If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
(1 Corinthians 15:19)

If In This Life Only

Dear Friends,

Greetings! The English Standard Version of the Bible ends with the above verse “we are of all people most to be pitied”.

Matthew Henry's commentary on this verse and its meaning: “Having shown that Christ was risen, the apostle answers those who said there would be no resurrection. There had been no justification, or salvation, if Christ had not risen. And must not faith in Christ be vain, and of no use, if he is still among the dead? The proof of the resurrection of the body is the resurrection of our Lord. Even those who died in the faith, had perished in their sins, if Christ had not risen. All who believe in Christ, have hope in him, as a Redeemer; hope for redemption and salvation by him; but if there is no resurrection, or future recompence, their hope in him can only be as to this life. And they must be in a worse condition than the rest of mankind, especially at the time, and under the circumstances, in which the apostles wrote; for then Christians were hated and persecuted by all men. But it is not so; they, of all men, enjoy solid comforts amidst all their difficulties and trials, even in the times of the sharpest persecution.”

We, of course, know that salvation is a free gift to anyone who receives Jesus for forgiveness of sins. If salvation is free why then do so many Christians go beyond salvation, some to the point of even martyrdom?

1 Corinthians 11:35 tells us one of the major reasons for this; “that they might obtain a better resurrection” or as Matthew Henry would say, for a “future recompense”. It is by faith that we now believe. That is why those who do not share our faith in a future resurrected body with Jesus, but believe this world and what it has to offer all look upon Christians as a miserable, deluded group of misguided fools only to be pitied.

But a Christian whose faith like Moses rests in the future can say “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Moses “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.”

What did Dr. Livingstone mean when he said, “I never made a sacrifice”. He understood the “recompense of the reward” that he could never out give God. If you like, he knew any “sacrifice” he made was a very wise investment, and that his investment would return a hundred fold dividend.

It is a promise in the book of Matthew, chapter nineteen, from the lips of Jesus Himself that; “...every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Again, the recompense of the reward.

This is why Paul admonished the Colossians to “set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth”. And why did Paul admonish the Colossians to set their affection on things above, because “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Once again, the recompense of the reward.

The apostle John, in his epistle, 1 John, also instructs us to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.”

The Bible would seem to talk quite a bit about “things. Earthly things and eternal things and makes it very clear that it is much more sensible to strive for eternal things than earthly things.

At this point in history it would appear a great many people in the world are simply not doing the sensible thing.

If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:14-15

To quote the famous old Gospel song:

This world is not my home

I'm just a-passing through

My treasures are laid up

Somewhere beyond the blue.”

And: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

Have a great week ahead.



What heaven's really like - by a leading brain surgeon who says he's been there: Read his testimony before you scoff...it might just shake your beliefs


PUBLISHED: 16:06 EST, 17 October 2014 | UPDATED: 02:58 EST, 18 October 2014

When I was a small boy, I was adopted. I grew up remembering nothing of my birth family and unaware that I had a biological sister, named Betsy. Many years later, I went in search of my biological family, but for Betsy it was too late: she had died.

This is the story of how I was reunited with her — in Heaven.

Before I start, I should explain that I am a scientist, who has spent a lifetime studying the workings of the brain.

Dr Eben Alexander says he was taken 'on a voyage through a series of realms' after he went into a coma when he was diagnosed with meningitis

My adoptive father was a neurosurgeon and I followed his path, becoming an neurosurgeon myself and an academic who taught brain science at Harvard Medical School.

Although nominally a Christian, I was sceptical when patients described spiritual experiences to me.

My knowledge of the brain made me quite sure that out-of-body experiences, angelic encounters and the like were hallucinations, brought on when the brain suffered a trauma.

And then, in the most dramatic circumstances possible, I discovered proof that I was wrong. Six years ago, I woke up one morning with a searing headache. Within a few hours, I went into a coma: my neocortex, the part of the brain that handles all the thought processes making us human, had shut down completely.

Dr Eben's Alexander's 'heaven' was filled with music, animals, trees, and colours and was extremely vivid

At the time, I was working at Lynchburg General Hospital in Virginia, and I was rushed to the emergency room there. The doctors ascertained that I had contracted meningitis — a rare bacterial strain of E coli was in my spinal fluid and eating into my brain like acid. My survival chances were near zero.

I was in deep coma, a vegetative state, and all the higher functions of my brain were offline. Scans showed no conscious activity whatever — my brain was not malfunctioning, it was completely unplugged.

But my inner self still existed, in defiance of all the known laws of science.

Magical: He said he found himself as a speck of awareness on a butterfly wing, among pulsing swarms of millions of other butterflies

For seven days, as I lay in that unresponsive coma, my consciousness went on a voyage through a series of realms, each one more extraordinary than the last — a journey beyond the physical world and one that, until then, I would certainly have dismissed as impossible.

For thousands of years, ordinary people as well as shamans and mystics have described brief, wonderful glimpses of ethereal realms. I’m not the first person to have discovered that consciousness exists beyond the body.

What is unique in my case is that I am, as far as scientific records show, the only person to have travelled to this heavenly dimension with the cortex in complete shut-down, while under minute observation throughout.

There are medical records for every minute of my coma, and none of them show any indication of brain activity. In other words, as far as neuroscience can say, my journey was not something happening inside my head.

Plenty of scientists have a lot of difficulty with this statement. My experience undermines their whole belief system. But the one place I have found ready acceptance is in church, where my story often tallies with people’s expectations.

Even the deep notes of the church organ and the glorious colours of the stained glass seem to echo faintly the sights and sounds of Heaven.

Here, then, is what I experienced: my map of Heaven.

After the blinding headache, when I had slipped into the coma, I gradually became aware of being in a primitive, primordial state that felt like being buried in earth.

It was, however, not ordinary earth, for all around me I sensed, and sometimes heard and saw, other entities.

It was partly horrific, partly comforting and familiar: I felt like I had always been part of this primal murk.

I am often asked, ‘Was this hell?’ but I don’t think it was — I would expect hell to be at least a little bit interactive, and this was a completely passive experience.

I had forgotten what it was even to be human, but one important part of my personality was still hard at work: I had a sense of curiosity. I would ask, ‘Who? What? Where?’ and there was never a flicker of response.

After an expanse of time had passed, though I can’t begin to guess how long, a light came slowly down from above, throwing off marvellous filaments of living silver and golden effulgence.

It was a circular entity, emitting a beautiful, heavenly music that I called the Spinning Melody. The light opened up like a rip in the fabric of that coarse realm, and I felt myself going through the rip, up into a valley full of lush and fertile greenery, where waterfalls flowed into crystal pools.

There were clouds, like marshmallow puffs of pink and white. Behind them, the sky was a rich blue-black.

This world was not vague. It was deeply, piercingly alive, and as vivid as the aroma of fried chicken, as dazzling as the glint of sunlight off the metalwork of a car, and as startling as the impact of first love.

I know perfectly well how crazy my account sounds, and I sympathise with those who cannot accept it. Like a lot of things in life, it sounds pretty far-fetched till you experience it yourself.

Despite scans showing his brain was not functioning, Dr Alexander had a vivid experience

There were trees, fields, animals and people. There was water, too, flowing in rivers or descending as rain. Mists rose from the pulsing surfaces of these waters, and fish glided beneath them.

Like the earth, the water was deeply familiar. It was as though all the most beautiful waterscapes I ever saw on earth had been beautiful precisely because they were reminding me of this living water. My gaze wanted to travel into it, deeper and deeper.

This water seemed higher, and more pure than anything I had experienced before, as if it was somehow closer to the original source.

I had stood and admired oceans and rivers across America, from Carolina beaches to west coast streams, but suddenly they all seemed to be lesser versions, little brothers and sisters of this living water.

That’s not to denigrate the seas and lakes and thunderstorms that I’ve marvelled at throughout my life. It is simply to say that I now see all the earth’s waters in a new perspective, just as I see all natural beauties in a new way.

In Heaven, everything is more real — less dense, yet at the same time more intense.

Heaven is as vast, various and populated as earth is ... in fact, infinitely more so. But in all this vast variety, there is not that sense of otherness that characterises our world, where each thing is alone by itself and has nothing directly to do with the other things around it.

Nothing is isolated in Heaven. Nothing is alienated. Nothing is disconnected. Everything is one.

I found myself as a speck of awareness on a butterfly wing, among pulsing swarms of millions of other butterflies. I witnessed stunning blue-black velvety skies filled with swooping orbs of golden light, angelic choirs leaving sparkling trails against the billowing clouds.

