Now I know that the Lord has saved his Christ: he shall hear him from his holy heaven: the salvation of his right hand is mighty.”
    (Psalms 20:6)

    Saved His Christ

Dear Friends,

Greetings! Did you know that along with the name of Jesus, the word Christ appears six times in the Old Testament?

Below are the different references in the Old Testament where Christ can be found.

  • The Lord will weaken his adversary; the Lord is holy. Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, nor let the mighty man boast in his strength, and let not the rich man boast in his wealth; but let him that boasts boast in this, to understand and know the Lord, and to execute judgment and justice in the midst of the earth. The Lord has gone up to the heavens, and has thundered: he will judge the extremities of the earth, and he gives strength to our kings, and will exalt the horn of his Christ. Kings1 2:10 (1 Samuel)

  • And I will raise up to myself a faithful priest, who shall do all that is in my heart and in my soul; and I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before my Christ for ever. Kings 1 2:35 (1 Samuel)

  • The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers gathered themselves together, against the Lord, and against his Christ; Psalms 2:2

  • Now I know that the Lord has saved his Christ: he shall hear him from his holy heaven: the salvation of his right hand is mighty. Psalms 20:6

  • And thou shalt know and understand, that from the going forth of the command for the answer and for the building of Jerusalem until Christ the prince there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks; and then the time shall return, and the street shall be built, and the wall, and the times shall be exhausted. Daniel 9:25

  • For, behold, I am he that strengthens the thunder, and creates the wind, and proclaims to men his Christ, forming the morning and the darkness, and mounting on the high places of the earth, The Lord God Almighty is his name. Amos 4:13

You will however not find these identical verses in the King James Version of your Bible, they are close but not identical.

If you do a search of these verses on a site such as Bible Hub, which compare the most used English Bibles, there are approximately nineteen to twenty comparisons. You will not find the word Christ in any of the Bibles with one exception, the Douay-Rheims Bible which uses the word Christ in 1 Samuel 2:10 and Psalms 2:2. The word most commonly used in these verses is 'anointed one' and in a few cases 'Messiah'.

Where you will find these identical verses which contain the word Christ is in the Septuagint version of the Bible.

The reason and explanation for this is given below in the article Masoretic Text vs. Original Hebrew byJoseph Gleason.

Hope you find this of interest. Have a great week ahead.

Masoretic Text vs. Original Hebrew

Posted on March 12, 2012

by Dn Joseph Gleason

I used to believe the Masoretic Text was a perfect copy of the original Old Testament. I used to believe that the Masoretic Text was how God divinely preserved the Hebrew Scriptures throughout the ages.

I was wrong.

The oldest copies of the Masoretic Text only date back to the 10th century, nearly 1000 years after the time of Christ. And these texts differ from the originals in many specific ways. The Masoretic text is named after the Masoretes, who were scribes and Torah scholars who worked in the middle-east between the 7th and 11th centuries. The texts they received, and the edits they provided, ensured that the modern Jewish texts would manifest a notable departure from the original Hebrew Scriptures.

Historical research reveals five significant ways in which the Masoretic Text is different from the original Old Testament:

  1. The Masoretes admitted that they received corrupted texts to begin with.

  2. The Masoretic Text is written with a radically different alphabet than the original.

  3. The Masoretes added vowel points which did not exist in the original.

  4. The Masoretic Text excluded several books from the Old Testament scriptures.

  5. The Masoretic Text includes changes to prophecy and doctrine.

We will consider each point in turn:

Receiving Corrupted Texts

Many people believe that the ancient Hebrew text of Scripture was divinely preserved for many centuries, and was ultimately recorded in what we now call the “Masoretic Text”. But what did the Masoretes themselves believe? Did they believe they were perfectly preserving the ancient text? Did they even think they had received a perfect text to begin with?

History says “no” . . .

Scribal emendations – Tikkune Soferim

Early rabbinic sources, from around 200 CE, mention several passages of Scripture in which the conclusion is inevitable that the ancient reading must have differed from that of the present text. . . . Rabbi Simon ben Pazzi (3rd century) calls these readings “emendations of the Scribes” (tikkune Soferim; Midrash Genesis Rabbah xlix. 7), assuming that the Scribes actually made the changes. This view was adopted by the later Midrash and by the majority of Masoretes.

In other words, the Masorites themselves felt they had received a partly corrupted text.

A stream cannot rise higher than its source. If the texts they started with were corrupted, then even a perfect transmission of those texts would only serve to preserve the mistakes. Even if the Masoretes demonstrated great care when copying the texts, their diligence would not bring about the correction of even one error.

In addition to these intentional changes by Hebrew scribes, there also appear to be a number of accidental changes which they allowed to creep into the Hebrew text. For example, consider Psalm 145 . . .

Psalm 145 is an acrostic poem. Each line of the Psalm starts with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Yet in the Masoretic Text, one of the lines is completely missing:

Yet the Septuagint (LXX) Greek translation of the Old Testament does include the missing verse. And when that verse is translated back into Hebrew, it starts with the Hebrew letter נ (nun) which was missing from the Masoretic Text.

In the early 20th century, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves near Qumran. They revealed an ancient Hebrew textual tradition which differed from the tradition preserved by the Masoretes. Written in Hebrew, copies of Psalm 145 were found which include the missing verse:

The missing verse reads, “The Lord is faithful in His words and holy in all His works.” This verse can be found in the Orthodox Study Bible, which relies on the Septuagint. But this verse is absent from the King James Version (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV), the Douay-Rheims, the Complete Jewish Bible, and every other translation which is based on the Masoretic Text.

In this particular case, it is easy to demonstrate that the Masoretic Text is in error, for it is obvious that Psalm 145 was originally written as an acrostic Psalm. But what are we to make of the thousands of other locations where the Masoretic Text diverges from the Septuagint? If the Masoretic Text could completely erase an entire verse from one of the Psalms, how many other passages of Scripture have been edited? How many other verses have been erased?

A Radically Different Alphabet

If Moses were to see a copy of the Masoretic Text, he wouldn’t be able to read it.

As discussed in this recent post, the original Old Testament scriptures were written in Paleo-Hebrew, a text closely related to the ancient Phonecian writing system.

The Masoretic Text is written with an alphabet which was borrowed from Assyria (Persia) around the 6th-7th century B.C., and is almost 1000 years newer than the form of writing used by Moses, David, and most of the Old Testament authors.

Adding Vowel Points

For thousands of years, ancient Hebrew was only written with consonants, no vowels. When reading these texts, they had to supply all of the vowels from memory, based on oral tradition.

In Hebrew, just like modern languages, vowels can make a big difference. The change of a single vowel can radically change the meaning of a word. An example in English is the difference between “SLAP” and “SLIP”. These words have very different definitions. Yet if our language was written without vowels, both of these words would be written “SLP”. Thus the vowels are very important.

The most extensive change the Masoretes brought to the Hebrew text was the addition of vowel points. In an attempt to solidfy for all-time the “correct” readings of all the Hebrew Scriptures, the Masoretes added a series of dots to the text, identifying which vowel to use in any given location.

Adam Clarke, an 18th Century Protestant scholar, demonstrates that the vowel-point system is actually a running commentary which was incorporated into the text itself.

In the General Preface of his biblical commentary published in 1810, Clarke writes:

The Masorets were the most extensive Jewish commentators which that nation could ever boast. The system of punctuation, probably invented by them, is a continual gloss on the Law and the Prophets; their vowel points, and prosaic and metrical accents, &c., give every word to which they are affixed a peculiar kind of meaning, which in their simple state, multitudes of them can by no means bear. The vowel points alone add whole conjugations to the language. This system is one of the most artificial, particular, and extensive comments ever written on the Word of God; for there is not one word in the Bible that is not the subject of a particular gloss through its influence.”

