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FBI Joins Possible Terror Probe for Missing Malaysia Jet.


Vietnamese authorities searching waters for the missing Boeing 777 jetliner spotted an object Sunday that they suspected was one of the plane’s doors, as international intelligence agencies joined the investigation into two passengers who boarded the aircraft with stolen passports.

More than a day and half after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing, no confirmed debris from the plane had been found, and the final minutes before it disappeared remained a mystery. The plane, which was carrying 239 people, lost contact with ground controllers somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam after leaving Kuala Lumpur early Saturday morning for Beijing.

The state-run Thanh Nien newspaper cited Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of Vietnam’s army, as saying searchers in a low-flying plane had spotted an object suspected of being a door from the missing jet. It was found in waters about 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Tho Chu island, in the same area where oil slicks were spotted Saturday.

“From this object, hopefully (we) will find the missing plane,” Tuan said. Thanh Nien said two ships from the maritime police were heading to the site.

The missing plane apparently fell from the sky at cruising altitude in fine weather, and the pilots were either unable or had no time to send a distress signal — unusual circumstances under which a modern jetliner operated by a professional airline would crash.

Malaysia’s air force chief, Rodzali Daud, said radar indicated that the plane may have turned back, but did not give further details on which direction it went or how far it veered off course.

“We are trying to make sense of this,” Daud said at a news conference. “The military radar indicated that the aircraft may have made a turn back, and in some parts this was corroborated by civilian radar.”

Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said pilots are supposed to inform the airline and traffic control authorities if the plane does a U-turn. “From what we have, there was no such distress signal or distress call per se, so we are equally puzzled,” he said.

Authorities were checking on the identities of the two passengers who boarded the plane with stolen passports. On Saturday, the foreign ministries in Italy and Austria said the names of two citizens listed on the flight’s manifest matched the names on two passports reported stolen in Thailand.

“I can confirm that we have the visuals of these two people on CCTV,” Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference late Sunday, adding that the footage was being examined. “We have intelligence agencies, both local and international, on board.”

Hishammuddin declined to give further details, saying it may jeopardize the investigation.

“Our focus now is to find the aircraft,” he said, adding that finding the plane would make it easier for authorities to investigate any possible foul play.

Interpol confirmed that at least two stolen passports used by passengers on the plane were registered in its databases. It said no one had checked the databases, but added that most airlines and countries do not usually check for stolen passports.

Hishammuddin said only two passengers had used stolen passports, and that earlier reports that the identities of two others were under investigation were not true.

White House Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said the U.S. was looking into the stolen passports, but that investigators had reached no conclusions.

In addition to the plane’s sudden disappearance, which experts say is consistent with a possible onboard explosion, the stolen passports have strengthened concerns about terrorism as a possible cause. Al-Qaida militants have used similar tactics to try and disguise their identities.

Still, other possible causes would seem just as likely at this stage, including a catastrophic failure of the plane’s engines, extreme turbulence, or pilot error or even suicide. Establishing what happened with any certainty will need data from flight recorders and a detailed examination of any debris, something that will take months if not years.

European authorities on Saturday confirmed the names and nationalities of the two stolen passports: One was an Italian-issued document bearing the name Luigi Maraldi, the other Austrian under the name Christian Kozel. Police in Thailand said Maraldi’s passport was stolen on the island of Phuket last July.

A telephone operator on a China-based KLM hotline on Sunday confirmed that “Maraldi” and “Kozel” were both booked to leave Beijing on a KLM flight to Amsterdam on March 8. Maraldi was then to fly to Copenhagen, Denmark, on KLM on March 8, and Kozel to Frankfurt, Germany, on March 8.

She said since the pair booked the tickets through China Southern Airlines, she had no information on where they bought them.

Having onward reservations to Europe from Beijing would have meant the pair, as holders of EU passports, would not have needed visas for China.

Meanwhile, the multinational search for the missing plane was continuing. A total of 34 aircraft and 40 ships have been deployed to the area by Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, China and the United States, in addition to Vietnam’s fleet.

Vietnamese air force jets spotted two large oil slicks Saturday, but it was unclear whether they were linked to the missing plane.

Two-thirds of the jet’s passengers were Chinese. The rest were from elsewhere in Asia, North America and Europe.

