Obama signs into law tough new sanctions against Iran’s central bank,

Obama signs into law tough new sanctions against Iran’s central bank, financial sector

Saturday, 31 December 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday signed into law tough new sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank and financial sector, in a move likely to deepen acrimony between Washington and Tehran.

The measures, meant to punish the Islamic Republic for its nuclear program, were contained in a $662 billion defense bill, which officials said Obama signed despite reservations about its impact on Iran policy and detaining terror suspects.

“The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it,” Obama said in a statement, citing limits on transferring detainees from the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and requirements he notify Congress before sharing some defense missile information with Russia as problematic.

The bill, approved by Congress last week, aims with its Iran sanctions to reduce Tehran’s oil revenues but gives the U.S. president powers to waive penalties as required. Senior U.S. officials said Washington was engaging with its foreign partners to ensure the sanctions can work without harming global energy markets, and stressed the U.S. strategy for engaging with Iran was unchanged by the bill.

Meanwhile, the EU said that it is ready for a new round of talks with Iran but must be without preconditions in response to Iran’s proposal on Saturday to hold talks on its nuclear program with six world powers.

The country’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, said he has formally called on the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany to return to negotiations.

http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/12/31/185639.html

Is it too late to save the Golden State?

Is it too late to save the Golden State?

California is an amazing State. Amazingly stupid! It may indeed be too late to save her.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, some 40,000 new laws take effect across the 50 States effective January 1, 2012. California leads the nation in passing arguably the most absurd of these laws. The Assembly, State Senate and Governor Jerry Brown defy comprehension.

Among the thousands of California laws passed in 2011, California leads the pack of States with its composite head-in-the-toilet mentality. Here are a few of the inane laws which specifically address lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Californians. Disabled are also included in this group, though I am not sure why those who are physically challenged are lumped into a sexual classification.

* Effective January 1, there will be new curricula in our schools. K-12 children will learn about all the positive accomplishments contributed by lesbians, homosexuals, bisexual, transgender, and disabled individuals in Social Science classes up and down the State. The law bans teaching materials that reflect poorly on the above noted individuals. Never mind, teaching the truth; it is better to inculcate students with political dogma. What ever happened to teaching the Revolutionary, Civil, and World Wars I and II?

* California’s growing food stamp program will renamed Cal-Fresh. I am not certain if a new bureaucracy will be created adding to the list of 571 California State agencies and commissions many of which are duplicative.

Beer with added caffeine will be banded from California stores, effective the New Year.

* A minor who is 12 years of age will able to consent to medical care related to a sexually transmitted disease. No parental consent and knowledge required. Let’s remove the parents from the picture. The State will have ultimate jurisdiction over the child’s sexual behavior.

* California continues to push the envelope and welcomes illegal aliens to the Golden State. Effective January 1, unlicensed and uninsured drivers who are snagged in sobriety check points will no longer have their vehicles impounded. Last year, thousands of illegally licensed drivers who also happen to be illegal aliens, lost their vehicles to impound. Law enforcement will be prohibited from impounding vehicles of drivers who operate vehicles without a license, if that is their only offense. The double standard is alive and well in California.

* While Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia will implement the highly successful E-Verify program to ascertain one’s social security number to verify employment eligibility, California bucks the tide, thumbs its nose at the law, and, effective January 1, prohibits private employers in the State from utilizing the E-Verify system. This side stepping of the law impacts California workers who follow the rules and is a major reason the State’s unemployment rate is the one of the highest in the nation, exceeding 12%.

* Minors are not permitted to use tanning booths without parents’ permission. Interestingly, a minor as young as 12 in California can have an abortion without knowledge or consent of the parent but the child needs a note from the parent to use a tanning booth. Doesn’t it make you ponder who sits up at night and makes these laws? Do these lawmakers have children?

I am curious to know, especially from the Left side of the aisle how progressives feel about these new laws.

In the meantime, California lawmakers and Governor Jerry Brown are looking to close yet another $2 billion gap in the budget by raising the sales tax again to near 10%, and levying yet additional taxes on California millionaires with out a thought of making the slightest effort to cut spending. Things that make you go Hmmm.