Those choirs produced hymns and anthems far beyond anything I had ever encountered on earth. The sound was colossal: an echoing chant that seemed to soak me without making me wet.

All my senses had blended. Seeing and hearing were not separate functions. It was as if I could hear the grace and elegance of the airborne creatures, and see the spectacular music that burst out of them.

Even before I began to wonder who or what they were, I understood that they made the music because they could not contain it. It was the sound of sheer joy. They could no more hold it in than you could fill your lungs and never breathe out.

Simply to experience the music was to join in with it. That was the oneness of Heaven — to hear a sound was to be part of it. Everything was connected to everything else, like the infinitely complex swirls on a Persian carpet or a butterfly’s wing. And I was flying on that carpet, riding on that wing.

Above the sky, there was a vast array of larger universes that I came to call an ‘over-sphere’, and I ascended until I reached the Core, that deepest sanctuary of the Divine — infinite inky blackness, filled to overflowing with indescribable, unconditional love.

There I encountered the infinitely powerful, all-knowing deity whom I later called Om, because of the sound that vibrated through that realm. I learned lessons there of a depth and beauty entirely beyond my capacity to explain.

During this voyage, I had a guide. She was an extraordinarily beautiful woman who first appeared as I rode, as that speck of awareness, on the wing of that butterfly.

I’d never seen this woman before. I didn’t know who she was. Yet her presence was enough to heal my heart, to make me whole in a way I’d never known was possible. Her face was unforgettable. Her eyes were deep blue, and her cheekbones were high. Her face was surrounded by a frame of honey-brown hair.

She wore a smock, like a peasant’s, woven from sheer colour — indigo, powder-blue and pastel shades of orange and peach. When she looked at me, I felt such an abundance of emotion that, if nothing good had ever happened to me before, the whole of my life would have been worth living for that expression in her eyes alone.

Dr Alexander became a neurosurgeon and an academic who taught brain science at Harvard Medical School

It was not romantic love. It was not friendship. It was far beyond all the different compartments of love we have on earth. Without actually speaking, she let me know that I was loved and cared for beyond measure and that the universe was a vaster, better, and more beautiful place than I could ever have dreamed.

I was an irreplaceable part of the whole (like all of us), and all the sadness and fear I had ever suffered was a result of my somehow having forgotten this most central of facts.

Her message went through me like a breath of wind. It’s hard to put it into words, but the essence was this: ‘You are loved and cherished, dearly, for ever. You have nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong.’

It was, then, an utterly wonderful experience.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, I had been in my coma for seven days and showing no signs of improvement. The doctors were just deciding whether to continue with life support, when I suddenly regained consciousness. My eyes just popped open, and I was back. I had no memories of my earthly life, but knew full well where I had been.

I had to relearn everything: who, what, and where I was. Over days, then weeks, like a gently falling snow, my old, earthly knowledge came back.

Words and language returned within hours and days. With the love and gentle coaxing of my family and friends, other memories emerged.

By eight weeks, my prior knowledge of science, including the experiences and learning from more than two decades spent as a neurosurgeon in teaching hospitals, returned completely. That full recovery remains a miracle without any explanation from modern medicine.

But I was a different person from the one I had been. The things I had seen and experienced while gone from my body did not fade away, as dreams and hallucinations do. They stayed.

Above all, that image of the woman on the butterfly wing haunted me.

And then, four months after coming out of my coma, I received a picture in the mail.

As a result of my earlier investigations to make contact with my biological family, a relative had sent me a photograph of my sister Betsy — the sister I’d never known.

The shock of recognition was total. This was the face of the woman on the butterfly wing.

The moment I realised this, something crystallised inside me.

That photo was the confirmation that I’d needed. This was proof, beyond reproach, of the objective reality of my experience.

From then on, I was back in the old, earthly world I’d left behind before my coma struck, but as a genuinely new person.

I had been reborn.And as I shall reveal on Monday, I am by no means the only one to have glimpsed the afterlife — and the wonders it holds.




Shemitah author says day of reckoning all but certain due to debt, disobedience

Published: October 18, 2014


Wall Street stock traders have a lot to be nervous about in the months ahead.

Is it possible that a 3,000-year-old text holds the secret to explaining the growing panic on Wall Street and the reason behind a more than 1,000 point dip in the U.S. stock market since Sept. 25?

And could that same ancient text provide the key reason behind a more serious collapse of the stock market looming in September 2015?

Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, the author of the New York Times bestselling book “The Harbinger” has written a sequel, “The Mystery of the Shemitah,” in which he decodes an ancient biblical mystery of a seven-year cycle he believes determines stock market peaks as well as turning points and crashes. In the book he forewarns of painful rollbacks in stock values that mark the beginning of major economic declines once every seven years as measured on the Hebrew calendar.

Cahn’s warning comes as savvy investors like Warren Buffett dump stocks of blue-chip companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods, complaining of “disappointing performance,” while fellow billionaire John Paulson, who made his fortune betting on the sub-prime market meltdown, is dumping stocks out of his hedge fund, Paulson & Co. He shed 14 million shares of JPMorgan Chase and dumped his entire stock investment in discount retailer Family Dollar and consumer-goods maker Sara Lee.

The widely read financial blog ZeroHedge.com added to the list of billionaire investors preparing for a market downturn – a list that already includes the names of Sam Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments, George Soros and Carl Ichan.

Cahn writes of market collapses as the “ancient mystery moving across the globe,” from the New York Stock Exchange to major stock exchanges worldwide, “in one vast colossal Shemitah, nullifying,

canceling, wiping clean, and transforming the financial realms of nations.”

The Shemitah was also known as the year of “release” in biblical times, when Israel was required to let its farm land lie fallow and forgive the debts owed to creditors. It is described in Leviticus 25 and Deuteronomy 15, among other Old Testament scriptures.

A major stock market collapse in September 2015, prefigured by the current stock market decline, is compatible with the cycle Cahn predicts, as God imposes a Shemitah on a stock market boom fueled by debt as a consequence of the Federal Reserve’s policy of “Quantitative Easing,” which is the name it gives for printing trillions of dollars through the purchase of U.S. Treasury debt.

The more debt that an economy has to work out, the more severe the downturn, a financial expert warned in a recent report by WND.

WND has repeatedly warned that a major stock market correction becomes more likely once interest rates rise in response to the Fed chair “tapering” or pulling back on QE borrowing, with its stated goal of ending all Fed purchases of Treasury debt by year-end.

“The majority of the greatest point crashes in [stock market] history just happen to take place in a very small period of time that comes around once in seven years, which also just happens to be on the same biblical calendar for manifesting the massive financial repercussions of the seventh year,” Cahn warns.

Cahn advances his theory by tying a series of stock market crashes dating back to 1973 under President Jimmy Carter with a biblical calendar still followed by observant Jews. This calendar, which most Christians are not familiar with, unlocks the secret of the seven-year cycle of stock market collapse occurring during the months of September-October. Cahn believes it would be foolish to dismiss this recurrent pattern, found in the Old Testament of the Bible, as mere coincidence.

He concludes:

- The greatest financial turning points of the past forty years have been connected to the Shemitah or in its wake 100 percent of the time.

- The greatest financial turning points, peaks, or long-term collapses of the past 40 years that have taken place within the biblical Year of the Shemitah or its autumn wake is 100 percent of the time.

- Where there has been both a financial collapse and an economic recession, the period connecting their starting points has fallen within the biblical Shemitah 100 percent of the time.

- Thus, from the 40-year period beginning of the turning point in 1973, every single one of the five greatest financial and economic peaks and collapses have converged, clustered, and taken place according to the set time of the Shemitah.

- Cahn begins to decipher the 3,000-year-old mystery by applying the biblical admonition to keep the Sabbath a holy day reserved to prayer and worshiping God not only to the seventh day in a week – traditionally observed on Saturday in the Jewish calendar, beginning at sundown on Friday – but also to the seventh year in a cycle.

- “During the Sabbath year the people of Israel were to leave their fields, vineyards, and groves for the poor,” Cahn notes.

- “For the duration of the year the land belonged, in effect, to everyone. And whatever grew of its own accord was called hefker, meaning ‘without an owner.’ So during the Sabbath year the land, in effect, belonged to everyone and to no one at the same time.”

- Cahn explains a biblical admonition that the last day of the Sabbath year a sweeping transformation took place in ancient Israel in which everyone who owed a debt was released, and the nation’s financial accounts were wiped clean in what amounted to “Israel’s day of nullification and remission.”

