Prophecy News Watch - Week In Review/July 21- July 25
Keeping You Informed of World Events From A Biblical Perspective
Prophetic Trends & Headline News
1. Where is the United States in Bible Prophecy?
Experts Predict 2/3 Of U.S. Could Be Devastated From Yellowstone Eruption
Every year, more than 3 million people visit one of America’s most popular tourist attractions, unaware of the tempest that lies just below the surface.
One sign of the tumult occurred this month when oil bubbled up to the surface, damaging a road in Yellowstone National Park, a result of extreme heat from the thermal activity below.
“It basically turned the asphalt into soup,” the park spokesman, Dan Hottle, told USA Today. “It turned the gravel road into oatmeal.”
Yellowstone covers nearly 3,500 square miles and contains 10,000 geothermal features, one half of all the known features of that kind in the world. The park also has 300 geysers, the largest concentration in the world. “Old Faithful,” the world’s best known geyser, blasts thousands of gallons of boiling hot water between 100 and 200 feet into the air every 60 to 90 minutes.
What is driving this geologic wonder?
Below the park is what geologists call a “supervolcano,” a massive chamber of molten rock, called magma, that packs tremendous energy.
The Yellowstone Caldera, or cauldron, sits on top of North America’s largest volcanic field. Four hundred miles under the Earth’s surface is a magma ‘hotspot’ that reaches up to just 30 miles below ground level before spreading out over an area of 300 miles across three states.
Over all this sits the volcano.
While most scientists believe the probability of a major eruption is very small, there are signs that have some analysts worried, and most agree the volcano holds catastrophic potential. It could blast 240 cubic miles of ash, rocks and lava into the atmosphere, rendering about two-thirds of the nation immediately uninhabitable, according to some estimates, and plunge the world into a “nuclear winter.”
Meanwhile, Geologists have recently discovered that the Yellowstone supervolcano is twice as big as previously thought.
To put it in perspective, the Mount St. Helens volcanic explosion would be miniscule in comparison to an explosion at Yellowstone, which could pack 2,000 times the power, according to geologists.
An earthquake May 18, 1980, caused the eruption of Mount St. Helens, sending a column of ejecta more than 80,000 feet into the atmosphere.
The blast was so sudden that all the water in nearby Spirit Lake was temporarily displaced and the subsequent landslide sent 600-foot waves crashing into the ridge north of the lake, adding almost 300 feet of debris onto lakebed. Like an inland tsunami, when the water moved back into Spirit Lake, it carried with it thousands of trees blown over by the blast and raised the level of the lake 200 feet.
Hundreds of square miles were reduced to wasteland, causing more than $1 billion in damage, about $2.88 billion in 2014 dollars.
University of Utah Geophysicist Robert Smith first called Yellowstone a “living breathing caldera” in 1979. He now heads the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory at the University of Utah.
“Our best evidence is that the crustal magma chamber is filling with molten rock, but we have no idea how long this process goes on before there either is an eruption or the inflow of molten rock stops and the caldera deflates again,” he said.
Smith insists that even though the volcanic formation is massive, there is absolutely no need to panic.
“We create scenarios. We know roughly what to expect of the patterns of time and space of the earthquakes ground information. Again, acquired from other experiences around the world, we use that to interpret our own data in terms of what the potential threat or risk might be,” he said.
Smith has said that he doesn’t even like the term “supervolcano.”
“I prefer to use the term “hotspot,” because it reflects a zone of concentrated and active volcanism.”
According to the USGS website:
Although it is possible, scientists are not convinced that there will ever be another catastrophic eruption at Yellowstone.
Given Yellowstone’s past history, the yearly probability of another caldera-forming eruption could be calculated as 1 in 730,000 or 0.00014 %. However, this number is based simply on averaging the two intervals between the three major past eruptions at Yellowstone – this is hardly enough to make a critical judgment. This probability is roughly similar to that of a large (1 kilometer) asteroid hitting the Earth. Moreover, catastrophic geologic events are neither regular nor predictable.
As even the USGS alluded, there may be no warning of an eruption of the supervolcano. Scientists at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, ESRF, in Grenoble, France, concluded that supervolcanos can erupt without earthquakes or any other warnings. The sheer pressure of lava in the dome, they say, can cause an eruption without any earthquakes beforehand.
Smith and Jamie Farrell, also of the University of Utah, believe that Yellowstone erupting is a high-impact but low-probability scenario.
However, there have been signs that the magma beneath the surface has become more active than it has been before.
The supervolcano underneath Yellowstone has been rising at a record rate since 2004. Its floor has gone up three inches per year for the last three years alone, the fastest rate since records began in 1923.
Smith told National Geographic: “It’s an extraordinary uplift, because it covers such a large area and the rates are so high”.
Geologists call Yellowstone “their laboratory” and are constantly monitoring the thermal and seismic activity below the park’s surface.
Hawaii and Iceland are other examples of geologic hot spots, but Yellowstone is the only hot spot located underneath land rather than sea, which has made it easier to study.
Smith and his team have set up a series of sensors around the park so that they can closely monitor the volcano’s vital signs. They measure ground movement and record the frequent earthquakes that occur in the area. Their research has uncovered amazing facts about the activity below.
Less than five miles below the surface is a shallow reservoir of solid rock and magma. Below this is a much larger 13.5 cubic mile plume of magma, the engine that fuels the thermal pools and geysers in Yellowstone.
While Smith insists there is no need to panic, not all scientists are in agreement.
It is the rising of the volcano floor that has some scientists worried. They believe that an eruption is closer than what some of the experts say.
A team of researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey has also found that a large amount of ancient helium is constantly being released in Yellowstone National Park, the result, they suggest in their paper published in the journal Nature, of a magma hot spot releasing previously trapped gasses.
These helium isotopes, helium-3/helium-4, are critical tracers in the Earth sciences, where they are used to trace the activity of the Earth’s mantle. Yellowstone National Park is famous for its high helium-3/helium-4 isotope ratio and is commonly cited as evidence for a deep mantle source for the Yellowstone hotspot. An increase in the presence of these isotopes is also cited as preceding increased volcanic activity.
In one instance, the underwater volcano El Hierro, near the smallest of Spain’s Canary Islands, showed increased volcanic activity over the course of seven months in 2011 and 2012. The helium-4 filtrated up through the island’s soil and groundwater. Eventually, a spectacular plume appeared off the southern coast of the island, a sign that the El Hierro volcano had finally erupted.
The team’s analyses show that as the El Hierro volcano became more active, the crust fractured and helium, mostly from the mantle, flowed to the surface. As the actual eruption began, gas flow at the surface increased dramatically, and gas pressure beneath the island dropped. As seismic activity at El Hierro picked up again, the crust fractured and helium-4 became a larger component of the total helium released on the island.
The quantity of helium-4 coming off of Yellowstone is hundreds to thousands of times greater than it should be – a sign that there is a marked increase in volcanic activity in the area. The report shows that by “combining gas emission rates with chemistry and isotopic analyses, the crustal helium-4 emission rates from Yellowstone exceed by orders of magnitude any conceivable rate of generation within the crust.”
This is activity that has not been seen before in the lifetime of anyone alive today.
Just what would a Yellowstone eruption look like? Smith’s team has developed several scenarios, and every one of them is bleak.
Complete and incomprehensible devastation
According to Smith, in his book “Windows into the Earth,” the “devastation would be complete and incomprehensible.”
“Before the super eruption, large earthquakes would likely swarm the surrounding areas until the huge blast that would erase Yellowstone completely off the map.”
Farrell said it would be a “global event.”
“There would be a lot of destruction and a lot of impacts around the globe,” he said.
Most scientists agree that when the Yellowstone volcano does erupt, the results will be catastrophic.
By some estimates, 87,000 people would die immediately.
Thousands of cubic miles of red-hot volcanic ash would cover the Western United States and shoot into the atmosphere.
Light from the sun would be blocked, making global temperatures plummet into a prolonged “nuclear winter.”
The entire grain harvest of the Great Plains would virtually disappear in a matter of hours, since it would be coated in ash, threatening a substantial portion of the world’s food supply.
If temperatures plummet by the 21 degrees they did after the Toba volcano eruption in Sumatra of ancient times, the Yellowstone supervolcano eruption could truly be an extinction-level event
It is estimated that a full-blown eruption of Yellowstone could leave two-thirds of the United States completely uninhabitable.
Just before the eruption, the pressure underground will build and the magma will rise, forcing its way out of the ground, sending lava and sulfuric acid gas into the air. The blast will also propel ash up to 20 miles into the atmosphere where the easterly jetstream would carry it as far away as Europe in as quickly as three days.
The gas, the source for acid rain, would remain in the atmosphere for years, screening out sunlight, causing global temperatures to drop and killing crops for years afterward.
Even a small amount of ash would close airports, cause damage to vehicles and houses, and contaminate water supplies.
The ash resulting from the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland caused the largest air traffic shutdown since World War II.
