Prophecy News Watch - Week In Review/May 13- May 17
Keeping You Informed of World Events From A Biblical Perspective
Prophetic Trends & Headline News
1. Where is the United States in Bible Prophecy?
Terrorist Super-Axis To Strike Within U.S.
Iran has given the go-ahead to operatives of three terrorist groups that have infiltrated the United States to carry out missions, including what is expected to be a Mumbai-style attack on a hotel where innocent bystanders would be killed.
A full report with many details of the missions has been passed on to U.S. officials.
Three targets have been chosen within America for imminent attack, and the terror teams have now cut communications with the operational center in Iran, a sign that they are moving ahead with the attacks, according to a high-level intelligence officer within the Islamic regime.
If only one of the attacks occurs, the regime will consider the operation a success, the source said. Tehran believes, he said, an attack would not be traced back to Iran due to the nationalities of the operators.
One of the planned attacks resemble the Mumbai attack in 2008, the source added, in which a hotel was targeted, hostages were taken and 164 people were killed over several days. India alleges Pakistan used proxies to carry out the Mumbai attack so it wouldn’t be traced back to Pakistan, just as Iran now is using proxies to hide its current terrorism. The information provided by the source provides details of a new jihadist coalition with a focus on creating instability in the U.S.
The source said the regime views the Boston bombing as a successful terrorist attack in which fear was created, U.S. intelligence questioned and a sense of security diminished. There has yet to be any link to a specific group or country.
As WND reported exclusively April 22, the regime’s Quds Forces have done extensive planning on gatherings, events and high-value targets in the U.S., but for two years have focused on events such as the Boston Marathon. The Quds Forces run an extensive network of terrorists out of South Asia.
A Feb. 14, 2010, meeting in Iran either set up the new jihadist coalition or continued the coalition among the Quds Forces, Hezbollah and al-Qaida. The latter coalition was formed years ago by Imad Mugniyeh, the dead mastermind terrorist from Hezbollah, under the direction of Ahmad Vahidi, then the head of the Quds Forces and the current Iranian defense minister, to collaborate on their fight against the U.S.
At the 2010 meeting, Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Forces; Seif Adel, the operational head of al-Qaida; and Mustafa Badr al-Din, the operational head of Hezbollah; devised a plan for operations against the U.S. under a new coalition, dubbed the “Coalition of Muslim Soldiers.” The coalition includes al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida offshoot based in Somalia, and has its central command in the Iranian city of Kerman. Command and control centers are located in the Iranian provinces of Kerman, Khorasan, Khuzestan, Kurdistan, and Sistan and Baluchistan, the source said.
The coalition, led by Soleimani, with Iran the main source of funding, is based on a strategic collaboration and devoid of ideological differences and opinions of Shiite and Sunni Marjas.
Based on intelligence and infiltration by Western intelligence agencies into institutions, operations and cultural centers of radical Arab Islamists after 9/11, the new coalition recruits non-Arab Islamists from many other nationalities and Arabs from countries not on the hot list for American agencies.
Iran believes that the perception of security in America that has helped empower its actions in the Middle East must be turned 180 degrees, not only to defeat and derail all U.S. calculations based on gathered intelligence but to destabilize the political, economic and social conditions in America, the source said.
Based on that understanding, he said, the U.S. through its military might has kept the fight in the Islamic region and away from its homeland and its allies’ turf. Now continuous operations must be conducted in the U.S. homeland to change that equation, they believe.
More than 2,600 targets, including public places, government buildings and military installations, have been chosen for attack, and reconnaissance has been done. Information about some of the targets, based on direct knowledge of the source, has been given to U.S. officials to neutralize the threat and confront the terrorists. They include specific government buildings, news networks, malls and sports events.
This new coalition has also prepared for a major attack to avenge al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden’s killing to satisfy Seif Adel, the operational head of al-Qaida, for his collaboration with the Iranian regime.
The radical regime ruling Iran has set up several channels for financial support of the new coalition with its terrorist activities. Multiple commerce, cultural and financial institutions in the U.S. are part of that network. The connection includes individuals running businesses in Damascus and its connections to al-Qaida operatives in America.
Since 2001, more than $270 million has been invested in the expansion of mosques and Islamic centers in America by institutions in the Iranian city of Qom. As part of the coalition’s plan, some 27 mosques and Islamic centers in America are their target for collaboration, infiltration and recruitment of sympathizers for various missions, including reconnaissance and terrorist acts.
The source said the new coalition, due to its composition of different people in Central Asia, is a very complex organization.
The publication of a limited version of the full report is an intention to put the Islamic regime on notice that should it go ahead with its planned attacks in the U.S. homeland, it will be held responsible, the source said.
Has A Bible Prophet Just Been Echoed In NYC?
As construction workers placed the capstone on the new World Trade Center in New York Friday, some words were uttered that will be hauntingly familiar to readers of “The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn or viewers of “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment” – respectively the bestselling Christian book and movie of 2012 and 2013.
As the last piece of a 408-foot spire was placed atop what has become known as “The Tower,” the head of the building project, Steven Plate, boasted pridefully that the beacon will be seen for miles around and “give a tremendous indication to people around the entire region, and the world, that we’re back and we’re better than ever.”
To consumers of “The Harbinger” and “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment,” those words are sure to remind them of the central theme of the book and movie, which suggest 9/11 and its aftermath bear striking parallels to the judgment of ancient Israel as recorded in Isaiah 9:10. In Isaiah 9:10, Israel is hit with a limited attack due to God’s judgment, but instead of repenting for falling away from God, the leaders of Israel vow to rebuild bigger, better and stronger with their own power.
The book, and the companion “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment,” a documentary film, explains that America similarly is being allowed to experience limited judgments, or attacks, and similarly is rejecting the idea of a return to God, promising instead to rebuild alone.
Even Barack Obama has played a role in the arguments made in the book and documentary.
When he visited the building site last summer, he signed a steel girder with a message of interest to the hundreds of thousands who have read “The Harbinger” or seen the video documentary “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment.”
““We remember,” he wrote. “We rebuild. We come back stronger!”
His comments were among the many made by U.S. officials whose behavior constitutes one of the “harbingers” of coming judgment.
The book and film note that Obama used his first State of the Union message to recall a similar message.
The original vow, in Isaiah, begins with the words: “The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with hewn stone,” explains Cahn. It also references a sycamore falling and being replaced by a cedar. “The vow declares Israel’s defiance of God, in the face of a devastating strike on the land.”
But the confluence of events is even more startling.
“When the ancient rabbis translated this verse into the Greek Septuagint,” Cahn told WND, “something interesting happened. The verse became, ‘The bricks have fallen. Come let us build for ourselves a tower.’
“The rabbis got that phrase from the Tower of Babel,” Cahn said. “They were seeing a connection between what happened in Genesis 11, with Isaiah 9:10. In both cases, a tower that represented the pride, the arrogance and the defiance of man.
“The sign of Israel’s defiance of God was a national campaign of rebuilding that which had been destroyed. As rendered by the Septuagint, this rebuilding takes the form of a tower. The tower,” Cahn said, “is the fourth harbinger.
Obama’s message in 2009? “Tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild. And the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.”
Last June, Cahn explained: “Two of the mysteries of ‘The Harbinger,’ foreshadowed in the book came true. Obama went to Ground Zero to see the still rising tower. He was given a beam which will constitute the tower’s final and highest beam. On the beam, the president wrote eight words – which were, in effect, a summation of the ancient vow of judgment: ‘We Remember, We Rebuild, We Come Back Stronger!’”
Cahn continued: “So now the tower will be crowned and finished with words paralleling Isaiah 9:10, the ancient vow of national judgment. The tower was begun with the laying down of a hewn stone, the very same object mentioned in Isaiah 9:10 which begins the rebuilding.
“Now the words and the tower have been joined together in reality – and the one who did it was the president of the United States,” he told WND. “One subtle difference in the words is that the vow is spoken in the future tense. But now the words inscribed on the towers are in the present tense. In other words, they not only speak of the defiant vow, but of the fact that the vow is being fulfilled.
“This,” says Cahn, “constitutes another ominous sign.”
Obama is not the only one, nor was he the first, to lend his voice to the idea of rebuilding.
“In the aftermath of the attack, the nation was stunned,” said Cahn. “Everyone was trying to make sense of what had happened – this unprecedented attack on America. The very next day, Sept. 12, then Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle presented America’s response to the world. And what did he say?”
Daschle said: “America will emerge from this tragedy as we have emerged from all adversity – united and strong. Nothing … nothing can replace the losses of those who have suffered. I know there is only the smallest measure of inspiration that can be taken from this devastation. But there is a passage in the Bible from Isaiah that speaks to all of us at times like this.”
He then went on to read Isaiah 9:10.
“Daschle has no idea what he is doing here,” explains Cahn. “He thinks he’s offering comforting words to a grief-stricken people, but he is actually embracing the spiritually defiant and arrogant words of the children of Israel, proclaiming the ancient and ominous vow of the leaders of that nation. He doesn’t realize it, but he is actually inviting more judgment on the nation.”
It might be of some significance that Daschle, one of the most powerful men in the nation when he spoke those words, later fell into disgrace – to the point where he couldn’t even serve in Obama’s Cabinet.
That might have been the end of the story – if no other top leader in the nation uttered those strange and obscure words after 9/11. But that’s not the case.
On the third anniversary of the attack, Sept. 11, 2004, another powerful U.S. senator running for vice president that year and who would famously run for the presidency four years later, gave a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus.
This time, John Edwards’ entire speech was built on a foundation of Isaiah 9:10:
“Today, on this day of remembrance and mourning, we have the Lord’s Word to get us through,” he said. He then read Isaiah 9:10. He went on to talk about how America was doing just that – rebuilding with hewn stone and planting cedars.
In “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment,” viewers get to see these remarkable, largely forgotten or overlooked speeches, which directly link the events of 9/11 and the events referred to in Isaiah 9:10.
“Like Daschle, Edwards thinks he’s invoking inspirational and comforting words from the Bible, but he’s actually inviting judgment on America,” says Cahn. “He’s repeating the vow that provoked God to bring calamity on ancient Israel.”
There are numerous other “coincidences” cited by Cahn.
There was actually a very famous sycamore tree felled in the attack on the World Trade Center. It was replaced by trees in the same genus as the cedar. A “hewn stone” was actually quarried out of the Adirondack Mountains in New York and brought to Ground Zero as a cornerstone.
“The parallels are truly stunning,” said Joseph Farah, founder of WND, who produced the documentary for WND Films. “In fact, they are overwhelming in their number and their exactitude. I am persuaded God is trying to tell America something and Rabbi Cahn has found the key to unlocking the message.”
Cahn explains the impetus for the message.
“A number of years ago, as I was standing at the edge of Ground Zero in New York City, I came across the first puzzle piece of an ancient biblical mystery and a prophetic message known as ‘The Harbinger’ that concerns the future of America,” explains Cahn, who helped write the two-hour documentary “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment.”
