Britain Regrets Selling Its Energy Industry

Britain Regrets Selling Its Energy Industry

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Britain’s energy-generating strategy is in ruins after German power companies pull out.

Britain may not be able to get the electricity it needs after two German companies backed out of plans to build up to six more nuclear reactors on March 29. E.ON and rwe ag blamed their decision on the rising cost of nuclear power and the German government’s decision to end nuclear power in Germany.

“This is a devastating blow which leaves the UK government energy strategy in tatters,” said the national secretary for energy of the general union gmb. “New nuclear is an essential component in keeping the lights on in the UK.”

Finding someone to replace these two will be hard. “Who else is there to replace them?” asked energy director at Mott MacDonald, Simon Harrison. “The list has been exhausted ….”

The only options appear to be relying on Russia or the French edf energy. But the French government could follow Germany’s example after the elections. Even if it doesn’t, the lack of competition means that any company willing to do the job would be able to charge a premium.

The Times’ Tim Webb warned that the predicament “exposes how dependent the country is on the whims of foreign governments.”

“None of this would matter so much if Britain, like Germany and France, had its own national energy champions capable of pulling off the huge, risky investment required for nuclear,” he writes. “But we don’t.”

Instead, many of Britain’s strategic assets have been sold off. Britain’s short-term thinking means it has surrendered its energy policy.

Tornadoes Tear Through Texas

Tornadoes and violent storms raged through north Texas on Tuesday. The twisters destroyed an estimated 650 homes and crushed empty tractor trailers like soda cans. The National Weather Service reported that at least a dozen tornadoes touched down in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and that at least 17 people were injured in the extreme weather.

April is the peak of the U.S. tornado season, which runs from March until June. To understand the reason behind the uptick in natural disasters, read “Why Did God Let It Happen?

That Mega Millions Jackpot Comes at a Cost

That Mega Millions Jackpot Comes at a Cost

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Every time a lottery ticket is purchased, there are problems on both sides of the exchange.

The odds of winning—176 million to 1—were 13 times worse than the odds of picking a perfect ncaa-basketball-tournament bracket.

Still, the world-record-shattering $656 million jackpot offered by Mega Millions last Friday inspired Americans to spend a jaw-dropping $1.5 billion in lottery tickets.

Many see it as harmless fun. But an enormous number of people stupidly view it as a sound investment.

In fact, a lottery is a scam that creates far more problems than it is purported to solve.

Why? Because it is fundamentally, profoundly immoral. On one side of the exchange is someone seeking to get something for nothing. On the other side is a government enriching itself by preying on its citizens’ human frailties, heedless of the damage it is causing the people it is meant to serve.

Still, it is big business, and growing. Last year, Americans spent $56 billion on lotteries. More Americans play the lottery than regularly attend church.

Get this: One in five Americans say winning the lottery is the most practical way to amass wealth, according to a survey by the Consumer Federation of America and the Financial Planning Association. Not working hard, or saving, or investing soundly, or contributing a useful product or service to the free market. The most practical means to gain wealth is to throw money into a giant whirlpool of impossiblility and cross your fingers.

Among poorer Americans, this delusion is even more pervasive. A full 40 percent of people making under $25,000 a year believe the lottery is their best hope of financial security.

Behold this regrettable manifestation of a whole pack of lies commonly promoted and believed in America today: that honest work is a curse and idleness a blessing; that happiness comes from materialism; that luxuries are a birthright; that wealth redistribution is only fair; that dreams of fame and fortune can come true, no matter the odds; that it is more blessed to receive than to give.

Nevertheless, lottery authorities are more than willing to help these fools part with their money. They try to wash their hands of any guilt by recommending that people play “only for fun,” and only with money they can spare. But they’re kidding themselves: They know full well that their biggest customers are lower-income folks.

They don’t care, though. They need the cash. In a tough economic climate, where indebted state and local governments face rising costs, dwindling revenue and unprecedented cuts, more and more are turning to gambling for a quick fix. That’s why you’ve seen casinos—which, up to 1990 existed legally only in Las Vegas and Atlantic City—suddenly popping up in nearly every state in the union. And it’s why lotteries are more and more common. What our grandparents would have frowned on is now heavily promoted by authorities, usually in broadly accepted terms—as the solution to shortfalls in education funding, for example. Today, 43 states have lotteries; 27 of them earmark lottery money for education.

Viewed in the extreme short term and without respect to morality, it’s a boon. Generally, administrative costs and payouts to winners only take 75 percent of lottery revenue—and even the prize money is heavily taxed—leaving a handsome cut for the state or city to spend as it pleases. In 2010, states collected an average of $58 per person from their lottery programs; Delaware brought in $370 per person. In last week’s Mega Millions, the 42 states that sold the tickets and pooled their grand prize will collect 44 percent of the revenue—a cool $660 million. The three states where winning tickets were bought—Maryland, Illinois and Kansas—will also, of course, tax the winnings.