California is an amazing State. Amazingly stupid! It may indeed be too late to save her.

http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/43595

Syria's Future Leaders: Israel Likely to Remain an Enemy

Syria’s Future Leaders: Israel Likely to Remain an Enemy

Some things are unlikely to change in Syria on the day after Assad’s fall, such as an acceptance of Israel as part of the Middle East.

By David Lev

First Publish: 12/31/2011, 7:30 PM

Syria’s opposition groups are getting ready for “the day after” the fall of the Assad regime, and are anticipating a new, democratic regime. But some things are unlikely to change; Syria’s likely future leaders still consider Israel an enemy, and will continue to demand Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

The two largest opposition groups in the country, the Syrian National Council and the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB), signed an agreement to establish a a transitional government that would guarantee the rights of all citizens, hold parliamentary elections, and draft a constitution that guarantees a “civilian pluralist parliamentary democratic system.”

The agreement also rejects any foreign intervention in Syria, and calls for the “protection of civilians by all legitimate means in the framework of international laws.” The agreement also calls for ensuring fair treatment for the country’s Kurdish population.

However, the agreement makes clear that Syria will remain an enemy of Israel even after the proposed changes. The deal calls for “liberating Syrian territory,” an apparent reference to the Golan Heights, which a “democratic” Syria would still demand that Israel withdraw from.

Israel liberated the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six Day War after Syria attacked Israeli towns in the Galilee. Since 1948, Syria had incessantly shelled Israeli towns in northen Israel, forcing thousands to take cover nightly in bomb shelters.

The agreement was signed Friday night in Cairo by Burhan Ghalioun, leader of the Council, and Haytham Manna, head of the NCB.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/151254#.Tv9dutTwtic

Iran proposes new nuclear talks with world powers

Iran proposes new nuclear talks with world powers

Tehran’s nuclear negotiator formally calls on the six powers to return to the negotiation table, signaling that Iran is feeling toll of global sanctions

Associated Press

Latest Update: 12.31.11, 15:48 / Israel News

Iran has proposed a new round of talks about its controversial nuclear program with the six world powers, the country’s top nuclear negotiator said Saturday.

Saeed Jalili said he has formally called on the six powers – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – to return to the negotiating table with Iran.

The invitation comes in the wake of new sanctions recently imposed by the West over Tehran’s uranium enrichment program, which is a potential pathway to making nuclear arms.

The last round of negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany in January in Istanbul, Turkey, ended in failure.

The US and some of its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop atomic weapons. Iran has denied the charge, saying the program is for peaceful purposes only and is geared toward generating electricity and producing medical radioisotopes to treat cancer patients.

“We formally declared to them (the intent) to return to the path of dialogue for cooperation,” Jalili told Iranian diplomats in Tehran, according to the official IRNA news agency. Jalili did not say when or through what channel he issued the invitation….http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4169205,00.html

Syrian opposition groups unite against Assad

Syrian opposition groups unite against Assad

Agreement between two opposition groups says democracy will be established in Syria after regime’s fall; rejects foreign military intervention

Associated Press

Published: 12.31.11, 18:50 / Israel News

Syria’s two largest opposition groups signed an agreement on setting up a democracy after President Bashar Assad’s regime falls, opposition figures said Saturday.

The move is so far the most serious by the fractured opposition to unite against the regime and shows that Assad’s opponents will accept nothing less than his departure from power….http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4169244,00.html

Virginia Attorney General Intervenes in GOP Primary Ballot Dispute

Virginia Attorney General Intervenes in GOP Primary Ballot Dispute

By Carl Cameron

Published December 31, 2011

| FoxNews.com

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is intervening in the Virginia presidential primary dispute and plans to file emergency legislation to address the inability of most Republican presidential candidates to get their name on the ballot, Fox News has learned.

Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified for the Virginia primary, a contest with 49 delegates up for grabs.

The failure of other candidates to qualify — notably Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry — led to complaints that the 10,000-signature requirement is too stringent.

