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Post-war Syria destined to be sanctions-busting hub, the Russian-Iranian-Turkish summit decides

Sep 12, 2018 @ 12:09 Idlib, Israel, Russia-Iranian-Turkish summit, Syria sanctions-beating hub, Turkey, US

Shared mechanisms for beating US sanctions against Iran may be built into Syria’s massive post-war reconstruction program, DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report. This plan was approved by Presidents Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani and Tayyip Erdogan at their Tehran summit on Sept. 7. It topped their agenda, in addition to coordination among Russian, Iranian and Syrian forces in their coming offensive for demolishing the last Syrian rebel stronghold in Idlib. The pause in launching ground operations in Idlib is accounted for by two major hurdles:

  1. Putin and Rouhani are keen to get started on building the new economic mechanisms. A full-scale war in Idlib would disrupt the process, especially if the Turkish president, who is against this offensive, gets in the way.
  2. Turkey continues to pour troops into Idlib for widening its foothold there. Neither the Russian nor the Iranian leader – least of all, Syria’s Bashar Assad – want to see their forces confronted by Turkish troops.

At their conference in Tehran, the three leaders forged an economic-strategic pact to create measures for fighting American sanctions. One measure approved was to contract all business deals among Russia, Iran and Turkey, including gas and oil, in local currencies instead of American dollars. The same rule would apply to banking transactions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov first raised this proposal when he remarked that Russia and Turkey could conduct their bilateral trading deals to their national currencies instead of the US dollar.

US and Israel paid special note to the trilateral decision reached in Tehran to convert the massive projects for Syria’s post-war recovery (after Iran had solidified its military foothold there) into a back-door hatch for escaping US sanctions against Iran. During the Obama presidency, Oman and Abu Dhabi served this purpose; under Donald Trump, it will pass to Damascus, with the added benefit of  protection from the deepening Russian-Iranian-Syrian military cooperation.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9379

VOSTOK 2018: Russia And China Hold Largest-Ever War Games That Has NATO Wondering What They’re Really Preparing For

The drills, which also include Mongolian soldiers, have been condemned by NATO as a rehearsal for “large-scale conflict”. The military exercises come at a time of escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over accusations of Russian interference in western affairs and conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

 

by Geoffrey Grider September 11, 2018

Russia launched Tuesday what it called its largest ever military drills, with hundreds of thousands of troops taking part along with Chinese soldiers in a show of force NATO condemned as a rehearsal for “large-scale conflict.”

War games are part of the battle readiness plans that all industrialized nations need to have to maintain their peace and security. But the unprecedented and aggressive war games that kicked off this morning between Russia and China has NATO and the United States wondering exactly what the two nations are really preparing for. NATO is accusing Russia of preparing for ‘large scale conflict’ that would be of thier own making.

From a biblical perspective, this much mutual cooperation between two of the ‘heaviest hitter’ nations in the in scripture should absolutely be raising some red flags.

“Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:” Ezekiel 39:1 (KJV)

FROM YAHOO NEWS: President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the games after hosting an economic forum in Russia’s far eastern city Vladivostok where his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping is one of the prominent guests.

The week-long war games dubbed “Vostok-2018″(East-2018) “have kicked off” in far eastern Russia, the defence ministry said. Taking part in the drills are around 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 80 ships and 1,000 aircraft, helicopters and drones.

Some 3,500 Chinese troops will take part in the games.

The defence ministry released video footage of military vehicles, planes, helicopters and ships getting into position for the initial stage of the drills. Putin praised Russia’s increasingly close ties with China as he met with Xi at the economic forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday.

“We have trustworthy ties in political, security and defence spheres,” the Russian leader said. Xi for his part said the two countries’ “friendship is getting stronger all the time.”

The drills, which also include Mongolian soldiers, have been condemned by NATO as a rehearsal for “large-scale conflict”. The military exercises come at a time of escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over accusations of Russian interference in western affairs and conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

The Russian army has compared the show of force to the USSR’s 1981 war games that saw between 100,000 and 150,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers take part in “Zapad-81” (West-81) — the largest military exercises of the Soviet era.

But Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said these exercises are even larger.

“Imagine 36,000 military vehicles moving at the same time: tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles — and all of this, of course, in conditions as close to a combat situation as possible,” Shoigu said.

The exercises will be held across nine training ranges and three seas: the Sea of Japan, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk.

