Record Number of Evangelical on College Campuses
NEWSMAX — Evangelical Christianity is surging on college campuses as never before, even at some of the most left-leaning Ivy League schools, researchers report. A mere decade ago, students and faculty who openly professed the gospel of Jesus Christ appeared to be an endangered species. Traditionally, only about 15% of evangelicals held college or graduate degrees. The picture has changed dramatically. The number of students involved with Campus Crusade for Christ increased 163% during the past 20 years at Brown University, by 500% at Harvard, and by 700% at Yale.
Woman Returns $100K Found at Restaurant
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A Murfreesboro, Tenn., woman chose not to follow the old saying “Finders keepers, losers weepers” when she discovered nearly $100,000 in a bag at a local Cracker Barrel restaurant. But it wasn’t that the thought didn’t cross her mind. “Satan will tempt you,” said Billie Watts, 75. “I have been having real bad teeth problems. I thought, ‘I’ll get my teeth fixed.’ “She ultimately decided to return the money she found in a bag in the women’s restroom to its rightful owner. The money, the owner told Watts, was the proceeds from the sale of her home and all the belongings in it. “She was going to start her new life in Florida with her son,” said Watts. The woman offered to pay Watts $1,000, but Watts refused it.
Feds: Governor Tried to Sell Senate Seat
CHICAGO — Corruption has tainted politics here since Al Capone’s heyday, but the arrest Tuesday of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich revealed alleged conspiracy and bribery schemes so brazen that veteran investigators and prosecutors could barely contain their revulsion. “The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. In breathtaking detail, the criminal complaint describes the efforts of the Democratic governor and his chief of staff John Harris, who also was arrested, to “sell the U.S. Senate seat” once held by President-elect Barack Obama for a high-paying job, promises of campaign funds, a Cabinet post or ambassadorship or corporate-board seats for Blagojevich’s wife, Patricia. FBI agents were “disgusted and revolted” by the evidence they heard on wiretaps of Blagojevich’s phones, said Robert Grant, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Chicago office.
The corruption arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich is raising questions about what Sen. Barack Obama knew of the Illinois Democrat’s alleged activities, including his apparent offer to appoint Obama’s preferred candidate to serve in the U.S. Senate in return for “private sector” help from Obama. “This is a burgeoning crisis for Obama that should shake his presidency to its core,” said Tom Fitton, chief of the Judicial Watch organization. “The criminal complaint filed today indicates that Obama and his team knew about Blagojevich’s efforts to sell Obama’s Senate seat,” he said.
Newsweek: Bible Supports Same-Sex Marriage
In its cover story for next week, Newsweek magazine declares “religious conservatives” have been wrong all along – because the Bible supports same-sex marriage. The cover of the Dec. 15 issue features a large black Bible with a silver cross on the front. A rainbow ribbon – a popular symbol for homosexual pride – bookmarks its pages. Editor Jon Meacham expected a backlash from the article, so he released a note on one of the magazine’s front pages. It states: Religious conservatives will say that the liberal media are once again seeking to impose their values (or their “agenda,” a favorite term to describe the views of those who disagree with you) on a God-fearing nation. Let the letters and emails come. History and demographics are on the side of those who favor inclusion over exclusion.
The piece, written by senior editor and religion columnist Lisa Miller is titled “Our Mutual Joy.” It declares “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.” Miller describes the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual sex in Leviticus as “throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world …” After the scriptural references, Miller states, “Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition (and, to talk turkey for a minute, a personal discomfort with gay sex that transcends theological argument).”
- JJ Commentary: Anti-Christians always quote Leviticus and point out other “abominations” that are no longer considered such. But these are all Jewish ceremonial and cultural laws that Jesus “nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). What they and even Christians fail to quote is Romans 1:26-27: “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” 1Corinthians 1:9-10 further states, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Sony Slashing 8,000 Jobs amid Global Downturn
TOKYO — Sony is slashing 8,000 jobs, or 4% of its global work force, aiming to cut costs by $1.1 billion a year as an economic downturn and a stronger yen batter profits at the Japanese electronics maker. Sony Corp., which has 185,000 employees worldwide, said Tuesday it will complete the job cuts — all in the electronics sector — by the end of March 2010. The company will close several plants, including one in Dax, France, cut investment in electronics and outsource some work. Sony’s announcement comes amid similar news from other Japanese manufacturers, which face plunging demand at home and abroad, as well as falling gadget prices and currency fluctuations.
