November 6, 2013

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Dec 3, 2013 (3 years and 4 months ago)

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November 6, 2013
TOWN COUNCIL PRAYER CONTROVERSY AT SUPREME COURT TODAY

A pastor at the
center of one of this year's most watched Supreme Court cases
will attend arguments
before the justices today, Wednesday, November 6, 2013, at 10:00 AM.
The Reverend Patrick Madeiros (Mah'-dare-ose) is Lead Pastor of Greece Assembly of God, a
congregation in Greece, NY, and has been a frequent guest clergy member at his local town council
meetings. Over the past fourteen years, Pastor Madeiros has delivered countless opening prayers before
council meetings. On Wednesday the justices will hear arguments by attorneys for the town that it has a
right to continue the prayers. Lawyers for two atheists will assert that the public prayers infringe on their
clients' rights not to believe in God.
Pastor Madeiros will travel from Greece, New York, to Washington, DC, on Tuesday, November 5, where
he will meet over dinner with the Reverend Dr. Rob Schenck (Shank) of Faith and Action in the Nation's
Capital and chairman of the Evangelical Church Alliance. The two will discuss continuing strategies for
preserving the American tradition of public prayers by clergy. On Wednesday morning, Pastor Madeiros
will accompany Rev. Schenck to the High Court to listen to oral arguments in Town of Greece v.
Galloway, Susan, et al (12-696) Immediately following arguments, the pastor will make comments to the
media with Rev. Schenck, and will participate in a news conference and prayer service on the sidewalk in
front of the court building.
Rev. Schenck said about Pastor Madeiros and the prayers he offers at his town council meetings:
"Pastor Pat, as everyone knows him, is one of the warmest and most considerate people I have ever
met. He is beloved by his congregation and by many, many others. His prayers at town council meetings
are only the most visible contributions Pastor Pat makes to the community he loves. It is wrong for the
courts to ban a long-held, widely accepted practice that has been going on in legislatures at every level in
our country since its birth, and it is even more wrong to deny community faith leaders like Pastor Pat the
freedom to pray according to the dictates of their own beliefs and consciences. There are many, many
Christians in the town of Greece, but only a few atheists. Under the guarantee of the First Amendment, all
parties have equal rights before the law. You can't take away the rights of Christians in favor of preserving
the rights of atheists." (Contributor:
Christian Newswire
)
This case has been followed through the courts, and now, the Supreme Court has opportunity to
declare that religious speech, including public prayer, does not violate anyone’s rights. Public
prayer and freedom to speak of one’s faith have been cornerstone rights since the founding of our
nation. Pray that Christians will not succumb to fear in their public witness to the Gospel. Pray
that the wider body of Christ will come forth strongly in expressing full confidence in the
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sufficiency of Scripture as the power of God.

Ask God to sovereignly overrule all evil forces that
would suppress God
-
given freedoms.

“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as
depend
s on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but
rather

give place to
wrath; for it is written,
‘Vengeance

is

Mine, I will repay,’
says the Lord. Therefore, i
f your enemy is hungry,
feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink;

for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. D
o not be
overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
(Romans 12:17
-
21)

“And
[
the

religious leaders]

called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of
Jesus.
But Peter
and J
ohn answered and said to them, ‘
Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to
you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

"

(Acts 4:18
-
20)


BELGIUM:
EUTHANASIA
TO

CHILDREN, DEMENTIA PATIENTS

Belgium is considering
children having

the right to ask for their

own deaths
!

In Belgium, where euthanasia is now legal for people over the age of 18, the government is considering
extending it to children


something that no other country has done. The same bill would offer the right to
die to adults with early dementi
a.

Advocates argue that euthanasia for children, with the consent of their parents, is necessary to give
families an option in a desperately painful situation. But opponents have questioned whether children can
reasonably decide to end their own lives.

Bel
gium is already a euthanasia pioneer; it legalized the practice for adults in 2002. In the last decade,
the number of reported cases per year has risen from 235 deaths in 2003 to 1,432 in 2012, the last year
for which statistics are available. Doctors typi
cally give patients a powerful sedative before injecting
another drug to stop their heart.

