04-04-18 Endtime News Update – This is a BAD ONE… FOLKS!!!! God IS HOLY!!!
My YouTube channel was deleted and unable to be viewed for ONE DAY – starting April 2nd to April 3rd. For one 24 hour period, I and my subscribers were unable to access the contents on my channel UNLESS you KNEW the correct video title you were looking for and then and ONLY then, could you see my content.
Then… this happened…???? WHAT????? IS ??????? Going ????? ON ???????
YouTube Shooter Identified As Nasim Aghdam
As it turns out, Tuesday’s shooting at YouTube headquarters (which has so far resulted in zero deaths other than that of the shooter, who committed suicide) had nothing to do with domestic violence and everything to do with blowback to YouTube’s demonetization efforts – as many initially feared.
The shooter was identified as Nasim Aghdam who slammed YouTube for purportedly censoring her after she claimed that they demonetized her channels, including an exercise one devoted to exercise videos and another devoted to veganism. Aghdam channeled her anger toward YouTube into a paranoid manifesto published online. She wrote in her purported manifesto: “Be aware! Dictatorship exists in all countries but with different tactics! They only care for personal and short-term profits and do anything to reach their goals even by fooling simple-minded people, hiding the truth, manipulating science and everything, putting public mental and physical health at risk, abusing non-human animals, polluting the environment, destroying family values, promoting materialism and sexual degeneration in the name of freedom and turning people into programmed robots!”
She identified herself as an Iranian activist as well as an animal rights activist. Shortly after she was identified, photos of her holding signs with anti-YouTube messages were found online and shared.
She recently published a video ranting about her treatment by YouTube, complaining that they’d deprived her of views. She said the practice was tantamount to censorship. She also maintained a website that remained live late Tuesday evening. It lists five channels for Aghdam.
And driving that point home, she published a video debating whether the US or Iran did more to protect freedom of speech.
A Facebook artist page she created had more than 1,600 followers according to a cached version from archive.org. The Facebook page contains a trove of videos. They range in subject matter from lighthearted and comical to recipes for helping people eat vegan, as well as her exercise videos.
Contrary to initial reports, ABC said Aghdam wasn’t in a relationship with anyone at the facility (so much for those initial suspicions).
She did not have an ID badge, and was carrying a purse. Aghdam was apparently a prolific maker of YouTube videos, maintaining several accounts for videos of different subjects.
DEBKAfile Exclusive: French special ops troops have moved into two US Syrian bases, Manbij and Remelin, as the US boosts its lines against Turkey.
While US President Donald Trump was saying Tuesday, April 3, that he would “decide very quickly” to remove US troops from Syria, our exclusive military sources report that US Marines were heading toward the northern Syrian town of Manbij as reinforcements against Turkish inroads. They took up positions along the Sajur River, one of the three tributaries that feed the Euphrates River in Syria from sources in Turkey. This action blocked the Turkish army’s land access to Manbij, its next target after capturing Afrin. The Marine unit is equipped with a large fleet of armored vehicles, heavy artillery and engineering equipment. US military engineers are also building a new facility at the tiny Dadat village 8km east of the Sajur river as a rear base for the new US defense line.
DEBKAfile’s military sources also reveal that on Sunday and Monday, April 1-2, French forces moved into northern Syria, marking France’s first substantial military feed into the Syrian civil war. French troops formed up alongside US marines in Manbij and their jets and battle helicopters landed at the US air base in Remelin to provide air support for the US and French contingents posted in Manbij.
The French units drove into Manbij at the moment on Monday that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visited his troops with congratulations on their capture of Afrin from the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia. Clad in the army fatigues of a Turkish general, Erdogan signaled in the speech that the Afrin venture was the start of a major Turkish military campaign against the Kurds in northern Syria and Iraq. It would start next at Manbij and go on to seize Sinjar in northern Iraq.
This time, according to our sources, President Donald Trump moved swiftly to beat the Turkish leader to the draw and snatch away his two main targets in Syria and Iraq. He put to good use the good understanding he has quickly developed with French President Emmanuel Macron for cooperating in a number of international arenas, in contrast to his uneasy relations with most other West European leaders.
As for Erdogan’s Iraq destination, Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi, after being leaned on heavily by the Trump administration, sent the Iraqi Army’s 5th Division to Sinjar province and lined his troops up on the Iraqi-Syrian border to obstruct the Turkish army’s advance from Syria into Iraq. Erdogan was unable to make good on his threat to seize the Iraqi province unless the Kurdish PKK withdrew from its bases there. President Macron had meanwhile acted to consolidate Trump’s plans for the Kurdish districts of Syria. On March 29, he received a delegation of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and the Syrian Democratic Army, which led the battle for driving ISIS out of Raqqa. After praising their military feats, he pledged French support for “the stabilization of their security zone in northeastern Syria within the framework of an inclusive and balanced governance to prevent any resurgence of ISIS.”
Erdogan vented his rage on Macron by accusing him of “fraud” and later of conducting “a French military invasion of Syria.” For daring to offer to mediate between Turkey and the Kurds, he accused the French president of interfering with Turkey’s military operations. Instead of answering the Turkish president’s charges, Macron sent French troops to Manbij to support the US military’s counter-offensive against the Turkish army’s plans.
The Trump administration therefore acted through two allies to frustrate Erdogan’s military plans for Syria and Iraq.
Leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey to meet on Syria
The leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey are meeting in the Turkish capital for talks on Syria’s future.
The leaders are expected to reaffirm their commitment to Syria’s territorial integrity and the continuation of local ceasefires when they meet today.
The three countries have been working to try and resolve the conflict, which is now in its seventh year. Russia and Iran have provided crucial support to President Bashar Assad’s forces, while Turkey has backed the rebels seeking to overthrow him.
They have sponsored a series talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, and have set up “de-escalation zones” aimed at reducing the fighting.
New Study Provides Yet More Proof Of Saudi State Sponsorship Of ISIS
During the same week Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) admitted to the The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that Saudi nationals have funded terror groups, a prominent Georgetown University counterterrorism expert and field researcher has published his findings based on extensive interviews with former ISIS members which identifies Saudi Arabia as a key source of the now defunct Islamic State’s prior rapid growth.
“The majority of the ISIS shaykhs (imams and teachers) who were preaching in ISIS-controlled territories and schools were from Saudi Arabia.”
Though documentation on Saudi Arabia’s role in financing global jihad has been abundant over the past years of war in Syria and Iraq, Professor Yayla’s field research provides yet further empirical confirmation and proof of Saudi Arabia’s role in fueling both ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorism.
Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). Image source: Getty via Daily Express
Salafism is usually described as an ultraconservative, puritanical, grim and fundamentalist branch within Sunni Islam established on the teachings of the 13th-century scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, whose ideas were introduced by puritanical scholar Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the Arabian Peninsula during the mid-18th Century. Wahhab advocated a return to the traditions of the first generations of Muslims (the salaf).
And as also summarized in a 2016 New York Times investigation, ISIS terrorists rely on official Saudi religious instruction books as primary sources informing their ideology.
ISIS and al-Qaeda appropriate foundational texts of al-Wahhab, including The Book of Monotheism (Kitab at-Tawhid), in their curriculum, in their Sharia (ideological) training in military camps, online training and the school systems they control.
Additionally, several ISIS defectors I interviewed specifically told me how al-Wahhab’s Kitab at-Tawhid was the chief and the most important part of their training, a book also widely and historically adopted by today’s Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, I observed that Salafist literature and books were adopted by terrorists including al-Qaeda for their indoctrination and training during the investigations I carried out as a counterterrorism police chief in Turkey.
Notably, one of Saudi Arabia’s most visible sheikhs – who recently held the title of ‘Imam of Kaaba, the Grand Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca’ – admitted that ISIS is a product of Saudi Salafi/Wahhabi Islam, which has been described by scholars and historians alike as the official state religion of Saudi Arabia, despite MbS’ feigning confusion over the issue during his recent Atlantic interview.
Sheikh Adel al-Kalbani, the former Imam of Kaaba, the Grand Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca, and a Salafi himself, openly and sincerely admitted that “ISIS is a true product of Salafism” and we must deal with it with full transparency.
But the key section of the summary study Homeland Security Today, which links the highest levels of the Saudi state (including Saudi princes) with ISIS terrorism is worth quoting in full.
According to the below excerpt from the summary findings, Saudi Arabia spreads Salafist terror ideology “all over the world”:
“The fact is, some Saudi princes, clerics, and charities for decades have been pouring out billions of dollars to promote their understanding of Islam, Wahhabism. They have found willing partners among the vulnerable populations in the Central Asian and Afghan-Pakistani regions, Africa, the Balkans and even in Europe. These funders indirectly assist ISIS and al-Qaeda-friendly organizations to fast-track their recruitments process on their behalf.In the leaked U.S. embassy cables, it was openly addressed that Saudi Arabia was ‘a critical source of terrorist funding’ where the money is mostly spent on training of Wahhabi clerics, production and distribution of Wahhabi textbooks, media outreach and donations to local schools or cultural centers.
Thanks to the Saudis spreading Salafism all over the world, these terrorists reach ideologically ripe people among their targeted groups who are already educated by the Wahhabis.
