Archive | June 2015

You Don’t Have to Watch ‘Jurassic World’ to See Bioengineered Animal Weapons

 

by BENJAMIN SOLOWAY

Hollywood tends to favor lively narrative intrigue over accurate scientific particulars, and the Jurassic Park franchise is no exception. The latest installment, Jurassic World, revisits the series’ core plot points: Dinosaurs, brought back into existence through science, wreak havoc in a jungle setting, leaving dead bodies and lessons about hubris in their wake.
As with the original, released in 1993, many have taken issue with the science of the movie. The film’s dinosaurs are moored in 1980s paleontology: None of the on-screen species have feathers (scientists now think most dinosaurs sported plumage).
The mosasaur and velociraptors are bigger than is historically accurate (some mosasaurs may have reached lengths of up to 50 feet in real life, but the one in the film is the size of a jumbo jet). And the mosasaur is depicted with frills running down its back — a laughably outdated idea in the paleontology world.
But there is one arena in which the film comes remarkably close to reality. As in Jurassic World, scientists in real life are already well on their way toward genetically modifying animals for military use.
In Steven Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park, based on the novel by Michael Crichton, an effort to open a park in which people can view dinosaurs — cloned using DNA extracted from blood preserved within ancient mosquitoes locked in amber — goes horribly wrong when a saboteur breaches the dinosaur containment system during an embryo robbery attempt. The second and third films, set on a fictional island — Isla Sorna — off the coast of Coast Rica, follow small bands of people who end up there for contrived reasons and must fight to elude consumption by Cretaceous Period predators.
Jurassic World, the fourth installment, takes place on the same island — Isla Nublar — as the first movie, 22 years after the original, in a world wherein dinosaurs have been back from extinction for decades and have become little more than ordinary zoo animals for the wealthy guests who pour into the dinosaur park, now fully operational. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, scientists try to engineer ways to make the dinosaurs even more spectacular for tourists — and also to make money off them. Chris Pratt (of Parks and Recreation, Guardians of the Galaxy) stars as Owen Grady, a loveable ex-military Renaissance man tasked with training intelligent, pack-hunting velociraptors to stage special operations-style raids in concert with humans.
The Jurassic storyline involved impressive feats of genetic engineering from the outset. In the original film, scientists bring dinosaurs back to life by filling in the gaps in recovered dinosaur DNA with genetic material from frogs. But in Jurassic World, scientists take these experiments a step further, when they realize they can create dinosaurs more to their liking through genetic manipulation — and that the newly engineered dinosaurs might be put to use by the military-industrial complex.
Whether Grady’s pack of raptor warriors have been genetically modified to be better weapons isn’t quite clear. But they are put to the test when they are pitted against the escaped Indominus rex, a Frankenstein-osaur born of genes from various killer dinosaurs, chameleons, and other animals. Indominus rex was built as part of an effort to genetically engineer the ultimate dino-weapon — but also to drive flagging attendance at the titular Jurassic World ecological park.

The slaughter and chaos that ensues amounts to a field test for trained dinosaurs in combat, orchestrated by a trigger-happy security contractor named Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio). “Just imagine if we had these puppies in Tora Bora!” he says upon seeing the raptors in action.
In the real world, in 2015, no one is close to bringing dinosaurs back — yet. But the film is not far off in its assumptions about the militarization of genetic science. As the limitations of robotics become increasingly apparent, the United States’ military — in a high-tech extension of a tradition that stretches from George Washington’s cavalry to the dogs, dolphins, and rats of the modern battlefield — has already set off down the road toward genetically engineering animals for war.
In 2006, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency asked scientists “to develop technology to create insect-cyborgs” capable of carrying surveillance equipment or weapons, journalist Emily Anthes wrote in her 2013 book, Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts. The agency quickly realized that tiny flying machines were impossible to build well — but that insects, already abundant in nature, were better than whatever humans might make.

