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eNews For The Week Of February 28, 2012

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Ultrasound Before Abortion Says Virginia Senate

February 29, 2012

Women who want to have an abortion in Virginia must first have an ultrasound under precedent-setting legislation that narrowly passed the Virginia Senate on Tuesday. Conservative Republicans in the evenly divided chamber, with the help of two pro-life Democrats, dismissed complaints from women's rights groups and national ridicule from late-night comedians to approve the bill on a 21-19 vote.


Putin Assassination Attempt Thwarted

February 27, 2012

Russian and Ukrainian special services have arrested a group of suspects accused of attempting to assassinate Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Russia's state television said Monday. The Channel One said that the suspects were plotting to kill Putin in Moscow immediately after the March 4 presidential election, in which he is all but certain to reclaim the presidency. The Ukrainian Security Service said the suspects were arrested following an accidental explosion that happened while they were trying to manufacture explosives at a rented apartment.



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Articles And Commentary

Putin Uses Stalin's Great Leader Image Despite Moral Failure of Communism

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"We have the truth on our side! We will be the winners!"

Those words ended the speech of Vladimir Putin at the "United Russia" congress last November. They were also part of one of Josef Stalin's most famous speeches for the Soviet public from June, 22 in 1941. While people in Poland fight media censorship, fearing the control they suffered under communism, while Albanians and Hungarians commemorate their victims of Soviet rule, Josef Stalin is still popular enough in Russia that Putin is capitalizing on his image as a great leader.

Eastern Europeans may have wrenched off the suffocating shroud of communism 22 years ago, but they have not forgotten the weight of it on their backs. Rejection of communist control still raises emotions today.

An international copyright treaty drove Eastern Europeans to the streets in protest starting last month in Poland. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, (ACTA), meant to fight copyright infringement and intellectual property theft, including online piracy, was seen as a doorway to Internet surveillance. After years of rule by the communists, people in Poland and the Czech Republic were not going to allow any more control of their media.

"Most of the people who have gone to the streets are young and don't remember communism themselves, but Polish society as an entity remembers," said Jaroslaw Lipszyc, the president of the Modern Poland Foundation, which promotes the education of the Polish public. "In Poland freedom of speech is of special value, and there is a history of fighting for it."

Albania's National Museum has taken the 21st anniversary of the day communist dictator Enver Hoxha's s 20-foot tall statue was knocked over in February of 1991 to open a new wing to remember the suffering of Albanians under communist rule. Photographs of mass graves are on display in the new wing, along with handcuffs and chains and other memorabilia to remind visitors of the thousands of Albanians who were imprisoned and sent to hard labor camps during the communist holocaust in their country.

The bitter taste of communism still lingers in the mouths of Hungarians as well. On Sunday, Hungary as a nation mourned the victims of years of communist rule. Flowers and candles covered the entrance to the House of Terror Museum on Andrassy Boulevard in Budapest, where President Pal Schmitt and his wife lit symbolic candles along with other Hungarians. State Secretary for Justice Bence Retvari addressed crowds in western Hungary, calling communism "an immensely deep well of human evilness" from which those who operated the system drew daily.

Then there is Russia, where Putin's willingness to connect himself to Stalin is considered a reasonable campaign move.

There's a logic behind Putin's strategy; in 2008, the Russian Rossiya television channel declared that Josef Stalin had been voted Russia's third-greatest historical figure.

Stalin did not come in number #1 of course, but his inclusion in the list of top "greats" demonstrated serious admiration by the Russian people. In fact, Stalin was at the top of the list at one point, until the producer asked people to please vote for somebody else, according to the BBC. More than fifty million people across Russia voted by phone, Internet, or text message over a period of six months.

There is concern not just that Putin wants to appeal to the communists in Russia, but that he apparently is not afraid it will backfire on him. He's using Stalin to enhance his image, according to the general director of the Political Information Centre, Aleksey Muhin, and it's working for him.

