Thursday, June 30, 2016

Rumors of War - Peace of Jerusalem - Covenant with Many

Palestinian kills Israeli-American girl, 13, in her West Bank bedroom - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A 13-year-old Israeli-American girl was stabbed to death Thursday inside her own bedroom in a West Bank Jewish settlement, officials said, in what police say was a militant attack by a Palestinian assailant. The child, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, was sleeping in her bedroom in Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, when she was stabbed, 'many, many times. Mostly in her back,' officials said. The suspect, shot and killed by police. at the scene, was identified as Mohammad Tra'ayra, a 17-year-old from a nearby Palestinian village."

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Persecution

Regular Christians Are No Longer Welcome in American Culture | TIME:
Time Ideas reports: "Traditional American Christians have long been on the losing end of culture-war contests—on school prayer, same-sex marriage and other issues. But recent events, including the Supreme Court decision overruling Texas’ restrictions on abortion clinics and the mandate that employers provide access to contraception, have added to the sense that religious expression is under attack. [...] This new vigorous secularism has catapulted mockery of Christianity and other forms of religious traditionalism into the mainstream and set a new low for what counts as civil criticism of people’s most-cherished beliefs. In some precincts, the 'faith of our fathers' is controversial as never before."

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

War - Rumors of War - Nations in Distress

FAA suspends U.S. flights to, from Istanbul airport after attack - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The airport was rocked by gunfire and bomb explosions in what appeared to be a coordinated militant attack, witnesses and authorities said. At least 36 people were killed in the terror attack said Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, with early signs suggesting the Islamic State might be behind the attack, though no group has claimed responsibility."

Islamic State video calls for San Francisco attacks akin to Orlando massacre - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Islamic State has released a video praising the massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., and calling for similar attacks to be carried out in San Francisco and Las Vegas. The video shows several San Francisco landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Financial District and Powell Street -- locations in which a voiceover in the video encourages attacks."

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Monday, June 27, 2016

King of the North - Kings of the East

Russia, China look ahead to new era of trade - UPI.com
UPI reports: "China is ready to emerge as one of the larger trading partners with Russia in a relationship that extends from military to energy, the Chinese government said. Russian President Vladimir Putin wrapped up a weekend tour of China with a new legal framework that outlines evolving ties with the Asian superpower."

Russian aircraft sales boosted by Syrian campaign - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Operations of the Russian Aerospace Defense forces in Syria from September 2015 to March 2016 has perhaps become the most profitable demonstration of the country's armed forces in Russia's entire post-Soviet history. After the operation ended in March 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that exports of Russian arms were exceeding expectations. [...] Among these contracts, the largest is a Russian-Chinese deal worth about $2 billion. In November 2015, the Chinese signed a contract for the purchase of 24 Su-35 multifunctional fighters and became the first foreign customer to purchase these Russian aircraft."

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Persecution

Pope Francis says Armenian deaths during WWI was 'genocide' - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Pope Francis said during a visit to Eastern Europe on Friday that the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottomans during World War I was indeed a genocide -- an assertion that has angered the Turkish government in recent weeks. The pontiff made the remarks during a visit to the Armenian capital of Yerevan on Friday. The pope's comments are the latest in the ongoing controversy over the use of the word "genocide" to describe the killings of Armenians [Christians...Ed.] during World War I by the Turkish Ottomans."

Comment: This mainstream news report seems to leave out the important detail that the Armenians in question were Christians and that this mattered in terms of establishing the motive for the Turks to kill them. 

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Nations in Distress - Final Kingdom

AFP - Brexit pitches world into uncharted terrain
AFP reports: "Slowing growth, a return to protectionism, questioning of free trade agreements and doubts over the stability of the EU: the world economy is entering a period of deep uncertainty following Brexit. [...] Britain on Thursday voted by 52 percent to 48 percent for their country to leave the EU despite dire warnings from world leaders and economic experts. Institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had warned in the months and weeks leading up to the ballot of the dangers for the world economy, especially elsewhere in Europe, should Brexit come to pass. [...] European leaders and markets fear a domino effect as people across Europe lose faith in the supranational project."