He says the original Hebrew command ordains that every creditor should “make a Shemitah” that translates as a command to “grant a release.”

“The word Shemitah is most often translated as ‘the release’ or ‘the remission,’” he writes.

“The idea of a nation ceasing all work on its land for an entire year is a radical proposition. No less radical is the idea of a day in which all credit and debt are wiped away. The ramifications of these two requirements are so great that concerns arose in later generations as to the Shemitah’s financial and economic consequences. These concerns were intensified when the Jewish people returned to the land of Israel in modern times.”

Cahn concludes that the Shemitah, according to biblical admonitions, “declares that God is first and above all realms of life, and must therefore be put first and above every realm. During the Shemitah Israel was, in effect, compelled to turn away from these earthly or worldly realms and return to their spiritual.”

When God is removed from the equation, as is increasingly happening in modern, secular America, then a removal of God’s blessings inevitably follows.

“The Shemitah thus deals with a particular flaw of human nature – the tendency to divorce the blessings of life from the Giver of those blessings, to divorce the physical realm from the spiritual,” he continues.

“It then seeks to compensate for the loss of the spiritual by increasing its claims over the physical world, pursuing more and more things, increase, gain – materialism. The increase of things, in turn, further crowds out the presence of God. The Shemitah is the antidote to all these things – the clearing away of material attachments to allow the work and presence of God to come in.”

Cahn sees major stock market downturns as fulfilling God’s law by nullifying financial accounts lost in the market collapse.

Cahn calculated the next Shemitah began at sundown on Sept. 24, and will end at sunset on Sept. 13, 2015, and he predicted that the stock market could begin to fall as early as October of 2014, a fall that is already underway.

But he cautions against taking these dates too literally.

“Nothing significant has to happen within the Shemitah of 2014-2015,” he writes.

“The phenomenon may manifest in one cycle, and not in another, and then again in the next. And the focus of the message is not date-setting but the call of God to repent and return. At the same time, something of significance could take place, and it is wise to note the times.”

Cahn’s message is that the judgment of God is inevitable for any nation like America that forgets our blessings come from God.

“The warning here is this,” he concludes. “If America continues on its present course, its place as the head of nations will fall and the American age and global order will be allowed to collapse.”


RT News

Israeli society sick with violence – country’s president

Published time: October 20, 2014 08:34

Edited time: October 20, 2014 12:55

Israel is suffering from an epidemic of violence that must be treated, the country’s President Reuven Rivlin said. After the latest bloody conflict in Gaza, Jews and Arabs seem to have lost the capacity for dialogue, as relations have reached a new low.

It is time to honestly admit that Israeli society is sick – and it is our duty to treat this disease,” Rivlin told the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities at a xenophobia conference on Sunday in Jerusalem.

The tension between Jews and Arabs within the State of Israel has risen to record heights, and the relationship between all parties has reached a new low,” he said, as cited by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

We have all witnessed the shocking sequence of incidents and violence taking place by both sides. The epidemic of violence is not limited to one sector or another, it permeates every area and doesn’t skip any arena. There is violence in soccer stadiums as well as in academia. There is violence in social media and in everyday discourse, in hospitals and in schools.”

He added that he personally endured verbal abuse, including on his Facebook page.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (AFP Photo / Pool / Ronen Zvulun)

Israeli society has taken a right-wing swing amid the latest escalation in Gaza this summer. The violence erupted after the kidnaping and subsequent murder of three Jewish teenagers, which triggered a major crackdown by the Israeli security forces in Gaza strip.

As hundreds of Palestinians were subjected to searches and arrests in the search for abductees and homes of suspects were demolished, violent clashes erupted. In Israel, a group of Jewish nationalists was arrested after allegedly abducting and burning alive an Arab teenager in revenge for the crime against Jewish teens. Three people were inducted and reportedly planned to plead insanity during the trial.

Speaking of acts of violence perpetrated by Jews, Rivlin said: “I’m not asking if they’ve forgotten how to be Jews, but if they’ve forgotten how to be decent human beings. Have they forgotten how to converse?”

The tension escalated into a seven-week military campaign as radical movement Hamas fired rockets at Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces retaliated with air strikes and a ground incursion. The conflict claimed an estimated 2,200 lives, most of them Palestinian civilians.

The military action was largely supported by the Israeli population, with a total of 92 percent of Israeli Jews saying it was justified, according to the monthly Peace Index poll published in August in the aftermath of the operation.

Today almost 75 percent of Israeli Jews oppose the creation of a Palestinian state along the lines of 1967 – a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict championed by many international mediators, according to a mid-October poll published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Among respondents, who identified themselves as left-wing, opponents of such a move are a majority, comprising over 51 percent.

Rivlin stated that academia had a crucial role in mending the rift through educating parties of each other’s cultures.

The academic sphere, in which cultures and languages are taught from a desire to get to know them deeper, where there is a ‘you and I’ affinity, there is a place which generates not only learning but also a real encounter,” he said.



U.S.: East Jerusalem settlement expansion will 'poison atmosphere'

Israeli nonprofit Peace Now published a statement Wednesday ahead of Netanyahu's meeting with Obama, drawing attention to the approval of 2,610 units earlier this month; Jerusalem municipality: Plan is not new.

Map of Givat Hamatos. Photo by Google

Israel's decision to move forward its plan for 2,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem will "poison the atmosphere" and call into question Israel's commitment to peace, the U.S. State Department and White House said Wednesday.

Israeli nonprofit Peace Now published a statement condemning the plan to build new housing units in Givat Hamatos Wednesday, ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

Although the Jerusalem Municipality published its approval of the plans to build the units last week, the plan was already approved in early December 2012 by a planning committee.

Peace Now explained that the publication of the approval "is the last step before tenders can be issued and construction can start." It charged that the plan was "destructive to the two-state solution," and accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to "destroy the possibility" of peace.

"This is not a new plan," the Jerusalem Municipality said in response, accusing Peace Now of creating a "provocation" and adding that the housing units are intended for Jews and Arabs.

U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the step would send a "troubling message" if the Israeli government proceeded with tenders and construction. "This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations," Psaki told a briefing.

In addition, it would "call into question Israel's ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement," she added.

At a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday, the prime minister said that he remains "committed to the vision of peace for two states for two peoples."

A source familiar with the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu said that the U.S. president raised the issue of settlement construction during their talks, but that he did not specifically mention the Silwan or Givat Hamatos neighborhoods. Obama emphasized that the settlement construction feeds a cycle of provocations, and added that amid the ongoing efforts to stop and soften Palestinian steps at the United Nations, settlement construction would be even more damaging.

Shortly before the meeting, a source in Netanyahu's entourage responded to Peace Now's statement, saying: "We're used to the fact that before every meeting the prime minister has with the U.S. president, somebody tries to sabotage it," Haaretz reported earlier.

Obama told Netanyahu at the meeting that the status quo between Israel and the Palestinians, in Gaza and the West Bank, must change in order to advance peace.



Israeli settlers criticised for overnight move into hotly disputed East Jerusalem

Jewish families and religious studies students will soon move into two newly bought properties, doubling the Jewish presence in that section of Silwan



Monday 20 October 2014

Israeli settlers have provoked criticism after moving overnight into a building in the hotly disputed area of East Jerusalem.

“We did it at night because there is less chance of friction with the Arabs,” said Daniel Luria, spokesman for the Ateret Cohanim organisation behind the move.

Ateret Cohanim, which settles Jews in Arab areas of East Jerusalem, said it facilitated the purchase of the two buildings from their Arab owners. Mr Luria said the buildings contain nine apartments and that Jewish families and religious studies students would soon move into the properties, immediately doubling the Jewish presence in that section of Silwan.

Last month Jewish settlers took over six properties in another area of Silwan, in the biggest settler acquisition in the neighbourhood since Jews began moving there two decades ago. The White House called the move a provocation, but the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the settlement is just a question of Jews being able to buy property in Israel’s capital.

But in fact the government pays for the settlers’ security guards. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin criticised the way the homes were occupied, however. He is a supporter of Jews moving to the Arab area, but said Jerusalem cannot be a city “where sneaking into apartments is done in the cover of night”.



Abbas warns of legal measures against Israeli ‘aggression’ on Al-Aqsa mosque

Published time: October 19, 2014 04:15

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas warned that his government will seek international “legal measures” to deal with Israeli “aggression” against Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.

