Signs of the Times

October 18, 2019

­­For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2Timothy 1:7)

Biblical Understanding Lacking in Believers & Unbelievers

According to a recent survey, the proportion of American adults who have a biblical worldview dropped to 7% in 2018, the lowest on record. The data confirmed what has long been known — a large majority of Americans are biblically illiterate and don’t understand Christian convictions. This is especially true regarding morally weighty topics such as abortion, religious liberty, and sexuality. Significantly, even professing Christians often struggle to defend a biblical ethic when it comes to these politically contentious issues, notes David Closson of the Family Research Council. “This widespread biblical illiteracy explains why Christian beliefs are increasingly dismissed as outdated or seen as hateful,” writes Closson.

  • The Bible teaches that we are all sinners saved by grace alone and that Jesus commands us to love everyone (Matthew 22:37-40)

40 Days for Life Campaign Saves 100 Babies in Just 2 Weeks

The latest 40 Days for Life campaign is well underway, and the pro-life organization is reporting remarkable progress so far. 40 Days for Life organizes round-the-clock prayer vigils outside of abortion facilities around the world, persistent displays to raise awareness that abortion is not only happening in a community, but that there are community members willing to oppose it. The organization says that since 2007, it has led to the prevention of over 16,000 abortions, the closing of over 100 abortion centers, and the quitting of almost 200 abortion workers. On Monday, 40 Days for Life tweeted word that the latest campaign, which had only been going on for two weeks, just saved its hundredth baby from abortion.

Baby Body Parts Testimony Brings Jury to Tears

There’s been a “game-changer” at the California civil trial in which Planned Parenthood is suing the investigators whose undercover videos exposed the abortion industry’s scheme to profit from the sale of baby body parts. For the first time, jurors were allowed to see portions of the videos that were released in 2015. “The jury was stunned. It was the first time during the three-week trial that they had seen any of the debated video. It was a game changer and a huge victory for the pro-life defendants,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. In addition, Planned Parenthood’s star witness, turned into a star witness for the defense when her testimony conflicted with prior statements and dispositions.

California Mandates Free Abortions at All Colleges and Universities

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law a radical bill that would force colleges to provide free abortions on campus. The pro-abortion bill, which passed the state legislature in September, mandates that all public colleges and universities provide abortion drugs for free to students up to 10 weeks of pregnancy starting Jan. 1, 2023. The bill promotes abortion instead of providing young women with pregnancy support and options. Now that the bill has become law, 34 public college campuses in the state will be forced to begin providing abortion drugs.

Christian Doctors Can’t Be Forced to Perform Transgender Surgeries

A federal judge handed Christian doctors and supporters of religious liberty a major victory Tuesday, ruling they cannot be forced to assist with gender-reassignment procedures, such as sex-change surgeries. The case stretches back to the Obama administration, when the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule requiring virtually every doctor to assist with gender-transition procedures as part of ObamaCare, Becket Law reports. District Judge Reed O’Connor issued an injunction against the rule in 2016, and the Trump administration followed by issuing a proposed new rule protecting the conscience rights of Christian doctors and other medical professionals. On Tuesday, O’Connor finalized his 2016 decision, ruling the Obama-era rule “substantially burdens” religious exercise rights in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law. O’Connor was nominated by President George W. Bush.

Attorney General Barr Blasts ‘Militant Secularists’

Attorney General William Barr blasted “militant secularists” and their attacks on Judeo-Christian values in a blistering speech at Notre Dame Friday, saying “religion has been under increasing attack” over the past five decades. Barr, a devout Catholic, told students and faculty at the university’s law school that “the problem is not that religion is being forced on others, the problem is that irreligion is being forced — secular values are being forced on people of faith.” Barr contends that many of society’s ills are caused because of the breakdown of religion in society. “This is not decay,” he said. “This is organized destruction. Secular forces and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia, in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”

American Troops Pulled Out of Turkey/Syrian Chaos

President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, where they had long kept an uneasy peace among competing forces, left the region in upheaval Sunday. Administration officials denied that the United States had “abandoned” its Syrian Kurdish allies to Turkish forces that invaded northern Syria Monday President Trump signaled Monday that “big sanctions” will hit Turkey in response to the NATO ally’s decision to bombard U.S.-allied Kurds in northern Syria. Tensions soared Wednesday with the House voting overwhelmingly with Republican support to rebuke President Trump. A subsequent confrontation at the White House led to Democratic leaders walking out on the president who they said had a “meltdown.” Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed Thursday to halt the invasion for five days while Kurdish fighters leave a safe zone in northern Syria while the United States facilitates the withdrawal of YPG (a mostly Kurdish militia) from the affected areas in the safe zone,” said Vice President Mike Pence. Fighting continued Friday morning in a northeast Syrian border town at the center of the fight between Turkey and Kurdish forces, despite the U.S.-brokered ceasefire that went into effect overnight. U.S. Troops are “largely” out of the region, said Trump on Thursday.

  • The Islamic State is still active in the area, and there are reports that Russian and Syrian forces are moving in as well. Hundreds of Islamic State supporters escaped from a displaced-persons camp in northern Syria on Sunday amid heavy clashes between invading Turkish-led forces and Kurdish fighters.
  • Hours after reaching an agreement with Kurdish forces, the Syrian Army entered a key town near the Turkish border — a significant shift in the power dynamic. The return of government forces to northeastern Syria deals a blow to Kurdish-led forces who had been supported by the United States.
  • Russian mercenary forces have begun sweeping in to fill a security void left by withdrawing U.S. troops in northern Syria, with a video online showing the Moscow-backed mercenaries taking control Tuesday of what was previously an American military outpost.
  • Officials are reviewing plans to evacuate up to 50 U.S. nuclear bombs that have long been stored at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. The weapons are now essentially “hostage” to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a senior official told The New York Times on Monday. The Cold War-era B61 nuclear bombs are said to be 100-250 miles from the Syrian border.
  • Thousands of Christians, Kurds and Yazidis are fleeing parts of Syria. The group In Defense of Christians, said they are “deeply concerned for the Christian and Yazidi communities of Northeast Syria should the Republic of Turkey move into the region. “There are over 40,000 Christians in the Northeast,” the group said. Two Christians were reported killed and others wounded within hours of Turkey’s invasion.

Judge Blocks Plans to Build Border Wall

President Trump’s proclamation declaring a border wall emergency is illegal, a federal judge in Texas ruled Friday, throwing a new hurdle in front of the government’s plans to build hundreds of miles of new barriers. Judge David Briones, a Clinton appointee to the court, said Congress took clear steps to try to limit how much border wall Mr. Trump could build using money appropriated in fiscal year 2019, and the president’s attempt to funnel Pentagon funds toward wall construction is illegal. The administration argued a federal judge had no power to personally constrain the president, the head of a separate branch of government.

Immigration Numbers Way Down

Illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border tumbled in September, officials said Tuesday, saying the administration has solved the migration crisis by stopping Central Americans before they ever reach the border. The 144,000 people nabbed at the border in May fell to 52,546 migrants in September. At one point CBP was detaining 5,000 people a day. That’s now 1,700. The U.S. still posted the worst overall year in more than a decade, with the Border Patrol apprehending about 850,000 illegal immigrants in fiscal 2019, which ended Sept. 30. Officers at the ports of entry encountered about 125,000 more unauthorized migrants, for a combined illegal immigrant population of nearly 1 million.

Immigration Prosecutions at Record Level

The Justice Department set a record over the last fiscal year, prosecuting more criminal cases against illegal immigrants and migrant smugglers than any other year on record, officials announced Friday. However, the numbers are still a tiny fraction of the overall illegal activity at the border. With nearly 1 million unauthorized crosses in fiscal year 2019, the government still only charged about 106,000 people with either illegal entry or illegal re-entry after a previous deportation. Another 4,297 people were charged with migrant smuggling, harboring or otherwise assisting in the illegal traffic.

Trial Underway of Illegal Immigrant Terrorist

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif of Somalia had himself smuggled from Somalia through Brazil and Central America. Then he entered the United States over the Mexico-California border and claimed asylum in 2011, reports Judicial Watch. Sharif went on to Canada, where he conducted a double vehicle-ramming and stabbing rampage in 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta, that severely injured a police officer and four other people. He was carrying an Islamic State flag in one of the ramming vehicles. The 32-year-old Sharif is now on public trial in Canada, facing 11 counts of attempted murder, aggravated assault, and dangerous driving.

Mexicans Protest Detention Center in Mexicali

Nearly 200 residents gathered in Mexicali Monday night to protest the Mexican federal government’s plan to convert a shuttered grocery store into a shelter for asylum seekers who have been sent by United States officials to Mexico to await the resolution of their immigration cases. Mexicali residents said they aren’t racist, xenophobic or anti-immigrant. Rather, they said, they oppose the shelter because it could draw crime to the neighborhood, threaten the safety of area school children and draw down home prices. In response to the opposition, Abraham Salcido, a spokesman for the Mexican federal government in Baja California, said the northern state has always been “a land of migrants.” He said opponents’ concerns that the asylum seekers are bringing disease and insecurity to the border city are “not true.”

1,000 ‘False Families’ Detected at Border in DNA Tests

Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Thursday that over 1,000 “false families” that were apprehended crossing the southern border have been detected thanks to DNA testing. ICE acting director Matthew Albence criticize a federal judge for limiting the agency’s ability to ask local law enforcement to hold illegal immigrants until ICE can apprehend them. “This decision will threaten public safety as it will lead to the release of criminal aliens back onto the street,” Albence said, according to the Washington Times. The judge issued a permanent injunction that prevents ICE from using electronic databases when issuing detainers after determining that the agency’s databases weren’t reliable enough.

Police Suicides Rising

The suicide of a police officer in Montgomery County, Maryland, this week is part of a surge in law enforcement officers across the country taking their lives, prompting police departments to address concerns about the mental health of their members. Psychologists and police officials say a number of factors — such as increased scrutiny, mandatory overtime, perceived hostility and physical danger — contribute to the daily stress on officers. Officers can become disillusioned by the job and how their department treats them, which can begin a downward turn toward hopelessness.

Columbus Day Being Replaced by Native Americans Day

For many Americans, the second Monday in October is a celebration of Italian heritage and Christopher Columbus’s 1492 voyage to the Americas. But a growing number of cities, states and universities are abandoning ship and replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, also known as Native Americans Day. At least eight states, 10 universities and more than 130 cities across 34 states now observe Indigenous Peoples Day as an alternative to the federally recognized Columbus Day, which many say glorifies the mistreatment and colonization of Native Americans. Although Italian explorer Christopher Columbus is often credited as being the “discoverer” of the New World, millions of people already inhabited the Americas, and the Vikings had reached North America nearly five centuries earlier.

Closing of Arizona Coal Plant Hurts Navajos

The pending closure of a massive coal plant on the Navajo Nation isn’t measured only by better air quality or the cost savings for the power companies that own it, reports the Arizona Republic. The aftereffects include hundreds of jobs lost in an area where high-paying work is hard to find. The lives disrupted and families scattered. The looming shutdown of the Navajo Generating Station forced hundreds of utility employees to relocate to new jobs and put most of the region’s miners out of work when the Kayenta Mine that fueled it closed in August. Most are Native American. The Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribes are now trying to fill gaping holes in their budgets while already high poverty rates and substance addiction are expected to rise.

Economic News

The stock market rallied again on Friday after President Trump said the United States and China reached a preliminary trade agreement. Trump, who met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He Friday afternoon, called the initial deal “substantial.” Details of the agreement are still emerging, but it includes a halt on U.S. tariff increases. Trump told reporters that intellectual property theft, currency matters and agricultural purchases are also included in the deal.

China’s growth dropped to its lowest level in nearly three decades as the world’s second largest economy continues to feel the pain from its trade conflict with the United States. The country’s gross domestic product grew at 6% between July and September. That’s the weakest quarterly growth rate since 1992, and down from 6.2% the previous quarter.

President Trump’s mission to revive America’s coal industry is failing. U.S. power plants are expected to consume less coal next year than at any point since President Jimmy Carter was in office, according to government forecasts. Although Trump has tried to boost coal by slashing environmental regulations and installing a former coal lobbyist to lead the EPA, coal keeps losing ground to cleaner and cheaper alternatives. Power companies are rapidly retiring coal-fired power plants and replacing them with much cheaper natural gas and increasingly affordable renewable energy.

The sharp rise in home prices since the housing market bottomed in 2012 has made homes less affordable for most Americans, but the run-up has especially affected African Americans whose typical incomes have climbed more modestly. The median-income black household could afford just 25% of U.S. homes on the market last year, down from 39% in 2012, according to data provided exclusively to the USA Today by real estate brokerage Redfin. By contrast, median-income white households could afford 57% of homes for sale last year, down from 69% 7 years ago. Data from the 46 largest markets show that prices have increased by 70% since 2012.

More than three years after Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed a breakthrough deal Thursday with EU negotiators that will enable Britain’s orderly withdrawal from the bloc. Johnson said a “great new deal” had been reached. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said an outline deal was in place. The agreement still needs to be ratified by EU leaders and Britain’s Parliament.

The United States and China have a “fundamental agreement” in the first phase of addressing key elements of the ongoing trade war between the two countries, as “substantial progress” was made last week, says Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who also warned of new tariffs on Dec. 15 if the deal fails. He went on to say that he would describe phase one of the deals as “quite substantial. As the president has said, as soon as we get phase one complete we’ll move to phase two.” President Donald Trump has postponed tariffs, which were to begin on Tuesday, on a remaining $300 billion in Chinese goods, but Mnuchin said the tariffs will still go into play if China does not agree to the current deal.

Persecution Watch

Christians are in grave peril in Nigeria. The jihadist militia Boko Haram – which has pledged allegiance to genocidal ISIS – just killed two more Christian aid workers in Nigeria, reports ACLJ. Worse, they have reportedly vowed to kill every believer they capture in the future. The Fulani Herdsmen – another jihadist group that has been targeting Christians for slaughter – reportedly just kidnapped 6 teenage girls from a Christian school. They also brutally murdered a Christian pastor’s wife.

Middle East

The U.S. announced on Friday that it is delivering more missile-defense systems and troops to Saudi Arabia. This decision intensifies a face-off with Iran-which has warned that an attack on the country would trigger an “all-out war.” The Islamic Republic would be a vastly different opponent than it was when the U.S. last targeted the country directly in 1988, officials note. Iran now has thousands of missiles, many of them able to reach Israel, into the Mediterranean and evade Saudi defenses. Iran, through Yemen, successfully attacked a Saudi Arabian military base a few weeks ago.

Iran

Iran will further reduce its commitment to the nuclear deal signed with world powers by limiting international inspectors’ access to its nuclear sites, senior Iranian MPs have said. The move, which is expected to take place at the beginning of November, will be the fourth Iranian step away from the deal, and puts pressure on France, Germany and the UK to make some form of counter-move. The joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA) was signed in 2015 but Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018, placing pressure on Europe to save the deal. The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday sharply escalated economic pressure on Turkey by filing fraud and money-laundering charges against the country’s second-largest state-owned bank, accusing it of helping Iran evade sanctions.

Saudi Arabia

The Pentagon announced that it plans to deploy nearly 2,000 troops to Saudi Arabia to boost defenses against Iran. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said the move would place new fighter jets and air defense systems in Saudi Arabia to help a key ally confront what the Trump administration has described as a heightened threat from Iran. The deployment, which officials said would place roughly 1,800 additional troops in the Middle East, is the second troop increase related to recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

Afghanistan

A special U.N. report has described the severe impact of election-related violence on Afghanistan’s civilians, mainly from the Taliban’s campaign targeting its presidential election last month. The report released Tuesday says attacks aiming to disrupt the electoral process killed 85 people and wounded 373 others across the country. The number includes 277 civilian casualties, 28 killed of whom were killed Sep. 28 on the polling day. More than one-third of civilian casualties were children.

At least 62 people were killed in an explosion during Friday prayers in a mosque in Nangarhar, Afghanistan, according to a regional spokesman. 36 other people were wounded in the explosion in the Haska Mina district, near the border with Pakistan. No-one initially claimed responsibility for the explosion. A Taliban spokesperson said the group was not responsible.

Hong Kong

As street battles between protesters and police continue to escalate in Hong Kong, China’s authoritarian President Xi Jinping warned Sunday any further attempt to divide the country will literally be crushed. “Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones,” he said. China has seen growing international pressure due to the escalating Hong Kong pro-democracy protests during the last four months. The demonstrations began in June over a contested extradition bill and have snowballed into a wide-ranging anti-government, anti-police and anti-China movement. On Monday, police in Hong Kong said a homemade, remote-controlled bomb intended to “kill or to harm” riot control officers was detonated as the police deployed against renewed street violence.

Japan

The same day that a 5.3 earthquake struck Japan off the coast of Tokyo, a tornado ripped through Ciba, a town north of Tokyo and typhoon Hagibus made landfall on Japan’s main island of Honshu Saturday, flooding streets and causing at least one death in its wake. Some 600,000 people were ordered to evacuate ahead of the typhoon and 8 million were warned that they may need to leave their homes. As of Monday, At least 55 people were killed, 16 were missing and about 100 were injured after Hagibus had blown through. Many places in southern and central Japan remained flooded or were covered with mud and debris left by torrential rains and overflowing rivers. The town of Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture southwest of Tokyo, received 36.32 inches of rain. More than 3,400 homes across the country were flooded, and 38,000 people remained in shelters in 17 prefectures.

Venezuela

The failing socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council. At a U.N. General Assembly meeting in Geneva on Friday, the Latin American country was elected to one of 14 new seats on the 47-member body. Maduro’s government, BBC News reported, hailed it as an “important achievement.” But his administration is accused of jailing, torturing and arbitrarily arresting opposition figures. And more than 50 countries, including the United States, no longer recognize Maduro as the country’s legitimate leader.

Mexico

State police expected the worst when they ventured into the wild township of Aguililla to serve a single warrant. Commanders sent 42 officers in five trucks. It wasn’t enough. More than 30 suspected drug cartel gunmen were waiting for them Monday, some in vehicles that were apparently armored, prosecutors in Mexico’s western state of Michoacan said. Officials said the gunmen opened up on the police convoy with .50 caliber sniper rifles and AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles. Thirteen officers were killed, some of their bodies still inside the patrol trucks when the vehicles were set afire. Nine other officers were wounded. The attack – the worst on Mexican law enforcement in years – came in a state where violence blamed on drug gangs has jumped in recent months.

Environment

Carbon dioxide emissions from cars have risen in nearly every major United States city over the past three decades, despite increased sales of alternative fuel vehicles and a concerted effort by many communities to promote cleaner transportation. Orlando’s carbon dioxide emissions nearly doubled in that time. Atlanta’s went up by 87 percent. And Dallas-Fort Worth saw a 133 percent increase. The number of vehicle miles driven in passenger cars and light-duty trucks went up nearly 46 percent between 1990 and 2017, according to the EPA.

From the littered beaches of India to the vast waste dumps of the USA to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world is drowning in trash. The rate at which waste is  generated is increasing, according to the World Bank. Because of population growth and the expansion of urban areas, the amount of municipal solid waste that people generate will continue to rise.

Earthquakes

A strong, shallow earthquake shook parts of the southern Philippines Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring dozens. The U.S. Geological Survey rated the temblor at 6.4 magnitude. It was centered about 5 miles from Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat province, southwest of Davao City. A girl died after she was hit by a collapsed wall in a house in Maguindanao province. More than 20 people were injured by falling debris. Several relatively strong aftershocks were felt after the quake. Schools were to be closed on Thursday so officials could inspect buildings for damage.

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake was widely felt across the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday night. The Los Angeles Times reports moderate shaking was felt at 10:33pm with the epicenter in the Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek areas. The US Geological Survey says weak shaking was felt in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. Scientists say they don’t expect any major structural damages. The earthquake had a preliminary depth of about 9 miles underneath the surface, fairly deep for this area.

A major southern California fault capable of producing a magnitude 8 temblor started to move for the first time in 500 years following a series of earthquakes in the Mojave Desert over the summer, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Science. The study found that the Garlock Fault – which runs east to west for 185 miles from the San Andreas Fault to Death Valley – has slipped .8 inches since July. This is the first movement documented on the fault in modern history. Satellite images show the fault creep began after Southern California experienced its largest earthquake sequence in two decades beginning on July 4. A magnitude 6.4 foreshock rocked the Mojave Desert about 120 miles north of Los Angeles before a magnitude 7.1 mainshock hit the next day in addition to more than 100,000 aftershocks.

Wildfires

The number of fires in the Amazon rainforest decreased by 35% in September. Even so, there were 19,925 fire outbreaks in September on the Brazilian part of the rainforest, which accounts for nearly 65% of the Amazon basin. Moreover, through the first nine months of the year, the number of fires soared by 41% compared to the same period in 2018. The primary cause is deforestation through the systematic chopping down of trees, which are either logged or burned, mostly to convert the land for raising cattle and growing crops. About 20% of the Brazilian portion of the rainforest has been cleared since 1970.

Of the estimated 738,000 homes and businesses that had electricity cut off by Pacific Gas & Electric last week, only a few dozen were without power by this week. Flames from the Saddleridge Fire, which started about 9 p.m. local time last Thursday in Sylmar, crossed over the 210 Freeway and later the 5 Freeway. The fire spread to about 8,391 acres this Thursday in the northern foothills of the San Fernando Valley and was 62% contained. Dozens of homes were destroyed and 100,000 people were forced to evacuate. At least two deaths were being blamed on the fire.

The Decker fire continues to burn in the Rio Grand National Forest in Colorado, consuming 8,570 acres as of Thursday. It is 30% contained. Active fire behavior continues with wind-driven runs, torching and spotting. Numerous structures are threatened, two have been destroyed. Evacuations and road closures remain in effect.

Weather

More than 500,000 people were without power Thursday morning as a bomb cyclone brought rain and heavy winds to the Northeast U.S. “Bomb cyclone,” is a term some meteorologists use to classify surface lows whose pressure drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours or less. Schools were closed or delayed in dozens of locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. There were also widespread closures and delays in Connecticut. Trees and powerlines were downed in at least seven eastern states, especially in southeast New England, where wind gusts up to 90 mph were clocked overnight.

A crippling snowstorm brought high winds and drifting snow to parts of the Northern Plains. Portions of at least two interstate highways in North Dakota were shut down last Friday as officials warned people to stay home and avoid all non-emergency travel. I-94 was closed westbound from Bismarck to Fargo, and eastbound from Bismarck to Valley City. I-29 was closed in both directions between Grand Forks and the Canadian border. A portion of U.S. Highway 2 was also closed. Between 50 and 100 cars were stuck for hours due to three trucks that had jackknifed. “I’m expecting massive crop losses – as devastating as we’ve even seen,” Jon Nelson, a state lawmaker. “The extraordinary intensity of this early winter storm threatens to test the limits of local response capabilities across a large portion of our state,” Gov. Doug Burgum said.

  • In Denver, Colorado, the temperature dropped 64 degrees from 3pm last Wednesday to 9am the next morning, one of the biggest temperature drops in history.

Signs of the Times

October 9, 2019

­­For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-21)

Judge Overturns Ban on Same-Sex Counseling

A federal judge has torpedoed the city of Tampa’s attempt to block licensed counselors from helping patients overcome unwanted same-sex attractions. Similar laws have been defeated in other jurisdictions. In Tampa, U.S. District Judge William Jung granted summary judgment to Liberty Counsel in its lawsuit against Tampa’s ordinance prohibiting “licensed counselors from providing voluntary talk therapy to minors seeking help to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity.” The ordinance, the judge said, “is preempted by the comprehensive Florida regulatory scheme for healthcare regulation and discipline.” The judge’s ruling eliminates the potential for counselors to be fined for providing the therapy their clients seek. Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “This is a great victory for counselors and clients.”

Hundreds of Transgenders Wish They Hadn’t Changed

Transgenders – by the “hundreds” – are fed up with their lifestyle choice and are wanting to return to living as their birth gender, prompting the creation of an advocacy network to help them, according to a new report from the Christian Institute. According to the institute, former trans Charlie Evans said: “I’m in communication with 19- and 20-year-olds who have had full gender reassignment surgery who wish they hadn’t, and their dysphoria hasn’t been relieved, they don’t feel better for it. Evans, who was born female but lived as a man for nearly a decade, just last year accepted her true sex and went public about it. “Many people similarly discouraged have contacted her, by the “hundreds,” she said. So, she launched the Detransition Advocacy Network, which is providing help to those who want to live as their birth sex.

200,000 Students Expected to ‘Stand for Christ’ on Football Fields

Hundreds of thousands of students are joining together Wednesday on football fields across the nation to encourage their peers to pray, worship, read their Bibles, and commit their lives to Christ. Fields of Faith, a student-led ministry outreach part of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) that started in 2004, has seen thousands of kids and young adults tackle tough topics and turn their lives around at the event. Students at over 500 fields nationwide will be helping their peers face challenges such as hopelessness, loneliness, depression, suicide, drugs, alcohol, and more with the hope of Christ. “In a world where bad news seems to be the norm, we’re happy to share the great news that lives are being changed through Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Fields of Faith,” Jeff Martin, FCA executive director said.

Supreme Court to Review Louisiana Abortion Regulations

The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will take up the case of Louisiana’s admitting privileges law, which could have the potential of upending the high court’s most recent pro-abortion precedents. The case concerns Louisiana’s Act 620, which requires abortion centers to make arrangements for admitting women to hospitals within 30 miles in cases of life-threatening complications. A ruling is likely to be handed down during the already-contentious 2020 election year, in which abortion and judicial nominations will be major issues for both President Donald Trump and his Democrat opponent. It’s an open question whether a majority would take the opportunity to make a broader determination as to the underlying legitimacy of Roe v. Wade.

