March 2007


Pringles appear to be safe from demonic association after a US court ruled that the devil is not in league with global consumer brand Procter & Gamble (P&G).

The ruling brought an end to a 12-year lawsuit purused by P&G against four distributors of rival Amway, over rumors tying P&G to Satanism.

P&G won the $19m lawsuit when the court concluded that the four had spread a false accusation that P&G subsidized Satanic cults.

The rumor had proved popular with evangelicals in the US.

During the 1960s, a story began circulating that the corporation was controlled by Satan worshipers. A moon-star symbol was used by the company on many of its products from 1882 to 1985, which was considered suspect.

The stars in fact stand for the thirteen original American colonies. But the arrangement of stars in the symbol was said to secretly spell out the Revelation 13:18 “number of the beast”: 666.  The logo, though, is still used and remains a recognized brand outside of the United States.

Without examining the facts, many people, most notably evangelicals, signed petitions against Procter & Gamble and boycotted their products in the 1980s and 1990s.

Full article here.  The nerve of those Amway guys — especially since Amway is, itself, considered by some to have all the marks of the Antichrist.

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#1. Members of the political press and unaffiliated Republican pols, gearing up for the meat grinder that the 2008 presidential race will certainly become, have all been scratching their heads and wondering aloud how Rudolph Giuliani can be leading in the early Republican primary polls when evangelicals, the so-called base of the party, should have a serious problem with his three marriages, two divorces and estrangement from his son. Typical of this sentiment, from the AP a little over a week ago:

Republican strategists say Giuliani’s troubled family relationships are likely to hinder his standing among conservatives who already have questions about his positions on social issues. They say the estrangement could raise a question in voters’ minds: If Giuliani can’t keep his family together, how will he keep the country together?

True, there have been statements of concern by evangelical leaders over Giuliani’s domestic circumstances. Richard Land, who is head of public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention, recently stated that Giuliani’s 2002 divorce from Donna Hanover was more than just a regular old divorce; it was more like “divorce on steroids,” Land said. “To publicly humiliate your wife in that way, and your children. That’s rough. I think that’s going to be an awfully hard sell, even if he weren’t pro-choice and pro-gun control.”

As usual, though, the conventional wisdom only has it half-right, and Richard Land’s assessment of Giuliani gives us a clue about why. Evangelicals do not vote as a bloc, and they do not live their lives in uniformity, either. If you just listen to an episode of New Life Live, for example, one of many Christian lifestyle talk shows flying around our radio airwaves, you’ll immediately be struck by how much dysfunction exists in the lives of some people who are trying hard to lead Christian lives. Not only are divorces commonplace (a 2004 survey by George Barna Research, incidentally, found that 35% of born-again Christians have been divorced, which is the same percentage as you’ll find in the non-born-again population), but such topics as alcoholism, drug abuse, porn and sex addictions, adultery, and all manner of broken families form the bedrock of the discussions that take place on the program — and without exception, much to the credit of the hosts, such problems are dealt with in a forgiving and quite practical way.

It should be no surprise at all, then, that evangelical conservatives might flirt with voting with either the twice-divorced, thrice-married Rudy Giuliani, the once-divorced, twice-married John McCain, or the twice-divorced, thrice-married Newt Gingrich — who just happen to be three out of the top four Republican “candidates” in this pre-primary season. They can be said to reflect the American Christian circumstance, similarly to the way that some divorced evaneglicals also reflect the American Christian circumstance.

If McCain’s divorce is a “molehill” to Giuliani’s “mountain” of a divorce, according to Richard Land — who speaks on behalf of believers in a Bible that, according to Baptists, calls divorce a sin — then, at least as it concerns presidential preference among the voters of the Christian right, some divorces must be okay. Perhaps the average evangelical does not care so much if his or her presidential candidate has sinned — it’s more about whether he is repentant, and whether his social policies generally seek to restrain sinning or ignore the existence of it. Judging by McCain’s sinking poll numbers and Giuliani’s recent unmistakable ascendance, however, our working theory should be that Giuliani has the respect of a large portion of the Republican electorate on the basis of other attributes — his leadership after 9/11, for example — and that this may, just may, be more important to a few evangelical voters than either the question of sin or the state of one’s domestic life. That is to say, that some evangelical Christians may be quite forgiving and practical people. But we shall see …

#2 Is there anyone left in America who doesn’t believe that Fox News is a conservative news network? I’d seriously doubt it; however, recent coverage leads me to observe that Fox News ought to be given an award by the folks at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. Apart from the fact that most polls put the support of American voters in favor of the Iraq War at somewhere around 30%, does anyone really remember the mainstream media — CNN, CBS, NBC or ABC, for our purposes — covering the “peace movement” so much these days? For the most part, those TV networks don’t bother with the radical left. They live in the political center — they eschew both long-haired, post-neo-Marxists and Ann Coulter alike.