The Russian army is rolling out all of its latest additions for the event: Iskander missiles that can carry nuclear warheads, T-80 and T-90 tanks and its recent Su-34 and Su-35 fighter planes. At sea, the Russian fleet is deploying several frigates equipped with Kalibr missiles that have been used in Syria.

Wednesday will see games featuring anti-aircraft technology, while the main event will be on Thursday, the defence ministry told journalists covering the event in eastern Siberia and the Far East.

NATO said that Vostok-2018 “demonstrates Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict”.

“It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time — a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defence budget and its military presence,” the alliance’s spokesman Dylan White said late August.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed such concerns on Tuesday

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9377

Chinese officials burn bibles, close churches, force Christian to denounce faith amid ‘escalating’ crackdown

By Lukas Mikelionis | Fox News

In this Tuesday, March 27, 2018, photo, Catholic religious paintings and figures are displayed behind bars at an underground Catholic church in Jiexi county in south China’s Guangdong province. A group that monitors Christianity in China says the government is ratcheting up a crackdown on congregations in Beijing and several Chinese provinces, destroying crosses, burning Bibles and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith.  (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The Chinese government is destroying cross, burning bibles, closing churches and forcing Christian believers to sign papers renouncing their faith as the crackdown on religious congregations in Beijing and several provinces intensifies.

The suppression of religious freedoms comes as an official government campaign to “Sinicize” religion by demanding loyalty to the atheist Communist party and removing any potential challenge to the party’s power in the country.

“The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief,” Bob Fu of China Aid, said.

“The situation for Chinese #Christians becomes more dire by the day. We are working tirelessly to put maximum pressure on China stop the persecution,” Jay Sekulow, President Trump attorney and Chief Counsel at the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), wrote in a tweet.

The persecution of Christians in China is nothing new. A report by the watchdog group Freedom House found that Christians and other religious groups in China have been persecuted since 2012, Fox News reported.

A third of all religious believers in China who belong to a faith group were also found to face “high” to “very high” levels of persecution, which ranges from bureaucratic harassment and economic exploitation to harsh prison terms and even violence, the report said.

But experts and activists say the Chinese government is now waging the most severe suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedoms were granted by the Chinese constitution in 1982.

The escalating anti-Christian campaign coincides with President Xi Jinping recent consolidation of power that made him the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, the notorious communist leader responsible for millions of deaths.

Activists reportedly filmed footage of what appeared to be piles of burning bibles and forms declaring that the signatories had rejected their faith. The authorities allegedly forced the believers to sign the forms or risk being expelled from school or loosing welfare benefits.

A Christian Pastor in the Henan city of Nanyang, whose name was identified out of fear of retaliation by the authorities, reportedly confirmed that crosses, bibles and furniture were burned during a raid on his church on Sept. 5. He added that local authorities were in discussions with the church about reforming it, but no agreement had been reached.

According to Chinese laws, religious believers are allowed to worship only in government-sanctioned congregations. But many millions of Christians belong to underground or house churches that ignore government regulations.

Officials reportedly disputed the allegations raised by Christians, saying authorities respect religious freedom.

The anti-religion campaign affected not only Christian denominations. Around 1 million Uighurs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the country’s northwest have been detained in indoctrination camps where they are forced to denounce Islam and profess loyalty to the Communist Party.

The Chinese government denied setting up the camps for indoctrination, but stressed the importance to tackle extremism.

China has an around 38 million Protestants, and some have predicted that the country will have the world’s largest Christian population in a few decades.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9375

Israel is building a massive wall along its northern border

Israel is building a massive wall along its northern border,

saying the barrier is needed to protect civilians from Hezbollah attacks, but the project has raised tensions with Lebanon, which fears the fence will encroach on its territory.

The IDF insists the entire barrier is being constructed in Israeli territory, and the UN peacekeeping force in the area agrees. But Hezbollah has never fully accepted the border, and a senior Israeli military official stressed the need for the wall, saying that while Israeli intelligence closely monitors the terror group, “we are prepared for the possibility that they will surprise us.”

Wall construction along Israel’s northern border (Photo: AFP)

The official spoke on condition of anonymity under military guidelines during a military-led tour of the border region provided for reporters.

Israel’s military conducted a large-scale combined arms drill in northern Israel this week simulating a future conflict with Hezbollah, with which it fought a monthlong war in 2006. Israelis fear there could be a renewal of hostilities as the civil war winds down in neighboring Syria, where the Iran-backed terror organization has been fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces for the last seven years.

