Archive | June 2015

Transhumanism And War



Human enhancement technologies are expanding the frontiers of biotechnology and changing the nature of warfare, international relations and geopolitics.

Human enhancement refers to the suite of techniques which alter the human body beyond its normal healthy state. While ‘therapy’ is meant to ‘fix’ or ‘heal’ something damaged, enhancement technologies aim to stimulate and augment the human body beyond its natural capacities. Some of the possibilities available soon, such as “personality pills”, super-intelligent machines or gene therapy to block normal aging, come with extremely disruptive side effects.

As is frequently the case with technological innovation, the origins of enhancement technologies are closely linked to military research. Soldiers equipped with devices for increased muscle strength, better pain management or extra-alertness make ideal combatants. Yet whilst administering pills that enable stress resistance or erase post-traumatic stress might seem like ideal quick fixes, they raise profound ethical and security concerns.

In their most extreme form, such techniques could push us beyond what it means to be human, effectively bringing us on the brink of transhumanism. Transhumanism challenges the very notion of the human condition as fixed, rooted and constant. Interventions to improve our bodies, modify our pleasure centres, eradicate pathogenic conditions, enhance cognitive functions or extend life will eventually alter our very emotions emotions, such as fear.

The rise of the super soldier – at any cost

The search for performance optimization via human enhancement in the military is not new. Stimulant drugs have been used in the army for decades. For instance, amphetamine, a synthetic drug which enhances the neurotransmitters adrenalin and noradrenalin, started being widely available to US troops in the 1960s for its effects in enhancing alertness and physical endurance. More recently, in an effort to find safer alternatives, the military has switched to the use of modafinil, a drug first used by US troops during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Modafinil acts as a psycho-stimulant, enhances vigilance and overall cognitive and physical performance even in sleep-deprived individuals. It is estimated that the UK Ministry of Defence purchased 24,000 modafinil tablets in 2004.

Apart from the use of such enhancements in the military, we are increasingly witnessing the rise of technologies that can alter human biology irreversibly, especially by incorporating technology within the human body. Such technologies are radically different from previous eras as they are much more invasive and potentially irreversible, marking a new phase in the quest to create super soldiers.

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is now at the forefront of developing enhancement technologies. In the early 1990s, DARPA acquired an avid interest in biology. DARPA’s turn to biotechnology and biomimetics (getting inspiration from nature, the animal world and metabolic flexibility) is now well on track, and garnering growing federal funding. For the fiscal year 2015, DARPA’s proposed budget request was of 2.915 billion, a steady increase from previous years.

The projects for human augmentation resulted from the recognition that even with the most sophisticated weapons, war remains dependent on soldiers that are subject to physical, cognitive, or psychological vulnerabilities. This sentiment was openly expressed by the Agency, which stated that the human being was “the weakest link in Defense systems”.

Techno-integration became critical to achieving this purpose. This requires creating a symbiotic coupling between men and machines in order to enhance physical and cognitive fitness. This mostly concerned restorative medicine for a long time, but more recent advances in neural integration bring about the real possibility that the peripheral nervous system could be coupled with advanced technology with a simple plug. An extreme form of invasive technology currently being explored is a micro-processing chip which can be implanted beneath the skull and manipulated remotely.

Experiments with so-called “non-invasive brain stimulation” at the US Air Force Research Lab, made public in early 2014, tried a new technique to keep soldiers awake and alert with electric shocks. The results were promising: the electro-stimulation tested much better than the mere use of caffeine. The doses of electrical current were carefully controlled and succeeded in making soldiers wide-awake, refreshed and alert for as long as 30 hours. Although still at an experimental stage, the initiative proves that hijacking the brain for the end of military effectiveness will be used justify whatever scientific means.

The basics of neuro-stimulation now allow us to employ methods to boost our ability to learn, pay attention to the environment, better recall information, take risks or exercise self-control. The amount of knowledge we have on the frontal cortex already permits us to understand how to influence cognitive processes. Two major approaches are Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS) and the latter is already in use by the US military to improve the performance of drone pilots. However, scientists caution that TMS and TDS can produce many unintended effects. The military’s ambitions could soon catch up with the neuro-stimulation technology to the extent that soldiers’ reactions, responsiveness and emotionality could be pre-programmed with precision. They could become faster, more agile, alert, more receptive and fast learners, more disciplined or docile or, if needed, less empathetic.

Other projects pursued by DARPA in partnership with various universities across the United States include programs such as: “Accelerated Learning”, “Crystalline Cellulose Conversion to Glucose” (enabling humans to eat grass and other non-digestible plants), “Human-aided optical recognition”, (neuro-optical binoculars to detect threats), “RealNose”, (extra sensors to detect chemicals as accurately as a dog) and “Z-Man” (allowing humans to climb up walls like lizards).

