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Monday, January 14, 2013

Citi: "It Is Possible That We Will Get A Technical Default For A Few Days"

From Citi's head of FX strategy, Steven Englander

No coin + temporary debt ceiling extension + sequester = USD negative
There was a an out-of-left-field idea that you could mint such a coin deposit it at the Fed and have a trillion dollars to spend. It was based on a very strained reading of some old legislation.  The Washington Post link shows just how strained the reading is
It really was a non-starter because it would have been risky from a legal viewpoint and financial markets would have priced in the risk that courts would have rejected it and the US would be close to default, not to mention the Fed looking rather Weimarian had they signed up for it.
The rejection of the trillion dollar coin should not put any pressure on financial markets or risk-correlated currencies on Monday
It may be viewed as political hardball by the White House, as there statement implies that they will not negotiate. WP quotes Press Secretary Carney  “there are only two options to deal with the debt limit: Congress can pay its bills or they can fail to act and put the nation into default.” This is a new reading since in 2011, they were busily negotiating with Congress (which is how the sequesters and temporary debt ceiling increase came into being.)
So it is possible that we will get a technical default for a few days, but more likely that Congress will give in, vote the debt ceiling up temporarily, and let the automatic sequesters kick in.
Mounting risk of a technical default was USD positive in 2011 because it led to cutting of long-risk positions and the USD/Treasury market remained safe havens.  However, it also occurred in an environemtn of slowing EM growth and intensifying euro zone soveregin risk pressure, so the USD support came from external forces as well. Given that investors are now somewhat long risk again, the position cutting is again likely to be USD positive, however, unattractive US assets were. As was the case in 2011, it is very unlikely that the Treasury will not pay its bills, although even a technical default could have very unforeseen consequences, given the multiple functions that Treasuries play in global financial markets.
The more likely scenario of sequester plus grudging debt ceiling rise is USD negative. It will put more pressure on the Fed to keep pumping liquidity into the US economy without giving any reassurance to investors that long-term fiscal issues are close to resolution.
Zero Hedge

Hundreds Of Thousands Rally Against Gay Marriages In Paris

MOSCOW, January 14 (RIA Novosti) - Hundreds of thousands of people on Sunday marched through the streets of the French capital Paris to protest President Francois Hollande’s plans to legalize gay marriages and adoptions by June, media reported.

According to the British broadcaster BBC, three big marches converged on a large park next to the Eiffel Tower - the Champs de Mars.

The demonstrators, who are supported by the Catholic Church and the right-wing opposition, say the authorities' plans would undermine one of society’s essential building blocks.

France allows civil unions between same-sex couples, but during his presidential campaign, Hollande pledged to extend their rights. Although his socialist government faced opposition from over 1,000 mayors and the Catholic Church, it still approved a relevant bill in November 2012.

The march organizers said some 800,000 protesters took to the streets, carrying placards that in particular read, "We don't want your law, Francois." According to police, the number of protesters was about 340,000.

The French parliament is expected to start discussing the controversial legislation later in January. Paris-based news channel France 24 reported citing recent opinion polls that over 60 percent of people surveyed support marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Catholic leader Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, who launched the opposition with a critical sermon in August, met protesters in south Paris to express his "encouragement that Christians express what they think,” according to the Sky News satellite television news broadcaster.

Sky News also said organizers insisted they are for traditional marriage rather than against gays and lesbians.

In November 2012, between 70,000 and 200,000 of French nationals protested the French authorities’ plans to legalize same-sex marriage and allow gay couples to adopt, media said. Catholic groups and other supporters of traditional family rights were among the participants.

RIA Novosti

You only think you know what's coming...EXO-VATICANA (Part No.4)

Stories and legends extending as far back as the beginning of time in every major culture tell the astonishingly consistent story of “gods” that descended from heaven and materialized in bodies of flesh. Our working hypothesis is that the so-called extraterrestrials are nothing new. Indeed, they have been with us all along. They appear in our literature as far back as records extend.