Hezbollah is believed to have an even larger and more sophisticated arsenal of rockets than in 2006, when it fought Israel’s  military to a stalemate in southern Lebanon. That war began with a deadly cross-border raid in which Hezbollah killed eight Israeli soldiers and abducted two others, whose remains were returned to Israel in a prisoner exchange two years later.

Brig. Gen. Eran Ofir, the commander in charge of Israel’s border wall projects, said around seven miles of the 80-mile (130-kilometer) barrier has been built. The $450 million project is slated for completion in two years. Most of the barrier is a concrete wall topped by steel mesh, sensors and surveillance cameras. Steel fencing replaces the concrete wall in especially rugged areas.

Earthmovers and other large machinery rumbled alongside a completed section of the 30-foot (9-meter) high concrete wall earlier this week near the Mediterranean coast. Lebanese soldiers looked over the barrier from a guard post on the opposite side of the Blue Line, which was demarcated by the UN after Israeli forces withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000. The two countries technically remain at war.

Last month, the Lebanese army complained to UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force, saying Israeli bulldozers working on the barrier were encroaching on the Lebanese side. A Lebanese security official at the time said that following the Lebanese request, the Israeli bulldozers stopped their work and pulled back 50 meters (160 feet).

The UN Security Council warned last month that violations of the ceasefire agreement between Lebanon and Israel could lead to fresh conflict, and Lebanon’s top security body earlier this year described the planned border wall as an “aggression” against its sovereignty.

 

“This wall, if it is built, will be considered an aggression against Lebanon,” it said in a statement. “The Higher Defense Council has given instructions to confront this aggression to prevent Israel from building this so-called wall barrier on Lebanese territory,” it added.

Maj. Tomer Gilad, Israel’s liaison officer with UNIFIL, said there are monthly meetings with the Lebanese military and UN officials to coordinate the barrier’s construction.

“Even for the past year before we started this construction, we’ve coordinated this activity with UNIFIL, and through UNIFIL with the Lebanese Armed Forces. We’ve alerted them of our intention to do so, to construct this defensive mechanism,” Gilad told reporters.

Thus far, construction has proceeded “very calmly with the participation on all sides to maintain the stability,” Gilad said. “We expect UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Force to maintain stability over here throughout this construction, because this construction is a stabilizing measure.”

UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said that since construction began in February 2018, everything has been built south of the Blue Line and away from sensitive areas.

Israel says the barrier’s purpose is to defend Israeli communities from Hezbollah, pointing to sporadic cross-border attacks on Israeli troops and civilians in recent years. The volatile border between the two countries has been relatively quiet since the 2006 war, with few major cross-border attacks or incidents.

In 2010, an Israeli army officer was killed and another was seriously wounded when Israeli troops came under fire by Lebanese army forces while trimming trees on the Israeli side of the border. Three Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist were killed in Israeli retaliatory shelling. In 2013, an Israeli soldier was killed by a Lebanese army sniper while driving along the border, and in 2015 Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli military convoy, killing two soldiers and wounding seven.

The Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the army has noticed a troubling rise in “very close cooperation between Lebanese Army Forces and Hezbollah” near the Israeli frontier in the past year. He says the military expects even more Hezbollah fighters to arrive in the area after the Syrian war ends.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9373

Those Who Left Church Turning to New Age, Pagan Rituals

9:30AM EDT 8/30/2018 YONAT SHIMRON/RNS

Amanda, a 28-year-old Los Angeles resident, used to go to church every Sunday.

She still prays nightly and believes in Jesus, but now she has her own rituals.

“I’ll chant, or I’ll go to Kundalini (yoga) and meditate with a group,” said Amanda, who did not want her last name used because she’s afraid religious groups will target her.

She’s also into crystals.

She keeps a bunch on her nightstand and stows a small bag of them in her purse or backpack during the day.

“The energy they hold is this ancient energy,” she said. “It helps your own energy when you work with them, when you’re near them.”

Amanda wasn’t one of the respondents in a new Pew Research poll. But she fits right in.

The poll shows that beyond a small band of reliably predictable “Sunday Stalwarts,” as the survey calls them, American religiosity is pretty casual, with less than a quarter of Americans attending worship services weekly but nearly all religious groups adhering to some New Age beliefs.

The poll, which grouped 4,729 Americans into seven types, found that though few Americans reject God altogether, most Americans mix traditional faith with beliefs in psychics, reincarnation and spiritual energy that they say can be found in physical objects such as mountains, trees and crystals.