While DARPA officially claims these projects are without invasive mental or physical effects, controversies abound and many questions about their long-lasting implications remain open. Human nature is frail, vulnerable and less adaptable than other species. It is therefore not surprising that DARPA would explicitly defend human enhancement projects based on a pragmatic calculation of cost, time and military effectiveness: “the idea is not simply to replace people with machines, but to team people with robots to create a more capable, agile and cost-effective force that lowers the risks of US casualties.”
Implications for international relations and geopolitics

With these developments, questions of law, international competition and ethics will become more prominent as both states and societies will have to respond to these technologies and their risks of spinning out of control.

Enhancement raises many ethical ’red flags’: how far will the imperative of “military necessity” go in justifying biotechnological enhancement that would otherwise be considered unacceptable? Could soldiers become dehumanized tools, coerced into whatever is necessary to wage war? Are safety considerations taken into account, and are norms of ethical medical conduct extended to all enhancement technologies? Moreover, it will be critical to explore whether enhancement is reversible or not and to what extent a transhumanist soldier can switch back to the ‘pre-enhanced’ state.

Considerations of risks from enhancement and transhumanism have been largely absent from the military, but it is high time the military gave more considerations to the ethical aspects of enhancing soldiers. These should cover both long-term consequences for the soldiers’ health, as well as the inequalities created between enhanced and non-enhanced soldiers, since enhanced soldiers might eventually need to be treated differently from the average, non-enhanced soldiers. Questions of responsibility will ensue as well.Should the enhanced soldier run out of control, who will be accountable: the soldier, the engineer or medical teams that enhanced him?

Pressure could soon mount for the US to have an ethical review of its enhancement programs, an expectation that is easier to foresee in a country where demands for accountability can be consequential even in an institution as secretive as the Army. However, this might not be the case everywhere, which brings the need for global discussions and standard-setting for enhancement technologies.

Human enhancement will be disruptive for the entire military establishment and have far-reaching international relations and geopolitical consequences. At a unit level, war-fighters might be enhanced differently, or selectively, creating thus a class of enhanced vs. “normal” soldiers. This will affect morale and unit cohesion drastically, potentially causing resentment in some and a false sense of entitlement in others. Such asymmetry of capabilities will also reflect in international competition and international law, where countries benefiting from advanced technologies of enhancement will possess an advantage over those who will continue relying on non-enhanced soldiers.

In the more near future, the implications of human enhancement in international relations could entail similar reactions to those provoked by the extensive use of drones by the United States. While one country might regard enhancement as justifiable, appropriate and defensible, others could perceive it as an unjust use of capabilities. This will further exacerbate the sense of illegitimacy in war and disproportionate material and human loss.

At the same time, and as was the case with other technologies, it is not improbable to anticipate a race of development and acquisition of human enhancement technologies by many other countries in the coming decades, thus further complicating international conflict resolution, code of conduct and international law. In addition, given the potential effects of these technologies on emotions, remorselessness and increased physical power (for instance through the use of powered exoskeletons), it should be expected that the level of brutality in warfare could increase significantly, thus complicating the implementation of international treaties and post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction efforts.

