Oct 23, 2017

China’s Addiction to Middle East Oil

The more I understand world events, the more convinced I’ve become that there is a Supernatural God guiding world events. Just as China began a massive surge in its consumption of oil, the U.S. began lowering its need for foreign oil with the fracking revolution. Many books have been written that argue that China and America are destined for war because of black gold. We remain at peace because the market has been able to maintain a near-perfect balance between supply and demand.

China is now the world’s largest oil importer. In 1994, the Chinese economy ran completely on the 3 million barrels per (mpd) day that came from state-owned oil companies. Over the past 24 years, consumption has shot up to 13 mpd. China now needs to import 8.5 mpd to keep its economy going.

There is no indication that China’s oil demand is leveling off. If you look at a chart of Chinese oil consumption growth, it’s moving up at a 45-degree angle. A nation of 1.4 billion people could easily triple its oil consumption and still be nowhere near America’s daily usage of petroleum.

The security of oil flows has been an increasingly pressing worry for Chinese leaders. A large percentage of China’s crude imports come from countries in the Middle East, including Iran and Iraq. While the U.S. has become carefree about troubles in the Middle East, China’s president has made numerous trips to Arab capitals to keep tabs on his oil suppliers.

The change in the flow of oil from West to East has brought into question the need for the petrodollar standard. This is an agreement the U.S. struck with Saudi Arabia to standardize oil prices in dollars. China is seeking to introduce a new gold-backed, yuan-based oil benchmark. Trade in oil futures would switch from West Texas Intermediate to the Shanghai. Russia and Iran are heavy backers of this plan because they know it would help to unseat the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

The response to China’s power grab for oil has been pure delusion on our part. Every few days I read about some nation saying that by the next couple decades they are going to have 100 percent battery-powered cars. Germany has the fourth largest car manufacturing industry in the world, and its federal council (the Bundesrat) has passed a resolution that calls for a total ban on internal combustion engines by 2030. Norway decided to follow and outdo Germany by setting a 2025 target where only 100 percent electric cars will be allowed at dealerships.

There are about 1.2 billion vehicles on the world’s roads, and there is no way we could replace them with battery-powered engines. To make a rechargeable car that can go long distances requires a battery made from lithium, nickel, cobalt, vanadium, cadmium, and lead. Some of these metals are classified as rare-earth elements.

Cobalt would be the mother of supply-chain headaches. As much as 65 percent of this global supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where cobalt production has fallen this year because of the unstable political situation. This sparked a 90 percent jump in the price of cobalt to a peak of $61,000 a ton earlier this month.

These environmentalist dreamers might as well mandate that by 2020 all travel will be conducted by teleportation machines. As a result, all maintenance on roads will immediately come to an end. The stocks of oil companies may go bust, but I doubt it will because of a decline in the price of oil.

The recent oil glut is mostly the creation of deficit spending. The oil industry has maintained its production levels by going deeper and deeper into debt. Since the 2008 global economic and financial crisis, the top seven oil companies have seen their total combined debt explode four times, from $96 billion to $379 billion currently. In 1997, Chevron enjoyed a $3.2 billion net profit on revenues of $42 billion. Last year, Chevron lost $497 million on total sales of $114 billion. Even though Chevron’s revenues nearly tripled in twenty years, it’s a money-losing venture.

Unless there is a massive spike in the price of oil, the big oil firms are going to eventually implode. Since OPEC has a lock on most of the world’s cheap oil, we may return to the days when this organization was able to dictate the spot price of crude. Now that Beijing has become OPEC’s biggest customer, it would mean for us to try to regain our old market share of Arab oil.

There may be some other reason why China is part of a 200-million army that invades the Middle East. Since numerous wars have been fought over oil in the past, it is logical to conclude that more wars will be fought in the future.

“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared” (Revelation 16:12).

“And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them”(Revelation 9:16).

– Todd

Peripheral Prophecy Pondering

Dr. Mark Hitchcock, speaking at the opening of the Prophecy Watcher’s Blessed Hope Prophecy Conference in Norman, Oklahoma, a little over a week ago, reminded me of a question some have had over the years. I, too, have asked the question. Why does the Gog-Magog coalition of Ezekiel 38–39 apparently mount a land invasion rather than simply nuke Israel?

It is a peripheral issue to be sure, but one that is interesting to ponder in light of current goings-on just to Israel’s north.

It is true that Ezekiel saw a massive military juggernaut invade “like a cloud to cover the land.” This could indicate a cloud of aircraft, but, not necessarily. A land invasion in that arid region would certainly kick up a lot of dust. We saw some of that kind of action during both Gulf Wars.

My friend Mark mentioned that some believe certain technological problems might be at the heart of it being a land invasion. The conjecture is based upon the same thought as expressed in Salem Kirban’s novel of many years ago titled 666.

Kirban portrayed the Russian-led attack, primarily from the north of Israel, as being one conducted with ancient weapons—horses and all—just like Ezekiel has it. I forget the technology that had, in the fictional account, rendered the modern weapons of war inoperable. But, they fought totally with, basically, weapons like the prophet describes.