In some of the earliest documents we see a diverse population of strange entities being created by the gods. For instance, in the Akkadian Epic of Creation we read of the chaos monster Tiamat employing a host of oddities: "She deployed serpents, dragons, and hairy hero-men, Lion monsters, lion men, scorpion men, Mighty demons, fish men, bull men, Bearing unsparing arms, fearing no battle." [i]

As the cuneiform tablets recount, the deity Enki believed correctly that Apsu, upset with the chaos they created, was planning to murder the younger deities; and so captured him, holding him prisoner beneath is temple called E-Abzu. This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu's death. These were her own offspring: Bašmu, “Venomous Snake,” Ušumgallu, “Great Dragon,” Mušmaḫḫū, “Exalted Serpent,” Mušḫuššu, “Furious Snake,” Laḫmu, the “Hairy One,” Ugallu, the “Big Weather-Beast,” Uridimmu, “Mad Lion,” Girtablullû, “Scorpion-Man,” Umū dabrūtu, “Violent Storms,” Kulullû, “Fish-Man,” and Kusarikku, “Bull-Man.” These entities are recorded in the earliest records and find astonishing parallels in later literature. From the Sumerians through the Akkadians to the ancient Hebrews these legends have remained consistent. Later, “ancient Greek and Roman myths were populated not only by gods, heroes, and demons,” Brother Guy Consolmagno from VATT at Mt. Graham reminded us, “but by any number of strange and monstrous beings.”[ii]

Thus, from Rome to Greece—and before that, to Egypt, Persia, Assyria, Babylonia, and Sumer—the earliest records of civilization reveal an era when powerful beings known to the Hebrews as Watchers and in the book of Genesis as the benei ha-elohim (sons of God) descended to earth, mingled themselves with humans, and gave birth to part-celestial, part-terrestrial hybrids known as Nephilim. The Bible says this happened when civilization expanded and daughters were born to men. When the sons of God saw the women’s beauty, they took wives from among them to sire their unusual offspring. In Genesis 6:4 we read the following account: “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

When this Scripture is compared with other ancient texts, including those by early Church Fathers such as Justin, Irenaeus, Athenagoras, Commodianus, Julius Africanus, Clement, Tertulluan, Methodius, and Ambrose, not to mention works like the books of Enoch, Jubilees, Baruch, Genesis Apocryphon, Philo, Josephus, Jasher, The Testament of the 12 Patriarchs, and many more, the firmly held ancient belief becomes clear that the giants of the Old Testament, such as Goliath, were part-human, part-animal, part-angelic offspring of a supernatural interruption into the divine order and natural propagation of the species.

The first-century Romano-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus described part of the story this way:

For many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants. But Noah was very uneasy at what they did; and being displeased at their conduct, persuaded them to change their dispositions and their acts for the better: but seeing they did not yield to him, but were slaves to their wicked pleasures, he was afraid they would kill him, together with his wife and children, and those they had married; so he departed out of that land. [iii]

The early Church Father Irenaeus added that the angels used women not only to sire “giants” but taught them enchantments specifically for the purpose of casting lust-potions to lure both men and angels to their beds:

And for a very long while wickedness extended and spread, and reached and laid hold upon the whole race of mankind, until a very small seed of righteousness remained among them and illicit unions took place upon the earth, since angels were united with the daughters of the race of mankind; and they bore to them sons who for their exceeding greatness were called giants. And the angels brought as presents to their wives teachings of wickedness, in that they brought them the virtues of roots and herbs, dyeing in colors and cosmetics, the discovery of rare substances, love-potions, aversions, amours, concupiscence, constraints of love, spells of bewitchment, and all sorcery and idolatry hateful to God; by the entry of which things into the world evil extended and spread, while righteousness was diminished and enfeebled. [iv]
While the prophet Daniel called certain powerful angels “Watchers” in canonical scripture (Dan. 4:13,17,23), it was the apocryphal book of Enoch that first described their cosmic conspiracy. We read:

And I Enoch was blessing the Lord of majesty and the King of the ages, and lo! the Watchers called me—Enoch the scribe—and said to me: “Enoch, thou scribe of righteousness, go, declare to the Watchers of the heaven who have left the high heaven, the holy eternal place, and have defiled themselves with women, and have done as the children of earth do, and have taken unto themselves wives: Ye have wrought great destruction on the earth: And ye shall have no peace nor forgiveness of sin: and inasmuch as they delight themselves in their children [the Nephilim], The murder of their beloved ones shall they see, and over the destruction of their children shall they lament, and shall make supplication unto eternity, but mercy and peace shall ye not attain” (1 Enoch 10:3–8).