Iraq: Despite Thousands Fleeing ISIS, Churches Are Full Of New Believers


by  Carey Lodge

Hundreds of thousands of Christians have been forced to flee Iraq as Islamic State continues to tighten its grip, but still people are turning to Jesus, a church leader has told Christian Today.
Rev Sami Dagher, president and founder of all Alliance churches in Lebanon, has churches all across the Middle East, including 22 in Syria, six in Lebanon, and three in Iraq – one each in Dahuk, Irbil, and Baghdad. He also has two Bible schools, one in Beirut and another in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan, and is just starting a church in Cairo.
Having been working and leading churches in Iraq since 1990, Dagher has seen significant changes in the region. He lived there under the reign of Saddam Hussein, and was once able to give a Bible to the dictator, who sent a gold watch in return and a letter thanking Dagher for his gift. At that time, it was illegal to open churches, so Dagher started one congregation under the pretence of it being a nursery, and encouraged Christians to eat together when they met, so if they got caught praying by the police they could say they were just thanking God for the food.
Since ISIS began gaining influence in Iraq, life has got even worse for Christians and swathes have been forced to convert to Islam, leave their homes or risk being killed. Many are now refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, but there are also believed to be around 2.8 million internally displaced Iraqis, some in makeshift camps but many living in abandoned schools and other buildings. Dagher’s ministry has partnered with Samaritan’s Purse to provide food, aid and shelter to some of those most in need in places such as Irbil and Dahuk.
According to the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Baghdad last September, ISIS militants were closing in on the city, and the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East then reported that jihadists were “less than 2km away”. However, it has as so far remained free from ISIS control.
Dagher estimates that 80 per cent of his original church congregation in Baghdad have left, but “the church is still full with new people coming,” he says.
“We have about 400 people every Sunday in Baghdad, and about 30 per cent of those are from different religions.” Currently, 73 people who have converted to Christianity are waiting to be baptised in the church.
Christians in Iraq are afraid of ISIS, Dagher added, but many Muslims are coming to Christ, despite the risk. “They are seeking to see the truth, and they can’t find that truth maybe in their religion.” While orthodox churches in the Middle East do not allow Muslims to worship there, the evangelical churches have opened their doors.
Kevin Sutter, president of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Frontier Missions, recently claimed that there is a spiritual revival happening among Muslims in the Middle East, and though Dagher said that the word “revival” may be too strong, many Muslims are becoming disillusioned with their faith, and looking to the Church for answers.
“They see people who will put a bomb around themselves and go kill themselves and others and say ‘Allahu Akbar’ [God is great]. They see a man take another man, cutting [off] his head with a knife and saying ‘Allahu Akbar’. They can’t really understand…how can they do it in the name of Allah?” he explained. “They want to find the truth.”
A YWAM worker also reportedly met an ISIS militant who had become a Christian. “I’m not surprised,” Dagher responded to this story. “God can do miracles.”
The Middle East is a dangerous place for him to be, but despite having a British wife and children, and therefore able to move to the UK, Dagher – who is now 79 years old – says he will continue to plant churches until “they put me six feet underground”.
“The Holy Spirit has given me the courage to stay and shepherd, and bring light to a dark place,” he says. “We have titles in the word of God, and one of the titles we have [is that] we are ambassadors for Christ…we have the ministry of reconciliation. If all the ministers leave Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, who is going to reconcile people to God? Who is going?
“We also have another title – we are the light of the world. Syria is a dark place, Iraq is a dark place, Lebanon is a dark place, Kurdistan is a dark place and the light is leaving it – who is going to shine there?
“According to God, we have to shine in the dark place, and if it’s dark, one candle will make a difference.”

Saudis Ready To Go Nuclear If Iran Talks Fail, Egypt, Turkey Next?


by  Con Coughlin

Since its creation 85 years ago, Saudi Arabia has acquired a reputation as a country that tries to avoid confrontation with its neighbours at all costs. During the long war between Iran and Iraq during the 1980s the Saudis desperately sought to preserve their neutrality, even if Riyadh’s sympathies lay with its fellow Sunni co-religionists in Iraq rather than the Shi’ite Muslim hardliners running Iran.
Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the two Gulf wars against Saddam Hussein was kept to a minimum. Saudi warplanes made a modest contribution to the overall air campaign during the 1991 liberation of Kuwait, while Riyadh steadfastly refused to involve itself in the 2003 Iraq war. In other conflicts affecting the region, such as the Palestinian intifada, the Saudis have preferred to channel their immense oil wealth in support of Arab allies rather than become directly involved in the strife.
But then this year came Saudi Arabia’s dramatic military intervention in neighbouring Yemen. Saudi warplanes and troops are now involved in a bitter conflict with Iranian-backed rebels from the Houthi religious movement in Yemen. And Saudi Arabia has been confirmed as one of the region’s dominant military powers.
In the past two years, it has beaten Britain into fourth place in the world’s military spending league with a defence budget of around 37 billion pounds (compared with the UK at around 34 billion pounds).
The military offensive in Yemen has seen Saudi Arabia deploy an estimated 150,000 troops – nearly twice the size of the British Army – while Saudi fighter jets, many of them British-made, have flown thousands of sorties.
Now the Saudis have raised the alarming prospect of the Middle East becoming embroiled in a nuclear arms race after the country’s blunt warning that “all options are on the table” if Iran fails to resolve the international stand-off over its nuclear programme.
Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s long-serving ambassador to London, says that for many years the kingdom upheld the policy established by the late King Fahd that Riyadh would not pursue a policy of developing nuclear weapons. “Then it became known that Iran was pursuing a policy that could be shifted to a weapons-of-mass-destruction programme,” Prince Mohammed explained in an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph. “This has changed the whole outlook in the region.”
Like many in the Arab world and beyond, the Saudis are hoping the current negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue, being led by U.S. President Barack Obama, will provide assurances that Tehran does not possess the means to build an atom bomb.
“We have always expressed our support for resolving the Iranian nuclear file in a diplomatic way and through negotiation,” said Prince Mohammed. “We commend the American president’s effort in this regard, provided that any deal reached is watertight and is not the kind of deal that offers Iran a license to continue its destabilizing foreign policies in the region. The proof is in the pudding.”
Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 – the U.S., the U.K., France, China and Russia (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) and Germany – are due to be concluded by the end of this month.
Negotiators are pressing Tehran to freeze key elements of its uranium-enrichment cycle – which can be used to produce nuclear warheads – in return for easing the sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.
Despite attempts lasting more than a decade to resolve the issue, Iran has yet to make any significant concessions on its nuclear programme.
The New York Times reported last week that Tehran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel had increased by 20 per cent in the past 18 months. That would make a nonsense of the Obama administration’s contention that Iran had frozen its enrichment operations for the duration of the negotiations. Consequently, there are fears in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states that Obama is more interested in reaching an accommodation with reformists in Iran than in standing by America’s traditional allies in the Arab world.
“Iran’s nuclear programme poses a direct threat to the entire region and constitutes a major source and incentive for nuclear proliferation across the Middle East, including Israel.”
Western intelligence agencies believe that the Saudi monarchy paid for up to 60 per cent of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, in return for the ability to buy warheads for itself at short notice. Any failure by Iran to provide the necessary safeguards by the end of this month could see Riyadh activate that deal, thereby enabling Saudi Arabia to become the Arab world’s first nuclear power. And if that were to happen, then many other regional powers, such as Egypt and Turkey, would also attempt to follow suit – a nuclear arms race in the world’s most unstable region.
Prince Mohammed’s comments should serve as a warning to Obama as he briefs other G7 leaders on the Iran talks at this week’s summit in Germany.