Taken in December, the poll examined beliefs and behaviors that cut across many
 denominations using a method called cluster analysis, which produced seven broad religious typologies. The researchers gave these types pithy names such as “Spiritually Awake” and “Religion Resisters.” Those who believe in no God Pew dubbed the “Solidly Secular.”

Overall, only 23 percent of Americans attend worship services weekly, and only one group — the “Sunday Stalwarts,” who make up about 17 percent of the population — attend in overwhelming numbers. These include mostly Christians but also Jews, Muslims and Hindus who may attend on other holy days.

In addition, the number of Americans who say they read Scripture daily, at only 11 percent, is strikingly low, and those who say religion is the most important source of meaning in their lives make up only 20 percent of the population.

By contrast, New Age beliefs pervade all seven American types identified in the survey.

“New Age beliefs are something we see many group members hold,” said Becka A. Alpert, research associate at Pew, who worked on the poll. But she added, the study cannot explain why.

Fully 41 percent of Americans believe in psychics including 32 percent of “Sunday Stalwarts,” the most traditionally religious group of all.

Forty-two percent of Americans believe spiritual energy can be located in physical objects. Smaller shares believe in reincarnation and astrology.

The group with the most New Age beliefs was what researchers called the “Diversely Devout.” This group, which makes up 11 percent of Americans, consists of Protestants and unaffiliated Americans, the so-called “nones.” Among this group, solid majorities have New Age beliefs.

This is the group that snaps up “smudge sticks” or “sage bundles” — material for ritual or spiritually cleansing burning — and invests in crystals and gemstones touted as possessing energy capable of helping people heal from emotional, physical or spiritual pain.

Crystal enthusiasts say moonstone invokes creativity, citrine boosts energy, and amethyst treats addiction.

Other practices such as yoga, meditation, reiki, ayurvedic medicine — not all New Age — are fast gaining practitioners.

“New Age practices are unstructured,” said Jeffrey Kessler, a Jew who is the president of his Berkeley, Calif. congregation Chochmat Halev but also teaches tai chi, and engages in somatic healing, which combines psychotherapy and various physical therapies to heal trauma. “There’s no authority. People can pick and choose and explore. I think of it as a spiritual freeform way of beginning to connect to something other than oneself.”

Mark Chaves, a sociologist at Duke University who studies American religiosity, said he’d want to look at other surveys to see if the Pew numbers for New Age beliefs are particularly high.

But he added: “It does strike me as interesting that belief in supernatural-ly kinds of things is more prevalent among the conventionally religious.”

The Pew poll also found plenty of traditional religious measures:

* 56 percent believe in the God of the Bible.
* 61 percent believe God will judge people based on what they’ve done.
* 77 percent say God or a higher power has protected them.

But only 33 percent of Americans say it’s necessary to believe in God to be moral and only 31 percent rely on their religious teachings “a lot” to help them make decisions about right and wrong.

Some scholars have argued that society is not necessarily becoming more secular; instead traditional religions are giving way to new forms of spirituality that are supplanting, but not always replacing churchgoing.

That was the thesis of a 2005 book, “The Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality.”

That makes sense to psychotherapist Stephanie Anderson-Ladd of Durham, N.C. Ladd works with women who feel alienated by patriarchal religions and helps them connect with the divine feminine through goddess archetypes that can serve as models.

“A lot of people have been turned off by organized religion,” she said. “They’re exploring alternative ways of being a spiritual being on a human path, as much as a human being on a spiritual path. We’re open to many different ways to understand the divine.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9371

Red Heifer Birth, Paves Way For Renewed Temple Service

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz September 5, 2018 , 12:17 pm

Daniel 12:10 (The Israel Bible™)

Red heifer candidate born in Israel. (Credit: The Temple Institute/YouTube screen capture)

Last Tuesday, the Temple Institute’s Red Heifer program was blessed with results; an entirely red female calf was born, paving the way for re-establishing the Temple service and marking the final stage of redemption.

Almost three years ago the Temple Institute inaugurated its Raise a Red Heifer in Israel program. Due to laws restricting the importation of live cattle into Israel, the Temple Institute imported frozen embryos of red angus, implanting them in Israeli domestic cows. The pregnant cows were raised on cattle ranches in different locations throughout the country. The cows are giving birth this summer with several calves already having been born.