Another early scholar who investigated this matter was Louis Cappel, who wrote during the early 17th century. An article in the 1948 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica includes the following information regarding his research of the Masoretic Text:

As a Hebrew scholar, he concluded that the vowel points and accents were not an original part of Hebrew, but were inserted by the Masorete Jews of Tiberias, not earlier then the 5th Century AD, and that the primitive Hebrew characters are Aramaic and were substituted for the more ancient at the time of the captivity. . . The various readings in the Old Testament Text and the differences between the ancient versions and the Masoretic Text convinced him that the integrity of the Hebrew text as held by Protestants, was untenable.”

Many Protestants love the Masoretic Text, believing it to be a trustworthy representation of the original Hebrew text of Scripture. Yet, at the same time, most Protestants reject Orthodox Church Tradition as being untrustworthy. They believe that the Church’s oral tradition could not possibly preserve Truth over a long period of time.

Therefore, the vowel points of the Masoretic Text put Protestants in a precarious position. If they believe that the Masoretic vowels are not trustworthy, then they call the Masoretic Text itself into question. But if they believe that the Masoretic vowels are trustworthy, then they are forced to believe that the Jews successfully preserved the vowels of Scripture for thousands of years, through oral tradition alone, until the Masoretes finally invented the vowel points hundreds of years after Christ. Either conclusion is at odds with mainstream Protestant thought.

Either oral tradition can be trusted, or it can’t. If it can be trusted, then there is no reason to reject the Traditions of the Orthodox Church, which have been preserved for nearly 2000 years. But if traditions are always untrustworthy, then the Masoretic vowel points are also untrustworthy, and should be rejected.

Excluding Books of Scripture from the Old Testament

The Masoretic Text promotes a canon of the Old Testament which is significantly shorter than the canon represented by the Septuagint. Meanwhile, Orthodox Christians and Catholics have Bibles which incorporate the canon of the Septuagint. The books of Scripture found in the Septuagint, but not found in the Masoretic Text, are commonly called either the Deuterocanon or the anagignoskomena. While it is outside the scope of this article to perform an in-depth study of the canon of Scripture, a few points relevant to the Masoretic Text should be made here:

  • With the exception of two books, the Deuterocanon was originally written in Hebrew.

  • In three places, the Talmud explicitly refers to the book of Sirach as “Scripture”.

  • Jesus celebrated Hanukkah, a feast which originates in the book of 1 Maccabees, and nowhere else in the Old Testament.

  • The New Testament book of Hebrews recounts the stories of multiple Old Testament saints, including a reference to martyrs in the book of 2 Maccabees.

  • The book of Wisdom includes a striking prophecy of Christ, and its fulfillment is recorded in Matthew 27.

  • Numerous findings among the Dead Sea Scrolls suggest the existence of 1st century Jewish communities which accepted many of the Deuterocanonical books as authentic Scripture.

  • Many thousands of 1st-century Christians were converts from Judaism. The early Church accepted the inspiration of the Deuterocanon, and frequently quoted authoritatively from books such as Wisdom, Sirach, and Tobit. This early Christian practice suggests that many Jews accepted these books, even prior to their conversion to Christianity.

  • Ethiopian Jews preserved the ancient Jewish acceptance of the Septuagint, including much of its canon of Scripture. Sirach, Judith, Baruch, and Tobit are among the books included in the canon of the Ethiopian Jews.

These reasons, among others, suggest the existence of a large 1st-century Jewish community which accepted the Deuterocanon as inspired Scripture.

Changes to Prophecy and Doctrine

When compiling any given passage of Scripture, the Masoretes had to choose among multiple versions of the ancient Hebrew texts. In some cases the textual differences were relatively inconsequential. For example, two texts may differ over the spelling of a person’s name.

However, in other cases they were presented with textual variants which made a considerable impact upon doctrine or prophecy. In cases like these, were the Masoretes completely objective? Or did their anti-Christian biases influence any of their editing decisions?

In the 2nd century A.D., hundreds of years before the time of the Masoretes, Justin Martyr investigated a number of Old Testament texts in various Jewish synagogues.

He ultimately concluded that the Jews who had rejected Christ had also rejected the Septuagint, and were now tampering with the Hebrew Scriptures themselves:

But I am far from putting reliance in your teachers, who refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders who were with Ptolemy [king] of the Egyptians is a correct one; and they attempt to frame another. And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the [Septuagint] translations effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy, and by which this very man who was crucified is proved to have been set forth expressly as God, and man, and as being crucified, and as dying” (~150 A.D., Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Chapter LXXI)

If Justin Martyr’s findings are correct, then it is likely that the Masoretes inherited a Hebrew textual tradition which had already been corrupted with an anti-Christian bias. And if we look at some of the most significant differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text, that is precisely what we see. For example, consider the following comparisons:

These are not random, inconsequential differences between the texts. Rather, these appear to be places where the Masoretes (or their forebears) had a varied selection of texts to consider, and their decisions were influenced by anti-Christian bias. Simply by choosing one Hebrew text over another, they were able to subvert the Incarnation, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, His healing of the blind, His crucifixion, and His salvation of the Gentiles. The Jewish scribes were able to edit Jesus out of many important passages, simply by rejecting one Hebrew text, and selecting (or editing) another text instead.

Thus, the Masoretic Text has not perfectly preserved the original Hebrew text of Scripture. The Masoretes received corrupted texts to begin with, they used an alphabet which was radically different from the original Hebrew, they added countless vowel points which did not exist in the original, they excluded several books from the Old Testament scriptures, and they included a number of significant changes to prophecy and doctrine.

It would seem that the Septuagint (LXX) translation is not only far more ancient than the Masoretic Text . . . the Septuagint is far more accurate as well. It is a more faithful representation of the original Hebrew Scriptures.

Perhaps that is why Jesus and the apostles frequently quoted from the Septuagint, and accorded it full authority as the inspired Word of God.

***

BEGINNING AND END

Frighteningly Real AI Robot – Signs of Things to Come?

January 23, 2012 By Beginning and End

Bible prophecy unfolding before our eyes.

11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed…. 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. 15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (Revelation 13)

While we are not given all the specifics as to how it shall happen, the Bible states that in the end times, the False Prophet, the religious figure who will lead the world in worshiping the Antichrist and Satan, will help construct an “image” of the Antichrist for worship. In the Old Testament, the word “image” is use repeatedly to describe statues of pagan gods. And through clearly supernatural means, this image will be given life. It is going to be actual artificial intelligence. Unfortunately for those alive at this time, all people will be required to worship the image of the Beast under penalty of death. It will be another part of the Antichrist’s plan to bring the entire world into full satanic worship.

If that does not seem possible, remember that the Bible stands on its prophecy as its evidence. There were over 100 Old Testament prophecies, written centuries before Jesus Christ, that were fulfilled by his birth, life, death and resurrection. And also know that science is racing towards giving life to an “image” already. As the following video can attest. With all of the talk of the “singularity” – the time when man and machine can become fully integrated and a computer can actually become a part of the human body and mind, it seems that what the Bible predicted 2,000 years ago is becoming more of a reality. The robot in this video can not only speak and respond to questions, it has a “personality” and understands concepts like sarcasm and humor.

***

DARPA DEVELOPING MATRIX-LIKE BRAIN IMPLANT POWERED FROM THE SPINE

Transhumanist wing of nutbag military agency cooking up dystopian projects

by STEVE WATSON | INFOWARS.COM | FEBRUARY 18, 2015

The secretive US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a device that will plug directly into the brain and transmit images, bypassing the optical system altogether, according to reports.