Put simply, lotteries are a tax—on the people who can least afford it. Set aside the investigations that show how little of the money actually ends up getting used for the big-hearted purposes for which lotteries are publicly advertised. Cities and states are extracting a disproportionate percentage of these dollars from families that, really, have no business throwing money away. The same hard times that are hitting governments are also pounding the families sinking their bucks into Mega Millions and Powerball.

In one sense it is pitiable, and in another sense criminal, that at the same time we are witnessing rising unemployment, climbing costs of living and record debt, we are also seeing soaring lottery ticket sales.

The short-term revenue boost for states from lotteries and casinos carries steep long-term costs, including further impoverishing the poor; sucking money out of local economies that could have gone toward more productive activity; and fueling gambling addiction that leads to other social pathologies. America already has an estimated 15 million problem gamblers—people for whom life can quickly turn into a nightmare of debt, bad checks, bookies and loan sharks, embezzlement, broken homes, wrecked lives. On top of that, casinos in particular tend to be magnets for other evils like prostitution, drug trafficking and organized crime.

The fruits are bad all around.

Even the tiny few who actually win the lottery usually end up the worse for it. Studies have shown that 90 percent of them blow all their winnings within five years. “In the process, they will see family and friendships destroyed and the financial security they hoped for disappear,” said financial adviser Daryl LePage. Winners often become victims—of scams, bad investment advice, never-ending solicitation, or libel and slander lawsuits. Many experience bankruptcy, a surge in family problems, and divorce.

The troubles associated with lotteries and other forms of gambling well illustrate the fact that the law of God is a living law. It proves the biblical truth that sin enslaves. The attitude of greed and get—within both the people who participate in these practices and those who organize and peddle them—directly breaks God’s law of love, His law of outflowing concern for the welfare of the other person—the way of give.

God’s Word outlines the way that leads to personal fulfillment and social stability. It is each person engaging in honest labor for honest wages. It is people living within their means, curbing their own covetousness and materialism. It is diligence and industriousness. It is principled business conduct, both parties working to ensure that the other gain from the transaction.

This is the most practical way to build wealth, and the best hope of financial security. Make God your partner, obey His laws (Psalm 1:1-3), shun get-rich-quick schemes, apply yourself by working hard (Proverbs 28:19-20, 22; 10:4), give God His tithe of your income (Malachi 3:10). If you follow the biblical wisdom, God promises in Joshua 1:8, “then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

Antibiotics: How a Quick Fix Leads to BIG Problems

Antibiotics: How a Quick Fix Leads to BIG Problems

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From medicine to the economy, treating the effect without solving the cause never works in the long run.

We are facing “an end to modern medicine as we know it” if current trends continue, according to Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization. “Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill,” she warned in a speech in Denmark last month.

The world is quickly running out of antibiotics. Bacteria resistant to nearly all known antibiotics are multiplying. Few new antibiotics seem forthcoming. “In terms of new replacement antibiotics, the pipeline is virtually dry,” warned Dr. Chan. “The cupboard is nearly bare.”

Some of these antibiotic-resistant diseases kill half of all people they infect.

How did we reach this point? A major reason is the love of a quick fix. Rather than properly solve a problem, we like to treat the effect with antibiotics and move on.

America’s Super-bug Factories

Eighty percent of antibiotics in America are used in farm animals—not to treat humans. Why? One reason is antibiotics encourage animals to grow faster. The other is to suppress diseases.

The animals are fed the wrong food and live in cramped, unsanitary conditions. Of course they get sick easily. But rather than fix those problems, farmers routinely dose their animals with antibiotics.

“The use of antibiotics for disease prevention is only necessary because companies have chosen to raise animals using methods that make them especially susceptible to infectious diseases,” writes the Atlantic.

Scientists have warned for decades that this practice creates a perfect breeding environment for antibiotic-resistant super-bugs. A constant low dose of antibiotics in a large number of animals is exactly the environment you would create if you were deliberately trying to breed super-bugs.

Last year, the Arizona-based Translational Genomics Research Institute tested 136 samples of meat from 26 grocery shops. It found high levels of Staphylococcus aureus in the meat. In 96 percent of the cases where it found staph bacteria, the staph was resistant to at least one type of antibiotic. In 52 percent, it was resistant to at least three types.