The book “Supervolcano” includes an in-depth, fictional account of a super eruption.
According to the book:
Within days and weeks of the supereruption, the suspension of air routes, the inability to bring cargo in and out of the most deeply affected areas, and the virtual decimation of the Grain Belt, the area of our nation responsible for the vast majority of our grain food sources, all contribute to a growing sense of desperation and panic among survivors anxious to find food.
It only takes 0.04 inches of ash to close airports, and the wide swath of blanketed ash would literally shut down every major and minor airport for thousands of miles across the country.
Because even a small amount of ash can clog an engine, road transportation is heavily curtailed, and trucks and machines normally engaged in the moving of supplies from one state to another find themselves immobilized.
Electrical equipment shorts out, and wide areas experience power outages and rolling blackouts, rendering communication via computers and phones obsolete.
The book also describes subsequent food riots, contaminated water and an outbreak of violence and anarchy. Although North America would be the hardest hit, the explosion would affect the entire planet.
It is truly a “doomsday” scenario.
In such a scenario for North America, according to Doug Bausch, a senior scientist at FEMA, $3 trillion in “direct economic damage” is a reasonable estimate.
It’s about 20 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
Spewing lava far into the sky, a cloud of plant-killing ash would fan out and dump a layer 10 feet deep up to 1,000 miles away.
Two-thirds of the U.S. could become uninhabitable as toxic air sweeps through it, grounding thousands of flights and forcing millions to leave their homes.
Smith believes that rather than an eruption, the more immediate threat is earthquakes and smaller eruptions, since the probability of one of those instances occurring is much higher.
“It’s an extraordinary uplift, because it covers such a large area and the rates are so high. At the beginning, we were concerned it could be leading up to an eruption.”
Just when and how big is anyone’s guess.
Michio Kaku, American television personality and theoretical physicist with at the City College of New York, said it best.
“All you can do is run.”
Earthquake Risk Rising In Central U.S. Where Many People Are Unprepared
Earthquakes are occurring more frequently in parts of the U.S. where they have historically been rare, and quake hazard is rising for people not used to thinking about or preparing for it.
The rising risk was underlined Wednesday by the release by the U.S. Geological Survey of an update to the U.S. National Seismic Hazard Maps, noting hazard in the central U.S. and on the East Coast higher than previously thought. Among the highest risk states: Missouri and Illinois.
According to the USGS, the frequency of earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S. has quintupled, to an average of 100 a year during the 2011-2013 period, up from only 20 per year during the 30-year period to 2000.
Most of these quakes were minor, but research published by the USGS earlier this year demonstrated that a relatively minor magnitude 5.0 quake caused by wastewater injection after conventional oil drilling triggered a much bigger, 5.7 magnitude quake in Prague, Okla.
“We know the hazard has increased for small and moderate size earthquakes. We don’t know as well how much the hazard has increased for large earthquakes. Our suspicion is it has but we are working on understanding this,” said William Ellsworth, a scientist with the USGS.
Insurers are alarmed about higher quake risk. “I worry that we will wake up one morning and see earthquake damage in our country that is as bad as that has occurred in some developing nations that have experienced large earthquakes,” said Carl Hedde, head of risk accumulation at Munich Re America. “Beyond building collapse, a large amount of our infrastructure could be immediately damaged. Our roads, bridges and energy transmission systems can be severely impacted.”
Walmart Stores Inc., with its huge network of stores and facilities, has also taken note. ”We are seeing increased earthquake activity in the central U.S. That is an area we are focusing on even more,” said Mark Cooper, senior director of emergency management at Walmart, in an interview. He explained that Walmart takes an “all-hazard” approach to emergency preparedness, but focuses on specific risks in areas of the country where those risks are particularly relevant, such as hurricanes in Louisiana. “A few weeks ago, we participated in an exercise to prepare for an earthquake on the New Madrid fault line,” he said.
The New Madrid seismic zone was the site of massive earthquakes in 1811-1812 that rerouted the Mississippi River. Mark Petersen, project chief for the National Seismic Hazard Project of the U.S. Geological Survey, told Risk & Compliance Journal that a recent report concluded that recent seismic activity there is signaling a new hazard. “Earthquakes are quite rare in many places but when they happen they cause very intense damage because people have not prepared,” he said.
Yet officials say it’s difficult to convince businesses and residents to take the risk seriously in places such as Ohio, where minor earthquakes have occurred in connection with re-injection of wastewater into the ground after fracking. ”We aren’t California, where it’s part of their everyday living, the way snowstorms are part of our everyday living,” said Tamara McBride, spokesperson for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.
Brian Blake, program manager for the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium, a non-profit organization of public and private sector entities, noted that there is a 25% chance of a magnitude 6 or greater quake in the New Madrid zone in a 50-year period, and the last one occurred in 1895. “That size earthquake happens every 100 years or so,” he said.
But 100 years gives people plenty of time to forget. “Obviously the building codes throughout the central U.S. do not generally take earthquake risk or the risk of a large earthquake into account,” said Elizabeth Cochran, a seismologist with the USGS.
2. Israel - God's Timepiece
Americans Fight For Israel As 'Lone Soldiers' In Gaza Strip
They come from other countries, but they fight for Israel. And sometimes die for it.
They are known as lone soldiers — thousands of volunteers from around the world who join the Israeli Defense Forces, often in combat units, but have no family inside the Jewish state. They typically serve a year and a half. They train alongside Israeli citizens, and today they fight next to them in Israel’s incursion against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“The foreignness drops away real quick,” said Adam Harmon, who moved to Israel from New Hampshire out of college and joined the IDF in 1990, when Israel was fighting a Palestinian uprising and an ascendant Hezbollah.
The main difference between himself and his fellow soldiers, he recalled, was that he was 22 and they were 18 — just beginning their compulsory service and focused on girls, soccer, cars.
Harmon had been on summer trips to Israel and moved because “I just felt I belonged to that place, and it belonged to me.” He signed up for the IDF because he wanted to share the burden of service. He later wrote a book, “Lonely Soldier,” about his experience.
An estimated 2,000 soldiers in the IDF today are from the United States, and on Sunday two of them lost their lives — a 24-year-old from Southern California and a 21-year-old from Texas. Their families said they both had a passion for Israel.
Former lone soldiers say they sometimes drew curious looks from Israeli soldiers, for whom service is mandatory. But they described feeling as strong a sense of patriotism for Israel as they do for the United States.
“The bottom line is, I’m part of the Jewish people,” said David Joel, who grew up outside Atlanta and said he was inspired to serve after he narrowly missed being killed in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem when he visited with a friend in 2000.
“We decided that instead of going away we were going to donate something to the country,” he said. “We were Jewish, and we believe in the Jewish country. At the end of the day, it’s our nation.”
Joel served in the infantry as a heavy machine gunner during the Palestinian uprising known as the Second Intifada, from 2000 to 2005. He served in Ramallah, in the West Bank, and in Bethlehem, where his unit arrested what he described as terrorists.
Joel gained Israel citizenship in 2004, and today lives in the city of Shilo, outside Jerusalem. During an interview with NBC News, he got an alert on his phone about possible nearby incoming rockets from Hamas.
There are about 6,000 lone soldiers in the IDF today, said Josh Flaster, director of the Lone Soldier Center, an Israeli nonprofit. That figure includes not just lone soldiers who come from other countries but also Israeli orphans and those from broken homes.
About a third of those are from the United States, but sizable contingents are also from France, Russia and Argentina, Flaster said.
The IDF overall numbers about 176,000 active service members, according to Jane’s, which keeps military statistics.
Asked whether the ranks of lone soldiers rise at times when Israel is involved in heavy fighting, like its battle against Hamas, Flaster pointed out that Israel had also fought armed conflicts in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012.
“The crazy people are coming to the top” in the Middle East, he said, so “young Jewish guys and girls around the world who care about Israel, who want to defend Jews and civilians, they come.”
Two who came from the United States were Max Steinberg, 24, and Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21. They were among 13 Israeli soldiers and at least 65 Palestinians killed on Sunday in Gaza in the first major ground battle of the Israeli incursion.
Steinberg was a sharpshooter and Carmeli a sergeant.
Steinberg’s father, Stuart, told The Associated Press that his son visited Israel for the first time on a Birthright trip in June 2012. When he came home, he told his parents that he would go back to join the IDF.
“I always wanted to serve in the military in one capacity or another, whether that’s America or Israel.”
“He was completely dedicated and committed to serving the country of Israel,” the father told the AP. “He was focused, he was clear in what the mission was, and he was dedicated to the work he needed to be doing.”
Carmeli’s high school in Texas, St. Joseph Academy, remembered him as a “very devout and dedicated young Jewish man” and sent prayers to his family. Carmeli grew up on South Padre Island and moved to Israel to finish high school.
Rafe Kaplan, who lives in Milford, Connecticut, and is preparing to enter medical school, joined the IDF in September 2012, right after college, and served as a paratrooper. He returned to the States in January.