For a more comprehensive and effective long-term counterterrorism policy, the world should understand that regardless of the political costs and outcomes there is no true dealing of jihadi terrorism without countering the Salafist jihadist ideology. The majority of the ISIS shaykhs (imams and teachers) who were preaching in ISIS-controlled territories and schools were from Saudi Arabia and hence had the kunya of ‘al- Jazrawi.’ Wahhabi teachings around the world with Saudi-supported Imams have established the grounds for easier jihadist terrorism recruitments.”
Though MbS was clearly lying as well as attempting to dodge the topic altogether when he awkwardly told Jeffrey Goldberg, “There is no Wahhabism, we don’t believe we have Wahhabism,” he was right about one thing: the US itself led the way in promoting the spread of Wahhabi jihad near the end of the Cold War.
The crown prince was recently quoted by the Washington Post while in DC: “Mohammed said that investments in mosques and madrassas overseas were rooted in the Cold War, when allies asked Saudi Arabia to use its resources to prevent inroads in Muslim countries by the Soviet Union.”
And MbS repeated these comments to The Atlantic: “This is what America wanted us to do.”
SOMETHING REALLY WEIRD IS HAPPENING TO MY POSTS… I CAN’T POST ANYTHING WITHOUT A SIMILAR “ERROR” GLITCH POPPING UP. FOLKS I SINCERELY DON’T KNOW HOW LONG THEY WILL BE ALLOWING ME TO POST BUT… FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS ALMOST DEAD!!!!!!!!
This is the message I NOW RECEIVE FROM WORDPRESS . COM
SADDDDDD STATE OF AFAIR’S WE ARE NOW A PART OF THE A. I. AGENDA ( OR ) THE BEAST!!!!!
Trump Deploys U.S. Military To Southern Border
President Trump said on Tuesday that he will deploy U.S. troops along the southern border to guard against illegal crossings into the country “until we can have a wall.”
“Until we can have a wall and proper security, we are going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step,” Trump told reporters at the White House while sitting nearby Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Trump’s comments follow several comments he’s made about a “huge caravan” of Central American immigrants traveling through Mexico unobstructed by local authorities until the Mexican government announced late Monday night that the caravan would be broken up.
“If it reaches our border, our laws are so weak and so pathetic…it’s like we have no border,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments mark a significant escalation in U.S. border policy, as troops along the frontier with Mexico – not the U.S. border patrol, would be the most aggressive action taken to date by the President who promised voters a giant wall.
The President closed the door on a DACA deal over the past several days – an Obama-era program designed to protect young immigrants brought here illegally to the United States as children. In a Sunday tweet, Trump railed against “ridiculous liberal (Democratic) laws” like “catch and release”. And with more “dangerous caravans coming” to the US border, “Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!”
Trump left the door open to a 2.5 year extension of the DACA program as long as it included $25 billion to fund the border wall, however Democrats wouldn’t bite, instead insisting on a pathway to citizenship for the larger population of 1.8 million “dreamers.”
Meanwhile, Trump floated the possibility of pulling out of NAFTA if Mexico doesn’t take steps to curb the flow of illegal immigrants flowing into the United States.
In response to Trump sending troops to the border, former Mexican president Vicente Fox lashed out over Twitter, tweeting “.@realDonaldTrump to militarize the southern border is to provoke more hate and distance even further our nations. Somebody has to talk some sense into him, he’s elevating his hate towards Mexico causing a greater conflict.”
Yesterday, the former Mexican president ripped Trump for “acting like a spoiled child” over his “DACA is dead” comments.
Fox then told Trump that NAFTA “is a “win-win” scenario, which has made not only Mexico but the U.S. and Canada, the most thriving region in the world.”
Deploying troops to the border is not an unprecedented move. Both Obama and George W. Bush used the National Guard to help with illegal immigration – however the moves were both temporary.
“The United States is not going to militarize the southern border,” said Bush when announcing the deployment in 2006. “Mexico is our neighbor, and our friend.”
Let’s see if our friend can stop a horde of Guatamalan “refugees” making a run for the border.
Trump Having Dinner With Co-CEO From Amazon Competitor Oracle
Bloomberg may have launched today’s last hour marketwide buying panic, when it reported that there have been no ongoing talks in the White House about action on Amazon, and it may be Bloomberg that now sinks futures, because in a report that at least partially refutes what it said earlier, according to Bloomberg, tonight President Trump will have dinner with Oracle co-CEO, Safra Catz, whose company is competing with Amazon.com Inc. for a multibillion-dollar Pentagon contract.
Joining them will be Trump supporter and venture capitalist, Peter Thiel, according to Bloomberg’s sources.
While Trump has aggressively attacked Amazon in both tweets and before the press since March 29, sending its market value by as much as $55 billion before Tuesday’s last hour ramp, he has not mentioned the competition to provide cloud computing services to the Defense Department.
That is now changing.
According to Strategas analyst Dan Clifton, “Of all the stories we read [on Wednesday], however, we saw very little attention paid to the one area where Trump could actually hurt Amazon – cloud computing contracts,” Clifton wrote. “Tech companies have been fuming at the possibility of Amazon being the sole company awarded a multi-year cloud services contract at DoD. Congress was forced to intervene in the recent omnibus.”
Clifton adds that, “We believe other tech companies are largely funding [negative ads] to bring attention to the fact that Amazon is about to receive a windfall from the Trump Administration and one that will allow it to squeeze out the other tech companies.”
Indeed, as Yahoo News recently noted, “while regulating Amazon from an anti-trust position by arguing that its retail business is uncompetitive may appear to be outside the current political appetite from DC lawmakers, there is an area of Amazon’s business that Trump could directly, and negatively, impact with haste — Department of Defense contracts.”
The president now appears to be doing just that.
The Pentagon intends to award a single company the multi-year contract, plans that have drawn criticism from lawmakers as well as Amazon competitors including Microsoft Corp., International Business Machines Corp. and industry groups that include Oracle. They’re worried the move will favor Amazon, which is dominant in the cloud services market.
After tonight’s dinner, and if Catz plays her cards right, they won’t have to worry any more.
Meanwhile, billions are at stake:
The Washington Business Journal reported that the omnibus spending bill signed by Trump earlier this month contained a provision which requires the DoD to explain why awarding a contract that could run in excess of $10 billion to a single vendor is the best way to execute this plan.
Previously, in 2013, Amazon Web Services won a $600 million contract from the CIA. While the current contract is likely far greater, it suddenly appears much less likely that Bezos will be the winner.
According to Yahoo, Amazon’s cloud business pulled in $17.5 billion in revenue in 2017 and earned the company $4.33 billion in profit, more than the $4.1 billion the company made as a whole. And if Amazon’s tech rivals get Trump’s attention on a potential multi-billion dollar Defense award seemingly destined for Amazon, the President could have an opening to hit his favorite target in its most profitable business unit.
Chinese authorities claim they have banned more than 7 million people deemed “untrustworthy” from boarding flights, and nearly 3 million others from riding on high-speed trains, according to a report by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission.
The announcements offer a glimpse into Beijing’s ambitious attempt to create a Social Credit System (SCS) by 2020 — that is, a proposed national system designed to value and engineer better individual behaviour by establishing the scores of 1.4 billion citizens and “awarding the trustworthy” and “punishing the disobedient”.
Liu Hu, a 43-year-old journalist who lives in China’s Chongqing municipality, told the ABC he was “dumbstruck” to find himself caught up in the system and banned by airlines when he tried to book a flight last year.
Mr Liu is on a “dishonest personnel” list — a pilot scheme of the SCS — because he lost a defamation lawsuit in 2015 and was asked by the court to pay a fine that is still outstanding according to the court record.
“No one ever notified me,” Mr Liu, who claims he paid the fine, said.
“It’s baffling how they just put me on the blacklist and kept me in the dark.”
Like the other 7 million citizens deemed to be “dishonest” and mired in the blacklist, Mr Liu has also been banned from staying in a star-rated hotel, buying a house, taking a holiday, and even sending his nine-year-old daughter to a private school.
And just last Monday, Chinese authorities announced they would also seek to freeze the assets of those deemed “dishonest people”.
As the national system is still being fully realised, dozens of pilot social credit systems have already been tested by local governments at provincial and city levels.
For example, Suzhou, a city in eastern China, uses a point system where every resident is rated on a scale between 0 and 200 points — every resident starts from the baseline of 100 points.
One can earn bonus points for benevolent acts and lose points for disobeying laws, regulations, and social norms.
According to a 2016 report by local police, the top-rated Suzhou citizen had 134 points for donating more than one litre of blood and doing more than 500 hours of volunteer work.
In Xiamen, where the development of a local social credit system started as early as 2004, authorities reportedly automatically apply messages to the mobile phone lines of blacklisted citizens.
“The person you’re calling is dishonest,” whoever calls a lowly-rated person will be told before the call is put through.
Many observers fear human rights could be increasingly violated via the social credit system, and — combined with a growing surveillance system and technologies such as facial recognition being rolled out across the country — the Chinese Government could have the ability to turn the system on its citizens.
“China is characterised by a system of ‘rule by law’, rather than true rule of law,” Elsa B Kania, an expert in Chinese defence innovation and emerging technologies at the Centre for a New American Security, said.
“That law [and extra-legal measures] can be used as a weapon to legitimise the targeting of those whom the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] perceives as a threat.
“In such an environment, such a system could be abused to those same ends.”