Under the guise of developing a “cortical modem”, to enable blind people to see, DARPA researchers say that the device may also eventually replace all virtual and augmented reality technology.

Projects such as Google Glass and the Oculus Rift may be superceded by DARPA’s program which aims to create high-definition images directly within the human brain, according to researchers.

Much like in the action film, the Matrix, the device would be powered by a spinal implant.

Plans for the project were revealed at the Biology Is Technology conference in Silicon Valley last week, with boffins unveiling short term plans to create a small device that will deliver images to the brain without the need for wearing glasses or a helmet.

Reports noted that DARPA was described onstage at the gathering as a “friendly, but somewhat crazy, rich uncle”.

Further information was provided within the pages of transhumanist magazine Humanity Plus.

“The short term goal of the project is the development of a device about the size of two stacked nickels with a cost of goods on the order of $10 which would enable a simple visual display via a direct interface to the visual cortex with the visual fidelity of something like an early LED digital clock,” the publication reported.

The project is being overseen by DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, which was founded a year ago with the brief of devising new technologies at the intersection of biology and physical science.

The office has been focusing on transhumanist projects geared towards improving the performance of soldiers on the battlefield’ performance, developing biological systems for national security purposes, and, it claims, the future well-being of humanity.

Other dystopian sounding projects being worked on include insect cyborgs, exoskeletons and life-sized robot elephants, according to the H+ report.

So far testing on the cortical modem has been limited to animals, primarily fish.

As Infowars has previously noted, DARPA has been working on variations of this project for years, decades in fact. And given that the Pentagon war machine is spear-heading it, with $70m of funding, one must seriously question why the DoD suddenly gives a damn about the well-being of humanity, including blind people and everyday Americans with brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

Last year, reports emerged of DARPA developing brain chips that will implant or remove specific memories from a subject, a prospect some may deem chilling given DARPA’s previous advocacy of “authentication microchips” and electronic tattoos that can read a person’s mind.

***

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IEET

Virtual reality a new frontier for religions

By Giulio Prisco

Posted: Feb 14, 2015

In “Virtual reality a new frontier for religions,” published yesterday on Hypergrid Business, I argue that massively popular virtual churches, place of worship and spiritual communities in Virtual Reality (VR) will be developed with next-generation VR systems.

The article includes quotes from Christopher Benek, Lincoln Cannon, and Robert Geraci. All three are persuaded that new VR systems with immersive interfaces like Facebook’s Oculus Rift or Microsoft HoloLens could revolutionize online religion and make virtual churches accessible and appealing to multitudes of believers, and I totally agree.

Read “Virtual reality a new frontier for religions” on Hypergrid Business.

A few years ago I participated in the development and launch of one of the most beautiful works ever done in Second Life – a complete life-like reconstruction of the Basilica of San Francesco d’ Assisi, based on detailed plans, satellite imagery and hundreds of high resolution pictures. The sim was used for public events organized by the city of Assisi and guided walkthroughs. It wasn’t used as an online Church for virtual services though – I remember that the idea was suggested to the ecclesiastic authorities but they didn’t really consider Second Life as a viable option for e-religion. The Church authorities were remarkably prescient: soon after the launch of the sim Second Life went out of fashion, and the virtual Basilica disappeared.

There have been intense debates about just why Second Life didn’t live up to the high expectations of the years 2006-2009, when it was all over the press as the Next Big Thing that would soon disrupt and take over online communications. My favorite theory is that Second Life is too difficult to use and not immersive enough for mass adoption. These two factors seem separate, but they are linked.

Virtual reality rendered on a small laptop screen, only navigable with legacy mouse and keyboard interfaces developed in the 70s – which most of today’s Internet consumers never mastered anyway – isn’t the virtual reality imagined by Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash) and Ernest Cline (Ready Player One). What Stephenson and Cline envisaged is a fully immersive 360-degree real virtuality that users can navigate and control with intuitive head, body and hands motion and voice commands, just like they do in real life.

It has often been said that immersive VR permits suspending disbelief and just “being there.” But it’s difficult to suspend disbelief when you struggle to remember – Ctrl-Alt-This or Shift-Alt-That? – awkward mouse and keyboard commands. On the contrary, in the Metaverse of Neal Stephenson and the OASIS of Ernest Cline, the user interface is as easy to use as in real life, because it’s copied from real life.

Now next generation devices like the Oculus Rift headset and the Leap Motion hand movement sensor promise to deliver just that: fully immersive interfaces to sophisticated virtual worlds, which users, even casual consumers, don’t have to “learn” because they work just like real life. The new interface devices are much more complex, technically, than the old, but the users don’t have to know the details – do you really know how a mouse works? – and can dive right into immersive virtuality.

The new project of Second Life creator Philip Rosedale, the next-generation VR platform High Fidelity, currently in alpha testing, will support the Oculus Rift and other immersive interface gear. Leading business and technology experts are betting that next-generation virtual worlds will become hugely popular. Of course words talk but money walks, and the best demonstration of the once again rising expectations about virtual reality is the two-billion dollars acquisition of Oculus VR by Facebook.

More recently, Microsoft announced their new Augmented Reality (AR) headset, the HoloLens, which adds holographic projections to the user’s field of view. The device, to be launched later this year, can be used like Google Glass for simple annotations like street directions, but it can also be used as an immersive interface to virtual worlds. For example, NASA and Microsoft have teamed up to develop OnSight, a new HoloLens powered by data from the Curiosity rover, which will enable scientists to work virtually on Mars together.

I think now is the right time to launch a very ambitious project to build a Virtual Turing Church in cyberspace, which will apply the lessons learned in previous (mostly) failed attempts and build on the impressive recent advances of VR technology to create a real virtual place for spiritual seekers.

Images from cyberloom.

Giulio Prisco is a physicist and computer scientist, and former senior manager in the European space administration. Giulio works as a consultant and contributes to several science and technology magazines. In 2002-2008 he served on the Board of Directors of Humanity Plus, of which he was Executive Director, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Italian Transhumanist Association. He is often in Hungary, Italy and Spain.

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Ancient Origins

Ancient Humans Bred with Completely Unknown Species

24 NOVEMBER, 2013 - 23:06 APRILHOLLOWAY

A new study presented to the Royal Society meeting on ancient DNA in London last week has revealed a dramatic finding – the genome of one of our ancient ancestors, the Denisovans, contains a segment of DNA that seems to have come from another species that is currently unknown to science. The discovery suggests that there was rampant interbreeding between ancient human species in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago. But, far more significant was the finding that they also mated with a mystery species from Asia – one that is neither human nor Neanderthal.

Scientists launched into a flurry of discussion and debate upon hearing the study results and immediately began speculating about what this unknown species could be. Some have suggested that a group may have branched off to Asia from the Homo heidelbernensis, who resided in Africa about half a million years ago. They are believed to be the ancestors of Europe's Neanderthals.

However others, such as Chris Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at the London Natural History Museum, admitted that they “don’t have the faintest idea” what the mystery species could be.

Traces of the unknown new genome were detected in two teeth and a finger bone of a Denisovan, which was discovered in a Siberian cave. There is not much data available about the appearance of Denisovans due to lack of their fossils' availability, but the geneticists and researchers succeeded in arranging their entire genome very precisely.

"What it begins to suggest is that we're looking at a 'Lord of the Rings'-type world - that there were many hominid populations," Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London.

The question is now: who were these mystery people that the Denisovans were breeding with?