So DARPA changed its approach: In the past decade, the agency has encouraged and funded research into methods that can let humans control insects and mammals through electronic impulses to the brain, and through genetic modifications to the nervous systems of insects to make them easier to manipulate, with surprising success. Researchers are already able to hijack the brains of beetles and order them to stop, start, and turn, with more fine-tuned control in the works. Insects created by humans, loaded with spy technology and controlled by drone operators, are on the horizon. Scientists in Korea over the past decade have used viruses to deliver payloads of jellyfish genes to felines, thereby creating glow-in-the-dark cats, Scientific American reported — much like the chameleon-born camouflage genes scientists give Indominus rex in Jurassic World.
“Future generations are going to grow up tinkering not with computers, but with life itself,” Anthes wrote. “There is a growing community of ‘biohackers,’ science enthusiasts who are experimenting with genes, brains, and bodies outside the confines of traditional laboratories, working on shoestring budgets in their garages and attics, or joining the community labs that are springing up around the globe.” Given the possibilities, it’s not hard to imagine private companies using these breakthroughs for their own dubious purposes — on an island off Costa Rica, say, far from government scrutiny.
Jurassic World may be off base about what reincarnated dinosaur species would look like, but it’s right about where biotech is going. We already live in a world of unfolding genetic engineering possibilities, and militarization — already underway — seems inevitable. And science fiction has a long history of predicting (and influencing) the future of technology, from the tablet computers in 2001: A Space Odyssey to William Gibson’s “cyberspace” in Neuromancer and surveillance drones in Robert Sheckley’s Watchbird.
The film raises ethical questions about the whole endeavor that seem applicable to real life. Just like building a dinosaur theme park in the first place, the film seems to argue, genetically modifying previously extinct dinosaur species, or creating new ones, is a bad idea, using them as weapons is worse, and we will get our comeuppance if we try it. By the end of Jurassic World, everyone — from Grady, the trainer, to Hoskins, the contractor, to the park’s administrators, managers, and owners — is guilty of using dinosaurs to achieve their own ends, manipulating them for money or power. For some critics, this leaves no human heroes — only dinosaur ones.
“Both the villains and the hero appear to have the same exploitative philosophy,” Professor Judy K. C. Bentley, co-editor of Animals and War: Confronting the Military-Animal Industrial Complex, told Foreign Policy. “The villains are corporate moguls who want to engineer and weaponize the dinos to be more warlike. Confounding that, the hero is a ‘trainer’ of dinos, who manipulates them to comply with the commands of nonhuman animals, and also forces them to be more warlike.”
“I don’t plan to see the film,” she said.
But plenty of others, it seems, have a taste for weaponized, formerly-extinct creatures. Jurassic World’s Friday opening marked the highest grossing opening day in film history.

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Christianity Sees Explosive Growth In China

 

by Eric Metaxas

In 1992, Bei Cun, considered to be one of China’s leading avant-garde writers, did something that really shocked his readers and admirers: He converted to Christianity.
But given the explosive growth of Christianity in China, it shouldn’t be all that surprising.
If you haven’t heard of Bei Cun, that’s okay. Neither had I, probably because his work hasn’t been translated into English. I only learned of his story because my BreakPoint colleague and friend Roberto Rivera recently read Philip Jenkins book, “The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South,” which tells Bei’s story.
After becoming a Christian, Bei wrote what Jenkins calls a “Kafkaesque story” entitled “The Marriage of Zhang Sheng.” In it, the protagonist, a scholar, opens a Chinese-language Bible and happens upon Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.”
The passage leaves Zhang’s “intellectual assumptions in ruins.” Bei, just like his literary creation and hopefully his readers, interprets it as pointing out “the failure of relying upon mere human ideologies that neglect God.”
In an officially communist state, this is an “explosive” thing to say. The story ends with Zhang embracing Christianity just as Bei did.
In China, intellectuals and the avant-garde are running toward Christianity, while their Western counterparts tend to run away from it, if they’re not denouncing it.
It’s not just intellectuals and the avant-garde. In his award-winning book, “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China,” Evan Osnos writes that China is “in the midst of a full-fledged revival.”
While Osnos mentions Christianity mostly in passing, his mentions hint at a remarkable story. He says that there are “sixty to eighty million Christians.” It’s so large that “as [he] traveled around China, [he] stopped being surprised by [his] encounters with Christians.”
These numbers are even more astounding when you take recent Chinese history into account. At the time of the Communist takeover in 1949, there were an estimated five million Christians in China.
The Communists, as Osnos tells us, set out to destroy China’s old belief systems, including its small Christian community, and by the time of Mao’s death in 1976 had largely succeeded. Even after Mao’s death, Christians are still subject to harassment, arrest, and imprisonment for practicing their faith.
Yet there are now as many Christians as there are members of the Communist Party. By some estimates there’ll be more Christians in China than in the U.S. by 2030. And this doesn’t take into account the level of commitment required to be a Christian in China. Think about it: being a member of the Communist Party comes with real political and economic benefits. Being a Christian invites discrimination and even a knock on the door in the middle of the night.
So why the explosive growth of Christianity in China? While a change in economic policies and the individual pursuit of fortune could address China’s economic problems, it could not provide people or the nation with a “sense of purpose.”
So what emerged was a “spiritual void.” For many Chinese, that void is being filled by Jesus Christ.
This puts the Communist Party, however, in a bind. On one level, they know that Christianity is good for China, especially in the area of morals. On the other hand, they’re afraid of a movement they can’t control.
As I said on yesterday’s broadcast, Aslan is on the move. Extraordinary things are happening. I pray you find this as exciting and encouraging as I do.