One week after it’s birth, the newborn red heifer was certified by a board of rabbis as fulfilling all the Biblical requirements. The rabbis emphasized that the heifer could, at any time, acquire a blemish rendering it unsuitable. They will be inspecting the calf periodically to verify its condition.

The red heifer was the main component in the Biblically mandated process of ritual purification for impurity that results from proximity or contact with a dead body.  Because the elements needed for this ceremony have been lacking since the destruction of the Second Temple, all Jews today are considered ritually impure, thereby preventing the return of the Temple service.

The red heifer is described in the Book of Numbers.

“This is the ritual law that Hashem has commanded: Instruct B’nei Yisrael to bring you a red cow without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which no yoke has been laid. Numbers 19:2

Several heifers have been found in recent years that seemed to qualify but ultimately were unsuited for the ritual. Earlier this month, two calves born in Israel to the Institute’s red heifer program were deemed to be unsuitable for the performance of the mitzvah. One calf was a bull while the second, a heifer, had a small patch of white hair which disqualified her.

The heifer, born from a natural birth, must be entirely red, with no more than two non-red hairs on its body. It must also never have been used for any labor or have been impregnated. The existence of such a heifer is considered a biological anomaly and very rare. Fortunately, the ritual requires an infinitesimally small quantity of ashes. From the time of Moses, who personally prepared the first heifer, until the destruction of the Temple, only nine red heifers were prepared. Nonetheless, this was sufficient to maintain the ritual purity of the entire nation for almost 2,000 years.

According to Jewish tradition, there will only be ten red heifers in human history with the tenth heifer ushering in the Messianic era. Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides), the most renowned medieval Jewish scholar known by the acronym Rambam, wrote in his explanation of the mitzvah that “the tenth red heifer will be accomplished by the king, the Messiah; may he be revealed speedily, Amen, May it be God’s will.”

Rabbi Chaim Richman, the International Director of the Temple Institute, commented on this on the institute’s website.

“If there has been no red heifer for the past 2,000 years, perhaps it is because the time was not right; Israel was far from being ready. But now… what could it mean for the times we live in, to have the means for purification so close at hand? With the words of Maimonides in mind, we cannot help but wonder and pray: If there are now red heifers… is ours the era that will need them?”

The laws pertaining to the mitzvah are myriad and considered by the sages to be the archetypal chok, an inexplicable Torah commandment accepted solely on faith. Before entering the land of Israel after the Exodus, the heifer was burned outside of the camp. In the days of the Temple, the heifer was taken to the Mount of Olives across a causeway built specifically for this purpose to ensure that there was no inadvertent contact with areas along the way that may have been contaminated by dead bodies.

Cedarwood, hyssop, and wool or yarn dyed scarlet are added to the fire, and the remaining ashes are placed in a vessel containing spring water to purify a person who has become ritually contaminated by contact with a corpse. Water from the vessel is sprinkled on the subject, using a bunch of hyssop, on the third and seventh day of the purification process. The priest who performs the ritual then becomes ritually unclean, and must then wash himself and his clothes in running waters. He is deemed impure until evening.

No less stringent than the laws pertaining to the heifer are the laws pertaining to the site where the heifer is burned. Almost 30 years ago, Rabbi Yonatan Adler, who is also an archaeologist, performed an in-depth study into the textual references to the site where the red heifer was burned, publishing his results in  in the Torah journal Techumin. His calculations, based on the Holy of Holies being located where the Dome of the Rock stands today, led him to a spot where Dominus Flevit, a Catholic Church built in 1955, now stands. Archaeological surveys discovered unique characteristics of the site that corresponded to descriptions in the Talmud.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9367

Iran launches anti-US-Israel front – from W. Iraq, with Tel Aviv in missile range, builds base facing Golan

Aug 31, 2018 @ 18:25 Iranian forces in W. Iraq, Russian armada, US-Russian-Israeli buildup

Russia, Iran, Syria and Hamas have launched six steps to counter the US-Israeli plan to hit Iranian military targets in Syria, which National Security Adviser John Bolton finalized in Jerusalem two weeks ago. That plan is to strike Iran’s Al Qods Brigades and allied Shiite militia forces in Syrian and western Iraq, as DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources were first to reveal. The US and Israel agreed to provide each other with reciprocal air and military cover for their operations in Syria. This accord was first implemented on Aug. 23, when unidentified warplanes bombed a pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite Khataib Hezballah convoy on the Syrian-Iraqi highway.

The Russian-backed Iranian-Syrian-Hamas alliance subsequently put together six counter-measures:

  1. Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami arrived in Damascus with a large military delegation to sign expanded military cooperation pacts with Syrian ruler Bashar Assad. Israeli and American officials who initially made light of this event were forced to take a second look.
  2. Iran was empowered by these accords to deepen its military grip on Syria, backed by the promise of Russian military and air cover modeled on the US-Israeli mutual commitment.
  3. Tehran and Damascus agreed to retaliate for every US or Israel attack on Iran’s Al-Qods or Shiite militia forces in Syria in the same coin, i.e. by targeting US military forces posted east of the Euphrates River along the Syrian-Iraqi border, or IDF forces inside the Golan enclave. Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani was put in charge of these operations.
  4. Our exclusive sources also reveal that the new military pacts signed by Iran and Syria provide explicitly for three large Iranian bases to go up in Syria as hubs for the various Iranian command posts dispersed across the country; one outside Aleppo; a second between Damascus and the Israeli Golan border and a third at a still undetermined location.
  5. In the wake of these pacts, the United States, Russia, Iran and Israel are all engaged in military buildups in the Middle East and around Syria of intervention forces for a potential escalation.
    The Americans have prepared major naval and air strength in the region capable of rapid responses, mainly with Tomahawk cruise missiles.
    The Russians are massing a sea armada opposite the Syrian coast. Fresh arrivals on Friday, Aug. 31, raised the number of warships to 24.
    Syrian air defense networks are on the highest war alert since early this week. The IDF’s presence in northern Israel has been beefed up and the troops placed on high alert.
  6. On Friday, Iran said it had supplied allied Iraqi Shiite militias with ground-to-ground missiles with ranges of between 200km and 700km. From Western Iraq, meaning Anbar, where Soleimani has concentrated a large force, these mssiles can reach Tel Aviv; and from southern Iraq, the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The senior US allies in the region are therefore under fresh Iranian missile threat from Iraq.
    DEBKAfile’s military sources note that these missiles have long been in the hands of the Iraqi Shiite militias under Tehran’s thumb, but Iran’s leaders decided it could do no harm to release the information to its enemies at this time.
    In former articles, our sources have pointed out that a US-Israeli showdown with Iran in Syria  would inevitably spill over into Iraq.
    Hamas joined the emerging fray on Thursday, when its leader noted that the Palestinian organization also had rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv. He was pointing up the collaboration between Gaza’s Palestinian rulers and Tehran.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9364

From The Heart Of The Bible Belt To The California Coast, Satanism Is Experiencing Explosive Growth In America

September 2, 2018 by Michael Snyder

As attendance declines at Christian churches all over America, many Satanic groups are experiencing tremendous growth.  For some, embracing Satanism is the ultimate form of rebellion, for others it is about making an anti-Trump political statement, and yet others claim that they are attracted by the very real power that they discover in Satanism.  Every week, bizarre rituals are conducted in basements, meeting halls and public facilities all over the country, and most Americans have absolutely no idea what is going on.  Of course most mainstream news articles about Satanists attempt to portray them as ordinary people that have simply been “misunderstood”.  And ultimately that is what the Satanists are trying to do for Satan – they are trying to get all the rest of us to view Satan or Lucifer as a “misunderstood” being that only has humanity’s best interests at heart.  And since the values of Satanism line up more accurately with the values of modern society than Christian values do, Satanists are finding increasing success in bringing in new recruits.

Today, there are Satanic churches just about everywhere.  For example, a Satanic high priest named Adam Daniels started “the Church of Ahriman” in the heart of Oklahoma City

Adam Daniels, 35, is the “dastur” – or high priest – of the Church of Ahriman, which is based in Oklahoma City, USA.

The Church of Ahriman has 15 members and worships Ahriman, another name for the original Persian devil figure Angra Mainyu – the God of Hell.

The church’s followers meet in Daniels’ home, where he has converted a storage room into the ritual chamber in which he performs ceremonies including devil worshipping weddings and Satanic exorcisms.

Daniels says that he was attracted to Satanism after a deadly encounter with an armed thief sent him on a quest for answers

Seeking a way to come to terms with ending another person’s life, he began to see a therapist and turned to a variety of religions – all of whom suggested he should have turned the other cheek.

Daniels said: “I tried to find solace and I was told that I had committed the sin of wrath by the Christians and the Buddhists – even by my mom.”

Instead he found comfort in The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey, whose motto is ‘self preservation is the highest law’.