(And it came to pass when men began to be numerous upon the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God having seen the daughters of men that they were beautiful, took to themselves wives of all whom they chose. And the Lord God said, My Spirit shall certainly not remain among these men for ever, because they are flesh, but their days shall be an hundred and twenty years. Now the giants were upon the earth in those days; and after that when the sons of God were wont to go in to the daughters of men, they bore children to them, those were the giants of old, the men of renown.? Genesis 6:2-5)

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CP ENTERTAINMENT

Were Jesus and Buddha Aliens? BBC Program Debates the Idea

BY MICHAEL GRYBOSKI , CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER

February 9, 2015|3:18 pm

In this image released by 20th Century Fox, a giant sphere from another world is shown descending on New York's Central Park in a scene from 'The Day the Earth Stood Still.' (PHOTO: 20TH CENTURY FOX / WETA)

A program aired on the British Broadcasting Corporation recently held a discussion as to whether or not major religious figures like Jesus Christ and the Buddha were from other planets.

In a religion-focused series titled "The Big Questions", host Nicky Campbell oversaw a discussion asking the query, "Have beings from other planets guided our religions?"

"Last month NASA's Kepler space telescope identified another planet that might have the right conditions for life," said Campbell.

"It will be no surprise to the followers of those religions who've long believed that life - possibly not as we know it - exists elsewhere in the galaxy. Life which has possibly exerted its influence here on planet Earth. Have beings from other planets guided our religions?"

The segment featured two groups, the Aetherius Society and the British Union Of Spiritist Societies, which advocated for the theory that various religious figures, including Jesus, were aliens.

"We believe that various religious leaders from history have an inter-planetary origin," said Mark Bennett of the Aetherius Society.

"We believe that Jesus and Buddha came from Venus, that Sri Krishna came from Saturn, that Saint Peter came from Mars, and so on."

The program also include two people representing Christianity, a scientist who belongs to the Christ Church Southampton and a bishop, who opposed the theory.

"It's very clear if you look at the gospels that there are only three answers as to who Jesus is," said the scientist Liz Weston.

"Either he's mad... or he's bad, he's trying to deceive us [and] his power comes from the Devil, or he is actually who he claimed to be and he is the son of God... none of those say that he was from Venus."

Claims that Jesus might have been an alien are not exclusively made by groups like the Aetherius Society. Presbyterian Minister Barry Downing has often credited phenomenon in the Bible, including the coming of Jesus, to extraterrestrial origins.

In a rebuttal posted on the website Ancient Aliens Debunked, Frank Johnson wrote that the theory of Jesus being an alien "creates a few problems."

"No matter how you look at it, there is no way possible that God as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures could be an extraterrestrial as most understand the term," wrote Johnson.

"Jesus cannot possibly be an extraterrestrial, hybrid or otherwise, simply because He is one with God the Father. The Bible demonstrates, and Jesus states that He and the Father (God) are ONE."

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CNN

Why does ISIS keep making enemies?

By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst

Updated 12:28 PM ET, Tue February 17, 2015

(CNN)Whenever ISIS carries out a new atrocity, whether it's beheading a group of Egyptian Christians or enslaving Yazidi women in Iraq or burning its victims alive, the big question most people have is: Why on Earth is ISIS doing this? What could possibly be the point?

Adding to your list of enemies is never a sound strategy, yet ISIS' ferocious campaign against the Shia, Kurds, Yazidis, Christians, and Muslims who don't precisely share its views has united every ethnic and religious group in Syria and Iraq against them.

ISIS is even at war with its most natural ally, al Qaeda in Syria.

The Nazis and the Khmer Rouge went to great lengths to hide their crimes against humanity. Instead, ISIS posts its many crimes on social media for global distribution with seemingly no thoughts for the consequences.

ISIS' beheading of the American journalist James Foley in mid-August galvanized much of the Western world against the group and led to an intensified U.S.-led air campaign against ISIS, which, according to U.S. military officials, has killed at least 6,000 of its fighters.

The burning to death by ISIS of the Jordanian pilot, Muath al-Kaseasbeh, galvanized much of the Arab world against the group and has brought Jordan into the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS in a much more aggressive manner.

The beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya by an ISIS affiliate led Egypt's air force on Monday to drop bombs on ISIS positions in eastern Libya.

Former CIA director Robert Gates is reported to have kept a maxim on his desk that read, "As a general rule, the way to achieve complete strategic surprise is to commit an act that makes no sense or is even self-destructive."

ISIS keeps surprising the world and its actions do indeed seem to make no sense or are self-destructive.

So what is going on here?

A key window into understanding ISIS is its English language "in-flight magazine" Dabiq. Last week the seventh issue of Dabiq was released, and a close reading of it helps explains ISIS' world view.

The mistake some make when viewing ISIS is to see it as a rational actor. Instead, as the magazine documents, its ideology is that of an apocalyptic cult that believes that we are living in the end times and that ISIS' actions are hastening the moment when this will happen.

The name of the Dabiq magazine itself helps us understand ISIS' worldview. The Syrian town of Dabiq is where the Prophet Mohammed is supposed to have predicted that the armies of Islam and "Rome" would meet for the final battle that will precede the end of time and the triumph of true Islam.

In the recent issue of Dabiq it states: "As the world progresses towards al-Malhamah al-Kubrā, ('the Great Battle' to be held at Dabiq) the option to stand on the sidelines as a mere observer is being lost." In other words, in its logic, you are either on the side of ISIS or you are on the side of the Crusaders and infidels.

When American aid worker Peter Kassig was murdered by ISIS in November, "Jihadi John" -- the masked British murderer who has appeared in so many ISIS videos -- said of Kassig: "We bury the first crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the rest of your armies to arrive."

In other words, ISIS wants a Western ground force to invade Syria, as that will confirm the prophecy about Dabiq.

We live in an increasingly secularized world, so it's sometimes difficult to take seriously the deeply held religious beliefs of others. For many of us the idea that the end of times will come with a battle between "Rome" and Islam at the obscure Syrian town of Dabiq is as absurd as the belief that the Mayans had that their human sacrifices could influence future events.

But for ISIS, the Dabiq prophecy is deadly serious. Members of ISIS believe that they are the vanguard fighting a religious war, which Allah has determined will be won by the forces of true Islam.

This is the conclusion of an important forthcoming new book about ISIS by terrorism experts J.M. Berger and Jessica Stern who write that ISIS, like many other "violent apocalyptic groups, tend to see themselves as participating in a cosmic war between good and evil, in which moral rules do not apply."

This also similar to the conclusion of an excellent new cover story about ISIS in the Atlantic magazine by Graeme Wood who writes, "Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State (another name for ISIS) adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, 'the Prophetic methodology,' which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn't actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combated, has already led the United States to underestimate it." Amen to that.

ISIS members devoutly believe that they are fighting in a cosmic war in which they are on the side of good, which allows them to kill anyone they perceive to be standing in their way with no compunction. This is, of course, a serious delusion, but serious it is.

***

STARTLING DEATH TURNS SKEPTIC INTO PIONEER MISSIONARY

Bill Federer recounts true story of Adoniram Judson

Published: February 18.2015

Adoniram Judson

The groans of a dying man kept him awake in the little inn outside New York.

But he was hardened to the cries because a college friend at Brown University named Jacob Eames had persuaded him to become a skeptic deist.

The next morning, when inquiring of the innkeeper, he learned the man who had died in the night was none other than Jacob Eames, his college friend.

This rude awakening led him to become America’s first foreign missionary to Burma, modern day Myanmar.

His name was Adoniram Judson, born in Massachusetts, Aug. 9, 1788.

