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Thursday, May 16, 2013

You WILL Believe

Netanyahu to Putin: ‘Your missile sales to Assad could trigger war’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that Moscow’s sale of a sophisticated missile defense system to President Bashar Assad could push the Middle East into war.

Netanyahu, who flew to meet Putin for emergency talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, told the Russian president that the S-300 had no relevance to Assad’s civil-war battles against rebel groups, and urged Moscow not to deliver the systems, Channel 2 reported on Wednesday night.

He said that if acquired by Assad, the S-300 — a state-of-the-art system that can intercept fighter jets and cruise missiles — “is likely to draw us into a response, and could send the region deteriorating into war,” the Channel 2 report said.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, asked last week about possible sales of the S-300 to Assad, said cagily: “Russia is not planning to sell. Russia has been selling for a long time, has signed contracts and is completing deliveries of technology that consists of anti-aircraft systems.”

Lavrov said the weapons were to help Syria defend itself against air attacks. Israel suspects that Russia plans to sell Damascus six S-300 missile batteries, as well as 144 missiles, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The Times of Israel

Big Mac Index Exposes Flawed Inflation Data

Embryonic stem cells: Advance in medical human cloning

Human cloning has been used to produce early embryos, marking a "significant step" for medicine, say US scientists.

The cloned embryos were used as a source of stem cells, which can make new heart muscle, bone, brain tissue or any other type of cell in the body.

The study, published in the journal Cell, used methods like those that produced Dolly the sheep in the UK.

However, researchers say other sources of stem cells may be easier, cheaper and less controversial.

Opponents say it is unethical to experiment on human embryos and have called for a ban.

Stem cells are one of the great hopes for medicine. Being able to create new tissue might be able to heal the damage caused by a heart attack or repair a severed spinal cord.

There are already trials taking place using stem cells taken from donated embryos to restore people's sight.

However, these donated cells do not match the patient so they would be rejected by the body. Cloning bypasses this problem.

The technique used - somatic cell nuclear transfer - has been well-known since Dolly the sheep became the first mammal to be cloned, in 1996.
Dolly's birth in 1996 was seen as a major scientific breakthrough

Skin cells were taken from an adult and the genetic information was placed inside a donor egg which had been stripped of its own DNA. Electricity was used to encourage the egg to develop into an embryo.

However, researchers have struggled to reproduce the feat in people. The egg does start dividing, but never goes past the 6-12 cell stage.'Real deal'

Now a team at the Oregon Health and Science University have developed the embryo to the blastocyst stage - around 150 cells - which is enough to provide a source of embryonic stem cells.

Dr Shoukhrat Mitalipov said: "A thorough examination of the stem cells derived through this technique demonstrated their ability to convert just like normal embryonic stem cells, into several different cell types, including nerve cells, liver cells and heart cells.

"While there is much work to be done in developing safe and effective stem cell treatments, we believe this is a significant step forward in developing the cells that could be used in regenerative medicine."

Chris Mason, a professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, said this looked like "the real deal".

"They've done the same as the Wright brothers really. They've looked around at where are all the best bits of how to do this from different groups all over the place and basically amalgamated it.

"The Wright brothers took off and this has actually managed to make embryonic stem cells."


You Need reality and the savior

My dear friends, I know I'm going to get it for this post but in love I must say it (2 Cor. 12:15). Someone has to and it might as well be me. For the past 5 years I have been feeling the spiritual temperature at Free Republic and other conservative forums and have found that moral and biblical relativism, biblical ignorance, conservative optimism, Christian ecumenicalism and the outright rejection of the TRUE Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12, Rom. 10:2-4, 1 Cor. 15:1-4, Eph. 2:8-9) nearly dominate this and other conservative forums. Thank God for Free Republic, they do a great job, are sincere and mean well and are a great group of people who truly love America and conservatism as I do, but... that in itself is not enough to aid us in this dire hour. An individual today has to see the complete ETERNAL picture and that includes biblical REALITY and the reception of it.Conservatism without a saving relationship to Jesus Christ as the Holy Scriptures clearly teach is ETERNALLY bankrupt.

 American conservatives of today are no different from the Pharisees of Jesus day. These were conservative, moral, go to "church" to put it in our day language and were quite familiar with the Old Testament, but when push came to shove they outright rejected Almighty God's righteousness and saving solution for their souls in SPIRIT and TRUTH and held their traditions and conservatism above the Word of Almighty God.