Propaganda Masters:
The Cold War is largely over. The Berlin Wall has been torn down and now sits on countless bookshelves in bits and pieces. The fear of the communist threat has dimmed in the West, and students graduating from today's universities were not even alive when the Soviet Union fell. The propaganda machine of communism is not dead, however, and because the fear is less tangible, there is the chance that people may forget how truly terrible the threat of communism continues to be.

For a reminder, we need to just look to North Korea, one of the most oppressed nations in the world. The shrewd propaganda on which communism depends still survives in Pyongyang, and we should be highly wary of its diabolically masterful ability to twist minds and hearts. By rewarding the "good" Communist Party members with affluence, anesthetizing their reasoning and keeping them sedate to the misery around them, and by holding the rest of the populace in a vice of terror, the cult of leader-worship is maintained.

If communist propaganda is cunning enough to prop up the regime in North Korea, where people are starving and dying in death camps and crushed under government control, we should not underestimate its ability to draw in those in the West easily sedated by its calming enticements.

The Communist Death Toll:
Of all the truly wretched ideas promulgated during the 20th century, Marxism is one of the very worst. On the front, communism is one of those ideas that sounds utopian, but ends up a tool for godless tyrants and despots.

In his expose, 10 Books That Screwed Up The World, Benjamin Wiker writes, "The Communist Manifesto could win the award for the most malicious book ever written. Now that we have more accurate calculations of corpses – perhaps upwards of 100,000,000 – even the tenured Marxists are a bit squeamish about tooting the Manifesto as a horn of plenty."

Wiker has a sense of humor. "Tenured Marxists" refers of course to those Western university professors who still promote communist ideals in their classes, despite the utter failure of the Marxist dream.

What is the matter with Marxism anyway? It sounds wonderful – everybody owning the world in common, sharing the products of their labor with no class struggle and equality for all. Either Lenin and Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and their fellows got it all wrong…or… something is inherently wrong with Marx's philosophy.

Marx v. the Bible:
The fundamental problem with Marxism is that it is based in materialistic atheism and attempts to build a utopia without God. It's the Tower of Babel, an effort to reach Heaven by the power of man and not by the grace of the Creator. Such efforts will always fail, because they reject basic biblical spiritual principles. If engineers reject the laws of physics when building a bridge, it will collapse, and when men try to build societies while rejecting the laws of God, those societies will also self-destruct.

Marx says we must reject the idea of private property.

The Bible says, "Thou shalt not covet ... any thing that is thy neighbor's," (Exd 20:17).   It also says to give cheerfully, from the heart and not out of compulsion (2 Cor 9:7).

Marx says we must condemn the bourgeois and through violent revolution snatch their property for the common man.

The Bible says, "Thou shalt not steal,"  (Deut 5:19;Rom 2:21). The Bible also has a great deal to say about being servant-hearted and laying down your life for your neighbor (Gal 5:13; Jhn 10:15, 13:12-17, 15:13).

Marx says that there is no God.

God says, "I AM," (Exo 3:14). And "Thou shalt have no other gods before me,"  (Exd 20:2-3).

Marx says that religion is a construct to keep the masses under the thumb of the ruling classes. [Stalin, Mao et al did not seem to have a problem keeping the masses under their thumbs.]

The Bible says "For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens." (Psalm 96:4-5 )

Marx says that the material world is all that matters. Humans are merely material, not spiritual, animals. They have only as much value as their ability to produce for the Community.

The Bible says that while God knows our material needs, the spiritual is what matters most (John 6:63; Mat 6:30-33). Humans are precious creatures, created in God's image, and have such great value that He was willing to pay the price of His Son's blood to buy them back from death. (Gen 1:26-27; Jer 1:5; Jer 31:3; John 3:16)

Stalin's purges, his horrendous disregard for human life, his tyranny are all a direct result of his Marxist philosophical views. If only the Community matters, and if human beings have no intrinsic value, then it is logically defensible to slaughter those millions who are perceived as threats to the utopian ideal and therefore to the Community. If there is no God, then human reason is the only yardstick for morality, and that yardstick can be used to beat others into submission to a dictator's insane will.