Cahn say he has since found nine harbingers that tie the problems America has experienced beginning Sept. 11, 2001, with parallels that led to the destruction of ancient Israel.
“Before God judges a nation, He sends warning,” explains Cahn. “He sent warning to ancient Israel. He even allowed its enemies to breach its borders in a devastating strike that would traumatize the nation. It was a wake-up call, the call to return to God. But the nation responded with defiance. God then gave nine harbingers of judgment, nine prophetic signs, alarms and foreshadows of what was to come.
Now America is the nation in rapid departure from God’s will. And God likewise allowed an enemy to breach its borders in a devastating strike – the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It was, likewise, a wake-up call. But America, like Israel, has not responded with repentance, but with defiance. And now the nine harbingers of judgment have reappeared and have done so on American soil.”
Isaiah 9:10 is a verse in which Israel’s national leaders utter a vow of defiance following an attack by Assyria. It declared that the nation would not repent before God, but would defy Him instead. Cahn reveals in “The Harbinger” – and in even more dramatic fashion in the video – that beginning the day after Sept. 11, 2001, American leaders began repeating that 2,500-year-old vow, word for word.
He continued: “According to the ancient mystery revealed in the Book of Isaiah, if after that first calamity and warning, the nation doesn’t return to God but responds in defiance, it will end up triggering a second calamity. It was because of this ancient key, that, seven years after 9/11, the American economy collapsed.
In the days after 9/11, the Federal Reserve slashed the base interest rate in an attempt to defy the consequences of the attacks. That action put us on the path leading to the collapse of the American economy seven years later. In 2008, the government made a second fatal mistake, another ill-fated financial decision, that would trigger the collapse of the American economy. Amazingly, it took place on the seventh anniversary of the uttering of the ancient vow on Capitol Hill.”
Cahn also reveals in “The Harbinger” and “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment” something that readers and viewers universally find astonishing – that New York’s Ground Zero actually represents more than the former financial center of the country. It represents the exact place at which America was first consecrated to God in prayer by the country’s new leaders.
“When judgment came to Israel, the calamity returned the people’s attention to the place where the nation had been consecrated to God – the Temple Mount,” says Cahn. “God was calling the nation back to Himself. What about 9/11? Could there be, in the American calamity, as well, a mystery of return?
Could there be a prophetic message hidden in the place where it happened? There is a place where America was consecrated to God in prayer. It is also a place linked to a prophetic warning given on that same day – uttered by the nation’s first president – now coming to pass.”
In 1789, newly inaugurated President George Washington gave a prophetic warning at Federal Hall in New York City. He declared that America’s prosperity and protection were dependent upon its adherence to God. Later, the political leaders of the young nation gathered at St. Paul’s Chapel to commit the nation’s future to God’s purposes. That chapel is located at Ground Zero and miraculously survived 9/11 virtually unscathed.
Cahn, the pastor of the Jerusalem Center-Beth Israel Congregation in Wayne, N.J., says America is uncannily re-enacting ancient Israel’s behavior prior to its judgment and eventual fall.
He found a sympathetic ear for his message in Farah, who produced “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment,” as a follow-up to “The Harbinger.”
Windy conditions prevented an April 29 “topping out” of the spire atop One World Trade Center, the building being erected to replace the Twin Towers brought down in the Islamic jihad attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The last two steel pieces of a 408-foot spire on top of the building were delivered and to be installed then, but wind gusts delayed installation of the pieces that made it the tallest in the Western Hemisphere at 1,776 feet.
One year earlier, April 30, 2012, the building became the tallest in New York when it reached 1,271 feet, at that point 21 feet higher than the Empire State Building.
But the author of a book that cited the tower itself as a harbinger of America’s rejection of God says the date was significant, and some may read more into the delay than the New York weather.
“April 30 is the date of the founding of America as a nation-state – and its inaugural prayer, dedicating that founding,” Cahn told WND. “April 30 is also the date of Lincoln’s national call to prayer and repentance.
“But April 29 is just as significant and in the same realm,” he continued. “It was on April 29, 1789, that the Dedication of America was ordained. It also ordained the specific gathering of prayer of America’s first leaders would take place St. Paul’s Chapel [which is at Ground Zero in New York].
“So the fact that they attempted to complete the tower – on the same ground – on that day is also significant,” he said.
“But April 29 is also significant for the foundation and dedication of America – going back even further. April 29 was the day that American civilization as we know it began – as the Godspeed, the Discovery, and the Susan Constant landed at Chesapeake Bay – to found what would ultimately be Jamestown.
“And just as important – it was on April 29, when they came to the shore, that they erected the first edifice, the first structure, and symbol of the new civilization – a cross, planted into the sands of Cape Henry – and around which they dedicated America/ American civilization to God.”
He continued: “So now on the same day that America was founded – and American civilization committed to God – and the first edifice – the beam of the cross erected in the sand – America attempted to erect the final beam of a different structure, a different symbol, of a different America rising in pride without God.
“And the winds beat down and prevented the beam, the spire from going up,” he said. “The mere fact of the winds beating down to stop the spire from going up that day is quite significant in and of itself.
“On Friday, May 10, the spire was raised to the top, and the tower reached its full height, becoming the tallest structure in America and the Western Hemisphere,” Cahn told WND. “On its top floor were the words the inscription of President Obama, the words that matched the ancient vow that brought destruction to ancient Israel.
The ancient words would be linked to the tower from its inception. And now in its completion, its construction head Steven Plate would again echo the vow.
“So now the fourth harbinger, the most colossal of the nine harbingers, has reached its final and defiant height,” Cahn said. “What will come next?”
Interestingly, as Cahn notes, the day the spire was raised and the tower attained its final height was significant on the biblical calendar. It was Sivan 1 – the same day that Israel reached Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments and the Law by which the nation would later be brought into judgment.
“It is also the day in the Hebrew calendar that the earth opened up and Korah and all those who rebelled against God’s lordship were brought into judgment,” Cahn noted.
“The Harbinger” has been on the New York Times bestsellers list ever since it was released the first week of January 2012. “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment” has been the bestselling Christian movie in America on DVD for 54 weeks since it was released last spring.
U.S. Government Monitoring All Phone Calls, All Emails And All Internet Activity
Big Brother is watching everything that you do on the Internet and listening to everything that you say on your phone. Every single day in America, the U.S. government intercepts and stores nearly 2 billion emails, phone calls and other forms of electronic communication.
Former NSA employees have come forward and have described exactly what is taking place, and this surveillance activity has been reported on by prominent news organizations such as the Washington Post, Fox News and CNN, but nobody really seems to get too upset about it. Either most Americans are not aware of what is really going on or they have just accepted it as part of modern life. But where will this end?
Do we really want to live in a dystopian “Big Brother society” where the government literally reads every single thing that we write and listens to every single thing that we say? Is that what the future of America is going to look like? If so, what do you think our founding fathers would have said about that?
Many Americans may not realize this, but nothing that you do on your cell phone or on the Internet will ever be private again. According to the Washington Post, the NSA intercepts and stores an astounding amount of information every single day…
Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.
But even the Washington Post may not have been aware of the full scope of the surveillance. In fact, National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney claims that the NSA has collected “20 trillion transactions” involving U.S. citizens…
In fact, I would suggest that they’ve assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about U.S. citizens with other U.S. citizens.
And NSA whistleblowers have also told us that the agency “has the capability to do individualized searches, similar to Google, for particular electronic communications in real time through such criteria as target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases in email.”
So the NSA must have tremendous data storage needs. That must be why they are building such a mammoth data storage center out in Utah. According to Fox News, it will have the capability of storing 5 zettabytes of data…
The NSA says the Utah Data Center is a facility for the intelligence community that will have a major focus on cyber security. The agency will neither confirm nor deny specifics. Some published reports suggest it could hold 5 zettabytes of data. (Just one zettabyte is the equivalent of about 62 billion stacked iPhones 5′s– that stretches past the moon.
Are you outraged by all of this?
You should be.
The U.S. government is spying on the American people and yet they continue to publicly deny that they are actually doing it.
Last week, this government spying program was once again confirmed by another insider. What former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente told Erin Burnett of CNN is absolutely astounding…
BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It’s not a voice mail. It’s just a conversation. There’s no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?
CLEMENTE: “No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.
BURNETT: “So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.
CLEMENTE: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”
Yes, “all of that stuff” is most definitely being “captured” and it is time for the Obama administration to be honest with the American people about what is actually going on.
Meanwhile, the recent bombing in Boston has many of our politicians calling for even tighter surveillance.
For example, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently said that our interpretation of the U.S. Constitution will “have to change” to deal with the new threats that we are facing. More “smart cameras” are going up in New York, and Bloomberg says that we are “never going to know where all of our cameras are”. The following is from a recent RT article…
New York City police officials intend to expand the already extensive use of surveillance cameras throughout town. The plan, unveiled Thursday, comes as part of a drive for increased security around the US following the Boston Marathon attack.
New York City Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly announced the plan during a press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in which the two announced that the suspected Boston Marathon bombers were planning to attack New York next. The pair said they hope to discourage criminals by using so-called “smart cameras” that will aggregate data from 911 alerts, arrest records, mapped crime patterns, surveillance cameras and radiation detectors, among other tools, according to The Verge.
“You’re never going to know where all of our cameras are,” Bloomberg told reporters gathered outside City Hall. “And that’s one of the ways you deter people; they just don’t know whether the person sitting next to you is somebody sitting there or a detective watching.”
Will you feel safer if the government is watching you 100% of the time?
Do you want them to see what you are doing 100% of the time?
You might want to think about that, because that is where all of this is headed.
In fact, the truth is that spy cameras are not just going up all over New York City. Most Americans may not realize this, but a network of spy cameras is now going up all over the nation. The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles…
“You are being watched. The government has a secret system – a machine – that spies on you every hour of every day.” That is how each episode of “Person of Interest” on CBS begins. Most Americans that have watched the show just assume that such a surveillance network is completely fictional and that the government would never watch us like that.
Sadly, most Americans are wrong. Shocking new details have emerged this week which prove that a creepy nationwide network of spy cameras is being rolled out across the United States.
Reportedly, these new spy cameras are “more accurate than modern facial recognition technology”, and every few seconds they send back data from cities and major landmarks all over the United States to a centralized processing center where it is analyzed. The authorities believe that the world has become such a dangerous place that the only way to keep us all safe is to watch what everyone does all the time.
But the truth is that instead of “saving America”, all of these repressive surveillance technologies are slowly killing our liberties and our freedoms. America is being transformed into an Orwellian prison camp right in front of our eyes, and very few people are even objecting to it.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama is telling us to reject those that are warning us about government tyranny. The following is what he told the graduating class of The Ohio State University on May 5th, 2013…
Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.
So what do you think?
Should we just ignore all of the violations of our privacy that are happening?
Should we just ignore what the U.S. Constitution says about privacy and let the government monitor us however it wants to?
Biometric Database Of All Adult Americans Hidden In Immigration Reform
The immigration reform measure the Senate began debating yesterday would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S., in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiquitous national identification system.
Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.
Employers would be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo.
This piece of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act is aimed at curbing employment of undocumented immigrants.
But privacy advocates fear the inevitable mission creep, ending with the proof of self being required at polling places, to rent a house, buy a gun, open a bank account, acquire credit, board a plane or even attend a sporting event or log on the internet. Think of it as a government version of Foursquare, with Big Brother cataloging every check-in.
“It starts to change the relationship between the citizen and state, you do have to get permission to do things,” said Chris Calabrese, a congressional lobbyist with the American Civil Liberties Union. “More fundamentally, it could be the start of keeping a record of all things.”
For now, the legislation allows the database to be used solely for employment purposes. But historically such limitations don’t last. The Social Security card, for example, was created to track your government retirement benefits. Now you need it to purchase health insurance.
“The Social Security number itself, it’s pretty ubiquitous in your life,” Calabrese said.
David Bier, an analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, agrees with the ACLU’s fears.
“The most worrying aspect is that this creates a principle of permission basically to do certain activities and it can be used to restrict activities,” he said. “It’s like a national ID system without the card.”
For the moment, the debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee is focused on the parameters of legalization for unauthorized immigrants, a border fence and legal immigration in the future.
2. Israel - God's Timepiece
‘Moderate’ Palestinian Leader Swears: ‘If We Had a Nuke, We’d Have Used It This Very Morning’
Jibril Rajoub, a senior Palestinian Authority official who is frequently characterized as a "moderate" in both the Western and Israeli media, said on Lebanese television that if the Palestinians had a nuclear weapon they would have nuked Israel "this morning."
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) discovered and translated to English the interview Rajoub gave to Lebanon's Al Mayadeen TV on April 30. Rajoub also posted the video clip to his own Facebook page, according to PMW.
When the interviewer referred to peace talks with Israel as "the negotiations game," Rajoub suggested that the Palestinian Authority [PA] engages in negotiations because it does not have the military strength to defeat Israel by force.
"I swear that if we had a nuke, we'd have used it this very morning," he said.
He also said the Palestinian Authority would consider returning to the negotiating table only if Israel agrees to a list of Palestinian preconditions including freezing construction in Jerusalem, in West Bank settlements and freeing Palestinian prisoners, some of whom are serving sentences for terrorist acts.
Rajoub is President of the Palestine Olympic Committee and serves as Deputy Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee.
Israel Today explains why Rajoub's nuclear threat strikes such a sensitive chord for Israelis, particularly in light of Iran's nuclear quest:
There is a very good reason for Israel taking the Iran nuclear threat so seriously. There are a lot of people in this region, many of them holding positions of authority, who would like nothing more than to use a nuclear weapon against Israel, the consequences be damned.[...]
This revelation validates one of Israel's chief concerns in the peace process - that in the absence of actually being educated for peace and coexistence, the inhabitants of an independent Palestinian state will, as a first order of business, work toward acquiring the military means to engage in renewed warfare against Israel.
In his Palestine Olympic Committee capacity last summer, Rajoub thanked International Olympic Committee officials for agreeing to not honor during the opening ceremony in London the 11 Israeli athletes slain during the 1972 Munich Olympics by Palestinian terrorists.
In the 1970s and 80s, Rajoub served 17 years in Israeli prison for terrorist activity.
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik of PMW write:
Senior PA officials often state that avoiding violent confrontation or war with Israel is only temporarily, due to the PA's inability to take on such a conflict. They claim that negotiations with Israel are the right course of action for now, because conditions are not right for violence.
[Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas himself has also said on several occasions that if the Arab nations would begin a war against Israel, "Palestine" would join them.
According to the Commentator, a pro-Israel website, Rajoub is a signatory to the Geneva Initiative, a project that promotes a two-state solution. The group's tagline is "An Israeli-Palestinian Initiative to End the Conflict."
Its mission statement reads in part, "After a century of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, the Geneva Initiative offers a real and mutually agreed upon possibility for ending the conflict between the two sides and obtaining a mutually acceptable peace that guarantees the vital national interests of both sides."
Rajoub was featured several years ago in a video clip promoting the campaign, where he stated "I am your partner" in Hebrew.
"There is a consensus in the Arab world to recognize the existence of Israel in return for an end to occupation," he added then.
The Commentator provided translation of more excerpts from Rajoub's Lebanese TV interview: "If you ask me as a Palestinian, I say -- our battle is with the Israeli occupation. Our main enemy, not [just] as Palestinians but as Arabs and Muslims, is Israel and the Israeli occupation."
"If [Arab] mobilization would begin for the liberation of Jerusalem; if money [would be spent] and swords drawn in the face of the Zionist enemy, that would be great," Rajoub said according to the Commentator.
Here is the excerpt of the Rajoub interview that PMW translated:
Lebanese TV host: "The American [John Kerry] came to the PA. They are talking about reviving negotiations, about getting back to the table with the Israelis... Will you go back to the negotiations game?"
Jibril Rajoub: "There is no going back to negotiations unless the source of authority is the international resolutions, with a time frame and with the freezing of all unilateral Israeli steps: Jerusalem, the fence, settlements and prisoners."
Host: "You've heard Israel's refusal."
Jibril Rajoub: "That doesn't matter. Listen. We as yet don't have a nuke, but I swear that if we had a nuke, we'd have used it this very morning."
Israel Hints At New Strikes, Warning Syria Not To Hit Back
In a clear warning to Syria to stop the transfer of advanced weapons to
Islamic militants in the region, a senior Israeli official signaled on Wednesday
that Israel was considering additional military strikes to prevent that from
happening and that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, would face crippling
consequences if he retaliated.
“Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah,” the Israeli official said. “The transfer of such weapons to Hezbollah will destabilize and endanger the entire region.”
“If Syrian President Assad reacts by attacking Israel, or tries to strike Israel through his terrorist proxies,” the official said, “he will risk forfeiting his regime, for Israel will retaliate.”
The Israeli official, who had been briefed by high-level officials on Israel’s assessment of the situation in Syria, declined to be identified, citing the need to protect internal Israeli government deliberations. He contacted The New York Times on Wednesday.
The precise motives for Israel’s warning were uncertain: Israel could be seeking to restrain Syria’s behavior to avoid taking further military action, or alerting other countries to another military strike. That would increase the tension in an already fraught situation in Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than two years.
There could be a secondary audience for the warning, analysts said, in Hezbollah and its primary supporter, Iran. Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon, has said in recent days it could use weapons supplied by Iran to retaliate for recent Israeli strikes on Syria.
Nearly two weeks ago, Israeli warplanes carried out two strikes in Syria, the first hitting bases of Syria’s elite Republican Guard and storehouses of long-range missiles, in addition to a military research center that American officials have called the country’s main chemical weapons site.
A more limited strike on May 3 at Damascus International Airport was also meant to destroy weapons being sent from Iran to Hezbollah. The Israeli government did not confirm either of the attacks, which followed another earlier this year.
The Syrian government publicly condemned Israel for the assaults, saying it “opened the door to all possibilities.” The Syrian deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, declared, “We will respond immediately and harshly to any additional attack by Israel.”
Mr. Assad and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, have each said in recent days that the Israeli-Syrian border, which has been relatively quiet despite the more than two years of civil war inside Syria, could become a “resistance front,” in response to Israeli attacks.
On Wednesday, mortar shells, fired from across the Syrian border, landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The shells landed on Mount Hermon, a popular tourist site, and were the latest in a series of what Israel has generally considered errant fire from internal Syrian fighting.
Israel did not fire back, as it had on several previous occasions, but it closed Mount Hermon to the public for several hours during a Jewish holiday on which hiking in the Golan is popular.
In his comments, the Israeli official said that “Israel has so far refrained from intervening in Syria’s civil war and will maintain this policy as long as Assad refrains from attacking Israel directly or indirectly.”
“Israel,” he said, “will continue its policy of interdicting attempts to strengthen Hezbollah, but will not intercede in the Syrian civil war as long as Assad desists from direct or indirect attacks against Israel.”
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, declined to discuss the meaning of the Israeli official’s statement. “We’re not going to comment on the story,” he said.
American and Israeli political analysts agree that Israel has little motive to intervene in Syria’s civil war, but that it is deeply concerned about the transfer of advanced weapons, as well as the danger that Mr. Assad’s stockpiles of chemical weapons could be used against it.
Amos Yadlin, Israel’s former military intelligence chief who now directs the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said that the timing of the warning could have been linked to intelligence Israel had received about something it wanted to prevent.
That, he said, could be a Syrian intention to react, albeit belatedly, to the recent airstrikes on its soil, an imminent shipment of weapons to Hezbollah, or signs of action by Syrian proxies in the Golan Heights.
Mr. Yadlin said that, aside from Mr. Assad, Russia could be another intended recipient for the Israeli official’s message. Two of the weapons systems that Israel has identified as game-changing “red line weapons” — SA-17 antiaircraft weapons and Yakhont shore-to-sea missiles — were supplied by the Russians, he added. The convoy that Israeli warplanes struck in January was carrying SA-17 antiaircraft weapons.
A Western diplomatic official who works in the region said that after the recent airstrikes, Israel had sent a similar message to Mr. Assad through back channels — probably Russia — saying it was not attacking his government but would do so if he retaliated. Perhaps, this official said, Jerusalem now wanted to broadcast the message publicly because the real audience is Iran and Hezbollah, whose leaders have been among the loudest threatening responses.
“It’s probably doubling down on the message to make sure it’s known to him and the others,” he said, also on the condition he not be named because of the delicacy of the situation. “Maybe some of the others who are calling on him to respond but also have an interest in him surviving would hear it better from this channel than other channels. Maybe it’s more directed at Iran and Hezbollah than it is at Syria.”
As for whether the timing of the statement indicated an imminent strike, this official said, “I wouldn’t think they would telegraph a punch like that so publicly.”
Hizballah and Israel Spar as Syria’s Conflict Threatens To Spin Out Of Control
A dangerous game of brinkmanship is unfolding in the Middle East pitting Israel against Syria and its militant Shi‘ite ally Hizballah in what threatens to expand the two-year Syrian civil war into a full-blown regional conflict.
On three separate occasions since January — two of them within 48 hours of each other last Friday and Sunday — Israeli jets have attacked Syrian military bases, targeting consignments of advanced weaponry supplied allegedly by Iran that were pending transfer to Hizballah across the nearby border with Lebanon. The air raids were unprecedented. Israel has never before risked striking at Hizballah’s Iranian-supplied weapons inside Syria.
For now though, Israel’s gamble seems to have paid off. Other than some initial huffing and puffing from Damascus, no immediate retaliation was forthcoming.
But rather than acting as a deterrence, the air strikes appear to have galvanized Syria to promise even greater amounts of sophisticated weaponry to Hizballah and also to announce the launch of a popular resistance campaign to liberate the Golan Heights, the strategic volcanic plateau in the south west corner of the country that has been occupied by Israel since 1967.