After more than 30 hours without contact with the aircraft, Malaysia Airlines told family members they should “prepare themselves for the worst,” Hugh Dunleavy, the commercial director for the airline, told reporters.

Finding traces of an aircraft that disappears over sea can take days or longer, even with a sustained search effort. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, wreckage can be scattered over many square kilometers (miles). If the plane enters the water before breaking up, there can be relatively little debris.

A team of American experts was en route to Asia to be ready to assist in the investigation into the crash. The team includes accident investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as technical experts from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, the safety board said in a statement.

Malaysia Airlines has a good safety record, as does the 777, which had not had a fatal crash in its 19-year history until an Asiana Airlines plane crashed last July in San Francisco, killing three passengers, all Chinese teenagers.

© AFP 2014
Source: Newsmax.com

Power Plant Attack Sparks Terror Fears in Three Other Incidents.


A recent report about the terrifying attack on a California power plant last April has raised suspicions about other troubling cases throughout the United States within the past year, Newsmax has learned.

Consider:

  • On Jan. 9, more than 7,000 gallons of methanol leaked into Elk River in Charleston, W.Va., after a spill at a chemical storage plant operated by Freedom Industries. Nearly 300,000 people were left without drinking or bathing water, some for more than a week. A federal grand jury investigation has begun into the spill, CNN reports.
  • The following week, in Manapalan, N.J., a 26-year-old man, Asaf Mohammed, was arrested after being found trapped inside a 20-inch pipe outside a storage tank at a water-treatment plant owned by United Water. The plant supplies drinking water to 40,000 customers in the township, New Jersey.com reports.
  • Within a month after the Boston Marathon bombings last April, seven Muslims — from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore — were arrested in the middle of the night at the Quabbin Reservoir, which provides drinking water to Boston and several other nearby communities, the Boston Herald reports. Three locks had been cut to gain access to the reservoir.

The incidents, two of which received scant media attention at the time, now have authorities and legislators worried about the possibility of terrorist acts’ being committed against the nation’s power grid and other utility operations.

Those attack reports follow a report by The Wall Street Journal that a sniper assault last April 16, a day after the Boston bombings, knocked out an electrical substation near San Jose, Calif. No arrests have been made in that attack.

“It does seem that we have to be awakened by a cataclysmic event before we pay attention,” retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West told John Bachman in an exclusive interview Wednesday on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV.

“We have a porous, open border,” said West, a former Florida GOP congressman. “You have some bad actors coming across, but it’s not just that dry-run attack against a power plant. There are also a couple of instances, in [West] Virginia and also in the Boston area, where water-supply plants, people were trying to infiltrate there as well.”

In an interview on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV on Wednesday, counterterrorism expert Fred Fleitz called the California assault “a trial run for a terrorist attack.”

Fleitz is a former CIA analyst and FBI agent who is now chief analyst for the global intelligence forecaster LIGNET.

“What Americans don’t realize is that we now have something called a smart-grid system, where our electric grid is linked to other grids over the Internet and by computers,” he said. “A major attack on one part of the grid could cause a devastating outage that could put tens of millions of Americans in the dark.”

The 52-minute attack in California occurred at the Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.’s power substation in Metcalf, a community in southern San Jose.

Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, said the assault was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”

He told The Journal that the incident may have been a dress rehearsal for a bigger attack.

The FBI said that it was “continuing to sift through the evidence” but that it did not think a terrorist group was behind the incident, The Journal reports.

The attack began at 12:58 a.m., when underground AT&T fiber-optic telecommunications cables were slashed in a vault not far from the Metcalf facility.

Other cables were also cut. At 1:31 a.m., the facility, situated near a freeway, came under sustained rifle fire. AK-47 bullet casings found later had been wiped clean of fingerprints.

The shooters were apparently aiming for the oil-filled cooling systems intended to keep the transformers from overheating, The Journal reported. Though they were riddled with bullet holes and hemorrhaged 52,000 gallons of oil, the transformers did not explode.

The attackers had left the scene by the time sheriff’s deputies arrived.

Seventeen huge power transformers had been disabled. Company officials initially declared the incident vandalism. Cameras were positioned facing inward and did not pick up images of the shooters.

Upon further investigation, it looked more like the handiwork of professionals who had done advance preparation and reconnaissance, The Journal reported.