Radioactive: ISIS May Soon Build ‘Dirty’ Bomb


by  Adam Winthal

The Isis militant group has seized enough radioactive material from government facilities to suggest it has the capacity to build a large and devastating “dirty” bomb, according to Australian intelligence reports.
Isis declared its ambition to develop weapons of mass destruction in the most recent edition of its propaganda magazine Dabiq, and Indian defence officials have previously warned of the possibility the militants could acquire a nuclear weapon from Pakistan.
According to the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, Nato has expressed deep concerns about the materials seized by Isis from research centres and hospitals that would normally only be available to governments.
The threat of Isis’s radioactive and biological weapons stockpile was so severe that the Australia Group, a 40-nation bloc dedicated to ending the use of chemical weapons, held a session on the subject at its summit in Perth last week.
“This is really worrying them,” Ms Bishop said in an interview with The Australian.
When they swept across territory in Syria and Iraq, she said, “the insurgents did not just clear out the cash from local banks”.
Last week Ms Bishop spoke at the Australia Group meeting about fears Isis was weaponising poisonous gases such as chlorine.
And speaking to The Australian, she confirmed that the concerns she was raising stemmed from reports filed by the Australian department of defence as well the foreign office.
The growing concerns about Isis’s development of weapons of mass destruction come at a time when experts fear the militant group will be “more active than ever” to mark the start of Ramadan and the one-year anniversary of its declaration of a “caliphate”.
Isis said it was changing its name to “Islamic State” following the first public address by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Mosul on 29 June last year, and the US-based Institute for the Study of War has noted that the group usually reserves its major operations to coincide with the Islamic holy month.
“Isis is likely to begin and end Ramadan with attempted spectacular military offensive actions in Iraq and Syria,” it said.

Why Are Thousands of US Paratroopers Heading for Iraq?

The United States this week began transferring to Iraq and Gulf bases elite units of the US 82nd Airborne Division. debkafile’s military sources report that the first batch of 500 officers and men will be deployed in Baghdad and the Kurdish republic’s capital of Irbil, followed by another 500 in July and 250 in December. Altogether, by the end of 2015, the US will have posted another 1,250 officers and men to augment the American force already present at a base ner Habbaniya in the western Iraqi Anbar province. This force, roughly the same size as the incoming contingents, came from the US 3rd Division’s Combat Team which set up the base six months ago to train Iraqi troops to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIS.

By the end of the year, therefore, the number of US troops on the ground in Iraq will rise to several thousand. Our military sources define their mission as being to intensify raids on ISIS commanders, command centers and bases and striking columns on the move. Their operations will draw on the successful attack mounted by DELTA commandos on May 16 in the heart of the Islamist stronghold in eastern Syria. The group’s chief of finances was killed in that raid and, according to American sources, the troops carried off a rich intelligence trove of digital and telephone data on the Islamist State’s tactics and structure.