Israel’s intervention into the grueling Syrian civil war comes amid faint glimmers of a diplomatic breakthrough with the U.S. and Russia agreeing to an international conference to help end a conflict that has left more than 70,000 people dead. But the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has gained some tactical military successes of late, launching mini-offensives to retake territory previously lost to opposition rebels.
The rebel setbacks may have strengthened the Assad regime’s grim resolve to win the conflict, especially given its confidence in the continued support of regional allies, Iran and Hizballah.
Certainly, the Syrian offer to supply more advanced weaponry to Hizballah has been warmly received. “This is a critical strategic decision,” said Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hizballah’s leader, in a televised speech Thursday evening.
“We, the resistance in Lebanon, announce that we are ready to receive any sort of physical weaponry, even if it is going to disturb the [military] balance [in the Middle East],” Nasrallah added. “We are ready to receive these weapons and we are competent enough to possess them. We will use these weapons to defend our people and our country.”
Syria’s embattled government has additionally served notice that any further air strikes by Israel will incur an immediate – albeit unspecified – retaliation.
“The instruction has been made to respond immediately to any new Israeli attack without [additional] instruction from any higher leadership and our retaliation will be strong and painful against Israel,” Faisal Miqdad, Syria’s deputy foreign minister, told Agence France Presse in an interview Thursday. His comments echo previous reports this week in Syrian media loyal to the regime of Bashar Assad that missile batteries will be able to respond to another Israeli air attack.
And Hizballah sources say that they too have received similar instructions. “From that night [Sunday] to this day we haven’t slept a wink. If there’s another air strike, if the Israelis hit Lebanon or Syria, we’ll retaliate immediately,” Abu Khalil, a veteran Hizballah combatant told TIME, giving his nom de guerre as he was not authorized to talk to the media. “We are ready and the Syrians are ready,” he added, speaking Wednesday before Nasrallah’s speech.
Abu Khalil’s colleague Haj Hassan, another combat veteran, doubted that Israel would risk another air strike in the near future. “They can’t do it. Can you hold four watermelons in one hand?” he asked, meaning that a fourth air strike would prove too much of a burden for Israel because of the backlash.
Nevertheless, there are no indications that Israel intends to suspend the air strikes against weapons systems it considers “game changers” in the context of the Israel-Hizballah conflict. Israel appears to calculate that the Assad regime cannot afford to retaliate while fighting for its survival against opposition rebel forces.
Similarly, Hizballah is busy deploying fighters into Syria to help the Assad regime crush the rebel factions in what has fast turned into a brutal sectarian war. Hizballah has shown no interest in resuming direct hostilities with Israel since the end of a month-long war in July-August 2006 when the group’s crack fighters fought the Israeli army to a standstill in the battlefields of south Lebanon.
The sophistication of the weaponry allegedly being transferred to Hizballah today underlines not only Israeli concerns but also the huge expansion of the group‘s military capabilities over the past two decades. Twenty years ago, the largest rocket facing Israel from Lebanon was the 122mm Katyusha with a range of about 12 miles, just far enough to cross Israel’s then-occupied border strip in south Lebanon and threaten a narrow ribbon of northern Israel.
Since then, the Israelis have watched as Hizballah’s rocket arsenal has grown in size and quality: first came Iranian 240mm Fajr-3 and 333mm Fajr-5 rockets which placed Haifa, 25 miles south of the Lebanese border, within range for the first time. Then came Syrian 220mm and 302mm rockets followed by the Iranian 600mm Zelzal-1 and Zelzal-2s, the latter possessing a range of some 125 miles.
Israeli officials wrung their hands amid the build-up, unwilling to risk a war by attacking the arms depots in Syria or convoys moving into Lebanon. Instead, they called for international pressure to check the flow of arms and regularly aired their assessments of Hizballah’s latest rocket tallies — 8,000 in 2000, rising to 10,000 two years later and 13,000 on the eve of war in 2006.
Hizballah’s military clout has helped ensure that the party remains the dominant political and military force in Lebanon. It insists that its formidable military might is necessary to defend Lebanon against future Israeli aggression, a justification that wins little sympathy from Hizballah’s critics who fear the influence the party’s weapons bring to bear on the domestic scene.
Hizballah typically refuses to disclose details of its arsenal. But the organization does not disguise the fact that it has amassed a significant stockpile of advanced weapons and today its leaders boast that no place in Israel is beyond its reach. “We don’t fight our enemies with swords of wood,” quipped Nasrallah in 2007.
Since the 2006 war, Hizballah’s armaments have expanded even further in quantity and sophistication. Israeli officials claim the Shi’ite party has acquired anything between 60,000 to 80,000 rockets. In 2009, reports emerged that Hizballah had received M600 missiles, a Syrian engineered version of Iran’s Fateh-110 with a guidance system that allowed it to strike within 500 yards of its target at its maximum range of around 150 miles.
A few months later in 2010, Western and Israeli intelligence sources were alleging that Scud ballistic missiles had been transferred to Hizballah’s care, although it was unclear whether the missiles had been smuggled into Lebanon or remained housed in Syrian military bases close to the Lebanese border.
The target of Israeli air strikes on Friday and Sunday appears to have included upgraded versions of Iran’s Fateh-110s with slightly longer range and improved accuracy over the Syrian M600s.
Smuggling rockets nudging 30 feet in length across Syria’s closely scrutinized border with Lebanon is a skill in itself. The arms convoys tend to follow dirt tracks that snake across the remote rugged mountains marking the border. They roll in at night and when possible use poor weather to mask their movements. According to sources close to Hizballah, the party’s engineers sometimes cut the local electricity supply and jam cell phone and radio signals when the convoys are on the move.
Israel is so concerned at Hizballah’s acquisition of advanced arms that the rate of Israeli reconnaissance flights above Lebanon since the beginning of the year is roughly double that of the same time in 2012, according to sources with the United Nations peacekeeping force in south Lebanon which uses ground and ship-borne radars to track the overflights. The rumble of Israeli jets can be heard above Beirut on a near daily basis, their white contrails criss-crossing the blue skies.
Hizballah proved in the 2006 war that it possesses top range Russian anti-tank missiles which were employed to deadly effect against Israel’s fleet of Merkava tanks and in one instance to bring down a troop-transport helicopter as it was taking off, killing the five-man crew. The group also came close to sinking an Israeli naval vessel with an Iranian anti-ship missile. But its air defense capabilities remain something of a mystery – for now.
Some analysts speculate that Nasrallah’s frequent reference to military “surprises” in store for Israel in the next conflict will be the unveiling of advanced anti-aircraft capabilities to dent Israel’s vital aerial dominance over Lebanon. “In the  war, we showed the Israelis that they cannot use the sea.
They used their helicopters and we took them out. They used their best tanks and we slaughtered them,” said Abu Khalil. “We have orders to keep the skies open for them for now. But when that order changes, you will see what is our next surprise.”
The Israeli jets that attacked the Syrian military bases on the past three occasions launched their long-range missiles from high altitude in Lebanese airspace 10 miles or more from their targets to lower the risk posed by Syria’s dense array of anti-aircraft batteries in the Damascus area. But if the attacks against Hizballah’s arms caches in Syria continue, the Israeli air crews could suddenly find that Lebanese airspace has become equally as dangerous.
Jordan Moves to Scrap Peace Treaty over Arrest of Jerusalem Mufti
The arrest of the Jerusalem Mufti on Tuesday for throwing chairs at Jews on
the Temple Mount prompted the Jordanian parliament on Wednesday to demand that
King Abdullah expel the Israeli envoy. The legislators also called to start a
draft for a law to scrap the peace treaty with Israel.
Police arrested an Arab from entering the Temple Mount, and an enraged Grand Mufti and other Arabs began throwing plastic chairs at five Jews who entered the Temple Mount under police escort. Arab media said they prostrated themselves, an act of prayer that the Waqf prohibits, except for Muslims.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Washington Post the group did not carry out any act of prayer. As usual, Palestinian Authority media exaggerated the entire scene. Arab media always report that Jews “stormed” the Temple Mount. The Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported that 50, and not five, Jews prostrated themselves.
Israeli police stepped in to end the clash before it could get out of hand and arrested the Mufti, a rare action.
It did not take much time for Jordan to hear of the altercation, and the country’s parliament unanimously agreed that the kingdom should expel the Israeli ambassador and recall its own ambassador from Tel Aviv. The parliament added its own imagination to the facts and claimed that Israel is trying to build a bridge between the Al Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem “settlements.” The parliament also called for drafting legislation to scrap the peace treaty with Israel.
Several hours later, Israel released the Mufti, which probably was not related to the Jordanian parliament’s move. The government knows full well that the Arab world will not sit passive with the Jerusalem Mufti being taken from his home for interrogation.
The U.S. State Department was asked by reporters to comment on the fuss, and assistant spokesman Patrick Ventrell told them, “We urge all sides to respect the status quo of this holy site and to exercise restraint and refrain from provocative actions.
As usual, the State Dept. does not what it is talking about.
Status quo? From when? From 1967?
The Israeli government passed the Protection of Holy Places Law on June 27, 1967.
“The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.”
The wise State Dept. does not also know much about the Mufti, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein.
In 2006, he stated that suicide bombings of Israelis were “legitimate, of course, as long as it plays a role in the resistance.”
On the other hand, one could say he simply was maintaining the status quo, which the Oslo Accords and the peace treaty with Jordan changed.
Jordan controlled the Temple Mount until the Six-Day War in 1967. Before then, Amman did not let Jews visit holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It also prohibited Christians from most churches and holy sites in the Old City, Judea and Samaria, except for few and far between visiting foreign dignitaries.
After Jerusalem was restored to Israel in 1967, the Israeli government didn’t want to have much to do with the Temple Mount for many reasons, not the least of which was the concern of a religious war with Muslims as well as the complicated and complex issue in Jewish law of whether it is even permitted for a Jew to ascend to the site of the destroyed First and Second Temples.
The government left authority for the Temple Mount site in the hands of the Muslim Waqf site, with the stipulation that Israeli police could patrol the site and enter the mosque area, if necessary.
The “status quo” ended in 1969, when an Australian evangelical Christian tried to burn down the mosque to hasten the Second Coming, if not World War III.
4. The Gog/Magog War
Unmoved By Israel, Russia Will Send Top Air-Defense System To Assad
Twice this month, Israel carried out air attacks in the Damascus area to blow up Fateh-110 ground-to-ground missile consignments en route to Hezbollah via Syria from Iran.
Lavrov said recently that the S-300s were to help Syria defend itself against air attacks. Israel suspects that Russia will deliver to Assad six S-300 missile batteries, as well as 144 missiles, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.
At their brief joint press conference Tuesday, it was clear that Netanyahu and Putin had not reached agreement on how to grapple with the Syrian crisis.
The Russian president said that the only way to resolve the crisis was via “the soonest end to armed conflict and the beginning of political settlement.”
He added: “At this sensitive moment, it’s particularly important to avoid any action that could destabilize the situation.”