Pastor To Be Prosecuted For ‘Hate Crime’ Of Calling Islam ‘Satanic,’ ‘Heathen’ During Sermon

 

by Heather Clark

A pastor in Northern Ireland will be prosecuted with a hate crime for denouncing the Islamic religion during a Sunday sermon last year.
As previously reported, James McConnell, 78, pastor of the Whitewell Metropolitan Church in North Belfast, discussed Islam during an evening sermon in May 2014. During the message, McConnell denounced the religion and said that the contrast between it and Christianity is stark.
“The God we worship and serve this evening is not Allah,” he proclaimed, according to a video of the sermon. “The Muslim god—Allah—is a heathen deity. Allah is a cruel deity. Allah is a demon deity.”
McConnell then criticized the “foolish” British government for attempting to appease Muslims financially, saying that Islam is “Satanic” and “a doctrine spawned in Hell.” He also noted that Christians around the world are persecuted for their faith by the “fanatical worshipers” of Allah.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, McConnell’s remarks were inspired by the plight of Meriam Ibrahim—a Sudanese woman who was sentenced to hang after she was convicted of apostasy for refusing to deny her faith and convert to Islam.
But following McConnell’s sermon, the Police Service of Northern Ireland investigated the preacher for allegations of a hate crime. Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described the preacher’s comments as “hate mongering” and said the anti-Muslim statements “must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
John McCreedy, assistant pastor at Whitewell Metropolitan Church, also soon resigned from his position because McConnell would not retract his statements. McConnell apologized for any offense he may have caused, but would not recant his sentiments.
Connect with Christian News “I spent many days trying to sort this, without success, and I could not continue after the pastor’s initial remarks were not withdrawn,” McCreedy told the Belfast Telegraph.
“The theological arguments presented by the pastor are a contradiction to my own beliefs—religious, political and moral—in relation to New Testament evangelism,” he continued. “Neither are they the views of many others I have spoken to at Whitewell, who have for years reached out to others from every ethnic background and denomination.”
Now, because McConnell refused a lesser punishment by the government following police questioning, prosecutors have decided to move the matter forward in court. The hate crimes charge appears to be related to the sermon being streamed online.
“I can confirm that following consideration of a complaint in relation to an internet broadcast of a sermon in May 2014, a decision was taken to offer an individual an informed warning for an offence contrary to the Communications Act 2003,” a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service told the publication Premier.
“That offence was one of sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive,” he continued. “The offer of an informed warning was refused by the defendant and accordingly the matter is now proceeding by way of a summary prosecution in the Magistrates Court.”
It is not yet known when McConnell’s trial will begin.

Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness described the preacher’s comments as “hate mongering” and said the anti-Muslim statements “must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”

It doesn’t in the least bit surprise me that a former leading figure of the IRA (a terrorist group, guilty of the deliberate murder of numerous civilians, that was funded by Islamic leaders like Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi) should make such a hypocritical statement. They stand by their old mates!