“This is one more reason to be very careful when you’re handling raw meat and poultry in the kitchen,” warned the head researcher on the study, Dr. Lance Price. “You can cook away these bacteria. But the problem is when you bring in that raw product, you almost inevitably contaminate your kitchen with these bacteria.”

The Food and Drug Administration (fda) acknowledged that routinely feeding antibiotics to animals was dangerous, but have done little about it. Last month a U.S. district court judge ordered the fda to do more, and it may eventually ban the use of antibiotics to prevent growth the way the European Union already has. But this still leaves the problem of disease prevention.

“The media’s coverage of the decision has focused on the use of antibiotics for growth promotion,” writes the Atlantic. “While ending these uses would be an important step, it would not be sufficient to end the misuse of antibiotics in industrial food animal production. As long as low doses of antibiotics may be continuously fed to food animals to prevent disease, the industrial operations that produce the majority of food animals in this country will continue to serve as giant incubators for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”

But that’s a problem we refuse to confront. The quick fix is far too easy, until it is too late.

Human Health

Unfortunately we too often take the same approach in our own lives. Director of the Oxford Institute of Population Aging Prof. Sarah Harper warned that she saw a future where drugs aimed at tackling symptoms meant that no one would bother fixing core problems. That future, in fact, is already here.

Professor Harper contrasted the way the nations dealt with smoking with the way they are dealing with obesity—two “lifestyle epidemics.” Smoking-related deaths fell as public health initiatives persuaded people to stop smoking. Deaths related to obesity also appear to be falling, even though obesity rates are rising. Why? This time, the solution wasn’t lifestyle changes. Instead it could be that people are treating obesity with drugs. “What people are suggesting … is that maybe we’re moving to a culture where rather than having healthy lifestyles, we can actually, if you like, pop a pill,” she said.

“We have to ask if we wish our future to be one where individuals at increasingly younger ages pop pills rather than eat healthily, stop smoking, reduce alcohol, and take up exercise,” she said. “Do we want 10-year-olds popping statins?”

But it’s so much easier to take a pill than change a lifestyle.

Rather than fixing our lifestyles, we take antibiotics, only to get ill again a few months down the line.

This refusal to confront the causes of the problem takes its toll. Drugs often have terrible side effects (as Robert Morley cataloged here). Now, we could be facing the end of the usefulness of antibiotics.

From Medicine to the Economy

The fact is there is no such thing as a quick fix. Drugs cover up one symptom, but cause other problems. Antibiotics enable us to avoid confronting the cause of the problem, for a time, but they may not work much longer. Those problems we swept under the carpet could come back to sting us soon.

The same is true of the economy. The economy crashes, but rather than fix the cause of the problem—let the economy re-balance as economists like F.A. Hayek recommended—we flood the market with cheap credit. This gets rid of the symptom, but it doesn’t remove the penalty. The economy may rebound for a while—until the side effects kick in. Government debt increases drastically and we set ourselves up for a much bigger crash down the road.

We need to learn that we cannot just address the symptoms. We’re trying to break laws and get away with it.

It’s a fundamental principle: Broken law always exacts a penalty, sooner or later, whether that law be a law of health, economics or anything else.

We cannot paper over our problems for much longer. Soon we will face the consequences.

Seven Killed in U.S. University Shooting

A former student went on a killing spree at a Christian university in California on Monday, wounding three people and killing at least seven. The mass murders set off a manhunt that ended with an arrest at a nearby shopping center.

Police officials confirmed that the alleged killer went to Oikos University to try to find an administrator who had been involved in his expulsion from the school months earlier. When he found that she was not in the building, the 43-year-old Korean-American man attended a class and appeared to behave normally. He then pulled out a pistol and ordered students to line up against a wall. He then shot them one by one, execution-style.

Oikos Student Deborah Lee was sitting in a nearby classroom during the attack. She described the carnage to the Associated Press, saying, “During our class, I heard like gun shots, and then five, more than five, and then. The first time when I heard it, I thought it was fireworks or just joking, but right after that one woman screamed a lot, shouting, and then my teacher went outside to check and then he said one woman told them, that somebody has a gun, run, and then we all of us in class just ran away.”

Law enforcement and university officials were at a loss in trying to understand the catastrophe.

Gut-wrenching tragedies like these leave us speechless. But there is an explanation for such appalling violence. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry addressed this heartbreaking issue in 2001 after a spate of shootings in American high schools. Mr. Flurry said that these horrific tragedies are caused by rejecting God’s laws and ignoring “God’s instruction book for mankind: the Holy Bible.” Tragedies like these will increase, but the Trumpet also forecasts that Jesus Christ will soon return and teach our families and our nations to keep His laws. This will put a stop to such senseless murder—permanently.