The substation was brought back online after 27 days as other power plants increased their production of electricity to make up for the loss.

“The FBI is still not prepared to say that this was a terrorist attack, even though this power station was attacked with AK47s,” Fleitz told Malzberg.

“There was a systematic plan to cut the phone lines, the fiber-optic cables in a way that couldn’t be detected or easily repaired.”

Meanwhile, the two women and five men that Massachusetts state troopers found in the middle of the night at the Quabbin Reservoir in Boston last May after the marathon bombings said they were all chemical engineers who simply wanted to check out the facility, the Examiner reports. Three locks had been cut to gain access to the reservoir.

No charges were ever filed against the trespassers — even though the Massachusetts State Police unsuccessfully appealed the decision.

The names of the “chemical engineers” were never released to the public, the Boston Herald reports, and their whereabouts are currently unknown.

According to New Jersey.com, a United Water official said Mohammed was discovered by employees Jan. 17 after they “heard cries for help” inside the 20-inch pipe.

“He must have traversed through a basin and climbed up into a pipe for reasons unknown at this time,” Jim Mastrokalos, the company’s director of operations, told the news website.

The plant is surrounded by barbed wire fences, and the investigation involved determining how Mohammed gained access to the plant without detection.

Mohammed, who police said lived neared the plant, was charged with fourth-degree criminal trespass and was required to pay for the costs of rescuing him from the pipe, local news website 12 New Jersey reports.

In West Virginia, CNN reports, subpoenas have been issued requiring testimony for what one federal official confirmed was a criminal investigation into the chemical spill at the Freedom Industries storage plant.

An independent water test conducted for CNN this week found trace levels of the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, in both untreated river water and tap water from two homes in Charleston.

Elizabeth Scharman, West Virginia’s poison control director, told CNN that MCHM has not been widely studied.

“We don’t know the safety info, how quickly it goes into air, its boiling point,” Scharman said.

The chemical is used to wash coal before it goes to market to reduce ash, CNN reports. Exposure can cause vomiting, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, and irritated skin, among other symptoms.

West, the former Florida congressman, told Newsmax that these attempts were “all part of asymmetrical warfare, and if we don’t start to recognize it and put a focus on it, the enemy is always going to look for the gaps by which they can exploit you.”

Related Stories:

 

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Todd Beamon

Kim Uncle’s Execution by Dog Story Likely Came From Satire.


Image: Kim Uncle's Execution by Dog Story Likely Came From SatireJang Song Thaek

SEOUL, South Korea — An international media frenzy over reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle had been executed by throwing him to a pack of dogs appears to have originated as satire on a Chinese microblogging website.

The story, which spread like wildfire after it was picked up by a Hong Kong-based newspaper, has created an image that Pyongyang’s young ruler is even more brutal and unpredictable than previously believed.

While North Korea has said it purged and executed Kim’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, last month, it did not release details of how the man who was once the second most powerful figure in the isolated country was killed.

Initial speculation was that Jang had been killed by firing squad, a fate that media outlets said was the usual one reserved for “traitors.” But an alternative narrative of the 67-year old’s death emerged on what appears to have been a satirical post on the Chinese Tencent Weibo site that has been repeated by many media outlets worldwide.

The post records that it was viewed 290,000 times.The Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po newspaper released an article and a screenshot of the Weibo post which it used to justify its report that Jang had been torn apart.

Wen Wei Po, although independent, is viewed as being pro-Beijing. Its report was in turn picked up 12 days later by the Singapore-based Straits Times and then by a wide range of U.S. and European media from print to television.

Kim Jong Un, believed to be around 30 years old, has been in power for two years and presided over a nuclear test and two rocket test launches that are banned under United Nations sanctions.

In 2013, Pyongyang threatened to strike South Korea, the United States, and Japan in fiery rhetoric that triggered an arms buildup in East Asia.

One of the pitfalls of reporting on North Korea is that few independent media have offices there and visiting media are tightly controlled in a country which ranks among the lowest in global surveys of press freedom.

Because of the lack of first hand information, many lurid stories about the country gain credence.

Trevor Powell, a Chicago-based software engineer, who first spotted the link to the Weibo post and reported it on his own blog said that analysts and experts were “still all missing the obvious fact that the original source of the Wen Wei Po story was a tweet from a known satirist or someone posing as him/her.”