“The Palestinian leadership will be taking the necessary legal measures, at the international level, regarding the aggression of settlers on the Al-Aqsa mosque,” Abbas said in a speech to the Revolutionary Council of his Fatah party, as quoted by AFP. “We will not allow settlers to attack the mosque.”

Abbas' statements follow comments made by Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal on Friday, in which he urged Muslims to “defend” the holy mosque after Israeli forces restricted entrance for Palestinians.

“We call on all our people inside the country to hurry up to al-Aqsa to defend it,” Meshaal said in a statement from Doha, Qatar. “We call on the nation to be angry and to send a message of painful anger to the world that the Palestinian people, the Arab and Muslim nation, will not be silent at the Israeli crime.”

Meshaal accused Israel of trying to seize the site, which is considered holy for both Muslims and Jews.

Palestinian protesters run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes at a protest to show solidarity with al-Aqsa mosque, outside Israel's Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah October 17, 2014.(Reuters / Ammar Awad)

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police erupted near the mosque on Friday. Law enforcement officers fired stun grenades after Palestinians threw stones close to the mosque.

Around 400 people gathered at the entrance to the compound, protesting restrictions put in place to only allow Palestinians over the age of 50 to enter the site, which is considered the third holiest shrine in Islam.

The demonstrators also spoke out against Jews having access to the premises. On Wednesday, around 100 Israelis were given access to the square outside the mosque, accompanied by foreign tourists. However, Jews are not allowed to pray at the site for fear it could cause disturbances and protests from Muslims.

Abbas said that the presence of Jews desecrates the site, pledging to ban settlers from entering the Al-Aqsa compound “by any means.”

“It is our scared place, al-Aqsa [mosque] is ours, this Noble Sanctuary [as Muslims refer to the Temple Mount] is ours. They have no right to go there and desecrate it,” Israel Radio quoted Abbas as saying on Friday.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded to Abbas, saying the Palestinian leader was “trying to inflame the situation by using the most sensitive place, the Temple Mount.” He called Abbas' comments “a religious war,” accusing him and the Palestinian Authority of being “behind the riots” at the compound.

Both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque are located at Temple Mount. It is considered to be Judaism's holiest place, as it is where the ruins of the two temples of Jerusalem are located.

The heightened tensions come as the UN ambassador of the Palestine Territories – a non-member observer within the organization – said that the Palestinian government is seeking a UN Security Council vote on a resolution in the next two months that would set a deadline of November 2016 –for the IDF to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.



Senators have agreed to recognise Palestine as an independent state

The Seanad is now calling on the Dáil to do the same.

Palestinian school children walk through destroyed houses in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood last Sunday. Image: AP/Press Association Images/Photo Text content

THE SEANAD HAS passed a motion calling on the Irish Government to formally recognise the State of Palestine.

Last week, 31 of the upper house’s 60 members signed the motion which was proposed by Fianna Fáil’s Averil Power.

Fine Gael senators met to discuss their position on the motion yesterday and it was passed earlier today without a vote.

Power said it was important that the international community “sends out a clear message of support for the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination” following a seven-week period of intense fighting in the Gaza region during the summer.

According to UN figures, 2,138 Palestinians, almost three-quarters of them civilians, and 68 on the Israeli side, nearly all of them soldiers, were killed in Israeli air strikes and tank shelling.

If Ireland were to officially recognise the State of Palestine, it would become the second EU country to do so, after Sweden.

Other European countries such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia recognise Palestine, but they did so before joining the 28-member bloc.

The motion stated:

Seanad Éireann calls on the Government to formally recognise the State of Palestine and do everything it can at the international level to help secure a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The more countries that recognise the State of Palestine, the greater the pressure on Israel to end its illegal occupation and agree to a long-term peace agreement in the region.

Ireland has traditionally been vocal in our support for the Palestinian people and proactive in lobbying on their behalf internationally.

“We should now be to the forefront of international efforts to secure full recognition for the Palestinian State and deliver a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Power stated.

The Mission of the State of Palestine group welcomed the news.

“On behalf of the Palestinian people, we would like to extend our gratitude to the Seanad, the Government and the Irish people for their continued support of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and to achieve an independent State of Palestine based on a two-state solution.”

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign congratulated the Seanad for passing the motion, with their spokesperson Freda Hughes saying that it was an important expression of support for Palestinian statehood.



Storm God Worship: Ancient Cult Complex Discovered in Israel

by Owen Jarus | October 13, 2014 08:28am ET

The foundations of the ancient cult complex in Israel were made of field stone (shown here).

Credit: Photo courtesy Professor Itzhaq Shai.

A massive cult complex, dating back about 3,300 years, has been discovered at the site of Tel Burna in Israel.

While archaeologists have not fully excavated the cult complex, they can tell it was quite large, as the courtyard alone was 52 by 52 feet (16 by 16 meters). Inside the complex, researchers discovered three connected cups, fragments of facemasks, massive jars that are almost as big as a person and burnt animal bones that may indicate sacrificial rituals.

The archaeologists said they aren't sure who was worshipped at the complex, though Baal, the Canaanite storm god, is a possibility. "The letters of Ugarit [an ancient site in modern-day Syria] suggest that of the Canaanite pantheon, Baal, the Canaanite storm god, would have been the most likely candidate," Itzhaq Shai, a professor at Ariel University who is directing a research project at Tel Burna, told Live Science in an email.


RIA Novosti

Russian FM said he is not interested in Western opinion of the present status of Crimea as well as other domestic issues within the country.

© RIA Novosti. Mikhail Voskresensky

13:46 23/10/2014

Updated 2:45 p.m. Moscow time

SOCHI, October 23 (RIA Novosti) –

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday he was uninterested in the West's opinion of the present status of Crimea as well as other domestic issues within the country.

"I'm not interested in the West's opinion about this and am equally not interested in its opinion in regard to other domestic issues within the Russian Federation," Lavrov said on the sidelines of the Valdai discussion forum in response to the question of whether the West would continue to insist on Russia returning the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine.

In March, Crimea reunified with Russia, following a referendum on the status of the region, with 96 percent of the voters supporting the move. The Ukrainian government and the West refused to recognize the results of the vote, calling it illegal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in a speech following the vote pointed out that the referendum was held in full compliance with democratic procedures and international laws.

Head of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov said earlier he did not rule out that the Western countries would eventually recognize the republic.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on October 17 that it was the Kiev authorities that had forced Crimea to rejoin Russia, as the Ukrainian revolution was hostile toward Russian-speaking citizens, which form the larger part of the Crimean population.



Frontline Isis: The Real Story of Narin Afrini and the Kurdish Female 'Lions' Terrorising Islamic State

By Uzay Bulut in Ankara 
October 15, 2014 11:31 BST

A Kurdish Peshmerga female fighter takes up a position during combat skills training before being deployed to fight Islamic State militants, at their military camp in Sulaimaniya, northern Iraq. (Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)

Besieged since September 15, the Kurdish-majority city of Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan has mounted an all-out resistance to Isis (Islamic State) backed by state power and superior weaponry. This resistance, like our earlier struggle against Jabhat al-Nusra, has been empowered, if not led, by Kurdish female fighters.

Ever since Kurdistan was divided among Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran in the 1920s, self-defence against occupiers and aggressors has been a natural part of its people's daily lives. Throughout all those years, Kurdish female fighters have fought side-by-side with men.

During the 1925 Sheikh Said and 1938 Dersim resistance movements against the Turkish regime, for instance, women armed themselves and fought alongside men. Telli Xanim, a guerilla and the wife of the Kurdish general Yado, a commander of the 1925 Sheikh Said resistance, is an idol of female Kurdish fighters today. Similarly, Zerîfe Xanim, the wife of Elîsêr, a Kurdish poet and politician who commanded the 1938 Dersim resistance, fought and died alongside her husband.

Among other leading symbols of Kurdish national female heroism are Margaret Shello, who at the age of 20 joined the ranks of the Peshmerga in their fight against the Iraqi Ba'ath regime, and Leyla Qasim, a Kurdish freedom fighter who was hanged by the Iraqi Ba'ath regime at age 22 while studying at Baghdad University.

The story of Narin Afrini

Today, due to the current escalation of the Isis attacks against the Kurds in Kobani, a new chapter of heroism is being written by Kurdish female fighters of the YPJ (Women's Protection Unit) which is affiliated with the People's Protection Unit (YPG), an armed group which is an official part of the autonomous administration of Syrian Kurdistan.