According to Enoch, two hundred of these powerful angels departed “high heaven” and used women (among other things) to extend their progeny into mankind’s plane of existence. David Flynn referenced an interlinear Hebrew Bible which offers an interesting interpretation of Genesis 6:2 in this regard. Where the King James Bible says, “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they [were] fair,” Flynn interprets this as, “The benei Elohim saw the daughters of Adam, that they were fit extensions” (emphasis added).[v] In other words, they wanted to incarnate themselves into the material world. The New Testament also suggests this idea when Jude, the brother of our Lord, wrote, "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation [oikētērion]…" (Jude 6). This Greek term oikētērion is used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:2 to denote the transfigured body given to believers in heaven. This implies that these fallen angels indeed sought to extend part of themselves into earthly bodies. The rendering “fit extensions” seems applicable when the whole of the ancient record is understood to mean that the Watchers wanted to leave their proper sphere of existence in order to enter earth’s three-dimensional reality. They viewed women—or at least their genetic material—as part of the formula for accomplishing this task. Ancient records suggest the Watchers modified animals as well. For instance, Jubilees implies that interspecies mingling eventually resulted in mutations among normal humans and animals whose “flesh” (genetic makeup) was “corrupted” by the activity, presumably through cross-genetic integration:

And injustice increased upon the earth, and all flesh corrupted its way; man and cattle and beasts and birds and everything which walks on the earth. And they all corrupted their way and their ordinances, and they began to eat one another. And injustice grew upon the earth and every imagination of the thoughts of all mankind was thus continually evil. (Jubilees 5:2 underline added, cf. 7:21–25)[vi]

Even the Old Testament contains reference to the mutations that developed among humans following this time frame, including “men” of unusual size, physical strength, six fingers, six toes, animal appetite for blood, and even lion-like features (2 Samuel 21:20; 23:20). Early Church Father Eusebius adds other important details:

And they begat human beings, with two wings; and then others with four wings and two faces and one body and two heads… still others with horses’ hooves, and others in the shape of a horse at the rear and a human shape at the front… they also made bulls with human heads and horses with dogs’ heads as well as other monsters with horses heads and human bodies… then all kinds of dragon-like monstrous beings… [emphasis added] [vii]

Of the “winged humans” and “dragon-like monsters,” J. R. Church once made an interesting point that since this activity was satanic in nature, it refers to the “seed of the serpent” that was at enmity with Christ. “The concept of a reptilian race continues throughout the Bible as a metaphoric symbol of the devil,” he wrote in Prophecy in the Newsmagazine, February 2009. “Later Scriptures add the term ‘dragon,’ with the implication that these other-worldly creatures were designed with the DNA code of a reptilian race.” Church went on to state how some of these satanic creatures were depicted as “bat-like gargoyles, or winged dragons” in ancient art, and that we should not be surprised that “a humanoid-type reptilian race could cohabit with human women and produce a race of giants.” In what could be historical support of Dr. Church’s premise, a document fragment found in Cave 4 among the Dead Sea Scrolls contains an admonition by Amram, the father of Moses, to his children. In a badly damaged segment of the text, Amram sees the chief Angel of Darkness, A Watcher named Melkireshaʿ in the form of a reptilian:

I saw Watchers in my vision, a dream vision, and behold two (of them) argued about me and said … and they were engaged in a great quarrel concerning me. I asked them: ‘You, what are you … thus … about me?’ They answered and said to me: ‘We have been made masters and rule over all the sons of men.’ And they said to me: ‘Which of us do you choose 

I raised my eyes and saw one of them. His looks were frightening like those of a viper, and his garments were multi-coloured and he was extremely dark …

And afterwards I looked and behold … by his appearance and his face was like that of an adder [a venomous snake], and he was covered with … together, and his eyes …” [viii]

The fact that the Watchers are described in explicitly reptilianterms by the ancient Hebrews grounds the ufological discussion of such beings and their interactions with man firmly in ancient history. Case in point, Dr. John Mack’s seminal work on the abduction phenomenon cites many cases involving entities meeting the same description as that found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. For example, the description by Sara, “The head was the most prominent part of the body and was ‘shimmery,’ looking ‘reptilian,’ almost ‘snake like, serpent like’ and quite elongated.”[ix] Furthermore, contrary to the revisionist accounts given by Ancient Astronaut theorists, this implies the so-called Reptilians are, in fact, Watchers pursuing a more sinister agenda than scientific exploration. Yet, abductee testimonies also suggest their interest in genetic material is very real.

