By Allen Cone
"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"
Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour
Sunday, August 20, 2017
The fact that there is a fair happening in Damascus tells us things are improving at least somewhat in the beleaguered country.
That Iran, Russia and Hezbollah are supporting Syria means there is no change in the status of Syria in the middle east. In other words, the proxy war has failed in spite of attempts with chemical weapons to turn the west against Assad. Israel is still Assad's enemy, that will not change and probably wouldn't have changed even if regime-change had occurred.
By Allen Cone
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks Sunday at the opening of the Foreign and Expatriates Minister Conference in Damascus. Photo by Syrian Arab News Agency/EPA
UPI -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday praised his allies, including Russia, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah, for helping fight terrorists and Western nations' attempts to topple him.
"Our army is making territorial gains every day, week after week, crushing terrorists and clearing lands occupied by them," the president said during a news conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in the capital Damascus.
"We, in cooperation with friends, will continue to squash terrorists wherever they are."
But shortly later Sunday, a rocket struck close to the entrance of Damascus International Fair, the first time for the event since the conflict broke out in 2011. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said five people had died and about a dozen people were injured in the 10-day fair, which started Thursday. The state-run news agency said there were casualties but gave no further details.
Al-Assad had said allied forces' "direct support -- politically, economically and militarily -- has made possible advances on the battlefield and reduced the losses and burdens of war" and fought back against foreign-backed militancy.
"We have managed to foil the Western project," he said. "West is like a chameleon due to its behavior to fit different situations. The psychological war against the Damascus government has failed to discourage us from fighting terrorism or even frighten us. ... We have fought terror since day one, and we will continue to fight it until there is no terrorist in Syria."
He said Syria is rebuilding its economy despite some Western states' support for terrorism in Syria.
"There will be no security cooperation or opening of embassies or role for some states that say they are looking for a solution until they cut off their ties with terrorism in a clear and unambiguous way," al-Assad said.
The president praised Russia's and China's U.N. Security Council vetoes to block resolutions condemning Syrian forces or imposing sanctions on the country. Since 2015, Russia has also been involved in a military campaign.
He also said Syria welcomes Russian-brokered, regional ceasefire deals, and hopes they are extended in other places in Syria.
"We have an interest in the success of this initiative," al-Assad noted.
The president condemned U.S.-backed so-called "safe zones," which he said would only "give cover to terrorists."
Mt Hermon, Golan Heights
Al-Assad described Turkish Recep President Recep Erdogan as a "political beggar after his support for terrorists was exposed. We don't consider the Turkish side to be a partner nor a guarantor nor do we trust it."
And he said any Turkish soldier on Syrian soil will continue to be considered an attacker.
"The Syrian government and moreover many Syrian civilians will not be quick to forgive Turkey for a role in the Syrian conflict viewed as destructive," al-Assad said. "Because it is now a certainty that the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party will remain in power in Damascus, Turkey will likely eventually have to engage in a thaw with the Syrian government simply because Syria is a neighbor to Turkey, but this road may be long."
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Sunday his country is cooperating in establishing peace in Syria.
"We work together to ensure the ceasefire in Syria. We have a goal to make a lasting truce out of the temporary ceasefire," he said in Ankara before departing for Singapore.
Al-Assad said Syria remains committed to fighting Israeli occupation of Syrian territory and continues to be a perennial supporter of Palestinians.
Syrian territory would mean the western 2/3rds of the Golan Heights, an area which Israel took from Syria when Syria and other Islamic countries attacked Israel in 1967.
Friday, August 18, 2017
Chief strategist Steve Bannon exits Trump White House
Former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon is the latest casualty of White House power struggles. US President Donald Trump’s chief strategist has departed at the urging of the chief of staff, retired General John Kelly.
Bannon joined the Trump presidential campaign as chief executive in August 2016, and went on to become President Trump’s “chief strategist,” a position created specifically for him, while former GOP chairman Reince Priebus was appointed chief of staff.
Kelly and Bannon “have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”
The president’s critics have called for Bannon’s removal almost from the very beginning, accusing the former Breitbart News chief executive of being a racist, white supremacist, and Islamophobe.
But mostly he was not 'Deep State'. His influence on Trump has been undermined from the beginning and now that he is gone, Trump remains the only obstacle between 'Deep State' resuming complete control over the US government.
Whether they can control Trump or feel they have to remove him will be seen by the first anniversary of his inauguration.
Bannon is a former US Navy officer who worked at Goldman Sachs in the 1980s and was one of the founders of Breitbart, a conservative news outlet.
Earlier this week, when reporters asked Trump about Bannon and his alleged support for white nationalism, Trump called him a friend.
“He is not a racist, I can tell you that. He’s a good person,” Trump said at a press conference on Tuesday. “I think the press treats him very unfairly.”
