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eNews For The Week Of September 21, 2015


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In The News

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Israeli Defense Official Says IDF, Russia to Coordinate Aerial Activities Over Syria

September 20, 2015

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to Moscow tomorrow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, an unnamed Israeli defense official said that the Israel Air Force has begun establishing a technical mechanism for coordinating aerial activities with the Russian military, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Sunday.

Algemeiner

SETI Scientist: Nephilim (Aliens) Might be Trying to Contact Earth

September 19, 2015

Two different sources in one day raises flags.

Most Likely Most Dangerous

Russia Moves Its First Tactical Fighter Jets to Base in Syria

September 19, 2015

Russia has moved jet fighters to a base in Syria for the first time, U.S. defense officials said Friday, a major military escalation that heightens fears Moscow is set to play a more direct role in propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Wall Street Journal

US Government Says it Will Now Use the Term “Sexual Rights”

September 18, 2015

The U.S. government says it will begin using the term “sexual rights” in discussions of human rights and global development. The statement, posted on a State Department website, says sexual rights include people’s “right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.”

The Associated Press

Mysterious Iridescent ‘End of Times’ Cloud Phenomenon Spotted in Costa Rica

September 17, 2015

An iridescent, multi-hued cloud phenomenon was recently spotted in Costa Rica skies, and residents were left awestruck and mystified. The spectacle in the sky was reported this past Tuesday afternoon in numerous cities including, San Jose, Parrita, Pavas, Escazu and Hatillo. Coincidentally, the sighting occurred on the country’s Independence Day.

ABC News

U.S. Training Helped Mold Top Islamic State Military Commander

September 15, 2015

It was early summer in 2012, and as a smuggler based in the Turkish border town of Killis, Abdullah, who’d fled his home village in Syria because of fighting on the outskirts of Aleppo, was used to secretive groups of foreigners – journalists, aid workers and many recently aspiring jihadists – hiring him to cross Turkish military lines at the border while avoiding what was then still a significant Syrian government presence in northern Syrian. Only later did Abdullah realize that the network that funneled these men to him was the beginnings of the Islamic State, and that one of the 15 would turn out to be the most important non-Arab figure in the Islamic State hierarchy, a former American-trained non commissioned officer in the special forces of the nation of Georgia, who’d led his men heroically during the 2008 Russian invasion of his homeland.

McClatchy DC

10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Story

September 15, 2015

Many fake news sites intentionally try to pass themselves off as real, either by never disclosing their satirical nature or hiding the disclosure deep within their website. Still others are just peddling false and salacious tales to drive traffic to their site and rake in ad revenue — something easy to do when social media allows the rapid spread of misinformation. So how can you ensure you’re not being bamboozled? We have 10 tips to get you started.

How Stuff Works

North Korea Threatens US with Nuclear Weapon Attack After Uranium Enrichment Plant Restart

September 15, 2015

North Korea said its main nuclear facility is now fully operational and its military has the capability of using atomic weapons at “any time”. In a statement published by state news agency KCNA, Pyongyang said that all nuclear facilities at the Yongbyon complex, including the uranium enrichment plant, have been “rearranged, changed or readjusted.”

International Business Time


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Articles And Commentary

Syrian Refugee Crisis

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Syrian refugees

One in 10 Syrians are now refugees. (UNHCR)

Give us advice; reach a decision! Cast your shadow as if night had come at high noon. Shelter the fugitives, And don’t betray a single refugee.

— Isaiah 16:3 (ISV)

Europe is facing an existential crisis that not only threatens the EU, but the national sovereignty of the member countries themselves. Whatever immigration problems North America faces, it pales in comparison to what is happening in Europe.

Why Now?

A question many are asking is “Why now?”

This is a problem that has been brewing for a while. It came to Europe in four stages:

  1. The first step of the refugee crisis was the persecution that forces refugees to flee their homes in the first place. Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad deliberately targeted Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, civilian and rebel alike, for slaughter. His goal was to polarize the conflict on religious lines, to turn what began as a broad-based uprising against a dictator into a sectarian war, with religious minorities on his side. Some are fleeing war, some political persecution, and some other kinds of violence.
  2. The second step is what happens to those refugees once they are forced out of their homes: Often, though not always, they end up in camps. Life in the camps is often difficult, cramped and unsafe, with few prospects for work or education. This is a crisis for the refugees as well for as the countries that house them; for instance, host countries like Lebanon and Turkey are struggling to manage their camps for refugees and to absorb the thousands of people who live in them.
  3. The third step is what happens when refugee families, perhaps after seeing that the camps offer them little hope or protection, seek safety from persecution farther afield, often in developed countries, particularly in Europe.
  4. The fourth step is the one that many Western countries are experiencing now: what happens when large numbers of refugees show up. Often, they face systems that are badly broken — the squalid overcrowded camps in Greece, for example — or are overtly hostile to refugees. This is changing, but most European countries are still trying to keep refugees out and refusing to accept even a remotely sufficient number of them for resettlement, which means the families who make it to Europe end up in camps, sleeping in train stations, or living in fear of deportation.

A Problem Has Come Home to Roost

Hungary had been warning its fellow EU members for months that refugees and illegal migrants were crossing its border in increasing numbers. The only response Hungary got back from Brussels was to “shut up and take it.” The Hungarians were criticized and ridiculed by Brussels for even being concerned about this.

In the past weeks, however, the good-sized trickle of humanity crossing their border turned into an absolute flood with thousands of people crossing the border from Serbia into Hungary every day. Even under the most ideal economic conditions could handle such a massive influx of people and Hungary is not a wealthy country. Even Germany, the wealthiest of the EU member countries (Gross domestic product=2.9 trillion euros) will have a difficult time taking in hundreds of thousands of people. This has caused the EU countries to take actions they feel is in their national interest, but is against the EU charter.

Germany, for example has just recently decided to take a go slow approach to immigration and rigidly enforce the EU Dublin Agreement on immigration where refugees are to be fingerprinted in the EU country where they first enter. In the past this rule was not enforced and refugees were fingerprinted in their destination country. Now, refugees are deported back to the first EU country they entered, often Italy or Greece, which have the worst welfare provision for these people. Also, Germany is implementing stricter border control to slow down the flow of immigrants into their country. This has caused a backflow of immigrants in Austria, Hungary and Italy. In turn, the Hungarian government is enforcing their border controls, which is putting more pressure on Serbia.

And so it goes.

European Union

A Look Back

Looking back the vast majority of those who are escaping are coming from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. All of these countries have been ripped apart by warfare and civil strife. The situation in these countries, particularly in Syria, is so dire it seems like now is the time to get out, especially since there is a vehicle for them through the EU to escape.

A Different Kind of Refugee

If one would visit Munich and see the people coming into the train station there, they do not have the look of a stereotypical refugee. They are well dressed; they are in Western clothes; they have smart phones. One trait that does identify them as refugees is a look of dejection.

On the whole, these people come from the middle class. After all, these people are paying smugglers to get to Europe. A lot of them are leaving from Turkey. The family of the little boy whose picture captivated the world was leaving a refugee camp in Turkey.

This boy’s family was leaving a refugee camp in Turkey.

This boy’s family was leaving a refugee camp in Turkey.(CNN)

They’re paying smugglers, up to $2,000 a person to be smuggled into Greece. Many times, the payment gets them passage on a craft that is barely seaworthy and in many cases; these unfortunates don’t even get that. (Because most Westerners don’t even have $1,000 in emergency funds, one can imagine only the well-heeled can afford passage to Europe.) It is the middle class, even the upper middle class that is leaving these countries. These are the very people that are needed to rebuild these countries if any kind of normalcy returns to their homelands.

A Failure of Foreign Policy

Those that believe this is all because of President Assad are missing the point. If this is the case why in 2009 weren’t people streaming out? Why not in 2010?

It was only after the West announced Assad had to go, fomented an uprising, and then pulled out that the problems started. Power abhors a vacuum and when the West left the region without leaving a stable, viable government behind, the Islamic State was able to fill that void and begin their brand of vicious jihad.

The West’s Response

Maybe since they realize they are partly to blame for the current crisis, the West has said they are willing to take in some of the refugees. They have a daunting task on their hands. More than 500,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean so far this year, and about 3,000 of them have died. With 4,000 people arriving on the Greek islands daily, the crisis is growing.

While not an official number, sources say German officials have stated they will take in up to 800,000 refugees into the country, though the German people may have a much lower figure in mind. It won’t take long to reach that figure. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated up to 3,000 people a day are coming into Hungary.

