Desperation Is the Mother of Invention

Rogue State

North Korea Is Planning a Global Bank Heist

John Hayward
Breitbart News

The New York Times published a report from Internet security firm Symantec that revealed startling ambitions on the part of hackers affiliated with North Korea.  According to the report, they have plans to rob over a hundred banks around the world, including “institutions like the World Bank, the European Central Bank and big American companies including Bank of America.”

An attack on over 20 Polish banks near the end of 2016 was evidently thwarted without any money being lost. When security analysts pulled apart the virus software sent to these banks, they discovered a huge list of Internet addresses for other financial institutions, making up the target list described by Symantec.

The Times discusses the size and desperation of North Korea’s cybercrime ring:

The list of targets, which has not been previously reported, is part of a growing body of evidence showing how North Korea, a country that is cut off from much of the global economy, is increasingly trying to use its cyberattack abilities to bring in cash — and making progressively bolder attempts to do so.

North Korea’s hacking network is immense, encompassing a group of 1,700 hackers aided by more than 5,000 trainers, supervisors and others in supporting roles, South Korean officials estimate. Because of the country’s poor infrastructure, the hackers typically work abroad, in places like China, Southeast Asia and Europe. Like other North Koreans allowed to work abroad, the hackers are constantly monitored by minders for possible breaches in allegiance to the government.

Thus far, the biggest score for the North Korean operation appears to be a hack of Bangladesh’s central bank, revealed by Bangladeshi authorities in May 2016. The $81 million stolen from the bank ended up in the Philippines, but investigators were certain from early in the investigation that the thieves were not from either Bangladesh or the Philippines.

Early indications suggested Chinese hackers might have been responsible for the attack, but Symantec researchers soon isolated malicious code  linked to North Korea. Similar code and hacking techniques had previously been used against banks in Vietnam and Ecuador. According to the New York Times, analysts with the National Security Agency saw evidence the Bangladesh bank robbery was linked to the attack on Sony Pictures, which is generally seen as the work of North Korea.

The thieves were actually trying to steal a billion dollars from Bangladesh with fraudulent money transfer requests to the New York Federal Reserve, but only $81 million in bogus requests got through.

The attack on Poland’s banks was carried out with a “watering hole” hacking technique, which involves planting malware in locations the targets are likely to visit. Disturbingly, the watering hole for the Polish caper was the website of Poland’s banking regulator. Symantec mentioned similar watering hole traps have been laid for banks in Mexico and Uruguay, while virus attacks have been made already against a few targets in the United States.

An important point made by security analysts about these bank robberies is that huge amounts of manpower were involved, making state sponsorship of the attacks likely. The malware used in these assaults can lurk in targeted systems for weeks, going active during very limited windows of opportunity, so a large team of computer technicians has to work around the clock to supervise the intrusion.

Only one Chinese bank appeared in the target list distilled from captured viral code in Poland, a detail some analysts find significant. There are lingering suspicions that Chinese hackers assisted in pulling off the Bangladesh attack. This could become a major topic of conversation when Chinese president Xi Jinping meets with President Trump next month.

Security firm FireEye, which was instrumental in past actions against Chinese hackers, has reported a significant decline in Chinese industrial cyber-espionage over the past two years, coupled with an increase in Russian mischief. CEO Kevin Mandia warned Fortune last week that American companies are still “getting sucker punched pretty bad.”

North Korea has denied involvement in the wave of cyber attacks on financial institutions, claiming the United States reached “despicable heights” with its accusations. Pyongyang called America a “hacking empire, the worst of bullying countries” and said the hacking allegations were a pretext to “launch a pre-emptive strike” against North Korea.
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Daily Meditation

The River of Reality

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103)

John Piper

Never reduce Christianity to a matter of demands and resolutions and willpower. It is a matter of what we love, what we delight in, what tastes good to us.

When Jesus came into the world humanity was split according to what they loved. “The light came into the world and men loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19). The righteous and the wicked are separated by what they delight in — the revelation of God or the way of the world.

But someone may ask: How can I come to delight in the Word of God? My answer would be twofold: pray for new taste buds on the tongue of your heart; meditate on the staggering promises of God to his people.

The same psalmist who said “How sweet are your words to my taste” (119:103), said earlier, “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (119:18). He prayed, because to have holy taste buds on the tongue of the heart is a gift of God. No man naturally hungers for and delights in God’s wisdom.

But when you have prayed, indeed while you pray, meditate on the benefits God promises to his people and on the joy of having Almighty God as your helper now and eternal hope.

Who would not delight to read a book, the reading of which would change one from chaff to a cedar of Lebanon, from a Texas dust bowl to a Hawaiian orchard? Nobody deep down wants to be chaff — rootless, weightless, useless. All of us want to draw strength from some deep river of reality and become fruitful, useful people.

That river of reality is the Word of God and all the great saints have been made great by it.
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Christian, Not Pagan

Marriages and Families are Not Created Equal

In the West we live in a society still influenced to some extent by vestigial Christianity.  It is easy for the lazy mind to assume that Christian institutions, such as marriage, are the norm for all humanity, all cultures, all times.  In other words, many naively assume that one man marrying one woman with a long life of mutual fidelity “as long as they both shall live”, and raising children within the secure confines of such a bond, is the norm.  This is naive nonsense.

When Unbelief gets hold of marriage, the Christian or biblical prescription and definition are mutated.  The institution itself becomes mutant marriage.  When we speak of the “breakdown” of marriage and family and the kind of rotten fruits that are borne to it, and in it, we are implying that there is a standard and norm, enshrined in God’s law–and, therefore, ought to be enshrined in civil law.  But, of course, Modern Man threw all this out long ago.

Modern Man thought that he could legislate no-fault divorces, recognise homosexual “marriages”, and ignore–if not celebrate–an endless series of sexual encounters in the name of love and freedom.  Yet, at the same time, Modern Man professes to believe in true love, loyalty, and fidelity.  In our day and times this should be seen for what it is, a Christian hangover, a reflexive yearning for true love and true marriage, which is inscribed in the heart by God Himself, but which can only be sustained societally if society itself is built upon the foundations of Christ and His law.

When the Gospel of King Jesus confronted the Roman Empire, marriage and family became part of the battle ground.
 Pagan marriage at that time had become perverse and destructive in almost every way.  Its perversions were somewhat different from those of our own day, but perversions they were nonetheless.  We mention this to underscore this proposition: that the verities, the power, and the blessings of Christian (biblical) marriage cannot be sustained in a culture without that culture being grounded in and irrigated by Christianity. Sarah Ruden paints a picture of marriage in Rome and its territories.

Julius Caesar’s wife Pompeia was hosting an all-female night ritual that a notorious playboy allegedly invaded in disguise.  Caesar was not interested in whether his wife was actually at fault or tainted, but divorced her by messenger, perhaps the next morning.  His famous explanation for why he had acted without any proof was that he thought his wife should not even be under suspicion.  [Sarah Ruden, Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time (New York: Pantheon Books, 2010), p. 107.]

When Caesar dismissed his wife in such cavalier fashion, no-one turned a hair.  So, in our own day, mutatis mutandis, when a woman, aged 27 conceives her fifth pregnancy, with a 60 year old man, whom she recently assaulted, for which she was convicted,  it’s all, “No worries, mate”.  That’s modern marriage in the garbage pail of Unbelief.  [NZ Herald]

Ruden goes on to contrast the Roman perversion of marriage and family with that of the Apostle Paul:

Paul’s idea for how a marriage should work was the fulfillment of the Jewish scriptural command that a married couple was to be “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, echoed by Jesus in Matthew 19: 5-6 and Mark 10: 7-8).  The husband should treat the wife’s body as his own and serve its most intimate needs, and vice versa.  The only higher obligations are to God; the couple should approach even these only in collaboration with each other: that is how important pace and equality in marriage are.  Where, if not from a brain fever, did (George Bernard) Shaw pick up the idea of a Pauline wife as a sexual and domestic servant?  [Ibid., p. 107f.]

Where, indeed.   Ruden concludes:

This kind of evenhandedness (between Christian husbands and wives) could result only from a huge wrench away from the past.  Paul, the the polytheistic world, was not only putting brand new limits on male desire but licensing female desire, which had been under the regime of zero tolerance.

The reason the Greeks and Romans took so little trouble to control men is that, in their eyes, men were naturally sane and civilized.  Women, on the other hand . . . were by nature wild, lustful, and depraved.  Their families had to keep them under guard and make all of their major choices for them; their husbands had to keep them pregnant; and the whole society had to stifle their individuality and self-expression, because any thought or energy at their own disposal was likely to create lewd adventures, leading to chaos and violence.  [Ibid., p. 98f.]

Our society has gone a step further.  It has licensed unbridled desire on the part of men and women.  We all now have freedom rights to be and do as we desire.  

This modern perversion of marriage is far closer to the model of pagan marriage confronting the Church amongst the Gentiles of the first century.  Now, as then, the task of the Church is not to assume that the word “marriage” means Christian marriage.  Rather, it is our duty to teach, train, and shape our own in Christian marriage, which is decidedly different from what our modern Pagans understand marriage, or “living together” to be.

That is why we register our marriages with the Pagan state for civil convenience only.  The real registration of our marriages and families is in Heaven, which is why we take heavenly oaths and vows in church–before Christ and His people.  What Pagans do is something quite different.
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bitter opposition



Luke 11:52-54

Luke 11:52 Tragedy is coming to you experts in religious law! You have taken away the key to knowledge! You did not go in yourselves, and you hindered those who were going in.”
Luke 11:53 When he went out from there, the experts in the law and the Pharisees began to oppose him bitterly, and to ask him hostile questions about many things,
Luke 11:54 plotting against him, to catch him at something he might say.

bitter opposition

The 2016 political campaign in the USA was marked by accusations and bitter opposition. It was an embarrassment to live in another country and have to respond to those who questioned me about what was going on. At the heart of it was personal passion, and ideology clashes. The same thing happened between Jesus and the religious experts of his day.

History has revealed that Jesus’ kingdom ideals have the power to change society, and the expertise of the religious experts was pretense. Today, there are a whole new set of ideologies and factions which oppose the kingdom of Christ. There will be some times when it is appropriate to take sides against them and for Christ.

LORD, give us discernment, and the ability to show our loyalty to Christ.


An Idol Which Causes Everything . . . It Appears

A Complete List of Things Caused by Global Warming

Apologies for a temporary delay in updating the dead link list

AIDS, Afghan poppies destroyed, African holocaust, aged deaths, poppies more potent, Africa devastated,  Africa in conflict, African aid threatened,  aggressive weeds, Air France crash, air pockets, air pressure changes,  airport farewells virtual, airport malaria, Agulhas current, Alaskan towns slowly destroyed, Al Qaeda and Taliban Being Helped, allergy increase, allergy season longer, alligators in the Thames, Alps melting, Amazon a desert, American dream end,  amphibians breeding earlier (or not),  anaphylactic reactions to bee stings,  ancient forests dramatically changed, animals head for the hills, animals shrink,  Antarctic grass flourishes, Antarctic ice grows, Antarctic ice shrinks, Antarctic sea life at risk,   anxiety treatment, algal blooms, archaeological sites threatened, Arctic bogs melt, Arctic in bloom, Arctic ice free, Arctic ice melt faster, Arctic lakes disappear,  Arctic tundra lost, Arctic warming (not), a rose by any other name smells of nothing, asteroid strike risk, asthma, Atlantic less salty, Atlantic more salty,   atmospheric circulation modified, attack of the killer jellyfish, avalanches reduced, avalanches increased,  Baghdad snow, Bahrain under water,  bananas grow, barbarisation, bats decline,  beer and bread prices to soar, beer better,  beer worse, beetle infestation, beef shortage,  bet for $10,000, big melt faster, billion dollar research projects, billion homeless, billions face risk, billions of deaths,  bird loss accelerating, bird populations dying, bird strikes, bird visitors drop, birds confused, birds decline (Wales), birds driven north, birds face longer migrations, birds on long migrations threatened,  birds return early, birds shrink(Aus), birds shrink (USA), bittern boom ends, blackbirds stop singing, blackbirds threatened, Black Hawk down,  blizzards, blood contaminated, blue mussels return, borders redrawn,  bluetongue, brains shrink, brewers droop, bridge collapse (Minneapolis), Britain one big city, Britain Siberian, Britain’s bananas, British monsoon,  brothels struggle, brown Ireland, bubonic plague,  Buddhist temple threatened,  building collapse, building season extension, bushfires,   butterflies move north, butterflies reeling, butterfly saved, carbon crimes, caribou decline, Cambodian sex trade fuelled, camel deaths,  cancer, cancer deaths in England, cannibalism,  cataracts, cats more amorous, caterpillar biomass shift, cave paintings threatened,  chagas disease, childhood insomnia, children’s mental health, chocolate shortage, Cholera, circumcision in decline, cirrus disappearance, civil unrest, cloud increase,  clownfish get lost, coast beauty spots lost, cockroach migration, cod go south,  coffee threatened, coffee berry borer, coffee berry disease, cold climate creatures survive,  cold spells, cold spells (Australia), colder waters  (Long Island), cold wave (India), cold weather (world), cold winters, computer models, conferences, conflict, conflict with Russia,  consumers foot the bill, coral bleaching, coral fish suffer, coral reefs dying, coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink, coral reefs twilight,  cost of trillions, cougar attacks, crabgrass menace,  cradle of civilisation threatened, creatures move uphill, crime increase, crocodile sex, crocodiles driven from water, crops devastated, crop failures increase, cross-breeding, crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems, cryptococcal disease, curriculum change,  cyclones (Australia),   damselflies forced back to UK, danger to kid’s health, Darfur, Dartford Warbler plague,  daylight increase, deadly virus outbreaks, death rate increase (US), death rate drop, deaths to reach 6 million, decades of progress at risk, Dengue hemorrhagic fever, depression, desert advance,  desert retreat,  destruction of the environment,  dig sites threatened,  disasters, diseases move north, diving reefs closed, dog disease,  dozen deadly diseases – or not, drought,    ducks and geese decline, dust bowl in the corn belt, dust doubles,  earlier pollen season,  Earth axis tilt, Earth biodiversity crisis, Earth crumbling, Earth dying, Earth even hotter, Earth light dimming, Earth lopsided, Earth melting, Earth morbid fever, Earth on fast track, Earth past point of no return, Earth slowing down,  Earth spins faster, Earth to explode, earth upside down,  earthquakes, earthquakes redux, El Niño intensification, end of the world as we know it, erosion, emerging infections, encephalitis, English villages lost, equality threatened, Europe simultaneously baking and freezing,  eutrophication, everyplace hit hardest, expansion of university climate groups, extinctions (apes, human, civilisation, koalas, lizards,  logic, Inuit, smallest butterfly, cod,  penguins, pikas, polar bears,   possums,  walrus,  tigers,  toads, turtles, pandas,  penguins, plants, ladybirds, rhinoceros, salmon, trout,  wild flowers, woodlice,  a million species, half of all animal and plant species, mountain species,  not polar bears, barrier reef, leaches, salamanders, tropical insects, flowers) experts muzzled, extreme changes to California, fading fall foliage,  famine, farmers benefit, farmers go under, farm output boost, farming soil decline,  fashion disaster, fever, figurehead sacked, fir cone bonanza, fires fanned in Nepal, fish bigger, fish catches drop, fish downsize,   fish deaf,  fish feminised, fish get lost, fish head north, fish lopsided, fish shrinking,  fish stocks at risk, fish stocks decline, five million illnesses, flesh eating disease, flies on Everest,  flood patterns change, floods,  floods of beaches and cities, flood of migrants, flood preparation for crisis, flora dispersed, Florida economic decline, flowers in peril, flowers wilt, flying squirrels move up, fog increase in San Francisco, fog decrease in San Francisco, food poisoning, food prices rise, food prices soar, food production increased,  food safety affected, food security threat (SA), football team migration,   forest decline, forest expansion, foundations threatened, foundations increase grants, frog with extra heads, frosts, frostbite, frost damage increased,   fungi fruitful, fungi invasion, fungi rot the world, games change, Garden of Eden wilts, geese decline in Hampshire, genetic changes, genetic diversity decline, gene pools slashed, geysers imperiled, giant icebergs (Australia), giant icebergs (Arctic), giant oysters invade,  giant pythons invade, giant squid migrate, gingerbread houses collapse, glacial earthquakes, glacial retreat,   glacier grows (California), glaciers on Snowden, glacier wrapped, glass melts, global cooling,  glowing clouds,  golf course to drown, golf Masters wrecked, grain output drop (China), grain output stagnating (India), grandstanding, grasslands wetter, gravity shift,  Great Barrier Reef 95% dead,  great tits cope, greening of the North,  Grey whales lose weight, Gulf Stream failure, habitat loss, haggis threatened, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome,    harvest increase, harvest shrinkage, hay fever epidemic, health affected, health of children harmed, health risks, health risks (even more), heart deaths, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes (Australia), heat waves, hedgehogs bald, hibernation affected,   hibernation ends too soon, hibernation ends too late,  homeless 50 million, home runs, hornets,  human development faces unprecedented reversal, human fertility reduced, human health risk, human race oblivion, human rights violations, hurricanes,  hurricane reduction, hurricanes fewer, hurricanes more intense, hurricanes not,  hydropower problems, hyperthermia deaths, hyphthermia deaths, ice age, ice hockey extinct, ice sheet growth, ice sheet shrinkage, icebergs, ice sheet tipping point,  illegal immigration, illness and death, inclement weather, India drowning, infrastructure failure (Canada),  indigestion, industry threatened, infectious diseases,  inflation in China, insect explosion, insect invasion, insurance premium rises, Inuit displacement, Inuit poisoned, Inuit suing, invasion of alien worms, invasion of Antarctic aliens,  invasion of Asian carp, invasion of cane toads, invasion of caterpillars,  invasion of cats,  invasion of crabgrass, invasion of herons, invasion of jellyfish, invasion of king crabs, invasion of lampreys, invasion of midges, invasion of pine beetles, invasion of rats (China), invasion of slugs,  island disappears, islands sinking, Italy robbed of pasta, itchier poison ivy, Japan’s cherry blossom threatened,  jellyfish explosion, jets fall from sky,  Kew Gardens taxed, kidney stones, killer cornflakes, killing us, kitten boom, koalas leaves inedible, koalas under threat, krill decline,  lake empties, lake shrinking and growing, landslides, landslides of ice at 140 mph, large trees decline, lawsuits increase, lawsuit successful,  lawyers’ income increased (surprise surprise!),  lawyers want more, legionnaires’ surge,  lives lost, lizards super intelligent, lives saved, lobsters grow,  Loch Ness monster dead, locust plagues suppressed, low oxygen zones threaten sea life, lush growth in rain forests,  Lyme disease, Major vegetation shifts,  Malaria,   Malaria decline,  malnutrition, mammoth dung melt, mammoth ivory bonanza, manatees battle, mango harvest fails, Maple production advanced, Maple syrup shortage, marmots fatter, marine diseases, marine food chain decimated, Meaching (end of the world), Meat eating to stop, Mediterranean rises, megacryometeors, Melanoma, Melanoma decline, mental health decline, mental illness, methane emissions from plants, methane burps, methane runaway, melting permafrost, Mexican climate migrant flood, Middle Kingdom convulses, migration,  migratory birds huge losses, microbes to decompose soil carbon more rapidly, milk production lost, minorities hit, monkeys at risk,  monkeys on the move, Mont Blanc grows, monuments imperiled, moose dying, more bad air days,   more research needed, mortality increased, mosquitoes adapting, mountain (Everest) shrinking,  mountaineers fears,  mountains break up, mountains green and flowering,   mountains taller, mortality lower, Mubarak fall, murder rate increase,  musk ox decline, Myanmar cyclone, narwhals at risk, narwhals suffocate, National Parks damaged, National security implications, native wildlife overwhelmed, natural disasters  quadruple, neurological diseases,  new islands, next ice age, NFL threatened, Nile delta damaged, noctilucent clouds, no effect in India, Northwest Passage opened, nuclear plants bloom, oaks dying,  oaks move north,  obesity, oblivion, ocean acidification, ocean acidification faster, ocean dead spots, ocean dead zones unleashed, ocean deserts expand, ocean salt extremes, ocean oxygen crisis,  ocean waves speed up,  Olympic Games to end, opera house to be destroyed, outdoor hockey threatened,   owls turn brown, oxygen depletion zones, oyster herpes, ozone repair slowed, ozone rise, peat bogs problem, peat bogs no problem, penguin chicks frozen, penguin chicks smaller, penguins in the dark, penguin populations devastated, penguins replaced by jellyfish, penguins sex lives affected, personal carbon rationing, pest outbreaks, pests increase, pets in danger, phenology shifts,  pines decline, pirate population decrease, pirates run rampant, plankton blooms,   plankton plummeting, plankton wiped out, plants lose protein, plants march north, plants move uphill,  polar bears aggressive, polar bears cannibalistic, polar bears deaf,  polar bears drowning,  polar bears fewer cubs,  polar tours scrapped,  pollination halved, porpoise astray, profits collapse, psychiatric illness,  psychological effects,  puffin decline, pushes poor women into prostitution, rabid bats,  radars taken out, rail network threatened,  railroad tracks deformed, rainfall increase, rainforest destruction,  rape wave, refugees,  reindeer endangered, reindeer larger, release of ancient frozen viruses, resorts disappear, respiratory diseases worsen,  rice less fragrant, rice production fall, rice threatened, rice yields crash,  rift on Capitol Hill, rioting and nuclear war,   river flow impacted, river rerouted, rivers raised, road accidents, roads wear out, robins rampant,   rocky peaks crack apart, roof of the world a desert, rooftop bars, Ross river disease,    Russia under pressure, salinity reduction, salinity increase,  Salmonella,  salmon stronger, sardine run unpredictable, satellites accelerate, Schmallenberg virus,  school closures, sea level rise, sea level rise faster, sea snot, seals mating more, seismic activity, sewer bills rise, severe thunderstorms, sex change, sexual dysfunction,  sexual promiscuity, shark attacks, sharks booming, sharks hybridise, sharks moving north, sheep change colour, sheep shrink, shop closures, short-nosed dogs endangered,  shrimp sex problems, shrinking ponds, shrinking sheep,  shrinking shrine, Sidney Opera House wiped out, ski resorts threatened, slavery, skinks impacted, slow death,  smaller brains,  smog, snowfall decrease, snowfall increase, snowfall heavy,  snow thicker,  soaring food prices, societal collapse, soil change, soil subsidence, songbirds change eating habits, sour grapes, soybean crop to drop, space junk increase, space problem, spectacular orchids, spider danger in UK, spider bites to increase, spiders getting bigger, spiders invade Scotland,  squid aggressive giants, squid larger, squid population explosion, squid tamed, squirrels reproduce earlier, starfish sperm eaten by parasites, stingray invasion, storm damage costs rise, storms wetter,  stratospheric cooling, street crime to increase, subsidence, suicide, sunset displaced,  swordfish in the Baltic, Tabasco tragedy, taxes, tea flavour change, tectonic plate movement, teenage prostitution,   terrorists (India), thatched cottages at risk, threat to peace, ticks move northward (Sweden), tides rise, tigers eat people, tigers drown, tomatoes rot, tornado outbreak, tourism increase, toxic bacteria, toxic seaweed,  trade barriers, trade winds weakened, traffic jams,  transport snarl, transportation threatened, tree foliage increase (UK),   tree growth slowed, tree growth faster, trees grow too fast, trees in trouble, trees less colourful,  trees more colourful, trees lush, trees on Antarctica, treelines change, tropics expansion, tropopause raised, truffle shortage, truffles down,  truffles increase, turtles crash, turtle feminised, turtles lay earlier, UFO sightings, UK coastal impact, UK Katrina,  vampire bats,  Venice flooded,  volcanic eruptions, volcanoes awakened in Iceland,  walnuts threatened, walrus pups orphaned,  walrus stampede,  walruses come ashore, wars over water, wars sparked, wars threaten billions, wasps, water bills double,   water shortage to increase vegetarianism, wave of natural disasters, waves bigger, weather out of its mind, weather patterns awry, weather patterns last longer, Western aid cancelled out,  West Nile fever, whale beachings, whales lose weight, whales move north,  whales wiped out, wheat rust in Syria, wheat yields crushed in Australia,  wild boars thrive, wildfires, wind shift, wind reduced, winds stronger, winds weaker,  wine – Australian baked, , wine industry damage (California),  wine industry disaster (US),  wine – more English, wine – no more French , wine –  England too hot, wine -German boon,  wine passé (Napa), wine – Scotland best,  wine stronger, winters in Britain colder, winter in Britain dead, witchcraft executions, wolverine decline, wolverines vanish, wolves eat more moose, wolves eat less, women cheat on vacation, workers laid off, World at war, World War 4,  Yellow fever, zebra mussel threat, zoonotic diseases.

and all on 0.006 deg C per year!

Advice of any omissions (with sources) or broken links is welcome at

Note: All links were live at time of posting. Inevitably some will disappear, particularly from Yahoo News.

Thanks to correspondents for additional entries; especially, as always, Our Man in Puerto Rico. Also, thanks to “Scraperguy” for the script to form the following:

The dead link collection

Acne, Africa hit hardest,  African summer frost, agricultural land increase, Alaska reshaped, anxiety,  Arctic tundra to burn,  atmospheric defiance, bananas destroyed, beer shortage, bird distributions change, blizzards, boredom, brain eating amoebae, business opportunities, business risks,  British gardens change, budget increases, cardiac arrest,  cataracts,  challenges and opportunities,  cloud stripping,  cremation to end, damages equivalent to $200 billion,  dermatitis,  desert life threatened, diarrhoea, disappearance of coastal cities, Dolomites collapse, drought in distant regions, drowning people, early marriages, early spring, Earth spinning out of control, Earth wobbling, evolution accelerating, extinctions (bats,    pigmy possums, koalas, turtles, orang-utan,  elephants, tigers, gorillas, whales, frogs,) fainting,  fish catches rise,  flames stoked, footpath erosion, glacial growth, global dimming, god melts, Gore omnipresence, Great Lakes drop,  harmful algae, hazardous waste sites breached, high court debates, HIV epidemic, human health improvement, ice shelf collapse, jet stream drifts north, lake and stream productivity decline, lightning related insurance claims, little response in the atmosphere,  lost $350 billion, Lyme disease,  marine dead zone, Maple production advanced,  mental illness (Alberta), migration difficult (birds), mountains melting, mudslides, oceans noisier,  oyster diseases, ozone loss, Pacific dead zone, plankton destabilised, plankton loss, plant viruses,   polar bears starve,  psychosocial disturbances,  popcorn rise, rainfall reduction,   riches, rivers dry up, rockfalls,  ruins ruined, skin cancer, smelt down, snowfall reduction, stick insects, stormwater drains stressed, teenage drinking, terrorism, tree beetle attacks,  trees could return to Antarctic, tree growth increased, tsunamis, tundra plant life boost, uprooted – 6 million, Vampire moths, violin decline, walrus displaced, war, war between US and Canada, water scarcity (20% of increase), water stress, water supply unreliability, weeds,   white Christmas dream ends, wine – harm to Australian industry,   World bankruptcy, World-famous places threatened, World in crisis, World in flames,

Suggestions for replacement links are welcome.

Total (dead and alive) 883

Last updated  05/03/12
Footnote (September 2015) Why the list stopped growing.

The time it takes to process a new entry increases approximately with the square of the list length, after checking for duplications, spoofs etc. Starting it was based on the naïve assumption that the rate of appearances would decline as opposing evidence accumulated, but the reverse happened. That’s the difference between science and religion. It was taking over my life, which I did not want to end as a garbage collector. There have since been hundreds more claims of an increasingly ludicrous nature.

Index, searchbox and begging bowl
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Daily Devotional

Open Your Mouth Wide

“And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”  Matthew 15:27

Charles H. Spurgeon

This woman gained comfort in her misery by thinking great thoughts of Christ. The Master had talked about the children’s bread: “Now,” argued she, “since thou art the Master of the table of grace, I know that thou art a generous housekeeper, and there is sure to be abundance of bread on thy table; there will be such an abundance for the children that there will be crumbs to throw on the floor for the dogs, and the children will fare none the worse because the dogs are fed.”

She thought him one who kept so good a table that all that she needed would only be a crumb in comparison; yet remember, what she wanted was to have the devil cast out of her daughter. It was a very great thing to her, but she had such a high esteem of Christ, that she said, “It is nothing to him, it is but a crumb for Christ to give.”

This is the royal road to comfort. Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ will pilot you into the haven of peace. “My sins are many, but oh! it is nothing to Jesus to take them all away. The weight of my guilt presses me down as a giant’s foot would crush a worm, but it is no more than a grain of dust to him, because he has already borne its curse in his own body on the tree. It will be but a small thing for him to give me full remission, although it will be an infinite blessing for me to receive it.” The woman opens her soul’s mouth very wide, expecting great things of Jesus, and he fills it with his love.

Dear reader, do the same. She confessed what Christ laid at her door, but she laid fast hold upon him, and drew arguments even out of his hard words; she believed great things of him, and she thus overcame him. She won the victory by believing in Him. Her case is an instance of prevailing faith; and if we would conquer like her, we must imitate her tactics.
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to Seek and save the lost: the blind beggar, the short tax collector and us (luke 18:35-19:10)

Every where you go these days you have tag lines and mission statements telling you what the company or store or service or even church you are going to is all aboutand how it diferentiates itself from other organisations just like it. Some of them are good and helpful but other leave me wondering…
I came across an interesting App this week. It was a mission statement generator… you put in various keywords and it would turn them into a mission statement… Here is a couple it randomly produced.

“It is our mission to continue to authoritatively provide access to diverse services to stay relevant in tomorrow’s world.”  ..does that grab you… does it make things clear?

“Our challenge is to continue to seamlessly engineer quality meta-services as well as proactively synthesize best-of-breed infrastructures.” Wow that’s inspiring!

I think it’s supposed to be humorous and lampoon the way corporates and organisations articulate what their purpose is…  Columnist Minda Zetlin said the app takes verbs and nouns and adjectives and rearranges them into your typical mission statements delightfully full of meaningless corporate-speak.” They don’t say a lot but they use a lot of fancy words to say it… in that process real mission and vision can get lost. But not with Jesus…

We’ve come to the end of Luke’s narrative of Jesus journey to Jerusalem. It started way back in chapter 10 and it’s taken us most of a year to work our way through this central third of the gospel. Jesus finishes his ministry before he enters Jerusalem by giving what could be seen as his mission statement… “the son of man has come to seek and save the lost”… This does not come out of a corporate rebranding exercise, or an organisational restructuring process, or trying to differentiate oneself from the competition, but it comes straight out of two encounters with real people whose lives are transformed by meeting Jesus. It does not come out of an academic exercise or commercial reality or organisational necessity but from Jesus personifying the very heart of God in showing God’s love to a blind beggar a short tax collector and through his death and resurrection showing that same love to you and me; to us. ‘The son of man has come to seek and save the lost.’

Right at the start of his ministry recorded in Luke 4 Jesus stood and read from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue of his home town… ‘the spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has Sent me to proclaim good news to the poor, recovery of sight for the blind, release for the prisoner and freedom for the captives and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Jesus concluded by saying this scripture was being fulfilled in their hearing. This was the mission that God had sent Jesus to do.  Now as he draws near to that missions ending we see all that incorporated in ‘the son of man has come to seek and save the lost’.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking at this last section of Luke’s Jesus journey that focuses on how do you enter the kingdom of God and how do you respond to Jesus. It starts and ends with a parable Jesus tells to correct peoples thinking about the kingdom of God.  The parable of the two men who went up to thetemple to pray the Pharisee who thought he was righteous and looked down on others and a tax collector who knew who his need for God and asked for mercy, Jesus said the tax collector had gone home justified that day; put right with God. Then the parable about investing in the kingdom of God that we will finish this series with next week.  Then we had two encounters that showed a negative response to Jesus. The disciples tryingto keep the children away from Jesus because they didn’t think they were important, and the rich young ruler, who wanted to hold on to what he had and wouldn’t trust totally in Jesus, so went away sad. Today we are looking at two positive encounters that show how people respond to Jesus and are welcomed into the kingdom of God. Sandwiched in the centre of these two sets of encounters Jesus again talked of his death and resurrection. In the middle of these encounters is the central way in which Jesus would seek and save the lost.

We are used to looking at the blind beggar and the short tax collector separately, but today we are going to look at them together.

Firstly, both find themselves on the outside, and outcast. The Blind beggar is separated from his community, because of his disability, we see him sitting on the side of the road, he is outside Jericho. He is an example of the poor and marginalised, without family to help him, with no hope except for the alms of those passing by on their way to Jerusalem. There was also a religious stigma attached to his disability, that somehow this maybe God’s punishment for wrongdoing and sin. It is unspoken in this passage but in other places in the gospel it rears its head again and again. The man born blind in John 9… is a good example, the Pharisees write him off as being steeped in sin at birth. But Jesus never sees people like that. Zacchaeus, our short tax collector, is ostracised by his community, as a chief tax collector he not only was a quisling a traitor working for the Romans, but also would have been seen as undoubtable dishonest; making his money from unfair taxes, and getting richer and richer by extracting commission from those who worked under him. The fact that Zacchaeus couldn’t see Jesus in Jericho was not because of his stature but his disliked status. The crowd should have parted for this prominent man but they didn’t and wouldn’t.

We don’t like the term lost these days it implies that people are on the wrong path, have wilfully wandered off and gone astray, have no sense of direction or purpose for life.  for some that is an apt description. Many of us have found ourselves in dark places in our lives with no sense of how to get out. But in the gospels lost has more a sense of being missed, of missing. The parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin, and the lost son, focus not on the lostness of the coin, the sheep and the son but on the missing of the shepherd, widow and father. It says they are of value and loved by God who then set out to go and find and bring back, who looked longingly for the first glimpse of return to run and embrace. When we used to go shopping as a family one of the kids would keep and eye out for me. Because I could wander off on my own errand or be distracted by something, and they wanted to make sure I didn’t get lost and they could guide me back to the rest of the family. Elder care they called it. But a good example of how lost is used here, as missed.

While the blind beggar and Zacchaeus are missing they are not missed by Jesus. In both instances the crowd wants to keep them away from Jesus. The beggars cry for help is meet with hushing and be quiting and Jesus is too busy and too important for you. Zacchaeus is literally stone walled from seeing Jesus and then he is written off with muttering and being labelled as unworthy and a sinner. But they are not missed by Jesus. He hears the beggar’s call over the crowd and he sees the tax collectors enthusiasm over the crowd, literally over the crowd because he is up a tree… Jesus responds to their desire to meet him and their need for his grace.

It shows us that Jesus way of looking at people is so different than our own. In the eyes of the crowd  both these men were not worthy of Jesus, but in Jesus eyes he sees them in their poverty and in their humanity and brokenness and in their desire for God’s touch and help and reaches out to them. In our eyes we may not think we are worthy of Jesus, but he looks with different eyes and see who we really are and can be in relationship with him. We may look at those around us and make judgment calls on them, but we need to see them with the eyes of Jesus as precious and missed by God if they were not there. I went and listened to one of my heroes of the faith Shane Claiborne on Monday, and you guys missed such an uplifting encouraging challenging evening, one of the things Shane talked about was his sorrow that in a recent survey in all fifty states of the Us. America Christians were known primarily for their opposition to gay’s, for being self-righteous and stand offish and a whole lot more negative things. He lamented that they were not known as Jesus wanted us to be by our love. Do we see people through the eyes of Jesus. He also said that in New Zealand that we are such a post Christian culture that people don’t really have that preconception of Christians and we can forge a new consciousness of what we are like to the community around us.

Jesus responds to both the blind beggar and the short tax collector at their point of need. He asks the blind beggar what he wants and the blind beggar responds in faith. I want to see. He is an example for us of faith. It would have been easy to be pressurised by the crowd to ask for something simpler, food or money, but from what he has hear of Jesus he knows that he can ask for his sight. He calls Jesus the son of David, that is a messianic understanding of Jesus. The blind beggar is the one who sees Jesus for who he is and responds in faith. With Zacchaeus Jesus does not ask him what he wants rather he invites himself back to Zacchaeus’ place for a meal.  While it is Jesus who is receiving hospitality, it is Jesus who is being hospitable to Zacchaeus, welcoming of him as a son of Abraham. Zacchaeus we know also is ware of Jesus special place in God’s plans, when we finally have Zacchaeus speak he addresses Jesus as Lord.

Jesus still meets people at their point of need and brings transformation.  For the blind man it was sight and belonging again to God’s people who he had been estranged, for Zacchaeus it was also welcome back and a chance to be reconciled. They are both saved in the situations they find themselves. Jesus still meets us where we will come to him with faith, at our points and places of need. Jesus love calls us also to meet people at points of need in their lives with Gods love, be it their need for healing, or friendship or inclusion and welcome. People caught in their poverty and pain, both physical and spiritual, caught in life styles which separate them from their community and God.

Finally, both men find their lives transformed by encountering Jesus. There faith takes them from where they are and moves them on. We are told that the blind beggar follows Jesus, as I was proof reading my sermon I discovered It originally typed the blond beggar, he leaves where he is and joins those with Jesus. His life changes because he know focuses on telling people what Jesus has done for him and praising God. We see that people rejoice and praise God when they hear and see what has happened. But he goes from being a beggar to being a disciple.

Zacchaeus does not leave and follow Jesus, however his response to Jesus is to spontaneously do what the rich young ruler had not been prepared to do. Zacchaeus, gives half of his money to the poor, and uses the other half to pay back four times what he owed to anyone whom he had stolen from, which is the severest penalty for reimbursement in the Jewish law. He has received the generous gift of grace from God in Jesus and know he responds with generosity to others. It’s not the way he earns his salvation but rather how he demonstrates that salvation. Zacchaeus stays where he is, that is a difficult place for him, he has pressure from the romans to be a tax collector and he has suspicion from his neighbours, but he stays where he is to live out his transformed life, maybe he’ll have to down size his house, but he stays to witness to God’s goodness in that place.

Jesus comes to seek and save the lost means that he comes to bring transformation into our lives. That we no longer live under the bondage of our brokenness, lostness and blindness but rather we live out the transformed life he offers in knowing him. Be it in being prepared to follow him to new places or where we are and where it is hard, but we are called there to live out the kingdom of God. Telling of who Jesus is and what he has done for us and living that out in seeing what we have as being given by God to be used for his kingdom.

The Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost. To find who is missing and bring them and us back to God to know God’s goodness and grace and to live out of that. To seek and save the lost the blind beggar the short tax collector and you and me.  Is not just a mission statement, an easily remembered tagline but the very heart of God, the very motivation that led Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem and to the cross and which is so wonderfully made full of abundant and eternal life in the resurrection. It’s the Journey and mission that Jesus invites us on as well. The bind beggar, the short tax collector and you and me; to seek and save the lost.

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Shrinking In the Mists of Modern Time

The Disappearance of Husbands and Fathers
Exhibit 1:  
Hardly a day goes by in New Zealand (and we suspect in many Western countries) without a lamentation being raised by someone in authority about drunkenness, drug dependence, poverty, homelessness, violence, and despair in the “homes” of the underclass.  Few things seem work.  The problems and destructive patterns of behaviour are now multi-generational and deeply ingrained.  There are many who have never known any other life, apart from living from dole payment to dole payment, and splurging each dole day upon alcohol and drugs to get through the week.  

The only response or solution is to look to the State to act more and more as the de facto husband and father to these households.

Exhibit II: 

The human experience seems to be that where husbands exercise much authority, they bear correspondingly great responsibility, and vice versa.  Christianity is as clear as Judaism and Islam: the man is the head of the household.  The English common-law principle that “a man’s home is his castle” once applied just as much to his authority over wife and children as it did to his property.  As a consequence, Anglo-Saxon courts traditionally refused to entertain suits by wives who challenged the husband’s authority over domestic matters.  For example, the decision about whether the household should move was deemed the husband’s prerogative; the wife must follow.  The maximum link between lost authority and shed responsibility is found in the case of slave husbands who could hardly be authoritative with their families while their masters showed them no respect, and who orders regarding their own family they [the fathers] could not gainsay.

Likewise, the decrease in the status of husbands in China, which resulted from two decades of life under the Communist agricultural commune system and from the state’s one-child policy, also shows the corrosive effects of powerlessness.  Early in the twentieth century, Western states began to superintend the family lives of industrial workers on the assumption that minimal standards had to be imposed for the sake of the children.  Today, from Helsinki to Perth, women and children have only to wave a hand, and the state, in effect will take over the husband’s role as provider and as a source of authority.  It is therefore not surprising that throughout the Western world, especially in those sectors of the population who are the biggest consumers of state services, married men are working less and are abandoning their families at unprecedented rates.  [Angelo Codevilla, The Character of Nations: How Politics Makes and Breaks Prosperity, Family, and Civility (New York: Basic Books, 1997), p.161.]

Exhibit III:

When it comes to marriage and family formation, one dogma insisted upon by the State is that the man is not the head of the household.  Rather the State insists that no-one must be regarded as the head of the household.  Consequently, we no longer have households–just living arrangements of temporary convenience.

Exhibit IV:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.  [Ephesians 5: 22-33]

Without Christ as the Husband to His bride, the Church, human society can neither comprehend nor maintain, the family in general and the headship of the husband, in particular.
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murder from a to z



Luke 11:47-51

Luke 11:47 Tragedy is coming to you! You build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed.
Luke 11:48 So you testify that you approve of the deeds of your ancestors, because they killed the prophets and you build their tombs!
Luke 11:49 For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’
Luke 11:50 so that this generation may be held accountable for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world,
Luke 11:51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation.

murder from a to z

Sue Grafton has written an amazing series of murder mysteries, beginning with “A is for Alibi.” Her Kinsey Malone series has a book for each letter of the alphabet. It is very easy to read, and addicting.

It is merely a coincidence that the names of the two people murdered that Jesus mentions happen to begin with a and z. The actual reason he mentions them is that the first murder is recorded in Genesis, and the latter in 2 Chronicles (which was the last book of the Hebrew Bible.

But Jesus’ generation witnessed his earthly ministry and still rejected his message, and would condone and call for his crucifixion. Because of this, they would be held responsible for all the murders from the beginning of time.

It is a serious thing to hear the word of God, and turn your back on Jesus Christ.

LORD, give us the wisdom to take you seriously.


Monday quote

Economic freedom cannot guarantee political liberty and the just autonomy of the institutions of civil society, but, in the absence of economic liberty, other honorable personal and institutional freedoms are rarely secure.

Robert P. George
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