Daniels is married, and his wife is fully on board, but having a father that is a Satanic high priest has been very rough on their daughter Amber

“When I was six because I was given the Baphomet [an ancient deity, traditionally depicted as a horned goat] necklace in first grade and I wore it to school and was told by a teacher that I wasn’t allowed to wear it so I had to take it off and put it in my backpack.

“In sixth grade my grandma got me to go to my local bookstore and was able to get my full name printed on the Holy Bible – which my parents threw away.”

But before you start feeling tempted to feel sorry for this family, you should keep reading.

The truth is that Daniels is not a pleasant man.  In fact, he openly admits that he purposely commits blasphemy and that his entire goal is to offend God…

He said: “I have ritualistically burned the Holy Bible, the Qu’ran, the Talmed, the Torah, Buddhist Sutra’s, different Hindu Sutra’s you name it, I’ve burned it out of blasphemy.

“I am not responsible for God and no God is responsible for me.

“Through my words and my deeds, I am offending God and that is my whole goal, to make his people miserable, to bring about apostates, to bring about anguish.”

At one time, nuts like Daniels would have been a very rare anomaly, but times have changed.

Today there are Satanic communities that gather from coast to coast, and the following is how the Los Angeles Times described one of these gatherings in the L.A. area…

In November, in the candlelit basement of a house just above the Silver Lake Reservoir, Alexandra James walked over to an altar where her husband, Zachary, waited near a bleached human skull, teeth locked in eternal rictus. From the altar, she lifted a sword and drew points across his chest while a circle of onlookers watched solemnly (well, a few giggled too). An organist played eerie minor key chords and Alexandra turned to face the group.

“On this altar we consecrate swords to direct the fire of our unholy will,” she said. “A human skull, symbol of death. The great mother Lilith created us all, and will destroy us all.”

“Hail Satan! Hail Satan! Hail Satan!” The group chanted back.

So how many people are we actually talking about nationwide?

Well, there is not a single national organization, but all major Satanic groups have claimed large increases in membership since the election of Donald Trump.

In particular, the Satanic Temple reported gaining “thousands” of new members within the first 36 hours of Trump’s victory…

The Satanic Temple attracted “thousands” of new members in just the first 36 hours after the election of Donald Trump, according to co-founder Lucien Greaves. The 4-year-old temple, which had a pre-Trump membership of around 50,000, has never before seen a spike in registration nearly this big.

“It’s crazy,” Greaves said after a speech in front of some adoring fans at CU-Boulder. The emails, registrations, donations and social media posts are pouring in faster than the temple can respond. “People have a desperate need for something to rally to right now.”

Right now, membership in the Satanic Temple is somewhere around 100,000, and it has become a hub for the anti-Trump resistance.

Of course most have joined various Satanic groups for spiritual reasons.  Today there is a tremendous spiritual hunger in America, but Americans are also leaving traditional churches at a staggering pace.  People are looking for authenticity, but they aren’t finding it in the traditional places, and so many are seeking out new options.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of Americans are deciding that Satanism is the answer, and that is a very, very troubling sign.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9361

BIBLE BOMBSHELL: Archaeologists unearth site of Jesus’ ‘water into wine’ miracle

THE RIDDLE of the site of Jesus’ ‘first miracle’ has baffled religious scholars for centuries. By Tom Fish / Published 30th August 2018

But now academics claim to have solved the millennia-old mystery, bolstering the case for the New Testament’s historical accuracy.

The Gospel of John famously recounts the story of Jesus Christ turning water into wine during the Wedding at Cana.

In the account, Jesus, his mother Mary and his disciples are invited to a wedding, and when the wine runs out, Jesus delivers a sign of his glory by turning water into wine.

Pilgrims have for hundreds of years believed the miracle site to be Kafr Kanna, a town in northern Israel near the Sea of Galilee.

“We have uncovered a large Christian veneration cave complex”

Archeologist Dr Tom McCollough

But in a bombshell development, archaeologists now believe the Cana of biblical times to actually be a dusty hillside five miles further north.

And our pictures show precisely the location of the incredible find.

A number of compelling clues suggest the site is actually Khirbet Qana, a Jewish village which existed between the years of 323 BC and AD 324.

Excavations have revealed a network of tunnels used for Christian worship, marked with crosses and references to Kyrie Iesou, a Greek phrase meaning Lord Jesus.

There was also an altar and a shelf with the remains of a stone vessel, plus room for five more.