At age 23, and his wife 22, they sailed from New England on Feb. 19, 1812, for Calcutta, India. They were forced by the British East India Company to Rangoon, Burma.

They translated Scriptures, preached in Burmese and started schools. Enduring hardships, Adoniram was imprisoned during the Anglo-Burmese War. He later gained respect from the Burmese and British officials, as he had translated a English-Burmese Dictionary and the Bible.

Adoniram Judson suffered depression when his wife died.

He was joined by missionaries George Boardman and his wife

The first Christian convert from the Karen people was Ko Tha Byu.

The Karen people were a hunted minority scattered in the jungles. Astonishingly, their ancient Karen beliefs were in an all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth, a man, a woman formed from a rib taken from the man, temptation by a devil, their fall, and the promise that someday a messiah would come to their rescue. They lived in expectation of a prophecy that white foreigners would bring them a sacred parchment roll.

By Judson’s death, there were 63 churches, 123 ministers and over 7,000 baptized Christians in Burma.

Each July, Baptist churches in Myanmar celebrate “Judson Day.”

Judson wrote: “How do Christians discharge this trust committed to them? They let three fourths of the world sleep the sleep of death, ignorant of the simple truth that a Savior died for them.”

Brought to you by AmericanMinute.com.

***

Daily Mail

Netanyahu humiliated after he tries to play down wealth with video recorded in his decrepit home... which is revealed to be his servants' quarters

  • Benjamin Netanyahu has become embroiled in an expenses controversy

  • An official watchdog has criticised his spending of taxpayers' money

  • Found 'excessive' amounts of public funds has been spent by PM and wife

  • But video at his home revealed to have been filmed in servants' quarters

  • In it, his wife Sara bemoans the state of their kitchen and frayed carpets

  • She said there was no budget to fix upholstery before Obama's 2013 visit

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER and COREY CHARLTON FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 19:51 EST, 17 February 2015 | UPDATED: 10:20 EST, 18 February 2015

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been left red-faced after a video shot by a celebrity home designer depicting his modest lifestyle was revealed to be recorded in his servants' quarters.

The 15-minute film by Moshik Galamin showed Mr Netanyahu's wife Sara guiding the viewer around the couple's home, where run down parts of the property such as creaking doors and frayed carpets, are detailed.

But it has now emerged Galamin was not granted access to the couple's upstairs living quarters, and Israel's Channel 10 TV claimed the kitchen in question was not even the one the Netanyahus use, but rather a secondary administrative kitchen.

Netanyahu's wife Sara bemoans the state of their kitchen in a home remodelling show. However, it has emerged the kitchen is used by administrative staff, not the the Netanyahus themselves

The embarrassing video forms just one of a series of damaging developments in Netanyahu's expenses controversy after an official watchdog criticised his spending of taxpayers' money.

In the clip, Sara Netanyahu unveils to interior designer Galamin a simple home with creaking doors and windows, frayed carpets, dusty lamps, cracked light fixtures and paint peeling off neglected walls.

She bemoans how they didn't have the budget to fix upholstery before the 2013 visit of President Barack Obama and says he was forced to sit on a coffee-stained couch.

'I don't notice the details because I don't dare think about it,' she says as she points to mildew in a courtyard.

'When you walk out, make sure the door handle doesn't break off,' she said with a giggle as he parted.

Galamin, who hosts a popular home remodeling TV show, said he funded the shoot - which opposition lawmakers say violated Israeli campaign finance laws.

A former chief of the Shin Bet security service called the film a 'severe security breach' and said terrorist groups would have been willing to pay a hefty sum to acquire such an inside look at the prime minister's home.

Netanyahu's office had no immediate comment on the TV report.

The video, perhaps ironically, is set to catchy background music that includes the theme song from the Netflix series 'House of Cards' and Justin Timberlake's hit 'Cry Me a River.'

'It was like a horrific traffic accident-something that you can't bear to watch but at the same time you can't tear your eyes away,' wrote Sima Kadmon, a frequent critic of the Netanyahus, sarcastically adding outrage over 'the shameful quality of life the royal family has been forced to live in during its years in power.'

Netanyahu's rivals pounced on the material.

The centrist Yesh Atid party, which has made corruption a centerpiece of its campaign, said the report and video reflected how disconnected Netanyahu was from real problems of average Israelis, who just three years ago took to the streets en masse to protest the country's high cost of living.

'What matters are the citizens, not the carpets,' it said.

Meanwhile, the government's state comptroller has found 'excessive' amounts of public funds have been spent by Mr Netanyahu and his wife Sara, on food, furniture and gardening at their state residence and private home.

In a report by the official watchdog, it was claimed cleaning expenses in the home on the coastal city of Caesarea averaged more than £1,370 a month in taxpayer's money even though the couple only spent the occasional weekend there.

It was also said they pocketed proceeds from recycling bottles that had been purchased for entertaining official guests.

It said the bottle returns, and purchases of garden furniture for their private home, may have violated the law.

The watchdog's findings have ramped up tensions between the premier and his opponents in the run -up to elections on March 17 which have focused on the economic woes of middle and lower-class voters.

Mr Netanyahu promised to follow the recommendations to curb spending but he also criticised the 'ongoing media campaign' surrounding the report, which he said was aimed at toppling him.

Netanyahu's opponents have tried to portray him as enjoying a lavish lifestyle and being out of touch with the struggles of average Israelis.

Netanyahu's allies angrily dismissed the allegations as part of a campaign to deflect attention from important national security issues.

Mr Netanyahu and his wife are no strangers to such scrutiny.

The prime minister has long been saddled with an image as a cigar-smoking, cognac-drinking socialite, while his wife has come under fire for her own expensive tastes and alleged abusive behavior toward staff.

The Netanyahus accuse the Israeli media of a longstanding witch hunt against them.

In a statement, Netanyahu said he respected the findings of the comptroller and pledged to implement recommendations to curb wasteful spending.

At the same time he lashed out at the 'ongoing media campaign' that he said is aimed at toppling him.

'There is absolutely no indication of any assault on the public's integrity and certainly no indication of any criminal transgressions,' he said.

A former member of their housekeeping staff has filed a lawsuit claiming he was mistreated and verbally abused by Sara Netanyahu.

In one instance, Meni Naftali alleged she called him at 3am to complain that he had bought milk in a plastic storage bag instead of a carton.

In another, he claimed that she chastised him because some flowers in a vase were a day old.

Netanyahu said expenses have dropped significantly in the two years since the departure of Naftali, a man he described as 'an embittered former public employee.'

Over the years, reports have been released about the high cost of the Netanyahus' catering, housekeeping, furniture, clothing and makeup.

In one case, the premier was chided for spending $127,000 in public funds for a special sleeping cabin on a flight to London.

Even their costly purchases of scented candles and pistachio-flavored ice cream have been derided.

Two days before the state comptroller released its report, Netanyahu posted a 15-minute video on Facebook that appeared aimed at countering the hedonistic image ahead of March 17 elections that have focused on the economic woes of middle and lower-class voters.

***

Fox News

Pro-Russian rebels force Ukrainian troops to retreat from railway hub, as Putin mocks cease-fire

Published February 18, 2015FoxNews.com

Ukrainian separatists dubbed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as "yesterday’s miners or yesterday’s tractor drivers" drove Ukraine's army from a key rail hub in the eastern part of the country in what was branded a "crushing defeat" just days after a short-lived cease-fire agreement.

Fierce fighting around the town of Debaltseve, through which railroads linking the two major separatist cities of Donetsk and Luhansk pass, had been raging for days despite a cease-fire deal brokered by European leaders and signed by Putin to take effect Sunday. The past was supposed to be followed by the withdrawal of heavy weaponry beginning Tuesday, but the fighting barely paused.