The 82nd division has abundant experience of combat in the Iraqi arena. Between the 2003 US invasion and up until 2009, its members fought in critical engagements, especially in Anbar province, which ISIS has made the its main depot for large military concentrations and a launching pad for attacks across Iraq.

The figure of 3,000 American soldiers in Iraq understates the case by far. A much larger pool of combat forces is available close at hand for inserting into the cycle of war on ISIS.

Posted in Jordan just across the border from Anbar is a sizeable number of US special operations forces, and air units of F-16 fighter bombes and UH-60 Black Hawk assault helicopters. Their numbers have never been released.

Another several thousand troops are stationed in Kuwait. The Pentagon therefore has a reserve force present and available for a directive to go into action, once a decision for the US military to step into combat against the Islamists in Iraq and Syria is confirmed by President Barack Obama.

All these units are geared to fighting in the two arenas in the framework of the 82nd Airborne Division.

This week, too, the Pentagon started pumping new weapons to the Iraqi army under the US commitment of $1.6 billion from the Iraq Train and Equip Fund – ITEF – to equip its units with appropriate arms for combating ISIS.

Tuesday, June 9, ISIS appeared unfazed by the United States inching ever closer to a direct confrontation.

Iranian cities included Tehran were placed on terror alert, debkafile’s intelligence and counter-terror sources report, after intelligence discovered that the Islamic State had started sending squads of terrorists and lone suicide bombers to execute Baghdad-style terrorist attacks on urban areas in Iran.

ISIS tacticians were said to be so encouraged by their success in blowing up two Shiite mosques in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province in recent weeks that they decided to have a go at Iranian cities too.
Also Tuesday, ISIS claimed in a new video that it had come up with a new strategy for taking Baghdad, not to conquer, but to “liberate” the Iraqi capital.

Obama Threatens To Cut US Support At UN In Israeli Interview


by Ari Yashar

US President Barack Obama gave an interview with Israeli media on Tuesday, in which he threatened that an Israeli refusal to renew peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA) will “make it hard” for the US to veto motions in the UN against Israel.
In an interview with Ilana Dayan for Channel 2’s “Uvda” (Fact) TV show aired Tuesday night, Obama commented on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s statements before elections in which he said that a Palestinian state won’t be founded on his watch.
Obama noted that later Netanyahu distanced from the statement and “suggested that there is the possibility of a Palestinian state. But it has so many caveats, so many conditions, that it is not realistic to think that those conditions would be met anytime in the near future.”
Those conditions have included the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and demilitarization, conditions that proved problematic in the last round of peace talks that Obama pushed into existence in late 2013.
The president continued, “and so the danger here, is that…Israel as a whole loses credibility. Already the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about a two states solution…the statement the Prime Minister made compounded that…belief that there’s not a commitment there.”
Describing Netanyahu, Obama said, “I think that he also is someone who has been skeptical about the capacity of Israelis and Palestinians to come together on behalf of peace. I think that he is also a politician, who’s concerned about keeping coalitions together and maintaining his office.”
“Netanyahu…is somebody who’s predisposed to think of security first. To think perhaps that peace is naive,” he continued. “To see the worst possibilities, as opposed to the best possibilities in Arab partners or Palestinian partners, and so I do think that right now, those politics, and those fears are driving the government’s response. And, I understand it, but…what may seem wise and prudent on the short-term, can actually end up being unwise over the long-term.”
No US backing in the UN?
Obama then issued a threat to Israel, referring to his remarks after the recent Israeli elections when he said America would have to reasses its policy towards Israel, and clarifying that at the time he was referring to something specific.
“If there are additional resolutions introduced in the United Nations…up until this point we have pushed away against European efforts for example, or other efforts. Because we’ve said, the only way this gets resolved is if the two parties worked together,” he said, referring to European moves to unilaterally recognize the PA as a state.
The president said security aid to Israel won’t cease, but warn that, “if in fact, there’s no prospect of an actual peace-process, if nobody believes there’s a peace process, then it becomes more difficult, to argue with those who are concerned about settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation, it’s more difficult for me to say to them ‘be patient! wait! Because we have a process here.’ Because, all they need to do is to point to the statements that have been made saying there is no process.”
The last round of peace talks, which were torpedoed by the PA last April when it joined international conventions in breach of the 1993 Oslo Accords and sealed a unity deal with the Hamas terrorist organization, only brought the release of 78 Arab terrorists.
Referencing the Jewish nature of Israel, Obama said, “I am less worried about any particular disagreement that I have with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I am more worried about…an Israeli politics that’s motivated only by fear. And that then leads to a loss of those core values, that when I was young and I was admiring Israel from afar…were…the essence of this nation. There are things that you can lose, that don’t just involve rockets.”
Turning his attention to Iran and the deal being formed with it on its nuclear program ahead of a June 30 deadline, he claimed that sanctions have caused Iran to keep its agreements in negotiations.
“I’ve said that, in exchange for some modest relief in sanctions, that Iran is going to have to freeze its nuclear program, roll back on its stockpiles of very highly enriched Uranium – the very stockpiles that Prime Minister Netanyahu had gone before the United Nations, with his picture of the bomb and said that was proof of how dangerous this was.”
“At that time, everybody said ‘this isn’t going to work! They’re going to cheat, they’re not going to abide by it.’ And yet, over a year and a half later, we know that they have abided by the letter of it,” claimed Obama.
His assertion is in fact false; Iranian nuclear fuel stockpiles grew by a massive 20% over the past 18 months of negotiations between Iran and world powers, as revealed in a report last month by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Obama had claimed their nuclear program would be “frozen” during negotiations, but the IAEA report clarifies that they indeed breached the conditions.

