Saturday, December 19, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!




I'm off for my holiday break and wanted to wish you all a happy and joyous Christmas. I know that the news we link to here is often grim but I'm sure that most of you who visit this site are Christians who understand that beyond the headlines we know that God is sovereign and always in control. We know that this effort to be watchful has a purpose and a focus, and that focus is on Jesus Christ.

We watch the signs of His return, but this season is all about the First Coming, not the Second Coming, so as we turn to our families and friends to celebrate the holidays we offer thanks and praise to God and above all, celebrate Jesus as the reason for the season.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing
lyrics by Charles Wesley

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Friday, December 18, 2015

Wars & Rumors of War

My Way News - UN endorses peace process for Syria, but no mention of Assad
My Way News reports: "U.N. Security Council members unanimously approved a U.N. resolution Friday endorsing a peace process for Syria including a cease-fire and talks between the Damascus government and the opposition, but the text makes no mention of the most contentious issue — the future role of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The resolution makes clear that the blueprint it endorses will not end the conflict, deep into its fifth year with well over 300,000 killed, because 'terrorist groups,' including the Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front, are not part of the cease-fire."

My Way News - Hezbollah recruiting push comes amid deeper role in Syria
My Way News reports: "Hezbollah has been conducting a large recruitment drive, a sign of how the war in Syria has become perhaps the most intense conflict the group has waged. [...] With strong financial and military backing from Iran, Hezbollah has been able to step up its role in Syria even while maintaining the political domination in Lebanon that it has held for several years."

My Way News - China accuses US of serious military provocation
My Way News reports: "China is accusing the U.S. of a serious military provocation following the flight of an American B-52 strategic bomber over a Chinese-controlled man-made island in the South China Sea. A Defense Ministry statement Saturday says the U.S. is deliberately raising tensions in the disputed region. It demanded Washington immediately take measures to prevent such incidents and damage to relations between the two nations' militaries."

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wars & Rumors of War

My Way News - Carter calls 1st commando mission into Syria a success
My Way News reports: "Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the first mission by a new team of special operations forces into Syria was successful in identifying Syrian Arab fighters the coalition can work with to oust Islamic State militants from their self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa. [...] The administration announced in late October that President Barack Obama had approved sending up to 50 special operations troops to Syria on the first open-ended mission by U.S. ground forces in that country."

My Way News - Buyer of guns used in massacre faces terrorism charge
My Way News reports: "The man who bought the assault rifles his friend used in the San Bernardino massacre was charged Thursday with a terrorism-related charge alleging he plotted earlier attacks at a college they attended and on a congested freeway. The duo, who had become adherents to radicalized Islam ideology as neighbors in Riverside, plotted in 2011 and 2012 to maximize carnage by using pipe bombs and guns to kill innocent people at a campus cafeteria and those stuck in rush hour traffic, court documents said. "

My Way News - Hezbollah slams Saudi-led anti-terror alliance
My Way News reports: "Lebanon's [Iranian backed] Hezbollah group on Thursday denounced this week's announcement of a new Saudi-led 'Islamic military alliance' and the Lebanese prime minister's decision to join it. The Shiite militant group also accused the Sunni kingdom of practicing "state terrorism" and spreading extremist ideology. [...] Hezbollah said Thursday the alliance was a 'U.S. project' and aims to create a Sunni armed force in the region to avoid sending U.S. ground troops to conflict areas."

My Way News - Putin: Russia, US have narrowed their differences on Syria
My Way News reports: "President Vladimir Putin was both cordial and coarse in his year-end news conference Thursday, saying the U.S. and Russia have narrowed their differences on Syria and share the same view of how to settle the conflict. [...] Putin said the Russian air campaign in Syria, which began Sept. 30, will continue until a political process begins, adding that Moscow would back the latest U.S. proposals for a peace process in the civil war."

My Way News - Germany: Man suspected of having worked for IS arrested:
My Way News reports: "German authorities say a man suspected of having worked for the Islamic State group has been arrested at a refugee accommodation center. The Dortmund prosecutor's office said the 31-year-old was arrested in the western town of Unna on Thursday, news agency dpa reported. It stressed that the investigation is at a very early stage. "

My Way News - UK won't ban Muslim Brotherhood but finds link to extremism
My Way News reports: "Some members of the Muslim Brotherhood have supported violence and involvement with the group can be an indicator of extremism — but it should not be banned in Britain, the government said Thursday."

Final Kingdom

My Way News - EU summit kicks off British reform talks in earnest
My Way News reports: "With an impassioned plea to European Union leaders to fundamentally change the way the EU is run, David Cameron kicked of two months of negotiations on many of the cornerstones on which the 28-nation bloc is built, with the survival of Britain as a member state hanging in the balance. [...] Britain will have a referendum before the end of 2017 to decide whether to stay in the EU. Cameron is seeking wholesale changes to how the EU is managed and wants to ingrain it more with the British view of non-interference and sustained sovereignty rather than the EU's mantra of ever closer union."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Persecution

N. Korea jails Canadian pastor for life with hard labour - Yahoo News
AFP reports: "An influential Canadian pastor was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with hard labour by a North Korean court following his conviction on sedition charges, prompting Canada to slam the punishment as 'unduly harsh.' South Korean-born Hyeon Soo Lim, 60, a pastor at the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, is the latest in a series of foreign missionaries to be arrested, deported or jailed for allegedly meddling in state affairs. [...] Although religious freedom is enshrined in the North's constitution, it does not exist in practice and religious activities are restricted to officially recognised groups linked to the government."

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wars & Rumors of War

My Way News - Man arrested, held for questioning in Nov. 13 Paris attacks
My Way News reports: "Police arrested a 29-year-old man on Tuesday and held him for questioning about the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, officials said. The prosecutor's office said the man was arrested in the morning at his home in Villiers-Sur-Marne, a far-flung eastern suburb of Paris. The spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, refused to identify the man or provide further information about his suspected links to the attacks that killed 130 people. Two police officials who confirmed the arrest also gave no further details. [...] France moved into a state of emergency after the attacks, which were claimed by the Islamic State group."

My Way News - AP Interview: US General says Afghan IS loyalists growing
My Way News reports: "Supporters of the Islamic State group in Afghanistan are attempting to establish a regional base in the eastern city of Jalalabad, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, said on Tuesday. [...] The Islamic State group controls about a third of Iraq and Syria. Fighters loyal to the group in Afghanistan include disaffected Afghan and Pakistani Taliban who have fought fierce battles with the Taliban in recent months."

My Way News - Assad can stay, for now: Kerry accepts Russian stance
My Way News reports: "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday accepted Russia's long-standing demand that President Bashar Assad's future be determined by his own people, as Washington and Moscow edged toward putting aside years of disagreement over how to end Syria's civil war. [...] Kerry's declarations crystallized the evolution in U.S. policy on Assad over the last several months, as the Islamic State group's growing influence in the Middle East has taken priority."

Monday, December 14, 2015

Covenant With Many - Peace & Security of Jerusalem

My Way News - Abbas: Palestinian violence is "justified popular uprising"
My Way News reports: "Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas referred to the last three months of violence Monday as a 'justified popular uprising'. Abbas's comments came as a new poll shows widespread Palestinian support for ongoing attacks on Israelis. Later Monday, a Palestinian from east Jerusalem rammed his car into a crowded bus stop, wounding nine before bystanders shot him dead."

Comment: The Palestinian support for Mideast peace is really quite breathtaking. Nice that they are involving their civilians in making peace gestures and not just diplomats. It shows how sincere they are. 

Wars & Rumors of War

My Way News - Americans want to get tougher with the Islamic State
My Way News reports: "After terrorist attacks at home and abroad, more Americans than ever — but still less than half — support sending U.S. ground troops to fight the Islamic State, according to a new Associated Press-GfK Poll. A large majority also want a clearer explanation from President Barack Obama about his strategy to defeat the group."

My Way News - Saudi Arabia forms Islamic counterterrorism coalition
My Way News reports: "Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that 34 nations have agreed to form a new 'Islamic military alliance' to fight terrorism with a joint operations center based in the kingdom's capital, Riyadh. [...] The new counterterrorism coalition includes nations with large and established armies such as Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt as well as war-torn countries with embattled militaries such as Libya and Yemen. African nations that have suffered terrorist attacks such as Mali, Chad, Somalia and Nigeria are also members. Saudi Arabia's regional rival, Shiite Iran, is not part of the coalition."

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Global Government - Future Fear - Roaring Seas & Waves

My Way News - Nearly 200 nations pledge to slow global warming
My Way News reports: "Nearly 200 nations adopted the first global pact to fight climate change on Saturday, calling on the world to collectively cut and then eliminate greenhouse gas pollution but imposing no sanctions on countries that don't. The "Paris agreement" aims to keep global temperatures from rising another degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) between now and 2100, a key demand of poor countries ravaged by rising sea levels and other effects of climate change."

Friday, December 11, 2015

Wars & Rumors of War

My Way News - Putin: Russia provides air cover to Syrian opposition group
My Way News reports: "Russia has provided air cover to a leading Western-backed opposition group in Syria, President Vladimir Putin said Friday, calling for closer coordination with the U.S.-allied coalition — comments that may reflect Moscow's desire to narrow its differences with the West over the Syrian crisis. [...] If confirmed, Russian support for the FSA will represent a major policy shift for Moscow, which has been accused by the West of striking moderate rebels to back up Assad instead of its declared goal, the Islamic State group."

My Way News - Suspected recruiter of 'Jihad Jane' is arrested in Spain
My Way News reports: "An Algerian-Irish man accused of recruiting an American woman who called herself 'Jihad Jane' and plotted to kill a Swedish artist has been arrested in Spain, officials said Friday. Ali Charaf Damache was arrested Thursday in Barcelona based on a U.S. warrant issued stating he was a suspected recruiter for an Islamic extremist group, according to the Interior Department for the northeastern region of Catalonia."

My Way News - Report: 2 Syrians arrested in Geneva amid enhanced security
My Way News reports: "The Swiss public broadcaster is reporting that two men of Syrian origin have been arrested in Geneva with traces of explosives found in their vehicle. Broadcaster RTS reports on its Web site Friday that it was not clear whether the two men had any connection with the four suspects with alleged ties to the extremist Islamic State group that Geneva authorities have been hunting in the region."

My Way News - FBI continues probe of lake in California shootings
My Way News reports: "Specialized divers with the FBI searched a San Bernardino lake for a second day Friday, looking for a computer hard drive and any other evidence linked to last week's terror attack and the husband-and-wife shooters who killed 14 people."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Roaring Waves - Nations in Distress

My Way News - Tiny islands have powerful voice in UN climate talks
My Way News reports: "They barely break the surface of the ocean but in the U.N. talks on how to stop rising seas and other hazards of a warming planet, small island nations have the moral high ground. [...] Rising seas are already eroding their coast lines and contaminating their freshwater wells. Many are in the path of typhoons and hurricanes that scientists say could become more powerful as the climate warms."

My Way News - Asia's coastal cities face challenge of rising seas
My Way News reports: "The future will be a watery one for some of the world's biggest cities. Predicted sea level increases this century mean many face increased flooding, stronger storm surges and unpredictable weather. How well coastal cities can cope will dramatically affect quality of life and their economic destiny. Many of the biggest are in Asia, powering economies while housing hundreds of millions of poor in sprawling slums."

Persecution

Outcry as Islamabad officials target slums over Christians - Yahoo News
Yahoo News reports: "Human rights activists slammed Islamabad authorities Thursday after court documents showed the Pakistani capital's development body had cracked down on illegal slums because it feared their growing Christian population would threaten the city's Muslim majority. [...]  The drive rendered hundreds homeless and stirred anger with demonstrations held to try to stop the bulldozers. [...] Official figures on the city's religious demographics are not available, but rights activists have estimated the Christian population at roughly 50,000 out of around 530,000."

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Persecution

My Way News - Militants demolish church in Yemen's Aden
My Way News reports: "Yemeni security officials say militants have demolished a church in the southern port city of Aden. The officials say masked gunmen placed explosives around the church before detonating them from a distance early Wednesday. No one was killed or wounded by the blast. No one claimed the attack. The officials say it was likely carried out by a local al-Qaida affiliate or supporters of the Islamic State group."

Pestilence

My Way News - Mexican safety agency approves first use of dengue vaccine
My Way News reports: "Mexican health authorities approved the first vaccine to gain official acceptance for use against the dengue virus, which sickens about 100 million people every year, mostly in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The federal medical safety agency said Wednesday the vaccine has undergone testing on over 29,000 patients worldwide. It said the vaccine's manufacturer had proved its safety and effectiveness, but did not name the drug. In a separate statement, the Lyon, France-based Sanofi Pasteur identified the vaccine as Dengvaxia. [...] Mosquitoes transmit the dengue virus. Symptoms include high fevers and severe muscle and joint pain. There's no specific treatment for dengue."

Wars & Rumors of War

My Way News - FBI: California shooters radicalized at least 2 years ago
My Way News reports: "The two San Bernardino shooters were radicalized at least two years ago — well before one of them came to the U.S. on a fiancĂ© visa — and had discussed jihad and martyrdom as early as 2013, FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday in providing the most specific details to date about the couple's path toward extremism. Investigators are also looking at whether the husband accused in the shootings was planning an attack in 2012 but abandoned those plans, according to two people familiar with the investigation who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity."

My Way News - Carter: US willing to do more to help Iraqis retake Ramadi
My Way News reports: "In a steady escalation of the fight against Islamic State militants, the U.S. military stands ready to send more American personnel and attack helicopters to Iraq, especially to help retake a key city seized by the extremists, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday. In recent days, Iraqi forces advanced on Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar province, retaking a military operations center and a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city in western Iraq."

Future Fear - Roaring Waves

My Way News - Study sees possible dip in world carbon dioxide emissions
My Way News reports: "Global carbon dioxide emissions may be dropping ever so slightly this year, spurred by a dramatic plunge in Chinese pollution, according to a surprising new study released Monday. The unexpected dip could either be a temporary blip or true hope that the world is about to turn the corner on carbon pollution as climate talks continue in Paris, said the study's authors, a scientific team that regularly tracks heat-trapping pollution."

Monday, December 07, 2015

Covenant With Many

Kerry's 'one state' comments cause consternation in Israel - US News
U.S. News & World Report: "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry set off an uproar in Israel on Sunday after warning that the country, through its continued West Bank occupation, will become a 'binational state.' Kerry's words describe a scenario that would mark a failure of U.S. policy and end to Israel's existence as a country that is both Jewish and democratic. The U.S., the international community and many Israelis have endorsed the "two-state solution" — establishing a Palestinian state and ending Israel's control over millions of Palestinians in territories occupied in the 1967 war."

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Wars & Rumors of War

Islamic State claims California mass killers as followers | Reuters
Reuters reports: "Islamic State said on Saturday that the married couple who killed 14 people in a mass shooting in Southern California were its followers, and FBI agents raided a home apparently belonging to a friend of the husband. Islamic State's claim came in an online audio broadcast three days after U.S.-born Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik, 29, opened fire with assault rifles on a holiday party for civil servants in San Bernardino, 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles."

Iraq summons Turkey's ambassador over troop deployment near Mosul | Reuters
Reuters reports: "Iraq's Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador on Saturday to demand that Turkey immediately withdraw hundreds of troops deployed in recent days to northern Iraq, near the Islamic State-controlled city of Mosul. The ministry said in a statement the Turkish forces had entered Iraqi territory without the knowledge of the central government in Baghdad, and that Iraq considered such presence 'a hostile act'. [...] Islamic State militants overran Mosul in June 2014. A much anticipated counter-offensive by Iraqi forces has been repeatedly postponed because they are tied down in fighting elsewhere."

 Knife attacker slashes man in London metro 'terror incident' | Reuters
Reuters reports: "A man wielding a knife slashed a man in an east London metro station on Saturday, reportedly screaming 'this is for Syria', before police used a stun gun to detain him in what they described as a terrorist incident. [...] An eyewitness quoted by British newspapers such as The Guardian said the knifeman had appeared to claim that he was retaliating for Western attacks on Islamist militants in Syria."

Air Force to replenish munitions stockpile for IS airstrikes - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The U.S. Air Force has fired some 20,000 bombs and missiles since beginning airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group, depleting munitions stockpiles 'faster than we can replenish them,' officials said. Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh said the bombing campaign that began 15 months ago in Iraq and Syria to target IS fighters has seen bombs dropped in record numbers."

Global Government - Future Fear - Roaring Waves

Global climate conference reaches draft agreement - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Delegates from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change approved a draft agreement Saturday aimed at slowing global warming and reducing carbon emissions worldwide. The 48-page document will now be used as a basis for further discussion beginning Monday to hammer out a comprehensive settlement, not an easy task with 195 countries involved in COP21 -- the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties."

Friday, December 04, 2015

Wars & Rumors of War

German parliament approves military mission in Syria - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Germany's Parliament voted to join the fight against the Islamic State in Syria on Friday. The vote of 445 to 145 came after Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen outlined, earlier this week, the limits of Germany's involvement: under United Nations and European Union collective security laws, Germany would commit six reconnaissance warplanes, a refueling aircraft, a frigate to help guard a French aircraft carrier and up to 1,200 logistics and command personnel, with no on-ground combat involvement. The vote in Parliament came in response to France's request for help defeating IS following the Nov. 13 terrorist shootings in Paris, and a day after the United Kingdom committed fighter planes and other resources to the cause."

FBI probes Calif. attack as 'act of terror,' official says - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Federal authorities leading the investigation into the mass shooting in Southern California this week are now handling the case as an 'act of terrorism,' a bureau official said Friday. FBI Los Angeles assistant director in charge David Bowdich said at a news conference Friday that the case is being handled as terrorism, "as of today, based on the information and facts as we know them."

Belgian officials seek new suspects in Paris terror attack - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Belgian authorities on Friday announced that police are searching for two additional suspects they believe may be linked to last month's deadly terror attacks in Paris. Authorities have been looking for suspect Salah Abdeslam for nearly a month."

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Wars & Rumors of War

My Way News - US-led coalition targets IS oil facilities in eastern Syria
My Way News reports: "As British jets opened airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Germany prepared to send troops and aircraft to the region, Russia's president called on the world Thursday to brandish "one powerful fist" in the fight against terrorism. Yet even as international efforts to defeat the extremists grew, animosity between Russia and Turkey only intensified. [...] France welcomed the first British airstrikes in Syria, saying they were a sign of the European solidarity promised after the deadly Nov. 13 attacks on Paris claimed by IS militants."

My Way News - Putin calls for broad international anti-terror front
My Way News reports: Russian President Vladimir Putin called Thursday for 'one powerful fist' to fight terrorism, hinted at more sanctions against Turkey and accused Western powers of creating 'a zone of chaos.' Speaking in his live state-of-the-nation address, Putin called for an end to what he called double standards that hampered uniting global efforts in fighting terrorism."

My Way News - Officials: California Gunman was in touch with extremists
My Way News reports: "California gunman Syed Rizwan Farook had been in contact with known Islamic extremists on social media, a U.S. intelligence official said Thursday, and police said he and his wife had enough bullets and bombs to slaughter hundreds when they launched their deadly attack on a holiday party."

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

War

British bombers make first air strikes on Syria after UK parliament vote | Reuters
Reuters reports: "British bombers made their first strikes on Syria on Thursday, just hours after Britain's parliament voted to target Islamic State targets in Syria, a government source said. Tornado bombers took off from the RAF Akrotiri air base in Cyprus and made strikes on targets in Syria, the source said. The bombers are back at base."

Comment: Great Britain is now in the war against ISIS, as in Germany, Russia of course (in their own way), and the U.S. (in Obama's own  oddly measured way) along with many other countries in the allied coalition.  It's getting harder and harder not to see this as a World War.

War - Wickedness Increases

Two suspects dead after 14 killed in shooting rampage in California | Reuters
Reuters reports: "A man and a woman suspected of taking part in a shooting that killed 14 people and wounded 17 at a Southern California social services agency on Wednesday died in a shootout with police hours later, authorities said. [...] the massacre differed from most other killing sprees in key ways, including the involvement of multiple people rather than a lone perpetrator. It also comes less than three weeks after the deadly attacks in Paris prompted tighter security at many public venues across the United States."

Comment: I wonder if the news media will end their non-stop coverage when it becomes clear that this massacre does not fit their anti-gun narrative? I'm also adding the "war" tag to this report as there is still a possibility that this is jihadist terrorism. Will the media even tell us if it is?

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Pestilence

My Way News - UN: Polio outbreak in Ukraine is a state of emergency
My Way News reports: "The World Health Organization is urging Ukraine's health ministry to declare a state of emergency due to a polio outbreak, a move meant to prompt more action from the government in Kiev. In September, Ukraine announced two polio cases — the first in Europe since 2010. [...] Polio is a highly infectious, paralyzing disease on the brink of elimination. Aside from Ukraine, cases have only been reported in six other countries this year, with the majority in Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Life insurance companies see good outlook for survival with HIV | Reuters
Reuters reports: "In 2013, researchers reported that a 20-year-old who is newly diagnosed with HIV and who starts treatment immediately can expect to live another 50 years. Thanks to new therapies that allow for longer survival, more attention is being paid to finding a cure and to treating conditions tied to HIV and aging, said Dr. Michelle Cespedes of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City."

War - Rumors of War

My Way News - US sending new special ops force to fight Islamic State
My Way News reports: "The U.S. will deploy a new special operations force to the Middle East to help fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday. Carter told the House Armed Services Committee that over time, these special operators will be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture Islamic State leaders. [...] There currently are about 3,500 U.S. troops in Iraq, and President Barack Obama had previously announced he was sending fewer than 50 special operations forces to Syria."