6.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed buildings in Malawi's northern district of Karonga. A local government official called on thousands of people to leave their homes because of damage to buildings and the threat of further tremors. Damage to villages was extensive, with many schools and government buildings affected. Another tremor struck neighbouring Tanzania, but initial reports said there was no serious damage or injuries. The Malawi quake, which occurred at 0119 a.m. (2319 GMT Saturday) at a depth of 9.4 miles (15.2 km), was the latest in a series in the uranium-rich Karonga district this month. A one-year-old child was killed on December 8.
TAIWAN – Eastern Taiwan has just been rocked by its biggest earthquake this year. The epicentre of the 6.4 magnitude earthquake, which occurred at 9:02pm (0002 AEDT Sunday) was 25km southeast of the eastern city of Hualien. Buildings were shaking for about 20 seconds as far away as the capital Taipei in the northern part of the island. The quake was at a depth of 44.6km. In the city of Hualien a number of minor incidents were reported in the minutes after the quake. "There were gas leaks and minor fires and people trapped in elevators."
VOLCANOES - 
PHILIPPINES – A 76-year-old woman points to the dome-shaped scar at her back. The scar, the woman said, can predict when the Mayon volcano would erupt. ‘If it hurts even just a bit, the volcano is sure to erupt.' Known as ‘Lola Mayon,’ she was gathering rootcrops in the forest of Buyuan in 1993 when she felt a gust of hot wind that enveloped her body. In less than five minutes, lava burned her extremities including her back. Luckily, she was promptly treated at the hospital and she survived the ordeal. But that incident totally changed her life. Even her name changed from ‘lola Ver’ to ‘Lola Mayon’, indicative of how her ability has grabbed the attention of a massive number of people who have somehow learned to acknowledge her ‘gift.’ “One week before we were evacuated here, my back was hurting badly. I told my family that the volcano might erupt." This was also what she said in the previous eruptions of the volcano that happened in 2004, 2006 and this year. What Lola Mayon ‘predicted’ somehow matched what the volcano specialists have recorded. “In the past, I always tell people if my back hurts but now I just tell my children. But my words still reach other people. There were even foreigners who interviewed me in the past. One was from Japan and the other was from Vietnam. I was even told that my story has reached the US. I don’t understand why." The seemingly frail but chirpy woman said that her desire to help people by warning them about the volcanic eruption is more often misunderstood because people don’t believe her. 
The Philippines' most active volcano shot higher ash columns and rumbled louder on Wednesday as authorities warned of a potential hazardous eruption in Mount Mayon anytime. A major eruption is not expected to impact the country's farm output with mostly subsistence farmers tilling the land around the volcano. An eruption will not have any impact on industry either as there is no major industry in the area. 
PHILIPPINES – Mayon Volcano's activity has become "very intense" with stronger volcanic earthquakes and continuous lava fountaining, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Tuesday morning. "Earthquake signals are more intensive and bigger in size compared to Monday's record." The volcano has been covered by thick clouds since Monday, but the rumbling sounds and stronger earthquake signals indicate that lava fountaining was continuous. Phivolcs' bulletin said a total of 1,266 volcanic earthquakes were detected during the 24-hour observation time. "Many of these volcanic earthquakes were recorded at maximum deflection and have continuously occurred since 12:21 p.m., 20 December 2009 (Sunday). Harmonic tremors were still continuously being recorded." The volcano's sulfur dioxide emission rate remained "very high," measuring to an average of 6,529 tons per day. Red hot lava has continously flowed down along the Bonga-Buyuan, Miisi and Lidong gullies. The alert level hoisted over Mayon Volcano was raised from 3 to 4 on Sunday afternoon. Alert Level 4 means "a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within days." 9,428 families have been evacuated from the danger zones. With majority of the residents evacuated, authorities are now more concerned of the ashfall produced by the volcano's intense activity. "That is the more dangerous part because its very fine ash. During explosions [lava] fragments are quite big, but the main problem of the eruption from a distance is the very fine ash." Fine ash produces more hazardous effects to humans. 