The question that remains to be answered in coming years, experts say, is where the line between “bettering society” and “controlling society” will be drawn.
The Risks Of Cashlesness – Swedes Turn Against Concept
Sweden’s central bank governor has called for public control over its payment system. Others say a fully digital system is vulnerable to fraud and attack
It is hard to argue that you cannot trust the government when the government isn’t really all that bad. This is the problem facing the small but growing number of Swedes anxious about their country’s rush to embrace a cash-free society.
Most consumers already say they manage without cash altogether, while shops and cafes increasingly refuse to accept notes and coins because of the costs and risk involved. Until recently, however, it has been hard for critics to find a hearing.
“The Swedish government is a rather nice one, we have been lucky enough to have mostly nice ones for the past 100 years,” says Christian Engström, a former MEP for the Pirate Party and an early opponent of the cashless economy.
“In other countries there is much more awareness that you cannot trust the government all the time. In Sweden it is hard to get people mobilised.”
There are signs this might be changing. In February, the head of Sweden’s central bank warned that Sweden could soon face a situation where all payments were controlled by private sector banks.
The Riksbank governor, Stefan Ingves, called for new legislation to secure public control over the payments system, arguing that being able to make and receive payments is a “collective good” like defence, the courts, or public statistics.
“Most citizens would feel uncomfortable to surrender these social functions to private companies,” he said.
“It should be obvious that Sweden’s preparedness would be weakened if, in a serious crisis or war, we had not decided in advance how households and companies would pay for fuel, supplies and other necessities.”
The central bank governor’s remarks are helping to bring other concerns about a cash-free society into the mainstream, says Björn Eriksson, 72, a former national police commissioner and the leader of a group called the Cash Rebellion, or Kontantupproret.
Until now, Kontantupproret has been dismissed as the voice of the elderly and the technologically backward, Eriksson says.
“When you have a fully digital system you have no weapon to defend yourself if someone turns it off,” he says.
“If Putin invades Gotland [Sweden’s largest island] it will be enough for him to turn off the payments system. No other country would even think about taking these sorts of risks, they would demand some sort of analogue system.”
In this sense, Sweden is far from its famous concept of lagom – “just the right amount” – but instead is “100% extreme”, Eriksson says, by investing so much faith in the banks. “This is a political question. We are leaving these decisions to four major banks who form a monopoly in Sweden.”
Skarec points to problems with card payments experienced by two Swedish banks just during the past year, and by Bank ID, the digital authorisation system that allows people to identify themselves for payment purposes using their phones.
Fraudsters have already learned to exploit the system’s idiosyncrasies to trick people out of large sums of money, even their pensions.
The best case scenario is that we are not as secure as we think, Skarec says – the worst is that IT infrastructure is systemically vulnerable.
“We are lucky that the people who know how to hack into them are on the good side, for now,” he says. “But we don’t know how things will progress. It’s not that easy to attack devices today, but maybe it will become easier to do so in the future.”
The banks recognise that digital payments can be vulnerable, just like cash.
“Of course there are people trying to abuse them, but they are no more vulnerable than any other method of payment,” says Per Ekwall, a spokesperson for Swish, the immensely popular mobile payments system owned by Sweden’s banks.
“From a macro perspective Swish has made it safer, and cheaper,” he says. There is little point in fighting a trend that customers themselves are driving, the banks argue.
But an opinion poll this month revealed unease among Swedes, with almost seven out of 10 saying they wanted to keep the option to use cash, while just 25% wanted a completely cashless society. MPs from left and right expressed concerns at a recent parliamentary hearing. Parliament is conducting a cross-party review of central bank legislation that will also investigate the issues surrounding cash.
“If you have control of the servers belonging to Visa or MasterCard, you have control of Sweden,” Engström says.
“In the meantime, we will have to keep giving our money to the banks, and hope they don’t go bankrupt – or bananas.”
Virtual reality, augmented reality, immersive reality, mixed reality and finally merged reality … Welcome to the world of digital layering, awash with cutting-edge technologies that are mostly powered by rather dorky and clunky hardware, but fascinating nonetheless.
The digital reality industry is exploding, and tech titans are in an arms race to cut themselves a niche in the sector, earn bragging rights for the snazziest devices that will drive future billion-dollar valuations.
VR and AR have been creating the most buzz, though the average user might be hard-put to tell one from the other. That’s hardly surprising when the media, and sometimes the innovators themselves, tend to use the two terms interchangeably. But when it comes to alternate realities, either one will emerge to redefine existence, or the two leaders will merge to become an even bigger reality.
Similar Digital Realities, Different Technologies
VR and AR are two sides of the same coin though they have significantly different capabilities.
Much earlier attempts at VR had been made in the form of 360-degree murals. And modern examples of VR devices include Oculus VR, Samsung GearVR and HTC Vive.
AR has been slower off the blocks, mainly because the underlying technology requires more fine-tuning for things like motion controllers, depth sensors and cameras for a truly awesome user experience. Apple’s brand new ARKit, Microsoft’s HoloLens, Snap glasses, Google Cardboard and Magic Leap’s soon-to-come AR glasses all belong to the AR camp.
VR is a totally immersive experience that completely shuts out the outside world by creating a virtual environment for the user to inhabit. VR experiences can be totally cool but lack a real-world feeling because they involve little or no sensory input from the user or their environment.
AR, on the other hand, works by mapping the real world and then laying virtual objects on top of it. The real world becomes the backdrop of the AR environment that the user is able to control. AR, unlike VR, is like a half-complete painting that allows you to add your own details.
Another significant difference is the hardware. VR mostly relies on those unmissable head-mounted-displays (HMD), while AR devices mostly use smartphone cameras as their portal.
Inflection point for AR
VR has found a ready market in the entertainment industry, though CAVE automatic virtual environments might be fun for big labs and academia where they can be used to display virtual content in room-sized screens.
AR, on the other hand, has more potential for long-term commercial applications.
A case in point is this AR app by IKEA that allows customers to ”virtually” move furniture around and see how it’s going to look in their sitting rooms.
Similarly, Snapchat has come up with a comparable albeit more goofy idea of a dancing hotdog that can be placed into different camera views. It’s only a matter of time before other marketing teams jump into the AR bandwagon.
Gartner has placed AR only behind VR in its 2017 Hype Cycle chart of emerging technologies. Remarkably, the two are ranked as the most advanced emerging technologies, implying that an investment in either sector might pay off in the long-run.
“Rogue” Network Of Cellular Eavesdropping Devices Discovered Throughout Washington D.C.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has acknowledged a 2017 discovery of several “rogue devices” placed throughout Washington D.C. often used by spies and criminals to track and eavesdrop on private cellular devices, APreports.
The DHS admission came in a March 26 response to a November request from Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D), however the agency did not say how many devices were detected or where they found them.
The agency’s response, obtained by The Associated Press from Wyden’s office, suggests little has been done about such equipment, known popularly as Stingrays after a brand common among U.S. police departments. The Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the nation’s airwaves, formed a task force on the subject four years ago, but it never produced a report and no longer meets regularly. –AP
American intelligence and law enforcement agencies use similar eavesdropping equipment in the field, which can cost anywhere between $1,000 to around $200,000. The devices are typically the size of a briefcase but can be as small as a cell phone. Police use Stingrays to track down and implicate perpetrators of mainly domestic crimes.
The devices can be mounted in vehicles, drones, helicopters, and airplanes, allowing police to gain highly specific information on the location of any particular phone, down to a particular apartment complex or hotel room.
The Stingray units operate by tricking a cellular device into locking onto them instead of a legitimate cell tower – revealing the exact location of a particular phone. As AP notes, more sophisticated versions can eavesdrop on calls by forcing phones to step down to the older, unencrypted 2G wireless channel. Other Stingray devices can plant malware on a phone.
Thousands of members of the military, the NSA, the CIA, the FBI and the rest of the national-security apparatus live and work in the Washington area. The surveillance-savvy among them encrypt their phone and data communications and employ electronic countermeasures. But unsuspecting citizens could fall prey. –AP
The DHS reply from official Christopher Krebs said that the agency had observed “anomalous activity” consistent with Stingrays in the Washington area. Another DHS official speaking anonymously to AP says that the devices were detected during a three-month trial of equipment provided by Las Vegas-based agency contractor, ESD America.
Krebs notes in his letter that the DHS lacks the equipment and funding for wide-scale detection of Stingrays – even though their use by foreign governments “may threaten U.S. national and economic security.”
Legislators have been raising alarms about the use of Stingrays in the capital since at least 2014, when Goldsmith and other security-company researchers conducted public sweeps that located suspected unauthorized devices near the White House, the Supreme Court, the Commerce Department and the Pentagon, among other locations.
The executive branch, however, has shied away from even discussing the subject.
Aaron Turner, president of the mobile security consultancy Integricell, was among the experts who conducted the 2014 sweeps, in part to try to drum up business. Little has changed since, he said.
Like other major world capitals, he said, Washington is awash in unauthorized interception devices.Foreign embassies have free rein because they are on sovereign soil. –AP
Turner says that every embassy “worth their salt” has a cell tower simulator installed, which they use “to track interesting people that come toward their embassies.” The Russians’ equipment is so powerful it can track targets a mile away, he said.
How to shut them down?