Anyone who is in any doubt about the nature of Islam need only compare its history under the leadership of its ‘prophet’ Muhammad with that of its present day modus operandi to see it was, and still is a warmongering ideology.

Pastor James McConnell should be commended for standing up and telling the truth. But in a nation were the Prime Minister – David Cameron parrots the Islamist fifth columnist propaganda (“that’s not true Islam, the religion of peace”) after every atrocity. I suppose this is to be expected!

12 Signs That The United States And China Are Moving Toward War

 

by Michael Snyder

If the United States and China are supposed to be such “great friends”, why are both sides acting as if war is in our future? Thanks to events in the South China Sea and the blatant theft of the personal information of millions of U.S. government workers, tensions between the United States and China are the highest that they have been in decades.

Most Americans typically assume that a real, actual shooting war between the U.S. and China could never possibly happen, but as you will see below the Chinese are actually spending a lot of time and money preparing for precisely such a conflict. In fact, the Chinese are working feverishly to develop new offensive weapons systems that would only be used in such a war.

Of course it is extremely unlikely that a military conflict between our two nations will happen in our immediate future, but without a doubt we are moving in that direction. And this is how wars typically happen – things build up over a period of time before they finally reach a breaking point. Just think about what took place between the United States and Japan in the lead up to our war with them. There were years of diplomatic troubles before Japan finally made the decision to launch a “surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor.

