By Jack Minor
Developments in Sweden’s monetary policy, along with recent trends by banks to discourage cash transactions are putting individuals in a no-win situation where they can no longer hide or save their money, but are increasingly being “urged” to spend it to prop up failing economies.
Since July, the Swedish central bank has had an interest rate of -0.35%. Yes, you hear that right, negative interest. In other words, like gift cards that lose money each month they are not used, people who chose to be wise stewards and save their money in Sweden could soon be punished by actually losing money if they chose not to spend it; a “use it or lose it” scenario.
While the banks have not yet passed this negative rate onto their customers, this is not sustainable and experts predict it is only a matter of time before account holders see their balances shrink.
In the past, low interest rates that are not profitable have resulted in people removing their money from banks and “hoarding it,” however Sweden has made this logical move difficult. The banks have been taking steps to limit cash withdrawals by removing ATMs in rural areas. In addition, banks will call the police if they feel you are using too much cash.
One of the supposed reasons for forcing cash into the open is to combat money laundering and terrorism. However, economic experts have criticized those who save their money, saying by not spending they are hampering economic activity, thus blaming them for many of the economic woes their own governments have created through financial mismanagement.
The world has been in the midst of a global economic crisis for years, with nations facing various degrees of issues. Japan has long been in an economic slump, Greece is dealing with its own debt crisis, while in America the federal debt has risen to over an astounding $18.5 trillion.
To get an idea of how big a number one trillion is, if you were to go back in time one billion seconds ago you would be in 1979. However, if you set your time machine for one trillion seconds it would take you back to 29,700 BC, if you believed the evolutionist model for the age of the earth. The US national debt as it currently stands would take a person back to 534,600 BC.
Many of the economic problems are the result of government spending policies that spend more than they take in. As a result, central banks have had to lower interest rates to prevent governments with sizeable interest payments on their debt from becoming insolvent. For instance, if the Federal Reserve were to raise interest rates, the national debt would balloon overnight, possibly putting the nation into a death spiral where all income would need to go for debt interest payments.
Students of the Bible have long warned of a cashless society as part of the Antichrist’s plan for ultimate control over mankind. Many prophecy experts believe that what we are seeing as “encouragement” to go cashless will one day become mandatory so that no one will be able to buy or sell unless they have a mark of allegiance, often called the “mark of the beast”.
Some recent examples show we are already well on our way: a video on Reddit shows a Bank of America branch in California refusing a cash payment on a mortgage. In 2014, Chase Bank changed its policy to now refuse cash payments for credit cards, mortgages and auto loans. In addition, Chase prohibits using safe deposit boxes to store “any cash or coins.”
By Tom Olago
What is happening in Syria is an example of the confusion that is possible when countries with a stake in a war use proxies. ISIS is supposed to be the common enemy that everyone is aiming to defeat, but this one united objective is somewhat compromised by several other radically different, and even opposing agendas held by proxy armies and/or their foreign puppet masters.
These developments have become of concern to U.S President Obama, who has reportedly expressed dismay at the turn of events in Syria. However, during a recent news conference, President Obama said he would not allow the current conflict in Syria to devolve into a proxy war between the United States and Russia: “That would be bad strategy on our part…this is a battle between Russia, Iran and [Syrian President Bashar Assad] against the overwhelming majority of the Syrian people.”
Indications are that as far as avoiding a proxy war with Russia over Syria is concerned, it may well be already too late for President Obama.
In a recent Washington Post opinion piece, David Ignatius illustrates “the confusing order of battle”: The United States has decided that its strongest partner against the Islamic State is a Syrian Kurdish force known as the YPG. But Turkey, nominally a NATO ally, says the YPG has links with what it claims is a Kurdish terrorist group.
Russia, meanwhile, contends that it is fighting the Islamic State, alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But Russian warplanes have been bombing Islamist rebel groups that are covertly supported by the United States, Turkey and Jordan — and these brigades are fighting back hard. The rebels are posting videos bragging about their success with U.S. anti-tank missiles.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have been fighting by proxy in Syria for nearly four years. According to Ignatius, this may be the most toxic conflict of all, because it feeds the Sunni-Shiite sectarian inferno that is immolating the Middle East. Initially, Shiite-ruled neighbors, Iran and Iraq, dispatched Hezbollah fighters and Iraqi militiamen to rescue Assad’s army. This Sunni-Shiite feud added an extra burst of savagery.