Obama is a clear and present danger to every American, every Israeli, and the rest of this world’s population. He is a Muslim mole, occupying a seat of power that no man of his persuasion should be allowed near.

ISIS Fighter Who ‘Enjoyed’ Killing Christians Wants To Follow Jesus After Dreaming of Man In White Who Told Him ‘You Are Killing My People’


by Nicola Menzie

It has become a common occurrence over the years for Muslims in the Middle East who have converted to Christianity to claim to have been compelled to do so after dreaming of a person who they believe is Jesus Christ. Now, one militant belonging to the brutal Islamic State that has massacred Christians has converted to his victims’ religion after dreaming of “a man in white” with a startling message, according to one missionary’s account.
We’re exploring the kinds of courses that take a while to get to, and then make you seriously consider never going back home
“One of our YWAM workers in the Middle East was contacted by a friend earlier this year and they met up and he was introduced to an ISIS fighter who had killed many Christians already. I mean that’s a horrible situation, and admittedly, he was probably on guard,” Gina Fadely, director of Youth With A Mission Frontier Missions, Inc. (YWAM), said during a recent appearance on The Voice of the Martyrs Radio Network.
YWAM, a nonprofit missionary organization active since 1960, describes itself as “a global movement of Christians from many cultures, age groups, and Christian traditions, dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world.” The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is another nonprofit that draws attention to Christians facing persecution around the world.
Fadely, who appeared on the VOM radio program along with Kevin Sutter, another YWAM leader, went on to share that this Islamic State jihadi confessed not only to killing Christians but “that he had actually enjoyed doing so.”
“He told this YWAM leader that he had begun having dreams of this man in white who came to him and said, ‘You are killing my people.’ And he started to feel really sick and uneasy about what he was doing,” Fadely continued.
“The fighter said just before he killed one Christian, the man said, ‘I know you will kill me, but I give to you my Bible.’ The Christian was killed and this ISIS fighter actually took the Bible and began to read it. In another dream, Jesus asked him to follow him and he was now asking to become a follower of Christ and to be discipled.”
“So who knows. Perhaps this man will be like Saul in the Bible that persecuted Christians and he turned from that persecution of the early church to become the Apostle Paul who led it,” Fadely added. “God can turn it around.”
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also referred to ISIL and most recently Daesh, has been since 2013 waging a bloody campaign to establish a caliphate, or a Sunni-led Islamic government, across Northern Africa and throughout the Middle East, although its leadership claims the intention to reach as far as the Vatican in Rome.
The jihadists’ methods are cruel and involve brutal firing squads, hangings, stonings, and beheadings of religious minorities such as Yazidis, Christians, and even other Muslims who go against its hard-line rule. The Islamic State startled the world when it released videos of its members killing groups of Ethiopian Christians in Libya by viciously hacking their heads from their bodies.
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, said after the April killing of one group of 21 Ethiopian Christians that believers should “forgive and pray for the perpetrators.”
Todd Nettleton, host of VOM Radio featuring the YWAM directors, stated during the program that the next time Christians hear about more atrocities committed by Islamic State militants, they should not “write them off as being out of reach of God’s grace and out of reach of God’s spirit.”
Sutter, the other YWAM director who appeared with Fadley on the VOM Radio program, shared that he has learned from one of his leaders in the Arab world, an Arab man, that he had been witnessing a “spiritual hunger” that was “unprecedented” among Muslims.
“Many people are now following Jesus but they keep it quiet. They haven’t gone public about it. They even have church in their own home, they’re watching, they’ll serve communion to one another as they’re watching TV,” Sutter said.
Fadely suggested that God was using dreams to give YWAM missionaries a helping hand in reaching otherwise hard-to-reach groups in the Middle East with the Christian message. She said she believed that dreams were one way in which God was convincing Muslims and other non-Christians to believe in Jesus as savior.
Nabeel Qureshi, an apologist and the author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity, explained the significance of dreams to Muslims in a March interview with The Christian Post.
“In Muslim cultures, generally speaking, people don’t see themselves as being able to commune with God. Communion is a very Christian concept and the idea that Christ has torn down the veil — in a lot of cultures the veil is still up.
In Islam, for example, people don’t expect to have God talk back to them personally, as the Holy Spirit isn’t living in them. They ask God for guidance through dreams; that’s like the one way that Muslims expect to hear from God,” Qureshi explained.
“For someone to reach out and ask, ‘God, can you tell me about you?’ Or, ‘If you’re Jesus, can you show me a dream?’ That’s not strange at all. … That’s kind of what Muslims do,” he added.
Christians have been skeptical of Muslims’ claims that “Jesus dreams” have led them to Christianity, but longtime Southern Baptist missionary David Garrison also affirms that many Muslims have been inspired through these dreams to believe in Jesus as more than a prophet, as he is acknowledged in Islam. The CBN video below also looks at the phenomenon and offers the accounts of former Muslims who claim dreams of Jesus changed their lives