Pen News

MYSTERY: An altar marked with a cross in a tunnels has been unearthed

Pen News/Alfred Muller

NEW TESTAMENT: The site where Jesus changed water into wine has been found

Six stone jars like this held the wine in the biblical account of the miracle.

Dr Tom McCollough, who is directing excavations at the site, said there were three other sites with a credible claim to being the Cana of scripture.

“But none has the ensemble of evidence that makes such a persuasive case for Khirbet Qana,” he said.

“We have uncovered a large Christian veneration cave complex that was used by Christian pilgrims who came to venerate the water-to-wine miracle.

“This complex was used at the beginning of the late fifth or early 6th Century and continued to be used by pilgrims into the 12th Century Crusader period.

“The pilgrim texts we have from this period that describe what pilgrims did and saw when they came to Cana of Galilee match very closely what we have exposed as the veneration complex.”

As part of his evidence, Dr McCollough points to the work of first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.

He said: “His references to Cana align geographically with the location of Khirbet Qana and align logically with his movements.

“The reference to Cana in Josephus, the New Testament and in the rabbinic texts would argue the village was a Jewish village, near the Sea of Galilee and in the region of lower Galilee.

“Khirbet Qana fulfills all of these criteria.”

As for the better-known site at Kafr Kanna, Dr McCollough is sceptical.

“When tourists visiting Israel today are taken to Cana, they are taken to Kafr Kanna,” he said.

“However, this site was not recognized as a pilgrimage site for those seeking Cana until the 1700s.

“At this point the Franciscans were managing Christian pilgrimage and facilitating easy passage rather than historical accuracy.”

Dr McCollough believes the discoveries at Khirbet Qana could even bolster the case for the historicity of the Gospel of John.

He said: “Our excavations have shown that this was in fact a thriving Jewish village located in the heart of much of Jesus’ life and ministry.

“For the Gospel of John, Cana is in some ways, Jesus’ safe place or operational centre. It is a place he and his disciples return to when they encounter resistance in Judea.

“I would argue our excavations warrant at least a reconsideration of the historical value of John’s references to Cana and Jesus.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9359

NATO Confirms Russian Naval Buildup Off Syria, Calls for Restraint

‘It is important that all actors in the region exercise restraint and refrain from worsening an already disastrous humanitarian situation in Syria,’ a NATO spokesman told Haaretz in a statement

Haaretz

Aug 29, 2018 9:56 AM

NATO confirmed a large scale Russian navy buildup in the Mediterranean Sea off Syria on Tuesday. “The Russian Navy has dispatched substantial naval forces to the Mediterranean, including several ships equipped with modern cruise missiles,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu confirmed to Haaretz in a statement.

Russian media on Tuesday called the deployment Moscow’s largest naval buildup since it entered the Syrian conflict in 2015. The reinforcement comes as Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is believed to be considering an assault on the last big rebel-held enclave, Idlib in the north.

Lungescu said, “Many NATO Allies border the Mediterranean, and our navies constantly operate there, so we monitor naval activity in the region, including that of Russia.”

“We will not speculate on the intention of the Russian fleet, but it is important that all actors in the region exercise restraint and refrain from worsening an already disastrous humanitarian situation in Syria,” added the spokesperson.

“NATO is not present in Syria, but we support the efforts of the United Nations to achieve a lasting political resolution to the conflict.”

Russia claimed on Monday that the U.S. is preparing for a possible strike on Syria. Major-General Igor Konashenkov was quoted by agencies as saying that the USS Ross, a guided-missile destroyer, had entered the Mediterranean on Aug. 25 armed with 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of hitting any target in Syria.

Russian intervention

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that the Russian military was in talks with leaders of armed groups in Syria’s rebel-held Idlibprovince to reach a peace settlement, Russian news agency RIA reported.

Shoigu said the aim of the Idlib talks was to reach peaceful resolution similar to the settlements in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta and Deraa, RIA said.

The Russian Navy has dispatched the biggest task force to the Mediterranean Sea since the start of Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict in September 2015, Russian daily Izvestia reported.

* The task force includes 13 warships and two submarines

* Most of the ships carry ‘Kalibr’ cruise missiles

* Several more ships are reportedly on their way to join the task force

* Izvestia cites military experts as saying the fleet will be able to support the Syrian army’s campaign in rebel-held Idlib Province

* Russia intervened in the Syrian Civil War in 2015 backing the government of President Bashar al-Assad

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9355