Netanyahu, however, said that the volatile situation in the Middle East requires action to improve security. “The region around us is very unstable and explosive, and therefore I am glad for the opportunity to examine together new ways to stabilize the area and bring security and stability to the area,” he said. The prime minister’s bottom line was that “Israel will do whatever it takes to defend its citizens.”
Russia has continued to ship weapons to Syria, despite the civil war there, but while it has reportedly delivered less-sophisticated air-defense systems, it refrained from providing Damascus with the S-300s, which have a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles), and the capability to track down and strike multiple targets simultaneously with lethal efficiency.
The weapon would mean a quantum leap in Syria’s air defense capability, including against neighboring countries.
Israel reportedly attacked suspected shipments of advanced Iranian weaponry — the Fateh-110 surface-to-surface missile — in Syria with back-to-back airstrikes this month. Israeli officials signaled there would be more attacks unless Syria refrains from trying to deliver such “game-changing” missiles to Hezbollah. Hezbollah said weapons shipments won’t cease.
On Wednesday, Israel reportedly warned Assad that further attacks were being considered, and that it would “bring down” his regime if he retaliated.
On Monday, Israeli Tourism Minister Uzi Landau accused Russia of destabilizing the Middle East by selling weapons to Assad’s regime. “Anyone who provides weaponry to terror organizations is siding with terror,” Landau said.Undeterred by pleas and warnings from Israel, Russia made clear on Thursday that it will go ahead with its planned delivery of a highly sophisticated air-defense system to Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in an emergency face-to-face meeting on Tuesday that Moscow’s sale of the S-300 missile defense system to Assad could push the Middle East into war.
But Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, evidently unmoved by the dramatic Israeli warning, declared on Thursday that while Moscow was “not signing any new deals,” it would honor existing contracts with Syria, including for the air-defense systems. “We’ve already carried out some of the deal,” Lavrov said, “and we will carry the rest of it out in full.”
A failure to honor signed contracts, Lavrov added in a television interview, would “harm the credibility” of Russia in other arms-sales contracts.
Lavrov’s statements indicated that Netanyahu’s mission to Russia — he flew to meet Putin, immediately after his return from China, for emergency talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi — had failed. In their talks, Netanyahu reportedly told the Russian president that the S-300 had no relevance to Assad’s civil-war battles against rebel groups, and implored Moscow not to deliver the systems, Channel 2 reported.
He said that if acquired by Assad, the S-300 — a state-of-the-art system that can intercept fighter jets and cruise missiles — “is likely to draw us into a response, and could send the region deteriorating into war,” the Channel 2 report said.
On Thursday night, in response to Lavrov’s statements, Israeli officials were quoted by Channel 2 as saying that Jerusalem preferred not to describe Netanyahu’s mission as a failure, but acknowledged that Israel’s “situation would have been far better” if Putin had agreed to cancel the delivery. An Israeli source was quoted as saying that Netanyahu had told Putin the S-300s represent a weapons system that “shatters [Israel's] qualitative edge,” presumably since it would greatly constrain the Israeli air force’s freedom of movement above Syria and neighboring Lebanon.
The Israeli source was also quoted as saying that Israel would “firmly oppose” the transfer of S-300s to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Russia Looks To Establish Mediterranean Fleet While Turkey Weighs Payback For Syrian Bombings
Russian Navy Admiral Viktor Chirkov said Sunday, May 12, that the process is underway for creating a permanent staff to run Russian fleet operations in the Mediterranean Sea. Speaking at Sevastopol, the Black Sea fleet’s home port, Adm.
Chirkov said a staff of 20 officers was already in place. And the Mediterranean deployment would comprise five to six warships and their service vessels as well possibly as nuclear submarines which, say our military sources, are armed with nuclear ballistic missiles.
debkafile’s military sources: The new permanent deployment is the next Russian step for safeguarding Bashar Assad’s regime in Damascus and deterring military attacks on his Hizballah allies and Iranian interests in their three-way bloc.
Moscow is also announcing loud and clear that Russia is finally restoring its military presence to the Middle East in 2013 after the last Soviet squadron exited the Mediterranean in 1992.
The Russian naval step came 24 hours after two car bombs reduced to rubble the center of the Turkish town of Reyhanli near the Syrian border, killing 46 people and injuring scores. Turkish ministers at the scene Sunday openly blamed Syrian military intelligence for the attack’s planning and execution.
This raised concerns in Moscow that Ankara was preparing to deliver a serious reprisal, possibly in the form of an aerial or missile assault, on Syrian military targets.
Russian tacticians reckoned that, after Israel’s two air strikes against Assad regime targets, the Tayyip Erdogan’s government could hardly avoid direct action without appearing to be failing in courage in the eyes of the Turkish public.
Some action is doubly pressing as Prime Minister Erdogan prepares to travel to Washington to meet President Barack Obama on May 16 and present him with evidence that Assad has used chemical weapons in his war on Syrian rebels.
The Reyhanli bombings and Turkey’s potential retaliation sent a fresh wave of alarm across the Syrian neighborhood. Once again, Israeli Air Force warplanes thundered Sunday across South Lebanon and over Hizballah strongholds in the eastern Beqaa Valley near the Syrian border.
Given all these circumstances, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s chances are virtually nil of getting anywhere in his trip to the Black Sea resort of Sochi to persuade President Vladimir Putin to hold back advanced S-300 anti-air missiles from Syria. He can expect to find the Russian president driving full speed for arms deals - not just with Syria, but also with Iraq, Yemen and Sudan.
Putin clearly regards Obama’s decision to keep the US clear of military involvement in the Syrian conflict as an open gateway for a Russian military comeback to the Middle East after a 21-year absence, armed with a cornucopia of weapons for winning clients. For now, there is no stopping him, not even if Turkey or Israel were to embark themselves on military intervention.
5. Apostate Christianity
“Christian Palestinianists” Unable To Establish Beachhead Within Calvary Chapel Movement
In a dramatic showdown last week within the Calvary Chapel movement, the leadership of the California-based association of churches rebuked an event held at North Coast Calvary Chapel that featured a presentation by Palestinian activists.
Called “Hope for the Holy Land,” the seminar program aims to present the Palestinian narrative to church audiences. Observers are saying that what made the North Coast event such a flashpoint was the fact that since its inception, Calvary Chapel has been staunchly pro Israel.
CC remains so, as evidenced by Chuck Smith’s public rebuke, which aired last week, just ahead of the Friday event, which spotlighted discussions by Sami Awad, Lynne Hybels, and Mae Cannon.
Sponsored by World Vision, the relief organization, “Hope for the Holy Land” purports to offer a balanced, nuanced view of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some who attended the North Coast event say the presentations were heavily tilted toward the Palestinian view, which claims the “occupation” is responsible for Palestinian suffering.
On May 9, one day before the North Coast event, Chuck Smith (who founded the Calvary Chapel movement 40 years ago) denounced the decision of North Coast to hold the event. On his “World News Briefing” via HisChannel, Smith made it clear that North Coast’s approach to this issue was an anomaly for CC:
“I’m really shocked…I understand that one of the Calvary Chapels down in the San Diego area is having these fellows who are really friendly to the Palestinian cause, and anti-Israel, and they’re having them to speak there at a church that is affiliated with the Calvary Chapels. I just have such a difficult time with that, to try to understand why a pastor would have an anti-Israel speaker, in these days.”
Israeli officials and American Jewish leadership have long known that Calvary Chapel is a staunch supporter of the Jewish state, especially since mainline American churches have traditionally supported the Palestinians, and a growing number of evangelical churches and ministries seem to be willing to listen to the Palestinian Christian perspective (as espoused by Awad and his family), which differs little from grievances long aired by the Palestine Liberation Organization and its modern manifestation, the Palestinian Authority.
Despite requests to cancel the event, North Coast Calvary Chapel went ahead and on Friday, May 10th , Awad, Hybels, and Cannon presented their views.
"Atheist Churches" On The Rise
You probably attended church services yesterday. It's possible that an atheist you know did as well, in a way. The rise of "atheist churches" is an oxymoronic fact in our culture.
One of the fastest-growing is in London. Its leader asks, "Why is it that people who are atheists get married in a church?" He then answers his question: "There is just something about these places, it's a place of worship, where people have gone for more than 400 years and it's the sort of place where your heart can rise up to those inspired things which is great." Here's my question: What "inspired things" can their hearts "rise up to" if the God who inspired them doesn't exist?
We might expect "atheist churches" in England, where Christianity has been in decline for decades. But what about Houston, Texas, my hometown and arguably the "buckle of the Bible belt"? A group called Houston Oasis describes itself as "a community grounded in reason, celebrating the human experience."
The group was founded by Mike Aus, a onetime Lutheran pastor who is now an atheist. He states, "We are open to any message about life as long as no dogmatic claims are made." However, Houston Oasis's website makes six such dogmatic claims. The first: "People are more important than beliefs." Is this a belief?
Dallas is home to several such "churches" as well. One seeks "to offer atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, and freethinkers all the educational, inspirational, and social and emotional benefits of traditional faith-based churches" but without God.
However, if there is no God, the "benefits" offered by "traditional faith-based churches" would be based on a lie. If so, how can they be "benefits"?
My last question is really the most important: What can Christians learn from the growth of atheist churches?
A pastor in New Jersey offers this answer: "The church has lost touch. We have been dealing with the politics of God in churches [so much] that we forget to really allow people to have an experience with God. Once you have a true experience with God, you do not want to leave his presence. We have done a poor job of welcoming his presence into church."
Do you agree? When you attended worship yesterday, did you encounter God? Theologian Rudolf Otto coined my favorite description of the Almighty: the "mysterium tremendum." Read those words out loud to yourself, slowly.
Sense their gravity and mystery. Every person in Scripture who genuinely encounters God is transformed by the experience, from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5, "Woe to me!") to Peter (Luke 5:8, "Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man!") to John on Patmos (Revelation 1:17, "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead").
When last were you awed by God?
Evangelicals For Hamas! The Anti-Israel Group Speaking In U.S. Mega-Churches
Jesus at the Check Point is a “Christian” organization with a liberal
socialist twist – and will soon be speaking at a church near you.
The group is touring to muster support to alleviate “Christian Persecution,” or so they claim.
The organization’s motto is “non-violent resistance against the Israeli Zionist occupation.” “Zionism is the obstacle to peace,” they write, and they want to “educate evangelical Christians” to “understand the Bible from a Palestinian Christian perspective,” which openly supports a “divided state” as the solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The main dynamo and sponsoring agent of these tours is Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, Israel. Its Second International Conference was led by a Palestinian family, the Awads, including Sami Awad, Bishara Awad and Alex Awad. Claiming to be evangelical Baptists, the Awads were able to muster some influential figures. Several American evangelicals they recruited had taken action to bring them into American churches.
But what many in the West do not know is that this group has nothing to do with being Baptists, nor are involved in any way shape or form with Christian persecution. There is no mention whatsoever by this group of any persecution by Islamists against Christians in the Middle East. The persecution against Christians, they say, emanates from the Jewish presence in all of biblical Judea, Jews they claim confiscated Arab lands.