Powell blogged about the post at http://trevorpowell.com/2014/01/04/120-dogs-chinese-satirists-tweet-takes-all-english-news-media-for-a-ride/. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Officials at Wen Wei Po declined to comment on the article.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Why Nigeria Voted “No!” At United Nations By Seyi Awofeso.


 

Columnist:

Guest Columnist

European Union foreign policy tail-winds favored Portugal in 2007. And, sensing that block support, Portugal strode in with a draft ‘global death penalty moratorium’ proposal to the United Nations.

Colombia peeked at that draft, saw in it a joint sotto voce European policy, and quickly clambered up as the draft’s first co-sponsor. And so, the 62nd United Nations General Assembly was set for a clash of civilizations – as Singapore, Barbados, Egypt, Jamaica, United States of America and China all opposed Portugal’s draft.

Nigeria opposed it too, and in dissenting, “The representative of Nigeria said the death penalty is still on the country’s statute books for national security reasons and as a deterrent against serious crimes. Inferences contained in the draft could not be accepted. Capital punishment in Nigeria is meted out for the most serious offenses where human life had been taken or the security of the State threatened”.

According to the U.N Reporters, the Nigerian diplomat at the U.N further said “There had been no cases of capital punishment in recent years in Nigeria. In essence, a moratorium on the death penalty should not be imposed by any group of States. Any moratorium should be on the basis of negotiation and agreement. The (Portugal’s) draft resolution fell short of that. Nigeria found the degree of division on the issue disturbing. In view of the draft resolution’s controversial nature and the attempts to impose it on Member States of United Nations, the Nigerian delegation would vote against (Portugal’s) draft.”

Un-usually frank in its argument, Nigeria however tabled no amendments to back up its muted fury, but Egypt, Singapore, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda and Botswana followed up their own dissent by tabling 14 amendments to Portugal’s draft resolution – mainly to maintain sovereignty for each country’s parliament.

“We anticipate a divisive, unpleasant and unnecessary fight, because a group of countries led by the European Union decided to table this resolution knowing full well that not only would it not enjoy consensus, but would polarize this United Nations,” Singapore’s chief diplomat dryly said. “Nothing in the United Nations Charter speaks of abolishing the death penalty,” he added.

But Portugal replied that “This is not just a European Union proposal but a cross-regional effort,” suggesting that the European Union – including Portugal which spoke for it – had consulted across all continents before tabling ‘the death-penalty ban resolution,’ thus  making the sub-silentio argument that a new international customary law has arisen.

But several countries demurred and remained skeptical because the United Nations had twice before thrown out similar draft resolutions on global death penalty ban – once in 1994 by an overwhelming majority votes – to rebut the Portuguese suggestion of a new international customary law.

“The focus of the draft is on a moratorium. Abolition would be the result of a step-by-step process,” the Philippines top diplomat interjected, to seek tactical exit from the weakened position of Portugal, but the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) only further protested it.

“For a majority of member States of the Organization of Islamic States, this issue is related to criminal justice system – with an obligation on the Islamic countries to carry out the death penalty subject to competent courts after exhausting all legal remedies. The OIC recognizes that the issue of establishing a moratorium on death penalty lacks international consensus, especially in view of existing international human rights instruments.”

And as this jousting continued between opposing countries for three (3) days – and with the implied ban on death penalty in the original draft submitted by Portugal fastly losing traction – the best hope at the time of having any form of global action restraining death penalty lay solely with the block votes of the European Union which stridently led the debates against all the 14 amendments the dissenting countries submitted.

As the debates then raged on, the observer representative of the Holy See – who is officially accredited to the United Nations as a personal representative of the Pope in The Vatican – interposed a nuanced argument. According to him, if the central point of this ban or moratorium on death penalty is the defence of a right of life, then the right itself must be made objective and applicable to all lives – not just to the lives of criminals.

“Unequal interpretation of the parameters of the right to life reduces that right to a political tool. Whereas, such a right is applicable to all stages of life and all countries’ delegations should therefore adopt that consistent view,” the Holy See representative philosophically argued.

Cleverly phrased as an implicit attack on abortion rights upheld by the European Union itself, the Holy See’s argument predicated the inference that a moratorium on death penalty – were it to be upheld by the United Nations – would mean abortion too would have to be banned worldwide, as integral to the same principle of right to life.

