2017 Presidential Election

October 25, 2016

Donald Trump will not win the Presidential election for two reasons:

  1. The New World Order won’t allow it.
    1. The globalists will do anything and everything in their power to prevent Trump from winning – from planting lies, to controlling the liberal media, even to assassination
    2. President Obama as well as the Bushes and Clintons have been backed and controlled by the global elite, but not Trump
  2. God won’t interfere because he is allowing His prophecies to be fulfilled
    1. Revelation 13 says the one-world government being set up by Satan will happen despite all the prayers of the saints
    2. In fact, Revelation 13:7 says the anti-Christ (beast) will overcome the saints
    3. All of this to fulfill Daniel’s prophecy (8:23) that sin must reach its fullness and usher in the anti-Christ before the Lord Jesus returns to take possession of His Kingdom

Signs of the Times (10/24/16)

October 24, 2016

Five Places Still Perform Late-Term Abortions

The topic of late-term abortions was raised in last week’s Presidential debate. Operation Rescue reports that there are five abortion facilities in the U.S. that perform late-term abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy and later. They call New Mexico the “Wild West” for late-term abortionists because there are essentially no laws restricting the practice or regulating it. The Southwestern Women’s Options facility is the largest late-term abortion facility in the U.S. “Documentation exists that provide details of a severely botched 35-week abortion there in 2011, which ruptured the uterus of the patient.” Like New Mexico, Colorado law allows for abortions through all nine months of pregnancy. According to a Federal Court lawsuit filed in Colorado, one patient suffered a horrific Third Trimester dismemberment abortion complication in 2013. The three other late-term abortion facilities are in Dayton, Ohio, Beverly Hills, California and Germantown, Maryland where one woman died of complications from a 33-week abortion in 2013.

  • 81% of Americans support banning abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy, according to a Marist poll in November, 2015. Even among those who identify themselves as “pro-choice,” two-thirds oppose second and third trimester abortions.

Iran Seeks More Cash for Hostages

Iran is seeking “many billions of dollars” in payments from the United States in exchange for the release of several U.S. hostages still being detained in Iran, according to reports by Iran’s state-controlled press that are reigniting debate over the Obama administration’s decision earlier this year to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash. Senior Iranian officials, including the country’s president, have been floating the possibility of further payments from the United States for months. Since the White House agreed to pay Tehran $1.7 billion in cash earlier this year as part of a deal bound up in the release of American hostages, Iran has captured several more U.S. citizens. Future payments to Iran could reach as much as $2 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter, who said that Iran is detaining U.S. citizens in Iran’s notorious Evin prison where inmates are routinely tortured and abused. Iranian news sources close to the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which has been handling prisoner swaps with the United States, reported on Tuesday that Iran expects “many billions of dollars to release” those U.S. citizens still being detained.”

Widespread Cyberattack Takes Down Sites Worldwide

A number of popular websites like Twitter and Netflix went down for some users on Friday in a massive cyberattack with international reach. Affected sites included Twitter, Etsy, Github, Vox, Spotify, Airbnb, Netflix and Reddit. The cyberattack that took down large swaths of the internet around the world on Friday was carried out, in part, by unsuspecting devices connected to the internet. Security firm Flashpoint said it believes that digital video recorders and webcams in people’s homes were taken over by malware and then, without owners’ knowledge, used to help execute the massive cyberattack. Tens of millions of IP addresses were used and hundreds of thousands of devices appear to have have been infected with the malware. It was a distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attack. Using the malware, hackers were able to flood a website with so much traffic that it impaired normal service. The FBI said Friday that it was “investigating all potential causes of the attack,” and the U.K.’s Home Office said it was looking into the matter.

83 Arrested at Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

Eighty-three people were arrested Saturday at a protest against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, authorities in North Dakota said. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department said 300 protesters trespassed on private property and “engaged in escalated unlawful tactics and behavior” at a spot three miles west of State Highway 1806, along the pipeline right-of-way. The 1,172-mile pipeline would stretch from the oil-rich Bakken Formation — a vast underground deposit where Montana and North Dakota meet Canada — southeast into South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. After the pipeline is completed, it would shuttle 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day, according to the developer, Energy Access Partners. Protesters say the pipeline will damage the environment and affect historically significant Native American tribal lands. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation in North Dakota is near the pipeline route, and other tribes oppose the project.

Persecution Watch

According to the findings of a new survey from the Christian advocacy group Open Doors USA, religious minorities who seek safe haven in the European nation are finding a general lack of protection. Since February, nearly 800 Christians and Yazidi refugees were attacked by others at the relief centers and camps. The findings showed that nearly half of the respondents said they suffered some sort of injury. Nearly 300 said they received death threats against themselves or their families. Others were sexually assaulted, insulted, discriminated against or subjected to psychological pressure.

Thousands of Christian refugees who fled their homes in Iraq due to persecution are only finding more persecution in Turkish refugee camps. ChristianToday.com reports that about 45,000 refugees who fled Iraq are now living in poverty in Turkey and are discriminated against by their Muslim neighbors.

According to Open Doors World Watch List, North Korea is the single worst country for Christian persecution. The Christian Post reports that citizens in North Korea are told by the government that Christians are evil and want to kill people and drink their blood. this revelation came from a North Korean woman who was imprisoned for her faith, but was eventually able to escape to South Korea. Before she became a Christian Hae Woo heard stories of the horrendous things Christians reportedly did. “Every form of religion, and especially Christianity, was like opium: addictive and destructive. I heard stories about Christians who went to hospitals, enticed people into cellars, killed them there and sucked the blood out of their bodies so that they could sell it.”

A key Christian leader from Sudan reported to Barnabas Aid that there is no more recognition of religions other than Islam following the separation of largely-Christian South Sudan. “This has come from President Omer El Bashir, but they didn’t put it in the constitution, only in government officials’ practices and government institutions, like the law enforcement agencies.” The government is working hard to close all church activities in North Sudan by arresting the active church leaders and closing the churches or schools. The government recently closed about 6-7 local churches from the Presbyterian Evangelical Church around Khartoum state.

Migrant Update

French authorities began clearing the “Jungle” refugee camp on Monday, bussing out more than 1,000 people by the afternoon as it readies to raze the patch of wasteland where thousands have made temporary homes. An old hangar in the port city of Calais was converted into a processing center for between 6,000 and 10,000 migrants. Authorities offered them two choices — stay in France or go back to their country of origin. Some migrants have refused to leave the camp, which sits at one end of the Eurotunnel — a direct route to Britain that many have risked their lives trying to traverse, hiding in lorries. Some have even walked the 30 miles. In 2015, the Eurotunnel operator intercepted 37,000 migrants attempting to travel to the UK illegally. Britain is a preferred destination for many migrants — its economy is doing better than most of its European counterparts, unemployment rates are low and a lot of migrants have at least a basic command of English.

Economic News

U.S. single-family starts surged in September, pointing to sustained housing market strength even as a drop in the construction of multi-family dwellings pushed overall home building activity to a 1-1/2-year low. A tightening labor market, which is steadily pushing wages higher, as well as low mortgage rates are underpinning demand for housing. Single-family starts are also getting a boost from a chronic shortage of previously owned homes available for sale. Overall groundbreaking activity, however, declined 9.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.05 million units last month, the lowest level since March 2015.

The U.S. economy is inching along, productivity is flagging and millions of Americans appear locked out of the labor market, notes the Wall Street Journal. In addition, the U.S. is creating startup businesses at historically low rates. The American economy has long relied on fast-growing young companies to fuel job growth and spread the latest innovations. But government data shows a decades-long slowdown in entrepreneurship. In 2014, the most recent year of data, the startup rate was the second-lowest on record. The share of employment at such firms, meanwhile, has slipped from nearly 4% to about 2% of private-sector jobs.

Despite the tepid economic recovery, retailers began gearing up to hire holiday-season workers in August this year, an unusually early start showing how competition has intensified for temporary help in a tight labor market, reports the Wall Street Journal. Data from job-search site Indeed.com shows retailers, warehouses and logistics firms started searching for temporary workers a month earlier than in recent years. This suggests retailers and other firms “anticipate stronger consumer demand and expect that it will be harder to find the people they want to hire,” said Indeed.com.

Islamic State

Hundreds of ISIS fighters are fleeing Mosul in Iraq and crossing into neighboring Syria as coalition forces close in on the city. ISIS fighters dressed in women’s clothes were caught fleeing Mosul while the group’s commanders have ordered their wives and girlfriends to escape before the city is encircled, reports Fox News. Their desperate last-ditch escape comes as Kurdish forces and elite Iraqi counter-terror troops began a lightning advance on the city. Leading US generals and French president Francois Hollande say ISIS fighters are fleeing – and must be blocked from regrouping in nearby Raqqa. Major General Gary Volesky, who heads the anti-ISIS coalition’s land component, said many foreigners among the 3,000 to 4,500 ISIS fighters would likely end up forming the core of the holdout jihadist force. So far 78 towns have been liberated and 772 ISIS fighters killed in first week of this major battle, officials report.

ISIS executed 284 men and boys as coalition forces closed in on Mosul, an Iraqi intelligence source told CNN Saturday. ISIS used a bulldozer to dump the corpses in a mass grave at the scene of the executions — Mosul’s defunct College of Agriculture in the north of the city. The victims were all shot and some were children, said the source. The United Nations earlier said it is “gravely worried” that ISIS has taken 550 families from villages around Mosul and is using them as human shields as Iraqi and Kurdish forces battle the terror group for control of Iraq’s second-largest city.


Militants armed with assault rifles and explosives attacked targets in and around the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk early on Friday in an assault quickly claimed by the Islamic State group and likely aimed at diverting authorities’ attention for the battle to retake ISIS-held Mosul. At least 11 workers, including two Iranians, were killed when ISIS militants stormed a power plant north of Kirkuk and then blew themselves up. Multiple explosions meanwhile rocked the city and gun battles were underway, said witnesses in Kirkuk. Much of the fighting was centered on a government compound in the city.


Turkish jets and artillery struck U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters in northern Syria Thursday, and Turkey’s state-run news agency said as many as 200 militiamen were killed, in a major escalation of Turkey’s offensive in northern Syria. A senior commander with the main Syria Kurdish militia confirmed that Turkish jets and artillery were still attacking his forces north of Aleppo, but disputed the casualty count, saying no more than 10 fighters had been killed so far. Further south, a humanitarian pause announced by Russia for the besieged rebel-held city of Aleppo took effect, and the Syrian military, using loudspeakers, called on residents to evacuate and for gunmen to lay down their weapons. But there was no sign of residents leaving the bombed-out districts.

An international team has determined that the Syrian government carried out a third chemical attack in the conflict-wracked nation, according to a report released late Friday. In August, the team from the United Nations and the chemical weapons watchdog blamed President Bashar Assad’s government for using chlorine gas in two attacks and Islamic State (ISIS) fighters for using mustard gas in one attack. The team said at that time that three other attacks indicated possible government involvement. In a report sent to the U.N. Security Council late Friday and seen by The Associated Press, the team said there was “sufficient evidence” to conclude that Syrian forces were responsible for one of the attacks in Qmenas in Idlib governorate on March 16, 2015. It said a device, dropped from a high altitude, “hit the ground and released the toxic substance that affected the population.”


Somali pirates have released 26 hostages after nearly five years in captivity, according to an organization involved in mediation efforts. The dozens of hostages freed were in a ship hijacked south of the Seychelles in March 2012. Of the 29 crew members seized, one died during the hijacking and two died from illness while in captivity, according to the organization, Oceans Beyond Piracy. The hostages were all men from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. John Steed of Oceans Beyond Piracy said the crew of Naham 3 was released Saturday. He did not provide specifics on the terms or conditions of their release, or whether any ransom was paid. “They are reported to be in reasonable condition considering their ordeal,” Steed said. “They are all malnourished. Four are currently receiving medical treatment.” Somali pirates and their peers have made millions in ransom money hijacking vessels in the region.


Thousands of children in the west African nation of Niger are suffering from severe malnutrition and lack of clean water. ChristianToday.com cites a report from the World Food Program, which states that 44 percent of children in Niger suffer from malnutrition. Niger is a poor country and many men leave their families to look for work elsewhere. Many of the malnourished children suffer severe pain, other illnesses and stunted growth.


A U.S. Navy warship on Friday passed through waters claimed by China near disputed islands in the South China Sea, the Defense Department said, drawing Chinese condemnation. The destroyer ship USS Decatur conducted the transit operation near the Paracel Islands. He said it was done “in a routine, lawful manner without ship escorts and without incident.” A Chinese defense ministry statement called it “a gravely illegal act” and “intentionally provocative.” The Chinese navy sent a guided missile destroyer and an escort vessel that “spotted and verified the American ships and warned them to leave,” the statement said. The Paracels, a group of islands and reefs, are occupied by China but are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. Ross said the ship passed within an “excessive” claim of territorial waters by China between two land features, although it did not go within 12 nautical miles of them, the standard distance for territorial boundaries.


Earlier this year, Venezuelans suffered through acute food shortages. Now food is starting to reappear on more and more supermarket shelves. But the prices are prohibitive for almost everyone. Venezuelans say they’ve seen staggering price hikes as the country struggles with exponentially rising inflation. The IMF forecasts inflation in Venezuela to rise 475% this year. For example, Venezuela’s most popular dish is the arepa. It’s made with cornmeal. The government’s price for cornmeal was 190 bolivars — or about 16 cents — for a two-pound bag. In supermarkets, today though, cornmeal made in Venezuela is now selling for 975 bolivars, and imported cornmeal goes for 1,850 bolivars. The black-market price for that bag of cornmeal is as much as 3,500 bolivars — or $3.


A manhunt is underway after 174 inmates escaped from a prison in Haiti following a riot during which one guard was killed, authorities said. A dozen have been captured as of Sunday morning. The prison break occurred at a facility in Arcahaie on Saturday. The uprising was led by “heavily armed individuals,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office. Teams from SWAT and the defense forces are searching for the inmates. Nearby residents have been urged to be cautious and cooperate with police. Teams from SWAT and the defense forces are searching for the inmates. Nearby residents have been urged to be cautious and cooperate with police. Arcahaie is about 30 miles north of the capital, Port-au-Prince.


Many residents of Atchison, Kansas, are being evacuated following a chemical leak that sent a plume of toxic gas into the sky above the city. Officials with the Atchison County Emergency Management Agency told weather.com that the spill occurred at MPG Ingredients, Inc. earlier today. They believe the plume is comprised of chlorine. A lack of wind in the area Friday meant the plume would remain over the city until the winds pick up and disperse it.


A powerful earthquake in western Japan knocked loose roof tiles, toppled store shelves and caused power outages Friday afternoon, but apparently caused no widespread damage. Seven people were injured, one seriously. At least two houses collapsed. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the 6.6-magnitude quake occurred in Tottori, a prefecture on the Sea of Japan about 430 miles west of Tokyo. The epicenter was at a relatively shallow depth of 7 miles. The earthquake caused temporary blackouts at about 32,000 homes.


Tyhoon Haima slammed into southern China on Friday after hammering the northern Philippines with ferocious wind and rain, triggering flooding, landslides and power outages and killing at least 13 people. Haima, known locally as “Lawin,” made landfall shortly after noon in the city of Shanwei in Guangdong province, packing winds of up to 166 kilometers (103 miles) per hour before weakening to a tropical storm. China had suspended dozens of flights and rail services in several southern provinces. In the city of Shenzhen, authorities ordered schools, markets and factories to close, halted public transportation and evacuated some areas. Hong Kong hunkered down as Haima lashed the financial hub with rain and wind gusts of up to 109 kph (68 mph). Schools and offices were shut, trading on the stock market suspended and commuter ferry services halted. In the Philippines, Haima’s blinding winds and rain on Thursday had rekindled fears of the catastrophe wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which left 7,300 dead, but large casualties appeared to have been averted after more than 100,000 people fled to safer ground. Several villages were cut off by fallen trees, landslides and floods, impeding communications and aid. The provincial government of Cagayan said it is possible that 100 percent of houses in Tuguegarao City were either partially or completely damaged by Super Typhoon Haima.

Snow fell over some of the higher elevations of the Northeast this weekend, shifting the area away from a week of record warmth. Several locations saw about a half foot of snow in the Adirondacks of New York. Snow also accumulated in parts of Vermont and New Hampshire. Bolton, Vermont, saw 9 inches of snow.

Signs of the Times (10/19/16)

October 19, 2016

40 Days for Life – 286 Babies Saved from Abortion

The total number of babies saved by the 40 Days for Life campaign continued to rise into the hundreds during the second week of its current campaign. Steve Karlen, the North American campaign director, confirmed for LifeSiteNews that the number had risen to 244 by Friday. And on Sunday, 40 Days for Life reported on its website that the total had grown to 286 as of Tuesday morning. The pro-life outreach has 367 locations in each of the 50 U.S. states and in 23 other countries worldwide. More than 12,000 lives have been saved across the world since the first coordinated vigil was held in 2007. The current vigil continues through November 6. 40 Days for Life is a community-based campaign that takes a determined, peaceful approach to showing local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighborhoods, for their own friends and families. The visible, public centerpiece of 40 Days for Life is a focused, 40-day, non-stop, round-the-clock prayer vigil outside a single Planned Parenthood center or other abortion facility. A community outreach program is also conducted through carefully targeted news stories, talk shows, editorials and opinion pieces in the community.

Scientists Create Offspring By Creating Eggs In Lab From Scratch

For the first time, scientists have created viable mammalian eggs from scratch in the lab – and used them to produce healthy offspring, reports Technocracy News. Experts say the breakthrough could one day offer new hope to women who have lost their fertility – as a result of cancer treatment, f or example. However, it is likely to be many years before the technique – so far performed in mice – is reliable and safe enough for humans. In the experiments, the Japanese team used stem cells both obtained from embryos and generated from mature cells taken from the tips of mouse tails. The latter were used to create induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells which have the properties of embryonic stem cells, including the ability to transform into a multitude of different tissues. Both kinds of stem cell were exposed to specific cocktails of chemicals and biological signals to coax them to develop into eggs. A number of the eggs were eventually fertilized using a standard IVF technique and the resulting embryos produced healthy, fertile offspring. The success rate was low – just 11 out of 316 two-cell embryos ended up delivering live births. This is the first report of anyone being able to develop fully mature and fertilizable eggs in a laboratory.

  • Not quite “from scratch” since existing stem cells were employed. Scary nonetheless.

Planned Parenthood Celebrates its 100th Birthday and its 7 Million Abortions

On Sunday, Planned Parenthood celebrated what National Right to Life dubs the “saddest birthday ever.” The nation’s largest abortion provider turned 100 on October 16. As it commemorated its birthday, pro-lifers memorialized the seven million babies’ lives Planned Parenthood has taken – just since 1970. And the number rises daily. In its 100th year, Planned Parenthood has already added another quarter million babies to its death toll. Thus, celebrating 100 years of its own life means celebrating over seven million deaths and counting, reports liveactionnews.org. Hillary Clinton congratulated Planned Parenthood and reiterated her promise to appoint judges to the Supreme Court who will support Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that has resulted in 59 million abortions on unborn babies over the last four and a half decades.

More Than 1 Million to Lose Obamacare Plans

A growing number of people in Obamacare are finding out their health insurance plans will disappear from the program next year, forcing them to find new coverage even as options shrink and prices rise, NewsMax reported Sunday. At least 1.4 million people in 32 states will lose the Obamacare plan they have now, according to state officials contacted by Bloomberg. That’s largely caused by Aetna Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and some state or regional insurers quitting the law’s markets for individual coverage. Sign-ups for Obamacare coverage begin next month. Interviews with regulators and insurance customers suggest that plans will be fewer and more expensive, and may not include the same doctors and hospitals.

Judge Orders IRS to Clean Up their Tea Party Mess

A federal judge has ordered the IRS to finally clean up the tea party targeting mess, giving the tax agency less than a month to decide on a handful of applications that are still pending more than three years after officials first admitted they were targeting the conservative groups and subjecting them to intrusive scrutiny. The IRS also must file a brief detailing the steps it has taken to prevent further targeting and to make sure the tea party groups don’t face any more fallout from the stigma of having been singled out in the first place, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said in an order issued last Friday. Judge Walton also said that four other groups that had withdrawn their applications amid the unconstitutional targeting can resubmit and the IRS must decide on those, too, by Nov. 11.

Attack on Somalis in Kansas Thwarted, Feds Say

Three men face domestic terrorism charges for allegedly plotting to bomb an apartment complex occupied by Somali immigrants in southwest Kansas, the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday. The men had talked about filling four vehicles with explosives and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, to create a large explosion. About 120 Somali immigrants live in the complex, CNN affiliate KWCH reported, and acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said one of the apartment units served as a mosque. The trio, members of a militia group that called itself The Crusaders, wanted to “wake people up,” the DOJ said. They were stockpiling weapons and planned to release a manifesto after the explosion.

200 Nations Endorse Climate Deal

Representatives from nearly 200 member countries of the Montreal Protocol agreed on a deal to reduce emissions of powerful greenhouse gases at a summit Saturday in Kigali, Rwanda. The landmark deal will reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, the world’s fastest-growing greenhouse gases, the UN Environment Program said in a statement. HFCs are considered potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning instead of other ozone-depleting substances. “The amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer endorsed in Kigali today is the single largest contribution the world has made towards keeping the global temperature rise ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius, a target agreed at the Paris climate conference last year,” the UN agency said. According to the agency, the agreed reduction in HFCs could prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) of global warming by the end of this century.

Police Chief Group Issues Apology to Minorities

The head of a major international law enforcement organization on Monday apologized for “the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.” International Association of Chiefs of Police President, Terrence M. Cunningham, struck a conciliatory tone, acknowledging the deep-seated, generational mistrust between minorities and the police. Cunningham, speaking at a meeting of the group in San Diego, said law enforcement’s history is “replete with examples of bravery, self-sacrifice and service to the community.” But Cunningham said at the same, “the history of policing has had darker periods.” “There have been times when law enforcement officers because of the laws enacted by federal, state and local governments have been the face of oppression to far too many of our fellow citizens. In the past, the laws adopted by our society have required police officers to perform many unpalatable tasks, such as “ensuring legalized discrimination or even denying the basic rights of citizenship to many of our fellow Americans,” Cunningham said.

Will the U.S. Elections be Hacked?

The Obama administration is accusing Russia of hacking US political organizations. States are reporting attempts — in one case successful — to breach voter registration databases. The public is understandably concerned about the integrity of next month’s election. But election officials and cyber experts say it’s virtually impossible for Moscow or some other outside group to influence the election outcome. Hackers could create mischief — some say “chaos” — but the election system is resilient enough to withstand shocks, so the ‘experts’ say.

  • Hackers have proven that they can gain access to almost every cyber system, including those of the White House and the NSA which have more protection than the widespread polling places.

Economic News

The U.S. dollar recently hit its highest point since early March, rallying on the rising hopes that the Federal Reserve will finally raise interest rates in December. It’s up 3% against a basket of currencies since late September, surpassing the level seen after the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. Wall Street investors now place a 64% chance of a Fed rate hike in December, which is among the highest odds seen all year. A rate increase in the U.S. would be the first in a year and a reflection of a healthy economy. That would be good news for the dollar, which tends to rise on signs of American economic strength.

The price of crude oil has increased to over $50 per barrel, its highest level in more than a year after a report showed a surprising drop in U.S. stockpiles. A government report showed U.S. stockpiles of crude oil unexpectedly fell by 5.2 million barrels last week. Investors were expecting a rise of 2.1 million barrels. Investors bullish on oil are hoping the unexpected drop is signal that the global oil glut is easing. Oil prices have crashed over the past two years as the world’s biggest producers have sought to defend their market share and refused to cut production. Low prices have hurt oil-producing nations, forcing them to slash spending. The Saudi-led OPEC oil cartel finally agreed to slash production in September.


Israel has suspended ties with UNESCO, the UN body in charge of preserving culture an”d history, after a draft decision that Israel says ignores Judaism’s ties to the religion’s holiest site. The draft decision notes the importance of Jerusalem to all three monotheistic religions — Christianity, Judaism and Islam — but makes no mention of why the city is significant to Christians or Jews. A subsidiary body of UNESCO’s Executive Board passed the resolution Thursday in Paris. It refers to Jerusalem’s holiest site — known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary — only by its Muslim name. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the move as absurd, saying: “To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids.”

Islamic State

Iraq’s military says it has inflicted “heavy losses of life and equipment” on ISIS in a district southeast of Mosul, as Iraqi-led forces close in on the city in the long-awaited battle to recapture it from the terror group. Hours after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the beginning of the offensive, Iraq’s military said it had inflicted losses and made advances in the Hamdaniya district. The battle for Mosul — the largest city under ISIS control and the terror group’s last remaining stronghold in Iraq — represents “a decisive moment in the campaign” to defeat ISIS, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said. Having already lost key cities — such as Tikrit and Ramadi — Mosul is the militant group’s last bastion of power in the country. Freeing Mosul would be the beginning of the end of ISIS in Iraq.

As ISIS awaits one major assault in Mosul, Iraq, the self-declared caliphate has lost its control of a symbolic stronghold in north Syria. The Free Syrian Army, a Turkish-backed faction, on Sunday took back the town of Dabiq from ISIS, Turkish state media and a monitoring group said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organization, said it received reports that groups of ISIS fighters had withdrawn from Dabiq overnight. Now the Free Syrian Army operation will seek to clear the town of mines, booby-traps and IEDs.


A would-be suicide bomber, suspected of being a member of ISIS, was shot and killed by anti-terror forces during a shootout in the Turkish capital of Ankara, state-run Anadolu agency reported. The suspect was shot after ignoring demands to surrender. “Scores of explosives” were found in the suspect’s home in the Ankara neighborhood of Etimesgut, Anadolu reported. Authorities had warned of potential terror attacks in the capital Monday, with the warning coming as coalition forces mount a major offensive against ISIS in the Iraqi city of Mosul. Meanwhile, authorities arrested 20 ISIS suspects in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakir on Wednesday. The suspects were rounded up in coordinated raids in four locations across the province.


Two Americans were killed and another three were injured in a rare attack on foreign troops in the Afghan capital Wednesday, U.S. and Afghan officials said. A gunman fired on international advisers at an ammunition depot near Camp Morehead, a training site for Afghan commandos, about six miles south of Kabul. The attack, which took place near the entrance of the base, killed one U.S. service member and injured another. One U.S. civilian was also killed, and two more were wounded in the assault, a statement from the NATO-led coalition said. The gunman, which the Afghan Defense Ministry said was wearing an Afghan army uniform, was killed after international troops responded with gunfire. The Americans were at the depot as part of the NATO training mission for Afghan security forces.


ran said on Wednesday it would accept no US “interference” after Washington demanded the release of a dual national and his 80-year-old father given 10 year sentences for espionage. The State Department demanded the immediate release of Siamak and Baqher Namazi, both Iranian-American dual nationals, after their sentences were announced on Tuesday. But foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told Iranian media: “The government and the Iranian people give no importance to the statements and interference of American officials and their efforts to divide the ranks of the Iranian people. The American threats only add to the wall of mistrust Iranians have regarding the United States. Both were jailed for 10 years for “espionage and collaboration with the American government”, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolat-Abadi announced on Tuesday. Three other Iranian-American dual nationals — Farhad Abd-Saleh, Kamran Ghaderi and Alireza Omidvar — were also sentenced to 10 years on the same charges, along with a US resident from Lebanon, Nezar Zaka.


The Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia over the past year, using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies in an escalating campaign against Islamist militants in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation, reports the New York Times. Hundreds of American troops now rotate through makeshift bases in Somalia, the largest military presence since the United States pulled out of the country after the “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993. American officials said the White House had quietly broadened the president’s authority for the use of force in Somalia by allowing airstrikes to protect American and African troops as they combat fighters from the Shabab, a Somali-based militant group that has proclaimed allegiance to Al Qaeda. America’s role in Somalia has expanded as the Shabab have become bolder and more cunning. The group has attacked police headquarters, bombed seaside restaurants, killed Somali generals and stormed heavily fortified bases used by African Union troops. In January, Shabab fighters killed more than 100 Kenyan troops and drove off with their trucks and weapons. The group carried out the 2013 attack at the Westgate mall, which killed more than 60 people and wounded more than 175 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Somalia campaign is a blueprint for warfare that President Obama has embraced and will pass along to his successor. It is a model the United States now employs across the Middle East and North Africa — from Syria to Libya — despite the president’s stated aversion to American “boots on the ground” in the world’s war zones. This year alone, the United States has carried out airstrikes in seven countries and conducted Special Operations missions in many more. About 200 to 300 American Special Operations troops work with soldiers from Somalia and other African nations like Kenya and Uganda to carry out more than a half-dozen raids per month, according to senior American military officials. The operations are a combination of ground raids and drone strikes. The Navy’s classified SEAL Team 6 has been heavily involved in many of these operations. Once ground operations are complete, American troops working with Somali forces often interrogate prisoners at temporary screening facilities. The Pentagon has acknowledged only a small fraction of these operations, reports the New York Times.


A filthy brown sea, a slurry of mud, debris, chemicals and waste, has overtaken miles of rural counties in North Carolina. Hundreds of hog and poultry farms may have been inundated last week as the Neuse, Lumber and Tar rivers roared over their banks, a rampage powered by the deluge of Hurricane Matthew. The carcasses of several thousand drowned hogs and several million drowned chickens and turkeys were left behind. An incalculable amount of animal waste was carried toward the ocean. Along the way, it could be contaminating the groundwater for the many people who rely on wells in this part of the state, as well as threatening the delicate ecosystems of tidal estuaries and bays. The extent of the damage will not be known until the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality conducts tests in the coming weeks.


A fire sparked Monday morning in southern Colorado quickly grew out of control, forcing some residents to flee as homes reportedly burned. The so-called Junkins fire has claimed nearly 16,000 acres in Custer and Pueblo counties, according to an incident report. The fire grew rapidly due to windy conditions; just north of Custer County, in the town of Florence, winds gusted above 40 mph Monday morning. The wildfire in southern Colorado has destroyed five homes, and hundreds of people remain under evacuation orders, authorities said Tuesday. The fire has scorched more than 25 square miles,

A wildfire was burning out of control in western Nevada near Lake Tahoe and destroyed 22 homes, authorities said Saturday. No injuries have been reported. The Little Valley Fire has scorched at least 2,000 acres and was zero percent contained Friday, according to local officials. It also has destroyed more than a dozen outbuildings. Five-hundred structures remain threatened. Firefighters struggled with wind gusts that hit up to 87 mph.


A rare occurrence shook the West Coast Friday, when two confirmed tornadoes tore through Tillamook County, Oregon. One of the twisters lashed the town of Manzanita, Oregon, in the morning, leaving substantial damage in its wake. A second tornado was spotted in Oceanside. The storm damaged several buildings in town and took down trees, power lines around the city. Prior to Friday, there had been only 4 tornadoes on record since 1950 in Tillamook County. The last occurred on Sep. 18, 1997. Trees and power lines snapped Saturday as another powerful storm bearing the remnants of a Pacific typhoon hit the Northwest with a second punch. Tens of thousands of people were without power in Oregon and Washington on Saturday as the storm made landfall after gathering intensity off the coast. The National Weather Service said winds gusted above 50 mph in the Portland area.

Hurricane Nicole made a direct hit on Bermuda Thursday as the strongest hurricane to affect the Atlantic archipelago in 13 years. The storm pummeled the island, snapping trees, flooding homes and peeling off some roofs. “There has been significant flooding in areas around the island and some severe road damages,” said National Security Minister Jeff Baron. Nicole is expected to maintain its strengthen into Sunday before weakening once again. It will likely become a “post-tropical” cyclone by midweek. However, this system poses no direct threat to any additional land areas. Large swells generated from Nicole’s winds will continue to reach parts of the U.S. East Coast and Atlantic Canada over the next few days. These swells will create dangerous surf conditions and rip currents.

Typhoon Sarika slammed into the northeastern Philippines early local time Sunday, leaving at least three dead and some 15,000 displaced. The storm isolated villages with flooding, downed trees and knocked out power. The typhoon forced more than 15,700 villagers to flee their homes in five northern provinces and take refuge in 132 emergency shelters. The typhoon left more than 246,000 without power and telephone service in Catanduanes, the Philstar reports. More than 400 people had to be evacuated and sea and air travel was suspended as a safety precaution. The Philippines is now bracing for another onslaught from Super Typhoon Haima, which is expected to hit the country’s northern island of Luzon on Wednesday night local time with winds over 160 mph.

Flooding in Vietnam triggered by heavy rains over the weekend killed 24 people and left four others missing, disaster officials said Monday. Nearly 3 feet of rain fell in some areas on Friday and Saturday, submerging 125,000 homes in the region. The flooding temporarily disrupted the North-South Highway and damaged buildings, crops and fish farms. About 150,000 people have been displaced by the flooding.

Signs of the Times (10/14/16)

October 14, 2016

U.S. Strikes Yemen after Missiles Launched at U.S. Vessel

An American destroyer struck three sites in Yemen on Thursday, hours after missiles targeted a U.S. warship in the Red Sea for the second time in four days, defense officials said. The Pentagon said its destroyer USS Nitze launched Tomahawk cruise missiles targeting the coastal radar sites controlled by the Houthi group in “self-defense.” The USS Mason was targeted late Wednesday by missiles from territory controlled by the Houthis — a minority Shia group that has taken control of swathes of Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa. The same warship was targeted Sunday, when two missiles were launched within 60 minutes of each other, but in both incidents they missed the ship and landed in the water. The guided-missile destroyer was not damaged in either incident, officials said. The U.S. warship was conducting routine operations in international waters off the Yemen coast when it was targeted Wednesday, the Pentagon said. The strikes are the first instance of the U.S. firing at Houthi targets since the Yemen civil war erupted in March last year. Initial assessments indicate that all three targets were destroyed. The strikes were in remote areas with little risk of civilian casualties or collateral damage. Iran deployed two warships off Yemen threatening to further escalate tensions after the U.S. fired Tomahawk cruise missiles destroying three coastal radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday.

U.S. Relations with Russia Deteriorating Rapidly

U.S.-Russia relations have deteriorated sharply amid a barrage of accusations and disagreements, raising the stakes on issues ranging from the countries’ competing military operations in Syria, disputes over Eastern European independence and escalating cyber breaches. According to Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center, it’s not a new Cold War. It’s not even a deep chill. It’s an outright conflict. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Oct. 8 that the situation between the U.S. and Russia today is more dangerous than it was during the Cold War. On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the US was considering a “range” of “proportional” responses to alleged Russian hacking of US political groups. Washington publicly accused the Kremlin of cyberattacks on election systems and the U.S. government. That came after talks on a Syria ceasefire broke down as US officials suggested Russia be investigated for war crimes in the besieged city of Aleppo. Meanwhile, Moscow abruptly abandoned a nuclear security pact, citing U.S. aggression, and moved nuclear-capable Iskandar missiles to the edge of NATO territory in Europe. Its officials have openly raised the possible use of nuclear weapons.

  • Russia’s alliance with Iran is also troubling as they fulfill the prophecies in Ezekiel 38-39 of Russia (Rosh in the NKJV) and Persia (Iran, which is not Arabic)

New Child Bride Every 7 Seconds Worldwide

The statistics are startling: Around the world, every seven seconds, a girl under 15 is married. Girls as young as 10 are being married off. Becoming a child bride is one factor that greatly affects the future of women and girls around the world, according to a report by Save the Children released Tuesday. “Child marriage starts a cycle of disadvantage that denies girls the most basic rights to learn, develop and be children,” said Save the Children International CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt. The worst countries in which to be a girl are Somalia, Mali, Central African Republic, Chad and Niger, which all ranked at the bottom of the Girls’ Opportunity Index. India has the highest number of child marriages of any country, partly owing to the large size of its population. Countries at the top include Sweden, Finland, Norway, Netherlands and Belgium. The United States comes in 32nd.

Youth Concussions on the Rise in U.S.

Concussions have been on the rise for American youth since 2010, according to the Health of America Report recently released by Blue Cross Blue Shield. There was a 71% increase in rough-sports-related concussions reported by Blue Cross Blue Shield medical claims data since 2010 for patients ages 10 to 19. Fall, when football, rugby and soccer are traditionally played, is the peak time for these injuries, the report noted, and boys were twice as likely to be concussed than girls. Overall, patients ages 10 to 19 are five times more likely to be diagnosed with a concussion than all other age groups combined. Researchers want to increase awareness to prevent cases of potential paralysis, long-term memory loss and many other short-term and long-lasting side effects, even death.

College Students Nationwide Flood Mental-Health Centers

Nationwide, 17% of college students were diagnosed with or treated for anxiety problems during the past year, and 13.9% were diagnosed with or treated for depression, according to a spring 2016 survey of 95,761 students by the American College Health Association. That is up from 11.6% for anxiety and 10.7% for depression in the spring 2011 survey, reports the Wall Street Journal. Counseling centers say they are also seeing more serious illnesses, including an uptick in the number of students coming to college with long psychiatric histories. It is unclear why the rates of mental-health problems seem to be increasing among college students. Therapists point to everything from the economy and rising cost of tuition to the impact of social media and a so-called helicopter-parenting style that doesn’t allow adolescents to experience failure. Students are “overwhelmed with stress,” says Micky M. Sharma, director of Ohio State’s Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service.

Nobody Wants to Host the Olympic Games Anymore

Cities used to covet the Olympic Games. Hosting them meant glamour and prestige. Not anymore. Rome became the latest city to abandon a bid for the 2024 Summer Games when it withdrew on Tuesday because of worries over the cost. Budget concerns have led city after city to drop their Olympic dreams in recent years. Hamburg, Germany, previously bailed on 2024. Stockholm and Krakow, Poland, pulled the plug on bids for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which were later awarded to Beijing. An Olympic host city has to plan, pay for and construct massive infrastructure projects. Security costs can run into the billions of dollars. Thousands of hotel rooms must be built to house athletes and tourists. Most of it happens on the taxpayer dime — with little discernible economic benefit. Elected leaders have argued that ticket sales, construction jobs and increased tourism outweigh the costs. But economists say the real return on hosting the Olympics is not so rosy. Montreal, host city of the 1976 Summer Games, provides perhaps the best example of the long-term cost. Mismanagement and gross cost overruns left the city with $1.5 billion of debt that wasn’t paid off until 2006.

Economic News

Bankruptcy filings by U.S. businesses soared 38 percent in September from a year earlier, reports Newsmax Finance. Last month’s bankruptcies reached 3,072 to bring the year-to-date total to 28,789 and marked the eleventh straight month of increases from 2015, according to data from the American Bankruptcy Institute. The restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard with bankruptcies following the filings of Garden Fresh Corp., Cosi Inc., Logan’s Roadhouse. “The Fed’s policy of easy credit has encouraged businesses to borrow – those that could. But by now, this six-year debt binge has created an ominous debt overhang that is suffocating these businesses,” says Wolf Richter, editor of the Wolf Street blog.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the total amount of debt around the globe has now hit a staggering 152 trillion dollars.  That is an amount of money that is almost unimaginable, and the IMF says that it is equivalent to 225 percent of global Gross Domestic Product.  It is the biggest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and it is rising at an extremely alarming pace.  Many economists all over the world agree that when this debt bubble finally bursts, it is going to create an economic crisis on a scale that humanity has never seen before. The International Monetary Fund has urged governments to take action to tackle a record $152tn debt mountain before it triggers a fresh global financial and economic crisis.

A new survey has found that 69 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.  GoBankingRates surveyed more than 5,000 Americans only to uncover that 62% of them had less than $1,000 in savings. Last month GoBankingRates again posed the question to Americans of how much they had in their savings account, only this time it asked 7,052 people. The result? Nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%) had less than $1,000 in their savings account. A staggering 34% of Americans don’t have any savings at all, while another 35% have less than $1,000. Of the remaining survey-takers, 11% have between $1,000 and $4,999, 4% have between $5,000 and $9,999, and 15% have more than $10,000. One of the primary reasons for this is that most of us are absolutely drowning in debt.  In fact, the total amount of household debt in the United States now exceeds 12 trillion dollars, more than $96,000 per household.

America’s dairy farmers have dumped 43 million gallons of milk in fields and elsewhere over the first eight months of the year as the US deals with a massive milk glut. The reason for the spilled milk is that the glut has cut the price of milk 22 percent since spring, to $16.39 per hundred pounds on Wednesday. At that price, some farmers can’t afford to truck the milk to market, according to the Wall Street Journal. The glut is the result of a price spike in 2014, which persuaded farmers to bring more dairy cows on line. Milk cows have increased by 40,000 this year, and each one is producing 1.4 percent more milk than a year ago, according to the US Dept. of Agriculture. Prices have declined 33 percent since 2014.

The difference between the government reported unemployment rate last month of 5% and Donald Trump’s stated 9.7% is that the higher rate includes part-time workers who want full-time jobs. It also counts unemployed people who looked for a job in the past four weeks, as well as unemployed people who have looked for a job in the past year. This is the government’s U6 rate. The 5% is the U3 rate that includes only unemployed people who were actively looking for a job in the past four weeks. The U6 rate peaked at 17% in 2010. The problem is that it has mostly been flat this year. This is a weak spot in the economy with 5.9 million Americans working part-time jobs but wanting full-time positions. Prior to the start of the recession in 2007, that figure was closer to 4.2 million workers, CNN Money reports.


The 58-member Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted on Thursday to approve a resolution tabled by the Palestinian Authority declaring the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City has no historic ties to Judaism. The vote passed with 24 nations voting yes and 6 voting no, while a nearly unprecedented 26 countries abstained from voting, leaving diplomatic analysts saying the vote was actually a hollow victory for the Palestinians. U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle harshly criticized a UNESCO resolution. Senator Ted Cruz complained that UNESCO had “doubled down on its reflexive anti-Israel bias by voting for yet another resolution that deliberately distorts history and denies the specific connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem going back thousands of years. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), also condemned the passage of the resolution. “I am outraged by the actions of the UNESCO Executive Board today in passing a resolution that is blatantly anti-Semitic and obviously revisionist as it seeks to eliminate all Jewish ties to the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount,” said Nadler.

Islamic State

U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and ground fighting have depleted the Islamic State’s territory in Iraq and Syria in a big way, reportedly by 16 percent over just 9 months, a new study has found. ISIS now controls only 25,000 square miles of land in the region, an area roughly the size of West Virginia, IHS Conflict Monitor reports. It marks a sharp reversal from the terror network’s massive land grab in 2014 and is down drastically from the reported 35,000 square miles controlled at the start of 2015. Analysts said one of the biggest blows against ISIS came when Turkey, a stalwart ally of the U.S., entered Syria at the end of August, capturing the strategically important border town of Jarablus. The news comes ahead of a planned assault on Mosul, the terror group’s biggest stronghold in Iraq. Local counterterrorism units, Kurdish Peshmerga forces, Sunni and Shia militias will take part in the assault along with coalition air support, The Telegraph reports.

Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in northern Iraq last week shot down a small drone the size of a model airplane. They believed it was like the dozens of drones the terrorist organization had been flying for reconnaissance in the area, and they transported it back to their outpost to examine it. But as they were taking it apart, it blew up, killing two Kurdish fighters in what is believed to be one of the first times the Islamic State has successfully used a drone with explosives to kill troops on the battlefield. In the last month, the Islamic State has tried to use small drones to launch attacks at least two other times, prompting American commanders in Iraq to issue a warning to forces fighting the group to treat any type of small flying aircraft as a potential explosive device.


ISIS militants set many oil wells on fire in Iraq hoping to obscure the view of Iraqi and coalition warplanes, but it didn’t stop Iraqi forces from driving them out of town in late August. Instead, residents are choking on the heavy toxic smoke. “It’s like poison,” one man said. “You feel sick all the time, it gets in your nose, your lungs, on your skin, everywhere.” Technicians from the provincial oil company were able to put six of the fires out, but there are still nine to go. The engineers estimate 5,000 barrels of oil are burning every day. Earlier this week ISIS militants sabotaged another well. Thirty-year oil industry veteran engineer Hussain Salim has the formidable task of putting out the fires, and told CNN that it can take up to a month to put out each of the fires.


Overnight shelling and more than a dozen airstrikes on rebel-held parts of Aleppo killed at least 11 people Thursday, bringing the death toll in the last three days to at least 65, according to an opposition activist group and Aleppo’s volunteer civil defense forces. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported more than 20 airstrikes on eastern Aleppo, adding that clashes were taking place between government forces and insurgents on the city’s northern edge. The Halab Today TV channel reported “intense” airstrikes on rebel-held parts of Syria’s largest city, saying that cluster bombs were being dropped. The Observatory said Wednesday that at least 358 civilians have been killed in eastern Aleppo since a U.S. and Russian-brokered truce collapsed on Sept. 19.


Boko Haram militants handed over 21 Chibok schoolgirls to Nigerian authorities Thursday after a series of negotiations, Nigeria’s government said, in the first mass release of any of the more than 200 girls and women kidnapped from their school two years ago. The 21 former captives were freed at about 3 a.m. in the northeastern Nigerian town of Banki, near the border with Cameroon. They are said to have been among the 276 girls that Boko Haram militants herded from bed in the middle of the night at a school in Chibok in April 2014 — a kidnapping that spurred global outrage. As many as 57 girls escaped almost immediately, and one was found this spring. Just under 200 remain unaccounted for after Thursday’s release. The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government brokered the deal between the Islamist militant group and the Nigerian government. Terms of Thursday’s deal were not immediately announced, but no captive Boko Haram fighters were released in exchange for the girls, CNN reported.

More than 3 million people displaced and isolated by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria are facing one of the world’s biggest humanitarian disasters. Every day, more children are dying because there isn’t enough food. Curable illnesses are killing others. Even polio has returned, reports the Washington Post.. Institutional failures have exacerbated the situation: For over a year, the United Nations and humanitarian groups dramatically underestimated the size of the disaster, and the Nigerian government refused to acknowledge the huge number of people going hungry in Africa’s second-richest nation. Thousands of people have already died because of the inaction, aid experts say. The crisis has been largely hidden from view, partly because it has been extremely dangerous for aid groups to visit the area.


Egypt’s new capital city moved a step closer to reality with the announcement that Chinese developers will largely fund the megaproject. The China Fortune Land Development Company (CFLD) agreed to provide $20 billion for the currently unnamed city, after a meeting between heads of the firm and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. This follows a previous commitment of $15 billion from another Chinese state-owned company, bringing the project close to its $45 billion budget requirements for phase I. Plans for the new capital were first announced in March 2015. Government officials described the development as a solution to crowding, pollution and rising house prices in Cairo. The 700 square kilometer city to be constructed in the desert to the East of Cairo would become the new seat of government, and it is presented as a far grander vision than the current capital. Proposals for the city include housing for five million people, over 1,000 mosques, smart villages, industrial zones, a 5,000-seat conference center, and the world’s largest park.


Haiti’s leader says Hurricane Matthew’s assault has accelerated the already existing cholera epidemic and undermined the strides made in fighting the disease. Thirteen people have died from cholera since Matthew hit Haiti and comes after a devastating cholera outbreak in 2010. Cholera, which is spread through water or food contaminated with Vibrio cholerae bacteria, can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, which leads to extreme dehydration. It can swiftly result in outbreaks, and patients who are not treated quickly can die within hours. Haiti has one of the highest rates of cholera in the world, with almost 10,000 people dead from the disease since 2010 and more than 27,000 suspected cases have been reported this year — an estimated 1 in 3 of them children, UNICEF said.

  • Haiti’s primary ‘religion’ is voodoo. A correlation?


China’s population is aging rapidly, a hangover of the one-child policy, which was finally overturned last year. The country is already home to more seniors — 114 million aged 65 or over — than any other developing country, according to a World Bank report. While Chinese law requires adults to support their parents, many seniors whose children have died or moved away are left without a network of care. More than 1,300 elderly people go missing in China every day — 500,000 per year, says a new report from Zhongmin Social Assistance Institute under the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Around 25% of those missing had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, while 72% suffered some sort of memory impairment, according to the report. Of those who were found after being reported missing, 25% then went missing again.


Last week, the European Union joined dozens of countries in signing onto a United Nations climate treaty, pushing it to within a month of taking legal force. Following the filing of paperwork in recent weeks by 73 countries, collectively responsible for 57 percent of annual climate emissions, a key threshold for the Paris agreement was passed Wednesday. The U.N. said the treaty will take effect Nov. 4. The agreement was finalized less than a year ago, following five years of contentious efforts to push global climate policy in an untested direction following the collapse of UN negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009. The voluntary nature of the pact, however, offers few assurances that it will succeed. Future work to tighten pledges will be key to the treaty’s success, analysts say.

After tearing through the Caribbean, leaving more than 1,000 dead in Haiti, Hurricane Matthew hammered the coast of the southeastern United States, leaving behind a trail of coastal destruction, wind damage and freshwater flooding that claimed an additional 40 lives. Although Hurricane Matthew is long gone, communities from central Florida up through Virginia have been dealt problems ranging from substantial beach erosion and blackouts to uninhabitable homes and major flooding. In North Carolina, 1,500 were stranded by a levee breach and several counties were under severe flooding threats, including one town of 2,000 that remained under a mandatory evacuation early this week. Authorities made fresh appeals Wednesday for people in eastern North Carolina to leave low-lying areas as rivers swollen with rainwater caused flooding days after Hurricane Matthew passed. Evacuations were ordered for about 9,000 people in Greenville. The flooding is the result of up to 18 inches of rain that fell in eastern North Carolina from Matthew.

Signs of the Times (10/9/26)

October 9, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Brings Record River Flooding & Power Outages

Record-breaking flooding has occurred in North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew dumped extreme amounts of rain on eastern parts of the state. Though the rain has ended, and it should remain dry for many days ahead, rivers will still be rising in some locations. That could lead to additional record flooding at some gauges. This flooding is the result of 6 to 16 inches of rain that fell in eastern North Carolina from Matthew. The top total was 15.65 inches at William O Huske Lock 3, followed by 14.82 inches in Fayetteville. Matthew left behind seven dead with 562 successful swift water rescues.

Rainfall from Matthew, as well moderate tidal flooding, has caused severe flooding in parts of Virginia. Several communities in southeast portions of the state were hit by street flooding Saturday after nearly a foot of rain fell as Hurricane Matthew began to pull away from the eastern seaboard. Heavy rain and strong winds affected the Norfolk and Virginia Beach areas Saturday night. Street closures are being reported in the communities of Virginia Beach, Franklin, Hampton and Isle of Wight, where the James River Bridge Southbound has been closed due to high water and downed power lines and trees have caused roadways throughout the county to become dangerous.

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, state energy provider South Carolina Energy & Gas reported that more than 825,000 were without power as of Saturday evening, Gov. Nikki Haley said in a Saturday evening press conference, but as of Sunday morning the number dropped to 191,000. The largest outages are in the Low Country areas. Hurricane Matthew began its strike on South Carolina early Saturday morning, leaving a major highway closed and more than 100 roads impassable in Charleston. Both directions of Interstate 95 were rendered impassible in South Carolina due to floodwaters and other obstructions. More than 370,000 in Georgia were without power Saturday with at least 3 dead.

Hurricane Matthew, in its destructive march along the Florida coast on Friday, caused widespread flooding, damage and power outages across the state. At least five people have died. Florida Power & Light’s latest report says it has restored power to 747,325 of the more than 1 million customers that lost power at the height of the storm. The electric company brought in 15,000 crews from all over the country to aid in the storm impacts, with workers coming from as far away as Massachusetts and Texas. Storm surge in St. Augustine engulfed city streets and pushed through residential areas. Jacksonville Beach residents were not allowed to return to the area Saturday. After surveying damages Friday night, Mayor Charlie Latham said it was not as bad as expected and began lifting the evacuation orders for some zones Sunday morning.

White House Puts Thousands of Deportation Cases on Hold

The Obama administration has delayed deportation proceedings against more than 56,000 Central American immigrants who have entered the U.S. illegally since 2014, The New York Times reported Thursday. Federal officials told the Times that some deportation cases have been pushed as far back as 2023, creating what one retired immigration judge called “docket chaos.” Some of those whose cases have been delayed failed to report to government offices to be fitted with GPS ankle bracelets, the Times reports. Now, federal officials admit that many immigrants with delayed cases may never report for their court dates. In June 2014, the White House said it would work to process and deport illegal immigrants quicker after a surge of families and unaccompanied minors crossed the southern U.S. border over the previous months.

Immigration Agents Caught Barely Half of Illegal Border Crossers Last Year

Immigration authorities caught just over half of the people who illegally entered the U.S. from Mexico last year, according to a report commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security that offers one of the most detailed assessments of border security ever compiled. The report found that 54 percent of people who entered illegally between border crossings got caught in the 2015 fiscal year. That’s much lower than the 81 percent success rate that Homeland Security cited publicly using a different counting method, reports Fox News. The 98-page report was completed in May, and Homeland Security officials have declined to release it, despite urging from some members of Congress. The Associated Press obtained a copy from a government official involved in border issues who acted on condition of anonymity.

U.S. Admits Record Number of Muslim Immigrants

A recent study by Pew found that a record near-half of all refugees that entered the United States in FY2016 were Muslim, marking the highest number of Muslim refugees recorded since religious self-reporting data became available 14 years ago. According to Pew: A total of 38,901 Muslim refugees entered the U.S. in fiscal year 2016, making up almost half (46%) of the nearly 85,000 refugees who entered the country in that period, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center. That means the U.S. has admitted the highest number of Muslim refugees of any year since data on self-reported religious affiliations first became publicly available in 2002.” Pew added that “A slightly lower share of 2016’s refugees were Christian (44%) than Muslim, the first time that has happened since fiscal 2006, when a large number of Somali refugees entered the U.S.”

States that refuse to help resettle Syrian refugees are guilty of illegal discrimination, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, delivering a judicial rebuke to GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, who, as Indiana’s governor, had tried to stop Syrians from being shipped into his state. “Federal law does not allow a governor to deport to other states immigrants he deems dangerous,” Judge Posner wrote. Posner added that there’s no evidence that Syrians are more dangerous than other refugees, and he said even if they are, allowing Indiana to refuse to resettle them would only foist the problem onto neighboring states.

U.S. Officially Accuses Russia of Hacking Attacks

The Obama administration on Friday officially accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the 2016 elections, including by hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations. The denunciation, made by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security, came as pressure was growing from within the administration and some lawmakers to publicly name Moscow and hold it accountable for actions apparently aimed at sowing discord around the election. “The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations,” said a joint statement from the two agencies. “. . . These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” “Today was just the first step,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a member of the Homeland Security Committee. “Russia must face serious consequences. The United States must upend Putin’s calculus with a strong diplomatic, political, ­cyber and economic response.”

N.S.A. Contractor Arrested in Theft of Classified Information

The F.B.I. secretly arrested a former National Security Agency contractor in August and, according to law enforcement officials, is investigating whether he stole and disclosed highly classified computer code developed by the agency to hack into the networks of foreign governments. The arrest raises the embarrassing prospect that for the second time in three years, a contractor for the consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton managed to steal highly damaging secret information while working for the N.S.A. In 2013, Edward J. Snowden, who was also a Booz Allen contractor, took a vast trove of documents from the agency that were later passed to journalists, exposing surveillance programs in the United States and abroad. The contractor was identified as Harold T. Martin III of Glen Burnie, Md., according to a criminal complaint filed in late August and unsealed Wednesday. According to court documents, the F.B.I. discovered thousands of pages of documents and dozens of computers or other electronic devices at his home and in his car, a large amount of it classified.

Persecution Update

An American missionary has been charged with violating Russia’s new anti-evangelism laws, and although he has appealed the charge, his appeal was rejected. According to The Christian Post, Pastor Donald Ossewaarde has been living in Oryol, a town 224 miles south of Moscow, for nearly 15 years and was recently accused of illegal missionary activity. “I was accused of gluing two Gospel tracts to a bulletin board at the entrance of an apartment building” he said, and “of conducting a religious service in a private home, which they said was a violation of the new anti-missionary law.” Russia’s new anti-evangelism laws are supposedly meant to prevent the spread of terrorism, but many Christians believe that they will allow the state greater control over religion.

Economic News

The economy added 156,000 jobs last month, a tad lower than the revised job gains for August, but significantly down from the 252,000 jobs added in July, the Labor Department said Friday. Counting September’s gains, the United States has added 15 million jobs since employment hit its low in February 2010. The unemployment rate ticked up to 5% from 4.9%. Wages grew 2.6% in September compared with a year ago. That’s not stellar, but it’s better than the growth of 2% or less seen for years during the recovery.

The International Monetary Fund says the U.S. economy is losing momentum. The IMF said the American economy will expand by only 1.6% this year, down from 2.6% in 2015. The latest forecast is 0.6 percentage points lower than what the fund predicted just three months ago. The world’s largest economy grew by just 1.4% between April and June compared to the same period last year, according to U.S. government data. The performance was well below economists’ expectations.

The U.S. economy has only grown 2% a year since it bottomed out in June 2009. That’s far below the typical growth in rosy times of over 4% a year that the U.S. has experienced since World War II. It’s even below the rather sluggish rebound during President George W. Bush’s tenure of 2.7%, making it the slowest U.S. recovery since WWII, reports CNN.

Oil returned back above the $50 level on Thursday for the first time since late June. Prices for crude oil have surged 12% since OPEC surprised the world last week in Algeria by reaching an understanding to cut output for the first time in eight years. The framework deal could still collapse and awaits formal approval at OPEC’s regular meeting in November, but it represents a reversal from the cartel’s recent strategy of flooding the world with oil.

The British pound slumped to its lowest level in 31 years on Tuesday on fears that the U.K.’s divorce from the European Union will be bad for the economy. Brexit plans have begun to emerge in the last few days: talks with the EU will begin in early 2017, the exit will happen two years later, and the U.K. will give priority to controlling immigration. European leaders have made clear that if Britain does not allow free movement of EU citizens across its borders, it will lose some of its rights to access the free trade area. British exporters may find it harder to compete in Europe, and the country’s banks could lose the ability to do business freely across the region.


A Palestinian motorist launched a shooting spree near the Israeli police headquarters in Jerusalem Sunday, killing two people and wounding five others before being shot dead, Israeli police and emergency services said. Police officers on motorcycles chased the assailant, who eventually stepped out of his vehicle and opened fire at them. A separate police force ultimately shot and killed the attacker. The suspect was identified as a 39-year-old man from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Israeli media reported the man had previously served multiple sentences for violent acts and was due to report to prison Sunday for another sentence over assaulting a police officer. Israel Air Force (IAF) aircraft attacked Hamas terror targets in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday in response to a rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists at Israel’s civilian population earlier in the day. Palestinian sources report of two terror targets that were hit. The rocket, fired by an unknown faction, exploded in an open space, causing no casualties and some minor damage.

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics published a report this week showing that the population in the 126 Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) had reached 385,900 by the end of 2015, totaling 4.5% of the overall population of the State. The vast majority of new residents of these communities were babies born to parents already living there. The report came out as the US State Department issued one of its sharpest ever rebukes of Israel over construction in West Bank settlement communities. The remarks by spokespersons from the State Department and the White House included references to the recently signed military assistance package for Israel and other elements of U.S. aid to the Jewish State, leading to statements of alarm from Israeli officials. The Obama administration on Wednesday issued unusually sharp criticism of Israel and strongly condemned its recent decision to advance a plan that would build some 100 housing units in the Shiloh area in Samaria, a compensation for Israeli families who are soon to lose their homes following a court ruling that their homes must be demolished because they were mistakenly built on privately owned Arab land.


Rival resolutions on Syria backed by the West and Russia were defeated in the U.N. Security Council on Saturday, offering no relief to the besieged city of Aleppo and leaving the key powers even more divided over a course of action in the war-ravaged country. Russia vetoed a French-drafted resolution demanding an immediate halt to the bombing campaign that the Syrian government and Russia are carrying out against rebel-held districts in Aleppo. The rival Russian draft which made no mention of a bombing halt was rejected because it failed to get the minimum nine “yes” votes needed for approval by the 15-member council. The votes reflected the deep divisions in the U.N.’s most powerful body which is charged with ensuring international peace and security but has totally failed to take action to end the more than 5-year Syrian conflict which has killed over 300,000 people and displaced millions.

Russia has deployed an advanced anti-missile system to Syria for the first time, three US officials tell Fox News, the latest indication that Moscow continues to ramp up its military operations in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad. It comes after Russia’s actions led to the collapse of a cease-fire and the cut-off of direct talks with the U.S. While Moscow’s motives are not certain, officials say the new weapon system could potentially counter any American cruise missile attack in Syria. It is the first time Russia has deployed the SA-23 system outside its borders.

A barrel bomb struck a center used by Syria’s civil defense volunteers, known as the White Helmets, in the country’s capital of Damascus, the group said. The group tweeted that the center and vehicles at the scene were destroyed Wednesday, and some volunteers injured in the attack. White Helmets members describe themselves as a group of 3,000 volunteers whose goal is to save lives in Syrian communities. “We rush to the scene of attacks to save the greatest number of lives in the shortest possible time and to minimize further injury to people and damage to property,” the group says on its website.


Two police officers were stabbed in the Brussels district of Schaarbeek on Wednesday, a Federal Prosecutor’s Office spokesman said. The stabbings are being treated as a suspected terror attack. The city remains on a high terror alert at level three, one below the highest level. On March 22, suicide bombers struck at the city’s airport and a subway station, killing 32 people. Brussels has become a hotbed of terror in Europe. The alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks in November last year, which killed 130 people, was arrested in Belgium.


German police searched nationwide Sunday for a 22-year-old Syrian man believed to have been preparing a bombing attack, who slipped through their fingers as they were closing in on him, and were questioning a second Syrian man on suspicion he was involved in the plot. The man in custody was one of three apprehended in the eastern city of Chemnitz on Saturday. He was the renter of the apartment that police raided in their search for the main suspect, Jaber Albakr from the Damascus area of Syria.


A bomb mounted on a motorcycle exploded Thursday not far from Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, wounding at least 10 people, Turkish officials said. The blast occurred outside a police station in the city’s Yenibosna district, northeast of the airport. The victims were civilians, and none of the injured was in serious condition. Police were searching for one person spotted leaving the area on a motorbike. No groups immediately claimed responsibility for the blast. Turkey has been rocked by a wave of terror attacks in the past year carried out by Kurdish rebels as well as Islamic State militants. Kurdish militants detonated a car bomb Sunday outside a military checkpoint in southeast Turkey, killing ten soldiers and eight civilians, the prime minister said. Turkey immediately launched a military operation against the rebels in response.

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up after refusing to surrender to police during an operation in the outskirts of the capital Ankara Saturday, a senior official said. No one else was killed or hurt. Governor Erkan Topaca said police, acting on a tip, launched an operation to catch a man and a woman who were suspected of planning a suicide car bombing in Ankara. They were hiding inside a hut at a horse farm in the district of Haymana, just outside of the capital. “They blew themselves up before we could intervene,” Topaca told reporters at the scene.


Nearly four dozen Afghan troops training in the U.S. have vanished in less than two years, officials confirmed Thursday. At least 44 Afghan troops have left their assigned bases since January 2015, calling into question their training programs’ screening processes. Of those 44, 25 were reported Absent Without Leave, or AWOL, in 2015, and 19 have gone AWOL this year. One of the eight Afghan students who disappeared in September of this year turned up at the Canadian border, the Pentagon reported. A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the frequency of Afghan troops disappearing from military training was truly concerning, raising fears of terrorism in America.


Russia is currently conducting a drill that involves more than 40 million people and scenarios will cover biological, chemical, and nuclear emergencies. The huge four-day “civil defense” drill has set alarm bells ringing in Washington and London, with tensions already high over disagreements in Syria. Following a breakdown in communication between the USA and Russia, the Kremlin has now organized the huge emergency practice drill – either as a show of force or something more sinister. The drill will prepare Russian citizens for “large natural and man-made disasters”, according to the country’s Ministry for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disaster.

Russia has backed out of a deal to convert 34 tons of weapons grade plutonium into nuclear fuel each year. In the year 2000 Russia and the United States agreed to end the arms race and each turn 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium into reactor fuel every year. The agreement was re-affirmed in 2010. In a statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United states of creating “a threat to strategic stability, as a result of unfriendly actions towards Russia.”

A document released by the French Ministry of defense states that on September 22nd FOUR European countries scrambled fighter jets to head off two Russian Blackjack bombers. The bombers headed across the top of Scotland from Norway, before skirting Ireland’s west coast towards France and Spain. Norway, the UK, France and Spain all sent up fighters to intercept the jets.


Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to end a five-decade civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people. Nobel judges conspicuously did not honor his counterpart, Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the rebels. The award came just days after Colombian voters narrowly rejected the peace deal that Santos helped bring about. “The referendum was not a vote for or against peace,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, insisting the peace process wasn’t dead. “What the ‘No’ side rejected was not the desire for peace,” rather a desire for more severe judgment against the rebels.


The largest active volcano in Japan has erupted, sending a column of smoke and ash more than 11,000 meters (nearly 7 miles) into the air, the Japan Meteorological Agency reported early Saturday. It is extremely rare for an eruption column to exceed 10,000 meters, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Mount Aso, which stands 1,592 meters (a little over 5,200 feet) tall, is in Kumamoto Prefecture on the southwestern island of Kyushu. Images from the area showed a layer of volcanic ash coating streets, roofs and vehicles. No injuries have been reported. While the volcano is in its active phase, there is a “possibility” another eruption of the same scale could occur.


The number of people killed in Haiti by Hurricane Matthew has risen sharply, with coastal villages and towns beginning to make contact with the outside world, three days after being hit by the fiercest Caribbean storm in nearly a decade. A Reuters news agency tally of deaths reported by civil protection officials at a local level on Friday showed the storm killed at least 877 people. Rural clinics overflowed with patients whose wounds including broken bones had not been treated since the storm hit on Tuesday. Food was scarce, and at least seven people died of cholera, likely because of flood water mixing with sewage. “Devastation is everywhere,” said Pilus Enor, mayor of the town of Camp Perrin. “Every house has lost its roof. All the plantations have been destroyed. Haitian officials said more than 28,000 houses have been damaged so far but assessments are only in the initial stages.

Leaving Haiti in “total disaster,” Hurricane Matthew slammed into Cuba Tuesday night. At least 283 deaths have been attributed to the storm. Twenty-three of the deaths were reported in Haiti. Six other deaths were recorded in the neighboring Dominican Republic and one each in Colombia and in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “It’s the worst hurricane that I’ve seen during my life,” Fidele Nicolas, a civil protection official in Nippes, told AP. “It destroyed schools, roads, other structures.” According to Haiti Libre, 14,530 people have been displaced, 2,703 families are affected and 1,885 houses are flooded. Major flooding was reported in several southern towns, including Petit Goave, where the Ladigue Bridge collapsed Tuesday, isolating southwest Haiti from the rest of the country.

Residents of Baracoa, Cuba, were digging out rubble that was left after Hurricane Matthew hit the eastern portion of the country Wednesday with heavy flooding and strong storm surge. Hit in some areas by 24-foot waves, Baracoa saw hundreds of homes were either damaged or destroyed when flooding and the storm surge overcame the city. Hundreds of people from Baracoa, Maisí and other territories to the east of Guantánamo have had their houses partially or completely destroyed. The road joining Guantanamo’s municipalities of Imías and Baracoa became flooded and impassable. Nearly 380,000 people were evacuated and strong measures were taken to protect communities and infrastructure.

Signs of the Times (10/3/16)

October 3, 2016

U.S. Military to Fund Gender Reassignment Treatments

Starting the first week of October, the government will pay for gender reassignment treatments and surgeries for eligible soldiers — an estimated expense between $2.4 million to $8.4 million per year. There are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender troops in the active-duty force of 1.3 million, according the RAND Corp. which conducted a study for the Pentagon. Of those troops, RAND estimates that between 30 and 140 would like hormone treatment, and 25 to 130 would seek surgery. The Defense Department policy states if a service member’s ability to serve is hindered by a “medical condition or medical treatment related to their gender identity,” they will be treated.

University of Michigan Professors Instructed to Use ‘Preferred Pronouns’

On Wednesday, the University of Michigan unveiled a new webpage that allows students to choose their preferred pronouns, including “they” and “ze.” Preferred pronouns will appear on class rosters, and if professors accidentally use the wrong pronoun, “you can acknowledge that you made a mistake and use the correct pronoun next time,” said the university’s provost and vice president for student life in a campus-wide email announcement. A university spokesman said“If there were a persistent pattern of ignoring a student’s preference, we would address that as a performance matter.

  • An insane world continues to grow crazier and crazier

Judge Roy Moore Suspended Over Refusal to Approve Same-Sex Marriages

On Friday, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ) — lacking the votes to remove Chief Justice Moore from office — instead voted to suspend Justice Moore for the remainder of his term. The COJ’s order Friday morning said Moore will remain suspended from his office, without pay, for the remainder of his current six-year term, which does not end until January of 2019. Since there is no meaningful difference between suspension for the remainder of the term and removal from office, the COJ did what the rules say they cannot do, maintains Liberty Counsel, which will file an emergency appeal with the Alabama Supreme Court. Liberty Counsel is calling for a new panel of judges to be convened to hear this case. “The evidence and the arguments presented Wednesday by our Liberty Counsel team showed that Chief Justice Moore should be immediately reinstated. He did nothing wrong. The Chief Justice’s accusers presented no live testimony or affidavits. The charges should be dismissed. Nonetheless, the COJ ruled to suspend the Chief Justice for the rest of his term and threw the rule of law out the window!”

First Baby with DNA of 3 Parents is Born

The “three-parent” procedure used to birth the first baby with DNA from three parents is under fire from critics for who say it is “playing God,” reports ChristianHeadlines.com. The baby boy was born last week to a Jordanian couple in Mexico. The three-parent procedure is illegal in the United States. But American Dr. John Zhang, a reproductive endocrinologist at New Hope Fertility Center in New York City, and the participants went to Mexico because “there are no rules” there, Zhang reportedly told New Scientist. The mother, Ibtisam Shaban, has Leigh syndrome, a fatal disease that affects the nervous system, in her mitochondrial DNA. She had no symptoms of Leigh syndrome, but her first two children died to the disease at six and eight months. According to Stream.org, U.S. Dr. John Zhang removed the nucleus and placed it in the shell of a donor’s egg, which contained healthy mitochondria DNA. Thus, the baby would have DNA from three parents. “We do not yet know the interaction between the mitochondria and nuclear DNA. To say that it is the same as changing a battery is facile. It’s an extremely complex thing.” Dr Trevor Stammers, Program Director in Bioethics and Medical Law at St. Mary’s University, said.

Congress Passes Stopgap Government Funding Bill, $1.1B for Zika Fight

Averting an election-year crisis, Congress late Wednesday sent President Barack Obama a bill to keep the government operating through Dec. 9 and provide $1.1 billion in long-delayed funding to battle the Zika virus. The House cleared the measure by a 342-85 vote. The votes came after top congressional leaders broke through a stalemate over aid to help Flint, Michigan, address its water crisis. Democratic advocates for Flint are now satisfied with renewed guarantees that Flint will get funding later this year to help rid its water system of lead. The hybrid spending measure was Capitol Hill’s last major to-do item before the election and its completion allows lawmakers to jet home to campaign to save their jobs. Congress won’t return to Washington until the week after Election Day.

Ailing ObamaCare May Have to Change to Survive

The fierce struggle to enact and carry out the Affordable Care Act was supposed to put an end to 75 years of fighting for a health care system to insure all Americans. With the new enrollees sicker than expected, many insurers are pulling out or increasing premiums. The law’s troubles could make it just a way station on the road to another, more stable health care system, reports the New York Times. Seeing a lack of competition in many of the health law’s online insurance marketplaces, Hillary Clinton, President Obama and much of the Democratic Party are calling for more government intervention, not less. They and nearly one-third of the Senate have endorsed a new government-sponsored health plan, the so-called public option, to give consumers an additional choice. A significant number of Democrats, for whom Senator Bernie Sanders spoke in the primaries, favor a single-payer arrangement, which could take the form of Medicare for all. Donald J. Trump and Republicans in Congress would go in the direction of less government, reducing federal regulation and requirements so insurance would cost less and no-frills options could proliferate, notes the Times.

Commission on Civil Rights Releases Report Condemning Religious Freedom

The Obama administration’s Commission on Civil Rights has just released a report that would lay out the ground rules to actually persecute Christians in the United States. The report was entitled, “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties,” says that the free exercise of religion is an excuse for bigots and racists to get away with discrimination. It seems that everything that someone does that is protected by the Constitution of the United States is suddenly wrong, notes the Conservative Daily Post. “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ … remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance,” said Martin Castro, the chairman of the commission. So even though the United States Constitution gives people the freedom to practice whatever religion they want, the Obama administration wants to persecute them on the grounds that they are trying to get away with discrimination.

Muslim Immigrant in Ohio Shoots Daughter in Apparent ‘Honor’ Killing

While Ohio Police are baffled at what motive Jamal Mansour had when he took a gun into his daughter’s bedroom and shot her in the head twice, but the clues are there for anyone who knows the history and teachings of Islam, reports Constitution.com. As police seem to overlook the obvious, an “honor” killing is the most likely answer. Jamal Mansour, 63, who migrated from Jordan to the US and became a naturalized citizen, took a gun into his daughter’s bedroom at around 1:15am last Tuesday morning. He then shot 27-year-old Tahani Mansour twist in her forehead. She died nearly 10 hours later at the hospital. Mansour stood just hours later before a judge and had the audacity to call the fatal shooting of his daughter “an accident.” He is facing murder, felonious assault and domestic violence charges. “Mr. Mansour might have assimilated to Western culture sufficiently to shave his beard and wear jeans but not to accept his daughter behaving like western girls,” said Attorney Daniel Akbari, author of “Honor Killing: A Professional’s Guide to Sexual Relations and Ghayra Violence from the Islamic Sources.”

Migrant Update

Hungary is recruiting thousands of so-called “border hunters” to patrol its razor-wire boundary fence, planning to equip the special unit with night-vision goggles, riot gear and dogs in an effort to keep migrants at bay, The Washington Post reported. The nation is hoping to attract 3,000 border hunters to support the 10,000 police officers and soldiers already trying to keep migrants at bay in Serbia, the BBC reported. Recruits must be 18 and pass a psychological test. They will be trained for six months before going on duty. “Every single migrant poses a public security and terror risk” said Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Economic News

U.S. consumer spending in August turned in the weakest performance in five months, reflecting a drop in spending on autos. Income growth also slowed as wages and salary gains slowed following four strong months. Consumer spending was unchanged last month after solid gains of 0.4% in July and 0.3% in June, the Commerce Department reported Friday. It was the poorest showing since a similar flat reading in March. Personal incomes rose 0.2% last month, just half the gain in July. It was the weakest showing since a 0.1% drop in February. Wages and salaries, the biggest income category, were up just 0.1% after two months of 0.5% increases.

A surprise deal by major oil producers to cut output is unlikely to make a big difference to the low gas prices consumers have been enjoying at the pump, reports CNN Money. The OPEC deal includes Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer that had previously refused to cut back. But it won’t rein in some of the other top crude exporters. Iran, which recently emerged from sanctions, will be allowed to raise production further. Nigeria and Libya, which have had some of their oil facilities damaged by terrorist attacks, are also being given room to pump more. The deal represents a U-turn by Saudi Arabia, which had led OPEC on a production binge to force higher cost competitors out of the market. Oil supplies and inventories remain high. And the International Energy Agency warned that despite low prices, demand is slowing in countries that were previously driving the market, such as India and China.

Deutsche Bank is Germany’s biggest lender and is facing a $14 billion bill for improper selling of mortgage-backed bonds before the financial crisis of 2008. Many experts don’t feel that they would have to pay the whole fine but say that it is within the rights of the Treasury to insist the fine is paid.  If this happens, there is little doubt that would lead to the total collapse of the bank in its current form. According to Die Zeit, the German financial sector is in talks with the government to have a rescue plan in place to head off a total collapse of the bank. Germany’s second largest bank is also under stress, Commerzbank is planning to cut almost 10,000 jobs over and will stop paying dividends to shareholders.


The United States formally suspended talks with Russia about the protracted Syria conflict on Monday because of the Russian military’s role in the assault on the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo. The United States also shelved plans with Russia for the joint military targeting of jihadists in Syria, the State Department said in a statement. The American step reflected aggravated tensions with Russia on a range of issues and raised new challenges over how to de-escalate and resolve the Syria war, which has left roughly half a million people dead since 2011. Roughly 275,000 civilians are trapped in Aleppo, including an estimated 100,000 children. Hundreds of people there have been killed in the past week, international aid groups say.

Russia warned the United States about taking direct action against the Syrian regime, saying it would cause negative consequences across the Middle East, Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency reported Saturday. Meanwhile, intense fighting continued in the besieged Syrian city Aleppo on Saturday, with one of the main hospitals bombed by Russian-backed Syrian forces. Syrian government forces took control of a hospital in Aleppo Friday, a day after seizing a Palestinian refugee camp in the northern city from rebels, according to Syria’s military. The military said its forces captured the Kindi hospital and were strengthening their positions in the Handarat refugee camp. Doctors without Borders called on the Syrian government and its allies to “stop indiscriminate bombing in Aleppo.” It said two hospitals that it supported were bombed and put out of service on Sept 28.


Afghan officials say the Taliban have attacked a police headquarters the in southern Helmand province, killing the local police chief. It’s the second major Taliban assault Monday in Afghanistan. The insurgents are also attacking the northern city of Kunduz since early morning. A suicide car bomber struck the police compound in Naway district, blasting through the gate and allowing gunmen in afterward. Helmand, a Taliban heartland, is the source of most of the opium produced in Afghanistan, which helps fund the insurgency.


President Obama has authorized sending an additional 600 American troops to Iraq to assist Iraqi forces in the looming battle to take back the city of Mosul from the Islamic State, United States officials said last week. The announcement means that there will soon be 5,000 American troops in Iraq, seven years after the Obama administration withdrew all American troops from the country. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said the additional troops would help with logistics as well as providing intelligence for Iraqi security forces in the fight for Mosul. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that Iraqi forces would be ready to retake the city by early October.


The Obama administration agreed to back the lifting of United Nations sanctions on two Iranian state banks blacklisted for financing Iran’s ballistic-missile program on the same day in January that Tehran released four American citizens from prison, according to U.S. officials and congressional staff briefed on the deliberations. The U.N. sanctions on the two banks weren’t initially to be lifted until 2023, under a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers that went into effect on Jan. 16. The new details emerged after administration officials briefed lawmakers in September about the U.S. decision.


Amnesty International accused the Sudanese military on Thursday of using chemical weapons against civilians, including very young children, in one of the most remote corners of the Darfur region over the past eight months. The Britain-based human rights group said it had gathered “horrific evidence” including satellite imagery, more than 200 in-depth interviews with survivors, and expert analysis of dozens of images in an investigation that suggests at least 30 chemical attacks took place in the Jebel Marra area. “The scale and brutality of these attacks is hard to put into words,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty’s director of crisis research. Darfur has been witness to bloodshed since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government in Khartoum, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. The U.N. estimates 300,000 people have died in the conflict and 2.7 million have fled their homes.


Two Pakistani soldiers were killed after clashes with Indian troops in the disputed region of Kashmir, Pakistan’s military said. The Indian army said it had conducted “surgical attacks” across the de-facto border between the two countries to foil a “terrorist attack,” according to India’s Director General of Military Operations. But Pakistan insisted that no incursion had taken place into the territory it controls, saying there had only been an exchange of fire. It promised a “forceful response” if there was a repeat of the operation. India said it had acted to protect its citizens — Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh told reporters on Thursday the strikes had been based on “specific credible information” that militants were planning to carry out strikes in Indian cities. On Friday, India relocated more than 10,000 people from around the disputed border area of Kashmir as tensions with Pakistan continue to escalate.


Voters narrowly rejected a government peace deal with FARC rebels, which has thrown the country into disarray. Likened to the fallout from the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” referendum, the vote’s unexpected failure has left the Colombian political classes reeling and unsure how to respond in order to save four years of hard negotiation with the Marxist militia. In the weeks leading up to Sunday’s vote, many Colombians were angered by what they saw as insufficient punishment for those who perpetrated a litany of crimes against their people. It’s estimated 220,000 were killed in the 52-year conflict which displaced as many as 5 million people. Now the rebels and the Colombian government, facilitated by international leaders, will have to go back to the drawing board to re-imagine a peace that is acceptable to the people of Colombia.


Officials are warning residents in Southern California that a large earthquake is becoming more likely in the next few days along the San Andreas Fault. The earthquake advisory is in effect for Ventura, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles, Kern and Imperial counties. The advisory has been issued in response to the recent earthquake swarm of small tremors along the fault line. Still, the odds of a 4.3 magnitude or larger earthquake are small, and the most important takeaway from the advisory is that residents need to brush up on emergency plans should the Big One strike.


A fast-moving brush fire atop Loma Prieta in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains left one firefighter injured and destroyed at least eight homes, officials said. The Loma fire has also torched nine outbuildings. According to Cal Fire’s latest report, the fire has grown to more than 4,300 acres and is 34 percent contained. Mandatory evacuations have been canceled in Santa Cruz County, but the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said 325 structures are still threatened in Santa Clara County. Those evacuations remain in place.


Major Hurricane Matthew strengthened to a rare Category 5 late Friday evening, before weakening just a bit to a strong Category 4 hurricane overnight. Matthew is the first Category 5 hurricane since Hurricane Felix in 2007. The storm poses a danger to Jamaica, parts of Hispañola, eastern Cuba and the Bahamas early next week. Its potential U.S. impact later next week still remains unclear. Impacts are possible in Florida during the middle of next week. As of 8 a.m. Monday, Matthew located was 220 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, and 280 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Six years after a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed more than 200,000 people, Haiti braces for Hurricane Matthew amid fears that the country is ill-equipped to face another deadly natural disaster. With an expected 15-25 inches of rain on the way, Haiti is looking at even more devastation exacerbated by deforestation, which increases the potential for floods and mudslides. Couple that with the state of the country’s dilapidated homes and buildings and the possibility of heavy casualties from the storm seems likely, the Associated Press reports. The latest advisory says southern Haiti and southwestern Dominican Republic can expect 15 to 25 inches with possible isolated downpours of up to 40 inches. Eastern Cuba and western Haiti could see up to a foot of rain, with isolated amounts of 20 inches, while Jamaica could see 5 to 10 inches.

A powerful typhoon is inching closer Monday to Japan’s southernmost Okinawa island chain, packing powerful winds equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane, which has prompted the closure of the airport and forced flight cancellations. The “most intense typhoon to hit parts of Okinawa on record” has forced the closure of Okinawa’s main Naha airport. The typhoon has also prompted the country’s two largest airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, to cancel a combined 125 domestic flights. The island of Kumejima could potentially see “spectacular damage” as the typhoon passes over the island that is home to 8,700 people, weather.com chief meteorologist Jon Erdman said, noting that this will be the strongest typhoon on record to pass within 65 nautical miles of the island.

Signs of the Times (9/28/16)

September 28, 2016

FBI Director Warns of Upcoming Massive “Terrorist Diaspora”

FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday that even though he is convinced that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria will be destroyed soon, that will not be the end of it. Comey, in testimony before Congress, said the U.S. remains extremely concerned that violent extremists will eventually flow out of Syria and Iraq and into other countries in hopes of committing terrorist attacks. “There will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years like we’ve never seen before,” Comey said. Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said that in addition to ISIS militants, U.S. government officials are concerned about the capabilities and ambitions of al-Qaida and its affiliates. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said terrorist threats have evolved, moving from terrorist-directed attacks “to a world that also includes the threat of terrorist-inspired attacks” in which individuals who live in the U.S. are “self-radicalized” to attack their own country. Johnson says that by their nature, terrorist-inspired attacks and terrorist-enabled attacks are difficult to detect by intelligence and law enforcement communities, and can occur with little or no notice.

Transcripts Show ISIS Influence On Orlando Gunman

The Wall Street Journal reports that Omar Mateen, the Orlando nightclub shooter, told a hostage negotiator that he was angry about the death of a top Islamic State operative, according to recently released transcripts of their phone conversations during Mateen’s massacre earlier this year. The new details of the conversations, released by Orlando Police last week, show Mateen had more than a passing interest in Islamic State, counterterrorism experts said.  He specifically singled out the death of Abu Wahib, one of the more visible leaders of the terror group, as one of the main motivations for his attack. Abu Wahib was killed in an airstrike in Iraq just weeks before Mateen opened fire at the Pulse nightclub in June in an attack that killed 49 people and wounded 53. Mateen died in a shootout with police.

Homeland Security Says They’re Unable to Fully Vet Refugees

Refugee fraud is “easy to commit” and much tougher to detect, Homeland Security officials acknowledged in an internal memo made public by members of Congress. The U.S. has relaxed requirements for refugees to prove they are who they say they are, and at times may rely solely on testimony. That makes it easier for bogus applicants to conspire to get approved, according to the department memo, which was obtained by the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. “Refugee fraud is easy to commit, yet not easy to investigate,” the undated memo says. The memo says that there have been clear instances where “bad actors … have exploited this program,” gaining a foothold in the U.S. through bogus refugee claims.

Children from Central America Flood U.S. Border Again

The number of Central American children fleeing to United States is booming once again, as security and economic troubles continue to grip El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The rush of minors across the southwest border became a political firestorm in the summer of 2014, prompting the Obama administration to enact emergency measures to stem the flow. Last year, the efforts seemed to work as the number of unaccompanied minors from those three countries entering the U.S. dropped from nearly 70,000 in 2014 to 39,970. Now the exodus to the USA is back on the rise. In the first 11 months of the 2016 fiscal year, which ends in September, 54,052 children made the journey. In El Salvador, people are fleeing a staggering level of violence that has made the country the murder capital of the world. In Guatemala, pockets of intense violence are driving some to the U.S. But Guatemalan officials said at the United Nations last week that their migrants are leaving mostly for economic reasons and should not be considered refugees.

Senate Overwhelmingly Overrides Obama’s 9/11 Veto

The Senate on Wednesday voted to override President Obama’s veto of a bill letting the victims of the 9/11 attacks sue Saudi Arabia, striking a blow to the president on foreign policy. The 97-1 vote marks the first time the Senate has mustered enough votes to overrule Obama’s veto pen. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was the sole vote to sustain Obama’s veto. Not a single Democrat came to the Senate floor before the vote to argue in favor of Obama’s position. Lawmakers don’t want to be seen as soft on punishing terrorist sponsors a few weeks before the election, at a time when voters are increasingly worried about radical Islamic terrorism in the wake of recent attacks in Manhattan, Minnesota and Orlando, Fla., reports MinutemenNews.com.

Charlotte Protesters Disrupt Council Meeting

Protesters overwhelmed an emotionally charged Charlotte City Council meeting Monday night, chanting “No justice, no peace” and demanding the resignations of Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Police Chief Kerr Putney. More than 50 people stepped to the podium, including a few children, to express anger over the fatal police shooting of African American Keith Lamont Scott and the city’s response to days of sometimes angry and violent demonstrations that followed. The packed audience held signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and the names of residents killed by police officers. The meeting started with the Pledge of Allegiance, with many in the crowd refusing to stand. Police Chief Kerr Putney acknowledged there “is no definitive, visual evidence” that Scott had a gun in his hand. “You see something in the hand and that he pointed it at an officer,” Putney said before the videos were released. The department has said officers perceived Scott’s movements as posing an imminent threat.

Violent Crime Up Nearly 4% in 2015

Overall violent crime in the U.S., increased by nearly 4 percent last year, a new FBI report concluded Monday, as several major cities struggled to deal with rising gun violence. The FBI’s annual crime report found that murder was up 12.8 percent in cities, driving the overall increase. Property-related crime, however, dropped by 2.6 percent. While the one-year violent crime increase was significant, the 2015 total was nearly 1 percent lower than in 2011 and 16.5 percent below the level a decade ago, according to FBI records. Facing increasing questions about police departments’ use of deadly force, the Justice Department is attempting to create a database to track deadly encounters between police and the public.

Mississippi Forces Welfare Users to Work for Food Stamps

A new Mississippi policy requiring that food stamp recipients find work or volunteer to maintain their benefits went into effect recently. Mississippi Gulf Coast news station WLOX reported that the policy requires that recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program work or volunteer 20 hours per week. One volunteer at an organization that provides food for the homeless said, “It’s more of a job opportunity to help you get out into the job world, and being up here helps you out a lot.” Fox News notes that, “More and more states are moving to require able-bodied adults to work in exchange for food stamps.” However, more than 40 states still do not require welfare recipients to work.

Migrant Update

French President Francois Hollande said on a visit to the port of Calais Monday that the sprawling “Jungle” migrant camp would be “definitively dismantled” under a plan to relocate the migrants to centers around the country. The French government has tried to close “The Jungle” in Calais multiple times. But so far, each attempt has failed.

A total of 204 bodies have been recovered from the migrant boat that capsized off the coast of Egypt last week. The vessel had set off from Egypt carrying around 450 people and was heading for Italy when it overturned last Wednesday. Most of those on board were from Egypt, Eritrea and Somalia. On the same day the boat capsized near Rashid, the coast guard foiled an illegal immigration attempt, rescuing 294 on board a boat off the shore of Egypt.

Economic News

U.S. consumer confidence rose in September to the highest level in nine years. The Conference Board says that its consumer confidence index rose to 104.1, up from 101.8 in August. It was the strongest reading since the index stood at 105.6 in August 2007, four months before the beginning of the Great Recession of 2007-2009. The September gain was primarily propelled by an improvement of consumers’ views about the labor market.

About 3.5 million Americans were able to raise their chins above the poverty line last year, according to census data released earlier this month. More than seven years after the recession ended, employers are finally being compelled to reach deeper into the pools of untapped labor, reports the New York Times. Employers are creating more jobs, especially among retailers, restaurants and hotels. They are also paying higher wages to attract workers and meet new minimum wage requirements. Poverty declined among every group. But African-Americans and Hispanics — who account for more than 45 percent of those below the poverty line of $24,300 for a family of four in most states — experienced the largest improvement.

When Barack Obama entered the White House, the U.S. government was 10.6 trillion dollars in debt.  Today, the U.S. government is 19.5 trillion dollars in debt and will increase to over $20 million by the end of his term. The rate at which we are adding to the national debt is actually increasing.  During the fiscal year that is just ending, the U.S. government has added another 1.36 trillion dollars to the national debt. It isn’t just the federal government that is on a massive debt binge.  Total U.S. corporate debt has nearly doubled since the end of 2007. Default rates on U.S. corporate debt are the highest that they have been since the last financial crisis.

U.S. home prices rose again in July, pulled up by strong gains in Portland, Seattle and Denver. The Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, rose 5% in July from a year earlier. The latest report is further evidence that prices are being pushed higher by the limited inventory of homes on the market. That is hurting sales of both new and existing homes, despite buyer enthusiasm and historically low mortgage rates. The Commerce Department reported Monday that new home sales fell 7.6% in August. And the National Association of Realtors said last week that sales of existing homes slipped 0.9% in August. Inventory collapsed 10.1% from a year ago to 2.04 million homes.

Despite the improvements in home prices, MarketWatch.com reports that there are at least 9 cities where more than 20% of homes are underwater, meaning that their mortgages cost more than the homes are worth. Cleveland is highest at 27.5% with Las Vegas next at 25.7%. Nationally, only about 12% of homes are underwater. During the month of August, commercial bankruptcy filings were up 29 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Corporate profits have fallen for five quarters in a row, and it is being projected that it will be six in a row once the final numbers for the third quarter come in.

Two former Wells Fargo employees have filed a class action lawsuit against the bank seeking $2.6 billion or more for California workers who were fired or demoted after refusing to open fake accounts. The suit accuses Wells Fargo of orchestrating a “fraudulent scheme” to boost its stock price that forced employees to “choose between keeping their jobs and opening unauthorized accounts.” It’s the latest legal headache facing Wells Fargo, which earlier this month was fined $185 million for inflating sales metrics by opening more than two million fake bank and credit card accounts. Wells Fargo also faces a hearing in the House, an investigation from the Department of Justice and is still reeling from a grilling by the Senate banking committee last week.

Islamic State

Islamic State militants are ‘dead set’ on using chemical arms and are likely to try them again as Iraqi forces advance on Mosul, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday, a week after a rocket with a possible chemical agent landed near U.S. troops. The rocket fired Tuesday landed in an unpopulated area near Qayyara West base, several hundred yards from where hundreds of U.S. troops are working to prepare an airfield for an Iraqi offensive to recapture the city of Mosul. No one was hurt in the attack.


There’s been more violence in Syria as diplomacy to establish a ceasefire seems to have failed once again. Air raids are worse than before the ceasefire went into effect, the opposition says. About 200 airstrikes have pummeled neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo since Friday morning, said Ammar al-Selmo, the head of the Syria Civil Defense group, a volunteer emergency medical service. Rescue teams are still working to extract people from the rubble. More than 100 people have been killed and hundreds more injured within Aleppo neighborhoods by the airstrikes, said al-Selmo. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the Syrian offensive’s airstrikes, incendiary weapons and bunker-buster bombs in densely populated places may amount to war crimes. The secretary-general urged the international community to unite and say it will not tolerate the indiscriminate use of power weapons against civilians. As many as 20 churches have reportedly been destroyed in the renewed bombing attacks in Aleppo, Syria, reports Christian Headlines Daily.

As deadly airstrikes pounded Aleppo, Syria over the weekend, a major foreign ground force was also converging on the region. As many as 3,000 Iranian-backed fighters have arrived in Aleppo supporting the Syrian regime in its fight to crush the rebellion, two U.S. officials confirm to Fox News. There are an estimated 250,000 Syrian civilians trapped in Aleppo facing an onslaught of Russian and Syrian bombs, according to reports. The Iranian-backed Shiite militias include fighters from neighboring Iraq as well as Afghanistan, officials say.


An explosion Sunday evening in central Baghdad marked the third attack of the day in the Iraqi capital, where a total of eight people were killed and at least 25 wounded in the three blasts. ISIS claimed responsibility for the day’s deadliest attack, a suicide bombing that killed at least six people. Separately, at least one person was killed and two wounded when a bomb exploded on a bus in central Baghdad, the Baghdad Operations Center told CNN.


Iran is not ready to compromise on the issues of intelligence sharing, sanctions and definitions of terrorist groups in order to join an international task force against terror financing, a minister said today. Iran, along with North Korea, is blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and aims to be removed from “high risk and non-cooperative” status, even if it does not obtain full membership. Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia said Iran is not obliged to accept all the conditions put forward by the task force.  But it will implement some of the recommendations in an Action Plan developed with the FATF in order to be upgraded to either a fully cooperating or partially cooperating country, he added.

A senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Tuesday that Iran is in possession of missiles that can hit Israel. Iran’s Press TV quoted Commander of the IRGC’s Aerospace Division Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh as telling reporters that “we do not need missiles with a range of over 2,000 kilometers. The longest range required for [Iran’s] missiles is the [Israeli] occupied lands.” The commander warned that “the Zionist regime is our biggest target.”


Security has been stepped up in the German city of Dresden, following two bomb attacks on a mosque and a conference center Monday evening. No one was injured in the attacks, which included two homemade devices, according to police. The bombings come ahead of next weekend’s German Unity Day celebrations, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to attend. The celebrations mark the 26th anniversary of the reunification of East and West Germany. The explosions — first at the mosque and then at the International Congress Center — happened within minutes of each other, leading police to believe they’re related. Part of Dresden’s Unity Day celebrations were set to be held at the center. All Muslim institutions in the city are now under increased surveillance, It is unclear at this point who is behind the attacks.


The New York Times reports that a Dutch-led investigation has concluded that the powerful surface-to-air missile system that was used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine two years ago, killing all 298 on board, was trucked in from Russia at the request of Russian-backed separatists. The report, by a team of prosecutors from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, was significant for applying standards of evidence admissible in court while still building a case directly implicating Russia, and it is likely to open a long diplomatic and legal struggle. With meticulous detail, working with cellphone records, social media, witness accounts and other evidence, the prosecutors traced Russia’s role in deploying the missile system into Ukraine and its attempts to cover its tracks afterward.


Tens of thousands of people marched through Mexico City on Saturday in opposition to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s push to legalize same-sex marriage. Organizers of the National Front for the Family estimated at least 215,000 people participated, and while that number could not be immediately confirmed, it was clearly one of the largest protest marches in Mexico in recent years. On the other side of a police barricade separating the two sides at Mexico’s Independence Monument, a far smaller crowd of same-sex marriage supporters — perhaps a couple hundred — listened to music and speeches. Many saw the massive march as the Roman Catholic church flexing its political muscle in a country where about 80 percent of people identify as nominally Catholic. In May, Pena Nieto proposed legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.


A conflict that lasted over five decades. An estimated 220,000 people killed. Five million displaced. These staggering figures are now consigned to history as the Colombian government buries the hatchet with its longtime nemesis, the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebel group. In a symbolic gesture, the pens used to sign the historic peace deal, years in the making, have been made from recycled bullets once used in the fifty-two year conflict. An inscription on the side of the pens reads: “Bullets wrote our past. Education, our future.” The two sides, joined by leaders from the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Uruguay, Cuba and the United Nations, came together on Monday in the coastal colonial city of Cartagena to sign the accord.


Nearly 200 small earthquakes — including three of a magnitude greater than 4 — struck the Salton Sea area in Southern California over the past few days. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the swarm of quakes started early Monday morning and continued into the evening. Quakes measuring 4.3 and 4.2 magnitude occurred Monday night.  Nine of the quakes measure greater than 3.0. The sea sits atop a very thin crust that is being constantly stretched as the North American and Pacific plates grind against each other. The area is also veined by dozens of faults — most notably the San Andreas — that run parallel to and crisscross one another. The quakes continued Tuesday but the size of the temblors were decreasing.


Indonesian authorities are searching for several hundred tourists after Mount Barujari on Lombok island spewed a massive column of ash into the atmosphere and have evacuated more than 1,100 others, the country’s disaster agency says. The volcano, also known as the Child of Rinjani because it sits within the Mount Rinjani caldera, erupted without warning on Tuesday afternoon, delaying flights from airports on the islands of Lombok and Bali, the AP reports. The ash column reached more than a mile into the air. A Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman says that nearly 400 foreign and local tourists had been registered since Sunday to climb the mountain, leaving from a monitoring post about 7 miles from the volcano’s crater.


A fast-moving brush fire on top of Loma Prieta in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains has led to mandatory evacuations. The Loma fire is threatening homes and has grown to least 2,250 acres, according to Cal Fire, and is 10 percent contained. Evacuations have been ordered for 300 structures near the fire. Several roads are closed. The fire broke out at 2:45 p.m. Monday and began as a structure fire.


Thousands of Iowans are taking no chances in advance of what could be one of the worst floods in the state’s history. For days, the rising waters of rivers and creeks in eastern Iowa have forced more than 10,000 residents of Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second-largest city, out of their homes and businesses. Volunteers filled sandbags and moved objects to higher ground over the weekend in preparation for the flooding. The recommended evacuation was not mandatory, but fire officials requested names of the next of kin from those who didn’t leave their homes. A curfew has been ordered in the evacuation zone between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., according to local officials. Swollen by floodwaters, the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has crested at nearly 22 feet Tuesday, 6 feet above flood stage and was flowing at 85,000 cubic feet per second, much faster than the typical 24,000 cfs.

Torrential rainfall led to flooding that closed roads and even some schools in the San Antonio area Monday morning. Rainfall rates up to 3 inches per hour fell on parts of Bexar County prior to the morning commute, and before the event was over, up to 7 inches of total rainfall had been reported. KENS-TV said the heavy rainfall led to water rescues in multiple places around the city, and some streets had to be closed after they became inundated with flood water. Among those road closures were parts of interstates 35 and 10.

After Taiwan suffered a direct blow from Typhoon Megi, which has killed at least five people and injured hundreds, China’s Fujian province was swamped by heavy rains that left widespread flooding. The storm was also responsible for several collapsed structures in the Chinese town of Quanzhou, where one person was killed. Megi prompted school closures and dozens of flight cancellations in Quanzhou Wednesday. More than 120,000 fishermen were evacuated in Fujian province alone. More than 600 people were injured – many of which were caused by flying debris – during the storm, the AP reported. In the wake of the typhoon, more than 2.9 million Taiwanese homes and businesses lost power.

Signs of the Times (9/24/16)

September 24, 2016

President Obama Calls for One-World Government

Only by submitting to a one-world-style government can the countries of the world effectively fight terror, Barack Obama warned during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly this week. In what will likely be his last speech before the body, Obama told the audience that he believes global security can only be achieved with the help of international institutions like the U.N. Only by surrendering our individual and national rights – our “freedom of action,” as he puts it – will we truly “enhance our security. Obama said “powerful nations” like the United States will have to accept constraints and give up some of their freedoms. The president acknowledged that he has been criticized by his own citizens for this belief but he remains convinced he is right. Obama also stated that while countries will have to accept some limits on their freedom, they should not give up autonomous rights like the freedom to defend themselves.

  • Revelation 13 prophesies that the one-world government to come will be run by people controlled by Satan

Joint Chiefs Chair Says Military “Will Not” Execute Administration’s Policy

For the first time, a serving general officer has explicitly and categorically — and officially — contradicted the stated policy of the Obama administration.  He’s basically said the policy will not be executed. Reports Minutemen News. Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that it would be a bad idea to share intelligence with Russia on the conflict in Syria. “The U.S. military role will not include intelligence sharing with the Russians,” Dunford told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing on U.S. national security challenges and ongoing military operations.

Federal Charges Against NYC Bomber Omits Link to Al-Qaeda/ISIS

Pages from the bloody journal of the New York and New Jersey bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami show he was a follower of Al Qaeda as well as the Islamic State terror group, yet federal investigators made no reference to ISIS in their complaint charging him on Tuesday, reports the Counter Extremism Project. Rahami’s screed also praised 9/11 mastermind Usama bin Laden and Nidal Hasan, the former Army officer who went on a deadly shooting rampage in 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas.  Rahami and Hasan were both influenced by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American and Yemeni imam and Islamic lecturer. The Counter Extremism Project’s research counted 77 extremists — 43 U.S. extremists and 34 European extremists — with ties to Awlaki. They include the Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen in June, as well as Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the San Bernardino massacre in December 2015.

  • The Obama Administration continues to ignore and cover-up Islamic terrorism in America even as it fosters anti-Christian hatred.

Ahmad Rahami Passed Scrutiny After Being Flagged Twice

When NYC bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami returned in March 2014 from a nearly yearlong trip to Pakistan, he was flagged by customs officials, who pulled him out for a secondary screening. Still concerned about his travel, they notified the National Targeting Center, a federal agency that assesses potential threats, two law enforcement officials said. A report on Mr. Rahami was passed along to the F.B.I. and other intelligence agencies. Five months later, when Mr. Rahami’s father told the police after a domestic dispute that he was concerned about his son having terrorist sympathies, federal agents again examined his travel history. And again, despite Mr. Rahami’s now having been flagged twice for scrutiny, the concerns were not found to warrant a deeper inquiry. Rahami was never interviewed by federal agents. Details contained in Rahimi’s notebook suggest he drew inspiration largely from the Islamic State.

President Obama Plans to Resettle 110,000 Refuges in U.S. in 2017

President Obama has informed Congress that he plans to “permanently resettle 110,00 refugees in fiscal year 2017, which begins on October 1st, with roughly half of them coming from Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Burma and other jihadist hotspots where vetting of refugees is extremely difficult,” as recently reported by World Net Daily. Fox News reported, “Of the 10,801 refugees accepted in fiscal 2016 from the war-torn country [Syria], 56 are Christians, or .5 percent.” All the rest were Muslim, despite Christians representing a significantly higher percentage among the refugees. The FBI has reported that they are investigating over a thousand individuals who may be related to ISIS in every state in the Union. As witnessed this past weekend in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota, “lone wolf” terrorist acts by radicalized Muslims in America are on the rise.

  • A much better process for selecting, vetting and investigating these refugees is a must before allowing so many more refugees into our country

A Rich Recruiting Pool for Jihadists in U.S.

In last weekend’s bombings in New York and New Jersey and the stabbings at a mall in Minnesota, the suspected perpetrators fit the same rough pattern as in previous attacks at the Boston Marathon in 2013; in San Bernardino, Calif., in 2015; and in Orlando, Fla., in June, as well as in the terrorist assaults in Paris and Brussels, notes the New York Times. They were young men caught between cultures, sons of immigrant families, feeling lost or rejected — and angry about American-led wars. Online they encountered the silver-tongued recruiters of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, who said their first loyalty should be not to their nation but to Islam. Then they plotted sensational violence. This “rich recruiting pool” for Al Qaeda and the Islamic State includes what psychologists call “in-betweeners,” young adults whose identities have not yet solidified. Their uncertainty makes them vulnerable, said J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist and clinical professor at the University of California, San Diego. “It allows the individual to attach his identity to something that is larger and inflates his sense of himself,” he said.

State of Emergency Declared in Charlotte After Violent Protests

After violent protests raged for the second night in Charlotte over the police shooting of a black man, one big question remains: Why hasn’t police footage been released? The family of Keith Lamont Scott has requested to see the video of his shooting, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney says he hopes to accommodate that. However, he has no intention to release the video “to the masses,” he said, adding it would be inappropriate to present footage of “a victim’s worst day” for public consumption. He further said the video would not provide “definitive visual evidence” that Lamont pointed a gun at police officers, but other evidence and witness accounts support that claim. Scott’s shooting Tuesday afternoon set off violent protests, which continued Wednesday night. Nine civilians were injured in the unrest overnight, and 44 people were arrested (most of them from out of state) for crimes including failure to disperse, assault as well as breaking and entering. Gunfire killed a man in what authorities called a “civilian on civilian” confrontation. Subsequent daily protests have largely been peaceful. Lamont’s family released video showing the events leading up to his death, but it did not show the actual shooting.

President Obama Vetoes Terrorism Lawsuit Bill, Setting Up Override Battle

President Obama vetoed a bill Friday that would allow lawsuits against foreign sponsors of terrorism in federal court on Friday, setting up what could be the most contentious veto override vote of his presidency. The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, would provide an exception to the doctrine of “sovereign immunity,” which holds that one country can’t be sued in another country’s courts. Families of terror victims have lobbied for the bill, which would allow them to sue Saudi Arabian officials who intelligence agencies have suggested had ties to the hijackers of the four planes used in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The White House has argued that the bill would allow federal courts to make key foreign policy decisions best left to the executive branch. It would be Obama’s 12th veto, and come on a bill that passed by voice vote in both the House and Senate, suggesting near unanimous support in Congress. It would take a two-thirds vote of both chambers to override the veto, something that has never happened during the Obama presidency.

Yahoo Data Breach Largest Ever

Information from at least 500 million Yahoo accounts was stolen from the company in 2014, the company said Thursday, indicating it believes it was a state-sponsored hack. The theft may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers, Yahoo said. Even in an Internet-dependent population accustomed to the regular occurrence of massive data breaches, the size of this one —  thought to be the largest ever in terms of user accounts — is attention-grabbing. And the possibility that another country could be behind the attack adds to the shock factor. Claims surfaced in early August that a hacker using the name “Peace” was trying to sell personal information of Yahoo account users on the dark web — a black market of thousands of secret websites.

Drugs Kill More People than Cars or Guns

Drugs are the leading cause of accidental death in this country. Fatal overdoses surpassed shooting deaths and fatal traffic accidents in 2010, reports CNN. The rise was rapid, from about 18,000 deaths in 1999 to around 47,000 in 2014. It took about 50 years for the rate of heart disease to double. It took drug deaths a fraction of that time. Heroin-related deaths increased 439% from 1999 to 2014. As of 2014, heroin-related deaths had more than tripled in five years and quintupled in 10 years. In 2014, opioids were involved in 28,647 deaths — 61% of all US drug overdose deaths — and 10,574 were related to heroin. Prescription and illegal opioids are commonly abused because they are so addictive. Epidemiologists in several states blame the increasing number of drug-related deaths on greater use of heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.

Creepy Clown Sightings Sweep the Nation

All over America sick and twisted people are dressing up like creepy clowns in order to frighten the living daylights out of others.  This trend started back in August, and since then social media has helped it spread like wildfire.  So far there have been creepy clown sightings in 11 different states. A lot of young kids seem to think that this is a great idea for a “prank”, but authorities are taking the creepy clown phenomenon very, very seriously because in recent days the threats of violence have become much more chilling.  Individuals posing as “creepy clowns” on social media are openly naming specific schools that they plan to target and are threatening to commit horrific acts of violence. It is also feared that pedophiles are using this tactic to attract young children.

Migrant Update

Four crew members were arrested Thursday after a boat believed to be carrying 450 migrants capsized off the Egyptian coast, according to state-run Nile TV. The men were detained on possible charges of “human trafficking and involuntary manslaughter.” One of them is the owner of the vessel. Hundreds of migrants are feared dead, with just 163 people rescued and about 100 bodies already recovered. The boat had set off from Egypt and was heading for Italy.

Economic News

A divided Federal Reserve decided Wednesday to hold off on a second interest rate hike due to the stagnant unemployment rate. Fed Chair Janet Yellen told reporters that despite solid job growth this year, the unemployment rate has been stuck at 4.9% because discouraged workers on the sidelines have been drawn into an improving labor market. She called that a positive development policymakers want to encourage by keeping rates low longer. At the same time, she said, “We don’t want the economy to overheat,” adding that the case for a rate increase “has strengthened” and a move is expected later this year. Three of the 10 voting policymakers dissented, preferring to hike rates now.

The $1.9 trillion shortfall in U.S. state and local pension funds is poised to grow as near record-low bond yields and global stock-market turmoil reduce investment gains, increasing pressure on governments to put more money into the retirement systems. Pensions in Illinois, Missouri and Hawaii this year have moved to roll back the assumed rate of return on their investments, joining the dozens of other states that have taken that step over the past two years. “There’s little light at the end of the tunnel as far as pension funding is concerned,” said Vikram Rai, head of municipal-bond strategy at Citigroup Inc. in New York. “I expect funded ratios will drop further. It’ll require increased pension contributions on the part of the states and local government, but most state and local governments don’t have the ability to do so.”

Islamic State

ISIS is suspected of firing a shell with mustard agent that landed at the Qayyara air base in Iraq Tuesday where US and Iraqi troops are operating, according to several US officials. After the shell landed on the base, just south of Mosul, US troops tested it and received an initial reading for a chemical agent they believe is mustard. No US troops were hurt or have displayed symptoms of exposure to mustard agent.

US and allied warplanes have sunk over 100 ISIS boats, destroying 65 of them in September alone, according to the international military coalition. While Iraq is nearly entirely land-locked, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that cross that country are navigable, and ISIS has been using watercraft for a variety of purposes, including transporting fighters and conducting improvised explosive attacks.


Four aid workers were killed and one was critically injured Wednesday after an airstrike hit a medical clinic in northern Syria. The aid workers were part of International Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, a Paris-based humanitarian group that operates in territory held by rebels near the besieged city of Aleppo. This latest incident came as Washington blamed Moscow for an attack on an aid convoy near Aleppo on Monday that killed at least 20 people. Russia said it was not involved. The United Nations has since suspended the aid deliveries and the one-week truce is effectively over. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a blistering attack on Russia Wednesday for its actions in Syria, pointing to the bombing of a UN aid convoy that left more than 20 dead and its inability to stop continued Syrian air attacks. Russia has announced it is sending its only aircraft carrier to waters off Syria’s coast to join other Russian ships already in place.

Russian aircraft dropped dozens of bombs Friday on rebel and Islamic State areas, including civil defense centers in Aleppo. Russian aircraft dropped 50 bombs in the city and 30 in the surrounding areas, killing at least 14 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Residents told Reuters the attacks included helicopters dropping bombs made from oil drums, a common tactic of the Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army during the country’s 5-year-old civil war. The Syrian military command in the city announced the start of its operations in the eastern neighborhoods of the city, and called “on citizens to keep away from sites and centers of armed terrorist groups,” according to the government-run Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA. The military is offering to provide civilians shelter, “including those who were misled” by rebel fighters, the statement said. Syrian government forces captured a rebel-held area on the edge of Aleppo on Saturday, tightening their siege on opposition-held neighborhoods in the northern city as an ongoing wave of airstrikes destroyed more buildings. The new government push came as the U.N. said that nearly 2 million people in Aleppo are without running water following an escalation in fighting over the past few days.


Last December, two evangelical pastors from the Church of Christ in Sudan were taken from their churches and thrown into jail. Last month, the Rev. Abdulraheem Kodi and the Rev. Kuwa Shamal Abu Zumam were charged with numerous offenses, including waging war against the state, espionage and undermining Sudan’s constitutional system. Their trial has begun and they could get the death penalty if found guilty. Kodi and Zumam hail from the Nuba Mountains, a region that continues to be bombed and brazenly targeted by Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, in what human rights and Christian groups say is an effort to rid the country of the Nuba people — indigenous groups who do not fit the regime’s vision of an Islamic nation and are accused of supporting anti-government rebels.

North Korea

North Korea’s nuclear ambitions are one of the biggest threats to international peace and security, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned Wednesday. More than 21 ballistic missiles have been launched by North Korea this year alone, Abe said, with several of them reaching waters within Japan’s exclusive economic zone — 200 nautical miles from its coast. “There is no alternative but to say that the threat has now reached a dimension altogether different from what has transpired until now.” Also speaking Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. China is North Korea’s only real ally, and has long publicly lobbied against Pyongyang’s nuclear program. Despite this, tests have proceeded.


On July 22, an illegal campfire sparked a blaze that would grow explosively for weeks. Two months later, that wildfire is still burning in California’s Los Padres National Forest. According to InciWeb, the Soberanes fire has consumed nearly 200 square miles during its tear through the forest – more than enough land that the burn scar can be clearly seen from space by NASA’s satellites. Although crews have been battling the wildfire since mid-July, the blaze is just 71 percent contained. There are still more than 2,000 firefighters assigned to the fire, and officials estimate the inferno should be fully contained by the end of the month.

The first significant Santa Ana wind event of the season will keep residents of Southern California, who reside in areas vulnerable to fires, on edge this weekend. The National Weather Service in Los Angeles issued a red flag warning for the mountains of Los Angeles and Ventura counties through 3 p.m. Monday for the valleys and coastal mountains of those two counties. Santa Ana winds are strong dry, downslope winds that often heat up and dry out Southern California. These winds can lead to fires that are quickly fanned out of control.


Humanity just sweltered through its hottest summer ever recorded, beating the previous mark set only last year (records only go back to 1880). From June to August, average temperatures across global land and ocean surfaces soared 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the average of 60.1 degrees (F), according to a federal climate report released Tuesday. Climatologists define summer as the three months of June, July and August. Before 1880, scientists rely on paleoclimatic records such as ice cores, tree rings and lake sediments that provide an ever further look back in time: “It is plausible that this summer was the warmest in thousands of years, perhaps even longer,” said meteorologist Michael Mann of Penn State University.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme, from floods (Daniel 9:26b) to great hail (Revelation 11:19, 16:11) to scorching heat (Revelation 16:8)

Several inches of rain fell in a short time throughout the Midwest Wednesday night into Thursday morning, prompting a flash flood emergency, closing roads, prompting evacuations and rescues, and stranding cars.The National Weather Service reports that mudslides are being reported in terrain areas of southwest Wisconsin and northeast Iowa. The Upper Mississippi Valley has been hit by multiple heavy rain events over the past several weeks, so there was little room for additional rain, much less another 3 to 11 inches of rain seen over the past few days.

At least two reported tornadoes hit the state of Utah on Thursday, leaving ravaged homes in their wake but no serious injuries. Damage to several homes was confirmed after a reported tornado was spawned in a neighborhood south of Ogden. Storm damage was also reported in the Layton area. More than 37,000 Rocky Mountain Power customers across the state were without power following the storms.

Signs of the Times (9/20/13)

September 20, 2016

Terrorist Bomb in New York City

A powerful explosion from a explosive device injured at least 29 people in New York’s popular Chelsea neighborhood on Saturday night. N.Y. Gov. Cuomo says the NYC blast was ‘terrorism. The explosion came just after 8:30 p.m. ET at 133 W. 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh Avenue in a neighborhood known for its vibrant nightlife. City officials said police located the explosive device in the street next to a trash bin. The explosion was so powerful it blew out the windows in a nearby building. The city’s fire department said none of the victims had life-threatening injuries, but witnesses reported seeing victims cut by shrapnel, metal fragments and glass. After an initial news conference, a second device believed to be a pressure cooker was found on West 27th Street, four blocks from the initial blast on West 23rd, according to New York Police Department. The NYPD tweeted at about 2:24 a.m. ET Sunday that, the “suspicious device on West 27 Street” had been safely removed by the bomb squad.

A suspect was taken into custody Monday after authorities issued a wanted poster, raided an apartment and began to link the blast with another bomb found in the city and others in New Jersey. Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, was taken into custody following a shootout in Linden, N.J. Bollwage said Rahami and at least one officer was wounded. Authorities were led to suspect by a fingerprint found on an unexploded device, A notebook found on New York and New Jersey bombings suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami contained ramblings about terrorists and also mentioned Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American imam who was a spokesman for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The reference to Awlaki, who was killed in 2011 and has been a source of inspiration for several terrorist attacks. Authorities say Rahami’s wife left America a few days before the attack. Rahami was “completely different” after what friends thought was a trip to Afghanistan several years ago. Two years before Ahmad Khan Rahami went on a bombing rampage in New York and New Jersey, his father told the police that the son was a terrorist, prompting a review by federal agents, according to two senior law enforcement officials as reported in the New York Times.

Several Bombs Found in New Jersey, One Explodes at Charity Race

A pipe-bomb-style device detonated in a garbage can at the start of the route of a Marine Corps charity race at Seaside Park Saturday morning, injuring no one but sparking a massive law-enforcement response and suspicions of terrorism. The device went off about 9:35 a.m. ET near the starting point of the Seaside Semper Five 5K. At a brief news conference Saturday afternoon, Brad Cohen, the Special Agent in Charge of the Newark FBI Office, said the agency was taking the lead in investigation, specifically the agency’s Joint-Terrorism task force. The Elizabeth, N.J., mayor says a suspicious device exploded outside a train station early Monday. The device was one of five that two men found in a trash can.

Islamic Terrorist Stabs 8 People in Minnesota Mall

A man dressed as a security guard who talked about Allah stabbed eight people at a shopping mall Saturday evening before he was fatally shot by an off-duty police officer. ISIS on Sunday morning claimed responsibility for the attack, saying, “The executor of the stabbing attacks in Minnesota yesterday was a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls to target the citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition,” the statement said. According to St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis, the shooting happened inside Macy’s. Eight patients were taken to St. Cloud Hospital. On Sunday morning, hospital Communications Specialist Chris Nelson told the Times that five were released, and three were admitted with injuries that were not life-threatening. Anderson said the attacker, who was armed with a knife, reportedly made references to Allah during the attack and asked at least one person whether they were Muslim. The attacker has been identified as 22-year-old Dahir A. Adan. Adan went to college in St. Cloud and worked for a private security firm at the time of the attack.

Syria Charges U.S. Led Attack on Syrian Forces

The U.S. military said it halted a series of airstrikes Saturday in eastern Syria after Russia warned the United States that it mistakenly struck and killed Syrian military forces. The Russian Defense Ministry said 62 Syrians were killed in the strike, and the Syrian government said the coalition airstrike allowed the Islamic State to advance around Deir el-Zour province where the attack took place. Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said U.S. forces halted the attack when informed by Russia it was possible they were striking Syrian regime personnel and vehicles. She said U.S. officials were investigating the incident. The accusations come only days after the United States and Russia reached a fragile ceasefire agreement in Syria that was designed to lead to broader military cooperation between the two countries in Syria.

World Leaders Gather to Combat Superbugs

Global health experts are so alarmed by the threat of superbugs that the United Nations will convene heads of state to tackle the health problem. World leaders will gather on Wednesday with doctors and other experts for a high-level meeting to discuss the root of the problem – antimicrobial resistance – at the UN General Assembly. They are expected to adopt a political declaration that would then go to the full assembly to be adopted as a resolution. Superbugs threaten to plunge the world into a dangerous, post-antibiotic era in which germs we’ve long been able to control become deadly. Antimicrobial resistance happens when bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms mutate after being exposed to drugs, such as antibiotics or anti-viral medications, and those medicines grow less effective over time. A recently-published review commissioned by former British Prime Minster David Cameron found that 700,000 people worldwide die of drug-resistant infections every year, and the toll could reach 10 million a year by 2050 – surpassing annual deaths from cancer, experts warn.

Hundreds of Deportees Mistakenly Granted Citizenship

More than 800 immigrants who had been ordered deported were mistakenly granted U.S. citizenship because of gaps in fingerprint recordkeeping, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General reports. The immigrants were from “special interest” countries and had previously been ordered deported or removed from the U.S., the report said. But the immigrants beat the system by simply using another name or birth date to apply for citizenship. Homeland Security investigations resulted in two immigrants being stripped of citizenship, but “very few” of the 858 cases of citizenship have been investigated to determine if the citizen should be denaturalized or criminally prosecuted, the report added. The inspector general’s office found that fingerprints were missing from Homeland Security digital records because paper-based fingerprint cards used prior to 2008 were not consistently uploaded into the digital system.

Colorado’s Failed Marijuana Experiment

Since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, teen marijuana use is 74% higher than the national average, reports the Center for Arizona Policy. Newborns testing positive for marijuana are on the rise. In one hospital alone, half of newborn babies test positive for marijuana. Marijuana-related fatal car crashes have increased 67% since legalization. Marijuana-related emergency room visits by visitors to the state doubled in the first year and are up 49% overall. Despite promises to the contrary, the black market in Colorado thrives. Colorado’s attorney general says illegal dealers are “hiding in plain sight.” Surrounding states have taken legal action against Colorado in an effort to stop the importation of marijuana into their states. There are more pot shops than both McDonald’s and Starbucks.

More Bathroom Insanity

This past week the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) pulled all championship events out of North Carolina for the 2016-2017 season simply because that state passed a law, known as HB 2, which requires men and women to use the restroom or locker room corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate. In essence, the North Carolina legislature said men use the men’s room and ladies use the ladies room, reports the American Family Association. By doing this, North Carolina was simply protecting women and children from sexual predators and voyeurs. Along with punishing North Carolina, the NCAA is forcing all potential championship host sites to fill out an “Anti-Discrimination Policy” questionnaire that assures men have access to female bathroom facilities. Question number six from the policy reads, “…does your institution have provisions that interfere with any person’s choice of bathroom or locker room?”

Americans’ Trust in Mass Media Reaches All-Time-Low

According to a new Gallup poll, Americans’ trust in the mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly” has sunk to a new low of 32 percent, down eight percentage points from last year. The measure has been on a steady decline for more than a decade. “Over the history of the entire trend, Americans’ trust and confidence hit its highest point in 1976, at 72%, in the wake of widely lauded examples of investigative journalism regarding Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. After staying in the low to mid-50s through the late 1990s and into the early years of the new century, Americans’ trust in the media has fallen slowly and steadily,” Gallup’s report states. Only 14 percent of Republicans trust the media, Gallup reports, a sharp decline from 32 percent in 2015 and the lowest recorded measure of confidence among members of the party in 20 years. 51 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of independents expressed trust in mass media, compared with 55 percent and 33 percent in 2015.

Abortion Update

According to Charisma News, Donald Trump has made the most unequivocal pro-life commitment that any presidential candidate has ever made. If elected, Trump has committed to nominating pro-life Supreme Court justices, signing into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions, and to making the Hyde Amendment a permanent law, making sure taxpayer dollars do not go to funding abortions. Trump has also appointed a pro-life advocate to head up his campaign’s pro-life coalition. Marjorie Dannenfelser is the head of the pro-life organization the Susan B. Anthony List and has fought for the pro-life cause for over two decades.

Persecution Update

This week, Hungary, which has during the past year come under pressure for its handling of Europe’s mass migration crisis, has become the first government to open an office specifically to address the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Europe. “Today, Christianity has become the most persecuted religion, where out of five people killed [for] religious reasons, four of them are Christians,” Hungary’s Minister for Human Capacities, Zoltan Balog said. “In 81 countries around the world, Christians are persecuted, and 200 million Christians live in areas where they are discriminated against. Millions of Christian lives are threatened by followers of radical religious ideologies.” The move sets a precedent on the international stage. It comes after Hungary’s right-wing conservative Prime Minister, Victor Orban, drew criticism in the EU by saying Europe should focus on helping Christians, before helping millions of “Islamic people” coming into Europe.

Immigrant Update

With less than two months to go before the presidential election, the Obama administration has dedicated another $10 million to groups that assist with quickly naturalizing immigrants, in addition to the $19 million the Obama administration spent just a few months ago for the same reason. According to Judicial Watch, the money is to be disseminated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to various groups that offer naturalization pathways and educational courses to new immigrants. The fresh $10 million will reportedly help more than 25,000 immigrants from more than 50 countries in the citizenship process, according to USCIS. The move comes just over a year after Obama formed a Task Force on New Americans, a special group dedicated to helping green card holders become U.S. citizens.

Since the Balkan route to northern Europe closed in March, and with Austria and France imposing tight controls along their borders, Switzerland is now the preferred transit corridor for migrants bound for countries within the European Union. But Switzerland has also increased security along its border with Italy, deploying helicopters and a drone over the region to keep out illegal immigrants. Nearly all the migrants at Como, Italy, have tried — and failed — to cross the Swiss border. Some are so desperate they walk along busy highways or hike on remote mountain trails to reach Switzerland. And one migrant even tried to sneak into the country crammed into a suitcase, before being intercepted at the border when guards became suspicious of the shape and the weight of the bag.

Economic News

The wage gap between blacks and whites is the worst it’s been in nearly four decades, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute. Last year, the hourly pay gap between blacks and whites widened to 26.7%, with whites making an average of $25.22 an hour compared to $18.49 for blacks, the EPI found. Almost 40 years ago, in 1979, the wage gap between blacks and whites was 18.1%, with whites earning an inflation-adjusted average of $19.62 an hour and blacks earning $16.07 an hour. What’s driving the wage gap has little to do with access to education, disparities in work experience or where someone lives, EPI found. Rather, the researchers found “discrimination…and growing earnings inequality in general,” to be the primary factors.

Americans wasted over $2 billion last year putting expensive premium gasoline into cars that don’t need it, the automobile ownership group AAA said Tuesday. Most car engines in America are designed to run on regular gasoline and, despite the superior-sounding name, premium gasoline provides no benefit over cheaper regular gasoline in those engines. Premium has a higher octane rating than regular gas. That means it’s able to tolerate higher pressures inside the engine. Engines designed to run on regular don’t operate at pressures high enough to require the extra octane, so putting premium fuel into an engine that doesn’t require it is simply a waste of money, AAA said. That means Americans spent more $2.1 billion on more expensive fuel for no reason, the group calculated. About 16% of Americans drive vehicles that actually do require premium fuel, though. These are mostly high-performance or luxury models. Using cheaper regular fuel in these engines can cause damage.

The Bank for International Settlements is warning that conditions are right for a “full-blown banking crisis” in China.  Since the last financial crisis, there has been a credit boom in China that is really unprecedented in world history.  At this point the total value of all outstanding loans in China has hit a grand total of more than 28 trillion dollars.  That is essentially equivalent to the commercial banking systems of the United States and Japan combined.  While it is true that government debt is under control in China, corporate debt is now 171 percent of GDP, and it is only a matter of time before that debt bubble bursts.  The Bank for International Settlements warned in its quarterly report that China’s “credit to GDP gap” has reached 30.1, the highest to date and in a different league altogether from any other major country tracked by the institution.”


Israeli security agencies were on maximum alert throughout the country Monday following a string of renewed terrorist attacks knife over the weekend which continued Monday. Two Israeli Border Police officers were severely wounded Monday morning by a Palestinian terrorist wielding a knife. He was shot by nearby officers and was also listed in critical condition at an area hospital. Later on Monday, another attack was attempted at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, leaving one officer lightly wounded and one terrorist dead with the other being wounded.

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon issued a scathing criticism Thursday of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent labeling of demands by the Palestinian Authority to eject all Jewish residents of the West Bank from their homes as “ethnic cleansing.” Elsewhere, a statement by the French government condemned Israel for demolishing structures France had built in the West Bank without proper licenses.

Islamic State

Just weeks after ISIS suffered a major loss when its chief spokesman was taken out in an air attack, the US announced it had killed his close associate in a strike. The US has now killed two of the “very few” ISIS leaders in the last two months. Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, has seen his small inner circle getting much smaller, said U.S. officials Monday.

Iraqi forces aided by the U.S.-led coalition have retaken half the territory the Islamic State group once held in the country, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday during a visit to Baghdad. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken also announced $181 million to address a humanitarian crisis that has festered in Iraq despite progress on the battlefield. More than 3.3 million Iraqis remain displaced from their homes due to violence, according to the United Nations. Despite a series of major defeats in recent months, IS still controls Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Iraq hopes to launch an operation to retake Mosul this year, which U.N. and U.S. officials say could displace another 1 million people.


Four days into a cease-fire in Syria’s civil war, aid convoys have yet to reach civilians in government- and rebel-held areas of Aleppo, as Russian troops prepared to deploy along a key road getting for supplies through. Syrian government forces have been replaced by Russian troops on Castello Road, which leads to rebel-held areas of the besieged city, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group. Humanitarian aid could arrive in rebel-held parts of Aleppo later Friday, but other obstacles remain, the group said, citing violence, and objections from other parties on the ground. Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Russia needs to pressure the Syrian government to let aid through to Aleppo and other areas or the United States will not set up a joint facility to coordinate attacks on terrorists and share intelligence. Kerry called the delays in humanitarian aid to Aleppo “repeated” and “unacceptable.” The United Nations suspended aid deliveries to Syria on Tuesday, hours after a convoy carrying humanitarian aid to rebel-held parts of Aleppo was attacked killing around 20 people.

South Sudan

Over one million refugees have been forced to flee the conflict and violence in South Sudan. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, but just two years later, internal fighting broke out between government leaders. This sparked an ongoing conflict that has internally displaced 1.6 million people and exiled another million. South Sudan now ranks with Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia as countries that have displaced over one million refugees. Many of South Sudan’s refugees are seeking asylum in neighboring countries. Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic have all accepted tens of thousands of South Sudanese refugees.


Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political party, United Russia, has won a majority in the country’s parliamentary elections. According to a report from Russian state-run news agency Tass, United Russia won 54.28% of the vote, with 93% of all votes counted. Tass says preliminary results from the Central Election Commission suggests the party will win 343 seats of the 450 up for grabs. The Communist Party is expected to win 42 seats with 13.54% of the votes, ahead of the Liberal Democratic Party with 39 seats and the Fair Russia Party with 23 seats. Turnout for the State Duma vote was 47%, according to Tass — well down on the 60% five years ago.


Officials are warning residents in the Southeast about possible gas shortages in the coming days after a gasoline spill south of Birmingham, Alabama, forced the shutdown of a key pipeline that supplies fuel to millions along the East Coast. Crews were working to ensure the gasoline did not reach nearby rivers. The pipeline spilled between 6,000 and 8,000 barrels of gas, Colonial Pipeline announced. The pipeline, which was shut down last Friday, normally transports 1.3 million barrels of refined gasoline and other petroleum products each day and is a major supplier of fuel from Houston to New York Harbor. Gas prices are spiking in the Southeast because of the broken pipeline — and some drivers are having trouble finding gas at all on Monday.

A massive sinkhole opened up underneath a storage pond in Florida, causing more than 200 million gallons of contaminated wastewater from a fertilizer plant to leak into one of the state’s main underground resources of drinking water, weather.com reported Saturday. According to Mosaic, the world’s largest supplier of phosphate, the hole opened up beneath a pile of waste material called a “gypsum stack.” The 215-million-gallon storage pond sat atop the waste mineral pile. The company said the sinkhole is about 45 feet in diameter. The sinkhole, discovered by a worker on Aug. 27, is believed to reach down to the Floridian aquifer, the company said in a news release. Aquifers are vast, underground systems of porous rocks that hold water and allow water to move through the holes within the rock.

Toxic algae has shown up in more than 40 state lakes and waterways from Los Angeles to the northern reaches of California, the highest count in state history. Water agencies have been caught off guard by the growing extent of the algae, which is triggering health warnings, the closing of swim areas and a reduction in park visitors and revenues. The cyanobacterium, which occurs naturally, can cause gastrointestinal problems and allergic reactions in people and sickness and death among pets and wildlife. The cyanobacterium has blossomed during the state’s drought. Some lake managers are testing herbicides to reduce algae blooms, but experts say there is no quick solution. “There is no silver bullet,” said Beverley Anderson-Abbs, an environmental scientist with the state Water Resources Control Board. “Generally, the best thing to do is to stay out of the water until the bloom is over.”


A wildfire at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County, California, has forced officials to postpone the launch of a commercial satellite. The fire broke out Saturday in a remote canyon at the South Base of Vandenberg. The Atlas V rocket was scheduled to launch Sunday from the base, carrying the WorldView-4 satellite, which is slated to take high-resolution images of Earth, according to NASA Space Flight. As of Sunday, the fire dubbed the “Canyon Fire” had scorched 2,200 acres with no containment. Hundreds of state, federal and local firefighters have been dispatched to battle the blaze.

Firefighters are battling another wildfire in northern California that has prompted the evacuation of a campground as well as several ranches and private developments near Mammoth Lakes. Officials with the U.S. Forest service said the wildfire, dubbed the “Owens River Fire,” broke out Saturday afternoon about 7 miles north of the ski resort town along State Route 395. The fire has burned at least 6,000 acres of brush and timber in Inyo National Forest. The fire is 20 percent contained.


The death toll continues to rise in the wake of Super Typhoon Meranti, which slammed Taiwan, China and several northern Philippines islands with fierce winds, heavy rain and massive waves, killing 30 with 15 still missing. Chinese authorities have reported 13 people are have died in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces and another 14 people remain missing. In Taiwan, officials reported two people dead and 38 injured. Chinese officials also said Typhoon Meranti was responsible for destroying 1,600 homes and displacing 33 million people. At least 10 ships came unmoored in Kaohsiung Harbor during the storm. Many villages were poorly equipped to withstand another battering after Super Typhoon Nepartak hit the island in July, according to the China Post. As Meranti advanced toward Taiwan as a massive super typhoon, the storm dealt a violent blow to several small islands in the northern Philippines.