Aggressive Climate Change Protests Hit Europe, Australia

A group of extreme climate change activists around the globe has brought parts of London, France, Germany, and Australia to a standstill as they aggressively push politicians to cut carbon emissions. In London alone, the actions of the Extinction Rebellion group led to 319 arrests. Climate protesters in Australia and New Zealand also blocked roads, entered banks and energy companies on Monday. In Sydney, police were seen dragging elderly people and men in suits through the crowds as massive groups blocked roads in and out of the city. In all, police in Australia arrested about 30 people. In Britain, the aim of the group is to force the country to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2025. Currently, Britain’s target is 2050.

Immigration Update

Immigrants who can’t prove they have health coverage will be denied visas, White House says. Starting Nov. 3, visas will be denied for immigrants who “will financially burden” the U.S. health-care system, according to a proclamation issued by President Trump. Foreign nationals must prove that they have insurance or can cover their own health costs before entering the United States, the White House said. The new rule comes as President Trump is intensifying his efforts to fulfill his campaign promises to curb immigration.

U.N. Sounds Alarm Over Cash Crisis

The United Nations is facing its worst cash crisis in nearly a decade and is warning that it may be unable to pay its bills by the end of the month, while urging member states to pay their contributions to the world body immediately. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote to member states this week, saying that as of the end of September, they have only paid 70 percent of budget contributions. While the U.S. is one of the countries that have not paid its contribution in full, an official from the U.S. Mission to the U.N. told Fox News that is in part because of differences in U.S. and U.N. fiscal years. “To date this year, we have contributed over $600 million to UN peacekeeping operations, and will be providing the vast majority of the $674 million we owe to the 2019 regular budget this fall, as we have in past years,” the official said. “Overall the United States, as the largest contributor to the UN, contributes roughly $10 billion annually in assessed and voluntary contributions across the United Nations system.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods Destroyed $5M Worth of Firearms

Dick’s Sporting Goods has destroyed $5 million of the chain’s gun inventory, its CEO said. After finding out that Dick’s had sold the Parkland shooter a shotgun, CEO Edward Stack decided last year the company would no longer sell firearm to anyone under 21. Dick’s announced it would destroy its inventory of weapons, rather than allow them to be sold by another retailer. Since then, about $5 million of the chain’s gun inventory has been turned into scrap metal, Stack said. Stack is a hunter and gun owner who believes strongly in the Second Amendment. The company, which his father started as a fish-and-tackle shop in 1948. Stack said the controversial decision cost his company about a quarter of a billion dollars in revenue.

Economic News

The federal budget deficit for 2019 is estimated at $984 billion, a hefty 4.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and the highest since 2012, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said on Monday. The deficit was $205 billion more than the previous fiscal year, an increase of 26 percent in just one year.

A survey released by the National Association for Business Economics lowered growth expectations for next year to below 2%, citing protectionism, trade uncertainty and slowing global growth. The New York Fed has lowered its fourth-quarter GDP forecast to just 1.3% growth.

In September, manufacturing lost 2,000 jobs. Over the past year, Pennsylvania has lost more than 7,700 jobs in manufacturing and Wisconsin has shed more than 5,200.

Gasoline prices have spiked in California, soaring well above what most Americans are paying at the pump. In some locations, Californians are paying $5 for a gallon of gas. A number of refinery outages tightened gas supply in the market. The average price of regular gas in California rose to $4.18 a gallon, the highest level since May 13, 2014. The national average is currently $2.65 a gallon.

Persecution Watch

Six Christians on their way to church in Batticaloa district, Sri Lanka were attacked and beaten with sticks by around ten villagers on 21 September, in one of a series of incidents of intimidation and harassment targeted at believers in less than two weeks. Five of the Christians were so badly injured that they were admitted to hospital. Local sources said the pastor and congregation have faced continuous harassment this year from the same group of villagers in Kalkudah. Two of the mob of attackers were arrested. Christians faced violent intimidation on 14 September when 15 police officers together with six Buddhist monks and around 100 villagers descended on Zion Revival Church, Gampaha district and demanded that Christians stop conducting worship services. On 11 September, a pastor in Passara, Badulla district, was told that three villagers had petitioned against the construction of the Assemblies of God church and his request for financial help from the Passara local authorities was blocked. This was despite the church having already received all necessary approvals for construction.

Syria

The White House announced Sunday evening that United States forces in northern Syria would move aside in advance of a planned Turkish military offensive. The move marks a major shift in US foreign policy and effectively gives Turkey the green light to attack US-backed Kurdish forces. The group, long considered as among Washington’s most reliable partners in Syria, has played a key strategic role in the campaign against ISIS in the region. Following a phone call between US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House said that Turkey would soon begin a military offensive and US forces would not be involved in the operation. “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” a statement said. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.” American-backed Kurdish-led fighters in northeast Syria accused President Trump of a “stab in the back.”

  • Lindsey Graham, one of President Donald Trump’s strongest Republican defenders in Congress, blasted Trump Monday over the decision saying it was “shortsighted and irresponsible.” Graham said, “This impulsive decision by the President has undone all the gains we’ve made, thrown the region into further chaos. Iran is licking their chops. And if I’m an ISIS fighter I’ve got a second lease on life. So to those who think ISIS has been defeated you will soon see,” Graham said during an interview on Fox News.” Pat Roberson also denounced this Trump decision saying Trump could well lose his “mandate from heaven.”

Turkey

A planned Turkish military operation in northern Syria has now begun, the country’s president announced Wednesday, as Kurdish fighters say warplanes are already bombing civilian areas in the region. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted that the maneuvers being carried out against Syrian Kurdish forces – which Ankara considers terrorists allied with a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey – are part of Operation Peace Spring.”Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area,” he said in a tweet. The move comes in defiance of international criticism and just days after President Donald Trump announced U.S. troops supporting Kurdish forces in the area would be pulled back from the border zone. Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish government’s chief spokesman, said Turkey seeks to “neutralize” Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria and to “liberate the local population from the yoke of the armed thugs.”

  • The Kurds were U.S. allies in the successful campaign to dismantle ISIS

Germany

Two people have been killed following a shooting rampage near a synagogue in the eastern German town of Halle, according to local police. One woman was killed close to the town’s synagogue around midday local time on Wednesday, before a gunman opened fire at a kebab shop roughly 600 meters away, fatally wounding a man. A police search for the perpetrators is now underway. At least one person is on the run and local residents were urged to seek safety, as the attack may have involved as many as three suspects. Several people were also injured in what local authorities described as a “rampage.” The incident near the synagogue comes on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

France

France has been rocked by a security breach that allowed an Islamist extremist to work in the heart of its counterterrorism apparatus for years, before he killed four of his colleagues last week. Mickaël Harpon, a 45-year-old convert to Islam, was allowed to continue working in the intelligence division of the Paris police, despite arguing with colleagues in 2015 that the terror attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was justified. Harpon’s colleagues mentioned the conversation to their superiors, but he wasn’t flagged in France’s security database that tracks extremists across the nation.

Russia

Western security officials say they have uncovered the existence of an elite Russian military intelligence unit dedicated to destabilizing Europe, the New York Times reports. The officials say Unit 29155 was behind a coup attempt in Montenegro, an effort to cause a political crisis in Moldova, and attempts to assassinate a Bulgarian arms dealer, as well as last year’s poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain. Officials say the top-secret unit, part of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, has been operating for at least a decade, but European security agencies only recently realized that incidents thought to have been unrelated operations had been carried out by the unit as part of a wide-ranging mission to undermine the West.

Iran

China National Petroleum Corp. has pulled out of a $5 billion natural-gas project in Iran as escalating tensions threaten to sever Beijing’s trade with Tehran, a key lifeline for the Islamic Republic. The exit by Beijing, which had vowed to resist U.S. restrictions on Iran, is a blow to Tehran’s attempts to fight growing economic isolation and comes after Washington brought new sanctions on Chinese companies still trading with Iran.

China

China demanded Washington lift sanctions on Chinese tech companies and warned Wednesday that it will “resolutely safeguard” the country’s interests. The Ministry of Commerce criticized curbs imposed on sales of U.S. technology to a group of Chinese companies as interference in the country’s affairs. American officials say those companies provide technology used to repress Muslim minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. “We strongly urge the United States to immediately stop making irresponsible remarks on the issue of Xinjiang, stop interfering with China’s internal affairs and remove relevant Chinese entities from the Entity List as soon as possible,” a ministry statement said. “China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard Chinese interests.” Despite the spike in tension, the ministry said Tuesday that a trade delegation was going ahead with a trip to Washington for talks aimed at ending the tariff war.

Hong Kong

The semi-autonomous Chinese city is in its 18th consecutive week of anti-government protests. The unrest has grown increasingly violent on both sides, with protesters using petrol bombs and setting fires, and police firing tear gas and water cannons. During citywide protests on October 1, police used lethal force for the first time, after protesters attacked several officers. According to a survey by the University of Hong Kong in June, nearly half of the city’s population is considering leaving. The city’s young professionals don’t just want to move, they want to move soon. YouGov’s survey found that a quarter of those who want to migrate are likely to do so within the next three years. Government data provided to CNN shows that the number of applications for a certificate that is necessary for Hong Kongers applying for visas overseas surged over 50% from May to August.

Japan

Japan’s fertility crisis is worsening, with data from the first seven months of this year showing the sharpest drop in births in 30 years, according to preliminary government data. Births fell 5.9% from January to July year over year, as the pool of women of childbearing age shrinks and more women delay having children or decide not to have them at all, figures from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show. Japan’s birth rate has been falling since the late 1970s. In 2005, it reached a record low of 1.26 per woman, but then seemed to be on a path of recovery until it started to fall again in 2016, according to government figures. By 2018, it was at 1.42. Another cause for Japan’s declining birth rate is the fall in marriage rates, with having children outside of wedlock still frowned upon.

  • To maintain a stable population, countries need a fertility rate of 2.1. Last year, it was 1.72 in the United States but only 0.98 — or less than one baby per woman — in South Korea, where fertility rates have fallen to their lowest level since records began.

Ecuador

Ecuador’s president is accusing his political rivals of trying to orchestrate a coup this week after violent protests tied to rising fuel prices forced his government to relocate away from the country’s capital. Officials say about 350 people have been detained so far for blocking traffic, interrupting public services or attacking police following President Lenín Moreno’s decision to end government subsidies that have been keeping fuel prices down. Moreno says the subsidies have cost the government heavily in recent years and dropped them in a bid to stimulate Ecuador’s economy. “[This] is not a protest of social dissatisfaction faced with a government decision but the looting, vandalism and violence show there is an organized political motive to destabilize the government,” the embattled leader said

Mexico

Eleven people were arrested in southern Mexico on Tuesday after the mayor of their village was dragged out of his office, beaten, and then tied to a pickup truck and dragged through the streets of the town, according to officials. The State’s Attorney General’s Office in Tuxtla Gutiérre said in a news release that the incident happened early Tuesday in the town of Las Margaritas, when a group of people stormed Mayor Jorge Luis Escandón Hernández’s office. The angry group of farmers was demanding the mayor build a road he promised to construct during his campaign. State police were eventually able to rescue the mayor and said Hernandez was “safe and sound.” The incident caused a brawl between the locals and the police, leaving at least 20 injured and 11 arrested. This was the second attack this year by locals demanding the mayor fulfill his campaign promise to build the road.

Pestilence

An outbreak of a deadly and rare brain disease has killed at least 11 people in the United States so far this year. Scientists say the mosquito-borne illness, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), may be worse because of unseasonably warm temperatures. It’s one of just several diseases scientists worry are being affected by climate change. The nation’s changing climate patterns are bringing heatwaves, flooding, warming waters and droughts. These in turn alter the environment and the microbes, viruses and insects that inhabit it in ways that can cause them to increase or appear in new areas and at different times than before. The mosquitoes which transmit the EEE virus thrive in warmer temperatures and die off at the first hard frost. Earlier springs, later falls and hotter months in between contribute to higher mosquito populations and the greater chance of infection.

Wildfires

Power is being shut off to nearly 800,000 Pacific Gas and Electric customers in California due to the threat of wildfires. Schools and universities were closed in some areas and residents stocked up on groceries, batteries and gas ahead of the blackouts, which PG&E said could last as long as five days. The preemptive outage stands to be one of the largest in the state’s history as windy, dry conditions raise the risk for wildfires in the coming days. Many of those affected are in the San Francisco Bay area and the northern part of the state, including San Jose, Oakland, Fremont, Santa Rosa, Hayward, Berkeley and San Mateo. In all, parts of some 34 counties in northern, central and coastal California face blackouts. The utility said the shutoffs were based on a fire weather watch from the National Weather Service. Winds up to 65 mph were expected in some areas, prompting the NWS to issue alerts for elevated, critical and extreme wildfire chances across large swaths of the state.

Gusty winds and dry conditions could send smoke plumes from the Decker fire in Colorado skyward, unfurling embers across the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, authorities say. The 6,326-acre wildfire, which started from a lightning strike Sept. 8, remained only 5% contained. It’s now burning 2 miles south of Salida, a city of about 5,200 people in Chaffee County. On Saturday, 300 people and 130 houses were evacuated from several subdivisions. However, some of those mandatory evacuations have now been lifted.

Weather

Portions of the central USA will feel downright winterlike over the next few days as a potent snowstorm and bitter cold take aim on the region. The powerful system is expected to produce heavy snow, as much as 12 inches, from the north-central Rockies into the northern Plains. Winter storm warnings and watches are already widespread across the region, all the way from Idaho to Minnesota. Significant travel impacts, tree damage and sporadic power outages will be possible where the heaviest snow occurs. Temperatures will also plunge by as much as 60 degrees in the span of 12 to 24 hours as the cold air swiftly replaces preceding mild conditions.

The Earth just had its warmest September on record. The past five years have been the warmest since modern records began in the 1880s, according to NASA. Globally, September 2019 was roughly 1.02 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average from 1981-2010. Regions with the most markedly above average temperatures included the central and eastern USA, the Mongolian plateau and parts of the Arctic. Much below average temperatures were only recorded in a few regions, including southwestern Russia and parts of Antarctica.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

Signs of the Times

October 4, 2019

­­Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

500,000 Students Participated in Bring Your Bible to School Day

More than half a million students from across the United States will join the Bring Your Bible to School movement on Thursday, Oct. 3, reports Breaking Christian News. The annual student-led event, now in its sixth year, provides a unique opportunity for young people to share about their faith by highlighting its source—the Bible. This year, NFL Saints quarterback Drew Brees partnered with Focus on the Family to promote Bring Your Bible to School Day. “I took my Bible and sat it in my desk all day. I had a few kids… ask me about my faith and it was a great conversation. But I think the best experience I had was when my favorite teacher and I had a very awesome in-depth conversation about faith that didn’t turn into an argument but it ended up something we both agreed on. I plan on carrying my Bible with me every day at school now,” said 17-year-old Savvy.

Judge Hands Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Major Victory

In a stunning decision, a federal judge has ruled that officials at the University of Iowa violated the law when they kicked InterVarsity Christian Fellowship off their campus and that they are personally responsible for costs incurred by InterVarsity in defending its rights. InterVarsity had been on the University of Iowa campus for over 25 years. But in 2018, the University expelled the group from the campus for insisting that anyone in leadership must affirm its Christian beliefs. The University claimed that requirement was discriminatory. In the ruling last Friday, the court held that the University’s religious discrimination was so egregious that the officers involved—and possibly even the University’s president—would be personally accountable for any money InterVarsity lost fighting to stay on campus. “No group—religious or secular—could survive with leaders who reject its values,” noted the Becket Fund, the religious liberty law group who defended InterVarsity.

$33.6 Million of Planned Parenthood’s Funding Allocated to ‘Legitimate Health Care Groups’

The Trump administration has officially sent some of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding this past week to legitimate health care groups that provide tangible health care instead of abortions. Planned Parenthood refuses to follow a new Trump administration rule that requires it to segment out its abortion business from legitimate health care if it wants federal funding under the Title X program. Because the abortion giant is withdrawing from Title X, the $60 million in taxpayer dollars it received annually can be redistributed to groups that engage in legitimate women’s health care. “Today, the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) announced $33.6 million in fiscal year 2019 funding awards to 50 current Title X grantees in order to supplement their family planning services… Today’s awards prioritize unserved and underserved jurisdictions and low-income individuals.

Legislators/Parents Fight Back Against Graphic Sex Ed for Kindergartners

“I dare you… Hold up the textbook in front of the camera and show them a picture of what 10-year-olds are going to be asked to see.” That was Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers’s (R) challenge to reporters, when they asked him about his fierce response to the radical Left’s sex ed. He pointed to a book, called It’s Perfectly Normal, that isn’t normal at all – “unless you’re one of those rare individuals who think teaching anal sex to five-year-olds is a good idea,” notes Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. “I couldn’t even read the manual to you over the radio,” State Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Ariz.) told Perkins on “Washington Watch” Monday. “When [they] talk about comprehensive sex education,” she warned, “that’s exactly what they mean. It’s very comprehensive, very detailed—they leave nothing out… the only reason for that is because you are… giving them information to help sexualize them.” Outside groups like Planned Parenthood and GLSEN are trying to strip the state’s ban on “abnormal, deviate, or unusual sexual acts and practices” — and parents on both sides are furious. “These programs are going against the vast majority of parents—and what parents want taught to their children about this subject,” Senator Allen says. “In Arizona, we have local control over curriculum. So that means parents have got to be active in their school district to see what their school district might want to propose on this subject.” These outside groups “are counting on parents’ ignorance to push this agenda through,” notes Perkins. In Minnesota, hundreds of parents rallied against a new sex education proposal that is being considered in their state, which Planned Parenthood was promoting.

  • Planned Parenthood has been boasting lately about being the largest sex education provider in America.

Images of Child Sex Abuse Double on the Internet

Last year, tech companies reported over 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused — more than double what they found the previous year. Each image documents a crime. More than a decade ago, when the reported number was less than a million, the proliferation of the explicit imagery had already reached a crisis point. Tech companies, law enforcement agencies and legislators in Washington responded, committing to new measures meant to rein in the scourge. Landmark legislation passed in 2008. Yet the explosion in detected content kept growing — exponentially. As with hate speech and terrorist propaganda, many tech companies failed to adequately police sexual abuse imagery on their platforms, or failed to cooperate sufficiently with the authorities when they found it, reports the New York Times. FBI Director Christopher Wray said Friday that Facebook’s proposal to encrypt its popular messaging program would turn the platform into a “dream come true for predators and child pornographers.”

Teacher Fired over Transgender Pronouns Sues School

West Point High School French teacher Peter Vlaming is a soft-spoken man who was well loved by his students. He wasn’t looking for a fight. He was just looking to do his job. But when the school demanded that he use male pronouns for a biological girl student who had decided to identify as a transgender boy, Mr. Vlaming was faced with the choice: follow his beliefs and potentially lose his job — or violate his beliefs and keep it. Mr. Vlaming explained to the school that, as a Christian, he believes that God made humans male and female, and that a girl cannot become a boy. He tried to work with the school. He even agreed to call the student by her new masculine name. The school board fired him by unanimous vote. For insubordination. Now, he’s suing the school for wrongful termination.

U.K. Doctor Fired Over Transgender Pronouns

A seasoned British doctor lost his government job as a medical assessor after more than three decades because he refused to renounce his Christian belief that gender is determined at birth. Dr. David Mackereth, 56, a National Health Service employee, was fired from his post at the Department for Work and Pensions in July because he would not use a transgender pronoun, saying he believes “gender is defined by biology and genetics” and the “Bible teaches us that God made humans male or female.” This week he lost his case before an Employment Tribunal in England, where the judge ruled his beliefs were “incompatible with human dignity.”

Gender Dysphoria Proving Deadly To Thousands

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has documented thousands of deaths linked to the puberty-blocking drugs now increasingly given to children who claim to suffer from gender dysphoria (i.e. the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity to be at variance with one’s biological sex). Between 2013 and June 2019, FDA recorded 41,213 adverse events, including 6,379 deaths and 25,645 “serious” reactions in patients who took the hormone blocker known as Lupron. Lupron, is clinically approved for treatment of prostate cancer in men, endometriosis in women. Lupron is also being used — without formal FDA approval — as a puberty blocker on the increasing number of children and adolescents who are being diagnosed in the U.S. and the U.K. with gender dysphoria. This is being done — with the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society — despite the fact there is no evidence that such hormonal treatments actually benefit children and adolescents. Complications related to the drug’s use include malignant tumors, cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and blood clots, suicidal behavior and other psychological disorders, brittle bones and painful joints, and sterility. In 2017, AbbVie, which produces Lupron, sales of the drug were $669 million in the United States alone.

  • Once again, drug companies win at the expense of human lives – but this time, they are also messing with God’s biological order of creation.

Johnson & Johnson Settles Opioid Lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday announced it had reached an agreement worth more than $20 million with two Ohio counties, becoming the latest company to settle a lawsuit to get out of the first federal trial over the nation’s opioids crisis. The deal with Cuyahoga and Summit counties comes a little more than a month after an Oklahoma judge ordered the health care conglomerate to pay $572 million over its marketing of opioids in that state, It was announced less than three weeks before the scheduled start of the first federal trial over the opioid crisis. Four other opioid makers also have reached settlements in recent months and won’t be defendants in the trial, scheduled for federal court in Cleveland. Like most of the others, Johnson & Johnson still faces some 2,000 other lawsuits related to the nation’s opioids epidemic.

Vaping is Destroying Lungs

Doctors still aren’t sure exactly what has caused a spate of vaping-related deaths and illnesses around the country—but they know it is doing horrific damage to people’s lungs. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say tests of lung tissue from 17 patients show a pattern of injury that looks like “toxic chemical exposure” of the kind seen in victims of chemical weapon attacks or industrial accidents, resembling mustard gas attacks exposure. The Mayo Clinic study found that “toxic chemical fumes,” not oils, may be to blame for the illnesses. “Their lungs and airways have been torched.” surgical pathologist Brandon T. Larsen told some patients, and they “will not recover and will end up dying,” Others are likely to suffer chronic respiratory problems.

Trump’s Immigration Agenda Suffers String of Losses

In just a span of several hours, a judge in California ruled against the administration’s plan to detain migrant families indefinitely, another California judge blocked ICE from relying solely on  databases when issuing detainer requests, and shortly before midnight, a Washington judge barred fast-track removals of illegal aliens. All three federal judges were appointed by former President Obama, revealing the heavy weight judicial appointments play in the fight over immigration policy. The Trump administration hit back hard against the string of rulings. “For two and a half years, the Trump Administration has been trying to restore enforcement of the immigration laws passed by Congress. And for two and a half years, misguided lower court decisions have been preventing those laws from ever being enforced—at immense cost to the whole country,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement over the weekend.

Percent of Foreign-Born in U.S. at Record High

Confirming the largest ethnic shift in more than a century, the U.S. Census Bureau released a survey finding a record 13.7% of the U.S. population, about 44.7 million people, were born in another country. It found that about 22 million of the foreign-born residents were not U.S. citizens. The majority of the non-U.S. born residents came from Latin America. The foreign-born resident rate has surged in California, Texas, Florida and New York, about 15% higher than elsewhere in the country. In 2018, the Trump administration proposed restoring the citizenship question, arguing it was “necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters.” The Supreme Court dealt the administration a setback, ruling the Department of Commerce had failed to provide an adequate reason for restoring the question.

Immigration Court Backlog Exceeds 1 Million Cases

The immigration court backlog now exceeds 1 million cases, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which tracks immigration court data. Immigration courts, which fall under the Justice Department and decide whether to deport immigrants, have been bogged down over the years as more cases are added to the docket that can be addressed at any given time. President Trump has repeatedly criticized the nation’s immigration system, specifically taking issue with the practice of releasing immigrants while they await their court dates. To remedy that, his administration has sought to hire more immigration judges in the hopes of unclogging the court. Even so, the number of cases has continued to tick upward. The American Bar Association has previously proposed a major overhaul of the US immigration system, calling the courts “irredeemably dysfunctional.”

No Climate Emergency, Hundreds of Scientists Tell U.N.

Lost amid the coverage of Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg at last week’s U.N. Global Climate Summit were the 500 international scientists, engineers and other stakeholders sounding a very different message: “There is no climate emergency.” The European Climate Declaration, spearheaded by the Amsterdam-based Climate Intelligence Foundation [CLINTEL], described the leading climate models as “unfit” and urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to pursue a climate policy based on “sound science.” “Current climate policies pointlessly and grievously undermine the economic system, putting lives at risk in countries denied access to affordable, reliable electrical energy,” said the Sept. 23 letter signed by professionals from 23 countries. “We urge you to follow a climate policy based on sound science, realistic economics and genuine concern for those harmed by costly but unnecessary attempts at mitigation,” the letter said.

European Court Forces Facebook to Remove Content

The top European court has ruled Facebook and other internet companies can be forced to remove certain content worldwide. The case revolves around an Austrian politician, Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, who sought to have Facebook remove disparaging comments about her that had been posted on an Irish person’s page. The European Court of Justice ruled that Facebook must remove that information as well as block access to that it worldwide. . Europe has fewer guarantees of free speech and much more restrictive laws related to privacy. This is not purely a European issue for internet companies such as Facebook and Google, since the ruling demands worldwide compliance. Social media platforms are under increasing attention and criticism for the role they play in spreading false information, especially as it relates to elections and political discourse. There have been hearings in Washington DC and even calls to break-up major tech companies

Half of Californians Want to Leave

Just over half of California’s registered voters have considered leaving the state, with soaring housing costs cited as the most common reason for wanting to move, according to a new poll. Young voters were especially likely to cite unaffordable housing as a reason for leaving, according to the latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times. But a different group, conservatives, also frequently suggested they wanted to leave — and for a very different reason: They feel alienated from the state’s political culture.