Only a few countries have legalized euthanasia or anything approaching it. In the Netherlands,
euthanasia is legal under specific circumstances and for children over

the age of 12 with parental consent
(there is an understanding that infants, too, can be euthanized, and that doctors will not be prosecuted if
they act appropriately). Elsewhere in Europe, euthanasia is only legal in Luxembourg. Assisted suicide,
where d
octors help a patient to die but do not actively kill them, is allowed in Switzerland.

In the U.S., the state of Oregon also grants assisted suicide requests for residents aged 18 or over with a
terminal illness.

In Belgium, the ruling Socialist party has
proposed the bill expanding the right of euthanasia. The
Christian Democratic Flemish party vowed to oppose the legislation and to challenge it in the European
Court of Human Rights if it passes. A final decision must be approved by Parliament and could ta
ke
months.

In the meantime, the Senate has heard testimony on both sides of the issue.

“It is strange that minors are considered legally incompetent in key areas, such as getting married, but
might (be able) to decide to die,” Catholic Archbishop Andre
-
Jos
eph Leonard testified.

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Leonard said alternatives like palliative sedation make euthanasia unnecessary


and relieves doctors of
the burden of having to kill patients. In palliative sedation, patients are sedated and life
-
sustaining support
is withdrawn so
they starve to death; the process can take days.

But the debate has extended to medical ethicists and professionals far from Belgium. Charles Foster, who
teaches medical law and ethics at Oxford University, believes children couldn’t possibly have the capa
city
to make an informed decision about euthanasia since even adults struggle with the concept.

“It often happens that when people get into the circumstances they had so feared earlier, they manage to
cling on all the more,” he said. “Children, like everyo
ne else, may not be able to anticipate how much they
will value their lives if they were not killed.”

There are others, though, who argue that because Belgium has already approved euthanasia for adults, it
is unjust to deny it to children.

“The principle o
f euthanasia for children sounds shocking at first, but it’s motivated by compassion and
protection,” said John Harris, a professor of bioethics at the University of Manchester. “It’s unfair to
provide euthanasia differentially to some citizens and not to
others (children) if the need is equal.”

And Dr. Gerlant van Berlaer, a pediatric oncologist at the Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussels hospital, says
the changes would legalize what is already happening informally. He said cases of euthanasia in children
are

rare and estimates about 10 to 100 cases in Belgium every year might qualify.

“Children have different ways of asking for things but they face the same questions as adults when
they’re terminally sick,” van Berlaer said. “Sometimes it’s a sister who tells

us her brother doesn’t want to
go back to the hospital and is asking for a solution,” he said. “Today if these families find themselves (in
that situation), we’re not able to help them, except in dark and questionable ways.”

The change in the law regardin
g people with dementia is also controversial.

People now can make a written declaration they wish to be euthanized if their health deteriorates, but the
request is only valid for five years and they must be in an irreversible coma. The new proposal would
a
bolish the time limit and the requirement the patient be in a coma, making it possible for someone who is
diagnosed with Alzheimer’s to be put to death years later in the future.

In the Netherlands, guidelines allow doctors to euthanize dementia patients
on this basis if they believe
the person is experiencing “unbearable suffering,” but few are done in practice.

Dr. Patrick Cras, a neurologist at the University of Antwerp, said people with dementia often change their
minds about wanting to die.

“They may
turn into different people and may not have the same feelings about wanting to die as when
they were fully competent,” he said. “I don’t see myself killing another person if he or she isn’t really
aware of exactly what’s happening simply on the basis of a
previous written request (to have euthanasia).
I haven’t fully made up my mind but I think this is going too far.”

Penney Lewis, a professor and medical law expert at King’s College London, agreed that carrying out
euthanasia requests on people with dement
ia once they start to worsen could be legally questionable.

“But if you don’t let people make decisions that will be respected in the future, including euthanasia, what
you do is encourage people to take their own life while they have the capacity or to se
ek euthanasia
much earlier,” she said.

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In the past year, several cases of Belgians who weren’t terminally ill but were euthanized


including a
pair of 43
-
year
-
old deaf twins who were going blind and a patient in a botched sex change operation


have raise
d concerns the country is becoming too willing to euthanize its citizens. The newest proposals
have raised eyebrows even further.

“People elsewhere in Europe are focused on assisted dying for the terminally ill and they are running
away from what’s happeni
ng in Belgium,” Lewis said. “If the Belgian statutes go ahead, this will be a key
boundary that is crossed.”
(Contributor:

By
Associated Press
)

How we need to intercede and cry out to God for a spiritual restoration in our own country that
would give us back the value of each human life.
Francis

Schaeffer warned us prophetically

through

his writings and sermons

in the last century

that the
“social
killing


would start with
abortion
. He said that if a society indulged itself in the casual abortion trade (and it is a big
business), so that the taki
ng of human life from the womb was practiced easily and wantonly,
what would inevitably follow


and soon


would be a similar devaluing of the life of the elderly,
the infirm, the weak, those who were a burden on society, on the economy, on their families
, and
so on. The “culture of death” becomes a habit in a decadent society.

Euthanasia means nothing
more than a cleansing of society’s dregs, it
s


excess

baggage,” as it were. Let us pray and let
loved ones know that we value them and will do what we can t
o preserve and strengthen life until
God inte
rvenes to take them to Himself.


I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you,
that

I have set before you life and death,
blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants

may live.”
(Deut. 30:19)


UK PM UNVEILS PLANS FOR ISLAMIC MARKET INDEX

Prime Minister David Cameron is taking strides to tap the burgeoning interest in Islamic finance,
announcing the
launch of a new Islamic Market Index in London and plans for Britain

to be the first non
-
Muslim co
untry to issue an Islamic bond.


Describing London as "already the biggest center for Islamic finance outside the Islamic world," Cameron
said Tuesday that the U.
K.'s ambition is to go further.

"I don't just want London to be a great capital of Islamic finance in the Western world," he t
old an
audience of international political and business leaders in London. "I want London to stand alongside
Dubai as one of the great capitals of Islamic
finance anywhere in the World."

Islamic finance conforms to Islamic law, or Shariah, which forbids ch
arging interest and requires deals to
be based on tangible assets. Speculation is banned, as is dealing in futures. Although still small
compared with the world of mainstream finance, Islamic finance is expected to hold growing appeal for
Gulf investors se
eking to invest oil revenue or pious Muslims who want r
etail Islamic banking services.

The market in Islamic investments has grown quickly since 2006, and its value is expected to hit 1.3
trillion pounds ($2 trillion) next year. Malaysia's capital, Kuala L
umpur, is regarded as its hub, but London
has been cour
ting the industry aggressively.

Cameron made a case for mutual benefits in his address Tuesday at the World Islamic Economic Forum,
which for the first time is bein
g held in a non
-
Muslim country.

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Afgha
n President Hamid Karzai and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were among the nearly 1,800 political
and business leaders attending the meeting. King Abdullah II of Jordan told delegates that Muslims
worldwide needed to join economic blocs, follow open market tr
ends and engage their country's youth.
Frustrated unemployed youth were a major driver of the revolutions that rocked the

Arab world in 2011
and beyond.

"The business world must make it a priority to answer the needs of young people everywhere, for jobs,
g
ood jobs, secure futures and the
opportunity to excel," he said.

The London index


which would track the ups
-
and
-
downs of Shariah
-
compliant investments


is being
launched on the London Stock Exchange. Cameron also said plans are underway to make Britain
the first
country outside of the Muslim world to issue an Islamic bond. It is expected to be worth around 200
milli
on pounds and issued next year.

"For years people have been talking about creating an Islamic bond


or sukuk


outside the Islamic
world. Bu
t it's never quite happened," Cameron said. "Changing that is a question of pragmatism and
political will. And here in Britain we've got both."

Alex Conroy, a trader at Spreadex, said that the U.K.'s effort to diversify business could be seen as a way
to s
tay competitive in the finance world as Britain faces the prospe
ct of caps on bankers' bonuses.

"By welcoming all foreign investment this should ensure London remains a leader in global finance," he
said in a note. (Contributor: Cassandra Vinograd for
Associated Press

-

Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jorda
n,
contributed to this report.)

Our broader p
rayer

focus:
American intercessors

are no doubt
aware of gr
owing Islamic influence
and economic power

in the
international

marketplace

and the contrasting decline in

U.S.
influence
and global leadership.
Instead of leading the way,

our nation is faltering and gr
oping for the image
of strength and moral purpose it
once possessed. So let us pray for our country’s foundations to
be restored. Spiritual problems require spiritual solutions.
Intercede

for God’s mercy on the
United States, and
pray

for sweeping spiritual renewal in the Church. When the Church gets it
righ
t with God
, it is then in a position to address social, moral, spiritual and economic issues in
society.
Derek Prince taught us, “If you win the battle in the spiritual realm, you have won the
battle


period.”


Seek the
L
ORD

while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the
L
ORD
, and He will have mercy on him; and to
our God, f
or He will abundantly pardon,”
(Isaiah 55:6
-
7)


BOLTO
N: ISRAEL MUST MAKE 'FATEFUL DECISION' ON IRAN STRIKE

Israel does not have much time to make a “fateful decision” about whether to strike Iran’s nuclear sites
,
former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said Sunday in a radio interview.

“Israel, I think, now faces the fateful decision whether it will allow Iran to get nuclear weapons, thus
constituting a true existential threat to Israel,” he said.

“Or whether they will
strike as the Israelis have done twice before against nuclear programs in the hands
of hostile states,” Bolton told
WABC Radio’s Aaron Klein
.

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“I don’t t
hink Israel has much time,” Bolton continued. “Frankly, they should have done this years ago
because we all know intelligence is imperfect and Iran may have a more developed capacity than we
know about, perhaps in cooperation with North Korea.”

Bolton spok
e amid U.S. outreach to Iran and amid reports Iran’s Revolutionary Guard announced
Saturday they are committed to the slogan, “Death to America.”

The former U.N. ambassador reacted to a statement by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who
said Thursday
the while U.S. has “implemented unprecedented sanctions and pressure on Iran, we may
very well have to use military force to back up our policy.”

Bolton retorted: “If there is anybody left in Israel who thinks that the U.S. will use military force against
Iran’s program, they really need to seriously re
-
examine their basic values. It isn’t going to happen under
the Obama administration. I’ll just say it again. It isn’t going to happen.” (Contributor:
World Net Daily
)

First, let us give thanks
.
God’s mercy
is
evident
all over the Middle East
. That part of the world has
been extremely volatile for months. Yet it has not exploded into the

mutual destruction we might
have seen. Yes, there is still brutality, lots of fighting, and many casualties. But Syria has
capitulated on its nerve gas without the U.S. shooting rockets; Iran has not attacked Israel head
-
on, despite its hatred; and Egypt’
s tensions have remained within its borders. All this is evidence
that much intercessory prayer has prevailed, so let us continue to pray. We do not know what will
happen, but we can offer thanks for what has not happened.

Still, Israel might act unilatera
lly, so
we must pray.

Intercessors have continued to stand in the gap.

Let us remember that there are
many Christians there, and the Church, both visible and underground, is very much at work to see
even more souls of men and women being saved.


The Lord i
s not slack concerning
His

promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us,
not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.


(2 Peter 3:9)


S
UCCESSOR TO THE SR
-
71 BLACKBIRD


SR
-
72

The SR
-
71, arguably the country
's most recognizable spy plane after the U
-
2, was retired in 1998. But like
many human retirees of the same generation, what became known as the Blackbird has had a healthy
post
-
retirement career. From appearances in the "X
-
Men" franchise to cameos in the
"Transformers"
series, this super
-
speedy jet has taken off in modern popular culture.

So it's only natural that the Blackbird's successor might inspire similar appeal. More than a decade after
the last SR
-
71 was decommissioned;
Lockheed Martin has unveiled the gorgeous
-
looking SR
-
72
. It flies
just as far and twice as fast as its predecessor


and, in a twist, it's now l
ethal, according to
Aviationweek
:


The SR
-
72 is being designed with strike capability in mind. “We would envision a role with over
-
flight
ISR, as well as missiles,” Leland says. Being launched from a Mach 6 platform, the weapons would not
require a boos
ter, significantly reducing weight. The higher speed of the SR
-
72 would also give it the
ability to detect and strike more agile targets. “Even with the
-
SR
-
71, at Mach 3, there was still time to
notify that the plane was coming, but at Mach 6, there is no

reaction time to hide a mobile target. It is
unavoidable ISR,” he adds.

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The jet accelerates by way of a two
-
part system. A conventional jet turbine helps boost the aircraft up to
Mach 3, at which point a specialized ramjet takes over and pushes the plane
even faster into hypersonic
mode.

From Lockheed's mock
-
ups, there doesn't appear to be a bubble for the pilot


which suggests a
windowless cockpit or fantasies about a future unmanned version of the plane. (Contributor: By Brian
Fung for
The Washington Post
)

Our prayer here is to look forward to a day when swords will be beaten into plowshares


at least
figuratively.
Man builds bigger and better weapons, more costly and more deadly. But God rules
in heaven and on earth.

Continue to intercede for the coming day when the Prince of Peace rules
with no rival. The nations are His, and all will bow before Him. Meanwhile, let

us
be thankful for
opportunity to
pray and evangelize.

Our own nation is a vast mission field. Let us pray to the Lord
of the harvest to send laborers out to bring in the harvest.


“He [God] will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for str
ong nations far and wide. They
will beat their
swords

into
plowshares

and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword
against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
(Micah 4:3)


Whatever the
L
ORD

pleases He does, in heaven and in
earth, in the seas and in all deep places.”
(Psalm
135:6)

“But our God
is

in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.”
(Psalm 115:3)


BUSINESSES SUFFER FROM A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY, STUDY SHOWS

Security vendor
McAfee says that small and midsize businesses are suffering from a false sense of
security,

basing their claims on a recent study conducted

with Office Depot. Those who took part in the
study showed a high degree of confidence that their data and devices were safe from attackers, despite
industry research and evidence that pro
ves otherwise.

McAfee's claims come from the 1000 SMBs participated

in the Office Depot Small Business Index in
September. According to the data, 66 percent of the SMB owners who took part were confident that their
data and devices were secure and safe from criminal hackers, with 77 percent reporting that their
organiza
ti
ons have never been attacked.

According to the 2013 Verizon Business Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 40 percent of the
incidents examined involved businesses with fewer than 1000 employees, and a majority of them were in
the r
etail or food servic
e industry.

When asked for details, 80 percent of the respondents to Office Depot's survey admitted to not using data
protection. Only about half of them confirmed that they're using email and Internet security measures.
And almost all of them

91 percent

s
aid they don't use endpoint or mobile device security. Yet, the
frightening admission comes from the 14 percent of SMB owners who said they haven't implemented
security measures of any k
ind in their environment.

"A business that doesn't have any security m
easures in place is putting their data and customers' trust in
jeopardy. As enterprises have increased their security defenses, hackers have started to target their
attacks downstream to SMBs," said Bill Rielly, senior vice president of SMB at McAfee.

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Your

solutions may vary

As incident research gets stronger, organizations are waking up to the fact that single sets of best
practices cannot be applied to businesses of all sizes, across industries of all types. Criminals have long
targeted the low
-
hanging fruit, and over the last few years, SMBs have filled that role. But while having no
security at all is a step backward, unless the solution is geared towards the organization's goals and
needs, designing and implementing a defensiv
e posture can become a costly, daunting task. In fact,
Verizon makes note of
this in their most recent DBIR.

"Any attempt to enforce a one
-
size
-
fits
-
all approach to securing our assets may result in leaving some
organizations under
-
protected from targeted
attacks while others potentially over
-
spend on defending
against simpler opportunistic attacks," the report explains.

As an example, the report notes that businesses in the retail and food service sectors should focus on the
basics as attackers routinely t
arget poorly configured remote administration services and POS systems,
but the basics are not enough for the finance and insurance sectors that have to contend with physical
attacks as well as those aimed at critical

Web applications and services.

Organiz
ations in the engineering, manufacturing, IT services, and consulting sectors also have a different
set of issues to deal with, because they face an entirely different set of attacks aimed at exploiting human
w
eaknesses (social engineering).

"Cyber attacks

on small businesses rarely make headlines, so it is easy for these business owners to be
lulled into a false sense of security, as indicated in this survey. It is especially important for small business
owners to secure their systems, as they may not have

the resources to survive a cyber attack, unlike a
large corporation," Congressman Chris Collins (R
-
New York), said in a statement. (Contributor: By Steve
Ragan for
PCWorld
)

This article speaks of small business and the need for data security and
cyber security. But in the
U.S., businesses will need more far
-
reaching security to survive and prosper.

Pray for our nation.
May there be a retur
n to God. Looking at all basic parameters for a busy, successful, thriving
nation, where business, when planned well and operated by sound principles, should succeed in
the greatest nation ever blessed by God, we see instead many signs of languishing, of
h
opelessness, of a rapid slide toward mediocrity and even lower. We want our “land” to be
healed, yet we need much healing within the larger Church as well. We want the blessing of God
on our country. So while business is our focus, let us pray for the atmo
sphere in which business
may develop and prosper.

“Trust in the
L
ORD

with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways
acknowledge Him, and He shall direct

your paths.”
(Prov. 3:5
-
6)







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SCHOOL BAN ON RELIGIOUS CAROLS DRAWS CHALLENGE

Silent night, indeed.

A New Jersey school district is
facing pressure this week to reverse a new edict that bans religious songs
and carols from b
eing used in upcoming holiday concerts
.

J. Matthew Sharp, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, has asked the Bordentown
Regional School District to rescind its policy that “likely crosses [a] constitutional line” by excluding
religious music,
regardless of its demonstrated cultural value and educational merit.

“Schools are going overboard by banning Christmas songs and carols,” Mr. Sharp said in the letter to
school district officials. “… Nothing in the Constitution requires this to be banned.
It is an overreaction
from schools to think that these things are not allowed.”

Citing in part a 2004 state court ruling, Bordertown Superintendent Constance J. Bauer issued a
statement Oct. 18 notifying Peter Muschal Elementary School that some musical se
lections for the
school’s winter concerts were being questioned and that “religious music should not be part of the
elementary programs.”

But Mr. Sharp said school administrators were misinterpreting what the courts have ruled.

“Because singing a wide vari
ety of religious songs, particularly during the holiday season, is simply a
result of the dominance of religious music in this field, courts have never considered this fact to either
unconstitutionally advance or endorse religion,” he said.

A similar ban n
early took place at a public school in Wausau, Wis., where district officials proposed that
the number of religious songs in holiday shows be cut down. Phil Buch, the chair of Wausau West High
School protested by temporarily disbanding the school’s Master
Singers music ensemble.

Local media reported the story but it eventually made its way into national news. With the weight of
national attention and anger the school board backed down and permitted the director’s original choices
of music for now. On
Tuesday, the student choir began practicing its music again, and the Alliance
Defending Freedom claimed victory.

The conservative legal group is now turning its attention to Bordentown’s board of education in its
attempts to remove the banning of religious

songs.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled on the issue in 2004, after local parent Michael
Stratechuk sued the district, claiming the policy violated the constitutional rulings on the separation of
church and state.

The judges sai
d public school administrations have the authority to choose which songs are appropriate
based on constitutional guidelines to create a secular “inclusive environment.”

“The Third Circuit ruled that while the First Amendment does not require schools to inc
lude religious
music, neither does it prohibit schools from including religious music,” Mr. Sharp said. “What the First
Amendment does require is that the Bordentown Regional School District remains neutral towards
religion and refrains from demonstrating
an unconstitutional hostility towards songs with religious origins.”

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Furthermore, Mr. Sharp argued that banning everything related to religion will lead to further
complications for schools who wish to teach Shakespeare, certain philosophies and even early

American
history.

“Our culture is infused with religion,” he said. “Even though the songs have a religious origin, that doesn’t
mean they should be banned in school.” (Contributor: By Matthew Lounsberry for
The Washington
Times
)

Prayer points:
Let us say kindly that these lawsuits and protests are brought by self
-
centered
and
short
-
sighted persons who

lack both logic and a sense of history. Hande
l’s
Messiah
, for example,
is music for the ages, and while
opinions vary on
why King George II of England stood to his feet
upon hearing the opening strains of the “Hallelujah Chorus” (and thus, everyone else in the
audience stood as well, out of respect f
or the king), it has become a deeply entrenched tradition of
respect for the sacred,
and certainly
a tribute to Jesus Christ among Christian audiences. Next,
we might suppose to hear a protest about writing the date on one’s checks or contracts because
A.D
., from the Latin, means “In the year of our Lord.” Let us pray for reason to return to the
discussion. How can a Christian remember and celebrate Christmas without Christmas music?
Pray accordingly.

