Monday, January 9, 2012

On Capitol Hill This Week - Volume XIX, Number 1

News for Prayer!

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On Capitol Hill This Week - Volume XIX, Number 1a
January 9 - 13, 2012


"The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name." (Zechariah 14:9)

 On Capitol Hill This Week, Vol. XIX, No. 1a



Pushing the limits of his recess appointment powers, Obama on Wednesday bypassed the Senate to install three members of the National Labor Relations Board and a director for the controversial new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - moves Republicans said amounted to unconstitutional power grabs. Obama said the appointments, which he previewed during a campaign-style speech in Ohio, were necessary because Senate Republicans have blocked him at every turn. But in making the move, he rejected three precedents, including two in which he played a part, that would have blocked the appointments. (Washington Times)

B) A Blatant, Frontal Assault on the Constitutional Separation of Powers

Thus, despite the fact that the Senate isn't even dragging its feet on these appointments, and despite the fact that the Senate has been adamant that it is not in recess, Obama has arrogated to himself the power to declare the Senate in recess for them and short circuit the entire Constitutional process for Senate confirmation of Constitutional officers.

During the last year of the Bush Administration, Senator Harry Reid called "pro-forma" sessions of the Senate to block any recess appointees he could, and this left hundreds of federal offices and judgeships vacate in hopes a Democrat would be elected. The Most Honorable President George W. Bush honored the Constitution which does not allow recess appointments when the Senate is in session. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is now holding the same "pro-forma" sessions of the Senate but Hussein Obama is ignoring the Constitution and has issued recess appointments of individuals to the National Labor Relations Board who are radically pro-union. This is vote buying at its worst. (Red State; Religious Freedom Coalition)

- Heavenly Father, as Your Living Word so strongly advises us, arrogance and extreme pride leads to destruction and death, of the spirit if not the body. We know as a people and nation we are sinners. We fall before You in repentance and seek mercy, Lord! Extend Your Arm and defend us from this wickedness. We ask that a legal challenge be brought immediately against these appointments.

- "Righteousness guards him whoever is blameless, but wickedness overthrows the sinner." (Proverbs 13:6) "For they do not speak peace, but they devise deceitful matters against those who are quiet in the land." (Psalm 35:20)


While the nation is struggling with record debt, Obama finally found a government agency he wants to slash -- the Pentagon. Yesterday Obama unveiled plans to cut $500 billion from the Defense budget. In his remarks at the Pentagon, Obama said he was "turning the page on a decade of war." He could also be inviting a new decade of aggression.

Obama plans to abandon America's long-standing policy of being able to fight two major conflicts at once. His cuts will take us back to a pre-9/11 military, just as Iran is ramping up its nuclear weapons program, as the rotten fruit of radical Islam spreads from last year's Arab Spring and as China continues its massive military buildup.

Government spending is about picking priorities, and the first obligation of government is the defense of this nation. But liberals always see the defense budget as the first thing to cut. The first priority of every conservative must be defeating Obama in 305 days. (Gary Bauer; excerpt)

- Abba Father, where has the understanding of national defense gone? Have mercy Lord on us as a nation and as a people as threats are visible from the violence on and across our national borders, to the open threats from nations in the Middle East and Far East. Awaken this man and his advisors as to the full consequences of their actions. Show them also how this provokes a massive elimination of jobs, which he purports to be seeking for this nation, as well as creating endangerment of all of us, in Jesus' name, Amen and Amen.

- "A righteous man hates lying, but a wicked man is loathsome and comes to shame." (Proverbs 13:5)


The Obama administration defended its healthcare reform law Friday, arguing that the Supreme Court would have to break with clear precedent to strike down the law's insurance mandate. The Justice Department submitted its first brief on the merits of whether the individual mandate is constitutional. The court will hear oral arguments in March and is widely expected to issue a ruling this summer.

The arguments in Friday's brief are largely similar to the approach the Justice Department has taken in lower courts. The brief says the mandate is an acceptable use of Congress's taxing power and defends the policy under the Constitution's Commerce Clause. The tax argument has failed in every lower court, but senior administration officials said they still believe in it. "There's no hiding of the ball here," one official said. "This is front and center."

The healthcare law requires almost all Americans to either purchase insurance or pay a penalty, which the Justice Department defines as a tax. But lower courts have said the mandate's purpose is clearly to get people to buy insurance, and Democrats claimed repeatedly during the healthcare debate that the penalty is not a tax.

Administration officials also said they haven't changed their answer on the key question of how far Congress's power extends. Even some judges who have upheld the mandate have been concerned about the lack of a "limiting principle" - a clear example of where the power to require a specific purchase would stop.

Administration officials insisted that they do not need to define a limit in their briefs. The mandate falls within the bounds of the Commerce Clause, they said, so the limits in the text of the Constitution and previous Supreme Court cases don't need to change. "All the limits are satisfied here, and the fact [they are] satisfied here has no bearing on whether someone could dream up some way they could be satisfied in some hypothetical situation," an administration official said. (The Hill) Read more.

- Oh Heavenly Father, preserve us please from the lies, distortions and power grabbing that is being enacted by this bill. The limitation of power has already been proven to not be part of their lives and actions. Have mercy and protect us from this evilness, in the name of Jesus our Lord, Amen and Amen!!