As AP notes, shutting down rogue stingray devices is an expensive prospect which would require the wireless industry to completely upgrade its infrastructure, which security experts say companies are loathe to pay for.
The upgrade could also lead to conflict with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. At least 25 states and the District of Columbia use the devices, according to the ACLU.
After the 2014 news reports about Stingrays in Washington, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla, wrote the FCC in alarm. In a reply, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency had created a task force to combat illicit and unauthorized use of the devices. In that letter, the FCC did not say it had identified such use itself but cited media reports of the security sweeps.
That task force appears to have accomplished little. A former adviser to Wheeler, Gigi Sohn, said there was no political will to tackle the issue against opposition from the intelligence community and local police forces that were using the devices “willy-nilly.” –AP
“To the extent that there is a major problem here, it’s largely due to the FCC not doing its job,” said Laura Moy of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University. Moy says that the agency should require wireless carriers to protect their networks, thus “ensuring that anyone transmitting over licensed spectrum actually has a license to do it.”
The FCC, however, said the agency’s only role is “certifying” that said devices don’t interfere with other wireless communications.
In other words, despite the prevalence of stingray devices throughout our nation’s capital and most assuredly in use across the rest of the United States, nobody seems to be able to do anything about it.
Lomperis warns of ‘dirty tricks’ and progressive plans
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Bill Bumpas (OneNewsNow.com)
A special committee, appointed by the Council of Bishops in the United Methodist Church, will soon present its final report which could lead the denomination to officially change its stance on biblical sexuality.
The 32-member Commission on a Way Forward has been meeting since January 2017 after being charged by bishops to come up with a way to move Methodists forward on LGBT issues.
John Lomparis, with the Institute on Religion & Democracy, downplays the significance of the commission because the Council of Bishops will have the final say on the final report. He also predicts the most outspoken leaders of the Council have been pushing a more liberalizing agenda on sexuality.
“The fact is that the Council of Bishops often operate in a very liberal echo chamber,” he complains, “where they really don’t care much or don’t understand how many conservative United Methodists are out there.”
He also observes that the Way Forward Commission was “stacked” by design with liberal members, meaning it underrepresents conservative Methodists.
Although the Council of Bishops can take this final report and make their own proposal at the 2019 General Conference in St. Louis, scheduled for next February, delegates can also make proposals.
Lomperis, himself a delegate, will be pushing for United Methodists to maintain their Biblical standards; have stronger accountability; and have generous exit ramps for congregations, bishops and others who say they cannot follow those standards.
He hopes that there will not be any “parliamentary dirty tricks or heavy-handed manipulation of the rules” by liberal bishops to limit consideration of alternatives to their preferred plan.
Just as tensions between the US and North Korea are finally beginning to cool (while animosity between the US and Russia intensifies), a recent industry report argues the US government isn’t doing nearly enough to safeguard the US electric grid from a potentially devastating attack.
In its report, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) revealed that much of the US electricity grid is vulnerable to attack – and neither the industry or the government are doing anything about it. NERC is the organization responsible for overseeing the US’s massive electric grid, which is subdivided into eight regional entities.
Though the report didn’t include a “comprehensive” assessment of the myriad physical threats to the US’s energy infrastructure, worries that North Korean could execute a massive electromagnetic pulse (or EMP) attack have been intensifying as the prospect of a nuclear showdown with the restive communist state looms large (Kim Jong Un’s recent actions aside). The research was also inspired by a series of gun attacks on transformers, including a rifle attack on a transformer in Utah that occurred in September 2016, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Many organizations, including recently the National Academy of Sciences, have warned of the catastrophic consequences should a malicious actor – be it a state or a terrorist organization – manage to take down the US energy grid.
“There is widespread belief that bulk power critical assets are vulnerable to physical attack, that such an attack potentially could have catastrophic consequences, and that the risks of such attacks are growing,” according to the report. “But the exact nature of such potential attacks and the capability of perpetrators to successfully execute them are uncertain.”
“Although the electric power sector seems to be moving in the overall direction of greater physical security for critical assets, many measures have yet to be implemented and the process of corporate realignment around physical security is still underway,”according to the report, which omitted a comprehensive overview of all the pressing threats due to national security concerns.
To be sure, the Edison Electric Institute has highlighted the fact that it would be nearly impossible to completely secure the grid (the costs would be immeasurable). However, the US could be doing a lot more than it’s doing.
A massive attack on the US energy grid could leave large swaths of the country without power without weeks or months. The end result would resemble Puerto Rico following last year’s devastating hurricane season – but on a much larger and deadlier scale.
In this scenario, hundreds of thousands – if not millions of Americans – could die.
“While to date there have been only minor attacks on the power system in the United States, large-scale physical destruction of key parts of the power system by terrorists is a real danger,” the academy warned. “Some physical attacks could cause disruption in system operations that last for weeks or months.”
But unfortunately for the US citizens whose security is predicated on a functioning power grid, the power industry and US government have failed to organize a cohesive response to these threats. Because of the industry’s utter lack of preparation, even crude attacks could have devastating consequences.
I used to be an atheist. My understanding of “atheism” was simply that it is the belief that there is no God. I was an empiricist: I believed in what could be seen – the material world and nothing more. I did not hate Christians. At worst, I thought they were naïve and foolish for their religious beliefs, but I knew many Christians I respected, including for their insight and intelligence.
Today, “atheism” means something entirely different from a simple lack of belief in God. What atheism has become can be more accurately described as “the anti-Christian movement.” It is a movement that assumes that Christianity isn’t merely naïve and false, but a major cause of social ills, something worth the effort to actively ferret out and purge from our society. This anti-Christian crusade has been both supported by, and a natural outgrowth of, the much larger program of cultural Marxism.
Anti-clericalism is nothing new, but many atheists of the past were at least coherent. They believed that the complex triune God of Christianity was silly, but they didn’t think Shiva, Allah, or Zeus was any better. Like me, they simply believed in the here and now and not in the unseen and scientifically unverifiable.
The new atheists are different. They are not really bound by cold, materialist, scientific facts. Although they claim that science and reason are on their side, they often are not very knowledgeable about either. More often, they are interested only in co-opting the human authority science has acquired. Science is a brand for today’s atheists, not a discipline. The new atheism is generally forgiving toward Hinduism and can be almost reverent regarding Buddhism. While I grant that Buddhism is essentially godless, it’s a long way from being a collection of empirical facts. Buddha’s claims are certainly no more objectively verifiable than Christ’s. Nirvana is no easier to find on a star chart than the Christian Heaven.
Uninterested in hard materialism, today’s atheists believe in an emotional narrative invented and reinvented at the whim of politically motivated human beings. Today’s atheism is not a philosophical position, but a political one. Superficially, the anti-Christian movement espouses the view that Christianity is uniquely evil in its intolerance – their word for the fact that we have standards.
Christianity, like Western civilization, is squeezed into the usual Marxist mold as just another instrument of oppression. But without batting an eye, many of today’s atheists manage to believe that Islam, an objectively more intolerant, more misogynistic, and far more bloodthirsty system of beliefs than Christianity – is somehow forgivable, or even a net social boon. In truth, the new atheism isn’t about helping the “oppressed” – any more than it is about the non-belief in God or the exclusive belief in the world we can grasp with our senses. It is about being a vocal part of the identity group of avid Christian-haters. A political entity. It is about inventing yet another substitute sense of identity and purpose to replace the Christian sense of identity and purpose that it struggles to destroy.
The anti-Christian movement of today, like all other Marxist or neo-Marxist splinter groups, draws its strength from a simple, if unstated, promise: All the world’s aggrieved can acquire social acceptance and the unholy grail of victim status by denouncing someone else as an oppressor and working for his destruction.
The anti-Christian movement of today, like all other Marxist or neo-Marxist splinter groups, draws its strength from a simple, if unstated, promise: All the world’s aggrieved can acquire social acceptance and the unholy grail of victim status by denouncing someone else as an oppressor and working for his destruction.
NBC’s Chuck Todd has been slammed online after he took to Twitter last week to offer his thoughts about Good Friday.
The “Meet the Press” host said that he was a “a bit hokey” about the religious occasion.
“I don’t mean disrespect to the religious aspect of the day, but I love the idea of reminding folks that any day can become “good,” all it takes is a little selflessness on our own part,” he wrote. “Works EVERY time.”
I’m a bit hokey when it comes to “Good Friday.” I don’t mean disrespect to the religious aspect of the day, but I love the idea of reminding folks that any day can become “good,” all it takes is a little selflessness on our own part. Works EVERY time.
Todd’s words drew ire online from some.
“The day of Jesus’ crucifixion is considered a victory of Good over Evil, Chuck,” one critic responded. “Your ignorant and insensitive comment should get you fired.”
“Chuck, you just don’t get it, another example of Media snobbery and dis’ing Christians in your own subtle way,” a different account tweeted.
Persecution of Christians is worse today “than at any time in history”, a recent report by the organization Aid to the Church in Need revealed. Iraq happens to be “ground zero” for the “elimination” of Christians from the pages of history.
Iraqi Christian clergymen recently wore a black sign as a symbol of national mourning for the last victims of the anti-Christian violence: a young worker and a whole family of three. “This means that there is no place for Christians,” saidFather Biyos Qasha of the Church of Maryos in Baghdad. “We are seen as a lamb to be killed at any time”.