Faced with that horn-of-a-dilemma proposition, the death penalty proposers smartly buckled. They changed tack to a textual exegesis of the draft, to avoid a spat with the Holy See’s Representative, by more or less side-stepping the broader meaning of “RIGHT TO LIFE“.

According to the United Nations Report: “The U.N Committee Chairman at this point invited the Committee to take action on amendment A/C.3/62/L.81 – submitted by Barbados – which proposed replacing the language of operative paragraph 2 (d) of “L.29” with, “Restrict the crimes for which the death penalty may be imposed to only the most serious ones in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence.”

But “the representative of France, taking the floor as a sponsor and co-author of “L.29”, said that text represented a compromise – as the original text that preceded it had aimed at abolishing the death penalty. France, therefore, regarded the amendment proposed by Barbados as hostile and undermining the meaning of “L.29”.

Backed by the Philippines, the argued intent of Barbados to retain death penalty for homicide and such-like, was summarily shot down by majority votes.

And so, after much toing and froing for three (3) days, with some middle-eastern Arabic-speaking countries at a point asking that the two words in English; “can” and “could” be impossibly given their exact literal Arabic interpretations, “the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 62/149 on 18 December 2007, calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions”.

The resolution was adopted by 104 UN member states in favour, 54 countries against and 29 abstentions”, and as passed, it states in its operative parts that the United Nations:

Expresses its deep concern about the continued application of the death penalty;

Calls upon all States that still maintain the death penalty to:
(a) Respect international standards that provide safeguards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, in particular the minimum standards, as set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 of 25 May 1984;
(b) Provide the Secretary-General with information relating to the use of capital punishment and the observance of the safeguards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of those facing the death   penalty;
(c) Progressively restrict the use of the death penalty and reduce the number of offences for which it may be imposed;
(d) Establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty;

Calls upon States which have abolished the death penalty not to reintroduce it;

Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its sixty third session on the implementation of the present resolution;

Decides to continue consideration of the matter at its sixty-third session under the same agenda item.

But according to a subsequent United Nations Press statement, “The representative of Singapore congratulated the co-sponsors of the resolution on their “pyrrhic victory”. Till today, Singapore has retained the death penalty on its own statute books, just as Nigeria and the United States of America.

In later years, the United Nations General Assembly passed two affirming new resolutions in December 2008 and in December 2010, both ratifying this non-binding moratorium resolution, but with the United States of America still voting against all. “On each occasion, the vote supporting the call for a moratorium gathered strength: rising from 104 votes to 106 and then 109, while those states voting negatively fell from 54 to 46 to 41,” said a United Nations Commissioner.

“The representative of the United States said his country recognized that the supporters of the resolution had “principled positions”, but that international law did not prohibit capital punishment. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights specifically recognized the right of countries to carry out capital punishment for certain crimes. He therefore urged all countries that applied the death penalty to do so in accordance with their human rights obligations, and not in a summary or extra-legal fashion.”

For the European Union, the moratorium on death penalty in the bag was wind to its foreign policy sails, especially that the resolution was twice later re-affirmed by the United Nations – and with a further extension of the moratorium by the United Nations as recently as last year.

This European Union’s major diplomatic victory, despite strong opposition, was resounding success by any metric. And since securing it, the European Union has felt able to ask Japan and the United States last November to place an outright ban on death penalty in their own countries. “Death penalty is contrary to the fundamental values for which our countries (in Europe) stand,” European Union’s Commission for foreign relations had told Japan and the United States.

But neither country has acceded to the European Union’s demand for a ban, perhaps because both Japan and the United States of America voted against the U.N moratorium in the year 2007, or, because the UN resolution merely advised a moratorium as a temporary cessation on death penalty, rather than a ban.

All told, the United Nations’ 2007 resolution is itself unclear on whether death penalty should abate for terrorists who kill a Prime Minister or a country’s President. For lacking clarity on treason, the moratorium would need further convincing test at a time of trouble.

The argument raised by the Republic of Ireland for passing a death penalty moratorium is that there’s been a reduction of crimes in countries which abolished death penalty before 2007, but the Singaporean diplomat immediately faulted that statistic, by countering that over a hundred countries actually had death penalty for treason on their statute books up till the year 2007 when the United Nations debate started.