Thank God for some God fearing, Bible believing, evangelical presence at Free Republic, who help point America's conservatives to the Gospel, the REALITY of the hour and Almighty God's biblical perspective, but sadly these are usually scoffed at and laughed to scorn by American conservatives who are lost and without a saving relationship to Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel (Isa. 53, Matt. 7:21-32, Rom. 10:2-4, 1 Cor. 2:14). Tragically the dominant spirit there is one of unbelief, subjective conservative optimism, spiritual delusion and ETERNAL blindness (Rom. 10:2-4). The temperature and pulse of American conservatives who actually believe the Bible and its saving message is near dead and ice cold. That is a heart breaking reality that God the Father has had to show me these last five years and with tears in my eyes I wish I could change that but I cannot choose for an individual to receive the Savior. American conservatives of today are no different from the Pharisees of Jesus day. These were conservative, moral, go to "church" to put it in our day language and were quite familiar with the Old Testament but when push came to shove they outright rejected Almighty God's righteousness and saving solution for their souls in SPIRIT and TRUTH (John 4:24) and held their traditions and conservatism above the Word of Almighty God(Matt. 15:1-20, Rom.10:1-4).
The temperature and climate of American conservatives who actually believe the Bible and its saving message is dead and ice cold and that is a heart breaking reality that God the Father has had to show me.

My dear friends, oh how we need Divine REALITY today and not delusional optimism and worldly solutions for our EXPONENTIAL global crises. Almighty God cries out to you all day long but will YOU receive Him and His ETERNAL solutions for your life? That is the biggest question ALL must ask themselves in these last days. All these current events and crises of our global community are self induced by the lawless and godless works of fallen man and are driving this world straight into the Day of the Lord (Rom. 1:18-32, Gal. 6:7, Rev. 6-19). These products or fruits of evil men and their consequences are left in place to bring us to the brink of our delusions so that we may come out of our subjective selves and show us our desperate need for the Savior, His pardon, and His RIGHTEOUSNESS.
My dear friends, WHAT WILL YOU DO? Will you continue to look for worldly solutions and conservative human saviors or will you finally come to the end of yourself and receive the KING of kings and LORD of lords who is the WONDERFUL COUNSELOR and PRINCE of PEACE.

My dear friends, WHAT WILL YOU DO? Will you continue to look for worldly solutions and conservative human saviors or will you finally come to the end of yourself and receive the KING of kings and LORD of lords who is the WONDERFUL COUNSELOR and PRINCE of PEACE (Isa. 9:6-7, Rev. 19:11-16). All ETERNITY is before us and our brief existence in this fallen world is about gone. See the ETERNAL, see the Savior, see the REALITY and you will find the liberation and peace of Almighty God that will calm your hearts in America's last hours. 

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!" (Acts 16:29)!

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!


The Ignorant Fishermen Blog

Saudi health workers sickened by SARS-like virus

FILE - This undated file image released by the British Health Protection Agency shows an electron microscope image of a coronavirus, part of a family of viruses that cause ailments including the common cold and SARS, which was first identified last year in the Middle East. The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia told world health officials that two health care workers became ill this month after being exposed to patients with the a deadly new respiratory virus related to SARS. One is critically ill. (AP Photo/Health Protection Agency, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A deadly new respiratory virus related to SARS has apparently spread from patients to health care workers in eastern Saudi Arabia, health officials said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia told world health officials that two health care workers became ill this month after being exposed to patients with the virus. One is critically ill.

Since September 2012, the World Health Organization has been informed of 40 confirmed cases of the virus, and 20 of the patients have died. The deaths occurred in Britain, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

Experts have suggested calling the new virus MERS, for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, but officials have not signed off on that yet.

Experts are watching carefully for signs that the deadly virus can spread from person-to-person. Health officials say the virus has likely already spread between people in some circumstances, including hospital patients in France.

The new virus has caused severe respiratory disease in patients, some of them needing mechanical ventilators to help them breathe.

One of the Saudi health care workers is a 45-year-old man who is in critical condition. The other is a 43-year-old woman in stable condition. No other details about their jobs or where they work were released. Health workers were previously infected in a cluster in Jordan, though that was before the new coronavirus had been identified and before any special measures were taken to prevent its spread. That is not the case in Saudi Arabia and officials worry any new spread to health workers could suggest the virus is becoming more transmissible to people.