A few days earlier, Shiite militiamen discovered a mass grave with the bodies of 40 Christians near Mosul, the former stronghold of the Islamic State and the capital of Iraqi Christianity. The bodies, including those of women and children, seemed to belong to Christians kidnapped and killed by ISIS. Many had crosses with them in the mass grave. Not a single article in the Western mainstream media wrote about this ethnic cleansing.
French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia made an urgent plea to Europe and the West to defend non-Muslims in the Middle East, whom he likened to Holocaust victims. “As our parents wore the yellow star, Christians are made to wear the scarlet letter of nun” Korsia said. The Hebrew letter “nun” is the same sound as the beginning of Nazareen, an Arabic term signifying people from Nazareth, or Christians, and used by the Islamic State to mark the Christian houses in Mosul.
Now a new report by the Iraqi Human Rights Society also just revealed that Iraqi minorities, such as Christians, Yazidis and Shabaks, are now victims of a “slow genocide“, which is shattering those ancient communities to the point of their disappearance. The numbers are significant.
According to the report, 81% of Iraq’s Christians have disappeared from Iraq. The remaining number of Sabeans, an ancient community devoted to St. John the Baptist, is even smaller: 94% have disappeared from Iraq. Even 18% of Yazidis have left the country or been killed. Another human rights organization, Hammurabi, said that Baghdad had 600,000 Christians in the recent past; today there are only 150,000.
Many ancient Christian churches and sites have been destroyed by Islamic extremists, such as Saint George Church in Mosul; the Virgin Mary Chaldean Church, attacked by car bomb, and the burned Armenian Church in Mosul. Hundreds of Christian homes have been razed in Mosul, where jihadists also toppled bell towers and crosses. The Iraqi clergy recently warned, “The churches are in danger“.
Tragically, Christians living in lands formerly under the control of the “Caliphate” have been betrayed by many actors in the West. Governments ignored their tragic fate. Bishops were often too aloof to denounce their persecution. The media acted as if they considered these Christians to be agents of colonialism who deserved to be purged from the Middle East. And the so-called “human rights” organizations abandoned them.
European public opinion, supposedly always ready to rally against the discrimination of minorities, did not say a word about what Ayaan Hirsi Ali called “a war against Christians“.
Some communities, such as the small Christian enclaves of Mosul, are now lost forever. Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II said there is a “real danger” Christianity could just become a “museum” in the Middle East. He noted that Iraq has lost 80-90% of its Christian population.
Among European governments, only Hungary took a principled position and openly committed itself to save Iraqi Christianity from genocide. Recently, the Hungarian government opened a school for displaced Christians in Erbil; Hungary’s Minister of Human Resources, Zoltan Balog, attended the event.
Imagine if all the other European countries, such as France and Germany, had done the same. The suffering of Christians in Iraq would today be much less and their numbers much higher.
Facebook Rejected Ad Because It Showed Jesus On The Cross, Zuckerberg Explains How Facebook Will Try To Kill Alternative Media
Franciscan University posted a series of ads on Facebook Friday to promote some of its online theology programs, but it says one of them was rejected because it included the Crucifixion of Christ on the San Damiano Cross.
The Catholic university in Steubenville, Ohio sent out a tweet on Friday saying its ad was rejected for content that is “shocking, sensational, and excessively violent.”
“An ad we placed was rejected by Facebook today for content that is “shocking, sensational, and excessively violent,” said the tweet, which included a link to a blog post.”We must agree with them.”
An ad we placed was rejected by Facebook today for content that is “shocking, sensational, and excessively violent.”
In the blog post, the university acknowledges that Facebook is correct to say that the Crucifixion of Christ was “sensational and excessively violent,” but they castigated Facebook for rejecting the image. They used multiple Bible verses to describe the Crucifixion:
And it was certainly excessively violent: a man scourged to within an inch of his life, nailed naked to a cross and left to die, all the hate of all the sin in the world poured out its wrath upon his humanity.
“but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews, an absurdity to Gentiles. But to those who are called, both Jew and Gentile, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24)
As Father Mike Schmitz points out in today’s #ShareJesus message, it was not the nails that held Jesus to the cross: he was God, he could have descended from the Cross at any moment. No, it was love that kept him there. Love for you and for me, that we might not be eternally condemned for our sins but might have life eternal with him and his Father in heaven.
This is sensational, this is shocking. This is only possible because of the excessive violence that he endured for us.
In his recent interview with the far-left online publication Vox, Mark Zuckerberg explained Facebook’s new system of favoring “broadly trusted” news sources, via a mechanism designed to favor established outlets and crush new media.
Facebook introduced its new system in January, and the results were immediately apparent. Facebook traffic to establishment outlets including CNN and NBC soared upwards, while traffic to conservative outlets fell. Facebook engagement (likes, shares, and comments) also fell across multiple new media outlets, including those on the right and the left. Facebook engagement on President Trump’s posts fell by 45 per cent.
In his Vox interview, Mark Zuckerberg explained these changes as neutrally as he could, talking about providing a more “meaningful experience” for Facebook users. But despite tamely couching his words, the truth slipped out — Facebook is going to act like a publisher, with a view on what counts as “quality news,” and make judgments about the accuracy and reliability of news publications.
Zuckerberg outlined three categories of “fake news” — spammers, state actors, and “real media outlets who are saying what they think is true but have varying levels of accuracy or trustworthiness.”
Zuckerberg then explained Facebook’s methodology for determining a “trusted” news source. As Breitbart News previously reported, the method is designed to favor establishment media.
“This year, we’ve rolled out a number of changes to News Feed that try to boost in the ranking broadly trusted news sources” said Zuckerberg. “We’ve surveyed people across the whole community and asked them whether they trust different news sources.”
“Take the Wall Street Journal or New York Times. Even if not everyone reads them, the people who don’t read them typically still think they’re good, trustworthy journalism. Whereas if you get down to blogs that may be on more of the fringe, they’ll have their strong supporters, but people who don’t necessarily read them often don’t trust them as much.”
Zuckerberg then explained how his company will try to help out the establishment media by helping them attract paying subscribers.
“So I do think a big responsibility that we have is to help support high-quality journalism. And that’s not just the big traditional institutions, but a big part of what I actually think about when I’m thinking about high-quality journalism is local news. And I think that there are almost two different strategies in terms of how you address that.”
“For the larger institutions, and maybe even some of the smaller ones as well, subscriptions are really a key point on this. I think a lot of these business models are moving toward a higher percentage of subscriptions, where the people who are getting the most value from you are contributing a disproportionate amount to the revenue. And there are certainly a lot of things that we can do on Facebook to help people, to help these news organizations, drive subscriptions. And that’s certainly been a lot of the work that we’ve done and we’ll continue doing.”
By making editorial judgments about what counts as “quality” news, Facebook has shifted from a neutral platform to a publisher with an editorial opinion. As Sen. Ted Cruz explained to representatives of the tech giants in January, this undermines the case for continued legal immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which exempts online platforms from legal liability for content posted by their users
Just four days after Easter, George Washington University will host a training session for students and faculty that teaches that Christians — especially white ones — “receive unmerited perks from institutions and systems all across our country.”
The April 5 diversity workshop is titled “Christian Privilege: But Our Founding Fathers Were All Christian, Right?!”
Hosted by the university’s Multicultural Student Services Center, the event will teach that Christians enjoy a privileged, easier life than their non-Christian counterparts, and that Christians possess “built-in advantages” today, according to its online description.
The workshop will also discuss how Christians receive “unmerited perks from institutions and systems all across our country.”
The “Christian Privilege” workshop is one of 15 “free training opportunities” offered through the center to “equip students and staff with the necessary skills to promote diversity and inclusion in the different environments,” according to its website.
Other workshops offered through the center focus on “heteroesexual privilege,” “cisgender privilege,” “abled-bodied privilege,” “socio-economic privilege,” “unconscious bias,” and more.
Efforts by The College Fix to reach a campus spokesperson, the multicultural center and the host of the Christian privilege workshop were to no avail Monday afternoon.
The Christian privilege event aims to make people aware of the privileges that Christians have and “what is meant by privilege overall and white privilege specifically,” the event description states. Furthermore, the event will try to educate those of the “role of denial when it comes to white privilege” and the difference between “equality and equity.”
By the end of the training, the organizers want participants to be able to name “at least three examples of Christian privilege” and “at least three ways to be an ally with a non-Christian person,” the website states.
Organizers also want the participants to be able to describe words like: “privilege, Christian privilege, denial, quality, equity, Christianity, bias, unconscious bias, micro-aggression, ally,” the website states.
The workshop will last 90 minutes and will feature a PowerPoint presentation and Q&A.
The Trump administration has done something no other administration – Republican or Democratic – has done: it has made religious freedom a priority in our national security strategy.
And the need has never been greater.
Now it appears that newly appointed national security adviser John Bolton will be taking the lead in fighting for the right of peoples around the world to worship how they wish without the threat of being killed or driven from their homes.
Bolton appears to be singularly qualified to take administration efforts to secure religious freedom to the next level. But as this article mentions, he will be battling skepticism and hostility from career State Department officials whose primary goal is not to rock the boat.
