A few stories were missing from the previous email that we have now included in this edition

Prophecy News Watch - Week In Review/Feb 23-27

Keeping You Informed of World Events From A Biblical Perspective 

Prophetic Trends & Headline News

1. Where is the United States in Bible Prophecy?

Last Days? Heavenly Signs Abound During Netanyahu Speech

Religious leaders are warning that the United States is nearing a day of judgment based on its treatment of the nation of Israel.

What’s more, they say, signs in the heavens are coinciding with what is shaping up to be an unexpectedly controversial address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 3 and a fiercely contested Israeli election weeks later.

Pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries warns that “our nation will be judged” based on whether the United States sides with or against the Jewish state.

Biltz believes signs in the heavens and correlations with feast days on the biblical calendar show such a judgment may be coming soon.

“When Netanyahu speaks before Congress on March 3, this is the day before the Fast of Esther when the enemies of Israel, specifically Persia/Iran, had planned to destroy the nation of Israel,” he said. “The next day is Purim, which celebrates the day Israel achieved victory over Iran. The timing significance of this is just as important as the timing of the blood moon.”

Biltz, author of “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs,” warns that the next blood moon is scheduled to appear over Passover, which begins April 3, just one month after Netanyahu’s speech.

And this will be preceded two weeks earlier by a total solar eclipse on March 20, three days after the Israeli election, and coincides with Nisan, the beginning of the New Year according to the biblical calendar.

Total eclipses don’t take place on any other known planet, point out intelligent-design scientists. They only take place on Earth, the finely tuned planet where life exists that can actually view them. Biltz points out that the Bible says in Genesis that the sun, moon and stars were created specifically as signs for mankind, so His creation would know about the feasts (or appointed times) to have relationship with their Creator.

These prophetic warnings come amid unprecedented tumult in the American-Israeli relationship.

President Barack Obama and other leading Democrats say they will not be attending Netanyahu’s speech, and the White House condemned House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation as a breach of protocol.

Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, is circulating a letter signed by 22 other House Democrats urging Boehner to delay the speech.

Top staffers in the Obama administration are also heavily involved in the political opposition to Netanyahu, who faces an election on March 17.

“God tells us in Genesis 1:14 that the heavenly bodies were created to serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,” Biltz said. “But the word seasons is better translated as divine appointments, and here we have a solar eclipse and then a blood moon falling on the New Year and Passover respectively – all at a time when the Jewish state is under great persecution. God is trying to tell us something about a divine appointment.”

Pastor Ray Bentley of Maranatha Chapel in San Diego, California, enthusiastically agrees with Biltz and warns that Christians need to be “praying like they never prayed before.”

“Rabbis have a saying,” Bentley said, “that the word coincidence is not a kosher word. These kinds of signs show we are in a powerful, phenomenal time, a time of great testing for both Israel and the world.”

Bentley believes Israel is facing a “second Holocaust” and that Christians need to become more vocal in their defense of the Jewish state.

Pastor Biltz agrees and says the fact that Israel has become a partisan issue is nothing less than tragic.

“This shouldn’t be political,” Biltz said. “This is about the survival of Israel. Iran is the issue of the day. It is developing nuclear weapons. And our own nation will be judged depending on how it acts in this moment.”

Both Biltz and Bentley cited Joel 3:2 to justify their positions. The verse says the nations will be judged by God for having scattered the people of Israel among the nations and divided its land.

As Biltz puts it, “God says he will divide the sheep from the goats, one nation from another, and he will do it on the basis of those who supported Israel and those who didn’t.”

Laurie Cardoza-Moore, founder of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations and special United Nations envoy for the World Council of Independent Christian Churches, said Israeli-American nations are at a crucial juncture.

“This is a critical turning point,” she said. “It seems that with Obama’s presidency, every year that goes by the relationship between Israel and the United States becomes more strained, and not because of the Israeli prime minister. The overwhelmingly majority of Americans support Israel and believe Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorism. But this president is trying to undermine Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

Cardoza-Moore believes Obama’s agenda goes behind simple opposition to Netanyahu.

“I see this as anti-Semitism,” she said. “The president of the United States has bought into the BDS movement.”

The BDS movement is the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” campaign taking root on college campuses and in churches around the country. The goal of the campaign is to economically strangle the Jewish state to force concessions to the Palestinians.

However, Cardoza-Moore believes Netanyahu will receive a rapturous reception in Congress, “the body that really represents that American people. You will see standing ovation after standing ovation for this man.”

In her film, “The Forgotten People: Christianity and the Holocaust,” producer Laurie Cardoza-Moore documents the growing hatred of Jews, the parallels between Nazism and radical Islam and why Christians must take a stand for justice and defend the people and nation of Israel.

Pastor Bentley warns that “the nations will be judged collectively” on what they do in this moment. And he believes Christians need to be talking just as much about prophecies of the End Times as they do about prophecies of the past.

“We are told that Israel will be alone during this time,” Bentley said. “We may be seeing the beginnings of that process.”

Cardoza-Moore sees the controversy over Israel as core to the survival of the United States.

“There will be judgment upon this nation based upon how we act right now,” she said. “That’s all I can say.”

U.S. Military Declining From Superpower To Regional Power, No Longer Able To Fight Two Simultaneous Conflicts

The U.S. military is shedding so many troops and weapons it is only “marginally able” to defend the nation and falls short of the Obama administration’s national security strategy, according to a new report by The Heritage Foundation on Tuesday.

“The U.S. military itself is aging. It’s shrinking in size,” said Dakota Wood, a Heritage analyst. “And it’s quickly becoming problematic in terms of being able to address more than one major conflict.”

President Obama’s latest strategy is to size the armed forces so that the four military branches have sufficient troops, ships, tanks and aircraft to win a large war, while simultaneously acting to “deny the objectives of — or impose unacceptable costs on — another aggressor in another region.”

In other words, the Quadrennial Defense Review says the military can essentially fight two major conflicts at once. It could defeat an invasion of South Korea by the North, for example, and stop Russia from invading Western Europe or Iran from conquering a Persian Gulf state.

But Heritage’s “2015 Index of U.S. Military Strength” took a look, in detail, at units and weapons, region by region, and came to a different conclusion.

“The U.S. military is rapidly approaching a one-war-capable force,” said Mr. Wood, a former Marine Corps officer and strategic planner. “So it is able to handle a major war and then having just a bit of residual capability to handle other minor crises that might pop up. … But it is a far cry from being a two-war force.”

“The consistent decline in funding and the consequent shrinking of the force are putting it under significant pressure,” the report concluded. “The cumulative effect of such factors has resulted in a U.S. military that is marginally able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital national interests.”

The index report is part scorecard, part research tool.

It grades the Army, which is shrinking from 570,000 soldiers to 440,000 or lower, and the Navy, which is failing to achieve a 300-ship force, as only “marginal” in military power. The Air Force’s fleet of fighters and long-range bombers is judged “strong.”

Heritage says the military cannot fight two wars at once.

The report said the Army historically commits 21 brigade dombat teams to one war. Several years ago, that left just 21 more brigades for a second war and none for strategic reserve.

But the problem is more acute. The Army announced in 2013 it may go as low as 33 brigades, far short of the 50 brigades Heritage says are needed.

The Army has been battered by automatic budget cuts known as “sequestration.” A bipartisan budget deal provided some relief last year, but the slashing could come back in 2016 without another agreement.

Gen. Raymond Odierno, Army chief of staff, has said that if the active force is squeezed down to 420,000 soldiers, it could not carry out all global commitments.

The Navy would need 346 ships to carry out two large campaigns, Heritage said, but its fleet is only 284.

At the report’s release, Rep. J. Randy Forbes, Virginia Republican, talked of all the technological advancements that led to complete air superiority in the 1991 Desert Storm operation over Iraq.

Today, the House Armed Services Committee member said the Air Force “would say we are dangerously close to no longer being able to guarantee that air dominance that we could guarantee in Kuwait.”

“If you listen to the Army, they will give testimony they can no longer guarantee. You talk about two wars — they testified they can’t guarantee that we could win one war,” Mr. Forbes said. “The Navy will tell you if we get to 260 ships, we cease to be a superpower; we become a regional power.”

The Pentagon’s base budget, minus overseas war costs, has decreased under Mr. Obama, from $527 billion in 2010 to about $496 billion in each of the last three budgets. The president is asking for an increase in 2016 to $534 billion.

“The enemies that we have out there, and competitors, are making very smart investments accounting for their strategic objectives and interests,” Mr. Wood said.

4 Of 10 Americans Are One Bill From Disaster

Almost four out of 10 Americans are living on the edge of financial ruin, given rainy-day funds that either match or are lower than their credit card debt.

About 24 percent have more credit card debt than emergency savings, while another 13 percent have neither credit card debt nor emergency savings, a new survey from Bankrate.com found.

While Americans have never been particularly great savers, at least in recent decades, many workers are finding it harder than ever to sock away money for emergencies. That's because wages have been stagnant or falling for most. The country's lowest-paid workers are the only segment to see a significant pay gain last year, thanks to minimum wage hikes.

"People don't have enough money for unplanned expenses, and if they have more credit card debt than emergency savings, it's a double whammy," said Bankrate chief financial analyst Greg McBride. "In the event of unplanned expenses, their options are limited."

People between the ages of 30 to 49 were in the worst shape, which is likely due to the financial stresses of that age group, such as saving or paying for their children's tuition and paying for higher expenses such as mortgages and child care.

Nevertheless, more Americans are in better shape this year than in 2014, the survey found. About 58 percent of workers have more emergency savings than credit card debt, compared with 51 percent last year.

About one-quarter of Americans also say they feel more secure in their jobs and are feeling better overall about their debt loads than at any time since June 2013.

One tip to boosting savings is to sock away money at the start of the month, rather than waiting to see what's left over by the time it comes to an end, said McBride. The rule of thumb among financial planners is to have three to six months of expenses set aside.

The savings rate for Americans has been steadily falling since the 1980s, when it stood at about 10 percent to 12 percent of their incomes. In recent years, it has dipped to less than half of that. In December, it was only 4.9 percent.

2. Israel - God's Timepiece

Obama Won’t Meet Netanyahu, but He’s Meeting This Week With The Head Of This Jihadist-Supporting Country

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will meet with the leader of Qatar, a country long accused of supporting terrorism.

The White House meeting was scheduled even as Obama has refused meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he is in Washington exactly one week later, citing the proximity to Israeli elections.

In its announcement Friday, the White House said Obama and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani would work to further the “longstanding partnership” between the two countries and “our shared interest in supporting stability and prosperity in the Middle East.”

While Qatar has allowed coalition forces to use its al-Udeid air base for airstrikes against Islamic State targets, its approach to Islamist terrorism has not been quite that clear-cut.

The Persian Gulf country last week criticized Egypt for launching airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Libya in retaliation for the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians and even recalled its ambassador from Cairo.

According to the Times of Israel, the emirate has sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of the seaside strip from the Palestinian Authority and has supported Hamas diplomatically.

The Times of Israel noted that in 2012, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who was then the Qatari emir, was the first head of state to visit Gaza once it fell to Hamas rule.

The Israeli government has lambasted Qatar for supporting terrorism and for allowing Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to use Qatar as his base.

Former Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror told the Times of Israel in July that Qatar continues to fund Hamas’s terror infrastructure, though the emirate denies that charge.

In December, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) urged the U.S. Treasury Department to do more to thwart support for terrorism emerging from Qatar and Turkey.

“It’s no secret that Turkey and Qatar provide refuge to many Hamas operatives, and that both of these supposed American allies have become major terror financial hubs,” the members of Congress wrote. “Both Turkey and Qatar have thus far been extremely lax in enforcing their terror financing laws and taking action against U.S. designated individuals or entities. By going after those individuals and entities tied to support for Hamas, Treasury can send a strong message to both governments that they need to get on board and sanction entities that are supporting terrorism or risk further isolation from America and our financial sector.”

Besides the issue of terror financing, Qatar has offered moral and religious support for the most extreme interpretations of Islam. The Daily Beast on Thursday examined the state-funded mosque the Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Masjid Doha, which it called “a fountain of hate.”

“U.S. officials say Qatar has now replaced its neighbor Saudi Arabia as the source of the largest private donations to the Islamic State and Al Qaeda affiliates,” the Daily Beast reported.

The outlet reported that the Friday before the Islamic State group posted the video showing the burning to death of the Jordanian pilot, an imam preaching from the Qatari Grand Mosque prayed for the destruction of non-Muslims.

“Allah, strengthen Islam and the Muslims, and destroy your enemies, the enemies of the religion,” Saudi cleric Sa’ad Ateeq al Ateeq said. “Allah, destroy the Jews and whoever made them Jews, and destroy the Christians and Alawites and the Shiites.”

The Daily Beast reported that a Qatari government ministry promoted the preacher’s remarks on Twitter, and it was broadcast on the official state channel Qatar TV.

David Andrew Weinberg of the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, who discovered the video of al Ateeq’s sermon, told the Daily Beast: “The emirate shows one face to the international community projecting a desire to help in the fight against terrorist organizations, while providing a platform for the preaching in their own backyard of the same kind of hate-filled extremism of ISIS.”

A report came out Friday that further emphasized the vastly different treatment offered to the head of closest U.S. ally in the Middle East, who is on the front line of the fight against terrorism, and the leader of the emirate.

On the same day the White House announced the Qatari meeting, the Associated Press reported that the White House was seeking other “ways to undercut” Netanyahu’s trip to the U.S. and was “doubling down on a cold-shoulder strategy” including sending top cabinet members out of the country when Netanyahu is in town and during the annual conference of the pro-Israel lobby the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC.

After Netanyahu’s visit was announced, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry announced they would be out of town while the Israeli leader is in Washington.

Netanyahu was invited by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to speak to a joint session of Congress to warn against the potentially imminent negotiated deal with Iran, which Israel believes will legitimize Iran as a nuclear threshold state. The White House saw the Republican invitation of Netanyahu as a breach of diplomatic protocol.

Saudis ‘Would Let Israeli Jets Use Their Air Space To Attack Iran’

Saudi Arabia is prepared to let Israeli fighter jets use its airspace if it proves necessary to attack Iran’s nuclear program, an Israeli TV station reported Tuesday, highlighting growing ties in the shadow of Tehran’s nuclear drive.

Riyadh’s only condition is that Israel make some kind of progress in peace talks with the Palestinians, Channel 2 reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed senior European source.

“The Saudi authorities are completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran,” the European official in Brussels said.

Jerusalem and Riyadh do not have diplomatic ties, but unconfirmed reports have swirled for years of coordination between them against the common enemy of Iran, a partnership that may ramp up should the world powers reach a reportedly emerging deal that would allow Tehran to continue enriching some uranium.

The report claimed the Saudi authorities had made their position clear in various unspecified diplomatic discussions on the matter.

“The Saudis have declared their readiness for the Israeli Air Force to overfly Saudi air space en route to attack Iran if an attack is necessary,” the TV report said. All that they ask is “some kind of progress” on the Palestinian issue.

Being able to use Saudi airspace would allow Israeli planes a shortcut to reach Iran without having to fly around the Persian Gulf, taking up precious time and fuel.

According to the dispatch, Israel and Saudi Arabia also share intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program at a very intimate level and the Saudis are no less worried by details coming out of the Geneva talks than Israeli leaders, who have loudly spoken out against the talks.

Tuesday’s report comes amid increased tensions between the White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over how best to tackle Tehran’s nuclear program.

Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — known as the P5+1 — have been seeking a comprehensive accord with Iran that would prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb in return for an easing of economic sanctions.

Netanyahu has warned repeatedly that the Islamic Republic must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, although Iranian officials insist the nuclear program is purely for civilian use.

There is a heightened sense of urgency as the clock ticks down towards a March 31 deadline to agree on a political framework for the deal.

Obama’s ‘Assurances’ Won’t Protect Israel

Israel should accept a “nuclear guarantee” from the Obama Administration and stop worrying about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, says longtime State Department peace processor Martin Indyk.

What a coincidence! Just last November Indyk’s former right-hand man, David Makovsky, proposed the exact same thing.

Do we detect a trial balloon?

In a speech in Tel Aviv on February 16, Indyk said the U.S. promised to intervene if Iran crossed the “nuclear threshold,” and that promise should suffice to ease Israel’s concerns. In other words, Israel should entrust its future to a piece of paper signed by a president who has been, arguably, the most unfriendly president towards Israel in American history.

In November, something similar was proposed by David Makovsky, who served Indyk as his senior assistant when Indyk was the top U.S. Mideast envoy this past year. Makovsky and Indyk spent many months pressuring Israel to make one-sided concessions, criticizing Israel’s leaders in choreographed leaks to the media, and ignoring the Palestinian Authority’s incitement to violence. After the PA finally blew up the negotiations, Indyk resigned , while publicly blaming Israel for the breakdown, and Makovsky returned to his old home, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Writing on the Washington Institute web site, Makovsky expressed concern about Israel’s opposition to an Obama deal on Iran. Therefore, he wrote, “It is imperative” that the Obama administration provide “a U.S. letter of assurance to Israel on key issues that cannot be addressed in the text of nuclear deal with Iran itself.”

But in view of the sorry record of previous American “assurances,” Israelis would have to be pretty naive to accept yet more short-lived “assurances” now.

Remember President George W. Bush’s letter to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, on April 14, 2004? Bush wanted Sharon to unilaterally withdraw all Israeli soldiers and civilians from Gaza. So he gave Sharon a letter in which he “reassured” Israel that the U.S. believes Israel should retain “existing major Israeli population centers” in Judea-Samaria (the West Bank).

But when Obama’s new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, was asked in June 2009 about those U.S. assurances, she declared that “there never was any agreement” between the U.S. and Israel concerning those Israeli population centers in the territories. Israel’s publication of the Bush letter (which can be viewed to this day on the website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs) made no difference. In the view of the Obama Administration, the Bush assurance is not worth the paper on which it was printed.

The history of U.S.-Israel relations is replete with similar episodes.

After Israel captured the Sinai peninsula from Egypt in the 1956 war, the Eisenhower administration demanded that Israel give Sinai back to Nasser. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles provided the Israeli government with a letter, dated February 11, 1957, promising that if Israel retreated, the U.S. would “use its best efforts” to ensure that Israeli ships would be able to continue going through the Straits of Tiran. Based on that assurance, Israel withdrew.

In May 1967, Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran in preparation for a war to annihilate the Jewish state. Israeli ambassador Abba Eban rushed to meet with President Lyndon Johnson. Eban cited the 1957 Dulles letter. Johnson refused to intervene. War followed.

From 1968 to 1970, Egypt regularly fired missiles at Israel, across the Suez Canal, which was the border. Naturally the Israelis shot back. The Nixon administration wanted Israel to agree to a cease-fire that would leave Egypt’s SAM-2 and SAM-3 surface-to-air missiles in place. So the administration gave Israel “assurances” that “the U.S. would use all its influence” to ensure that Egypt’s missiles would stay twenty miles from the Suez Canal. The deal was signed on August 7, 1970.

Within days, the Egyptians started moving up the missiles. Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird said the U.S. would “study” Israel’s complaints. The “study” concluded that Egypt had indeed moved the missiles, but it didn’t count as a violation of the agreement because the process of moving them had already begun before the agreement, so Egypt had just “missed the deadline.” The administration said it would not act so long as the overall “military balance” between Israel and Egypt was not affected.

But it WAS affected. With the Egyptian missiles close to the Suez Canal, they were able to wreak havoc on Israeli forces in the opening days of the 1973 war. By then, however, the “assurances” of 1970 were long forgotten.

Now Indyk and Makovsky are conjuring up a kind of Groundhog Day for Israel, where the same mistakes are repeated again and again. If this had been just Indyk, or just Makovsky, making the proposal, perhaps it could be dismissed as a passing suggestion. But the fact that they have both proposed it, within fewer than three months of each other, strongly suggests that this is what they, and their State Department colleagues, have been discussing. And now they are trying to shop it around. But the only buyers they will find will be those with very short memories.

4. The Gog/Magog War

Secret Facility Reveals Deception Of Iranian Nuclear Accord

As the Obama administration negotiates a controversial nuclear agreement with Iran, a dissident group is revealing evidence Tehran is operating a secret uranium-enrichment site northeast of the capital city.

The disclosure Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, NCRI, threatens to undermine the credibility of any nuclear agreement the Obama administration might reach with the radical Islamic clerics that have controlled the government in Tehran since Ayatollah Khomeni’s revolution in 1979.

NCRI’s deputy director, Alireza Jafarzadeh, said Iran cannot be trusted.

“How in the world can the United States expect to get an agreement from Iran to end their nuclear program, when we continue to find Iran is developing and operating secret nuclear facilities that are withheld even from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Administration?” Jafarzadeh asked.

“Iran has lied repeatedly about its secret nuclear facilities, and then when Iran is caught, the government gives you two more lies,” he said.

Jafarzadeh and Soona Samsami, U.S. representative of NCRI, identified the secret nuclear site as Lavizan-3, located in the northeastern suburbs of Tehran.

They said it operates advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges under the cover of an Intelligence Ministry center.

The NCRI disclosure was developed by the Mujahedin-e Klaq, MEK, the group’s political arm in Iran founded in 1965 to oppose Khomeini’s radical Islamic revolution.

NCRI has a track record of accurately disclosing secret Iranian uranium enrichment sites. In 2002, NCRI revealed Iran’s top secret uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, some 100 miles north of Isfahan, and a second top secret Iranian nuclear plant in Arak, approximately 150 miles south of Tehran, designed to produce heavy water for the production of plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.

The Lavizan-3 site is about 500 by 500 yards, with the primary nuclear facility buried deep underground, NCRI said. It consists of four parallel halls, each more than 200 yards long. The facility was constructed by the Iranian Defense Ministry under the direction of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Brig. Gen. Seyyed Ali Hosseini-Tash, then the deputy defense minister, and Kalaye Electric Company, affiliated with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, responsible for the enrichment of uranium.

Jafarzadeh said there is “no way to insure Iran is not developing secret nuclear weapons if Tehran keeps nuclear sites like Lavizan-3 hidden even from the IAEA such that the sites cannot be subject to international inspection.”

“This is especially important when you are talking about a regime that has a track record of lying, cheating and deceiving the whole world,” he said. “That is why the U.S. government and the IAEA should take this information very seriously.”

Jafarzadeh emphasized the importance of the disclosure of yet another secret Iranian nuclear site as the negotiations with the U.S. in Geneva are approach a March 31 deadline.

“This site, Levizan-3, must be inspected and there should be no delay,” he said. “It is absolutely senseless to continue the negotiations discussing how many centrifuges Iran will be allowed to have going forward when we have these serious outstanding issues lingering out there.”

Jafarzadeh said NCRI shared the disclosures with top levels of the U.S. government and with the IAEA.

The disclosures were a “revelation” to the IAEA, he said.

“Under current IAEA agreements, the operation of Levizan-3 is in clear violation of IAEA requirements to inform the IAEA of all developments in Iranian nuclear research and development, as well as a violation of numerous United Nations Security Council decrees, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” he said.

An NCRI statement said the “notion that the mullahs will abandon their nuclear weapons program through nuclear talks is a misguided narrative, which is the byproduct of the mullahs’ duplicity and western economic and political expediency.”

“Those who hope to secure the regime’s cooperation in the campaign against fundamentalism by offering nuclear concessions to the mullahs are both increasing the chances of a nuclear-armed Iran and contributing to the spread of Islamic fundamentalism,” NCRI said.

In a prepared statement she read at the press conference,

Samsami said in a prepared statement that research and development with advanced centrifuges in secret sites are only intended to advance Iran’s nuclear weapons project.

“Why else would the Iranian regime deceive the world into believing it had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, when Levizan-3 was in preparation from 2004 through 2008?” she asked.

“If the United States is serious about preventing the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons, the United States must make the continuation of talks conditional on the IAEA’s immediate inspection of the Levizan-3 site,” she stressed. “Any delay in doing so will enable the Iranian regime to destroy the evidence as it has done in the past.”

In 2005, WND Books published “Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians.” The author, senior staff writer Jerome Corsi, argued Iranian supporters in the U.S. of the Islamic regime, including New York-based investment banker Hassan Nemazee, had influenced U.S. politicians such as then-Sen. John Kerry to take campaign contributions in exchange for accepting an Iranian promise of developing nuclear capabilities only for energy.

In 2004, Nemazee served as the New York finance chairman for Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, followed by serving as finance chairman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

In her 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton chose Nemazee to serve as her national finance director.

On March 2010, Nemazee, then 60, pleaded guilty in federal court to fraudulently applying for and receiving some $292 million in loans. As chairman of Nemazee Capital, he received the loans from Citicorp, Bank of America and HSBC to buy property in Westchester County, make campaign contributions to Democratic Party politicians, donate to charity and to support his lavish society lifestyle.

On July 15, 2010, U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York sentenced Namazee to more than 12 years in federal prison on multiple federal criminal counts of bank and wire fraud.

6. The Rise of Islam

Islamist Group Calls For Attack On US And Canadian Shopping Malls

The U.S. homeland security chief said on Sunday he takes seriously a threat made by Somali-based Islamist militants against shopping malls, including the Mall of America in Minnesota, and urged people going there to be careful.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was reacting to a video released by al-Shabaab appearing to call for attacks on Western shopping areas, specifically mentioning Mall of America, the West Edmonton Mall in Canada and London's Oxford Street.

"This latest statement from al-Shabaab reflects the new phase we've evolved to in the global terrorist threat, in that you have groups such as al-Shabaab and ISIL publicly calling for independent actors in their homelands to carry out attacks," Johnson told CNN, using an acronym for the militant group Islamic State.

"We're beyond the phase now where these groups would send foreign operatives into countries after being trained some place," Johnson said.

There is precedent for an attack on malls by the group. The al-Qaida-linked terror group talks in the video about its September 2013 attack on a mall in Kenya. The brazen siege, which went on for days, left more than 60 people dead at an upscale mall in Nairobi. 

Asked specifically about the threat to Mall of America, one of the world's largest shopping complexes, Johnson said: "Anytime a terrorist organization calls for an attack on a specific place, we've got to take that seriously."

"I would say that if anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they've got to be particularly careful."

Hours later, Homeland Security Department spokeswoman Marsha Catron said the department and the FBI had shared information about the video with local law enforcement and "private sector partners."

"As a general matter, however, we are not aware of any specific, credible plot against the Mall of America or any other domestic commercial shopping center," she said in a statement.

One U.S. intelligence official said security officials are indeed worried about the risk of an attack on U.S. soil by a solitary militant, but al Shabaab as a group has not appeared to gain much traction with most Somalis in the West, including in Minneapolis.

"In balance, I don't think this video adds much on top of the ubiquitous 'lone offender' threat," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Staff Sgt. Brent Meyer of Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police said "there is no evidence at this time of any specific or imminent threat to Canadians." In Britain, a spokesman said London police were aware of the video and were assessing it.

Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall issued statements saying they were implementing extra security measures.

Minnesota is home to a sizeable Somali-American population. U.S. law-enforcement officials have been concerned about the potential for radicalization among some of the community.

The Mall of America has more than 500 stores and attracts 40 million visitors a year, about two-fifths of them tourists, according to its website. It’s owned by Triple Five Group, an Edmonton, Alberta-based development company.

Johnson’s interview occurred as funding for the Department of Homeland Security is set to lapse Feb. 27. Such a lapse would trigger a shutdown of non-essential agency operations unless Congress enacts new funds. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner want to use a spending bill to force President Barack Obama to reverse his orders shielding undocumented immigrants from being deported.

On Monday, McConnell will try for a fourth time to advance a House-passed Homeland Security spending bill, H.R. 240, that would require Obama to abandon the immigration action he announced in November.

Democrats have blocked the measure three times. They say Congress should fund Homeland Security, which is responsible for immigration and border enforcement, without setting new limits on immigration policy. Democrats have said they are holding firm in defense of the president’s policies. 

The National Security Council told CNN it's working with various agencies, including the FBI and local law enforcement, to ensure maximum security.

"Protecting public safety and national security is our highest priority," Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told CNN.

The Somalia-based militants have heavily recruited in Minneapolis, which is home to the largest Somali population in the United States. Many young men have slipped away to join the group in Somalia.

Although al-Shabaab has also targeted youth in Canada, Finland, and the UK for recruitment, its past attacks have been limited to East Africa. In addition to Kenya and Somalia, it has also struck in Uganda, where it killed more than 70 people gathered to watch a World Cup soccer match in Kampala five years ago. Kenya and Uganda have sent their forces to neighboring Somalia to battle the extremists, CNN reported.

As the attacks get more daring, the international community has rallied to fight the militants. 

Last year, the United States launched an airstrike in Somalia that killed the al-Shabaab leader. The terror group later replaced him and vowed to avenge his death. 

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said in an interview on CBS’s "Face the Nation" Sunday that he didn’t support efforts to shut the government down and that the federal court system is the "best way" to resolve the impasse.

"But have no doubt I am angry, as are my constituents in a border state, that the president of the United States would unconstitutionally issue the executive orders he did," McCain said.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, urged Republicans to fund the department and fight Obama’s actions in court.

"The worst possible option is to defund the Department of Homeland Security," Graham said. "And I will not be part of that."

Terror Threat Alert: UK's Nuclear Plants Are At Serious Risk Of Terrorist Drone Strikes

Britain's nuclear plants are at risk from a terrorist strike by unmanned drone aircraft.

Such an attack could kill tens of thousands of people, a Government adviser has warned. But authorities are “burying their heads in the sand,” according to John Large.

His call for an urgent security overhaul comes as figures showed nuclear power plants suffered 37 security breaches last year – the highest numberalso been breached a dozen times since 2011, including by at least one drone.

Islamic State terrorists have already recruited chemical weapons specialists and counterterrorism experts say they are intent on building a “dirty bomb”.

Last night Mr Large, a nuclear engineer who has carried out work for Britain’s Atomic Energy Authority, demanded a major exercise to test the resilience of the nation’s power stations against acts of terrorism.

Mr Large, who has advised the French government after a growing number of mysterious unmanned flights over that country’s nuclear plants, said drones also pose a risk to the UK’s 16 operational reactors.

“On application to UK nuclear power plants, I believe that much the same security and vulnerability issues apply,” he told the Sunday Express.

“The accessibility of the UK plants to small UAV’s [unmanned airborne vehicles] is relatively unimpeded."

Asked whether a security review was needed in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Denmark and France, Mr Large said: “Absolutely yes.”

Too much focus is placed on the risk assessment surrounding accidents at nuclear power stations, rather than terrorist threats, Mr Large said.

The consequences of the attack scenarios he examined would range from one casualty to tens of thousands of deaths, he added.

The last nuclear power plant built in the UK was completed in the 1990s but the Government is planning a new generation of reactors, starting with Hinkley Point C in Somerset.

Last night Tory MP Mark Pritchard, a member of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, said Mr Large’s recommendations would be taken “very seriously”.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change said: “The Government works closely with the Office for Nuclear Regulation, the independent security regulator, to ensure security measures at UK civil nuclear sites are of the highest possible standard.

"Security is kept under review to ensure its effectiveness and arrangements take account of international guidance and best practice.”

A spokeswoman for the Office for Nuclear Regulation added: “Security at all the UK’s civil nuclear sites is subject to a comprehensive nuclear site security plan.”

Hamas's New Army Of Children

If Hamas has the resources to fund and arm a new "Liberation Army" consisting of 17,000 fighters, why does it continue to demand that the international community allocate billions of dollars for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip?

Hamas has turned the Gaza Strip into a huge training camp for jihadis and militiamen affiliated not only with it, but also with the Islamic State.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar declared that some of the boys would be recruited to fire mortars and rockets at Israel. And of course, he reiterated Hamas's true goal, namely the destruction of Israel. When Hamas talks about "liberation," it means it wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and replace it with an Islamic state.

Obviously, the Palestinian Authority and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, do not see Hamas's cynical exploitation and abuse of Palestinian children as a war crime.

If and when the International Criminal Court convenes to consider "war crimes" in the Middle East, the first thing the judges should consider is how Hamas sent thousands of Palestinian teenagers to their deaths, and, as this was happening, how Abbas and the Palestinian Authority looked the other way.

For the past several months, Hamas leaders have been complaining that they do not have enough money to rebuild the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the last war with Israel.

However, it appears that Hamas does have enough funds to train, arm and indoctrinate thousands of young Palestinian men and boys.

While thousands of Palestinian families who lost their houses during the war continue to live in public shelters throughout the Gaza Strip, Hamas recently established 18 camps for military training.

The Hamas military training camps, under the motto "Vanguards of Liberation," have attracted some 17,000 Palestinian males aged 15-21. The young recruits were trained how to use various types of weapons, including pistols, rifles and mortars. They were also "educated" about the need to eliminate Israel and "restore Palestinian rights."

Samir Abu Aitah, a 15-year-old boy who joined the Hamas-run militia, said: "I now feel very happy because they trained me how to use weapons so that I could fight against the soldiers of the occupation. The Jews have killed thousands of innocent people and that's why I decided to join the path of jihad (holy war) and fight against them with weapons. We want to expel the Jews from our occupied country."

Another 15-year-old boy, Mahmoud al-Kurd, said he really enjoyed being trained with weapons at Hamas's camps. "Our enemy understands only one language – the language of swords."

Al-Kurd's friend, Ismail Elayan, who is also 15, told reporters who visited the training camps: "I decided to join the camp because this will pave the way for liberating all of our country. This is our major goal."

Mohamed al-Najjar, 16, said he joined the training camps because he "loves martyrdom." He added: "I want to pursue the path of resistance until I'm martyred."

Hamas later held a "graduation ceremony" for the young recruits who are expected to serve in its future "Liberation Army." And when Hamas talks about "liberation," it means it wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and replace it with an Islamic state.

Hamas is even boasting that the young Palestinians who have just been brainwashed and trained on weapons will participate in the next war with Israel.

Speaking at one of the graduation ceremonies, Hamas co-founder and senior official Mahmoud Zahar declared that some of the boys would be recruited to fire mortars and rockets at Israel. And, of course, he reiterated Hamas's true goal, namely the destruction of Israel.

"These young men will soon be standing behind the rockets, which they will fire at every inch of Palestine until it is completely liberated," Zahar said. "These boys will liberate Palestine and the Aqsa Mosque. Hamas will continue to support the training camps and provide them with as much funds and weapons as they need. This will continue until we achieve our goal -- the liberation of Palestine."

So Zahar is actually admitting that Hamas is not facing a financial crisis, as it has no problem funding any program designed to poison the hearts and minds of Palestinian youths. Nor does Hamas have any problem supplying the youths with weapons, according to the Hamas leader.

If Hamas has the resources to fund and arm a new "Liberation Army" consisting of 17,000 fighters, why does it continue to demand that the international community allocate billions of dollars for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip? The money that was spent on the "Vanguards of Liberation" training camps could have solved the problems facing thousands of Palestinian families who lost their homes during last summer's war (Operation Protective Edge).

But Hamas, which is first and foremost responsible for the tragedy of these families, is not interested in taking any part in the efforts to rebuild destroyed homes. Instead, Hamas seems to be more determined than ever to continue raising new generations of Palestinians on jihad and hatred.

Hamas has turned the Gaza Strip into a huge training camp for jihadis and militiamen affiliated not only with it, but also with the Islamic State. By forming a new army that consists mostly of teenagers, Hamas is committing a crime against Palestinians in general and young people in particular.

This is all happening at a time when the Palestinian Authority [PA] in the West Bank continues with its threats to file "war crimes" charges against Israel. Obviously, the PA and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, do not see Hamas's cynical exploitation and abuse of Palestinian children as a war crime.

Hamas has made it clear that it plans to send the teenagers to launch rockets and mortars at Israel, with the hope that they would achieve "martyrdom." But this does not seem to bother Abbas or the Palestinian Authority, or even the international community.

If and when the International Criminal Court convenes to consider "war crimes" in the Middle East, the first thing the judges should look into is how Hamas sent thousands of Palestinian teenagers to their deaths and, as that was happening, how Abbas and the Palestinian Authority looked the other way.

8. Christian Worldview/Issues

LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM? Housing for 15 Alternative Sexualities Is OK, but Men-Only Fraternities Are Not, Wesleyan University Says

Campus housing specifically for 15 alternative sexualities, including sadomasochists, is acceptable, but fraternities that just allow men are not, at Wesleyan University.

Wesleyan University housing has an option for students who want to live with others identifying with one of 15 categories — LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM. The university's inclusiveness excludes, however, male-only fraternities.

Delta Kappa Epsilon sued Wesleyan University after the liberal arts college ordered all of its fraternities to admit women, charging sexual discrimination and false and deceptive practices.

Wesleyan, a Connecticut college, was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church and named after 18th century evangelical theologian John Wesley, but is now secular.

According to the suit, Wesleyan offers a range of housing options for it undergraduates (who are required to reside on campus), including, Women of Color House, Womanist House, Malcolm X House, Lighthouse (for "open-minded" Christians), and houses specifically for Latinos and Asians.

One of those housing options is called "Open House," which is for LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM individuals, according to Wesleyan's Office of Residential Life. The 15 letters stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, flexual, asexual, genderf***, polyamourous, bondage/disciple, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism, in that order.

The suit points out that male-only and female-only housing is available in the school's residence halls. The Wesleyan website also touts the school's "diversity of housing options."

The suit complains that the school is not fulfilling its stated goals of diversity and inclusiveness, and is violating its opposition to sex discrimination, by eliminating male-only fraternities as a housing option.

The move to make fraternities accept women was in response to concerns about campus rape. A group of faculty and students argued last Spring that frat parties encourage sexual assault by men against women. The solution was to place more women in fraternities. In an open letter the group called for requiring the school's three all-male fraternities to "drastically reform" and admit women.

The letter stated: "Because fraternities are male-exclusive and the possessors of some of our campus' largest party spaces, they explicitly and implicitly cultivate a gender-based power dynamic that privileges men, the hosts, over women, who are among the guests. This power dynamic engenders sexual assault because women are institutionally encouraged to 'repay' men for their hospitality, often with sex, and men are institutionally provided with a control over their guests, especially women."

Even though fraternities are thought to be a dangerous place for women, the letter states that placing women in fraternities will make them safer by eliminating "the gender-based power dynamics by which sexual assault is promoted within fraternities."

In an interview with The Washington Post, Terence Durkin, president of the Wesleyan DKE chapter, said that DKE was given three years to make the change, and they were prepared to do so, but Wesleyan suddenly moved the timetable to five months. Wesleyan countered, in an emailed statement to The Washington Post, that DKE had not shown sufficient progress in making the necessary changes.

In an op-ed for First Things, Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary, argued that Wesleyan's expansion of LGBT to 15 letters is emblematic of the current direction of liberal moralism.

"This endless expansion of sexual categories is a necessary consequence of what is now the fundamental tenet of modern sexual politics, and perhaps a key element of modern politics in general: That a person's attitude to sex is the primary criterion for assessing their moral standing in the public square. If you say that sex has intrinsic moral significance, then you set it within a larger moral framework and set limits to the legitimate use of sex. In doing so, you declare certain sexual acts illegitimate, something which is now considered hate speech. This constant coining of new categories of sexual identity serves both to demonstrate this and to facilitate its policing," he wrote.

Utah Highest In Church Attendance, Vermont The Lowest - Poll

A new poll revealed that residents of the state of Utah had the highest church attendance in the United States in 2014.

Contrasting Utah is the state of Vermont, which had one of the lowest attendance figures in the entire country during the previous year.

These are the results of the latest poll conducted by polling agency Gallup. which asked over 177,000 adults of various faith how often they attend religious services in their church, synagogue or mosque.

Utah and the Southern states have the highest figures in church attendance with almost half of the respondents in that area reporting weekly attendance in religious services. By contrast, only a quarter of the respondents in the Northeastern and Western are reporting the same.

At the end of the year, the poll showed that 51 per cent of the correspondents in the state of Utah reported going to church "at least once a week." On the other hand, the state of Vermont had the lowest turnout, with only 17 per cent of the correspondents reported going to church at least one day in the week.

The five states following Utah with the highest church attendance are: Mississippi (47%), Alabama (46%), Louisiana (46%), Arkansas (45%) and South Carolina (42%). 

The churches with the lowest figures for attendance in religious services after Vermont are: New Hampshire (20%), Maine (20%), Massachusetts (22%), Washington (24%), and Oregon (24%).

Gallup also noted that five of the six states in the New England area are among the states with the lowest figures for attendance in religious services.

"The state-by-state variations in church attendance are significant because attendance is a powerful indicator of underlying religiosity, which in turn is related to Americans' views on life, culture, society in general and politics," Gallup pointed out.

While self reports are only estimates, the agency said that it is an "important measure of the way in which Americans view their personal, underlying religiosity."

Gallup said the results of the 2014 study back up President Barack Obama's claim that the United States is the most religious country in the world, even more religious than "most Western developed countries," but the findings reveal discrepencies depending on geographic location.

House Churches Swap Steeples For Sofas, And Say They've Never Been Closer

At most churches, it's embarrassing to show up late. But if you arrive early at Greg Stultz's church, you might interrupt the hosts' last-minute preparations as they put away homework or toss shoes up the stairs.

Stultz and his family are part of a house church. They typically meet on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, though the week that I visited they were meeting in Dover, Del. Each week, their small group crowds into a private living room for dinner and fellowship — and their church is no rarity.

With new church construction at its lowest point since 1967, and with more religiously unaffiliated Americans than ever before, many congregations say they've become more committed communities by losing the pews and stained-glass windows of a central building.

Stultz himself explains that he'd long felt a dissatisfaction with the church hierarchy.

"The Bible says, 'What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has has a hymn, a word of instruction, or an interpretation' — all of this done for the strength of the church," Stultz says. "Where is that being done?"

Nowhere — at least as far as Joleen Zimmerman could find. Three years ago, she had been praying for a close-knit church community when she met Stultz. He had quoted that same verse to her.

"That was the verse that God had given me," she says, "that when we come together, not to come to pew sit — but to actually come to give."

During their new church's meetings, anyone can call out a song suggestion or read a Bible verse. Instead of a sermon, everyone just talks about what's been weighing on them that week. This group says that the only guidance they need to run a church can be found in the New Testament.

And there were no church buildings in the time of the New Testament, says L. Michael White, a professor of Christian origins at the University of Texas at Austin.

"Where do they meet?" White asks. "We do have references in ... the letters of Paul to meeting in someone's home — or, basically, the church in your house."

Over the next centuries, the church became a state institution. With that came buildings, denominational divides, fundraising campaigns. Some house churches are trying to get back to a simpler time. But there are as many varieties and motivations for house churches as there are house churches themselves.

At Redemption Church, a network of house churches in Bristol, Pa., the meetings are a lot like those at Stultz's church — crowded and casual. But Gary Alloway, the pastor at Redemption, says he'd originally intended to build a brick-and-mortar church. It was only after years of struggling to gather a congregation that he tried a new approach.

Alloway recalls what he told his congregation at the time: "I'm not writing a sermon for 12 people. How about you guys come over to my living room? We'll open a Bible, we'll talk about it, we'll eat together."

Three years later, Redemption now has three house churches that meet around Bristol. Once a month, they have a group service. The church has a professional pastor and a budget, most of which goes to community outreach.

This setup is pretty different from the Stultzes' — but both congregations speak of the tightknit community that comes from a small group. Zimmerman says those relationships are the value of house church.

"When I think over my life, basically, it was the relationships that actually helped me," she says. "God didn't call us to walk alone."

It's hard to feel alone when you're squeezed onto a couch with four other people. Larger churches try to offer a similar experience with activities like small group Bible studies. Alloway says that's proof that people are looking for these smaller communities.

"I don't know that everyone needs to do house churches," Alloway says, "but every church should be doing the things that house churches are doing — that ability for people to come into something right away and be known."

Both the Stultzes and the Alloways have seen their congregations grow since they moved into a home. Once they outgrow the living room, though, they won't be moving back into a church building. They'll split up into more homes, and keep the tradition going.

Meet the 'Foreign Legion' Of The Anti-ISIS Christian Militia

Decked out in his US army-issued fatigues and a lip stud shining from his mouth, the young American fighter cuts an unusual figure in the northern Iraqi town of Al-Qosh.

He served in the US army in Baghdad in 2006-2007 and has now returned to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group with Dwekh Nawsha, a Christian militia whose name is an Assyrian-language phrase conveying self-sacrifice, reports AFP.

The 28-year-old, who goes by the pseudonym Brett, has become the figurehead of an emerging movement of foreigners coming to Iraq to support Christian groups.

Bearing a tattoo of a machinegun on his left arm and another of Jesus in a crown of thorns on his right, Brett jokingly refers to himself as a "crusader."

ISIS never captured Al-Qosh - but it came close enough for its mostly Christian population to flee to the neighboring autonomous region of Kurdistan, together with tens of thousands from Mosul and the Nineveh plains.

"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," Brett says, speaking from a Dwekh Nawsha base in the Kurdish city of Dohuk.

"But here we're actually fighting for the freedom of the people here to be able live peaceably, to be able to live without persecution, to keep the church bells ringing," he added.

The mass exodus that took place in mid-2014 has put the continued existence of one of world's oldest Christian communities into question.

With Kurdish peshmerga fighters now clawing back land around Mosul, some Christians are keen to take up arms for their survival and Dwekh Nwasha is only one of several recently formed groups.

"Foreign fighters' battalion"

Also acting as a recruiter, Brett says he wants to establish a "foreign fighters' battalion" for the militia.

In his first week in charge, he brought in five volunteers from the United States, Britain and Canada, all of whom he says have military or contracting experience.

The foreign contingent is tiny compared to the thousands of foreigners who have joined ISIS, but interest is growing and Brett says he has 20 more volunteers already lined up to join.

Brett's first recruit was Louis Park, a mild-mannered Texan who retired from the Marines in December.

"I did not adjust well at peace time," he said with dipping tobacco tucked in his lip. "I wanted to get back out here."

After serving in Afghanistan, Park says he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder "and some other things" that barred him from combat deployments.

As early as October 2014, he began saving money to join the fight against ISIS.

Park says he travelled to Iraq to continue defending his country, even though Dwekh Nawsha - with barely a few hundred fighters in its ranks - sees little frontline action.

"I'm patriotic as hell," he says. "If my government won't fight them I will."

The growing contingent of foreign recruits have a variety of reasons for joining Dwekh Nawsha.

Andrew, an older man from Ontario, Canada, came because he heard about "slaughterhouses" where ISIS allegedly cuts people up for organ trafficking.

There is no concrete evidence that such places exist but the rumor has been widely circulated by evangelical organizations, especially in North America.

A video showing the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians by ISIS in Libya released on Sunday and entitled "A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross" sparked a fresh surge of calls on social media for tougher Western action.

"Internet cowboys"

One seven-year US army veteran called Scott says he was planning to join the Syria-based Kurdish "Popular Protection Units" (YPG) until he found out they were "a bunch of Reds."

Other foreigners in Dwekh Nawsha say they also were turned off by what they see as the socialist streak in the YPG, an affiliate of Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party whose months-long battle against ISIS in Kobane attracted many volunteers.

Alan Duncan, a prominent British foreign fighter and veteran of the Royal Irish Regiment, recently left the YPG for similar reasons.

He told AFP that an exodus of foreign fighters from the YPG has begun, naming several well-known volunteers currently fighting for the group he says plan to leave in the coming days.

Jordan Matson, a former US soldier who has become the poster boy of YPG foreign fighters, argued that some volunteers may have lost their nerve when confronted with the intensity of the fighting in Kobane.

"Most of the Internet cowboys have come to realize this isn't a normal deployment," he told AFP. "So they lose the stomach to come or stay."

Three-Parent Babies Could Risk The Future Of The Human Race, Warn 55 Italian MPs

The group of Italian politicians have called on the House of Lords to reject a law to allow so-called three-parent babies - stating the notion "cannot possibly be contained within the confines of the United Kingdom".

The stern warning comes after MPs in Britain voted overwhelmingly in favour of the controversial technique of mitochondrial donation - which would allow children to be conceived with genetic material from a trio of individuals.

In a strongly worded letter to The Times, the Italian Mps wrote that the legalisation of such a technique "could have uncontrollable and unforeseeable consequences, affecting future generations and modifying genetic heritage in an irreversible way, inevitably affecting the human species as a whole".

The letter also argues that "the greater part of the scientific community maintain that the scientific data currently available is insufficient to even consider intervention on human subjects, and there cannot therefore be any guarantee for the safety of any eventual off-spring".

However, their claim has since been rejected by the Wellcome Trust, a charity which has supported much of the research into mitochondrial donation.

Nancy Lee, the senior policy adviser at Wellcome Trust, said: "It is not true that the global scientific community is opposed to mitochondrial donation.

"In fact, 40 of the world's leading scientists and ethicists in the field, from 14 countries, regularly urged the UK to back regulations allowing the technique and a different expert group including five Nobel laureates have written to The Times to express their support.

"While it is never possible to be 100 per cent certain that any new medical procedure is safe when first used in humans, three expert scientific reviews have found no safety reasons not to proceed."

The greater part of the scientific community maintain that the scientific data currently available is insufficient to even consider intervention on human subjects

Earlier this month, MPs voted 382 to 128 in favour of an amendment to the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which will allow the creation of IVF babies with DNA from three different people.

Mitochondrial donation techniques aimed at preventing serious inherited diseases will now be legalised, subject to any amendments made in the House of Lords.

As well as receiving normal 'nuclear' DNA from its mother and father, a child would also have a minuscule amount of healthy mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) from a woman donor to be used to repair faults.

The first babies concerning this technique could be born next year.

The move has divided opinion, with those in favour saying it could help thousands of women to conceive but those against saying it could lead to a concerning trend of "designer" babies.

Meanwhile, 50 MEPs have declared that by allowing three-parent babies, Britain is therefore breaching EU law and has "violated human dignity".

The MEPs - including Slovakian MEP Miroslav Mikolask - wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron to urge him to withdraw the legislation.

The open letter read: "We are writing to you to express our profound concern at the intention of the UK to permit the modification of the human genome.

"Your proposals violate the fundamental standards of human dignity and integrity of the person. Modification of the genome is unethical and cannot be permitted.

"These proposals put the UK out in front of a race to the bottom so far as standards of human dignity are concerned."