Hurricane Laura is now a Category 4 storm

Hurricane Laura has strengthened into an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center. It now has maximum sustained winds of up to 140 mph.

“Little time remains to protect life and property,” the center warned in its latest advisory.

California cop dies after being denied a coronavirus test twice

Detective Marylou Armer

A California police officer died of coronavirus complications after doctors twice shot down her requests to be tested for the bug, according to a report.

Santa Rosa police Detective Marylou Armer, 43, was only able to secure a test that confirmed her diagnosis after it was “too late,” her family told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Her older sister, Mari Lau, said Armer had gone twice to Kaiser Permanente’s Vallejo Medical Center with a fever, body aches body and shortness of breath.

But a doctor reportedly told the cop that she was not considered a candidate for a test because of her age and lack of underlying medical conditions.

Ultimately, she wasn’t tested until she went to the emergency room, where she was intubated and placed in a medically induced coma, the outlet reported.

“It was too late already,” Lau said, adding that her sister’s inability to get tested was “very frustrating.”

Armer succumbed to the virus March 31, just days after she received her confirmed diagnosis, according to the report.

Kaiser confirmed in a statement that Armer wasn’t immediately tested, the Press Democrat reported.

Dr. David Witt, Kaiser’s national infectious disease expert, said doctors had adhered to “public health authority testing guidelines, which have been based on a very limited availability of tests.”

“We offer heartfelt sympathies to Detective Armer’s family and loved ones at this profoundly difficult time,” Witt said.

Rapper Chynna Rogers died of a drug overdose

Rapper Chynna Rogers, who passed away earlier this week at 25 years old, died of an accidental drug overdose, Page Six has learned.

A rep for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health confirmed Rogers’ cause of death early Friday.

As Page Six previously reported, the “Selfie” singer was found dead at her Philadelphia home on Wednesday.

“Chynna was deeply loved and will be sorely missed,” her family said in a statement.

Rogers had been open about her struggles with opiate addiction in past interviews and on her 2016 mixtape “Ninety.”

“I felt crazy. I didn’t want to be a statistic. I didn’t want to go out that way and people be like, ‘I told you so,’ or glamorize it [drugs], because I don’t feel like that,” she told Vibe in 2018, years after getting clean. “It was nerve-wracking to be open, but when you see how many more people who are dealing with the same thing, it’s good to have some kind of example of someone you didn’t expect to be going through it.”

Woman loses entire family to coronavirus as husband, son die within days

(From left) Freddie Brown III, Sandy Brown and Freddie Brown Jr.

A Michigan woman lost her entire family to coronavirus as her husband and her only child died within days of each other, according to a report.

Sandy Brown of Grand Blanc said she’s suffering indescribable grief after losing her husband and son, Freddie Lee Brown Jr. and Freddie Lee Brown III, in a span of three days, the Detroit News reported.

“There’s not even a word created to describe my pain. It’s unimaginable,” she said.

Her 59-year-old husband fell sick in the middle of March, coming down with chills and muscle aches, according to the outlet.

Soon, her husband, who had had a kidney transplant, began having trouble breathing and was admitted to Ascension Genesys Hospital, the outlet reported.

He tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed on a ventilator, which required he be put in a medically induced coma, the report said.

Within days, Sandy received a call that his lung collapsed and to rush to the hospital, where she learned that doctors were unable to save him, according to the report.

Nurses urged her to not go into his hospital room, but she insisted, putting on protective gear to say goodbye to her husband, the newspaper reported.

“I’m going in that room,” she reportedly told them. “I don’t care what I have to do. I’ll sign whatever I need to sign.”

The next day, her 20-year-old son, Freddie III, who had asthma, became sick with a fever and a cough, the outlet reported.

Sandy brought him to the same hospital, where his health briefly improved before he began struggling to breathe, the report said.

It was only three days after her husband’s death when she received the same call from the hospital asking her how quickly she could get there, the outlet reported. She learned that her son had also succumbed to the virus.

“In three days, I lost my husband and son to an ugly plague,” Sandy told the newspaper. “I watched my son go from completely well and whole and happy to being gone in three days.”