It’s one thing to formulate policy and announce it. It’s quite another to get the State Department bureaucracy to implement it. This is an age-old battle between the White House and Foggy Bottom. State Department bureaucrats believe they run U.S. foreign policy and that presidents and their advisers are transitory occupants.
So the question is, can Bolton, with his bulldog mentality, force meaningful policy changes that will actually do some good? I wouldn’t bet against him. Of course, the bureaucrats will scream bloody murder and run to the press telling the media what a meanie Bolton is. But Bolton is one guy who doesn’t care what the media think about him, which is why there is a real chance for substantive change.
Never missing an opportunity to confuse, disappoint, and demoralize the Catholic faithful, Pope Francis, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune, said on Good Friday that “Christians ought to express shame for the actions of those who are leaving future generations a world ‘fractured by divisions and wars.’”
Speaking to Jesus, the Pope said that “our gaze upon you is full of shame, repentance and hope. Before your supreme love, shame pervades us for having left you alone to suffer for our sins … shame for having chosen Barabbas and not you, power and not you, appearance and not you, the god of money and not you, worldliness and not eternity.”
The Pope added that Christians should also feel shame for those who “allowed themselves to be deceived by ambition and vainglory, losing sight of their dignity and first love,” leaving behind a world “fractured by divisions and wars” and “consumed by selfishness.”
In speaking of those who have left the world “fractured by divisions and wars,” Pope Francis doesn’t seem to have said a word about the religion that actually teaches that believers should wage war against and subjugate unbelievers. But of course, about that religion he has said, “Authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”
So it is the Christians who should feel shame for the strife in the world, not anyone else.
This is nothing new. Pope Francis last September met in the Vatican with Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, the secretary general of the Muslim World League (MWL), a group that has been linked to the financing of jihad terror. During the meeting, al-Issa thanked the Pope for his “fair positions” on what he called the “false claims that link extremism and violence to Islam.”
In other words, al-Issa was thanking the Pope for dissembling about the motivating ideology of jihad terror, which his group has been accused of financing, and for defaming other religions in an effort to whitewash Islam.
Nor was that the first time a Muslim leader thanked this Pope for being so very useful. Last July, Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar, thanked him for his “defense of Islam against the accusation of violence and terrorism.”
Has any other Pope of Rome in the history of Christianity ever been heralded as a “defender of Islam”? In my forthcoming book The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS, I detail the centuries of effort that the warriors of jihad poured into trying to conquer and subjugate the Christians of Europe, and the pivotal role that the Catholic Church played in the resistance to the jihad. Pope Francis, unlike his predecessors, would like not have called for a defense against the jihadis, but would have opened the gates to them.
After all, Francis is not just a defender of Islam, but a defender of the Sharia death penalty for blasphemy: after Islamic jihadists murdered the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists who had drawn Muhammad, Francis obliquely justified the murders by saying that “it is true that you must not react violently, but although we are good friends if [an aide] says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch, it’s normal. You can’t make a toy out of the religions of others. These people provoke and then (something can happen). In freedom of expression there are limits.”
So for the Pope, murdering people for violating Sharia blasphemy laws is “normal,” and it isn’t terrorism for “Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist, and Muslim terrorism does not exist. They do not exist,” he said in a speech last February. “There are fundamentalist and violent individuals in all peoples and religions—and with intolerant generalizations they become stronger because they feed on hate and xenophobia.”
So there is no Islamic terrorism, but if you engage in “intolerant generalizations,” you can “expect a punch.” The Pope, like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, apparently thinks that the problem is not jihad terror, but non-Muslims talking about jihad terror; Muslims would be peaceful if non-Muslims would simply censor themselves and self-impose Sharia blasphemy restrictions regarding criticism of Islam.
Pope Francis has no patience with those who discuss such matters: “I don’t like to talk about Islamic violence, because every day, when I read the newspaper, I see violence.” He said, according to Crux, that “when he reads the newspaper, he reads about an Italian who kills his fiancé or his mother in law.” The pontiff added: “They are baptized Catholics. They are violent Catholics.” He said that if he spoke about “Islamic violence,” then he would have to speak about “Catholic violence” as well.
That comparison made no sense, for Italian Catholics who killed their fiancés or mothers in law were not acting in accord with the teachings of their religion, while the Qur’an and Islamic teaching contain numerous exhortations to violence.
But Pope Francis, defender of Islam, cannot concern himself with such minutiae. Nor does he appear to be particularly concerned about the fact that all his false statements about the motivating ideology behind the massive Muslim persecution of Christians over the last few years only enables and abets that persecution, for if that ideology is not identified and confronted, it will continue to flourish.
The Pope of Rome, whom Catholics consider to be the earthly head of the Church, should be a defender of Christianity, not a defender of Islam, the religion that has been at war with Christianity and Judeo-Christian civilization since its earliest days. That any Christian leader would be called a “defender of Islam” by anyone only casts into vivid relief the absurdity of our age and the weakness of the free world. The creeping idolatry of the papacy that is rampant in today’s Catholic Church, with all too many Catholics treating every word of the Pontiff as if it were a divine oracle, only makes matters worse.
10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
Statista’s Niall McCarthy reports that the research found that the youth in Poland are still quite religious with only 17 percent of respondents aged 16-29 not associating themselves with any religion.
The situation is much different in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands where 7 out of 10 young adults identify as having no religion.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Members of China’s Christian community feel betrayed by the Vatican’s negotiations with Beijing over Chinese bishop appointments. In fact, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) writes of Catholics feeling as “betrayed and abandoned” as Jesus on Good Friday.
Christian faith occupies a curious position in Chinese society—frowned upon and distrusted by the Communist elite, but not currently oppressed as savagely as in neighboring North Korea. Some Chinese Catholics belong to churches authorized by the state, but others say those churches are controlled by the state and prefer to worship at “underground” churches free of political influence.
Some of those churches are not very far underground; the SCMP describes one that is festooned with government surveillance cameras, but forty or so Catholics congregate there anyway. Another passage in the article describes an entire village of 3,000 underground Catholics kept under creepy surveillance by cameras and undercover police. Some estimates suggested there are about 12 million Catholics in China, and 60 percent of them belong to state-sanctioned churches.
Amid much controversy, the Vatican has been negotiating the resumption of formal diplomatic relations with Beijing. One of the key issues concerns how bishops would be appointed. China’s authoritarian government wants politically reliable bishops to manage a Catholicism that harmonizes with the Communist Party’s political agenda.
To the dismay of many Catholics, the Vatican seems to have worked out a deal where it will retain an advisory role, but the government will have a major role in appointing bishops.
There is tremendous controversy over whether the arrangement would give the Pope or the Politburo the final say in appointments.
Even the most optimistic descriptions of the deal suggest that candidates will have to be acceptable to both parties, which angers many Catholics by putting the Chinese Communist Party on an equal footing with the papacy in a role no other government in the world enjoys.
Supporters of the arrangement hope that it will allow the Catholic Church to flourish in China because the regime will no longer view the faith as a threatening subversive force. They portray giving the Vatican a voice in China’s state-controlled church network as a tremendous accomplishment.
“It is not a great agreement but we don’t know what the situation will be like in 10 or 20 years. It could even be worse,” a source familiar with the negotiations told Reuters in February. “Afterwards we will still be like a bird in a cage but the cage will be bigger. It is not easy. Suffering will continue. We will have to fight for every centimeter to increase the size of the cage.”
One of the strongest critics of the deal, former Hong Kong bishop Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun, frankly denounced the Vatican for selling out to China, described the deal as a suicide pact, and even suggested the diplomats working on the agreement were misleading Pope Francis about what it entailed.
The South China Morning Post on Friday quoted underground church members who felt the same, including priests who spoke of retiring in protest. One of the most infuriating aspects of the deal is that two underground bishops who were appointed by the Vatican have been ordered to step aside for Communist-appointed bishops.
One of those underground bishops, 59-year-old Vincent Guo Xijin of Fujian province, was arrested on Monday for unclear reasons and held for a day. Amnesty International researcher Patrick Poon was outraged at the semi-official explanation that Guo was brought in for “talks,” which he said, “In the Communist Chinese context is always about detention and threats.”
“Quite a number of underground parishioners who would never walk into an official church approached us recently asking if the Vatican is really giving up on legitimate underground bishops for illicit ones. No one can wrap their head around the Vatican’s rationale,” a priest who asked to be identified as “Father Pedro” who leads one of the state-approved Chinese churches, told the South China Morning Post.
As Christians around the world prepare to observe the holy weekend of Easter, many will be asked at their services to pray for the persecuted around the world.
After years of advocacy groups raising awareness, the plight of the Christians of the Middle East, particularly in the former Islamic State territories, has become common knowledge among American Christians. Yet they are far from the only group that will celebrate Easter this year in defiance of state persecution, mob violence, and repressive cultural norms imposed by groups threatened by the spread of the Christian faith.
Below, six countries where Christians struggle to practice their faith freely against systematic institutional and cultural pressure.
China has experienced a Christian population boom so great that some estimates suggest it could become home to the world’s largest Christian population in decades. The total number of Christians in China today could exceed 100 million, more than the total number of members of the Chinese Communist Party. There is no concrete count of the number of Christians in the country largely because of state repression – while legal Christian churches exist, they are tightly regulated by the communist regime of leader Xi Jinping and, thus, unpopular.
