Author's posts

Pope Francis reportedly tells gay man, ‘God made you that way and loves you’

By Edmund DeMarche | Fox News

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, reflects on the charismatic pontiff’s impact on the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis reportedly told a gay man from Chile who was visiting the Vatican that God made him that way and loves him the way he is.

Juan Carlos Cruz, who was reportedly a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a priest, reportedly spent days at the Vatican to talk about his experiences.

Cruz reportedly told El Pais, a Spanish newspaper, that the two had a conversation about his homosexuality and said he was told, “Juan Carlos, I don’t care about you being gay. God made you that way and loves you as you are and I don’t mind. The pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Vatican did not confirm the pope’s comments given that it was a private conversation.

The pope has upheld Catholic teaching on homosexuality, reiterating the church’s opposition to same-sex relationships.

Francis uttered his “Who am I to judge?” comment during his first airborne press conference in 2013, signaling a new era of acceptance and welcome for gays in the church. Francis followed up by meeting with gay and transgender faithful.

Fr. James Martin, the author of “Building a Bridge,” told The Times that Francis’ reported comments are a “big deal” because it is likely the first time the pope made a comment “about gay people being born that way.”

Martin told the paper that the pope made the reported comment in private and not on the record, which is a big difference.

Meanwhile, every active Chilean bishop offered to resign Friday over what Francis said was their “grave negligence” in investigating abuse and protecting children.

The bishops announced at the end of an emergency Vatican summit that all 31 active bishops in Rome had signed a document offering to resign.

Calls for mass resignations had mounted after details emerged of the contents of a 2,300-page Vatican report into the Chilean scandal leaked early Friday. Francis had cited the report in footnotes of a 10-page document that he handed over to each Chilean bishop at the start of the summit.

For years, sex abuse victims have blasted the Chilean hierarchy for discrediting their claims, protecting abusers and moving them around rather than reporting them to police and then handing out light sentences when church sanctions were imposed.

Francis, though, has also been implicated in the scandal and he took responsibility for his role as well.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9191

Is God finished with Israel?

Michael Brown on ‘divine promises’ that belong to Jewish nation

Published: 16 hours ago

Michael Brown

Is God finished with Israel? Is He done with the Jewish people as a people? Heaven forbid. All of Scripture and history shouts a loud “No” to this question.

Paul addressed this directly, asking: “So I ask, did they [speaking of the Jewish people as a whole] stumble in order that they might fall? By no means!” (Romans 11:11). Or, in the words of the King James Version, “God forbid.”

So, despite Israel’s rejection of Jesus as Messiah, Israel has not fallen beyond the point of recovery. Rather, as Paul writes in Romans 9:4 (speaking, again, of non-believing Jews), “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.”

Notice carefully those words, all in the present tense in Greek: The divine promises still belong to Israel. And one of those promises is that, whatever Israel does as a nation, even falling under divine discipline, God will preserve it as a nation.

As written in Jeremiah 31:35-37: “Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar – the Lord of hosts is his name: ‘If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the Lord, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord.’”

That’s why the Jewish people still exist today: We have been miraculously preserved by God, not because of our goodness, but because of His goodness. Thank God that He keeps His promises! Thank God for His grace and mercy and longsuffering! (To all of my non-Jewish, Jesus-loving friends, remember: The church does not have a monopoly on grace.)

What about the fact that the vast majority of Jews do not believe in Jesus? What about the fact that some militantly oppose faith in Jesus?

That is tragic, and that is why Paul mourned in Romans 9:1-3. Jews without Jesus are lost, just as Gentiles without Jesus are lost (see Romans 2:6-11).

Yet, despite my people’s rejection of our Messiah, we remain loved and chosen by God. As Paul stated so clearly: “As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:28-29).

Some would argue that when Paul said “Israel” in these verses, he meant only the believing remnant, the Israel within Israel, Jews who believe in Jesus (see Romans 9:6-8). But to argue for this is to do violence to the Word of God.