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pestilence

Dallas confirms 10 Zika cases in pregnant women - UPI.com
UPI reports: "At least 10 pregnant women in the Dallas area have been infected with Zika, Texas officials confirmed Wednesday. All of the women contracted the mosquito-borne virus while traveling abroad, Dallas Health and Human Services officials told CBS News."

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Nations in Distress - Final Kingdom

BBC: Britain votes to leave EU - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The decision to leave is the biggest jolt to the European political establishment in decades. Reaction to the vote was negative in currency markets, with the British Pound plummeting to a 31-year low. It also puts the future of both prime minister David Cameron and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in jeopardy. Jeremy Cook, chief economist and head of currency strategy at WorldFirst was pessimistic, saying 'Sterling has collapsed ... It can go a lot further as well.'"

Comment: I wonder if this is the beginning of the end of the EU or will they bounce back by possible adding a new member. Time to talk Turkey? 

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

North Korea touts ability to attack 'American bastards' - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea stated it has secured the capability to attack U.S. military bases in the Pacific a day after South Korea confirmed Pyongyang had test launched two mid-range ballistic missiles. [...] According to state media, Kim said North Korea now has the 'clear ability' to 'totally and realistically attack American bastards' in the 'operational zone of the Pacific Ocean.'

North Korea Musudan missile capable of reaching Japan - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Tokyo warned North Korea's ballistic missile Musudan might be capable of reaching Japan. Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani told reporters Wednesday the types of missiles that could fly in Japan's direction have multiplied, the Asahi Shimbun reported. The development is a "great concern" to Japan's national security, Nakatani said."

North Korea claims missile test success - CNN.com
CNN reports: "North Korea claimed on Thursday to have conducted a successful test-firing of a intermediate-range missile -- an apparent reference to a missile that the South Korean military said was fired into the sea one day earlier. The military state's government-run news agency reported that the country fired a Hwasong-10 -- also known as a Musudan -- and that it landed accurately in waters about 400 kilometers (249 miles) down range."

Comment: This is a good roundup of the missile launch news out of North Korea. I'm including the CNN link because it has some nice graphics illustrating their missile arsenal. While they have multiple types of missiles, I don't think they've ever demonstrated the capability of launching a missile with a nuclear payload. It's one thing to have a bomb, it's quite another to miniaturize a bomb to fit on a missile. Advanced nuclear powers like the U.S., Russia and China have missiles that contain multiple warheads, a capability that should be many years in the future for North Korea...we hope. 

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Pestilence

Abortion rates rising in Zika-affected countries - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Fears over birth defects from mosquito-borne Zika may be driving up abortion rates in Latin American countries affected by the virus, a new study finds. In Brazil and Ecuador -- where governments have issued health warnings on the danger to the fetus from maternal Zika infection -- requests for abortion in 2016 have doubled from 2010 rates, researchers say."

Comment: While the Zika virus is terrible and causes very tragic birth defects, it's also causing an unexpected rise in the number of abortions in affected countries.

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Mark of the Beast

People are using chip implants to open doors, control phones - CNET
CNET reports: "Minnesota software engineer Tim Shank uses a chip implanted in his finger to unlock the smart lock to his home. He also has an NFC chip with contact information stored in it, which lets him easily tap and send the info to an Android phone. [...] Shank is just one of a growing movement of biohackers who are implanting devices and chips in their bodies to perform different technological tasks."

Comment: It's been a while since we had a good MOTB update and this is an interesting if unsurprising story about how the biohacking community is taking to chip implants.  I mean, you would kind of expect that, right? At any rate, I no longer envision implanted chips to be the MOTB (our technology has moved so far beyond mere hardware) it's fun to check in once in a while and see if there have been any new developments. I should also note that this news site will attempt to start playing a video, so very annoying when you don't even have you earbuds in.  