On Wednesday, multiple sources told Fox News that the pro-Russian rebels were holding 300 Ukrainian troops prisoner, but officials in Kiev insist that the number is lower. Russian state-owned television on Wednesday showed images of several dozen Ukrainian troops being escorted along a village road by the rebels.

The separatists have claimed that the area around Debaltseve isn't covered by the cease-fire deal. Putin, who helped broker the agreement last week, mocked the Ukrainian forces and suggested they should lay down their arms.

"Of course, it’s always bad to lose," Putin told reporters. "Of course it’s always a hardship when you lose to yesterday’s miners or yesterday’s tractor drivers. But life is life. It’ll surely go on."

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said 30 soldiers were injured in the withdrawal and no one was killed, despite reports saying more than 100 troops were wounded.

A military source told Fox News the retreat was "chaotic" and there are reports of troops being separated from their units, losing communications and convoys being disrupted.

Semyon Semenchenko, a volunteer battalion commander and a member of the Ukrainian parliament who was highly critical of the government's decision to retreat, said in a statement that 167 injured soldiers have been evacuated from Debaltseve. He mentioned a high death toll and said some bodies had been left behind but did not give specific numbers.

It appears that much of Ukraine’s military hardware -- including tanks, APC’s and light weapons -- are being taken away with the Ukrainian military, but the rebels say they have seized a lot.

Some retreating troops said Wednesday they had not received any reinforcements in Debaltseve from the government and had been walking for a whole day. One Ukrainian soldier who introduced himself only as Nikolai said he was not even sure if his unit was retreating or being rotated elsewhere.

"I don't know. Our commanders didn't tell us whether it's a retreat or just a rotation," he told The Associated Press. "They just told us to change our positions because our unit had been staying there for quite a long time and we had sustained quite big losses."

Some were driving to the nearby town of Artemivsk in trucks while several others, unshaven and visibly upset, were on foot.

One soldier spoke of heavy government losses, while another said they had not been able to get food or water because of the intense rebel shelling. A third spoke of hunkering down in bunkers for hours, unable to even go to the toilet because of the shelling. They smoked cigarettes in the frigid winter air and gratefully accepted plastic cups of tea given to them by locals.

"We're very happy to be here," the hungry soldier told the AP. "We were praying all the time and already said goodbye to our lives a hundred times."

Poroshenko sought to portray the withdrawal as a tactical decision that "laid shame on Russia." He said the army had withdrawn 80 percent of its troops from the town by Wednesday morning and two more columns had yet to leave.

"Debaltseve was under our control, it was never encircled. Our troops and formations have left in an organized and planned manner," he said in televised comments.

"The Ukrainian troops... gave a blow in the teeth to those who were trying to encircle them," Poroshenko said at a Kiev airport as he traveled to eastern Ukraine to "shake the hands" of the soldiers leaving Debaltseve.

Ukrainian government critics called the withdrawal a “major setback” and “psychological blow” for demonstrating that its troops cannot stand up to the Russian-backed rebels. Others are calling for Ukrainian military commanders to resign, citing poor strategies.

Semenchenko, the battalion commander, on Facebook accused the military command of betraying the country's interests in Debaltseve.

"The problem is the command and coordination,” he said. “They are as bad as can be."

But some critics are calling for a counter-attack against the rebels.

The U.S., Ukraine, and NATO say that Russia has been arming and training the rebels since the conflict began last year. Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusation.

Feb. 18, 2015: Ukrainian troops ride on an armored vehicle outside Artemivsk, Ukraine, while pulling out of Debaltseve.(AP)

Ukrainian military spokesman Anatoliy Stelmakh said in a televised briefing on Wednesday that the rebels launched five artillery strikes on Debaltseve overnight thus "grossly violating the peace accords."

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini accused the rebels in Debaltseve of acting "in clear violation of the cease-fire."

"Russia and the separatists have to immediately and fully implement the commitments agreed to in Minsk, in line with yesterday's U.N. Security Council resolution, starting with the respect of the cease-fire and the withdrawal of all heavy weapons," Mogherini said in a statement Wednesday.

AP journalists were turned back by rebel forces outside Vuhlehirsk, about six miles west of Debaltseve, early on Wednesday and were unable to assess the status of the fight. Regular artillery fire, coming from the rebel side, was heard in the area.

Rebel leaders said on Wednesday that they have begun the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the parts of the frontline where the cease-fire holds. Eduard Basurin told Russian Rossiya 1 channel that they are now pulling back five self-propelled guns from Olenivka, south of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk on the road to the government-controlled port of Mariupol.

"This is the first step," Basurin said. "And we're not waiting for Ukraine to start pulling back the weaponry together with us."

Observers from the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe, the group responsible for monitoring the cease-fire, have attempted to go to Debaltseve since Sunday but have been blocked by the rebels.

The separatists' Donetsk News Agency on Wednesday quoted rebel official Maxim Leshchenko saying that the OSCE will be allowed to visit Debaltseve "soon" once their forces have finished the operation there.

Fox News' Greg Palkot and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

***

COUNTERPUNCH (Edited from longer article.)

THE “EXCEPTIONAL” U.S. SUFFERS CRUSHING DEFEAT IN DEBALTSEVO

Ukrainian Armed Forces suffered major casualties ranging between 3,000 to 3,500

Image Credits: News Front

by MIKE WHITNEY | COUNTERPUNCH | FEBRUARY 20, 2015

“There’s no city left. It’s destroyed.”

— Anonymous Ukrainian soldier following the battle of Debaltsevo

In less than a year, the United States has toppled the democratically-elected government of Ukraine, installed a Washington-backed stooge in Kiev, launched a bloody and costly war of annihilation on Russian-speaking people in the East, thrust the economy into a downward death spiral, and reduced the nation to an anarchic, failed state destined to endure a vicious fratricidal civil war for as far as the eye can see.

Last week, Washington suffered its greatest military defeat in more than a decade when Ukraine’s US-backed army was soundly routed in the major railway hub of Debaltsevo. Roughly, 8,000 Ukrainian regulars along with untold numbers of tanks and armored units were surrounded in what-came-to-be-known-as “the cauldron.” The army of the Donetsk Peoples Republic led by DPR commander Alexander Zakharchenko, encircled the invading army and gradually tightened the cordon, eventually killing or capturing most of the troops within the pocket. The Ukrainian Armed Forces suffered major casualties ranging between 3,000 to 3,500 while a vast amount of lethal military hardware was left behind.

According to Zakharchenko, “The amount of equipment Ukrainian units have lost here is beyond description.”

Additionally, the US-backed proxy-army saw many of its crack troops and top-notch units destroyed in the fighting leaving Kiev unable to continue the war without assistance from allies in the US or Europe. The full impact of the defeat will not be known until angry troops returning from the front amass on the streets of the Capital and demand Petro Poroshenko’s resignation. The Ukrainian President is responsible for the massacre at Debaltsevo. He was fully aware that his army faced encirclement but ordered them to remain in order to satisfy powerful right-wing elements in his government. The disaster is even more terrible due to the fact that it was entirely avoidable and achieved no strategic purpose at all. Extreme hubris frequently impacts outcomes on the battlefield. This was the case at Debaltsevo.

The debacle ensures that the bumbling president’s days are numbered. It’s nearly certain that he will either be replaced or hanged sometime in weeks ahead. He has already flown his family to safety out of the country, and there’s growing speculation that both Washington and the far-right nationalists who occupy the Security Services will insist on his removal. That paves the way for a second Ukrainian coup in less than a year, a grim reminder of the tragic failings of US policy in Ukraine.