PHILIPPINES – 'Powerful booms' signal Mayon eruption threat, say scientists. Several thousand villagers in the firing line of the Philippines' rumbling Mt Mayon volcano risk forcible evacuation unless they leave the danger zone, officials have warned. Scientists say the powerful booms emanating from the volcano were an indication that a massive eruption may be imminent. The eerie glow of crimson lava could be seen oozing from the volcano overnight and relief officials said farmers and other residents who have refused to evacuate also faced the danger of volcanic ash flow. "We will personally remove the residents who refuse to evacuate to their designated evacuation centres." Roughly 1300 families were still in their homes within an eight-kilometre danger zone declared around Mayon. About 8600 families have already taken shelter in government centres beyond the zone mandated around the volcano. Scientists underlined the growing threat of ash and lava cascading down Mayon's slopes owing to the increasing frequency of booms from inside the volcano, audible as far as 12km away. 
PHILIPPINES – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has raised the alert level on Mayon Volcano from three to four after it exhibited abrupt increase in seismicity, accompanied by rumbling sounds and other factors indicating a possible eruption in days. “All the bases are already there and we have no choice but to raise the alert status from level 3 to level 4, barely six days after it was upgraded from alert level 2 last Monday." From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, 463 volcanic earthquakes were recorded, and these were considered characteristic of a heightened activity near to an explosive eruption. Mayon has manifested signs of a strombolian eruption similar to that of 2001. The parameters indicate that the volcano will expel big boulders.
TSUNAMI / FREAK WAVES / ABNORMAL TIDES / RISING SEA LEVELS - 
CHINA – Eight people went missing Wednesday after they were washed away by tidal waves in east China's Zhejiang Province. Rapidly rising tide water trapped and carried away a migrant worker from southwestern Yunnan Province and nine of the worker's family members and friends down an embankment in Ganpu Township of Haiyan County. The 10 people went more than 200 meters away from the embankment to watch the magnificent tide before they found themselves surrounded by water. Two of them were rescued by two nearby fishermen. Rescuers are searching for the eight missing people. 
TROPICAL STORMS - 
Tropical Storm David formed over the weekend and as a depression, has been romping around the open waters of the Southern Indian Ocean and will continue to do just that. David has been tracking in a westward direction, but is now changing course and moving east-southeast near 7 mph. David's maximum sustained winds are near 46 mph, and the storm may strengthen over the next couple of days. Animated infrared satellite imagery indicated slight improvement in organization over the past 12 hours despite moderate northwesterly vertical wind shear. David had some high thunderstorm tops indicating strong convection and strong thunderstorms with heavy rainfall. The cloud tops were as cold or colder than minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit! David's low-level circulation is partially exposed, opening the storm up to wind shear, which could weaken it. David is forecast to keep moving east-southeast for the next 72 hours and then turn southwestward while intensifying slightly. David poses no threat to land. 
Tropical storm Laurence triggered Indonesia’s Geophysics, Climatology and Meteorology Agency to issue an extreme weather warning on their Web site for December 22 to December 24. According to the agency, the activity of Laurence in West Australia is triggering rain clouds in Indonesia, namely in the western part of Indonesia and south of the equator. The warm sea water south of the equator is increasing condensation in the area. The agency also said that high temperatures during the day stimulated atmospheric activity and could trigger rainstorms and lightning. 
AUSTRALIAN authorities are warning of widespread flooding across north-western New South Wales, as Cyclone Laurence breaks up and moves inland. Rainfall of more than 200 millimetres is predicted around Gilgandra, Coonamble and Bourke, tracking across to Narrabri and Moree and reaching the Queensland-New South Wales border late on Christmas Day. Flooding is expected. The Bureau of Meteorology's Flood Warning Centre says it is a long time since it has seen a weather map like it. "We have had discussions with the State Emergency Service about an hour ago and historically these are quite high falls." Residents and travellers to the region should anticipate a significant flood event. Rural property owners in the affected areas are being advised to shift livestock to higher ground and ensure they have sufficient food, fuel and medicine to last five to seven days. Motorists are being warned that roads may become impassable. 
Cyclone Laurence has been upgraded to a category five storm as it strengthens and moves closer to Western Australia's Pilbara coast. Laurence was intensifying as it moved south, less than 100km off Eighty Mile Beach. Destructive winds are lashing the coast, with gusts of 285km/h increasing a risk of dangerous storm tides. Communities from Sandfire Roadhouse to Pardoo and inland to Yarrie are on red alert. The Great Northern Highway has been closed between Broome and Roebuck. "There's probably less than 100 people who reside in the area, but at this time of year, there's lots of people moving around coming down south for Christmas." Laurence, the first cyclone of the season off the WA coast, formed in the Timor Sea on Sunday, December 13. 