Microchip Implants To Aid Payment With A Wave Of The Hand


by Chris Griffith

Is it retail therapy gone mad? The dawn of a new cyborg age? Or a new meaning to going down under?
Whatever the case, a fair proportion of Australians are receptive to technology mixing with their precious human organic flesh, if it means making payments at retail stores is easier.
A survey, commissioned by global payments firm Visa, found 25 per cent of Australians were “slightly interested” in having a commerce-oriented chip implanted in their skin.
Research firm UMR conducted the survey for Visa, interviewing 1000 local consumers.
A subcutaneous chip would let consumers pay at a retail terminal without a wallet, credit card, smartphone or smartwatch. They would simply wave their bare hand over a terminal.
The finding was revealed as Visa and University of Technology Sydney announced a partnership to explore the future of wearable technology. Visa’s research looked at the wearable technology Australian consumers were interested in using for payments.
Thirty-two per cent would be interested in paying with a smartwatch; 29 per cent with a smart ring, and 26 per cent with smart glasses.
It is little wonder Visa regards Australians as adventurous with tech. “Australians are among the world’s earliest adopters of new technology,” said George Lawson, Head of Emerging Products and Innovation for Visa in ANZSP.
There’s nothing new about implanting tags under the skin. The US firm VeriChip obtained approval to do just that more than a decade ago.
Their chip consisted of a tiny antenna and an identification number. It was designed to be implanted in the soft tissue between the thumb and index finger and detected by a radiofrequency identification (RFID) scanner.
Before you see the human species morphing towards a cyborg future, there is a cautious note. Research in the past has linked subcutaneous chips to cancers in laboratory animals at the implant site.

Revalation 13:16 -17

“And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.”