- "The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom but the perverse tongue will be cut off. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked what is perverse." (Proverbs 1: 32,33)


Supporting legislative prayer at the Supreme Court of the United States

Members of the Prayer Caucus signed an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States by the Family Research Council, asking the Court to reverse a decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Joyner v. Forsyth County, which held that the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners' prayer policy was unconstitutional because the prayers too often mentioned "Jesus." The county's prayer policy was based on a model policy used by other city and county councils throughout the country that has been upheld by four other federal courts since 2009. However, the Fourth Circuit held that in order to be constitutional, such prayers must not be "too sectarian." The amicus curiae brief asks the Supreme Court to take up the case and overturn the Fourth Circuit's decision, in hopes that the Court will bring the ruling into alignment with decisions of other federal courts and our nation's historic legacy of permitting such prayer. (Source: Congressional Prayer Caucus Web Site)

- Lift up intercession that the decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is overturned, so that legislative bodies may, indeed, open their business with a word of prayer. Amen.

- "The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day."
(Is 3:11)


National Defense Authorization Act is Now Law

Obama signed a wide-ranging defense bill into law Saturday despite having "serious reservations" about provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists. Signing statements allow presidents to raise constitutional objections to circumvent Congress' intent. During his campaign for the White House, Obama criticized the Most Honorable President George W. Bush's use of signing statements and promised to make his application of the tool more transparent.

Obama's signature caps months of wrangling over how to handle captured terrorist suspects without violating Americans' constitutional rights. The White House initially threatened to veto the legislation but dropped the warning after Congress made last-minute changes.

The administration . . . pushed Congress to change a provision that would have denied U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism the right to trial and could have subjected them to indefinite detention. Lawmakers eventually dropped the military custody requirement for U.S. citizens or lawful U.S. residents.

"My administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens," Obama said in the signing statement. "Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation."

Obama signed the bill in Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his family. (Source: Fox News, excerpt)

- Pray that an appeal would be made quickly before the Supreme Court, so that the specific language of sections 1021, 1031 and 1032 of this bill would be rendered illegal and thrown out. The indefinite detention of American citizens without a trial by jury contradicts the safeguards already in place in our Constitution.

- "Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power." (Psalm 110:3)



On December 15, just hours after the Senate had passed the compromise version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a bill, supported by several of her colleagues from across the aisle, to extract at least one of the sharpest teeth from the freedom-devouring monster created by the NDAA. The measure, entitled the Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011, is an attempt by Feinstein and her co-sponsors to prevent American citizens detained under applicable provisions of the NDAA from being denied their constitutional right to the due process of law.

The stated purpose of the act is:
To clarify that an authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States and for other purposes.

As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Feinstein wields considerable power in the upper chamber of the Congress, but even that influence was incapable of attracting enough support for an amendment to similar effect proposed on behalf of herself and Senator Rand Paul during the Senate's debate on the original bill. (The New American) Read more.

- Pray for passage.

- "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
(Matthew 21:22)


The White House will propose a 0.5 percent pay increase for civilian federal employees as part of its 2013 budget proposal, according to two senior administration officials familiar with the plans. The modest across-the-board pay jump would be the first increase for federal workers since before a two-year freeze began in late 2010. Raises for within-grade step increases and promotions have continued during the freeze.

The proposal, which requires congressional approval, differs from Republican plans supported by lawmakers and presidential candidates that would freeze basic pay rates for one more year. Some of those plans also call for denying within-grade raises. In recent weeks, GOP lawmakers have called for extending the pay freeze as a way to pay for a payroll tax extension. But, "a permanent pay freeze is not an acceptable policy," one of the senior administration officials said Friday. "While modest, a 0.5 percent increase reflects the belt-tightening we must do in these difficult times."

The federal government employs roughly 2 million civilian federal employees, with about 85 percent living and working outside the Washington area. The federal sector added about 2,000 new jobs in December, according to employment statistics released Friday. (The Washington Post)

- Pray that the wisdom of King Solomon reigns in this issue. Ask the Lord exactly what He would have us pray for. Should some get pay raises while other workers get nothing? Pray down any politics behind this move for any increases.

- "Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches None of them can by any means redeem his brother nor give to God a ransom for him."
(Psalm 49: 6,7)


A recent probe reveals that feds are pressuring immigration agents to rush immigrant visas - even if fraud is feared, reports an exclusive by The Daily.

Higher-ups within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are pressuring rank-and-file officers to rubber-stamp immigrants' visa applications, sometimes against the officers' will, according to a Homeland Security report and internal documents exclusively obtained by The Daily.

Congressional members announced Tuesday that it will investigate these allegations.

A 40-page report, drafted by the Office of Inspector General in September but not publicly released, details the immense pressure immigration service officers are under to approve visa applications quickly, sometimes while overlooking concerns about fraud, eligibility or security. One-quarter of the 254 officers surveyed said they have been pressured to approve questionable cases, sometimes "against their will."

"... data confirm that USCIS was more likely to grant O visa status [for aliens who have extraordinary ability in science, arts, business, or athletics] incorrectly than to deny a legitimate position." (The Examiner, The Daily) Read more.

- Pray that the U.S. Government officials will honor the time tested traditions and laws regarding the safeguard of U.S. citizens and industry by carefully qualifying those who seek entrance to the U.S. on visas. Pray there will be full disclosure of illegal practices by government officials being paid to protect its nation.