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

Seoul: North Korea’s two Musudan missile launches end in failure - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea fired two mid-range Musudan ballistic missiles early Wednesday, local time, but both tests ended in failure. Pyongyang has now fired the Musudan a total of six times in 2016. The last four launches, all failures, cost Pyongyang $80 million, according to one South Korean estimate. The missiles were launched from an area near the North Korean city of Wonsan on the country's eastern coast, South Korean news service Newsis reported. The Musudan has a range of between 1,800 and 2,500 miles, and is capable of targeting Japan."

Comment: One would think that the international community would act while they are still testing rather than when they achieve a demonstrated nuclear missile launch capability?

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Rumors of War - King of the North

Canada considers European troop commitment as CSIS warns Russia is 'mobilizing for war' - CBC News
CBC News reports: "The Trudeau government is considering a request to commit hundreds of troops to eastern Europe and take part command of a new NATO force being assembled to deter Russian aggression. [...] This comes just days after the Canadian Security Intelligence Service quietly released an open-sourced global security analysis warning, among other things, that the hard-line policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin are becoming more deeply entrenched and that Moscow is retooling its military for a fight."

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Rumors of War - Kings of the East

U.S. sends aircraft carriers to South China Sea - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The U.S. Navy deployed two aircraft carriers near the South China Sea on Saturday in an exercise designed to calm Asian allies in the region and to make a show of military force to the Chinese. The aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Ronald Reagan arrived in the Philippine Sea for exercises on Saturday ahead of a key international court ruling on China's claims in the disputed South China Sea. The exercise will feature more than 12,000 sailors, 140 aircraft and six other ships, the U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement."

Comment: Let's hope and pray everyone keeps a cool head. Even a small incident at sea could quickly spiral out of control.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

War

Iraqi forces targeting Mosul after reclaiming Fallujah from Islamic State - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Iraqi forces expressed their plans for continuing the offensive against the Islamic State after reclaiming the city of Fallujah on Friday. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that Fallujah was 'back home' after the successful combined efforts of elite Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and promised they would now turn their sights to Mosul. 'Fallujah has returned to the nation and Mosul is the next battle, Daesh will be defeated,' he said of the Islamic State on his Twitter account. The Iraqi flag flew above the Fallujah mayor's office on Friday after the Islamic State held control of the city for nearly two years, as it was the first major city to fall when they began seeking control of Iraqi territory in 2014."

Comment: This is a big victory for Iraq in the war against the Islamic State and it demonstrates the capabilities of the U.S. trained elite forces. Iraqi military forces are no longer running away from battle as they did when Fallujah fell.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Wars & Rumors of War

U.S. State Department employees urge strikes against Syrian President - UPI.com
UPI reports: "More than 50 U.S. State Department diplomats signed an internal memo urging the United States to use military force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government. The 51 career diplomats who signed the 'dissent channel cable' repeatedly called for 'targeted military strikes' against the Syrian government as it continues to violate cease-fire agreements in the country's five-year civil war. The memo calls for 'a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process.'[...] The memo amounts to a scathing critique of President Barack Obama's longstanding policy of not taking sides in the Syrian War. Obama has continually refused direct U.S. military involvement, saying it would only add to the violence and not improve the situation in the country."

Kremlin says deposing Bashar al-Assad would create 'total chaos' - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Russia warned the United States that overthrowing the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad would create 'total chaos,' but said it would support incorporating members of Syria's opposition into the government. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that overthrowing Assad could make 'the region plunge in total chaos.' At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said incorporating Syrian opposition into the government may be an effective move, if approached carefully."

Comment: It amazes me how some very bright people can be so misguided. The State Department dissenters seem intent on not learning the lessons of the past. We need a return to the status quo ante of Western supported dictators ruthlessly suppressing Islamic fanaticism and promoting regional stability. This has been achieved, to some extent, in Egypt, where the post-dictatorship government of the new dictatorship has banned the Muslim Brotherhood.  Good for them. Let's get over the absurd notion that democratic governments that respect pluralism could be imposed in one generation. If that ever happens it will take place over many generations and will be an indigenous movement and not imposed by the West. Right now, stability is far more important than a mirage that runs contrary to all local traditions and customs. So let Assad keep whatever small portion of his country he still controls and then join together in a broad coalition of countries (including the U.S. and Russia) to defeat the Islamic State. That is the way forward.