Xi Jinping has led a systematic crackdown on “unauthorized” Christianity that has worsened year after year since he became “president” in 2013. Xi has led a movement to “sinicize” Christianity, forcing the legal Christian churches to deliver sermons extolling the virtues of his regime. “Unauthorized” Christianity is deemed a “national security threat,” and Christians who dare worship in their homes face severe law enforcement reprimand.
Late last year, the Chinese Communist Party began forcing rural Christians to replace crosses in their homes with photos of Xi Jinping. Demolitions of churches and arrests of dissident Christians, particularly any involved in human rights activism, are common. In one of the most recent incidents documented, the advocacy group China Aid reported that local authorities in Henan began “going door-to-door, forbidding all meetings of Christian citizens and disbanding house church groups.”
Venezuela is a predominantly Catholic nation whose socialist leaders claim to be devotees of the faith, so it represents a bit of a blind spot for advocates for persecuted Christians. Its presence on this list, however, is largely a product of the fact that the government claims a stranglehold on interpreting Christianity that has led to violence and intimidation against Catholic clergy in the South American country.
Yet Christians in Venezuela who oppose the regime are not free to practice. The Catholic leadership of the country has vocally called for Maduro to step down and return the nation to democratic republican rule. In response, chavista gangs have attacked churches, threatened priests, forced Mass attendees to listen to socialist rants instead of their weekly sermon, and left many churches looted and desecrated.
In India, the repression faced by many Christians is not at the hands of the government, but at the hands of violent Hindu nationalist mobs. According to Open Doors, an organization that tracks the persecution of the Christian faithful worldwide, the permissive attitude of a Hindu nationalist government has allowed for the exacerbation of violence against these communities, some of the oldest Christian congregations on earth.
In one incident this year, a mob tortured and hanged a Christian pastor after six months of loudly disturbing Sunday services. Local police ruled the death a suicide, triggering thousands to protest for justice. Local protestors said police were afraid to prosecute individuals believed to be involved in the death because “if the four [suspects] are arrested, 10,000 will come out on the streets and there will be communal violence.”
In another incident last year, a woman who married a Christian was kidnapped and tortured by members of a “yoga center” repeatedly accused of threatening women out of conversions out of Hinduism.
In 2016, a mob estimated to contain 60 Hindu nationalists beat two Christian pastors and others at their church with cricket bats and forced them into a police station to file charges against the Christians for allegedly proselytizing. Radicals often cite local laws against proselytizing or converting to another religion to influence police into arresting Christians.
Nigeria’s population is 40 percent Christian, with many practicing freely in the nation’s south. In the north, however, Christians face severe persecution from jihadist groups like Boko Haram and violence by the majority-Muslim Fulani herdsmen against Christian farmers. The herdsmen are believed to be conducting raids targeting Christians and have killed an estimated thousands of civilians.
Boko Haram makes its home in Borno state, the furthest northeast territory in the country, where they routinely attack Christian villages and abduct Christian girls and women by the hundreds.
Boko Haram typically abduct Christian girls and women and force them to convert to Islam, “marry” their jihadist members, and serve as sex slaves and cooks. Some younger girls are used as suicide bombers, as they are considered less of a threat by civilian merchants and clergy who control the main targets of Boko Haram attacks.
Most recently, Boko Haram abducted over one hundred girls from a school in Dapchi, Yobe state, bordering Borno to the west. They returned all girls to their parents except for one – Leah Sharibu, who refused to denounce her Christian faith.
Sudan, a nation run by Muslim tyrant wanted for genocide, is one of the most repressive states in the world, a Muslim-majority tyranny where Christians face destruction of property and arbitrary arrest if they are too visible. Open Doors ranks Sudanese Christians in the top five most persecuted Christian nationalities in the world.
Christians face legal repercussions for converting from Islam, opposing the destruction of their churches, and attempting any journalism about Christian populations there. According to Open Doors, “some Christians are arrested on charges of espionage, and many churches have been demolished, with others on an official list awaiting demolition.”
Apostacy, or the abandonment of Islam, is a crime in Sudan, and many Christians can be persecuted for this crime even if they were never Muslim. The most prominent such case was that of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, arrested for “apostasy” while pregnant and forced to give birth in prison because her father, who she never knew, was Muslim and she had married a Christian man. Despite being raised as a lifelong Christian, Ibrahim was arrested for leaving Islam, released only after intense international pressure from human rights groups.
Indonesian Christians are under growing public scrutiny. While Christians have long coexisted in the world’s most populous Islamic country, they have increasingly fallen victim to radical Islamic mobs. A report in March found that Christians accused of violations of Sharia, the law of Islam, are agreeing in larger numbers to accept Sharia punishments, like public caning, in order to avoid an expensive legal procedure against them. Sharia bans “crimes” such as eating haram food and “blasphemy,” which Christians can easily fall victim to accusations of.
The government in Indonesia, concerned about potential violence, is often responsive to radical demands from Islamic groups, such as growing calls for a ban on selling alcohol, bans on public Christmas decorations, and prosecuting those accused of blasphemy. In one high-profile case, the former governor of Jakarta, an ethnic Chinese Christian, was convicted of blasphemy for warning against radical clerics who use the Quran to manipulate voters.
It still amazes me when I read how the Jewish religious leaders of 2,000 years ago managed to completely miss Jesus’ first coming? These were highly educated men, especially in the signs that would indicate the emergence of Messiah. Yet they failed miserably at discerning the time of their own Messiah’s advent.
These were men who spent their entire lives, from early youth, memorizing and learning Scripture, especially the Torah. They were by any definition experts.
How then did they miss the significance of Jesus’ ministry, this remarkable preacher and miracle worker from Nazareth? The actions of the forthcoming Messiah were well known to all Jews, especially at that time. In fact, they were obsessed with the coming of the Messiah.
Isaiah and others described in detail who he would be and what he would do, that he would heal the sick, bring sight to the blind, heal the brokenhearted…raise the dead. The Bible told them that it would be through these signs that they should recognize Him.
This is why John the Baptist, in prison awaiting death, sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “…are you the coming one, or should we wait for another?” (Matthew 11:3).
Jesus responded, not by giving a straight “yes” or “no,” but by saying to John, “Go back and report what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-5).
Jesus was telling John, “…don’t ask me! Judge for yourself by my works! By the signs you will know me!” And therefore, when we read the Gospels, we read accounts of one outstanding miracle after another. Each miracle, each healing, is a testimony to who Jesus is, that he is exactly who he says he is.
Jesus proclaimed himself to be the Messiah, and his works throughout his ministry validated that claim then, and still do today.
God loves us all deeply. He never does anything without revealing his ways to his prophets (Amos 3:7). That is why God gave, not general, but very specific details of what the Messiah would do and who he would be, so that those who were genuinely looking for him would be able to find him.
It was clearly written that the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12:3, 18:18, Matthew 1:1), be of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10, Luke 3:33), be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1, Luke 2:4-7); and the time of his birth was also prophesied (Daniel 9:25, Luke 2:1).
It was written that there would be a slaughter of innocent children (Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew 2:16-18) accompanying his birth. It was written that their King would come to them in humility, riding a donkey (Zechariah 9:9, John 12:13-14), that he would enter Jerusalem through the Golden Gate (Ezekiel 44:1-2, Mark 11:7-8), and that he would be betrayed by a friend for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12, Psalm 41:9, Mark 14:10, Matthew 26:14-15).
It was written that the money paid in exchange for his life would be returned for a potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13, Matthew 27:6-7), that he would be silent before his accusers (Isaiah 53:7, Matthew 26:62-63), that he would be spat upon and struck in the face (Isaiah 50:6, Matthew 26:67), and that he would be hated without reason (Psalms 69:4, 35:19, 109:3-5, John 15:24-25).
It was written that soldiers would divide his garments (Psalm 22:18, Matthew 27:35) and that he would be crucified (this prophecy, one thousand years before crucifixion was developed as a method of execution!) (Zechariah 12:10, Psalm22:16, Matthew 27:35, John 20: 27).
It was written that he would be crucified with malefactors and would agonize with thirst (Isaiah 53:12, Psalms 22:15, Mark 15:27-28, John 19:28), that in his thirst they would give him gall or vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21, John 19:19), that his side would be pierced but no bones would be broken (Zechariah 12:10, Psalm 34:20, John 19:32-36), and that he would be buried with the rich but deserted by his followers (Isaiah 53:9, Zechariah 13:7, Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 14:27).
The Bible tells us how the Messiah would be deserted and completely abandoned by God (Psalm 22:1, Matthew 27:46) but that ultimately he would rise from the dead (Hosea 6:2, Psalms 16:10, 49:15, Luke 24:6-7, Mark 16).
And these are just some of the signs of his first coming, and the leaders of his time completely failed to recognize who this miracle worker from Galilee really was.
So how did they miss his coming?
The Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day were expecting a Messiah; they just weren’t expecting the one they got. In Jewish tradition, there were two Messiahs to come, each fulfilling very different roles. There was Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David.
Messiah ben Joseph is the suffering servant, the Messiah who had come to die. This is the Messiah who would come and take the place of sacrifice, and he is depicted in Isaiah 53. Isaiah 53 has always been a very difficult chapter for the Jewish people to accept or understand. Even to this day, Jews do not know what to do with it and what to do with this man of tragedy, this “suffering servant.” Most observant Jews simply try to ignore Isaiah 53 altogether and pretend it doesn’t exist.