World Trade Organization Authorizes $7.5B in Tariffs Against EU

The World Trade Organization has authorized President Trump to impose tariffs on roughly $7.5 billion worth of European goods, capping a 15-year transatlantic dispute over illegal subsidies to aircraft maker Airbus. The ruling opens the door to a major escalation in a broader trade war between the White House and the European Union  The record award from the WTO green-lights the Trump administration to slap countermeasures on the 28-member EU bloc. However, WTO arbitrators are expected to rule next year on how much the EU can impose in tariffs following a separate decision that went against Boeing. The U.S. has already announced plans to impose tariffs on EU cheeses, olives, whiskey, as well as aircraft and aircraft parts.

Trump’s Tariffs on China Bring in $35 Billion

President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Chinese products over the Asian superpower’s “unfair” trade practices has brought in tens of billions of dollars, prompting Republican lawmakers to propose ways to pass along the windfall to American taxpayers. Special levies on China, known as Section 301 duties, have brought in about $35 billion since they were imposed in July 2018 to combat Beijing’s “harmful industrial policies.” “We used to get most of our revenue from tariffs. But it’s very unusual because for the last 80 years tariffs have been a declining source of revenue, so this is the first time [in recent history] it’s been a rising source of revenue,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Economic News

The unemployment rate fell from 3.7% to 3.5%, the lowest since December 1969, the Labor Department said Friday. However, hiring slowed in September as employers added 136,000 jobs, doing little to ease recession concerns and at least opening the door to another Federal Reserve rate cut as early as this month. Partly offsetting the weak showing: Job gains for July and August were revised up by a total 45,000. July’s additions were upgraded from 159,000 to 166,000 and August’s from 130,000 168,000. Average hourly earnings edged down 1 cent to $28.09, pushing down the annual gain from 3.2% to 2.9%.

U.S. manufacturing activity contracted for the second month in a row in September, falling to a level not seen in 10 years. The Institute of Supply Management’s closely-watched manufacturing index dropped to 47.8 in September, its lowest level since June 2009. The index measures month-to-month changes in the industry. A reading above 50 denotes growth in the sector. “Global trade remains the most significant issue, as demonstrated by the contraction in new export orders that began in July 2019,” said Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM’s manufacturing business survey committee.

The retail apocalypse over the past several years has devastated America’s department stores, chains and mom-and-pops. Stores are closing at record levels. U.S. retailers this year have already announced more than 8,200 store closings — well above the previous record of 6,700 in 2017, according to Coresights Research. By year’s end, the annual tally could reach 12,000. And all of that has happened at a time when the economy was strong. But if the United States slips into a recession, as many economists fear it will sometime next year, the problems plaguing retail could get far worse. Store closings could accelerate and layoffs in the sector — a major provider of American jobs — could spread.

  • Many non-retail companies have also been announcing layoffs, including HP (Hewlett Packard), Ford Motor Company, Uber, John Deere, Bayou Steel, Daimler Trucks of North America, Genesis Healthcare and many others.

The federal government has once again dramatically expanded its exposure to risky mortgages, echoing concerns from before the Great Recession. Federal agencies have taken steps over the past four years that have cleared the way for companies to issue home loans that many borrowers might not be able to repay in a downturn, reports the Washington Post. This risk is the direct result of pressure from the lending industry, consumer groups and political appointees, who clamored for the government to intervene when homeownership rates fell several years ago.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline slipped by 1.9 cents per gallon last week to reach $2.64, according to industry analysts at GasBuddy. That price remains well above the $2.56 average just before the drone attack on two major Saudi Arabian processing plants but down from the peak of $2.68 reached following the attack.

Knifing Attacks in France & Finland

A French law enforcement official went on a knife rampage at police headquarters in Paris on Thursday, killing four officers and injuring others before being fatally shot. The 20-year police employee worked as an administrator in the intelligence unit and had not posed known problems until Thursday’s rampage. The attack came one day after thousands of French police officers joined a “march of anger” in Paris to protest what they claim are poor working conditions and to draw attention to an increase in suicides. The attacker was a recent convert to Islam.

A knife-wielding man, also armed with a gun, killed at least one person and injured 9 more Tuesday afternoon during a “violent attack” at a mall in central Finland, Authorities in Kuopio detained one person, described as a Finnish national. The knifing attack that took place at the Savon Vocational School, which is located inside the Hermann shopping center. Local media reported that the man was believed to be a student at the school.

Middle East

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Monday that destroying arch-rival Israel has become an “achievable goal” thanks to his country’s technological advances. “This sinister regime must be wiped off the map and this is no longer… a dream (but) it is an achievable goal,” Major General Hossein Salami said, quoted by the Guards’ Sepah news site. Four decades on from Iran’s Islamic revolution, “we have managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the imposter Zionist regime”, he said.

The conflict between Iran and the U.S. has created tensions throughout much of the Middle East. Now, the effect are also being felt in Lebanon, where Washington has slapped sanctions on the Iran-backed Hezbollah and warned they could soon expand to its allies, further deepening Lebanon’s country’s economic crisis. The Trump administration has intensified sanctions on the Lebanese militant group and institutions linked to it to unprecedented levels, targeting lawmakers for the first time as well as a local bank that Washington claims has ties to the group.

Iran

Iran will continue reducing its commitments under its 2015 nuclear deal until it reaches the “desired result,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, according to his official website. “We will continue the reduction of commitments,” Khamenei said in a meeting with commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards. “The responsibility is with the Atomic Energy Organization and they must be carry out the reduction …in a precise, complete and comprehensive way and continue until the time we reach a desired result.”

Syria

American counterterrorism officials are voicing increased alarm about a Qaeda affiliate in Syria that they say is plotting attacks against the West by exploiting the chaotic security situation in the country’s northwest and the protection inadvertently afforded by Russian air defenses shielding Syrian government forces allied with Moscow. The rise of this latest Qaeda branch in Syria, as well as the operations of other Qaeda affiliates in West Africa, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, underscore the terrorist group’s enduring threat despite the death of Osama bin Laden and being largely eclipsed in recent years by the Islamic State as the terrorist group of choice of global jihadis. The new Qaeda branch, called Hurras al-Din, emerged in early 2018 after several factions broke away from a larger affiliate in Syria.

Afghanistan

The Taliban launched a multi-pronged attack on a district headquarters in a remote district in northern Afghanistan early on Tuesday, killing at least 11 policemen. Taliban attacks have continued unabated even as Afghanistan held presidential elections on Saturday and the U.S.-Taliban talks over a peace deal collapsed last month. There were at least 68 attacks by the Taliban across the country during election day, most of them rockets fired from distant outposts.

North Korea

North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward the sea Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, in a display of its expanding military capabilities hours after saying it would resume nuclear diplomacy with the US this weekend. South Korean officials said the missile was fired from North Korea’s eastern waters, suggesting it may have been submarine-launched. North Korea has confirmed that its latest missile launch involved a new kind of ballistic missile that was launched from a submarine. North Korea having the ability to launch missiles from submarines is alarming because such weapons are harder to detect in advance. Japan said one of the missiles landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The North had not fired a weapon that reached inside Japan’s EEZ since Nov. 2017 at the height of an unusually provocative run in nuclear and missile tests. The launches, which were the North’s ninth round of weapons tests since late July, came hours after a senior North Korean diplomat said North Korea and the United States have agreed to resume working-level nuclear negotiations this weekend.

China

Trucks carrying weapons including a nuclear-capable missile designed to evade US defenses rumbled through Beijing on Tuesday as the Communist Party celebrated its 70th anniversary in power with a military parade that showcased its emergence as an increasingly ambitious global power. The military showed off China’s most advanced weapons, some being shown for the first time, as rows of soldiers marched in lockstep past President Xi Jinping and other leaders on Tiananmen Square, the country’s symbolic political heart. Thousands of spectators waved Chinese flags and fighter jets flew low overhead. The event marks the anniversary of the Oct. 1, 1949, announcement of the founding of the People’s Republic of China by Mao Zedong following a civil war.

Hong Kong

As Beijing marked 70 years of Communist Party rule with a massive military parade, black-clad protesters in Hong Kong declared National Day to be a “Day of Grief.” A crowd estimated by organizers at 100,000 defied a protest ban Tuesday and marched through the city center, RTHK reports. Protesters tore down Chinese flags and banners marking the anniversary. They defaced photos of China’s President Xi Jinping. Tear gas was fired in at least four districts and much of the city’s subway system was closed down. Protesters in some areas barricaded roads, set fires, and threw Molotov cocktails at police. Police fired shots in locations, hitting one protester in the chest, who is now in the hospital in critical condition. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Friday that her government would use emergency powers to ban face masks in public in a bid to end the city’s protests. Hong Kong also shut down all train service on Friday as part of an emergency declaration aimed at stopping the massive protests that have flooded the streets for four straight months.

Taiwan

A towering 460-foot-long arch bridge over a bay in eastern Taiwan collapsed Tuesday, sending a burning oil tanker truck falling onto boats in the water below. An air force helicopter, fishing vessels and more than 60 military personnel, including divers, were searching for possible victims. Six people are believed trapped on one of the fishing boats, the National Fire Agency said. Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung told reporters about five people were feared to have been on the bridge when it collapsed. Ten people were sent to hospitals, six of them with serious injuries.

Wildfires

The Decker Fire burning outside Salida continued to grow rapidly Thursday. In an update published about 8 p.m., officials estimated the fire at 5,348 acres, up from 3,746 acres on Wednesday. At 7 a.m. Thursday, a Type 1 Incident Management Team took over command of the fire which is burning “dangerously close” to several housing subdivisions. Evacuations have been ordered and several roads are closed. The fire was started by lightning on Sept. 8th.

Environment

In fast-thawing Siberia, extreme warming is warping the ground, upending agriculture and spurring an exodus of climate refugees. The permafrost that once sustained farming is in the midst of a great thaw, blanketing the region with swamps, lakes and bizarre bubbles of earth that render the land virtually useless. A Washington Post analysis found one eastern region has warmed by more than 3 degrees Celsius since preindustrial times — roughly triple the global average. For the 5.4 million people who live in Russia’s permafrost zone, the new climate has disrupted their homes and their livelihoods. Thousands are leaving the countryside for the regional capital.

Slow-moving convoys of tractors clogged up nearly 700 miles of major highways in the Netherlands on Tuesday, as farmers inched toward The Hague to protest what they claim is an attempt to blame them over nitrogen pollution. About 10,000 farmers participated in the protest to argue they are unfairly being blamed after a court ruling found that the Netherlands is violating European emission rules. The morning protest caused the worst morning commute in Dutch history, ANWB, a road and drivers’ organization, said. The idea that farmers are behind the bump in nitrogen pollution has prompted at least one political party official to suggest the country reduce the number of live animals it produces to cut down on the emission. In addition, a proposed package of measures to tackle the increase in pollution includes a plan to grant financial aid to farmers who want to stop operations or adopt more eco-friendly agricultural practices.

A gigantic iceberg broke off from the Amery Ice Shelf in East Antarctica on Tuesday. The iceberg, named D-28, is over 600 square miles in size, which is bigger than the city of Los Angeles. It’s equal to about 27 Manhattan Islands. The last major calving event on the Amery Shelf was in 1963-64. “We don’t think this event is linked to climate change. It’s part of the ice shelf’s normal cycle, where we see major calving events every 60-70 years,” said Scripps’ Institute of Oceanography professor Helen Amanda Fricker.

Weather

Extreme weather caused by a wavy jet stream has kicked off the first 10 days of fall across the United States, leading to a series of record-breaking and unusual weather events to start the new season. Daily record highs were set on several days during fall’s first week in the South. More than a dozen cities in the East, from upstate New York to the Florida Panhandle, set all-time October record highs on Tuesday. Meridian, Mississippi broke the Mississippi state record high for October when it hit 101 degrees on Tuesday. On the opposite end of the spectrum, record cold temperatures have gripped parts of the Northwest to begin fall. Tuesday’s low in Great Falls, Montana, was just 9 degrees. A historic snowstorm in September’s final days blasted parts of the northern Rockies with heavy, wet snow and high winds, leading to power outages and tree damage. The top snow total from the storm was 52 inches about 10 miles south of the Canadian border in Babb, Montana.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

 

Signs of the Times

September 27, 2019

­­God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Thessalonians 2:11-12)

Abortions Drop 7% to Historic New Low

The number of abortions dropped to a new all-time low across the United States in 2017. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research group considered to have the most comprehensive abortion data, reported a 7-percent drop in abortions between 2017 and 2014, NPR reports. There were 862,320 abortions reported in 2017, down from 926,200 in 2014, according to the report. The abortion rate also fell to 13.5 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, down from 14.6 in 2014 and 16.9 in 2011. Not since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed abortion on demand in 1973 through Roe v. Wade have abortion numbers been so low.

Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Being Established

The city council of another Texas city voted this week to become a sanctuary city for the unborn, making it the sixth in the state and the ninth nationwide this year to pass such a declaration. Council members in Gilmer, Texas, voted 4-1 Tuesday to declare the town a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” one day after another Texas town, Tenaha, passed a similar ordinance. “[Gilmer is] a safe haven where the unborn has a right to come here and not worry about being aborted.” None of the cities have abortion clinics. One goal is to discourage the clinics from moving within their city limits.

Bodies of 2,246 Unborn Babies Discovered at Abortionists Home

The bodies of 2,246 aborted babies were found in the home of a recently deceased abortionist. Abortionist Dr. Ulrich Klopfer performed abortions at The Women’s Pavilion in South Bend, Indiana and at other Indiana facilities until his medical license was suspended in 2016. As the watchdog group Operation Rescue has extensively documented, Klopfer had a history of abuses, including failing to report statutory rape of a 13-year-old and a 10-year-old. The remains were found when family members were going through the deceased Klopfer’s belongings and reported them to the county Sheriff.

Planned Parenthood’s Sex Curriculum in Public Schools

Many school districts are covertly teaching an extreme curriculum written by none other than abortion giant Planned Parenthood, the Family Research Council reports. Planned Parenthood’s Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) program, which has been infiltrating our nation’s classrooms with near impunity for years, has reached a nearly indescribable level of obscenity. The pornographic, anti-biblical, and anti-science curriculum has recently erased “biological sex” from their lessons and replaced it with the phrase, “sex assigned at birth.” And if that wasn’t enough, Planned Parenthood has even created an app called “Roo,” a chatbot that gives kids advice without parental consent. The app is designed to replace communication between a parent and a child on topics regarding sex, values, and important life decisions.

  • Our public schools have become indoctrination centers for the religion of secular humanism which exalts humans above God.

Arizona Court Upholds First Amendment Religious Liberty Rights

Two Arizona calligraphers at the heart of yet another religious liberty battle won a major victory Monday with the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling that business owners have the right to choose not to provide certain products to same-sex weddings. Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski own Brush & Nib Studio, a small business founded on Christian values. They say they serve any customer regardless of sexuality but draw the line at being forced to produce custom messages endorsing events that violate their beliefs. Since 2016, they’ve fought the city of Phoenix over an LGBT “anti-discrimination” ordinance they argued violated their freedom of speech and religion, because it threatened them with fines and prison time. The state’s highest court sided with them Monday in a 4-3 ruling that the ordinance “runs afoul of the First Amendment.

House Initiates Impeachment Process Against President Trump

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the start of a formal impeachment inquiry Tuesday against President Donald Trump, she said his contacts with Ukraine’s president “changed everything” for Democrats. Trump’s acknowledgement that he urged Ukraine to investigate his presidential rival, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, spurred Democrats led by Pelosi to expedite their investigations. “We have to strike while the iron is hot,” Pelosi told her caucus, according to a senior Democratic aide who was in the private meeting.  “This is a national security issue – a national security issue – and we cannot let him think that this is a casual thing.” She announced that the House “is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry” and that she was “directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.” House Democrats have been investigating Trump on a variety of fronts since regaining control of the chamber in January, probing whether he has obstructed justice, profited unconstitutionally from his namesake business or fallen under the influence of foreign countries. Trump has dismissed the investigations as partisan harassment after special counsel Robert Mueller found no conspiracy between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.

  • Once an officeholder is impeached by the House of Representatives, a trial is held by the Senate to determine whether the accused is guilty of the charges. If a guilty verdict is returned, only then can the accused be removed from office. The Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to convict President Trump.

Trump Opposes Globalism at U.N. General Assembly, Slams Iran

President Trump on Tuesday used his speech to the U.N. General Assembly to decry Iran’s “bloodlust,” while touting the importance of national sovereignty, warning: “The future does not belong to globalists.” “If you want freedom, take pride in your country,” he said. “If you want democracy, hold on to your sovereignty and if you want peace, love your nation. Wise leaders always put the good of their own people and their country first. The future does not belong to globalists, the future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations who protect their citizens, respect their neighbors and honor the differences that make each country special and unique.” Trump then pivoted to Iran, urging the Islamic regime to put its people first and to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons and support of terror in the region. He told delegates that the U.S. does not seek conflict with other nations but that “I will never fail to defend America’s interests.” Trump also condemned the clerical regime which rules Iran, for blaming “everyone else for the problems they alone have created,” even as “fanatics have long used hatred of Israel to distract from their own failures.”

Trump Touts Religious Freedom for All at Summit

President Donald Trump made a surprise appearance at a climate-change summit at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday. Trump spent about 15 minutes at the summit and didn’t speak. He listened to remarks by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, then departed for a scheduled speech at a religious freedom summit where he delivered a speech on religious freedom and global persecution against believers. President Trump said people of all faiths are being jailed, sanctioned, tortured and killed — often at the hands of their government — simply because they expressed their beliefs. With more than 80 percent of the world’s population living under religious restrictions, according to Pew Research Center, President Trump’s keynote address at an event called the Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom is a major step for religious freedom. “This is the first time any leader of a nation has addressed the U.N. on religious persecution,” Pastor Robert Jeffress said. President Trump on Monday announced $25 million in funding to protect religious freedom and religious sites around the world, and asked the world’s governments to join together to end religious persecution.

U.S. at Odds with U.N. Decisions/Direction

A new State Department report shows that the United Nations is out of sync with U.S. interests in more than two-thirds of votes — likely raising further concerns within the Trump administration about the organization and America’s financial commitment to it. “The United States continues to be diplomatically isolated on development and Israel-related resolutions,” the report on voting practices at the U.N. in 2018 said. The U.S. and the U.N. General Assembly as a  whole were in alignment just 31 percent of the time in 2018, the same as 2017. This is down from the final year of the Obama administration, when they were in agreement 41 percent of the time. The U.S. voted against 70 percent of assembly resolutions requiring a vote, more than any other U.N. member state.

New U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft took her seat Thursday at the U.N. Security Council, finally bringing a permanent replacement for Nikki Haley seven months after she resigned. The former ambassador to Canada said, “I come to the U.N. not only as the president’s emissary but as a voice of America’s unwavering commitment to democracy, freedom, human rights and, whenever possible, the peaceful resolution of conflicts.” “In a world marked by humanitarian crises and geopolitical challenges, strong American leadership is absolutely critical and I intend to provide it,” she said.

Climate Change Activists Protest Prior to U.N. Summit

Activists calling for action on climate change disrupted morning commutes across Washington, D.C., Monday morning, just days after hundreds of thousands demonstrated alongside school children for Global Climate Strike rallies around the world. A boisterous crowd of at least 200,000 people turned out to chant and march in Manhattan last Friday, joining hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of protesters from Australia to Thailand to London. While supporters of all ages turned out, the day was billed as a walkout by high school students to call on world leaders to step up their efforts against climate change, carbon emissions and other environmental issues. New York City schools excused the city’s 1.1 million students from class in order for them to participate.

  • Extreme weather will continue to worsen as a key sign of the end-times (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

U.S. Immigration Laws Weak Compared to Other Nations

Jumping the border in Singapore is punishable by six months in prison — and not less than three strokes with a cane. In Russia, it can earn you up to two years in a prison labor camp. Pakistan goes as high as 10 years in prison, while India allows for up to eight years behind bars for those who sneak across its boundaries. It’s a far cry from the U.S., where illegal entry is a misdemeanor, with a maximum of six months in jail. In reality, most of those who are prosecuted — and only about 1 in 5 border jumpers are — are sentenced to time served and are out within days. The U.S. has one of the world’s weaker laws for illegal entry, according to the data in a study by the Library of Congress, which surveyed statutes in more than 160 nations and released its findings amid a heated debate over whether America’s penalties are too stiff.

Deal Signed With El Salvador to Stem Immigration

The Trump administration signed a deal Wednesday with El Salvador that would effectively seal off the region, preventing asylum-seekers traveling through Central America in order to enter the United States. This agreement, signed on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, paves the way to send asylum-seekers to Honduras, one of the world’s most violent countries, like its neighbors. A similar arrangement was signed with Honduras last week; a more comprehensive agreement was previously sealed with Guatemala. President Trump said at a news conference at the United Nations that the agreements, coupled with a crackdown by Mexico following tariff threats by his administration, “will make a tremendous difference in our southern border.” Most families arrested or stopped at the US-Mexico border are from the area known as the Northern Triangle: Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador. While they would not be returned to their home countries, they would be sent to other countries they passed through. For example, Hondurans must travel through Guatemala to reach the US by land. The deal completes a central component of Trump’s strategy to deter asylum-seekers from entering the US through Mexico.

  • The agreement was swiftly condemned by immigrant advocates. “We will say it again and again: people cannot be forced to seek safety in countries where they will not be safe,” said Charanya Krishnaswami, the advocacy director for the Americas at Amnesty International USA.

Limits Lowered on Admitting Refugees to Record Low

The number of refugees admitted for resettlement in the United States in the next 12 months have been lowered once again to a record low, according to new regulations announced by the State Department. The administration says it will admit 18,000 refugees in the next fiscal year, the lowest number since the program began in 1980, the Guardian reports. The cap was 30,000 last year and 110,000 in the final year of the Obama administration. President Trump also issued an executive order Thursday stating that the federal government will seek the approval of state and local governments before resettling refugees, both to “identify the best environments for refugees” and “to be respectful of those communities that may not be able to accommodate refugee resettlement.”

Immigration Update

A USA TODAY review of dozens of communities along the border – and some far from it – shows that local governments have spent at least $7 million over the past year to care for thousands of undocumented migrants released after being detained by the federal government. Leaders in those communities say it’s their moral responsibility to care for migrants who are often sick, exhausted from their journey and usually out of money. City leaders from both political parties say they are frustrated with the Trump administration for what they describe as an unfunded mandate, forcing local communities to pick up the pieces of a broken federal immigration system.

Homeland Security will finally end “catch-and-release” of Central American immigrant families caught crossing the border illegally, acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan announced Monday, saying the department has finally gotten a handle on the migrant surge that had sowed chaos at the border over the last year. McAleenan said families that attempt to claim asylum will usually be sent to wait in Mexico while their cases proceed in U.S. immigration courts. Those who don’t attempt to claim asylum will be quickly returned to their home countries. The announcement is a sign of how much progress McAleenan has made in changing the dynamics at the border, cutting record levels of families migrating illegally and striking a series of deals with Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to gain their cooperation in repatriating their citizens.

Historically, 90% of the migrants who illegally crossed the southwest border of the United States came from Mexico. They were single adult men, typically seeking work in the U.S. They paid smugglers – known in Mexico as coyotes or polleros – to help them evade the U.S. Border Patrol. When caught, they were usually quickly deported. That border is nearly unrecognizable today, reports the USA Today. The percentage of adult males from Mexico crossing the border has plummeted. Meanwhile, the percentage of asylum-seeking adults with children in tow or children arriving without parents has soared, especially from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, three countries in Central America with high rates of poverty and violence. Smugglers once guided groups of adult males through remote and often dangerous areas of the desert to evade the Border Patrol. Now, they are known to take migrant families and children to areas in plain sight of the Border Patrol, where the migrants simply surrender. Other migrants travel together in large caravans, perceived as a cheaper and safer alternative to traveling through Mexico to the U.S. border.

Billions of Birds Gone in U.S.

North America has lost nearly 3 billion birds since 1970, a recent study said, which also found significant population declines among hundreds of bird species, including those once considered plentiful. Overall, the drop was from about 10 billion birds in 1970 to about 7 billion now. “Multiple, independent lines of evidence show a massive reduction in the abundance of birds,” said study lead author Ken Rosenberg, a senior scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy, in a statement. “We expected to see continuing declines of threatened species. But for the first time, the results also showed pervasive losses among common birds across all habitats, including backyard birds.” The cause is primarily habitat loss, as birds are losing the places they need to live, find food, rest and raise their young.

Colt Suspending Production of Military-Style Weapons for Civilians

The American firearms company Colt is suspending production of military-style weapons for civilian use, including the popular AR-15. Colt’s president and CEO Dennis Veilleux attributed the West Hartford, Connecticut-based company’s shift to changes in consumer demand and a market already saturated with similar weapons. The company will concentrate on fulfilling military and law enforcement contracts with its rifle manufacturing, Veilleux said, adding the company also is expanding its lines of pistols and revolvers. Veilleux acknowledged there has been some criticism from gun rights advocates for moving away from the civilian market for assault weapons.

Bans on Vaping Products Increasing

Walmart said it will stop selling e-cigarettes at its stores, becoming the latest company to crack down following an outbreak of illnesses and deaths associated with vaping. The nation’s largest retailer said it will complete its exit from e-cigarette sales after selling what’s currently available on store shelves. Walmart joins several other corporations limiting the reach of e-cigarettes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was investigating more than 450 cases of a lung disease linked to vaping. Media giants Viacom, CBS and WarnerMedia all revealed this week that they would stop running advertisements for e-cigarettes.