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War

Iraqi forces take government compound in Fallujah - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Iraqi forces recaptured the government compound in Fallujah from Islamic State occupiers Friday and said they were close to taking back the entire city. [...]  The success of Iraqi forces in Fallujah's central neighborhoods comes after an assault by the Iraqi army, federal police, counter-terrorism units, Shiite militiamen and local tribal forces, backed by airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition. The assault began on May 23."

Comment: How's the war against the Islamic State going in Iraq? Pretty good according to this report. 

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Pestilence

Zika spreading rapidly through Puerto Rico: CDC - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Zika virus is spreading fast through Puerto Rico, placing hundreds of pregnant women at risk for delivering babies with the devastating birth defect known as microcephaly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. [...] Only one in every five people infected with Zika develops any symptoms, making the virus very difficult to track."

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pestilence

CDC reports six cases of birth defects caused by Zika - UPI.com
UPI reports: "In the first reporting of Zika-related birth defects in the United States, federal health officials said Thursday that three babies have been born with these birth defects while three pregnancies have been lost because of brain damage caused by the virus. Those six cases will likely not be the last, as 234 pregnant women in the United States have already been diagnosed with Zika infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Comment: In these cases the exposure happened abroad, so at least we are not yet at the point where infection is happening in the U.S., but experts say it's only a matter of time. 

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

War

NATO to stay in Afghanistan for four more years - UPI.com
UPI reports: "NATO will stay in Afghanistan for four more years, a senior NATO official said this week. Despite plans by the United States to reduce its troop strength by the end of 2016, the 28 countries that are members of NATO will pledge $5 billion each at a July meeting in Warsaw to train, equip and pay Afghan troops and security forces [...] The proposed plan will offer President Barack Obama some flexibility when deciding U.S. troop strength in what has become the United States' longest war. The war began in October of 2001 with the U.S. invasion. NATO became involved in 2003."

Comment: There's such an incredible disconnect between a culture awash in trivial pursuits and distracted by endless entertainment and a military that's been at war since 2001. To the friends and family members of those who serve in Afghanistan (and other war zones) the war is all too real.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Rumors of War

NATO officially recognizes cyberspace as domain for war - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Tuesday, for the first time, recognized cyberspace as a frontier for war -- in addition to the traditional sites of battle, like land and sea. The declaration was made following a meeting of NATO's defense ministers Tuesday. [...] Making cyberspace an official war zone means attacks carried out in that manner can trigger an Article 5 response, which is a collective action by the 28-member organization against the perpetrator of an incident aimed at any NATO-protected state. Before, only actions in traditional war frontiers -- land, sea or air -- had that potential."

North Korea hackers stole military information, Seoul says - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Hackers of North Korean origin are believed to be behind a large-scale cyberattack against South Korean corporations. The attack targeted about 10 different company networks, including that of Hanjin Group, the holding group for Korean Air, and SK Group, a leading South Korean conglomerate, local news network YTN reported Monday. According to police investigations, stolen documents included diagrams for the basic model of the F-15K fighter jet and unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones."

Russian hackers accessed DNC computers, took research on Trump - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Two Russian government hackers groups accessed the Democratic National Committee's computer network and took research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to party officials and security experts The cyber intruders were able to read all email and chat traffic, the Washington Post reported. A Russian Embassy spokesman said he didn't know about the hacking. The groups also targeted the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff."

Comment: The world is changing so quickly. Hackers are not just kids in their parent's basement they are skilled technicians employed by state actors to conduct military operations against adversaries. 

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Monday, June 13, 2016

War - Wickedness Increases

Police: Pulse nightclub shooter pledged allegiance to Islamic State - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Law enforcement officials said Omar Saddiqui Mateen, the suspected gunman who opened fire at an Orlando nightclub, killing 50 people, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Before the shooting early Sunday, Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Fla., allegedly called 911 to align himself with the militant group, officials told CNN and NBC News reported."