HEAVY RAINS / FLOODING / LANDSLIDES / UNUSUAL & OUT-OF-SEASON WEATHER - 
AUSTRALIA – Drought-plagues areas of northwestern NSW could receive their HEAVIEST RAINFALL IN MORE THAN A DECADE on Christmas Day, but the gift from the heavens is threatening to flood families. The low-pressure system moving east across central Australia — which began as Cyclone Laurence off Western Australia — is expected to dump up to 300mm over the Christmas period. The State Emergency Service yesterday warned farming families in areas subject to flood alerts to stock up on food, fuel and medicine to last up to a week. 
HAWAII – Sunday, wild weather hit the Isles. After snow, record rain and hail, more big waves will be arriving. Snow on Mauna Kea, RECORD RAINFALL in Hilo, dime-sized hail on Maui, a water spout off Kona and sunshine combined to make Sunday an UNUSUAL weather day in the Islands. "That was not typical weather for us. We rarely see hail at sea level in Hawai'i." In Hilo, despite periodic sunshine and no reports of flooding, 7.92 inches of rain fell. That broke the previous record of 3.27 inches of rain for Dec. 19 in 1971. The culprit behind the severe weather was a strong upper level low that destabilized the atmosphere and brought thunderstorms. The National Weather Service also issued a high-surf advisory for east-facing shores of Kaua'i, O'ahu, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island until 6 a.m. Monday. A larger swell was expected to arrive late Tuesday. Surf may approach warning levels for north- and west-facing shores by Christmas eve. (photos) 
HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD - 
ENGLAND – Christmas Eve travellers face another day of disruption as the UK wakes to widespread ice and to freezing fog. Warnings were issued across England, Wales and Northern Ireland after rain showers fell on already icy roads, sparing only south-east England. In Scotland temperatures plunged to minus 16C in the Highlands and minus 11C in Edinburgh overnight. In Lincolnshire one person was reported killed as black ice caused some 40 crashes. Many people have already delayed their travel but drivers are being advised to consider waiting until Christmas Day itself when warmer weather is forecast. Many parts of Scotland were set to suffer sub-zero daytime temperatures, while pockets of freezing fog in the central lowlands and in Northern Ireland that were likely to linger throughout the day. 
'Humongous' storm hits US Midwest – A deadly winter storm makes its way across the US Midwest, killing 12 people, snarling holiday travel with freezing rain and heavy snow and cutting power. The worst of the storm is expected to hit late today and dump up to 2ft (61 cm) of snow by Christmas Day. Icy roads were blamed for the deaths of 12 motorists, mostly in Nebraska, Kansas and Arizona. Some 100 flights leaving Minneapolis were cancelled. The storm system developed across western parts of the US, producing dust storms across the desert areas of California and Arizona. The same system is now currently across the Midwest and is generating severe blizzards from Kansas to Minnesota. As the system pushes eastwards, forecasters expect an ice storm to affect large parts of the interior of the north-east US during Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings early today for Kansas and parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska and the Texas panhandle. "There's just a humongous storm moving across the centre of the country, basically from the Canadian border to Texas and spreading from west Colorado to Illinois…This is not a storm to be messed with." Freezing rain and high winds was making driving extremely dangerous. The NWS winter storm warning for South Dakota said it was a "life-threatening system". More than 1,300 customers were without power in Iowa with temperatures hovering around freezing. In Louisiana where powerful thunderstorms struck, the death of one man was blamed on high winds after a tree fell on his home. South of the storm system, heavy thunderstorms will produce flooding across Texas and into the Ohio Valley, forecasters warned. 
"It’s an UNUSUALLY LARGE storm, even for the Plains. The winter blast follows a weekend storm that dropped record snowfall and interrupted holiday shopping and travel on the East Coast. 