Teenager charged with shoving Marine vet in front of train, killing him

CHICAGO – An 18-year-old man is accused of shoving a Marine in front of a CTA train and killing him.

Ryan Munn was arrested on Friday night. Police said he shoved Mamadou Balde, 29, in front of a moving train at the Jackson Red Line stop on Tuesday afternoon.

(Left) Mamadou Balde and the suspect Ryan Dunn (Right)

Balde served in the US Marine Corp. from 2008 to 2015, doing two tours in Afghanistan. He attended Lane Tech High School and as soon as he graduated, his father had him join the Marines.

“He was walking away from these people. He didn’t want any confrontation. They followed him and threw him in front of the coming train,” Balde’s dad said.

The 29-year-old leaves behind his three siblings and his parents.

Zarif: Instead of ‘paper promises’, Europe must fulfill its human duty toward Iranians

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has taken European countries to task for not fulfilling their promises to counteract the impact of US sanctions against Iran following Washington’s withdrawal from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, asking Europeans to at least carry out their ‘minimal human duty’ toward Iranians.

Last year, President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, officially named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against Tehran.

Washington claims the sanctions target the government, but ordinary Iranians are the ones who suffer the most.

In a joint statement on Friday, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden said they would become new shareholders in a non-dollar trade mechanism with Iran, known as INSTEX.

“In light of the continuous European support for the agreement and the ongoing efforts to implement the economic part of it and to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran, we are now in the process of becoming shareholders of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) subject to completion of national procedures,” their statement said.

Britain, France, and Germany (which are known as E3/EU) had announced the establishment of the system in January. The apparatus is meant to circumvent the sanctions that the United States began re-imposing against Iran last year after leaving a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic and the trio, Russia, and China.

Taking to his official Twitter page on Monday, Zarif wrote, “Instead of arrogant threats or hollow paper promises, E3/EU—and future INSTEX shareholder Sweden—should start with something very simple; a minimal human duty: Ask @molnlyckehc to SELL products enabling Iranian kids with EB to cover their wounds.”

Last November, the Islamic Republic of Iran Medical Council (IRIMC) said illegal economic sanctions have negative impacts on the country’s health sector.

The trade of humanitarian goods, such as food, medicine and medical devices, is on paper allowed by the US, though European companies still refuse to do business with Iran fearing secondary American sanctions.

Since the reimposition of sanctions, Swedish medical products firm Molnlycke Health Care has stopped delivering Mepilex dressings, which are trusted around the world to treat a wide range of chronic and acute wounds, including in EB patients, Iranian media reports say.

In another tweet the same day, Iran’s top diplomat referred to recent remarks by his American counterpart, saying that Mike Pompeo “once again admits that US #EconomicTerrorism on Iran is designed to starve, and in the case of medical supplies, kill our innocent citizens.”

n an interview with BBC Persian on Nov. 7, the US secretary of state said Iranian officials must listen to Washington “if they want their people to eat.”

Pompeo’s remarks prompted Iran’s mission to the United Nations to call on the UN Security Council to condemn Pompeo’s “irresponsible” and “provocative” remarks while Zarif also reacted by stressing that the Islamic Republic will survive and even advance despite Washington’s sanctions.

Iran urges Security Council to condemn Pompeo’s threat to ‘starve’ Iranians

Iran urges Security Council to condemn Pompeo’s threat to ‘starve’ IraniansIran’s mission to the United Nations has called on the Security Council to condemn the ‘provocative’ remarks by the US secretary of state.

The top American diplomat also made similar threats against Iran quite recently when during a discussion he was asked about the latest US sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.

Pompeo said, “…President Trump’s strategic effort certainly includes sanctions as an element of our efforts to make the leadership change their ways. But it is only one component, we think that has been an effective component, we think they are having to make very difficult choices about whether to feed their people, to provide medicine for their people or if they want to underwrite the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Iran Navy starts mass production of ‘Jask’ cruise missile, unveils other military projects

Saturday, 30 November 2019 11:40 AM  [ Last Update: Saturday, 30 November 2019 11:47 AM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

This photo shows an anti-surface cruise missile being launched from a Qadir-class submarine (unseen) in Iran, on February 24, 2019. (Photo by Fars news agency)

Iran’s Navy has announced the mass production of the indigenously-designed and submarine-launched “Jask” cruise missile along with unveiling a handful of other military projects and technological achievements.