Numbers of internally displaced people (in Syria), Syrian refugees (in neighboring countries), and Syrian registered asylum-seekers (in Europe)

Numbers of internally displaced people (in Syria), Syrian refugees (in neighboring countries), and Syrian registered asylum-seekers (in Europe) — Focus on Syria

Hungary, which shares a border with Serbia, is facing a mini-insurrection. It is trying to get these people into refugee centers so they can be documented, which is required by EU law. The refugees are afraid they will be turned back so are breaking out of the centers. Many of the refugees are men of army age, look healthy and are very unruly. These people will be tough to contain.

The people who do make it out of the warzones into Europe are serving as an example to those back home who want to leave. Those who make it to Europe want to get to Germany since those who are arriving would be eligible for state welfare benefits. These benefits are incredible compared to Syria that has nothing to offer but despair.

The Coming Demographic Shift

Some politicians in the destination counties, such as Germany think this an ideal situation for them. While their economy may take a hit in the short term in welfare payments to these people, many politicos believe the influx of refugees will solve their demographic problem. They also think these low-wage refugees are the answer to their skyrocketing labor costs.

One thing Western and Central Europe has been suffering is depopulation as the birth rate declines.

Europe is dying.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the last time the countries of the EU were reproducing at replacement levels (that is, slightly more than two children per woman) was the mid–1970s. In 2014, the average number of children per woman was about 1.6. That is up a bit from the nadir in 2001, but has been falling again for more than half a decade. Imagine a world where many people have no sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts or uncles. That is where Europe is heading in the coming decades. There are exceptions. France has risen to exactly two children per woman in 2012, from 1.95 in 1980, an increase largely attributed to a system of government payments to parents, not a change in the culture of family life. Is there anything more dystopian than the notion that population decline can be slowed only when states bribe their citizens to reproduce? (Russia has also resorted to bribing their citizens by declaring a national “Day of Conception” for people to take a day off from work to reproduce.)

The one bright spot seems to be immigration. In 2012, the median age of the national population in the EU was 41.9 years, while the median age of foreigners living in the union was 34.7. So many Europeans are pleased there will be new arrivals to work and pay taxes when the locals retire.

Many, however, are not. Anti-immigrant sentiment is surging across the Continent. Nativist movements performed alarmingly well in European Parliament elections last year and the anti-immigrant movement is growing.

Mainstreaming

Just as with the illegal immigrants in the United States, the refugees in Europe are there to stay. The problem now becomes not how to deport them, but how to bring these people into the economy. How, for example, do you bring in people that have very, very different religious backgrounds, experiences and perspectives on life into a rural German village of 1,200 people who have lived there for tens of generations? What happens to a local (and national) society when there is an influx of another 1,000 people in a village of 1,000 who share none of the history with these people? It’s difficult to quantify these things, but these are real things people face.

Just like many decisions politicians make, the immigration decisions being made now could well have unintended consequences.

While the large majority of refugees are Christian, an estimated 25 percent of people coming into Europe are Sunni Muslims who were driven out of Syria by Assad. The Muslims who have come to Europe before them have shown little inclination to assimilate into the culture and have been a source of sectarian violence their adoptive countries. They also offer a fertile recruiting ground for extremist Muslim factions already in the country. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution is monitoring 30 mosques and about 1,900 Islamists in the state, according to authorities.

Muslim clerics also realize Europe has a demographic problem. Sheikh Muhammad Ayed gave the speech at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem urging Muslims to have children with westerners so they could “trample them underfoot, Allah willing.”

Throughout Europe, all the hearts are enthused with hatred toward Muslims. They wish that we were dead, but they have lost their fertility, so they look for fertility in our midst. We will give them fertility. We will breed children with them, because we shall conquer their countries.

This tactic did not originate with the mullahs. Stalin wanted to import ethnic Russians into the Baltic States. It wasn’t so the Baltic States could enjoy Russian culture. It was to convert the Baltic countries into Russian states.

Importing Terror

There is another dimension to the refugee crisis. The Islamic State is boasting they are planting terrorists among the refugees coming into Europe. Part of ISIS’s plan is to smuggle in terrorists and create still more turmoil in Western Europe. Whether this is true or merely propaganda will probably not be known until it is too late.

This seems to be more fact than boast.

As we have learned recently, a lot of information can be gleaned from social media. Analysts have seen pictures of jihadists coming into Germany and pictures of those same people have been found carrying rifles fighting for al-Nusra.

The refugee crisis should be seen as the warning signal that the world is seeing a series of compounding crises.