The weapons were mostly of wood and other material that readily burns. So, Israel was able to use the weapons as fuel for heating, etc., once the flesh-and-blood part of the force, five-sixths having been dispatched by the Lord, was no longer a threat.

Dr. Hitchcock brought up the possibility, according to what some believe, that electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) weapons might be used to render all modern weaponry useless by the time  the Gog-Magog invasion takes place.

EMP, of course, disrupts electronic circuitry of all instrumentalities not protected when a nuclear explosion takes place in the atmosphere. All computer and other electronic circuitry on land, and even in the air near where the explosion takes place, supposedly will be fried. Thus, nuclear warfare, some believe, will help fulfill—in the most literal sense—Ezekiel’s prophecy about horses, sword, bucklers, and shields used as weaponry in that future time.

At present there is much dispute about Iran’s (area of ancient Persia) nuclear program. Persia is given as one of the primary members of the Gog-Magog coalition military force. That force obviously, according to Scripture, doesn’t use nuclear force against Israel in that prophesied attack. So, the question is: Why not?

Perhaps it is the EMP scenario. However, there are other possibilities.

Gog, in his evil thinking, wouldn’t want Israel’s “spoil,” as it is called in the KJV, contaminated by radiation from nuclear weapons. Another is, the Gog-Magog force wouldn’t want to go into a nuclear-radiated territory in order to occupy it.

They want to completely destroy Israel and do away with every Jew, that’s for certain. But it seems the main thinking in Gog’s satanically inspired brain is to take the riches in the region.

Another scenario is, of course, that Iran will indeed give up its nuclear ambition. That would mean that Russia, too, and any others would have given up their nuclear weapons for whatsoever reasons by the time of the Gog-Magog assault.

This, in my thinking, is the least of the possibilities.

Maybe Israel will have been so weakened by the covenant made with Antichrist as given in Daniel 9:26–27 that Israel will be the proverbial sitting duckThus, ol’ Gog won’t believe he needs to use the nukes.

As part of considering all of this, it is more than of just passing interest that President Trump is about to nuke the nuclear deal President Obama made with Iran—this, even in the face of rebellion by all others in the deal, including U.S. allies.

The globalists, as I view the satanically influenced architects of the tremendous backlash against anything this president does to keep America sovereign, turn a blind eye to the fact that the ayatollahs allow no inspections of their key nuclear development facilities.

Mr. Obama completely cast aside President Reagan’s rubric for negotiations with diabolists such as Russia and Iran: “Trust, but verify.”

It seems those American allies, under the influence of globalist groupthink, have joined the insanity in giving the Israel-hating Islamists the benefit of a doubt, as the saying goes. The excerpt that follows makes the point, I think.

Global powers, including key US allies, have said they will stand by the Iran nuclear deal which US President Donald Trump has threatened to tear apart.

Mr. Trump said on Friday that he would stop signing off on the agreement.

The UK, France and Germany responded that the pact was “in our shared national security interest.” The EU said it was “not up to any single country to terminate” a “working” deal.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said the US was “more isolated than ever.” (Iran nuclear deal: Global powers stand by pact despite Trump threat – BBC, Oct. 15, 2017)

Developments in Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Israel are all part of another of the things Mark Hitchcock and many of us who spoke discussed at the conference. The word of the hour is convergence.

Convergence—the coming-together of practically every signal for the end of the age—is upon this generation. Developments north of Israel at the present moment are possibly the most significant of all of the signals that Christ’s Second Advent is near.

Since that great event will take place at least seven years later than the Rapture of the Church, we who name the name of Jesus should be in a state of anticipation of, not in fear of things to come.

When you see all these things begin to come to pass, then, look up and lift up your head, for your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:28)

— Terry

Oct 16, 2017

The Equifax Scandal and the Need for a New Identification System

Last month, Equifax announced that it had suffered a cyber-security breach; where cybercriminals accessed approximately 145.5 million U.S. Equifax consumers’ personal data. I didn’t think much about the breach until a couple of weeks later, when my online bank had a huge banner warning that I was one of the Equifax consumers.

If someone had asked me who is Equifax, my best guess would be that it is some antiquated company that makes Fax machines. It turns out that Equifax is one of the largest consumer credit-reporting agencies in the world. It tracks credit history on over 800 million individual consumers and more than 88 million businesses worldwide. Experian and TransUnion are the two other firms in the trinity of credit management, and they both have around 200 million consumers.

The CEO of Equifax, Richard Smith, was called before two House and Senate Committees to explain why his firm had suffered such a huge data breach. While lawmakers were chewing out Smith, the IRS was in the process of awarding Equifax with a non-bid contract to help validate the identity of taxpayers communicating with the agency, on the telephone or through its website. Just as large banks are too big to fail, big credit is too big to assail.