The new virus has been compared to SARS, an unusual pneumonia that first surfaced in China in late 2002 and erupted into a deadly international outbreak in early 2003. Spread of the virus in hospitals was a key development in the epidemic.

Ultimately, more than 8,000 cases were reported in about 30 countries, including eight people in the United States. The global tally included 774 deaths.

The SARS outbreak was declared contained by the summer of 2003, thanks to such measures as quarantines, hospital isolation of suspected cases, travel restrictions and the screening of airline passengers.

The WHO is currently not recommending any travel restrictions or special screening at airports or border crossings. Officials worry it will flare into an outbreak as big or worse. The new virus and SARS are both coronaviruses, a germ family that includes some cold viruses.

The new virus is distinct from SARS, but health officials worry it has potential to flare into a SARS-like international outbreak. But many questions remain about how it is spread, where it originated, and how deadly it truly is.

Yahoo News

Israel Hints at New Strikes, Warning Syria Not to Hit Back

WASHINGTON — In a clear warning to Syria to stop the transfer of advanced weapons to Islamic militants in the region, a senior Israeli official signaled on Wednesday that Israel was considering additional military strikes to prevent that from happening and that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, would face crippling consequences if he retaliated.

“Israel is determined to continue to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah,” the Israeli official said. “The transfer of such weapons to Hezbollah will destabilize and endanger the entire region.”

“If Syrian President Assad reacts by attacking Israel, or tries to strike Israel through his terrorist proxies,” the official said, “he will risk forfeiting his regime, for Israel will retaliate.”

The Israeli official, who had been briefed by high-level officials on Israel’s assessment of the situation in Syria, declined to be identified, citing the need to protect internal Israeli government deliberations. He contacted The New York Times on Wednesday.

The precise motives for Israel’s warning were uncertain: Israel could be seeking to restrain Syria’s behavior to avoid taking further military action, or alerting other countries to another military strike. That would increase the tension in an already fraught situation in Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than two years.

There could be a secondary audience for the warning, analysts said, in Hezbollah and its primary supporter, Iran. Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon, has said in recent days it could use weapons supplied by Iran to retaliate for recent Israeli strikes on Syria.

Nearly two weeks ago, Israeli warplanes carried out two strikes in Syria, the first hitting bases of Syria’s elite Republican Guard and storehouses of long-range missiles, in addition to a military research center that American officials have called the country’s main chemical weapons site.

A more limited strike on May 3 at Damascus International Airport was also meant to destroy weapons being sent from Iran to Hezbollah. The Israeli government did not confirm either of the attacks, which followed another earlier this year.

The Syrian government publicly condemned Israel for the assaults, saying it “opened the door to all possibilities.” The Syrian deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, declared, “We will respond immediately and harshly to any additional attack by Israel.”

Mr. Assad and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, have each said in recent days that the Israeli-Syrian border, which has been relatively quiet despite the more than two years of civil war inside Syria, could become a “resistance front,” in response to Israeli attacks.

On Wednesday, mortar shells, fired from across the Syrian border, landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The shells landed on Mount Hermon, a popular tourist site, and were the latest in a series of what Israel has generally considered errant fire from internal Syrian fighting.

Israel did not fire back, as it had on several previous occasions, but it closed Mount Hermon to the public for several hours during a Jewish holiday on which hiking in the Golan is popular.

In his comments, the Israeli official said that “Israel has so far refrained from intervening in Syria’s civil war and will maintain this policy as long as Assad refrains from attacking Israel directly or indirectly.”

“Israel,” he said, “will continue its policy of interdicting attempts to strengthen Hezbollah, but will not intercede in the Syrian civil war as long as Assad desists from direct or indirect attacks against Israel.”

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, declined to discuss the meaning of the Israeli official’s statement. “We’re not going to comment on the story,” he said.
NY Times

Using biometric iPhones.

The Homeland Security Department wants to aid victims of bombings and other disasters by identifying suspects more quickly on the scene -- using biometric iPhones.

iPads and Windows-based tablets, such as Surface, also are being considered for the technology development project, according to a market survey distributed on Friday. The device would have the capability to capture fingerprints, facial images and written descriptions "from unknown persons and to achieve identification of known persons of interest while in the field," the specifications state.

The office conducting the research, the relatively new Resilient Systems Division, focuses on "societal community resilience as well as physical infrastructure and disaster response and recovery," according to Homeland Security's website.

The mobile ID initiative is one of several federal efforts to miniaturize biometric technology for civilian surveillance. As of now, no such tools have been acquired for domestic use. In February, CACI and ID verification firm AOptix announced a deal with the Pentagon to build biometric smartphones for military personnel.

DHS officials say they have in mind a system packaged either as one whole device or as compatible components -- for instance, a brand-name smartphone with a “rugged sleeve and integrated sensors.” Additional features might include card readers and instruments for scanning irises and capturing "latent fingerprints,” or finger impressions accidentally left behind, the technical requirements state.

Evidence obtained by the tool, which DHS is calling a "mobile electronic biometric/biographic collection device,” would be transmitted wirelessly through a virtual private network.

Right now, Homeland Security is only at the point of trying to ascertain prices for the technology. Suggested quotes from developers are due by June 14. Then the department will decide whether to solicit proposals for a formal contract.

In November 2012, the FBI issued a similar call for facts and figures on wireless biometric devices. At the time, the bureau wanted a facial recognition app for handhelds that could collect face images, iris patterns and other biometric indicators to make out suspects in real-time. No further information on the potential acquisition has since been published.

Later that same month, DHS’ Customs and Border Protection began shopping for smartphone biometric appendages to scan travelers’ fingerprints onsite. “A mobile platform device would enable CBP officers to efficiently traverse in a manner not possible with other portable platforms (e.g. laptops, tablets and notebooks) and would be conducive to ad hoc questioning without the use of a kiosk or work surface,” stated a Nov. 26, 2012, request for product concepts.

DHS wanted technology that could work on devices running Apple's iOS operating system, Google's Android OS, or BlackBerry software. No information has since been released on that possible buy either.


China Conducts Test of New Anti-Satellite Missile

China’s military on Monday conducted the first test of a new ground-launched anti-satellite missile that was fired into space and disguised as a space-exploration rocket, according to U.S. officials.

The test was carried out early Monday from the Xichang Space Launch center and was identified by officials as the new Dong Ning-2 ASAT missile.

The ASAT test comes a week after China protested the release of the Pentagon’s annual report on the Chinese military buildup that mentioned Beijing’s development of anti-satellite weapons.

The Free Beacon first disclosed the existence of the new missile in October and a missile researcher reported in January that a new ASAT missile was being readied for its first test.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was asked if China conducted an ASAT test during a briefing for reporters in Beijing on Tuesday. He did not deny that it was carried out.

“I am not aware of the development that you described,” he said. “China has consistently advocated the peaceful use of outer space and is opposed to militarizing and conducting an arms race in outer space.”

Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Cathy Wilkinson said: “We don’t have a comment on it as we don’t discuss intelligence.”

A U.S. official familiar with intelligence reports said the DN-2, as a high earth-orbit attack missile, is a significant advance for China’s program of developing asymmetric warfare capabilities for use against the United States. Others include cyber-warfare capabilities and anti-ship ballistic missiles.

It could not be learned if the latest ASAT test involved an impact with a target satellite.

A second official said the Chinese apparently disguised the ASAT missile test as a space exploration experiment. The website of the National Space Science Center, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, reported Monday that a sounding rocket was used in a high-altitude scientific exploration test.

“This experiment used a high-altitude space-exploring rocket, Langmuir probe, high-energetic particle detectors, magnetometers and barium-powder release experimental apparatus and other payload of scientific exploration to test and measure the ionosphere, the high-energy particles and magnetic fields of the near-Earth space strength and structure,” the notice said.

China in 2007 conducted its first successful hit-to-kill ASAT test against a weather satellite in low-earth orbit. The impact left tens of thousands of pieces of debris in orbit that continue to threaten both manned and unmanned spacecraft.

Defense officials have said China’s ASAT weapons, including missile interceptors, lasers, and electronic jammers, are designed to disrupt satellite communications and navigation systems used extensively by the U.S. military in conducting joint warfare.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stated in written answers to questions during his confirmation hearing in January that the United States would seek to avoid engaging in hostilities in space.

However, Hagel revealed that U.S. space policy calls for “the secretary of defense to develop capabilities, plans and options to deter, defend against, and, if necessary, defeat efforts to interfere with or attack U.S. or allied space systems.”

The statement was the clearest indication that the Pentagon is preparing to develop “counterspace” weapons in response to Chinese anti-satellite weapons.

“The chances are good this is indeed an ASAT test as it was launched from the Xichang Space Launch Center, the same launch site used for the January 2007 successful SC-19 ASAT interception of a Chinese weather satellite,” said Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. Xichang is located in southern Sichuan Province.

Fisher said Chinese Internet reports stated that the ASAT test of what U.S. official say was a DN-2 may have up to four stages and included one or two liquid-fueled upper stages to provide greater thrust as the missile closed in on a target.

“While there so far has been no report of a successful interception, even a very near miss would serve to validate this new [People’s Liberation Army] ASAT system,” Fisher said.

A validated DN-2 ASAT system would provide the Chinese military with the capability to “degrade or severely damage the U.S. Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system,” he said.

“This is not merely a threat against some American military satellites, but a threat to a what has become a vital part of the global electronic infrastructure, affecting global commerce and financial flows, to your personal finances that contribute to personal freedom.”

Fisher said China has been “preaching” that other states should disarm while Beijing secretly builds space weaponry at the same time it has denied being engaged in the space arms buildup.

“In the face of such a threat, the United States simply has no choice but to pursue symmetric capabilities to deter Chinese attacks in space, but also to consider its own requirements for space superiority,” he said.

The major concern for Pentagon war planners is that China, with an arsenal of around two dozen anti-satellite missiles, could severely disrupt U.S. command-and-control systems, intelligence-gathering satellites, and navigation satellites used to guide precision guided missiles.

Security analyst Gregory Kulacki said in an online posting in January that the ASAT test was expected as early as that month.

“Given these high-level administration concerns and past Chinese practice, there seems to be a strong possibility China will conduct an ASAT test within the next few weeks,” Kulacki, a Chinese-language speaker with the Union of Concerned Scientists stated.

Defense officials disclosed to the Free Beacon that the DN-2 test was initially planned for last fall, but was delayed by the Chinese over concerns that the test would upset President Barack Obama’s reelection bid.

While details of the DN-2 are not known, U.S. officials said it is expected to be a high earth-orbit interceptor capable of destroying strategic navigation, communication, or intelligence satellites by ramming into them at high speeds.

The DN-2 is said to be capable of hitting targets in high-earth orbit between 12,000 and 22,236 miles above earth. Many military, intelligence, and commercial satellites orbit at that altitude.

A Pentagon-State Department report to Congress last year on export controls stated that in addition to ground-launched ASAT missiles, China is building high-technology kinetic and direct energy weapons for ASAT use.

Washington Free Beacon

Major 7.8 earthquake strikes south-east Iran

Iran has been struck by its most powerful earthquake for more than 50 years, with tremors felt across Pakistan, India and the Middle East.

The epicentre of the 7.8-magnitude quake was near the south-eastern city of Khash, close to Pakistan.

The quake struck deep and in a remote region, apparently limiting casualties.

Iranian state TV said 27 people had been injured, but rowed back on early reports of deaths. However, more than 30 people were killed in Pakistan.

The Pakistani military has been mobilised to help with rescue efforts, officials said.

Two military helicopters carrying medical teams have been sent to the area and troops will support the relief efforts, they said.

The border area has since been shaken by several strong aftershocks.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the organisation stood ready to help "if asked to do so". The US has also offered assistance.

The earthquake struck in the province of Sistan Baluchistan at about 15:14 local time (10:44 GMT), close to the cities of Khash, which has a population of nearly 180,000, and Saravan, where 250,000 people live.

"The epicentre of the quake was located in the desert, and population centres do not surround it. There were no fatalities in the towns around the epicentre," an Iranian crisis centre official, Morteza Akbarpour, was quoted as saying by the Iranian news agency Isna.

The power of the tremor led to offices being evacuated in Karachi, Pakistan, in the Indian capital of Delhi, and in several Gulf cities.

Iranian state TV initially reported that 40 people had been killed, and one Iranian official was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying hundreds of deaths were expected.

Lots of people were panicking... I felt the entire building rocking”David HastingsEyewitness, Dubai

But Iran's Red Crescent said it expected limited damage and a low death toll because the earthquake was so deep - the Iranian Seismological Centre estimated the depth at 95km (59 miles).

Iran's Fars news agency said the depth of the quake had reduced its impact to the size of a magnitude-4.0 tremor on the surface.

Iranian scientists said it was the country's strongest earthquake for more than 50 years.

All communications to the region have been cut, and the Red Crescent said it was sending 20 search-and-rescue teams with three helicopters to the area.

A resident of Saravan, Yar Ahmad, told BBC Persian that a number of people in the nearby village of Lolokadan had been injured, with broken arms or legs, but only had first aid kits for treatment.

No rescue workers had arrived, and the roads were in poor condition, he said.Tents and shacks

Sistan Baluchistan is Iran's biggest province and one of its most impoverished areas.

A member of parliament for Saravan, Hedayatollah Mir-Morad Zehi, said there were 1,700 villages in the area, and most of the buildings were made of mud.

Many people in the area live in tents or shacks, a factor which is thought to have limited the number of casualties.

Fars news agency said that Saravan had suffered no serious damage.

Across the border in Pakistan, up to 34 people were killed and about 80 injured in the Mashkel district of Balochistan province, the army said.

Communications were disrupted in Mashkel, which has a population of about 45,000. But aid workers said many houses were thought to have been damaged or destroyed.

The earthquake was felt across the region.

Michael Stephens, a researcher at RUSI Qatar, told the BBC from his office in Doha: "I definitely felt the walls shaking. It lasted for about 25 seconds."

Mohammad Wazir, a correspondent for BBC Persian in Pakistan, says the quake was felt in the cities of Karachi and Quetta.

Tuesday's earthquake was about 180 times stronger in energy release than a 6.3-magnitude quake that struck on 10 April near the nuclear plant at Bushehr in south-western Iran. That quake killed at least 37 people and wounded 850.

The Bushehr plant was not damaged by the earlier earthquake, and an official at the Russian firm that built the plant said it had not been damaged by Tuesday's earthquake either, Reuters reported.

Scientists say earthquakes in south-eastern Iran are triggered by the clash between the Arabia and Eurasia tectonic plates, the former of which is pushing north at a rate of several centimetres each year.

In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake destroyed much of the south-eastern city of Bam and killed some 26,000 people.


The Department of Homeland Security Freezes Bitcoin Money Transfers

Financial privacy free of government intrusion and interference is dead.

In what seems to be the government’s latest attack on private transactions between individuals, the Department of Homeland Security has shut down funds transfers operated by mobile processing platform Dwolla, which is responsible for managing transfers for the BitCoin digital currency exchange.

Details are still sparse, but a spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirms that an investigation is in progress and Dwolla is no longer able to accept currency transfers for its customers.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed it has initiated legal action that prompted the Dwolla payment service to stop processing bitcoin transactions.

Nicole Navas, a spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed the legal action to CNET this afternoon.

Dwolla, a Des Moines, Iowa-based startup, which raised $16.5 million in funding two weeks ago, notified users about the move earlier Tuesday. It blamed the decision on “recent court orders” limiting its ability to send money through Mt. Gox, the largest bitcoin exchange.

“In order not to compromise this ongoing investigation being conducted by ICE Homeland Security Investigations Baltimore, we cannot comment beyond the information in the warrant, which was filed in the District of Maryland earlier today,” Navas told CNET.

Dwolla has refused to elaborate, saying through its support account on Twitter only that “we received a court order” and inquirers should follow up with the affected parties.

Homeland Security declined to elaborate on the warrant or court proceedings.

The court order has yet to be made available for public scrutiny, but sources close to the Bitcoin Ecosystem have suggested that this may be the first of many coming government investigations into the cryptographic digital currency which makes it possible for money transfers to be made without intrusion, verification or a paper trail:

There are certainly more questions than answers at this stage. We are prompted to wonder whether this is this the first of a series of governmental assaults on the exchanges? That’s what they’d target if they want to put the kibosh on bitcoin. Or, is this a case where DHS is investigating some individual or organization who may have used bitcoins, via Dwolla, for some potentially nefarious or terroristic reasons?

Members of the PandoDaily team have spoken to sources close to the bitcoin ecosystem and have been hearing that it’s likely the former.