If Russians forget the terror of Stalin, perhaps the people of Hungary and Albania and Poland will take time to remind them that there were more deaths to Stalin's legacy than were spent in defeating Hitler.  If the world forgets the terror of communism, perhaps the people of North Korea will one day have the freedom to shout about it loudly.  Until then, we need to inform our young people and teach them to look at the results of certain philosophies and not merely listen to their soft words.

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China's One-Child Policy Gets A Face Lift

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While China's one-child policy remains firmly in place, the Chinese government is working to use softer tones in promoting it. Moving from threats to a more up-beat message, the slogans that promote family planning also encourage families to value their baby girls. Large families will not soon be welcomed in China, but the government is trying to be nicer about how they try to keep the numbers down.

When China first started pushing its one-child policy in 1979, it proudly displayed threats to those who dared add a second child to their family, whether planned or unplanned. Children are expensive, but in China keeping a second or third baby could mean literally losing your house. "If sterilization or abortion demands are rejected, houses will be toppled, cows confiscated," one older slogan read. The words were painted on the walls of buildings, readily visible to all who passed by. There was no ignorance of the government's expectations.

China is trying positive reinforcement these days, with promotions that say more pleasant things like, "Lower fertility, better quality; boys and girls are all treasures." Because the one-child policy led couples to abort or get rid of baby girls in favor of having their only child be a son, a current warning states that, "Mistreatment and abandonment of baby girls is strictly prohibited." China needs its girls too, and it currently has a lopsided ratio of men to women in its population.

China has been visible and forceful about keeping down the birth rate during the past three decades, but not without resistance. In 2007, for instance, family planning facilities in southwest China were attacked as thousands of villagers protested the Bobai county government's enforcement of the one-child policy. The villagers overturned cars and set fire to buildings in response to the cruel fines and violence against those who had more than the permitted number of children.

A student who only gave his last name, Zhou, told The Guardian, "if you cannot pay, the officials come to your home and confiscate the contents. If you refuse, then smash, smash, smash."

One woman hired to collect the fines described her job, saying, "Usually we went to a house and asked them to pay the fine. If no one answered, some men in our group used hammers to break in and take away property. If there was not enough to confiscate, they smashed the walls. Before we used to force women to have abortions but now the target seems to have changed to raising money. I hate this job, but I have no choice."

China does have a lot of mouths to feed, but the grief of millions of women who have been subject to forced abortions or men who have lost their children or who deal with the guilt of having abandoned their baby girls is incalculable. The war waged on those who dare keep more children than permitted is an added well of inhumanity.

Population Control:
The gross human rights violations in China are well known, but it is not the only land where population growth is frowned on. There are groups that would like the birth rates of other countries to drop, including America. Birth rates have fallen across the board in the United States with the poor economy, but certain groups still feel Americans are having too many babies. In developing countries, the birth rates are much higher.

For the most part, environmental groups have skirted the issue of population control, but the Center For Biological Diversity is not one of them. The organization states right up front that the environment would be better off if human beings were not quite as common. Its 7 Billion And Counting (7B) site states:

Our planet has reached a staggering milestone: On October 31, the world population reached 7 billion people eking out a living. By the end of the century, it'll top 10 billion. Overpopulation and overconsumption are the root causes of environmental destruction. They're driving species extinct, destroying wildlife habitat, and undermining the basic needs of all life at an unprecedented rate. It has to stop…Our planet is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. Hundreds of plant and animal species are disappearing from our planet every day, never to return. In fact, scientists say species today are going extinct 100 to 1,000 times faster than normal. They're going extinct because of us - people.

To do their part to slow population growth, the Center For Biological Diversity has taken up the job of handing out condoms.  They are not going out and shooting people or planting destructive bacterial strains in the water supplies of major municipalities, and that's a good thing. According to its web site, the group gave out 350,000 "Endangered Species Condoms" in 2010. The group does promote universal access to birth control and greater access to family planning services, (which often include abortion).

Optimum Population Trust, aka Population Matters, is another group against population growth, and its anti-human views are stated even more strongly.