It was the same phrasing he used about his former national security adviser, General Michael Flynn, who resigned under media pressure in February.
On Wednesday, the left-leaning publication American Prospect published an interview in which Bannon talked about the US “trade war” with China and dismissed the prospects of military confrontation with North Korea. Bannon also described white nationalists as “losers” and “a fringe element” that needs to be crushed.
Bannon is the latest casualty of the purge of Trump’s senior staff that began in late July with the departure of press secretary Sean Spicer, followed by Priebus and communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who was on the job for only 11 days. Kelly, a retired Marine who previously headed the Department of Homeland Security, was appointed the new chief of staff to “restore order,” according to reporters covering the White House.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
University settles lawsuit with scientist fired after he found
soft tissue in dinosaur bonesBy Chad Dou —
CSUN scientist Mark Armitage found soft tissue in a dinosaur bone, a discovery that throws significant doubt on evolution. Then, two weeks after publishing his findings, he was fired.
Now California State University at Northridge has paid Armitage a six-figure sum to settle his wrongful termination suit based on religious discrimination. While the university admits no wrongdoing, Armitage’s attorney said they feared losing a protracted lawsuit because of a “smoking gun” email that backed the plaintiff’s case.
The case of Armitage is the latest to show the mounting hostility Christians face in academics and other public arenas.
“Soft tissue in dinosaur bones destroys ‘deep time.’ Dinosaur bones cannot be old if they’re full of soft tissue,” Armitage said in a YouTube video. “Deep time is the linchpin of evolution. If you don’t have deep time, you don’t have evolution. The whole discussion of evolution ends if you show that the earth is young. You can just erase evolution off the whiteboard because of soft tissue in dinosaur bones.”
Armitage was hired as a microscopist to manage CSUN’s electron and confocal microscope suite in 2010. He had published some 30 articles in scientific journals about his specialty.
A graduate of Liberty University, Armitage adheres to the “young earth” view, against the majority of scientists who say our planet is 5 billion years old. He engaged students in his lab with Socratic dialogue over the issue of the earth’s age based on his and others’ research, he said.
In May 2012, Armitage went on a dinosaur dig at the famous fossil site of Hell Creek in Montana, where he unearthed the largest triceratops horn ever found there. Back at CSUN, he put the fossil under his microscope and made the startling discovery: unfossilized, undecayed tissue was present.
If the dinosaur were 65 million years old, the soft tissue could not have possibly remained, he says. His findings seconded groundbreaking discoveries by noted molecular paleontologist Mary Schweitzer, who triggered an earthquake in the world of paleontology when she published about soft tissue in dinosaur bones in 2005. (Schweitzer subsequently postulated that iron is responsible for preserving the soft tissue.)
Armitage’s February 2013 study was published in the peer-reviewed Acta Histochemica, a journal of cell and tissue research. Two week later, he found himself without a job.
A biology professor had come into his office and said, “We are not going to tolerate your religion in this department.”
Armitage fought back. Professors and students alike had praised his work managing the microscope lab. His suit alleged he was excluded from a secret meetings of the microscopy committee. In a “smoking gun” email, university officials suggested they could ease Armitage out of his part-time position by making it full-time, Reinach said.
A colleague described the process as a “witch hunt,” according to Inside Higher Ed.
For two years, CSUN fought Armitage’s lawsuit. The university alleged his firing was simply a restructuring of their biology department and not a case of religious discrimination. But CSUN lost its bid to have the judge summarily throw the case out of court as groundless in July of last year.
So CSUN settled with Armitage for $399,500 in 2016, according to Inside Higher Ed.
Alan Reinach, Armitage’s attorney, hailed the settlement as precedent-setting.
“We are not aware of any other cases where a creationist received a favorable outcome,” said Reinach, executive director of the Church State Council, a nonprofit California public interest legal organization. “This was truly a historic case.”
CSUN has downplayed its decision to settle, saying in a statement that the university is committed to religious freedom and freedom of speech.
“The Superior Court did not rule on the merits of Mr. Armitage’s complaint, and this voluntary settlement is not an indication of wrong-doing,” according to a CSUN statement published in Retraction Watch. “The decision to settle was based on a desire to avoid the costs involved in a protracted legal battle, including manpower, time and state dollars.”
But Reinach countered: “They certainly would not have paid that kind of money if they did not recognize that we had them dead to rights. The state doesn’t put large, six-figure settlement money out unless they are really concerned they are going to lose.”
Prior to looking for soft tissue in dinosaur bones, Armitage studied diatoms, unicellular organisms that make up phytoplankton, which reveal a dizzying complexity and organization at the microscopic level.
According to Armitage, the beauty and complexity of diatoms lends credence to the idea they are a product of a Creator and not of spontaneous evolution.