First, after making this point about the Israel within Israel (the believing remnant) in Romans 9:6, Paul used the word “Israel” 10 more times, culminating in Romans 11:26. In every case, he meant the nation as a whole, not just the believing remnant.

Second, as New Testament scholar F. F. Bruce pointed out in his commentary to Romans 11:26, ” … it is impossible to entertain an exegesis which takes ‘Israel’ here in a different sense from ‘Israel’ in v 25 (‘blindness in part is happened to Israel’).” In other words, the Israel that has been temporarily blinded is the Israel that will be saved.

As Bruce explained, “Temporarily alienated for the advantage of the Gentiles, they are eternally the object of God’s electing love because his promises, once made to the patriarchs, will never be revoked.”

That’s why Jesus spoke about the time of future “regeneration,” with the 12 tribes of Israel playing a central role (Matthew 19:28).

That’s why Peter spoke about the time of the restoration of all things, in accordance with the words of the Old Testament prophets (see Acts 3:19-21).

And what did those prophets speak about? They spoke of the time when the Messiah would reign from Jerusalem, when Israel would be exalted and when the nations would stream to Jerusalem to learn from Israel’s God (see, for example, Isaiah 2:1-4).

The idea that a New Testament writer could reverse all these promises with a single stroke of his pen – as some claim Paul or others did – is to deny the inspiration and authority of the Old Testament. After all, Jesus the Messiah came to fulfill the Hebrew Scriptures, not abolish them (see Matthew 5:17-20). He came to confirm the promises to the patriarchs, not cancel them (see Romans 15:8-9).

And, as Paul also wrote, the Sinai covenant, which came 430 years after the promises to Abraham, cannot annual those promises (Galatians 3:17-18; this includes the promises to the Land of Israel; see also Psalm 105:7-11).

That alone explains the history of the Jewish people. Without a homeland for many centuries, scattered around the earth, yet preserved through generations of unspeakable suffering, only to be regathered to our ancient homeland. Nothing even remotely close to this has happened to any other people. It is only because of the Lord!

And so, both history and Scripture demolish the idea that God is finished with Israel. Not a chance!

(For those wanting to do further study, I recommend the following titles: Brock David Hollett, “Debunking Preterism: How Over-Realized Eschatology Misses the ‘Not Yet’ of Bible Prophecy“; Gerald R. McDermott, ed., “The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives on Israel and the Land“; by the same author, “Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and the Land“; Barry E. Horner, “Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged” and “Eternal Israel“; Michael Vlach, “Has the Church Replaced Israel“; Michael L. Brown, “Our Hands Are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the ‘Church’ and the Jewish People

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9189

DAZED AND CONFUSED: Erdogan Says Turkey Will Not Allow Israel To Steal Jerusalem From Palestinians. Huh?

Erdogan said his chief of staff’s office and foreign ministry were working to evacuate the injured from Gaza, and said that Turkey would stand by Palestine “no matter what the price”. “Even if the whole world shuts their eyes, we will not allow Israeli cruelty. We will continue to be with our Palestinian siblings not only with our hearts, but with all our resources,” he said. “We will never allow Jerusalem to be stolen by Israel.”

by Geoffrey Grider May 17, 2018

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that the United Nations had “collapsed” in the face of events in Gaza where Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinian protesters on Monday as the United States relocated its Israel embassy to Jerusalem.

“And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there.” 1 Kings 11:36 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The president of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, seems to be a tad confused today. In giving his latest fiery tirade against all Jews everywhere in general and against the sovereign nation of Israel in particular, Erdogan made a amazingly ignorant statement. He said, and I quote that he will “not allow Israel to steal Jerusalem from the Palestinians”. Hmm. In my King James Bible, the word ‘Jerusalem’ appears 811 times, all of them in reference to Israel. Look it up, check me out. But that’s not all. There are dozens and dozens of verses where the LORD says that Jerusalem is the place where He chooses to ‘put His name’. And there is not a single reference that shows any Canaanite or Philistine, that’s what the modern day Palestinians are descended from, with the right to control the Holy City. In fact, Zechariah 14:21 shows that, in the Millennial Reign of King Jesus, all Canaanites/Palestinians will be removed completely from the House of the Lord. 

“Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.” Zechariah 14:21 (KJV)

Turkey has been among the most vocal critics of the Israeli use of deadly force against protesters at the Gaza border and of the U.S. decision to open its new embassy in Jerusalem. It called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on Friday.

Speaking at a dinner on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Erdogan said the majority of the international community had failed to react to the events in Gaza, and warned that remaining silent would mean “opening a very dangerous door.”

For those of you who are not geographical scholars, here is the original land grant God gave to Abraham in bullet points:

How much of Israel belongs to the Jews? All of it, and then some. God’s land grant to Abraham is in perpetuity, and will not only last through the Millennial Reign, it will last throughout all eternity as well.

WHO’S OCCUPYING WHO? LET’S LOOK AT GOD’S ORIGINAL LAND GRANT OF ISRAEL TO ABRAHAM

“In the face of all these events, the United Nations has ended. (It has) become exhausted and collapsed,” Erdogan said. “If Israel’s bullying is met with more silence, the world will rapidly be dragged into a chaos where thuggery prevails.”

The events in Gaza have also sparked a diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel, with both countries expelling each other’s senior diplomats on Tuesday.

The dispute appears to mark the worst diplomatic crisis between the two regional powers since Israeli marines stormed an aid ship to enforce a naval blockade of Gaza in 2010, killing 10 Turkish activists and prompting a downgrade in diplomatic ties that lasted until 2016.

Erdogan, who described Monday’s bloodshed as genocide earlier this week, said Turkey had launched initiatives to get the issue onto the U.N. General Assembly’s agenda. He said Ankara was pressing members of the U.N. Security Council to be more active.

He said his chief of staff’s office and foreign ministry were working to evacuate the injured from Gaza, and said that Turkey would stand by Palestine “no matter what the price”.

“Even if the whole world shuts their eyes, we will not allow Israeli cruelty. We will continue to be with our Palestinian siblings not only with our hearts, but with all our resources,” he said. “We will never allow Jerusalem to be stolen by Israel.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9186

Turkey Expels Israeli Ambassador, Accuses Israel of ‘Genocide’

By JNS May 16, 2018 , 9:30 am

“The words of a fool lead to strife; His speech invites blows.” Proverbs 18:6 (The Israel Bible™)

Turkey has told the Israeli ambassador to the country to temporarily leave in protest of the situation in Gaza, which saw nearly 60 Palestinian rioters killed by Israeli forces on Monday.

Ambassador Eitan Naeh was summoned to the foreign ministry and told to “return to his country for a period of time,” said a Turkish foreign ministry official, AFP reported.

Turkey has also recalled its ambassadors to Israel and the United States over the Gaza situation.

Naeh had been serving in his post since December 2016, following a reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey stemming from a break down in relations due to the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident.

At the same time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also lashed out at Israel, accusing the country of being a “terror state” that has committed “a genocide.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded on Tuesday, calling Erdoğan, who has long supported Hamas, of himself being involved in “terrorism and slaughter.”

Erdoğan then responded again, saying that Netanyahu leads an “apartheid state.”

“Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state that has occupied a defenseless people’s lands for 60+ yrs in violation of UN resolutions,” Erdoğan wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey.”

Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett also responded to the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and Erdoğan’s comments by blasting the compensation deal with Turkey over the Mavi Marmara incident and calling for the recognition of the Armenian genocide.

“Erdoğan is soaked with Hamas terror from head to toe. It was a severe mistake to sign a compensation deal with him, worth tens of millions of dollars, following the Marmara incident,” Bennett wrote on his Twitter account Tuesday.