Right now, I believe that we are moving into a similar period of diplomatic trouble with China. Initially, this will likely affect our trade relationship with the Chinese, but ultimately it could be much more than that. The following are 10 signs that the United States and China are moving toward war…
#1 China’s moves in the South China Sea have greatly angered Obama administration officials. Some of the islands that China has grabbed are also claimed by Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and the Philippines. The United States is bound by treaty to defend the Philippines in any conflict with China, and Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam are all slated to be parties to the new super secret global trade treaty that Obama is currently negotiating. The following comes from Business Insider…
China’s reclamation of more than 2,000 acres of land on disputed islands and atolls in the South China Sea since last year has raised international alarm over its territorial ambitions. Washington took the unusual step last month of publicizing a U.S. military surveillance flight that showed the massive scale of China’s island-building.
China says the islands are its sovereign territory, but Washington argues that the continuation of building work and militarization of the islands could enflame complex territorial disputes with China’s neighbors, with whom the U.S. is seeking to forge closer ties while preserving freedom of navigation in sea lanes crucial for world trade.
#2 In China, there is talk that a war may be necessary to defend China’s interests in the South China Sea. In fact, a newspaper that is a mouthpiece for the Communist Party actually stated that war with the United States “is inevitable” if the U.S. continues to insist that the Chinese must halt activities on those islands…
Coinciding with the publication of the white paper, an editorial in The Global Times – a tabloid newspaper mouthpiece for the ruling Communist Party – issued a warning to the US to halt its protests over the South China Sea.
Last week, China’s foreign ministry revealed it had lodged a complaint with the US over an American spy plane that flew over parts of the disputed archipelago.
The article read: “We do not want a military conflict with the United States, but if it were to come, we have to accept it.”
It added that China should “carefully prepare” for the possibility of war with Washington and that “if the United States’ bottom line is that China is to halt activities, then a US-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea”.
#3 The theft of the information of up to 14 million federal workers is being described as “an act of war“. At this point, the Obama administration appears convinced that this horrible act was committed by the Chinese government…
Cybersecurity is another source of acrimony that’s up for discussion, given fresh urgency by the massive security breach that led to the theft of personal information of as many as 14 million current and former U.S. federal employees. The Obama administration believes that China’s government, not criminal hackers, was responsible for the breach that included detailed background information on military and intelligence personnel.
China has denied involvement in the break-in and says it is also a victim of cyberattacks.
So was China behind this theft?
Perhaps we will never know for sure, but without a doubt this incident has raised tensions between the two nations.
And as tensions continue to increase, it is likely that the cyber espionage being committed by both sides will only get worse. Ian Bremmer, the founder of Eurasia Group, recently told Business Insider that he believes that a “virtual war” between our countries has already begun…
“We should be very clear: China is at virtual war with the United States, and the threat is far higher than that of terrorism, which gets the lion’s share of attention — and, in the post-9/11 world, funding.”
#4 China recently conducted a series of massive military exercises that simulated an attack against Taiwan. Since the U.S. is committed to protecting Taiwan, a real conflict of this nature would almost certainly involve the United States. The following comes from an article that was posted on janes.com…
In a new analysis by Richard Fisher and James Hardy, IHS Jane’s reports that “A series of Chinese military exercises between late May and early June showcased the ability of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to project land, air, and naval power into the area around Taiwan.”
The exercises demonstrated the People’s Liberation Army’s plan to use civilian ships during emergencies to help boost its forces.
“To compensate for the relatively small size of its formal naval amphibious transport fleet the PLA has co-funded construction of a large number of ferries used by civilian companies. They will be made available to the PLA during emergencies and are a frequent element in civil-military transport exercises,” Fisher and Hardy write.
#5 According to Paul Joseph Watson, thousands of Chinese merchant ships are being retrofitted for military purposes. The only possible conflict in which the Chinese military would need “thousands of merchant ships” would be a war with the United States…
China is set to retrofit thousands of merchant ships for military purposes so they can be used in the event of a war, another disturbing indication of growing tensions between Beijing and Washington.
Shipping industry publication TradeWinds reveals that China is preparing a new fleet of “war-ready ships” to serve as “a reserve military logistics wing” in the event of a naval conflict.
The new policy will apply to “containerships, ro-ros, multipurpose ships, bulkers and other ships,” with shipbuilders receiving a government subsidy to pay for the cost of making the vessels “militarily useful.”
#6 The Chinese have developed a “carrier killer” missile which was specifically designed to destroy U.S. aircraft carriers. There are some that have suggested that these new missiles may have made U.S. aircraft carriers obsolete…