CHINA – Freezing weather spreads in China. A cold snap that blanketed China's far-western Xinjiang region with snow, sparking power cuts and flight cancellations, is spreading across other parts of the nation. Temperatures have fallen as low as minus 40 degrees in parts of Xinjiang, and winds of up to 100 kilometres (60 miles) an hour whipped some areas. The cold spell is now moving east, and the National Meteorological Centre has forecast heavy snow over large swathes of northern China over the next few days. China's capital Beijing is also expected to be hit by strong winds and icy temperatures, while several provinces in the south are experiencing fog, rain and sharp drops in temperature. The snow also cut off power and heat supplies in Yining, a city of 430,000 people, overnight from Tuesday. In January and February 2008, China was hit with its worst winter weather in half a century, when heavy snow and freezing cold swept across the south, destroying crops and wreaking havoc on infrastructure. The cold spell that winter killed at least 107 people and caused over 15 billion dollars in economic losses. 
BRITAIN – The authorities were criticised for again being unprepared for the extreme weather conditions after SOME OF THE HEAVIEST SNOWFALLS IN A DECADE. 
EUROPE – Mass flight cancellations have heaped fresh misery on European travellers, with the freezing weather causing at least 90 deaths and bringing chaos to Christmas holiday plans. 
U.S. – This weekend's storm marked the first time Philadelphia received a season's worth of snow BEFORE winter actually started. It is not unusual for Philadelphia to receive close to two feet of snow. Usually, though, it takes about three or four months. The 22.5 inches measured in a single day Saturday at Philadelphia International Airport guaranteed that the snowfall total for the winter of 2009-10 would surpass the city's annual average, about 20. The region is experiencing an historic December. Surface waters in the Pacific from the International Dateline to the Central American coast are UNUSUALLY warm, the well-known El Niño phenomenon, which occurs every few years. Right now, it is the STRONGEST ONE IN MORE THAN A DECADE. The heat energy has generated strong upper-air winds that have juiced up storm traffic across the United States. Several El Niño-jolted storms already have formed in the Gulf of Mexico and made the pivotal turns up the East Coast, becoming nor'easters. The El Niño is expected to persist through the winter. Meanwhile, in recent weeks, areas of higher air pressure, or heavier air, near Greenland have helped keep cold air over the Eastern United States. That pattern, more volatile and difficult to forecast, is expected to continue at least for the next several days. Those macro forces, however, aren't much help in nailing the details of individual storms, as the weekend showed. Early last week, the computer models that meteorologists use foresaw a possible nor'easter, but as recently as Wednesday, it appeared that it would head out to sea, snubbing Philadelphia. All that had changed by Thursday, and forecasts became progressively more menacing. 
U.S. – ONE OF THE WORST BLIZZARDS IN DECADES is continuing north after dumping nearly 2ft (0.6m) of snow across swathes of the US East Coast. The governors of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Delaware, and the mayors of Washington and Philadelphia all declared emergencies. Washington DC saw the LARGEST SNOWFALL EVER RECORDED IN A SINGLE DECEMBER DAY. More than 1,200 flights were grounded, hundreds of bus routes were scrapped and thousands of homes had no power. The slow-moving monster system – known as a nor'easter – at one point sprawled some 500 miles (800km) across a dozen states, affecting about a quarter of the US population. Today, the storm – which has been blamed for at least five deaths – lurched into southern New England. As much as 16in of snow was expected and blizzard warnings were issued for parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Unleashing gusts of up to 60mph (96km/h) – it dumped more snow on New York and Boston as it moved up the coast on Saturday night. Some of the deepest snow was recorded near Philadelphia: 24in. The system originated over the Gulf of Mexico, unleashing flash floods in much of the US south-east. The rain turned to snow as the storm tracked north-eastward into sub-freezing temperatures. 
EUROPE – Tens of thousands of European travellers were stranded today in rail stations, traffic jams and airports as heavy snow and ice caused massive disruption at the start of the Christmas holiday season. In Poland at least 15 people died of exposure, mainly the homeless or careless drunks caught outside in temperatures that plunged to minus 20 Celsius. Another homeless Pole froze to death while sheltering in a doorway in the French Mediterranean port of Marseille, and a Frenchman was found dead in his ice-cold caravan near the northern town of Arras. In Germany, a 46-year-old homeless man froze to death in the southwestern city of Mannheim while sleeping on a bare pavement, while temperatures in Bavaria plunged to a glacial minus 33.6 degrees Celsius. Two more Germans died in road accidents caused by the icy conditions. Forecasters across the continent are expecting more snow and freezing rain over the next couple of days, but with temperatures rising slightly and the outlook gradually improving. Roads and railways were closed or disrupted by snow drifts, black ice or floods across northern and western Europe, from Portugal to the Netherlands. The most crippling problems hit cross-Channel transport between Britain and France, amid chaotic scenes after the Eurostar passenger service from London to Paris was shut down following at least five breakdowns. More than 2,000 people were trapped on the trains in the Channel Tunnel for up to 16 hours after condensation caused a series of electrical failures on Friday night.