Bennett, a member of the Security Cabinet, added: “At the time, I said he would return to hurt us, and I even voted against that shameful agreement, which unfortunately passed in the cabinet.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9184

As 40,000 Palestinians Rush Gaza Border, Israeli Snipers Kill 38, Wound 1,000 Ahead Of US Embassy Opening

Israeli snipers have killed 25 Palestinians and hundreds more have been injured as 35,000 joined protests over the opening of America’s embassy today. At least 900 more have been injured with about 450 of them by live bullets, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry after the army warned that anyone attempting to approach the security fence would be risking their lives. A 14-year-old and two men in their 20s were among those shot dead along the Gaza border on what is already the deadliest single day of protests since weekly border demonstrations started on March 30.

 

by Geoffrey Grider May 14, 2018

Israeli snipers have killed 38 Palestinians and hundreds more have been injured as 40,000 joined protests over the opening of America’s embassy today.

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.” Zechariah 12:2 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The US Embassy in Jerusalem will open officially in the next 50 minutes at 10:00 AM EST, 4:00 PM Israeli time today. Tens of thousands of Palestinians are right now engaged on the Gaza border, rushing the protective fence behind which live Israeli citizens. The stated goal of the rioters is to ‘loot, destroy and kill Israelis’. IDF snipers have already killed scores of these Gazan rioters, with over 1,000 wounded, and the death toll is climbing by the minute. These figures will be out of date the moment this article is published. With mere minutes until the Embassy opening in Jerusalem, it would appear that nothing is going to stop it. 

At least 900 more have been injured with about 450 of them by live bullets, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry after the army warned that anyone attempting to approach the security fence would be risking their lives. A 14-year-old and two men in their 20s were among those shot dead along the Gaza border on what is already the deadliest single day of protests since weekly border demonstrations started on March 30.

U.S. Embassy Jerusalem Dedication Ceremony

Click here to watch a live stream of the US Embassy dedication ceremony coming in real-time from Jerusalem, or watch below.

It comes as a White House delegation and Israeli officials gathered for an inauguration ceremony for the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump tossed aside decades of precedent when he recognised the city as Israel’s capital in December – a  decision that sparked global outcry, Palestinian anger and exuberant praise from Israelis.

Russia said today it feared the embassy opening would increase tension in the Middle East while Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan warned the US it had forfeited its role as a mediator in the region and was now ‘part of the problem rather than the solution’.

As violent clashes broke out this morning, Trump, in a tweet, hailed the scheduled embassy opening as ‘a great day for Israel’.  Trump made no reference to the violence in an early morning tweet, instead inviting Twitter followers to watch live coverage of the embassy opening.

Amid heightened tensions in the region, al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri last night called for followers to carry out jihad against America. In a new message, he said America’s decision was evidence that negotiations and ‘appeasement’ have failed Palestinians as he urged Muslims carry out jihad against the United States.

The Israeli air force struck five targets in a Hamas military camp near the city of Jabaliya, the IDF said. The strike came following three “serious” incidents in which IDF troops were targeted by Palestinians along the border fence. According to the army, 40,000 Palestinians are demonstrating in 12 different locations along the border fence. source

Trump ‘was clear and explicit as he revealed the true face of the modern Crusade, where standing down and appeasement does not work with them, but only resistance through the call and jihad,’ Zawahiri said, according to a transcript provided by the SITE monitoring agency.

It follows Trump’s announcement last week that the United States is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and Israeli strikes two days later on dozens of Iranian targets in Syria. Those strikes came after rocket fire toward Israeli forces in the occupied Golan Heights that Israel blamed on Iran.

This morning, the Israeli military said troops shot and killed three Palestinians who were trying to place an explosive device by the border fence in Gaza during mass protests.

The shooting in the southern Gaza town of Rafah came as the army said an Israeli aircraft had bombed a Hamas military post in the northern Gaza Strip after Israeli troops came under fire. No Israeli casualties were reported.

The Israeli military says over 35,000 protesters are taking part in demonstrations at 12 points along the Gaza border. The Trump administration has vowed to restart the moribund Middle East peace process but the embassy move has inflamed feelings across the globe.