Anheuser-Busch InBev will Cut 1,400 U.S. Jobs
BRUSSELS — Anheuser-Busch InBev said Monday it will cut some 1,400 U.S. jobs — another 6% of its U.S. work force — to help save the world’s largest brewer at least $1.5 billion a year. It said three-quarters of the jobs will go from Anheuser’s North American headquarters in St. Louis, both downtown and its Sunset Hills campus. The job cuts go beyond plans Anheuser-Busch announced this summer to streamline costs, before it agreed to be taken over by Belgium-based InBev. Anheuser-Busch provides half of America’s beer, but it has not expanded around the world as fast as InBev — a Belgian-Brazilian hybrid that owns hundreds of local brands but few real stars.
3M Cutting 1,800 Jobs in U.S. and Elsewhere
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — 3M said it is cutting 1,800 jobs and ordering some workers to take vacation or unpaid time off the last two weeks of the year. 3M, whose products include cellphone circuits and Post-It notes, also said and lowered its 2008 outlook due to the global economic downturn. The company cut the jobs in the fourth quarter, mainly in the United States, Western Europe and Japan. 3M spokeswoman Jackie Berry told the Star Tribune that the worsening economy forced the cuts. The manufacturer had earlier announced 1,000 job cuts in the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30.
Office Depot Closing 126 Stores, Distribution Centers
NEW YORK (Reuters) — Office Depot said Wednesday that it plans to close 126 stores and has further cut its store opening plans for 2009 as the economic downturn affects demand from small businesses and retail customers for office supplies. Office Depot plans to close 112 underperforming retail stores in North America over the next three months. In addition, 14 stores will be closed in 2009 as their leases expire or other lease arrangements are completed, it said. The retailer will also close six of its 33 distribution centers in North America. The decline in office supply sales has also hurt peers OfficeMax and industry leader Staples.
Tribune Files for Bankruptcy Protection
USA TODAY — In yet another dire sign for the newspaper industry, the Tribune Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday. Tribune — the nation’s second-largest newspaper company and owner of eight metropolitan daily papers including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times — is wrangling with “dramatic” declines in ad revenue and massive debt. The bulk of Tribune’s $12 billion in current debt came when it went private last year in a complicated employee-owned structure. That deal was led by real estate tycoon Sam Zell, who is CEO. Zell said in a statement that “a precipitous decline in revenue and a tough economy coupled with a credit crisis” made it “extremely difficult to support our debt.”
Advantage Rent-A-Car Files for Bankruptcy
NEW YORK (Reuters) — Car rental chain Advantage Rent-A-Car filed for bankruptcy protection Monday and closed about 40% of its U.S. retail locations, citing a decline in the travel industry. The company said it laid off 440 workers, or almost half its workforce Advantage said it will continue operating at its remaining locations during the bankruptcy, and is exploring strategic alternatives, including a possible sale or merger. Rental car companies, like Advantage, Hertz Global Holdings and Avis Budget Group, have been hurt by the slowing economy as customers cut their discretionary spending on travel, translating to lower rentals.
Gas Price Lowest since February 2004
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The average retail price for gasoline dropped 11 cents in the last week to $1.70 a gallon, the cheapest price since February 2004, the Energy Information Administration said Monday. The national price for regular unleaded gasoline is down $1.30 from a year ago, the EIA said in its weekly survey of service stations. Even with cost of gasoline declining, the American Public Transportation Association said ridership on public transit was up 6.5% in the third quarter from the same period in 2007 — the largest quarterly ridership increase in 25 years.
