Who is profiting from the war in Ukraine?

From the Prophet Spencer W. Kimball in 1976:

The Lord gave us a choice world and expects righteousness and obedience to his commandments in return. But when I review the performance of this people in comparison with what is expected, I am appalled and frightened. Iniquity seems to abound. The Destroyer seems to be taking full advantage of the time remaining to him in this, the great day of his power. Evil seems about to engulf us like a great wave, and we feel that truly we are living in conditions similar to those in the days of Noah before the Flood…

In spite of our delight in defining ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had — in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people — a condition repugnant to the Lord.

We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel — ships, planes, missiles, fortifications — and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45).

So, who is profiting from the war in Ukraine and promoting idolatry in fabricating gods of stone and steel?

Read this story.

The war in Ukraine will indeed be a bonanza for the likes of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. First of all, there will be the contracts to resupply weapons like Raytheon’s Stinger anti-aircraft missile and the Raytheon/Lockheed Martin-produced Javelin anti-tank missile that Washington has already provided to Ukraine by the thousands. The bigger stream of profits, however, will come from assured post-conflict increases in national-security spending here and in Europe justified, at least in part, by the Russian invasion and the disaster that’s followed.

Indeed, direct arms transfers to Ukraine already reflect only part of the extra money going to U.S. military contractors. This fiscal year alone, they are guaranteed to also reap significant benefits from the Pentagon’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) and the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, both of which finance the acquisition of American weaponry and other equipment, as well as military training. These have, in fact, been the two primary channels for military aid to Ukraine from the moment the Russians invaded and seized Crimea in 2014. Since then, the United States has committed around $5 billion in security assistance to that country.

According to the State Department, the United States has provided such military aid to help Ukraine “preserve its territorial integrity, secure its borders, and improve interoperability with NATO.” So, when Russian troops began to mass on the Ukrainian border last year, Washington quickly upped the ante. On March 31, 2021, the U.S. European Command declared a “potential imminent crisis,” given the estimated 100,000 Russian troops already along that border and within Crimea. As last year ended, the Biden administration had committed $650 million in weaponry to Ukraine, including anti-aircraft and anti-armor equipment like the Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin anti-tank missile.

Despite such elevated levels of American military assistance, Russian troops did indeed invade Ukraine in February. Since then, according to Pentagon reports, the U.S. has committed to giving approximately $2.6 billion in military aid to that country, bringing the Biden administration total to more than $3.2 billion and still rising.

More here:

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Does the ‘render unto caesar’ story in the Bible mean Jesus was in favor of paying taxes?

Matthew 22:15-22

15 ¶ Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, aneither carest thou for any man: for thou bregardest not the person of men.

17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it alawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not?

18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why atempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21 They say unto him, Cæsar’s. Then saith he unto them, aRender therefore unto bCæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

Many people today interpret the above passage as Jesus’ justification for taxation. I hear it in discussions all of the time, and in the modern world where Jesus must be used to justify social justice rhetoric, this passage is trotted out constantly by left-wingers and other lovers of taxation.

Any careful reading of this scripture and the Bible in general will, of course, render such a take ridiculous. It is clear that people at the time did not understand this parable to mean Jesus was justifying taxation — just the opposite, as I will show in this post.

The first and most obvious point is that In Luke 23:2, we read that the three charges brought against Jesus were that 1)he was a subversive 2)he was AGAINST paying taxes to Caesar and 3)he claims to be the Messiah. So, if the audiences at the time universally agreed that Jesus was in favor of paying taxes to Caesar (based on the render unto Caesar quotation), the second charge would have never been brought. The “render unto Caesar” quotation is in three of the four Gospels, including Luke 20:25, so clearly it was well known.

So, what is the correct interpretation of this passage? To completely understand it, we must know more about the history of the First century AD, the Roman occupation of Israel and coinage during the time.

The First Century AD was filled with anti-tax protests and uprisings in the Holy Land. There are several non-Biblical reports of Jewish tax revolts in the years before and after Jesus’ death. Judas the Galilean taught at the time that “taxation was no better than an introduction of slavery,” and he said the only legal tribute was to God. One of Pontius Pilate’s primary charges was to prevent more revolts against Roman rule, which is one reason the governor was in Jerusalem during Passover when Jesus was crucified.