Commencement—Only the Beginning

Sage advice from a master educator
From the May 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Commencement ceremonies filled with relieved graduates, proud parents and tired faculty are occurring on campuses across the nation. Distinguished speakers are imparting wisdom to departing students. Education is being celebrated. But how many really know what true education is?

The late Herbert W. Armstrong was a master educator. He was an accomplished writer and speaker. Early in his life, Mr. Armstrong learned that education is not something you go out and get. He learned that true education is a way of life.

A proper education is difficult to acquire. The following seven points distill Mr. Armstrong’s experience and knowledge of true education. Consider these points to becoming properly educated:

1) Build a solid spiritual foundation. We were put on Earth to become educated in spiritual and material knowledge. Unless proper spiritual knowledge is our foundation in life, everything will be established on the wrong premise.

In Matthew 7:24, Christ gave His disciples knowledge, but then He admonished them to go out and apply it. Those who do He likens to a man who built a house on a solid-rock foundation—immovable during a severe storm. Those who don’t He likens to a man who built on a foundation of sand. The consequences of building on a wrong foundation are deadly.

To be a real success, our pursuit after material knowledge must be based on the right, immovable spiritual foundation.

2) Capture the vision of the kind of person you would like to become. Without vision, people perish (Proverbs 29:18). Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Seeking first God’s Kingdom is the ultimate vision. But lesser goals can also be attained through right priorities and hard work. Understanding your role as a man or woman should be foremost in your mind, since the strength of a nation depends on solid individual families. For the man, determining your life’s vocation or profession is critical to being the kind of provider God intends you to be.

3) Prepare and work to meet your goals. It’s been said that opportunity favors the prepared man. Proverbs 24:27 says, “First work your farm, and till the soil—then marry and set up house” (Moffatt). Notice the priorities. Some men have set out with every passion to find that special someone, spending little effort to secure a good job or to better themselves educationally. Heed the proverb!

Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Missing Dimension in Sex, “The years between ages 16 and 25 are the vitally important years of adult preparation for life’s work. These are the crucial years of preparation. During these years the mind is capable of acquiring faster than at any other stage of life the advanced knowledge needed before beginning one’s adult career—whether it be business, profession, occupation or marriage.”

4) Learn to be humble like God. The God of this universe wants you to be happy, healthy and prosperous (Matthew 6:33; John 10:10; 3 John 2). We should want this all-powerful Being on our side! Notice how we can do that: “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). In Isaiah 57:15, God says He dwells “with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit.”

To listen to and heed the wise counsel of older, wiser individuals takes humility. Diligently obeying God’s laws concerning success in business and family requires even greater humility. One fundamental problem with modern education is vanity. Humility, on the other hand, will pave the way for a right, God-centered education.

5) Whatever career you pursue, strive to become an expert. Your job is a career. Your marriage is a career. Preparing for God’s Kingdom is, or at least should be, a career.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” We only have limited time during this physical life to become educated. Our time is brief to really learn to work hard in our profession. Simplify your life enough so you can devote quality time and hard work toward what’s important: God, family, work, the community, an educational hobby. Then, whatever you do, work hard! God expects excellence from His children. He gave us minds for that purpose: to be developed and trained to operate effectively and efficiently.

6) Continually add new and exciting challenges to your life. Always observe, think and learn. Seek a better, more productive way of doing things. You have the mind to do it. That is what makes life interesting. And unless we try to go beyond what we have already mastered, we will never grow. A life full of obstacles and challenges is a blessing. Don’t seek the life of ease that so many desire. Happiness comes from working hard at what you do and doing it well.

7) Realize that true education never stops. “School” is not a four-year institution. It’s a lifelong project. Focus on developing the whole person. Never stop in your studies of great men and women. Always seek counsel before making big decisions. Continue to develop communication and social skills. Build new friendships. Look for and take advantage of new opportunities to serve. Acquire educational hobbies. Seize every opportunity to travel. Take part in an enjoyable sport. Get regular exercise.

Education is a way of life. It’s learning how to live, not just how to make a living. Education is building character. It’s doing what is right, not what is pleasurable, or what you feel like doing.

Most of all, it is following God. If we do, we’ll receive not only an eternal reward, but also much more even now (Luke 18:28-30). If we seek first the Kingdom, “all these [material] things” will be added (Matthew 6:33). There is a definite correlation between physical and spiritual prosperity.

God wants you to lead a happy, successful, exciting life. Begin now by submitting to God in all humility. Then seek His Kingdom with all of your might. Beyond that, if you make God the center of your life in every goal you have, prepare for a life of happiness and abundant blessings. God’s laws work. See for yourself. Put it to the test. If you do, what an education life will be!