According to them, it’s the Zionists, not Hamas, that persecute Christians. In fact they promote Hamas’ legitimacy and fully support terrorism, but not as their tactic. To them, terrorism is legitimate as a tactic for other Palestinian groups so long that these are resisting what they term as “Israeli occupation.”
I captured their TV interview before the evidence was removed, after contacting mega-church pastor Wayne Cordeiro of Foursquare Gospel Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. Seven years ago, Cordeiro invited this group and was persuaded to call Israel “an occupation.”
And while Alex Awad says that he “does not support Hamas,” this declaration has fine print; he insisted evangelicals need to accept the reality that Hamas is the “legitimate representation of the Palestinian people.” Cordeiro shockingly concurred: “We need to give them [Hamas] a chance.”
Our Arabic sources show that besides supporting Hamas, this group supports the PFLP, the Popular Front to Liberate Palestine terrorist group. All this despite that both these organizations are declared illegal by the United States.
The history of this fiery Palestinian brand of Christianity is not new; it was an invention by Palestinian socialist revolutionaries from decades ago that arose to recruit Christians to join the ranks of socialists, communists and even terror groups like the PFLP. To understand this brand of theology, we secured a dissertation for graduation approved by the Bethlehem Bible College and written by Yousef Ijha titled “Study on Christian Zionism.” It stated:
“Herzl established the first Zionist Congress in 1897, and succeeded in gathering the Jews of the world around him including the shrewdest of Jews to issue forth the most dangerous plan in the history of the world, ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ derived from sacred Jewish teaching.”
All that while ignoring that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was proven to be a fraudulent document by the best of historians.
True to the socialist theology taught by the Awads, Ijha became a prominent figure and organizer for the communist leftist group World Federation of Democratic Youth, an anti-American group that has branches in the Middle East and North Africa. While he was a student of Awad, Ijha publicly proclaimed his allegiance to the PFLP terrorist organization while honoring the famous terrorist Ahmad Saadat, the secretary general of the group: “All greetings to our comrade … Ahmad Saadat of the PFLP … and a red greeting drenched in the blood of the martyrs.”
Currently, Saadat is in Israeli custody for his involvement in the murder of former Minister Rehavam Ze’evi.
Indeed, the Awads will concur with their recruits. In May 2008 Alex Awad attended an Islamic terror-supporting conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. Among the speakers at this event was Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini’s daughter, Zahra Mostafavi, who has previously urged children to become suicide bombers. Also included were representatives from Hamas and Hezbollah, which he tried to whitewash.
This group expresses through essays and news media how it abhors evangelicals’ understanding of biblical prophecy regarding Israel. Yet they themselves are not void of prophetic proclamations. Alex seven years ago on Cordeiro’s show predicted that within three to four months Hamas would morph into a spotless leopard. Reality today is that Hamas is gaining momentum after the Arab Spring and is adding more spots. Hamas reinstated Islamic laws including the “prohibition of arms for the vanquished non-Muslims; the prohibition of church bells; and restrictions concerning the building and restoration of churches.”
The main deception used to convince the naive to join the ranks of the enemy is first to convince evangelicals that what counts is the Gospel and nothing more. Evangelicals need to beware: Christian Palestinianism is designed to eradicate the Jewish presence and not aid persecuted Christians.
7. Increase in Knowledge/New Technologies
"Big Brother" Is Big Business?
The odds are you are not just a face in the crowd any longer. Even if your picture isn't plastered all over social networking and photo-sharing sites, facial recognition technology in public places is making it harder if not impossible to remain anonymous.
Lesley Stahl reports on the new ways this technology is being used that even has one of its inventors calling it too intrusive. Her 60 Minutes report will be broadcast Sunday, May 19 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Professor Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie Mellon, who researches how technology impacts privacy, stunned Stahl with an experiment. He photographed random students on the campus and in short order, not only identified several of them, but in a number of cases found their personal information, including social security numbers, just using a facial recognition program he downloaded for free.
Acquisti says smart-phones will make "facial searches" as common as Google searches in the future. And nearly everybody can be subject to such prying, even those who are careful about their Internet use.
"One of the participants, before doing the experiment, told us, 'You're not going to find me because I'm very careful about my photos online.' And we found him," says Acquisti, "Because someone else had uploaded a photo of him."
Companies are beginning to use facial recognition technology to improve business. National retailers are installing cameras, some in store mannequins, to learn more about customers, while entities like malls can put cameras in digital billboards that recognize the age and gender of their shoppers and tailor ads to them on the spot.
At the cutting edge of the technology is a system now in testing called Facedeals, which is demonstrated for Stahl at a restaurant. Facial recognition technology quickly identified her and links up to her Facebook "likes" for the information it needs to instantly offer her a deal on her favorite beverage. The offer pops up on her cell phone within seconds of entering the restaurant.
To be clear, Stahl has to "opt in," or give permission for her data to be retrieved by Facedeals, developed by marketing firm Redpepper. But the fear is as facial recognition gets better and more in use by commercial entities, it will increasingly track us without our knowledge or consent.
"What's unique about face recognition is the fact that you can do it surreptitiously, from a distance, and continually," explains Joseph Atick, one of the pioneers in developing facial recognition. Two decades ago, as a young scientist, he helped make the technology work. Now it gives him pause. "Big Brother is no longer big government; Big Brother is big business."
Atick believes the commercial use of facial recognition technology should be regulated, as the current lack of laws could lead to an infringement of people's privacy. "My identity, my faceprint should be recognized as my property. My face is as important as my financial records, as my health records. It's very private to me," Atick tells Stahl.
Hypersonic Missiles Will Be Able To Hit Target In Less Than An Hour Anywhere On Earth
A lightning-quick experimental aircraft made history when it sped more than 3,000 mph above the Pacific Ocean in a test flight, reigniting decades-long efforts to develop a vehicle that could travel faster than a speeding bullet.
The unmanned X-51A WaveRider, which resembles a shark-nosed missile, was launched midair Wednesday off the coast near Point Mugu. It sped westward for 240 seconds, reaching Mach 5.1, or more than five times the speed of sound, before plunging into the ocean as planned.
The X-51A, built and tested in Southern California, was powered by an air-breathing engine that has virtually no moving parts. It flew for longer than any other aircraft of its kind and traveled more than 264 miles in little more than six minutes.
A passenger aircraft traveling at that speed could easily fly from Los Angeles to New York in less than an hour.
"It was a full mission success," Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager for the Air Force Research Laboratory Aerospace Systems Directorate, said in a statement."I believe all we have learned from the X-51A WaveRider will serve as the bedrock for future hypersonics research and ultimately the practical application of hypersonic flight."
While supersonic flight refers to velocity that exceeds the speed of sound, hypersonic flight refers to going five times the speed of sound or more.
Since the 1960s, the Air Force has been flirting with hypersonic technology, which can propel vehicles at speeds that cannot be achieved from traditional turbine-powered jet engines. But the technology has been exceedingly difficult to perfect. Previous attempts produced very limited results.
In Wednesday's test flight, the X-51A took off from Edwards Air Force Base, slung under the wing of a B-52 bomber.At about 50,000 feet,it was released like a bomb and engaged a solid rocket booster that accelerated it to Mach 4.8 in about 26 seconds.
After separating from the booster, the X-51A scramjet engine then lit and accelerated to Mach 5.1 at 60,000 feet.
The cruiser's scramjet engine has virtually no moving parts. The way it works: hydrocarbon fuel is injected into the scramjet's combustion chamber where it mixes with the air rushing through the chamber and is ignited in a process likened to lighting a match in a hurricane.
The X-51A then is designed to ride its own shock wave. That's how the cruiser earned the WaveRider nickname.
After the flight, the X-51A broke up after splashing into the Pacific. There are no plans to recover it.
While the aircraft was designed to reach Mach 6, engineers said they were happy because the program objective was to prove the viability of air-breathing, high-speed scramjet propulsion.
This was the last of four test X-51A vehicles originally conceived when the $300 million technology demonstration program began in 2004.None of the other flights went the distance.
Work on the X-51A was done by Boeing Co.'s research center in Huntington Beach and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in Canoga Park. All told, 370 seconds of data were collected from the experiment.
Aerospace engineers say that harnessing technology capable of sustaining hypersonic speeds is crucial to the next generation of missiles, military aircraft, spacecraft - and even passenger planes.
The Pentagon believes that hypersonic missiles are the best way to hit a target in an hour or less. The only vehicle that the military has in its inventory with that kind of capability is the massive, nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile. Other means of hitting a distant target, such as cruise missiles and long-range bomber planes, can take hours to reach their destination.
The Pentagon itself has funded major hypersonic technology programs over the last several decades, most notably with the X-15 rocket plane that was built by North American Aviation and flew a half-century ago.
Over the last 10 years, the Pentagon said it spent as much as $2 billion on hypersonic technologies and supporting engineering.
For now, there is no immediate successor to the X-51A program.But the Air Force will continue hypersonic research and the successes of the X-51A will likely find its way to the high-speed strike weapon program, which is currently in its early formation phase.
8. Christian Worldview/Issues
Switching Sides: Latinos Ditching Catholicism For Evangelical Churches
Latinos make up the largest ethnic minority in the United States — 52 million, according to latest Census stats. The majority — two-thirds — are still traditionally Roman Catholic. But there's been a palpable shift from one generation to the next, with the newer ones being "born again."
Evangelicals now number about 20 percent of the Latino population, according to the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
The change poses the greatest concern for the Catholic Church — though many are leaving for evangelical churches, the volume of Catholics had remained steady primarily through immigration from Mexico and Central American countries.
The irony is that many evangelical converts tend to more closely mirror Catholic teaching on issues like abortion and gay marriage.
"It's an odd mixture where the Roman Catholic church is losing members but in so far as those members going to Pentecostal Evangelicals, they are in fact becoming more closely identified and more supportive of the Roman Catholic Church on these social issues," said Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion.
So what's the difference?
It’s the relationship between worshiper and God that each denomination affords its respective followers, according to De Jesus.
"What I have seen, at least in my own experience, is this encounter with God that we didn't experience in the Catholic Church,” he said. “A system that was so rigid and God seemed so far."
With the election of Pope Francis, the first pope from Latin America, the Catholic Church is hoping to halt the exodus.
It’s definitely a step in the right direction, said De Jesus, but by itself it’s not likely to reverse the tide.
"We applaud the Pope and he is Hispanic. But people still want a relationship with God. And if the Catholic Church does not offer that, they will continue to see an exodus from their organizations to Protestants."
The research seems to back up his conclusion.
"We are not picking up any trends of people returning to the Roman Catholic Church. If they don't become Protestant or Pentecostal, they typically become un-affiliated,” said Lugo.Alfredo De Jesus is a fire-and-brimstone preacher who represents a global groundswell of Hispanics who've left the Catholic Church to become Protestant Evangelical Christians.