Navy chief Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi announced the mass production of the Jask missile while visiting a Navy exhibition showcasing a number of the force’s recent achievements on Saturday.

Khanzadi said all of the force’s submarines will be equipped with the weapon and that the missile’s current range will be improved “substantially” in the future.

The commander added that the weapon, developed as part of the “Jask-2 project”, will allow the Navy to hit targets across long ranges.

The missile “will surely be a serious surprise for the enemy,” he said.

Another project dubbed “Jask-3” is also under development, Khanzadi said. The project will allow a wider variety of missile capabilities to be used in submarines, he added.

Also on Saturday, five other military projects and achievements, comprising the sea-launched “Pelikan” drone, the “Sadaf-2” naval mine, the “Soren” positioning system, the “Balaban” guided bomb and the “Loqman” training vessel, were also unveiled.

This image shows the sea-launched “Pelikan” surveillance drone being showcased during a Navy exhibition on November 30, 2019. (Photo via Tabnak)

Among the unveiled projects, the Soren positioning system will allow Iranian submarines to obtain tracking information without using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, while operating discreetly underwater.

The Pelikan drone also incorporates four vertical-flight motors in order to allow the drone to take off and and vertically on military vessels in order to preform maritime patrol operations from ships.

Joint exercise with China and Russia

Speaking during the event, Khanzadi also said a joint naval exercise between Iran, Russia and China will be held in the Indian Ocean next month.

He added that preparatory planning and agreements had been made in meetings last month between military representatives of the three countries.

“The objective of such an exercise is obtaining collective security and assisting in securing the northern region of the Indian Ocean, which is today witness to certain incidents such as maritime piracy,” he said.

The commander also added that his force faced “no limits” in sailing in international waters across the world, adding that the Iranian Navy was ready to visit “any port” which it is invited to, “be it in the Gulf of Mexico or [Gulf of] Finland” northwest of Russia.

Iran to respond to tanker attacks

Speaking separately on Saturday, Rear Admiral Mahmoud Mousavi, Iranian Army’s deputy commander, said that Iran will respond to elements behind terrorist attacks which have targeted its tankers in the Red Sea in the past months “in an appropriate time and location”.

Mousavi added that Iran has documents indicating which elements have been behind the attacks, adding that Tehran will surely pursue the case through international organizations such as the United Nations and the International Maritime Organization.

The remarks comes as a series of attacks have targeted Iranian tankers in the past months.

Iran’s Happiness-1 faced “engine failure” off Jeddah on April 30 and was later transferred to the Saudi port city for maintenance.

The Saudis initially refused to let the vessel go, demanding some $10 million in maintenance fees before releasing it on July 20. 

Iranian officials also said in August that another oil tanker, the Helm, faced a technical failure due to sabotage while passing through the Red Sea. 

Iran will not leave 'banditry' in intl. waters unanswered: Official

Iran will not leave ‘banditry’ in intl. waters unanswered: OfficialAn official says Iran will not let attacks on its vessels go unanswered after an Iranian oil tanker is hit by suspicious explosions in the Red Sea.

Last month, Iran’s SABITI tanker was also by two separate explosions near the Saudi port city of Jeddah.  The blasts caused an oil spill that was stopped shortly after.

Before Herzl, There Was Pastor Russell: A Neglected Chapter of Zionism

By Philippe Bohstrom

Years before Theodor Herzl proposed creating a Jewish state, Charles Taze Russell was traveling the world holding Jewish Mass Meetings, beginning in 1879, at which he urged Jews to find a national home in Eretz Israel

“There are now in the world more than ten million Jews, about three-quarters of whom are in Russia, Poland, the Balkan States, and Turkey. If the movement toward Palestine should get the impulse that the Hirsch committee is able to give it, an imaginative person can conceive of the country’s doubling or trebling its Jewish population before the close of our century” – Zion’s Watchtower 1892, Nov. 1, p.329.

Theodor Herzl published his pamphlet “Der Judenstaat” in 1896 and, two years later, organized the world’s First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. But in fact the notion of a Jewish state in Palestine had been making the rounds in European and American Christian circles, in various forms. One of its keenest proponents was a Christian preacher and Bible scholar named Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916).

