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

Oct 9, 2017

Another Year, Another Record for Mass Murder in America

It is truly stunning that, within 16 months of the Pulse Massacre, I am forced to report that we have set a new record for mass murder. When Omar Mateen walked into the Orlando gay nightclub last year and killed 49 people and wounded 58 others, he created the worst mass murder event in American history; surpassing the 35 people killed in 2007 in the Virginia Tech shooting.

Gunman Stephen Paddock has killed at least 58 people and injured more than 527 others. This man shot more people in 72 minutes than all the mass-murder sprees from the 1940s to the 1980s. When Charles Whitman in 1966 killed 18 people and wounded 30 others from the University of Texas clock tower, people thought that such a horrendous milestone would stand forever.

The cunning calculations, from what is being called the Mandalay Massacre, is off the scale. Paddock had rented a luxury suite at the hotel, and he had stocked his room with a small armory of weapons. The police recovered 23 guns, some with scopes, two with tripods. He fired at the concert crowd from two carefully selected vantage points. Paddock had two video cameras attached to his door so he could monitor the police as they closed in on him.

Most shooters act out on a spur-of-the-moment decision. Paddock spent several days setting up his rampage.

The strange and scary thing about Stephen Paddock is that he does not fit the typical pattern of a mass- murder gunman. He was a multimillionaire real estate investor, who lived in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. He had no criminal record, no army training, and no known dispute with another person. He seemly had everything to live for; and yet, he was a man of great evil.

Normally, any type of terrorist event has always been a gut-punch to the financial markets. This rule of thumb was strangely ignored on the next trading day after the attack. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 152 points to a record high. Shares of U.S. casino operators with MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay, was down 3.5 percent; but most other casino stocks were mostly unchanged or up with the general market.

In the early hours of the news coverage, the Islamic State proudly claimed responsibility for the Las Vegas mass shooting. The terror group said Stephen Paddock converted to Islam months ago, and “executed the operation in response to calls to target countries of the coalition,” The AP reported. ISIS had also claimed that it was behind a terror attack at a Manila, Philippines casino. The perpetrator of that attack turned out to be an indebted gambler, who started a fire in order to allow himself to steal gambling chips.

It is understandable why ISIS might want to make such a transparently false claim. They want to maintain their monopoly on acts of terrorism. The liberal Media should not be facilitating this organization’s desire to be the clearinghouse of carnage. They should be shaming ISIS with the same energy that has applied to the racist terror groups.

The Left wasted no time in calling for a ban on gun sales to people with a history of violence or mental illness. They want a total ban on the production of automatic weapons, even though these types of weapons have only been used in three crimes since 1934. The Liberal’s mantra that gun ownership equals more death is completely false. While the number of people who own guns has remained mostly flat, the gun homicide rate is down 49 percent since its 1993 peak.

Most Americans are unaware that gun crime is lower today than it was two decades ago, because they can see what is headed their way. Our urban centers have become no-go zones of uncontrolled violence. We now regularly have violence in places that were once unthinkable. Last week, a gunman open fired at a Nashville church.

The Mandalay Massacre is strong evidence that we are living in the “days of Noah;” the time of wickedness that will lead to the tribulation hour. Just as Noah and his family were spared by the ark from God’s first major judgment of mankind, the rapture will spare true believers from the Lord’s second outpouring of wrath.

Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

“For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark” (Matt. 24:37-38).

– Todd


Is God Judging?

Books are published and videos produced that deal with God’s judgment upon those who curse Israel. Some put forth that the Lord answers each attempt at forcing the Jewish state to give up land for peace by sending direct violent, natural phenomena—that is, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.

These books and videos are produced by strongly devoted Christians, most for whom I hold considerable respect. They view these correlations between nations dealing with Israel and such geophysical rampages as documentable in every case.

Most begin their premises with the familiar pronouncement recorded in Genesis chapter 12:

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis12:1–3)

Some hold that presidents have paid the price for dealing with the Jewish people in a way that might be viewed as a “curse.” for example, Franklin D. Roosevelt died of cerebral hemorrhage after deciding the U.S. would not help in the formation of the Jewish state in its God-given land. Harry S. Truman was made president upon Roosevelt’s death in 1945. Truman was raised by a mother who was a strong Christian believer. She instilled in him the biblical truth that Israel is God’s chosen people.

Truman, in 1948, supported Israel’s rebirth, defying most everyone in his cabinet and the U.S. State Department. Thus, some who believe that God deals directly in the matters involving Israel hold that Roosevelt was removed because of his treatment of Israel. Truman, they believe, was blessed because he took Israel’s side. In fact, the polls and all political watchers wrote Truman off in the 1948 election, believing New York Governor Thomas Dewey would win the election.

Truman’s smiling face as he held up a newspaper the morning following the election tells the story, so far as those who think the curse vs blessing applies today are concerned. The headline read “Dewey Wins!” Of course, Truman won against all odds.

We know the end of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. They came to their demise in the most ignominious way imaginable. They brought the entire German people down, dividing their nation. Similar disasters have befallen most all who have come against the Jewish race and Israel in a way intended to destroy them.

Coming into our day, those who write the books and produce the films point to events that prove their postulation that God deals directly in many cases with anti-Israel actions.

George H. W. Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, held Israel at arm’s length, viewing the Jewish state in many cases as the problem in the Middle East. On one occasion, while the Bush Administration was trying to force peace on the region by trying to make Israel give up land, hurricane-force winds drove the Atlantic into the Bush home at Kennebunkport, Maine.

The son of Bush 41, President George W. Bush, it is pointed out, by trying to force Middle East peace at Israel’s expense, opened the divine door for Hurricane Katrina. That horrific storm occurred at the same time Jewish people were forced to leave their homes within territory won by Israel after the nation was attacked. Many in America were, approximately at the same time, forced to move from storm-stricken areas.

Now, what am I saying? Am I, with my commentary title’s question, pooh-poohing the proposition that these storms and other disastrous-type occurrences might have any correlation to leaders and nations dealing with God’s chosen nation and people?

No, as a matter of fact, I have quoted in my own books excerpts from some of the books by those who have written on the matters just mentioned. Most of my inclusion of those quotations have been positive. I do believe there is credence in many cases to the supposition that there is documentable evidence to support these writers’ position.

However, as I’ve asked in the title of the commentary: Is God judging? That’s a point to consider, because there are inconsistencies. Not every move against the Israeli people or Israel has thus far resulted in such direct judgment.

For example, Iran continues to declare their death wish for Israel. The entire U.N. is against the Jewish state—except for a very few. America, herself, was led to be against Israel by the previous administration.

There isn’t always, or even most of the time, direct, heavenly action against the diabolists who come against Israel.

So, Is God truly “judging” at the present time?

I will accept that it might merely be a matter of semantics. But, I view these events—the disasters thought to correlate to dealing nefariously with Israel—as not judgments, but warnings—very dramatic warnings in some cases. They are harbingers of things to come.

The truly God-directed judgments that are coming are stipulated throughout the old and new Testaments. Revelation particularly lays out the judgments of God in no uncertain terminology. God is going to bring the whole world into the place called Armageddon specifically because of the way the nations of the world have dealt with Israel—with the Jew.

For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. (Joel 3: 1-2)

— Terry