Volume XV, Number 19b
July 14 - 18, 2008
"My purposes will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure." (Isaiah 46:10)
|On Capitol Hill This Week; Vol. XV, No. 19b|
1. PRESIDENT BUSH LIFTS EXECUTIVE BAN ON OFFSHORE DRILLING
President Bush lifted an executive order banning offshore oil drilling on Monday and urged Congress to follow suit.
Citing the high prices Americans are paying at the pump, Bush said from the White House Rose Garden that allowing offshore oil drilling is "one of the most important steps we can take" to reduce that burden. However, the move is largely symbolic as there is also a federal law banning offshore drilling. "This means that the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil reserves is action from the U.S. Congress," Bush said.
The White House estimates that there are 18 billion barrels of oil offshore that have not been exploited because of state bans, 10 billion to 12 billion in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Green River Basin. (CNN)
· Offer praise for this move on behalf of the American people, and intercede that Congress now work alongside the White House to expedite all sources of energy in the days ahead.
· " . . . if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)
2. SENATE BILL SEEKS TO CURB OIL MARKET SPECULATION
SENATE FOLLOWS HOUSE IN TAKING ACTION TO CURB SPECULATORS
The political consequences of $4-a-gallon gasoline continued to be evident Friday as three senators detailed a plan to curb the latest consumer villain: rampant speculation in the futures market blamed for artificially inflating oil prices.Sens. Joe Lieberman (I- Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said the new effort would add regulatory heft to existing restrictions by closing loopholes that have allowed a dramatic increase in institutional investor participation in oil and other commodity markets.
The bill, however, stops short of banning pension funds, hedge funds or index funds from participating in commodities markets, although Lieberman, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, had previously suggested he may seek such a prohibition. Collins had resisted such a step, and in the name of expediency, Lieberman said he decided to drop that condition, convinced the bill's other, less controversial positions would have the desired effect of curbing what he deemed investor "speculation."
At a news conference, Lieberman said his committee's investigation had determined that "speculation in the commodity markets is contributing to the awful spikes in prices American are paying today for both fuel and food." The bill would set limits on how much an individual can invest in futures markets, called position limits. Under the bill, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) would set position limits "no greater than necessary to ensure sufficient market liquidity for bona fide hedging activities by what we call physical traders: the farmers, the fuel dealers and the like," Lieberman said.
Collins said other factors underlie the sharp rise in oil prices, namely rapid demand growth in places like India and China and a weak dollar. But "speculation contributes to the high cost," she said. "Our goal is to have futures markets that are transparent, competitive, an even playing field, and effectively policed, and that's what I believe that our legislation will do," Collins said. She noted that total value of noncommercial investor futures contracts and commodity index fund investment has increased from $13 billion to $260 billion. "The fact is that their enormous holdings are driving up the cost for all consumers," Collins said. (The Hill)
· Offer a GREAT CHORUS OF PRAISE for this development in the U.S. Senate! You might recall that, just before the House recessed for the Independence Day Work Period, a bill was passed by an almost-unanimous vote to curb the activity of speculators on the oil market. Senators Lieberman and Collins have now introduced the companion bill to that effort. Offer praise, too, that LAWS ARE ALREADY IN PLACE to regulate the speculators; they only need to be enforced.
Pray for quick passage of this Senate bill -- as fast as in the House -- and for the President to sign this into law FAST! If so, the price we now pay at the pumps can be drastically reduced, and quickly!