What to Know About ISIS’s Role in the Orlando Shooting | TIME
Time reports: "ISIS claimed responsibility for the mass shooting attack in an Orlando gay club on Sunday that left at least 50 people dead. 'The attack that targeted a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando, Florida, and that left more than 100 dead and wounded was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,' the group said in a report on its official Amaq news agency. The message was attributed to an unnamed 'source' and distributed over the Telegram messaging app on Sunday afternoon. On Monday, an ISIS-run radio station also labeled the man identified as the shooter, Omar Mateen, as 'one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America.'

Comment: I'm tagging this post under War and Wickedness Increases. I think the wickedness tag is pretty clear, we can say that all of these terrorist attacks fall under the category of increasing wickedness. I've read several BP commentators who say that terrorism is linked to the "days of Noah" prophecy (Matthew 24:37) because of how wicked the antediluvian world was, there was a lot of violence and no respect for life. Personally, I always thought their logic was a bit of a stretch given the context of the entirety of the verse, but I take the point.

Tagging this post under War makes much more sense, as the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack and praised the shooter was one of their own. Experts are saying the links are not clear. From what I've read, the links are there. He went to the same mosque as a known terrorist and he had visited Saudi Arabia and also had bragged about terrorist connections. These are links. How deep they are and what happened behind the scenes we may never know, but from what we can see only on the surface, it's enough. He may have been a lone wolf in operational terms, but he had plenty of encouragement and guidance. His intent was to act as an soldier in a jihadist war and he succeeded in doing that.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

War

Obama lightens restrictions on U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan - UPI.com
UPI reports: "President Barack Obama's administration on Friday eased restrictions on American military forces in Afghanistan, which will allow U.S. troops to take on more of an active role in ongoing fighting there. Obama's decision removes some key restrictions that barred U.S. support forces from actively fighting against Taliban militants. [...] The president's move also allows American ground forces to accompany Afghan government fighters into combat -- something they haven't formally been allowed to do for almost two years."

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Earthquakes

Hospital patients spend night outdoors after Nicaraguan earthquake - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The epicenter of the 6.1-magnitude earthquake late Thursday was 16 miles northeast of the city of Chinandega, near the border with Honduras, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Buildings, including a church, were damaged."

5.2-magnitude earthquake shakes California's Borrego Springs - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A 5.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Southern California's Borrego Springs on Friday, leading to aftershocks felt throughout San Diego County and beyond. The quake originated in a low-populated area at 1:04 a.m. local time and was felt as far away as Los Angeles, which is located about 100 miles from its epicenter. San Diego and Palm Springs also felt effects of the quake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey."

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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Persecution

Turkey plans retaliatory measures for German genocide resolution - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Last week, the German Parliament declared the 1915-16 killings of some 1.5 million Armenians a deliberate act of ethnic cleansing. Turkey has long rejected the label, saying there was no systematic killings of Christian Armenians and the death toll was much lower. The country has accepted some responsibility for the killings but said they do not constitute genocide. To date, 11 of the 28 European Union nations have recognized the killings as genocide. Since the German resolution, the two countries have been verbally sparring."

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

War

Four dead in 'terrorist attack' on Israeli restaurant, police say - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Four people were shot dead and several others were wounded at an Israeli restaurant late Wednesday after two Palestinian gunmen suddenly opened fire, authorities said. Investigators said the gunmen were posing as patrons in the popular Tel Aviv cafe. Both men, who police said are cousins from Yatta, were arrested. Four people died from their wounds and at least six others were injured in what authorities are classifying as a terrorist attack."

Comment: First there was the wave of knife attacks on civilians and now this. I hope this does not suggest a change in tactics. 