One of the most important figures of this resistance, and a subject of global curiosity, is the leader of the YPJ (Women's Protection Unit), Narin Afrini. Otherwise known as Maysa Abdo, she is the military commander of all YPJ female fighters in Kobani.

Kadar Sheikhmous, an independent Kurdish political consultant from the Kurdish region of Qamishli and co-founder of the Shar Development Organisation, told IBTimes UK: "Neither [Narin nor Maysa] is her real name, they are pseudonyms for the same person. And the photographs that are circulating of her are not her.

"She is a 40-year-old fighter who has been fighting for 20 years in the ranks of HPG/PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party.] Before going to Kobani, she was fighting in Cezire, in the region of Qamishli, and she has been deployed in Kobani for a year and a half now.

"Ever since Isis started its attacks, the checkpoints of the YPJ [Women's Protection Unit] in Kobani have not withdrawn and have stayed in their positions. They have resisted many fierce attacks by Isis and shown competent armed force... many army brigades in both Syria and Iraq couldn't stand such attacks."

Kurdish female fighters of the Women's Protection Unit (YPJ) wage a battle to retain control over Kobani.Reuters

Lions with bullets in their pockets

Regarding the character of the female fighters, Sheikhmous says: "Most of these women were civilians before the outbreak of the war; some of them were university students. [Now] they always keep one bullet in their pockets so they don't get arrested by Isis."

Kenan Fani Dogan, a Kurdish political refugee, activist and blogger based in Stockholm, said that "the Kurdish society has always perceived female fighters as a symbol of bravery and valor.

"There is a common Kurdish saying about that: "Şêr şêre çi jine, çi mêre'', which means 'a lion is a lion – be it a female or male.' This mentality has developed even more today with Kurds who lean to and support the women's liberation and their right to have leading roles in all aspects of life.

"Both women politicians and fighters are hugely respected by the society. Kurds believe that women can take on all tasks including fighting and that the women's liberation and equal participation in social life will help liberate and develop the whole society.

“'We have always perceived female fighters as a symbol of bravery and valor.'”

"This is the same for female fighters in Kobani, as well. It is a great opportunity for Kurds that Kurdish women have skills more advanced than those of men, both in political administration and armed resistance. Kurdish female fighters have the support and admiration of all sections of the Kurdish society.

"I can even say that despite Kurds' political dividedness over many issues, their trust in and respect of their female fighters is the main subject that they entirely agree on. And I hope that female Kurdish fighters will set an example for all women to shatter the persecution imposed on them."

Kejê Bêmal, a Kurdish human rights activist and writer based in Antalya, told IB Times UK that "Contrary to what is believed, Kurds come from a matriarchal culture so female Kurdish fighters are not a new phenomenon in the Kurdish history. As a natural outcome of living in an occupied land, Kurds - with their children, men and women - have a fighting spirit in a defensive manner.

"Kurdish women have never left the men alone in their fights. The primary reason for that is that during wars, women are seen as spoils of war. So Kurdish women have tried to defeat that ill fate and defend themselves by fighting alongside men."

Women are the equals of men - and they can drag us forward

Hatice Cevik, an administrator of the Ankara branch of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and an activist of the Democratic and Free Women Movement which is affiliated with the BDP, told IBTimes UK that gender equality is one of the most important principles of their party.

"Women are leading figures in our political movement. Our stance is that men and women are completely equal," she said.

"We have the biggest respect for the YPJ [Women's Protection Unit] because to us, the revolution in Rojava Kurdistan [Syrian Kurdistan] is a female revolution. All of the values we have embraced so far are realized in Rojava Kurdistan.

"Not all women fighting in Rojava Kurdistan right now were fighters before the war got started. They were women working or studying. Some of them were housewives. But now all of them have joined the YPJ forces and are resisting Isis. This resistance is our honour. Women in Kobani are fighting for their freedom and Kurdish men are also proud of that."

Kemal Bulbul, the head of the Pir Sultan Abdal Alevi Cultural Association, and a columnist of the pro-Kurdish Ozgur Gundem newspaper in Turkey, said that the female fighters in Syrian Kurdistan have the potential to lead the way for a new women's liberation movement in the Middle East.

"I believe that what Kurdish female fighters have been doing in Kobani will create a new women's enlightenment for the whole region. In many countries in the Middle East, women are severely persecuted.

"When ISIS took over Mosul, it proclaimed that women should only go outside if absolutely necessary. In such a region, Kurdish female fighters and politicians have become the leading figures of their society. And that is a female renaissance, a female revolution in the Middle East."

There are still some countries which discuss whether women may drive cars or vote. The struggle of Kurdish women in Kobani can shake the system of such backward countries. And this is one of the reasons why Isis, the AKP government and Arab states oppose the self-rule of Kurds in Syrian Kurdistan."



ISIL terrorist leader is CIA agent: Chechen president

Ibrahim Samarraii, the leader of the Takfiri ISIL terrorist group (file photo)

Wed Oct 22, 2014 11:9AM GMT

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov says the ISIL terrorist group's leader, Ibrahim Samarrai who is known by the alias Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, works for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and is financially supported by western secret services.

"Baghdadi should take off his mask and declare loudly and clearly that he is a CIA agent, that he has been recruited,” Kadyrov said on Tuesday, adding, “They (the ISIL militants) are Shaitans (devils) and their sole obsession is to grab as much money as they can lay hands on. They are acting on orders from the West and deliberately exterminating Muslims.”

The Chechen leader called on Samarrai to confess to committing atrocities including the massacre of Muslims.

“He must openly confess that he is killing his brothers in faith, to apologize to his coreligionists and to disband his gang."

Kadyrov further noted that the western secret services have supported the terrorists by all possible means.

He also warned those Chechens who join the ISIL Takfiris that they will not be allowed to return to their homeland.

According to the president, his forces are trying to hunt down and eliminate Samarrai and other ISIL militants.

The ISIL terrorists currently control swathes of territory across Syria and Iraq. They have been committing heinous crimes in the captured areas, including mass executions and beheading of people.

A US Intelligence report, published in June, says 12,000 militants from 81 nationalities have joined the ISIL terrorists in Iraq and Syria.



The entry of Ebola into the US has hallmarks of a planned happening

A picture taken in Oshodi Heritage park in Nigeria’s Lagos on October 20, 2014 shows an electronic information board on Ebola.

Wed Oct 22, 2014 2:13AM GMT

More information is available that suggests the government had advance information that Ebola was coming to the US and that the government expects a much larger outbreak of the disease in the US than it admits.

Keep in mind that Washington is evil and has been killing people in seven countries for thirteen years based entirely on lies. Keep in mind that Washington has a long list of countries that it has destabilized. Most recently, Washington overthrew the elected government in Ukraine and is currently working on the remaining independent governments in the Middle East, Russia, and China as Tony Cartalucci’s article documents. For six case studies of how Washington overthrows governments read The Brothers.

Here is a report from Natural News.

The US government knew about the outbreak in advance, but didn’t warn the public.

It’s now clear that the US government has long known this outbreak was coming but did nothing to warn the public.

In early September, the government sought to purchase 160,000 Ebola hazmat suits from a US supplier.

Furthermore, according to this report on SHTFplan.com, “Disaster Assistance Response Teams were told to prepare to be activated in the month of October.”

Don’t you find it strange that while the government itself was gearing up for an October disaster, the public wasn’t told a thing about any of this?

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.



Fukushima nuclear waste detected off U.S. West Coast, from California to Canada — “There is definitely offshore Fukushima cesium now” — Test results will not be revealed to public for several weeks.


TV: Unprecedented catastrophe underway at Fukushima… Radioactive material will keep coming across to North America for centuries — Gundersen: Melted nuclear fuel to bleed into ocean for decades, perhaps centuries… Entire Pacific is being contaminated


Natural News

14 California communities now on verge of waterless-ness; mass migration out of California seems imminent

Monday, October 20, 2014 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Unless California gets some heavy rain, and soon, the state's roughly 38 million residents will eventually be up a creek without a paddle -- or without a creek, for that matter. The latest media reports indicate that some 14 communities throughout the state are now on the verge of running completely dry, and many more could join them in the coming year if conditions remain as they are.

A few months ago, the official count was 28 communities bordering on complete waterless-ness, according to the Water Resources Control Board. Those that have since dropped off the list were able to come up with a fix, at least for now. The other 14, though, face an unprecedented resource collapse that could leave thousands of Californians with no other choice but to pack their bags and head to greener pastures.