Fox News, however, has contributed, perhaps unwittingly, to an outright revival of the media presence of the left-wing fringe. In yesterday’s coverage of the 4th anniversary of the war, Fox spent much of the day trotting out loonies who denounce Bush while claiming to have seen UFOs, and showing footage of protesters staging a “die-in” in San Francisco’s financial district. I would be tempted to say that such reporting actually earns Fox its marketing slogan, “fair and balanced,” were it not for the fact that Fox News generally dismisses the existence of moderate and even conservative voices who disagree vehemently with Bush’s prosecution of the war — good church-going people from here in the Heartland who wear suits that are too nice for lying down in traffic, and who would sooner ask their congressman for a tax increase than admit to having seen a UFO.

Of course, we know what Fox is about when they bring out the loonies — they’re seeking to trivialize dissent. The result, however, is that the crazy die-in people and the UFO guy get free publicity and great big TV audiences. Strange bedfellows, don’t you think?

#3 AMEInfo reports the following today:

Rumours that Algeria, Iran, Qatar, Russia and Venezuela will establish a gas cartel along the same lines as Opec next month have been re-iterated by the Russian daily Kommersant and reported by the AFP. It is widely believed an upcoming meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Doha on April 9 will be the venue for the announcement. Russia seemingly poured cold water on the idea last month.

Don’t get distracted by the substance of this — it won’t necessarily mean higher natural gas prices for us here in the U.S. in the short-term, at least not in a pre-Liquid Natural Gas world, in which gas will jump from continent to continent.

Look, instead, at the form of such activity. While we’re sparring with Venezuela and accusing Iran of waging war against us in Iraq, Russia looks like it is lending its imprimatur as a world power to a venture that will attempt to amplify the influence and economic significance of such nations within their own regions. Not hard to see Russia’s interest in doing that, is it? As an example, Venezuela currently imports a lot of gas and has had difficulty developing its own offshore fields. Rather than benefiting as a seller of natural gas, in the short term, what it really hopes to do is to capture the undying loyalty of Colombia and Bolivia, a pair of real gas exporters, by giving them a theoretically more favorable market into which to sell their gas. Then Chavez will ask them something like, “what has the U.S. done for you lately?”, and Russia will get Venezuela’s props for helping it build its South American empire. The outcome is less direct U.S. influence, and more indirect Russian influence.

Hapless British doomsday mathematician Gordon Ritchie is back again, this time predicting that “a terrorist Dirty Bomb or Nuclear Bomb will hit the UN plaza in Midtown Manhattan somewhere in 2006Adar, i.e. on or before Tuesaday” [sic] “March 20th 2007.”   As usual, there’s a biblical basis for his latest prophecy, and he’s got some flexiproofs that lead him to the conclusion — I’ll let you inspect them for yourself.

You have to admire both his tenacity and his candor, though, as he goes through each of his failed predictions thus far:

2006Iyyar21 (May 19/20) [7 days after 2006Iyyar14]
2006Iyyar28 (May 26/27) [7 days after first mistaken date]

2006Sivan11 (June 8/9) [First day of the 2,000 pigs of Mark 5 incorrectly calculated, corrected on or before Sivan1]
2006Sivan12 (June 9/10) [First day of the 2,000 pigs of Mark 5 correctly calculated but misinterpreted]

2006Tammuz2-6 (June30-July4) [7th sabbath after 1st mistake/7th sabbath omitting 2006Sivan5/7th Sabbath lookout day]
2006Tammuz28/29 (July 25 – 27) [Assumed contest began on 911]