Federal Agencies Binge-Buy in Last Month of Fiscal Year

Federal agencies have shelled out tens of millions of dollars on cars, movie cameras and other items in a contract spending spree that happens across government at the end of every fiscal year. All told, roughly 20% of the $500 billion in government spending each year on disclosed contracts is in the fiscal year’s last month, according to watchdog groups. The State Department dropped more than $33 million on passenger cars in the first two weeks of this month and the Justice Department spent more than $3 million on movie cameras, records show. Not to be outdone, the U.S. Mint has spent more than $60 million on raw gold and silver. An estimated $66 million has gone to debt collectors trying to claw back money spent on student loans, records show. During the final fiscal month last year, taxpayers picked up the tab for lobster tails, video games, golf carts and more, a report at OpenTheBooks.com found. Extrapolating from the past few years to 2019, it appears at least $100 billion will be spent in September.

Persecution Backfires Against Chick-fil-A

Eight years ago, boycotts were launched against Chick-fil-A restaurants after gay-rights activists protested the company’s support of a pro-family group and the son of the founder made a statement in support of traditional marriage. The result? The chain’s sales have more than doubled to $10.5 billion in 2018, up nearly 17% percent from the year before, making it the third largest fast-food restaurant, behind only Starbucks and McDonald’s, reports World Net Daily. The chain has opened nearly 700 more locations in recent years.

Economic News

Currently, annual U.S. interest payments represent just 9.8% of tax revenues, lower than any time in the 1980s and 1990s, when they peaked at 18.4%, according to the USA Today.

The average rent in the U.S. rose 3.3% in August from a year earlier, reaching $1,472, according to RENTCafe.

Sales of passenger vehicles plunged 31% in July, according to figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) on Tuesday. It’s the ninth straight month of declines and the sharpest one-month drop in more than 18 years. The slump has prompted companies to slash over 330,000 jobs through the closing of car dealerships and cutbacks at component manufacturers

The average age of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads reached an all-time high of 11.8 years in 2018, according to research firm IHS Markit.

More than a decade into the longest economic expansion on record, almost two-fifths of Americans said in a new Bankrate poll that their main financial priority was just keeping their heads above water on living expenses rather than saving money. Another 19 percent of said dealing with credit card debt is their top priority.

In a new survey by New York Life, the No. 1 financial regret cited among U.S. adults is not saving for retirement.

According to a recent study by The Ascent, as many as 35% of millennials indicate that they own a credit card in order to make purchases they cannot afford, which will only sink them deeper and deeper in debt.

Persecution Watch

A group of Rohingya Christians amongst the 750,000 mainly-Muslim Rohingya people, who fled genocide at the hands of the Myanmar Army as refugees, are now doubly persecuted as they face renewed violence from Muslims within refugee camps in Bangladesh. A church leader has contacted Barnabas Aid to tell of an upsurge in violence this month and to plead for prayers for the isolated group of several hundreds of Rohingya Christian converts from Islam. Already belonging to what some have called the “most persecuted people on earth”, the small community of Rohingya believers are now being subjected to anti-Christian violence from extremist Muslim Rohingya around them in the camps in Cox’s Bazaar district.

Eritrea is the center point of some of the most intense persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in modern times. As of September 17, 2019, three of the Witnesses have been unjustly incarcerated for 25 years. In addition, 39 men and 10 women who are Witnesses are also imprisoned. All Witnesses currently in prison have never been charged, appeared in court, or sentenced. Therefore, they do not know when they will be released. Four Witness men have died while in prison, and three died after they were released because of the harsh conditions they suffered.

Flee, convert or die – this is the stark choice repeatedly laid before the Christians of Burkina Faso by Islamist terrorists. “Stop doing the church services and turn to Islam, you and your congregation, or we will visit you and kill you,” they warned. The pastor and his extended family fled just in time, but four other local Christians were killed a few hours later when the terrorists arrived. Terrorist violence began in Burkina Faso in 2015, but in 2019 Christians became the primary target of the terrorists. Clinging faithfully to Christ, at least 59 of His followers have been killed by terrorists this year, singled out because of their active commitment to the Lord. Thousands of others have fled. There have been no reports of any renouncing their faith.

China has been harvesting organs from religious minorities and “prisoners of conscience,” a China Tribunal claimed Tuesday to United Nations. Forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including the religious minorities of Falun Gong and Uyghurs, but also Tibetans and House Christians, has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale,” China Tribunal lawyer Hamid Sabi said. There have been “hundreds of thousands of victims” in “one of the worst mass atrocities of this century,” according to Sabi.

Israel

Israel’s recent parliamentary elections ended with a virtual tie between the two leading contenders, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue & White leader Benny Gantz. By week’s end, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin had surprisingly handed Netanyahu an initial mandate to try to form a ruling coalition, urging him to pursue a national unity government above all. All the main players are saying good things about the unity idea, but it may just be posturing in order to paint everyone else as uncompromising and angling for a dreaded third election, notes ICEJ News. But it may also be a realization that there are greater concerns for the nation looming on the near horizon and they need to somehow close ranks and prepare for some expected regional turbulence ahead.

Iran

Britain has concluded that Iran was responsible for attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday. He said the UK would consider taking part in a US-led military effort to bolster the Gulf kingdom’s defenses. Britain had previously held back from attributing blame for the drone and missile attack, after Saudi Arabia and the United States said Iran was responsible. Johnson said he would meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at this week’s UN General Assembly.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on 9/20 that the U.S. will send troops to the Middle East in response to an attack last weekend on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, but officials offered few specifics about the scope of that response. Blaming Iran for a “significant escalation of violence,” Esper said nations in the region requested U.S. assistance, specifically Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Esper described the mission as “defensive” and officials said it would be a “moderate” deployment and “not thousands” of troops.

On Monday, Iran said the British oil tanker Stena Impero was free to leave after two months of detention. Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee was quoted in FARS, Iran’s semi-official news agency, as saying the Iranian government had decided to condone the vessel’s previous violation of maritime regulations. The IRGC had seized the ship on July 19 and accused it of violating maritime rules and regulations in the Strait of Hormuz, FARS reported at the time. The ship’s seizure had been seen as a sign of retaliation against the previous British detention of an Iranian tanker at Gibraltar. The British released the tanker in mid-August.

Islamic State

The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for the bombing of a minibus that killed 12 people near the entrance to a major Iraqi pilgrimage center. The attack was one of the most lethal since the fall of the Islamic State’s de facto capital at the end of 2017. It was also one of the few Islamic State attacks south of Baghdad since the group’s self-declared caliphate collapsed. The bomb, left on the minibus by a passenger, exploded at a checkpoint at one entrance to Karbala. Iraqi security forces said they had arrested a cell of three young men who were responsible.

Afghanistan

At least 48 people have been killed in two separate suicide attacks in Afghanistan on Tuesday. In Parwan province, to the north of Kabul, a Taliban suicide bomber targeted an election campaign rally where Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani was set to speak, killing 26 people and wounding 42. Ghani was not hurt in the attack which happened at a checkpoint near the rally venue, according to Wahida Shahkar, a spokesperson for the governor of Parwan. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, said that of the 26 people killed 22 were civilians and four were security staff. Women and children were among the victims, Rahimi confirmed.

Hong Kong

Protesters in Hong Kong trampled a Chinese flag, vandalized two subway stations and set at least two street fires on Sunday, as pro-democracy demonstrations took a violent turn once again. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, now in their fourth month, have often descended into violence late in the day and at night. A hardcore group of protesters says the extreme actions are needed to get the government’s attention. On Saturday, police used tear gas and rubber rounds against protesters who threw gasoline bombs toward them and set fires in streets. Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, has agreed to withdraw an extradition bill that sparked the protests in early June. But the anti-government protesters are pressing other demands, including fully democratic elections in the semiautonomous Chinese territory and an independent investigation of complaints about police violence during earlier demonstrations.

Bahamas

Officials are grappling with how to deal with 1.5 billion pounds of debris left behind in Marsh Harbour after Hurricane Dorian decimated the community in Abaco, Bahamas. That number is from just one section of the areas that took the brunt of Dorian’s wrath. The landscape was littered after Dorian with splintered homes and buildings, boats, cars and every sort of debris associated with daily life. The death toll from the storm officially remains at 53, but 692 people are listed as missing. More than two weeks after Hurricane Dorian wiped out entire neighborhoods, East Grand Bahama still looks like a war zone, and the stench of death is everywhere say rescue workers. An estimated 4,000 Dorian survivors have sought refuge in Florida.

Brazil

Brazil’s president slammed socialism as a death-dealing ideology and defended his country’s sovereignty over the Amazon rainforest in a hard-hitting address at the United Nations on Monday. Jair Messias Bolsonaro, elected in October 2018 and inaugurated January 1, 2019, also exhorted the UN not to overstep its mandate and pointed to the Gospel as a guiding light. “We are not here to erase nationalities and overrule sovereignty in the name of an abstract ‘global interest,'” Bolsonaro said during general debate at the 74th U.N. general assembly. “When it comes to matters related to climate, democracy, human rights, to the equality of rights and duties between men and women and many others, all we need to do is contemplate the truth, following John 8:32,” Bolsonaro said. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Environment

The Special Report on Oceans and the Cryosphere released Wednesday offers a bleak picture. It warns that the world’s oceans have reached or are nearing critical tipping points: Oceans have gotten warmer, more acidic and are losing oxygen, resulting in a cascade of negative effects that are wreaking havoc on coral and other marine ecosystems, threatening the collapse of the world’s fisheries and turbocharging deadly hurricanes and tropical storms. As glaciers and ice sheets have melted faster, and rising temperatures have warmed the surface of the sea, the planet’s marine zones have absorbed the heat. But now, the systems are now at or near overload and threaten to collapse.

Planpincieux glacier on Italy’s Mont Blanc mountain rage is threatening to collapse at any moment, sparking evacuations and road closures in the area. About 250,000 cubic meters of ice is at risk of collapse from the glacier. The glacier has recently been moving about 20 inches per day, due to a fissure caused by higher-than usual summer temperatures in Europe. Experts are unable to predict exactly when the ice will break away. Most of the homes in the area are summer homes, and no residents in the town have been evacuated, though tourists have been banned from the dangerous area.

Earthquakes

At least 20 people have been killed in a magnitude 6.5 earthquake on one of Indonesia’s least populated islands. At least 20 were killed and about 100 were injured. More than 2,000 people took refuge in various shelters. The quake hit at 6:46 a.m. local time Thursday about 20.5 miles northeast of Ambon in Indonesia’s Maluku province. Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency said dozens of homes, a number of buildings and other public facilities were damaged, including a major bridge in Ambon.

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake rattled Puerto Rico just hours before Tropical Storm Karen was forecast to pound an island still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria two years ago. No serious damage or injuries were immediately reported from the quake, centered about 50 miles northwest of the island when it struck just before midnight Monday. Several strong aftershocks further rocked many residents. Meanwhile, a light rain was falling on San Juan on Tuesday morning as Tropical Storm Karen made its way toward the island. The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning, forecasting heavy winds and rain beginning later in the day.

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook Istanbul on Thursday, sending school children and residents into the streets and collapsing the minaret of a mosque in Turkey’s commercial and cultural center. Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority said the earthquake struck in the Sea of Marmara at 1:59 p.m. at 4.4 miles deep and was felt throughout the western Marmara region, which includes Istanbul. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said that there were no reports of deaths from the quake.

An earthquake hit western Albania last Saturday afternoon. Initial reports said the quake was measured at magnitude 5.8 and injured over 100 people. According to the Albania Defense Ministry, the Institute of GeoSciences, Energy, Water and Environment reported the quake struck 8 miles north of the port city of Durres at 12:04 p.m. local time. The Defense Ministry said the first quake was felt all along Albania’s west coast and far to the east. Witnesses in Durres and the capital of Tirana reported damaged homes and apartments. An aftershock with a preliminary magnitude of 5.3 sent residents running out of homes and apartments. A total of 350 aftershocks have continued to rattle the Albanians.

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake damaged homes and buildings and cracked roads Tuesday in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Although local news reported deaths, those reports were unconfirmed. Injuries were confirmed in Mirpur. Giant cracks opened in roads near the epicenter, and media reports said cars fell into some of them. The quake struck at 4:01 p.m. local time about 2 miles southeast of the Mirpur district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and was felt across much of northern Pakistan. The temblor shook walls in Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad, about 55 miles northwest of Mirpur.

Weather

Tropical Storm Karen brought heavy rain to the U.S. Virgin Islands on Tuesday, triggering landslides and knocking out power. With the storm inching toward Puerto Rico, Gov. Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency Monday and ordered public schools closed on Tuesday in advance of Karen. Schools were also closed in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.

The slow-churning remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda dangerously flooded parts of Texas and Louisiana on last week, scrambling rescue crews and volunteers with boats to reach scores of stranded drivers and families trapped in their homes during a relentless downpour that drew comparisons to Hurricane Harvey two years ago. The National Weather Service estimated that Jefferson County was deluged with more than 40 inches of rain in a span of just 72 hours. Officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, said there had been a combination of at least 1,000 high-water rescues and evacuations to get people to shelter. More than 900 flights were canceled or delayed in Houston, and further along the Texas Gulf Coast, authorities warned that a levee could break near Beaumont in Jefferson County.

Residents of Arizona on Tuesday continued to clean up damage left behind by remnants of Hurricane Lorena. A possible tornado damaged mobile homes, knocked down trees and snapped power lines in Wilcox, Arizona, about 67 miles east of Tucson. More than 1,800 customers lost electricity. Earlier Monday afternoon, a tornado touched down in the Cave Creek and New River areas near Phoenix. There were no reports of damage in that sparsely populated area. It was the first time in five years the National Weather Service’s Phoenix office issued a tornado warning. The Phoenix area also saw street flooding that stranded vehicles across the metro area on Monday, including a school bus with about 120 children onboard.

Signs of the Times

September 11, 2019

­­Signs of the Times will be on vacation next week

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth. (Ps. 37:7-9)

Missionary Helped Lead 1,000 North Koreans to Christ Before Being Killed

A Chinese missionary living along the border with North Korea shared the gospel with and discipled to 1,000 North Koreans before being killed by assassins working for the Pyongyang government, according to a new report from Voice of the Martyrs. The missionary, Han Chung-Ryeol or simply “Pastor Han,” lived in China near the border of the so-called Hermit Kingdom and regularly told defectors about God. One of those defectors was a man known as Sang-chul, who recounted his interaction with the pastor in a new Voice of the Martyrs video. “Pastor Han gave his life,” Sang-chul said. “But he gave hope to me and many other North Koreans.” On April 30, 2016, Pastor Han was killed by North Korean government assassins, who slit his throat and stabbed him in the heart. The North Korean government honored the assassins for killing a “terrorist-missionary.”

Planned Parenthood Partner Admits Selling Intact Aborted Babies

The CEO of StemExpress essentially admitted in court Thursday that her biotech company supplies beating fetal hearts and intact fetal heads to medical researchers. She also admitted at the preliminary hearing of David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress that the baby’s head could be procured attached to the baby’s body or “could be torn away.” “That is an especially gruesome admission, but it begs the question: how did they get these fully intact human children?” says Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, which is representing Daleiden at the hearing. “If you have a fetus with an intact head and an intact body, and intact extremities, that is something that would indicate that child was born alive, and then had their organs cut out of them, or that that child was the victim of an illegal partial-birth abortion,” he told LifeSiteNews.

More Big-Tech Censorship of Conservatives

Facebook refused to publish paid advertisements promoting Todd Starnes’ new book, “Culture Jihad: How to Stop the Left From Killing A Nation.” Premiere Marketing says they were told Facebook had issues with the book’s title. Also, Starnes’ social media team noticed a massive drop in traffic whenever they mentioned the name of the book on Facebook. For example, they have over 265,000 followers. However, Facebook only allowed a few dozen people to see the posting. “This is basically a modern-day Big Tech book banning, folks,” says Starnes

Immigration Policies Working Says Politico

As much as President Donald Trump and his administration has taken heat for their policies to stem illegal immigration and border crossings, the moves are working, according to Politico, which usually leans left. The report cites government data for border arrests, which dropped to 51,000 in August, a 60% decrease from a peak in May. Credit the deal President Trump cut with Mexico in June to crack down on their own southern border, which helped send a message to migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. that it is “not as easy as they were told it was going to be,” Martha Bárcena, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S., told Politico. Chicago-based pro-migrant group Alianza Americas Executive Director agrees that pressuring Mexico has worked to stem migration.

Sexual Assaults by Aliens in Sanctuary Maryland County

Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland – a self-declared “sanctuary” for illegal aliens – are criticizing conservative media and the Trump administration for drawing attention to the recent spate of illegal aliens arrested for sexual assault. Seven illegal aliens from Central America have been arrested in the county, just north of Washington, D.C., on sex crime-related charges since July 25. In July, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, a Democrat, signed an executive order prohibiting county law enforcement officers from asking about any individual’s immigration status. County law enforcement also is barred from working with federal immigration agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

North Carolina Releases Hundreds of Illegal Immigrants from Custody

Nearly 500 illegal immigrant offenders with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers have been discharged into communities throughout the Tar Heel State this fiscal year, which doesn’t end until next month so the number is likely to grow. So far 489 illegal aliens with ICE detainers have been discharged from North Carolina jails in the last ten months, including those charged with serious crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, arson and sex offenses. A Charlotte news outlet obtained the latest figures from ICE, which operates under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In the article a senior DHS source condemns North Carolina law enforcement officials, reminding them that they are obstructing federal law and endangering the American public.

California Bill Makes App-Based Companies Treat Workers as Employees

California legislators approved a landmark bill on Tuesday that requires companies like Uber and Lyft to treat contract workers as employees, a move that could reshape the gig economy. The bill passed in a 29 to 11 vote in the State Senate and will apply to app-based companies, despite their efforts to negotiate an exemption. California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, endorsed the bill this month and is expected to sign it after it goes through the State Assembly, in what is expected to be a formality. Under the measure, which would go into effect Jan. 1, workers must be designated as employees instead of contractors if a company exerts control over how they perform their tasks or if their work is part of a company’s regular business. Ride-hailing firms like Uber and Lyft, along with app-based services that offer food delivery, home repairs and dog-walking services, have built their businesses on inexpensive, independent labor.

Economic News

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Friday he doesn’t “at all” expect the U.S. to enter a recession, though he hinted the central bank will likely cut interest rates as expected this month. “The U.S. economy has continued to perform well and is in a good place,” he said. He added, however, that the U.S. trade war with China has generated business uncertainty that, along with a slowing global economy, raise the risks of a downturn. As a result, he said, “We’re going to continue to act as appropriate to sustain this expansion.”

According to a produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, 60% of Americans see a recession as very or somewhat likely in the next year. That’s getting closer to the 69% who said so in November 2007, in advance of the Great Recession. Despite this, however, consumers are racking up debt at very high levels. According to the Federal Reserve’s consumer credit tracker, revolving credit — mostly credit card debt  — increased at an annualized rate of 11.25 percent in July, the most recent month for which data is available.

Household income in America was largely stagnant in 2018 after rising for three straight years, while poverty fell and more people went without health insurance. The median U.S. household income was $63,179, the Census Bureau said Tuesday, about the same as inflation-adjusted income in 2017. That followed gains of 3.2% in 2016 and 1.8% in 2017. While overall income was static, median inflation-adjusted earnings for all workers increased 3.4% to $40,247.

The record 10-year-old economic expansion continued to provide jobs to more Americans, lifting many out of poverty. There were 38.1 million people living in poverty last year, about 1.4 million fewer than in 2017. The poverty rate fell for the fourth straight year, from 12.3% to 11.8%. For the first time in 11 years, the rate was significantly lower than in 2007, the year before the Great Recession.

For the first time since the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014, more Americans went without health insurance. About 27.5 million people didn’t have coverage, up from 25.6 million the prior year as the share of those uninsured rose to 8.5% from 7.9%.

United Kingdom

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has succeeded in his plan to suspend Britain’s rebellious Parliament for five weeks, but he has achieved little else in his first prolonged jousting with legislators determined to prevent a no-deal Brexit. The simmering showdown between Johnson and Parliament over Britain exiting from the European Union came to a head as lawmakers delivered three defeats to the government’s plans for leaving the European Union, before being sent home early Tuesday for a contentious five-week suspension of the legislature. In a session that ran well past midnight, Parliament ordered the government to release private communications about its Brexit plans and rejected Johnson’s call for a snap election to break the political deadlock. Parliament was then suspended at the government’s request until Oct. 14, a drastic move that gives Johnson a respite from rebellious lawmakers as he plots his next move. However, Johnson’s decision to suspend the UK Parliament for more than a month has been ruled unlawful by Scotland’s highest court of appeal, in the latest blow for the embattled Prime Minister.

Northern Ireland

As many as 20,000 pro-lifers descended on Belfast last weekend for the March for Their Lives, an event registering the public’s anger that the parliament of the United Kingdom has imposed legal abortion upon Northern Ireland. In July, Parliament voted 328-65 to repeal Sections 58 and 59 of Northern Ireland’s 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, which forbid both women and doctors from committing abortions. Pro-lifers in and out of the province were outraged that the UK imposed their will on the people of Northern Ireland. On Saturday, concerned pro-lifers responded by marching to the Stormont parliament buildings where the Northern Irish assembly is located.

Israel

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced plans to annex parts of the West Bank if he wins re-election next week. Netanyahu told reporters at a press conference that, if re-elected and able to form a coalition, he would apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea. He said he expected President Trump to present his Middle East peace plan just days after Israelis vote next Tuesday, September 17, and that in co-ordination with the U.S., he would also look to apply sovereignty over all Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Israel’s Iron Dome defense system downed incoming rockets launched by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza on Tuesday night. A second rocket landed near Ashkelon, whose mayor Tomer Glam ordered all bomb shelters opened for residents of the city. Palestinian terrorists fired the rockets just hours after Netanyahu announced that he would extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley if he commands a “mandate” in next week’s national elections. Israel holds the Hamas terror group responsible for all rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Following the rocket attack on Tuesday, Hamas forces evacuated posts throughout Gaza in anticipation of a retaliatory Israeli strike.

  • Israeli fighters on Saturday night bombed Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a drone attack earlier in the day. The strike was carried out in response to an armed drone launched from Gaza that dropped an explosive device on an IDF vehicle. No one was injured in the attack.

Islamic State

The US-led coalition says American warplanes have dropped 40 tons of bombs on an Island in the Tigris River “infested” with ISIS members. The coalition said F15 and F35 warplanes took part in the bombing on Qanus Island in the central province of Salaheddine, north of Baghdad. Tuesday’s attack is part of operations carried out by Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition against ISIS sleeper cells which have carried out deadly bombings in Iraq. The coalition said Iraqi special forces carried out ground clearance operations after the bombing.

Iran

The United Nations’ atomic watchdog confirmed Monday that Iran is preparing to use more advanced centrifuges, the third breach of limits set in the country’s unraveling nuclear deal with major powers. Iran’s latest violation of the 2015 agreement attempts to pressure European signatories to find a way to maintain oil shipments and ease the toll of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian economy., The nuclear deal was meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons in exchange for economic incentives. Its collapse started with the United States unilaterally withdrawing from the deal last year and imposing increased sanctions. The other signatories – Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, as well as the European Union – have been struggling to salvage the agreement and find a way to meet Tehran’s demands.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed intelligence during a press conference Monday evening indicating that Iran’s renegade nuclear program included a “nuclear weapons development site” at Abadeh, south of the major Iranian city of Isfahan. Addressing his words “to the tyrants of Tehran” he declared that “Israel knows what you are doing, Israel knows when you are doing it, Israel knows where you are doing it. We will continue to expose your lies. What you see is a consistent pattern of Iranian lies, deception and violations.” Netanyahu showed satellite images of the alleged facility in central Iran, south of the city of Isfahan, from late June and late July that he said demonstrated that Iran has now destroyed the site.

North Korea

North Korea appeared to conduct another round of weapons tests on Monday, just after the country’s foreign minister said Kim Jong Un’s regime is willing to restart stalled negotiations over its nuclear arsenal. South Korea’s military said North Korea launched an undisclosed number of “projectiles.” North Korea has conducted a series of short-range missile tests in recent months, which the country’s state-run media portrayed as a rebuke to protest joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises. North Korea’s foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, expressed a willingness to resume talks with the Trump administration as early as this month. But she said the U.S. had to come to the talks with a new proposal. The last round of negotiations, during a February summit in Hanoi with President Donald Trump and Kim, collapsed in failure.

Afghanistan

A rocket exploded at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan just minutes into Wednesday, the anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States. A plume of smoke rose over central Kabul shortly after midnight and sirens could be heard. Inside the embassy. About an hour later the all-clear was given, with no injuries reported. It was the first major attack in the Afghan capital since President Donald Trump abruptly called off U.S.-Taliban talks over the weekend, on the brink of an apparent deal to end America’s longest war. Two Taliban car bombs shook Kabul last week, killing several civilians and two members of the NATO mission. Trump has cited the death of a U.S. service member in one of those blasts as the reason why he now calls the U.S.-Taliban talks “dead.”

The Trump administration’s decision to call off peace talks in Afghanistan will lead directly to more American deaths, the Taliban warned late Sunday in a shocking message that promised new, deadly attacks. The brazen threat came just over 24 hours after President Trump said he canceled a planned Camp David meeting with leaders from the Taliban and the U.S.-backed Afghan government in Kabul. The meeting presumably would’ve been the culmination of a year of negotiations with the Taliban aimed at finally forging peace in Afghanistan and bringing to an end America’s 18-year war in the country. But Trump abruptly canceled the meeting late Saturday night, citing a string of recent Taliban attacks that killed four U.S. service members and scores of civilians over the past three weeks.

