Monday, January 28, 2008

Here's Looking at You

POLICE STATE UPDATE (AP): Here's a vision of the not-so-distant future: Microchips with antennas will be embedded in virtually everything you buy, wear, drive and read, allowing retailers and law enforcement to track consumer items — and, by extension, consumers — wherever they go, from a distance. A seamless, global network of electronic "sniffers" will scan radio tags in myriad public settings, identifying people and their tastes instantly so that customized ads, "live spam," may be beamed at them. In "Smart Homes," sensors built into walls, floors and appliances will inventory possessions, record eating habits, monitor medicine cabinets — all the while, silently reporting data to marketers eager for a peek into the occupants' private lives.

Science fiction? In truth, much of the radio frequency identification technology that enables objects and people to be tagged and tracked wirelessly already exists — and new and potentially intrusive uses of it are being patented, perfected and deployed. Some of the world's largest corporations are vested in the success of RFID technology, which couples highly miniaturized computers with radio antennas to broadcast information about sales and buyers to company databases. Already, microchips are turning up in some computer printers, car keys and tires, on shampoo bottles and department store clothing tags. They're also in library books and "contactless" payment cards (such as American Express' "Blue" and ExxonMobil's "Speedpass.").

Companies say the RFID tags improve supply-chain efficiency, cut theft, and guarantee that brand-name products are authentic, not counterfeit. At a store, RFID doorways could scan your purchases automatically as you leave, eliminating tedious checkouts. The problem, critics say, is that microchipped products might very well do a whole lot more. With tags in so many objects, relaying information to databases that can be linked to credit and bank cards, almost no aspect of life may soon be safe from the prying eyes of corporations and governments, says Mark Rasch, former head of the computer-crime unit of the U.S. Justice Department. He imagines a time when anyone from police to identity thieves to stalkers might scan locked car trunks, garages or home offices from a distance. "Think of it as a high-tech form of Dumpster diving," says Rasch, who's also concerned about data gathered by "spy" appliances in the home.
  • JJ Commentary: The law of duality, of good and evil, in this fallen world ensures that for every positive use of technology also comes increased dangers of illegal and immoral applications.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Black Horse Rides?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The deficit for the current budget year will jump to about $250 billion, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Wednesday, citing the weakening economy. And that figure does not reflect at least $100 billion in additional red ink from an upcoming deficit-financed economic stimulus measure. "After three years of declining budget deficits, a slowing economy this year will contribute to an increase in the deficit," the CBO report said. Such a figure greatly exceeds the $163 billion in red ink registered last year. Including likely but still unapproved outlays for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the deficit for 2008 would total about $250 billion, CBO said.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said the 2008 deficit would reach more than $350 billion once the costs of an upcoming economic stimulus measure under negotiation between the Bush administration and Congress are factored in. Unlike an increasing number of economists, CBO does not forecast a recession this year. It instead forecasts a growth rate of 1.7%, down from 2.2% real growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) last year.
  • JJ Commentary: Thus, if there is a recession, the deficit will climb even more and increase the cumulative deficit to unprecedented levels. With a falling dollar, the potential for a severe recession, even a depression, becomes more likely. Has the third seal, the black horse, been released? (Rev. 6:5)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wrong Wavelength

ONE JERUSALEM.ORG: This afternoon President Bush made a public statement on the "peace process" at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. His statement is making headlines that are damaging to the State of Israel. For example, he said, "The point of departure for permanent status negotiations...seems clear: There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967." By making this point, President Bush has let the Palestinians off the hook. While the President refers to the "Roadmap" he is simply giving the Palestinians a free pass on the central provision that the first stage of the Roadmap is the successful end to terror strikes against Israel.

Instead Israel is now the aggressor that must make the most important concessions. Israel must move its defense forces out of what Bush calls the occupied territories. Israel security concerns are skimmed over with statements calling on the Palestinians to control terror. Something they have never done. And to add insult to injury Bush clearly states that he believes Israel must loosen its control of Jerusalem. The Bush Administration has gone from treating Israel as an ally against our nation's common enemies to pressuring Israel to make dangerous concessions when there is no partner for peace.
  • JJ Commentary: President Bush is clearly not on the Lord’s wavelength regarding Israel. So whose wavelength is he on?.

Big Universe, Big God

AUSTIN, Texas — The most massive black hole in the universe tips the cosmic scales at 18 billion times more massive than the sun, astronomers suggest today at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Even though researchers suggested black holes up to this mass might exist in quasars, this is the first direct confirmation of such a behemoth. The hefty gravity well is six times more massive than the previous record and is orbited by a smaller black hole, which allowed the measurement of the giant's mass. Black holes can't be seen, but astronomers detect them by noting how other objects are affected by the tremendous gravity created in tremendously small sphere of space.
  • JJ Commentary: Eighteen billion times bigger than the sun! Surely it takes a big God to create such a huge universe.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Peaceful Illusions

President Bush became the first U.S. president in nearly a decade to visit Palestinian territory Thursday and promptly predicted that a deal can be reached within a year to turn it into a state. Standing beneath a portrait of Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader who is buried nearby, an enthusiastic Bush said Israel and the Palestinian Authority should be able to reach a peace agreement with his help.
  • JJ Commentary: Unfortunately, President Bush has shown little appreciation for the underlying roots of the Middle East conflict. He is more interested in his legacy than in the truth or God’s will. Even if a peace treaty is signed, it will not last. Islamists are determined to exterminate Israel, and Israel’s trading the land that God gave them for an illusory peace will bring curses, not the shalom of peace.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Green Light

Thomas Edison must be rolling over in his grave. Less than a month after the U.S. Congress passed an energy bill banning the incandescent light bulb by 2014, the UK Environment Agency issued guidelines calling for evacuation of any room where an energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulb is broken, releasing toxic mercury. The warning comes a month before the British government begins its phase-out of tungsten bulbs, scheduled to be completed in 2011. The switchover to CFL bulbs will save at least five million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, the government said.

Health experts warned this week that people with certain skin ailments will suffer from the new eco-friendly bulbs which cause conditions such as eczema to flare up. Additionally, the bulbs have been linked to migraine headaches in some people. The Environment Agency's latest advice focuses on the 6 to 8 milligrams of toxic mercury in each bulb. Users who break a bulb should vacate the room for at least 15 minutes, the new guidelines say. The debris should not be removed with a vacuum cleaner, which could put toxic dust into the air, but with rubber gloves. The broken glass and all residue is to be placed into a sealed plastic bag and taken to a local official recycling site for proper disposal.
  • JJ Commentary: The green revolution threatens to turn us all green.