2006Ab3/4 (July 30 – August 1) [Assumed second ‘day’ of contest began when wheat went limit up in Chicago]
2006Ab8 (August 4/5) [Assumed second ‘day’ of contest began on non BLC day of 2006Adar28 so that 1750th day is sabbath]
2006Ab15 (August 11/12) [7th sabbath lookout period assuming 2006Tammuz2/3 and 2006Tammuz4-6 were separate sabbath mistakes]
2006Ab22 (August 18/19) [7th sabbath lookout period assuming 2006Tammuz2-6 and 2006Tammuz28/29 were separate sabbath mistakes]
2006Ab29 (August 25/26) [7th sabbath lookout period after first mistake, the entire sabbath month of 2006Tammuz as one sabbath lookout period]

2006Elul13/20/27 (September 8/9, 15/16, 22/23) [A sabbath after the 1750th day of the contest starting on 2001Tishri30 and before the end of Elul]
2006Elul30 (September 26th) [last 5 hours thereof in NYC, so that bomb went off in Elul EST but in Tishri BST]

2006Tishri10 (October 5/6) [The mid point and start of the daylight part of the Day of Jehovah]
Before 2006Tishri14 (October 10) [The day before the festival of Booths starts]
2006Tishri22 (October 17/18) [The 7th festival sabbath of the year, the great sabbath of Booths]
2006Tishri29 (October 25) or before [Last possible day for a warning bomb before 2006Tishri30]
2006Tishri30 (October 25/26) [The end of a 5 year contest starting on 2001Tishri30]

2006Chislev21 (December 15/16) [1st day after 950 days of stadium filling and 900 day ‘Day of Baal’, and 7 months after 2006Iyyar21]
2006Chislev22 (December 16/17) [7 30-day months after the church said: there is nothing at all on 2006Iyyar22, as a result of our first mistaken date of 2006Iyyar21 – Go back 7 times! – Keep looking for 7 months]
2006Chislev28 (December 22/23) [last sabbath in 2006Chislev – not yet a mistake!!!].

Even if he’s not seein’ wheels, way up in the middle of the air, at least Gordon Ritchie has a pretty realistic sense of his own shortcomings, and a whole lot of optimism.  Almost makes me want to refer to him as “plucky” rather than “hapless” …

. . . But that’s not what she thinks:

British tabloids reported that last Saturday, Britney Spears was running around the luxurious Promises Clinic in Malibu, California, with the number 666 written on her bald head. “She was crying, and shouting, ‘I am the Antichrist!'”, NewsoftheWorld reported.

“Later that night she tried to kill herself,” a “friend” told NOTW. “She attached a sheet to a light and tied it around her neck. Paramedics were called, but luckily she was unhurt.”

“The clinic people just didn’t know what to do [when she ran around claiming she’s the Antichrist]. Then she started screaming, ‘I’m a fake! I’m a fake!’ It must have been really frightening.”

Then again, who am I to say? See full article here.

ZURICH, Switzerland Mar 2, 2007 (AP) — What began as a routine training exercise almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident after a company of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring Liechtenstein.

According to Swiss daily Blick, the 170 infantry soldiers wandered just over a mile across an unmarked border into the tiny principality early Thursday before realizing their mistake and turning back.

A spokesman for the Swiss army confirmed the story but said that there were unlikely to be any serious repercussions for the mistaken invasion.

“We’ve spoken to the authorities in Liechtenstein and it’s not a problem,” Daniel Reist told The Associated Press.

Officials in Liechtenstein also played down the incident.

Interior ministry spokesman Markus Amman said nobody in Liechtenstein had even noticed the soldiers, who were carrying assault rifles but no ammunition. “It’s not like they stormed over here with attack helicopters or something,” he said.

Liechtenstein, which has about 34,000 inhabitants and is slightly smaller than Washington DC, doesn’t have an army.

Via ABC News.

An arch-conservative cardinal chosen by the Pope to deliver this year’s Lenten meditations to the Vatican hierarchy has caused consternation by giving warning of an Antichrist who is “a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist”.

Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, 78, who retired as Archbishop of Bologna three years ago, quoted Vladimir Solovyov (1853-1900), the Russian philosopher and mystic, as predicting that the Antichrist “will convoke an ecumenical council and seek the consensus of all the Christian confessions”.

The “masses” would follow the Antichrist, “with the exception of small groups of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants” who would fight to prevent the watering down and ultimate destruction of the faith, he said.

It ain’t easy being green.  See full article here.