If Poroshenko is doomed to be the scapegoat in the Debaltsevo cock-up, it’s only because he followed the foolhardy advice of his Washington paymasters. Had he listened to his military advisors instead, he probably would have withdrawn his troops earlier and spared himself a Gadhafi-like demise. Now, that’s probably no longer possible.

Poroshenko’s desperation has led to an appeal to western allies and the United Nations for the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine. The request is an admission of defeat and has no chance of being implemented, mainly because it violates the terms of the recent peace agreement (Minsk 2.0), but, also, because voting members on the Security Council (Russia and China) are certain to veto the idea. Clearly, Poroshenko, who is increasingly embattled and reviled, is grasping at straws hoping to avoid the same violent end he ruthlessly inflicted on so many of his countrymen.

Washington has largely won the information war, having persuaded Congress and the American people that US policy in Ukraine is “just”, but on the ground, where it counts, Washington has encountered one catastrophic failure after another. This process will undoubtedly persist until the costs are too exorbitant to bear.

***

Daily Mail

Russian researchers expose 'NSA's secret weapon': Outrage at program that enables America to spy on EVERY home computer in the world is uncovered

  • The NSA has figured out how to hide spying and sabotage software deep within hard drives, according to cyber researchers and former operatives

  • The group said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs

  • The most infections were seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria

  • The infections started in 2001, but increased drastically in 2008, the year President Barack Obama was elected

  • The tools are designed to run on computers even when they are not connected to the Internet, and even the makers of some of the hard drives are unaware that these programs have been embedded

  • The spies made a technological breakthrough by figuring out how to lodge malicious software in the obscure code called firmware that launches every time a computer is turned on

By REUTERS REPORTER and CHRIS SPARGO FOR DAILYMAIL.COM

PUBLISHED: 21:49 EST, 16 February 2015 | UPDATED: 10:57 EST, 17 February 2015

The National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives, allowing them to monitor and eavesdrop on the majority of the world's computers - even when they are not connected to the internet.

The Moscow-based security software maker Kaspersky Lab said it has found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria.

The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs

The NSA began infecting computers in 2001 claims Kaspersky, ramping up their efforts in 2008 when President Barack Obama was elected.

This 'surpasses anything known in terms of complexity and sophistication of techniques, and that has been active for almost two decades,' said Kaspersky.

What's more, even the makers of these hard drives are unaware that these spying programs have been installed, with the NSA obtaining their source codes by going so far as to pose as software developers according to former intelligence operatives, or telling the companies the government must do a security audit to make sure their source code is safe.

According to Kaspersky, the spies made a technological breakthrough by figuring out how to lodge malicious software in the obscure code called firmware that launches every time a computer is turned on.

Disk drive firmware is viewed by spies and cybersecurity experts as the second-most valuable real estate on a PC for a hacker, second only to the BIOS code invoked automatically as a computer boots up.

'The hardware will be able to infect the computer over and over,' lead Kaspersky researcher Costin Raiu said in an interview.

Though the leaders of the still-active espionage campaign could have taken control of thousands of PCs, giving them the ability to steal files or eavesdrop on anything they wanted, the spies were selective and only established full remote control over machines belonging to the most desirable foreign targets, according to Raiu. He said Kaspersky found only a few especially high-value

computers with the hard-drive infections.

The firm declined to publicly name the country behind the spying campaign, but said it was closely linked to Stuxnet, the NSA-led cyberweapon that was used to attack Iran's uranium enrichment facility. The NSA is the U.S. agency responsible for gathering electronic intelligence.

A former NSA employee told Reuters that Kaspersky's analysis was correct, and that people still in the spy agency valued these espionage programs as highly as Stuxnet. Another former intelligence operative confirmed that the NSA had developed the prized technique of concealing spyware in hard drives, but said he did not know which spy efforts relied on it.

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said the agency was aware of the Kaspersky report but would not comment on it publicly.

Kaspersky published the technical details of its research on Monday, a move that could help infected institutions detect the spying programs, some of which trace back as far as 2001.

The disclosure could hurt the NSA's surveillance abilities, already damaged by massive leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden's revelations have upset some U.S. allies and slowed the sales of U.S. technology products abroad.

The exposure of these new spying tools could lead to greater backlash against Western technology, particularly in countries such as China, which is already drafting regulations that would require most bank technology suppliers to proffer copies of their software code for inspection.

Peter Swire, one of five members of U.S. President Barack Obama's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, said the Kaspersky report showed that it is essential for the country to consider the possible impact on trade and diplomatic relations before deciding to use its knowledge of software flaws for intelligence gathering.

'There can be serious negative effects on other U.S. interests,' Swire said.

Technological breakthrough

Kaspersky's reconstructions of the spying programs show that they could work in disk drives sold by more than a dozen companies, comprising essentially the entire market. They include Western Digital Corp, Seagate Technology Plc, Toshiba Corp, IBM, Micron Technology Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Western Digital, Seagate and Micron said they had no knowledge of these spying programs. Toshiba and Samsung declined to comment. IBM did not respond to requests for comment.

Getting the source code

Raiu said the authors of the spying programs must have had access to the proprietary source code that directs the actions of the hard drives. That code can serve as a roadmap to vulnerabilities, allowing those who study it to launch attacks much more easily.

'There is zero chance that someone could rewrite the [hard drive] operating system using public information,' Raiu said.

Concerns about access to source code flared after a series of high-profile cyberattacks on Google Inc and other U.S. companies in 2009 that were blamed on China. Investigators have said they found evidence that the hackers gained access to source code from several big U.S. tech and defense companies.

It is not clear how the NSA may have obtained the hard drives' source code. Western Digital spokesman Steve Shattuck said the company 'has not provided its source code to government agencies.' The other hard drive makers would not say if they had shared their source code with the NSA.

Seagate spokesman Clive Over said it has 'secure measures to prevent tampering or reverse engineering of its firmware and other technologies.' Micron spokesman Daniel Francisco said the company took the security of its products seriously and 'we are not aware of any instances of foreign code.'

According to former intelligence operatives, the NSA has multiple ways of obtaining source code from tech companies, including asking directly and posing as a software developer. If a company wants to sell products to the Pentagon or another sensitive U.S. agency, the government can request a security audit to make sure the source code is safe.

'They don't admit it, but they do say, "We're going to do an evaluation, we need the source code,"' said Vincent Liu, a partner at security consulting firm Bishop Fox and former NSA analyst. 'It's usually the NSA doing the evaluation, and it's a pretty small leap to say they're going to keep that source code.'

The NSA declined to comment on any allegations in the Kaspersky report. Vines said the agency complies with the law and White House directives to protect the United States and its allies 'from a wide array of serious threats.'

Kaspersky called the authors of the spying program 'the Equation group,' named after their embrace of complex encryption formulas.

The group used a variety of means to spread other spying programs, such as by compromising jihadist websites, infecting USB sticks and CDs, and developing a self-spreading computer worm called Fanny, Kaspersky said.Fanny was like Stuxnet in that it exploited two of the same undisclosed software flaws, known as 'zero days,' which strongly suggested collaboration by the authors, Raiu said. He added that it was 'quite possible' that the Equation group used Fanny to scout out targets for Stuxnet in Iran and spread the virus.

***

OpenMinds

TV shoot interrupted by UFO in Lima

Posted by: Jason McClellan February 12, 2015

Filming for the television show Alto al Crimen in the Miraflores district of Lima, Peru was interrupted when the production team noticed a UFO hovering in the sky.