Charles Taze Russell ללא קרדיט

The proposition boldly put forward by Pastor Russell contrasted with the position of many Christian churches at the time, where the feeling was that God’s covenant with the Jews had long since ended and they should convert to Christianity.

The prescient pastor predicted a massive exodus of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe. Much as he predicted, by 1924 more than 3 million Jews had emigrated from Russia and Eastern Europe. Russell himself did not live long enough to see his prophecy made manifest, dying in 1916.

Russell’s legacy as an enthusiastic, non-proselytizing Zionist has been acknowledged by none other than the incumbent prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who said, “A recognition of Pastor Russell’s important role as an early American Christian advocate of Zionism is long overdue.” The late Jeane Kirkpatrick, former the U.S. ambassador to the UN, called Russell a “neglected man and chapter in the history of Zionism.”

Who was this forgotten father of Zionism, and why would he promote Zionism in the first place?

In the aftermath of civil war

In the mid-19th century, when covered wagons still rolled across the open plains carrying settlers to remote sectors of America, when vast herds of buffalo still roamed the range, Charles Taze Russell was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania on February 16, 1852. He was the second son of Joseph L. and Ann Eliza Russell, both of Scottish-Irish descent.

Russell’s mother died when he was nine years old. At 11, Charles entered a business partnership with his father, the youngster himself writing the articles of agreement under which their enterprise operated. At 15 he and his father were running a flourishing men’s clothing chain with shops in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and more.

Russell’s formative years were colored by the devastating Civil War that ravaged America from 1861 to 1865, followed by an era of rapid industrialization. In 1869 the first transcontinental railway was completed. Come the the 1870’s, electric light and the telephone came onto  the scene. The electric streetcar would arrive in the 1880’s, and by the century’s end, a few automobiles would be noisily proclaiming their presence. 

On the intellectual front, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, described in his 1859 book “On the Origin of Species,” had for the first time seriously challenged the Roman Catholic Church’s version of history, giving rise to spin-off churches and creeds.

Postcard – Transcontinental Tour of Pastor Russell, June 1913 ללא קרדיט

Going back to basics

This setting of breakneck development and intellectual progress is where Russell founded the Bible Student Association, which aspired to go back to basics by studying the Bible itself.

Soon a class for systematic Bible Study was formed in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and in 1879 Charles Taze Russell was elected its pastor. The movement founded Zion’s Watch Tower, the most widely circulated magazine in the world today, according to Business Insider, with an average of 70 million copies a month in 334 languages. For comparison, National Geographic has a circulation of something over 6 million and is published in 25 different languages.

A few years later, in 1881, Russell was elected the first president of the Watchtower Society. Its purpose was to distribute his teachings in the form of tracts.

Russell was a prolific writer, and his major accomplishments include a six-volume series of systematic theology, “Studies in the Scriptures.” By 1909 this series was one of most widely circulated works in the world, surpassed only by the Bible and The Chinese Almanac.

His crowning achievement at that phase was “The Photo-Drama of Creation,” a ground-breaking innovation that combined sound and color in a motion picture for the first time in history. The film was, viewed by more then eight million people, an astronomical success in the terms of the times.

In 1909 Russell moved The Watch Tower Society Headquarters to 124 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn Heights. It would remain there until 2016, when Jared Kushner, son-in-law of U.S. President Donald Trump, bought the property.

Early advocate  of Zionism

On August 18, 1891, now in Jerusalem, Russell wrote to the philanthropists Baron Maurice de Hirsch and Baron Edmond de Rothschild, or as he puts it “the two leading Hebrews of the world.” No less, he put forward a practical plan for Zionism.

It  involved purchasing all government-owned land in Palestine, i.e., land not held by private owners, from the impoverished Ottoman Empire. Years later Herzl would make similar proposals.  (A copy of the letter is published in “Zion’s Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence“, December 1891, pp. 170-171.)