ODD ANIMAL BEHAVIOR- 
NEW JERSEY – HUNGRY SQUIRRELS – Squirrels eat town's Christmas lights – except the red ones. Grey squirrels are ruining Christmas in the US state of New Jersey by eating all the festive lights. Well, not all of them – the red ones seem to be off-limits. Officials in the town of Fredericton say the rodents have developed a taste for the lights that decorate their downtown Christmas tree and have implemented several measures to deter them without much success. "They seem to be very, very hungry and they like plastic and they like the LED lights and that's all. We just can't fight them anymore." The squirrels normally diet on nuts, seeds and fruits, but even replacing the lights with bigger ones hasn't stemmed their appetite for plastic Christmas bulbs. The squirrels only have a taste for blue and white lights. "They will take their time and they will eat through the bulbs of every light. Except the red ones." 
TASMANIA – GIANT TURKEYS – Hysteria grips state as giant turkeys cause Christmas nightmare. Tasmanian butchers say they are facing the nightmare of irate customers and financial losses thanks to over-sized turkeys The state's turkey supplier says its Christmas birds are up to 2kg heavier than expected this year thanks mostly to a cooler growing season. Home cooks who ordered a 3kg turkey for Christmas Day are likely to find themselves battling to get a bird that will fit in the oven. "It's a nightmare." Customers were furious and many had cancelled entire orders of up to $500, including hams and barbecue meats. "It's caused mass panic and hysteria. People don't know what they're going to do." The problem was a cooler than expected year, which helped the turkeys grow. "They don't tend to sit around as much as they do on a warm day, they get up and eat a lot more."
EXTREME HEAT / WILDFIRES / DROUGHT / CLIMATE CHANGE- 
AUSTRALIA – Extreme fire danger for northern Victoria and east Gippsland with high temperatures and strong winds forecast. 
An "extremely dangerous" fire has destroyed homes on the outskirts of Port Lincoln in South Australia, while another blaze is burning out of control in the southeast. 
INDIA – Even though it is the season of chills and snow, the south Gujarat region is experiencing a hot winter this year. The minimum temperature is regularly five degrees above the standard for December. The antithesis does not end there. As denizens feel the heat, just 70 km away in the villages of Songadh and Vyara it's raining hailstorms! Weather experts here are a baffled lot. Though unseasonal rains in Dangs and a few places in Valsad have brought some chill to these places, the coastal belt, including Surat city, continues to see high mercury level. "North wind waves that cool the region at this time of the year have not visited this time. This type of wind has not been generated this year at all."  On the other hand after a large chunk of snow melting in the Indian Ocean, sea temperature has come down by three degrees. [not sure what this means – glacier melt-water? a melting iceberg? a snowfall in the ocean? has lowered sea temps??] Differences in the temperature of sea and land changes the direction of the wind. "At present, due to climatic changes, coastal land is hot and sea is cold. This has resulted in heat wave in coastal places." Explaining the reason for rains in Dahod and Tapi districts in last two days: "Three of the largest reservoirs of south Gujarat Damanganga, Ukai and Narmada are bearing the brunt of heat on land. Huge surface mass of water bodies are evaporating due to heat and in the process causing low-level clouds, which in turn causes the unseasonal showers." This changed climate pattern is severely affecting cash crops of mangoes and chikoos. Even seasonal vegetables are suffering. Flowering has withered away from mango trees and fruit formation is not proper. "Unbalanced season has played havoc and crops are getting affected. If this continues, mango and chikoo crops might not survive." One scientist believes that this changed weather pattern is an indication for a scorching summer ahead. However, another refutes this theory. He feels, that as the sea is huge, the situation can change in a few days' time. This temperature is no indication of coming summer. 