· "Ask, and ye shall receive . . ." (Matthew 21:22)
3. BUSH LAUDS G-8 LEADERS FOR WORK ON ENVIRONMENT, TRADE ISSUES
President Bush on Wednesday hailed the G-8 summit's move to coalesce behind a global climate change strategy, saying he hopes it will ultimately help nations to be "good stewards of the environment." Bush also praised his fellow summit leaders - the heads of Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia - for their work to advance the so- called Doha Round of negotiations on opening markets to free trade and their cooperation with U.S. efforts to help poor nations combat disease and food shortages. "In order to address climate change, all major economies must be at the table, and that's what took place today," Bush said in a statement to reporters at the conclusion of the summit of leading industrialized nations - a meeting that he said also moved ahead on international free trade and combating hunger and disease around the world. "I've always believed that to whom much is given, much is required," Bush said. "The nations sitting around the table have got much, and I think we're required to help those who don't." (USA Today)
· The LORD is greatly to be praised for putting these words of our Lord Jesus Christ intio the mouth of President Bush, wisely admonishing the nations of the G8 on the principles of true stewardship of resources. Pray that President Bush is not so politically swayed by public opinion on climate change policy that he misrepresents the truth -- that our cyclical weather patterns may be due, only in part, to climate change. Pray that justice and truth will always be uttered by our president.
· "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required . . . " (Luke 12:48)
4. PAULSON MOVES TO RESCUE FANNIE MAE BONDHOLDERS
In bailing out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, American taxpayers will end up assisting foreign central banks, including those of China and Russia, that hold nearly $1 trillion in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds. Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Paulson announced a plan to expand Fannie and Freddie's line of credit from the Treasury to $2.25 billion. He said the government could also buy stock in the two firms, which are publicly traded. In addition, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York now has the authority to lend to Fannie and Freddie at a rate of 2.25%, the same rate given to commercial and investment banks.
"We are grateful for the leadership of Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke," the chief executive of Fannie Mae, Daniel Mudd, said in a statement. The chairman of Freddie Mac, Richard Syron, said his company had "a substantial capital cushion" above the 20% requirement; Freddie Mac is scheduled to sell $3 billion in short-term notes today in an effort to raise capital. (New York Sun)
· Father God, we thank You that, in these uncertain times, we can come to You, the Rock of our Salvation, for guidance, for direction, and for peace. We ask You to grant Your wisdom to those in authority in the realm of finances, and we ask for Your grace to be sufficient to all -- whether they be "big" shareholders or small -- as we seek to know and to do Your will, one day at a time.
· "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye."
5. SENATOR DODD SEEKS TO QUELL PANIC OVER MORTGAGE GIANTS' LOSSES
Senate Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd (D- Conn.) on Friday sought to calm investor fears about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying the mortgage giants have enough capital and won't need a federal bailout. Dodd cited assurances he received from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the companies' chief executives that the two mortgage giants could cover their losses. "There's sort of a panic going on today, and that's not what ought to be. The facts don't warrant that reaction, in my opinion," he said, adding that the bulk of the assets in the companies' portfolios are 30- year fixed-rate mortgages. "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were never bottom-feeders in the residential mortgage market. People ought to feel comfortable about that," he said.
He and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) urged the swift passage of legislation pending in Congress that would strengthen the GSEs' regulator. Durbin, who joined Dodd at a news conference Friday, blamed Republicans for blocking for three weeks the bill, which cleared a penultimate hurdle in the Senate on Thursday. He stood next to a chart that said the U.S. is experiencing 8,427 foreclosures daily. "Unfortunately, we have faced a series of procedural slowdowns and obstacles from the other side," Durbin said. "Every day we have been stalled in the Senate has taken its toll on the American economy."
The legislation surmounted a penultimate hurdle on Thursday when senators agreed to a procedural vote, 84-12, that sets up final passage. But the bill still has a long path to the president's desk. The Senate will vote once again today before the legislation can be sent to the House, which will almost certainly make changes, potentially sending it back to the upper chamber. Dodd expressed hope that the House will accept the bill as is, citing his talks with House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.). But Dodd said, "the realities are that may not happen."