"It's a sign of how severe this drought is," verbalized Bruce Burton, an assistant deputy director for the board, to the Los Angeles Times about some of the drastic measures being taken. For the first time ever, the water board has begun tracking communities throughout the state that are bordering on complete water loss, a situation that has never before occurred.

Most of the communities on the brink are located in California's Central Valley, the "food basket" of America that The New York Times (NYT) once declared to be the nation's greatest food resource. Most of America's carrots are grown there, as are the bulk of salad greens, almonds and citrus fruits that we all take for granted -- but that could soon disappear due to the continued drought.

'Larger, more sophisticated communities' face total water depletion

In some stricken areas, water facilities have been able to secure temporary supplies from neighboring communities as they figure out longer-term solutions. In Siskiyou County near the Oregon border, the city of Montague was actually able to construct a brand-new irrigation ditch to transport water from a lake 25 miles away, replacing an old ditch that had run dry back in April.

While most of the communities facing total water depletion are relatively small in size, with only a few thousand residents each, the prospect of larger communities also becoming affected is increasingly likely. Tom Quinn, the executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, says that, if the drought continues, many of the more iconic regions of California will suffer.

"If this drought keeps on going, some larger, more sophisticated communities are going to be in trouble next year," he told the LA Times.

Mountains shifting due to water losses

It isn't just that no new water is coming into California -- underground aquifers and other former backup sources are also running dry. According to research published in the journal Science, the entire Western United states has lost an astounding 240 gigatons of water since 2013, an amount equivalent to 1 billion tons.

In spatial terms, this amount of water could be spread out across the entire Western U.S. in a solid 10-centimeter sheet, constituting about 63 trillion gallons, or enough to fill 75,000 football stadiums. This loss has not only altered the gravitational field of California, according to the study, but also caused mountains throughout the state to rise up out of the ground in some areas.

"100 percent of the state is in drought, with 82 percent of the land designated as in 'extreme' or 'exceptional' drought, the highest levels on the U.S. Drought Monitor scale," explains the National Journal. "Thirty-seven million people are affected by the drought."









UK hackers face life imprisonment, threat to whistleblowers – activists

Published time: October 23, 2014 16:36

Internet users who ‘threaten’ national security, by causing economic or environmental damage, could face a life sentence under new government plans to crack down on internet crime. Campaigners say the move will target whistleblowers.

The government proposal claims the laws are needed to deal with “catastrophic” cyber-attacks that “result in loss of life, serious illness and injury, or serious damage to national security, or a significant risk thereof.”

Proposals would update the existing Computer Misuse Act 1990, and would give judges the power to hand down harsher penalties on hackers. The laws would also incorporate internet users spying on the activities of UK businesses.

Serious and organized crime blights lives and causes misery across the UK. It is a threat to our national security and costs hard-working taxpayers at least £24bn a year,” a Home Office spokesperson said.

Through this bill we will ensure that in the event of such a serious attack those responsible would face the justice they deserve.”

Tough sentencing plans come after a report published earlier this week said more than half of Britons had been victims of cybercrime, including instances of theft and identity fraud, but less than a third of those affected actually reported them to the authorities.

In July this year, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged more than £1bn to the UK defense industry, with a ‘significant’ percentage going to projects designed to curb cybercrimes and terrorism.

However, digital rights activists have hit out at the government’s measures, claiming they would be arbitrary in practice and affect the wrong people in the long term.

Executive director of the Open Rights Group (ORG) Jim Killock said the legislation was drawn up too broadly and ran the risk of deterring whistleblowers.

As the internet affects more areas of our lives, computer legislation drafted in one context may be more widely applied than originally intended,” he said.

We would hope that an increase in penalties under the Computer Misuse Act would be matched with additional protections – for example, through a public interest defense.”

Last week, the Joint Committee of Human Rights also raised concerns that the additional laws were too broad and could criminalize non-threatening web activity, adding that “vagueness” could not be allowed in defining criminal offences.

The UK government has come under fire in recent months for proposing restrictions and greater surveillance measures on web activity, particularly to monitor potential terrorists online.

On Thursday, former GCHQ director Sir David Omand told Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee that the government needed to access deeper parts of the web that are currently protected by automatic encryption, arguing that law enforcement did not have the resources to monitor “fraudsters, thieves, terrorists and pedophiles.”


The Telegraph

Top-secret US space drone returns to Earth after two-year orbit

Unmanned X-37B, which looks like a miniature space shuttle, lands at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California after "strictly secret" mission

By Rob Crilly, New York

12:22PM BST 18 Oct 2014

It arrived back at a California air base after dark. Only the eagle-eyed would have spotted the snub-nosed spacecraft gliding out of the black sky.

Officially, the unmanned Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle had just completed its longest ever mission, spending almost two years circling the Earth, conducting experiments.

But its secretive history has sparked countless theories about what the computer controlled craft was really doing in space.

One idea is that the US Air Force has developed a drone spy ship, which it uses to shadow Chinese satellites. Another more fanciful claim is that it has been developed to engage in sat-napping – gobbling up rival spy satellites like something from a James Bond film.

There were few clues in an official press release.

“The landing of OTV-3 marks a hallmark event for the program,” said an unidentified programme manager quoted in the Air Force statement.

“The mission is our longest to date and we're pleased with the incremental progress we've seen in our testing of the reusable space plane. The dedication and hard work by the entire team has made us extremely proud.”

The first of the X-37B spaceplanes flew in April 2010 and returned after eight months. A second mission followed a year later. The next flight is planned for 2015.

At nine metre long it is far smaller than the retired Space Shuttle but shares a similar shape. Its size means there is only a cramped space for a payload. It is thought to carry only a control system and fuel for its thrusters leaving a cavity roughly the size of a truck bed – and quite a mystery.

The project started with Nasa before being handed to the military seven years later amid great secrecy, heightening speculation about its purpose.

Iran has described it as America's secret space warplane, hypothesising that it was a version of the Predator drone adapted to fly beyond Earth's atmosphere. But the USAF has always insisted it was never designed to carry weapons and was not part of a new space arms race.

“Fundamentally, it's just an updated version of the space shuttle kinds of activities in space,” is how Gary Payton, Air Force deputy under secretary of space programmes, described the craft before its inaugural flight.

And you don't need to know much about physics to know that constantly manoeuvring the X37-B to engage targets would quickly eat up its meagre fuel supply.

Instead, spying of some kind is one of the more plausible possibilities.

On a previous mission, amateur space trackers spotted that its path mirrored that of China's space lab, named Tiangong 1, or the Heavenly Palace

Dr David Baker, editor of Spaceflight, told the BBC: "Space-to-space surveillance is a whole new ball game made possible by a finessed group of sensors and sensor suites, which we think the X-37B may be using to maintain a close watch on China's nascent space station.”

Another theory is that it is doing the job of a regular spy satellite. Some experts note that its position in the sky gave it a view of the Middle East and Afghanistan, exactly where many military surveillance satellites are pointing.

Or it could be jamming or disabling other countries' spy satellites. Or if it really is indulging in a spot of sat-napping perhaps it is scooping up damaged or disabled American orbiters to bring them home to be repaired.

Then there is always the possibility that the US military is actually telling the truth. The USAF has always said the programme serves as a testbed for reusable space technology.

“Technologies being tested in the program include advanced guidance, navigation and control; thermal protection systems; avionics; high-temperature structures and seals; conformal reusable insulation, lightweight electromechanical flight systems; and autonomous orbital flight, re-entry and landing,” runs the official fact sheet.

So long as the mini space shuttle remains shrouded in secrecy, no-one will ever be certain.


Ancient Origins

The Last Hieroglyphic Language on Earth and an Ancient Culture Fighting to Survive

By April Holloway, www.ancient-origins.net | October 21, 2014

Last Updated: October 21, 2014 5:43 pm

The Dongba symbols are an ancient system of pictographic glyphs created by the founder of the Bön religious tradition of Tibet and used by the Naxi people in southern China. Historical records show that this unique script was used as early as the 7th century, during the early Tang Dynasty, however, research conducted last year showed that its origins may date back as far as 7,000 years ago. Incredibly, the Dongba symbols continue to be used by the elders of the Naxi people, making it the only hieroglyphic language still used in the world today.

The Naxi people lived in the beautiful mountain province of Yunnan (“south of the clouds”) for thousands of years, where they developed their own rich and enduring culture. Today, most of the 270,000 Naxi people live in the county of Lijiang where they retain many of their ancient traditions.

