Radio New Zealand has the story:

Newly released documents show keeping on the good side of Washington was one reason the Government decided to share financial information with the United States authorities.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA), allowing New Zealand financial institutions to comply with a US crackdown on American tax evaders, was passed in June as part of an agreement between the two countries.

Under the agreement, the Inland Revenue Department could start collecting tax and penalties on behalf of the American tax authorities.

Financial institutions have to give the US tax department details of taxpayers living here who are American citizens or permanent residents.

Documents released to Radio New Zealand News show the Government considered the legislation important for the country’s relationship with the US.

The Government had previously said the aim was to help financial institutions avoid hefty penalties and reduce compliance costs.

The released documents show the Government pushed through enabling legislation without the text of the agreement being able to be properly scrutinised by a parliamentary select committee.

Worst policy – Peters

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the agreement was the worst piece of policy he had ever seen and questioned how the select committee was supposed to properly examine the legislation without seeing the agreement.

“They don’t understand the paramountcy of Parliament or the sovereignty of this country, when we are asked to go through this sort of arrangement without knowing anything about the background deal or agreement. So in every way it’s totally mickey mouse – and that’s not an exaggeration.”

Labour Party MP David Clark said the Government appeared to have capitulated to America’s demands.

“It appears that the New Zealand Government were very slow to enter negotiations and from what we know to date, it seems that they were very willing to capitulate to everything that the US wanted, without really looking out for New Zealand’s interests.”

Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter said the legislation was pushed through Parliament in haste and was poor policy making.

“The power is being held by the executive, to make these decisions, and they’re trying to avoid a situation where they have to come back to Parliament and go through a normal scrutiny when they’re going to enter into agreements with other countries,” she said.

“I think that this problematic. We have a Parliament so they can scrutinise legislation.”

Costs to NZ banks

Bankers Association chief executive Kirk Hope said financial institutions faced millions of dollars of costs to comply with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

Chief executive Kirk Hope said banks had to make quite considerable system changes to ensure they could supply the information.

“We don’t have a final cost assessment but it is in the millions, rather than the hundreds of thousands or anything like that. It’s reasonably significant.”

Mr Hope said as an example, the cost of compliance with FACTA in Australia was estimated by the banks to be about $400 million. “So if you think about the subset that operate in New Zealand, it’s fairly high.”

New Zealand taxpayers will also be picking up part of the tab, with nearly $12 million set aside over the next five years to ensure the IRD’s systems can work with the US systems.

More here.

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I24 Logo

Please spread the word.

Israel has a new 24 hour internet news channel broadcasting in English (also French and Arabic) from Tel Aviv.

This is the link: http://www.i24news.tv/en/tv/live

It is a 24-hour news feed from the Israeli perspective, and is intended to rival CNN, Fox, Al-Jazeera, BBC, etc. It covers world news but also has a specific Israel news section.

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Afghanistan: Outside the Wire- End Game

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Published on Jul 15, 2014 by 1LUXVOX
Military journalist Scott Taylor, long-time publisher of Esprit de Corps magazine, made his sixth visit to Afghanistan in late-2013 to reflect on 12 years of Canadian engagement — and what the country looks like after Canada’s military withdrawal. A CPAC Production

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For a larger view of the above graphic, please click here.

Raymond Ibrahim: New Islamic Caliphate Declares Jihad on…Muslims

The new “caliphate” of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – the Islamic State, formerly ISIS – recently made clear that it means to follow in the footsteps of the original caliphate of Abu Bakr (632-634). It will do this specifically by directing its jihad against fellow Muslims – in Islamic parlance, the “hypocrites” and “apostates,” or in Western terminology, “moderates.”

This came out in the context of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, with some Muslims asking the newly formed “caliphate” when it would launch a jihad on the Jewish state.

The Islamic State’s response? “Allah in the noble Koran does not command us to fight Israel or the Jews until we fight the apostates and hypocrites.”

Continue reading…

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For a larger view of the above photo, please click here.

Rocket News 24 has the story:

In Japan, since so many people who love cute animals live in apartments that don’t allow pets, you can find cafes that’ll let you relax in the company of everything from owls to bunnies. The most common and widely documented are of course cat cafes, but what do you do when you’re craving not only a little feline companionship, but also want something a bit stronger than a cup of coffee?