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Coming out of Babylon

When did the agony of Christ begin? | America Magazine

This morning as I was contemplating my day, I realized it was Good Friday. I remember as a child thinking this day was horribly misnamed. After all, what was “good” about Jesus being nailed to a cross and suffering?

As I’ve been making my way thru the Old Testament with the Come Follow Me curriculum, I have been struck by a few “good” things. The Lord really, really wants us to be on the Covenant Path. Everything in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is set up to help you and I get on that path, and stay on that path. The Lord is waiting for us; cheering for us. He wants us to follow Him. His love for us is so very real.

Today we remember Christ overcoming our sin with his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. Sunday we will celebrate Christ overcoming death by His resurrection. When Moses was called to be a prophet he asked the Lord, who do I tell the people you are? The Lord answered back, “I am that I am.” The Lord is everything: leader, healer, bread of life, living water, He who overcame all, wonderful, counselor, our stone of help, the rock of our foundation the prince of peace, the Great High Priest Whose Name is Love, and His names are endless and eternal as are the works of His hands.

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Study shows Utah handled the COVID pandemic the best

A newly released study shows that the state of Utah had the best overall COVID policies in the United States.

Utah had a comparatively low mortality rate during the pandemic and was better than other states at maintaining economic activity and not destroying kids’ futures.

There is an old saying from the Vietnam War: “we had destroy the village in order to save it.” Now, it turns out that quotation may be false, but any case it came to symbolize the failure of the Vietnam War. During the pandemic, the equivalent may have been: “we had to close the economy, imprison the people and kill the kids in order to save a few older people.” Because unfortunately this was the policy for most states, and that policy did not work in most cases because older people still died.

But the good news is that states like Utah avoided the worst policies during the pandemic, according to this study. Here are the results from the top states:

The top 10 states in order are: Utah, Nebraska, Vermont, Montana, South Dakota, Florida, New Hampshire, Maine, Arkansas and Idaho.

And here are the worst states:

The worst states are NJ, DC, NY, NM, CA and Illinois

If there is any trend that we can note, it is that the best states promoted personal freedom the most, whereas the worst states had the most tyrannical lockdowns. In addition, many of the best states (except Florida) were relatively sparsely populated and many of the worst states are more crowded, with the obvious exception of New Mexico.

Here is the summary from the study:

During the pandemic there were many commenters on this blog calling for more complete lockdowns like we are seeing today in China. It should hopefully be obvious now that these horrific policies kill many more people than they save, while completely destroying freedom. If only somebody in the LDS world had warned us that lockdowns would not work. Oh yes, somebody did.

President Nelson’s inspired messages for our times

President Nelson’s message from General Conference this weekend were inspired and just what the world needs to hear.

“I have been to Ukraine and Russia many times. I love those lands, the people and their languages. I weep and pray for all who are affected by this conflict,” he said. “As a Church, we are doing all we can to help those who are suffering and struggling to survive. We invite all to continue to fast and pray for all the people being hurt by this calamity.”

“Any war is a horrifying violation of everything the Lord Jesus Christ stands for and teaches. The Savior commanded us to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use us. It can be painfully difficult to let go of anger that feels so justified. It can seem impossible to forgive those whose destructive actions have hurt the innocent. And yet, the Savior admonished us to ‘forgive all men.’”

“My call today, my dear brothers and sisters, is to end the conflicts that are raging in your heart, your home, and your life. Bury any and all inclinations to hurt others — whether those inclinations be a temper, a sharp tongue, or resentment for someone who has hurt you. … We are followers of the Prince of Peace. Now more than ever, we need the peace only He can bring. How can we expect peace to exist in the world when we are not individually seeking peace and harmony?”

The prophet invited everyone to forgive someone by Easter (April 17, 2022). “If forgiveness presently seems impossible, plead for power through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ to help you. As you do so, I promise a personal peace and a burst of spiritual momentum.”

The prophet pointed out that we should concentrate on the things we personally can do in our own lives and gave five suggestions on how we can maintain positive spiritual momentum:

  1. Get on the covenant path and stay there.
  2. Discover the joy of daily repentance.
  3. Learn about God and how He works.
  4. Seek and expect miracles.
  5. End conflict in your personal life.

It is worth noting that the prophet and several other speakers renewed calls for eligible members, but especially young men, to go on missions.

And how about those 17 new temples, in addition to the scores of others announced in the last few years? President Nelson has announced 100 temples since he became prophet.