Perhaps the most “scientific” description concerning the Watcher experiments and their genetic modification of humans and animals comes to us from the book of Jasher, a Hebrew text that adds an exceptional detail that none of the other texts is as unequivocal about, something that can only be understood in modern language to mean advanced biotechnology, genetic engineering, or “transgenic modification” of species. After the Watchers had instructed humans “in the secrets of heaven,” note what it says occurred:

[Then] the sons of men [began teaching] the mixture of animals of one species with the other, in order therewith to provoke the Lord. (Jasher 4:18)
It does seem likely that the phrase “the mixture of animals of one species with the other” means Watchers had taught men something more than natural animal crossbreeding, as this would not have “provoked the Lord.” God made like animals of different breeds capable of reproducing. For example, horses can propagate with other mammals of the equidae classification (the taxonomic “horse family”), including donkeys and zebras. It would not have “provoked the Lord” for this type of animal breeding to have taken place, as God Himself made the animals able to do this.

If, on the other hand, the Watchers were crossing species boundaries by mixing incompatible animals of one species with the other, such as a horse with a human (a centaur), this would have been a different matter altogether and may cast light on the numerous ancient stories of mythical beings of variant-species manufacturing that fit perfectly within the records of what the Watchers were accomplishing. Understandably, this kind of chimera-making would have “provoked the Lord” and raises the serious question why the Watchers would have risked eternal damnation by tinkering with God’s creation in this way. Several theories exist as to “why” watchers would have corrupted natural genotypes, including the idea that: 1) because Yahweh had placed boundaries between the species and strictly ordered that “each kind” reproduce only after its “own kind,” the Watchers as rebels sought to break these rules in order to assault God’s creative genius through biologically altering what He had made; 2) the corruption of antediluvian DNA by Watchers was an effort to cut off the birth line of the Messiah. This theory posits that Satan understood the protoevangelium—the promise in Genesis 3:15 that a Savior would be born, the seed of the woman, and that He would destroy the fallen angel’s power. Satan’s followers therefore intermingled with the human race in aconspiracy to stop the birth of Christ. If human DNA could be universally corrupted or “demonized,” they reasoned, no Savior would be born and mankind would be lost forever. Those who support this theory believe this is why God ordered His people to maintain a pure bloodline and not to intermarry with the other nations. When the Hebrews breached this command and the mutated DNA began rapidly spreading among men and animals, God instructed Noah to build an ark and to prepare for a flood that would destroy every living thing, the purpose of which would be to purge the earth of the contaminated genotypes and phenotypes.

Finally, a third theory as to why Watchers merged the genetics of various life forms incorporates the voluminous ancient “Watcher” texts into a consistent account regarding the overriding motive for what the Watchers had apparently used DNA for. When this is done, it becomes clear that genetic substances were for them an earth-centric and organic construction material (or as Dr. Jacques Vallée called it, “living energy”) [x] for building a composite body that would allow them to leave their plane of existence and to enter man’s (see Jude 1:6; 2 Pet: 2:4). The challenge of this theory becomes how intermingling various species would satisfy this goal or provide the Watchers with a method of departure from “high heaven” and incarnation into man’s “habitation.” While we will not take time here to explain every detail, the hypothesis involves the Watchers combining species in order to create a soulless or spiritless body—a living but empty “large organism” or “shell” into which they could extend themselves. The rationale here is that every creature as it existed originally had its beginning in God, who wove a barrier between the species and ordered each creature to reproduce “after its own kind.” The phrase “after its own kind” verifies what type of spirit can enter into an intelligent being at conception. When the sperm of a dog meets ovum of a dog and the life of a dog is formed, at the first spark of life the spirit (or “nature” when speaking of an animal) of a dog enters that embryo and it grows to become a dog in spirit and form. The spirit of a man does not enter it, in the same way that a man is not born with the spirit of a horse or cow. This creature/spirit integrity is part of the divine order and would have kept the Watchers, who wanted to incarnate within the human realm (not just “possess” creatures), from displacing the spirits of humans or animals and replacing them with their own. How did the Watchers overcome this problem? It appears based on the ancient records (and like modern scientists are doing today) they blended existing DNA of several living creatures and made something that neither the spirit of man or beast would enter at conception, for it was neither man nor beast. As Mysterious World, in its 2003 feature, “Giants in the Earth,” noted:

The Nephilim were genetically manufactured beings created from the genetic material of various pre-existing animal species.… The fallen angels did not personally interbreed with the daughters of men, but used their godlike intellect to delve into the secrets of YHWH’s Creation and manipulate it to their own purposes. And the key to creating or recreating man, as we have (re)discovered in the twentieth century, is the human genome—DNA.
According to this extrapolation from the ancient accounts, the manipulation of living tissue by the fallen angels led to an unusual body made up of human, animal, and plant genetics known as Nephilim, an “earth-born” facsimile or “fit extension” into which they could incarnate. While this theory significantly adds to the ancient record, it seeks to modernize the ancients’ description of what they, perhaps, did not fully grasp through the lens of a prescientific worldview and vocabulary. Interestingly, science has uncovered unexpected evidence for this in the human genome.

The Washington Post recently published a story on findings that a “mystery” species with partial human DNA once walked the earth. The story, titled “Sex with early mystery species of humans seen in DNA, UW researcher says,” is just the latest in a series of similar recent finds, and while no fossilized giant bones were found in this case, a calling card was left in present-day Africans: snippets of “foreign” DNA. “These genetic leftovers do not resemble DNA from any modern humans,” the article reports before adding this bombshell: “The foreign DNA also does not resemble Neanderthal DNA, which shows up in the DNA of some modern Europeans. That means the newly identified DNA came from an unknown group.”[xi]

Given the above theories, the biblical story of Nephilim offspring offers the most satisfying answer to this enigma.

One objection occasionally raised against the idea of part-men hybrids born as a result of union between angelic and human “genetics” is the belief that angels are supposedly sexless, since Jesus said at the resurrection that people will neither marry nor be given in marriage but shall be “like the angels in heaven.” However, as James Montgomery Boice points out, the words recorded in Matthew 22:30 “are not the equivalent of saying that the angels are sexless or that they could not have had sexual relations with women if they had chosen to do so. In heaven human beings will not marry but will nevertheless retain their identity, which includes their being either male or female. In the same way, the angels could also have sexual identities. It is significant perhaps that when the angels are referred to in Scripture it is always with the masculine pronoun ‘he,’ and they are always described as men.” [xii] Thus, when Jesus said the angels “in heaven” do not marry, this is a separate matter from what those angels that departed (or were cast out of) heaven was capable of doing and apparently did. Jude 1:6-7 adds a deep and important point about this when it says:

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” [emphasis added].

It is remarkable here that Jude connects the sin of the fallen angels with the sexual sins of Sodom and Gomorrha using the telling commentary that they had gone after “strange flesh”. This is the Greek sarkos heteros and contains a very important meaning connected to how the men of Sodom and Gomorrha wanted to have sex with angels (see Gen. 19). Thus their sin is compared by Jude to those angels of one verse earlier, which departed their proper habitation in heaven to comingle with women. The Apostle Paul also resonates these demarcations in 1 Corinthians 15:40 when he says, “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.” When explaining how the “heavenly” body is made up of something entirely different than the “earthly body,” is Paul speaking metaphysically or can a difference in the “raw material” of these bodies be assumed? Certainly it can, because in the verse just before this one he speaks of the differences between the flesh of men, beasts, fishes, and birds, yet how these are all of earthly composition, as opposed to the following verse where he clearly divides the celestial body as “another” type of body not of the same “terrestrial” (terra firma, of the earth) kind.

According to the Second Century Apostolic father Athenagoras, Lucifer had been the angel originally placed in charge of the earthly “matter” (see Plea for the Christians). After his fall, Satan used his knowledge of creation and genetics to corrupt what God had made. This is interesting in light of modern science and the recent suggestion that genetic abnormalities “may predispose a man to antisocial behavior, including crimes of violence.” [xiii] One of the hottest topics in biology today is the science of “epigenetics,” which involves heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotypes that can be caused by “mechanisms” other than normal changes that occur in underlying DNA sequences—thus the title epi-(Greek: επί- over, above, outer)-genetics. Whether supernaturalism can play a role as one of these “outer mechanisms” is suggestive and many scholars believe demonic possession, for instance, can negatively affect chromosomal health. The New Testament is replete with connections between sickness and genetic disorders as directly connected to demonism. According to theologian and spiritual warfare expert, Dr. Neil Andersen, “approximately one-fourth of all the healings recorded in the Gospel of Mark were actually deliverances.”[xiv] For example, “they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick;” and, “when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Mat. 8:16; 10:1).

But, this is only part of the story. There is a difference between demonized humans... and them among us now.

Raiders News Update

Russian FM says Assad removal ‘impossible’

"This is a precondition that is not contained in the Geneva Declaration (agreed by world powers in June 2012) and which is impossible to implement because it does not depend on anyone," Lavrov said on Sunday.

The Russian foreign minister also referred to the plan proposed by Bashar al-Assad to resolve the country’s crisis on January 6, 2013, saying that the initiative forwarded by Assad “will probably not look serious to some,” but they “are offers.”

“If I were in the opposition's place, I would present my counter-ideas about establishing dialogue," Lavrov added.
In a key speech on Sunday, Assad said his government is always ready to hold talks with the opposition and political parties and will call for a “comprehensive national dialog” after foreign parties end their support for the militants and the terrorist activities end in the country.

On Saturday, Russia reiterated its support for political transition in Syria saying that Syrians themselves should decide about the future of their country without outside interference.

"In our opinion, the priority task is to immediately stop any violence and bloodshed as well as provide Syrians including internally displaced persons and refugees with humanitarian aid," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Syria has been the scene of unrest for nearly two years. Many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the turmoil that began in March 2011.


Top 10 discoveries in Biblical Archaeology in 2012

EACH year several dozen institutional archaeological excavations and multiple more salvage excavations take place in the lands of the Bible.
Some excavations draw attention because of the exciting dimensions of their discoveries. Many more compile important information from less dynamic discoveries that help us better understand the biblical world in its social context.
Following are some of the most exciting discoveries announced in the past year, taken from the news digests of ARTIFAX magazine, and reported on The Book & The Spade radio program.
Huqoq mosaic detail
 #1) Huqoq Synagogue Mosaic  The ancient village of Huqoq is located three miles west of the Sea of Galilee shore near the sites of Magdala and Capernaum. Excavated by archaeologist Jodi Magness, a Distinguished Professor of early Judaism at North Carolina University at Chapel Hill, the mosaic floor of this synagoue is of the highest quality. The mosaic depicts Samson tying the tails of foxes together and also shows two faces around an inscription. This synagogue dates several centuries after the time of Christ and is expected to provide new information about the development of synagogues in the Galilee.
#2) Cult Shrines from Khirbet Qeiyafa These shrines were actually discovered in 2011 excavations, but announced in the late spring of 2012 by archaeologist Yosel Garfinkel of Hebrew University. The shrines are evidence of worship that predates Solomon’s Temple by 30-40 years; shrines without cultic images that are different from Canaanite shrines and conform to the anaconic traditions of Judaism. Khirbet Qeiyafa overlooks the Elah Valley, about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem.
First Temple Period Reservoir
#3) First Temple Period Reservoir  This cistern is located near the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount, under Robinson’s Arch. With its 66,000 gallon capacity, this discovery provides new information about water consumption in the First Temple era of Jerusalem.
#4) Bethlehem Bullah  A seal impression with three lines of script, this is the earliest mention of Bethlehem outside of the Bible. It was found during the sifting of material from City of David excavations. It is a fiscal bulla, related to taxing of shipments during the reign of a king around the time of Hezekiah, Manasseh, or Josiah.
#5) Jerusalem Seal  An actual seal which says “Belonging to Matanyahu Ben Ho,” this seal was found near Robinson’s arch in the ruins of a building from the First Temple Period.
#6) An Egyptian scarab  This scarab was found in Jerusalem just before the 2012 Passover. It depicts the image of a duck, which is the name of the sun god Amon-Ra. It is dated to the 13th century BC, just after the Amarna period.
#7) The Kiryat Gat Hoard  This hoard was found near Ashkelon and contains 140 gold & silver Roman coins dating to the late first and early 2nd century AD. The hoard included a gold earring and a ring with a seal depicting a winged goddess.
#8) The Neo Hittite sculpture at Tel Tayinat  The sculputure inscription records events of the reign of Suppiluliuma, who probably faced Shalmaneser III in 858 BC. This is an important excavation in Turkey, 22 miles east of Antakya (ancient Antioch) on the road to Aleppo. University of Toronto archaeologist Tim Harrison believes this is the neo-Hittite kingdom of Patina, which may also be the Calno referred to in Isaiah 10:9-10.
#9) 3400-year old wheat from Hazor  The wheat was discovered in 14 clay jugs, burned but not destroyed 3400 years ago. This is one of the most important ongoing excavations in Israel, at the site of one of most important ancient cities in Israel.
#10) Akko’s Hellenistic Harbor   Archaeologists are exposing the remains of the harbor, from the third and second centuries BC. This was the most important port in Israel in the centuries just before the birth of Christ.

Christian Messenger

Britain's New Stealth Bomber Is Unmanned And Fully Autonomous

Taranis Infographic

Britain's Royal Air Force has been using Tornado jets as bombers for decades and is already building a fleet of new Typhoons, but BAE hopes to supplement those forces with a powerful new drone.

The Taranis, named for the Celtic god of thunder will fly faster than the speed of sound and beyond the eye of enemy radar with its single-wing stealth design, and UK officials hope to see it replace piloted planes and current unmanned drones alike.

It's a tall order, but the Taranis already has some nifty technology built into it. In the event the Taranis is spotted and efforts to bring the drone down begun, it can self-evade without input from a controller.

It can also independently identify targets and would only check back with a human controller before initiating an attack. At about $200 million the Taranis prototype isn't cheap, but the RAF believes it's a good investment.

From Richard Gray at The Telegraph:

Nigel Whitehead, group managing director of programmes at BAE Systems, which has been developing Taranis, said the new drone could change the way aircraft are used by the MoD in the future, which currently uses manned planes for combat missions.

Remote controlled drones such as Reaper are also used by the Ministry of Defence and US military to attack targets ... the Taranis is expected to provide a prototype of a new kind of bomber that will replace piloted planes and the current drones.

Replacing full-sized manned bombers with more than three decades of battle-tested experience is no small feat, and the Taranis, at least this version, isn't terribly large.

Northrop Grumman

US Navy X-47B (click to expand)The latest specifications have it at about 37 feet long with a 30 foot wingspan and powered by a Rolls-Royce Adour engine, like the U.S. Navy's T-45, and is reported to have a global range. This likely means Taranis is capable of mid-flight refueling as the U.S. Navy's X-47B drone is designed to do as well.

That autonomous ability with unlimited range is something military planners have been after for a long time both in the UK and here in the U.S.

Britain is already replacing its Tornados with manned Eurofighter Typhoons built by British Aerospace and it's unlikely they'll be going away anytime soon.

The Typhoon can simply carry more ordnance — a lot more — and when comparing the Taranis' 6,400 pounds of thrust to the Typhoon's 26,000, it's easy to understand why.

While the drone's weapons need to remain internally stored to maintain its stealth, the Typhoon does not have that concern and can strap the most advanced ordnance to its wings and fuselage.

In bombs alone the Typhoon carries six 500 lb Paveway IV, laser guided Paveway II/III/Enhanced bombs, the ability to use U.S. Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) smart bombs, and is equipped to use the upcoming HOPE/HOSBO, high performance penetrator and high performance explosive bombs.

These laser guided bunker busting bombs will be some of the most powerful in the world, with reportedly more capability than the U.S. GBU-28. The only conventional bomb stronger than that is the U.S. GBU-57, 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator that requires a B-2 Bomber to deliver.

But Taranis already has the shape of the B-2, if it extends its wingspan and capabilities a bit in the future, who knows what the drone will do.

The Taranis begins air trials within weeks over the Australian Outback.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/britain-new-supersonic-drone-uav-taranis-will-replace-bomber-fleet-2013-1#ixzz2HuYdKvpI

Russia rejects Assad exit as precondition for Syria deal

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia voiced support on Saturday for international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi but insisted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's exit cannot be a precondition for a deal to end the country's conflict.

A Foreign Ministry statement following talks on Friday with the United States and Brahimi, whom the Syrian government has labeled "flagrantly biased", reiterated calls for an end to violence in Syria, where more than 60,000 people have been killed since March 2011.

At the meeting in Geneva with Brahimi and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov "expressed unfailing support for Brahimi's mission as the U.N.-Arab League special envoy on Syria," it said.

The issue of Assad, whom the United States, European powers and Gulf-led Arab states insist must step down to end what has escalated into a civil war, appeared to be a sticking point at the meeting.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said: "As before, we firmly uphold the thesis that questions about Syria's future must be decided by the Syrians themselves, without interference from outside or the imposition of prepared recipes for development."

Russia has been Assad's most powerful international backer during the nearly 22-month-old conflict, joining with China to block three Western- and Arab-backed U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed to pressure him or push him from power.

In Geneva, Russia called for "a political transition process" based on an agreement by foreign powers last June.

Brahimi, who is trying to build on the agreement reached in Geneva on June 30, has met three times with senior Russian and U.S. diplomats since early December and met Assad in Damascus.

Russia and the United States disagreed over what the June agreement meant for Assad, with Washington saying it sent a clear signal he must go and Russia contending it did not.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said there had been some progress toward a common view at Friday's meeting but did not provide details.

Moscow says it is not propping up Assad and, as rebels gain ground in the war, has given indications it is preparing for his possible exit. But it continues to insist he must not be forced out by foreign powers.

Analysts say President Vladimir Putin wants to prevent the United States from using military force or support from the U.N. Security Council to bring down governments it opposes.

Bogdanov met Syrian Christian opposition campaigner Michel Kilo in Geneva in efforts to pursue close contacts with both Assad's government and opponents, the Foreign Ministry said.

Yahoo News

American pastor jailed in Iran faces torture

BERLIN – The family of American-Iranian pastor Saeed Abedini released a letter from him on Thursday stating that Iranian authorities have threatened him with death because of his belief in Christianity.

“This is the process in my life today: One day I am told I will be freed and allowed to see my kids on Christmas (which was a lie) and the next day, I am told I will hang for my faith in Jesus,” he wrote in the letter.

“One day, there are intense pains after beatings in interrogations; the next day they are nice to you and offer you candy,” continued Abedini, who is imprisoned in a Tehran jail.

The US State Department expressed “serious concerns” about Abedini’s situation on Friday.

Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of the Washington- based American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) wrote to the The Jerusalem Post on Friday, “This is an extremely critical time for American Pastor Saeed and his family. We now know with certainty, from his own words, the brutality and life-threatening danger he faces in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison.”

“In a powerful letter from him released to family members in Tehran, Pastor Saeed reveals that he is undergoing beatings and is being told that he ‘will hang’ for his Christian faith. That treatment combined with the recent news that Pastor Saeed’s case has been turned over to one of Iran’s ‘hanging judges’ makes his circumstances more dire than ever,” Sekulow said.

The European Union sanctioned Judge Pir-Abassi, who has earned the reputation of a “hanging judge” and who is now handling Abedini’s case, for his violations of human rights in the Islamic Republic.

Fox News reported last week that “Abedini, 32, became a US citizen in 2010 when he married his American wife, Naghmeh Abedini.

Two years earlier, he had become an ordained minister.”

Sekulow and the ACLJ have urged the US government to intervene in the Abedini’s case. He told the Post that “after months of urging the US State Department to get involved in Pastor Saeed’s case, a State Department spokesperson on Friday addressed his plight publicly, acknowledging for the first time that it has ‘serious concerns’ about his fate. We are hopeful that this statement represents an important first step forward for the State Department toward securing Pastor Saeed’s freedom.”

“Pastor Saeed is a US citizen – an American imprisoned in Iran because of his religious beliefs. The State Department must do more – it must condemn his imprisonment and call on Iran to immediately release him. The world is watching. Time is of the essence,” the human rights activist continued.

Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, an expert on Iran who has written extensively on the persecution of Christians in the Islamic Republic, told the Post on Saturday, that Abedini’s case was “an example of the insidious and perfidious policy of the Islamist dictatorship” in Tehran, adding that “the main goal of the rulers is to intimidate Christians and Iranians who are interested to leave Islam and change their religion.”

Wahdat-Hagh, who is a senior fellow with the Brussels- based European Foundation for Democracy, added that the persecution of Christians recalls the“hostile policy of taking hostages” taken by Iran and the Lebanon-based, Iran-sponsored terrorist organization Hezbollah.

He said the situation of Christians in Iran is dire and “their websites, even exile websites, are attacked by Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”

“The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and representatives of Islamic Jihad even play the role of pastors in churches in Isfahan to “guide” the Christians and teach them that Islam is better,” Wahdat-Hagh stated.

He noted that the situation of the Baha’i community, a religious minority in Iran, “is even worse than the situation of Christians.”

The regime in Tehran has waged a campaign of imprisonments, executions and show trials against the Baha’i community since coming to power following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Jerusalem Post