Nevertheless, some have suggested that the DF-21D has rendered the supercarrier obsolete. While it depends on how we use the term “obsolete,” it’s probably too early to make that claim. China has expended vast time and resources determining how to kill US carriers, which suggests that the Chinese military takes carrier capabilities seriously. Moreover, the number of countries with both the interest and technical capability to develop the system of systems necessary to operate an ASBM is probably limited to two for the foreseeable future, with only Russia joining China.
#7 The Chinese now have the capability of equipping their nuclear missiles with MIRV warheads. According to Bill Gertz, this has significantly equalized the balance of power between the U.S. and China…
China carried out a long-range missile flight test on Saturday using multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, according to U.S. defense officials.
The flight test Saturday of a new DF-41 missile, China’s longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile, marks the first test of multiple warhead capabilities for China, officials told the Washington Free Beacon.
China has been known to be developing multiple-warhead technology, which it obtained from the United States illegally in the 1990s.
However, the Dec. 13 DF-41 flight test, using an unknown number of inert maneuvering warheads, is being viewed by U.S. intelligence agencies as a significant advance for China’s strategic nuclear forces and part of a build-up that is likely to affect the strategic balance of forces.
#8 Of much greater concern than the MIRV warheads are the new hypersonic glide vehicles that China has developed. These ultra-high-speed missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads and represent a huge threat to the United States…
China recently conducted the second flight test of a new, ultra-high-speed missile that is part of what analysts say is Beijing’s global system of attack weapons capable of striking the United States with nuclear warheads.
The latest test of the new hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) known as Wu-14 took place Aug. 7 at a missile facility in western China, said U.S. government officials familiar with details of the test reported in internal channels.
#9 The Chinese Navy is building a series of extremely quiet ballistic missile submarines. These subs could potentially creep up to our coastlines and rain nuclear missiles down on us within just a few minutes. The following comes from an article by Bill Gertz…
The Chinese Navy has deployed three ballistic missile submarines at sea capable of striking the United States with nuclear missiles, the commander of the U.S. Northern Command said Tuesday.
Adm. William Gortney, the commander, said the submarines are a “concern” and will be able to strike the United States when fully deployed with missiles and warheads.
The missile submarines are deployed in the South China Sea at a base on Hainan Island, according to a defense official.
#10 The Chinese have developed submarine-based nuclear missiles that could potentially reach all 50 states from the waters of Hawaii…
China could soon target the United States with sea-based nuclear weapons as it is reinforcing its submarines with long-range nuclear ballistic missiles, a US congressional report has found.
China’s military is set to acquire a reliable, hard-to-destroy sea-based nuclear deterrent, with a dozen JL-2 missiles that are being mounted on its JIN class submarines, according to a report submitted to Congress by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
The missiles have a strike range of around 7,350 km, meaning they can reach all 50 US states if they are launched from waters west or east of Hawaii.
#11 At a time when the U.S. military is actually shrinking, Chinese military spending is increasing each year by double digits…
China’s government in March announced a 12.2 percent increase in military spending to $132 billion. That followed last year’s 10.7 percent increase to $114 billion, giving China the second-highest defense budget for any nation behind the U.S., which spent $600.4 billion on its military last year.
#12 The Chinese military is not the only one preparing for a war between our two nations. It turns out that the U.S. military has been conducting military exercises that are specifically geared toward simulating a conflict with China. The following comes from the BBC…
Watching the US Navy close up like this, it is hard not to be slightly awed. No other navy in the world has quite the same toys, or shows them off with the same easy charm.
But as I stand on the deck filming my report on how “the US is practising for war with China”, I can see my host from the Navy public affairs office wincing.
You get used to hearing the PR rhetoric: the US Navy “is not practising for war with any specific country”. But the US Navy has not assembled two whole carrier battle groups and 200 aircraft off the coast of Guam for a jolly, either. This is about practising what the Pentagon now calls “Air Sea Battle”.
It is a concept first put forward in 2009, and it is specifically designed to counter the rising threat from China.
Like I said, a war between the United States and China is not going to happen in our immediate future.
But it would be a grave mistake to assume that it could never happen.
Over in China, their military operates under the assumption that a war between the two superpowers will definitely take place at some point, and the Chinese are working feverishly to figure out ways that they can come out on top in such a conflict.
Yes, the Chinese have become exceedingly wealthy selling us goods. In the process, we have lost thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and we now owe the Chinese more than a trillion dollars. The Chinese never intended to have a balanced and fair trading relationship with us, because it has always been their plan to emerge as the sole, dominant superpower on the entire planet.
Once our debt-fueled economy collapses, the Chinese won’t have too much use for us anymore. Instead, we will just be a barrier in the way of their goal of total global domination.
If you don’t think that the Chinese view us in this manner, just read some of the white papers produced by the Chinese government and the Chinese military. They do not consider us to be a “friend” at all. Rather, they consider us to be an enemy that must ultimately be vanquished.
Sadly, most Americans seem to assume that the global community is just one big, happy family these days.
In the end, we will likely pay a very great price for being so naïve.

New Gaza Flotilla Sets Sail, Hopes UN Report Will Deter Israel

Anti-Israel activists – to be joined by Arab-Israeli MK – say they’re confident Israel won’t intercept them due to international pressure.

Extremist activists aboard a flotilla of boats are to soon set sail for Gaza in a fresh bid to break Israel’s limited blockade of the Islamist-held territory, five years after a similar attempt ended in a deadly raid.
The so-called Freedom Flotilla III – a convoy of ships carrying anti-Israel activists, including at least one European lawmaker and an Arab-Israeli MK – will try to reach the shores of the Gaza Strip by the end of the month.
Their campaign comes as Israel faces international pressure over its military operation last summer to stop rocket attacks from Gaza-based terrorist groups, with a UN report released Monday saying both the Jewish state and Palestinian terrorists may have committed war crimes during last year’s conflict in the coastal enclave.
Israel’s blockade of the territory dates back to 2006, after Hamas kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and was tightened a year later when the Islamist terrorist movement consolidated control of Gaza, using it as a launchpad for rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
Since then the blockade – which is meant to prevent weapons, fighters and other equipment reaching Islamist terrorist groups – has been eased considerably, although weapons are still not allowed to be trafficked in.
At the same time, a blockade by the Egyptian military is ongoing, and by all accounts far more restrictive, as Egypt seeks to cut Islamist terrorists in Gaza off from the Sinai Peninsula, where it says Hamas and other groups are helping fuel a jihadist insurgency.
Anti-Israel activists have long called for the blockade – ruled as entirely legal by a UN commission – to be lifted, claiming despite the ruling that it is “illegal.”
“We’re not alone in considering the blockade to be inhumane and illegal,” Staffan Graner, an activist who is sailing aboard Swedish trawler the Marianne of Gothenburg, told AFP.
“What we want to do… is to keep up international pressure that the blockade should end,” he said.
The Marianne of Gothenburg, which set sail from Sicily on Friday, will join four other vessels carrying some 70 people en route for Gaza, according to a statement from the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine, a group supporting the effort that is funded by the French government.
Among those aboard will be former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki, Spanish MEP Ana Maria Miranda Paza and Arab-Israeli MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List), organizers said.
Ghattas’s decision to join the flotilla has caused outrage in Israel.
On Sunday, deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely said the flotilla was “the work of provocateurs whose aim is to blacken Israel’s face,” adding that the ministry had been working “through diplomatic channels night and day” to prevent it from reaching Israeli waters.
In a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Ghattas urged that he “command the Israeli security forces to stay away and allow the flotilla to arrive at its destination.”
“Any form of takeover to prevent this will only involve Israel in yet another difficult international crisis or scandal,” he warned.
‘Violence would be stupid’
Ghattas was referring to the deaths of 10 armed Turkish Islamist aboard the Mavi Marmara, who were killed while violently attacking Israeli commandos who intercepted the boat as it attempted to reach Gaza in May 2010.
Despite claiming to contain “humanitarian aid,” the Marmara was revealed to have almost no cargo whatsoever.
An Israeli-Arab MK was present on the Marmara as well – Hanin Zoabi, whose support for Hamas and involvement in the violent raid sparked calls for her to be dismissed from the Knesset.
Since then, several ships manned by anti-Israel activists have tried to reach the shores of Gaza, but they have all been repelled by the Israeli navy. International aid groups in contrast are able to easily reach Gaza via land crossings from Israel, as long as they coordinate with the Israeli army first.
But activists in the Freedom Flotilla III say they are undeterred.
They say the international pressure Israel faces after the latest conflict Gaza, along with the uproar the 2010 raid caused, make it unlikely it will use violence this time.
“One has to be realistic,” Graner said.
“We know that we’re sailing towards a blockade that is upheld essentially by two large military forces,” he said, referring also to Egypt’s navy.
“We think Israel lost a lot by the violence that they used in 2010. It would be extremely stupid of the Israelis… to use violence against us.”
Meanwhile, many Israeli lawmakers have called for MK Ghattas’s parliamentary immunity to be removed in response to his decision to join the flotilla.
AFP contributed to this report.

Courtesy of israelnationalnews.com

Photo via youtube

I’m sure Davey Jones’s locker has space for a few more!

Christianity Quickly Growing In The Muslim World

 