Cuccinelli, who is a Republican, shared the concerns.

“Recent events have underscored that our system is deficient,” he said in a statement. “Virginia owes her citizens a better process. We can do it in time for the March primary if we resolve to do so quickly.”

Cuccinelli’s proposal is expected to state that if the Virginia Board of Elections certifies that a candidate is receiving federal matching funds, or has qualified to receive them, that candidate will upon request be automatically added to the ballot.

Two former Democratic attorneys general are also backing the move, along with a former Democratic state party chairman and a former Republican state party chairman.

Former state Attorney General Tony Troy called the Virginia process a “legal and constitutional embarrassment.”

Fellow former top Virginia prosecutor Steve Rosenthal said: “This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. If it takes emergency legislation, then we need to do it.”

Sources told Fox News that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is expected to support the emergency legislation as well.

Perry has meanwhile filed a lawsuit, while a local activist has filed another lawsuit on Gingrich’s behalf — though the individual is not with the campaign.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/12/31/virginia-attorney-general-intervenes-in-gop-primary-ballot-dispute/

December 31 2011 Bible Reading

December 31 2011 Bible Study

Reading for Today:

Malachi 1:1–4:6

Psalm 150:1-6

Proverbs 30:10-31

Revelation 21:1–22:21

Notes:

Malachi 3:1 My messenger. It was a custom of the Near Eastern kings to send messengers before them to remove obstacles to their visit. Employing a wordplay on the name of Malachi, “the LORD’s messenger”, the Lord Himself announced He was sending one who would “prepare the way before Me.” This is “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Is. 40:3) and the Elijah of 4:5 who comes before the Lord. The New Testament clearly identifies him as John the Baptist (Matt. 3:3; 11:10, 14; 17:12ff.; Mark 1:2; Luke 1:17; 7:26, 27; John 1:23).

Malachi 4:2 Sun of Righteousness. While the wicked will be devoured by the heat of the Lord’s wrath, those who fear Him will feel His warmth with healing in His “rays” or “beams” (Is. 30:26; 60:1, 3). The reference is to the Messiah; He is “the Lord our Righteousness” (Ps. 84:11; Jer. 23:5, 6; 1 Cor. 1:30). healing. The reference should not be limited to the physical recovery from the harm done by the wicked (3:5).This sickness is inextricably linked with sin, with healing coming only through the suffering of the Servant (Ps. 103:3; Is. 53:5; 57:18, 19; 1 Pet. 2:24).

Proverbs 31:10–31 This poem offers a beautiful description of the excellent wife as defined by a wife and mother (v. 1).

Spiritual and practical wisdom plus moral virtues mark the character of this woman in contrast to the immoral women of v. 3. While the scene here is of a wealthy home and the customs of the ancient Near East, the principles apply to every family. They are set forth as the prayer of every mother for the future wife of her son, and literarily arranged with each of the 22 verses beginning with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in consecutive order.

Revelation 21:2 New Jerusalem. This is the capital city of heaven, a place of perfect holiness. It is seen “coming down out of heaven,” indicating it already existed; but it descends into the new heavens and new earth from its place on high.

This is the city where the saints will live (John 14:1–3). bride. An important New Testament metaphor for the church (Matt. 25:1–13; Eph. 5:25–27). John’s imagery here extends from the third part of the Jewish wedding, the ceremony. Believers (the bride) in the New Jerusalem come to meet Christ (the bridegroom) in the final ceremony of redemptive history (19:7).

The whole city, occupied by all the saints, is called the bride, so that all saints must be finally included in the bride imagery and bridal blessing. God has brought home a bride for His beloved Son. All the saints live with Christ in the Father’s house (a promise made before the church began; John 14:2).

DAY 31: What is the Book of Malachi about?