The signs are everywhere.

The Middle East is in flames, refugees are pouring into Europe; countries are straining under the pressure of absorbing them. With the refugees also comes the increased threat of terrorism. The West seems impotent in the face of this threat.

Nations are morally adrift. The peoples of the world are looking for someone who will rescue them from their problems. The past and present presidential races in the United States are examples of people gravitating to candidates on the left and right who offer platitudes without programs and appeal to a brand of populism that has its perils. Some have already been held up potential and elected candidates as modern-day messiahs. Israel is being increasingly isolated. It is truly becoming a millstone around the neck of anyone who supports them.

The prophecies of the Bible are being fulfilled before our eyes.

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Yom Kippur

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Yom Kippur

(Photo credits: Diwali)

The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons when they had approached the LORD and died. The LORD told Moses. Remind your brother Aaron that at no time is he to enter the sacred place from the room that contains the curtain into the presence of the Mercy Seat on top of the ark. Otherwise, he’ll die, because I will appear in a cloud at the Mercy Seat. Aaron is to enter the sacred place with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a whole burnt offering… He is to take two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a whole burnt offering from the assembly of the Israelis. Then Aaron is to bring the bull as a sin offering for himself and make atonement for himself and his household… Aaron is to cast lots over the two male goats—one lot for the LORD and the other one for the scapegoat. Aaron then is to bring the male goat on which the lot fell for the LORD and offer it as a sin offering. The male goat on which the lot fell for the scapegoat is to be brought alive into the LORD’s presence to make atonement for himself. Then he is to send it into the wilderness. Aaron is then to bring the bull for a sin offering for him, thus making atonement for himself and his household… Then he is to make atonement on the sacred place on account of the uncleanness of the Israelis, their transgressions and all their sins… This will be a perpetual statute for you as you make atonement once a year for the Israelis on account of all their sins. So Moses did just as the LORD had commanded him.

— Leviticus 16:1–34, (ISV)

This year Yom Kippur begins in the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 22, and ends in the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 23. Yom Kippur [yôm hakkippurîm “day of the covering over (or propitiation)”] is also known as the Day of Atonement.

From Leviticus 16 it appears that even the high priest could not enter the Holy of Holies at all times and without special ceremonies; he and his household needed reconciliation as did the people of Israel and even the sanctuary itself. The Day of Atonement was proclaimed a fast, reminding the Israelites of Yahweh’s holiness and their own sinfulness (including the most holy persons). A number of sacrifices were offered, 15 altogether (16 counting the goat of Azazel): 12 burnt offerings and three sin offerings (Lev. 16:5–29; Num. 29:7–11). Including the ram (mentioned separately at Num. 28:8), there were 13 burnt offerings and four sin offerings. The Israelite sacrifices of reconciliation were similar in function to the purification ceremonies of the ancient Babylonians, Greeks and Romans.

The Atonement

The Day of Atonement was “a Sabbath of solemn rest” (Lev. 16:31), which included a purification ceremony in the tabernacle as well as a general fast. After the high priest had bathed and had put on his linen clothes (rather than his sacred vestments; v. 4), he chose for himself and his house a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. From the congregation he took two goats as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering. He then had the two goats placed at the entrance of the tent of meeting where he cast a lot, assigning one goat for Yahweh and “one for Azazel.” The goat assigned by lot to Yahweh was to be sacrificed as a sin offering, but the other goat was placed before the Lord alive in order to reconcile, i.e., to be dedicated as a scapegoat (vv. 20–22) and subsequently to be driven into the desert, bearing the guilt of Israel’s sins.

After lots were cast between the two goats, Aaron killed the bull of the sin offering for himself and his house. Taking next a pan of glowing coals from the altar of burnt offering, he placed ground up incense on the fire before the face of Yahweh—inside the veil while a cloud of smoke from the incense covered the mercy seat. Then with his finger he sprinkled blood of the bull seven times on the front side of the mercy seat and seven times in front of it, killed the goat of the sin offering, and added the blood of that animal to that of the killed bull, sprinkling the holy place and the horns of the altar of burnt offering.

An indispensable detail of the ceremony was the placing of the live goat before the altar of burnt offering. Leaning with his two hands on the head of the animal, Aaron confessed all the iniquity of the Israelites as well as their transgressions, symbolically placing them on the head of the goat. After this act an appointed person took the animal to the wilderness outside of the camp where he was to free it (cf. Ps. 103:12). (In later years the person customarily threw the goat from the cliffs so that it died.)

Finally, the high priest went to the tent of meeting, took off his linen clothes, bathed himself, put on his regular vestments, and offered the two rams as a burnt offering in the court, thus reconciling himself and the people. The bull and the goat of the sin offering were placed outside the camp, to be burned totally, including skin, flesh and dung (Lev. 16:27; see Heb. 13:11). Like the person who had sent the live goat to the wilderness, the one who burned the animal had to wash his clothes and bathe himself. It may have been that the feast offering prescribed at Num. 29:7–11 was given.

The only fast day prescribed in Mosaic law, the Day of Atonement (cf. Exod. 30:10) gained particular importance in postexilic times (cf. Neh. 9:1). Although the fast retained significance in New Testament times (cf. Acts 27:9), the event came to be reinterpreted among Christians in terms of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the Great High Priest (Heb. 9:11).

The End of the Ritual

Since the loss of the Temple in A.D. 70, the God-centered observances of the Torah have tragically been replaced with a man-centered, good works system of appeasement through prayer, charity and penitence.

The story of Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai and Rabbi Joshua Ben Hananiah illustrates the void left by the destruction:

[T]hey beheld the Temple ruins. “Woe is us!” cried Rabbi Joshua, “that the place where the iniquities of Israel were atoned for is now laid waste!” “My son,” replied Rabbi Yohanan, “do not be grieved. We have another atonement as effective as this. And what is it? Acts of loving-kindness.”

Ritually, the power of atonement was now vested in the Day of Atonement itself. As always, teshuvah (repentance) was required before any sin could be atoned, but for the most severe sins atonement was “suspended until the Day of Atonement which then atones.” But it was now made clear that sins between human beings could only be atoned if “one pacified one’s fellow” first.

It was during this post-destruction period that the liturgy of Yom Kippur was developed, including the recitation of five daily services, something that was done on other fast days and that may reflect practices already in existence before the destruction (Mishnah Taanit 4.1). Rabbinic teaching also spelled out the specific prohibitions of Yom Kippur for each individual. Although fasting remained the basic method of “afflicting one’s soul,” prohibitions were added against washing, anointing with oil, wearing shoes and having sexual relations (Mishnah Yoma 8.1)—prohibitions that are also associated with mourning practices. Thus, the Sages were attempting to eliminate all pleasures on that day, for Yom Kippur, like all fasts, is considered a time of mourning.

Even though the temple has not been used in over 2,000 years for Yom Kippur sacrifices, it appears that a return to the traditional ways is on the horizon with the plans to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Last March a news report came out of Jerusalem from the Temple Institute that the Altar of the Lord has been reconstructed.

The Institute, based in the Old City of Jerusalem, announced it has finished building an altar that is essentially “ready for use” in sacrificial services. The altar is the most ambitious project to date toward the goal of rebuilding the Jewish Temple. The massive outdoor altar, which took several years to build, can be operational at little more than a moment’s notice, reported the Israeli magazine Matzav Haruach.

Bible scholars say the rebuilding of the ancient temple is predicted throughout Scripture, starting with Daniel’s vision in Daniel 9:27. Jesus echoed Daniel’s warning about an abomination standing in “the holy place” in the last days in Matthew 24:15, followed by the Apostle John’s vision of the Temple in Revelation 11:1–2. Paul mentioned it in 2 Thessalonians 2:3–4.

A Yom Kippur of Great Significance?

There has been a lot of speculation that this year’s Yom Kippur will be one of great significance. Some even claim that the Rapture has to occur this year Wednesday, Sept. 23.

These types of predictions are not new:

To our best estimation, these predictions have not come true.

It is easy to be taken in by the enthusiasm of false prophets. Paul once described the misplaced enthusiasm of the Jews: “For I can testify on their behalf that they have a zeal for God, but it is not in keeping with full knowledge.” (Romans 10:2, ISV)

Jesus said, “At that time, if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’, don’t believe it,” (Matthew 24:23, ISV)

Jesus went on to say and made it very clear, “No one knows when that day or hour will come—not the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father,” (Matthew 24:36, ISV)

We are not to be date setters; we are not to put God in a box. Rather, we should follow Peter’s advice:

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep a clear head, and set your hope completely on the grace to be given you when Jesus, the Messiah, is revealed.

— 1 Peter 1:13, ISV

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