De Jesus pastors the New Life Church in Chicago, helping to expand it from 120 members in 2000 to over 17,000 today on multiple campuses.
"In the Evangelical church, we find freedom to worship, and with Hispanics, it's in us to be able to love people. Naturally, we just love people. We are hugging people," De Jesus said.
Saudi Court Sentences Man To 300 Lashes, 6 Years In Prison For Helping Woman Convert To Christianity
A Lebanese man was sentenced to 300 lashes with a whip and six years in
prison for his role in helping a Saudi woman convert to Christianity and flee
the kingdom in the latest example of the religious intolerance that grips the
The court in the Eastern Saudi city of Khobar -- situated on the coast of the Persian Gulf -- also sentenced a Saudi man to two years in prison and 200 lashes for helping the young woman named Maryam -- who has been dubbed “the girl of Khobar” -- in her escape to Sweden to secure asylum.
Maryam, whose case has been closely followed in Saudi Arabia, criticized Saudi Arabia’s Sunni monarchy for instilling in her a hatred of Judaism and Christianity, according to the English-language Saudi Gazette. The Jeddah-based paper wrote that she “fell in love with the religions after she found peace in Christianity.”
The two men, who worked with Maryam at an insurance company, were arrested last July following a complaint filed by the woman’s father, according to reports. The lawyer for Maryam’s family, Hmood al-Khalidi, expressed satisfaction with the severe punishments.
Maryam, who last year appeared in a YouTube video and proclaimed her conversion to Christianity, embraced Christianity after dreaming about climbing to the sky and hearing God say that Jesus is his son, according to the Gazette. But her unabashed faith did not go over well in her homeland, which has been singled out for its intolerance of religious beliefs other than Islam.
Saudi Arabia’s failure to guarantee religious freedom in its closed society prompted the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its new report to cite the Gulf monarchy ruled by the 88-year-old King Abdullah as a “country of particular concern” because of its egregious violations of religious freedom.
The ongoing persecution of Christians and lack of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia has also triggered sharp criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
“Until all people have the freedom to choose and practice their religion, we have an obligation to speak out for the voiceless and to develop policies that protect these communities,” Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., co-chair of the Caucus on Religious Minorities in the Middle East, told FoxNews.com.
The shocking punishments came as President Obama’s Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Suzan Johnson Cook, departed for Saudi Arabia. Rep Joe R. Pitts, R-Pa., a member of the Helsinki Commission and Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, said the Obama administration should speak up for Maryam, as well as the men convicted of guiding her on her spiritual path.
“Freedom of religion is an internationally recognized human right,” Pitts said. “The Obama administration should speak out on this case and urge the Saudis to release these two men.”
Aaron W. Jensen, a spokesperson for the Bureau Of Democracy Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. State Department, told FoxNews.com,”We are seeking information about these reports. And if confirmed, they are very concerning. On freedom of expression and freedom of religion, which includes the right to change one’s religion, are fundamental human rights enshrined in the universal of declaration of rights. We strongly oppose laws that curb the peaceful exercise of these freedoms.”
Jensen added, “We continue to engage the Saudis at the highest levels to resolve these cases and to press for equal treatment in law and practice of all religious groups.”
Multiple FoxNews.com telephone calls and emails to Nail Al-Jubeir, the Saudi Arabian Embassy spokesman in Washington, were not returned. Lebanon’s Ambassador to the U.S. Antoine Chedid did not immediately respond to a FoxNews.com query.
Lebanon’s foreign affairs minister, Adnan Mansour, told the publication NOW that the case was “personal and not political” and was waiting for more information from the Lebanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia.
“There is zero tolerance for any non-Muslim religions in Saudi Arabia,” Nina Shea, the director of the Washington-based Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, told FoxNews.com. Shea, a leading expert on the persecution of Christians, added Saudi “imams promote the destruction and humiliation of Christians and Jews” during their services in the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina.
Shea, a co-author of the recently released, “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” said a menu of penalties are available to the State Department, including economic sanctions in an attempt to change Saudi intolerance. Shea said the U.S. government has thus far exempted Saudi Arabia from punitive measures because of the oil trade.
“Religious freedom has not been a priority in the United States' bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia, and, as a consequence, the U.S. government has not held the Saudis to account for reforms that would substantially improve conditions on the ground," Dwight Bashir, deputy director for policy at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, told FoxNews.com.
"Since 2004, the United States has designated Saudi Arabia a severe violator of religious freedom, yet the U.S. government has waived any punitive action that such a designation mandates. Until the U.S. government lifts this waiver and prioritizes religious freedom in its relationship, you can expect limitations and abuses to continue."
Top 5 Christian Leaders Targeted by Gay Activists
Defending what the Bible teaches about homosexuality can often lead to public condemnation from gay activists. In recent years especially, Christians have been ridiculed and called bigots for their beliefs. Here are five well-known Christian leaders who have been targeted for their beliefs.
When President Barack Obama invited Rick Warren, head pastor at Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of the best-selling A Purpose Driven Life, to deliver the invocation at his 2009 inauguration, gay rights activists were furious. About 100 protesters demonstrated outside Warren's church the Sunday before the inauguration.
"There is no substantive difference between Rick Warren and James Dobson," Kathryn Kolbert, then-president of People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group, told CNN. "The only difference is tone. His tone is moderate, but his ideas are radical."
Obama, who opposed gay marriage at the time, defended his decision saying the inauguration will feature "a wide range of viewpoints ... and that's how it should be, because that's what America is about."
The same controversy arose after Obama was re-elected. Louie Giglio, pastor at Passion City Church in Roswell, Ga., was chosen to deliver the benediction for Obama's 2012 Inauguration. This time, though, Giglio withdrew from the ceremony rather than take the heat, and Obama did not rush to his defense as he did for Warren.
Passionate about the issue of modern slavery, Giglio had not even spoken publicly about homosexuality in many years. Some activists, though, discovered a 20-year-old audio of Giglio preaching about what the Bible has to say about homosexuality. He said that Scripture clearly indicates that homosexuality is a sin and he encouraged the congregation to "lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of, not all, but of many in the homosexual community."
Rather that defend himself against the charges that he is "anti-gay," Giglio penned a letter to Obama asking to be removed from the program.
"Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration," Giglio wrote.
The Christian Post reported at the time that Obama may have disagreed with the Inaugural Committee's handling of the Giglio controversy.
After successfully shaming Giglio into withdrawing, gay activists tried again when evangelist Greg Laurie was invited to participate in the National Day of Prayer.
Human Rights Campaign and OutServe-SLDN asked Pentagon officials to remove Laurie, founder of Harvest Crusades and the lead pastor at Harvest churches in Riverside and Orange County, Calif., for "his blatantly anti-LGBT message."
"I won't back down," Laurie exclaimed, quoting a Tom Petty song.
"They do not want me to pray. They describe me as 'homophobic' and so forth. How can you deal with such a situation? We're in a time in our country now where I'm attacked because I believe what the Bible teaches," Laurie added.
Laurie participated in the May 2 event, praying, "Lord, we need Your help in America. In recent days, we have done our best to remove Your Word and Your counsel from our courtrooms, classrooms and culture. It seems, as President Lincoln once said, that we have 'forgotten God.' But Lord, You have not forgotten us! You can bless and help and revive our country again."
Longtime evangelical left leader Jim Wallis has been frequently criticized by gay activists for his positions on homosexuality. In 2011, Sojourners, an advocacy organization founded by Wallis, declined to run an ad on its website sponsored by Believe Out Loud, a pro-gay Christian group.
Many activists have also complained about Wallis' opposition to gay marriage, even though he supported civil unions, opposed the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays serving in the military, and participated in anti-bullying campaigns. Recently, though, Wallis announced he changed his position and now supports gay marriage.
That has not ended the condemnation Wallis receives from his fellow progressives, though. Just last week, Wallis was criticized for warning that immigration reform could be derailed if liberals insist on including benefits for gay partners.
AmericaBlog accused Wallis of stabbing gays in the back and implied that working with conservatives, such as Richard Land, outgoing president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and president-elect of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, is akin to working with the Ku Klux Klan.
Pro-gay marriage activists have also targeted megachurch pastor and televangelist Joel Osteen. Unlike the above examples, though, the interactions have been mostly affable.
Osteen's preaching tends to focus on a positive message. Some have described him as a purveyor of "prosperity theology," a charge he denies. He has also been criticized for "shallow" and "superficial" theology. Perhaps because of this, many in the media often seem surprised that he continues to defend traditional marriage, a topic he is asked about in almost every interview.
"When I've come back to the Scripture, as much as I am for everybody, I don't see same-sex [marriage] in the Scripture," Osteen said in a March interview on CNN.
In 2008, a group of 30 pro-gay Christians representing at least five different groups traveled to Lakewood Church in Houston to meet with Osteen. They were led by Jay Bakker, son of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. They wanted to convince Osteen that homosexuality is not a sin.
After the meeting, a spokesperson for Lakewood Church told The Christian Post, "it was a very cordial, very nice meeting. But ultimately through our conversations, we continued to disagree with Soulforce and Jay's position."
Homeland Security Funded Exercise Portrayed Homeschoolers as Terrorists
Taken on its own, the KOMO 4 News report out of Seattle paints a stark and frightening picture of police battling “angry parents” in a simulated shooting at a school. The practice of police training to take on everything from homeschoolers to patriots and constitutionalists – “rightwing extremists” in government parlance – is anything but a rarity. Such exercises are now a prominent feature of the expanding police state.
In 2002, Alex Jones covered school shooting police exercises targeting homeschoolers, a topic included in his film, Police State Trilogy. Since that time, the effort to malign homeschooling parents as extremists and terrorists has only increased.
In 2004, cops in Muskegon, Michigan conducted a “mock attack” on a school bus as part of a terrorism response exercise. The terrorists portrayed in the exercise were not fanatical Muslims or even phantom rightwing extremists – they were said to be fanatical homeschoolers.
According to the Muskegon Chronicle, the exercise was a simulated “attack by a fictitious radical group called Wackos Against Schools and Education who believe everyone should be homeschooled,” Homeschool World reported in September, 2004.
The simulated attack was funded by the Department of Homeland Security.
The mock attack was funded by a Homeland Security grant and required the participation of students to act bloody and injured, also involving hospitals, morgues and mannequins painted up to look like dead children, as parents were ordered to dash to emergency rooms frantic in the belief that their child had perished.
The Muskegon Area Intermediate School District later had to apologize for characterizing homeschoolers as terrorists after hundreds of complaints poured in.
Stereotypes consistently propped-up by the media demonize homeschoolers as hicks, retards and extremists, despite the fact the local and national spelling bees are routinely won by homeschooled children.
The ceaseless attack on homeschooling is an attempt to neutralize any alternatives parents have to placing their children in the state run re-education gulags known as the “public school system.”
“Michigan is the epicenter of the agenda to mould all schools into youth internment centers, indoctrinating all children to accept the presence of surveillance cameras, biometric scanning to access buildings and buy food, ID tracking cards and men in uniforms pointing guns at them as normal,” Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones wrote on November 6, 2008.