Don Stewart, a spokesman for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said if Democrats were serious about solving the housing crisis, they would call on House leaders to accept the Senate bill without amendments. Otherwise, Stewart said, the bill could be caught up in an endless ping-pong cycle. (Associated Press)
· Well . . . what a difference a day makes. This report came out on Friday, and now the Fed has indeed moved to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Pray that Senator Dodd and others on the Hill are not deceiving the public about the facts in the current mortgage crisis. Pray, too, that Congress move beyond political infighting in this time of trouble, instead putting the good of the people first.
· "With Him are wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding." (Job 12:13)
6. GOVERNMENT NOT EXPECTED TO HELP OTHER COMPANIES
The U.S. government is signaling it won't throw a lifeline to struggling financial companies - except for mortgage linchpins Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - marking a shift to a new and potentially more volatile phase of the credit crisis. Such an approach could mean beaten-down investment banks like Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and regional banks must now fend for themselves as they try to recover from billions of dollars in mortgage-related losses - unlike Bear Stearns Cos., whose buyout the government helped orchestrate in March. That is bound to unnerve an already turbulent Wall Street and make investors even more anxious as they await financial companies' earnings expected to be down a stunning 69 percent from a year ago when all the numbers are in. And, for consumers already squeezed by tightening credit standards, it could mean getting a mortgage will become even harder.
The short-term uncertainty about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae - which together hold or guarantee half the nation's mortgage debt - was to an extent relieved on Sunday. Federal officials again threw their support behind the government-sponsored enterprises; the Treasury pledged to expand its current line of credit to the two companies and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson also said the government could, if needed, buy equity capital in the companies, whose stocks lost half their value last week. The Treasury's moves would require congressional approval. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve said it will provide additional loans if needed.
But some of Wall Street's biggest investors believe there was another message in the government's announcement - the rest of the financial sector seems unlikely to get a helping hand. Global banks and brokerages have already written down nearly $300 billion in soured mortgage investments - a number projected to ultimately reach $1 trillion. "The credit crisis has obviously entered into a new phase - the government has one bailout left in them, and this is it," said Jeffrey Gundlach, chief investment officer of TCW Group in Los Angeles, which invests $160 billion. "One consequence of Freddie and Fannie is that other firms are allowed to go under," he said. "If you couldn't get your act together after four months of unprecedented financing terms, maybe you don't deserve to be thrown yet another lifeline."
Worries about financial companies failing intensified after a run on IndyMac Bancorp Inc. led to the bank's takeover by the government on Friday. It wasn't the Treasury or Fed helping to keep IndyMac in business, but a transfer of control to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. - which backs deposits on all the nation's banks. Meanwhile, analysts believe regional banks in areas hardest hit by the real estate downturn are also at risk for failure. Some of the most bandied about names include Washington Mutual Inc., National City Corp., and Fifth Third Bancorp. "Fannie and Freddie are too big to fail only because of the repercussions, not to just the mortgage and housing markets but the entire financial market," said Joe Balestrino, fixed-income market strategist at Federated Investors. "The U.S. is in disarray . . . these regionals could be gone, they are in a tough spot with housing and employment going south." (Associated Press)
· If you have a home mortgage, check to see who is holding it: a local bank or a big mortgage company? How solvent is your mortgage? Ask the Lord for guidance in these matters, for He is waiting to reveal His will to you.
· "The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth." (Isaiah 26:7)
7. GOOD NEWS FOR HOMESCHOOLING IN CALIFORNIA
The bottom may have fallen out of the case that has threatened to ban homeschooling in California. Late Thursday, Campaign for Children and Families received word from the lead attorney in the case, Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation, that a juvenile court judge has terminated his jurisdiction over the two children at the center of the Rachel L. case. Attorneys "will move to dismiss the petition pending in the court of appeal on the ground that the petition is now moot," said Michael Smith of the Home School Legal Defense Association. "In other words, the children are no longer under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. Therefore, any decision by the appellate court based on the two-year-old petition could not be enforced against the L. children."
ACTION: Please ask God to have mercy on California families by influencing the three appeals court judges who are still weighing this case -- Croskey, Kitching and Klein -- to reverse themselves and rule that homeschooling is legal in California, or to drop the case entirely.
· We agree with this request, in prayer.
· Our intercession on behalf of homeschooling is bringing results. Praise the LORD! Even in the midst of dark and ungodly decisions, God hears the cries of His people for justice and righteousness. Keep your prayers strong that the case be dropped altogether, never to rise again.
· "O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?"(2 Chronicles 20:6)
8. PRO-LIFE LAWMAKERS CALL FOR DEFUNDING OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD
U.S. Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., held a special after-hours gathering on the House floor Wednesday to call for an end to taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. The nation's largest abortion business, which aborts more than 250,000 babies a year, received more than $330 million in tax dollars last year.
"Most Americans, I suspect, probably have no idea whatsoever that our tax dollars have enabled abortionists to establish and to run hundreds and hundreds of abortion mills throughout America," Smith said. "Abortion is big business, and it is destroying the next generation of Americans." Bachmann said: "It's time to end their tax-exempt status. It's a fraud. It is time to stop the public financing of Planned Parenthood. It is the right thing to do."
Nine other GOP members also participated: Reps. Joe Pitts, Penn.; Paul Broun, Ga.; Trent Franks, Ariz.; Jeb Hensarling, Ariz.; Jim Jordan, Ohio; Doug Lamborn, Colo.; Mike Pence, R-Ind.; Bill Sali, R-Idaho; and Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio. (CitizenLink)
· Pray that these members will find favor with the majority of Congress, so that this bill, to defund Planned Parenthood, will be passed. PRAY!
· "The effectual, fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)
9. CONGRESS WARNED: U.S. RISKS "CATASTROPHE" IN EMP ATTACK
Expert: Growing threat posed by Iran, Russia, China, North Korea, terrorists
A top scientist today warned the House Armed Services Committee America remains vulnerable to a "catastrophe" from a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack that could be launched with plausible deniability by hostile rogue nations or terrorists. William R. Graham, chairman of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack and the former national science adviser to President Reagan, testified before the committee while presenting a sobering new report on "one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences." It is the first report from the commission since 2004 and identifies vulnerabilities in the nation's critical infrastructures, "which are essential to both our civilian and military capabilities." Not taking the steps necessary to reduce the threat in the next three to five years "can both invite and reward attack," Graham told the committee.
The scariest and most threatening kind of EMP attack is initiated by the detonation of a nuclear weapon at high altitude in the range of 25 to 250 miles above the Earth's surface. The immediate effects of EMP are disruption of, and damage to, electronic systems and electrical infrastructure. Such a detonation over the middle of the continental U.S. "has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures that support the fabric of U.S. society and the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power," said Graham. (Read more.)
(World Net Daily; July 10, 2008)
· Only the LORD's strong arm can protect our nation from an EMP attack, as this testimony confirms. But as Christians, we are not to fear! After all, Who created electricity? and fusion? Pray that Congress does pay attention to these warnings, and takes appropriate action in response, but thank God for Your protection, under His shed blood, from any weapon forged against you.
· "When my enemies turn back, They shall fall and perish at Your presence."
10. REPORT: TERRORISTS SENDING FAMILIES BACK TO MIDDLE EAST
Pro-family activist Gary Bauer says a disturbing report out of Canada should send a clear message to American voters that elections have consequences.
ABC News recently reported that Canadian, British, and American intelligence agencies are concerned that a significant terrorist attack may soon take place. According to that report, Hezbollah sleeper cells have been reportedly activated in Canada, and terrorist operatives have been tracked moving from Lebanon to Canada, Europe, and Africa.
Bauer -- chairman of American Values -- believes there is another very ominous aspect to this report. "[Terrorists'] families have been sent back to Lebanon -- the sort of thing you might expect if they [were] expect[ing] a government crackdown in Canada after a terrorist attack," he says. "So once again we're reminded that it's a very dangerous world."
And Bauer contends that Americans must be very careful about who is in the Oval Office when facing these dangers. "Do we want somebody [who shows that he]...is naive about foreign policy [or] thinks that all these problems can talked away?" questions Bauer. "Or do we want somebody who has a long record of serving his country and also dealing with defense issues and national security issues?" (OneNewsNow)
· Praise the Lord for these Canadian, British and American intellligence agencies tracking the movements of these terrorists. Pray that all Americans hear Gary Bauer's message -- to vote wisely in November's elections. In these days of heightened security alerts, no American can afford to walk into the voting booth uninformed.
· "Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me." (Psalm 32:1)
11. SENATE CONFIRMS NEW U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL
The US Senate approved last week the Bush Administration's appointment of James Cunningham to replace Richard Jones as US Ambassador to Israel. Cunningham previously served as the US consul general in Hong Kong and earlier as US deputy ambassador to the UN. He is scheduled to arrive tin Israel this August. US officials believe that Cunningham will remain ambassador even if Barack Obama becomes president because he was appointed by a Democratic-controlled Senate. Cunningham has Middle East experience at the UN but is not acknowledged as a expert, said one official. Meanwhile, Jones is set to become the deputy executive director of the Paris-based International Energy Agency. (ICEJ News)
· Certainly, if a man needs wisdom to fulfill his job, it is the new Ambassador to Israel, James Cunningham. Expertise on the Middle East is not as important as the ability to understand Israel from a biblical point of view, because then the United States can as a true friend and ally of Israel. Pray continuously for Ambassador Cunningham, that our Lord would "download" His wisdom into his spirit, and godly decisions would follow.
· "Then Jesus told them, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you." (John 12:35)
12. PRESIDENT BUSH HONORS 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT
Today, President Bush will deliver a statement on the 10th anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act at the White House. He will express his continued support for the IRFA, discuss how bipartisan efforts in implementing the IRFA have elevated and institutionalized the promotion of religious freedom and the progress made to date, and call for renewed efforts to implement the IRFA.
The International Religious Freedom Act represented a bipartisan effort by Members of Congress, human rights groups, and religious leaders and communities to end religious persecution and intolerance. The main goals of the legislation were to provide the mandate, resources and tools to raise public awareness of religious persecution; generate consistent, effective United States Government action to end persecution and promote religious freedom; ensure that promotion of religious freedom was an integral component of our foreign policy; and create strong incentives for change by governments violating religious freedom.
13. BUSH: TONY SNOW LOVED COUNTRY, FAMILY
President Bush on Sunday fondly recalled Tony Snow, his former spokesman who died after a spirited fight against cancer. "He had a wonderful sense of humor," Bush told reporters after returning to the White House from a weekend at his Camp David retreat. "He loved to laugh. He loved his country. And he loved his family." Snow died of colon cancer Saturday at age 53. He is survived by his wife, Jill, and their three children. "I just hope they understand that Tony was loved here in the White House," Bush said with his wife by his side. Vice President Dick Cheney, in an interview on the "Fox News Sunday" show that Snow once hosted, said Snow was the best press secretary he had known in 40 years in Washington. (The Associated Press)
· "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)
|This Week, Worship Our Lord As . . .|
This Week, Worship Our Lord As . . .
STRONG FORTRESS (Tsoor Mahoz)
"Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me." (Psalm 32:1)
O Lord, what a Rock you are. How I thank You for Your strength in my life. Be my strong rock, my Rock of the Ages. You are the defense of my life; how I praise You for that. Help me to live today with the calm assurance and peace of knowing that You are my strong fortress
"Therefore I will teach them- this time I will teach them my power and might. Then they will know that my name is the LORD." (Jer. 16:21)
(Taken from: Intimate Moments with the Hebrew Names of God, by Barri Cae Malin and Shmuel Wolkenfeld; Bridge-Logos Publishers; Gainesville, FL, 32614. ISBN: 0-88270-801-5)
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