Ireland’s argument was of course a recast of the ‘deterrence theory of punishment’, although raised differently by way of laxer punishment. But the Irish diplomat at the United Nations still did not demonstrate the intrinsic connection between abolishing death penalty and reduced crimes – but merely asserted it, in violation of the logic that correlation is not causation.

If actually deterrence be the point, as the Irish diplomat averred, though he did not point out why lesser jail terms for no more than three days – for mass murder -should not also cause a reduction of genocide, nothing was argued for it other than a disputable statistic. Or did the Irish diplomat point out which crime was ever reduced simply by deterrence alone.

But even regarding that, deterrence is not the jurisprudential purpose of death penalty in the first place. Rather, the basis of it is the irreparable loss of life, given that re-incarnation is conclusively denied in law. One clear principle of law agreed by everyone is that equality is equity. In other words, that fairness means equal measure. Thus, it has been so all through history that the only conceivable equal measure for irreparable loss of life is the imposition of reciprocal irreparable loss, as punishment, of a murderer’s life.

To move away from that well-established jurisprudence, the proponents of a ban death penalty would now need fresh and much deeper thinking.

For now, one other missing thought as yet is how else to invoke equity for the murdered victim.

Merely setting store on the murderer’s sanctity of life is circular argument. For anyone who un-lawfully takes another’s life defies the community’s prohibitive law, and by that atrocious breach of humanity’s membership, he announces himself ready to quit humanity.
With such readiness to quit bloodily announced by the act of murder – almost as a written will meant to take effect at once – the law’s only purpose is simply to fulfil the murdering testator’s wishes, by granting his or her request to quit humanity forthwith.

……………..Seyi Olu Awofeso is a Legal Practitioner in Abuja

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

4 Keys to How God Brings Transition.


woman climbing mountain
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

God has designed change to be a process, not an event. Getting to the next level does not happen quickly. Successful transition takes time.

Certainly God is interested in the end result of the changes He orchestrates in our lives, but the growth and maturity that accompany transition are also very important to Him. For this reason, He typically works diligently, deliberately and more slowly than you and I might want.

Nevertheless, His timing is perfect. And the entire transition process is part of a grand plan for your life that will bring you great joy and fulfillment as you patiently cooperate with it.

Little by Little

One Scripture that helps us understand God’s approach to change is Deuteronomy 7:22: “The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you” (NIV).

Moses spoke these words to the people of Israel concerning their journey into the Promised Land. When the people looked around, they could easily see that in order to get to the place God promised, they needed to subdue nations that were larger and stronger than they were. This caused them to be very nervous and afraid.

The people knew that intense battles lay ahead of them, and they were not sure they could win. But Moses knew that God’s heart was for them to triumph over their formidable enemies, and he knew that God had a strategy for victory and deliverance.

What was God’s plan? Basically, one step at a time, “little by little.” The Israelites could not expect God to reach down from heaven, wipe out their enemies in one mighty sweep of His hand and give them a clear path to the Promised Land. No, in His wisdom, God knew they needed to fight for the land because when they arrived in it, they would need the strength and confidence they had gained through having to overcome along the way.

I know that God has a land of promise for you. I believe He has put vision and desires in your heart, and in your inmost being you can hear His destiny calling.

Like the children of Israel, you are on a journey toward the full possession of His promises to you, and also like them, you will face opposition as you go. But God has the same strategy for victory in your life as He had for His people centuries ago: little by little. You will get where He wants you to go one step at a time. One day at a time. One victory at a time.

God will not eliminate all the opposition against you at one time, nor will He set you in your land of promise without taking you through the experiences necessary for you to learn the lessons and develop the strength you will need in the new place, in the place your transition is taking you. Rather, He will take out your enemies, eliminating them one by one. This will take time.

Remove and Replace

If God were suddenly to remove all the obstacles before you, you would find yourself facing a big void, and this could pose a danger for you. God told the Israelites through Moses, “You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you” (Deut. 7:22).

The New King James Version of this Scripture says, “Lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.” In other words, unless God drove out the enemies slowly, the wild animals would become more dangerous to them than the armies of other nations had been.