In response to a report of the United Nations Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, Population Matters Chair, Roger Martin stated, "We all know that a finite and rapidly degrading planet cannot support, let alone sustain, ever-increasing numbers of people each consuming ever larger amounts of resources - it's physically impossible… Population stabilization is clearly a necessary - though of course not sufficient - condition of any real sustainability."

"Sustainability" is a word that means, "continue to survive without using up all resources." It is a popular term among green groups worried about the spread of humanity.

The men and women of OPT believe that the world will not be able to "sustain" the current population of humans for much longer, and the organization wants to promote contraception and family planning across the world, with the hope of leveling out population growth (and eventually reversing it).

Population Does Matter:
There are several premises that the population control folks do have wrong however. The first is that fewer humans would be better for the environment. A second incorrect premise, and most significantly, is that human beings have little or no intrinsic value.

In fact, larger population growth does not equate to greater per-capita pollution. As George Monbiot pointed out in The Guardian less than three years ago, the poor people with large families in Africa are not having nearly the impact on the environment as the single rich person with a yacht burning through gas, heating his pool all year round. In September of 2009, Monbiot wrote, "Between 1980 and 2005, for example, Sub-Saharan Africa produced 18.5% of the world's population growth and just 2.4% of the growth in CO2. North America turned out 4% of the extra people, but 14% of the extra emissions. Sixty-three per cent of the world's population growth happened in places with very low emissions."

In fact, it may be the population control environmentalists have it all wrong. If they want to save the environment, perhaps they should encourage people to have large families. A single child might go through a variety of clothes and toys, might leave his food on the plate and scribble through white drawing paper with no thought about it. The child with six siblings, on the other hand, feels obliged to say, "Don't anybody eat my food while I'm gone," when he leaves the dinner table to go to the bathroom. Every sock and shoe and coat is well used by the large family. If all the white drawing paper is used by one person, that one person is getting clobbered. Children from large families are trained in resourcefulness from an early age, and it is that resourcefulness that might mean everything for the world's food supply and better management of our natural resources in the future.

Running Out of Room?
According to some quick calculations, the entire human population of Earth could fit into a space the size of Connecticut with enough room for each man, woman, and child to have more than 19 square feet of space each (and that's accounting for lakes and rivers). Of course, we couldn't live like that, but it makes a point; there's a lot of room on this planet.

Certainly we want to take good care of the land we've been given, and we have a responsibility to care for our environmental assets. While we hope the Lord will not tarry much longer, we do not know how much longer we will need to live on this particular piece of real estate in the universe.  If we are draining our aquifers, we need to adjust our farming practices to waste less water.  If we are turning the Amazon into a desert, we need to find creative ways to deal with the problem.  If people are starving in Kenya, Zimbabwe should manage its excellent farmland better.  There is no shortage of food and water on our blue planet.

The foolishness and sin of human beings is always destructive, but the existence of human beings is not the problem. We humans have great value to the God of the Universe, so much so that He sent his Son to die for us. We need to take care of this world while we're here. We need to take care of each other. But, we should never fall into the dangerous position of assuming that "sustainability" and the birth of new human life are mutually exclusive.

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The Destruction of the Temple Mount

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"Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest." – Micah 3:12

The Temple Mount may be the holiest site in the world, and under the Temple Mount lie the archeological fingerprints of that spot's story throughout the past 2900 years. For well over a decade, however, flagrant excavation has torn out a significant portion of the archeological heart of the Mount. A recent report allegedly describes the destruction as part of work to join the mosques of the Temple Mount together under one huge mosque and to keep the Jews off the site forever.

"The Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard and everything in it is Islamic property" states the sign at the entrance to the Temple Mount. While Israel has had control of Jerusalem since the 1967 Six-Day War, the Temple Mount has remained under the charge of the Waqf, the Muslim religious authority. Few Jews are permitted on the Temple Mount , and if the Muslims riot, Jews are kept away altogether.

In the meanwhile, bulldozers and trucks have been brought in to excavate the Temple Mount, and mounds of dirt and rock from the site have been abandoned at a local garbage site or dumped in to the stream bed at the bottom of the Kidron Valley. The Waqf has not merely engaged in indiscriminate, careless digging, but instead has a specific agenda of removing any remnant of other religions from the site.