Russia/Ukraine

Some of the highest-profile prisoners caught up in a bitter standoff between Ukraine and Russia have been released in a major prisoner exchange. The 70 people – 35 from each country – arrived in their respective countries Saturday after their overnight release, marking a deal that could help advance relations between the two countries and end 5 years of fighting in Ukraine’s east. President Trump praised both countries in a tweet Saturday morning, calling it “perhaps a first giant step to peace.” Among the prisoners released by Russia was Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, whose conviction for preparing terrorist attacks was strongly denounced aboard. Also released were 24 Ukrainian sailors taken with a ship the Russian navy seized last year.

Weather

With little left standing on their home islands, thousands of Hurricane Dorian survivors are seeking refuge in Nassau, the Bahamas’ capital city, which officials say is not equipped to handle the largescale inflow. Often carrying only a few days’ worth of clothing, they board boats, planes and helicopters to escape the destruction on Grand Bahama and the Abaco islands, where 70,000 people have been left homeless. The official death toll from the Category 5 storm that slammed into the islands on Sept. 1, has risen to 50, but some reports have said the final toll could be more than 3,000 dead.

A tornado and straight-line winds blew off roofs and destroyed buildings Tuesday night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but some of the city’s warning sirens appear to have malfunctioned. Several businesses, homes and a hospital were damaged by the tornado and straight-line thunderstorm winds that ripped through southern sections of the city. More than 7,500 Xcel Energy customers in Minnehaha County remained without power as of 5 a.m. CDT. More severe storms and heavy rain could impact the area on Wednesday and Wednesday night before cooler, drier conditions move in on Thursday.

Signs of the Times

September 6, 2019

And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  (Luke 21:25-26)

Hurricane Dorian Devastates Bahamas, Misses Florida, Hits Carolinas

Hurricane Dorian has now moved away from the Bahamas, leaving chaos, devastation, and at least 30 dead behind it. Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands said that the death toll is expected to rise significantly when searches of hard-hit remote areas are completed. Hundreds, possibly thousands of people missing. The death toll could be “staggering” authorities say. The hurricane, which hit the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm, is believed to have destroyed or severely damaged around half the homes on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, which are home to around 70,000 people. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said that the storm had caused “generational devastation” in the islands, where rescue crews have yet to reach some areas and survivors are desperate for food, medicine, and water.

Hurricane Dorian spawned damaging tornadoes and its high winds and torrential rains felled trees, flooded roads and knocked out power to thousands Thursday morning from Georgia to North Carolina. More than 226,000 customers in coastal South Carolina were without electricity as of 11:45 a.m. Another 8,200 in North Carolina had lost power, as had 6,600 in Georgia. There was more than 100 road closures in and around the city of Charleston, South Carolina, because of flooding and other blockages. As much as 20 inches of rain in places was forecast in the counties around Charleston. Dorian howled over North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Friday, lashing the low-lying barrier islands as a weakened Category 1 hurricane. Destructive waves could reach nearly to the ceilings of one-story structures along the narrow strip of land, where many year-round residents were determined to ride out the storm. Virginia ordered evacuations along its shoreline. 370,000 have lost power in the Carolinas and Virginia as of Friday morning.

Historic Trial Begins over Undercover Abortion Videos

Pro-life advocates David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt’s historic criminal preliminary hearing began with a retired late-term abortionist, referred to in court as “Doe 3” admitting on video that she routinely “didged,” or killed the baby in utero with digoxin, because that gave her and the mother more “peace of mind.” It also prevented the “delivery of a live fetus,” which is “the biggest disaster and it never goes away,” Doe 3 said. Federal law obliges abortionists to attempt to resuscitate a baby who survives an abortion. The video’s screening in a San Francisco court is the first time the footage has been seen publicly because the undercover videos are under a federal injunction ban. Planned Parenthood abortion providers appeared under oath in court and admitted supplying the body parts of children in the womb to for-profit brokers like StemExpress. The two CMP investigative journalists are facing 15 felony charges for “intentionally and without the consent of all parties” recording “confidential” communications. They could be sentenced to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Philadelphia Bans Christian Foster Agencies

The briefs are flooding in at the U.S. Supreme Court in a case in which the justices are being asked to reverse a Philadelphia policy that critics say is causing “grave harm” to children. The policy bars faith-based foster-care agencies from helping needy children. “Religiously motivated providers and parents have played a critical role in filling this need for centuries from coast to coast, and to drive them out ignores the critical need and the grave harm to children that would be caused by their loss,” the lawmakers told the court. The city ordered Catholic Social Services to change its religious doctrine if it wanted to continue placing foster children as it had for a century. The city’s “nondiscrimination” policy requires any partner agency to place children with same-sex couples. Catholic Social Services, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, sued the city and now are appealing to the Supreme Court. Becket senior counsel Lori Windham said that as Philadelphia “attempts to shamelessly score political points, dozens of beds remain empty and children are suffering the consequences.”

Pentagon OKs $3.6B Military Funds to Build Border Wall

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has approved the use of $3.6 billion in funding from military construction projects to build 175 miles of wall along the Mexican border. Pentagon officials say half the money will come from military projects in the U.S., and the rest will come from projects in other countries. The money will be used to build 11 border projects. President Trump declared a national emergency in order to use military construction and other federal funds to build the wall after Congress provided only a portion of the $5.7 billion the president wanted for the barrier.

Border Arrests Soar

From 1998 to 2018, the share of all federal arrests by country of citizenship rose from 28 percent to 40 percent for Mexican citizens and from 1 percent to 20 percent for citizens of Central American countries, reports the Justice Department. In two of three federal arrests, the arrested person is a foreign national. Meanwhile, the rate fell from 63 percent to 36 percent for U.S. citizens. Apprehensions in the five judicial districts along the Mexican border, home to a quarter of all drug cases in 2018, have nearly doubled in the last decade,” Judicial Watch said. The number of Central Americans captured by federal authorities in the five border districts tripled in one year alone and has risen 30-fold in the last two decades. The border districts in California, Arizona, New Mexico and western and southern Texas “have experienced an eye-popping 539.6 percent [increase] in immigration-related arrests in the last two decades.

Trump Administration Considering Red Flag Data Gathering

The Trump administration is considering a proposal that would use Google, Amazon and Apple to collect data on users who exhibit characteristics of mental illness that could lead to violent behavior, The Washington Post reported Thursday. Those ‘red-flagged’ would have their guns confiscated. The proposal is part of an initiative to create a Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA), which would be located inside the Health and Human Services Department, the report notes, citing sources inside the administration. The new agency would have a separate budget and the president would be responsible for appointing its director. HARPA would take after Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which serves as the research arm for the Pentagon. The idea was first crafted in 2017 but has since gotten a renewed push after mass shootings killed 31 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in August.

San Francisco Declares NRA a Domestic Terrorist Group

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has declared the National Rifle Association (NRA) a “domestic terrorist organization” after the July shooting in Gilroy, Calif., that left three people and the gunman dead. In a resolution passed Tuesday, the 11-member board declared the NRA “a domestic terrorist organization” and resolved that city and county officials should “take every reasonable step to assess the financial and contractual relationships our vendors have with this domestic terrorist organization.” While the resolution has no legal weight, San Francisco officials said that it would encourage other cities and governmental agencies to make similar declarations.

Judge Rules Terror Watchlist Violates Constitutional Rights

The government’s watchlist of more than 1 million people identified as “known or suspected terrorists” violates the constitutional rights of those placed on it, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. But the judge is seeking additional legal briefs before deciding what remedy to impose. The ruling from U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga grants summary judgment to nearly two dozen Muslim U.S. citizens who had challenged the watchlist with the help of a Muslim civil-rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The plaintiffs said they were wrongly placed on the list and that the government’s process for adding names is overbroad and riddled with errors. The watchlist is disseminated to a variety of governmental departments, foreign governments and police agencies.

Contaminant in Vaping Products Linked to Deadly Lung Illnesses

Officials investigating a mysterious outbreak of lung disease — more than 200 cases have been reported in 25 states — detected an oil derived from Vitamin E in marijuana vaping products used in different parts of the country, The Washington Post has found. Vitamin E acetate is a common nutritional supplement also used in topical skin treatments, but it could be dangerous when inhaled, experts said. New York state officials are focusing their investigation of vaping-related illnesses on vitamin E acetate after finding very high levels of the substance in marijuana-containing samples being examined.

Cancer Now Leading Cause of Death in Affluent Countries

Heart disease still claims the lives of more people globally, but in more affluent nations it has now ceded its place as the leading killer to cancer, a major new report finds. Around the world, 40% of all deaths are caused by heart disease, making it the No. 1 global killer. That means that of the estimated 55 million people who died around the world in 2017, approximately 17.7 million succumbed to heart disease. Cancer was the second leading killer globally, accounting for 26% of all deaths, the study authors said. For people living in “high-income” countries such as the United States, Canada, Sweden, and Saudi Arabia, heart disease represented just 23% of deaths, while cancer was to blame for 55% of deaths

Economic News

Hiring slowed in August as employers added 130,000 jobs, further stoking recession fears and strengthening the Federal Reserve’s argument for another cut in interest rates this month. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%, just above a 50-year low, the Labor Department said Friday. Further dimming the latest employment snapshot: Payroll gains for and June and July combined were revised down by a total 20,000. More broadly, payroll growth has slowed to an average monthly pace of 158,000 this year from 223,000 in 2018.

  • Black unemployment fell to a record low in August, helped by a jump in the number of black women on the job. The unemployment rate for black workers fell to 5.5% from 6%. The previous record low of 5.9% was set in May 2018.

The American manufacturing sector shrank last month, according to the Institute for Supply Management. It’s the first time that’s happened since August 2016. Against expectations, the group’s manufacturing index, a key gauge for the industry, came in at 49.1. Any number below 50 indicates a contraction. This is the third time that the U.S. manufacturing ISM index has dropped below 50 since the financial crisis, and the previous two events did not trigger recessions. But it’s definitely not a positive signal.

Employers also announced the most layoffs of any August since 2009. Job cuts rose 38 percent over July, with 53,480 positions to be slashed from employer payrolls, led by workforce reductions in health care, which had been a mainstay of recent job creation. “Employers are beginning to feel the effects of the trade war and imposed tariffs by the US and China,” said Andrew Challenger, of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas which issued the report.

The Trump administration is proposing a sweeping plan to remake housing market, including privatizing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac. The changes would end more than a decade of government control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the housing giants that back half of the nation’s mortgages. The overall plan is made up of 50 proposals, including changes to mortgage rules that a senior Treasury Department official described as “incremental and realistic.” Experts fear that the proposals — some of which do not require congressional approval — could increase mortgage costs and upset the housing market.

The United States and China have agreed to return to the negotiating table in Washington to discuss trade. It will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides since the trade war’s rapid escalation in recent weeks. The in-person discussions will resume in “early October,” according to a statement released in China Thursday morning by the country’s Commerce Ministry.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a double parliamentary defeat Wednesday after he failed in his bid to call a general election just hours after rebel lawmakers succeeded in forcing Parliament to block a “no-deal” Brexit. The development adds more confusion to what happens with Britain’s attempt to leave the European Union. It has been beset by multiple delays and conflicted votes. Next steps are far from clear: for Brexit, for Britain and perhaps for Johnson, who has insisted on taking a “do or die” approach to an EU departure.  Britain is scheduled to leave the 28-nation political bloc on Oct. 31. Johnson took over as Britain’s leader from Theresa May a little more than a month ago after he promised the ruling Conservative Party that he would to stick to the Oct. 31 timeframe with or without a formal withdrawal arrangement in place with the EU.

Middle East

On Tuesday evening, the Israeli military posted to twitter images of a Hezbollah compound it says the terror group is using to pursue Iran’s campaign to wipe out the Jewish state. We can now reveal that inside this Hezbollah facility is Iranian-supplied machinery used to manufacture precision guided missiles with an accuracy of less than 10 meters,” tweeted the IDF. The facility appears to be located near Nabi Chit, Lebanon, less than 100 kilometers from the Israeli border. The IDF added, “Iran is trying to turn its proxy Hezbollah into the first terror group in the world with precision guided missiles. We won’t let them.”

Reports emerged on Tuesday that Iran has begun construction of a large-scale military base near the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Al-Bukamal. The “Imam Ali” base is being built by and for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Analysts who reviewed satellite photos of the site estimated that it would become operational by early in 2020.

Hezbollah fired Kornet anti-tank missiles toward Moshav Avivim in Israel’s north last Sunday, but there were no casualties. Israel had prepared for the attack, which Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah promised would come in retaliation for an Israeli strike in Syria against Iranian-trained Hezbollah operatives. The Hezbollah terrorists fired at an armored ambulance. There were soldiers in the vehicle, which the Kornet missile narrowly missed. Israel had prepared a counterattack, but called if off because there were no casualties in Hezbollah’s attack.

Iran

This move is yet another in a series of steps Iran has taken over the summer away from the 2015 nuclear accord. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran’s atomic energy agency would begin research and development on “all kinds” of centrifuge machines that can more quickly enrich uranium. Under the nuclear deal, Iran has been limited to operating 5,060 older-model IR-1 centrifuges. A centrifuge is a device that enriches uranium by rapidly spinning uranium hexafluoride gas.

The United States on Wednesday blacklisted an “oil for terror” network of firms, ships and individuals allegedly directed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for supplying Syria with oil worth hundreds of millions of dollars in breach of U.S. sanctions.  Washington also issued a new international shipping advisory about IRGC’s use of “deceptive practices” to violate U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil sales and warned that those doing business with blacklisted entities “are now exposed to U.S. sanctions,” said State Department official Brian Hook, who oversees Iran policy.

The United States offered millions of dollars to the captain of an Iranian oil tanker to hand over the ship that is currently at the center of a diplomatic spat, according to the Financial Times and confirmed to the AFP by the U.S. state department. The current whereabouts of the Iranian oil tanker are unknown amid reports that it may have ‘gone dark’ – turning off its transponder while in the Mediterranean west of Syria. The Adrian Darya 1, previously known as Grace 1, was detained by British authorities in Gibraltar on July 4 after it was suspected of moving oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions. It was released on August 15 after Iran gave assurances it would not discharge its cargo in Syria – despite the last-minute US effort to prevent its release.

Syria

The U.S. says it has carried out an attack on leaders of a group it calls al-Qaeda in Syria, in the country’s rebel-held Idlib province. US Central Command said the operation had targeted those “responsible for attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners and innocent civilians”. No details were given but other reports say some 40 people died in a missile strike on a jihadist training camp. It was hit just after Syrian government forces began a truce in Idlib.

Afghanistan

A Taliban suicide car bomb rocked Kabul on Thursday, killing at least 10 civilians in a busy diplomatic area that includes the U.S. Embassy — the second such attack this week that underscored Afghan government warnings that a preliminary U.S.-Taliban deal on ending America’s longest war was moving dangerously quickly. “Peace with a group that is still killing innocent people is meaningless,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement. Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said another 42 people were wounded and 12 vehicles destroyed in the explosion. Hours later, the Taliban set off a car bomb outside an Afghan military base in a neighboring province, killing four civilians.

Yemen

Yemen is reeling from what has been described as the deadliest attack so far this year after multiple airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition hit a detention center run by the country’s Houthi rebels, killing at least 100 people and wounding dozens. The center in southwestern Dhamar province had around 170 detainees. The Red Cross said 40 wounded were being treated for injuries while the rest were presumed dead. The Saudi-led coalition, which has waged war on the Iran-backed Houthis since 2015, has faced international criticism for airstrikes that have hit schools, hospitals, and wedding parties, killing thousands of civilians.

Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday declared that Moscow will begin producing missiles that were previously prohibited under the Cold War-era nuclear weapons ban that was repudiated by President Trump earlier this year. Putin said that although the country would move forward with plans for the shorter-range, “tactical” nuclear weapons, Moscow would not deploy them unless the U.S. made the first move. The landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty officially ended on August 1, six months after the U.S. announced its intent to withdraw following repeated complaints dating back to the Obama administration that Moscow was cheating on the deal.

Hong Kong

Gas masks, goggles and hard hats were part of students’ uniforms Monday as they headed back to school in Hong Kong, holding signs showing their support Hong Kong’s anti-government protests. Some students boycotted class entirely, wearing all black and joining hands to show solidarity with those who have fought for independence from mainland China. Morning commutes were blocked by protesters as they tried to stop people from boarding the trains at multiple stations. The demonstrations, at times turning violent, have now lasted for nearly three months. People taking to the streets have asked for democracy and an independent investigation into police conduct throughout the protests. Their demands include dropping charges against arrested demonstrators, and withdrawing an extradition bill that allows mainland China to bring Hong Kong residents to stand trial. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam formally withdrew an extradition bill Wednesday as protesters have demanded, a “dramatic U-turn” for the chief executive. The bill allowing Hong Kong residents to be sent to mainland China for trials has sparked massive protests that have rocked the city since June. Lam had previously suspended the bill, but protesters wanted it entirely withdrawn

Pestilence

African swine fever has wiped out a third of China’s pig population. Now government officials are discussing dramatic steps to stabilize the world’s largest pork market. The country is home to half of all the pigs on the planet. The meat is a staple of the Chinese diet. As of July, China had lost more than 100 million pigs to swine fever in the last year.

Wildfires

After years of destructive blazes, the U.S. wildfire season this year has been below average, and the Trump administration wants to keep it that way. The Interior Department has undertaken 2,500 fuel mitigation projects in 10 Western states. Officials are working with locals to clear brush, fortify firebreaks and thin overgrown forests on fire-prone public lands in accordance with President Trump’s Dec. 18 executive order on reducing wildfire risk. Those efforts have benefited from a cool, wet year that has significantly tamped down wildfire outbreaks in the Lower 48 states. A big exception is in Alaska, which has extended the end of its fire season from Aug. 31 to Sept. 30. Wildfires statewide have burned about 250 million acres this year. While Alaska is abnormally dry, the rest of the country is registering some of the lowest drought conditions since the U.S. Drought Monitor started keeping records in 2000.

The fast-moving Tenaja Fire continued to burn in Southern California on Friday morning after charring nearly 2,000 acres, triggering mandatory evacuations for hundreds of residents. The fire broke out around 4 p.m. in La Cresta, a small community perched above Murrieta that contains sprawling, multimillion-dollar estates. Mandatory evacuations were in effect for all residences along The Trails Circle in La Cresta and the Copper Canyon neighborhood south of Calle del Oso Oro between Clinton Keith and Murrieta Creek at Calle del Oso Oro.

 

Signs of the Times

August 30, 2019

­­For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous. The Lord knows the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. But the wicked shall perish. (Psalm 37:17-20)

Indian Deaf Girl Saved, Healed then Beaten & Disowned

Twelve-year-old Saree has faced severe persecution in her short life. Born deaf to a Hindu family, the young girl found Jesus and healing. But when her family discovered her new-found faith, they beat her and attempted to force her to turn away. Saree’s faith remained strong, however, and despite being disowned by her biological family, she has embraced her spiritual family. In an interview with persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA, Saree shared how she became a Christian and was healed. One of Saree’s aunts, a Christian, invited her to church. Saree went to the front of the church for prayer with a few other people. “While they were praying, I could hear sounds. Slowly, the sounds became louder and louder. I also felt something coming to me. It came closer and closer. It was the presence of God. Then the sounds became really clear. I could hear everything. I was incredibly happy,” she said.

Yale Professor Rejects Darwinism, Says Intelligent Design Is a ‘Serious’ Theory

An internationally-renowned Yale professor has ditched his belief in the theory of Darwinism, arguing that “intelligent design” should be taken more seriously. Professor David Gelernte says that the theory of evolution contains a number of holes and flaws and warned the critics of intelligent design to stop attacking the theory out of a place of anti-religious sentiment.  Professor Gelernte also noted that academics who dare to question the theory of Darwinism are routinely and unfairly attacked by their colleagues. Most in the academic field show “nothing approaching free speech on this topic,” he warned.

Massive New Study Finds No “Gay Gene’

Sexual orientation cannot be predicted by a single “gay gene,” new research indicates. Instead, a host of genetic and environmental factors play a role, according to a study published Thursday in Science Magazine. The findings provide insight into the complex genetics underlying human sexuality. But they do not explain it, wrote the international team of researchers who analyzed genetic data gathered from almost half a million people. Several hundred genes appeared to have an influence on sexuality. Five variants showed significant effects, the researchers said. But when tested, though, these genetic factors combined accounted for only 8% to 25% of same-sex behavior. The analysis also showed different genetics in play for women and men. This could reflect the influence of hormones or possibly social differences.

Survey Shows Millennials Turning Away From God and Country

A new survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News indicates a major shift in American values. The survey found that millennials are not as patriotic or as religious or as family oriented as Americans were 20 years ago. Nearly 80 percent of Americans ages 55 or older said patriotism is important to them, the survey found. However, only 42 percent of younger Americans valued patriotism. The share citing religion as important decreased from 62 percent in 1998 to 48 percent now. Just 30 percent of the younger group cited religion or belief in God as very important, while 67 percent of the older group does.

Judge Okays Pennsylvania House’s Ban on Atheist Invocations

The Pennsylvania House’s policy that bans atheists from providing an invocation at the start of legislative sessions does not violate the Constitution, a federal appeals court ruled. Judge Thomas L. Ambro ruled against petitions brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation claiming such restriction violates portions of the Constitution, including free speech, the establishment and free exercise of religion and equal protection. “The Supreme Court has long taken as given that prayer presumes invoking a higher power,” Judge Ambro, who was nominated by President Clinton, wrote in his opinion.

Federal Judge Temporarily Halts Missouri’s 8-Week Abortion Ban

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a Missouri ban on abortions at or after eight weeks of pregnancy just hours before the law was slated to take effect. Federal law currently allows states to ban abortions after fetuses can survive outside the womb, which can be from 24 to 28 weeks. The Missouri law, though, also includes an outright ban on abortions except in the case of medical emergencies—a measure that would only take effect if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, the judge decided. If the courts do not uphold the eight-week ban, the law includes a series of less-restrictive bans ranging from 14 to 20 weeks. The policy also bans abortions based solely on race, sex or a diagnosis indicating the potential for Down syndrome.

Democrats Embrace the Religiously Unaffiliated

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) passed a resolution Saturday praising the values of “religiously unaffiliated” Americans as the “largest religious group within the Democratic Party.” The resolution, which was unanimously passed at the DNC’s summer meeting on Aug. 24 in San Francisco, Calif., was championed by the Secular Coalition of America, an organization that lobbies on behalf of atheists, agnostics, and humanists on public policy. The group celebrated the DNC’s move as the first time a major party “embraced American nonbelievers.” “Religiously unaffiliated Americans overwhelmingly share the Democratic Party’s values,” said the resolution, which adds they should advocate for “rational public policy based on sound science and universal humanistic values.”

  • Humanism is itself a religion that exalts humans instead of God.

Majority of Federal Offenses Committed by Foreigners

As the illegal alien crisis along the southern border worsens, government figures show that nearly half of all federal crimes in the United States are perpetrated by foreigners who are not American citizens and that immigration cases account for the largest single type of offense. Non-U.S. citizens committed 42.7% of all federal crimes in 2018, according to a report issued by the United States Sentencing Commission. The document also reveals that 54.3% of the 69,425 federal offenders last year were Hispanic. The five judicial districts along the Mexican border—California, Arizona, New Mexico and western and southern Texas—have experienced an eye-popping 539% increase in immigration-related arrests over the last two decades, reports Judicial Watch.. Thousands are of “unknown citizenship,” according to the federal statistics, which show a spike of 202 aliens from unknown countries to 6,657 in a few years. Besides immigration violations, drug offenses appear to be the most popular crimes committed by non-U.S. citizens, followed by fraud, alien smuggling and misuse of visas. The overwhelming majority of perpetrators are young men

Immigration Update

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported a significant drop in apprehensions at the southwest border in June, after an agreement with the Mexican government. For the month of July, DHS reported more than 72,000 apprehensions, down from more than 132,000 in May. President Trump had threatened to punish Mexico with tariffs to force them to step up their own immigration enforcement efforts.

Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan touted Tuesday the progress of the “new border wall system” being built in Arizona. “What was there was old, dilapidated, ineffective and it didn’t work,” Morgan said, so it is being replaced with a new wall. Judges overseeing litigation stemming from the government’s plan for a wall along the Mexico border were told on Tuesday that the Trump administration was authorizing 20 more miles of border barriers in Arizona and California after costs for earlier stretches were lower than expected.

Nineteen states filed a federal lawsuit Monday opposing the Trump administration’s new regulations for indefinitely detaining immigrant families. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey led the effort by arguing that prolonged detention would cause irreparable harm to children and the communities that accept them after release from federal custody. Federal authorities anticipated legal challenges to the proposal, which could take effect in 60 days if a federal judge approves. Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of Homeland Security, said Wednesday in announcing the rule that it is intended to keep families together while processing their asylum claims efficiently.

EPA to Loosen Federal Rules on Methane Containment

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday changes to its rule concerning the prevention of methane gases from leaking into the atmosphere. The proposed rule change would reverse standards enacted under President Barack Obama that require oil and gas operations to install controls on their operations to curb the release of methane at the well head and in their transmission equipment, including pipelines and storage facilities. Several of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies, including Exxon, Shell and BP, have opposed the rollback and urged the Trump administration to keep the current standards in place. Critics contend that releasing more of this ‘greenhouse’ gas into the atmosphere will increase climate change impacts.

Trump launches Space Command

President Donald Trump announced Thursday the official establishment of the U.S. military’s Space Command. Space Command will become the 11th combatant command. The command will initially consist of just 287 personnel and its final location has yet to be determined. Its responsibilities will be transferred primarily from US Strategic Command. The command’s establishment comes as the U.S. has grown increasingly concerned about threats to its satellites, which are critical to military operations and commercial business. “We no longer have the luxury of treating space superiority as a given,” Air Force Gen. John Raymond, the incoming U.S. Space Command commander, told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday. “There is a growing threat. The scope, scale and complexity is concerning.”