Instead of speedily eliminating the opposition, God wants to remove and replace. He will do this with attitudes, mind-sets, circumstances, relationships and anything else that would keep you from being fully prepared and equipped to possess the promises He has given you. For example, where you are afraid, He will orchestrate a situation that will help you overcome your fear and replace it with faith.

If you are in debt, and you need a breakthrough in finances, He may send you additional work so that your bondage to your bills can be replaced with financial freedom. If there is someone in your life who would be a liability to you in the future, He may remove that person and lead you to develop a relationship with someone who has the heart and ability to be a blessing at your next level.

Such significant changes in your life will require time and patience; so don’t get frustrated in the process. Remain thankful in the time of preparation, and stay positive about the great endeavors for which God is training you. As He removes the things that would hinder you and replaces them with things that will help you, He is developing you into a strong, wise, well-equipped warrior who is able to emerge from every battle victoriously.

Change and Your Relationships

One element of transition that certainly applies to everyone is the fact that change is not a private matter. Your moving to the next level will impact the other people in your life—your spouse, your children, your church staff and business or ministry team.

In the mid-1970s, I became senior pastor of Trinity Christian Centre in Singapore. It was a small church when I started, but over the years, it grew to become one of the largest churches in the nation.

After I had been pastoring for a few years, I began to realize that I needed to prepare for a transition in the church’s leadership. Although I was not planning for it to happen in the immediate future, I knew the day would come when I would step aside, and someone else would become the senior leader. I also realized it was going to take years for this to become a reality.

My transition took at least 10 years. Ideally, if you are in pastoral leadership, you want approximately five years to watch the potential new leader develop and to check his or her character and motives. Then for the next five years, you would want to prepare the person to handle the pressures and the scope of the position.

If you are pressured into a shorter time period, know that the transition might be bumpier than a well-planned shift in leadership. You may find it more difficult to groom the new leader in all the areas necessary for successful transition.

Those of you who are pressed for time should seek the help of someone from the outside who has made a successful transition. Look for an individual with a strong apostolic anointing in this area for spiritual guidance and wisdom.

In Singapore, by God’s grace, I understood that transition would take time. I started very early because I wanted to make sure that the leadership transition went smoothly and would result in greater blessings for the new leader and for the congregation. My approach has always been to develop leaders, so instead of resigning from the church and leaving them to search for a new pastor, I began to take note of various people on my staff who might be qualified for the position. I started doing this years before a new pastor would be needed.

Over a period of time, from a pool of possible candidates, I identified the man whom I believed to be God’s choice to lead the church. I worked with him and helped him learn the things he would need to know as the senior leader, although he was not aware that he had been chosen as the new leader, until the last three years before my departure.

I encouraged him to develop skills he had not needed before, and I made sure he had new opportunities for interaction with our large staff, the congregation and leaders. Everyone needed time to adjust to the coming change. And the church needed to get to know and love the new leader through personal contact with him, and familiarity with his preaching and leadership styles.

By the time the transition actually took place in 2005, the new leader was equipped for his new position, and the congregation was eager to embrace him. Under his leadership, the church is growing, thriving and impacting more lives for God than ever before. Along with God’s grace and the leading of the Holy Spirit, a deliberate, strategic process allowed enough time for a successful transition.

You may be thinking, But I am not a pastor, so how can this help me? It can help you see the deliberate process involved in transitioning effectively. In my case, there were many others who needed time to prepare for a change in leadership: the board, pastoral staff members who had served with me for years, other levels of leaders who had served faithfully and the whole congregation.

For you, it may be your spouse, extended family members, your children, neighbors and friends. Remember, transition is never a private affair, and the preparation it requires for everyone involved cannot happen hurriedly.

Wait Patiently

In God, even the longest wait has meaning and purpose. He redeems time and restores the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25). You can have confidence that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28, NIV). Not one minute of your seemingly protracted journey is a waste of time. See it instead as a priceless opportunity for learning and growth.

Anyone familiar with the human body knows that a woman cannot give birth to a child the week after she becomes pregnant. Her body needs time to stretch and adjust to the new life that is forming within her. Her mind needs to get used to the idea of being a mother, and she probably needs to prepare her home for the presence of a newborn.

At the same time, one week after conception, no one can tell whether an embryo is a boy or a girl. No matter how much the new parents would want to buy clothes and paint a nursery right then, it is best to give the baby time to develop so the parents can make the right choices about those things.