He had visited Israel but didn’t pursue citizenship because it “culturally just wasn’t for me,” and he considered joining the U.S. Marines, but that was a four-year commitment and he had medical school to think about.
“I always wanted to serve in the military in one capacity or another, whether that’s America or Israel,” he said. I love both countries. And I’ve always respected soldiers. I’ve always wanted to serve my country.”
Kaplan’s old unit is in Gaza today, and he said he worries for them.
“I know they were trained well,” he said. “I know that they’re doing the best they can.”
Why Nobody But The US Voted Against The UN’s Anti-Israel Resolution
Once again, it seems, Israel has been forsaken in its time of need, abandoned by what it thought were its friends. Once again, it feels unfairly singled out, condemned for alleged crimes it committed while defending its citizens against a terrorist enemy that is getting away with murder.
On Wednesday, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted on a heavily one-sided resolution condemning “in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations” in Gaza. The Geneva-based council, which has a long history of anti-Israel bias, also declared a new “international commission of inquiry” into the events currently unfolding in Israel and Gaza, in what observers are calling a new Goldstone report.
Only the United States voted against the resolution. Twenty-nine nations voted in favor, among them not only the usual suspects such as Saudi Arabia, Algeria and South Africa, but also some ostensible friends of Israel, including Russia, Kenya, India and Mexico.
Equally hurtful for Israel, if not more so, were the abstentions of the eight European Union member states who had the right to vote: Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Romania and the United Kingdom. (Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are not EU members but also abstained; non-member states Iceland, Serbia, Albania and Liechtenstein aligned themselves with the EU position.)
Yes, even the Czech Republic, which in November 2012 was the only EU country to oppose granting the Palestinians nonmember state status at the UN, did not vote against a resolution that denounces Israel for “disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks, including aerial bombardment of civilian areas, the targeting of civilians and civilian properties in collective punishment contrary to international law, and other actions, including the targeting of medical and humanitarian personnel, that may amount to international crimes.” The resolution does not mention Hamas once.
For Israel, the vote was another heavy slap in the face. Because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hesitated before launching the Gaza campaign and accepted several ceasefire offers, officials were sure of the international community’s (relative) support for Operation Protective Edge. But statements reiterating Israel’s right to defend itself are apparently no guarantee of supportive votes at the UN.
“It’s a travesty of justice; it’s a travesty of fairness; it’s a travesty of common sense; it’s a travesty of truth,” Netanyahu said Thursday during a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Jerusalem. (Netanyahu also thanked him for “standing up for Israel’s right to defend itself.”)
‘If the final text had been agreeable to us, we would have voted yes. So we abstained’
Hammond, speaking late Wednesday evening, had actually said that the Human Rights Council’s resolution was “fundamentally unbalanced” and further complicated issues rather than helping to end the conflict. But then why did Britain abstain instead of opposing? “The UK could not support this resolution,” Hammond said, “but recognizing the strength of feeling about the loss of life and the desire by a large number of members of the Council to express that feeling in a resolution, the UK joined other EU nations in abstaining in the vote.” His statement almost sounds as if London made an independent decision, based on international pressure, to abstain.
“If the UK feels so strongly that the resolution is not fair, why did they not vote against it?” a senior Israeli official fumed. More than one government promised to oppose the draft and later instructed its ambassador to vote in favor, the official added. The foreign minister of the Philippines, for instance, personally promised a no-vote, but eventually the country voted yes, he said.
Israel expects more from the EU, observers in Jerusalem suggested. “I’m disillusioned and disappointed that they and others abstained, when they know full well what the real situation is,” said Alan Baker, a former legal adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. “It’s a two-faced political viewpoint, wholly based on economic and other interests, fully ignoring the truth and the facts.”
The EU states decided to vote as a bloc, as they often do. The union tried until the very last minute to soften the language of the resolution and to avoid the establishment of a fact-finding mission investigating Israel’s alleged crimes. “We tried to get a better text and to prevent the inquiry, and we failed with the latter. We did improve the text slightly. If the final text had been agreeable to us, we would have voted yes, so we abstained,” a European diplomat told The Times of Israel.
“The idea was to prevent a text that was much worse — you know how it is in the UN Human Rights Council,” a second European diplomat said, referring to the automatic majority with which Arab groups can push through pretty much anything they want.
The EU states tried to reason with the Palestinian delegation to the Geneva-based council to allow for a more balanced text – one that would not single Israel out for wrongdoing while ignoring Hamas — to no avail. “We have a situation with two warring parties, and one of them is not mentioned in the resolution. That’s shit,” admitted a European diplomat familiar with the negotiations over the draft resolution.
Ireland was actually inclined to vote in favor of the resolution but in the end the EU decided to vote as a bloc, after two changes were made to the initial draft. While the EU failed to prevent the creation of the commission of inquiry, it succeeded in “improving its mandate,” one source said.
Instead of examining only Israel’s misdeeds, as had been the case during the notorious Goldstone report, the new fact-finding mission has been tasked to “investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” That would include the alleged war crimes of Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups.
Secondly, European diplomats prided themselves in having succeeded in including a paragraph that “condemns all violence against civilians wherever it occurs, including the killing of two Israeli civilians as a result of rocket fire, and urges all parties concerned to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” This cannot be taken for granted, EU diplomats said.
In an official explanation of the unanimous decision to abstain, the EU later explained that it “was not possible to reach” a different outcome. The “final draft text continues to be unbalanced, inaccurate, and prejudges the outcome of the investigation by making legal statements,” the EU’s statement read. “The draft resolution also fails to condemn explicitly the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israeli civilian areas as well as to recognize Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself.”
The union emphasized that the fact-finding mission would also look into violations committed by Hamas “and other militant groups,” and pledged to “continue to work toward a balanced outcome of the investigations.”
Despite the good intentions, Israelis felt let down again by Brussels. After the EU foreign ministers on Tuesday came out with a dramatic statement that affirmed Israel’s “legitimate right to defend itself,” called on Hamas to cease attacking Israel and demanded all Gaza terrorist groups be disarmed, they hoped for a stronger stance on Israel’s behalf. Instead, Israel will take comfort in the staunch pro-Israel stance demonstrated, once again, by Canada and Australia. Neither country had a vote Wednesday in the Human Rights Council, but they made plain where they stand.
“Canada is frustrated and deeply disappointed that the UNHRC decided to completely ignore the abhorrent terrorist acts of Hamas,” Foreign Minister John Baird said. “This resolution turns a blind eye to the facts on the ground and that one party is responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian people, and that is the international terrorist group Hamas.”
There can be no moral equivalence between a terrorist organization and a liberal democratic state, and the council’s vote “undermines this body’s credibility,” he said.
Canberra said that the draft resolution was “unbalanced” and that Australia could not support it in its current form. “It makes no reference to Hamas’ causal role in this tragic situation,” the government said in a statement.
In this context it must be stressed that only the United States — one country out of 47 — voted against the resolution. Much has been said and written recently about the US administration’s lack of support for Israel, but once again the administration (not Congress) defied the entire international community to take a stand for its ally Israel.
“This resolution is not constructive, it is destructive,” Ambassador Keith Harper said before casting his vote on Wednesday. “The United States is deeply troubled by the resolution presented for adoption today… The resolution will cause real and lasting damage to this council and its ability to comprehensively address human rights in this region,” he continued. “We call on other states to underscore their opposition to any initiative of this council that takes a one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is essential that the community of nations takes a balanced approach to these issues.”
His call was not heeded.
For Second Time, Rockets Found At UN School In Gaza
For the second time in less than a week, rockets have been found in a school in Gaza operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the body said.
“Today, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, UNRWA discovered rockets hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip,” the organization said in a statement issued Tuesday. “As soon as the rockets were discovered, UNRWA staff were withdrawn from the premises, and so we are unable to confirm the precise number of rockets. The school is situated between two other UNRWA schools that currently each accommodate 1,500 internally displaced persons.”
As it did the last time around when missiles were found in a school it operates, UNRWA said it “strongly and unequivocally condemns the group or groups responsible for this flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law.”
UNRWA, the UN agency charged with overseeing humanitarian efforts in Gaza, said it immediately “informed the relevant parties and is pursuing all possible measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school.” The organization again pledged to launch a “comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident.”
Israeli officials reacted furiously to the discovery. “How many more schools will have to be abused by Hamas missile squads before the international community will intervene,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor told The Times of Israel. “How many times can it turn its head the other way and pretend that it just doesn’t see?”
Last Wednesday, UNRWA found some 20 rockets in a school under its auspices, also during a standard inspection. A spokesperson for UNRWA said the organization gave the rockets to “local authorities,” which answer to the Hamas-backed unity government led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “According to longstanding UN practice in UN humanitarian operations worldwide, incidents involving unexploded ordnance that could endanger beneficiaries and staff are referred to the local authorities,” UNRWA’s director of advocacy and strategic communications, Christopher Gunness, told The Times of Israel Sunday.