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Persecution - Gog Alliance

Greek ministry officials criticize Koran reading at Turkey landmark - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Greek foreign affairs ministry officials expressed opposition and disappointment in the Turkish government this week, for its allowing the reading of prayers from the Koran at a former religious landmark that remains sacred to both Christians and Muslims. [...] Another Greek politician said the prayers amount to 'disrespect against Orthodox Christians across the world.' [...] Hagia Sophia, recognizable around the world for its large dome, was originally a Christian church and a Greek Orthodox cathedral centuries ago before it became an imperial mosque when the Ottoman Empire took power in the 15th century. It was turned into a secular museum in 1935 and designated a UNESCO world heritage site 50 years later."

Comment: Sometimes it seems that history moves at a glacial pace and at others times, we notice events moving at a much faster pace. Turkey is on an accelerating path toward a prophetic destiny that will take it away from the West. Close observers will note that Turkey is becoming a one-man dictatorship that is intentionally undermining the secular Turkish republic established by  Ataturk. With dreams of restoring the Ottoman Empire, the administration of Erdogan is embracing Islam and, as this news report notes, ignoring the sensibilities of Christians to re-Islamize a museum that had been more a home to tourists than worshipers.

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Rumors of War

NATO launches largest war games since Cold War - UPI.com
UPI reports: "NATO launched on Monday the largest war game exercise in eastern Europe since the end of the cold war. Named Anaconda-2016, the 10-day military exercise has begun in Poland and involves 31,000 troops and thousands of vehicles from 24 countries. The exercise is designed to reassure NATO allies in the region and to be a show of strength in response to recent Russian actions in Eastern Europe."

Comment: How will Russia respond? Stay tuned. 

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Monday, June 06, 2016

War

U.S. fighter jets bomb 16 more IS targets in Syria - Reuters:
Reuters reports: "U.S. Navy fighter jets flying from an aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean Sea bombed 16 new Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria on Monday. Now in their fourth day, the strikes from the Mediterranean have opened a new front in the U.S. air campaign against the militant group. "

Islamic State shooting civilians fleeing Fallujah, NGO says - UPI.com
UPI reports: "An international aid group has confirmed the Islamic State is shooting civilians as they attempt to escape the embattled Iraqi city of Fallujah while tens of thousands remain trapped. Up to 50,000 Fallujah residents are trapped in the center of the city as Iraqi security forces, aided by tribal militias, a Shiite militia and U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, continue to diminish the Islamic State's control of the city."

U.S.-backed Syrian militia surrounding key town in Islamic State fight - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Syrian fighters supported by the United States have captured at least 21 villages surrounding the town of Manbij away from Islamic State control. U.S.-led coalition airstrikes aided the ground effort by the Syrian Democratic Forces militia, which includes the Kurdish Peshmerga. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the SDF is about 3 miles away from Manbij, adding that at least 30 Islamic State militants died Sunday. [...] The Syrian regime under President Bashar al-Assad, aided by Russian airstrikes, is also making efforts to advance into the Raqqa province."

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Friday, June 03, 2016

Fearsome Events

Europe floods: Seine at highest level since '82; at least 15 dead - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Rising floodwaters in France set another historic level on Friday, as the Seine River swelled to its highest level in more than three decades. The water level in the river had risen 20 feet above normal by Friday night, officials said, and was expected to go even higher. High water levels are also expected to remain through the weekend. [...] Continuing floods pushed the death toll in Western Europe to at least 15 Friday, after days of relentless rainfall -- 10 in Germany, two in France, two in Romania and one in Belgium."

AP - Heavy rain continues in parts of Texas
AP reports: "Heavy rains are drenching much of Texas, bringing almost 5 inches to parts of the Houston area within a three-hour period. The heaviest rainfall Thursday night was reported in LaPorte on the western shore of Galveston Bay, where 4.36 inches of rain was recorded between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday. The rain came in bands that circled around a disturbance that covered much of the state Thursday night. A flash flood watch continues in effect for most of Texas, from the Red River to the Rio Grande. "

Comment: As the northern hemisphere moves into summer we can say the late spring and early summer rains are more than making up for recent drought conditions. People say storms and floods are getting worse all over the world. Some attribute that to global warming. Some say it's due to other things.  Regardless of the reasons, it's hard to deny that it's happening.