- "A nation without God's guidance is a nation without order. Happy are those who keep God's law!"
(Proverbs 29:18) (Reported by: Intercessors for America)


U.S. Bio-Security Officials Sound Warning After Scientists Create Deadly New Strain of Bird Flu

The U.S. government is sounding the alarm after reports that Dutch scientists have created a highly-contagious and deadly airborne strain of bird flu that is potentially capable of killing millions, The Independent reported Tuesday. The U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity is currently analyzing how much of the scientists' information should be allowed to be published-given the inherent risks of having the information fall into the hands of terrorists or rogue states.

"The fear is that if you create something this deadly and it goes into a global pandemic, the mortality and cost to the world could be massive," a senior US government adviser told The Independent.

Scientists, too, are questioning whether the science should ever have been performed in the first place. "There are people who say that the work should never have been done, or if it was done it should have been done in a setting where the information could be better controlled," a source close to the US biosecurity board told the newspaper. (Fox News) Read more.

- Lord, we ask for protection against the use of God-given brain power for evil instead of good. We pray for your intervention in this matter and that all deadly organisms will be contained and eliminated. We pray for scientific research to be guided by You for the relief of diseases and disorders instead of man's own way of faulty reasoning.

- "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." (James 3:17)


A radical jihadist group responsible for nearly 50 attacks on American soil is operating 35 terrorist training camps across the nation, but the U.S. government refuses to include the organization on the State Department's list of foreign terrorists. Jamaat ul-Fuqra, known in the U.S. as "Muslims of America," has purchased or leased hundreds of acres of property - from New York to California - in which the leader, Sheikh Mubarak Gilani, boasts of conducting "the most advanced training courses in Islamic military warfare." (Religious Freedom Coalition) Read more.

- Dear Father, open our eyes to the dangers growing in our own country. Take away our distractions and political correctness. Forgive us for our complacency toward You and our sins as a country. We pray for America to have such a strong presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst that the Your enemies cannot dwell here without coming to You. We tell the Anti-Christ spirit to leave our shores. In Your Name, amen.

- "Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs."
(Psalms 74: 4)


Lawmaker and staff complacency regarding Congressional security has been on the rise, even as the one-year anniversary of the Arizona shooting that wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) approaches, officials on Capitol Hill worry. "The further you get away from an event, people have a tendency to begin forgetting about the significance and how you prevent such a thing," Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer told The Hill.

In the wake of the shooting, Gainer's office saw a significant rise in the number of requests for security evaluations of lawmakers' offices and homes. But that has dropped off as time passed.

According to Gainer, both the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms as well as the Capitol Police have continually reached out to staff and lawmakers to be aware of suspicious packages and activity, as well as being proactive about event security. And those efforts have had positive results. . .

In the months following the shooting, the Capitol Police also strengthened their threat assessment section and added employees around the area to support that, Gainer said. But it was a careful balancing act between increasing security and not making the Capitol and lawmakers inaccessible.

The Senate Sergeant at Arms also hopes that media coverage surrounding the anniversary of the shooting will remind people of the importance of security moving forward. "I do believe the one-year anniversary - when there are stories written about the tragedy and [Giffords'] gradual but steady recovery - will refresh people's memory," Gainer said. (The Hill) Read more.

- Gracious Lord, we pray for angels as well as competent and adequate security to accompany our government officials as they go about their lives. We pray for all traps and danger to exposed before any harm comes to them. We pray for healing of those wounded in the past, especially Gabrielle Giffords.

- "Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence."
(Psalms 91:3)


Mark Kelly: "We Were Forever Changed" TUCSON, Ariz. - Rep. Gabrielle Giffords led a crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, her words ringing out across a cold Tucson night in a rare public appearance Sunday evening at a candlelight vigil one year after surviving a deadly shooting. The Democratic congresswoman -- who has struggled to re-learn to walk after being shot in the head -- stepped onstage to cheers from the crowd. Ron Barber, a staffer who was wounded in the rampage that killed six one year ago, invited her to lead the audience in the pledge.

The crowd chanted: "Gabby, Gabby."

She limped to the podium, and husband Mark Kelly helped lift her left hand over her heart. After months of intensive speech therapy, Giffords recited the pledge with the audience, head held high and a smile on her face as she punched each word. (Fox News) Read more.

- Offer a chorus of praise for the miraculous healing that God has brought to this dear member of Congress, and continue to hold her in prayer as she works to recover from all trauma she has endured. Continue, too, to remember the many others, cited in this article, who were directly impacted by this horrific shooting, one year ago. Amen.

- "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (Matthew 54)


As the White House prepares for a tough reelection race amid difficulty working with Congress to correct a slow economy, Bill Daley, Obama's chief of staff, is resigning his post to return to Chicago and serve as co-chairman of Obama's 2012 campaign team.

White House budget chief Jack Lew will take Daley's place, Obama said in a State Dining Room announcement Monday that did not acknowledge Daley's new role. (Fox News) Read more.

- Pray for the new Chief of Staff at the White House, as Mr. Lew undertakes this challenging new role.

- "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you."
(Psalm 32:8)


Congress Passes National Defense Authorization Act

Obama Signs into Law

Obama Signs Defense Bill Despite 'Serious Reservations'

The administration was especially sensitive about the law and about reaction to the president signing it. In addition to enacting the measure while few people were paying attention -- and many opponents still had hopes the president would veto the bill -- the White House added a signing statement specifying that the Obama administration would not detain Americans without trial. The White House also sent out a notice to its online community highlighting Obama's complaints with the law, in a tacit admission that many of the president's more ardent supporters despise the detention provisions.

"I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists," Obama said in the signing statement.

Presidents issue such statements when they feel a law conflicts with the executive's constitutional powers. Obama criticized them during the Bush administration, but has found the practice useful on a handful of occasions.

In this case, Obama argued that the changes Congress made to the bill affirm only authorities that the Bush and Obama administrations have already claimed in fighting terrorism. But he noted that the codification of those powers in law was unnecessary and perhaps harmful. And he insisted he would not use the powers to detain citizens without trial.

"I want to clarify that my administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens," Obama wrote. "Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation. My administration will interpret section 1021 [of the bill] in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law."


. . . Still, the signing on New Year's Eve as few people were paying attention angered civil liberties advocates, who argue that the law for the first time spells out certain measures that have not actually been tested all the way to the Supreme Court, including the possibility of detaining citizens in military custody without trial for as long as there is a war on terror.

"Obama's action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield," Romero added. "The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress or internationally."

Civil liberties advocates like Romero pointed out that once the provisions are law, however, they will be available to a President Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney or any future president, who could choose to use the powers granted more aggressively. "We are incredibly disappointed that President Obama signed this new law even though his administration had already claimed overly broad detention authority in court," said Romero. "Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back the constitutional excesses of George Bush in the war on terror was extinguished today."

Because of the provisions specifying that the new legislation does not change current law, the new law leaves the authority it grants open to interpretation and to the possibility -- albeit in very difficult circumstances -- of someone challenging a detention through the courts. "Thankfully, we have three branches of government, and the final word belongs to the Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on the scope of detention authority," Romero said. "But Congress and the president also have a role to play in cleaning up the mess they have created, because no American citizen or anyone else should live in fear of this or any future president misusing the NDAA's detention authority."

Obama also said he will not abide by the law's requirement to detain terror suspects using the military. "I reject any approach that would mandate military custody where law enforcement provides the best method of incapacitating a terrorist threat," Obama said. "While section 1022 is unnecessary and has the potential to create uncertainty, I have signed the bill because I believe that this section can be interpreted and applied in a manner that avoids undue harm to our current operations." (Huffington Post) Read more.

To read the entire text of the president's signing statement, go here.

Prayer Requests for NDAA

1) According to the article in the Huffington Post, above, the president had originally promised to veto this bill, as passed by Congress. "He retreated from that threat after Congress added provisions that took the ultimate authority to detain suspects from the military's hands and gave it to the president."

- Now that this power resides solely in the hands of the president, we can claim Proverbs 21:1 over his decision-making. Pray that the Lord would "stay" the hand of this "king" from ever implementing the NDAA to detain innocent American civilians, without trial.

- "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes."
(Proverbs 21:1)

2) Pray that an appeal would be made quickly before the Supreme Court, so that the specific language of sections 1021, 1031 and 1032 of this bill would be rendered illegal and thrown out. The indefinite detention of American citizens without a trial by jury contradicts the safeguards already in place in our Constitution.

- "Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power."
(Psalm 110:3)

3) There seems to be a kind of "gag order" in place, preventing any discussion of this bill at the public level. Pray that the mainstream press would pick up the concerns about the National Defense Authorization Act so that the public can become aware of this bill, and its dangers, and respond.

Please pray, too, that the voices of other leaders in the Body of Christ would be raised, alerting the people of God to TAKE ACTION. Thank you!

- "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16) 

On Capitol Hill This Week, Vol. XIX, No. 1b-1




Iran's army chief on Tuesday warned an American aircraft carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf in Tehran's latest tough rhetoric over the strategic waterway. Gen. Ataollah Salehi spoke as a 10-day Iranian naval exercise ended near the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf."Iran will not repeat its warning ... the enemy's carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf," Salehi told IRNA.

"I advise, recommend and warn them (the Americans) over the return of this carrier to the Persian Gulf because we are not in the habit of warning more than once," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Salehi as saying.

Salehi did not name the aircraft carrier or give details of the action Iran might take if it returned. However, last week a spokeswoman for the U.S. 5th Fleet said the USS John C. Stennis had left the Gulf. (Source: Intercessors for America)

- Pray that U.S. leadership will seek the wisdom of the Lord in dealing with the ongoing and growing concern with Iran's military goals. Pray for the Lord's hand of protection over our men and women serving on these Navy vessels.

- "The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou saved me from violence. I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies."
(2 Samuel 22:3-4)

Obama has signed tough new sanctions into law targeting Iran's central bank and financial sector. The measures were contained in a mammoth US$ 662 billion defense bill, which Obama signed despite having reservations about its provisions on Iran. The sanctions require foreign firms to make a choice between doing business with Tehran's oil and financial sectors or central bank, or the US economy and financial sector.

Foreign central banks which deal with the Iranian central bank on oil transactions could also face similar restrictions under the new law. The White House held intense negotiations with Congress on the terms of the law's implementation, given concerns that sanctions on Iran's central bank could spark chaos in the global financial system and hike the price of oil.

Obama, who signed the bill during his vacation in Hawaii, said in a statement that he was concerned the measure would interfere with his constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by tying his hands in dealings with foreign governments. Should application of the provisions interfere with his authorities under the Constitution, Obama said in his statement, "I will treat the provisions as non-binding."

The bill, which passed with wide majorities in Congress, did reserve some leeway for Obama, giving him the power to grant 120-day waivers if he judges it to be in the national security interests of the United States.

The US administration has said it had imposed the toughest-ever sanctions on Iran by the United States and its allies and added that the measures were now having a punishing impact on the Iranian economy and the petroleum sector. (Excerpts of an article by World Jewish Congress, January 4, 2012)

- Praise God for this positive move. Pray that current sanctions will increase in their effectiveness to cripple Iran's economy.

- "But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us. In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever." (Psalm 44:7-8)


In apparent reaction to the imposition of new sanctions by the West, Iran is asking for a new round of talks about its nuclear program with the United States and five other world powers. Tehran's uranium enrichment program could result in the development of nuclear arms. It is important for us to pray because the last round of negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany that happened a year ago were unsuccessful. The Iranian negotiator said, "We formally declared to them to return to the path of dialogue for cooperation." (International Prayer Connect)

Please pray that these talks will go ahead successfully and that the Iranians will agree to comply with concerns of the international community and discontinue any plans to build nuclear weapons which would destabilize the security of the whole region and our world. Pray that Islamic radicalism and apocalypticism would be discredited and rejected by the Iranian people and that moderate, good leaders will be raised up within that nation who will pursue the wellbeing of their own people and the region. God is able to bring change in this dangerous situation as we pray in faith! (International Prayer Connect)

- " . . . if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)


Iran has the ability to temporarily block the Strait of Hormuz but the U.S. "would take action and reopen" it, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey said Sunday, making clear to Iran that in threatening to close the straits, it is literally playing with fire. . "They've invested in capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait of Hormuz," Dempsey said in an interview for CBS's "Face the Nation. "We've invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that."

Blocking the strategic shipping lane linking the Gulf of Oman with the Persian Gulf would constitute a "red line" for the U.S., Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on the same program. He assessed that Iran is preparing groundwork for making nuclear weapons someday, but is not yet building an atomic bomb. He called for continued diplomatic and economic pressure to dissuade Tehran from taking that step. Panetta warned that a unilateral strike by Israel against Iran's nuclear facilities could trigger Iranian retaliation against U.S. forces in the region. "We have common cause here" with Israel, he said. "And the better approach is for us to work together."

According to AP's analysis, Panetta's remarks "suggest the White House's assessment of Iran's nuclear strategy has not changed in recent months, despite warnings from advocates of military action that time is running out to prevent Tehran from becoming a nuclear-armed state." (Free Israel Daily Report)

- The Strait of Hormuz, through which flow the oil tankers to the world, now are threatened by Iran. Pray for the intervention of the Lord into this possibly dire situation. The Persian Christians, growing now in ever increasing numbers, are very threatened. What will the regime that runs Iran do to the Christians in case of war? Pray!!

- "Whom have you reproached and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 37: 23)


A hardline newspaper close to Iran's rulers says the country has begun uranium enrichment at a well-protected underground facility.

b) Iran holds military exercise near Afghan border - Reuters Iran launched a military maneuver near its border with Afghanistan on Saturday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, days after naval exercises in the Gulf increased tensions with the West and pushed up oil prices.
- Father, we intercede over these military maneuvers and uranium enrichment activities. We pray you reveal the hidden plans and purposes of Iran. Keep us from the trap that Iran may be assembling for Israel and the United States. Give our leaders supernatural wisdom in these evil days.

- "No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise."
(Isaiah 60: 18)


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday that the U.S. would act if Iran were to develop a nuclear weapon or close the Strait of Hormuz. Panetta, speaking to CBS' Face the Nation, said that if Iran started developing a weapon, the U.S. would act. "I think they need to know that - that if they take that step - that they're going to get stopped." (Haaretz)

- Pray that this administration will stick to its guns, in the most literal sense of the word, backing up this statement made by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Let's learn the lessons of World War II under Neville Chamberlain: there can be no appeasement with an enemy that is out to destroy you. Pray!

- "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."
(Mt. 5:37)


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dismissed a U.S. warning to avoid close ties with Iran on Sunday, denouncing what he said was Washington's attempt to dominate the world as he welcomed the Iranian president to the Latin American nation. Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived at the start of a tour to shore up support from the region's leftist leaders, as tough new Western sanctions aim to isolate the Islamic republic and target its vital oil exports. (
- Pray that the efforts of Iran's president to strengthen its ties with Venezuela would fall flat, and that this potential alliance would collapse on its own weight. Sever the ties between the two nations. Pray!

- "The LORD is righteous; He has cut in two the cords of the wicked." (Psalm 129:4)


A US man of Iranian descent has been sentenced to death by a court in Tehran for spying for the CIA. Amir Mirzai Hekmati was "sentenced to death for co-operating with a hostile nation, membership of the CIA and trying to implicate Iran in terrorism," semi-official Fars news agency said. The 28-year-old's US-based family say he was in Iran visiting grandparents.

Amir Mirzai Hekmati was "sentenced to death for co-operating with a hostile nation, membership of the CIA and trying to implicate Iran in terrorism," semi-official Fars news agency said. The sentence comes at a time of fresh tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear programme.

The US said that, if true, it strongly condemned the verdict. State department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the US was working with its partners to try to confirm the reports of Mr Hekmati's death sentence. She added: "Allegations that Mr Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA are simply untrue. "The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons." (BBC) Read more.

- In this day of extremely heightened tensions between our two countries, it would take a miracle to see this man released. Pray for a miracle.

- "Nothing is too difficult for Thee!"
(Jer. 32:17)


An Iranian pastor facing a death sentence for refusing to renounce his Christian faith and embrace Islam is expected to spend another year in jail, awaiting an appeal on his death sentence, while government authorities try to force him to convert to Islam. However, the delay could be a ruse and the Iranian government could kill him in secret, warns the founder of Present Truth Ministries, which was the first to report on Pastor Yosef Nadarkhani's arrest in October 2009.

Nadarkhani, who has been jailed since he was arrested and charged with apostasy, came within two days of being hanged in September until Iranian court officials - perhaps influenced by international outrage from the Rev. Franklin Graham, House Speaker John Boehner, and other notables around the world - decided to let him appeal the sentence.

The 34-year-old Nadarkhani, who became a Christian at the age of 19, was tried and convicted in December 2010. The pastor of several home congregations in a small Christian community called the Church of Iran, he has refused repeatedly to recant his faith.

The apostasy charge stems from the government's allegation that he converted from Islam to Christianity, while his defense claims that he had not been a Muslim before becoming a Christian. The government contends that he was a Muslim because he was born into a Muslim household.

Various reports have indicated that his health is deteriorating in prison.

Although the Iranian court very well could wait another year before deciding Nadarkhani's fate, "there are no assurances that he will not be executed," DeMars warned. "It could happen at any time. This is the way that the Iranian government operates with executions. They do not give advance notice, and it is done in secret." (Newsmax) Read more.

- 1) Please pray for Pastor Nadadakhani that he will be encouraged and strong in the Lord, that the plots of evil men will be overturned and that he will be released from prison soon. Pray for his family as well and for the Iranian believers to not be intimidated but rather emboldened to bear witness so that the church grows greatly as a result.

- "Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life." (Isaiah 43:4)

2) Please pray for his health to be strong and to be sustained by the Mighty Hand of Almighty God, that he would live to be a witness to His delivering power! Amen.

- "I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done."
(Psalm 118:17)

On Capitol Hill This Week, Vol. XIX, No. 1b-2




Representatives from the Israelis and the Palestinians met in Jordan on Tuesday [January 3] as part of a bid to jumpstart dormant peace talks between the sides. The direct meeting was the first in more than a year, although the Jordanians sought to keep expectations at an even-keel following the discussion. Afterwards in comments to reporters, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh of Jordan described the meeting as positive.

He was quoted in a report on the press conference from the Jordanian Petra news agency as saying, "We do not want to raise the ceiling of expectations about the meeting, and we also do not want to underestimate it." Judeh said the Palestinians presented their thoughts on two of the core issues in the conflict - borders and security - which the Israelis promised to study and provide their own views. Judeh said the sides have agreed to meet again and additional commitments will also be taken.

The sides were joined by representatives from the Mideast Quartet - the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations. Judeh said the presence of the Quartet and contacts made by Jordan show the sides are serious.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister's Office spokesman Mark Regev told The Mideast Update by phone that they were entering the discussions with the Palestinians with "great seriousness."

Despite the positive language surrounding the meeting, the Israelis and Palestinians have not yet resumed actual peace talks. Judeh was quoted by Petra as saying that the goal is to create an atmosphere conducive to returning to serious talks and that "the effort we are making is an exploratory effort until arriving to the resumption of direct negotiations." (Excerpts of an article by Joshua Spurlock,, January 3, 2011)

- Praise God that this preliminary meeting went well. Pray that there will be a breakthrough in talks concerning the core issues (Jerusalem, borders, and refugees). Pray that the Palestinians will finally acknowledge Israel's right to exist.

- Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; Oh, sing praises to the Lord, to Him who rides on the heaven of heavens, which were of old! Indeed, He sends out His voice, a mighty voice. Ascribe strength to God; His excellence is over Israel, and His strength is in the clouds. O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people. Blessed be God! (Psalm 68:32-35)

The IDF is soon to purchase 2,500 Hummer vehicles, trucks and other equipment from the United States military, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday. Top IDF officials have recently travelled to the US and reached a preliminary agreement on the deal, which includes gear used during US engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Defense establishment sources noted Saturday that the purchase is worthwhile for Israel, as the payment for the gear would be taken out of the military aid provided by the US to the Jewish state.

If the deal goes through, the reportedly low-mileage Hummers and trucks will arrive in Israel and undergo testing before being stored away in the IDF's emergency warehouses.

The US pulled out its last convoy of troops from Iraq in December, and has set an aggressive timetable for withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan has well.

The IDF said on Thursday that it is gearing up towards a joint missile defense drill with US. Both nations said the exercise is expected to be the largest of its kind so far. While the maneuver's date is yet to be announced, a senior IDF official said it is to take place within the next few weeks. (Ynet News)

- Offer praise for this good report, for when nations join forces in equipping each other, only blessings can follow. Praise God.

- "Send me also cedar, cypress and algum timber from Lebanon, for I know that your servants know how to cut timber of Lebanon; and indeed my servants will work with your servants, to prepare timber in abundance for me, for the house which I am about to build will be great and wonderful."
(2 Chronicles 2:8,9)


Every time I think I can't be shocked by an outrageous Palestinian claim, they prove me wrong again.

As part of the Christmas celebration in Bethlehem this weekend, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (a man regarded by the Obama Administration as a moderate and reliable partner for peace) said, "Christmas is an opportunity to celebrate the Palestinian identity of Jesus Christ."

Such claims, which were often made by chief terrorist Yasser Arafat during his life, are part of a calculated strategy by the Palestinians to delegitimize Israel and remove any traces of Jewish history from the Promised Land. While we may laugh at such silly and obviously false statements, the Palestinian people take them as gospel truth. They are indoctrinated in hatred for the Jewish people and given a totally perverted view of history. There are so many threats facing Israel today, and we urgently need to stand with them right now. (Jerusalem Prayer Team)
- What the Palestinians need is a dose of truth from God. Pray that these distortions of the truth will be erased from their minds so that they can embrace Jesus for who He is!

- "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." Even the wise men from the East recognized the King. Pray that the Moslems learn to do so also. (Matthew 2:2)


The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has offered the Palestinians a powerful tool of propaganda: the comparison with Jesus' passion.

"We are to be freshly attentive to the needs of those who, like Jesus himself, are displaced and in discomfort," Archbishop Vincent Nichols said during his Christmas Mass sermon at Westminster Cathedral. "A shadow falls particularly heavily on the town of Bethlehem tonight. We pray for them tonight." ( It would have been more in keeping with Nicholas' mission to mention hundreds of Christians losing their lives to Islamic terrorism and oppressed by Palestinian Muslim dictatorship.)

Nichols sermon has an historical value, because now the entire Christian hierarchy in the UK, Catholic and Protestant as well, is part of the global battle against Israel.

There is a virulent animosity towards the Jewish state in the established churches in Britain, which promulgate inflammatory libels against it. . . At the beginning of the XIX century, the UK Christian clergy was a driving force behind the Zionist enterprise, inspired by a brave interpretation of the Bible. A century later, British Christianity is one of the major producers of blood libels against the Jews. (Israel National
Read more.

- How sad that many Moslems have moved into the UK, certainly influencing the thinking about Israel and engendering fears that terrorists' attacks will take place in retribution for the criticism of Islam. Where are the brave people who will stand for God's Word and defend the truth of the Scriptures? Pray for the British and for strong, truthful voices resounding from their pulpits.

- "I will those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you." (Genesis 12: 3)


The Arab League has urged the Syrian government to end its violence against protesters and allow League monitors in the country to work more freely, but stopped short of asking the U.N. to help. The arrival last month of the monitors in Syria to judge whether the government was honoring a pledge to end a crackdown on a popular revolt has not ended the violence, in which the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed.

After a progress meeting in Cairo Sunday, the Arab League group on Syria said the government had only partly implemented a promise to stop the crackdown, free those jailed during the crisis and withdraw its troops from cities. In its closing communiqué, the League said it would increase the number of monitors from the present 165 and give them more resources, ignoring calls to end what pro-democracy campaigners say is a toothless mission that buys more time for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to suppress opponents. (Reuters) Read more.

- Please pray for the liberty of the Syrian people. Until Bashar's father Hamad grabbed power about 40 years ago, Syria had had a parliamentary government, one that had been wrested from the French. Russian soldiers had filled the streets of Damascus, propping up the power of the Assad regime. The Syrian peoples need divine intervention in their country. Pray for the safety of the Christians in Syria, in particular.

- "In that day a man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 17: 7)

Thousands of US Troops Land in Israel

Thousands of US troops began descending on Israel this week. Senior US military sources told debkafile Friday, Jan. 6 that many would be staying up to the end of the year as part of the US-IDF deployment in readiness for a military engagement with Iran and its possible escalation into a regional conflict. They will be joined by a US aircraft carrier. The warplanes on its decks will fly missions with Israeli Air Force jets. The 9,000 US servicemen gathering in Israel in the coming weeks are mostly airmen, missile interceptor teams, marines, seamen, technicians and intelligence officers.

The incoming American soldiers are officially categorized as participants in Austere Challenge 12,us israeli troops the biggest joint US-Israeli war game ever held.

The maneuver was originally designated Juniper Stallion 2012. However, the altered name plus the comment heard from the exercise's commander, US Third Air Force Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, during his visit two weeks ago, that the coming event is more a "deployment" than an "exercise," confirmed that Washington has expanded its mission. The joint force will now be in place ready for a decision to attack Iran's nuclear installations or any war emergency.

Our sources disclose that it was decided at the last minute in Washington and Jerusalem to announce the forthcoming Austere Challenge 12 on Thursday night, Jan. 5, ahead of the bulletin released by Tehran about another Iranian naval exercise at the Strait of Hormuz to take place in February, although its 10-day drill in the same arena only ended Monday, Jan. 2.

The early release was decided in consultations among US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the two army chiefs, US Gen. Martin Dempsey and Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz.

British Defense Minister Phillip Hammond, on a visit to Washington, was brought into the discussion. The handout circulated to US correspondents from Hammond's talks in the US capital affirmed that Britain stands ready to strike Iran if the Strait of Hormuz is closed.

However, that phrase was omitted from the British minister's remarks at a news conference, following a last-minute request from Panetta, signifying the Obama administration's interest of keeping a low profile on plans for attacking Iran.

Tehran too is walking a taut tightrope. It is staging military's maneuvers every few days to assuring the Iranian people that its leaders are fully prepared to defend the country against an American or Israeli strike on its national nuclear program. By this stratagem, Iran's ground, sea and air forces are maintained constantly at top war readiness to thwart any surprise attack.

The joint US-Israeli drill will test multiple Israeli and US air defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets, according to the official communique.

debkafile's military sources add that they will also practice intercepting missiles and rockets coming in from Syria, Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

It will not be the first time a US aircraft carrier docks in Israel for joint operations with the Israeli Air Force. On June 9, 2010, the USS Truman dropped anchor opposite Israel to test a joint deployment against Iran and its allies. The carrier and its air and naval strike force then staged joint firing practices with the Israeli Air Force over the Negev in the South.

Washington and Jerusalem are doing their utmost to present a perfectly synchronized military front against Iran: American officers are stationed at IDF command centers and Israeli officers posted at the US European Command-EUCOM. At the same time, debkafile's military sources disclose that full consensus has not been reached on every last particular of shared operation against Iran, should one go forward. (debkafile)

Commentary from Barry and Linda Battelstein:

Shalom Friends and family: As we have shared with you many times the Isaiah 17-Psalm 83 War is not just words in Scripture, it is now clearly on the horizon. Many people do not want to contemplate or believe that such a massive Biblical war is possible in their life time; however if you understand and read the Scriptures, and look at how God has positioned the nations surrounding Israel, it is no longer conjecture, it is a fact of life.

Today, Israel is faced with a simple choice: wait for Iran to get the bomb, allow them to detonate it over Tel Aviv where millions of Israeli's will die, while the land will be covered with radio active fallout, and you have a second Holocaust; or attack Iran and try through every means possible to stop them from developing a nuclear weapon, and preventing a second Holocaust.

This war will change the world, the way we live, and the way people live all across the planet. The second thing that will change, is the coming persecution of Jewish people and Christians who love and support Israel and the Jewish people. In this war, Israel will be forced to use nuclear weapons when thousands of rockets and missiles fall on their cities and population, threatening the existence of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

The year 2012 is going to be a Biblical game changer for all of us. So please pray for God's grace on Israel, America, on all of us and our families. (Barry and Linda Battelstein)

Spotlight on North Korea:

Worldwide General Strike and Call to Mass Demonstrations for North Korean Liberation and Human Rights

January 27, 2012

The Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea, a nonpartisan coalition consisting of human rights activists and groups from around the world, is calling for an international general strike on January 27th to protest against genocide and crimes against humanity in North Korea.

In a news release it says, "January 27th marks the 67th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, the largest Nazi death camp where an estimated 1.1 million innocent men, women and children were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. "In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated this date as an annual international day of commemoration to remember the victims of Nazism and the sacred promise of 'Never Again'.

Genocide and Crimes against Humanity in North Korea

The release continued by saying, "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) runs a network of concentration camps where an estimated 1 million innocents have been murdered in silence and 250,000 political prisoners, one-third of them children, are currently being forced to perform slave labor on starvation rations, are subject to systematic rape and torture, biological and chemical weapon experimentation, and summary execution," said a spokesperson for the group. "North Korea is actively targeting for destruction every group protected under the U.N. Genocide Convention, through its decades-long policy of killing the half-Chinese babies of North Korean women forcibly repatriated by China (constituting genocide on national, ethnical and racial grounds), and its systematic annihilation of its indigenous religious population and their families (genocide on religious grounds). 

The regime's treatment of political prisoners and its exploitative and discriminatory food policy which is responsible for the deaths of several million North Koreans constitutes crimes against humanity as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court." (ASSIST News; International Prayer Connect) Read more.

- Pray that the transformation we have all been asking God for will happen and that it will lead to the liberation of North Korea and the reunification of North and South. Pray especially for the food aid to reach those at risk of starvation and for the closing down of the prison camps in which hundreds of thousands of men, women and children continue to suffer slave labor, summary execution, and horrific tortures at the whim of their captors.

- Please do all you can to mobilize others and arrange a prayerful protest outside any North Korean diplomatic office in your nation or Chinese embassy or consulate. China is complicit in all the horrific treatment of people in North Korea and sends back refugees to certain enslavement in the prison camps or death. It is important that pressure also be put on China since it provides up to 80% of the resources for the regime in Pyongyang. Pray for the January 27 demonstration to be a significantly large one within South Korea and other nations and especially that it will catch the notice of the international community, moving them to take action to safeguard human rights in North Korea.

- "Thy people will volunteer freely in the day of Thy power." (Ps.110:3)

This Week, Worship Our Lord As . . .

He said, "If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you." (Exodus 15:26)

Thank You, Lord, that when I have nowhere to turn for help for the sinful things that still combat my soul, You are there. Father, temptations assail me daily, yet You are the LORD who heals me. Abba, help me and heal me from the things of the past and from things hidden now. Thank You that You do heal. Amen.

(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)