“Evolution is structure supported by two pillars: one is chance, and the other is time. Chance is required because we obviously can’t say that a thinking force created life on earth. That is anathema for the materialists. If you kick out one of those two pillars the whole structure collapses,” Armitage noted. “If you kick out chance by showing incredible design, the structure of evolution starts to totter and it may crash. Because you cannot have design in a world that doesn’t have a Designer.
“The other pillar is time because you cannot get a man from a frog unless the princess kissed the frog. That’s a fairy tale. So in science you have to have deep time to get evolution.”
Subsequent to the controversy, Armitage has been on additional digs and found more soft tissue but is finding it difficult to get published. “I’m clearly being blackballed,” he said in The College Fix.
“Soft tissue in dinosaur bones destroys deep time.” Armitage said. “Dinosaur bones cannot be old if they’re full of soft tissue.”
Swedish scissor attack: Man suspected of ‘honor killing’ after female relatives & boys ‘shook hands’
A man in Sweden has been charged with murdering a family member with scissors, according to local media. The victim’s wife says it was an “honor killing” because the victim refused to kill his daughters after they had shaken hands with boys.
The incident, which occurred in May 2017 at Stensjön Lake in Grycksbo, involved “cutting or stabbing with scissors” in the victim’s neck, according to the indictment, which was seen by The Local.
The 46-year-old victim “died from bleeding as a result of the vascular injuries to his throat.”
The victim’s wife says the incident occurred after the suspect became offended that the victim’s daughters had shaken hands with boys – an action which the suspect believed damaged the family’s honor.
As a result, the 50-year-old suspect reportedly asked the victim to kill his daughters. The father refused and ended contact with the suspect.
However, the victim’s wife believes her husband was later lured to the lake and killed by the man in an “honor killing.”
It's utterly insane that girls shaking hands with boys is so dishonorable that it would require their murder to expunge the heinous act. It's also insane that murdering your brother, or cousin, because he wouldn't kill his own daughters for shaking hands with boys, is somehow supposed to restore the honor of the family. Girls touching boys is heinous; a man murdering his relative is glorious! That's insanity!
Prosecutor Gun-Britt Strøm has said the attack was carried out with intent and “could be called honor conflict,” SVT quoted her as saying.
The suspect has denied committing murder, saying he was assaulted by the man and merely used the scissors as a self-defense weapon.
The suspect says he had the scissors in his tackle box, as he was at the lake to go fishing. He claims he would have used another weapon in the box, such as a knife, if he had intended to kill the man, according to Expressen.
The suspect’s trial will include nine witness interviews, forensic evidence including blood samples, and an analysis of the alcohol in the suspect’s bloodstream at the time of the incident.
It comes just one month after six people were convicted of murder by a court in Gävle, Sweden, after a man was killed for having an affair with a married woman.
Honor crimes are those which are viewed as having brought shame upon the family in some way, with common “offenses” involving those who challenge, defy, or break strict rules imposed on them, such as a female refusing to enter into an arranged marriage.
Stensjön Lake in Grycksbo
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency blasted the Hamas terror group for putting young Palestinian students’ lives at risk.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees announced on Monday that it has sealed a Hamas terror tunnel built under two of its schools in the Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.
The tunnel was discovered at the beginning of June, after the Maghazi Elementary Boys A&B School and the Maghaz Preparatory Boys School had closed for the summer. The Jerusalem Post reported that UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness has confirmed the sealing of the tunnel.
In a statement released when the tunnel was first discovered, Gunness said that “UNRWA condemns the existence of such tunnels in the strongest possible terms. It is unacceptable that students and staff are placed at risk in such a way.”
“The construction and presence of tunnels under UN premises are incompatible with the respect of privileges and immunities owed to the United Nations under applicable international law, which provides that UN premises shall be inviolable,” Gunness stated, adding that “The sanctity and neutrality of UN premises must be preserved at all times.”
In the past, UNRWA filed complaints against Hamas— the terrorist organization in complete military and political control of the Gaza Strip— for building tunnels under its premises, vowing that it intended to seal the group’s military infrastructure.
Heart of Hamas Strategy: Human Shields
At the heart of Hamas’s strategy is the use of Gazans as human shields–– a war crime and terrorist tactic aimed at exploiting the moral sensibility of the enemy.
Aimed mostly at fueling propaganda machines to make Israel look like they are indiscriminately killing civilians when it is Hamas who are setting these civilians up as targets. And these same poor people vote for Hamas. What insanity!
On Thursday of last week, the head of the IDF’s Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, told reporters that Hamas had built tunnel systems beneath an apartment building and a family home in the northern Gaza Strip. “Our intelligence shows without any doubt that Hamas is building its infrastructure for the next round of fighting in the civilian arena,” Zamir explained.
The Times of Israel later reported that, despite detailed evidence provided by the Israeli military, Hamas dismissed the allegations as war propaganda to make excuses for any future action taken by the IDF in case of an escalation between Israel and the terrorist group.