Monday’s inauguration ceremony at 4pm Israel time will include some 800 guests – though Trump himself will not attend – at what until now had been a US consulate building in Jerusalem.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will lead the Washington delegation that includes Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, both White House aides, as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Ivanka Trump thanked Benjamin Netanyahu for the Israeli Prime Minister’s hospitality at a welcome reception

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9182

China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier heads out for sea trial

By Ben Westcott and Brad Lendon, CNN

Updated 12:04 AM ET, Sun May 13, 2018

 

(CNN)China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier began sea trials on Sunday, a historic step in the country’s mission to build a navy capable of rivaling the world’s leading maritime powers.

The new aircraft carrier, temporarily named Type 001A, sailed out at around 7 a.m. in Dalian, in the northeast province of Liaoning, according to reports in Chinese state media.

The 50,000-tonne ship will become the country’s second aircraft carrier, and the first to be entirely built and designed inside of China, when it joins the navy sometime before 2020.

The carrier’s maiden sea trial follows a speech given by Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 12, in which he announced plans to build a “world-class” navy under the banner of the Chinese Communist Party.

China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, a retrofitted Soviet-era vessel bought from the Ukraine, was hailed as the fulfillment of a “70-year dream” of the Chinese nation when it launched to much celebration in 2012.

But experts said while the new aircraft carrier will dramatically boost China’s military power in the Asia region, its technology was still outdated and lagged far behind the world’s naval superpower, the United States.

“This is, in and of itself, not designed to be some frontal challenge to US power in the Asia Pacific, because it simply isn’t in the class of America’s aircraft carriers,” Sam Roggeveen, senior fellow at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, told CNN.

Chinese workers labor on the deck of China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, at the shipyard in Dalian on 16 April.

Bigger and better

China’s second aircraft carrier will be “modernized” compared to its first, experts said, with a design that’s bigger and heavier to allow it to carry more planes.

The basic design for the new aircraft carrier is clearly modeled heavily on the Liaoning, including the signature ski-jump inclination at the front from which aircraft lift off.

The ship, which is roughly 315 meters (1,033 ft) in length and 75 meters (246 ft) wide, uses conventional rather than nuclear propulsion, and is believed to displace 50,000 tonnes, according to reports in state media.

Speaking to CNN, RAND Corporation senior international defense research analyst Timothy Heath described the design as generally easier to build and to operate aircraft from.

But expert analysis of pictures and satellite images of the new China-built vessel reveals it has been altered in subtle ways, possibly allowing it to accommodate up to eight additional aircraft.

By comparison, the Liaoning is thought to currently carry around 30 warplanes, including fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.

According to Peter Layton, visiting fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute, the Liaoning was intended to act as more of a training vessel, whereas the new ship is likely to be deployed in combat missions, positioning China alongside a select number of countries with global naval capabilities, including Russia, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

As of this year, the United States Navy fields 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, more than any other nation in the world.

The US ships feature “catapult” technology, in which a gear attached to a steam-powered piston or an electromagnetic rail gets aircraft up to flight speed as they leave the deck.

Aircraft launched by catapults can get airborne and with greater quantities of fuel and ammunition, giving them an advantage over Chinese planes, which rely on their own power when lifting off from the Liaoning’s ski-jump.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9180

Netanyahu’s Popularity Skyrockets After Successfully Orchestrating Iran Missile Attack Response And May 14th US Embassy Opening In Jerusalem

Benjamin Netanyahu placed his chips on Trump and on him leaving the nuclear deal and he is now celebrating big-time with 35 seats. He has shown that there is nobody to match him in the diplomatic-security field,” Israel Radio political analyst Hanan Kristal said.

by Geoffrey Grider May 11, 2018

Israel’s tough stance on Iran has boosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity at home, and he can expect more good press in the coming days when the United States opens its embassy in Jerusalem.