“As you will see from my books, we find the testimony of the prophets to be, that your nation will be greatly blessed and return to divine favor between now and the year 1915, A.D.,” Russell wrote. The persecutions that Jews were suffering in Russia were “a mark of divine favor rather then the reverse,” the pastor suggested – and it would only get worse because the Lord’s purpose was to drive the Jews “out of all lands whither he has scattered them.”

The Bible Students in association with Pastor Russell thought the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt confirmed biblical chronology. ללא קרדיט

To where? To Palestine, as apparently indicated by the prophet (Jeremiah 32:37-44; 33:6-22), Russell explained. Owning not an inch of that land, he had no vested interest, the pastor elaborated, and went on: “My suggestion is that the wealthy Hebrews purchase from Turkey, at a fair valuation, all of her property interest in these lands: i.a., all of the Government lands (lands not held by private owners), under the provision that Syria and Palestine shall be constituted a FREE STATE…”

In his letter, Russell delicately gibes at alternative “Jewish homeland” ideas touted at the time in places other than Israel, though Baron de Hirsch was actually involved in resettling Jews elsewhere: “But please note, my dear Sir, that the sacred Scriptures predict the return to Palestine, and not a further wandering to the ends of the earth—to America or elsewhere. And, therefore, it is my humble opinion that Israel will find no rest for the sole of his foot until he finds the land of promise; and I pray you, therefore, not to waste your efforts in assisting emigration elsewhere, but concentrate them in the direction where God has indicated success…”

We cannot know whether he even replied to Russell, let alone be influenced by him. But a month after Russell’s letter to the barons, on September 11th 1891, Baron Hirsch founded the Jewish Colonization Association to buy land, principally in North and South America but in Palestine too, where agricultural colonies could be established and resettled by Jews who were persecuted in Russia.

Meanwhile, the pastor’s message did not go unnoticed in the broader Jewish communities of the United States and Europe.

Highlights from Pastor Charles Taze Russel’s Photo Drama of Creation Movie Credit: YouTube

Russell’s Yiddish newspaper

In 1910 Pastor Russell received a letter from a committee of Jewish leaders:

“Dear Sir: Your Sympathetic interest in the Jewish people for years past has not escaped our notice. Your denunciation of the atrocities perpetrated against our race in the name of Christianity has added to our conviction that you are a sincere friend,” wrote the committee members.

“Your discourse on “Jerusalem and Jewish Hopes” has struck a responsive chord in the hearts of many of our people. Still we doubted for a time if any Christian minister could really be interested in a Jew as a Jew and merely from a hope of proselyting him…You may well understand how surprised we are to find a Christian minister acknowledging that there are prophecies of the Bible still fulfilled, which belong to the Jew and not to the Christian…

“These things, Pastor Russell, have led to the formation of a Jewish Mass Meeting Committee, which by this letter, request you to give a public discourse,” they concluded.

The pastor acceded and on October 9, 1910 gave a talk titled “Zionism in Prophecy” before an audience of about 4,000 Jews at the Hippodrome, New York’s largest and finest auditorium at the time.

As The New York American reported on that day, “The unusual spectacle of 4,000 Hebrews enthusiastically applauding a Gentile preacher, after having listened to a sermon he addressed to them concerning their own religion…where Pastor Russell, the famous head of the Brooklyn Tabernacle conducted a most unusual service. It was not long before all reserve, and all possible doubt of Pastor Russell’s entire sincerity and friendliness were worn away. Then the mention of the name of a great leader [Herzl] who, the speaker declared, had been raised by God for the cause — brought a burst of applause.”

Russell held similar mass meetings in Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Kansas City and Cincinnati. In England he addressed 4,600 Jews in London’s Royal Albert Hall, following which he appeared in Glasgow and Manchester, then gave talks in other European cities with large Jewish populations, including Vienna, Berlin, Krakow and Budapest.

Make no mistake, his speeches got a mixed reception. After Russell had left one meeting, three Jewish groups got into such a row that 46 policemen were called to disperse them. A Jewish rabbi in New York who fiercely opposed Russell influenced his associates in Austria-Hungary to resist plans for meetings addressing Jews.

Pastor Russell holding a mass meeting with Jews at NY’s Hippodrome Theatre

However, the Herzl Year Book provides statistics of the printed preaching on the subject of Judaism and Zionism, which appeared in 107,000 copies of Anglo-Jewish newspapers and weeklies, and in 650,000 copies of the Yiddish Press. Russell even published a Yiddish-language paper of his own, Die Shtimme – “the voice”.