In Jerusalem, such assertions are rejected, even ridiculed, with officials charging that the weaponry was returned to Hamas. “The rockets were passed on to the government authorities in Gaza, which is Hamas. In other words, UNRWA handed to Hamas rockets that could well be shot at Israel,” a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel.
Another senior official pointed out that UNRWA has a history of letting Hamas use its facilities for its terrorist activities. “Time and again, over the years, UNRWA has been abused by gunmen from different terrorist factions who are using UN facilities to stockpile weapons, to fire rockets from, to steal UNRWA humanitarian equipment and to cause damage and fire in UNRWA’s hangars,” a senior Foreign Ministry official told The Times of Israel.
“Against all evidence, UNRWA refuses to acknowledge reality and pathetically attempts to ingratiate itself with Hamas, pretending that nothing serious has happened,” the senior official said. “This is a classic case of beaten-wife syndrome, which we have been witnessing for years from UNRWA. The people of Gaza, and indeed taxpayers from countries who contribute to UNRWA’s budget — including Israel — deserve better.”
The Insanity Of War - Why The Israel/Hamas War Could Have Been Very Different
It has never happened in the history of wars, other than the ones fought by the Israeli Jews in defense of their homeland and their lives. The conduct of Hamas and certain media outlets is overwhelmingly insane. It is a unique phenomenon.
The list below is by no means complete. Readers are free to complement it with their own observations.
Insanity 1: The Iron Dome missile defense system—developed and deployed by Israel to protect its citizens from Hamas rocket fire—has been saving hundreds of Palestinian Arab lives. Had Hamas been successful in inflicting massive casualties and property damage on the Jewish State, the Israeli response would have been much less restrained. It would have comprised an early land invasion accompanied by considerably more aggressive bombing resulting in many more Palestinian casualties.
Insanity 2: Israel has been warning Palestinian civilians in Gaza of an oncoming attack, telling them—by a phone calls followed by a warning shot—to move away from the intended target so that they would not get hurt. Now, Hamas complains that in some instances the phone calls did not get through, or that the warning shot was not loud enough.
They did not mention that they have exploited some of these warnings to beef up and cover their fighters and rockets with added human shield.
Insanity 3: Israel is not immune from the general insanity. As rocket fire, aimed at the civilian population, has been raining on Israeli towns, the Jews continued to deliver electricity, fuel, building materials, food, water and many other essentials to those who try to kill them, facilitating and enabling their lethal aggression. Palestinian rockets have hit two electricity lines that feed Gaza.
Come on Jew-boys. Don’t you want to risk your lives, fix these lines under fire; provide these terrorists with the luxury of electric power? Are you not sufficiently insane?
Insanity 4: Over a week ago Hamas was shooting rockets at Israel while the Netanyahu government was reluctant to respond aggressively. “Quiet will be met with quiet,” Israel claimed. But to no avail. Egypt’s proposed a ceasefire arrangement was accepted by Israel; rejected by Hamas. And they still refer to Israel as the aggressor.
Insanity 5: Hamas’s rocket attack has proved ineffective in the face of the Iron Dome defense system. It played like a high school date—all promise but no delivery. At the same time, Israeli response inflicted casualties and caused massive damage to Hamas infrastructure. Still, Hamas refuses to accept a ceasefire proposal. They seem to live in a vast and unceasing crescendo.
They act like a compulsive gambler who continues to place bets hoping to recover his earlier massive losses, only to fall deeper and grow to be more broke. They are the loser of this escalation, but they keep playing the macho game, placing aggressive and outrageous demands in front of any potential ceasefire deal. They must not have reconciled to the new reality—they have not won this war.
Insanity 6: (Quoting Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu),”Israel uses their missiles to protect their children. Hamas uses their children to [shield and] protect their missiles.”
The world turns a blind eye to Hamas’s double war crime. Oh, I must have missed it. Palestinians are excused. It must be that a Palestinian-committed war crime is not a war crime. Their intent to commit genocide, to kill Israeli civilians, to hide behind their own folks is what they call “Resistance…”
Insanity 7: It was not intended as a joke, and I'm not kidding. Hamas accused Israel of agreeing to Tuesday's short-lived cease-fire in order to legitimize further air strikes on Gaza after Hamas rejected the plan.
Al Jazeera discussed how the Gaza bombardment further traumatized Palestinian children suffering from PTSD without mentioning the fact that Hamas has been inflicting the same suffering on Israeli children. What’s more, al Jazeera has claimed that Hamas continued to retaliate for Israeli attacks rather than the fact that Hamas initiated these hostilities. The simple word “retaliate” is a premeditated implication suggesting that Israel is the aggressor in this war.
On the other hand, another al Jazeera reporter has compared Israel’s careful and considerate conduct of war—when it comes to caring for civilian lives— to the ones exercised by the Syrian regime. The reporter dared its Arab readers to go and learn from the Israelis.
Insanity 8: Panel discussions on the Sunday talk shows across all of American major TV networks revolved around the war in Gaza. Several panelists blamed the eruption (of rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas) on the breakdown in the two-state solution peace negotiations.
Their brains must have been operating at half speed. Their ignorance prevented these panelists from seeing that Hamas was never a party to negotiations, has never been interested in a two-state solution; the terrorist organization’s sole objective has always been a single state, cleansed of Jews. Hamas got what they wanted out of the breakdown in the peace negotiations. There was no reason for them to go insane in consequence.
Or, it may be that this is what insanity is all about.
Insanity 9: Referring to Israel's “Occupation” is a term designed to mislead. On the one hand it implies that Gaza is an Israeli occupied land—it is NOT! Israel left Gaza in 2005. On the other hand it reassures the Palestinians since it underlines the false promise of homecoming a.k.a. the right of return to their non-existent homes in Israel.
Insanity 10: It’s not about the 1967 6-day war. It’s about the 1948 war of independence (also known by Hamas as the Nakba). It is not about "occupation"; it is about anti-Semitism. It is not about happier lives, better economy, or better standard of living for the Palestinians; it’s about culture.
Hamas believes that vests come in two styles: bullet-proof and suicide. They consider music dangerous, but routinely carry explosives in their clothing. They have nothing against women and think every man should own at least one.
Insanity 11: It is an unprecedented phenomenon of world history of wars and refugees. 66 years after Israel’s war of independence Hamas and the world still refer to Gaza neighborhoods as refugee camps. The Palestinians pretend to refuse settling down, investing and improving their standard of living. It’s almost as if their sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
Insanity 12: They are shooting rockets at Jerusalem; Luckily, Iron Dome might have prevented a hit on their cherished al Aqsa Mosque, and on some Palestinian neighborhoods. They are shooting rockets at Hevron, a Palestinian city, while its Arab residents, instead of running for shelter, stand outside and cheer. They have shot rockets at Beer Sheba and finally scored—two Bedouin Arab girls were wounded in the attack.
Insanity 13: Many who oppose Israel’s arms blockade of Gaza claim that the territory is “an open-air prison” and “the most densely populated place on earth.” Fact is—population density in Gaza is 4600 per square km. Population density in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is over 7500 and 6000 per square km respectively. Population density in Manhattan is over 26,000 people per square km.
That first lie concerning the "most densely populated place" is preceded by the “open-air prison” lie. Gazans hold the keys to the so-called “prison” gates. Once they change their attitude and try to live in peace with Israel, there will be no need for imposing an arms blockade; they will enjoy free movement; they will be allowed to build an international airport and a seaport on their territory. It’s not a prison if you can open the gates with your own keys. It is a self-imposed segregation.
Insanity 14: Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas prime minister, is possibly an Israeli spy. How else can you explain the fact that his house is still standing, whereas most Hamas’s leaders’ houses have turned into rubble; how can you explain that his mother in-law, and then granddaughter were admitted to Israeli hospitals in critical conditions, that Israel gets the drift of every move around him? Yes. His nephews were killed by an Israeli bomb, but what you don’t know is that they might have been up on their uncle’s dual personality. Haniyeh served time in Israeli prison for several disjoined periods. While there, he had close and personal contact with Israeli security agents. Go figure.
5. Apostate Christianity
Lena Dunham’s Book Tour May Be Coming to a Local Church Near You
Lena Dunham isn’t exactly the first person you’d expect to see singing hymns in the pew behind you. Starring in the raunchy HBO show ‘Girls’ and bragging that voting for President Obama during the 2012 election for the “first time” was like losing her virginity are just a couple examples of Dunham’s racy behavior that would make any Christian blush. But, the controversial actress is embarking on a tour for her new book, “Not That Kind of Girl,” coming out in September, that will take place in some churches around the country.
On her tour, Dunham will be reading excerpts from her book, and answering questions from the audience and specials guests, according to the official website. A few stops on her tour include Book People at Central Presbyterian Church, Vroman's at Pasadena Presbyterian Church, and University Bookstore at University Temple United Methodist Church.