“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The speed at which events have transpired over the past few weeks is truly breathtaking. In America, President Trump seemed pinned to the mat with allegations from porn actress Stormy Daniels about an affair, a payoff and a coverup. Fake news media talking heads gleefully predicted Trump’s soon impeachment and removal from office. Yet today, President Trump has not only managed to bring home 3 American prisoners from North Korea, he announced last night a June 12th Summit with Kim Jong-Un to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. And he’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in the process. In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has been weathering relentless charges of corruption with his enemies also gleefully anticipating his downfall. Yet today he stands as a heroic defender of Israel after skillfully responding to an Iranian missile attack on Friday, and preparing to open the new US Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday. Why are these two world leaders – Trump and Netanyahu – not just surviving but thriving in this hostile political environment? I submit to you it is because both men, however flawed and human they may be, are each God’s appointed leaders for the end times to fulfill Bible prophecy regarding Judah and Jerusalem. And until they complete the work that God has ordained for them to do, they will remain untouchable. 

As the closest Middle East ally of President Donald Trump, Netanyahu has been central to U.S. decisions that have reshaped the political map of the region. On April 30, he appeared on prime-time television to present Israel’s case that Trump should abandon the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran. The president did so barely a week later.

Netanyahu publicly hailed the decision and followed up with air strikes on Iranian military positions in Syria, a country that borders Israel and which Israel fears may increasingly be used as a base by Iran to attack the Jewish state.

A poll on Channel 2 television the day after Trump scrapped the Iran deal showed Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party would gain five seats if elections were held now, winning 35 in the 120-seat parliament and strengthening its position in a ruling coalition. A poll in April had Likud on 28 seats.

On Thursday Israel accused Iran of firing rockets from Syria into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the first time that Iran has attacked Israel with rockets. Israel struck back with its heaviest air strikes in Syria since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, saying that it attacked nearly all of Iran’s military infrastructure.

That attack came too late for a poll in the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv on Friday. But the survey found that 69 percent of respondents were satisfied with Netanyahu’s handling of “Israel’s policy regarding Iran’s presence in Syria.”

The survey also showed 59 percent of Israelis polled said they considered Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal and reimpose U.S. sanctions on Tehran would aid Israel’s security.

But 54 percent of respondents said they feared a direct military confrontation with Iran was looming and agreed with officials who said that it would be better “to have the fight now and not at a later stage,” the paper said.

Israel’s next elections are set to be held in November 2019, but Netanyahu could seek an early ballot to capitalize on the boost in popularity.

“Benjamin Netanyahu placed his chips on Trump and on him leaving the nuclear deal and he is now celebrating big-time with 35 seats. He has shown that there is nobody to match him in the diplomatic-security field,” Israel Radio political analyst Hanan Kristal said.

Abraham Diskin, political science professor with the Hebrew University said standing up to Iran was likely to increase support for Netanyahu, as it would for any government, left or right. Despite Likud’s surge, Diskin said, the balance of power between right- and left-wing blocs in the Israeli Knesset, pr parliament, had not significantly changed.

“According to the poll, Netanyahu doesn’t have a majority but he does hold all the cards,” he said in a phone interview with Reuters.

The corruption investigations against Netanyahu “are perceived by his supporters as persecution and as the probes drag on, his supporters are strengthened in this belief,” Diskin said.

The next few days see “Jerusalem Day” on Sunday, the date in the Hebrew calendar when East Jerusalem was captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

A day later, on May 14, the United States will open its embassy in Jerusalem. The ceremony is timed to coincide with the day in 1948 — on the western calendar — that Israel declared its independence.

May 15 is the day Palestinians commemorate what they call the “Nakba“, or “Catastrophe”, when hundreds of thousands fled or were driven out of their homes in 1948.

Israel’s security forces have readied themselves for Palestinian protests to mark the embassy move from Tel Aviv and the anniversary, with the Islamist militant group Hamas talking of attempts to breach the Gaza-Israel border.

Most Israelis, from across the political spectrum, see the U.S. embassy move as a rubber stamp on recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israel has always regarded the city as its eternal and indivisible capital but the city has not gained that recognition internationally. The United Nations regards East Jerusalem as being held under military occupation by Israel, and Palestinians say it must be the capital of their future state.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9178

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano could be ready to blow, scientists say

By Stephen Sorace | Fox News

An ash column rises Wednesday from the overlook at Halema’uma’u Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii.  (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

Geologists warned Wednesday that Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano could soon experience explosive eruptions from its summit and launch large rocks and ash into the air.

The threat of explosive activity will rise as lava drains from the summit of Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and explosions will be possible in the coming weeks if the lava dips below the groundwater table, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.

If lava drops below the groundwater level, it could heat up the water and create steam. The steam could build in pressure as rocks fall and form a dam within the volcano’s walls and “cause steam-driven explosions” with “very little warning,” the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The volcano could then eject “ballistic rocks” of lava up to several feet in diameter, the USGS said. It may also send pebbles shooting into the air several miles away.

“Debris expelled during such explosions could impact the area surrounding Halemaʻumaʻu and the Kīlauea summit,” the HVO told the Star-Advertiser.

There could also be potential for ash and sulfur dioxide emissions. Ash can cause eye and breathing irritation, reduce visibility and interfere with electrical lines, the Los Angeles Times reported.

So far, the eruption has destroyed 36 structures since it began releasing lava from fissures that opened in a Big Island neighborhood about 25 miles east of the summit crater. A 15th vent opened Wednesday, spreading lava through Leilani Estates and neighboring Lanipuna Gardens, Hawaii officials said.

Separately, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said the Puna Geothermal Venture energy plant near the lava outbreak was accelerating its removal of about 50,000 gallons of stored pentane, a flammable gas, from the site.

It would be “very, very hazardous” if a volcanic vent were to open under the facility where the fuel is stored, the governor said. He expected it would all be removed by Thursday.

The explosive conditions resembled Kilauea’s 1924 summit eruption that killed one person and spewed rocks, ash and dust into the air for 17 days, said Tina Neal, scientist-in-charge at the USGS Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory.

Steam and gas rise from Kilauea’s summit crater in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii on Wednesday.  (Associated Press)

No one lives in the immediate area of the summit crater. But people have continued to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which includes the crater and surrounding region. The park will be evacuated before conditions worsen, officials said.

Nearly 2,000 residents have been ordered to evacuate the neighborhoods close to the vents, but some ignored the order and remained to watch over their property. Authorities went door-to-door in Lanipuna to get people out of their homes Tuesday.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9175

IDF HITS BACK: Israel Launches Massive Counter Attack Against Iranian Forces In Syria In Largest Exchange Since 1973 Yom Kippur War

The Israel Defense Forces is taking action at this moment against Iranian targets in Syria. Any Syrian involvement against this move will be met with the utmost seriousness,” wrote Avichay Adraee, the Israeli military’s Arabic-language spokesperson, on Twitter. A source in the Israeli security establishment said this attack was the largest carried out by Israel since it signed on a disengagement agreement with Syria in May 1974.

by Geoffrey Grider May 9, 2018

 

In response an earlier Iranian missile attack, Israel launched an extensive retaliatory campaign, striking suspected Iranian bases throughout Syria for hours following the initial Iranian bombardment, an Israeli military spokesperson said, warning Syrian dictator Bashar Assad not to get involved.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Israeli Air Force has just finished with an absolutely blistering counterattack on Iran in Syria, in the largest show of firepower by Israel in Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The IDF warned Assad to not even think about using anti-tank missiles against its planes, and would be hit immediately if they did. This is breaking news and we will update this story as it develops…

“The Israel Defense Forces is taking action at this moment against Iranian targets in Syria. Any Syrian involvement against this move will be met with the utmost seriousness,” wrote Avichay Adraee, the Israeli military’s Arabic-language spokesperson, on Twitter.

A source in the Israeli security establishment said this attack was the largest carried out by Israel since it signed on a disengagement agreement with Syria in May 1974.

According to Arabic media reports, the Israel Defense Forces struck numerous targets across Syria, including weapons depots and Assad regime radar and air defense systems. The Israeli military would not immediately comment on its specific targets.