Kong Hee’s Church Clarifies Pastor’s ‘Apology From God’.


 

Kong Hee
Kong Hee is senior pastor of Singapore’s City Harvest Church. (Facebook)

Pastor Kong Hee of City Harvest Church in Singapore sparked outrage online with a YouTube video in which he seemed to be saying God was apologizing for his struggles. But his church says it is just a misunderstanding.

“As anyone with a basic education in the English language ought to be able to tell that the use of ‘I’m so sorry’ here is not in the context of an apology, but a word of comfort, for example, ‘I’m so sorry about your mother’s suffering,’ or ‘I’m so sorry you need to go through chemotherapy,’” say Pastor Kong’s spokesperson, whose statement was emailed via City Harvest Church’s corporate communications department.

“It is in no way an apology or admission of guilt as has been suggested. The message God gave Pastor Kong was that it is necessary for Pastor to journey through this painful experience because it is a refiner’s fire, meant to prepare him for the work God has in store for him and the church for the future,” the statement continues.

Yahoo! News reports the sermon is most likely from the 2012 C3 Presence conference, held in Sydney last April. This would have been before the news broke last June that Kong and five other church leaders were being investigated for embezzlement. Kong is accused of criminal breach of trust and misappropriating church building funds.

“Father, Father, why, my God, my God, why have You forsaken me and thrown me to the dogs?” Hee asked in the YouTube video after talking about the experience Jesus Christ went through on the cross at His crucifixion and saying he identified with that kind of suffering.

“For the first time in eight months, God—I heard Him cry, and He said, ‘My son, Kong, thank you. Thank you for going through this. I need you to go through this alone so that you and City Harvest Church can be the man and the ministry I call it to be. I’m so sorry, but you need to go through this by yourself to bring a change to your generation,’” Kong continued.

Applause was heard from the audience, and he continued: “I hear God saying, for the first time in eight months, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’ Waves upon waves of God’s love—the love of the Father just saturated me. … And I knew everything was going to be all right. Everything is going to be all right.”

The video has received widely negative reactions. Since its posting on Friday, it was thumbed down more than 3,300 times, compared to less than 200 thumbs up. It has also gotten more than 1,700 comments, many of them scathing.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

GINA MEEKS

Pastor Kong Hee Ignites Outrage After Saying God Apologized for Legal Struggles.


 

Kong Hee
Kong Hee is senior pastor of Singapore‘s City Harvest Church. (Facebook)

Pastor Kong Hee of City Harvest Church in Singapore has caused controversy again, this time because of comments he made in a sermon.

Kong, who is accused of criminal breach of trust and misappropriating church building funds, claimed in aYouTube video that God apologized to him for his struggles.

“Father, Father, why, my God, my God, why have You forsaken me and thrown me to the dogs?” Hee asked after talking about the experience Jesus Christ went through on the cross at His crucifixion and saying he identified with that kind of suffering.

“For the first time in eight months, God—I heard Him cry, and He said, ‘My son, Kong, thank you. Thank you for going through this. I need you to go through this alone so that you and City Harvest Church can be the man and the ministry I call it to be. I’m so sorry, but you need to go through this by yourself to bring a change to your generation,’” Kong continued.

Applause was heard from the audience, and he continued: “I hear God saying, for the first time in eight months, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’ Waves upon waves of God’s love—the love of the Father just saturated me. … And I knew everything was going to be all right. Everything is going to be all right.”

Yahoo! News reports the sermon is most likely from the 2012 C3 Presence conference, held in Sydney last April. This would have been before the news broke last June that Kong and five other church leaders were being investigated for embezzlement.

The video has received widely negative reactions. Since its posting on Friday, it was thumbed down more than 3,300 times, compared to less than 200 thumbs up. It has also gotten more than 1,700 comments, many of them scathing.

“The congregation is being blinded by this pastor who perverted the bible,” Tukang Bubur wrote.

The user nothingbutahound wrote, “Actually what God told Kong was ‘I’m sorry that out of so many people in the world I had to go choose you to pastor CHC. Now you have to go to prison alone so that I can bring a change to this generation with you out of the way. And if you hear anyone talking to you in prison, it’s not me.’”

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