There are a few problems with these locations. Dunham’s book seems to be full of sexuality and, judging from the language she uses off screen, it’s likely to be laced with profanity as well. Not exactly appropriate material for a house of God, is it? Here’s just part of her description:
This book contains stories about wonderful nights with terrible boys and terrible days with wonderful friends, about ambition and the two existential crises I had before the age of twenty. About fashion and its many discontents. About publicly sharing your body, having to prove yourself in a meeting full of 50 year old men, and the health fears (tinnitus, lamp dust, infertility) that keep me up at night.
I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you with this book, but also my future glory in having stopped you from trying an expensive juice cleanse or having the kind of sexual encounter where you keep your sneakers on.
In addition to the book’s controversial content, Dunham will also be promoting Planned Parenthood during the events:
Plus, you’ll learn more about organizations close to Lena’s heart, including a special partnership with Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood is the country’s largest abortion giant. To promote the organization in church is cruel and out of place, for several bible verses condemn abortion as a sin (“Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3).
Sadly (shockingly?), most of Dunham’s book tour events are sold out.
Churches should be filled with Bibles - not Lena Dunham’s sexually explicit books.
7. Increase in Knowledge/New Technologies
Transhumans - The Future Of Humanity
Imagine being able to run at speeds of 60 mph (97 km/h), see with perfect vision and zoom in on distant objects without powerful video or camera lenses, experience perfect night vision due to infrared viewing capabilities, and limbs as strong as bulldozer-powered ones, letting you jump several stories high. And have all of these abilities while looking perfectly human, normal and healthy, rather than resembling a robotic freak saddled with contraptions and devices.
Such is the stuff of science fiction books and Hollywood movies featuring cyborgs or “cybernetic organisms” or simply humans who have certain physiological processes aided or controlled by mechanical or electronic devices. But perhaps not for long: Faye Barton, writing for guardian liberty voice , says: “Science fiction writers have long paid homage to the idea of cyborgs, the drive to consistently improve by using technology rather than to comply with the natural decline of age.
It feeds the human desire to reach a state of superiority. Humans of the future will undergo a new transition when they finally merge with technology to become transhumans, elegant machines that are both organic and inorganic. The transition is beginning even now with three incredible inventions. The cultural movement of transhumanism opens up a world of possibilities for a future of replaceable organs and simple, internal health maintenance. “
Barton goes on to list the three “incredible inventions”:
1. The first device to open the door to a future of transhumans is worn by artist, Neil Harbisson, who offers a glaring contrast to the aforementioned fictional media trend in being the first cyborg to be recognized by a governmental entity. Harbisson wears a device that he affectionately calls his “Eyeborg.” The Eyeborg works by using a head-mounted antenna to sense the colors in front of the wearer and translating them into sound waves that the wearer can perceive through bone conduction. In his Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) talk, Harbisson references his ability to perceive human skin color as sound by saying that, “I thought that humans were black and white, which is completely false. There is no white skins and there is no black skins. Human skins range from very light shades of orange and very, very dark shades of orange. We are never black or white.”
2. Brain implants to assist the mental faculties of impaired combat veterans are being developed by Boston researchers as a part of President Barack Obama’s BRAIN Initiative. The project, which was announced last year, is set to take five years with a hefty price tag of $30 million. An additional team of developers at the University of California, San Francisco will be receiving another $26 million to work on the transhumanist project of their own. The technology being used in the brain implants is already being used widely in a more simplistic sense. Deep brain stimulators are being used in the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease to ease the sometimes crippling tremors associated with the condition.
3.Google, the household brand that revolutionized the way people search the internet, recently unveiled a high tech contact lens. The lens features an integrated camera off to the side of the lens to prevent the device from obstructing the wearer’s vision. As the wearer’s eye moves, the camera also follows suit. Google’s tech lenses are the next step up from Google Glass. The technology has the possibility to aid the visually impaired in experiencing their world with more detail while granting superhuman-like abilities to the users in possession of working sight. Telescopic vision and infrared/night vision are just two of the possible benefits of wearing the Google lenses.
In addition, Barton references microscopic “nanobots” that have been in development by various research teams throughout the world for years. Nanobots will be capable of reaching areas all throughout the human body, including the brain. They could have the ability to aid in or perform surgeries from inside the body. Other nanobots in development are being given various objectives such as gathering information about the patient’s health and storing it in a cloud database to be analyzed by a healthcare professional.
Barton concludes that “the future of humanity looks far more mechanical than ever before. Futurist and Google’s chief of engineering, Ray Kurzweil estimates that man will meld with machines completely to usher in the technological singularity and an age of partially robotic transhumans in 2045. The early stages of the singularity are unfolding today in 2014 with these three incredible devices from around the world.”
All these developments do not seem threatening when presented as medically or technologically beneficial, enhancing the quality of life for individuals, and improving on the existing deficiencies in human effort and technological process across a wide spectrum of applications. However, to what limits will these endeavors be stretched? In the effort to improve mankind’s abilities and to fast-track the process to “finally merge with technology to become transhumans, elegant machines that are both organic and inorganic”, is man trying to play God? Man has so far even attempted to improve on creation by experimenting with DNA manipulations such as cloning, and is now attempting to create a superior race using technology - always in the good names of human and scientific development, and always for the greater good of all - of course.
Could part of the intent include desensitizing the populace over time regarding taking micro chipped implants amongst other implants in Big brother’s transhuman toolbox? After all, what’s a small little chip in your hand or forehead amidst all the other larger metallic parts and gadgets all over your body?
Another disturbing aspect is that the lines between transhumanists and religious groups appear to be getting blurred. An instance of this is the Transhuman Visions conference on religion and Transhumanism held earlier this year, where fourteen speakers from different faiths and positions (Islam, Raelism, Lutheran, Mormon, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Buddhist, Wicca, Urantia, Terasem, Atheism, and Agnosticism) discussed the similarities and differences between religion and Transhumanism. In addition, the mix of invitees was distinctly ecumenical in nature, and included atheists and even occultic groups such as Wicca.
Spiritualists have found that they can bypass the often slow and unpredictable transhumanist route of scientific/technological implants or devices. They instead use powerful occultic techniques to achieve what transhumanists are still just dreaming of, such as: astral projection, levitation, mind control, and transcendental meditation.
All are examples of techniques that harness the power of the human spirit, in partnership with demon spirits who encourage man to engage in these practices strictly forbidden by God in the scriptures (Deuteronomy 18: 9-14). The warnings given by God were meant to prevent His people from falling into the trap of Satanic possession and control, while in their quest to achieve power and blessings in sinful ways despite the willingness and ability of God to provide for them in righteous and safe ways. The demoniac of Gadara for example, had superhuman strength that could not even be restricted with chains (Mark 5:1-20), until Jesus set him free.
It appears that the time is coming when it will not be possible to naturally determine who is human, cyborg, robot, Nephilim, or incarnate spirit: perfect conditions for the darkness, deceptions and treacheries that will be visited upon the earth by the coming anti-Christ in these last days before the return of Jesus Christ.
Futuristic Aerial Surveillance- Coming To A City Near You?
Seemingly, almost daily, we hear of a new technique being used to “spy” on our every move. This past year has witnessed a barrage of revelations concerning the erosion of privacy and the encroachment of “Big Brother” into the daily lives of average citizens.
Law enforcement agencies argue that these surveillance techniques are needed to improve safety, apprehend criminals and increasingly, to prevent crime. Those concerned with the erosion of privacy argue that many of these new technologies go too far.
So into this debate enters Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS). PSS is a surveillance technology, originally developed as a research project at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) back in 2004.
PSS utilizes a surveillance flight, airplane or helicopter, carrying specialized cameras that can monitor 25 square miles of territory, providing something no ordinary law enforcement helicopter or plane can: a TiVo-styled time machine that surveys and records movements of every person and vehicle below!
Currently, the “eye in the sky” does have its limitations; the cameras only shoot for a few hours at a time, in daytime, and not always in color. Also, depending upon the altitude of the flight, the pictures can only is used to track, not identify, suspects.
Concerning the success of the PSS system, Ross McNutt, the CEO of the company, states, "We have witnessed 34 people being murdered within our imaged areas and have been able to track people to and from those scenes. The people who confessed, on being captured with assistance from our imagery, confessed for a total of 75 murders.”
In the past, in cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Cleveland, and at events like the 2014 Indianapolis 500, PSS has been employed to monitor the landscape, scrutinizing for possible criminal behavior.
Currently PSS has no active contracts inside the United States and McNutt is increasingly mystified at cities that won’t hire his aerial surveillance firm.
At this time, the retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel is lobbying 10 US cities— Chicago and nine others he declines to name—for longer contracts.
The PSS Surveillance Company came under considerable scrutiny following a secretive operation conducted over the city of Compton, CA.
In 2012, PSS ran a nine-day test there under the authority of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, unbeknownst to Compton city officials.