Syrian rebels said these strikes targeted three airfields: the Shayrat air base, which was targeted by the United States last year for its role in an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun; the Tha’lah air base, in southwest Syria, which has been tied to Hezbollah; and the Mezzeh military air field outside Damascus, which is reportedly home to Assad’s elite republican guard.

A large Israeli bombing raid was reported near the northwestern Syrian town of Qusayr near the Lebanese border, a known Hezbollah stronghold.

Syria’s state news agency, after initially reporting that the country’s air defenses were intercepting dozens of “hostile Israeli missiles,” later said Israeli jets were “aiming to destroy anti-aircraft defenses and radar

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9173

Trump announces plans to withdraw from Iran nuclear agreement

By Alex Pappas | Fox News

President Trump on Tuesday announced plans to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, saying it has failed to halt the country’s nuclear ambitions.

Speaking in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, Trump said: “I am announcing today the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”

He said, “The Iran deal is defective at its core.”

A source said that Trump’s announcement will start a 90-day countdown to the restoration of sanctions.

Once sanctions are re-imposed, the U.S. effectively would be out of the deal.

It’s not clear which sanctions lifted under the deal Trump plans to immediately re-impose. He has several options. A more limited move could leave Trump more room to potentially stay in the deal if other members agree to toughen it.

If he follows through on a sweeping imposition of sanctions, the move threatens to topple the Iran nuclear agreement as a whole – and with it, his predecessor’s signature foreign policy achievement.

The president began briefing foreign and congressional leaders on his decision ahead of his 2 p.m. announcement.

And he started the day by warning former Secretary of State John Kerry not to meddle in the negotiations.

“John Kerry can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it! Stay away from negotiations John, you are hurting your country!” Trump tweeted early Tuesday.

This was a reference to reports that Kerry was meeting with foreign officials in a bid to salvage the pact. Speaking at a summit Tuesday in Italy, Kerry did not back down, saying the Middle East is “safer with this agreement” and framing this juncture as a choice between peace and war.

Trump’s announcement comes ahead of a May 12 deadline to make a decision on sanctions.

It follows efforts by European allies to convince Trump to keep the deal, even with changes.

But Trump reportedly was unconvinced. Since the 2016 presidential campaign, he has railed against the agreement and its Obama administration negotiators.

The 2015 pact lifted most U.S. and international sanctions against the country, in exchange for Iran agreeing to restrictions on its nuclear program making it impossible to produce a bomb, along with rigorous inspections – terms generally set for 10-15 years.

But Israel, Gulf Arab states and many congressional Republicans said the deal was a giveaway to Tehran that ultimately paves the path to a nuclear-armed Iran several years in the future.

“Perhaps the nuclear deal’s most unforgivable flaw is that its original architects chose to stand with and empower Iran’s mullahs over the Iranian people, whose opposition to their corrupt and criminal government continues to grow,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote in a Fox News op-ed urging Trump to abandon the pact and ratchet up sanctions.

But Trump’s decision could lead to retaliation from Iran in the near-term.

If the deal collapses, Iran could resume prohibited enrichment activities, while businesses and banks doing business with Iran would have to scramble to extricate themselves or run afoul of the U.S.

While Trump himself was tight-lipped about his decision in the run-up to the announcement, Iranian officials also were left guessing.

In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani sought to calm nerves. “It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this,” Rouhani said.

Rouhani earlier warned of “grave” consequences if Trump pulled back on the agreement.

Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes, who played a key role in the deal, also tweeted that “Trump is blowing that up with no understanding of what’s actually in the Deal, no plan for what comes next, and no support from our closest European allies, Russia or China.”

A factor leading to Tuesday’s decision may have been Israel’s public lobbying. A week ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to the U.S. president by making explosive allegations that new evidence proved Tehran had lied about its nuclear program and adherence to the pact.

But even Trump’s secretary of state and the U.N. agency that monitors nuclear compliance have agreed that Iran, so far, has lived up to its side of the deal.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9170