I read in the news reports that Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are required by law to give everyone a free credit report once a year. I was wondering if there was a Nigerian version of myself, who might be flying to the Swiss Alps for wild shopping sprees in the finest stores in Zürich and Bern. It turns out that I died around 2009. My current consumer statements all show zero activity. The last three credit cards issued to me expired without use.

I don’t connect well with the $65 trillion credit that people have built up. For me, going out on the town involves a trip to Texas Roadhouse; which has to be limited to once or twice a month because of my cholesterol. My biggest consumer purchase of the year was a $250 comforter from Macy’s.

There have been many credit breaches in recent years. In 2013, hackers got into the Target Corp’s financial database and compromised at least 40 million cards. In 2014, Home Depot had a major breach affecting people who used payment cards on its self-checkout terminals. Just last week, the fast food giant, Sonic, said that credit and debit card numbers may have been acquired as part of a malware attack at some Sonic locations. The company did not disclose which locations or the specific time frame of the incident.

I don’t understand the complexities of how credit card information is stolen. I do know that the basic problem is because of two factors: speed and the modern ability to store vast amounts of information. In the early days of the internet, it would take those cybercriminals several years to transmit the records of 154 million consumers, and they would need a truckload of floppy disks to store all that data. Today, you can transfer the Social Security numbers of every American in a few minutes, and they would all fit on a single thumb drive.

The Equifax scandal has Washington questioning the security of our ID system. The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg news both reported that the Trump administration is exploring ways to replace the Social Security number with a safer system, based on modern technology. Rob Joyce, the White House’s cybersecurity coordinator, said that one possibility is using cryptographic keys, or a combination of long random numbers, to unlock personal data. The merit of such numbers is that they could be revoked once they are found to be compromised, he explained.

If you issued an ID code that is 50 places long, there is obviously no way for you to remember this sequence of characters. The shortfall of a cryptographic key is needing to track who is receiving your information in a transaction. To maintain security, a central system will need to track and issue a new cryptographic key every time a person creates a new transaction.

The key can make the transmitting of data safe, but it needs to be placed in a safe location. The human body seems to be the only logical choice. The amazing prediction made 2,000 years ago is rapidly becoming a necessity.

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (Revelation 13:16-18).

– Todd

Trump: “Peace has to happen”

It is inevitable. Peace in the Middle East must happen. This, according to President Donald Trump.

The president, while being interviewed on former Governor Mike Huckabee’s initial TBN program, made the declaration.

“I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem.”

He said further, “f we can make peace between the Palestinians and Israel, I think it’ll lead to ultimately peace in the Middle East, which has to happen.”

Trump, in June of 2017, signed a temporary order keeping the American embassy in Tel Aviv. This follows the actions of presidents preceding him.

Some see this as his breaking a promise he made while on the 2016 presidential campaign trail. He received rousing ovations every time he declared he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the city that Israel claims as its capital.

Mr. Trump has said on numerous occasions that his administration is working on a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians that will result in peace for the whole region. He has appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as unofficial diplomat in charge of working to accomplish peace in the Middle East.

Others–including the Benjamin Netanyahu-led government–deny that the president has abandoned the idea of moving the embassy. In his declaration that he wants to give peace a chance before moving the embassy, Trump simply means, in their view, that the move is postponed. To force such an action at this moment in the current volatile geopolitical climate would likely ramp up hostilities.

To watchers on the wall–those who view the world through the prism of Bible prophecy from the pre-Millennial, pre-Tribulation perspective, the president’s declaration and decision on the embassy move should not come as surprise.

Like every other prophetic indicator on the present world horizon, the fact that there is a continuing drive to force peace between Israel and its enemy neighbors is simply something that must be in view while final prophecies near fulfillment. Like Mr. Trump says, peace between Israel and its closest enemy neighbor “has to happen,” from the human point of view.

Like all the world has cried for decades–as wrapped neatly in the lyrics of the song by John Lennon–we must “give peace a chance.”

But, that much-ballyhooed peace process leaves out the one essential ingredient that can make it come to pass. God is ignored. The very Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, is not even considered in their humanistic effort. As a matter of fact, His Holy name is ridiculed and mocked at every turn by most of the diplomatic world. Christ is viewed as the holdup to peace in most instances, rather than the solution to the hatred and war-making that has dominated human history.

Mr. President, much of your political–electoral–base is made up by those of us who support Israel. We want peace for Israel, the Middle East, the United States, and the world. We know, however, from what God’s prophetic Word has to say, that there will be no peace until the Prince of Peace rules and reigns in the hearts and minds of mankind.

The present call for peace is addressed, I’m convinced, by the apostle Paul as follows:

For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:1)

Mr. President, peace will happen. It will come in two distinctively opposite forms.

The first peace will be a false peace, brought about by the man of sin, the son of perdition — Antichrist.

Daniel the prophet said the following about this false prince that shall come:

And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many. (Daniel8: 25)

The other peace–the real peace–will be brought upon the planet at Christ’s return to make all things right again.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, said the following just before leaving this sin-corrupted world:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

— Terry