Only 50,000 exiles had returned to Judah from Babylon (538–536 B.C.). The temple had been rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel (516 B.C.) and the sacrificial system renewed. Ezra had returned in 458 B.C., followed by Nehemiah in 445 B.C. After being back in the land of Palestine for only a century, the ritual of the Jews’ religious routine led to hard-heartedness toward God’s great love for them and to widespread departure from His law by both people and priest. Malachi rebuked and condemned these abuses, forcefully indicting the people and calling them to repentance. When Nehemiah returned from Persia the second time (ca. 424 B.C.), he vigorously rebuked them for these abuses in the temple and priesthood, for the violation of the Sabbath rest, and for the unlawful divorce of their Jewish wives so they could marry Gentile women (Neh. 13).

As over two millennia of Old Testament history since Abraham concluded, none of the glorious promises of the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants had been fulfilled in their ultimate sense. Although there had been a few high points in Israel’s history, e.g., Joshua, David, and Josiah, the Jews had seemingly lost all opportunity to receive God’s favor. Less than 100 years after returning from captivity, they had already sunk to a depth of sin that exceeded the former iniquities which brought on the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations. Beyond this, the long-anticipated Messiah had not arrived and did not seem to be in sight.

So, Malachi wrote the capstone prophecy of the Old Testament in which he delivered God’s message of judgment on Israel for their continuing sin and God’s promise that one day in the future, when the Jews would repent, the Messiah would be revealed and God’s covenant promises would be fulfilled. There were over 400 years of divine silence, with only Malachi’s words ringing condemnation in their ears, before another prophet arrived with a message from God. That was John the Baptist preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2). Messiah had come.

http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals/daily-bible

Our Sympathetic High Priest

Our Sympathetic High Priest

[COLOR=Red]”Assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:16-18).

In his letters to Timothy, Paul counseled and encouraged his young associate about many things–his health, his critics, his moral and spiritual warfare. His counsel is well summed up in these words: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David” (2 Tim. 2:8).

Like Timothy, we need to be reminded of Christ’s humanity, especially when life becomes particularly tough. Then we can pray, “Lord, You know what You endured while You were here. I’m going through it now.” We can be sure He knows and will encourage us.

Jesus came not only to save us but also to sympathize with us. He experienced what we experience so He could be a “merciful and faithful high priest.” After all, “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Jesus felt everything we will ever feel–and more. Most of us will never know the full degree of any given temptation because we usually succumb long before we reach it. But since Jesus never sinned, He took the full measure of every temptation.

Ours is not a cosmic God, powerful and holy, but indifferent. He knows when we hurt, where we are weak, and how we are tempted. Jesus is not just our Savior, but our loving Lord who sympathizes with us. Rejoice in the greatness of His love for us.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Ask God to remind you of your need of Him at all times, not just when times are tough.

For Future Study:

Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13 for quick recall whenever you are faced with any trial.

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http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals#.TqYCaZxU3cR

Stand Your Ground in the World

Stand Your Ground in the World

“Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:17-18

True believers are always represented as mixing in the world, doing their duty in it, and glorifying God by patience, meekness, purity, and courage in their several positions — and not by cowardly desertion of them. Moreover, it is foolish to suppose that we can keep the world and the devil out of our hearts by going into holes and corners! True religion and unworldliness are best seen, not in timidly forsaking the post which God has allotted to us — but in manfully standing our ground, and showing the power of grace to overcome evil.

~ J.C. Ryle

World rings in 2012 and bids adieu to a tough year

World rings in 2012 and bids adieu to a tough year

Dec 31, 8:41 AM EST

SYDNEY (AP) — Glittering fireworks in the shapes of butterflies, hearts and a cascading waterfall exploded over Sydney’s Harbour Bridge on Sunday as cheering revelers welcomed 2012 and bid a weary adieu to a year marred by natural disasters and economic turmoil.

More than 1.5 million people crowded onto yachts and along the shores of the city’s harbor to watch the shimmering pyrotechnic display designed around the theme “Time to Dream” – a nod to the eagerness many felt in moving forward after the rough year.

“It’s about giving people the opportunity to dream of the year ahead and that hopefully it is a bit better than the year we’ve had,” said Aneurin Coffey, producer of Sydney’s New Year’s festivities.

Some of the fireworks formed the shape of clouds – “Because every cloud has a silver lining,” Coffey said. Colorful lights beamed onto the center of the bridge formed an “endless rainbow” symbolizing hope.

Many were eager for a fresh start.

“I’ve had enough this year,” said 68-year-old Sandra Cameron, who lost nearly everything she owned when her home in Australia’s Queensland state was flooded to the ceiling during a cyclone in February. “It’s gotta be a better year next year.”

World leaders evoked 2011’s events in their New Year’s messages. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who starts his second term on New Year’s Day, said he wants to help ensure and sustain the moves toward democracy that protesters sought in the Arab Spring.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the new year would be more difficult than 2011 but dealing with Europe’s debt crisis would bring its countries closer. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wished well being and prosperity to all Russians “regardless of their political persuasion” after large-scale protests against him.

The mood was festive in the South Pacific island nation of Samoa, where, for once, revelers were the first in the world to welcome the new year, rather than the last.

Samoa and neighboring Tokelau hopped across the international date line at midnight on Thursday, skipping Friday and moving instantly to Saturday. The time-jump revelry that began at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 31 spilled into the night, with Samoans and tourists crowding around pools and on beaches to toast the start of 2012.

Samoa and Tokelau lie near the date line that zigzags vertically through the Pacific Ocean, and both sets of islands decided to realign themselves this year from the Americas side of the line to the Asia side, to be more in tune with key trading partners.

“Everyone is happy right now,” said Mao Visita, who was celebrating at the popular Aggie Grey’s hotel in the capital, Apia. “The party is still going on with plenty of music.”

Things were slightly more subdued in New Zealand, where torrential rains and thunderstorms canceled fireworks displays in the capital, Wellington, the North Island city of Palmerston North and at the popular Mount Maunganui beach area. Aucklanders had better luck, with thousands crowding the city to watch fireworks erupt from the Sky Tower.

For Japan, 2011 was the year the nation was struck by a giant tsunami and earthquake that left an entire coastline destroyed, nearly 20,000 people dead or missing and the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in meltdown.

At the year’s end, many were reflecting on the fragility of life, while quietly determined to recover.

“For me, the biggest thing that defined this year was the disaster in March,” said Miku Sano, 28, a nursing student in Fukushima city. “Honestly, I didn’t know what to say to these people, who had to fight sickness while living in fear about ever being able to go back home. The radiation levels in the city of Fukushima, where I live, are definitely not low, and we don’t know how that is going to affect our health in the future.”

People in Japan spent Saturday visiting shrines and temples, offering their first prayers for the year. The giant hanging bells at temples were to ring 108 times to purify the world of evil and bring good luck.

University student Kouichi Takayama said 2011 was a year he would never forget.

“It was a year I felt the preciousness of life with a passion,” he said. “But I was also able to catch a glimpse of the warmth of human relations, and reconfirm my gratitude for family, community and everyday life. I hope I can connect meaningfully with more people next year to create a Japan that truly endures toward the future.”

In the southern Philippine city of Cagayan de Oro, people were still coping with the aftermath of a tropical storm and flash flooding that killed more than 1,200.

For Ana Caneda, a disaster relief official in the badly hit city, the new year “offers a new ray of hope.”

“It’s going to be a relief to write the date 2012, not 2011,” Caneda said.

In Hong Kong, more than 400,000 people were expected to watch a 4-minute, $1 million display of fireworks shot from 10 skyscrapers, lighting up Victoria Harbour.

Raymond Lo, a master of feng shui – the Chinese art of arranging objects and choosing dates to improve luck – said he wasn’t surprised that 2011 was such a tumultuous year because it was associated with the natural elements of metal and wood. The year’s natural disasters were foreshadowed, Lo said, because wood – which represents trees and nature – was attacked by metal.

2012 could be better because it’s associated with ocean water, which represents energy and drive and the washing away of old habits, Lo said.

“Big water also means charity, generosity,” Lo said. “Therefore that means sharing. That means maybe the big tycoons will share some of their wealth…http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/N/NEW_YEARS_EVE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-12-31-08-41-07