The Palestinians' self-proclaimed knife intifada is the latest result of ongoing incitement against innocent Israelis. Israelis are being stabbed, shot and run over. Yet the world is silent.
The western hemisphere's longest running war, unless you count American, confederate, white-supremacists, has finally been brought to an end. And just in time for its previously peaceful and prosperous South American neighbour to start a civil war. Nothing good can come of the direction Venezuela has been heading under Maduro, but, at least, there is good progress in Colombia.
Well done, president Santos!By Andrew V. Pestano
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos waves at a trucker removing a container of FARC weapons from a disarmament zone on Tuesday. Photo courtesy Juan Manuel Santos
UPI -- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the last remaining weapons belonging to revolutionary rebels have been surrendered under the supervision of the United Nations, and will be smelted into peace monuments.
The weapons removal marks a monumental step in the peace process between Bogota and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which had fought for a half-century. The last weapons container was taken out from the Pondores "reincorporation zone" in Colombia's La Guajira province.
"We are more optimistic because the impossible was fulfilled: departure of last container with FARC arms makes its disarmament definitive," Santos said in a statement Tuesday. "Today Colombia is a country without FARC, with presence of the government in the whole territory and opportunities like never before."
"We have just witnessed the final exit of containers with weapons in La Guajira: the last breath of the conflict with the FARC," he added. "Departure of the last container with weapons in peace zones puts an end to the abandonment of arms and [reincorporation] zones, and it initiates a new stage for Colombia."
The rebel group plans to become a fully functioning political party once the disarmament process ends. Key leader Iván Márquez said the former armed guerrilla group will maintain the use of its FARC acronym.
Most FARC members are being housed in so-called "reincorporation zones," in which the Colombian government and non-governmental organizations will help transition the ex-militants into civilian life. Santos' government will use the National Learning Service agency to educate the former militants.
More than 220,000 people died and 5 million were displaced during the Colombian conflict, which began after FARC's Marxist-inspired founding in 1964. The militant rebel group was involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping and other illicit activity to fund the insurgency. Peace talks between Bogota and FARC started in Cuba in 2012.
Officials said FARC's weapons will be smelted into peace monuments that will be displayed in Bogota, New York City and Havana, Cuba.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
By Yonhap News Agency
Tourists use binoculars to see North Korea from the Goseong Unification Observatory in the the demilitarized zone in Gangwon-do, South Korea. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, South Korea, (UPI) -- The North Korean government continued to punish those engaging in religious practices last year, with executions, torture and other abuse, the U.S. State Department said in an annual report Tuesday.
In the 2016 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, the department reconfirmed human rights abuses the North has long been accused of, including its denial of the right to religious freedom.
"The government continued to deal harshly with those who engaged in almost any religious practices through executions, torture, beatings, and arrests," the report said. "An estimated 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners, some imprisoned for religious reasons, were believed to be held in the political prison camp system in remote areas under horrific conditions."
Last year's report pointedly said the exercise of religious freedom continued to be nearly "nonexistent" in North Korea. But that word was dropped this year.
The report comes as tensions run high between Washington and Pyongyang over the communist regime's missile and nuclear programs.
North Korea releases Canadian pastor held since 2015:
state news agency
Aug 9, 2017
After languishing for more than two years in a North Korean prison, a Canadian pastor was released Wednesday, according to the country’s state news agency.
Hyeon Soo Lim, 62, a pastor with the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ont., had travelled to North Korea more than a hundred times, leading humanitarian programs and even opening an orphanage. But during his last trip in 2015, he was detained and charged with attempting to overthrow North Korea’s regime using religion.
In what is believed to be a coerced statement, Lim soon admitted to the crimes after being sentenced to hard labour for life.
In this file image made from July 30, 2015, video, Canadian Hyeon Soo Lim speaks in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo)
“There were rumours that he was affiliated with the uncle that Kim Jong Un had executed a few years back, and that was partly the reason for his incarceration," Jack Kim, a senior advisor with HanVoice, a Canada-based human rights organization that assists North Korean refugees, recently told CTV News.
Then, two years and dozens of delicate diplomatic communications later, a Canadian delegation led by Daniel Jean, a national security advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, travelled to Pyongyang this week to discuss Lim’s case in person.
"Pastor Lim’s health and well-being remain of utmost importance to the Government of Canada, and we are working to ensure that he receives any required medical attention," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
That delegation was pivotal towards securing Lim’s release, Ontario MPP Raymond Cho said.
“It is important that Kim Jong Un got the representatives from Canada, so we saved his face,” Cho, who is Korean-Canadian, told CTV News. “It is a very good gesture.”
Since being imprisoned, Lim’s health was reportedly failing. He suffers from high blood pressure and allegedly lost nearly 40 kilograms while incarcerated.
According to North Korea’s news agency, Lim was released on “sick bail.”