Opinion is split, though, regarding the extent to which the proxy war is but a reflection of larger Russia-United States rivalries. Some analysts do not even agree that a proxy war exists. A recent report in npr.org quotes Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the global risk analysis firm Eurasia Group:
“In my view, the term ‘proxy war’ overstates U.S.-Russian strains over Syria. A proxy war entails two major nations actively — and to a real extent equally — supporting opposite sides in a conflict. The decades-long civil war in Angola between the MPLA and UNITA was a classic proxy war, where the Soviet Union and the U.S. provided major support to opposite sides.
“In Syria, the U.S. strongly objects to the Russian intervention — holding that it will only stoke conflict, further radicalize the opposition, and make eventual formation of a coalition government even less likely. Russia in turn sympathizes with President Bashar al-Assad’s view that the opposition are terrorists and must be eradicated. The U.S. and Russia deeply distrust each other’s motives in Syria, and cooperation is unlikely in the foreseeable future. But the U.S. has not, and I don’t think will, actively oppose the Russian move… U.S. strategy is not proxy war, but to let President Vladimir Putin dig his own hole in the morass that is the Syrian civil war.”
Yet overall, with so many powerful military forces gathering in the same area, the danger for accidents and miscalculations remains large irrespective of the current levels of proxy. The waters are further muddied by the fact that the outside powers (United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia) recently disagreed sharply about what a transition should look like.
Each side appears to be trying to extend its territory so as strengthen its bargaining position eventually, leading to fears of “a more devastating, region-wide explosion” ahead.
This cynical intervention is said to be reminiscent of similar meddling that helped ravage Lebanon, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq and Libya during their civil wars.
“Until they are truly working together — funneling money and weapons to a single rebel army — the mess in Syria will continue”, concludes Ignatius.
And so the prolonged Syrian conflict seems certain to get even bigger and bloodier, as if it was not already devastating enough.
By Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post
The gravest threat facing the world today is indisputably radical Islam, the American-Israeli New York Times best-selling author and former US and Israel political adviser, Joel Rosenberg, said at the Jerusalem Leadership Summit in the capital on Wednesday.
While he emphasized that the vast majority of Muslims are not radicals, Rosenberg, whose debut novel, The Last Jihad, published in 2002, was an international bestseller, contended that even at a fraction of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslim population, the extremists pose an imminent threat.
“If you look at some of the polling that’s been done about the attitudes in the Muslim world, you see that 90% or more are moderate, really peaceful people,” said Rosenberg, during his lecture at the Inbal Hotel, adding that only between 7%-10% of Muslims express approval of radical Islam.
“However, in a world of 1.6 billion Muslims, 10% is 160 million people. That’s half the population of the United States; if you grouped them in one country…you have one of the largest country’s on the planet.”
Therefore, Rosenberg said, he takes issue with US President Barack Obama’s contention that the fight against Muslim terrorists is not a “war against Islam.”
“You cannot say that those in the 160 million category are not driven by Islam,” he said.
“They say they are. You can call it a ‘perversion,’ but you have to understand why they would say that Islam motivates them? Whether that’s pure Islam or not, I’ll leave that to the Islamic scholars.”
Noting that the king of Jordan, Abdullah II, a descendant of Muhammad, has said that “the West is engaged in a third world war against Islamic terrorism,” Rosenberg said that Abdullah has conceded that Muslims themselves must do far more to fight the killers in their midst.
“At its core, King Abdullah says: ‘This is a Muslim problem…we need to take ownership of this. We Muslims need to stand up and say what is right and what is wrong,’” he said.
Moreover, Rosenberg cited Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as recently warning religious leaders at Al-Azhar University that the fight against radical Islam must be fought by moderate Muslims.