A Naxi woman and child. (Ed-meister/Flickr)

The Dongba script of the Naxi people is both pictographic and ideographic. The writing, unlike anything known elsewhere, superficially resembles the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, but it has a certain action and humour that distinguishes it from other scripts. While there are only about 1,300 symbols in total, the script has been used to write a huge number of scriptures, from incredible tales of creation to methods for carrying out exorcism. They also provide a kind of encyclopaedia of the ancient Naxi people, recording in detail their beliefs, customs, traditions and ways of life.

It is not a simplistic system of writing. Illustrations were used to represent not only material objects but also abstract ideas, syllables, and even methods of pronunciation. For example, the character ‘cliff’ has the form of a cliff and it has the same pronunciation as ‘chicken’, which is illustrated by a chicken head drawn inside the cliff. A single pictograph can also be used to recite different phrases or an entire sentence. The script is incredibly logical – when a symbol is drawn upside down it indicates negation; straight lines drawn between people indicates ‘fight’, while entwined lines represent ‘discuss’; a dead animal is drawn as usual but without pupils in the eyes.

The symbols on the left represent the sun, moon, and rain. But far from being simplistic, these symbols have been incorporated into in-depth accounts of creation. For example, the below fragment of “The War between Dong and Shu”, one of the most important myths to the Naxi, reads: “In the old times, when the sky and the earth had not still been formed, the sun and moon had still not been created, the stars had still not arisen, mountains and ravines had not still been formed, trees and stones had not still arisen…”

Historically, the Dongba script was used by the Dongba priests, and the creation and development of the script is closely connected to the emergence of the Dongba religion. The Dongba religion was rooted in the beliefs of the Tibetan Bön religion – the word “Dongba” literally means “wise man” in the Naxi language. Historians have traced origins to a Bön shaman from eastern Tibet named Dongba Shilo, who lived in a cave near Baishuitai 900 years ago.

Bön lamas are believed to have settled among the Naxi as farmers, and to have begun to practice exorcisms as a way of earning a little money on the side. By the early nineteenth century, the Dongba priests had created a huge religious vocabulary accompanied by a variety of rituals. Their scriptures contain several kinds of rituals and also legends, poetry, prayers, astronomy, medicine, and divination. As Zhu Bao-Tian, a noted cultural anthropologist from the Yunnan Provincial Museum in China, said: “The Naxi manuscripts are a living fossil for the study of ancient culture”.

Although today many Naxi are not religious, in the 1940s there were more than 4,000 Naxi Dongba priests. Their religion was characterized by a fascination with power and miracles, and belief in a multitude of gods and demons who could be manipulated with magic. However, the numbers of Dongba priests drastically declined following the communist revolution in China in 1949, during which thousands of manuscripts were destroyed and a war was declared on teaching language and traditions that were considered “superstitious.” It is estimated that today there are only about 60 Dongba priests remaining who can read and write the Dongba script. Most of those priests are over 70 and they are afraid that when they die, the traditions and writing of their people will die with them.

Today, the incredible pictographic Dongba script is nearly extinct, though a revival has recently occurred. Over 30 books have now been published with instruction on how to read the Dongba symbols. Young students regularly visit the Lijing Dongba Museum to learn about the language, while others study the script full time.

Since 1998, the people from Lijiang have been receiving free tuition on the Dongba language, culture and dancing, with the goal of transmitting this ancient knowledge to the coming generations.



Water on Mercury photographed by Nasa for the first time in 'permanently shadowed' craters

Images confirm that the planet closest to the Sun has 'recent' water deposits


Friday 17 October 2014

Nasa has taken the first ever pictures of water ice on Mercury – the permanently-roasting planet closest to the Sun in our Solar System.

It might sound counter-intuitive to find ice on a planet where surface temperatures hit highs of 430 degrees Celsius every day (a Mercury day is equivalent to 58 Earth days) but impact craters on the poles permanently shadowed from the Sun have been found to provide some much needed shade.

Scientists have thought this might be the case since the mid-1990s, when radio telescopes scanning the planet found areas that strongly reflected radar signals (a good sign that ice is present) with this most recent study is the first to provide optical proof.

The scientist examined a number of impact craters situated around Mercury’s north pole (including the largest, Prokofiev, an indentation just under 70 miles wide) and found that the deposits were made surprisingly recently, with the boundaries of the ice defined by sharped edges not yet smoothed out by time.

“The sharp boundaries indicate that the volatile deposits at Mercury’s poles are geologically young,” wrote the study’s authors in the journal Geology, “and either are restored at the surface through an ongoing process or were delivered to the planet recently.”



Sick elderly man makes 'complete turnaround' after emotional reunion with dog

Staff at a US hospital secretly took the pet in to visit his owner


Friday 17 October 2014

A 73-year-old man who had stopped eating and was so frail he could barely speak has “done a complete turnaround” after being reunited with his dog in the US.

James Wathen had to whisper to a nurse that he missed his pet, a one-eyed Chihuahua called Bubba, and the care team resolved to reunite the pair.

But hospital rules banned the admission of pets, so staff had to secretly work with the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter where his pet had been sent during his hospital stay.

When they managed to sneak the pet into Baptist Health Corbin hospital, Kentucky, they captured the emotional reunion on video.

Bubba leapt up on his owner and began licking his face as Mr Wathen stroked him gently.

Kimberly Probus, the chief nursing officer at Baptist Health Corbin, told local television station WKYT staff realised mourning the loss of the dog was making his health “even worse”.

“There wasn't a dry eye in the room” during Saturday’s reunion, she said.

Mary-Ann Smyth, from the animal shelter, said the dog had also stopped eating around the time they were separated.

“They didn’t think James was going to make it,” she told NBC.

“[Mr Wathen] has done a complete turnaround. He's speaking, he's sitting up, he’s eating. He doesn't look like the same guy, and the dog is eating and doing better now, too.”

Bubba has now visited his owner several times in hospital and staff said they have both made a “tremendous improvement”.

The hospital is now ensuring they can have regular visits.


Natural Blaze

Sugared Soda Consumption, Cell Aging Associated in New Study

Friday, October 17, 2014

by Jeffrey Norris

Sugar-sweetened soda consumption might promote disease independently from its role in obesity, according to UC San Francisco researchers who found in a new study that drinking sugary drinks was associated with cell aging.

The study revealed that telomeres — the protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells — were shorter in the white blood cells of survey participants who reported drinking more soda. The findings were reported online October 16, 2014 in the American Journal of Public Health.

The length of telomeres within white blood cells — where it can most easily be measured — has previously been associated with human lifespan. Short telomeres also have been associated with the development of chronic diseases of aging, including heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.

“Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars, but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues,” said Elissa Epel, PhD, professor of psychiatry at UCSF and senior author of the study.

“This is the first demonstration that soda is associated with telomere shortness,” Epel said. “This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level. Telomere shortening starts long before disease onset. Further, although we only studied adults here, it is possible that soda consumption is associated with telomere shortening in children, as well.”

The authors cautioned that they only compared telomere length and sugar-sweetened soda consumption for each participant at a single time point, and that an association does not demonstrate causation. Epel is co-leading a new study in which participants will be tracked for weeks in real time to look for effects of sugar-sweetened soda consumption on aspects of cellular aging. Telomere shortening has previously been associated with oxidative damage to tissue, to inflammation, and to insulin resistance.

Based on the way telomere length shortens on average with chronological age, the UCSF researchers calculated that daily consumption of a 20-ounce soda was associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging. This effect on telomere length is comparable to the effect of smoking, or to the effect of regular exercise in the opposite, anti-aging direction, according to UCSF postdoctoral fellow Cindy Leung, ScD, from the UCSF Center for Health and Community and the lead author of the newly published study.

The average sugar-sweetened soda consumption for all survey participants was 12 ounces. About 21 percent in this nationally representative sample reported drinking at least 20 ounces of sugar-sweetened soda a day.

“It is critical to understand both dietary factors that may shorten telomeres, as well as dietary factors that may lengthen telomeres,” Leung said. “Here it appeared that the only beverage consumption that had a measurable negative association with telomere length was consumption of sugared soda.”

The finding adds a new consideration to the list of links that has tied sugary beverages to obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and that has driven legislators and activists in several U.S. jurisdictions to champion ballet initiatives that would tax sugar-sweetened beverage purchases with the goal of discouraging consumption and improving public health.

