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Syrian Warplanes Test British Air Defenses in Cyprus
Sep 9th, 2013
Daily News
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues


RAF Typhoon fighters won a mid-air showdown with two Syrian warplanes heading towards Britain’s main base in Cyprus, the Sunday People reports.

The dramatic confrontation came after President Bashar Al-Assad’s air chiefs sent two Russian-made Sukhoi Su-24s to probe British air defenses, the report said.

The Syrian bombers refused to respond to repeated attempts by the control tower at the UK’s Akrotiri air base to contact them.

RAF pilots flying the advanced combat jet were scrambled before the Sukhois could enter our 14-mile air exclusion zone.

The Typhoons – which can scream from runway standstill to seven miles high in 90 seconds – soared into the sky to make visual contact with the Syrian pilots, reported the Sunday People, which added that the moment the Syrians spotted the British planes on their radar they high-tailed for home.

If the bombers had pressed on into the British exclusion zone they would have been shot down, military experts told the newspaper.

The showdown happened on Monday before British Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama went to the G20 summit in Russia to press for strikes against Syria following a gas attack in the capital Damascus that killed nearly 1,500 civilians on August 21.

Two Turkish F-16s were also scrambled from their Incirlik air base in Turkey, but they arrived on the scene long after the British Typhoons, according to the report.

Asked about the incident, a Ministry of Defense spokesman told the Sunday People, “The MoD can confirm that Typhoon air defense aircraft operated from RAF Akrotiri on Monday to investigate unidentified aircraft to the east of Cyprus.

“The aircraft were flying legally in international airspace and no ­intercept was required,” said the spokesman.

Seoul, Washington in Plan to Deter N.korean Nuke Attack
Sep 9th, 2013
Daily News
Chosun Media
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues


Seoul and Washington are about to complete a plan aimed at deterring the nuclear threat from North Korea, a government source here said Sunday.

They will sign off on the plan at the Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul on Oct. 2.

The source said South Korea and the U.S. have conducted joint research on a “tailored deterrence strategy” over the last 10 months and already practiced it during last month’s joint military simulation exercise.

It envisions political, diplomatic and military responses in three stages from before any such attack to after.

In addition to the “nuclear umbrella” the U.S. provides, the strategy encompasses a missile defense and even precision strikes on North Korean nuclear facilities if the North is about to launch a nuclear-tipped missile.

The precision strikes would use South Korean ballistic missiles with a range of 300-800 km and cruise missiles with a range of more than 500-1500 km, and U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles and B-2 Stealth bombers.

Privacy Scandal: Nsa Can Spy on Smart Phone Data
Sep 9th, 2013
Daily News
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues


The United States’ National Security Agency intelligence-gathering operation is capable of accessing user data from smart phones from all leading manufacturers. Top secret NSA documents that SPIEGEL has seen explicitly note that the NSA can tap into such information on Apple iPhones, BlackBerry devices and Google’s Android mobile operating system.

The documents state that it is possible for the NSA to tap most sensitive data held on these smart phones, including contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information about where a user has been.

The documents also indicate that the NSA has set up specific working groups to deal with each operating system, with the goal of gaining secret access to the data held on the phones.

In the internal documents, experts boast about successful access to iPhone data in instances where the NSA is able to infiltrate the computer a person uses to sync their iPhone. Mini-programs, so-called “scripts,” then enable additional access to at least 38 iPhone features.

The documents suggest the intelligence specialists have also had similar success in hacking into BlackBerrys. A 2009 NSA document states that it can “see and read SMS traffic.” It also notes there was a period in 2009 when the NSA was temporarily unable to access BlackBerry devices. After the Canadian company acquired another firm the same year, it changed the way in compresses its data. But in March 2010, the department responsible at Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency declared in a top secret document it had regained access to BlackBerry data and celebrated with the word, “champagne!”

Pastor Taken Hostage in Philippines Rebel Attack‏
Sep 9th, 2013
Daily News
World Watch Monitor
Categories: Today's Headlines;Persecution

A pastor has been taken hostage and several Christians are among the many injured in an attack by a rebel group in the Philippines.

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is suspected of carrying out the attack this morning (September 9) in Zamboanga, Mindanao province, which left at least six dead.

At least 20 people have been taken hostage, including a pastor, whose name is being withheld for security reasons. More than 800 have fled their homes, including from the busy Rio Hondo area. A local church has been tending to casualties.

The city has been placed on Red Alert with schools cancelled and businesses closed. Officials say the rebel group has been using hostages as human shields as they march towards the City Hall.

The MNLF has been seeking independence for decades, hoping to create an independent Islamic state. A ceasefire was agreed in 1996, but some of the group’s affiliates remain active.

Asamin Hussin, National Security Commander for the MNLF, told AP news agency that they wanted independence.

"We want to establish our own Bangsamoro government, not an autonomous government but we want an independent Mindanao as Bangsamoro nation," he said. Bangsamoro refers to Muslim people in southern Philippines.

Obama to Meet With Democrats Before Syria Speech
Sep 9th, 2013
Daily News
Times of Israel
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues


President Barack Obama will meet with Senate Democrats Tuesday to seek support for US military action against the government of Syria, a Senate Democratic aide said Sunday.

The meeting at the Capitol would come just hours before Obama addresses the nation in a prime-time speech on Syria from the White House.

The Senate aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publically discuss the meeting before its official announcement.

Obama faces difficult odds to win congressional authorization for any use of force against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Obama blames Assad’s military for a chemical weapons attack against civilians last month outside Damascus.

Moroccan Christian Jailed for Evangelising‏
Sep 9th, 2013
Daily News
World Watch Monitor
Categories: Today's Headlines;Persecution

A Moroccan Christian man has been jailed for two-and-a-half years and fined for evangelising.

Mohamed el Baldi, 34, from the town of Ain Aicha, near Fes, was ordered to pay 5000 dirhams ($600) for “shaking the faith of a Muslim”, at a court hearing on September 3.

He was arrested after his house was raided on August 28 and items linked to his faith such as his Bible were confiscated.

Propagating Christianity is prohibited under Article 220 of the Moroccan Penal Code. The law states that it is unlawful to stop one or more persons from practising their religion by force, violence or threats.

By law, the maximum punishment for this offence is three-to-six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 200 to 500 dirhams. However, el Baldi has been punished much more strictly.

El Baldi, who is understood to have converted to Christianity around seven years ago, admitted friendship with two American Christians, who provided him with Christian materials, and confirmed that he attended Christian meetings in the cities of Meknes and Rabat.

During the court hearing, his mother was said to have been hysterical and to have asked Allah to exact revenge on whoever “tampered” with the mind of her son.

Morocco is ranked 39th in the Open Doors International’s World Watch List, which reports on countries where it is difficult to practise Christianity.

In 2010, a number of foreign Christians were declared as “a danger” to the country and expelled.

Of the 33 million population of Morocco, over 99 per cent is Muslim. The rest is comprised predominantly of Christians and Jews.

Let the Headlines Speak
Sep 9th, 2013
Daily News
From the Internet
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues

Where Congress Stands on #Syria
In case you missed it, the Washington Post has an excellent graphic laying out where each Representative and Senator stands on the AUMF for Syria. The Post has divided Congress into four categories: “Against military action”, “Leans no”, “Undecided”, and “For military action”. Long story short: this is a winnable fight for those of us out there who want Congress to say “No” to the war.  

John Kerry gives Syria week to surrender chemical weapons or face attack
US secretary of state has said that President Bashar al-Assad has one week to hand over his entire stock of chemical weapons to avoid a military attack, but said he had no expectation that the Syrian leader would comply.  

Assad says his friends will hit US and allies if struck
Bashar Assad on Sunday warned America and its allies to expect multiple forms of retaliation, including a chemical attack, if the US goes ahead with a military strike on Syria, in remarks published Monday by CBS News. Assad, speaking to Charlie Rose in a Damascus interview, said Syria was “not the only player in the region” and, if an attack occurs, the US and allies in return “should expect everything. Not necessarily from the government.”  

Gold treasure trove unearthed at base of Temple Mount
Hebrew University researchers on Monday announced the discovery of a rare trove of Byzantine-era gold and silver artifacts, the most impressive of which is a 10-centimeter solid gold medallion emblazoned with a menorah and other Jewish iconography. Israeli archaeologist: 'I have never found so much gold in my life!'  

Computer program uses Twitter to 'map mood of nation'
British scientists have developed a computer program they say can map the mood of the nation using Twitter. Named Emotive, it works by accessing the emotional content of postings on the social networking site. The team, from Loughborough University, say it can scan up to 2,000 tweets a second and rate them for expressions of one of eight human emotions.  

And now it's global COOLING! Record return of Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60% in a year
A chilly Arctic summer has left nearly a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year – an increase of 60 per cent. The rebound from 2012’s record low comes six years after the BBC reported that global warming would leave the Arctic ice-free in summer by 2013.  

Why Some Believe These ‘End Times’ Bible Verses Could Hold the Key to the Syrian Crisis
For starters, there’s one particular Bible passage that’s rekindling the entire discussion of how Syria fits into End Times theology: Isaiah 17:1-3. The verse reads, “’See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to flocks, which will lie down, with no one to make them afraid. The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and royal power from Damascus; the remnant of Aram will be ike the glory of the Israelites,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”  

Some see biblical visions of doom in Syria trouble
The deadly violence percolating half a world away in Syria and the warnings of a possible U.S. attack have some people ...looking backward into ancient, apocalyptic prophecies in the pages of the Old Testament. In recent weeks, some dire prophecies have turned up on websites, in book stores, as the subject of Bible studies and in sermons by some Christians and others who see a link between the old passages and modern-day events in Egypt, Libya and Syria.  

Syria Crisis Ultimatum: Kerry Tells Assad Turn in Chemical Weapons within One Week
US secretary of state John Kerry has given an ultimatum to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to avoid a military strike by turning over his entire chemical weapons arsenal to the international community within the next week. At a joint press conference with UK foreign secretary William Hague, Kerry said that America was not going to war but would launch an "unbelievably small and limited effort"...  

The face of the sun is nearly blank. There are only two tiny sunspots and neither one is flaring. NOAA forecasters estimate no more than a 1% chance of M- or X-class flares during the next 24 hours.  

Kurdish PKK rebels 'halt Turkey pull-out'
The rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) says it has halted its withdrawal from Turkey, a website linked to the armed militant group reports. The PKK accused the Turkish government of failing to move towards "democratisation and the resolution of the Kurdish problem", the Firat news agency reported. The PKK had started the withdrawal earlier this year, under a peace plan.  

Lightning strike in San Antonio kills 1, injures other
A lightning strike in San Antonio has killed a eight years old boy and injured one other, local medias reported. The two boys were playing in a backyard Thursday night when the lightning hit.  

Romania earthquake today shakes Bulgaria
M 4.6 moderate earthquake shakes Romania today, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake's epicenter was located 15 km S of Hunedoara. It was 3.1 miles deep. Romania earthquake today was followed by two earthquakes (another M 4.2) in an interval of 22 minutes.  

'Turkey deploys anti-aircraft missiles on Syrian border'
Turkey's army has deployed anti-aircraft missile batteries all along the country's southern border with Syria, Israel Radio quoted the Turkish media as saying Monday. According to the radio, Turkish television also said that American-made "Stinger" surface-to-air missiles were deployed in recent days on raised ground in the Hatay Province, in southern Turkey.  

Kerry to Syria: Just Hand Over Your Chemical Arsenal
Sep 9th, 2013
Daily News
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues

At a news conference in London, US Secretary of State John Kerry said a US strike against Syria was easily prevented: All Damascus had to do was to hand over its chemical stockpiles into international custody. Washington agrees that the solution of the Syrian crisis was political not military, he said, and America was not going to war but preparing a limited operation to disrupt the Assad regime’s ability to use chemical weapons.

Israel Slams Obama, But unsure Syria Strike will Work
Sep 9th, 2013
Daily News
Israel Today - Ryan Jones
Categories: Today's Headlines;The Nation Of Israel

The Israeli government supports a US strike on Syria, while many experts in the Jewish state say military action might make matters worse. But one thing most agree on is that US President Barack Obama has handled the situation very poorly.

Headlines across all of Israel's major newspapers on Sunday decried the loss of American deterrence in the region thanks to Obama's seeming zig-zagging on whether or not to take punitive action against Syria.

Israel is very sensitive to such a scenario because most peace agreements the Jewish state is pushed into rely heavily on American security guarantees.

"If Obama's conduct up until last week unsettled his allies in the Middle East, today it is seriously beginning to worry them," read the lead article in Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot.

Israel's government wholly agrees with the Obama Administration's conclusion that the regime of embattled dictator Bashar Assad was clearly behind a recent chemical weapons attack that killed 1,400, and therefore fully supports military action.

Others have vocally disagreed with that assessment, though for Israel the point is that Syria has lots of chemical weapons and someone there has proved they will use them. And that can only mean one thing - those weapons must be disposed of, one way or another.

And while Israel has no particular desire for the radical Islamists that make up the Syrian opposition to win the war, as Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon noted at a security conference on Sunday, the Assad regime is the second largest facilitator of terrorism in the world, so few Israeli tears would be shed should it fall.

Others felt American military intervention could only lead to a more dire situation for Syria, Israel and Western interests in the region.

"I find it hard to believe that intervention will bring about a substantially better situation," former Israeli National Security Council director Uzi Arad said at the same conference.

Israeli military officials are fairly certain Assad will not risk Israeli retaliation by hitting the Jewish state in the event of an American strike. But, Syria has many allies, such as Hezbollah, who would love nothing more than drag Israel into the conflict.

Boy Scout Alternative, Trail Life U.S.a, Launches ‘premier’ Christian Group for Boys
Sep 9th, 2013
Daily News
The Washington Times
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues


Leaders of newly announced Trail Life USA said they expect it to become a “premier” Christian organization for boys and young men when it starts fully running in the new year.

Some 1,200 people attended the group’s national inaugural convention in Nashville, Tenn., which ended Saturday with a prayerful call for volunteers and donations.

Trail Life USA’s goal is to counter the “moral free fall” of the nation, and “raise a generation of faithful husbands, fathers, citizens and leaders,” organizers said. Its other mission is to provide a robust, Christ-centered alternative to the Boy Scouts of America.

At the opening session, John Stemberger, chairman of the board of Trail Life USA, teased the crowd that he would not be surprised if there were “spies” from Grapevine, Texas — BSA’s home base — in the audience.

That would make sense, since everyone from supporters to the curious want to know what’s being planned, he said, adding that Trail Life USA will not be “anti-BSA.” The conference’s theme was “Honoring the Legacy, Raising the Standard.”

Trail Life USA’s name, drawn from more than 300 options, was carefully vetted and is intended not to be political or controversial, organizers said.

“Trail” refers to a pathway and being outdoors, but also symbolizes the passage of life, where there are moral choices, and right and wrong paths, said Mr. Stemberger.

“Our whole life is about the trail, both in the outdoors and in the journey of life as believers,” he said. “So Trail Life is a way of life that is centered on following Christ in the outdoors.”

Organizers also unveiled the new Trail Life USA logo: It features a circle with a sun, mountaintops with a path, and a male figure with a hand extended over his head, beckoning others to follow.

Assad: Expect Everything If U.S. Attacks
Sep 9th, 2013
Daily News
Categories: Today's Headlines;Contemporary Issues

In CBS TV extracts from his Charlie Rose interview, Syrian ruler Bashar Assad said  that in the event of US military intervention, one should “expect everything, every action.” When he was asked if ‘everything” included chemical weapons, he fudged, saying: “If the rebels or terrorists have it, then…Everything in the region is on the brink of explosion.”

Ancient Golden Treasure Found At Foot of Temple Mount
Sep 9th, 2013
Daily News
Arutz Sheva
Categories: Today's Headlines;The Nation Of Israel

In summer excavations at the foot of the Temple Mount, Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar made a stunning discovery: two bundles of treasure containing thirty-six gold coins, gold and silver jewelry, and a gold medallion with the menorah (Temple candelabrum) symbol etched into it. Also etched into the 10-cm medallion are a shofar (ram’s horn) and the image of a Torah scroll. 

The medallion may be the oldest Torah ornament ever found in archaeological digs.

A third-generation archaeologist working at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, Dr. Mazar directs excavations on the City of David’s summit and at the Temple Mount’s southern wall. Calling the find “a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime discovery,” Dr. Mazar said: “We have been making significant finds from the First Temple Period in this area, a much earlier time in Jerusalem’s history, so discovering a golden seven-branched Menorah from the seventh century CE at the foot of the Temple Mount was a complete surprise.”

The discovery was unearthed just five days into Mazar’s latest phase of the Ophel excavations, and can be dated to the late Byzantine period (early seventh century CE).  The gold treasure was discovered in a ruined Byzantine public structure a mere 50 meters from the Temple Mount’s southern wall.

The menorah, a candelabrum with seven branches that was used in the Temple, is now the national symbol of the state of Israel and reflects the historical presence of Jews in the area. The position of the items as they were discovered indicates that one bundle was carefully hidden underground while the second bundle was apparently abandoned in haste and scattered across the floor.

Given the date of the items and the manner in which they were found, Mazar estimates they were abandoned in the context of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614 CE. After the Persians conquered Jerusalem, many Jews returned to the city and formed the majority of its population, hoping for political and religious freedom. But as Persian power waned, instead of forming an alliance with the Jews, the Persians sought the support of Christians and ultimately allowed them to expel the Jews from Jerusalem.

Hanging from a gold chain, the menorah medallion is most likely an ornament for a Torah scroll. In that case it is the earliest Torah scroll ornament found in archaeological excavations to date. It was buried in a small depression in the floor, along with a smaller gold medallion, two pendants, a gold coil and a silver clasp, all of which are believed to be Torah scroll ornamentations.

“It would appear that the most likely explanation is that the Ophel cache was earmarked as a contribution toward the building of a new synagogue, at a location that is near the Temple Mount,” said Dr. Mazar. “What is certain is that their mission, whatever it was, was unsuccessful. The treasure was abandoned, and its owners could never return to collect it."

The Ophel cache is only the third collection of gold coins to be found in archaeological excavations in Jerusalem, said Lior Sandberg, numismatics specialist at the Institute of Archaeology.  “The thirty-six gold coins can be dated to the reigns of different Byzantine emperors, ranging from the middle of the fourth century CE to the early seventh century CE,” said Sandberg.

Found with the coins were a pair of large gold earrings, a gold-plated silver hexagonal prism and a silver ingot. Remnants of fabric indicated that these items were once packaged in a cloth purse similar to the bundle that contained the menorah medallion.

Mazar’s Ophel excavation made headlines earlier this year when she announced the 2012 discovery of an ancient Canaanite inscription (recently identified as Hebrew), the earliest alphabetical written text ever uncovered in Jerusalem.

The 2013 excavation season at the Ophel ran from the middle of April to the end of July, on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University. The Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out the preservation works, and is preparing the site for the public.

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