The sighting occurred on the morning of Tuesday, February 10, and was reportedly witnessed by several members of the production crew, including the show’s host, Renzo Reggiardo, a Peruvian congressman.

Peru This Week describes, “Reggiardo had just begun filming for his program Alto al Crimen when his camera man got distracted by something floating in the distant sky. They postponed filming a few moments to take a better look at the floating object.”

Witnesses were bewildered by the strange aerial object. They managed to record video of the UFO with cameras and cell phones.

Videos of the object were uploaded to YouTube by Eduardo Chávez Guerra, a member of the show’s production crew. Although the videos are 1080p HD videos, and were likely recorded with a professional-grade camera, no clear details of the UFO are visible. And, some have questioned why a production crew didn’t bother to use a tripod to obtain better video of something so mysterious.

Although some assert that the UFO in these videos is a bad computer creation, it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that Congressman Reggiardo would participate in a hoax. Others suggest the UFO is a drone, a paraglider at the nearby beach, or even a plastic bag. But witnesses doubt these possibilities because they say the object was too large and remained in the sky for too long–nearly two hours.

***

YAHOO NEWS

Obama adviser John Podesta's biggest regret: Keeping America in dark about UFOs

By Caitlin Dickson

February 13, 2015 7:08 PM

FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2014 file photo, Counselor to the President John Podesta speaks in Washington, Wednesday, …

Outgoing senior Obama adviser John Podesta reflected on his latest White House stint Friday, listing his favorite moments and biggest regrets from the past year. Chief among them: depriving the American people of the truth about UFOs.

Podesta’s longtime fascination with UFOs is well-documented, as his brief political hiatus following four years as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff freed him up to pursue his otherworldly passion.

At a 2002 press conference organized by the Coalition for Freedom of Information, Podesta spoke on the importance of disclosing government UFO investigations to the public.

“It’s time to find out what the truth really is that’s out there,” he said. “We ought to do it, really, because it’s right. We ought to do it, quite frankly, because the American people can handle the truth. And we ought to do it because it’s the law.”

Following Podesta’s tweet, Friday, the Washington Post recalled an exchange one of its reporters had with Podesta in 2007. Karen Tumulty had asked Podesta about reports that the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, had been bombarded with Freedom of Information Act Requests specifically seeking email correspondence to and from the former chief of staff including terms like “X-Files” and “Area 51.” Podesta’s response, through a spokesperson, was “The truth is out there,” the tagline for the TV show “The X-Files” of which Podesta was known to be a fan.

A 2010 editorial in Missouri’s Columbia Tribune disparaged reports that Podesta had asked an outspoken UFO photographer to stop discussing his knowledge of extraterrestrial activities in public.

“One wonders why Podesta would do such a radical reversal, given his former plea for UFO disclosure,” the editorial implored.

But contrary to the Columbia Tribune’s concerns, Podesta had clearly not abandoned the cause. He wrote an introduction to the 2010 book “UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record.”

Unfortunately, Podesta will likely have little time to fill out FOIA requests in his new job at Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Perhaps, as his tweet suggests, he’s passing the torch to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

***

RT

Mars mystery: Enormous plumes detected erupting on Red Planet

Published time: February 17, 2015 05:11

Edited time: February 18, 2015 07:08

Mysterious plumes over 150 miles high have been recorded erupting on Mars by amateur astronomers – and the strange discovery has scientists stumped.

The bright flares have now died away, but they were spotted on two occasions – lasting for 10 days each time – by amateur astronomers in 2012. The dusty plumes were seen rising to altitudes of 155 miles (250km) and spread out over a region measuring 300-600 miles wide.

Scientists have captured plumes erupting from Mars before by the Hubble Telescope and on databases of amateur images, but none of them reached such heights – the maximum previously recorded was 62 miles.

At about 250 km, the division between the atmosphere and outer space is very thin, so the reported plums are extremely unexpected,” said Agustin Sanchez-Lavega of the Universidad del Pais Vasco in Spain, the lead author of the paper, reporting the finding in the journal Nature.

Amateur astronomer Wayne Jaeschke, who spends about 100 nights a year watching the heavens, was looking at footage of Mars he had captured in his private observatory when he noticed the plumes. He shared the images with friends and then it was circulated among amateur and professional astronomers.

Scientists are using the Hubble data along with amateur images to find out what the plumes are made of and what might be causing them to occur. The announcement about a week after NASA’s Maven Spacecraft arrived to study Mars’ upper atmosphere.

One idea we’ve discussed is that the features are caused by a reflective cloud of water-ice, carbon dioxide-ice or dust particles, but this would require exceptional deviation from standard atmospheric circulation models to explain cloud formations at such high altitudes,” Agustin said.

Still, Agustin said the theory of a dazzling Martian aurora, like the Northern Lights on Earth, couldn’t explain the enormous size of the clouds.

Another scientist is cautious about the claims.

I don’t think it’s real…basic physics says this can’t occur,” Todd Clancy, planetary scientist at the Space Science Institute, told USA Today, adding that Mars’ upper atmosphere doesn’t supply the necessary ingredients for clouds.

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OFFICIALS DECLARE ‘EATING HEALTHY’ A MENTAL DISORDER

Could we all really be mentally ill?

by JEFFEREY JAXEN | INFOWARS | FEBRUARY 18, 2015

In an attempt to curb the mass rush for food change and reform, psychiatry has green lighted a public relations push to spread awareness about their new buzzword “orthorexia nervosa,” defined as “a pathological obsession for biologically pure and healthy nutrition.” In other words, experts are saying that our demand for nutrient-dense, healthful food is a mental disorder that must be treated.

CNN, Fast Company, Popular Science, and other top outlets have all began to trumpet the talking points on cue relatively recently:

Orthorexia nervosa is a label designated to those who are concerned about eating healthy. Characterized by disordered eating fueled by a desire for “clean” or “healthy” foods, those diagnosed with the condition are overly pre-occupied with the nutritional makeup of what they eat”.

In short, if you turn your back on low quality, corporate food containing known cancer causing toxic additives and a rich history of dishonesty rooted in a continuous “profits over people” modus operandi, then you may suffer from a mental illness. The cherry on top is that if you have the pseudo-science labeled disorder of orthorexia nervosa, you will be prescribed known toxic, pharmaceutical drugs from some of the same conglomerate corporations that you are trying to avoid by eating healthy in the first place.

Orthorexia has not yet found its way into the latest edition of the psychiatric bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), yet is commonly being lumped in with other eating disorders. Stepping back and looking at the ones pushing this label on us shows highly questionable motives.

Psychiatry as a whole is deeply in bed with a pharmaceutical industry that makes the drugs to “treat” every one of these “disorders.” It is often these companies that are wielding influence behind the scenes to invent more mental health categories with their toxic products as the answer. This latest media push to popularize orthorexia as a mental disorder with a goal to marginalize or derail the food revolution appears to have been dead on arrival.

The psychiatric community has even deemed creativity to be a mental illness.

As the people continue to walk away from the broken medical and agricultural/food systems like any abusive relationship, the food makers are willing to do anything to maintain their waning control. Organic and non-GMO food markets have exploded in the last 5 years, so much so that any corporation wishing to not follow the trend risks financial hardship or ruin. In addition, pharmaceutical companies are feeling the strain as less people want their toxic medications and crippling side effects.

Perhaps some people to take it too far to the point of self-harm, but the problem we face with a toxic food system is a much larger threat. In closing, let’s be aware of some of the overall BS fed to us by the pharmaceutical bankrolled industry of psychiatry. When healthy eating and creativity are mental issues, something is amiss.

Additional Sources:

Popular Science

Jon Rappoport

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