The UCSF researchers measured telomeres after obtaining stored DNA from 5,309 participants, ages 20 to 65, with no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, who had participated in the nation’s largest ongoing health survey, called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, during the years 1999 through 2002. They found that the amount of sugar-sweetened soda a person consumed was associated with telomere length, as measured in the laboratory of Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, professor of biochemistry at UCSF and a winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her telomere-related discoveries.

Additional study authors include, from UCSF, Nancy E. Adler, PhD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Health and Community, and Jue Lin, PhD, an associate researcher with Blackburn’s lab; from UC Berkeley, Barbara A. Laraia, PhD, director of public health nutrition; from the University of Michigan, Belinda Needham, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology; and from Stanford University, David H. Rehkopf, ScD, assistant professor of medicine.

Major funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health. Lin is a shareholder of Telomere Diagnostics, Inc.

UCSF is the nation's leading university exclusively focused on health. Now celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding as a medical college, UCSF is dedicated to transforming health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with world-renowned programs in the biological sciences, a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and top-tier hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals.

University of California San Francisco

photo credit: Benson Kua via photopin cc


Medical Daily

Foods To Avoid? 10 Things In Americans' Favorite Foods That Are Banned In Other Countries

By Samantha Olson | Oct 21, 2014 09:00 AM EDT

Americans keep eating foods containing ingredients banned in other countries because of health hazards. Photo courtesy of Mercola

In a country so consumed with counting calories, the gluten-free fad, and fast food, the ingredients section on the back of packages are widely overlooked and riddled with internationally banned foods. The health center Mercola has compiled a list of the worst offenders, and they include harmful additives, growth hormones, and genetically engineered ingredients laced throughout foods designed to satiate the unsuspecting American appetite. Maybe the reasons behind why these foods are banned in other countries will fill our bellies with enough disgust and fear, we won’t be hungry for harmful ingredients any longer.

Americans Still Eat These 10 Foods & Ingredients Banned Around The World:

1. Farm-Raised Salmon

Banned in Australia, New Zealand, and Russia.

Salmon has been a hot debate topic in the past decade, especially at a time when overfishing and other environmental concerns are pushing to the forefront. Farmed fish feedlots hold up to one million fish in an area the size of two football fields and are becoming more popular as the world’s fish stocks decline and the American appetite continues to grow. Studies have found contaminants found in farmed salmon are well below the tolerance levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but they exceed the safety levels for frequent consumption by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Farmed salmon don’t have a lot of room to swim, don’t follow their natural migration patterns, and have an unnatural diet of grains, which is why they’re fattier than wild salmon and contain 50 percent less omega-3 fats and protein. They’re grown with a mix of antibiotics, vitamins, drugs, and chemicals and don’t have wild salmon’s natural color, so they’re fed a synthetic astaxanthin to achieve the pinkish-red shade. Nearly 90 percent of the toxins farmed salmon contains can accumulate in your body, and if you’re pregnant it can pass on to your newborn baby and secrete through breast milk.

2. Ractopamine-Tainted Meat

Banned in Russia, Mainland China, Taiwan, and 160 countries across Europe

Ractopamine, also known as Paylean and Optaflexx, is a drug fed to livestock to reduce the fat content and enhance muscle, making the meat more profitable per animal. It was originally used to treat asthma and is found in 45 percent of pigs, 30 percent of ration-fed cattle, and an unknown percentage of turkeys. As much as 20 percent of Ractopamine may remain in the meat you purchase with a drug label warning “Not for use in humans” and “individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure.”

Ractopamine is linked with decreases in reproductive function and increased death and disability. In humans, it’s known to affect the cardiovascular system, causing hyperactivity, chromosomal abnormalities, and behavioral changes. It’s the meat additive you didn’t expect to land on your plate. But how are you supposed to stop ordering and buying it if you don’t pay attention to what exactly you’re eating?

3. Genetically-Engineered Papaya

Banned in the European Union.

In the 1990s, the ringspot virus greatly threatened the Hawaiian papaya crop. They were genetically engineered to resist the virus, but by 2004 Hawaii reported a widespread contamination of papaya crops by the new variant. Five years later, nearly 20,000 papaya seeks from the islands were contaminated with genetically modified organisms, more commonly known as GMOs, and cows fed the variety suffered a wide range of illnesses. After three generations of cows, they were still experiencing intestinal damage, multiple-organ damage, massive tumors, birth defects, premature death, and near or complete sterility from the GMOs.

Yet, genetically modified papayas remain as the only commercially grown GMO fruit in the U.S. because they were grandfathered in by Hawaii’s County councilmen because it was deeply ingrained in their tradition and made them financially profitable.

4. Flame Retardant in Drinks

Banned in Japan and 18 European countries.

In 1977, the FDA itself approved brominated vegetable oil (BVO), a patented flame retardant used in sodas and sports drinks in the U.S. Recently Coca-Cola and PepsiCo announced they’re working on removing the controversial BVO from their drinks as a result of petitions. The FDA permitted the use of BVO on an “interim basis” pending additional studies to prove its safety or health dangers, but decades later they never conducted those studies.

Bromine toxicity can cause skin rashes, acne, loss of appetite, fatigue, and cardiac arrhythmias. It’s been linked to major organ damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and a slew of other health consequences. Despite animal studies proving it was harmful back in the 70s, it still made its way into Mountain Dew, Sunkist, Powerade, Gatorade, Squirt, Fresca, and Fanta.

5. Processed Foods with Artificial Food Colors and Dyes

Banned Norway and Austria. If it’s not banned in a country outside of the U.S., it requires a warning label.

Red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, and blue 2 weave their way into the American ingredients list of a wide variety of foods. They’re the most commonly used dyes in the U.S., found in mac-and-cheese, cheddar flavored crackers, Jell-O, and children’s cereals. With more than 3,000 food additives, preservatives, flavorings, colors, and other synthetic ingredients in our foods, research says we’re at risk for cancers, birth defects, allergies, behavioral changes, and increased hyperactivity in kids.

6. Arsenic-Laced Chicken

Banned in the European Union.

Chronic arsenic exposure can cause anemia, headaches, skin lesions, low blood pressure, kidney damage and failure, increased risk of diabetes, miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, and infant mortality. What is arsenic doing in our chicken? Since the 1940s, farmers have been feeding livestock arsenic to fight off disease; however, they now use it to make animals grow quicker and make the meat appear pinker and fresher. It’s not a carcinogen itself, but when it’s consumed by our body it converts into a cancer-causing form. In 2007, nine billion domesticated chickens were still being fed Roxarsone, an arsenic-based feed drug. That’s 70 percent of the chickens grown, slaughtered, and lined up in grocery aisles.

7. Bread with Potassium Bromate

Banned in the European Union, Canada, and China.

Potassium bromate helps make the dough more elastic and to hold up better on the bread hooks that move it through commercial baking factories. It has been linked to kidney and nervous system damage, in addition to thyroid problems, gastrointestinal discomfort, and even cancer.

Bread with Potassium Bromate by Mercola.com

8. Olestra/Olean

Banned in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Procter & Gamble created this cholesterol-free fat substitute for their fat-free snacks. It was the snacking industry’s answer to their high-fat problem and swiftly approved by the FDA in 1996. People began reporting diarrhea, cramps, leaky bowels, and anal leakage after eating what they thought to be a healthier alternative to indulging. But in 2011, Purdue University researchers published a study that found rats who were fed foods with Orlean gained more weight than those fed a high-fat diet with regular fat potato chips. (You can also find the fake fat in French fries.) Doctors soon discovered their body’s had a difficult time absorbing fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E, and K.

9. Preservatives BHA and BHT

Banned in Japan and the European Union.

At high doic and foul-smelling foods. At high temperatures, vitamin E is an effective alternative to BHA and BHT and can keep foods stable and preserved in the grocery store.

10. Milk and Dairy Products Laced with rBGH

Banned in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Canada, and the European Union. In order to increase a cow’s milk production, scientists invented a rBGH, a synthetic version that mimics a natural hormone produced in their pituitary glands, known as bovine somatotropin. When rBGH came onto the market, the United Nations Safety Agency ruled unanimously not to endorse it in 1999, and eventually U.S. milk was internationally banned from being imported into their countries. In the U.S., approximately one in six dairy cows are injected with growth hormones on a regular basis, causing pus and antibiotic contamination and 16 other adverse health effects.

Milk rBGH by Merola.com


Until next week...keep on believing
Almondtree Productions

The poor shall eat and be satisfied; and they shall praise the Lord that seek him: their heart shall live for ever.”
(Psalm 22:26)