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Covenant with Many

AP - Nations struggle to craft new Mideast peace strategy
The AP reports: "Nations struggled Friday to craft a viable new strategy for Mideast peace, failing to agree on a French proposal for an international conference that would bring together Israel and the Palestinians. Diplomats nevertheless vowed to reinvigorate a peace process that has been all but dead for two years. The gathering in Paris of top diplomats from the United States and more than two dozen Western and Arab countries ended with a call for 'fully ending the Israeli occupation,' a rhetorical shift from what Washington has previously endorsed. [...] Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has welcomed France's efforts, having long grown frustrated with Washington's two-decade domination over peace efforts. Palestinians see the U.S. heavily favoring Israel and want an effort with more world powers involved, like last year's Iran nuclear diplomacy."

Comment: It is not surprising that  many nations could be persuaded to become indignant that Israel continues to occupy Israel but as this report makes clear, this meeting was more a representation of Palestinian grievances than a serious attempt to make peace. After all, the Palestinians have the means of making peace within their control. All they have to do is stop attacking (with knives, rockets, etc.) and actually negotiate. They could, for example, agree to any of the past three or four peace agreements brokered by the U.S. that they foolishly rejected. If they'd wanted, they could have had peace years ago. It's difficult to see anything in their recent behavior to suggest that they've suddenly had a change of heart and now sincerely desire peace. Perhaps the international community, represented by France, could ask the Palestinians for a concrete gesture of peace?  Something solid, like when Israel gave them control over Gaza in 2005, actually relinquishing territory for the sake of peace. How did the Palestinians react to this grand gesture? They could have used Gaza as a showpiece, really fix it up, build schools  and hospitals and green spaces and generally show the world that they were capable of governing in a modern and competent manner. Instead, they turned Gaza into a launching pad for rocket attacks on Israel. A nice piece of territory given by Israel to the Palestinians was turned into a weapon, small wonder Israelis are skeptical of further territorial concessions. What does self-government look like for Palestinians? Gaza. It looks like Gaza.

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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Earthquakes

6.5 magnitude earthquake strikes Indonesia, USGS says - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A powerful 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia late Wednesday, U.S. geological officials said. [...] Office buildings in Singapore, more than 300 miles to the northeast, swayed and shook as the tremor hit, Bloomberg reported. [...] Seismic activity is common in Indonesia, which is part of the so-called Pacific Rim. "

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Persecution

Turkey recalls ambassadors from Germany in response to Armenian genocide vote - UPI.com
UPI reports: "Turkey recalled its ambassador in Berlin after German lawmakers approved a resolution declaring the World War I mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a genocide. [...] Turkey has long rejected the label, saying there was no systematic killings of Christian Armenians and the death toll was much lower. The country has accepted some responsibility for the killings but said they do not constitute genocide. To date, 11 of the 28 European Union nations have recognized the killings as genocide."

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Covenant With Many

Major powers meet to revive moribund Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking | Reuters
Reuters reports: "France convenes foreign ministers from major powers on Friday to put Israel-Palestinian peacemaking back on the international agenda and find enough common ground to bring the two sides back to the table by the end of the year. [...] The gathering of ministers in Paris includes the Middle East Quartet - which comprises the United States, Russia, the European Union and United Nations - as well as the Arab League, the U.N. Security Council and about 20 countries. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians have been invited."

Comment: I'm not all that excited by this development. It appears to be a classic example of international diplomacy: a meeting to plan more meetings.  Still, it establishes the legitimacy of an international gathering (ie. the "many" of Daniel 9:27) to broker Mideast peace rather than the traditional two-party talks hosted by the U.S.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Pestilence

Baby girl born with Zika-related microcephaly defect in New Jersey - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A baby girl was born with the microcephaly birth defect on Tuesday in Hackensack, N.J., to a woman who was exposed to the Zika virus in her native country of Honduras. This is the second recorded birth of a baby with Zika-related illnesses in the United States, the first in the continental United States. [...] The Zika epidemic is blamed on the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus -- along with dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever."

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