“Allied to this is the openly stated agenda not to educate but to dumb down students and brainwash them with bizarre humanist rhetoric about the evils of the family, all in preparation for their smooth acquiescence into enslaved adulthood as a downtrodden worker bee under the control matrix of the elite.”
But it is not simply homeschoolers who are portrayed as terrorists in government school exercises.
In 2011, Pottawatamie County, Iowa, and Homeland Security conducted an exercise simulating a school shooting. The shooter was portrayed as a “white teen boy, whose family is involved in anti-illegal immigration rallies” and supports the Second Amendment. The father of the shooter was portrayed as a member of an “underground white supremacist group,” according to an email sent to Infowars.com.
School children are now routinely subjected to unannounced exercises. In a Michigan school in 2006, militarized cops took students “from the classroom into the halls, patted down by officers and asked what they had in their pockets.” The Associated Press reported that some of the children “were so scared, they just about wet their pants.”
“In the years since 9/11 and the Columbine school shootings, there has been a concerted effort to make school emergency drills much more ‘realistic’ and much more intense,” writes Michael Snyder. “Unfortunately, the fact that many of these drills are deeply traumatizing many children does not seem to bother too many people. Do we really need to have ‘active shooter’ drills where men point guns at our kids and fire blanks at them?”
Snyder documents numerous instances where school officials, in coordination with local militarized police often operating with Department of Homeland Security grants, have relocated children during mock terror drills and active shooter scenarios. Schools also routinely engage in lockdown drills, an activity that naturally acclimates young minds to accept an ever-encroaching police state.
“Schools have become hi-tech prisons,” Steve Watson wrote in 2007. “Children all across America and the UK are being conditioned to accept that they are not free and that they must submit to draconian laws and measures for their own safety… Everyday we post reports from mainstream news sources documenting this disturbing trend.”
The demonization of Americans who are opposed to interning their children in public reeducation facilities predates the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the attacks of September 11, 2001.
According to Time Magazine, the rhetoric that supposedly contributed to the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City came from “well known-elements of far-right thought: tax protesters, Christian homeschoolers, conspiracy theorists… and self-reliant types” in opposition to the federal government.
Lew Finch, the superintendent of schools in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, went further and directly placed the blame for the bombing on homeschoolers. “There is a dedicated, very well organized, very well financed movement in America that is very anti-public schools, very anti-government,” he told the Des Moines Register on May 4, 1995. “The ultimate example of that sentiment is the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.”
“We will continue to see armed men terrorize our children, aim guns at their head and indoctrinate them to accept living under tyranny unless parents and teacher organizations band together to file huge lawsuits against those responsible and we vehemently denounce the insidious Sovietization of the public school system,” Watson and Jones noted.
Homeschool parents and organizations, as well, would be wise to combat insidious government propaganda that likens them to terrorists. Left unopposed, this massive brainwashing effort will convert an entire generation into believing that homeschooling is not only evil and socially harmful, but it breeds terrorists.
The goal is to completely eradicate parent directed education and the threat it poses to public indoctrination mills that train children to passively participate in their own destruction while simultaneously worshipping government.
Larger Portion Of Canadians Denying Religious Affiliation
A growing number of Canadians are identifying themselves as having no religious affiliation, although more than two-thirds of the country’s population says they’re Christian.
Statistics Canada’s voluntary National Household Survey (NHS) released Wednesday also shows immigration is contributing to the growth of non-Christian religions, including Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist.
The NHS shows nearly one-quarter (about 7.85 million people) of the Canadian population had no religious affiliation — a sizeable increase from 16.5% a decade earlier.
Roman Catholics easily remain the largest Christian group, with more than 12.7 million people identifying themselves as Roman Catholic, or approximately 38.7% of Canada’s population. The largest share of Roman Catholics lived in Quebec (45.3%) and Ontario (31%).
Canadians affiliated with the United Church were the second-largest Christian group, with approximately two million people, or 6.1% of the total population, followed by 1.6 million Anglicans (5% of the population).
Statisticians caution there is no way of knowing how good or bad the information from the National Household Survey is. The voluntary nature of the survey leaves gaps in the data from groups that tend not to respond to voluntary surveys, including new immigrants and low-income families. Experts believe the data should provide a fairly accurate broad scale picture of Canada, but that the smaller the group surveyed, the less reliable the information.
In 2011, more than one million people identified themselves as Muslim, accounting for 3.2% of Canada’s population — up from 2% in the 2001 census. Ontario was home to more than half the Muslim population. Two-thirds of Canada’s one million Muslims lived in the three largest metropolitan areas: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
Toronto, by far, had the largest Muslim population, at approximately 424,900. The largest share of Muslims who arrived in Canada between 2006 and 2011 came from Pakistan.
Nearly half a million people said they’re Hindu (1.5% of the population), with about 455,000 people identifying themselves as Sikh, and 366,800 as Buddhists. Most of the recent Hindu or Sikh immigrants came from India, while most Buddhists came from China.
Nearly half a million people said they’re Hindu (1.5% of the population), with about 455,000 people identifying themselves as Sikh, and 366,800 as Buddhists. Most of the recent Hindu or Sikh immigrants came from India, while most Buddhists came from China.
Ontario was home to 73.6% of the total Hindu population in 2011. Among the 455,000 Sikhs in Canada, roughly 44% lived in British Columbia and nearly 40% in Ontario.
Immigration is responsible for the growing popularity of some religions in Canada and absence of faith among others, according to the National Household Survey.
Among immigrants who arrived in Canada before 1971, only 2.9% identified themselves as Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist. However, these religions accounted for 33% of immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2011.
In the 2011 survey, 78.4% of the immigrants who came to Canada prior to 1971 identified themselves as Christians. However, the share of immigrants who came to Canada over the last five years and identify themselves as Christian decreased to 47.5%.
In the latest survey, 16% of immigrants who came to Canada before 1971 had no religious affiliation, but that proportion rose to 22% among immigrants who came between 2001 and 2005, and 19.5% of recent immigrants.
9. Other Events To Watch
China Conducts Test of New Anti-Satellite Missile
China’s military on Monday conducted the first test of a new ground-launched anti-satellite missile that was fired into space and disguised as a space-exploration rocket, according to U.S. officials.
The test was carried out early Monday from the Xichang Space Launch center and was identified by officials as the new Dong Ning-2 ASAT missile.
The ASAT test comes a week after China protested the release of the Pentagon’s annual report on the Chinese military buildup that mentioned Beijing’s development of anti-satellite weapons.
The Free Beacon first disclosed the existence of the new missile in October and a missile researcher reported in January that a new ASAT missile was being readied for its first test.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was asked if China conducted an ASAT test during a briefing for reporters in Beijing on Tuesday. He did not deny that it was carried out.
“I am not aware of the development that you described,” he said. “China has consistently advocated the peaceful use of outer space and is opposed to militarizing and conducting an arms race in outer space.”
Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Cathy Wilkinson said: “We don’t have a comment on it as we don’t discuss intelligence.”
A U.S. official familiar with intelligence reports said the DN-2, as a high earth-orbit attack missile, is a significant advance for China’s program of developing asymmetric warfare capabilities for use against the United States. Others include cyber-warfare capabilities and anti-ship ballistic missiles.
It could not be learned if the latest ASAT test involved an impact with a target satellite.
A second official said the Chinese apparently disguised the ASAT missile test as a space exploration experiment. The website of the National Space Science Center, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, reported Monday that a sounding rocket was used in a high-altitude scientific exploration test.
“This experiment used a high-altitude space-exploring rocket, Langmuir probe, high-energetic particle detectors, magnetometers and barium-powder release experimental apparatus and other payload of scientific exploration to test and measure the ionosphere, the high-energy particles and magnetic fields of the near-Earth space strength and structure,” the notice said.
China in 2007 conducted its first successful hit-to-kill ASAT test against a weather satellite in low-earth orbit. The impact left tens of thousands of pieces of debris in orbit that continue to threaten both manned and unmanned spacecraft.
Defense officials have said China’s ASAT weapons, including missile interceptors, lasers, and electronic jammers, are designed to disrupt satellite communications and navigation systems used extensively by the U.S. military in conducting joint warfare.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stated in written answers to questions during his confirmation hearing in January that the United States would seek to avoid engaging in hostilities in space.
However, Hagel revealed that U.S. space policy calls for “the secretary of defense to develop capabilities, plans and options to deter, defend against, and, if necessary, defeat efforts to interfere with or attack U.S. or allied space systems.”
The statement was the clearest indication that the Pentagon is preparing to develop “counterspace” weapons in response to Chinese anti-satellite weapons.
“The chances are good this is indeed an ASAT test as it was launched from the Xichang Space Launch Center, the same launch site used for the January 2007 successful SC-19 ASAT interception of a Chinese weather satellite,” said Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. Xichang is located in southern Sichuan Province.
Fisher said Chinese Internet reports stated that the ASAT test of what U.S. official say was a DN-2 may have up to four stages and included one or two liquid-fueled upper stages to provide greater thrust as the missile closed in on a target.
“While there so far has been no report of a successful interception, even a very near miss would serve to validate this new [People’s Liberation Army] ASAT system,” Fisher said.
A validated DN-2 ASAT system would provide the Chinese military with the capability to “degrade or severely damage the U.S. Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system,” he said.
“This is not merely a threat against some American military satellites, but a threat to a what has become a vital part of the global electronic infrastructure, affecting global commerce and financial flows, to your personal finances that contribute to personal freedom.”
Fisher said China has been “preaching” that other states should disarm while Beijing secretly builds space weaponry at the same time it has denied being engaged in the space arms buildup.
“In the face of such a threat, the United States simply has no choice but to pursue symmetric capabilities to deter Chinese attacks in space, but also to consider its own requirements for space superiority,” he said.
The major concern for Pentagon war planners is that China, with an arsenal of around two dozen anti-satellite missiles, could severely disrupt U.S. command-and-control systems, intelligence-gathering satellites, and navigation satellites used to guide precision guided missiles.
Security analyst Gregory Kulacki said in an online posting in January that the ASAT test was expected as early as that month.
“Given these high-level administration concerns and past Chinese practice, there seems to be a strong possibility China will conduct an ASAT test within the next few weeks,” Kulacki, a Chinese-language speaker with the Union of Concerned Scientists stated.
Defense officials disclosed to the Free Beacon that the DN-2 test was initially planned for last fall, but was delayed by the Chinese over concerns that the test would upset President Barack Obama’s reelection bid.
While details of the DN-2 are not known, U.S. officials said it is expected to be a high earth-orbit interceptor capable of destroying strategic navigation, communication, or intelligence satellites by ramming into them at high speeds.
The DN-2 is said to be capable of hitting targets in high-earth orbit between 12,000 and 22,236 miles above earth. Many military, intelligence, and commercial satellites orbit at that altitude.
A Pentagon-State Department report to Congress last year on export controls stated that in addition to ground-launched ASAT missiles, China is building high-technology kinetic and direct energy weapons for ASAT use.