“At the Harvard of Sunni Islam, he said directly to the clerics and to the professors: ‘This is your mission. You will be held to account if you do not confront this problem inside Islam,’” Sisi said. “So Muslim leaders say that it is a problem in Islam, and obviously, it is.”
Extrapolating from the unexpected attacks on Pearl Harbor and New York City during 911, Rosenberg said that the theme of his novels is that “to misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.”
“We were blindsided by a theology and an ideology… that we did not understand,” he said. “Was it understandable? Yes it was. But did we as leaders in America, and in the West generally, understand it and take it seriously? We did not.”
Rosenberg went on to cite Obama’s “catastrophic” Iranian nuclear deal as a case in point of the inherent dangers of not understanding the consequences of radical Islam. “He believes that he’s Nixon and he’s dealing with China…and that Iran wants to be part of the world’s system, that they feel isolated and left out,” he said.
“So, let’s bring them in… and hope that gradually, they will evolve into a player that we can deal with.”
Such a supposition, Rosenberg warned, is profoundly naïve and dangerous, despite the fact that the majority of Iranians want freedom and to be integrated into the world. “If you base your analysis on the Iranian people, you come to the conclusion that they want engagement,” he said. “The key is the top: the Ayatollah and his inner circle. The question is not what the country wants… the question is what the supreme leader and his inner circle want. What do they believe?” “Because if you misunderstand what they believe,” he continued, “you will be blindsided.”
He contended that Iran, which is far more patient than ISIS, poses the larger threat of genocide.
“Iran’s leadership says: ‘No, we’re not going to build a caliphate now, we’re going to build nuclear weapons because once we’re ready for genocide, we’re not going to use swords and AK-47s, we’re going to use atomic weaponry. We’re going to be able to kill millions, and not just thousands.’” Iran, he warned, is “biding its time.”
ABBAS LETS SLIP: “ALL OF ISRAEL IS ‘THE OCCUPATION!’
By Ari Soffer (ArutzShevaNews)
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas continued his diplomatic offensive against Israel last week at the United Nations General Assembly, leveling a wide range of accusations against the Jewish state and calling for an international “protection regime” for Palestinians.
But amidst all the usual bluster, many observers missed a subtle, yet crucial, theme within Abbas’s speech: That far from the “moderate” image he has cultivated, he views all of Israel as “occupied” and illegitimate, and aspires to the destruction of the country in its entirety.
At one point, in comments broadcast live on PA TV and highlighted by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Abbas referred to Israel’s “67-year occupation” – referring not to the “West Bank” (Judea and Samaria), but to the very founding of the State of Israel in 1948.
“Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, haven’t you wondered: For how long will this protracted Israeli occupation of our land last? After 67 years (i.e., Israel’s creation), how long? Do you think it can last, and that it benefits the Palestinian people?” Abbas asked.
Later on in his address, Abbas returned to that theme, speaking of “[The] holy sites which have been desecrated every other second again and again for seven decades [emphasis added] now under an occupation that does not quit killing, torturing, looting and imprisoning…”
Interestingly, PMW revealed that the PA’s official Wafa news agency attempted to airbrush Abbas’s initial statement, mistranslating it as: “Ladies and gentlemen, haven’t you wondered; for how long will this protracted Israeli occupation of our land last?”
Official PA organs regularly re-write officials’ speeches after the event to cover up gaffs or incriminating statements.
Most recently, the official website of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – the body which runs the PA – retroactively re-wrote a televised address given by Abbas in which he erroneously claimed that Israel had “executed” a teenage terrorist, who was later revealed as being alive and well in an Israeli hospital.
Abbas’s Freudian slip will not be surprising to observers who follow statements by the PA, PLO or Fatah party in Arabic, however. Far from the “moderate” image often portrayed in the west, Palestinian officials regularly make clear that they view any “two-state solution” as merely “the first stage” in annihilating Israel entirely.
As highlighted by PMW, the PA’s own “National Security Force” regularly portrays places in “pre-67 Israel” as parts of the occupied territory.
“In the last week alone, the PA Security Forces presented Israeli cities Ashkelon, Haifa and Acre as ‘occupied,'” as well as multiple maps of “Palestine” which feature the entire map of Israel, it noted.