Economy puts Emergency Readiness in Peril
WASHINGTON — The economic crisis is jeopardizing the nation’s ability to handle public-health emergencies and possible bioterrorist attacks, according to government leaders and a new report. Federal and state governments are cutting programs that help communities respond to disease outbreaks, natural disasters and bioterrorism incidents, and that “could lead to a disaster for the nation’s disaster preparedness,” a report released Tuesday warns. Federal funds are down, 11 states have already cut public-health budgets, and more could follow as the economic crisis worsens. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff underscored the concerns in an interview Tuesday with USA TODAY editors and reporters. His top concern, Chertoff said, is a “mass event: a big outbreak of plague or some other kind of biological weapon or a nuclear explosion.”
Economy Forcing many Mexicans to Leave United States
USA TODAY — The collapse of the U.S. economy — particularly the housing industry — has forced the Mexican government to start preparing for an influx of returnees in the months ahead. Besides the faltering economy, tighter border enforcement and increasing numbers of police raids on undocumented workers have contributed to a modest decline in the USA’s illegal immigrant population — the first such drop in recent memory, says Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank. If the trend accelerates, it could eventually ease some of the strain that illegal immigrants place on services such as schools and hospitals in border areas of the United States, says William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, another Washington think tank. Many of those who return undergo a kind of culture shock after spending so many years in a more developed country.
Britain to Begin Withdrawing Troops from Iraq in March
LONDON — British troops will begin pulling out of Iraq in March and be largely gone by July, Britain’s leading newspapers and television stations reported today. Britain was the U.S. government’s closest ally during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and has remained so since. It liberated southern Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s forces and has kept a presence there second only to the United States military in size. Reports in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and the BBC said that all but about 300 to 400 of the roughly 4,100 British troops in Iraq would be pulled out by the end of June. There are no plans to replace them unless the situation in Iraq deteriorates substantially and new bloodshed breaks out.
N. Korea Nuke Talks hit Wall
BEIJING (AP) — The U.S. envoy to talks on ending North Korea nuclear programs says discussion have reached a stalemate. Christopher Hill said Wednesday’s talks with envoys from North Korea and four other nations made no progress on the tricky issue of verifying the country’s accounting of its past atomic activities. Progress on that issue would be seen as a major step in the disarmament process. Hill said the sides could not agree on a draft verification proposal submitted by China, the host of the six-nation talks.
Greek Riots Persist Unabated
ATHENS (AP) — Masked youths and looters marauded through Greek cities for a fourth night Tuesday, in an explosion of rage triggered by the police shooting of a teenager that has unleashed the most violent riots in a quarter century. The nightly scenes of burning street barricades, looted stores and overturned cars have threatened to topple the country’s increasingly unpopular conservative government, which faces mounting calls for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to resign. The rioting — which has engulfed cities from Thessaloniki in the north to the holiday island of Corfu and Crete in the south — threatens the 52-year-old Karamanlis, who already faced growing dissatisfaction over financial and social reforms at a time of deep anxiety over growing economic gloom. Opposition Socialist leader George Papandreou called for early elections, charging the conservatives were incapable of defending the public from rioters.
- JJ Commentary: With the economy souring worldwide and the spirit of lawlessness spreading in these end-days, we can expect to see more such rioting – often over relatively trivial matters.
WHO: Cancer to be World’s top Killer by 2010
ATLANTA (AP) — Cancer will overtake heart disease as the world’s top killer by 2010, part of a trend that should more than double global cancer cases and deaths by 2030, international health experts said in a report released Tuesday. Rising tobacco use in developing countries is believed to be a huge reason for the shift, particularly in China and India, where 40% of the world’s smokers now live. Cancer diagnoses around the world have steadily been rising and are expected to hit 12 million this year. Global cancer deaths are expected to reach 7 million, according to the new report by the World Health Organization. An annual rise of 1% in cases and deaths is expected — with even larger increases in China, Russia and India. That means new cancer cases will likely mushroom to 27 million annually by 2030, with deaths hitting 17 million.