Yet this was the role that Jesus fulfilled during his first coming, the role of the suffering servant who took the sins of the world onto his shoulders. The Jewish leaders missed him because they were not waiting for Messiah ben Joseph; they were waiting for Messiah ben David, an awesome political and military leader – a dramatic deliverer.
This will be how Jesus will present himself at his Second Advent, as Messiah ben David, the conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah. And in that day, as surely as the Lord lives, “every knee will bow” to the name of Jesus.
Two thousand years ago, they were looking for someone to come and free them from the yoke of Roman servitude, and that was not Jesus’ role in his first incarnation. His role was to free humanity from the yoke of sin and eternal death! He didn’t fit their ideology, so they ignored him. Ultimately they killed him for it.
Even the disciples after the resurrection asked Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). They were still expecting Jesus to free them from Roman oppression and believed that now Jesus would finally fulfill the role of Messiah ben David and establish his kingdom.
The Jews knew that Messiah had two roles: a suffering servant – Ben Joseph, and a mighty warrior – Ben David. They were expecting two different Messiahs to fulfill two different roles. What they could not grasp, and still to this day fail to understand, was that one man would fulfill both roles, but at two separate times in human history, separated by thousands of years!
Two thousand years after the first coming of Messiah, it looks very much to me like many in this generation are repeating the mistakes of the leaders in Jesus’ day.
Jesus told us the signs which would indicate his second coming to this earth. He told us how to recognize the season of his return. How many of us are paying attention? If the hundreds of prophecies concerning his first coming were fulfilled, literally and to the letter, then surely those related to his second coming will be literally fulfilled too. To the letter. Why would it be any different?
There are approximately three hundred prophecies of the first coming of the Messiah in the Old Testament, but over five hundred of his second coming! George Heron, a French mathematician, worked out that the chances of 40 of those first-coming prophecies being fulfilled in one man were 1 in 10 to the power of 157!
Dr. Peter S. Ruckman calculated that the odds of 60 (not 300) being fulfilled in one man were 1 in 10 to the power of over 895. That’s a one with 895 zeros after it.
The prophecies related to the Second Advent of Jesus are coming to pass now, so why are so many in positions of “leadership” spending their time talking about Kingdom Now theology, talking about seeker-sensitive models of church growth, and about “Having Your Best Life Now.”
The signs Jesus told us to watch for that would indicate the end of the age are burgeoning. They are increasing in intensity and frequency.
There are false prophets everywhere; famines and diseases ravaging entire populations; earthquakes and tribulations; there is godlessness and apostasy; the Roman Empire is reforming before our eyes; Hebrew has returned as the spoken language of Israel; and preparation for the rebuilding of the temple is common talk, as is the news of Red Heifer births.
Knowledge has increased and we all travel to and fro! Ethiopian Jews have returned to Israel; Russia has risen and its Jews have returned “from the north country;” the technology for the mark of the beast is upon us; and the New World Order is common currency. Israel is fast becoming the pariah state of the world, and every nation is obsessed with dividing Jerusalem. And I personally think that the gospel has been preached to all the world.
Don’t make the same mistake the Pharisees and Sadducees made two thousand years ago. No one knows the day or the hour, but all the signs indicating the emergence of the Messiah are present now, and become more pronounced with each day that passes.
So take it upon yourself, this day, to make yourself ready so that you will be found to be at peace with him when he does come.
“When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16: 2-3).
“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).
‘We believe we have made precise image,’ says professor
If indeed the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus, Professor Giulio Fanti of Italy’s University of Padua believes he has created the first 3D model of his image and body.
“We believe that we have the precise image of what Jesus looked like on this earth,” said Fanti, who teaches mechanical and thermal measurements and is a Shroud researcher. “This statue is the three-dimensional representation in actual size of the Man of the Shroud, created following the precise measurements taken from the cloth in which the body of Christ was wrapped after the crucifixion.”
Through the study and three-dimensional projection of the figure, Fanti was also able to count the numerous wounds on the body of the man of the Shroud.
“On the Shroud, I counted 370 wounds from the flagellation, without taking into account the wounds on his sides, which the Shroud doesn’t show because it only enveloped the back and front of the body. We can therefore hypothesize a total of at least 600 blows,” he said. “In addition, the three-dimensional reconstruction has made it possible to discover that at the moment of his death, the man of the Shroud sagged down towards the right, because his right shoulder was dislocated so seriously as to injure the nerves.”
He concludes: “Therefore, we believe that we finally have the precise image of what Jesus looked like on this earth. From now on, He may no longer be depicted without taking this work into account.”
In an interview with the weekly periodical Chi, he said the Man of the Shroud was nearly 5 feet, 11 inches tall, whereas the average height at the time is believed to be 5 feet, 5 inches.
“And he had a regal and majestic expression,” Fanti said.
The Shroud of Turin is a 14-foot linen cloth that is believed to have wrapped the body of Jesus Christ after the crucifixion.
The University of Padua and Padua Hospital worked in collaboration with sculptor Sergio Rodella to create the life-size image, according to Il Mattino di Padova, an Italian publication.
In August, researchers from the Institute of Crystallography found chemicals in the stains on the Shroud, confirming that the stains were actual blood. Researchers also learned that the blood belonged to someone who suffered from extreme amounts of injury and pain.
“The blood serum tells us that before dying the person was suffering,” said Elvio Carlino, a researcher from the Institute of Crystallography. “This means that the Turin Shroud is not fake … It is certainly the funeral fabric that wrapped a tortured man.”
“They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!'”
‘Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods; I am the LORD your God.
You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
Cursed is the man who makes an idol or a molten image, an abomination to the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’
He then returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother, and his mother said, “I wholly dedicate the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son to make a graven image and a molten image; now therefore, I will return them to you.”
Treasury of Scripture
You shall not make to you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
4. a graven image] an image of carved wood (sometimes enclosed in a metal casing, Isaiah 30:22) or stone, such as were common in antiquity, and are so, of course, still among heathen nations. Cf. Deuteronomy 4:16 f.
the likeness of any form, &c.] By an inexactness of language, the Heb. identifies the ‘form’ made with the ‘form’ (in heaven, &c.) upon which it is modelled: RV. eases the sentence by inserting ‘the likeness of.’
the water under the earth] cf. Deuteronomy 4:18. The waters meant are the huge abyss of subterranean waters, on which the Hebrews imagined the flat surface of the earth to rest (Genesis 49:25, Psalm 24:2; Psalm 136:6), and which they supposed to be the hidden source of seas and springs (see further the writer’s note on Genesis 1:9-10). Fish, at least in certain places, or of certain kinds, were regarded as sacred, and forbidden to be eaten, in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere; and Xen. (Anab. i. 4. 9) says that the fish in the Chalus, near Aleppo, were looked upon as gods. See Rel. Sem.2 pp. 174–6, 292 f.; EB. ii. 1530 f.
 W. R. Smith, The Religion of the Semites, ed. 2, 1894.
4–6. The second commandment, against image-worship. The prohibition is general; and includes both images of Jehovah,—who, as a spiritual Being, cannot be represented by any material likeness (see the development of this thought in Deuteronomy 4:15-19),—and also those of other gods, or of deified creatures, or objects of nature. Images were widely used by worshippers of Jehovah till the times of the prophets: on the bearing of this upon the date of the Decalogue, see p. 415 f.
Verse 4. As the first commandment asserts the unity of God, and is a protest against polytheism, so the second asserts his spirituality, and is a protest against idolatry and materialism. Verses 4 and 5 are to be taken together, the prohibition being intended, not to forbid the arts of sculpture and painting, or even to condemn the religious use of them, but to disallow the worship of God under material forms. When the later Jews condemned all representations of natural objects (Philo, De Orac. 29; Joseph. Ant. Jud. 8:7, § 5), they not only enslaved themselves to a literalism, which is alien from the spirit of both covenants, but departed from the practice of more primitive times – representations of such objects having had their place both in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31-34; Exodus 28:33, 34) and in the first temple (1 Kings 6:18, 29, 32, etc.). Indeed, Moses himself, when he erected the “brazen serpent” (Numbers 21:9) made it clear that representations of natural objects were not disallowed by the law. To moderns in civilized countries it seems almost incredible that there should ever have been anywhere a real worship of images. But acquaintance with ancient history or even with the present condition of man in savage or backward countries, renders it apparent that there is a subtle fascination in such material forms, and that imperfectly developed minds will rest in them not as mere emblems of divinity, but as actually possessed of Divine powers The protest raised by the second commandment is still as necessary as ever, not only in the world, but in the very Christian Church itself, where there exists even at the present day a superstitious regard for images and pictures, which is not only irrational, but which absorbs the religious feelings that should have been directed to higher objects. Any graven image. Perhaps it would be better to translate “any image,” for the term used (pesel) is applied, not only to “graven” but also to “molten images” (Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 44:10; Jeremiah 10:14; etc.), since these last were in almost every instance finished by the graving tool. Or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above – i.e., “any likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air.” Compare Deuteronomy 4:17. The water under the earth. See Genesis 1:6, 7. The triple division here and elsewhere made, is intended to embrace the whole material universe. Much of the Egyptian religion consisted in the worship of animals and their images.