Jewish Priests Perform Pentecost Temple Service In Anticipation Of Third Temple


by  Yisrael Rosenberg

On Monday, on a mountain ridge overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem and the ancient Temple Mount, kohanim (ancestral priests) performed a dry run of the Temple Service for the Shavuot (Pentecost) holiday.
All three of the major components of the holiday service – bringing of the first fruits, preparation of two loaves of bread using the season’s new wheat, and a special holiday offering – were conducted to as great a level of detail as is possible at this point in time.
Several kohanim, levi’im (ancestral Levites) and crowds of parents and children assembled on the Armon HaNatziv Promenade, just south of the Old City of Jerusalem, on the day after the official Shavuot holiday to newly re-enact this most joyous and beautiful ceremony, marking the time in the calendar when the wheat has just ripened and the first fruits of the season are ready for picking and eating by the entire populace.
“We’ve come here because we want to be part of the End of Times and prophecy,” said a woman, who learned of the event through the Temple Institute website, to Breaking Israel News.
What is important to understand is that the Shavuot holiday has not been celebrated in this manner for nearly 2,000 years. When the Great Temple stood at the center of Jerusalem, the entire populace celebrated this agricultural festival, which was harmonized directly with the agricultural activities that were the mainstay of industry in the Land of Israel.
First Fruits
In recent years, due to similar events carried out by the Temple Institute and other organizations, the entire concept of Shavuot is undergoing a transformation. Shavuot as a holiday has many aspects. It was the time for bringing first fruits to the Temple, and two loaves of bread taken from the first wheat of the year were baked and eaten by the kohanim. However, Shavuot was also the time when the Jewish Nation, assembled together as one, accepted upon themselves the Torah and received the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai after the long journey out of slavery in Egypt.
So long as the Jewish Nation dwelled in exile outside of the Land of Israel, and there was no longer a Temple to serve as a magnet for national activities, the aspect of receiving the Torah was paramount.
In modern times, the People of Israel are in the process of returning to live in the Land of Israel as promised by the Hebrew prophets. As a result, the long neglected aspects of Shavuot are coming to the fore.
The Mishnah, the classical collection of the Oral Tradition that explains the Torah Law, relates that when the Temple stood in all of its glory, crowds of people would gather from all over Israel to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They took with them the most special and choice fruits that were designated in the fields and vineyards for this purpose. Led by musicians, crowds made their way up to Jerusalem to present their first fruits to the kohanim who served in the Temple.
The Two Loaves of Bread
An essential element of the Shavuot Holiday was the preparation and offering of two special loaves of bread. Taken from the first wheat of the season to ripen, they were large, rectangular in shape with four mini towers at each corner of the loaf.
Before baking the loaves, the kohanim-priests would pinch off a handful of flower and throw it into the fire on the altar that stood at the center of the Great Temple. These two loaves were unusual in that they were prepared with natural leavening, whereas nearly all other grain offerings at the Temple were made without leavening.
At the Temple Institute’s re-enactment on Monday, the kohanim lifted the loaves in the air and waved them up and down, back and forth, and around.
In addition, as a special part of the ceremony, kohanim listened in unison to the blasts of specially made silver trumpets.
Monday’s reenactment is one step forward to the fulfillment of Bible Prophecy and the rebuilding of the Jewish temple.


By Shimon Cohen (Arutz Sheva News)


For PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, the idea of a “greater Palestine” – that would stretch from “the river to the sea” – is now an official policy.

While Israeli politicians continue to debate the merits of the “two-state solution,” their Palestinian interlocutors have long moved beyond that model for the solution of the Middle East conflict.

For Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the idea of a “greater Palestine” – that would stretch from “the river to the sea” – is now an official policy.

If this policy had until now been elucidated verbally in Arabic, by “minor” government officials – allowing the PA to say that they had been speaking out of turn or voicing personal opinions – it has now taken on a much more official persona.

In a series of videos and images discovered and released by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the PA’s official propaganda ministry has made clear that when the PA says “Palestinian state,” it means not just Ramallah and Jenin, but also Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Beersheba.

The change, said PMW, apparently took effect on May 7; since then, all broadcasts on official PA TV discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict have stressed the need for PA Arabs to “return to their homes.”

In May 1948, tens of thousands of Arabs fled the nascent State of Israel upon instruction of the leaders of the seven Arab countries that attacked the day-old country – who told the Arabs that they could return to their homes and reap the spoils of the defeated Jews, once they were “thrown into the sea.”

With Israel winning its independence and surviving, the hapless Arabs were forced into refugee camps by their Arab hosts, and have been left there to languish since, with children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren “preserved” as political hammers with which to beat Israel over the head.

It is the descendants of these Arabs that the PA is demanding be repatriated to no longer extant villages.   What will become of the Jews living there is not mentioned, but the PA insists that any political solution “must reverse the damage of the ‘Nakba,'” the name the PA uses to describe the flight of Arabs from Israel in 1948.

Besides the videos, official groups associated with the PA government have been releasing a steady stream of posts on social media portraying all of “Palestine” as the goal of PA negotiators.

In the past, PA officials have expressed such sentiments as well – but on their personal social media feeds.   The new policy has them portraying these policies in the name of the Ramallah government.

Commenting on the videos, PMW officials said that the maps shown are for Fatah and other terrorist groups, who have long dismissed talk of a side-by-side Palestine and Israel.

Now, it appears that the PA government itself has adopted this view officially. “There can be no doubt now that this is their version of the ‘two state solution,'” PMW said.

The fact is, there has never been any desire on the Arab (Fakestinian) side for a two state solution. Their goal has always been the total annihilation of Israel. The two state solution never was anything other than a disguise for that ‘politically incorrect’ intention.  It has always been a means of justifying financial support for Jew hating terrorists by anti-Semites within participating governments.