Military Suicides Top Record Despite Government’s Efforts

The disturbing number of military suicides had held steady for years: Roughly 20 U.S. military veterans take their own lives each day. But the Defense Department reported a significant uptick last year in the number of active-duty and reserve men and women who died by suicide. The suicide rate among veterans ages 18 to 34, some of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan, shot up dramatically. Top officials from the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, joined by specialists from across the private sector, gathered this week to search for solutions to what has become one of the most persistent, painful and frustrating crises facing the military community.

Judge Orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $572M for Opioid Crisis

An Oklahoma judge on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries to pay $572 million to help abate the opioid crisis in the state, a landmark decision likely to reverberate in lawsuits across the nation. The case was closely watched as a federal judge in Ohio oversees of more than 2,000 lawsuits filed by city, county and tribal governments across the nation against manufacturers, distributors and retailers of prescription painkillers. The Oklahoma ruling came in the first state opioid case to reach trial. The state previously settled with OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma and Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical for a total of more than $350 million.

  • OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is reportedly offering a sweeping settlement worth $10 billion to $12 billion to resolve claims that it bears responsibility for the nation’s opioid crisis. The offer would settle more than 2,000 lawsuits, including cases brought by state and local governments.

Vaping Causes Lung Disease Say Federal/State Officials

Federal officials say there are some 200 potential cases of lung disease linked to e-cigarettes reported by 22 states. There are 16 confirmed cases in cases in Wisconsin, with 15 other cases under investigation, state health officials said. The city of Milwaukee issued a health alert Wednesday urging people to stop vaping immediately amid an outbreak of lung disease there that doctors suspect is linked to e-cigarettes. Federal health officials are under fire for their unclear public warnings about vaping-related lung illnesses, which some say are related to the far riskier practice of vaping marijuana oil rather than nicotine.

Artificial Intelligence Set to Flood the Internet with Fake News

OpenAI was founded in 2015 to promote and develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) that would benefit humanity as a whole. Instead, they built the most dangerous AI conceivable which could “destroy the Internet and manipulate the minds of every person on earth,” notes Technocracy News. This AI was designed to generate realistic stories, poems and articles. The text generator, built by research firm OpenAI, was originally considered “too dangerous” to make public because of the potential for abuse. But now a new, more powerful version of the system has been released, which could be used to create fake news or abusive spam on social media.

California’s Biggest Cities Confront a ‘Defecation Crisis’

San Francisco ranks as the “the doo-doo capital of the U.S,” and California now has the “majority of the nation’s homeless people,” wrote Claremont professor and author Charles Kesler in the Wall Street Journa., declaring that there is a “defecation crisis” in California’s biggest cities. “In California, one is struck by the contrast between the fastidious attention paid to the social duty of scooping up and disposing of dog feces, and the rather more paralyzed and guilty reaction to the plague of human feces,” he wrote. “Even social-justice warriors don’t consider it their personal duty, however, to tidy up after their fellow human beings on the streets.”

Robots to Take 20,000 Manufacturing Jobs

The use of robots is on the rise. Machines are expected to displace about 20 million manufacturing jobs across the world over the next decade, according to a report released last week by Oxford Economics, a global forecasting and quantitative analysis firm. That means about 8.5% of the global manufacturing workforce could be displaced by robots. At this point, every new robot that is installed displaces 1.6 manufacturing workers on average. The average unit price per robot has dropped 11% between 2011 and 2016, they are increasingly capable of functioning in more sophisticated processes and varied contexts.

Economic News

The U.S. and Japan have agreed in principle on a trade deal worth “billions and billions of dollars,” President Trump said Sunday at the G7 Summit. Trump said parties will likely sign the deal around the United Nations General Assembly in September. Japan to will buy up America’s corn surplus as part of the deal. “We successfully reached consensus with regard to the core elements related to agricultural and industrial trade,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

Optimism over the trade dispute between the U.S. and China spurred markets higher Thursday following comments by a Chinese government official suggesting Beijing is hoping for continued trade talks with the United States. China is willing to resolve the trade dispute “with a calm attitude,” said Gao Feng, spokesperson for China’s ministry of commerce Thursday.

The leaders of Corporate America are cashing in their chips as doubts grow about the sustainability of the longest bull market in American history. Corporate insiders have sold an average of $600 million of stock per day in August.=, the fifth month of the year in which insider selling tops $10 billion. The only other times that has happened was 2006 and 2007, just before the Great Recession.

David Kelly, chief global strategist with JPMorgan Funds, argued in his most recent weekly report that America could soon face a big labor shortage as more baby boomers reach retirement age. There aren’t enough younger people currently to replace them. Unless America adds more younger people to the labor force, Kelly argues that any tax cuts or other stimulus would be “pointless.” He suggested making three-year undergraduate college degrees more available and boosting immigration.

The winners and losers of America’s great retail shakeout are becoming clear. Target and Walmart are definitely winners. Just about every other department store is losing, reports CNN. Target and Walmart operate stores away from malls, an advantage because foot traffic is slowing at malls around the country. Macy’s and Penney, however, have heavy exposure to malls. Neither chain has put up as much capital investment to remodel stores as Walmart or Target have. Walmart is close to seven times as big as Target in terms of sales, but the two chains are both able to use their size and scale in the market to drive down prices on a variety of merchandise. Department stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s and JCPenney are much smaller and sell mainly clothes, where a proliferation of options have cropped up online and from specialty brands.

Persecution Watch

More than 200 people including women and children have been abducted and a church mission hospital and shops looted by Islamist extremists during a raid on Boga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a majority-Christian country. The Bishop of Boga Diocese, eastern Democratic Republic (DR) of Congo, Rt Rev. William Bahemuka, said the Muslim militant group ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) had attacked the town in Ituri province in the early hours of 23 August. The ADF Islamist terrorist group has been operating in the region for more than two decades and has repeatedly attacked Christians. Bahemuka said, “The situation is terrible. People are terrified. Families are traumatized and grieving over their abducted loved ones.”

Islamic terrorists are continuing to kill Christians in northeastern Burkina Faso. According to CBN News, four Christians in the village of Bani were killed for wearing crosses. Bishop Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré of the Diocese of Dori in the northeast of Burkina Faso said the Islamists forced everyone in the village to lie face down on the ground. “Then they searched them,” he said. “Four people were wearing crucifixes. So they killed them because they were Christians. “After murdering them, the Islamists warned all the other villagers that if they did not convert to Islam, they too, would be killed.”

Middle East

Israel said Sunday it struck targets in Syria prevent a major attack by Iranian “killer drones” operating from an air base in Syria. Israeli military officials said the drone attack against Israel was set to launch out of Syria, with Iranian Quds Forces having delivered attack drones armed with explosives to an air base southeast of Damascus. Iran is a key ally of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and increasingly has used Syria as a base for its own military operations. After the Israeli air strikes Saturday, reports emerged early Monday morning of an Israeli drone attack on a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) position in Qousaya, located in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, close to the border with Syria. Israel’s enemies were issuing threats of imminent retaliation for the weekend’s strikes. Meanwhile, two drones crashed in a Shiite suburb of Beirut, a stronghold of Hezbollah. Lebanese President Michel Aoun called it a declaration of war.

  • Israel’s suspected use of high-tech military drones in three attacks in three countries in the space of 48 hours could be a taste of things to come. Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are increasingly revolutionizing warfare, and recent clashes across the Middle East show how they can be both a strategic game-changer and a terrorist’s favorite equalizer.

Iran

Iran’s foreign minister paid a visit to a G7 summit in France on Sunday as a guest to French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron, a move that blindsided White House officials. Sen. John Cornyn questioned why Macron would invite Mohammed Javad Zarif. “Iran is the #1 state sponsor of terrorism. Why would Macron suck up to stone-cold killers?” Cornyn tweeted. Macron has been urging Trump and the Iranians toward a dialogue since Trump withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal last year. Macron pitched a plan to end the standoff over the Iran nuclear deal — by allowing Iran to sell oil for a limited period of time in exchange for returning to talks and to compliance with the agreement. Top Iranian officials all but ruled out talks with the U.S. a day after President Donald Trump extended his most expansive offer yet to the Islamic Republic. The U.S. must lift sanctions on Iran if it wants to negotiate, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday.

Afghanistan

President Trump said Thursday that the U.S. plans to withdraw more than 5,000 American troops from Afghanistan and then will consider further drawdowns in the longest war in American history. “We’re going down to 8,600 (troops) and then we’ll make a determination from there,” Trump said, adding that the U.S. is going to have a “high intelligence” presence in Afghanistan going forward.” Trump’s comment came as a U.S. envoy was in his ninth round of talks with the Taliban to find a resolution to the nearly 18-year-old war. The president, who campaigned on ending the war, said the U.S. was “getting close” to making a deal, but that the outcome of the U.S.-Taliban talks remained uncertain.

Syria

Syrian government forces pressed ahead with their military offensive in Idlib, seizing a cluster of villages on the southeastern edges of the province on Thursday as the overall civilian death toll from the campaign rose further. The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said troops captured three small villages in the area, as they continued their assault with the next target appearing to be the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan, which lies near the Damascus-Aleppo highway. Last week, the troops captured the town of Khan Sheikhoun, which also sits on the highway. Idlib is the Syrian opposition’s final stronghold in the country, and President Bashar Assad’s forces, backed by Russia, are determined to recapture it.

North Korea

The Trump administration on Friday slapped sanctions on two Taiwan-based individuals and several shipping companies for providing oil shipments to North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also identified one vessel as “blocked property” after engaging in ship-to-ship transfers of oil to North Korean vessels. “Shipping companies trading with North Korea are exposing themselves to significant sanctions risk, despite the deceptive practices they try to employ,” said Treasury Undersecretary Sigal Mandelker.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong police used tear gas, drew their guns and deployed water cannon trucks this past weekend after some anti-government protesters attacked officers with sticks and rods. The clashes escalated the Chinese city’s summer of protests, which shows no sign of subsiding. Demonstrations have taken place in neighborhoods near government offices and shut down the busy Hong Kong International Airport. Hardliners confronted police anew after largely holding back the previous weekend. They occupied streets on Saturday and Sunday, erecting barriers across roads after otherwise peaceful marches by thousands of others. Wearing gas masks, they threw bricks and gasoline bombs toward the police, as the latter fired tear gas canisters at them. The return to confrontation signaled their belief that the government won’t respond to peaceful protest alone. The arrests on Friday of prominent democracy activists in Hong Kong reflect a tactical escalation by China’s leaders, one that they hope will curb the escalating street violence of recent weeks, but which could run the risk of prolonging protests in the city for many more months.

  • As pro-democracy demonstrators continue to mount a mass resistance against China’s communist rule in Hong Kong, the region’s Christian community has started to rise up. Amongst the throes of tear gas, rubber bullets, and riot shields, a sweet melody of worship can be heard echoing through the city’s central district. Gathering in peace and prayer, thousands of Christian protestors can often be heard belting out the 1974 hymn, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord.” Not only is this a show of devotion to Jesus in the midst of tumult and political tyranny, but the singing of this worship song also offers the community a level of immunity, thanks to a Hong Kong law of public assembly that makes exceptions for religious gatherings.

China

After rolling out a social credit system to measure the worthiness (or lack thereof) of its citizens, China is preparing to extend the system to include corporations. Under this new system for ranking businesses, both foreign and domestic companies will be required to install surveillance cameras in their premises and share the data with the government. They will also be rated on their tax record and compliance with a range of existing laws, including customs and environmental regulations. Those who violate rules will be placed in “blacklists” and subjected to “immediate and severe punishments”, the EU Chamber of Commerce in China said in a report published Wednesday. The sanctions are not limited to penalties but also include more frequent inspections, customs delays, not getting subsidies or tax rebates and public shaming.

Mexico

An attack on a bar in Mexico’s Gulf coast city of Coatzacoalcos killed 23 people and injured 13 late Tuesday. The attackers started a fire that ripped through the bar, killing eight women and 15 men. The attack came almost eight years to the day after a fire started in 2011 at a casino in the northern city of Monterrey killed 52 people. The Zetas drug cartel staged that attack to enforce demands for protection payments. The Zetas, now splintered, have also been active in Coatzacoalcos. The attack, along with the killing of 19 people in the western city of Uruapan earlier this month, is likely to renew fears that the public, dramatic violence of the 2006-2012 drug war has returned.

Pestilence

Laurie Sylvia started feeling sick last Monday. Less than a week later, the Massachusetts 59-year-old was dead, killed by a rare mosquito-borne illness. Sylvia, who died Sunday, is the fourth person in the state to contract eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) this month. Before this year, Massachusetts hadn’t seen a human case since 2013. Cases typically occur in Massachusetts, Florida, New York, and North Carolina.

Earthquakes

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 was recorded Thursday morning in the Pacific Ocean near Oregon, the US Geological Survey reported. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The quake happened around 11:07 a.m. ET at a depth of 3.4 miles about 175 miles west-northwest of the coastal city of Bandon, the agency reported.

Wildfires

The Group of Seven summit meeting was marked more mixed signals than by concrete results, but at least one joint commitment was made. But it was relatively modest: a $20 million fund to be made available immediately to Amazon countries to combat forest fires and to launch a long-term initiative to protect the rainforest. Brazil rejected the offer and mocked the French, telling them to reforest Europe instead.

As Brazil’s Amazon fires continue to take center stage, another South American nation is battling its own catastrophic blazes, which have destroyed an area of land nearly as large as Lebanon. The Chiquitanía region of southeastern Bolivia, consisting of dry forest, farmland and open prairies, has seen the greatest damage from the nearly 40,000 fires that have charred 3,700 square miles to date, according to the country’s National Forests and Lands Authority. The fires, which have now spread to Bolivia’s share of the Amazon, have destroyed $1.1 billion worth of timber.

  • The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. (Revelation 8:7)

Weather

Hurricane Dorian hurtled toward the United States and was on track to become a major hurricane Friday before its expected landfall Monday into Tuesday along Florida’s east coast with winds of 120-130 mph and a strong storm surge. With Florida already sodden with summer rainfall, Dorian could cause serious inland flooding.

At the G7 summit meeting, President Trump skipped a working session on climate change, one of the areas of particular disagreement with the other leaders at the summit, but he sent lower-level aides instead. On Monday, Trump said he would rather focus on retaining wealth in the U.S. than chasing “windmill dreams.”

Signs of the Times

August 23, 2019

­­We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. (2Corinthians 4:8-9,17)

Georgia Declares ‘Killing a Living Child is Not Healthcare’

As Georgia fights to defend the legality of its ban on aborting babies with beating hearts, state Attorney General Chris Carr took the opportunity to affirm that Georgia does not recognize abortion as a legitimate form of medical practice. “It is well-settled that ‘a fetus is a living organism within the womb, whether or not it is viable outside the womb,'” the Republican AG argued in a motion filed Monday in US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. “Accordingly, a State may properly recognize that an unborn child is alive even before ‘viability’ and—consistent with its power to protect unborn life—may prohibit the killing of that child by restricting certain types of pre-viability abortions.” Killing a living unborn child does not constitute ‘medical care’ or ‘health care,’ Carr declared. The filing was a motion opposing the ACLU’s, and Planned Parenthood’s request for an injunction against enforcing the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, which forbids abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, except in cases of rape, incest, physical medical emergencies, and pregnancies deemed “medically futile.”

Thousands of Australians March for Life

As the winter night fell in Sydney, nearly ten thousand pro-life Austrailians amassed in the heart of the city, protesting a radical proposed new law permitting abortion on demand until birth. Thousands of protestors marched from Martin Place to the front of New South Wales Parliament buildings where legislators in the state’s Legislative Council, or upper house, were debating the bill. The Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019, which will permit even sex-selection abortion, was passed through New South Wales Legislative Assembly, or lower house, on August 8 by a vote of 59 to 31. It now has to pass through the New South Wales Legislative Council, or lower house, and receive the Governor’s assent for it to become law.

Planned Parenthood Opts Out of Title X Program

Planned Parenthood announced on Monday that it has withdrawn from the Title X federal family planning program. Last month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for implementation of the Protect Life Rule, which prohibits Title X money from going to clinics that conduct or refer for abortions. Planned Parenthood asked the court to reconsider and enjoin the Protect Life Rule, but it declined to do so on Friday, August 16, 2019. That prompted Planned Parenthood to forgo approximately $60 million in federal funding in favor of continuing abortion referrals at its facilities that do not conduct abortions.

Three, No Four Potential Mass Shooters Stopped

Three potential mass shooters in three states are now in custody after arrests over the weekend, authorities say. Police say the men in Connecticut, Florida, and Ohio were arrested thanks to tips from the public. In the Ohio case, police say 20-year-old white nationalist James Reardon was arrested Saturday over an Instagram post that suggested he wanted to attack a Jewish community center. In Connecticut, 22-year-old Norwalk resident Brandon Wagshol was arrested after authorities received a tip that he was trying to buy large capacity rifle magazines from out of state. The Norwalk Police Department and the FBI say they discovered that Wagshol had posted on Facebook expressing interest in carrying out a mass shooting. Authorities say a raid on Wagshol’s home uncovered numerous weapons, along with items like a titanium body armor and a combat helmet. In the Florida case, Tristan Scott Wix, 25, was arrested Friday after he sent his ex-girlfriend texts threatening a mass shooting and she contacted authorities. In one message, the Daytona Beach resident said he wanted to “break a world record for longest confirmed kill ever.”

  • A California hotel cook who was upset over a work-related human resources issue was arrested Thursday after he threatened a mass shooting and stored guns and ammunition at his home, police said.  Authorities said Rodolfo Montoya, 37, told a co-worker he was going to shoot fellow employees and guests at the Long Beach Marriott. Multiple firearms, an assault rifle, tactical gear, dozens of high-capacity magazines and hundreds of bullets were seized from Montoya’s home.

Portland Alt-Right/Alt-Left Faceoff Mostly Peaceful

A heavy police presence largely kept members of the Proud Boys and other far-right groups separated from far-left, anti-fascist activists at a downtown park Saturday, mostly avoiding violent clashes that have marred earlier confrontations. The far-right forces were largely identifiable by their camouflage body armor and helmets, while the far-left antifa groups covered their faces with masks or bandanas. At least 13 people were arrested, and four people have minor injuries, according to Portland Police. Although the day was largely peaceful, police said they seized weapons such as metal and wooden poles, bear spray and shields from demonstrators. Police, some on bikes, many wearing helmets and armor, lined or patrolled the main road between the business district and the park to try to keep competing groups apart.

Immigration Update

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, crossed the seven-year mark of operations last week. The anniversary sparked a new round of introspection, with immigrant rights advocates saying the program has proved its worth by helping give opportunity to a generation of young people who have become doctors, soldiers, lawyers and teachers. But the program does have a darker side: those who use their reprieve for criminal activities. Several DACA recipients have been arrested for smuggling immigrants into the U.S. for money, the Washington Times reports. The Department of Justice has submitted a legal brief to the Supreme Court arguing that President Donald Trump was acting within the law when he ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that the DHS would be scrapping the court-ordered Flores agreement, which prohibits children from being held in detention for more than 20 days. The administration argues the measure will allow it to keep families together while they are being processed through the U.S. immigration system. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan”This is a game-changer… Because of the current Flores settlement agreement, everybody knows… you grab a kid, that’s your U.S. passport into the United States because we can’t hold you more than 20 days. That’s not long enough to go through the immigration proceedings. That’s catch and release… This new rule is going to address this.”

Ransomware Attacks Against 40 U.S. Cities

This has been the summer of crippling ransomware attacks. Wilmer — a town of almost 5,000 people just south of Dallas — is one of 22 cities across Texas that are simultaneously being held hostage for millions of dollars after a sophisticated hacker, perhaps a group of them, infiltrated their computer systems and encrypted their data. More than 40 municipalities have been the victims of cyberattacks this year, from major cities such as Baltimore, Albany and Laredo, Tex., to smaller towns including Lake City, Fla. Lake City is one of the few cities to have paid a ransom demand — about $460,000 in Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency — because it thought reconstructing its systems would be even more costly. Intelligence officials say many of the ransomware attacks have come from Eastern Europe, Iran and, in some cases, the United States. The majority have targeted small-town America, figuring that sleepy, cash-strapped local governments are the least likely to have updated their cyberdefenses or backed up their data, reports the New York Times.

Terrorists Turn To Bitcoin For Funding

Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, has been designated a terrorist organization by Western governments and some others and has been locked out of the traditional financial system. But this year its military wing has developed an increasingly sophisticated campaign to raise money using Bitcoin. In the latest version of the website set up by the wing, known as the Qassam Brigades, every visitor is given a unique Bitcoin address where he or she can send the digital currency, a method that makes the donations nearly impossible for law enforcement to track. The site, which is available in seven languages and features the brigades’ logo, with a green flag and a machine gun, contains a well-produced video that explains how to acquire and send Bitcoin without tipping off the authorities. Terrorists have been slow to join other criminal elements that have been drawn to Bitcoin and have used it for everything from drug purchases to money laundering. But in recent months, government authorities and organizations that track terrorist financing have begun to raise alarms about an uptick in the number of Islamist terrorist organizations experimenting with Bitcoin and other digital coins.

China Retaliates Against U.S. with $75B in Tariffs

The trade war between the U.S. and China escalated further Friday as China announced a new set of tariffs on American products. The China State Council announced it would impose tariffs ranging from 5% to 10% on an additional $75 billion in U.S. goods. The new tariffs are poised to go into effect in stages, with the first round beginning Sept. 1 and the second Dec. 15. This development comes after President Donald Trump earlier this month announced a new round of tariffs on Chinese imports – 10% on $300 billion in products. The two sides have so far failed to reach an agreement on a comprehensive trade pact. Tariffs on U.S. goods exported to China could make it more expensive for Chinese consumers to purchase American items and hurt sales for the American companies, while many Chinese products and raw materials are becoming more expensive for Americans. The stock market consequently plunged around 2% after the announcement on  Friday. President Donald Trump said on Friday he was ‘ordering’ U.S. companies to look at ways to close their operations in China and make more of their products in the United States instead.

  • American manufacturing activity is slowing as rising tariffs have made materials more expensive. The sector shrunk for the first time since September 2009. The global manufacturing sector might already be in a recession, said Charles Schwab chief investment strategist.

Economic News

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell vowed to ‘sustain the expansion’ but wouldn’t commit to deep interest rate cuts that President Trump has demanded. Powell said the U.S. economy is in a “favorable place” but the trade war presented a “complex, turbulent” situation. He vowed the Fed would “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,” suggesting another interest rate cut might be coming.

The U.S. deficit is estimated to soar by $800 billion more than expected over the next ten years because of the new budget deal and emergency border spending, says the Congressional Budget Office. A two-year budget deal struck between lawmakers and the White House will help push the nation into levels of debt unseen since the end of World War II, the Congressional Budget Office said. The office added that the effect of higher trade barriers might also hurt economic growth.

It’s been more than 10 years – a record long time, in fact – since the U.S. economy experienced a recession. More signs are popping up that another one could be on the horizon. The loose definition of recession is two straight quarters of declines in real gross domestic product, the broadest gauge of U.S. growth. Economists look at leading economic indicators to predict when a recession is coming. One of those is the inverted yield curve, the signal that occurred last week in the bond market and sent stocks into a tizzy. That’s when the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond sinks below the yield on the two-year bond. But the inversion only indicates a recession is coming. It doesn’t predict when it will arrive.

Freight shipments within the U.S. by all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – fell 5.9% in July 2019, compared to July 2018, the eighth month in a row of year-over-year declines, according to the Cass Freight Index for Shipments, which tracks shipments of consumer and industrial goods but not of bulk commodities such as grains. This decline along with the 6.0% drop in May were the steepest year-over-year declines in freight shipments since the last recession. Freight shipments often go into recession sooner than the overall economy, so this might be a signal that recession is coming.

U.S. consumer sentiment fell to 92.1 in August, the lowest since the start of 2019, according to data released last Friday. A reading below 100 indicates negative consumer expectations. The dip points to further uncertainty in the U.S. economy, as consumers navigate wild market swings and a constantly shifting trade environment. Economists expected the preliminary read on August consumer sentiment to reach 97, down from 98.4 in July. However, the Commerce Department released solid July retail sales figures. Spending at retail stores and restaurants rose 0.7% during the month, after a 0.3% gain in June.

Meanwhile, U.S. industrial production just slipped back into contraction territory and the IHS Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index just fell to the lowest level that we have seen since September 2009. The total number of bankruptcy filings in the United States has been steadily shooting up, and it rose another 5 percent during the month of July. And, 74% of the economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics believe that a recession will begin in the United States by the end of 2021.

The Labor Department is revising down the number of jobs that employers added to payrolls by 501,000 during the 12-month period that ran from April, 2018, through March of this year. The government initially estimated the economy added 2.5 million jobs during those 12 months, or just over 200,000 a month. Now it appears it will be closer to 170,000 a month on average.

Persecution Watch

Hundreds of Christians lost their lives in the first half of 2019 alone as a wave of attacks by heavily-armed, mainly Muslim destroyed entire communities, Fulani militants continued to gather momentum in an agenda of “religious cleansing” that is aiding Boko Haram’s attempts to establish an Islamist caliphate in north-eastern Nigeria. The carnage has gone largely unchallenged by the Nigerian Federal Government.

When a marked security car passed a Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade group marching in the Easter parade in Gombe, Nigeria, no one thought much about it. Then suddenly the car turned and sped back towards the boys and girls as they marched, cruelly plowing into them from behind. Six boys and three girls, aged between eleven and 21, died instantly and 13 in total were reported to have perished in the heart-breaking incident.

A Virginia state agency targeted, harassed, and discriminated against a Christian realtor, Hadassah Carter, simply for putting a Bible verse (John 3:16) on her website and including “Jesus loves you” in her email signature. The Virginia state agency actually required her real estate broker to watch and report her religious speech at her job. To make matters worse, it is the Virginia state agency that is claiming religious discrimination, turning logic on its head, notes ACLJ. There are no actual complaints against Hadassah for any discrimination. In fact, she was first targeted by the government when SHE defended one of her own clients from discrimination.

An Obama-appointed federal judge is forcing Wisconsin taxpayers to provide costly sex reassignment surgery and hormonal procedures for low-income transgender residents who get free medical care from the government, reports Judicial Watch. In a recently issued ruling U.S. District Judge William M. Conley wrote that Medicaid, the publicly funded insurance that covers 65.7 million poor people, cannot deny the medical treatment needs of those suffering from “gender dysphoria.” Officials estimate it will cost up to $1.2 million annually to provide transgender Medicaid recipients in the Badger State with treatments such as “gender confirmation” surgery, including elective mastectomies, hysterectomies, genital reconstruction and breast augmentation. The intricate operations are typically done by plastic surgeons.

Israel

The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement garnered lots of media attention this past week when Israel banned BDS supporters, U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from visiting Israel, calling them enemies of Israel. It is important to recognize that the intention BDS is not merely to get Israel to improve the lives of the Palestinians, but is, in fact, an effort to completely destroy Israel. BDS founder Omar Barghouti, said, “No Palestinian — rational Palestinian, not a sellout Palestinian — will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.” What terrorist groups hope to succeed by exterminating Israel with bombs and missiles, BDS seeks to accomplish the same thing economically.

Researchers from the Geological Survey of Israel and the universities of California and Miami published an article this week in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters assessing that a recent uptick in seismic activity in and around Israel’s Sea of Galilee were caused by large-scale groundwater extraction, while also predicting that a large-scale earthquake is likely to occur in the foreseeable future. “The geological history of the fault combined with the close proximity to populated areas suggest that future pumping in the region should be closely monitored,” the study concluded.

Islamic State

Five months after American-backed forces ousted the Islamic State from its last shard of territory in Syria, the terrorist group is gathering new strength, conducting guerrilla attacks across Iraq and Syria, retooling its financial networks and targeting new recruits at an allied-run tent camp, American and Iraqi military and intelligence officers said. A recent inspector general’s report warned that a drawdown this year from 2,000 American forces in Syria to less than half of that, ordered by Mr. Trump, has meant the American military has had to cut back support for Syrian partner forces fighting ISIS. For now, American and international forces can only try to ensure that ISIS remains contained and away from urban areas. Although there is little concern that the Islamic State will reclaim its former physical territory, a caliphate that was once the size of Britain and controlled the lives of up to 12 million people, the terrorist group has still mobilized as many as 18,000 remaining fighters in Iraq and Syria.

Iran

The U.S. Justice Department issued a warrant to seize an Iranian oil tanker detained in Gibraltar, a day after a judge in the British overseas territory ordered its release. The tanker “Grace 1” was seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off the coast of Gibraltar. Authorities suspected it of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. Its seizure aggravated fears of a conflict in the Persian Gulf, where Iran claims control of the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil shipments. But despite a last-minute U.S. attempt on Thursday to keep the oil tanker detained in Gibraltar, a court there ordered its release. Monday, the ship left for Greece. The United States has removed nearly 2.7 million barrels of Iranian oil from global markets daily as a result of Washington’s decision to reimpose sanctions on all purchases of Iran’s crude, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.

Afghanistan

A suicide bomb attack at a wedding in Kabul on Saturday killed 63 people and wounded 182. Among the victims were women and children. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. It said a Pakistani fighter detonated an explosive vest amid a large gathering of Shia Muslims. The terror group also said a car bombing followed the initial attack. The venue is in western Kabul, an area home to many of Afghanistan’s Shiite Hazara minority. It is also near the Darul Aman palace, where President Ashraf Ghani is expected to celebrate Afghan Independence Day on Monday. Afghanistan’s president on Monday vowed to “eliminate” all safe havens of the Islamic State group as the country marked a subdued 100th Independence Day after the horrific wedding attack.

South Korea

South Korea said Thursday it will end an intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan, a move that prompted immediate concern from U.S. military officials in the wake of repeated North Korean missile tests. A Pentagon spokesman said intelligence sharing is key to a united defense strategy in the region. The United States, South Korea and Japan are stronger and safer when they work together, he said. South Korea’s presidential office announced the decision to nix the intelligence-sharing pact in retaliation for Japan’s decision to downgrade South Korea’s trade status.

Hong Kong

Heavy rain fell on tens of thousands of umbrella-toting protesters Sunday as they marched from a packed park and filled a major road in Hong Kong, where mass pro-democracy demonstrations have become a regular weekend activity this summer. While police had granted approval for the park rally, they didn’t approve an accompanying march. Demonstrators nevertheless fanned out and filled the streets, as there was not enough space at the designated assembly area. In Beijing, You Wenze, a spokesman for China’s ceremonial legislature, condemned statements from U.S. lawmakers supportive of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. Organizers claimed that 1.7 million people took part in the protest.

India

Local officials say that at least 2,000 Kashmiris — including business leaders, human rights defenders, elected representatives, teachers, and students as young as 14 — were rounded up by the federal security forces in the days right before and right after the Indian government unilaterally stripped away Kashmir’s autonomy. The detainees have not been able to communicate with their families or meet with lawyers. Their whereabouts remain unknown. Most were taken in the middle of the night, witnesses said. Critics say that even under India’s tough public safety laws this is illegal, and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is bending the Indian legal system to cut off any possible criticism in Kashmir.

Indian baby girls are being aborted simply because of their gender. For a family living in poverty, a house full of sons is deemed more profitable, since they are considered the main breadwinners. Afraid of what a daughter will cost, many families choose to simply never have one. In the past three months, 216 babies were born in a handful of villages across northern India, according to a recent report. Not a single one of those babies was a girl. Despite the fact that gender-selective abortions were outlawed by the Indian government in 1994, the practice still occurs. While many other nations have either a balanced gender ratio or one that tips in favor of females, India’s population is skewed. As of 2018, there were only 92 females for every 100 males in the country.

Bangladesh

At least 1,200 tin shacks were destroyed in the Chalantika slum late on Friday, officials said. Many homes had plastic roofs, which helped the flames to spread. No deaths have been reported, although several people were injured. Most residents are low-wage earners and many were away after the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. There is no word on the cause of the fire. The number of people made homeless by the fire is unclear, with Reuters news agency reporting it to be 3,000 people and AFP putting the number at 10,000.

Environment

Beaches along Lake Michigan in northwest Indiana remain closed after a steel mill spilled cyanide and ammonia that led to a large fish kill. ArcelorMittal, a steel and mining company, said in a statement that the spill resulted after its Burns Harbor mill, about 32 miles southeast of Chicago, “experienced a failure at the blast furnace water recirculation system. This isolated event resulted in the release of wastewater containing elevated levels of ammonia and cyanide.”

Wildfires

For the second time in a week, a wildfire has forced evacuations on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria. More than 8,000 people have been ordered from their homes on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria on Monday as authorities declared a wildfire “unstoppable”. The fire has destroyed more than 23 square miles on the island that is part of Spain’s Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa. Nine helicopters and two planes were aiding at least 600 people including firefighters and army emergency personnel who were working in shifts to tackle the blaze.

Fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are generating smoke that can be seen from space and may have caused a daytime blackout more than 1,700 miles away in the country’s largest city. In the middle of the day on Monday, the sky above SãoPaulo was blanketed by smoke from the wildfires raging in the Amazon region. Reuters reported the Amazon rainforest has experienced a record number of fires this year, citing new data released by the country’s space agency. Amazonas, the largest state in Brazil, has already declared a state of emergency over the fires. Though the Amazon rainforest has been fire-resistant for much of its history because of its natural moisture and humidity, drought and human activities are creating conditions conducive to wildfires. The Amazon has 80% more fires this year than last. The vast majority of the fires have been set by loggers and ranchers to clear land for cattle.

Weather

Alaska has been in the throes of an unprecedented heat wave this summer, and the heat stress is killing salmon in large numbers. Scientists have observed die-offs of several varieties of Alaskan salmon, including sockeye, chum and pink salmon. The scientists and the director of the Yukon Inter-Tribal Fish Commission looked for signs of lesions, parasites and infections, but came up empty. Nearly all the salmon they found had “beautiful eggs still inside them.” Because the die-off coincided with the heat wave, they concluded that heat stress was the cause of the mass deaths.

A line of severe thunderstorms that roared across Kansas last Sunday morning reportedly brought winds so powerful they caused two trains with more than 100 cars to derail. Severe storms brought high winds and at least one tornado to parts of Iowa early Tuesday morning. Four semitrailers were blown over by high winds on Interstate 80 near Adair, about 50 miles west of Des Moines. At least two fires are believed to have been caused by lightning during the storms, one at a home and one at an apartment building.

With more than a month to go, India’s monsoon season has claimed more than 1,000 lives. More than 18 million people have been affected by the floods. Most of the deaths have been caused by drowning, wall collapses and landslides. Rainfall has been average this year, but has tended to come in heavy doses instead of being more spread out.

At least five people were killed and 150 injured by a series of lightning strikes in a mountain range on the border of Poland and Slovakia Thursday afternoon. Three people remained missing Friday morning and rescuers were still combing the area looking for other victims.

Signs of the Times

August 16, 2019

­­See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1Thessalonians 5:15-18)

‘Unplanned’ Rockets to Amazon’s #1 Best-Selling DVD

“Unplanned,” a movie which recounts the life of a woman who left behind a job as a Planned Parenthood abortion manager, has become not only a box office success but it became the number one DVD in Amazon sales on its first day of sales this week, reports Breaking Christian News. Capturing the true story of Abby Johnson, “Unplanned” relates how she quit a job as director of an abortion facility in Texas in 2009 after experiencing a conversion and renouncing abortion. “Unplanned” has grossed more than $18 million in cinemas during the course of 19 weeks (foreign markets not included). With a production budget of $6 million, the movie is already an unqualified success. The DVD of “Unplanned” can be purchased at Walmart and Amazon, as well as other retailers.

Kentucky Bans Abortions after Heartbeat Detected

Kentucky has just become another state to ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which is often around six weeks of pregnancy. The “fetal heartbeat bill” was signed by Republican Governor Matt Bevin last Thursday. Two other pro-life bills were also signed the same day. Senate Bill 50, also called the Chemical Abortion Reporting Act, states that doctors must inform patients of reversal medication abortions. House Bill 5, the Human Rights of the Unborn Child and Anti-Discrimination Act, forbids abortions based off of sex, race or perceived disability.

‘In God We Trust’ Signs to Be Posted in Every Louisiana School

Every school building in Louisiana must display the nation’s motto, “In God We Trust,” under a new law that goes into effect this school year. Social studies classes also must teach students about the national motto by fifth grade under the new law. The law says, “each public school governing authority shall display the national motto in each building it uses and in each school under its jurisdiction.” A Democrat, Sen. Regina Ashford Barrow, was the bill’s lead sponsor. She said that America has suffered morally by taking God out of public schools. She was inspired to promote the bill by the governor’s prayer breakfast and by the senate’s practice of praying.

Judge Rules Transgender Students Can Choose Bathroom to Use

A Virginia school district’s policy that bars transgender students from using the bathroom they choose violates the Constitution, a federal judge has ruled. According to The Christian Post, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that Gloucester County’s School Board policy that prohibited Gavin Grimm, a transgender student, from using the boys’ bathroom violated the 14thAmendment, which grants equal protection of laws, and also violated Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which says no person can be discriminated against on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities. Judge Arenda Wright Allen also ordered that the school district change Grimm’s transcripts to Grimm’s new identity as male and that the district also pay the student’s attorney fees.

States Sue Feds Over Rollback of Coal Climate Rules

A coalition of 29 states and cities on Tuesday sued to block the Trump administration from easing restrictions on coal-burning power plants. The move could ultimately limit how much leverage future administrations would have to fight climate change by restricting what are believed to be a major source of Earth-warming pollution. The Clean Power Plan required states to implement plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2022. The Plan encouraged the closing of heavily-polluting plants and replacing those energy sources with natural gas or renewable energy. The lawsuit — by 22 states and seven cities — is the latest swing of the legal pendulum in a long-running dispute over how to regulate emissions from coal plants.

Immigration Workers Threatened by Leftists

Shots were fired into an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office and another facility associated with the agency in San Antonio, Texas, early Tuesday. Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday that the latest attack on an ICE facility in Texas could be the result of politicians and pundits “demonizing” federal agents for enforcing existing laws. ICE workers are facing a rapidly escalating series of amid a rising tide of anti-ICE rhetoric from the left fueled by congressional Democrats, media voices and presidential hopefuls. Protesters in Florida from groups such as Never Again Action and Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward County threatened workers and former employees of the GEO Group, a private contractor used by ICE. One protester threatened the family of GEO Group’s former general counsel, John Bulfin. “We know where all your children live throughout the country … John Bulfin you have kids in [bleeped out], you have kids in [bleeped out],” the protester yelled. “We know everything about you and you won’t just be seeing us here.” “We know where you sleep at night,” another protester shouted.

Immigration Update

In one of President Trump’s most significant immigration moves to date, the Trump administration announced plans to penalize immigrants who use or might use public benefits, a move aimed at curbing legal immigration. Applicants could be denied green cards and other immigration benefits if they use food assistance, housing vouchers or other forms of public welfare. The new rule means many green card and visa applicants could be turned down if they have low incomes or little education, because they’d be deemed more likely to need government assistance in the future.

Immigration authorities believe that the poultry companies raided last week intentionally hired undocumented workers, search warrants say. There were clear signs that the companies were hiring people who could not legally work in the country, the search warrants allege: Some workers wore ankle monitors, gave Social Security numbers belonging to the deceased or were hired twice by the same manager using different first and last assumed names, reports the Washington Post.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans support admitting Central American refugees into the United States, compared to 39% who do not, according to a new Gallup poll. That’s up from 51% approval in December versus 43% against. Of course, the results are widely skewed by politics: 85% of Democrats approve, compared to 13% who disapprove while 24% of Republicans approve and 71% disapprove. In addition, 58% of independents approve, while 37% disapprove.

Google Staffer Releases Documents Exposing Censorship of Pro-Life, Conservative Web Sites

A Google staffer released documents Wednesday exposing a massive censorship campaign where the ubiquitous Google search engine purposefully censored pro-life and conservative web sites, including LifeNews.com. Google Insider Zachary Vorhies has given an interview to watchdog group Project Veritas where he discusses how he documented Google censorship of leading pro-life and conservative web sites for over a year. He made the decision to go public in an on-the-record video interview after Google went after him following the release of the information to Project Veritas. Project Veritas has released hundreds of internal Google documents leaked by Vorhies. Among those documents is a file called “news black list site for google now.” The document, according to Vorhies, is a “black list,” which restricts certain websites from appearing on news feeds for an Android Google product.

Economic News

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell below the yield on the two-year. That hasn’t happened since 2007 and, historically, an inverted yield curve signals that an economic slowdown is coming. That caused the Dow Jones stock market index to fall over 800 points (down 3%) early Wednesday. Investors are worried about a mix of things, including the effect of the trade war between the United States and China, unrest in Hong Kong, uncertainty around the Brexit in Europe and the projected pace of interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve.

As a result of the trade war, Chinese factory output, retail spending and investment weakened in July, suggesting the world’s second-largest economy faces downward pressure on growth. Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, contracted 0.1% in the second quarter of the year from the previous three-month period as global trade conflicts combined with troubles in the auto industry to hamper its economy.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Tuesday said it would delay until Dec. 15 the tariffs on many Chinese products, including cellphones, laptop computers, video game consoles, some toys, computer monitors, shoes and clothing. However, 10% tariffs will go into effect Sept. 1 on about $300 billion in Chinese imports extending the import taxes on just about everything China ships to the United States in a dispute over Beijing’s aggressive trade policies. Some products are being removed from the tariff list for “health, safety, national security and other factors,” the office said.

The average American is struggling to make ends meet each month, with 59% of U.S. adults saying they live paycheck to paycheck, according to a recent survey from Charles Schwab. Furthermore, nearly half of survey participants say they carry credit card debt and struggle to keep up with the payments. Only 38% of people have an emergency fund, and one in five Americans don’t have a any money at all saved for retirement. Record American household debt has reached $14 trillion including mortgages and student loans, and is $1 trillion higher than during the Great Recession of 2008. Credit card debt of $1 trillion also exceeds the 2008 peak. There was a 5% increase in total bankruptcy filings in July 2019 from the previous month.

Mortgage rates are lower than they’ve been in years, causing a tsunami of refinancing. The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.93% last week for loans of $484,000 or less — the first time those loans have been below 4% in nearly three years. Rates are even lower on larger mortgages and on 15-year loans. That sparked a 37% jump in the number of refinancing loans last week compared to the previous week.

The U.S. Postal Service reported that revenue was flat at just above $17 billion for the second quarter of 2019. It lost $1.1 billion for the quarter that ended June 30. Many point to the inefficient, massive infrastructure as the root cause. The USPS has 497,157 career employees and 31,324 retail post offices. With heavy competition from email, FedEx and UPS, the future of the Postal Service is very much in doubt.

Persecution Watch

As authorities in Mainland China continue their crackdown on Christian churches, Catholic dioceses in the north are reporting the Communist government is banning educational gatherings for kids, forcing churches to cancel summer camps. According to the Union of Catholic Asia News, one parish was forced to cancel its camp after publicly promoting it, while another one—held in secret—went on as planned and without incident. Another diocese had to move a summer class from a large parish to a smaller one in a rural village out of fear of retaliation.

Church leaders have urged India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate action against violent extremists after a series of attacks against Christians left a pastor and two of his congregation badly beaten. The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) called on the government and district authorities to take steps to safeguard the rights of religious minority communities and to provide protection for churches against attack.

A gang of Buddhist monks viciously beat up a Christian student in Sri Lanka on 4 August, according to Bishop Asiri Perara, the president of the country’s Methodist Church. The attack took place immediately after a Sunday worship service held at a home in the town of Mahiyanganaya, in central Sri Lanka. Three monks targeted the head, stomach and spine of their young victim, a Bible college student.

Middle East

On Sunday, Jews around the world marked Tisha Be’Av, a date on the Hebrew calendar when a long list of calamities have afflicted the Jewish People throughout history, including the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. The Western Wall in the capital’s Old City was the site of a procession at the start of Tisha Be’Av on Saturday evening. Riots broke out on the nearby Temple Mount Sunday as Moslem protesters gathered to mark the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha. They then attacked Jewish visitors to the site. Several Israeli political leaders decried the situation whereby Jewish worshipers are unable to visit their holy sites without fear of being attacked.

Israel will bar a visit by two of its sharpest critics in the U.S. Congress, Democrats Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who planned to tour the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the country’s deputy foreign minister said on Thursday. President Trump had earlier urged Israel on Thursday not to allow the visit by Tlaib and Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress and members of the Democratic party’s progressive wing. The pair have voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. Under Israeli law, backers of the BDS movement can be denied entry to Israel for being hostile toward Israel. The move has ignited a massive outcry from Washington Democrats, as Netanyahu’s government stood by the decision arguing that the U.S. lawmakers have an anti-Israel agenda. After Israel said it would allow Tlaib to enter the country to visit her 90-year-old grandmother—on the condition she not promote a boycott of Israel—Tlaib rejected the offer. “Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother,” Israel’s interior minister Aryeh Deri tweeted.

Iran

On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Gibraltar defied US intervention and ordered the release of an Iranian oil tanker which had been seized by that territory’s police force, with assistance from British Royal Marines, as it attempted to pass through the strategic waterway because of suspicions that Iran was attempting to send oil to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in violation of US and EU sanctions. The order to release the Iranian tanker was the latest move in a geostrategic chess match between Iran and the US, The original seizure of the Iranian tanker on 4 July sparked a series of events including the shoot-down of a US military drone over the Persian Gulf and sabotage attacks on oil tankers flagged by several countries, as well as seizures of British-owned oil tankers by naval units of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

German exports to Iran fell by nearly half in the first six months of 2019, data showed on Monday, suggesting companies are scaling back business ties with Tehran to avoid trouble with the United States after Washington reimposed sanctions.

Syria

Women in the Kurdish town in northeastern Syria form a long shoulder-to-shoulder line to prevent Turkish troops from invading their towns. Their formation is what they call their very own human shield – comprised of self-declared feminists belonging to their group called “Kongra Star” with the tagline “Woman, Life, Freedom.” If Turkey attacks, “they have to go through civilian women first.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had re-ignited tensions with the U.S. after warning that his troops would be sent over the border to combat the Syrian-Kurdish forces, known as the SDF. While Turkey views the fighters as terrorists given their ties to the Kurdish separatists’ group the PKK, they are backed and armed by the United States, who utilized the SDF as the ground force in the fight against ISIS.

North Korea

U.N. experts reported that they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Koreans using cyberattacks to illegally raise money for weapons of mass destruction programs – and they are calling for sanctions against ships providing gasoline and diesel to the country. The report said that North Korea illegally acquired as much as $2 billion from its increasingly sophisticated cyber activities against financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges. Neighboring South Korea was hardest-hit, the victim of 10 North Korean cyberattacks, followed by India with three attacks, and Bangladesh and Chile with two each. President Donald Trump said on Saturday that Kim Jong Un told him he was ready to resume talks on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and would stop missile testing as soon as U.S.-South Korea military exercises end.

Russia

An explosion at a northern Russian base that killed at least five scientists last week involved a small nuclear reactor, state nuclear officials said. The blast occurred Thursday on a platform in the White Sea off Nyonoksa and reportedly caused nearby radiation spike in Severodvinsk. State-controlled nuclear energy company Rosatom said the explosion occurred during a test of “a nuclear isotope power source” for a rocket. The SSC-X-9 Skyfall is a prototype cruise  missile that could reach any corner of the world with a nuclear reactor as its power source. The Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority on Thursday said “tiny amounts of radioactive iodine” had been detected at an air-filter station, one week after the mystery-shrouded explosion at a Russian military test range.

Hong Kong

One of the world’s busiest airports canceled all flights after thousands of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters crowded into the main terminal Monday afternoon. Hong Kong International Airport said in a statement that the demonstration “seriously disrupted” airport operations. Hong Kong has experienced more than two months of mass protests calling for democratic reforms and an independent inquiry into police conduct, with both the protesters and police adopting ever-more extreme tactics. Many protesters wore eye patches after reports that a young woman lost an eye after being hit by a police beanbag round fired at close range during protests on Sunday. A massive traffic jam soon formed on the highway leading back to Hong Kong’s city center, with some people walking in the sweltering weather. Bearing batons and pepper spray, Hong Kong riot police officers clashed with anti-government protesters who crippled the airport on Tuesday for the second straight day, chaos that underscored the deepening unrest gripping the city.

Australia

Three British men are being hailed as heroes after confronting a knife-wielding man who killed one woman and wounded another in downtown Sydney before trying to stab others Tuesday while yelling “Allahu akbar,” according to police and witnesses. Authorities have not labeled the stabbing rampage as an act of terrorism, but the 21-year-old suspect with a history of mental illness had collected information online about mass killings in North America and New Zealand. The incident unfolded around 2 p.m. near a busy intersection in Australia’s largest city when the man carrying a 12-inch knife attempted to stab multiple people.

Environment

Scientists say they’ve found an abundance of tiny plastic particles in Arctic snow, indicating that so-called microplastics are being sucked into the atmosphere and carried long distances to some of the remotest corners of the planet. The researchers examined snow collected from sites in the Arctic, northern Germany, the Bavarian and Swiss Alps, and the North Sea island of Heligoland. Their findings were published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. Previous studies have found microplastics—which are created when man-made materials break apart—in the air of Paris, Tehran, and Dongguan, China. The highest concentrations of microplastics were found in the Bavarian Alps. The Arctic samples were less contaminated, but still the third-highest concentration. The research demonstrated the fragments become airborne in a way similar to dust and pollen. While there’s growing concern about the environmental impact of microplastics, scientists have yet to determine what effect, if any, the minute particles have on humans or wildlife.

Natural Resources Department data shows a growing “dead zone” in Chesapeake Bay. The area with little to no oxygen spread to 2 cubic miles by late July, making it one of the worst in decades. By comparison, July dead zones averaged about 1.35 cubic miles for the past 35 years. The worst section includes the lower Potomac and Patuxent rivers and much of the Bay, from Baltimore to the mouth of the York River. University of Maryland environmental scientists say heavy rains washed wastewater and agricultural runoff into the bay and produced oxygen-stealing algae. Scientists warn that it could harm crabs, oysters and the state’s seafood industry.

The city of Newark, New Jersey, has begun handing out bottled water after tests showed some homes still have high lead levels despite having filters installed. Residents were able to pick up bottled water beginning Monday. Officials said that’s about 14,000 households. The city has distributed about 38,000 of the filters in the past eight months. Since 2017, when Newark exceeded the federal “action level” of 15 parts per billion of lead during testing of residential homes, city officials had maintained the problem was nothing like the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Earthquakes

A 4.2 magnitude earthquake shook portions of Kansas on Friday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The center of the quake was roughly 3 miles from Hutchinson. There were no reports of major damage or injuries, although residents reported minor damage with things falling off shelves and walls.

Wildfires

Firefighters continued Wednesday to battle a major wildfire burning through a protected nature reserve on the Greek island of Evia, where hundreds of people had been evacuated from four villages and a monastery. The flames were fanned by strong winds, hampering efforts to control their spread and carrying smoke from the fire as far as Athens, the Greek capital. Evia is the second-largest Greek island after Crete and the nature reserve is part of the European Union’s Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

More than 1,000 people have been unable to return to their homes as a wildfire continues to burn on Gran Canaria, one of Spain’s Canary Islands off the coast of northwest Africa. Wind gusts up to 45 mph fanned the flames. The wildfire grew to more than 5.5 square miles overnight, officials said Monday.

Weather

July was the Earth’s hottest month on record, federal scientists announced Thursday. The global temperature for July was 62.13 degrees Fahrenheit, which was 1.71 degrees higher than the average for the 20th century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. It beat the previous record warm month, which was July 2016. Records date back to 1880. Last month marked the 43rd consecutive July and the 415th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average.

A tornado last Friday ripped across the southern part of Luxembourg, damaging homes and injuring several nearly two dozen people. Roofs were ripped off of about 100 homes. Seven people were taken to the hospital, at least one with serious injuries. Tornadoes are unusual but not unheard of in the small European country of only about 600,000 people, sandwiched between Germany, Belgium and France. A tornado was also reported in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

At least 18 people were killed Saturday after Typhoon Lekima struck China’s coast south of Shanghai, knocking down houses and trees Another 14 people were missing after Lekima hit land at 1:45 a.m. on Saturday in Zhejiang province. A river that was blocked by a landslide rose 10 meters (30 feet) and then broke through the debris, flooding homes. More than 1 million people were evacuated before the storm struck.

Torrential monsoon rains have left at least 200 people dead in India and Pakistan. Major landslides hit Kerala’s Wayanad and Malappuram districts. Officials fear that many people are trapped beneath the surface. Several houses are still covered under 10-12 feet of deep mud. More than 165,000 people have fled their homes for relief camps. In Myanmar, 53 people were killed and 47 rescued as landslides forced thousands from their homes on Sunday The downpours have also inundated much of Pakistan where at least 17 people have died.

Signs of the Times

August 9, 2019

­­But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2Timothy 3:1-5)

Apple News Restores LifeSiteNews After Protest

Last week, Apple News abruptly disabled LifeSite’s channel, and deleted all of their content from their platform. Since last week, over 57,000 people signed a petition demanding that Apple re-enable LifeSite’s channel. Approximately 1000 of those signatories also opted to send a physical postcard to Apple’s headquarters, demanding LifeSite’s channel be re-instated. Wednesday, the Apple News team informed LifeSite that they have “re-evaluated” our channel. LifeSite’s channel and articles are once again available on the Apple News app. Apple News is an app that is available on all Apple devices. It aggregates news content from thousands of publishers. Apple users can “follow” their favorite news sites and receive customized updates.

Another Court Rejects Attempts to Remove Christian Symbols

A federal appellate court on Thursday rejected an attempt by the Wisconsin-based atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation to censor the image of a cross from Lehigh County’s historic seal. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia ruled 3-0 that after the Supreme Court upheld the Bladensburg Cross war memorial as an historic monument, Lehigh County can maintain its seal as a symbol that “has become part of the community.” Lehigh County’s seal, which has been in use for over 70 years without any complaints, features a cross representing the county’s early German settlers who fled persecution in their homeland seeking religious freedom in America. The seal also features over a dozen other images representing important aspects of the county’s rich history and culture. Becket, a non-profit religious rights law firm, represented Lehigh County, arguing that the Constitution allows communities to maintain religious symbols in the public square in recognition of the significant role of religion in our history and culture.

School Prayer Zone Signs Placed in South Carolina

As students and parents prepare for a new school year in Richland County, South Carolina, they’ll be greeted by a sign different than usual: one inviting them to pray. The “School Prayer Zone” signs look similar to regular road signs but feature green male and female stick figures praying. A Biblical reference, 2 Chronicles 7:14, is also included in the bottom right corner, according to CBN News. Vanessa Frazier, founder and director of Christ Teens, worked with the South Carolina Department of Transportation for three years and hopes the signs will “create a wall of prayer around the schools.” The signs are placed on privately owned properties of churches near schools, making the signs legal.

Gillette Bombs With ‘Toxic Masculinity’ Ads

“Your stupid boycotts will never make a dent in a company like P&G,” one liberal scoffed back in January. Turns out, they didn’t just make a dent. After a string of male-bashing, transgender shaving ads, the parent company of Gillette got nicked so badly, market experts wonder if the brand will survive, reports The Family Research Council. Gillette’s CEO insists the radical activism was “worth the price.” So far, that price is a whopping $8 billion dollars. To most customers, a razor company dabbling in gender politics never made sense in the first place. Gillette used to be “the best a man can get.” Now the company can’t even acknowledge what a man actually is! Things for the brand started to unravel earlier this year when P&G gave the green light to a controversial commercial about the culture’s “toxic masculinity.”

GOP Freezes Twitter Spending After McConnell’s Site Locked

The Republican Party, the Trump campaign, and other GOP organizations say they are freezing their spending on Twitter to protest the platform’s treatment of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Twitter temporarily locked McConnell’s campaign account Wednesday after it shared a video in which some protesters spoke of violence outside his Kentucky home where he is recovering from a shoulder fracture. The social media platform said in a statement that users were locked out temporarily due to a tweet “that violated our violent threats policy, specifically threats involving physical safety.”

  • Ironic that the violent threats came from liberals whom Twitter favors

Censorship By Big Tech Against Conservative/Christian Site Growing

Although today’s Big Tech companies, from Google and YouTube to Facebook and Twitter, steadfastly insist they don’t discriminate against conservatives, an ever-enlarging mountain of cases demonstrates otherwise. And as if hundreds of cases weren’t proof enough, the courageous undercover researchers at Project Veritas videoed Twitter employees openly admitting that their company “shadow bans” conservatives. (Shadow banning essentially means a user can post a message to Twitter, but no one else sees it.) In February, Project Veritas also got a Facebook insider confirming on camera that the social media giant discriminates against conservatives through software manipulation, using “special features” to “de-boost” their traffic – especially near elections. After releasing two videos exposing voter fraud by the left, Twitter shut down the account of James O’Keefe of Project Veritas in October 2016, just before the November presidential election. Radio host and PragerU President Dennis Prager said Wednesday that freedom of speech is being denied by Google, with content from his own platform repeatedly restricted by YouTube (owned by Google).

  • Those who once championed tolerance have now become intolerant. Click here for a detailed listing of dozens of censorship cases by Big Tech

Two Mass Shootings in 24 Hours, 251 This Year

As gunfire ripped through America in an unprecedented 24 hours, a bleak milestone in a nation pocked by gun violence was marked: There have been 251 mass shootings in 2019. A shooting spree early Sunday at an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio – which left at least nine dead and 16 hurt – notched an even darker statistic: It occurred on the 216th day of the year, meaning there have been more mass shootings than days so far this year. That incident followed a rampage Saturday at a Walmart jammed with back-to-school shoppers in El Paso, Texas, that left 20 dead and 26 injured.

  • The Ohio gunman described himself on social media as a pro-Satan “leftist” who wanted Joe Biden’s generation to die off, hated President Trump and law enforcement, and hoped to vote for Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president. “I want socialism, and I’ll not wait for the idiots to finally come round to understanding,” he wrote in one tweet, reports the Washington Times.
  • The El Paso shooter, Patrick Crusius, is suspected of posting an anti-immigrant manifesto online that warned of an “Hispanic invasion of Texas” prior to the shooting rampage in the heavily Hispanic border city. Federal prosecutors are treating the El Paso shooting as a case of domestic terrorism.

The bloody 24 hours also came in a particularly painful week: Two people were shot and killed at a Walmart store in Southaven, Mississippi, south of Memphis on Tuesday, and three people were killed by gunfire Sunday at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California. The shooting that killed 20 people at a crowded El Paso shopping area will be handled as a domestic terrorism case, federal authorities said Sunday as they weighed hate-crime charges against the suspected gunman that could carry the death penalty.

  • The root cause of the increase in mass murders is spiritual – the Second Horseman is provoking susceptible people to commit murder (Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword. (Revelation 6:4)

President Trump Condemns White Supremacy and Racism

For the first time, President Trump strongly condemned white nationalism and hate: “In one voice, our nation must condemn racist bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated,” Trump said. “Hate has no place in America.” Trump vowed that the nation will respond with “urgent resolve” to a weekend of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Trump did not express support for broad gun control but called for action on mental illness, video games and the “perils of the internet and social media,” saying he wants “red flag” laws to prevent more tragedy. “We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process,” Trump said. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he will propose bipartisan legislation encouraging states to enact red flag laws of their own. Trump also called for the FBI to prioritize domestic terrorism cases.

  • Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine has proposed that his state adopt a version of a “red flag law” which would allow authorities to take firearms from a person deemed by a court to be dangerous.

Study of Gun Control Indicates Murder Rate Can be Reduced by a Third

A study by Boston University analyzed 10 different state firearms laws over a 26-year period and found three that, when enforced in conjunction with one another, reduced the rate of homicides and suicides by more than a third. They concluded that state and local laws affecting who can purchase and carry firearms may, in fact, be more effective than banning the sale and possession of automatic or semi-automatic weapons. Neither banning assault weapons nor banning high-capacity magazines shows any statistical significance in reducing firearm-related homicide rates, according to the study.

  • Gun control will mitigate the number and extent of mass murder incidents, but it won’t stop all the killing. Why? Because the Second Horseman of murder (Revelation 6:4) has been loosed upon the earth. Whether by gun, knife, bomb, missile, drone, whatever, murders will become more and more frequent until the Lord Jesus returns and rules and reigns on the New Earth in the New Jerusalem.

Mass Shooters Not Just White Males

The attacks in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend that have taken at least 31 lives have put a spotlight on the problem of young, isolated white men carrying out mass shootings. But a list of the people arrested or charged in the 255 mass shootings recorded this year — defined as four or more people shot or killed — shows the problem isn’t confined to white men or motivations of white supremacy. If there’s a thread, it’s young men whose biological father was missing in their lives. After the Parkland school massacre in Florida, the Heritage Foundation cited a study showing that among the 25 most-cited school shooters since Columbine, 75 percent were reared in broken homes. Most, according to psychologist Peter Langman, an expert on school shooters, came from homes that also experienced infidelity, substance abuse, criminal behavior, domestic violence and child abuse.

ICE Raid Nets 680, But 300 Released

U.S. immigration officials raided numerous Mississippi food processing plants Wednesday, arresting 680 mostly Latino workers in what marked the largest workplace sting in at least a decade. On Wednesday, about 600 ICE agents fanned out across food processing plants operated by five companies, surrounding the perimeters to prevent workers from fleeing. Those arrested were taken to the military hangar to be processed for immigration violations. More than 300 had been released by Thursday morning with notices to appear before immigration judges. Those released included 18 juveniles. More than 100 civil rights activists, union organizers and clergy members in Mississippi denounced the raid, but the state’s Republican Gov. Phil Bryant commended ICE for the arrests, tweeting that anyone in the country illegally has to “bear the responsibility of that federal violation.” Mississippi residents rallied around children left with no parents and migrants locked themselves in their homes for fear of being arrested.

Illegal Immigration Plummets as Mexico Steps Up

Illegal immigration across the southwestern border has been cut dramatically over the past two months, officials revealed Thursday, pointing to President Trump’s deal with Mexico to step up that country’s enforcement as the chief reason. The Border Patrol nabbed about 72,000 people who sneaked across the border in July — a reduction of almost half compared with the peak of two months ago. Border cities that were so overwhelmed that they declared states of emergency are getting back to normal, with drops of 70% or more in the regions of El Paso, Texas, and Yuma, Arizona. Where border facilities had more than 19,000 people in custody at one point in June, they had about 4,700 in custody Thursday. Based on Mexican government figures and reporting by The Associated Press, at least 40,000 migrants who have reached the U.S. border with Mexico are on a waiting list for an initial attempt to seek asylum or waiting for a court hearing in the U.S. after being sent back.

Boy Scouts Called ‘Largest Pedophile Ring on Earth’

Claiming to represent hundreds of sexual abuse victims, an organization called Abused in Scouting called on Congress to address what it calls the “largest pedophile ring on earth.” At a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, AIS lawyers announced their first lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America. Lawyer Stewart Eisenberg told reporters the team has a file of some 350 alleged predators from 48 states and the District of Columbia. “Each one of these 350 abusers has probably dozens of other victims who have not come forward,” he said. More than 800 people between the ages of 14 and 88 have reported to AIS they were sexually abused as scouts.

Economic News

America’s housing market has stagnated for four years. In June, existing home sales decreased 1.7% from May and 2.2% from a year earlier. That’s about on par with where home sales were in 2015. Interest rates are dropping and American mortgages are cheaper than they’ve been in years. The US economy is strong. That’s a recipe for a booming housing market — but it’s not. Although mortgages have become cheaper, houses haven’t. Homes are moving out of the price range for many buyers because of an undersupply of available homes. A shortage of construction workers, has slowed new home construction. It also remains unclear how much the removal of the homeowner mortgage interest tax incentive has hurt the housing market.

Beijing responded to President Trump’s threat to place new tariffs on Chinese goods on Monday by letting its currency, the Chinese yuan, sink to the weakest level in over a decade and ordering state-owned companies to reportedly halt their purchases of U.S. agricultural products. A weaker yuan makes Chinese goods cheaper for overseas buyers, which may be necessary as China just lost its spot as the U.S.’s biggest trading partner. Trade data released Friday by the Department of Commerce showed U.S. imports from China fell by 12% in the first six months of the year, allowing Mexico to supplant it as the U.S.’s biggest trade partner. President Trump slammed China’s decision, calling it “a major violation” and the Treasury Department officially labeled China as a “currency manipulator” and will now coordinate efforts with the International Monetary Fund “to eliminate the unfair competitive advantage created by China’s latest actions.”

Frazzled investors are rushing to buy gold and government bonds as fears of a global recession, sparked by a trade war, grow more real. The push into safer investments lifted US gold futures briefly above $1,500 per ounce on Wednesday for the first time in more than six years. U.S. Treasury yields, which move opposite price, collapsed to levels unseen since just before President Donald Trump’s 2016 election. Meanwhile, investors sold stocks. The Dow fell as much as 589 points Wednesday in the first minutes of trading, resuming a weeklong slide triggered by fears of a prolonged trade standoff between the United States and China.

Fears that Germany could be dragged into recession by the trade war between the United States and China were stoked on Wednesday by data showing that production in Europe’s manufacturing powerhouse plunged in June. Industrial output dropped more than 5% compared to the previous year, a performance that suggests Europe’s largest economy may have contracted in the second quarter. Germany relies heavily on exporters that sell a disproportionate amount of goods to China and the United States. Central banks in India, Thailand and New Zealand cut interest rates amid fears of worsening  U.S.-China relations. These moves signify the possibility that these trade wars might morph into a broader currency war, some analysts say.

The Trump administration froze all Venezuelan government assets Monday in a dramatic escalation of tensions with Nicolás Maduro that places his socialist administration alongside a short list of adversaries from Cuba, North Korea, Syria, and Iran that have been targeted by aggressive US actions. The ban blocking American companies and individuals from doing business with Maduro’s government and its top supporters, which takes effect immediately, is the first of its kind in the western hemisphere in over three decades, following an asset freeze against Gen. Manuel Noriega’s government in Panama and a trade embargo on the Sandinista leadership in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

Persecution Watch

Authorities in China have erased the words Bible, God and Christ from classic children’s stories including Robinson Crusoe and The Little Match Girl as part of moves to redact Christian references. The popular stories are among four works by foreign writers are featured in a new Chinese school textbook for fifth grade pupils, aged around 11, that offers students an “understanding of other cultures”, according to the Ministry of Education. But author Daniel Defoe’s description of how castaway Robinson Crusoe recovers three Bibles from the remains of his shipwreck has been altered from the original 1718 novel to read that Crusoe saved “a few books” Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson said in his 1845 short story, The Little Match Girl, that “when a star falls, a soul goes to be with God”. In the sinicised (made Chinese) version, the text reads, “When a star falls, a person leaves this world.” The Chinese authorities announced new policies of sinicisation in a White Paper on religion in early 2018, with the intention of selectively reinterpreting Christianity and Scripture.

Interrupting a worship service, police in Algeria sealed a church building in north-central Algeria, less than three months after locking shut another site in the same area. Three days earlier Pastor Takilt was issued a three-day ultimatum to remove all contents from the building and a summons to report to the brigade. After emptying the premises of all furniture and other items, the two officers rushed to seal every door, including an outdoor bathroom “I am deeply saddened by so much injustice – it breaks my heart,” pastor Messaoud Takilt told Morning Star News. “This is not surprising since other Christian places of worship have been closed and sealed as was the case today. But anyway, we will continue to celebrate our services outside while the Lord gives us grace for a final solution.”

Israel

An estimated 150,000 rockets threaten Israel from just one terrorist organization, Hezbollah. Yaakov Lappin, a military and strategic affairs correspondent, explained the Lebanese Hezbollah is “the world’s most heavily armed non-state actor, and its surface-to-surface firepower arsenal – estimated at around 150,000 projectiles – is larger” than the arsenal of most state armies. The report explained Hezbollah has built its arsenal through “smuggling projectiles into 200 southern Lebanese villages, as well as launch sites in the Bekaa Valley in east Lebanon.”

Middle East

Reports out of the Palestinian Authority administered areas indicate that difficult economic conditions are having an increasingly negative effect on the lives of ordinary people. “For the last seven months, we have been paid half of our salaries. Teachers and public employees can barely buy basic goods for their families,” Hilmi Hamdan, general secretary of the Palestinian Teachers Union, told The Media Line. He added that despite the hardships, the majority of Palestinians support the PA’s position of refusing to accept tax revenues and import duties collected by Israel. “The Palestinian people as a whole are being affected due to Israeli occupation policies and its financial blackmail of the PA. Israeli policies” Hamdan continued, “aim to pressure our leadership to accept the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ [the Trump Administration’s peace plan] and end the Palestinian cause…we stand with the PA and its position.”

Iran

Another foreign oil tanker was seized in the Persian Gulf, Iran’s state media said Sunday – the third such ship to be detained by Tehran amid high tensions between Iran and the U.S. after Washington renewed sanctions on Iran’s oil exports. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced it detained the ship’s foreign crew for smuggling 700,000 liters – about 185,000 gallons – of fuel from Iran. Seven sailors were detained. The ship was reportedly seized near Farsi Island, a small, barren enclave in the Persian Gulf.

Syria

The United States and Turkey agreed on Wednesday to create a safe zone in northeastern Syria that would allow Turkey to protect its borders from Syrian-Kurdish forces that it regards as a terrorist threat and provide Syrian refugees in Turkey a safe space to return home. Defense officials from both countries issued separate but similar statements after three days of talks in Ankara, the Turkish capital. The statements gave no details on the size of the zone or how it will be policed.

Afghanistan

A powerful Taliban car bomb exploded on Wednesday outside the entrance of a police station in Kabul, the Afghan capital, killing 14 people and injuring at least 145 others as peace negotiations between the militants and United States diplomats continued. The explosion, following repeated warnings from the United Nations on rising civilian casualties, was the latest to strike a heavily populated area during the morning rush hour.

Yemen

The Saudi-led coalition’s closure of the airport in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, has prevented thousands of sick civilians from traveling abroad for urgent medical treatment, two international aid groups said in a joint statement. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE, the Sanaa airport’s three-year closure has amounted to a “death sentence” for many sick Yemenis. The two groups appealed late Monday on Yemen’s warring parties to come to an agreement to reopen the airport for commercial flights to “alleviate humanitarian suffering caused by the closure.” The Saudi-led coalition, backing Yemen’s internationally recognized government, has been at war with the rebels, known as Houthis, since 2015, and has imposed a blockade on ports that supply Houthi-controlled areas.

North Korea

North Korea on Tuesday fired two more missiles, marking the fourth time it has done so since July 25. The unidentified missiles traveled across the country from the west and into the sea; the previous launches all took place in the east. The launch comes a day after US-South Korean military exercises reportedly began, much to the North’s displeasure. While the annual drills are being characterized as understated this time around. The exercises are slated to be computer simulations, not involving combat troops and military gear. Nevertheless, North Korea sees them as a violation of deals made with the two countries. A representative for the foreign ministry was quoted by state media as saying, “Despite our repeated warnings … the joint military exercise targeting” North Korea have begun, and we “will be compelled to seek a new road as we have already indicated.”

Russia

More than 600 protestors have been arrested in Moscow for an “unauthorized protest.” The group came together to demand far elections in Russia. People are upset that the elections commission said opposition candidates cannot take part in Moscow elections planned for September 8, BBC reported. Roughly 1,500 people took place in the protest. More than a thousand people protested at a similar rally in St. Petersburg, which was authorized by city officials. Many protest leaders have been in jail since last week, with sentences up to 30 days. Investigators have also opened a criminal probe investigating those organizing mass civil unrest, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in jail.

India

The Indian government said on Monday that it was revoking a constitutional provision that had for decades given a unique degree of autonomy to Kashmir, a disputed mountainous region along the India-Pakistan border, reports the New York Times. For many years, Kashmir has been governed differently than other parts of India. India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party has deep roots in a Hindu nationalist ideology and one of its campaign promises during the election this year had been removing the special status of Kashmir, which is predominantly Muslim. The Indian government also said that it would support a parliamentary bill to split the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which includes the Kashmir Valley, into two federal territories: Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a state legislature. Separatist groups, including some that are armed and maintain links to neighboring Pakistan, have been chafing for independence from India for years. About 8,000 supporters of a Pakistani Islamist party are marching Friday toward the Indian embassy in Islamabad to denounce New Delhi’s actions to change the special status of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Philippines

On Tuesday, the Philippines declared a “national dengue epidemic” according to a release from its Department of Health. There have been more than 146,000 recorded cases of dengue fever from Jan. 1 through July 20, 2019, with a total of 622 deaths, up 98% from 2018. Dengue viruses are spread by the same species of mosquito that spread chikungunya and Zika, among other viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dengue is common in more than 100 countries around the world. Up to 400 million people are infected yearly with 22,000 dying from dengue on average. Because there are four different dengue viruses, a person can be infected by the virus up to four times in their life. According to the CDC, about 1 in 4 people infected with dengue will become ill.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez was sworn in as governor Wednesday after the island’s Supreme Court earlier in the day overturned the swearing-in of Pedro Pierluisi last Friday. Pierluisi was sworn in after former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló resigned due to massive protests from Puerto Ricans frustrated with corruption, mismanagement and a leaked obscenity-laced chat in which Rosselló and 11 other men made fun of women, gay people and Hurricane Maria victims. Rosselló, before stepping down, appointed Pierluisi secretary of state while legislators were in recess. Although Puerto Rico’s House approved his nomination, the Senate did not. Secretary of State would be the next person in line to become governor. The Senate sued and argued that it need to approve Rosselló’s appointment. The Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled in the favor of the Senate. The Justice Secretary was next in line to be sworn in. Vázquez had previously said she had “no interest” in becoming governor. However in a statement Wednesday, Vázquez said she would step up as governor. “Puerto Rico needs assurance and stability,” she said.

Mexico

Mexican police found nine bodies hanging from an overpass Thursday alongside a drug cartel banner threatening rivals, and seven more corpses hacked up and dumped by the road nearby. Just down the road were three more bodies, for a total of 19. The killing spree reported by prosecutors in the western state of Michoacan marked a return to the grisly massacres carried out by drug cartels at the height of Mexico’s 2006-2012 drug war, when piles of bodies were dumped on roadways as a message to authorities and rival gangs. While the banner was not completely legible, it bore the initials of the notoriously violent Jalisco drug cartel, and mentioned the Viagras, a rival gang. “Be a patriot, kill a Viagra,” the banner read in part. “Meanwhile, in another part of Mexico, an angry crowd beat and hanged seven suspected kidnappers, leaving some of their bodies dangling from trees. This year is on course to be Mexico’s worst year for murders.

Earthquakes

Japan was struck by a strong earthquake centered just off the coast of northern Honshu on Sunday evening, but there are no reports of casualties or damage. The United States Geological Survey says Sunday’s quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.3. It was centered just over 30 miles east-northeast of Namie, Japan. The earthquake shook northern and central parts of Honshu, including Tokyo. In 2011, Fukushima was hit by a powerful quake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Environment

The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself. The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report. Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply. Already, more than 10 percent of the world’s population remains undernourished, and some authors of the report warned in interviews that food shortages could lead to an increase in cross-border migration. Data from a European climate agency on Monday showed that last month edged out July 2016 for the warmest month ever around the globe.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme, including scorching heat, bigger storms with large hail, floods in some places, drought in others (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

Wildfires

A wildfire burning in central Montana has prompted the evacuation of dozens of homes and has authorities concerned it could spread quickly through dense forest full of dead trees killed by bark beetles. The Horsefly Fire broke out Monday afternoon about 60 miles northeast of Helena and has burned more than 500 acres. Of 77 homes ordered to evacuate, Sheriff Leo Dutton said people in 27 homes complied with the evacuation orders, 17 homes decided to remain and there was no answer at 33 homes. Throughout the western United States, the numbers of bark beetles, or mountain pine beetles, have exploded. Their infestations have killed millions of trees, which can make firefighting a challenge.

Weather

Heavy storms knocked down tree and power lines and caused flash flooding Wednesday evening in the metropolitan Philadelphia area and across the state line between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where an EF0 tornado briefly touched down. Several people were rescued from cars stranded in standing water in Haverford Township just outside of Philadelphia. Nearly 53,000 customers were without power across the region. Flooding snarled rush-hour traffic around the Philadelphia area, and portions of interstates 76 and 476 were blocked by water.

At least 57 people have died during a stifling heat wave in Japan that has also sent more than 18,000 to hospitals with heat-related medical issues. More than half of those were people 65 and older. On Thursday, temperatures were forecast to reach 102 degrees in some parts of the country, a rarity in Japan.