by  Eric Metaxas

A Washington Post article tells the story of a tiny Baptist church near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The congregation had dwindled to just fifteen members. With bills stacking up, Deacon Larry Montgomery told the congregation, “We’re just not going to make it.”
Montgomery then told the people of Scenic Drive Baptist that there was a congregation who might want to buy the church. This congregation had been meeting in homes and had a pastor whose business card quoted John 4:35: “Look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
Montgomery approached the pastor, who then called his flock to pray about it. His prayer began “Abuna Semawi, nashkurak.” That’s Arabic for “Heavenly Father, we thank you.” The pastor, Egyptian-born Raouff Ghattas, a nuclear engineer by training, had attended a Southern Baptist seminary with a view to becoming a missionary. He and his American-born wife, Carol, share a mission: “Never rest until you tell every Arab about Jesus.”
For two decades they served in places like Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia. But when they returned to Carol’s hometown of Murfreesboro, they found that their mission field had come to them. The town even had a mosque.
So they went to work telling local Muslims about Jesus, and Scenic Drive Baptist Church became Arabic Baptist Church, a place where Arab Christians and non-Arab Christians can worship together.
In every sense that matters, Scenic Drive Baptist did “make it.” It just did so in a way that suited the moment we are living in.
Writing in the journal First Things, my friend and colleague Roberto Rivera summed up the growth of Christianity worldwide by citing C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia: Aslan is on the move. Here’s a statistic that will – or at least should – blow your mind: More than half of all Christians who have ever lived are alive today. The Gospel is being preached all over the world, and people are saying “yes.”
This includes the Islamic world.
In a recent “Breakpoint This Week” broadcast, my colleague John Stonestreet spoke with David Garrison and Paul Filidis about the upcoming “30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World,” which starts on June 18.
Garrison traveled more 250,000 miles around the Islamic world chronicling what’s probably the most underreported important story of our time: waves of Muslims converting to Christianity.
His book, “A Wind in the House of Islam,” documented nearly 70 movements of Christianity in the Islamic world in the past two decades: movements being defined as “1,000 Muslims receiving Christian baptism, a public statement of their faith in Christ.”
In fact, Garrison estimates that these 70 “movements” represent more than 80 percent of all such movements in Islam’s 1,400-year history. As he put it, Muslims all over the world “are falling on their knees, finding in fact that this is the living God who has come into the world—God with us, God among us—who is bringing them salvation that they were never able to find” in Islam.
The 30 Days of Prayer, which coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, is one way we can participate in this great work of God.
Come to BreakPoint.org and we’ll link you to John Stonestreet’s broadcast on the month of prayer for the Muslim world.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you about a place where people are running towards the faith that many in the West are running away from.
Until then, remember, Aslan is on the move.

Hidden Gold Treasure In Israel To Be Used To Build Third Temple?

 

by  Tsivya Fox

A treasure-trove of raw gold worth billions of dollars is believed to be sitting under Mount Eilat in southern Israel, Breaking Israel News has learned.
In an exclusive interview, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, the Executive Director of The Temple Mount Heritage Foundation in Jerusalem, revealed the news, which had been kept under wraps for the last several years.
Glick is perhaps best known for his life’s mission of assuring that the Temple Mount is accessible to all people from every religion who want to worship at the holy site. His dedication to the Temple Mount resulted in an October 2014 assassination attempt on his life by a Palestinian terrorist.
Shot four times in the chest, Glick has made a miraculous recovery and continues his work to open the Temple Mount to prayer for all peoples.
Glick told Breaking Israel News that there are billions of dollars worth of gold in Mount Eilat, which he and his partner, Yehoshua Friedman, have received an exclusive license to unearth by the Israeli government.
Explaining the discovery, Glick said that everything began with Friedman, a Temple Mount researcher who had been studying each of the 12 unique stones set on the breastplate of the High Priest as described in the Bible. Each stone represents one of the 12 tribes of Israel.
During his studies, Friedman realized that without a geology background he could not properly appreciate the depths and meanings behind each of these stones. This led to his discovery that in 2007 gold had been found in the mountains of Eilat by an Australian research team, who later abandoned the dig because the value of gold at the time was not worth their efforts.
Friedman and Glick, knowing the Biblical verses concerning gold in the Land of Israel, realized that this was a project which had to be pursued.
Together, alongside several other companies seeking to find gold in the land of Israel, Glick and Friedman presented to the Israeli Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure a tender to dig in the Eilat mountains.
“Because of the extensive Biblical proof we presented about the exact location where the gold was to be found, we won the license to begin digging,” Glick told Breaking Israel News.
Their company, Gold Deposit Ltd., now has a two-year exclusive permit, from January 2015 to December 2016, to excavate the chosen area and find the gold.
When asked what these modern day Biblical explorers plan to do with their billions in gold, Rabbi Glick replied, “Ultimately, we expect to use the gold in the rebuilding of the Third Temple. Whether we use the gold itself for creating vessels and decoration or by selling the findings and using the money to buy the materials and manpower needed to rebuild the Temple, we look forward to that great day!”