Separate covenants

Why would a devout Christian minister invest so much in advocating the idea of a national homeland for the Jews? 

In May 26, 1911, Jacob De Haas, editor of the Boston Jewish Advocate and a personal confidant of Herzl, published an article in the Jewish Advocate praising Russell as a “Philo-semite” with no desire to convert the Jews.

But question of Russell’s motivation doesn’t lead to philo-Semitism necessarily:  rather it goes to the prophecies of restoration delivered to ancient Israel by prophets in the Bible  (Jeremiah 30:18; 31-8-10; Amos 9:14,15; Romans 22:25,26).

And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them” – Amos 9:14, for example

Russell was confident that these verses would be fulfilled and that God would restore the Jews to Palestine. In November 1892 he wrote in Zion’s Watch Tower: “There are now in the world more than ten million Jews, about three-quarters of whom are in Russia, Poland, the Balkan States, and Turkey. If the movement toward Palestine should get the impulse that the Hirsch committee is able to give it, an imaginative person can conceive of the country’s doubling or trebling its Jewish population before the close of our century, and of its having a larger Jewish population fifty years hence than it had in ancient times, when its census ran up to three millions. Should the restoration be accomplished, all hail to the New Jerusalem!” 

He also believed that God had a separate covenant with the Jews and a different covenant with Christians, writign in the Watch Tower, in January 1909, page 28: “The more closely we investigate the New Covenant, the more we must be convinced of this fact – that it belongs to Israel alone.” 

Chart from Divine Plan of the Ages, Studies in Scriptures Vol 1, Pastor Russell ללא קרדיט

These were the sentiments on which Russell’s advocacy of Zionism was based. While he may not have lived to see the fulfillment of his wishes, his legacy continued.

He died in 1916. In 1925, his successor Judge Joseph F. Rutherford wrote the book “Comfort for the Jews.”

Rutherford is rather more renowned for founding Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religious group that emerged from Russell’s Bible Student Movement.

Before Russell, no Anglo-Jewish newspapers or Yiddish press had carried articles by a Christian minister. When he died on October 31, 1916, the Herzl Year Book observed:”Russell himself, according to the testimony of the American Jewish Press from the years 1910 to 1916, maintained excellent and friendly relations with the leaders of American Jewry to his last days.”

Apostle Ahyal ban Gad ban Yasharahla One Nation One Power Breaking down the background of the Zionist Jewish Charles Taez Russell

Iran Navy to receive sophisticated drones as part of ongoing equipment upgrade: Cmdr.

Thursday, 28 November 2019 3:41 PM  [ Last Update: Thursday, 28 November 2019 3:50 PM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

The Iranian Navy’s Jamaran destroyer sails with a group of other Iranian warships during a drill. (File photo)

Iran Navy’s commander says the force will soon be flying sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles from its warships, saying the new gear will be even more versatile than the Navy’s current lineup of drones in terms of range and other technologies.

“Today, the Navy’s warships are equipped with drones that have a range of 200 to 1,000 kilometers, but all the flight and intelligence limits will fade away once the new drones arrive,” Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi told a gathering of Navy personnel and their families on Thursday.

Pointing to the force’s great strides in expanding its aerial and naval capabilities, Khanzadi said the seamen were working round the clock to upgrade the equipment and that “we will soon witness the addition of long-range drones aboard our warships.”

Sejjil: Iran Navy’s first jet-powered drone

Khanzadi told Tasnim News in an interview that the Navy has successfully tested the second prototype of its first jet-powered drone named Sejjil, which is being designed and developed in coordination with the Defense Ministry.

The twin-engine UAV has a top flying speed of 1,000 kilometers per hour and can carry several bombs that can hit targets at a range of 100 kilometers, the commander said.

Rear Admiral Khanzadi noted that the whale-shaped Sejjil is designed to be launched from the sky deck of Iranian warships and parachutes to the water after completing its mission, where naval forces are ready to collect it.