When news of the test was reported earlier this year by the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Los Angeles Times, city officials, including the Mayor of Compton, strongly objected. The LA Sheriffs Department admitted concealing the experiment due to citizen’s concerns about surveillance.
"The system was kind of kept confidential from everybody in the public. A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, we basically kept it pretty hush-hush," confessed the Sheriff’s office.
It is easy to imagine the litany of privacy concerns raised by such a technology. PSS could potentially be used for nefarious purposes, thus the reluctance of cities to embrace the technology, at least not publicly.
Despite the issues involved, if Ross Mc Nutt is successful, PSS could be headed to a neighborhood near you!
Honey, I Tracked The Kids (And Grandpa) Using LG's KizON Wristband
LG has unveiled a new tracking device for children that allows parents to locate them in real time using a smartphone or tablet app.
The KizON wristband uses GPS and Wi-Fi to pinpoint the child’s location, continually reporting back to the parent over a 2G or 3G mobile internet connection and allowing parents to call the wristband, which will automatically answer.
“Children as well as the elderly are ideal customers for wearable technologies,” said Dr Jong-seok Park, chief executive of LG Electronics mobile. “Wearables allow us to stay connected without the worry of losing a device or the inconvenience of having to carry a large item in a pocket.”
The band straps to the the child’s wrist like a large, bulky watch and has one button on the top that instantly calls a pre-set number allowing the child to contact its parents in an emergency.
A day's battery life, so yet another thing to charge
The KizON has a rated 36 hours battery life, requiring a charge each night, but will automatically alert a parent or guardian when the battery falls below 25%.
The locator is made of blue, pink or green plastic, is water and stain resistant and has a range of accessories including animated characters to personalise the band and keep the children interested, despite its large size.
LG is not the first company to create this kind of kid-tracking band. British company KMS developed a very similar device for tracking children and the infirm last year, which was on show at the CES electronics trade show in Las Vegas in January.
Tracking devices for children have split opinion. Some parents seeing it as a great way of keeping tabs on their kids while giving them more freedom to roam, knowing they will be able to pinpoint their location at any time.
Others have seen it as part of a dystopian future, where a child's every move is tracked, judged and tagged like a convicted criminal released back into society.
LG’s KizON will be available in South Korea in July with the US and Europe, including the UK, seeing a later third-quarter release for a to-be-announced cost.
8. Christian Worldview/Issues
Execution Or Exodus, Iraqi Christians Face Grim Choice
When U.S. troops invaded Iraq in 2003, there were at least 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Over the last ten years, significantly in the last few months with the emergence of ISIS, that figure has dropped to about 400,000.
In a region where Christians predate Muslims by centuries, over one million Christians have been killed or have had to flee because of jihadi persecution, while America is basically standing by and watching.
This is the sad news that Breitbart’s National Security Editor and one of the world’s leading experts on asymmetric warfare, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, brought to Breitbart News Saturday..
Dr. Gorka explained that “in the last 48 hours, ISIS, which is now called the Islamic State in Mosul, has painted the letter “N” for Nazarene on the houses of all the surviving Christians in the city.
ISIS has basically given an ultimatum to all the Christians left: You can either flee or convert to Islam, or we will kill you.”
Gorka points out that, over the last 20 years, America has stood up around the world to save Muslims. “Whether it was to save the Muslims in Bosnia or the Albanians, Kosovars, and Muslims in Serbia, it is now time for a humanitarian operation to save the remaining Christians in Iraq,” he said. “It is time for the American people and our representatives to do something for our co-religionists remaining in the Middle East.”
For many it is already too late.
For Iraqi Christian Fadi and his young family, it is a lonely wait to see whether they will be executed soon.
Their Christian neighbours and friends have already fled the city of Mosul in Iraq's north, which last month fell into the hands of Sunni jihadists led by the Islamic State group, which espouses an extreme form of Islam.
Along with the rest of the city's estimated 25,000 Christians who had not already fled years of kidnappings, bombings and shootings, Sunni militants gave 36-year-old Fadi, his wife and son until Saturday to comply with a brutal ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay an unspecified tax, leave the city or die.
"I'm staying. I already feel dead," Fadi, a teacher, told AFP by telephone moments before the deadline ran out.
"Only my soul remains, and if they want to take that I don't have a problem," he added, giving only his first name.
On Friday, Mosul's mosques called through loudspeakers for Christians to leave, after centuries of being part of the once cosmopolitan city's social fabric.
Fadi said he could not afford to flee and argued that the prospects for those who did were hardly better.
Islamic State (IS) militants robbed departing Christians of their belongings, he said, leaving them to face destitution in grim camps for the displaced.
"They were stopped by members of Islamic State, who took everything they had. Mobile phones, money, jewellery," he said, speaking of the fate of some 25 Christian families who had recently fled.
"When my cousin and friends, from three families, tried to plead with them, they took their cars."
IS fighters took control of Mosul and swathes of north and west Iraq in a sweeping offensive that began last month. Their leader has since then declared a "caliphate" straddling Iraq and Syria.
The group claims its goal is to return the lands they conquer to a state approximating that of early Islam, in which Jews and Christians who did not convert had to pay a "jizya" tribute to their Muslim rulers.
"From one old woman they took $15,000 (11,100 euros). She asked for just $100 of it so she could reach Dohuk. They told her that these are the funds of the Islamic State, and we cannot give it to you," Fadi said.
Robbed of their cars and cash, many Christians were forced to walk to safety.
Some of Mosul's Christians might be able to afford to pay the jizya, but they appear unwilling to take their chances living under the thumb of rulers notorious for executing and crucifying their opponents.
"Maybe a few are still hiding in Mosul but I don't think any would have decided to pay jizya or convert. There is no Christian who can trust these gangsters," Yonadam Kanna, Iraq's most prominent Christian leader, told AFP.
"They even took wedding rings from women fleeing the city at checkpoints... I am astonished they can claim to be Muslims."
In a purported statement issued by IS last week which detailed the ultimatum for Mosul's Christians, there will be nothing left for those who do not comply "but the sword".
Ahlam, a 34-year-old mother of two boys, and her husband carried their children on their shoulders on their long march out of Mosul.
She described an exodus of hundreds of Christians walking on foot in Iraq's searing summer heat, the elderly and the disabled among them.
"We first reached Tilkkef in a state of exhaustion. We hadn't had anything to eat or drink for a whole day," she said, referring to a town some 20 km (12.4 miles) north of Mosul where volunteers are picking Christians up in their cars.
"My husband and I were carrying our children on our shoulders the whole way."
Many Christians are making their way to the relative safety of the city of Dohuk in Kurdish autonomous territory further north.
According to the IS statement, seen by AFP, any homes they leave behind become property of the insurgent group.
"I left my home in Mosul, that my family built decades ago. And it was taken away in an instant," Ahlam said with tears in her eyes.
Israel's Operation To Stop Rockets Expands To War To Crush Hamas
Another seven IDF officers and men died in combat with Hamas Monday, July 21 on the fourth day of Israel’s ground operation in the Gaza Strip, raising the total of Israeli fallen in this operation to 25. Four men were killed guarding the Israeli side of the Gaza border by terrorists who jumped out of a tunnel 200 meters from Kibbutz Nir Am, disguised in IDF uniforms and flak vests. Ten were killed in a counter-attack and helicopter strike averting a mega terrorist attack of kidnap attempt. This was the fourth tunnel terrorist attack in three days.
Two more soldiers died in combat in the Shejaiya district of Gaza, and one by friendly fire.
There was no let-up in Hamas rocket barrages, two of which were carried out during Monday against a wide range of Israeli targets including the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Iron Dome knocked out a large number.
The IDF’s Shejaiya operation in the Gaza Strip continues apace, carried forward by five task forces now heading for the center of Gaza City amid casualties on both sides. Sunday, July 20, Israel’s crack Golani Brigades lost 18 fighters, without slowing down, compared with 170 Palestinian fatalities.
debkafile’s military sources report that each task force, the size of half a division, is an integrated amalgam of air, armored, artillery and engineering forces, capable of operating almost autonomously in field combat. The buildup of the last 24 hours has expanded Israel's fighting strength in the Gaza Strip to a total of 75,000 men, the largest ever fielded in this territory. Because of its scale, Israeli leaders are referring to Defensive Edge as a war rather than an operation.
The battle for Shejaiya waged Sunday burst into public prominence because of the heavy losses suffered by the Golani Brigades, but it is not the largest engagement underway at present. The other ongoing IDF battles, their progress, the units involved and their locations, are kept secret. We can only point to their general locations as being around Beit Hanoun in the north; Zeitun, south of Gaza City and the Shati refugee camp to the north.
More arenas are scheduled to be added to the list of battle zones Monday.
Rather than causing despondency, the high IDF casualty toll Sunday – the highest in a single engagement since the 2006 Lebanon War – has invigorated the fighting forces in the field, making them more determined than ever to get the better of Hamas with all possible speed.
Whereas their orders on Sunday were to advance warily and slowly, meanwhile testing the strength of Hamas resistance and observing their tactics, the tempo went into high gear at dawn Monday, when the troops were told to speed their advance from the outer fringes of Gaza City into its center.
Their performance in Shejaiya and other engagements Sunday deeply impressed Israel’s war leaders and made them confident enough to step up the rate of advance.
This upbeat mood was evident in the comments made Sunday night by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and, from the field, by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. While condoling deeply with the bereaved families of the 18 soldiers who died in combat, they were full of praise for the troops’ performance “in defense of our home” which outdid all expectations.
The following decisions were reached in consequence:
1. Gen. Gantz would stay in the field and lead the forces from there, rather than from staff headquarters in Tel Aviv.
2. The prime minister and defense minister would manage the war, without constant recourse to security cabinet sessions to obtain its approval of every stage of the plan of operation, the final goal of which debkafile has learned, is Israel’s military takeover of the Gaza Strip.
3. As the military operation unfolded, the three war leaders were convinced more than ever that demolishing Hamas’ terror tunnel complex was not optional, any more than wiping out the rocket menace hanging latterly over five million Israelis and, for nearly a decade over the million people living directly in the shadow of the Gaza border. Publicity guidelines were to be built around this conclusion.
International statesmen are flitting busily around regional capitals, including Jerusalem, in search of an opening to broker a ceasefire in Gaza hostilities. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been holding meetings and US Secretary John Kerry will try and reach the Middle East in the coming days, according to a White House directive – unless he again cancels at the last minute.
According to debkafile’s sources, the requisite political and military conditions for a ceasefire are not yet in place because of a number of circumstances, not least of which is Hamas’ refusal to contemplate a halt.
Israel, for its part, is fighting for the first time in its history with solid Arab backing from the Egyptian-Saudi-United Arab Emirates bloc. So determined are its members to obliterate the Muslim Brotherhood that they have virtually blacklisted Qatar for supporting the Brothers and for patronizing the Palestinian Hamas, regarded as the MB’s paramilitary arm.
This rift has put a spoke in the diplomatic effort to set in motion effective mediation for a Gaza ceasefire predicated on co-opting Qatar.
A bid to make Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas the bridge between the Egyptian-Saudi-UAE grouping and Qatar has likewise foundered. And there isn’t much Secretary Kerry can do if and when he comes over to try his hand.
US President Barack Obama’s suggestion, when he called Netanyahu Sunday, to build a new Gaza ceasefire around the 2012 formula concocted by the US, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey - and accepted by Israel and Hamas - for ending Operation Pillar of Defense, shows him to be cut off from the fundamentally altered diplomatic and military realities of the current Gaza conflict.
He declines to recognize the emergence of a powerful new Arab bloc. It will be necessary to twist the arms of each of its members, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE, to gain their consent for a bid to cut the Israeli offensive short to rescue Hamas from defeat. And even then, they will stall.
And although anti-Israel demonstrations are being staged in some parts of the world, the most violent in Paris, hardly any world governments have openly condemned the Israeli operation – as yet.
Pro Lifers At All Time High
Are the unborn able to receive news while still within their wombs, interpret it and actually react to it? The notion isn’t quite as far-fetched as it sounds. The Bible gives us an account when this actually happened, when Elizabeth and Mary were both respectively pregnant with John the Baptist and Jesus Christ:
Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
Well, there is more good news that perhaps today’s unborn children would leap for joy for, if they heard about it: The percentage of American voters who call themselves pro-life is at an all-time high, according to a new national survey from Rasmussen Reports. A recent report on the survey was recently published by lifenews.com and listed key findings.
According to the Lifenews.com report, some Americans who take a pro-life position on abortion still confusingly call themselves pro-choice. Also, Americans asked about abortion in general without using the two popular terms, take a pro-life perspective. The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 30 – July 1, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
Highlights extracted from the Rasmussen Reports included in the lifenews.com article are as follows:
1. The percentage of pro-choice voters is down from March’s all-time high of 56% and is the lowest level measured in the past year. 48% of Likely U.S. Voters now consider themselves pro-choice.
2. Prior to the latest survey, the number of pro-life voters ranged from 35% to 43%, and has now increased to 44%.
3. Fifty-two percent (52%) of voters now consider abortion to be morally wrong most of the time, up slightly from 49% in March but also the highest finding since August 2012. Thirty-two percent (32%) believe abortion is morally acceptable in most cases, while 16% are undecided.
4. Forty-nine percent (49%) think there should be a mandatory waiting period before a woman is allowed to get an abortion, which ties January’s recent high. Thirty-seven percent (37%) disagree. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure.
5. Voters by a 49% to 39% margin agree with this past week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case that business owners should be able to opt out of the new health care law’s requirement that they provide health insurance with free contraception if it violates their religious beliefs.
6. Sixty-four percent (64%) of voters view abortion as at least somewhat important to how they will vote in the next congressional election, including 34% who say it is Very Important. Thirty percent (30%) say the issue is not important to their vote, including 11% who say it is Not At All Important. These findings, too, are in line with past polling. As is usually the case, pro-life voters place more importance on abortion as a voting issue than pro-choice voters do.
7. One year ago after several states advanced new restrictive abortion laws, 44% of voters favored a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. Forty-one percent (41%) opposed such a ban.
8. Unaffiliated voters by a 48% to 41% margin lean toward being pro-choice.
9. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters think it is too easy to get an abortion in the United States today, while 21% believe it is too hard. One-in-four voters (25%) think the level of difficulty in getting an abortion is about right, while 16% more are not sure. These findings are generally in line with past surveys.
10. Forty-nine percent (49%) of women are pro-choice, while 40% are pro-life. Men are more closely divided on the question. Fifty percent (50%) of women still believe abortion is morally wrong in most cases, compared to 54% of men. Women are slightly more likely to see abortion as a Very Important voting issue.
11. Republicans place more importance on abortion as a voting issue than Democrats and voters not affiliated with either party do. Most GOP voters (66%) are pro-life, while most Democrats (63%) are pro-choice.
12. Seventy-one percent (71%) of Evangelical Christians and 56% of Catholics are pro-life, but majorities of voters of other faiths are pro-choice.
Based on the poll, it can be deduced that the first eight viewpoint statistics generally work in favour of protecting the God-ordained rights of the unborn to live, while the rest seem to either favor pro-choice or are somewhat balanced between the two options.
Should the unborn be “leaping in joy” over this news? Not entirely, and perhaps not until every last unborn child is safe from the abortionists. The unborn may have more friends in America today, but their enemies remain resolute.
Meanwhile, those professing to be pro-life must go beyond mere words and expressing their preferences: they must go the extra mile to do whatever they can to guard the sanctity of life, whether born or unborn.
We would all do well to heed the wisdom of Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Padfield.com fully agrees and adds in conclusion:
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians. 6:7).
Church Sales And The Shifting American Demographic
Throughout America, church buildings are either being sold and demolished, or replaced by Islamic mosques, Jewish synagogues, Hindu temples, and in many cases even private residences, non-profit organizations, schools, medical facilities, restaurants, bars, museums and art galleries, among other facilities.
Tanya Basu, in a recent article for the atlantic.com says that this is a national trend reflective of the changing demographics of American society. Basu’s conclusions are largely based on trends identified by Dave and Mary Raphael of Raphael Realty, southern California, whose realty firm has dealt solely with sales of religious properties for 35 years and have by virtue of their business been in a unique position to observe the trends in church sales.
Also referenced is Ellen Levitt, author of The Lost Synagogues, a series of books and tours exploring the changing of hands of the Jewish place of worship to churches, community centers, and schools. Levitt says that in Queens (a classically Jewish borough that had become more Latino, black, and Asian over the years), there is a former synagogue that is now a mosque, at least two former synagogues are now Asian churches, and at least one former synagogue is now a Hindu temple.
Reasons stated for these trends around church sales vary and are summarized as follows:
1. Shifts among Christian denominations: Adherents of professing Christian denominations and religious groups are being said to have slid sharply over time as illustrated by the following developments:
- Southern Baptist and Evangelical churches have seen big drops in attendance, partially due to a split within the Protestant church between mainline Protestantism and Evangelicals;
- Pentecostal churches have seen spikes in attendance, largely attributed to a growing Latino population of which nearly one in three identify as former Catholics.
Ex-Catholics tend to veer in one of two directions: they either become Pentecostals or Evangelical Protestants, or they identify themselves as agnostic or atheist. According to Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion, only 40 percent of Hispanic Catholics attend weekly services; comparatively, 71 percent of Hispanic Evangelical Protestants do so;
- Roman Catholic weekly service attendance has slid from 75 percent in 1955 to 45 percent in the mid-2000s;
- Christian Science groups have reported declining attendance. Korean-based Christian congregations have reported spikes in worshipers, while Mormonism is the fastest growing religion in America.
2.Immigration of non-Christians: Beyond the Christian faith, immigration is shaping the religious landscape of America and influencing the church purchasing process. A recent map from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies of the second most popular religions in states across the country showed that Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism were represented strongly across the country.
Though Christianity remains the overwhelmingly dominant religion of choice in the U.S., other faiths are quickly growing, such as Hinduism in Arizona and Delaware and the Baha'i faith in South Carolina. Consequently, other related demographic re-alignments also come into play.
Raphael noted: “Neighborhoods have changed quite a bit…there are certain cultures, groups of people that live in certain areas. Koreans now want to be in Orange County, and Indians want to be in the LA County area. They used to have churches there that are moving out.”
3. The burst of the housing bubble in 2008: Raphael traces the most recent upswing in church sales to this event. As parishioners were struggling with making mortgage payments and impending foreclosures, churches too dipped into their limited reserves to pay off refinanced properties until those reserves were exhausted.
Matters were worsened by the decline in tithing, resulting in churches using up reserves, refinancing properties and in some cases suffering foreclosures. Raphael's observation matches statistics: Giving USA released a recent report noting that donations to smaller churches had fallen by 10 percent during the past year and hadn't yet recovered from pre-recession era donation rates.
4.The reluctance of bankers and financiers to lend to churches: Banks reportedly often avoid association with lending to religious institutions, for the following stated reasons:
- The fear that it might isolate their consumer base who might assume lender association with the views of the religious organization receiving the loans;
- Difficulties in verifying church income levels for churches, since in some cases they keep their own records and finances must be verified by an outsider in those cases where churches do not maintain professional accounting standards supported by formal independent audits. Consequently, churches whose financial records are considered unreliable may end up with no choice but to succumb to foreclosure after failing to satisfy borrowing standards.
- Post-recession adjustments have fundamentally changed the way the Raphael’s engage in business with churches: “The first 32 years or so, we never thought about asking if your loan is current or in default,” Raphael said. “Now if a church calls, that’s the first thing we ask.”
- Churches have the added obstacle of legally being non-profit organizations and requiring a very different legal system than businesses or individuals buying and selling property. In the Raphael’s' home base of California, for example, Rachael says : “You have to verify with the Secretary of State in southern California that the church is capable of holding a title, is a legal entity, and is incorporated as a nonprofit.
Otherwise, you can’t get title insurance, and you can’t do the transaction by the laws and articles of incorporation. Then you have to adopt a resolution.”
5.Primary reliance on tithing, fundraising, and private donations for finances: Support from the laity is often unpredictable and unreliable, as for various reasons, church faithful are not always consistent with their giving, or willing to give but limited by their own levels of income. Some churches therefore resort to running side businesses or fund raising initiatives to keep financially afloat, yet others join or create credit unions.
Basu explains that finding a new place to worship presents a dual problem: getting a brand new building for many groups is out of reach, while the smaller churches that are being sold are just too small for growing congregations. Most state rules require that a building be established as a church for fire code reasons, which means buying a house and turning it into a church is off. And parking, particularly in space crunched California, is precious. A popular solution to these issues is to share space, or rent out available space to interested parties such as during Sunday afternoons when they’re not using it, or weekdays or evenings.
According to Raphael, an overlooked part of the religious property market is interior design, which plays a surprisingly key role in how religious groups use their space and what types of buildings they’re looking into: “A lot of these [declining or smaller] groups are merging their buildings. The style of building is also changing. Chapel groups generally don’t want kitchens but they want to be close to the freeway so people can come in, go to service, grab a coffee, and leave. For other types of congregations, kitchens and fellowships are really important, so you need fully equipped kitchens and halls.”
Looking beyond the changes in demographics and the economic and social factors driving property sales, one wonders if another key underlying reason for the increasing sales of churches is the lack of the effectiveness of the churches themselves. And although the reasons stated are no doubt valid, these trends also seem to be indicative of a church on the decline, failing to make enough of an impact in society to remain relevant and sustainable.
The early church kept growing and not receding, with all their needs being met through sharing and sacrifice (Acts 2: 44-47). Could straying from Biblical patterns be most responsible for contributing to the sale of churches? Are Christians doing all that they can today to keep their churches going, by praying and remaining faithful in their giving, striving to remain perhaps the only “light and salt” that will be left in their neighborhoods to testify for Christ if they stay?
Maybe there is also a need for churches to teach and practice more effectively the principles of giving as well as sound financial management. The need for both is covered well throughout the Bible, especially in verses in the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which God anointed Solomon, who was the wisest and richest man of his time, to write.
Certainly Solomon would never have needed to suffer being foreclosed on the temple God entrusted him to build, or allow pagan religions to buy it off. Hopefully today's church will eventually become one that will influence and shape American demographics and economics, and not the other way round.
Every Christian Private School, Charity And Parachurch Organization That Accepts Federal Money Is About To Have It's Faith Tested
A Christian college in Massachusetts requested the freedom to live out its ideals, and since some powerful people don’t share those ideals they’re set to destroy Gordon College—unless it agrees to retreat to the closet.
In June, Gordon’s president added his name to a public letter asking President Obama to not force religious organizations into hypocrisy. Obama signed an executive order Monday that is the equivalent to many organizations of forcing Human Rights organizations to hire adherents of Westboro Baptist Church. It will force anyone who receives federal funds to hire people based on their sexual conduct.
Gordon, like every other observant religious institution in the world, does not want to be forced to hire people that represent the opposite of what it stands for. For that, it’s been pilloried in the press and persecuted by apparently every local public official who gets morally high from judging Gordon’s beliefs.
It has already lost a contract with a local town to manage its historic town hall, and its accreditation will soon be under review—all for merely signing a letter. Gordon is only the vanguard. There is far more of this ahead, for every religious school, charity, parachurch organization, and even churches. So it’s time to pay attention to the tenderhooks of tyranny.
Don’t Take Federal Money, Even Though It’s Yours
Gordon is at federal mercy, first, because it takes federal money. Nearly every college receives federal funds, because the federal government is the nation’s largest sponsor of subprime higher education—meaning, of course, it is by far the largest provider of student loans, made freely available without discrimination upon the basis of academic merit or likelihood of college completion.
This would be only an economic problem, not an individual liberty problem (besides the tax extortion), if the feds ever sent people’s tax dollars back to them with no control measures attached. But they don’t. Control is half the point of getting it in the first place. It’s a fishing expedition, and you’re the catch.
Although a few other colleges realized some time ago that federal money inherently threatens freedom, most are so hooked they would now have to dissolve if they did not accept it. Liberty University, for example, of Virginia and Jerry Falwell fame, regularly makes news for being among the top consumers of federal Pell Grants. It got a cool $81 million from the feds in 2010-11.
This isn’t just a college problem. It’s a charity problem, and parachurch problem, as our own Mollie Hemingway made very clear when discussing the World Vision debacle. It’s even a private K-12 school problem, since private schools can take federal lunch money (and its accompanying, idiotic regulations), have their teachers trained by their public school competitors, and more.
Accreditation May Be Worse
The danger to Gordon’s accreditation, however, may be worse, because it’s a far less visible instrument of control. Without accreditation, it’s difficult for an education institution to function, because accreditation gives the school a license to hand out real diplomas, and for its course credits to transfer to other institutions. As one might expect, that’s really important to schools’ customers.
In K-12, states regulate private school curriculum and teacher preparation (aka everything a child learns and how he learns it) through accreditation. So far accreditors have been content to demand low academics, Progressive curriculum, and fuzzy teaching methods, but in the current climate it’s no stretch to think not just the feds but also some state and private accreditors will demand that private schools condone gay sex.
In higher education, accreditation is also a hoop schools have to jump through to get federal funds, but even worse, the feds are directly involved in determining what hoops a school has to jump through to get accredited. So even if a school did not receive federal funds, it could be pressured on myriad fronts by the federal government or anyone else with power and an agenda through its accreditation agency. Such are the dangers of centralizing power, and allowing the government to do what private individuals and coalitions can manage much better themselves. It hands tyrants tools for oppression.
President Obama is clearly aware of the federal power over accreditation—he’s proposed changes to the accreditation process that involve more intimate data-collection on students, among other things. Since government-regulated accreditation does essentially nothing to improve school quality and is therefore a giant exercise in providing sustenance for the mosquito-like bureaucracy, and now a tool for potential religious discrimination, it’s time to abolish it.
Back to Gordon College, however. It is now excruciatingly clear we live in a time where some people who have political power are on a crusade against people who, in their view, commit moral thought crime. A religious college loses all reason for existence if it must conform to a diametrically opposite moral code.
It makes no sense for a school to hire teachers to teach children, among other things, that sex belongs in marriage between a man an woman, if that very teacher’s actions negate his or her words. Such a teacher must either lie to children, or the school must. (Perhaps the entire goal is to expose children to such forced hypocrisy.) If a religious school cannot act as a religious school, it logically cannot exist. It can only shift its morality to match that of its oppressors, or dissolve.
That may be the point.