ARIZONA – Heavy dust storms caused several car crashes on a highway in Casa Grande, Arizona. At least 20 cars were involved in collisions, one fatality has been confirmed and one commercial vehicle exploded on Interstate 10. Several vehicles have caught fire, and an unknown number of people suffered severe burns and other traumatic injuries. They have shut down Interstate 10 in both directions. 
INDIA – Once the world's wettest places, Cherrapunji is getting up to 20% less rain every year – and is suffering water shortages. Residents say their heavenly abode in the clouds is hotter and drier than ever before – and they blame it on global warming. Cherrapunji – or Sohra in the local Khasi language – is located in the West Khasi Hills of India's north-eastern state of Meghalaya. "Never were there very big forests around Cherrapunji and many of those that are there are sacred to us. We never cut a branch in these sacred forests. So you cannot say this adverse weather change is our creation. We are affected by what's happening all over the world. This hot weather and less rain here is not due to huge deforestation or massive industrialisation." "It is basically since 2005 that we are often getting 800cm-900cm of rain in Cherrapunji annually – against the normal average of 1100cm." But the town has been getting drier due to erratic rain since the beginning of the decade. Summers are much longer, stretching into November. The immediate impact is a water shortage in what was once the world's wettest area, especially during winters. Longer summers and shorter winters mean much more heat and less moisture in the air. "We get rains suddenly when we don't expect them. And we don't get rain when we expect it. Also it does not rain all over any more. Rain is getting localised even within Cherrapunji." In 1861, Cherrapunji created a world record when 2,298cm of rain fell in just one month. "That will never happen again, though we still get much rain during the monsoon. But earlier, we got rains here even during the winters and that is not happening any more."
HEALTH THREATS - 
Flu activity still up in some areas – Pandemic activity seems to have peaked in most of the Northern Hemisphere, except for areas that were affected later, such as Eastern Europe and parts of Asia. Increases are being reported from South Asian countries such as India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Elsewhere, Barbados and Ecuador are noting spikes in respiratory illnesses. In Europe, the pandemic virus is predominant, but low levels of the three seasonal subtypes are circulating. 
H1N1 has multitude of competitors – Samples from patients with respiratory disease sent to a lab company show that H1N1 is far from the only virus circulating in the United States this flu season and that OTHER FLU-LIKE VIRUSES ARE MORE COMMON THAN USUAL. Only 6% of specimens they tested were positive for influenza A. The most common virus found was rhinovirus, with metapneumovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza virus, and adenovirus also figuring in. 
Kids' death rate 10 times that of seasonal flu – A retrospective study of children in Argentina showed twice the rate of hospitalization and 10 times the rate of death compared with seasonal flu. Of the 251 patients, 47 (19%) required intensive care, 42 (17%) were placed on ventilators, and 13 (5%) died. Of those who died, all but one were under 9 years old, and six were under 1.
Deaths don't tell whole story of severity – The World Health Organization addressed the difficulty of assessing the severity of the H1N1 pandemic by comparing H1N1 fatality counts with seasonal flu counts. Such comparisons can be misleading because death tolls from seasonal flu are estimates, whereas death numbers for the pandemic usually represent confirmed fatal cases. Such comparisons can also mislead because H1N1 has a greater impact on young people than seasonal flu does. 
Potential pandemic legacy: easier future flu seasons – The vast, rapid spread of the H1N1 flu virus could produce unexpected benefits if it displaces current seasonal flu strains. If the novel H1N1, an influenza A strain, replaced either or both of the current seasonal A strains, H3N2 and an older H1N1, that could lead to lesser mortality, less resistance to antiviral drugs, fewer nursing-home outbreaks, and vaccines with fewer components. 
H1N1 immunizations cost effective – Canadian researchers found Ontario's pandemic H1N1 vaccination campaign likely to be highly cost effective, consistent with seasonal flu vaccination. The $118 million campaign, reaching 30% of the population, could reduce cases by 50%, prevent 35 deaths, and cut treatment cost by half they said. They concluded that the program provides good value during times of scarce resources. 
India suspects placental transmission of flu – A finding of H1N1 flu infection in a newborn, tested immediately after delivery because her mother was ill, has led Indian health authorities to suspect placental transmission of the flu virus. Placental transmission of influenza is thought to be rare but has been recorded with the H5N1 avian flu virus. 