IRAN BEGINS BLOCKADE OF US IMPORTS
by Ari Yashar (Arutz\Sheva News)
US President Barack Obama just two weeks ago began lifting sanctions on Iran in the wake of the nuclear deal, and in response Iran has initiated an economic step of its own – a blockade of US imports.
Iran’s Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade announced on Saturday via the official PressTV that it has begun acting on Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s orders issued in a letter last month, and is implementing the blockade.
Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, who is tasked with the ministry, said in the announcement, “we will implement the blockade on imports of American goods in a directive.”
That directive was issued by Khamanei in a letter in late October to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Nematzadeh noted the letter included an outline for creating an “economy of resistance” and blockading US goods to be economically independent as part of Khamenei’s conditional approval of the nuclear deal.
Khamenei ordered the Iranian government to avoid “unbridled imports,” and fastidiously monitor US imports. In response, Rouhani wrote back that he would follow Khamenei’s orders.
However, there appears to be at least two major American companies that won’t be affected by the blockade – Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Both “have local bottlers and distributors in Iran, but they say they have nothing to do with the American brands,” according to the Iranian state press.
“Death to America” continues!
A US State Department official was asked on Monday to comment on the blockade, but responded, “We’re not going to comment on every remark attributed to the Supreme Leader,” reports the Washington Free Beacon.
The dismissal would seem to indicate that the US government intends to ignore Iran’s continued open hostility.
That hostility was put on display again on Monday, when the Iranian parliament voted to continue “Death to America” rallies held nationwide on Fridays. At least 192 out of 290 voting Iranian parliamentarians voted for the rallies.
“The martyr-nurturing nation of Iran is not at all prepared to abandon the slogan of ‘Death to America’ under the pretext of a nuclear agreement,” said a group of the parliamentarians in a statement.
The nuclear deal was in fact sealed in July just days after “Death to Israel” day in Iran, during which American flags were also burned by millions in cities throughout the Islamic regime amid chants of “Death to America.”
JOHN KERRY’S FANTASY WORLD
By Tom Olago
Jeremiah Wright, who led Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago from 1972 to 2008 and served as served as Obama’s pastor for 20 years, is back at the center of controversy.
Wright was one of several speakers at a rally in Washington, DC that included notorious Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, well known for his anti-Semitic stance.
Wright stoked controversy with his statement that “Jesus was a Palestinian,” alluding to Israel as an apartheid state and comparing “the youth in Ferguson and the youth in Palestine”.
Is there any theological justification for the “Jesus was a Palestinian” bandwagon? James Showers, Executive Director for Friends of Israel stated describes this view as “Christian Palestinianism, a form of liberation theology that emphasizes Jesus’ humanity and portrays Him as the great liberator of the poor and oppressed of this world. It replaces the Jewish Messiah of the Bible with a Palestinian martyr”.
This view isn’t new either. One of its earliest proponents was Naim Ateek, a Palestinian Anglican serving as canon of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem. In 2008 he reportedly wrote: “Palestinian liberation theology focuses on the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth, who was also a Palestinian living under an occupation.”
Also attributed to Ateek is a 2001 Easter message in which he states that “Jesus is the powerless Palestinian humiliated at a checkpoint. . . . It seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him… Palestinian men, women, and children are being crucified. Palestine has become one huge Golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.”
The following summarized rebuttals to the “Jesus was a Palestinian” viewpoint were extracted from Showers’ list of “10 Errors of Christian Palestinianism”:
1. It blames Israel for much of the conflict between Israel and the Arabs living in Israel and not only dismisses Islamic terrorists, but aligns with them in opposition to Israel.
2. It attacks Israeli sovereignty but ignores the fact that Israel came to control the land because of Arab wars that sought to eliminate Israel. Its leaders fail to admit …Palestinian Arabs must recognize Israel as a nation and promise to live peaceably with it.
3. It ignores the Biblical names for Israel. In the Bible, the West Bank is called Samaria and Judea. The Biblical name for the entire land is Israel, not Palestine
4. It ignores the Biblical people of the covenant. There are no Palestinian people in Scripture. There has never been a Palestinian nation in the Bible or in history.
5. It manufactures a Palestinian history that does not exist, and it redefines Jesus as someone He was not. In the process, it changes the purpose for which He truly came: to save the world from sin.
6. It is founded on a bias against Israel, rather than from a careful study of Scripture. The fact that Christian-Palestinian scholars say difficult passages should be ignored and the Bible should be “de-Zionized” confirms this error.
7. It diminishes God and the authority of His Word. Twisting Scripture to justify one’s position violates the basic rules of language. Christian Palestinianism ignores context and literal meaning and selectively infuses its own meaning for some texts, while outright dismissing the meaning of other texts.
8. It corrupts the understanding of what God is doing on Earth—His plan for the ages as revealed through His written Word—by redefining God’s purpose for history and for His Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
9. It presents God as covenant breaker by stealing the promises He gave to Israel, as well as Christ’s promised earthly inheritance.
10. It greatly exaggerates the Christian-Zionist influence on U.S. foreign policy. Christian Zionists wish they had such power. But in reality, it does not exist.
Yet, other Christian theologians continue to champion the cause of Christian Palestinianism. Colin Chapman, a lecturer in Islamic studies at a theology school in Lebanon, reportedly claims Israel has no future or prophetic significance because the church is “the new Israel.” Similarly, according to Gary Burge of Wheaton College: “… Jesus does not envision a restoration of Israel per se but instead sees himself as embracing the drama of Jerusalem within his own life…”
One of the opponents of the “Jesus was a Palestinian” view is Pastor Victor Styrsky. In his words: “…after reviewing the narrative that for some purports to define the appropriate Christian reaction to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I have come to a simple conclusion: The fundamental tactic of the effort to separate Christians from Israel is to directly violate God’s ninth Commandment. In short, the pro-Palestinian Christian narrative, as defined by its leaders, is a lie”.
by Leo Hohmann
The United Nations refugee camps that will be sending 85,000 “displaced persons” to the United States over the next year for permanent resettlement are infested with jihadists who target and kill Christian refugees, according to a U.N. aid worker who spoke to a British newspaper.
The jihadists are sending teams of trained killers into U.N. camps disguised as refugees to kidnap and kill vulnerable Christians, the Sunday Express reported.
But refugees are terrified to report many of the killings in case they are targeted next, according to an aid worker who spoke to the Express on the condition that his name not be used for fear of reprisals.
The emergence of Islamic hit squads targeting Christians came to light after one terrorist had second thoughts and renounced jihad after witnessing Christians helping out other refugees within the camp, the Express reported.
He then revealed that he had been sent with an Islamist assassin team to eliminate Christians as part of the terrorist group’s ideological obsession with emptying the Middle East of all Christians.
The aid worker, who works at a U.N. camp in Jordan, told the Express that the jihadists are also kidnapping young refugee girls to sell as sex slaves.
He said: “The Muslim gangs come as refugees, but they have their agendas.”
“The camps are dangerous because they have IS, Iraqi militias and Syrian militias. It’s another place for gangs.
“They’re killing inside the camps, and they’re buying and selling ladies and even girls.”
WND previously reported in July and again in September, that while Christians are the most vulnerable of all people in the Middle East, not many have been going to the U.N. refugee camps because word is spreading about the dangerous conditions that await them there – mistreatment and even death at the hands of Muslims placed in positions of authority by the U.N.
This explains why Muslims make up 97 percent of the Syrian “refugees” being sent to the U.S. and Europe from U.N. refugee camps. Not only is there a bias against Christian refugees by the U.S., Britain and other Western governments, but there are very few Christians in the camps to start with.
Lord George Carey, who is Britain’s former Archbishop of Canterbury, described the situation last month in an op-ed for the Telegraph. Carey said accepting refugees from U.N. camps won’t help Syrian Christians who are being hunted like dogs by their Islamic oppressors, their property stolen, their men beheaded and their women raped.
While Carey said he welcomes his country’s announcement to take in 22,000 Syrian refugees, the most targeted refugees are being left behind to face their Islamic killers. The U.S. has committed thus far to taking at least 11,500 mostly Muslim Syrian refugees through 2016, and Canada’s new liberal government wants to accept 25,000. The U.S. also accepts 7,000 to 8,000 Muslim Somali refugees annually from a massive U.N. refugee camp in Kenya that the Kenyan president alleges has served as a launching pad for terrorist strikes against Christians in his country.
“But the frustration for those of us who have been calling for compassion for Syrian victims for many months is that the Christian community is yet again left at the bottom of the heap,” Carey wrote.
The ‘Arab Spring’ – which was celebrated by President Obama and other Western leaders – ultimately unleashed a wave of deadly persecution against Christians across North Africa and the Middle East. Secular dictators such as Egypt’s Mubarak, Syria’s Assad and Libya’s Qaddafi fell out of favor with the West, which supported the religious Muslim Brotherhood-supported dictators who were waiting in the wings.
“Christians in Syria and Iraq are generally caught in the middle of these conflicts and find they are targeted by all sides, because they support democratic reform and are perceived to be sympathetic to the West,” said George Marlin, chairman of Aid to the Church in Need USA and author of “Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy.”
“Many elements on both sides would not be unhappy if Christians disappeared from the face of the Middle East and they (the Islamists) would destroy all the Christian historical sites, the relics and the documents dating back to the founding of the Church, that are there,” he told WND “Peter centered the church in Antioch before he moved it up to Rome. Syria is the cradle of Christianity.”
He said Christians were generally left alone under Assad and lived peacefully. “But Islamic Turks slaughtered 200,000 Christians in Syria during the Ottoman Empire so it’s nothing new.”
As of December 2014, 600,000 Syrian Christians had fled their country or have been internally displaced, Marlin reports. In Aleppo, more than 65 percent have been forced to leave.
He told WND most Syrian Christians will not go to the United Nations refugee camps for two reasons. First, they are afraid they will be physically harmed and, second, they do not want to leave their country.
“The Christians are afraid to go to those camps, because the camps are basically populated by Muslims, and they’re afraid of retaliation and harm in these camps,” Marlin said. “So what is happening with the Christian refugees is the Christian community is basically taking care of these people, they’re staying in the churches, they’re staying in Christian homes, and we at Aid to the Church in Need are trying to get aid to the churches that are housing them.”
He said many rural Syrians have been run off their farms and have fled to the mountains between Syria and Lebanon, while others have gone into Lebanon. Many would rather die than abandon their ancient homeland, but there could come a day when they run out of places to flee.
“In Aleppo and elsewhere, Christians who are escaping, they are staying at Christian homes, churches, places where there is solidarity so they are not necessarily leaving the country or trying to get into refugee camps,” he said.
Marlin said the persecution of the Church in Syria has followed the same pattern as every other country where Islamists have taken over.
“In the eight countries I cover in the book, the tactics are pretty much the same, with the exception of Saudi Arabia which doesn’t have any Christians and focuses on harassing Christians there as guest workers,” he said. “In the other seven countries, the churches are being blown up on high holy days; the pastors are being abducted and murdered. We’ve kept these records so people can recognize the pattern.”
‘Horrified’ by Obama response to persecution
He said the response of the Obama administration to the war on Christianity in the Middle East has been abysmal.
“My hope in writing this book was to remind the West that the unthinkable is real and to jolt the conscience of the West, where too many people have been putting their heads in the sand, including the White House,” Marlin said. “I was horrified at their response of the White House when those Coptic Christians were murdered on the beach in Libya, specifically because they were Christians, and our president referred to them as ‘migrant workers from Egypt.’
Marlin believes part of the lack of response comes from the fact that Europe, and increasingly America, has lost touch with its Christian roots and thus feel no connection with the persecuted Christians of the Middle East.
It has been said that “the last acceptable prejudice is against Christianity,” Marlin said. “And when people like Mrs. Clinton said that we must change our religious views (on same-sex marriage), that is where we’re heading. That’s what’s coming next, it’s no longer freedom of religion but freedom from religion. You can practice your religion in your home and within your church, but not in the public square. So yes, language matters, culture matters, and we’re seeing a change in the language to justify actively shutting up of Christians in the public square.”