"It has been going on for 12 years," Archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar warned last week. "They're digging there as if it's a construction site. There is a danger that the ground will collapse under thousands of Muslims. It endangers the safety of the people. There must be engineering control over this huge monument. Every stone on the Temple Mount may contain some of the most important antiquities in the world."

According to Israeli Antiquities Authority rules, no digging deeper than 60 cm (two feet) may be done on the Temple Mount, and never with mechanical equipment. Yet excavations with bulldozers go on, and in the name of peace, the Israeli authorities allow it. The Hebrew language newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, first broke the story, describing the reports' details that "[V]aluable remnants from the two Jewish Temples were thrown away to an improvised garbage dump by members of the Waqf," but worries about the possible social and political ramifications of the report have made the local authorities resistant to release it.

The Committee for the Prevention of Temple Mount Antiquities' Destruction, a concerned group of archaeologists and scholars, requested that an investigation be made of the ongoing excavations at the Temple Mount. Members of the State Comptroller's Office researched the matter and wrote a report, but the Knesset's State Control Committee has refused to release the report for "security reasons." According to Ynet News, a senior Shin Bet Security Service official did not agree with the Knesset's decision, saying, "I'm ashamed. This is akin to cheapening national security to the lowest point possible."

Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan also disagreed that the report should be gagged, saying, "There is no connection whatsoever between the failure to publish the report and national security. As far as I know, both Mossad and Shin Bet said there is no reason publish the report…apparently there are other considerations here, pertaining to political motives."

Archeologists have combed through the piles of dirt pulled from the Temple Mount and have managed to scavenge important artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods, but their historical value has been seriously damaged by ripping them from their original locations.

"We know that the Waqf's goal is to unite all one the mosques, and unfortunately today it is far from being just an illusion," said Mazar. "We will definitely weep over this plan in the future."

Aelia Capitolina:
In the meanwhile, archeologists are learning more about the Roman city of Aelia Capitolina that was built on the site of ancient Jerusalem after it was destroyed by the Romans. The straightest streets in the Old City of Jerusalem are the result of that Roman engineering.

The 2nd Temple was torn down brick by brick in A.D. 70 by the Romans, and eventually Jerusalem was plowed by the Emperor Hadrian, as Micah had prophesied. The Emperor Hadrian built the pagan city Aelia Capitolina in about A.D. 132 to replace Jerusalem, named after himself and the Roman god Jupiter Capitolinus. Jews were not permitted to enter its gates except on the 9th of Av to mourn. Hadrian gave Judea the new name Syria Palestina in honor of Israel's enemies the Philistines. It is a city that reminds Jews of the destruction of their beloved Jerusalem and of their banishment.

At least four major archeological excavations have been taking place in the Old City, unearthing Aelia Capitolina and studying its ancient life before new buildings are built on top. The discoveries show that even after the Second Temple was destroyed, the Temple Mount was used for Roman pagan worship.

Oh Jerusalem:
In Luke 19, Jesus stops to weep over Jerusalem. He would soon enter through the Eastern Gate, across the Kidron Valley from the Mount of Olives. Gazing from that hilltop, Jesus grieved at what he knew would be the future of the beloved city.

Luke 19:41-44 says, "[H]e beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation."

Just a century years later, Jerusalem was plowed flat. Today, enemies of the Jews continue to cause destruction on the Temple Mount, seeking to eliminate even the rocks left to remind anybody that the Temple of the LORD once stood there. The East Gate was closed up by the Ottoman Turks in A.D. 1530 to prevent the Messiah from entering as prophesied (but in doing so they fulfilled Ezekiel 44:1-2). Mosques sit on the Temple Mount, and the ancient site of the Holy of Holies is trampled without regard.

Yet, there will be another time in the future when the LORD will once again be worshiped.  At that time, the LORD says "...my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore," (Ezekiel 37:21-28).

It that time, God Himself will reign, as He tells Ezekiel in verse 43:7 saying, "… Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile."

Nor will anyone else.

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