Scientists identify natural flu-fighting proteins – Boston researchers report the discovery of a family of natural antiviral proteins that help protect human cells from influenza, dengue, and West Nile viruses. In human and mouse cells, the proteins, called interferon-inducible transmembrane (IFITM) proteins, prevented most virus particles from infecting cells or slowed their invasion. The proteins were active against the pandemic H1N1 virus and other flu strains. 
U.S. – States with widespread pandemic flu drop to 11. 
WHO finds no change in pandemic severity pattern – An early look at winter pandemic flu fatalities in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres suggests severity has not changed. The virus is peaking or declining in many parts of Europe, except for the north, southeast, and parts of the Russian Federation. Activity is also rising in western and central Asia, as well as northern parts of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Pandemic and seasonal strains are cocirculating in West Africa.
RECALLS & ALERTS:
Hazelnuts
Whole Foods Market is recalling organic raw hazelnuts (filberts) sold in bulk through its stores in California, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington because the nuts were part of a batch that was contaminated with salmonella. The company is also recalling non-organic dry roasted hazelnuts (filberts) sold in bulk through its stores in California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, and non-organic raw hazelnuts (filberts) sold in bulk through its stores in Oregon and Washington. 
Burnt Ridge Orchards, Inc., Onalaska WA is recalling 98 pounds of shelled hazelnuts because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. 
Kunze Farms of Dayton, Oregon is recalling 32,950 lbs. of hazelnut kernels because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
Willamette Shelling of Newberg, OR is recalling 114,350 lbs of Shelled Hazelnuts, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
Willamette Filbert Growers of Newberg, OR is recalling 29,861 lbs of Shelled Hazelnuts and Shelled Organic Hazelnuts, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
Evonuk Oregon Hazelnuts of Eugene, OR is recalling 6,712.5 lbs. of raw and dry roasted hazelnut kernels because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
Harry and David is voluntarily recalling raw, shelled hazelnut kernels due to concerns of potential Salmonella contamination.
Pet Carousel has initiated a recall of all Pig Ears and all varieties of Beef Hoof pet treats because the products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Signs in False Shepherds & False Religion
For among them are those who worm their way into households and capture idle women burdened down with sins, led along by a variety of passions, always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so these also resist the truth, men who are corrupt in mind, worthless in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress, for their lack of understanding will be clear to all, as theirs was also. 2 Timothy 3:6-9
Catholic 'Priest' Cons Churches
all Africa
by Moses Talemwa
December 23, 2009
The Catholic Church is investigating how a man, masquerading as a priest, hoodwinked worshippers and celebrated Holy Mass several times, recntly. The man claiming to be "Reverend Father Reuben Taremwa" participated in several 'healing' crusades at Catholic shrines in Kiwamirembe, Namugongo, Busega and Ggogonya. "Fr. Taremwa" claims to hail from Mbarara, but the clergy in Mbarara Archdiocese have disowned him. He had also initially declared himself a member of of the Venncetian Fathers, who are based in Entebbe.
Did Christ come to India to study Buddhism, Vedas?
By Madhusree Chatterjee
IANS
December 25th, 2009
New Delhi, India — The spotlight is back on Jesus Christ and his India connection as the world celebrates Christmas Friday. Some historians believe he spent 17 years of early life – from the age of 13 to 30 – in India learning Buddhism and the Vedas. “There are references that Christ’s family (parents) settled in Nazareth, but the next time he appeared in Nazareth, Jesus was 30. He was said to have been growing in wisdom and stature in the missing years,” British film producer Kent Walwin told IANS.
Passions over 'prosperity gospel': Was Jesus wealthy?
By John Blake
CNN
December 25, 2009
(CNN) — Each Christmas, Christians tell stories about the poor baby Jesus born in a lowly manger because there was no room in the inn. But the Rev. C. Thomas Anderson, senior pastor of the Living Word Bible Church in Mesa, Arizona, preaches a version of the Christmas story that says baby Jesus wasn't so poor after all. Anderson says Jesus couldn't have been poor because he received lucrative gifts — gold, frankincense and myrrh — at birth. Jesus had to be wealthy because the Roman soldiers who crucified him gambled for his expensive undergarments. Even Jesus' parents, Mary and Joseph, lived and traveled in style, he says.
Thou SHALT shoplift: Priest tells congregation it's better than robbery or prostitution
By Chris Brooke
22nd December 2009
Poor people who are desperate for cash have been advised to go forth and shoplift from major stores – by an Anglican priest. The Rev Tim Jones said in his Sunday sermon that stealing from successful shops was preferable to burglary, robbery or prostitution. He told parishioners it would not break the eighth commandment 'thou shalt not steal' because it 'is permissible for those who are in desperate situations to take food that they might not starve'. But his advice was roundly condemned by police and the local Tory MP. Father Jones, 42, was discussing Mary and the birth of Jesus when he went on to the subject of how poor and vulnerable people cope in the run-up to Christmas.'My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift,' he told his stunned congregation at St Lawrence and St Hilda in York.
Hundreds of pagans turn up at Stonehenge for the winter solstice… on the WRONG DAY
By Daily Mail Reporter
22nd December 2009
It's one of the oldest celebrations in the world and has drawn visitors to Stonehenge for centuries. But 300 pagans were left red-faced yesterday after they arrived at the prehistoric monument a day early for the winter solstice. The crowd had met at the mystical site in Wiltshire to mark the shortest day of the year, normally December 21, but this year the solstice did not become official until the early hours of this morning. So they were forced to spend a cold night shivering outside in their full-length cloaks. The solstice does not always fall on the December 21 because the modern calendar of 365 days per year does not correspond exactly to the solar year of 365.2422 days. English Heritage opened Stonehenge at 7.30am this morning for people wishing to watch the sun rise shortly after 8am. Most revellers left soon after the sunrise before the site reopened at 9.30am for the usual visitor traffic. But while 600 people turned up today for the official ceremony, around 300 arrived yesterday to find out they had got the date wrong.

Faith under Fire
“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Matthew 5:11-12

“You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endured to the end will be delivered.”  Matthew 10:22
Iraqi Christians Face Bombs, Attacks in Run-Up to Christmas
Fox News
December 24, 2009 
The deadly Christmas Eve ambush of a Christian bus driver in Iraq Thursday and a bombing earlier this week targeting a 1,200-year-old church are driving Iraq's few remaining Christians quietly underground in the hours before the holy day begins. Christmas has bumped into Shiite Islam's most mournful ceremony this year, forcing Iraqi Christians to shutter their homes and hide the signs of their celebration. Midnight Mass will again be observed in daylight across Baghdad, and security around churches is heavier for a community that's been threatened by sectarian violence since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Boca Raton: Yes to Menorah, No to Manger
by: Orlando Salinas 
Fox News
December 24, 2009 
Make room for the Jewish menorah, but not the Christian manger. In Boca Raton, Florida, Christians say that’s the message from city hall, after officials said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to their offer to donate a Christian creche to display next to a menorah inside the public library. On Wednesday, around noon, members from ‘The Pentacostal Assemblies of God’, gathered outside the Boca library, armed with nearly 25 creches of all sizes and shapes. Whites, Haitians, and Hispanics walked past the metal detectors, and quietly placed their mangers underneath the small Christmas tree, next to the copy machine. Librarians looked on, most walked away behind a closed door, and one rushed to cover the camera. Some folks were upset, saying Christians were "pushing their faith" inside the library. But most said it was only fair to place a Christian manger right next to a Jewish menorah.
California Official Orders Removal of Christmas Angel After Complaint
December 23, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller 
Fox News
There's no place for angels atop Christmas trees, according to one California man who successfully lobbied for the removal of religious symbols at county buildings after spotting a yuletide decoration last week. Stars and other religious emblems were ordered removed from Christmas trees in all government buildings in Sonoma County on Monday following a complaint by Irv Sutley, a disabled 65-year-old Marine veteran who said the symbols were "extremely offensive" and part of the "cult" of Christianity.
North Korea Apparently Detains U.S. Missionary, Activist Says
Associated Press
December 28, 2009 
SEOUL, South Korea — Robert Park is "unusually serious" about his Christian faith, with an intense devotion to prayer and ending suffering in North Korea, those who know him say. Now, the 28-year-old Korean-American missionary is himself the focus of prayers — and a search by U.S. diplomats — after activists say he was likely detained while entering the totalitarian state on a faith-fueled mission to liberate its people.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Advertisements