Typhoon Malakas ripped through southern Japan on Tuesday, dumping torrential rain and causing widespread flooding. After clipping Taiwan, the typhoon made landfall in Kyushu shortly after midnight local time, packing winds of up to 100 miles per hour. More than 600,000 were evacuated prior to the storm’s arrival. Air and railway transportation was halted during the storm, mainly in the west and southwest regions of the country, and more than 114,000 households lost power in Kyushu.

Signs of the Times (9/13/16)

September 13, 2016

Abortion Bullies Target Pregnancy Centers

Facing difficult circumstances with a pregnancy, millions of women turn to Crisis Pregnancy Centers for very personal services. These centers offer women help and a true “choice” for themselves and the life of their baby. Yet, the abortion industry sees theses pro-life centers as thorns in their flesh, cutting into their profits from money made through exorbitant fees for abortions, reports libertyaction.org. Now, because of intense pro-abortion lobbying, pro-life centers in California are being forced by law to promote nearby abortion facilities and services to women who walk through their doors. California’s Assembly Bill 775 requires all licensed and unlicensed pregnancy counseling centers in the state to post a government-prescribed message. Centers not licensed by the State of California must post a notice that they are not a licensed medical facility. Licensed crisis pregnancy centers must also provide women the phone number to social services and post or distribute a message telling their clients that California has other programs and choices available to women, including abortion. There is no similar mandate for the abortion mills to tell their clients that there are Crisis Pregnancy Centers nearby.

Planned Parenthood Using Zika Scare to Encourage Abortions

Many pro-abortion advocates have been capitalizing on the threat of Zika to encourage women to abort their babies. However, according to new research, only two percent of women who have Zika will give birth to babies with microcephaly, the deformity associated with the virus. This hasn’t stopped abortion advocates from using the Zika virus to scare would-be mothers, however. WORLD News Service’s Evan Wilt noted, “Beginning in late August, volunteers from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, started canvassing neighborhoods in South Florida to warn residents about the risk of birth defects linked to Zika.” Micaiah Bilger of LifeNews.com adds, “Right now in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control knows of almost 600 women who are pregnant and have the Zika virus. Many of them are facing increasing pressure to abort their unborn babies because of a link between the virus and birth defects.”

ISIS Threat in Europe Grows

European security officials estimate that 30 to 40 suspected ISIS terrorists who helped support the November 13 Paris terror attacks are still at large, CNN reports. This development comes as European officials told CANN they believe ISIS is ratcheting up its planning for international attacks to retaliate for losses in Syria, Iraq and Libya. The European countries most firmly in the crosshairs are launching air strikes against ISIS with the US-led coalition: France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and Denmark, as well as Germany, which is flying target reconnaissance sorties. Terror analysts warn that despite the buffer provided by the Atlantic Ocean, the US is vulnerable, too. Matthew Henman, editor of IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in the U.K. notes that the U.S. border with Mexico, which “is far from secure or impenetrable.” Airports are another point of entry. Western European passport holders can travel to the US without a visa.

Three women who were likely planning an “imminent and violent” attack were arrested Thursday near Paris, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. Describing the women as radicalized, Cazeneuve said the three were arrested in connection with gas cylinders found this week inside a car left in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. A French security official says a 19-year-old woman linked to gas canisters found in an abandoned car near Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group. France has been under a state of emergency since the Paris terror attacks in November, and authorities have struggled to monitor thousands of domestic radicals on their radar.

U.S. & Russia Reach Deal for Ceasefire in Syria

The United States and Russia announced a plan Friday to bring about a ceasefire in Syria, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday. “Today we are announcing an arrangement that we think has the capability of sticking, but it’s dependent on people’s choices,” Kerry said in Geneva, Switzerland, appearing alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Kerry said the pact calls for the Syrian government and the opposition to respect a nationwide ceasefire scheduled to take effect at sundown Monday. He said the accord would also prevent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s air force from flying combat missions anywhere the opposition is present, calling this provision the “bedrock of the agreement.” He labeled Assad’s air force the “main driver of civilian casualties” and migrant flows. “That should put an end to the barrel bombs, an end to the indiscriminate bombing of civilian neighborhoods,” Kerry said. The deal was reached after 10 months of failed cease-fires and suspended efforts for a political settlement in the conflict. At least 90 people were killed in airstrikes that rained down on northwestern Syria on Saturday and Sunday, a rights group said, just hours after the US and Russia announced the new ceasefire plan. Violence has increased prior to the ceasefire start Tuesday morning.

  • The likelihood of the ceasefire holding in Syria is slim because there are too many factions fighting in Syria for too many conflicting reasons.

Iran May Have Received up to $33.6B from U.S.

Iran may have received a total of $33.6 billion in secret cash and gold payments facilitated by the Obama administration between 2014 and 2016, according to testimony provided before Congress by an expert on last summer’s nuclear agreement with Iran, Fox News reported Friday. Between January 2014 and July 2015, when the Obama administration was hammering out the final details of the nuclear accord, Iran was paid $700 million every month from funds that had previously been frozen by U.S. sanctions. A total of $11.9 billion was ultimately paid to Iran, but the details surrounding these payments remain shrouded in mystery, according to Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. In total, “Iran may have received as much as $33.6 billion in cash or in gold and other precious metals,” Dubowitz disclosed.

Fewer Going Hungry in U.S. but Many Still Do

The number of children and adults nationwide who are food insecure — meaning they don’t have consistent access to enough food for a healthy diet — has declined to 12.7% in 2015 from 14% in 2014. But some 15.8 million households are still food insecure, according to a report released on Wednesday from the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. The survey results not only revealed that food insecurity is on the decline, but also showed that the problem is still more prevalent than it was in 2007. Then, it was at 11.1%, right before the Great Recession officially began. The percentage of households that face hunger described as “very low food security” decreased from 5.6% in 2014 to 5% in 2015 (6.3 million households).

Murder Rates Rose in a Quarter of the Nation’s 100 Largest Cities

Murder rates rose significantly in 25 of the nation’s 100 largest cities last year, according to an analysis by The New York Times of new data compiled from individual police departments. The findings confirm a trend that was tracked recently in a study published by the National Institute of Justice. “The homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was real and nearly unprecedented,” the study concluded. In the Times analysis, half of the increase came from just seven cities — Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville and Washington, D.C. The number of cities where rates rose significantly was the largest since the height of violent crime in the early 1990s. Nationally, homicide rates are still much lower than they were in the 1990s.

Wells Fargo Fires 5,300 Employees for Creating Fake Accounts

On Thursday, federal regulators said Wells Fargo employees secretly created millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts. The phony accounts earned the bank unwarranted fees and allowed Wells Fargo employees to boost their sales figures and make more money. Wells Fargo confirmed to CNNMoney that it had fired 5,300 employees over the last few years related to the shady behavior. Employees went so far as to create phony PIN numbers and fake email addresses to enroll customers in online banking services. Relentless pressure. Wildly unrealistic sales targets. Employees leaning on family members and friends to open unnecessary bank accounts. That’s how more than a dozen former Wells Fargo employees described the bank’s culture to CNNMoney. Managers turned a blind eye when ethical and even legal lines were crossed. Wells Fargo has been accused by federal regulators of illegal activity on a stunning level. Wells Fargo agreed to pay penalties of $185 million and fired 5,300 employees over the last few years related to this illegal activity.

Migrant Update

In what could be a “told you so” moment for Donald Trump, the U.K. on Tuesday announced plans to build a “big new wall” at a border port in France to prevent migrants in nearby camps from sneaking aboard vehicles heading to Britain, reports Fox News. Robert Goodwill, minister of state for immigration, announced the plan for a wall in Calais, France, at a Home Affairs Committee hearing Tuesday, saying it would be in addition to an already existing fence. The four-meter-high wall (about 13 feet) would be built along both sides of a one-kilometer (.6 mile) stretch of the main road into the Calais port. The office estimates it will be done by the end of the year. Calais is a common point for migrants trying to enter the U.K. illegally. The wall is intended to protect the road from migrants who frequently try to intercept vehicles approaching the port and jump on board.

Zika Update

Planes completed aerial spraying for mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus early Friday in the Miami area, despite concerns over possible effects that the insecticide Naled may have on health and the environment. So far, there have been 56 local transmissions of the Zika virus in Florida, which has 20.6 million residents. The state has seen 596 travel-related cases of Zika, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Health officials have sprayed pesticide and larvicide on the ground in areas where they believe the mosquitoes may be, and expanded those efforts with the aerial use of Naled on Friday. Experts say there’s no reason to be concerned over the effects of the insecticide on human health and the environment. “Aerial spraying using Naled and other insecticides has been used in many populated areas of the continental United States,” the CDC said on its website.

The rate of birth defects involving the nervous system nearly doubled across Brazil after Zika arrived. This stark statistical reality was discovered by a team of researchers from Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, which analyzed hospital records across Brazil from 2008, well before Zika arrived, until the end of February 2016. The results, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, found “an unprecedented and significant rise in the hospitalization rate for congenital malformations of the nervous system, Guillain-Barré syndrome, encephalitis, myelitis and encephalomyelitis” beginning in mid-2014. That’s more than a year before the world became aware of the outbreak in October 2015, and stories of Zika’s terrible consequences began to appear in the news.

Economic News

The world’s four most powerful central banks have pumped more than $9 trillion into the global economy since the financial crisis in a bid to boost growth, inflation and employment. That’s equivalent to the value of all the goods and services the U.S. produces in six months. The Federal Reserve alone has injected $3.9 trillion dollars via three rounds of asset buying. It started in November 2008, shortly after the financial world went into meltdown, and continued until October 2014. In normal times, it is enough for central banks to cut interest rates to prompt lending. But record low interest rates, and in some cases, negative interest rates weren’t doing enough. So they turned to stronger medicine and experimented with buying bonds to flood markets with new money. Experts are divided over whether this has worked.

  • In 2015, the U.S. spent $223 billion, or 6 percent of the federal budget, paying for interest on its debt. In recent years, interest rates have been at historic lows. As they return closer to normal levels, the amount the government spends on interest will rise substantially.

The European Central Bank kept all of its key interest rates unchanged last Thursday, and reiterated that rates will stay low for an extended period of time and wouldn’t rule out stretching out its bond-buying program beyond March 2017. The eurozone economy has held up better than expected since the late-June vote by Britain to exit the European Union.

After years of watching their incomes go nowhere, America’s middle class finally got a big raise last year. Median household income rose to $56,516 in 2015, up 5.2% from a year earlier, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Tuesday. It marks the first increase in median income since 2007, the year before the Great Recession started. Also, the poverty rate ticked down to 13.5% in 2015, from 14.8% a year earlier. The jump in median income was one of the largest annual increases Census has recorded. The growth was also widespread, with geographic regions and races (except for Asians) seeing increases. Behind the pay hike is the big increase in employment, Census officials said. Some 3.3 million more Americans were working full-time, year-round, pushing up median income. Some 1.4 million more men and 1 million more women had jobs last year.

The price of food has fallen sharply in the past few months. And while that’s great for consumers, it’s terrible news for big supermarket chains. Weak global demand (particularly in China) as well as excess supply thanks to advances in agricultural technology have helped push the prices of key food commodities sharply lower lately. The price of corn, cocoa and lean hogs are down more than 10% in the past year. Wheat has tumbled 20%. Cattle futures have plunged 30%. Falling food prices have hurt higher-end organic rivals like Sprouts and Whole Foods as well as grocery chain Supervalu and Kroger, whose stock has fallen 25% this year.


Reuters was reporting Tuesday afternoon that the US and Israel have reached an agreement on a new 10-year package of US military aid to Israel totaling $38 billion. The agreement is expected to be signed within days following months of rumors and tough negotiations which the Obama Administration wanted to wrap up before leaving office in January. Final details of the agreement are expected to be officially announced soon.

Defense officials say Israel has begun work on an underground barrier along the border with Gaza meant to block Hamas militants from tunneling into Israel. The officials say the concrete barrier is set to run dozens of meters (hundreds of feet) deep and will ultimately stretch along the entire border with Gaza. Israel is currently building an initial phase of the barrier over a small stretch of land measuring just dozens of meters. The barrier’s full construction could take years. Hamas militants have often used underground tunnels to infiltrate and attack Israel.


Iran threatened to shoot down two US Navy aircraft over the weekend as they were flying just inside the Strait of Hormuz, a US defense official said. The EP-3 and P-8 planes were in international airspace but “near Iranian airspace.” The Iranians made three radio calls to the two planes warning them not to enter Iranian airspace and risk being shot down with surface-to-air missiles, the official said. The US Navy crews knew they were flying “outside the known range of Iranian air defenses” and proceeded with their flight plans. The two planes were reconnaissance aircraft that routinely fly that flight pattern in the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran began building its second nuclear power plant with Russian help on Saturday, the first such project since last year’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers. The project in the southern port city of Bushehr will eventually include two power plants expected to go online in 10 years. Construction on the second plant is set to begin in 2018. The entire project will cost more than $8.5 billion, with each plant producing 1,057 megawatts of electricity. “Construction of the power plant is a symbol of Iran enjoying the results of the nuclear deal,” Senior Vice-President Ishaq Jahangiri said at a ceremony marking the start of the project. “We will continue working with Russia as a strategic partner and friend,” he added. Iran’s sole operational nuclear reactor, also built in Bushehr with Russian assistance, produces 1,000 megawatts. It went online in 2011.

The United Nations agency monitoring the nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers reported Thursday that it has found no violations of the deal meant to crimp Tehran’s ability to make atomic arms. But touching on one potentially sensitive area, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a review issued Thursday that Iran had begun manufacturing rotor tubes for centrifuges, the spinning machines used to enrich uranium. Iran is allowed to make the parts, but only under certain conditions… In its confidential report obtained by The Associated Press, the atomic energy agency said “related technical discussions” with Iran on rotor tube manufacturing are ongoing. The agency needs to keep a close eye on how many rotor tubes are being made and for what models of centrifuges to make sure they are being produced only in quantities and for machines allowed under the 2015 nuclear agreement that sets a schedule for when and how many advanced centrifuges can be tested.


Turkey has suspended thousands of teachers over alleged links to a militant Kurdish group, according to sources and state-run news agency Anadolu. At least 11,285 schoolteachers across the country were suspended over suspected links to a separatist terrorist organization, Anadolu reported Thursday. That number could reach 14,000 during an investigation conducted in coordination with governors’ offices across the country, Anadolu reported. Although the ministry did not specify the group, the term “separatist terrorist organization” usually refers to the Kurdistan worker’s party, or PKK. There are more than 850,000 teachers in Turkey. The individuals in question are temporarily suspended, placed on paid leave, pending formal investigation.


Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he wanted U.S. Special Forces out of his country’s south and blamed America for inflaming Muslim insurgencies in the region, in his first public statement opposing the presence of U.S. troops. Washington said it had not received a formal request to remove U.S. military personnel. White House spokesman Josh Earnest reiterated that Duterte had tendency to make “colorful comments.” Duterte’s relationship with the U.S. has been a bit rocky since he became president in June. Duterte has been openly critical of American security policies and wants to chart a foreign policy that would not depend on America, his country’s long-time treaty ally.

North Korea

North Korea claimed Friday that it successfully conducted a “higher level” test of a nuclear weapon, its second in eight months and its fifth since 2006. The announcement drew immediate condemnation from the United States, South Korea, China and Japan. The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting on the matter Friday. The North Korean government in the capital of Pyongyang said the test was of a nuclear warhead designed to be mounted on ballistic rockets and demonstrated that it was prepared to hit back at its enemies including the United States if provoked. The test violates United Nations resolutions and will further strain North Korea’s already tense relations with the U.S. and other countries in the region. South Korean officials said the underground test, North Korea’s fifth, produced a more powerful explosive yield than the North’s previous detonations.

Could North Korea actually put a nuclear warhead atop a rocket and fire it at a potential adversary? Some still doubt North Korea can make a warhead small enough, or miniaturize it enough, to mount atop a missile. But that’s what North Korea said it proved Friday, reports CNN. South Korean monitors said Friday’s nuclear test had a yield equivalent to 10 kilotons of TNT, which would make it North Korea’s most powerful of five tests to date. Christopher Hill, the former US ambassador to South Korea, said Friday it’s time to stop guessing about North Korea’s capabilities and start planning a response. “Before long, I think they’re going to have a nuclear warhead on a missile and we have to look really carefully and see what we’re going to do,” said Hill, who was the top U.S. diplomat in Seoul from 2004 to 2005.


In the wake of Hurricane Hermine, many Floridians are having to put up with an unpleasant stench in the air. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, tens of millions of gallons of sewage has been released into the waters of Tampa Bay and into watersheds all over Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties. After heavy rain from Hermine backed up aging sewer systems unable to handle big storms throughout the region, partially treated water along with raw sewage spewed from manholes, forcing cities to dump partially treated water to handle the backup at wastewater treatment plants. At least 30 million gallons of partially treated water and raw sewage were released into Tampa Bay alone, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Even before the storm arrived several cities, including the city of St. Petersburg, performed what is called a “controlled wastewater discharge into Tampa Bay,”

A Russian river located by the Arctic town of Norilsk turned bright red Tuesday, looking more like an enormous blood vessel than a body of water, reports CNN. The water may have reddened due to discharge from “an unidentified chemical” from the nearby Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said in a statement Wednesday. If a pipeline broke, contaminants could have leaked into the river, the ministry added. The plant is owned by Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest nickel producer. The river isn’t connected to the public water supply and the incident doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the residents’ well-being, the Norlisk city administration said.


A 5.9-magnitude earthquake has left at least 11 dead in the Lake Victoria region of northern Tanzania on Saturday. According to the Associated Press, the country’s president, John Magufuli, said that many had been killed by the quake that struck at 3:27 p.m. local time. Regional police commander Augustine Olomi said most of the deaths occurred in brick structures in the town of Bukoba which incurred significant damage. The quake, which was considered shallow at a depth of 25 miles, was reportedly felt as far away as western Kenya, parts of Uganda and Rwanda.


After one of the hottest summers on record, another prolonged spell of heat may flirt with daily records in the Northeast the past few days. Not only will highs climb into the 90s, but the humidity made it feel even more unbearable with heat index values topping 100 degrees in some cities. The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories from Delaware and parts of Maryland’s Eastern Shore to eastern Pennsylvania, western New Jersey, and the five boroughs of New York City, as heat indices soared as high as 105 degrees. On Friday, daily record highs were set at the following places: Washington D.C. (Dulles Airport): 98 degrees, Atlantic City, New Jersey: 97 degrees; Philadelphia: 95 degrees; Wilmington, Delaware: 95 degrees; Baltimore: 95 degrees; New York City (La Guardia Airport): 93 degrees.

Super Typhoon Meranti remains a very intense Category 5 as it heads west-northwest on a path that will take its eye near or just south of southern Taiwan on Wednesday. Maximum sustained winds were 185 mph as of 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday. This ties Tropical Cyclone Winston as the strongest tropical cyclone anywhere in the world so far in 2016. As of Tuesday late morning (EDT), or late Tuesday evening Taiwan time, Meranti was centered about 325 miles southeast of Taipei, Taiwan.