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the
L
ORD
, choose
for yourselves this day whom you will serve,
whether the gods which your fathers served that
were

on the other side of the River, or the gods of the
Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the
L
ORD
.”
(Josh. 24:15)


CRYPTOLOCKER CREATORS EXTORT EVEN MORE MONEY FROM

VICTIMS


The creators of CryptoLocker,
a piece of malware that enc
rypts user data and holds it for ransom
, are
giving users who removed the malicious program from their computers a second chance to recover their
files, but at a much higher cost.

CryptoLocker is a malicious program that falls into a category of malware ca
lled ransomware. Once
installed on a computer, ransomware applications typically prevent victims from accessing their files or
even their operating system until they pay money to the malware authors.

Security researchers generally advise users against givi
ng into this kind of extortion and in many cases
there is a way to regain access to everything without paying up.

However, CryptoLocker uses solid public
-
private key cryptography to encrypt files that match a long list of
extensions, including documents, s
preadsheets, images and even AutoCAD design files. According to
researchers from antivirus firm Sophos, the malware’s creators got the encryption process right and
there’s no method to get the decryption keys, which are unique for every computer and are st
ored on
attackers’ servers, without paying up.

After it infects a computer, CryptoLocker displays a message informing victims that if they don’t pay the
equivalent of $300 or €300 in Bitcoins, a virtual currency, or via MoneyPak, a type of prepaid card, wi
thin
72 hours, the unique decryption key for the files will be automatically destroyed.

Users who regularly back up their data can clean their computers and restore the affected files from
backups, but users who don’t have backups should consider those fil
es lost, the Sophos researchers
said.

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Some files might be recoverable using the Shadow Copy technology, which is is an integral part of the
System Restore feature in Windows.

However, even users who have backups might realize that they’re not enough to rep
air the damage done
by the malware. Those backups might be too old or they might not include files from remote network
shares that have also been encrypted by the malware.

It seems that the creators of CryptoLocker considered that possibility and realized
that some users might
have initially removed the malware, but then, for whatever reason, changed their mind about paying up.
As a result, they’ve recently started offering an online decryption service that allow such users to still
recover their files, but

at a much higher price.

“Apparently the crooks will now let you buy back your key even if you didn’t follow their original
instructions,” Paul Ducklin, the head of technology for the Asia
-
Pacific region at Sophos, said Monday in a
blog post. “Word on the
street, however, is that the crooks want five times as much as they were charging
originally to decrypt your data after you change your mind.”

The cost of using the service is 10 Bitcoins

around $2300 at the current Bitcoin exchange rate

and
requires users

to upload one of their encrypted files. The first 1024 bytes of the file will be used to search
for the associated private key, a process that can take up to 24 hours.

“We’re guessing that the delay is because the crooks have to run a brute force attack a
gainst
themselves,” Ducklin said. “Without your public key to help them match up your keypair in their database,
it sounds as though they have to try to decrypting your data with every stored private key until they hit one
that produces a plausible result.


However it’s not immediately clear whether using this service is still possible after the initial 72
-
hour
deadline given by the malware. If it is, then the cybercriminals lied and the private keys are not being
destroyed after that time period.

This decr
yption service might have also been created for users whose antivirus programs detected and
deleted the malware after it encrypted the files, leaving them unable to buy the decryption key anymore.

“We’re still saying, ‘don’t buy,’ but we’re feeling your pa
in enough to know how tempting it will be for some
people to pay the crooks, even though the blackmail charges have now ballooned to more than $2000,”
Ducklin said. (Contributor: By Lucian Constantin for
IDG News Service
)

For our prayer focus,

here is a good example where “faith and works” come into balance. We
would like to pray one prayer and have all malicious and di
shonest persons repent and turn from
their evil ways

and all wicked computer viruses
be rendered harmless,

but we soon find that is
generally not how God works. So we
do
pray

for divine protection

and we also back up data and
invest in strong virus
-
detecti
on software. This is not to belittle prayer. It is to say that mature
intercessors see prayer as a relationship with a loving God and Father, not as a method to get
things to go our way.


The heart is deceitful above all things

and beyond cure.

Who can und
erstand it?


(Jeremiah 17:9)


“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must
continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have
learned
them.”

(2 Tim. 3:13
-
14)