Simple: you head to the cat pub in Tokyo.

Located on the Seibu Ikebukuro train line, Ekoda Station and the surrounding Ashigaoka neighborhood don’t draw especially large numbers of visitors. It’s just another six minutes to Ikebukuro Station, where they are far more dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

Ashigaoka does have something Ikebukuro doesn’t, though, in the form of a unique izakaya. Somewhere between a bar and ordinary restaurant, izakaya offer a wide range of alcoholic drinks and a selection of small plates of food to pair with them. What they usually don’t have is a group of cats roaming about, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Akanasu.

Akanasu opens at 6 p.m., slightly earlier than many of the other izakaya in its neighborhood. On the day we stopped by, we were the first customers to arrive, and no sooner had we opened the creaky wooden door than we received a warm greeting.

At the top of the stairs leading up to the dining room area was Chi, Akanasu’s “head of business operations.” Encouraged by her hospitality, we made our way upstairs where we didn’t see any other diners, but did find a few more kitties.

With its soft lighting and potted plants, Akanasu at first feels more like a retro-style coffee shop than a pub, but rest assured, there’s a proper izakaya menu, which includes such offerings as a mixed hors d’oevre plate for 700 yen (US$6.85) and baked cheese doria for 750 yen. Cocktails start at 450 yen and a glass of white wine is 500, both pretty reasonable prices for Tokyo. There’s also a two-and-a-half-hour all-you-can-drink deal for 1,999 yen, which gives you plenty of time to get tipsy enough that your hiccups will synch up with the surrounding meows.

“I don’t really look like a cat person, do I?” asked the good-natured owner, Koyanagai. Honestly, we’d say we have to agree with his self-assessment, though we could easily imagine him being the proud owner of a handful of Great Danes.

In actuality, though, there’s never been a time in his life that Koyanagai, who’s now in his 60s, hasn’t owned a cat. His family already had one when he was born, and as he got older, Koyanagi and his wife began taking in cats from animal shelters. For some of the animals, this was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, but the couple found themselves becoming attached to the creatures, and ended up giving them a permanent home.

Koyanagi says he’s drawn to the capricious nature of cats. True to his word, even though the animals spend time in his place of business, they aren’t compelled to work. Signs inside the restaurant ask customers to refrain from grabbing the cats or coercing them into playing when they’re not in the mood. Whether the cats interact with the customers is entirely up to them, as evidenced by the few we noticed nonchalantly taking cat naps while we ate our meal.
[...]

Restaurant information

Neko Bar Akanasu / 猫BAR 赤茄子
Address: Tokyo-to, Nerima-ku, Ashigaoka 1-77-2, second floor
東京都練馬区旭丘1-77-2 2F
Telephone: 03-6915-3166
Open 6 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
Closed Mondays
Twitter @Cat_Bar_Akanasu

Photos and more here.

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July 18, 2014

The claim today by Obama that “Putin is arming and training Ukraine Separatists” is a ruse…another hideous Obama distortion of the facts.

The U.S. State Department and Pentagon armed and trained Croatian “Separatists” in 1991 including turning a blind eye to 15 retired American generals who secretly went to Croatia to specifically take sides in a war that President Clinton insisted the U.S. was not taking sides.

These generals even managed to turn off the AWACS radar so that during OPERATION STORM in 1995, Croatia could violate the “No-Fly” zone to bomb and strafe fleeing Serbian refugees…a war crime by every stretch of the truth. The Croats also dragged Serbs off of their carts and wagons and beat them to death…480 Serbs were murdered as Ambassador Peter Galbraith rode the lead vehicle out of the Krajina—never looking back to see the carnage taking place and never filing a report afterwards with the American government…a month later Ambassador Galbraith went to place a wreath on the graves of Croatian Nazis reburied among the graves of their Serbian, Jewish and Roma victims. “Truth and Justice” as Obama claimed we seek is a moronic joke by the American government.

In 1993 the United States and these 15 retired American generals then armed and trained Bosnian Muslim “Separatists” and went on to arm and train Albanian “Separatists” in Kosovo in 1998 before the 1999 bombing of Serbia in which Ambassador William Walker claimed to discover 45 Albanian victims called the ‘Racak Massacre’ as the pretext to bomb Serbia. Two years later forensic experts from 4 countries disclosed that “the 45 Albanians were killed the previous day in a pitched battle between Albanian and Serbian forces a battle covered by AP and Reuters. The forensic findings said…   …the bodies were moved to the near bloodless crime scene; their military uniforms were exchanged for street clothing and the bodies were mutilated after they were dead.” Ambassador William Walker was an expert stage manager of the Racak event.  On a radio interview the following Walker proclaimed in his discovery that he “only cried two times in his life…when his mother died and when he saw the victims of the Racak Massacre.” I was interview by that same radio station and I asked “why William Walker, the Ambassador to El Salvador when thousands were decapitated, their heads placed on pikes dotted the countryside he did not cry then?” The answer was quite clear, those goons and thugs were trained on American military bases and the U.S. government was behind this grotesque tragedy.

It is clear that Obama is the world’s biggest liar along with UN Ambassador Samantha Power who, while covering the dismemberment wars in former Yugoslavia as a journalists was totally for the U.S. secret involvement and the secret arming and training of Serbia’s enemies. She turned a blind eye to these so called “moral issues,” and more than 30,000 Serbian deaths…now she preaches Obama’s lies that all the U.S. seeks in the Ukraine is this “Truth and Justice”  nonsense.


This is pure American BULL SHIT, the U.S. is up to its eyeballs in fomenting much of the violence in the world including the terrorists Nazis in the Ukraine and to feeds the “military-industrial complex” that President Eisenhower warned us against. Billions of dollars went into corporate profits from the bombing of Serbia in which the United States emptied out 50 years of weapons storage that was unloaded on the heads of the Serbian people doing over $80 billion in damage. More bombs were dropped in 78 days on Yugoslavia in 1999 then were dropped during 4 years of WWII. Our duplicity, our eavesdropping and our spy network throughout the world betrays Obama’s words today that we only seek “Truth and Justice.”  

No Mr. President, we seek secret information about other nations in order to undermine and destroy smaller defenseless countries for our own benefit and hidden agenda. The building of Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo is an example.  Bondsteel is the single largest American Military Base in the world built since Vietnam, in this Balkan Civil War in which less then 96,000 were killed on all sides. Construction began two months after the bombing in 1999 so the war was just a pretext to build a new military base in Europe since we have promised the Germans that by 20/20 we will no longer have a military presence in Germany.

Below is just a portion of the 15 retired American generals who became mercenaries for hire from the United States as Clinton and Obama now pretend our hands are clean in these international conflicts and war crimes.

American Generals as Mercenaries, “MPRI (in Alexandria, Virginia) represents the who’s who for a generation of officers who rose through the ranks during the cold war.” (Washington Times, Nov. 25, 1996).

A sad commentary on what happens when honorable men succumb to greed. During the Cold War the lines between friend and foe were usually well defined. Today, it is not clear whose side we are on in the various regional, ethnic and religious conflicts in the world.  We totally ignored the fact that during the 1990′s over 600 Serbian Orthodox Christian churches were destroyed with impunity…Then when 4 Coptic churches were razed recently Obama spoke out yet makes no mention that Christians throughout the Middle East are being singled out and victimized…it reveals the hypocrisy of the American government and this White House more interested in Muslim success then Christian survival.

This fact does not seem to deter the military professionals of MPRI—(Military Professional Resources Inc.,) who, lured by the big bucks sold their expertise to the Croatian Army and who, with the help of these generals, trained and secretly supplied weapons and participated in the planning of Operation Storm the ethnic cleansing of 250,000 Serbians from the Croatian Krajina in 1995—The single largest ethnic cleansing since WWII. The American public was duped by the Clinton lie of “neutrality” and alleged support of the Dayton Agreement until the Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Kosovo Albanians could amputate territories from Serbia and to secede.

Here are only 7 of the American soldiers of fortune:

Lt. Gen. Ed Soyster (USA, Ret) “supporter of government policy” to which he “devoted 35 years of his life” sounds too much like the self-serving drivel these same men detested when our senior officers during the Vietnam War determined that “supporting government policy” (and enhancing their careers) was more important than looking out for the troops in the field or doing what was necessary to win the war.

Carl Stiner, a member of the MPRI board of directors, saw combat in two wars. He led the Joint Special Operations Command and personal helped in the 1985 capture of the Achille Lauro hijackers, facing down Egyptian commandos to negotiate the terrorists’ surrender.

Maxwell Thurman, another board member of MPRI, was know as “Maxatollah” for his demanding presence as head of the U.S. Southern Command during the Panama invasion is a brilliant tactician who helped develop modern warfare doctrine. As head of the Army’s Recruiting Command, he originated the slogan “Be All You Can Be” campaign. Serbs wondered if all you can be includes taking full advantage of making a buck, even if it means revealing your military knowledge, bought and paid for by American taxpayers and selling those skills to a country like Croatia who declared war on the United States in 1941 and has never rescinded that threat.

General Vuono, a Slav, is vice president and general manager of MPRI. He was an artillery officer with two tours of duty in Vietnam. He oversaw both the Gulf War and the Panama invasion as Army Chief of Staff. Being all he could be was to become a traitor against those who signed his pay check for years.

Admiral Hardisty, another board member, flew more than 100 combat missions over Vietnam, served on the Joint Chief of Staff and commanded U.S. forces in the Pacific. He serves on the CIA’s military advisory panel. Can any American imagine a CIA advisory panel member sharing his knowledge with foreign nationals?

Richard Trefry, executive vice president of MPRI, rose from buck private to inspector general of the army. He served as a military adviser to the U.S. Embassy in Laos and as a military assistant to the White House under President Bush.

General Kroesen, MPRI’s board chairman, is a veteran of three wars. The Silver Star and Purple Heart were among his many medals when he retired in 1983 after serving as commander of U.S. forces in Europe. He survived a rocket-grenade attack on his armored limousine by German terrorists.

“BE ALL YOU CAN BE” seems to now stand for stuffing one’s pockets, screw professionalism, integrity and honor. Are these high-ranking retired officers incapable of surviving on their $250,000 per year pensions without selling their military training and secrets to foreign rebels and “separatists” lunatics? The hypocrisy of becoming foreign mercenaries is offensive and should be illegal—it sends a hideous message to the current crop of cadets at West Point?

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Elsa’s Blog has the story.

She offers a handout (also available formatted as a flyer) for you to download and print.

 

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No, 1389 Blog is not shutting down.

Admins 1389AD and CzechRebel are very busy with activities in the real world and have had little time to post anything to the blog. We apologize to our many correspondents and team members who have sent worthwhile material to the blog mailbox that we have been unable to upload.

It takes time, skill, and, of course, reliable Internet connectivity to format and upload each blog post, along with any media that accompanies it. We would appreciate assistance in posting from team members or correspondents who are familiar with WordPress, or are willing to learn to use the WordPress blog post editor.

1389 Blog is a hard news blog about the counterjihad.

Because our time is limited, we have tightened our focus on the counterjihad.

As time permits, we may post occasional news and commentary on other topics, including science and Caturday, but most of our blog posts will pertain to the counterjihad. For news on other topics, you are invited to click on the headline feeds in our sidebar, or visit our blogroll. In addition, Drudge Report offers links to breaking news stories.

Regarding flight MH17 that crashed after being shot down over Ukraine:

We offer our condolences to the families and friends of the deceased.

The facts are not in; thus 1389 Blog will refrain from speculating as to who was responsible. A false-flag attack cannot yet be ruled out. Airline Reporter has some information about the crash. Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who safely accomplished the Miracle on the Hudson landing in 2009, points out that the big question is why was the plane flying over a war zone. The New York Times raises that question also. The Mad Jewess is following this story. Her Twitter feed is @MadJewessWoman.

Bringing the focus back to the counterjihad…

Peter Ingemi points out that nobody in the media or the political sphere is outraged about the recent Hamas attacks on civilian aviation at Ben Gurion Airport. As long as Jews are the targets, the mainstream media, the chattering classes, and western governments are entirely unconcerned.

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Israel Video Network calls this video the most important video about Israel ever made. Perhaps it is.

That said, Islam is the reason why the Arab side wants the Jewish side dead. ISLAM is the elephant in the room not mentioned in the video.

The Middle East Problem

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Published on Apr 28, 2014 by PragerUniversity
The Middle East conflict is framed as one of the most complex problems in the world. But, in reality, it’s very simple. Israelis want to live in peace and are willing to accept a neighboring Palestinian state. And most Palestinians do not want Israel to exist. As Dennis Prager explains, this is really all you need to know. In 5 minutes, understand how Israel was founded, and how, since that auspicious day in 1948, its neighbors have tried to destroy it, again and again.

You can support Prager University by clicking https://www.prageruniversity.com/donate_login.php. Free videos are great, but to continue producing high-quality content, even small contributions are greater.

Visit us directly!
http://www.prageruniversity.com/

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https://twitter.com/prageru

If you are an educator and are interested in using material like this in your classroom, click http://www.prageruniversity.com/educator-program.php.

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From: Enza Ferreri at LibertyGB
To: 1389 Blog Mailbox
Date: Monday, July 14, 2014

While the British government is making its own citizens pay for the jihadis allowed to return to the UK from Syria and Iraq, both in terms of money – through the £1.1 billion cash injection for defence announced today, £800 million of which will fund an extra investment in intelligence and surveillance to deal with the threat of terrorism – and in terms of intrusion and greater state power – through emergency laws to monitor phone and internet records “to stop terrorists” –, people hear of the establishment of a caliphate in the Middle East without the media – with few exceptions – providing any explanation of its real significance.

In Islam, only a caliphate has the authority to declare offensive war on infidel countries. That’s why Osama bin Laden was so keen on it and called for Muslims to “establish the righteous caliphate of our ummah”, after Abdulhamid II’s Ottoman caliphate was abolished by the Turkish Republic of Kemal Ataturk in his secularisation (short-lived) attempts in 1924.

And that’s why jihadis always explain their acts of terrorism in terms of defensive war, as a response to the infidel’s armies occupying Muslim lands, for example.

Egyptian-American scholar of Islam and Middle East history Raymond Ibrahim over 3 years ago explained the caliphate concept and predicted the re-establishment of a caliphate. If, as in science, accurate predictions confirm the validity of the theory from which they derive, we must take his words very seriously:

The very existence of a caliphate would usher a state of constant hostility: Both historically and doctrinally, the caliphate is obligated to wage jihad, at least annually, to bring the “disbelieving” world under Islamic dominion and enforce sharia law. Most of what is today called the “Muslim world”-from Morocco to Pakistan-was conquered, bit by bit, by a caliphate begun in Arabia in 632.

A caliphate represents a permanent, ideological enemy, not a temporal enemy that can be bought or pacified through diplomacy or concessions — economic or otherwise. Short of agreeing either to convert to Islam or live as second-class citizens, or “dhimmis” – who, among other indignities, must practice their religions quietly; pay a higher tax [jizyah]; give way to Muslims on the street; wear clothing that distinguishes them from Muslims, the start of the yellow star of David required for the Jews by the Nazis during World War II; have their testimony be worth half of a Muslim’s; and never retaliate against Muslim abuses-the jihad continues.

A caliphate is precisely what Islamists around the world are feverishly seeking to establish – before people realize what it represents and try to prevent it. Without active, preemptive measures, it is only a matter of time before they succeed.

Another US expert of Islam, Robert Spencer, has recently written:

And now it [the caliphate] is here, although it is by no means clear, of course, that The Islamic State will be viable or long-lasting. If it is, however, the world could soon be engulfed in a much larger conflict with Islamic jihadists even than it has been since 9/11. For in Islamic law, only the caliph is authorized – and indeed, has the responsibility – to declare offensive jihad against non-Muslim states. In his absence, all jihad must be defensive only, which is why Islamic jihadists retail laundry lists of grievances when explaining and justifying their actions: without these grievances and a caliph, they have to cast all their actions as responses to Infidel atrocities. With a caliph, however, that obligation will be gone. And the bloodshed in that event could make the world situation since 9/11, with its 20,000 jihad attacks worldwide, seem like a harmless bit of “interfaith dialogue.”

Offensive jihad to force all the world to submit to Islamic law is a duty for the ummah (the worldwide Muslim community), and no amount of media whitewashing can change that. The source to consult is not The New York Times but the Quran:

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (9:29)

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The expansionist Islamic State (of Iraq and ash-Sham/Levant/ISIS/ISIL) poses a genuine danger, not only to what remains of Judaeo-Christian civilization in the Middle East, but also to their fellow Muslims.

Why are the evil deeds of this self-anointed “caliphate” not reported in the media every day? We know the answer.

Blazing Cat Fur: Loot, sell, bulldoze: ISIS grinds history

[...]
It could be about to become richer after imposing a “tax” on looted antiquities in the vast region of Syria and Iraq it controls, much of it part of ancient Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilisation. Local Isis emirs determine the tax rates and anyone refusing to pay is killed.

The tax was revealed by Salam Al Kuntar, a Syrian visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Amr Al-Azm, a Syrian-born academic. They are part of a heritage taskforce set up by Syria’s opposition interim government and met local activists in secret to document damage to sites under ISIS rule.

Al-Azm, associate professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio, said: “What we learnt suggests that Isis is involved in illicit antiquities trading, but in a way . . . more complex and insidious than that reported to date.”

The terrorist group also controls sales. The main market is in Tel Abyad, an ISIS stronghold on the Syrian-Turkish border.

“ISIS clearly is involved and profiting at every level, from extraction to final sale and exit from Isis territory,” Al-Azm added. “The damage is phenomenal. They’re not only digging up known sites; they’re bulldozing everything.”

Nada al-Hassan, head of the Arab states unit at the UN cultural organisation Unesco’s World Heritage Centre, singled out an Assyrian black basalt royal stele from the 8th century BC that the London auction house Bonhams withdrew from sale in April after estimating its value at up to £795,000.

“That was intercepted by Interpol,” she said, adding that it was a “success story” because there was proof that ISIS had been responsible for digging it up.

Patty Gerstenblith, a lawyer specialising in cultural heritage at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, said: “The antiquities market is much more ‘underground’ now. Any suspect artefact is likely to be sold privately and we wouldn’t know about it.”

Syria’s most significant sites include Dura Europos, a classical cosmopolitan city with some of the world’s earliest churches and synagogues.

A satellite image taken in 2012 showed that a tiny part of the 150-acre site had been excavated. Another, taken a few weeks ago, reveals every square yard dug up by looters.

“I don’t see any place they’ve missed,” said one archeologist. “It would take centuries to excavate that much properly.”
[...]
More here.

US State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs: Imagery of Archaeological Site Looting

These satellite images document the scale of destruction that looters continue to inflict on archaeological heritage sites during the ongoing conflict in Syria. Looting at archaeological sites destroys irreplaceable evidence of life and society in the ancient world. In the case of Syria, this evidence has helped researchers understand important historical developments such as the beginnings of agriculture and cities, the rise and fall of empires, and the development and spread of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Syria’s rich archaeological corpus includes several ancient settlements on the UNESCO World Heritage List and Tentative List and many others that help us understand the mosaic of human history.

Dura Europos

This unique Classical-period site, founded in the 3rd century BC and occupied until the 3rd century AD, demonstrates the diversity of the ancient Middle East. One of the world’s earliest churches was discovered here, as was one of the oldest preserved synagogues and numerous temples devoted to polytheistic deities. This important site of approximately 150 acres (60 hectares) is now covered by looters’ pits.

[...]
Continue reading…

Why is the Dura Europos archaeological site so important for Orthodox Christians?

Baptistery at Dura Europos
Overall view of the Dura Europos baptistry as reconstructed in Yale university – third century. [source]

The remains in Dura Europos of the early Orthodox Christian house church and the Jewish synagogue confirm that both the early Orthodox Church and the Jews used religious iconography during Roman times. This refutes the claims of modern-day Protestant and Muslim iconoclasts who maintain that the use of any religious representation is an innovation that flouts the biblical prohibition against making “graven images” for worship.

On Behalf of All: Iconography in Ancient House Churches

I have recently written about the archaeological discoveries of ancient Christian house churches in the middle east.

In that piece, I discussed how the manuscripts found at these sites shows us that a central practice within these early church communities was the sacrificial mystery of the holy Eucharist (along with baptism), and very much in a way that is consonant with later Eucharistic rites of the fourth century, as well as the rites described in the first-century Didache. I also alluded briefly to the iconographic frescoes in these churches (both at Megiddo and Dura Europos), but I’d like to dive into that aspect a little further.

Up until the late-19th century, it was a common polemic of Protestant apologists (against both Rome and the Orthodox Church) that the veneration given to saints was a late innovation and even degradation of the faith (perhaps as late as the fifth or sixth century). Not only this, but it was an established presumption that Judaism (in this case, Second Temple Judaism, as at the time of Christ and his apostles) was wholly iconoclastic, and that it would be impossible to imagine how the early Christians could have ever developed an iconographic tradition, as a result—given both their heritage and dependence upon the Judaism prior to Christianity.

However, there is now an abundance of evidence to the contrary, beyond the pale of the Orthodox-Catholic tradition.

From the standpoint of popular traditions, most are aware of the “Icon Made Without Hands” that the Lord imprinted into a cloth and gave to King Abgar of Edessa (reigned A.D. 13–50) of the Osroene Kingdom. There is also the tradition of Luke the Physician painting the first icon of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary) and the infant Jesus (the Hodegetria, which is currently enshrined at a church on Mount Athos). Eusebius of Cæsarea even wrote about the existence of icons and statues of Christ, which had existed well before his time (A.D. 263-329): “Eusebius tells of a statue said to be that of Christ which existed in Palestine, and did not think it strange. He had heard too of portraits of Peter and Paul” (The Orthodox Liturgy, p. 23).

Speaking of the portraits of saints, Wybrew also notes:

It is quite probable that Christians began painting portraits of distinguished and venerated members of the Church very early on. The Apocryphal Acts of John tell of a portrait of the Apostle which one of his disciples, Lycomedes, commissioned from an artist friend. Lycomedes put it in his bedroom, and adorned it with flowers.

Besides basic portraiture, the funerary art tradition in the early Church is easily demonstrated in the Roman catacombs.

There is little doubt that Christians followed contemporary practice in having funerary portraits painted of distinguished church members . . . and perhaps as early as the third century, Christian images were venerated by being garlanded with flowers and having lights burnt in front of them.

But what about the supposed iconoclasm of Judaism? Wouldn’t this have prohibited the advent of both iconography and statuary among the early Christians?

On the contrary, and in agreement with the traditions of the Church, Judaism of this time was emphatically not iconoclastic, nor was Judaism itself ever really monolithic with respect to many key beliefs. Indeed, there have been some rather important archaeological discoveries in the past century or so that have debunked this position entirely.

If one is being honest about the witness of the holy scriptures, we must admit that there are several approving commandments related to the creation of iconography and even statuary in the old testament. Both the tabernacle and temple were adorned with a multitude of images, both two- and three-dimensional, which depicted everything from angels to pomegranates—the priest would prostrate himself before these images and statues, no less. The temple was filled with a glorious array of colors and images, with theological symbolism underlying it all. And with the incarnation of Jesus Christ, this more “symbolic” iconography transitioned to a more Christian or incarnational pattern (1 John 1:1–3), with the image of Christ, the saints, and his holy Mother.

The Christian “house church” (and synagogue) discovered at Dura Europos (ca. A.D. 235) are about as explicit as can be when it comes to demonstrating—in an historical and archaeological manner—the existence of iconography within both Jewish and Christian architecture of the post-resurrection era; and importantly, in both cases being in the context of places of worship.

The village of Dura Europos was destroyed in 256. Thankfully, we have a glimpse into their world through the discovery of these relatively well-preserved archaeological digs. These sites drew fervent interest in 1921, when a number of religious frescoes were uncovered:

The archaeologist discovered that three of the covered homes had been renovated for use as religious buildings. One had become a Mithraeum, dedicated to the worship of the god Mithras. Another had undergone structural modifications to become a Jewish synagogue. The third home had been converted to a Christian church. This Christian church is especially important as it is the earliest complete church extant.

Note that last statement. At the time of its discovery, this was the earliest extant Christian Church preserved to the present day. This goes beyond mere speculation as to what the “early church” was like, but is the early church itself staring back at us from across the centuries.

The arrangement of the church at Dura Europos reflects the well-established liturgical practices of the Christians, with a place for a Baptistry, an altar table for the bishop to oversee the celebration of the Eucharistic feast, and—last but not least—iconography. This discovery is, again, in harmony with the tradition of the Orthodox-Catholic Church. However, for those who look upon the tradition of the Church with any amount of skepticism or disdain, the existence of such archaeological evidence should be, at the very least, intriguing.

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Russia understands the importance of defending its own borders!

Yahoo! News has the story:

Moscow (AFP) – Moscow is considering targeted strikes against Ukraine after a shell reportedly crossed the border and killed a Russian civilian, the Kommersant daily reported Monday, citing a source close to the Kremlin.

The respected daily quoted a source as saying that Moscow was considering the possibility of “targeted retaliatory strikes” against Ukraine, where escalating clashes between pro-Moscow rebels and government troops threatened to spiral into an all-out civil war over the weekend.

“Our patience is not limitless,” the source was quoted as saying, adding that Russia “knows exactly where they (Ukrainians) are firing from.”

The source said that Russia was not considering any large-scale action, but only targeted one-off strikes on positions from which fire is directed at Russian territory.

Moscow said Sunday that a Ukrainian shell had landed in Russia and killed a civilian, prompting the Russian foreign ministry to say that the incident was “another act of aggression” that could have “irreversible consequences.”

Ukraine denied the claim, saying that government forces “had never before, are not now, and never will fire on the territory of a neighbouring state”.

Several shells landed early Sunday in the small Russian border town of Donetsk, which has the same name as rebels’ stronghold city in eastern Ukraine, killing one resident and wounding two.

The deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, Yevgeny Bushmin, said Sunday: “We need to use targeted weapons, like Israel does among others, to destroy those who launched this mine.”

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5 Amazing Food Life Hacks Everyone MUST Know!

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Published on Jun 16, 2014 by CrazyRussianHacker

3 Ways to Cook Eggs in Microwave Every College Student Should Know

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Published on May 17, 2014 by CrazyRussianHacker

How to Cook Bacon in the Microwave – Cooking Hack

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Published on May 6, 2014 by CrazyRussianHacker

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Sydney Morning Herald has the story:

The federal government has officially listed the Islamic State group as a terrorist organisation, in what it says is a message to Australians intending to join or fund islamic militants in Iraq or Syria.

Attorney General George Brandis says Australians who have fought with, or who financially support, a listed terrorist group face up to 25 years in jail.

The new criminal code listing for the Islamic State replaces a listing for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in keeping with the group’s recent expansion.

“The Islamic State and ISIL are the same organisation,” Mr Brandis said in a statement.

“The government has moved to specifically list the Islamic State under this name reflecting an expansion of the organisation’s operating area and its announcement of an Islamic caliphate.

“It does not represent a change in the Islamic State’s leadership, membership or methods of operation.”

Mr Brandis says ASIO has advised that the Islamic State movement is attracting “a large number of foreign fighters, including Westerners” and is now one of the world’s most deadly and active terrorist organisations.

Its activities include targeting crowds and public gatherings during holidays and religious festivals and public executions in areas it controls.

“Listing the Islamic State reinforces the government’s strong message to those Australians who may wish to participate in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq … that their activities may be subject to offences with significant penalties,” Mr Brandis said.

It is an offence for Australians to direct the activities of, be a member of, recruit for, train for and receive training from a listed terrorist organisation.

It is also an offence to get funds to, from or for, provide support to and associate with the listed terrorist organisation’s members.

More here.

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Published on Jul 12, 2014 by Coffee with Sr. Vassa
Subtitles now available in ENGLISH. Theology with a bit of humor. A weekly, brief reflection on the church calendar, hosted by Dr. Sr. Vassa Larin of the University of Vienna, Austria. Ep.31 on the Apostle Paul.

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