A mock-up of the Iranian Navy’s Sejjil drone (Photo by Tasnim News)

He also said that the Navy would soon unveil the Simorgh drone, another domestic UAV that can remain in the air for 24 hours while carrying a range of weapons, electronic warfare systems and reconnaissance gear.

Khanzadi had earlier this year also revealed that the Navy was working on a vertically-launched drone.

More home-built warships coming

During his Thursday speech, Khanzadi also thanked his forces and military engineers for outfitting the domestically-made Jamaran warship with the latest and greatest in terms of missile launchers, radars, controls and other critical systems.

He said the Iranian Navy was putting the finishing touches on the latest generation of its warships that outdo the 1,300-tonne Jamaran in all aspects.

Iran launches most advanced indigenous destroyer

Iran launches most advanced indigenous destroyer Iran has launched its most advanced military vessel built by Iranian experts, capable of voyages lasting five months without resupply and having radar-evading properties .

The admiral drew an analogy between the Navy’s past and its current prowess, saying Iranian naval forces who once found it difficult to sail past the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman were now sailing on high seas around the world, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Pacific to other strategic waters across the world.

The commander said Iran has deployed its Alvand frigate to escort Iranian tankers and container ships in the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, which have been the scene of recurrent attacks by Somali pirates over the past years.

Khanzadi noted that regional countries held the key to peace and security in the Persian Gulf not foreign countries and their warships.

Iran Navy to equip destroyers with vertically-launched missiles

Iran Navy to equip destroyers with vertically-launched missilesThe Iranian Navy commander says the country’s destroyers are all to be outfitted with missiles that use the vertical launching system (VLS), a technology that can be used to destroy cruise missiles.

The remarks were a reference to America’s attempts to form an anti-Iran patrol force that it claims will seek to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.

Washington and its allies accuse Iran of attacking tankers and commercial ships on their way to cross the strategic choke point on two separate occasions earlier this year.

Iran has vehemently denied the allegations and warned neighbors against “false flags” by outsiders.

The Islamic Republic has also unveiled the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE), which seeks to bring calm to the Persian Gulf through constructive cooperation among its littoral nations.

Khanzadi’s address marked the 39th anniversary of the Navy’s Operation Morvarid, where Iranian missile boat Paykan — backed by a huge combination of fighter jets and helicopters —  destroyed most of Iraq’s US-backed naval forces and its oil rigs, shortly after Baghdad began invading Iranian territories in 1980.

Former Megachurch Pastor Renounces Faith on Instagram and Twitter

Dave Gass — formerly the Lead Pastor at Grace Family Fellowship, Church Planter at Journey the Way, Pastor at First Covenant Church, Pastor at Cedar Point Community Church — has taken to social media to renounce his faith.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

John 2:19

“After 40 years of being a devout follower, 20 of those being an evangelical pastor, I am walking away from faith,” Gass says, “Even though this has been a massive bomb drop in my life, it has been decades in the making.”

Citing Greek mythology books he read as a high school kid, he says it dawned on him how much the “deity” of the Bible sounded like what he’d read, and that “seed of doubt never went away.” Interestingly, though he claims he never truly had a saving faith, he chose to spend his life teaching Scripture, preaching the Word of God, and proclaiming that which he says he does not believe in.

A man who has led many churches, many congregations throughout his entire ministry has now announced that he has found Christianity elsewhere — in godless people. He says on Twitter,

During this time I also found something amazing: I found a handful of people who were more Christian than any Christian I had ever met – and they weren’t Christian. I found love in places where love wasn’t supposed to exist. I found acceptance among people who were godless.

Gass explained that his marriage was a wreck and despite all the marriage counseling, it was never what it was “promised to be,” and that in all 40 years of his entire ministry, he never witnessed anything “supernatural.” Supposedly, his parents who were “devoutly Christian” were abusive. The bottom line, he explains,

…my marriage was a sham, prayer was never answered, miracles were never performed. People died, children rebelled, marriages failed, addictions occurred – all at the same rate as non believers. The system just doesn’t work.

Essentially, Christianity didn’t revolve around him and didn’t deliver what he wanted it to deliver, therefore, according to him, it can’t be true.

Update: Gass’ Twitter and Instagram accounts have been made private, but the above screenshots can be found below: