Signs of the Times

November 13, 2018

­And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:6-8)

Vatican Orders U.S. Bishops to Delay Moving on Sexual Abuse Crisis

The Vatican has told the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to delay voting on measures to hold bishops accountable for failing to protect children from sexual abuse, the president of the conference said in a surprise announcement Monday morning. In his announcement, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said he was “disappointed” by the Vatican’s decision, which he said he learned of on Sunday afternoon. Pope Francis will convene a meeting of bishops from around the world in February to address the sexual abuse crisis, which has roiled the church on several continents, including North America, South America and Australia. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had been expected to debate and vote on several “concrete measures to respond to the abuse crisis,” according to a news release about the meeting in Baltimore.

Catholic Groups Protest Pope’s Stand Against Abortion

Catholics for Choice organized a group of 50 abortion providers and advocacy organizations across more than 20 countries to send a joint letter to Pope Francis decrying the Pontiff’s comments that compared providing abortion care to contracting a killer. “Once again Pope Francis has revealed he has a serious blind spot when it comes to the needs of women,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. “He claims a devotion to the world’s poorest people, but he failed to show compassion or understanding about the impact that unsafe abortion has on the poorest women globally. Almost 50,000 women die, and millions more suffer serious injuries, due to unsafe abortions every year. It is negligent, dangerous and cruel to ignore these daily realities.”

  • Murder is never the right solution

Thousand Oaks Makes 307 Mass Shootings in 311 Days in U.S.

Thousand Oaks, California, added its name to a dark roster: the site of the 307th mass shooting in the U.S. on the 311th day of this year, reports. The Wednesday night massacre at the Borderline Bar and Grill, which left 13 people dead, including the gunman, became the nation’s latest mass shooting. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a not-for-profit organization that provides online public access to information about gun-related violence, 328 people died in those incidents, and 1,251 were injured. The latest incident was also the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. in 2018 since 17 classmates and teachers were gunned down at a Parkland, Florida, school on Valentine’s Day. 2018 has seen several high-profile mass shootings: Five people were gunned down in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, on June 28; Ten were fatally shot at Santa Fe High School on May 18; Four people killed at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 22; and a Bakersfield, CA, man fatally shot five, including his wife, before killing himself.

New Rule Makes Illegal Border Crossers Ineligible for Asylum

The White House announced last Thursday that it will crack down on “meritless” claims of asylum by illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border. The new rule will require that migrants who wish to claim asylum do so at an official border crossing. President Trump enacted the rule Friday in a presidential proclamation.  “Consistent with our immigration laws, the President has the broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens into the United States if he determines it to be in the national interest to do so,” Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a joint statement. “Our asylum system is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims from aliens who place a tremendous burden on our resources, preventing us from being able to expeditiously grant asylum to those who truly deserve it.  Today, we are using the authority granted to us by Congress to bar aliens who violate a Presidential suspension of entry or other restriction from asylum eligibility.”

  • The new rule presents a difficult choice to the 6,000 caravan migrants. With long lines, and long wait times adding up to several months at legal border crossing sites, most migrants will have no choice but to turn around or pursue jobs in Mexico. Others, impatient, will try to cross illegally. If caught, they will lose the right to apply for legal entry for 3 to 10 years.

Number of Illegal Immigrant Families Set Record in October

The number of illegal immigrant families entering the U.S. shattered the record in October, according to new numbers released Friday. A staggering 23,121 parents and children traveling as families were caught jumping the border last month. That’s nearly 40 percent higher than any month on record. It’s also nearly 400 percent more than the number recorded just a year ago. Last week, Border Patrol agents nabs nearly 450 illegal immigrants on Tuesday and Wednesday. Those two days were more than the 450 nabbed in all of November last year. The numbers underscore the challenge the Trump administration is facing as it tries to tamp down on what appears to be a run for the border by Central Americans, particularly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Pushed by grim conditions back home and enticed into the U.S. by lax policies, children and families from those countries have come to dominate the border immigration problem.

Illegal Immigrant Criminal Released by Sanctuary County Kills Three

An illegal immigrant released by a “sanctuary” county in New Jersey was charged last week with a triple homicide halfway across the country in Missouri, authorities said Friday. Luis Rodrigo Perez stands accused of being the gunman in a shooting rampage last week that claimed the lives of two men and one woman at two homes. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had tried to deport Perez after he was arrested on domestic violence charges in Middlesex County, New Jersey, last year. But the county, which has a noncooperation policy with ICE, refused to alert federal agents when it released Perez in February, ICE said. “Had ICE’s detainer request in December 2017 been honored by Middlesex County Jail, Luis Rodrigo Perez would have been placed in deportation proceedings and likely sent home to his country — and three innocent people might be alive today,” said Corey Price, acting ICE executive associate director.

Appeals Court Says Trump Can’t End DACA

A federal appeals court last Thursday upheld a ruling blocking the Trump administration from ending the Obama-era program that protects young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from being deported. The ruling from a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means a nationwide injunction allowing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continue will remain in effect. “We conclude that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the rescission of DACA — at least as justified on this record — is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law,” reads the opinion from Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. In September 2017, the Trump administration announced plans to phase out DACA, but lower court judges blocked the administration from doing so and ordered that renewals of protections for recipients continue until the appeals are resolved.

Antifa Expands its Hit List as Political Violence Escalates

When a mob of left-wing antifa activists descended Wednesday night on Fox News personality Tucker Carlson’s D.C. home, it signaled a new phase in the political violence and angry confrontations that now are targeting the news media. Political violence has been rising in the U.S. since 2012, according to the Global Terrorism Database. Increasingly aggressive activists have pushed political confrontation to the limit since 2016, accosting Republican lawmakers and Trump administration officials in restaurants and in the halls of Congress. And now they’re going after conservative journalists at their homes. Antifa is short of anti-fascist, though the group has anarchist leanings and targets anyone perceived as not in step with a far-left agenda.

Hate Crimes Rose 17% Last Year and Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes Rose 37%

Law enforcement agencies reported 7,175 hate crimes in 2017, up from 6,121 a year prior. More than half of such crimes — about 3 out of every 5 — targeted a person’s race or ethnicity, while about 1 out of 5 targeted their religion. The increase was fueled in part by more police departments reporting hate crimes data to the FBI, but overall there are still a large number of departments that do not send hate crimes to the federal database. The sharp increase in hate crimes in 2017 came even as overall violent crime in America fell slightly, by 0.2 percent, after increases in 2015 and 2016. Of the more than 7,000 incidents reported last year, 2,013 targeted black Americans, while 938 targeted Jewish Americans. Incidents targeting people for their sexual orientation accounted for 1,130 hate crimes, according to the FBI. Anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 37 percent in 2017. Anti-Islamic hate crimes declined 11 percent last year, with 273 such incidents, the data show.

Israel Concerned About Increased Anti-Semitic Incidents in U.S.

The Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs is concerned over the sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., which culminated with the recent attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh where a gunman shot 11 Jewish worshipers to death and wounded several others. “Israel must demand that the authorities in the United States eradicate the phenomenon and impose harsher punishment,” Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise stated. The U.S. Jewish community is the second-largest in the world and numbers some six million people. The Anti-Defamation League in its annual audit found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the US rose by 57 percent in 2017, the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since the American NGO began tracking such data in 1979.

Judge Blocks Keystone Pipeline

A federal judge in Montana has blocked construction of the $8 billion Keystone XL Pipeline after criticizing the Trump administration for not properly studying its environmental impact. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris’ order on Thursday came as Calgary-based TransCanada was preparing to build the first stages of the oil pipeline in northern Montana. Environmental groups had sued TransCanada and the U.S. State Department in federal court in Great Falls. Morris ruled that the government’s analysis didn’t fully study the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of current oil prices on the pipeline’s viability, or include updated modeling of potential oil spills. “The Department instead simply discarded prior factual findings related to climate change to support its course reversal,” Morris wrote.

Less Than One-Third of Americans Meet New Fitness Standards

Less than a third of Americans, and only one in five teenagers, meet new physical fitness guidelines issued by the federal government Monday. The guidelines, which officials said could be easily achieved by most, call on adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and two sessions of muscle-strengthening activity each week. Children ages 6 through 17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per day and three sessions of muscle-strengthening per week. Moderate-intensity activity includes walking briskly, riding a bike on level ground with few hills and playing doubles tennis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Muscle-strengthening activity includes lifting weights, “heavy gardening,” such as shoveling, and yoga.

Worldwide Decline in Fertility Rate

There has been a remarkable global decline in the number of children women are having, say researchers. Their report found that the declining fertility rate meant nearly half of countries were now facing a “baby bust” – meaning there are insufficient children to maintain the country’s population size. The researchers said the findings were a “huge surprise” and noted that there would be profound consequences for societies with “more grandparents than grandchildren”. The study, published in the Lancet, followed trends in every country from 1950 to 2017. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. The fertility rate all but halved to 2.4 children per woman by last year. But that masks huge variation between nations. The fertility rate in Niger, west Africa, is 7.1, but in the Mediterranean island of Cyprus women are having one child, on average. In the UK, the rate is 1.7, similar to most Western European countries. In the U.S., the rate is 1.8. It’s mostly economically developed countries including most of Europe, the US, South Korea and Australia that have lower fertility rates.

Worst Ever Ebola Outbreak in Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is facing the worst Ebola outbreak in the country’s history, according to officials. More than 200 people have died from the disease since August and almost 330 confirmed or probable cases have been reported. This outbreak — the second this year — began in North Kivu province before spreading to Ituri province in the east of the country. It’s the 10th time since 1976 that Ebola has struck the DRC. The country’s Minister of Public Health, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, said Sunday that violence against health officials and civilians by militant groups battling for control in the affected region have thwarted efforts to contain the outbreak. Two health workers died in one attack, according to the minister, while last month 11 civilians and one soldier were killed in Beni, a city of 800,000 people and the epicenter of the outbreak. More than 1 million refugees and internally displaced people are in North Kivu and Ituri, according to World Health Organization (WHO), and their movement through and out of the provinces is a potential risk factor for the spread of Ebola.

Economic News

President Trump and Republicans in Congress vowed that this year’s big tax cut would unleash a wave of business investment that would juice economic growth. But increases in capital spending for businesses of all sizes slowed dramatically in the third quarter, raising questions about whether the tax-cut benefits are already fading. Business investment edged up at an annual rate of just 0.8% in the July-September period, down from 11.5% and 8.7% in the prior two quarters, and the smallest advance since late 2016, the Commerce Department Some economists say the pullback reflects business worries over the tariffs and likely foreshadows a broader slowdown in the economy.

China and the United States are locked in a trade war, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at Chinese exports. They leaped almost 16% in October compared with the same month a year earlier. That was significantly higher than analysts had forecast and even stronger than last month’s growth. The performance is surprising because October was the first full month during which new U.S. tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods were in effect. One reason for the surge is companies are eager to avoid even higher duties in a few months’ time: The US tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods that kicked in on September 24 are set to rise from 10% to 25% at the end of the year.

Saudi Arabia will reduce oil supply next month in response to lower demand, and more cuts could follow next year. Speaking at a conference in Abu Dhabi, Saudi energy minister Khalid Al Falih said the kingdom’s oil output would fall by 500,000 barrels per day in December. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies could reduce supply further next year if needed, he added. Global oil prices tumbled into a bear market last week, down more than 20% from their recent peak. As of the close of markets on Monday, crude oil has now lost ground for 11 consecutive days, the longest slide since oil futures trading was introduced on the NYMEX in March 1983.

Middle East

Israel and Hamas are on the brink of outright war. Over 400 rockets, mortars and anti-tank missiles had been fired into Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip by late Tuesday morning, while the IDF reported striking 150 targets in the Strip belonging to Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror militia. Additionally, IDF ground units had been moved into position outside the Strip in possible preparation for an incursion. “The IDF is determined to fulfill its mission of defending Israeli citizens, and is prepared and ready for a variety of scenarios, as necessary,” said an IDF statement. At press time, at least one Israeli citizen had been killed and 85 wounded, while sources in the Strip reported that several Hamas and PIJ terrorists have also been killed and wounded.

The Israeli army has defended a secret operation inside Gaza that left one of its officers dead, after it was forced to pull out its soldiers in an effort that ended in the deaths of seven Palestinians, including a senior Hamas military commander. The incident, near the city of Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza strip, led to a barrage of 200 rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel late last week that injured at least 16.The sudden escalation of tensions threatens to derail recent initiatives aimed at alleviating the humanitarian situation facing Gaza’s two million residents. Hinting that the operation was part of a wider intelligence-gathering sweep, IDF chief spokesman, Ronen Manelis said, “It is the sort of thing that takes place every night, and in most instances remains under the media’s radar.”

Israel and Hezbollah have been adversaries for decades now, dating back to the Jewish state’s involvement in the Lebanese civil war. However, bolstered by the military and financial support of its Iranian patron, the Lebanese terror group now poses a threat to Israel unlike anything the Jewish state has seen in recent history. A new report from the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s Hybrid Warfare Task force, headed by several retired senior U.S. military officials, says that, “Today, Hezbollah possesses more firepower than 95 percent of the world’s conventional militaries, and more rockets and missiles than all European NATO members combined.” According to the report, the next conflict with Hezbollah will “bear little resemblance to anything that has come before between Israel and its adversaries. Changes in the strategic environment in the 12 years since the last Israeli-Hezbollah conflict will translate into unparalleled death and destruction.”

Islamic State

U.S.-backed Syrian fighters resumed their ground offensive Sunday against the Islamic State group in the last territories controlled by the extremists in eastern Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces said in a statement that the decision to resume the fighting came after threats from Turkey against the Kurdish-led force dropped due to diplomatic activities. The SDF said in late October it was temporarily suspending its campaign against IS in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, accusing Turkey of jeopardizing its efforts. The group said that the aim of the renewed operation that began two months ago is “to work for the final defeat of Daesh organization,” using an Arab acronym to refer to the group. Turkey considers the SDF a terror threat and an extension of Kurdish rebels waging an insurgency within Turkey. U.S. support for the Kurdish-led forces has resulted in increased tension between Washington and Ankara.

Syria

Washington will focus on pressuring Iran financially and contesting its activities in Syria, Iraq and Yemen where the Persian nation enjoys broad influence, the U.S. envoy to Syria said last Wednesday, adding that Tehran should withdraw all Iran-commanded forces from Syria. Ambassador James Jeffrey said that Iran enjoys influence in several countries in the region where it backs well-armed militias that are deployed in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. Speaking about Iran’s future in Syria, Jeffrey said: “Iranians are part of the problem not part of the solution.” Jeffrey said the Trump administration is now focusing on putting financial pressure on Iran and “secondly contesting more actively Iran’s activities particularly in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.” Washington this week imposed a new list of sanctions against Iran’s vital oil exports, banking and transport industries.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said “a war situation” is impending as the U.S. extends sanctions on the country.

Somalia

The death toll from three car bombs detonated near a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia has risen to 52 people. Around 100 people were injured in the blast which happened near a hotel popular with visitors to the country and international journalists. Five of the attackers attempted to storm the Sahafi hotel but were shot and killed by policemen. Fifty-two Somali officials were rescued from the scene of the attack and from a nearby hotel, police said. Those who carried out the attack were dressed in police uniforms, but they were Al Shabab attackers, said a government spokesperson at the scene. Al Shabab, an al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group, claimed responsibility. Since 2006, the group has carried out repeated attacks in Mogadishu against different targets — killing international aid workers, journalists, civilian leaders and peacekeepers — as well as Somalia’s government and military targets. It wants to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Yemen

Under increasing pressure from Congress, the Trump administration will curb its assistance to Saudi Arabia’s deadly military campaign in Yemen, officials confirmed Friday. The Defense and State departments said Friday that the U.S. would stop refueling Saudi fighter planes as the regime undertakes bombing campaigns that have resulted in thousands of civilian casualties. The New York Times first reported the decision, casting it as a move by the administration to punish Saudi Arabia for its role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had been critical of the Saudi regime. Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey last month, after trying to obtain documents he needed to marry his fiancé. Khashoggi’s death sparked international outrage, as well as intense scrutiny of the U.S.-Saudi relationship. President Donald Trump and other top administration officials have until now resisted calls to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia or otherwise penalize the regime for Khashoggi’s death, citing the royal family’s assistance in U.S. efforts to counter Iran.

North Korea

North Korea is conning the United States, building up secret, smaller missile bases even after publicly touting the dismantling of its main launch site, according to a new review of satellite images by a top think tank. Citing new satellite pictures, the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Beyond Parallel program identified what appears to be missile operating bases that have never been acknowledged by North Korean officials. The report identified about 15 to 20 bases being operated by the Korean People’s Army’s Strategic Force, based on information from officials in the government, defense and intelligence, as well as North Korean defectors. “The ballistic missile operating bases are small, dispersed throughout the nation, and, with few exceptions, located in narrow mountain valleys,” the CSIS report stated.

Wildfires

On both ends of the Golden State, weary crews continued to work tirelessly to contain two massive wildfires that have killed at least 44 and devastated entire towns. An additional 13 bodies were recovered Monday in northern California, bringing the death toll in Northern California’s Camp Fire to 42, making it the deadliest in the state’s history. The fire is also the most destructive fire on record, burning an estimated 6,700 structures. Two people died earlier in the Woolsey Fire in Southern California bringing the statewide toll to 44 this month. The Camp Fire has surpassed California’s other deadliest fires, including the 2017 Tubbs Fire, which claimed the lives of 22, according to Cal Fire. The 1933 Griffith Park Fire killed 29 people. Searches for the missing also continue. Officials have received more than 1,500 calls asking about people unaccounted for in the Camp Fire which devastated the town of Paradise. A mandatory evacuation order was issued Sunday evening for the entire city of Calabasas, home to 24,000 Southern California residents. The intense wildfire raging through Southern California forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, including several celebrities whose homes were incinerated.

Weather

In Jordan, at least 11 people have been killed and the kingdom’s main tourist attraction, the ancient city of Petra, was closed after being hit by one of the biggest floods the area has seen in decades, according to local officials. Friday’s deluge hit numerous areas of Jordan and rescuers continued their efforts to find missing people around the Wala reservoir in central Jordan. The torrents came two weeks after 21 people, most of them children, were killed in flash floods near the Dead Sea.

Signs of the Times

November 7, 2018

­Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. (1Timothy 4:1)

There Are Now More Wiccans than Presbyterians in U.S.

There may now be more Americans who identify as practicing witches… than there are members of mainline Presbyterianism, reports Crosswalk.com. Wicca is among the fastest-growing religions in the country. Almost half a million people practice it in the United States alone. A book titled Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation sold more copies for its publisher than any other book in its 95-year history. Websites devoted to Wicca have been cited as the most visited religious websites on the internet. Wicca has effectively repackaged witchcraft for Millennial consumption. No longer are witchcraft and paganism satanic and demonic. Rather, it’s now called a ‘pre-Christian tradition’ that promotes ‘free thought’ and the ‘understanding of earth and nature.’” Despite biblical warnings against the practice of witchcraft, the Rev. Valerie Love, who describes herself as a practicing Christian witch and an ordained minister of spiritual consciousness, is insisting that there is nothing wrong with Christians being witches and has recently launched a school to help Christians tap into magic.

Despite Violence by Islamic Terror Group, Thousands in Nigeria Are Turning to Christ

Despite an Islamic terrorist group’s violence, thousands in Nigeria are becoming Christians, said Todd Nettleton, of Voice of the Martyrs. Islamists in the Fulani tribe recently raided a village in the city of Jos in late September. Twenty people were killed in their homes. Emeka Umeagbalasi, board chairman of the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, said Christians have been shot to death, with homes and churches also destroyed. Still, according to The Christian Post, “thousands” of Fulani are committing their lives to Jesus. Nettleton added that the Voice of the Martyrs is helping to provide food, sleeping mats and mosquito nets to Christians who have been forced to flee because of the violence.

Canada’s Child Services Rejects Couple as Foster Parents over Religion

Hoping to foster a child in their home, husband and wife Levi and Amanda denBok applied with Children’s Aid Services (CAS) but were informed via letter that their religious beliefs disqualified them, The Christian Post reported. The couple shared the rejection letter in a Facebook post, describing how they were asked by a CAS adopting agent what church they attend and if they believe the Bible is true. In the interview, the husband and wife were asked: “Are you one of those churches that still believes the Bible is true?” The agent then informed the couple that the Bible was written “thousands of years ago” and the world has since changed. Dr. Charles McVety, who leads Canada Christian College as president, says the married couple’s beliefs don’t match the supposed “values” of the province of Ontario and its leaders. Yet it’s widely known, he says, that CAS favors same-sex couples as foster parents over religious couples.

Guam Catholic Church to File for Bankruptcy Due to Abuse Lawsuits

Guam’s Catholic church will file for bankruptcy — a move that will allow the archdiocese to avoid trial in dozens of lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse by priests and move toward settlements. Archbishop Michael Byrnes announced Wednesday that mediation efforts that began in September led the church to bankruptcy. “This path will bring the greatest measure of justice to the greatest number of victims,” Byrnes said. “That’s the heart of what we’re doing.” Byrnes said the bankruptcy will provide “finality for victim survivors that they’ve been heard and understood.” Attorney Leander James, who is working with abuse victims in Guam, said in a statement the move will help resolve current lawsuits from more than 180 claims of abuse through settlements.

Study Shows Homosexuality is Strongly Linked to Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse

A new report by Ruth Institute has studied the question that those in authority in the Catholic Church have assiduously avoided for decades: Is there a correlation between the presence of a high proportion of homosexuals in the priesthood and the incidence of clergy sex abuse?  The report examines how “homosexual subcultures” within Catholic seminaries may have contributed to creating an environment where homosexual clergy were more likely to abuse minors.  “Although over 8 in 10 of victims have been boys, the idea that the abuse is related to homosexual men in the priesthood has not been widely accepted by Church leaders,” wrote Father Paul Sullins, a retired Catholic University of America sociology professor. “The data show that more homosexual men in the priesthood was correlated with more overall abuse and more boys abused compared to girls. Usually in sex abuse of minors, two-thirds of victims are girls.”

Democrats Seize House While Republicans Expand Control of Senate

Democratic candidates gained about two dozen House seats as Republicans expanded their hold on the Senate. A Democratic House majority will end two years of Republican control of all levers of government and is expected to press for President Trump’s tax returns and investigate his administration. The most expensive and consequential midterm elections in modern times came to a dramatic finish that underscored the nation’s deep polarization, but fell short of delivering the sweeping repudiation of Trump that Democrats expected. President Trump helped Republicans win hotly contested Senate races in Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, and proclaimed the election’s outcome a “tremendous success.” Republicans held their grip throughout the South and in rural and exurban areas. But Democrats — propelled by women and minority voters especially — notched victories in districts that just two years ago helped send Trump to the White House. Trump endorsed California Democrat Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House on Wednesday morning.

Women and Minorities Achieve Gains Nationwide

From a pair of Native American women to a Somali refugee to the first openly gay man elected governor, the 2018 midterm elections brought a series of history-making votes that marked major accomplishments for women, minority and LGBT candidates. A record number of women are projected to win seats in the House in a massive night for female candidates across the political spectrum. Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland will become the first Native American women elected to Congress. Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party will become the first Muslim women in Congress. Rep. Marsha Blackburn became the first female senator to represent Tennessee and Arizona is guaranteed to elect its first female senator. Following GOP Sen. Jeff Flake’s decision last year not to seek re-election, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and GOP Rep. Martha McSally are in a race too close to call as of Monday morning. Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis is the first openly gay man elected governor.

Ballot Measures Address Abortion, Marijuana, Medicaid, Transgenders, Fracking

There were more than 150 statewide measures on ballots this midterm election. Alabama and West Virginia voted measures into their constitutions that restrict abortion. Alabama’s amendment to the constitution gives a fetus the same rights as a human who has been born. West Virginia’s Amendment 1, narrowly passed. Also known as the No Constitutional Right to Abortion Amendment, it explicitly states that its Constitution has nothing in it that “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” Michigan became the tenth state that allows recreational marijuana use. However, North Dakota, voters rejected an initiative that would have allowed for recreational use for adults over 21. Missouri said yes to medical marijuana. Voters in Utah, Idaho and Nebraska voted yes to expand Medicaid eligibility to people under 65 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level. Montana voters rejected Medicaid expansion.

Voters said yes to California’s Proposition 4 that will authorize $1.5 billion in bonds for children’s hospitals. In Massachusetts, preliminary voting results with Question 3 seem to suggest voters said yes to keeping a law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places like restaurants, stores, hotels and hospitals. There’s no federal law that provides such protections for people who identify as transgender. Voters in Colorado have rejected a measure that would have banned drilling of fracking wells within 2,500 feet of occupied buildings, water sources and other “vulnerable” areas. Voters in San Francisco backed a plan to tax rich companies to help the homeless.

Another Kavanaugh Accuser Admits to Fabricating Rape Story

One of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s accusers admitted this week that she made up her lurid tale of a backseat car rape, saying it “was a tactic” to try to derail the judge’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, reports the Washington Times. Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee revealed the fraud in a letter to the FBI and Justice Department Friday, asking them to prosecute Judy Munro-Leighton for lying to and obstructing Congress. Mr. Grassley said Ms. Munro-Leighton is a left-wing activist who hijacked another “Jane Doe” anonymous report about a backseat rape and claimed it as her own story, calling it a “vicious assault.” “I am Jane Doe from Oceanside CA — Kavanaugh raped me,” Ms. Munro-Leighton wrote in an Oct. 3 email claiming to have been a victim of the judge. Mr. Grassley’s investigators tried to reach her for a month but were unsuccessful until this week, when they spoke to her by phone and she confessed that she was not the original Jane Doe.” Kavanaugh turned down $600,000 raised by supporters during his brutal confirmation hearing that involved multiple uncorroborated allegations of sexual misconduct.

Migrant Caravan Coordinator Says Demand for Mexican Failed

The leading migrant caravan trying to make its way to the United States border is admitting defeat after asking the Mexican government to provide dozens of buses to speed up the group’s journey northward. The setback comes days after caravan leaders asked for “safe and dignified” transport to Mexico City, a checkpoint along the way for a group that has been dwindling in size as members either apply for protected status in Mexico or drop out over fatigue exacerbated by the sweltering weather conditions they have been facing. It has been a tumultuous journey so far for the leading caravan, which is now estimated to contain around 4,000 people – down from a peak of more than 7,000. At least 270 people traveling among the thousands in the new migrant caravans have criminal records, Homeland Security said last Thursday. The caravan is now in Mexico City, roughly 600 miles from McAllen, Texas and more than twice that to Tijuana, their stated goal. Their day of departure from Mexico City remains unknown

Armed Militia Groups Head to Border

Gun-carrying civilian groups and border vigilantes have been roused by President Trump’s call to restore order and defend the country against caravans of Central American migrants moving through Mexico. They’re packing coolers and tents, oiling rifles and tuning up aerial drones, with plans to form caravans of their own and trail American troops to the border. The prospect of armed vigilantes showing up beside thousands of U.S. troops — along with Border Patrol agents, police officers and migrants — is considered serious enough that military planners have issued warnings to Army commanders.

Gitmo Terrorists Obama Released Now Reinforce Taliban in Qatar

The Guantanamo terrorists released by Barack Obama in exchange for a U.S. Army deserter have joined the Taliban’s “political” office in Qatar. The move reinforces the terrorist group’s operations, according to the Spanish international news agency that broke the story last week. The five men were incarcerated at the U.S. military prison in southeast Cuba because they held positions of great importance with the terrorist group, including Chief of Staff of the Taliban Army and the Taliban Deputy Minister of Intelligence. One U.S. Senator referred to the freed jihadists as the “Taliban Dream Team.” The nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), determined that the president broke a “clear and unambiguous” law when he traded the high-level terrorists for Bergdahl, who went AWOL in Afghanistan in 2009.

Humanity has Wiped Out 60% of Animal Populations Since 1970

Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilization. The new estimate of the massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by World Wildlife Foundation and involving fifty-nine scientists from across the globe. It finds that the vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else. “This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF. “This is actually now jeopardizing the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.”

FDA Approves Opioid Painkiller 1,000 Times Stronger than Morphine

A new opioid tablet that is 1,000 times more potent than morphine and 10 times stronger than fentanyl was approved by the Food and Drug Administration Friday as a fast-acting alternative to IV painkillers used in hospitals. The painkiller Dsuvia will be restricted to limited use only in health care settings, such as hospitals, surgery centers and emergency rooms, but critics worry the opioid will fuel an already grim opioid epidemic. Dsuvia will not be available at retail pharmacies or for any home use. The medication, which comes in a single-use package, also should not be used for more than 72 hours. The medicine comes in a tablet that can dissolve under the tongue. Side effects of the potent drug include extreme tiredness, breathing problems, coma and death.

Economic News

U.S. and European stock markets rose sharply as the U.S. midterm election results will force President Donald Trump to share power with his Democrat opponents. “This was the most benign result possible from this midterm election,” wrote analysts at Gavekal Research. “Historically, legislative gridlock has been modestly positive for U.S. equity markets.

The economy added a healthy 250,000 jobs in October, the Labor Department said Friday in the last employment report before midterm elections. The unemployment rate was unchanged at a near 50-year low of 3.7 percent. Annual wage growth topped 3 percent for the first time in nine years. Average hourly earnings rose 5 cents to $27.30, pushing the annual gain to 3.1 percent, strongest since April 2009, from 2.8 percent in September.

Social Security pays 63 million Americans about $1 trillion in benefits annually, 5% of our country’s entire gross domestic product (GDP), which was about $19 trillion in 2017. About 90% of people aged 65 and older collect Social Security benefits. One reason Social Security isn’t likely to ever run out of money is because it’s financed to a great degree by taxes collected from workers. In 2017, about 87.7 percent of funds coming into the program came from payroll taxes, while 8.5 percent came from interest and 3.8 percent came from taxes on benefits. The Social Security program is more efficient than most people might think. Out of its budget of roughly $1 trillion, only 0.6 percent is used for administrative expenses.

Middle East

The PLO Central Council voted last week to suspend its recognition of the State of Israel and halt security coordination with the IDF. “The [PLO] is making a mistake. It’s worrisome that Ramallah is going in this direction,” Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon told Army Radio on Tuesday. “Over the last year, Ramallah has become more and more extreme, and is torpedoing any chance of an agreement.” These sentiments were echoed by several other Israeli officials. However, analysts pointed out that the PLO’s resolution was non-binding and still requires the approval of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

North Korea

North Korea has warned it could revive a state policy aimed at strengthening its nuclear arsenal if the United States does not lift economic sanctions against the country. The statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Friday evening said North Korea could bring back its “pyongjin” policy of simultaneously advancing its nuclear force and economic development if the United States doesn’t change its stance. North Korea accused Washington of derailing commitments made by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump at their June summit in Singapore to work toward a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Iran

The Trump administration announced Friday the snapback of crippling economic sanctions on Iran’s oil, banking, shipping and other sectors – reimposing penalties lifted by the Obama administration as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The White House hopes the sanctions – set to go into effect Monday and aimed at more than 700 Iranian individuals and entities – will strangle Iran’s economy and force the regime into a new round of negotiations. The U.S. wants Iran to curb its ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism, among other steps. As Iranians braced for the full restoration of the economic sanctions, their government signaled it would be open to talking to the United States about a new nuclear arms accord if Washington changes its approach to discussing the agreement it abandoned this year. “Mutual trust is not a requirement to start negotiations – mutual respect is a requirement,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.

Islamic State

An American-backed military offensive has stalled against the Islamic State’s last vestige in eastern Syria. Booby traps, land mines and a militant counterstrike during a fierce sandstorm after the campaign began in September have knocked the coalition back on its heels. And last week, the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led militia that is fighting the Islamic State with American help, suspended operations after Kurdish positions farther north were shelled by Turkey — not far from United States advisers. American diplomats and generals rushed to ease tensions with the Turks, who consider Kurdish fighters terrorists despite their partnership with the United States. But the episode underscores the shifting nature of the fight against the Islamic State. ISIS is still a potent threat as it pivots from its battlefield losses in Iraq and Syria to directing guerrilla insurgencies in the Middle East and beyond.

A huge deployment of up to 30,000 Iraqi fighters has been ordered along Iraq’s western border amid fears that Islamic State could enter from Syria in a repeat of its 2014 offensive. Two Iraqi Army brigades, each with 3,000 to 5,000 troops, have been redeployed to border areas over the past two days in order to prevent extremist fighters crossing over. In addition, Shiite Muslim militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), announced that 20,000 fighters have been redeployed to the same border “to provide border security after some Syrian villages fell under the control of ISIS.” Iraq is desperate to avoid a repeat of the losses it sustained four years ago when the extremist Sunni Muslim group took over the province of Nineveh and declared a caliphate before spreading farther into Iraq. Many areas of Syria and Iraq were only recently liberated from ISIS control, although Iraq’s western province of Anbar is still home to many of the group’s militants.

Pakistan

Pakistan’s highest court on Wednesday ordered the release of a poor, illiterate Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy, setting off a wave of demonstrations by hardline Islamists nationwide. The Supreme Court overturned the conviction against Asia Bibi, accused in 2009 of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a case that sparked violent protests in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation of 200 million people. Bibi commented that Muslims were “unclean” so her co-workers accused her of insulting the prophet. She was later beaten, and the women complained to a local religious leader who pressed for the blasphemy charge. Blasphemy carries a death sentence under Pakistani law. Two Pakistani government officials were murdered in 2011 in assassinations linked to their support of Bibi. But the future of blasphemy laws in Pakistan is far from settled. The laws remain popular in Pakistan, and Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed support for them during the recent election campaign. Violent protests broke out in the wake of the Pakistan Supreme Court’s acquittal of Bibi.

Afghanistan

The U.S. military in Kabul says a U.S. service member has been killed in an apparent “insider attack” in the capital Kabul. The statement said the attacker was a member of the Afghan security forces and initial reports indicate the assailant was immediately killed by other Afghan forces. Another U.S. service member was wounded in the attack. The wounded service member is undergoing medical treatment and is in stable condition. The death of Brent Taylor — the North Ogden, Utah, mayor and soldier who was killed Saturday in Afghanistan — reverberated far beyond his small city in northern Utah. Just before his death, he posted in Facebook: “As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election (Tuesday), I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote,” Taylor wrote in the post. “And that whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us. ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’ God Bless America.”

Yemen

Violence in Yemen’s key port city of Hodeidah is the worst seen in months, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator has warned, putting more civilian lives at risk in the war-torn country. Fighting has escalated since U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis a week ago called on all participants in the Yemen civil war to agree to a ceasefire in the next 30 days and start peace talks. Humanitarian workers fear that more than 100 civilian deaths may have occurred in the past week alone in Hodeidah. The city, with its key port installations that bring in UN and other humanitarian aid, has become the center of the conflict in Yemen between Arab allies led by Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels backed by Iran.

Earthquakes

A swarm of earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault, the largest measuring a 4.1 magnitude, rumbled through the Hollister area and the Salinas Valley last Friday morning. CBS San Francisco reported that the quakes rattled nerves but caused no major damage. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the 4.1 quake hit at 5:58 a.m. PDT 12 miles southwest of the small community of Tres Pinos. It was followed by quakes measuring 3.6, 3.2 and 3.0. Officials are saying that this shaking was caused by “movement along the San Andreas Fault system”, and the initial magnitude 4.1 quake was quickly followed by a series of more than 20 aftershocks. Experts say California is overdue for a huge earthquake with some warning a major magnitude 7.0 is likely within the next 30 years. In recent months there has been an alarming amount of seismic activity worldwide along “the Ring of Fire”, and there have been times when the number of global earthquakes has been way above normal, with the number of global earthquakes over the last 30 days more than 50% above normal, according to Earthquake Track.

Weather

A recent United Nations report warned that the world had just a dozen years left to avoid some of the most catastrophic effects of climate change. A new study suggests that assessment was far too optimistic. Researchers using a new method to calculate the amount of heat absorbed by the world’s oceans say the buildup of heat over the last 25 years is 60% higher than previous estimates, meaning the world is warming significantly faster than expected, the BBC reports. In the study published in the journal Nature, the researchers, who measured gases released by the oceans, warn that our planet appears to be more sensitive to the release of greenhouse gases than earlier believed—and that dealing with the problem will be even more of a challenge.

A total of 22 confirmed tornadoes across six states were spawned by a severe weather outbreak in the South overnight Monday into Tuesday morning, leaving a trail of damage and killing at least one person. The National Weather Service gave one tornado a preliminary EF2 rating, with an estimated wind speed of 135 mph. Numerous trees were reported down.

At least 11 people died in Italy last week due to historic flooding throughout the country, officials said Tuesday. In Venice, more than 70 percent of the city was inundated as water levels rose over five feet above normal. In addition to heavy rain, sea water was also pushed into the city by a powerful storm and exacerbated by high tides.

Signs of the Times

October 30, 2018

­When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.” Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another. (Revelation 6:3-4)

Satanist Middle School Girls Arrested for Conspiring to Kill Classmates

Two middle school girls were arrested in Bartow, Florida on last Tuesday, after plotting to kill fifteen classmates as an act of Satan worship. The girls, one 11 and one 12-years-old, brought scissors, knives and a pizza cutter to school with them in order to stab, kill and dismember unsuspecting students in a school restroom. “They wanted to kill at least 15 people and were waiting in the bathroom for opportunity to find smaller kids they could overpower to be their victims,” Bartow Police Chief Joe Hall said at a press conference on Wednesday. According to CBN News, investigators believe the girls planned on drinking the blood of their victims’ out of a goblet in worship of the devil. The school’s vice principal found the girls in the bathroom before anyone was harmed after one of the girls was reported missing from her classroom.

Shooting Massacre in Jewish Synagogue

The man accused in a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday morning screamed anti-Semitic epithets, including “All Jews must die,” as he fired at random. Bowers, 46, was armed with one assault rifle and three handguns during his shooting spree inside the Tree of Life synagogue as innocents were worshipping. By the end of the 20-minute attack, 11 were dead and six left seriously injured, including several police officers. Just before entering the building, a social media account appearing to belong to Bowers posted an anti-Semitic message to the website Gab, a fringe social media website utilized in large part by white nationalists and members of the far-right. The anti-Semitic rants on social media prompted authorities to designate the FBI as the lead agency to investigate the attack as a hate crime.

Pipe Bomber Arrested After Sending 12 Bombs to Democrats

A56-year-old Florida man named Cesar Sayoc mailed a total of 14 packages containing pipe bombs to Democrat leaders and supporters, none of which detonated, but all of which were real. A former boss said Sayoc called himself a white supremacist. Online, with two accounts on Facebook and three on Twitter, Sayoc often posted provocative photos and memes attacking liberals. His white Dodge van was plastered with pro-Trump messages and stickers showing prominent liberals in crosshairs. A sticker reading “CNN Sucks” was also on the van.

Warning Signs of Domestic Terrorists Fully Displayed on Social Media

After virtually every mass shooting, after every high-profile hate crime over the past decade, the story played out much the same: all the warning signs were on full display on social media. As if on cue, reports circulated of social media abuse moments after the world learned the names of alleged mail bomber Cesar Sayoc and Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers. Sayoc threatened Democratic politicians on Twitter. Bowers spouted his anti-Semitism on Gab, a smaller, far less restricted social network that has become a favorite for hate groups. Social media has given people a platform to spew hate speech and radical beliefs to other disaffected people, amplifying what are otherwise fringe opinions. A few have turned that hate into violence. Now tech leaders have a responsibility to rein in their social media creations which have grown too unwieldy for them to control. So far, balancing Big Tech’s responsibilities to society and its duties to investors has proven difficult.

Migrant Caravan Includes Gang Members and Middle East Agitators

The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday it can confirm that gang members and males from the Middle East and Asia are in the caravan headed for the United States that began in Honduras. DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said “there are individuals within the caravan who are gang members or have significant criminal histories.” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said his team with the caravan found citizens from Asia and the Middle East, mostly young men, and indications the caravan was organized from the outside. The Judicial Watch team believes Americans are likely involved in the financing, Fitton said. Investigative reporter Sara Carter, who is in Guatemala, found it’s mostly men crossing the Guatemalan border. She said they are giving a rehearsed answer: “This is not politics – this is about poverty.” There were women and children but they were at the front of the caravan (smaller numbers). None would say who the organizers are but several said it was organized,” she tweeted.

The migrants turned down a Mexican offer of benefits if they applied for refugee status and stayed in the country’s two southernmost states. The Pentagon said Monday that they will deploy up to 5,000 active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to prevent members of a migrant caravan from illegally entering the country. About 2,100 National Guard troops are already fanned out across the border under an order from President Donald Trump earlier this year.

Trump Sends U.S. Troops to Border

Hundreds of U.S. troops are set to make their way to the southern border to help Homeland Security and the National Guard as a caravan with thousands of migrants pushes north with the goal of crossing into America, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday. The official said roughly 800 soldiers will be sent to the area to offer “logistical support,” including providing tents and vehicles. There are currently 2,100 National Guard troops on the southern border assisting Homeland Security. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that “we do not have any intention right now to shoot at people.” The migrant caravan as of Friday is still in southern Mexico, more than 1,000 miles away from the nearest entry point into the U.S. Its size is estimated to be around 7,000, but many of those currently walking are suffering from exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke.

14,000 Illegals from Dangerous Countries Caught Since 2008

A Newsmax analysis of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrests over the past decade reveals that nearly 14,000 “special interest aliens” have been apprehended trying to sneak into the United States by crossing the southern border. The administration has been generally denounced in the mainstream press for President Trump’s claim that the mass-migration caravan includes “unknown Middle Easterners.” Trump has since conceded he has “no proof of anything,” but added, “I think there’s a very good chance, honestly, that you have people in there.” Recent history justifies that concern.

Trump Announces Intention to End Birthright Citizenship

President Donald Trump is trying to follow through on one of his campaign promises by ending birthright citizenship, a 150-year-old law enshrined in the Constitution that grants U.S. citizenship to anybody born on U.S. soil. The law has been the target of anti-immigration groups for years, who claim it’s been abused by undocumented immigrants and companies that peddle “birth tourism.” But defenders say it’s been established in U.S. law, upheld by the Supreme Court. Trump’s announcement that he will end the practice through an executive order just days before the midterm elections is sure to draw immediate legal challenges that could lead all the way to the Supreme Court.

San Francisco’s Efforts to Register Non-Citizens to Vote a Failure

San Francisco reportedly spent $310,000 on a new registration system aimed at getting non-citizens to cast votes in school board elections. The program resulted in 49 new voters, which turned out to cost the city $6,326 each, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The paper called the effort “pretty much a bust.” The new voters are only able to vote in a school board race. The Times said 29 percent of its 54,063 students are English-language learners. San Francisco is not the first place with such a measure. In Maryland, where an estimated 15 percent of residents are foreign-born, at least six cities allow noncitizens to vote in local elections. In Massachusetts, the cities of Amherst, Cambridge, Newton and Brookline have advanced laws to allow noncitizen voting, but they cannot implement them because they need the approval of state lawmakers, who have not yet acted.

Public School Invites Drag Queen to Career Day

The grownups in charge of Rocky Top Middle School in Thornton, Colorado thought it would be a good idea to invite a drag queen named “Jessica L’Whor” to interact with boys and girls at Career Day, reports Todd Starnes. “That pretty much sums up what is wrong with our nation’s public school system,” he notes. Parents were outraged and rightfully so because the taxpayer-funded school did not send out any notification that the children would be hanging out with a drag queen. “I was pretty appalled. I was pretty surprised. It was a shock because no one was notified,” parent Jen Payer told television station Fox 31. “This person is an adult entertainer and is talking to 12-year-old students about something that’s adult [in] nature,” parent Heather Rogers told television station KDVR.

Theaters Censor “Gosnell” Movie About Serial-Killer Abortionist

Despite its strong performance last weekend, where it ranked in the top 10 of all movies nationwide, theaters are now censoring the “Gosnell” movie profiling a murderous abortionist who was sent to prison after killing babies in live-birth abortions. Even though the movie made more than $1.2 million on 668 screen last weekend, 28% percent of movie theaters — including some of the best performing — inexplicably dropped the movie last weekend. “The Gosnell Movie is doing incredibly well despite attacks from all sides. Industry veterans say they have never seen such campaign by the establishment to shut down a successful movie but we’re happy to report that so far none of it is working,” the film’s producers told LifeNews.

  • The pro-abortion crowd will go to great lengths to preserve their right to commit child murder

Droves of Seniors Filing for Bankruptcy

Older Americans are increasingly likely to file for bankruptcy, and their representation among those in bankruptcy has never been higher. Data from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project shows more than a two-fold increase in the rate at which older Americans (age 65 and over) file for bankruptcy and an almost five-fold increase in the percentage of older persons in the U.S. bankruptcy system. The magnitude of growth in older Americans in bankruptcy is so large that the broader trend of an aging U.S. population can explain only a small portion of the effect. According to the study, a three-decade shift of financial risk from government and employers to individuals is at fault, as aging Americans are dealing with longer waits for full Social Security benefits, 401(k) plans that replace employer-provided pensions and more out-of-pocket spending on items such as health care. Health care spending per capita in the U.S. increased nearly 29 fold in the past 40 years, vastly outpacing the growth of the economy. About 40% of middle-class Americans face a slide into poverty as they enter their retirement, concludes a recent study by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School.

Over Half Of Americans Get More In Welfare Than It Pays In Taxes

More than half of Americans receive more money in various types of government transfer payments (Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Social Security) than they pay in federal taxes, reports the Mises Institute. According to a report released this year by the Congressional Budget Office using data from 2014, only the top two income quintiles in the United States pay more in taxes than they receive in government transfers. In the bottom fifth of income, households pay only $400 in taxes while receiving more than $16,000 in various types of tax-funded transfer payments. The next highest quintile paid $3,800 in taxes while receiving $17,700 in tax-funded transfer payments. The middle quintile paid $$9,600 in taxes while receiving $15,400 in government transfers. The second highest quintile paid $18,600 in taxes while receiving $14,000 in transfers, and the top-fifth paid $75,000 in taxes while receiving just $11,700 in government transfers.

62% of U.S. Middle Class Just Scraping By

Despite an unemployment rate that has reached a 50-year low of 3.7 percent, most jobs across the U.S. don’t support a middle-class or better lifestyle, leaving many Americans struggling, according to a new study by Third Way. Sixty-two percent of jobs fall short of that middle-class standard when factoring in both wages and the cost of living in the metro area where the job is located. The study also found that 30 percent of jobs are “hardship jobs,” meaning they don’t allow a single adult to make ends meet. Another 32 percent are “living wage” jobs, enough to get by but not to take vacations, save for retirement or live in a moderately priced home. Only 23 percent are middle-class jobs, allowing for dining out, modest vacations and putting some money away for retirement. And, just 15 percent are “professional jobs,” paving the way for a more comfortable life that includes more elaborate vacations and entertainment and a more expensive home.

Student Loan Debt Becoming Insurmountable

According to a new Bloomberg Report, the student debt crisis is about to take a turn for the worse, as the next generation of millennial graduates could be trapped in insurmountable debts. Over the last decade, the federal student loan segment of the economy experienced an explosion in growth. As the cost of college soars, the result is a widening default crisis that even Fed Chairman Jerome Powell recently warned: “Burgeoning levels of student loan debt could slow down economic growth over time.” Millennials have frantically tapped into student loans, up almost 157% in cumulative growth over the decade. By comparison, Bloomberg notes that auto debt has grown by 52% while mortgage and credit card debt fell by 1%. Student loan debt has breached the $1.5 trillion level under the Trump administration, making it the second largest household debt segment among all Americans, after mortgages.

Economic News

The U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.5% in the third quarter, the government said Friday. That’s still strong, though lower than the 4.2% clip the economy grew during the second quarter. It was the sixth consecutive quarter with growth above 2%. The last time a president had such a hot economy heading into the congressional elections in his first term was President Carter in 1978, who was sitting on a 4.1 percent growth rate.

Real disposable personal income grew at an annual rate of 2.5%, the same as last quarter. That’s slightly above the 2.35% average growth since the end of the last recession in late 2009. The 4.0% increase in consumer spending “is a phenomenal performance,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at the Bank of the West.

The Trump administration has been rolling back regulations auctioning off millions of acres of drilling rights which has raised environmental concerns in many states. It total, more than 12.8 million acres of federally controlled oil and gas parcels have been offered for least this year, triple the annual average offered during the second term of the Obama administration.

Middle East

IDF aircraft struck several positions in the Gaza Strip occupied by the Islamist terror militia Hamas last Wednesday evening in response to a rocket attack into Israel from the Strip earlier in the evening. “The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for everything happening in and out of the Gaza Strip, and it will bear the consequences for the terrorist acts carried out against the citizens of Israel,” said the IDF spokesperson.

Riots continued on the border between the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and Israel last week, despite a move by Jerusalem Tuesday evening to rescind a ban on fuel for the Strip’s electrical power generators, paid for by Qatar and facilitated by Israel, the latest restrictions on Gaza to be lifted by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Syria

The US-led coalition fighting ISIS conducted two strikes against two ISIS “command centers” that were operating inside mosques in Syria in less than a week, the coalition said in a statement. The coalition said that 12 ISIS fighters were killed in the first strike, which took place October 18 in as-Susah, Syria. “The facility was a mosque, which the law of war protects from targeting unless it is used for a military purpose,” the coalition said, adding that ISIS “repeatedly planned and actively coordinated attacks” on coalition troops and their local Syrian allies from that location. The second strike took place last Monday. That strike “destroyed several buildings” used by ISIS to launch attacks against Syrian Democratic Force partners in As Susah, Syria.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian authorities changed their account Thursday of how journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed, for the first time calling his death a “premeditated” murder. Public prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement that the conclusion was reached by Saudi investigators after reviewing evidence given to them by Turkey. The Saudi government initially said Khashoggi was killed in a “brawl” and a fistfight that escalated inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Korea

The North and South Korean militaries agreed Friday to completely destroy 22 front-line guard posts by the end of November as they discussed their next steps in implementing a wide-ranging military agreement signed last month to reduce tensions. They also agreed to conduct a joint survey early next month of a 43-mile-long waterway near their western border where civilian vessels from both countries eventually will be allowed to pass freely, according to a statement released after the general-level talks at the border village of Panmunjom. Friday’s talks came a day after the Koreas and the U.S.-led U.N. Command completed removing firearms and troops from a jointly controlled area at the border village. The Koreas have also been clearing mines from front-line areas and plan to start their first-ever joint search for remains of soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War in April.

Russia

Widespread discontent, fueled by a massively unpopular pension reform, has sent the approval ratings for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his ruling party tumbling to historic lows — just seven months after Mr. Putin triumphantly won a re-election campaign meant to cement his grip on power. But in a development that is likely to alarm Mr. Putin’s critics at home and abroad, the beneficiaries of his plunging poll numbers are the old-line Communist Party and the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), whose leader often urges the Kremlin to carry out nuclear attacks against Moscow’s foes. The left and right fringe parties made big gains in recent regional elections, embarrassing Mr. Putin’s United Russia party, reports the Washington Times. Forty-five percent of Russians now say they would back Mr. Putin in hypothetical presidential elections, down from 67 percent at the start of the year, according to the Public Opinion Foundation, a Kremlin-linked pollster.

Brazil

Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal declared Sunday that anti-establishment congressman Jair Bolsonaro, a champion of traditional Brazilian values, has won the country’s election for the presidency of Latin America’s biggest country and the world’s fourth-largest democracy. Bolsonaro, who cast himself as a political outsider despite a 27-year career in Congress, is the latest of several leaders around the globe to gain prominence by mixing tough talk with right-wing positions. But he also is very much a product of a political tempest in Brazil that made his messages less marginalized: widespread anger at the political class amid years of corruption, an economy that has struggled to recover after a punishing recession and a surge in violence. Bolstering his rebel image is his reputation for offensive statements and sometimes extreme views, including insulting women, black people and the LGBT community.

Jamaica

Jamaica is the island paradise that the government says has a pervasive sexual assault problem, the place where two Detroit women were raped in September, and an estimated one American is raped each month. Over the last seven years, 78 U.S. citizens have been raped in Jamaica according to State Department statistics from 2011-17. Perhaps most alarming for tourists is that sexual assaults are occurring inside gated resorts — the place they are led to believe that they are most safe. According to U.S. Embassy reports, 12 Americans were raped in Jamaica last year, half of them inside resorts by hotel employees. The U.S. government suspects this number may be higher as sexual assaults are often underreported, and the embassy figures don’t include victims from other countries.

Environment

Nearly 2 billion children – about 93 percent of the world’s children under the age of 15 – breathe toxic, putrid air that’s so polluted it puts their health and well-being at serious risk. The United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 600,000 children died in 2016 from lower respiratory infections caused by dirty air. Air pollution can affect children’s cognitive ability and can also trigger asthma as well as cancer. Children who have been exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at greater risk for chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease later in life. The problem is most severe in low- and middle-income countries, the report said, primarily nations in Africa, Southeast Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and western Pacific. The report said that overall, about 7 million people around the world die each year because of air pollution. One-third of the deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease stem from polluted air, the WHO said.

Volcanoes

Government scientists are classifying 18 U.S. volcanoes as a “very high threat” because of what’s been happening inside them and how close they are to people. The U.S. Geological Survey is updating its volcano threat assessments for the first time since 2005. The danger list is topped by Hawaii’s Kilauea, which has been erupting this year. The others in the top five are Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier in Washington, Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano and California’s Mount Shasta. The agency says a dozen volcanoes have jumped in threat level since 2005. Twenty others dropped in threat level. Among those where the threat score is higher are Alaska’s Redoubt, Mount Okmok, Akutan Island and Mount Spurr. Threat scores also rose for Oregon’s Newberry Volcano and Wyoming’s Yellowstone.

Wildfires

A bushfire burning in Western Australia raged on after burning more than 2 million acres of land – roughly six times the size of Los Angeles. The ‘gigafire’ is burning about 75 miles southeast of Broome as windy conditions and warm spring weather have fanned the flames. It’s burning in a remote area, but it prompted a shutdown of the Great Northern Highway days ago. The fire was sparked by lightning on Oct. 11. Since then, firebreaks and backburning tactics have been used to keep the inferno away from homes and towns. No deaths or structural damage have been reported.

Weather

Areas from New Jersey to Maine saw street flooding and power outages as a nor’easter raked the coast on Saturday. Tens of thousands of customers lost electricity at various times as powerful winds knocked over trees and downed power lines. The strong winds blasted cars along the coast in Massachusetts, with wet sand, leaving them looking as if they were covered in snow.

Severe storms pounded Rome last week, leaving parts of the city to deal with knee-deep hail and flooding. Many roads became impassable and looked more like ice-covered rivers. Motorists were forced to abandon their submerged cars in the mixture of high water and ice flooding. At least six Metro stops were closed when runoff from high water and ice flowed underground. Piles of hail resembling large snowbanks were left over parts of the city.

Two days of heavy flooding rains and high winds have left at least nine dead in Italy. More than 5,800 firefighters have responded to some seven thousand rescue calls for flooding, landslides and removal of fallen trees, particularly in Tuscany, Lazio, Veneto, Lombardy, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Liguria. Numerous towns and villages became isolated after roadways were flooded. On Monday, three-quarters of Venice was inundated by an exceptionally high tide buffeted by high winds from the storm. The city frequently experiences flooding, but these were the highest levels in nearly a decade.

In Lake Constance, a new island has emerged. In Berlin, and a river is flowing backward due to an ongoing drought. A large number of lakes and ponds are seeing dead fish along their banks. Barges are hardly being loaded so they don’t run aground. This is the scene in Germany after a long and dry summer has left the country’s lakes and rivers at record low levels. The levels are causing chaos for the inland shipping industry while causing environmental damage and billions of dollars in losses. The drought has hit nearly 90 percent of the country this year.

Super Typhoon Yutu, an absolute monster of a storm — the strongest on Earth this year — just hit American territories in the Pacific, and forecasters are predicting catastrophic damage. With sustained winds of 178 mph as its eye passed directly over the island of Tinian, Yutu caused catastrophic damage. Mayor Joey P. San Nicolas said Thursday, “The homes, main roads have been destroyed. Our critical infrastructure has been compromised. We currently have no power and water. Our ports at this time are inaccessible and several points within the island are inaccessible.” The power plant has been damaged, and the power “distribution system is completely destroyed,” San Nicolas said. With no running water, Tinian stores have not reopened. President Trump issued an emergency disaster declaration for Saipan and Tinian, along with the rest of the Northern Marianas

When all the hurricanes and tropical storms that have formed in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans this year are added together, the 2018 hurricane season is the most active season ever recorded. To determine the strength of a given season, scientists use the “Accumulated Cyclone Energy” (ACE) index, which adds together the intensity and duration of all the tropical storms and hurricanes that formed. So far in 2018, the ACE for the Atlantic and eastern Pacific seasons together is 432 units of energy, shattering the record of 371, which was set in 1992. On average, the two ocean’s combined ACE is 221 units. As the global climate heats up in the decades ahead, sea water will also warm, potentially fueling more storms.

  • As we’ve been saying for several years now, based on the Bible alone, that weather will continue to become more severe as the ramp-up to the end-times continues (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Luke 21:25, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

Signs of the Times

October 22, 2018

­Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. (Luke 21:28)

Israel At the Brink of War?

Another extremely bloody border protest on Friday has pushed Israel and Hamas to the brink of war. Last Friday, 10,000 Hamas protesters showed up at the border fence, and 130 of them got shot during the violence that erupted. An Israeli military spokeswoman said about 10,000 demonstrators massed at the border and that some threw burning tires, grenades and explosive devices at the troops across the fence. On Wednesday, a rocket that was fired from Gaza obliterated a home in southern Israel, and another rocket landed not too far from Tel Aviv. On Thursday Israel had ramped up armored forces along the Gaza border. Reuters has reported some 60 Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers now stationed at a deployment area along the border, which is the largest reported mustering of forces since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

Egyptian mediation has failed and Israel is on its way war. That was the message Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman delivered Monday to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Israel has recently seen an increase in the intensity and the volume of violence and attacks emanating from Gaza, which culminated in Wednesday’s rocket attack on Israel which destroyed a home in Beersheba. Palestinian riots on Israel’s border with Gaza are not “popular protests” as Hamas depicts them but rather carefully orchestrated violence organized by the terror group, he said. “Fifteen thousand people do not show up by foot at the border fence,” Liberman said. Israel has “reached a situation where there is no alternative – anything other than the hardest, heaviest blow that we are capable of dealing Hamas in the Gaza Strip will not help.”

Number of Migrant Families Soars in September, Caravan Coming

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 16,658 migrant family members in September, an 80 percent increase from July, after the administration ended its “zero tolerance” policy of separating parents and children at the border. Having campaigned on a promise to stop illegal immigration and build a border wall, President Trump is faced with the number of migrants increasing rapidly – and, there is a caravan of around 5,000 migrants mostly from Honduras and Guatemala on their way through Mexico to the U.S. The caravan grew in size from an initial 1,500 migrants as people from other nations have jumped in along the way. They broke through barricades or swam into Mexico over the weekend. Local leaders say hundreds of people who were part of the migrant caravan have given up their journey and are returning to their homes in Honduras and Guatemala. But perhaps 2,000 others entered Mexico illegally and vowed to cross that country, with the U.S. their goal.

President Trump threatened to summon the military to close the U.S.-Mexico border and upend a trade deal, expressing mounting frustration with the large caravan approaching the border. The caravan broke down a border crossing Friday and streamed onto a bridge on Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala in the face of a heavy presence of Mexican and Guatemalan law enforcement officers. The migrants, who say they are escaping poverty, poor working conditions and violence, slept overnight Saturday on a bridge over the Suchiate River with no fresh supplies of water or food and without bathrooms, eyewitnesses said. hundreds of immigrants grew frustrated with the pace of processing by Mexican officials and swarmed the Suchiate River, swimming, floating and pulling themselves across the muddy waters in order to reach the U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen warned Sunday that the illegal immigrant caravan heading toward the U.S. could be exploited by cartels that control most of the illegal flow of people through Latin America. In a startling revelation, Guatemala’s president announced in the country’s largest newspaper that nearly 100 ISIS terrorists were apprehended as the caravan passed through. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is requesting that the United Nations help process the group to determine whether they have valid asylum claims or should be returned to their home countries. President Trump warned that, “Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.”

  • If the migrants achieve safe haven in Mexico, their continuation on to the U.S. has nothing to do with escape from violence in their home state and they are no longer asylum seekers. There is no need for them to come to the U.S. except solely to feed off our welfare state.

U.S. and Britain to Pull Out of Nuclear Agreement with Russia

President Trump says he’ll exit the nuclear arms control agreement with Russia because Russia has violated it “for many years” and it’s preventing the U.S. from developing new weapons. Britain’s defense secretary says his country stands “absolutely resolute” with the United States. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson blames Russia for endangering the treaty. He’s calling on the Kremlin to “get its house in order.” Williamson told the Financial Times that Moscow has made a “mockery” of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The 1987 pact prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 miles to 3,400 miles. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Sunday that a unilateral U.S. withdrawal would be “very dangerous” and lead to a “military-technical” retaliation.

Alabama Supreme Court Rules an Unborn Baby is a Person

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that an unborn baby is a “person” under the law, and, consequently, the death of that person can be punished with execution. Further, in a special concurrence, Justice Tom Parker called on the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that created a “right” to abortion.  Justice Parker called Roe v. Wade an “legal anomaly and logical fallacy.” “I urge the United States Supreme Court to overrule this increasingly isolated exception to the rights of unborn children.” Parker affirmed the Alabama court’s rationale that “unborn children are persons entitled to the full and equal protection of the law.” He asserted Roe v. Wade is “without historical or constitutional support.”

Trump Administration Considers Defining Gender Biologically

The Trump administration may move to rigidly define gender as a fixed status determined biologically by the genitalia a person is born with, reversing Obama-era policies that granted federal recognition to transgender individuals, according to a Sunday report from The New York Times. The paper said it obtained a memo detailing how the Department of Health and Human Services plans to create a legal definition of gender. The definition would be implemented under the Title IX law, which bans discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs, the Times reported. The HHS memo said that gender should be defined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable,” the Times said. A person’s gender would be strictly male or female and it would be unchanging.

Cyclist Labeled ‘Transphobic’ for Not Wanting Biological Men in Women’s Race

The cyclist who finished third in a women’s world championship race won by a biological man says she is working to change the rules. Wagner-Assali finished third Sunday in the 35-44 female age bracket at the UCI Masters track cycling championships in Los Angeles. Rachel McKinnon, a transgender woman who was born a man, won the race. Wagner-Assali tweeted on Sunday that the race was “NOT fair” and that “just because it’s a CURRENT UCI rule doesn’t make it fair or right. And rules can be changed.”

EPA Announces Decline in U.S. Greenhouse-Gas Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 2.7 percent last year, the first year of the Trump presidency, even as the administration slashed environmental regulations and global emissions continued to climb. “Thanks to President Trump’s regulatory reform agenda, the economy is booming, energy production is surging and we are reducing greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources,” said Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the EPA. The yearslong decline in U.S. emissions has been widely credited to the oil and gas boom. Power plants increasingly turned from coal to natural gas as innovations in extraction technology resulted in lower prices. “These achievements flow largely from technological breakthroughs in the private sector, not the heavy hand of government,” Mr. Wheeler said. “The Trump administration has proven that federal regulations are not necessary to drive [carbon dioxide] reductions.”

Study Finds Majority Exhausted by Political Divide

Cable news depicts a divided country, with talking heads fighting from the left and right on deeply polarizing political issues. But according to a new study, the United States might not be as split as the media portrays, reports CNN. More in Common, an initiative dedicated to understanding political polarization, recently released the results of their project called “The Hidden Tribes of America.” They found that 67% of the country is what the organization calls the “Exhausted Majority,” a group that is displeased by America’s polarization and would like for people to find a common ground. “It’s these strident, hateful, often uncompromising us versus them voices” that are receiving attention, the report states. The research found that 70% of people said they blame both the left and the right for the conflict over Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.

Violent Political Rhetoric Continues

In addition to the two pro-lifers attacked last week, a 65-year-old man was hospitalized on Monday after being viciously attacked while praying outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Florida. Also, the University of Mississippi has condemned a tweet by a faculty member that called on activists to abandon civility and harass Republican senators in public. “Don’t just interrupt a Senator’s meal, y’all,” James Thomas, an assistant professor of sociology, tweeted from his @Insurgent_Prof account. “Put your whole damn fingers in their salads,” he wrote. “Take their apps and distribute them to the other diners. Bring boxes and take their food home with you on the way out. They don’t deserve your civility.” A small group of angry diners confronted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at a restaurant Friday night, but were met with calls from other customers to leave the Kentucky Republican alone. President Donald Trump praised Montana Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte Thursday for assaulting a reporter during his campaign last May, saying “any guy who can do a body slam … he’s my guy” and made a gesture mimicking a body slam.

35 Million Voter Records Hacked

Two threat-intelligence firms warn that voter information for some 35 million U.S. citizens is being sold on a popular hacking forum. The stolen data, according to the researchers, contains details such as full name, phone numbers, physical addresses, voting history and other voting-related information. The peddled data comes from 19 states. ZDNet said that the seller claims “data is refreshed each Monday of every week,” suggesting either continued access to the compromised servers or another source. The Anomali Labs team said, “This suggests the breach is not necessarily a technical compromise but rather an extensive operation involving cooperation within the election organizations.”

Feds Charge Russian with Meddling in 2018 Election

The Justice Department announced charges Friday against a Russian operative the government says was meddling in this year’s elections, marking the first set of charges to be issued following the 2016 presidential election. Federal prosecutors said the operation was a continuation of Russia’s attempt’s to sow discord in American politics. They accused Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, Russia, of being the accountant for “Project Lakhta,” the Russian operation the U.S. says used social media to stir anger and resentment in the 2016 campaign. “This case serves as a stark reminder to all Americans: Our foreign adversaries continue their efforts to interfere in our democracy by creating social and political division, spreading distrust in our political system,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Texas Democrats Ask Noncitizens to Register to Vote, Send Unwanted Texts

The Texas Democratic Party asked non-citizens to register to vote, sending out applications to immigrants with the box citizenship already checked “Yes,” according to new complaints filed Thursday. The Public Interest Legal Foundation alerted district attorneys and the federal Justice Department to the pre-checked applications, and also included a signed affidavit from a man who said some of his relatives, who aren’t citizens, received the mailing. The Texas secretary of state’s office said it, too, had gotten complaints both from immigrants and from relatives of dead people who said they got mailings asking them to register. A Texas man grew so frustrated over receiving text messages from the U.S. Senate campaign of U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, that he’s taking the organization to court. A class-action lawsuit filed against the Beto for Texas campaign on behalf of all Texans alleges the group sent text messages to voters without obtaining permission to contact them, therefore violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The law bans the use of automated telephone equipment to send texts or calls to a person’s cellphone without their permission — except for emergency purposes.

$26 Billion Needed to Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Power Grid

Hurricane Maria blasted through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, battering the island’s outdated power grid and plunging the U.S. commonwealth into darkness for nearly a year. The lack of power has been a major challenge for Puerto Ricans recovering from the storm and was a key factor in widespread fatalities after the hurricane. The death toll from the storm is 2,975, based on estimates from a study by George Washington University researchers. Restoring power has been a slower, much bigger project than expected because it was a very fragile system. Federal officials have spent more than $3 billion to end the longest blackout in U.S. history and return the Puerto Rican power grid to pre-storm conditions. Now comes the long, tough task of improving the system – at a cost of billions of more federal dollars – to avoid future massive blackouts. Puerto Rican officials have estimated it will take another $26 billion to upgrade the island’s energy grid.

405 Rapes by Police Officers Over 9 Years

According to research from Bowling Green State University, police officers in the US were charged with forcible rape 405 times between 2005 and 2013. That’s an average of 45 a year. Forcible fondling was more common, with 636 instances. Yet experts say those statistics are, by no means, comprehensive, only those cases where police officers were actually charged. Otherwise, data on sexual assaults by police are almost nonexistent, they say. Yet experts say those statistics are, by no means, comprehensive. Data on sexual assaults by police are almost nonexistent, they say. Arrests depend on a victim making a report and a law enforcement agency making that report public, after the arrest, by no means certain.

Economic News

According to the Social Security Administration, the median annual wage in the United States is just $30,533, meaning half of Americans make more and half less than this amount. The federal poverty level for a family of five is $29,420, and yet almost half the workers in the entire country don’t make that much on a yearly basis. You would think that someone making “the median income” in a country as wealthy as the United States would be doing quite well, but not so. The mainstream media focus on the average annual income which rose to $44,564 in 2017. But the average is skewed by those who make far more. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s, and America’s once thriving middle class is rapidly evaporating.

The world’s second biggest economy grew 6.5% in the third quarter of this year. That’s its worst performance since the depths of the global financial crisis in early 2009 and weaker than economists expected. Government efforts to rein in debt are putting the brakes on growth, and US tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese exports are set to make things worse. Chinese stock markets and the country’s currency have been pummeled in recent months by fears about the economy and the trade war.

Persecution Watch

Twitter locked LifeSiteNews out of their Twitter account last week over an article posted four years ago that provided expert analysis on the rise in sexually-transmitted diseases among homosexuals. The 2014 article by Dr. Gerard M. Nadal, a molecular biologist and microbiologist who is also president and CEO of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, showed that, “reason for the documented continued rise in syphilis (primarily affecting homosexuals)” is due to the “upward trend in unprotected sex” and 60% of homosexual men failing to disclose their symptoms or status to sex partners. He cited data from mainstream sources such as the CDC, a then-recent New York Times report, and a 2006 study in the journal AIDS Behavior. On October 18, 2018, however, LifeSiteNews received the following message, notifying staff that Twitter was locking the account because the 2014 tweet sharing the story’s neutral, factual headline violated “our rules against hateful conduct,” and somehow “promote[d] violence against, threaten[ed], or harass[ed] other people on the basis of […] sexual orientation […], or serious disease.”

Attackers ransacked, looted and burned a church in the Kossey district of Niger’s capital Niamey on 11 October, leaving the building a charred shell, its floor covered with debris and broken and blackened musical instruments. Niger’s tiny Christian minority make up less than 1% of the population, but had traditionally lived peacefully and unthreatened alongside the large Muslim majority. The rise of jihadist groups in the Sahel region, including Boko Haram, Islamic State in West Africa and groups affiliated with Al Qaeda has led to an escalation in tension. In 2015, more than 70 churches in Niger were destroyed when Muslim mobs attacked Christian places of worship following publication of a cartoon of Muhammad on the front cover of the French Charlie Hebdo magazine.

After the arrest of thirteen Christians in the western part of Darfur, Sudan, a state-appointed committee has demanded that a church in Omdurman turn over its properties. According to Christian News, Sudanese security arrested thirteen Christians on Saturday from a house they had gathered at. Three people have been released so far, but it’s unclear what the charges are for the others. Law allows the National Intelligence and Security Services to hold people in detention for up to four and a half months before they have to be released or charged. Meanwhile, another church in Sudan is being forced to hand over its land. Other churches are also battling with the government over ownership of its properties. Many have faced fines and even closure. After the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan president Omar al-Bashir promised he would tighten sharia laws and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.

Pro-abortion protesters firebombed a church Sunday during violent rallies in Trelew, Argentina. Police arrested 10 protesters after they threw Molotov cocktails at a Catholic church and the Trelew City Hall and painted graffiti on stores, homes and churches across the city. The protest, National Encounter of Women, brought about 50,000 abortion activists to the city streets. Some women protested topless, throwing stones and flaming objects at Our Lady Auxiliadora church, according to the report. People reportedly were inside the church praying while the violence occurred outside. However, there was no mention of injuries.

Middle East

The United States on Thursday downgraded the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority (PA) by placing it under the authority of the U.S. Embassy to Israel. The U.S. consulate had for years served as a de facto embassy to the Palestinian Authority but will now be known as the Palestinian Affairs Unit of the Embassy to Israel. It will remain in its current location, at least for now, the State Department said. The move was immediately denounced by the PA and applauded by Israel. In a statement, Pompeo said the merger of the consulate into the embassy is intended to “achieve significant efficiencies and increase our effectiveness.” He denied that it signaled any change in U.S. policy toward Jerusalem or the Palestinian territories.

Islamic State.

ISIS has taken nearly 700 people hostage including several European and US Nationals in Syria and has vowed to kill 10 a day, Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed. The jihadi group is holding their prisoners captive somewhere south of the Euphrates River in the war-torn nation, he said. Speaking in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Putin added that ISIS was expanding its control in territory controlled by U.S. and U.S.-backed forces and blasted America for a “catastrophic” failure. Putin said: “Islamic State terrorists have delivered ultimatums and made certain demands, threatening to shoot ten people every day. “Some U.S. and European citizens are among the hostages,” he said, although he did not specify what the terrorists’ demands were.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi authorities claimed late Friday that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi died during a “brawl” inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul, a sharp reversal from previous assertions by the regime that the Khashoggi had left the diplomatic facility unharmed more than two weeks ago. The announcement, made on state TV and also released via the official Saudi Press Agency, said 18 rogue Saudi nationals had been arrested in connection with the case. The regime also announced that several top intelligence officials had been ousted, including the deputy president of intelligence and an adviser to the crown prince, Ahmed bin Hassan bin Mohammed Assiri. It is the first time the kingdom has admitted Khashoggi is dead. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and U.S. permanent resident, entered the consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2 to obtain paperwork he needed to marry his fiancé. Turkish officials say they have evidence he was tortured and murdered inside the embassy. Khashoggi was living in the U.S. in self-imposed exile, amid concerns he was in danger because of his criticisms of the regime. President Trump accused the Saudis of lying about the death of Khashoggi, but also said that he would prefer that the 33-year-old prince remain at the political helm of his nation.

Afghanistan

The powerful police chief of Kandahar province in Afghanistan was killed Thursday in an attack following a security meeting with the top U.S. commander in the city, three Afghan officials told CNN. Two Americans also were wounded in the shooting attack at Kandahar Palace. U.S. Army Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was present but uninjured in the attack. The police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq Achakzai, was one of the most prominent security figures in Afghanistan. The Taliban released a statement claiming responsibility. The shooter was killed by the U.S. military. All of those shot were in close proximity to Miller. U.S. officials believe that Raziq was the target because the shooter had the first choice of shot and went for Afghans, not Miller.

Korea

The U.S. and South Korea decided Friday to suspend another major joint military exercise to give the diplomatic process with North Korea “every opportunity to continue.” Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo decided to suspend Exercise Vigilant Ace as a show of good faith. The exercise was due to take place in December. Last year’s iteration of the Vigilant Ace involved 12,000 U.S. troops and some 230 military aircraft from the U.S. and South Korea. President Donald Trump has criticized U.S. military exercises with South Korea, calling them expensive and provocative.

Canada

People in Canada are cheering, enduring long lines and honking their car horns in support as the country’s first marijuana dispensaries open their doors last Wednesday. Adults of at least 18 years old will be allowed to carry and share up to 30 grams of legal marijuana in public, according to a bill that passed the Senate in June. They will also be allowed to cultivate up to four plants in their households and make products such as edibles for personal use. Marijuana will not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco. Consumers are expected to purchase the drug from retailers regulated by provinces and territories or from federally licensed producers when those options are not available. Whether entering or leaving Canada, it is illegal to have marijuana with you, and you could face criminal charges. Following the legalization, things went great … for exactly one hour. The Winnipeg Police posted a photo later that day of a (redacted) traffic ticket one of its officers had to write for “consuming cannabis in a motor vehicle.” The police department stated that, “Just like alcohol, consuming cannabis is legal – and like alcohol, consuming it in your vehicle is **not**”

Environment

An oil spill that has been quietly leaking millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico has gone unplugged for so long that it now verges on becoming one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history. Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004, when an oil-production platform owned by Taylor Energy sank in a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan. Many of the wells have not been capped, and federal officials estimate that the spill could continue through this century. With no fix in sight, the Taylor offshore spill is threatening to overtake BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever. The Taylor Energy spill is largely unknown outside Louisiana because of the company’s effort to keep it secret in the hopes of protecting its reputation and proprietary information about its operations, according to a lawsuit that eventually forced the company to reveal its cleanup plan. The spill was hidden for six years before environmental watchdog groups stumbled on oil slicks while monitoring the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster a few miles north of the Taylor site in 2010.

As the red tide continues to move northward along Florida’s east coast, a new breakaway bloom is moving through the Keys. Counties across the state have been dealing with the Karenia brevis algae, and the marine life it’s killed, for months. Now, Indian River is the latest Florida county forced to close its beaches because of red tide. Brevard County’s Melbourne Beach, Indialantic and Cocoa Beach also confirmed their waters, too, have tested positive for medium levels of the toxic algae. Officials said their counties’ beaches would remain open, but signage would be put up warning of red tide’s presence. Red tide’s neurotoxins are deadly to marine life and can irritate people’s skin; it can even cause respiratory issues, especially for people with asthma. Fish choked by red tide have washed up on beaches across the state.

Earthquakes

A trio of strong earthquakes struck off the Canadian coast near Vancouver Island Sunday night. The strongest was 6.8 magnitude which struck at a depth of about 6 miles some 150 miles west of Tofino, Canada. The other two were around 6.5 magnitude. There were some smaller ones as well as some aftershocks. The quakes were lightly felt onshore and that as of now no injuries were reported.

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake struck the Texas Panhandle early Saturday. The earthquake was centered about 9 miles northeast of Amarillo at a depth of 3 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. No damage or injuries have been reported. The USGS noted that the risk for damage is very low for this magnitude. More than 800 people reported the quake which struck about 8 a.m. local time.

Weather

Forecasters say Hurricane Willa has grown rapidly into a “potentially catastrophic” Category 5 storm in the eastern Pacific, on a path toward Mexico’s western coast. Landfall is predicted for late Tuesday or early Wednesday, likely as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said. Willa is expected to “produce life-threatening storm surge, wind and rainfall over portions of southwestern and west-central Mexico.” It will also spawn life-threatening surf and rip conditions.

An extreme drought that depleted half of Utah’s reservoirs has prompted Gov. Gary Herbert to declare a state of emergency. The declaration allows drought-affected communities, agricultural producers and others to begin the process of accessing state or federal resources. “The drought is at a level unseen for many years and will not be solved with a small series of storms. In some areas, the drought is at, or near, historic levels,” Herbert said. The declaration comes on the heels of the state’s driest year on record. Snowpack was at a record low last winter, and water levels at 16 of the 49 major Utah reservoirs are currently below 20 percent.

The death toll has risen in eastern India after powerful Tropical Cyclone Titli brought landslides and flooding to the region. At least 52 people are dead in the wake of the storm. In the hard-hit state of Odisha, formerly Orissa, home to 43 million people, hundreds of homes were destroyed, trees were downed and hundreds of thousands were left without electricity. Tropical Cyclone Titli roared ashore as a Category-2 equivalent storm, packing winds of up to 93 miles per hour.

Signs of the Times

October 16, 2018

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

American Pastor Detained in Turkey, is Freed

Andrew Brunson, the American pastor who was imprisoned and then placed under house arrest in Turkey due to his alleged ties to an outlawed group, was ordered freed on Friday and sentenced to time served, a Turkish judge ruled. The decision ended a tense diplomatic standoff between the U.S. and Turkey that began after Brunson’s October 2016 arrest on terror and treason charges. The 50-year-old pastor was detained by Turkey as part of a massive government crackdown following a failed coup months earlier. Brunson was officially sentenced to three years and one month in prison for the conviction; but, because he had already served two years in detention, he wasn’t required to spend any more time behind bars. Brunson on Friday again denied accusations that his Izmir Resurrection Church aided Kurdish militants. “My entire family thanks the president, the administration, and Congress for their unwavering support,” Brunson said as he began the journey home. When He got to the U.S., the first thing he did was visit President Trump to thank him and pray for him.

Muslim Family Saves Ancient Christian Texts from ISIS Destruction

A Muslim family risked their lives to save two ancient Christian texts from destruction by the Islamic State in Iraq. According to The Christian Post, two ancient Syriac Orthodox manuscripts evaded destruction for three years while ISIS controlled the city of Mosul, Iraq. ISIS destroyed numerous cultural and religious relics in the area and has burned hundreds of Christian texts. One Muslim family who wished to remain anonymous for their safety, however, was determined to keep the texts safe despite threat of being killed if caught. Father Paulos Thabit Mekko is now temporarily in possession of the manuscripts until they can be returned to their rightful owners. The priest told Asia News that he believes that the manuscripts were stolen from the Syriac Orthodox Church of the Immaculate, a church that was demolished by ISIS.

Atlanta Fire Chief Receives Settlement After Faith-Firing

The former fire chief of Atlanta who has argued over the last few years that he was fired for his Christian faith and beliefs got some good news yesterday. On Monday the city of Atlanta agreed to pay Kelvin Cochran $1.2 million in the wake of a federal district court ruling in December 2017 that found some of the city’s policies that led to his termination are unconstitutional. The case began in 2014 after Cochran self-published a men’s devotional book he had written on his personal time. Attorney Kevin Theriot of Alliance Defending Freedom said, “Government officials can’t force employees to get permission before engaging in free speech,” says the attorney. “As the court found, the city can’t leave such decisions to the whims of government officials.” The court determined last year that Atlanta’s rules restricting non-work speech were too broad and allowed city officials to unconstitutionally discriminate against views with which they disagree.

Victory for Christian Bakers in Northern Ireland

After a four-year legal battle, Christian bakers in Northern Ireland have won their case at the Supreme Court in the United Kingdom. The owners of Ashers Baking Company came under fire for refusing an order for a cake from a gay rights activist who wanted them to make a cake saying, “Support Gay Marriage.” The court ruled last Wednesday that Ashers acted lawfully and didn’t discriminate against anyone. The judges held it was the message the bakery objected to, not the customer. Daniel McArthur, general manager of Ashers bakery, says it’s never been about denying service to anyone. “We didn’t say no because of the customer. We’d served him before and we’d gladly serve him again. It was because of the message.”

Norwegian Court Sides With Doctor Fired for Refusing to Do Abortions

On 11 October 2018, the Supreme Court of Norway set a new precedent on conscientious objection and freedom of conscience in the medical profession. The Court found that Dr. Katarzyna Jachimowicz acted within her rights when refusing to follow through with a medical procedure to which she had a moral objection. The Court told health authorities to respect the right to conscientious objection for medical professionals in their employment. “Today’s Supreme Court decision marks an important step in the right direction, not only for doctors, but for people of faith in all professions. The ruling protects one of the most fundamental rights, the right to act in accordance with one’s deeply held beliefs,” said Håkon Bleken, who represented Dr. Jachimowicz before the Court.

Quebec Proposes Banning Religious Symbols at Work

The new administration in Quebec, Canada is working to prevent its employees from wearing religious symbols while at work. The Coalition Avenir Quebec platform, Quebec’s new premier François Legault’s political party which is proposing the rule, states, “Religious signs will be prohibited for all persons in position of authority, including teachers.” The platform continues saying, “after 10 years of discussion on the subject and on reasonable accommodations, it is more than time to act and adopt legislation clearly establishing the secularity of the state.” CBN News reports, employees who choose not to follow the rule will lose their jobs.

Canadian Hospital to Perform Euthanasia on Minors Without Parental Involvement

A recent report from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto states that they are not only ready to do euthanasia on children but their policy states that a child should be able to die by euthanasia without the consent or knowledge of the parents. According to an article by Sharon Kirkey for Sun Media, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto published their policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide as a report in the recent Journal of Medical Ethics. Kirkey explains that the ethicists at the Children’s Hospital believe that there is no difference between killing someone and letting them die. The working group said it wasn’t convinced that there is a meaningful difference for the patient “between being consensually assisted in dying (in the case of MAID – Medical Assistance in Dying) and being consensually allowed to die (in the case of refusing life-sustaining interventions).” KIrkey further explains that most Canadian provinces allow mature minors to make decisions about their own care, including withdrawing or withholding life support. She also reports that in Ontario a minor can provide consent for treatment or withdrawal of treatment if they understand the “reasonably foreseeable consequences” of their decision.

  • The culture of death creeps forward despite trying to stay under the radar

Political Rhetoric Stokes Violence in U.S.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder told a Democratic crowd last week that “Michelle [Obama] always says ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. No. When they go low, we kick them. That’s what this new Democratic Party is about.” Hillary Clinton said last Tuesday “you cannot be civil” with Republicans. Earlier this year, Democratic U.S. House Representative Rep. Maxine Waters called on her supporters to publicly confront and harass members of the Trump administration. That rhetoric has provoked violence, with two separate incidents of pro-choice individuals striking pro-life supporters and another incident where a vehicle was set on fire because it had a pro-Trump bumper-sticker. In addition, the Republican son of former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, was assaulted last week at a pro-Kavanaugh rally on the Stanford University campus. Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner sent a message to his opponent Gov. Tom Wolf in a video Friday, saying, “I’m going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes.”

Violence Erupts at Portland Prayer March

Members of opposing groups violently clashed in downtown Portland, Ore., on Saturday night during an event that was billed as a march for “law and order.” Participants with the conservative Patriot Prayer group and counter-demonstrators with Antifa got into a bloody melee outside a popular bar where members on both sides used bear spray, fists and batons to beat each other, the Oregonian reported. Police fired pepper balls and other non-lethal impact munitions to break up the brawls and there were no immediate reports of arrests. Police reported seeing participants from both groups with hard-knuckle gloves, knives and firearms. Authorities said four people received medical attention. The Patriot Prayer group gathered around 6 p.m. near Pioneer Courthouse Square and marched through downtown holding a sign that read “Replace PDX Mayor!” The violence erupted after three dozen people waving American flags and reciting patriotic chants walked toward a street memorial for Patrick Kimmons, 27, a black man who was fatally shot by Portland police last month. At the vigil, they were met by counter-protesters chanting “Black Lives Matter.”

Thousands of Women Activists March for Upcoming Elections

With less than four weeks to go before the midterm elections, thousands of activists descended upon Chicago and Massachusetts Saturday to urge voters — particularly women — to head to the polls and express their anger about the GOP-led Senate’s confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The demonstrations dubbed “March to the Polls” are follow-ups to the Women’s March movement sparked by President Donald Trump’s election. Those marches drew hundreds of thousands to rallies in every state and more than 30 countries to denounce the administration. Planners in Massachusetts have called on women and allies to take to the streets at a time of their choosing Saturday. Meanwhile, crowds started forming early Saturday in downtown Chicago with several candidates setting up booths to pitch their platforms and recruit volunteers.

Senate Confirms 15 Judges after GOP/Democrats Strike Deal

The Senate confirmed 15 of President Trump’s judicial picks Thursday night after GOP leaders reached a deal with Democrats, clearing about a third of the backlog and closing up shop through Election Day to give senators a chance to campaign. Three of the judges are for the powerful circuit courts of appeals, while the other 12 were for district court positions. Some Republicans had hoped senators would stay in town to work on all 49 judicial picks who’d been ready for floor votes. But the 15 was the best deal the GOP could get, representing the amount of judges who could realistically have been confirmed if the Senate had devoted full time to confirmations over the next few weeks. Liberal activists were incensed that Democratic leaders agreed to the votes.

Attorney General Sessions Declares Five Groups as Top Threats

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday designated five groups, including the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Central American street gang MS-13, as “top transnational organized crime threats,” targeting them for stepped up prosecutions by the Justice Department. Sessions identified the other three groups as Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, a Mexican criminal group; the Sinaloa Cartel, an international organized crime syndicate based in Mexico; and Clan del Golfo, a Colombian drug cartel. Speaking to a group of law enforcement officials in Washington, Sessions described the designations as “our next steps to carry out President Trump’s order to take MS-13 and other [transnational criminal organizations] off of our streets. Taking on transnational criminal groups like the cartels is a priority for this president and for his administration.”

Obamacare Experiencing a Resurgence

Obamacare, a program that President Trump last year declared “dead,” is enjoying a resurgence, with insurers expanding their offerings and the average premium finally beginning to drop, albeit slightly, from astronomical levels. The administration now even hints that enrollment might increase next year, suggesting a level of stability and health that might surprise Republicans, who hoped to kill the 2010 health care law, and Democrats, who accused Mr. Trump of sabotaging it. It’s a major turnaround from the past few years, when premiums for key “benchmark” plans spiked, customers were wary of signing up and insurers pulled out of markets, saying they couldn’t find ways to make the economics work. “While some have publicly been accusing us of sabotage, the truth is we’ve been doing everything we can to mitigate the damage of Obamacare,” said Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the federal HealthCare.gov portal.

Single Mothers, the Disabled & Native Americans Have Highest Poverty Rates

The U.S. Census estimates that 13.4 percent of Americans, about 42 million, lived below the poverty line in 2017. Among recent single mothers, an astounding 44.3 percent live in poverty. In comparison, just 11.4 percent of married recent mothers are below the 2017 poverty line as reported by the USA Today. The poverty rate for the disabled is 25.7%. As is the case with many conditions associated with poverty, causality goes both ways. Those who have a disability have a higher risk of becoming poor, and those who are poor have a higher risk of becoming disabled. Native Americans are still dealing with the effects of 400 years of persecution and discrimination, with a poverty rate of 25.4%, the highest poverty rate for any U.S. racial group. Black and African Americans living in the United States have a poverty rate of 23.0% with Hispanics and Latinos at 19.4%. Non-citizen immigrants have a poverty rate of 20.4%).2Overall, more women live in poverty (14.5%) than men (12.2%).

Economic News

The federal government is running up its credit bill again. The deficit rose to $779 billion in fiscal year 2018, up 17% from last year, according to final figures released Monday by the Treasury Department. The fiscal year ended September 30. That’s the largest deficit since 2012, when the country was still spending massively to stimulate an economy struggling to recover. The deficit reached a high of $1.4 trillion reached in 2009. Government receipts were flat this year from last year. Corporate tax collections fell $76 billion, or 22%, due to the Republican-backed tax cut. But that drop was more than offset by increased revenues from individual and self-employment taxes. Spending rose 3% over the previous year, fueled in part by increases to the defense budget agreed upon in September 2017 as part of a deal between Republicans and Democrats to head off a government shutdown. Social Security and interest on the federal debt also contributed to the increase.

With the unemployment rate at its lowest level in nearly 50 years, workers are finally starting to see their paychecks grow a little faster. Weekly wages rose at an annualized rate of 3.3% in the third quarter, the Labor Department announced Tuesday, which beats the 2.6% increase in inflation over the same period. That’s better than the 2% increase in wages in the second quarter, which wasn’t enough to make up for inflation. Wages have been the missing piece of America’s economic recovery, with flat or very slow growth.

The number of job openings reached an all-time high of nearly 7.1 million in August, the Labor Department also reported on Tuesday. That keeps the number of unemployed workers per job opening at 0.9, which is as low as it’s ever been. The number of layoffs, however, edged up by 176,000 to 1.8 million in August.

The U.S. Postal Service is asking for the biggest price jump on stamps in its history. Facing pressure from the Trump administration to address a revenue shortfall, the Postal Service on Wednesday proposed raising the price of 1-oz. letters from 50 cents to 55 cents, which would be a record increase if approved. The price of each additional ounce would go down slightly. The USPS said in a press release that, “The Postal Service has some of the lowest letter mail postage rates in the industrialized world and also continues to offer a great value in shipping.” The steep price increases come at a time when the USPS’ losses have been mounting, dragged down in part by a requirement that the quasi-public agency pre-fund the cost of retiree health benefits. As letters and advertising mailers have been replaced by e-mail and online ads, the USPS has been making less and less money. Revenue from first class mail declined from $28.4 billion in fiscal year 2015 to $25.6 billion in 2017. Package revenues fueled by the rise in e-commerce have been a bright spot, bringing in $19.5 billion in 2017, up from $15 billion in 2015. But it hasn’t made much of a dent in the $58.7 billion net deficit that the Post Office has accumulated over the years.

Antitrust officials gave CVS the green light on Wednesday to purchase Aetna, the nation’s third-largest health insurance company, in a $69 billion deal that could potentially transform the health-care industry and change how millions of Americans receive basic medical services. The Justice Department approved the deal on the condition that the companies sell off Aetna’s Medicare Part D prescription drug business. The tie-up will allow CVS — whose retail pharmacy business serves 5 million customers a day — to turn more of its brick-and-mortar locations into front-line clinics for basic medical services and patient monitoring. Driving that new approach to care will be the immense amounts of data generated not only by CVS’s 9,800 retail outlets and 1,100 MinuteClinics, but also from Aetna’s 22 million medical members.

Sears declared bankruptcy Monday. Sears Holdings plans to close another 142 unprofitable stores, as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, on top of 46 store closings announced in August. Liquidation sales at the additional stores are expected to begin within two weeks, according to the court filing. The company has 687 stores remaining, including Kmart locations. It’s possible more stores – even all stores – could end up closing if the company fails to reach a viable restructuring agreement in bankruptcy. The company has closed several hundred stores in recent years as it tries to stabilize its finances amid deteriorating sales.

Persecution Watch

A retired Lutheran minister is facing eviction from a senior living community for holding a Bible study. First Liberty Institute filed a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of Rev. Kenneth Hauge and his wife. “It is both shameful and illegal to threaten elderly residents with eviction simply for holding a Bible study,” First Liberty Institute’s Lea Patterson told the Todd Starnes Radio Show. “Treating residents unequally simply out of hostility to religion violates federal law and taints Virginia’s long history of religious freedom.” In early 2018, the apartment manager agreed to let the residents hold their meeting in a community room. But in July, they reversed course and instituted a new policy banning residents from using the room for “religious purposes.” That same day the retired pastor received a cease and desist letter — warning that unless he stopped leading the Bible study his lease would be terminated.

Cathi Herrod, Director of the Center for Arizona Policy, reports that a football coach in Washington State was fired for a fifteen-second silent prayer after a high school football game. Coach Kennedy sued for wrongful termination and lost his case at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, First Liberty has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich led other states in filing an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to hear the case. “If the U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear the case, then the Ninth Circuit ruling stands, and applies to Arizona because that’s the circuit court we’re in,” notes Herrod.

Facebook’s rejection of promotions for a film debuting this weekend in theaters across the nation is “censorship pure and simple,” claims a producer of “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.” Phelim McAleer told WND on Friday he believes Facebook and others “don’t want this film to succeed” because of the broader implications of the story of notorious Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted in 2011 of multiple counts of first-degree murder for late-term and after-birth abortions. An attempt to promote the film and trailer through Facebook by paying to “boost” a post with a link to an article published by a mainstream Hollywood publication was denied because it constituted “political speech.” The film’s promoters provided WND with examples of many other posts about the movie that Facebook declined to boost. Despite a media blackout and virtually no coverage outside conservative media circles, Gosnell made the list of top 10 movies across the United States over the weekend with just a limited release.

An Iraq War veteran who lost both legs and a hand in combat says he’s prepared to sue Facebook if the social-media giant does not restore two pages it unpublished, including one he depends on to support his family. In an interview with WND, Brian Kolfage charged Facebook had a political motive for shutting down a page for the Right Wing News site he manages and another that promotes his company, Military Grade Coffee, which donates 10 percent of its proceeds to wounded veterans. As WND reported, Kolfage, who served in the U.S. Air Force, invested more than $300,000 in ads at Facebook’s urging to increase his reach to 3.5 million fans. His pages were among 559 pages and 251 accounts that were deleted last Thursday by Facebook, which claimed the account holders were engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Facebook said the violations included the creation of fake profiles and the spamming of Facebook groups.

Christians in southern India are increasingly living in fear as the level of violence against them continues to rise, sources said. The southern states of Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala saw at least 60 cases of persecution of Christians in the first nine months of 2018, compared with 36 such attacks in the first nine months of 2017, according to religious freedom advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)-India. The political arm of the Hindu extremist Sangh Parivar (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates) “are provoking the Hindus in their speeches at public gatherings to cause communal tension,” the Rev. Sagaya Raj, deputy secretary of the (Roman Catholic) Tamil Nadu Bishops Council told Morning Star News. In one case, a mob of nomadic Hindus in Veppur village, Vellore District, on Sept. 13 attacked an elderly Christian woman as she took her usual late-evening walk.

More than 300 Christian children in two different schools in China’s Zhejiangprovince were told by their teachers that they had to fill out a form saying they follow “no religion.” Chinese children have been filling out a form to state their religion for years, but this was the first year there was pushback against children who said they were Christians. According to World Watch Monitor, when children filled out the form and indicated they were Christians, their teachers told them to fill out the form again and choose “no religion” instead. The source said these children come from “families of fervent believers who do not compromise their faith,” so more than half of the children checked the box indicating they were Christians a second time.

Middle East

An Israel Air Force (IAF) aircraft on Tuesday morning attacked a cell of Palestinian terrorists who were launching arson balloons towards Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. This attack occurred as several bunches of balloons connected to suspicious objects, possibly explosive charges, landed at several points in Israeli territory surrounding the Strip. Tensions on Israel’s border with Gaza have become more strenuous in recent days, with the Palestinian-initiated violent incidents growing in volume and intensity. Over 30 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire during a mass violent riot along the beach near the Israeli border on Monday evening, Gaza’s health ministry said. Israeli forces struck a Hamas post in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday afternoon after two terrorists planted an explosive device near the security barrier. Following an infiltration attempt Friday in which 20 Palestinians succeeded in breaching the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that all fuel supplies Israel provides the coastal enclave will cease immediately. The infiltration occurred as 14,000 Palestinians rioted in several places along the border fence as part of the ongoing “march of return.” The ruling Hamas terror group has been staging border riots and terror attacks for the past six months. It has intensified the protests in recent weeks as Egyptian-mediated cease-fire efforts have faltered. While Israel has been working to ease tensions on the border and thwart a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, its leadership has warned that Hamas’ actions are leading the area towards a full-scale war.

  • War in the Middle East will trigger a wider conflagration that will usher the antiChrist into power.

Saudi Arabia

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday amid unconfirmed reports the Saudis are preparing to assert that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed during an interrogation that went terribly wrong. U.S. resident and Washington Post contributor Khashoggi vanished two weeks ago while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say they have evidence Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the diplomatic compound, but Saudi officials have called the allegations “baseless.” According to reports by CNN and the New York Times, the Saudi government may soon release a report claiming Khashoggi was accidentally killed as a result of a planned rendition back to Saudi Arabia.

Tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of Khashoggi could have a big impact on oil prices. Saudi Arabia held $166.8 billion in Treasury securities as of July, According to the U.S. Treasury Department. That made it the 10th largest foreign holder of government bonds — ahead of larger economies such as India, France, Canada and Germany. So, if Saudi Arabia wanted to inflict pain on the United States, it could — in theory — weaponize those bonds by selling them off. In addition, the United States still imports 7.9 million barrels of foreign crude per day and a sizable chunk comes from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter. Shares in the  Saudi Arabia stock market have plunged as investors worry about U.S. sanctions.

Afghanistan

The number of civilians — mostly women and children — killed or injured by airstrikes in Afghanistan has risen a startling 39% year on year, according to UN figures released Wednesday, casting fresh scrutiny on the use of air power by the United States and its Afghan partners at a time of near-record bombing and increasing violence. The UN report shows airstrikes, carried out by both US and Afghan aircraft, have killed or injured 649 civilians so far this year, 39% higher than the same first nine months in 2017, and more than the 631 killed or injured by airstrikes in all of last year. Sixty percent of this year’s casualties have been women and children, according to the report. The rise comes after the departed US commander for the war promised a “tidal wave of air power” to combat a resurgent Taliban. The UN report comes as the US ratchets up its involvement in what has become the country’s longest-running war. The US has boosted its support for the Afghan Air Force through training and weapons supply, raising concern over the air force’s use of US-supplied non-guided bombs that have taken a clear toll on civilian lives.

Earthquakes

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rattled Indonesia’s Java island Thursday, killing at least three people and collapsing homes. The quake shook the tourist hotspot of Bali two weeks after a major quake-tsunami disaster in a central region of the archipelago. Indonesia’s disaster agency said the nighttime quake was centered at sea, 34 miles northeast of Situbondo city, and also felt in Lombok. The agency said the worst affected area was in Sumenep district, East Java, where three people died in one village and several homes were damaged. The country is still working to recover from the earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 2,000 people and left perhaps thousands more buried deeply in mud in some neighborhoods of Palu city in central Sulawesi.

A strong aftershock rocked Papua New Guinea shortly after the first magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit early Thursday morning, which triggered a tsunami threat along the island’s coasts. A magnitude 6.2 aftershock was recorded over an hour after the original quake struck, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The aftershock’s center was about 60 miles southwest of Kokopo and struck at a depth of 77 miles. The original quake’s center was recorded around 77 miles east of Kimbe, a town in New Britain, Papua New Guinea, which has a population of just over 27,000. The tremor struck with a depth of about 24 miles. No reports of damage or injuries have surfaced from the quake.

Weather

In the aftermath to Hurricane Michael’s deadly assault on the Florida Panhandle and the southeast, Federal officials said Friday it remains too dangerous to return to areas flooded by storm surge such as in Bay County. Emergency teams are focused on restoring communications and transportation. But Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said debris and storm devastation in some areas prevents a safe return yet. In Panama City, the power is out, gas lines are shut down and cell phones couldn’t get service. Residents scrounged for food and drinks, and fetching buckets of bayou water to flush their toilets. About 4,000 victims had applied to FEMA by Friday morning for financial assistance to repair their homes. But that number is expected to grow as transportation and communications networks were restored. About 2,900 people stayed in Red Cross evacuation centers and emergency shelters in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. About 1,000 volunteers are helping provide shelter, food and health services in five states. FEMA is working with state officials on housing options such as mobile housing, rental units and retrofitting buildings. The death toll has risen to 28 in four states, but search and rescue teams are still combing through the debris for many people reported missing. Thousands remain without power as of Monday.

A bridge has collapsed after heavy rain in parts of south-central Texas triggered major flooding along several rivers and creeks, where evacuations and water rescues are underway. A section of the FM 2900 bridge collapsed in Kingsland on Tuesday morning, sending chunks of the bridge down the Llano River. Residents within a quarter mile of the river in the city of Llano were urged to evacuate Tuesday. The river rose to its second highest crest on record Tuesday morning in the city about 75 miles northwest of Austin and home to more than 3,000. As much as 10 inches of rain had fallen in western Llano County in the 30 hours ending Tuesday morning. Farther west, water rescues were reported Tuesday morning in Segovia, prompting a flash flood emergency to be issued. The Lower Colorado River Authority announced Tuesday that it was closing several lakes to the public, including Travis, Marble Falls, LBJ, Inks and Buchanan. Water from the Johnson Fork Creek was flowing over Interstate 10 in Kimble County on Tuesday morning.

At least two people have been killed in Britain as Storm Callum smacked the region with the heavy rain and flooding. Wales has been hit with the “worst flooding in 30 years,” according to the BBC. Flood defenses in Carmarthen were breached for the first time since their construction 30 years ago after the River Towy burst its banks, flooding homes and cutting off power for some 2,000 homes and businesses. Officials say one man died in a western Wales landslide while another was swept away by rough seas in Brighton on the southern coast of England. Storm Callum brought wind gusts as high as 86 mph to Capel Curig in the northwestern portion of Wales.

At least 13 people have died after flash flooding hit the Aude region of southern France. Roads were cut off and cars overturned after three months’ worth of rain fell in six hours overnight Sunday into Monday, causing rivers to flood. Seven hundred firemen and seven helicopters have been mobilized in response to the flooding, which has reached unprecedented levels in the Aude valley. Storms also hit Portugal on Sunday, leaving thousands without power near the capital, Lisbon.

Signs of the Times

October 9, 2018

­May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1Peter 5:10)

China Plans to Rewrite the Bible

China recently announced a five-year plan to rewrite the Chinese Bible with the goal of bringing it in line with socialist ideals. They are also looking to incorporate Buddhist and Confucian teachings. There are also plans under consideration that would rewrite commentaries and hymnals, reports Crosswalk. The Chinese Communist government has already removed thousands of crosses from churches and ordered the churches to erect pictures of Chairman Mao and Chairman Xi [Jinping], as persecution in China continues to increase.

  • For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18)

Kavanaugh Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice

The Senate confirmed Brett M. Kavanaugh as the 114th Supreme Court justice on Saturday by one of the narrowest margins in history amid mass protests, ending a vitriolic battle over his nomination and solidifying a conservative majority on the court. As a throng of angry demonstrators stood on the steps of the Capitol, the Senate voted to approve Kavanaugh’s nomination by a 50 to 48 margin in what will certainly be one of President ’s most enduring legacies: two Supreme Court justices in two years. The brutal confirmation fight is likely to have far-reaching implications in next month’s midterm elections. Republicans are confronting an electrified Democratic base led by women infuriated by the treatment of Christine Blasey Ford. Yet Republicans say the battle to get Kavanaugh confirmed — in the face of Democratic opposition and ugly “mob” of anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators — only motivated a fractured GOP electorate on a singularly unifying issue for conservatives — the federal judiciary.

Are False Reports of Sexual Assault Rare?

The assertion from forces against Brett M. Kavanaugh that false allegations of rape or attempted rape are extremely rare is rebutted by a number of studies, researchers say. Liberals on TV and social media said repeatedly during the Senate confirmation process that only 2 percent of charges are lies. Brent E. Turvey, a criminologist, wrote a 2017 book that dispels this notion. His research, and that of two co-authors, cited statistical studies and police crime reports. One academic study showed that as many as 40 percent of sexual assault charges are false. The Pentagon issues an annual report on sexual assaults in the military. Nearly one-quarter of all cases last year were thrown out for lack of evidence, according to a report released in May. Mr. Turvey wrote that the FBI in the 1990s pegged the falsity rate at 8 percent for rape or attempted rape complaints. Mr. Turvey, who directs the Forensic Criminology Institute, says the 2% figure “is not only inaccurate, but also it has no basis in reality. Reporting it publicly as a valid frequency rate with any empirical basis is either scientifically negligent or fraudulent.”

Justice Department Indicts 7 Russian Spies in Hacking Plot

Seven Russian GRU intelligence officers were charged with hacking computers associated with 250 athletes and anti-doping sports organizations in the U.S. and around the world, Justice Department officials announced Thursday. The criminal activity described in the 41-page indictment came in Russian retaliation for people and organizations who revealed Russia’s doping program for its athletes — revelations that led to stripping dozens of Olympic medals from Russian athletes. The hacking that began in December 2014 and continued until at least May 2018 intruded into computers and networks of U.S. citizens and corporations, and international corporations and their workers around the world, officials say. The conspiracy aimed at publicizing stolen information as part of an influence and disinformation campaign designed to undermine and retaliate against the efforts of international anti-doping organizations and officials who had publicly exposed a Russian state-sponsored athlete doping program and to damage the reputations of athletes around the world by falsely claiming that such athletes were using banned or performance-enhancing drugs.

UN Climate Group Says Changes Required by 2030

Governments around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming, says a stark new report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report issued Monday says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people. The planet is already two-thirds of the way there, with global temperatures having warmed about 1 degree C. Global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net zero” around 2050 in order to keep the warming around 1.5 degrees C, the IPCC asserts.

  • Whether global warming is manmade or not, it is a key indicator that the end-times are ramping up (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

Anti-Vaccine Japan Has World’s Lowest Child Death Rate

Japan has the lowest infant mortality rate following its ban on mandatory vaccinations, and they urge other countries to follow this firm stance, writes Amanda-Mary Jewell at FreedomsPhoenix.com. The citizens of Japan are statistically proven to be the healthiest and longest-living people in the world. The country also has the lowest infant mortality rate on the planet. The Japanese Government banned a number of vaccines that are currently mandatory in the United States and has strict regulations in place for other Big Pharma drugs and vaccines in general. The Japanese banned the use of multi-shot vaccinations such as the MMR vaccine (the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine), following a record number of children developing adverse reactions, including meningitis, loss of limbs, and even sudden death. “Despite the fact that it has been blamed in vaccine courts for causing autism, vaccine supporters still deny the correlation between the MMR vaccination and skyrocketing rates of autism spectrum disorder, which now affects at least one in 45 children, with even higher rates of diagnosis among boys,” Jewell said.

International Monetary Fund Warns of Second Great Depression

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated last week that “large challenges loom for the global economy to prevent a second Great Depression.” At this moment, global debt levels are higher than they have ever been before in all of human history, and in their report the IMF specifically identified “global debt levels” as one of the key problems that could lead to “another financial meltdown.” The IMF warned, “The world economy is at risk of another financial meltdown, following the failure of governments and regulators to push through all the reforms needed to protect the system from reckless behavior. With global debt levels well above those at the time of the last crash in 2008, the risk remains that unregulated parts of the financial system could trigger a global panic. The extended period of ultralow interest rates in advanced economies has contributed to the build-up of financial vulnerabilities.”

Economic News

Unemployment fell to a nearly 50-year low in September even as employers added a disappointing 134,000 jobs amid increasing worker shortages and possible effects from Hurricane Florence. Professional and business services led the job gains with 54,000. Health care added 30,000; transportation and warehousing, 24,000; construction, 23,000; and manufacturing, 18,000. The unemployment rate fell from 3.9 percent to 3.7 percent, lowest since December 1969, the Labor Department said Friday. Average hourly earnings rose 8 cents to $27.24, lowering the annual gain to 2.8 percent from a nine-year high of 2.9 percent in August. The weaker-than- expected jobs total combined with the tick down in average wage growth allayed fears of spiking inflation and the need for the Fed to raise short-term interest rates more aggressively, money managers and economists said.

The yield on the US 10-year Treasury rose above 3.2% Thursday morning. That’s the highest it’s been since July 2011. On Wednesday, the 10-year yield gained more than on any day since the November 2016 presidential election. The 30-year yield also popped above 3.3%, its highest level since October 2014. Bond yields are rising because of America’s strength. Intent on keeping inflation in check, the Federal Reserve is gradually raising its target interest rate, making borrowing more expensive. That also increases the cost of paying back existing debt, which could slow spending — and the economy along with it.

Gas prices are creeping up nationally, now pennies a gallon away from their highest level since 2014, just in time for the November midterm elections when California will vote on rolling back its gas tax. Average prices topped $2.90 a gallon for unleaded Wednesday for the first time since June, having risen about 6 cents a gallon in the past month. If they rise by about another eight cents, they will be the highest in four years. In California, which is second only to Hawaii as the state with the highest fuel prices, voters will decide whether to repeal a tax that raises $5.1 billion a year for road and bridge repair and public transit. California taxes 95.5 cents on every gallon.

India’s currency resumed its headlong plunge on Friday, stoking concerns that the world’s fastest-growing major economy could be heading for a slowdown. The rupee crossed 74 rupees to the US dollar for the first time ever, after the country’s central bank surprised markets by holding off on raising interest rates. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided against hiking rates for the third time this year despite expectations that it would act to tame inflation caused by rising oil prices and the crashing currency, which makes imports more expensive. The Indian rupee has fallen around 15% against the surging dollar this year, making it one of the world’s worst performing currencies. India’s stock market has suffered along with the rupee. The country’s benchmark index, the Sensex, has dropped more than 8% in the past month.

Middle East

The city of Jerusalem will evict the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) in light of the organization’s illegal activities and incitement of Palestinians against Israel, according to Mayor Nir Barkat last Thursday. In a statement, Barkat said the new U.S. policy cutting $300 million to the controversial organization inspired the move, which will see unlicensed UNRWA-run schools, medical centers and sports facilities transferred to Israeli authorities. “The U.S. decision has created a rare opportunity to replace UNRWA’s services with services of the Jerusalem Municipality,” he said. “We are putting an end to the lie of the ‘Palestinian refugee problem’ and the attempts at creating a false sovereignty within a sovereignty.”

Despite the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv in May, Americans born in Jerusalem are still unable to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on US. passports. A group of 55 House Republicans sent a letter to US President Donald Trump several weeks ago, urging him to instruct the State Department to permit American citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birth country on their passport. “The president has made clear that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to final-status negotiations between the [Israelis and the Palestinians],” a State Department spokesperson told JNS. “We have not changed our practice regarding place of birth on passports or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad at this time.”

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton put the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) official status into perspective at a Wednesday press briefing when he announced that the United States would no longer be a signatory party to the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ). “The president has decided that the United States will withdraw from the optional protocol and dispute resolution to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. This is in connection with a case brought by the so-called state of Palestine naming the United States as a defendant [in the ICJ], challenging our move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Bolton said. Palestine is “not a state now. It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood. It doesn’t control defined boundaries. It doesn’t fulfill the normal functions of government. There are a whole host of reasons why it’s not a state.”

A 23-year-old Palestinian terrorist from the nearby village of Shweika, near Tulkarem, handcuffed and shot two employees Sunday morning at the Barkan Industrial Park in Samaria at close range with a Carl Gustav assault rifle. President Reuven Rivlin issued a statement, saying, “This was not only an attack on innocent people going about their daily lives, it was also an attack on the possibility of Israelis and Palestinians co-existing peacefully,” The Barkan Industrial Park includes approximately 120 businesses and factories and a workforce of 20,000, half of them Palestinian Arabs. The terrorist was employed at one of the factories.

Iran

The Trump administration is giving greater priority to Iran and radical groups it backs in a new U.S. counterterrorism strategy document released last Thursday that further increases the pressure from Washington on Tehran. The strategy, unveiled by National Security Adviser John Bolton, is the first issued since 2011 when the Obama administration’s view of counterterrorism was focused almost exclusively on the threat posed by al Qaeda after the death of its founder, Osama bin Laden. The priority given to Iran this time around reflects President Trump’s drive to contain Iran’s influence in the Middle East, curtail its ballistic missile program and backing of extremist groups and force it to the negotiating table by re-imposing U.S. sanctions.

In response to an Iranian lawsuit against the US at a UN-sponsored International Court of Justice (ICJ) that cited a little-known “Treat of Amity” between the two countries, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that the U.S. is pulling out of the treaty. Pompeo added that the decision was “39 years overdue” and accused Tehran of “abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes.” while the clerical regime which rules Iran blasted the Trump Administration as an “outlaw regime.” ICJ President Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said U.S. sanctions on goods “required for humanitarian needs…may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran.” The ruling ordered the US to rescind such sanctions, listing items to be removed from the sanctions as including spare parts, repair equipment and related services for the airline industry in Iran. However, multiple legal scholars have asserted that the UN court has no jurisdiction over matters of US national security.

Syria

Two Syrian rebel groups began withdrawing their heavy weapons Saturday from a northwestern area of the country where Russia and Turkey have agreed to set up a demilitarized zone, opposition activists said. Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Free Idlib Army and Failaq al-Sham started removing artillery and mortar pieces from areas close to the town of Maaret al-Numan. The Turkey-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) rebel alliance said in a statement the process of withdrawing heavy weapons had begun, but the fighters would remain in their positions within the demilitarized zone to assist Turkish troops monitoring and patrolling the area.

Afghanistan

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on an election rally in the Afghan province of Nangarhar last Tuesday, according to a statement on the group’s Amaq news agency. The militant group said a bomber had killed 35 and wounded more than 50 after detonating his suicide vest. Afghan officials earlier said at least 13 were killed and more than 30 wounded, warning the toll was likely to rise. The Islamic State has claimed a series of attacks this year that have killed scores of people in Nangarhar, on the border with Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia

The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has sent a chilling message to dissidents abroad, stoking fears among activists of a broadening crackdown beyond the kingdom’s borders. Unnamed Turkish officials said Friday that Khashoggi, 58, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Activists say the reports about Khashoggi are the latest political “bombshell” in a series of moves to crush dissent under the leadership of 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “The era of bin Salman is the era of surprises that are foreign to this country’s history. Based on what we know of his rule, it looks like the tragedies won’t stop,” Ali Adubisi, director of the Berlin-based European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, told CNN. Khashoggi, who was critical of bin Salman in opinion pieces for The Washington Post, entered the consulate last Tuesday to collect paperwork that would allow him to remarry. He has not yet re-emerged, according to his fiancée, his friends and his colleagues at The Washington Post.

Russia

Russia’s Vostok-18, the largest military exercise of the 21st Century, conducted Sept. 11-17, was little noted by the press who were fixated on now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s adolescent sex life. However, Russia’s new nuclear doctrine — similar to Khrushchev-era thinking, like Marshal Sokolovsky’s 1962 “Military Strategy” on steroids — relies on nuclear firepower and relatively small armies that are highly mobile and survivable, and able to knife through Europe in a week or two. Russia’s new generation nuclear weapons for strategic EMP attack and tactical battlefield use make this possible, noted Dr. Peter Pry, once the CIA’s top expert on Russia’s nuclear forces, in Newsmax.

India

After a year of fits and starts, India’s #MeToo movement has leapt forward over the past week, getting concrete action in two of the country’s most powerful industries: entertainment and the news media. Inspired by Ms. Dutta and Ms. Kukreja, as well as by the Senate testimony of Christine Blasey Ford in the United States, dozens of women in journalism began coming forward on Friday, describing a range of inappropriate behavior by male reporters and editors at some of India’s biggest news organizations. The flurry of activity has created a commotion among the educated elite here, but it has had little immediate effect on the vast majority of women in India, a deeply patriarchal and traditional society in which women and girls often have little control over their lives and are frequently abused.

Montenegro

People who don’t stand during Montenegro’s national anthem could be fined up to 2,000 euros ($2,290), according to new legislation proposed by the government. People who don’t stand during Montenegro’s national anthem could be fined up to 2,000 euros ($2,290), according to new legislation proposed by the government. The draft amendment was passed by the country’s Cabinet last week. People with disabilities would be exempt and allowed to pay their respects in “other ways” that have not been defined in the legislation. Montenegro is located along the Adriatic Sea to the west of Serbia.

Environment

The red tide bloom that’s been in the waters off Florida’s Gulf Coast for months is now choking the state’s Atlantic waters from Miami Beach to Palm Beach. Trey Claus, whose family has been fishing off southeastern Florida for three generations, has never seen anything like it — and neither has anyone he knows. “This might put a halt to our season, which is not a good thing,” Claus, 30, said. Should the red tide bloom settle in, mass fish kills will transpire. Some of Florida’s pristine, white sand beaches have been shuttered because of red tides, which are caused by algae found almost exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico. The natural phenomenon is deadly to marine life and can irritate people’s skin and lead to respiratory problems, especially for people with asthma.

Beachgoers in Beach Haven, New Jersey, were surprised to see blue, disc-shaped organisms with long, dark tentacles showing up on shore. After a closer look, locals found out they were jellyfish, but not like any they had seen before on Garden State beaches. They were identified as blue button jellyfish, a free-floating critter than measures about an inch across. The powerful winds from Hurricane Florence pushed the tropical jellyfish out of the Gulf Stream down near Florida up north.

Volcanoes

Less than a week after a devastating earthquake and tsunami, a volcano erupted Wednesday on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Mount Soputan is on the northern tip of the island, about 370 miles northeast of Palu, where more than 1,400 people were killed. The volcano spewed a column of ash nearly 20,000 feet into the sky. No evacuations were immediately ordered. A government volcanologist said it’s possible the eruption was accelerated by the magnitude 7.5 earthquake that struck last week.

Earthquakes

At least 12 people have died and 170 people were injured after a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck off the northwestern tip of Haiti just after 8 p.m. local time Saturday evening. The quake’s center was located about 12 miles west-northwest of Ti Port-de-Paix, Haiti, and struck with a depth of about 7.3 miles. Homes were destroyed in Port-de-Paix, Gros Morne, Chansolme and Turtle Island. Rescue workers say part of a hospital and an auditorium collapsed. The quake was felt lightly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as in the neighboring Dominican Republic. A 5.2 magnitude aftershock rattle Haiti on Sunday, raising fears of more deaths.

Weather

Heavy rains from Hurricane Michael forced hundreds of people from their homes in Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, killing thirteen over the weekend as the intensifying storm continues its push towards the Gulf Coast. More than 260 homes were damaged in the southern part of Honduras. Some 6,000 people have been impacted by flooding and landslides. At least 18 people were rescued during the storm. Michael also brought heavy rains to Cuba on Monday. Winds increased to near 100 mph Tuesday morning. Michael is forecast to strengthen to a Category 3 prior to landfall Wednesday on the Florida Panhandle. Forecasters predict the hurricane will generate a life-threatening storm surge. On Sunday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Sunday for 26 counties in the Panhandle and Big Bend coastal region of northern Florida. Alabama’s governor on Monday also issued a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Michael as the storm draws closer in the Gulf of Mexico.

Signs of the Times

October 9, 2018

­Past Issues of Signs of the Times Available at lofj.wordpress.com

May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1Peter 5:10)

China Plans to Rewrite the Bible

China recently announced a five-year plan to rewrite the Chinese Bible with the goal of bringing it in line with socialist ideals. They are also looking to incorporate Buddhist and Confucian teachings. There are also plans under consideration that would rewrite commentaries and hymnals, reports Crosswalk. The Chinese Communist government has already removed thousands of crosses from churches and ordered the churches to erect pictures of Chairman Mao and Chairman Xi [Jinping], as persecution in China continues to increase.

  • For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18)

Kavanaugh Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice

The Senate confirmed Brett M. Kavanaugh as the 114th Supreme Court justice on Saturday by one of the narrowest margins in history amid mass protests, ending a vitriolic battle over his nomination and solidifying a conservative majority on the court. As a throng of angry demonstrators stood on the steps of the Capitol, the Senate voted to approve Kavanaugh’s nomination by a 50 to 48 margin in what will certainly be one of President ’s most enduring legacies: two Supreme Court justices in two years. The brutal confirmation fight is likely to have far-reaching implications in next month’s midterm elections. Republicans are confronting an electrified Democratic base led by women infuriated by the treatment of Christine Blasey Ford. Yet Republicans say the battle to get Kavanaugh confirmed — in the face of Democratic opposition and ugly “mob” of anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators — only motivated a fractured GOP electorate on a singularly unifying issue for conservatives — the federal judiciary.

Are False Reports of Sexual Assault Rare?

The assertion from forces against Brett M. Kavanaugh that false allegations of rape or attempted rape are extremely rare is rebutted by a number of studies, researchers say. Liberals on TV and social media said repeatedly during the Senate confirmation process that only 2 percent of charges are lies. Brent E. Turvey, a criminologist, wrote a 2017 book that dispels this notion. His research, and that of two co-authors, cited statistical studies and police crime reports. One academic study showed that as many as 40 percent of sexual assault charges are false. The Pentagon issues an annual report on sexual assaults in the military. Nearly one-quarter of all cases last year were thrown out for lack of evidence, according to a report released in May. Mr. Turvey wrote that the FBI in the 1990s pegged the falsity rate at 8 percent for rape or attempted rape complaints. Mr. Turvey, who directs the Forensic Criminology Institute, says the 2% figure “is not only inaccurate, but also it has no basis in reality. Reporting it publicly as a valid frequency rate with any empirical basis is either scientifically negligent or fraudulent.”

Justice Department Indicts 7 Russian Spies in Hacking Plot

Seven Russian GRU intelligence officers were charged with hacking computers associated with 250 athletes and anti-doping sports organizations in the U.S. and around the world, Justice Department officials announced Thursday. The criminal activity described in the 41-page indictment came in Russian retaliation for people and organizations who revealed Russia’s doping program for its athletes — revelations that led to stripping dozens of Olympic medals from Russian athletes. The hacking that began in December 2014 and continued until at least May 2018 intruded into computers and networks of U.S. citizens and corporations, and international corporations and their workers around the world, officials say. The conspiracy aimed at publicizing stolen information as part of an influence and disinformation campaign designed to undermine and retaliate against the efforts of international anti-doping organizations and officials who had publicly exposed a Russian state-sponsored athlete doping program and to damage the reputations of athletes around the world by falsely claiming that such athletes were using banned or performance-enhancing drugs.

UN Climate Group Says Changes Required by 2030

Governments around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming, says a stark new report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report issued Monday says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people. The planet is already two-thirds of the way there, with global temperatures having warmed about 1 degree C. Global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net zero” around 2050 in order to keep the warming around 1.5 degrees C, the IPCC asserts.

  • Whether global warming is manmade or not, it is a key indicator that the end-times are ramping up (Daniel 9:26b, Ezekiel 38:22, Revelation 8:7, 11:19, 16:8,11)

Anti-Vaccine Japan Has World’s Lowest Child Death Rate

Japan has the lowest infant mortality rate following its ban on mandatory vaccinations, and they urge other countries to follow this firm stance, writes Amanda-Mary Jewell at FreedomsPhoenix.com. The citizens of Japan are statistically proven to be the healthiest and longest-living people in the world. The country also has the lowest infant mortality rate on the planet. The Japanese Government banned a number of vaccines that are currently mandatory in the United States and has strict regulations in place for other Big Pharma drugs and vaccines in general. The Japanese banned the use of multi-shot vaccinations such as the MMR vaccine (the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine), following a record number of children developing adverse reactions, including meningitis, loss of limbs, and even sudden death. “Despite the fact that it has been blamed in vaccine courts for causing autism, vaccine supporters still deny the correlation between the MMR vaccination and skyrocketing rates of autism spectrum disorder, which now affects at least one in 45 children, with even higher rates of diagnosis among boys,” Jewell said.

International Monetary Fund Warns of Second Great Depression

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated last week that “large challenges loom for the global economy to prevent a second Great Depression.” At this moment, global debt levels are higher than they have ever been before in all of human history, and in their report the IMF specifically identified “global debt levels” as one of the key problems that could lead to “another financial meltdown.” The IMF warned, “The world economy is at risk of another financial meltdown, following the failure of governments and regulators to push through all the reforms needed to protect the system from reckless behavior. With global debt levels well above those at the time of the last crash in 2008, the risk remains that unregulated parts of the financial system could trigger a global panic. The extended period of ultralow interest rates in advanced economies has contributed to the build-up of financial vulnerabilities.”

Economic News

Unemployment fell to a nearly 50-year low in September even as employers added a disappointing 134,000 jobs amid increasing worker shortages and possible effects from Hurricane Florence. Professional and business services led the job gains with 54,000. Health care added 30,000; transportation and warehousing, 24,000; construction, 23,000; and manufacturing, 18,000. The unemployment rate fell from 3.9 percent to 3.7 percent, lowest since December 1969, the Labor Department said Friday. Average hourly earnings rose 8 cents to $27.24, lowering the annual gain to 2.8 percent from a nine-year high of 2.9 percent in August. The weaker-than- expected jobs total combined with the tick down in average wage growth allayed fears of spiking inflation and the need for the Fed to raise short-term interest rates more aggressively, money managers and economists said.

The yield on the US 10-year Treasury rose above 3.2% Thursday morning. That’s the highest it’s been since July 2011. On Wednesday, the 10-year yield gained more than on any day since the November 2016 presidential election. The 30-year yield also popped above 3.3%, its highest level since October 2014. Bond yields are rising because of America’s strength. Intent on keeping inflation in check, the Federal Reserve is gradually raising its target interest rate, making borrowing more expensive. That also increases the cost of paying back existing debt, which could slow spending — and the economy along with it.

Gas prices are creeping up nationally, now pennies a gallon away from their highest level since 2014, just in time for the November midterm elections when California will vote on rolling back its gas tax. Average prices topped $2.90 a gallon for unleaded Wednesday for the first time since June, having risen about 6 cents a gallon in the past month. If they rise by about another eight cents, they will be the highest in four years. In California, which is second only to Hawaii as the state with the highest fuel prices, voters will decide whether to repeal a tax that raises $5.1 billion a year for road and bridge repair and public transit. California taxes 95.5 cents on every gallon.

India’s currency resumed its headlong plunge on Friday, stoking concerns that the world’s fastest-growing major economy could be heading for a slowdown. The rupee crossed 74 rupees to the US dollar for the first time ever, after the country’s central bank surprised markets by holding off on raising interest rates. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided against hiking rates for the third time this year despite expectations that it would act to tame inflation caused by rising oil prices and the crashing currency, which makes imports more expensive. The Indian rupee has fallen around 15% against the surging dollar this year, making it one of the world’s worst performing currencies. India’s stock market has suffered along with the rupee. The country’s benchmark index, the Sensex, has dropped more than 8% in the past month.

Middle East

The city of Jerusalem will evict the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) in light of the organization’s illegal activities and incitement of Palestinians against Israel, according to Mayor Nir Barkat last Thursday. In a statement, Barkat said the new U.S. policy cutting $300 million to the controversial organization inspired the move, which will see unlicensed UNRWA-run schools, medical centers and sports facilities transferred to Israeli authorities. “The U.S. decision has created a rare opportunity to replace UNRWA’s services with services of the Jerusalem Municipality,” he said. “We are putting an end to the lie of the ‘Palestinian refugee problem’ and the attempts at creating a false sovereignty within a sovereignty.”

Despite the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv in May, Americans born in Jerusalem are still unable to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on US. passports. A group of 55 House Republicans sent a letter to US President Donald Trump several weeks ago, urging him to instruct the State Department to permit American citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birth country on their passport. “The president has made clear that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to final-status negotiations between the [Israelis and the Palestinians],” a State Department spokesperson told JNS. “We have not changed our practice regarding place of birth on passports or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad at this time.”

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton put the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) official status into perspective at a Wednesday press briefing when he announced that the United States would no longer be a signatory party to the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ). “The president has decided that the United States will withdraw from the optional protocol and dispute resolution to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. This is in connection with a case brought by the so-called state of Palestine naming the United States as a defendant [in the ICJ], challenging our move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Bolton said. Palestine is “not a state now. It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood. It doesn’t control defined boundaries. It doesn’t fulfill the normal functions of government. There are a whole host of reasons why it’s not a state.”

A 23-year-old Palestinian terrorist from the nearby village of Shweika, near Tulkarem, handcuffed and shot two employees Sunday morning at the Barkan Industrial Park in Samaria at close range with a Carl Gustav assault rifle. President Reuven Rivlin issued a statement, saying, “This was not only an attack on innocent people going about their daily lives, it was also an attack on the possibility of Israelis and Palestinians co-existing peacefully,” The Barkan Industrial Park includes approximately 120 businesses and factories and a workforce of 20,000, half of them Palestinian Arabs. The terrorist was employed at one of the factories.

Iran

The Trump administration is giving greater priority to Iran and radical groups it backs in a new U.S. counterterrorism strategy document released last Thursday that further increases the pressure from Washington on Tehran. The strategy, unveiled by National Security Adviser John Bolton, is the first issued since 2011 when the Obama administration’s view of counterterrorism was focused almost exclusively on the threat posed by al Qaeda after the death of its founder, Osama bin Laden. The priority given to Iran this time around reflects President Trump’s drive to contain Iran’s influence in the Middle East, curtail its ballistic missile program and backing of extremist groups and force it to the negotiating table by re-imposing U.S. sanctions.

In response to an Iranian lawsuit against the US at a UN-sponsored International Court of Justice (ICJ) that cited a little-known “Treat of Amity” between the two countries, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that the U.S. is pulling out of the treaty. Pompeo added that the decision was “39 years overdue” and accused Tehran of “abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes.” while the clerical regime which rules Iran blasted the Trump Administration as an “outlaw regime.” ICJ President Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said U.S. sanctions on goods “required for humanitarian needs…may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran.” The ruling ordered the US to rescind such sanctions, listing items to be removed from the sanctions as including spare parts, repair equipment and related services for the airline industry in Iran. However, multiple legal scholars have asserted that the UN court has no jurisdiction over matters of US national security.

Syria

Two Syrian rebel groups began withdrawing their heavy weapons Saturday from a northwestern area of the country where Russia and Turkey have agreed to set up a demilitarized zone, opposition activists said. Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Free Idlib Army and Failaq al-Sham started removing artillery and mortar pieces from areas close to the town of Maaret al-Numan. The Turkey-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) rebel alliance said in a statement the process of withdrawing heavy weapons had begun, but the fighters would remain in their positions within the demilitarized zone to assist Turkish troops monitoring and patrolling the area.

Afghanistan

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on an election rally in the Afghan province of Nangarhar last Tuesday, according to a statement on the group’s Amaq news agency. The militant group said a bomber had killed 35 and wounded more than 50 after detonating his suicide vest. Afghan officials earlier said at least 13 were killed and more than 30 wounded, warning the toll was likely to rise. The Islamic State has claimed a series of attacks this year that have killed scores of people in Nangarhar, on the border with Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia

The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has sent a chilling message to dissidents abroad, stoking fears among activists of a broadening crackdown beyond the kingdom’s borders. Unnamed Turkish officials said Friday that Khashoggi, 58, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Activists say the reports about Khashoggi are the latest political “bombshell” in a series of moves to crush dissent under the leadership of 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “The era of bin Salman is the era of surprises that are foreign to this country’s history. Based on what we know of his rule, it looks like the tragedies won’t stop,” Ali Adubisi, director of the Berlin-based European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, told CNN. Khashoggi, who was critical of bin Salman in opinion pieces for The Washington Post, entered the consulate last Tuesday to collect paperwork that would allow him to remarry. He has not yet re-emerged, according to his fiancée, his friends and his colleagues at The Washington Post.

Russia

Russia’s Vostok-18, the largest military exercise of the 21st Century, conducted Sept. 11-17, was little noted by the press who were fixated on now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s adolescent sex life. However, Russia’s new nuclear doctrine — similar to Khrushchev-era thinking, like Marshal Sokolovsky’s 1962 “Military Strategy” on steroids — relies on nuclear firepower and relatively small armies that are highly mobile and survivable, and able to knife through Europe in a week or two. Russia’s new generation nuclear weapons for strategic EMP attack and tactical battlefield use make this possible, noted Dr. Peter Pry, once the CIA’s top expert on Russia’s nuclear forces, in Newsmax.

India

After a year of fits and starts, India’s #MeToo movement has leapt forward over the past week, getting concrete action in two of the country’s most powerful industries: entertainment and the news media. Inspired by Ms. Dutta and Ms. Kukreja, as well as by the Senate testimony of Christine Blasey Ford in the United States, dozens of women in journalism began coming forward on Friday, describing a range of inappropriate behavior by male reporters and editors at some of India’s biggest news organizations. The flurry of activity has created a commotion among the educated elite here, but it has had little immediate effect on the vast majority of women in India, a deeply patriarchal and traditional society in which women and girls often have little control over their lives and are frequently abused.

Montenegro

People who don’t stand during Montenegro’s national anthem could be fined up to 2,000 euros ($2,290), according to new legislation proposed by the government. People who don’t stand during Montenegro’s national anthem could be fined up to 2,000 euros ($2,290), according to new legislation proposed by the government. The draft amendment was passed by the country’s Cabinet last week. People with disabilities would be exempt and allowed to pay their respects in “other ways” that have not been defined in the legislation. Montenegro is located along the Adriatic Sea to the west of Serbia.

Environment

The red tide bloom that’s been in the waters off Florida’s Gulf Coast for months is now choking the state’s Atlantic waters from Miami Beach to Palm Beach. Trey Claus, whose family has been fishing off southeastern Florida for three generations, has never seen anything like it — and neither has anyone he knows. “This might put a halt to our season, which is not a good thing,” Claus, 30, said. Should the red tide bloom settle in, mass fish kills will transpire. Some of Florida’s pristine, white sand beaches have been shuttered because of red tides, which are caused by algae found almost exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico. The natural phenomenon is deadly to marine life and can irritate people’s skin and lead to respiratory problems, especially for people with asthma.

Beachgoers in Beach Haven, New Jersey, were surprised to see blue, disc-shaped organisms with long, dark tentacles showing up on shore. After a closer look, locals found out they were jellyfish, but not like any they had seen before on Garden State beaches. They were identified as blue button jellyfish, a free-floating critter than measures about an inch across. The powerful winds from Hurricane Florence pushed the tropical jellyfish out of the Gulf Stream down near Florida up north.

Volcanoes

Less than a week after a devastating earthquake and tsunami, a volcano erupted Wednesday on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Mount Soputan is on the northern tip of the island, about 370 miles northeast of Palu, where more than 1,400 people were killed. The volcano spewed a column of ash nearly 20,000 feet into the sky. No evacuations were immediately ordered. A government volcanologist said it’s possible the eruption was accelerated by the magnitude 7.5 earthquake that struck last week.

Earthquakes

At least 12 people have died and 170 people were injured after a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck off the northwestern tip of Haiti just after 8 p.m. local time Saturday evening. The quake’s center was located about 12 miles west-northwest of Ti Port-de-Paix, Haiti, and struck with a depth of about 7.3 miles. Homes were destroyed in Port-de-Paix, Gros Morne, Chansolme and Turtle Island. Rescue workers say part of a hospital and an auditorium collapsed. The quake was felt lightly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as in the neighboring Dominican Republic. A 5.2 magnitude aftershock rattle Haiti on Sunday, raising fears of more deaths.

Weather

Heavy rains from Hurricane Michael forced hundreds of people from their homes in Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador, killing thirteen over the weekend as the intensifying storm continues its push towards the Gulf Coast. More than 260 homes were damaged in the southern part of Honduras. Some 6,000 people have been impacted by flooding and landslides. At least 18 people were rescued during the storm. Michael also brought heavy rains to Cuba on Monday. Winds increased to near 100 mph Tuesday morning. Michael is forecast to strengthen to a Category 3 prior to landfall Wednesday on the Florida Panhandle. Forecasters predict the hurricane will generate a life-threatening storm surge. On Sunday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Sunday for 26 counties in the Panhandle and Big Bend coastal region of northern Florida. Alabama’s governor on Monday also issued a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Michael as the storm draws closer in the Gulf of Mexico.

Signs of the Times

October 2, 2018

­Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God. (Revelation 3:11-12)

Pope Admits that Priest Sex Abuse Scandals are Driving Catholics Away

The fury over priest sex abuse scandals are eroding the faith of Catholics and chasing many from pews, Pope Francis admitted last week – and the church needs “to change.” The pope’s frank comments, delivered before young people in Estonia on the final day of his pilgrimage to the Baltics, coincided with a stinging report of abuse of children by Catholic clergy in Germany. Francis told the youths the church must take action to restore the faith of future generations and be transparent and honest. The Vatican was assailed for not responding immediately to the release of a grand jury report in August by the Pennsylvania attorney general alleging that church leaders protected more than 300 “predator priests” in six Roman Catholic dioceses across the state for decades. The report claimed the church was more interested in protecting its own interests and the abusers than tending to the victims. There have been charges of a cover-up of the scandals that have placed the pope’s personal handling of the issue in a harsh spotlight. A retired Vatican ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who alleged earlier this month that Francis hid sex abuse allegations against U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, has even called on the pope to resign.

40 Days for Life Prayer Vigils Began Last Week

40 Days for Life prayer vigils at abortion facilities started last Wednesday in a record 415 cities around the world. On the very first day, organizers said an abortion worker left her job. Former abortion workers report that when there is someone praying in front of an abortion facility, the “no-show” rate for abortion appointments can go to as high as 75 percent. On day 7, two abortion facilities closed in Orlando. On day 6, organizers said a total of 33 babies were saved from abortions. Find the closest vigil location at https://40daysforlife.com/browse-campaigns/.

HHSD Cancels Contract to Purchase “Fetal Tissue” for Testing

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department has cut its contract with a biomedical procurement company that would have allowed the FDA to purchase “fetal tissue” for drug testing. The decision comes after 85 members of Congress signed a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, calling for an end to the contract. “Unborn children are not commodities to be bought and sold,” the letter said. “The practice of conducting research using the body parts of children whose lives have been violently ended by abortion is abhorrent.” HHS also said it would review all federal contracts that involve buying fetal tissue. In previous years, the HHS has said that fetal tissue “continues to be a critical resource for important efforts such as research on degenerative eye disease, human development disorders such as Down syndrome, and infectious diseases, among a host of other diseases.” The new HHS review will look at “the serious regulatory, moral, and ethical considerations involved.”

Pro-Abortion California Governor Vetoes Abortion-Pill Dispensing Bill

In a surprise eleventh hour move, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have required university student health centers to dispense abortion pills. Known as the “College Student Right to Access Act,” the controversial SB 320 would have essentially transformed state universities into abortion facilities by mandating that campus health clinics begin providing abortifacients no later than 2022. “The average distance to abortion providers in campus communities varies from five to seven miles, not an unreasonable distance,” said Brown, explaining his rationale for vetoing the measure. “Because the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary.” Although the governor’s veto is pragmatic, it remains a win for the pro-life movement.

Experts Reveal How Transgenderism Harms Children

The infatuation with transgenderism which seems to be sweeping the nation—especially among young people—amounts to “large-scale child abuse,” according to a panel of experts speaking in the nation’s capital. Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, Family Research Council: “It is troubling when an adult adopts this transgender ideology, but it is tragic when a child falls victim to it.” “For most of human history, it has been considered obvious that the way we determine whether people are male or female is on the basis of their bodies,” said Sprigg. “Today, the transgender movement claims that the mind takes precedence over the body when it comes to determining whether a person is male or female. This, however, is an ideological assertion,” said Sprigg. “It is not in any way a scientific one. It is troubling when an adult adopts this transgender ideology, but it is tragic when a child falls victim to it.”

Dr. Michelle Cretella, Executive Director, American College of Pediatricians: “America is engaged in large-scale child abuse. Complicit in this is … my field of pediatrics, psychiatry, our education system, mass media, and social media,” said Dr. Cretella. The abuse worsens when doctors prescribe puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. Puberty blockers can lead to permanent sterility and halt physical development of the body, including the brain. These drugs cause impaired memory, brittle bones, and increased risk of certain cancers and obesity for some kids. Cross-sex hormones, which must be taken for a lifetime, can lead to sterility, heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, blood clots, diabetes, cancer, and emotional instability.

Dr. Paul McHugh, Distinguished Service Professor, Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Sex reassignment surgery patients suffer suicide rates 20 times greater than their peers.” People are okay for about ten years after sex reassignment surgery, but then great regret begins to overtake them, said Dr. McHugh. He said this is not unlike what dermatologists encounter from patients with tattoos, who also begin to experience disappointment with their skin ink after ten years. McHugh emphasized that the medical treatments and surgical procedures now being performed on children are still experimental in nature.

Ricin Mailed to Pentagon and White Powder to Ted Cruz

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency detected a suspicious substance Monday on two pieces of mail at the Pentagon’s remote screening facility, according to a US defense official. Sources tell CBN News the mail initially tested positive for ricin. The mail facility is located in a separate building on the grounds of the Pentagon. Ricin is a highly toxic compound that is extracted from castor beans and has been used in terror attacks. It can be used in powder, pellet, mist or acid form. Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz’ (R-TX) campaign office in Houston was also hit with a threatening powdery substance. Staffers opened an envelope containing white powder. A hazardous materials response team was dispatched to Cruz’s office Tuesday morning to investigate.

Canada Agrees to Join NAFTA Deal

The United States and Canada confirmed Sunday they had reached a deal on a “new, modernized trade agreement,” which is designed to replace the 1994 NAFTA pact. In a joint statement the two nations said the new deal would be called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said following a cabinet meeting, “It’s a good day for Canada.” President Trump tweeted about the deal on Monday morning, calling it a “great deal for all three countries” and that it will open markets to farmers and manufacturers. Trump also said the deal would reduce trade barriers to the U.S. and bring all three nations closer together in competition with the rest of the world.

Trump Administration Halts Visas for Same-Sex Partners of Diplomats

President Trump’s administration this week began denying visas to the unmarried, same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and officials and employees of the United Nations — making marriage a requirement to be eligible for a visa. The policy was made effective Monday. A majority of countries worldwide do not recognize same-sex marriage and many same-sex couples face prosecution in their own countries. The shift in policy was detailed in a memo circulated at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York last month. It gives the same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations workers until the end of the year to get married or leave the country. Foreign Policy magazine, which first reported the story, estimated there are at least 10 current United Nations employees who would need to get married to get their partners’ visas renewed. It was not clear how many foreign diplomats with pending U.S. posts will be affected by the policy change.

Facebook Reports Its Biggest Security Breach Yet

Facebook has discovered a massive security breach affecting 50 million user accounts. The social media giant said attackers exploited the site’s ‘View As’ feature, which lets people see what their profiles look like to other users. The unknown attackers took advantage of a feature in the code called ‘Access Tokens,’ to take over people’s accounts, potentially giving hackers access to private messages, photos and posts – although Facebook said there was no evidence that had been done. The hackers also tried to harvest people’s private information, including name, sex and hometown, from Facebook’s systems. Facebook said it doesn’t yet know if information from the affected accounts has been misused or accessed, and is working with the FBI to conduct further investigations. However, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg assured users that passwords and credit card information was not accessed.

Four Supremacists Charged in 2017 ‘Unite the Right’ Rally at Charlottesville

Four California men, all alleged members of an organized hate group, were arrested Tuesday and charged with violating a federal rioting law in connection with the violent, 2017 white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, authorities said. The U.S. attorney’s office in Charlottesville described the suspects as members of a militant racist and anti-Semitic group, the Rise Above Movement, based in California. The four were arrested by FBI agents in California early Tuesday and charged with one count each of violating the federal rioting statute and conspiring to violate it. Authorities said in a statement that the four men traveled to Charlottesville with the intent to commit violent acts in furtherance of a riot. The Aug. 12, 2017, rally, dubbed “Unite the Right” by organizers, descended into a day-long scene of violent clashes involving hundreds of white supremacists and counter-protesters.

Study Confirms Link Between Violent Video Games and Aggression

An international study looking at more than 17,000 adolescents, ages nine to 19, from 2010 to 2017, found playing violent video games led to increased physical aggression over time. The analysis of 24 studies from countries including the U.S., Canada, Germany and Japan found those who played violent games such as “Grand Theft Auto,” “Call of Duty” and “Manhunt” were more likely to exhibit behavior such as being sent to the principal’s office for fighting or hitting a non-family member. “Based on our findings, we feel it is clear that violent video game play is associated with subsequent increases in physical aggression,” said Jay Hull, associate dean of faculty for the social sciences at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Dartmouth Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

80,000 Died from the Flu Last Year in U.S.

An estimated 80,000 people died of the flu and its complications in the U.S. last winter — the highest death toll for the diseases in at least four decades. The tally was nearly twice as much as what health officials previously considered a bad year. In recent years, flu-related deaths have ranged from about 12,000 to — in the worst year — 56,000, according to the CDC. The season peaked in early February. It was mostly over by the end of March, although some flu continued to circulate. Making a bad year worse, the flu vaccine didn’t work very well. Experts nevertheless say vaccination is still worth it, because it makes illnesses less severe and saves lives.

Economic News

The federal debt increased by $1,271,158,167,126.72 (that’s 1.271 trillion dollars) in fiscal 2018, according to data released Tuesday by the Treasury. The fiscal year of the federal government goes from October 1st to September 30th. The total federal debt started the fiscal year at $20.2 trillion and ended it at $21.5 trillion. In 8 of the past 11 fiscal years, the U.S. national debt has risen by more than a trillion dollars. This debt represents $170,337 per U.S. household. In addition, the total personal debt of every American — what they owe on their mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and more — the total is staggering. Collectively, we’re $13.2 trillion in the red. That’s the highest ever, according to the New York Fed and represents another $104,579 per household. Furthermore, state and local government debt is at record levels all over the nation, and corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis.

  • It won’t be long now before this house of cards comes crashing down

In the 9th largest economy in the world (Italy), the financial markets are crashing, and in the 21st largest economy in the world (Argentina) the central bank just raised interest rates to 65 percent to support a currency that is completely imploding. Because the U.S. has been largely unaffected so far, the mainstream media is mostly choosing to ignore what is happening. The financial crisis in Italy threatens to literally tear the EU apart. Italy’s new populist government agreed to set Italy’s budget deficit at 2.4% of GDP, an increase on the current level and far above the 1.6% that the EU lobbied for. The Argentine peso has lost approximately 50 percent of its value so far in 2018, and in a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding the central bank of Argentina just panic-raised interest rates to 65 percent. Venezuela’s economy has been in shambles for two years now and the situation in Brazil continues to deteriorate.

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates last week for the third time this year. The decision, which was expected, is a sign of the feds’ increased confidence in the U.S. economy. Unemployment is low, economic growth is strong, and inflation is relatively stable. Policymakers under Chairman Jerome Powell unanimously agreed to raise the federal funds rate a quarter percentage point, to a range of 2% to 2.25%. The rate helps determine rates for mortgages, credit cards and other consumer borrowing. Central bankers raised expectations for a fourth rate hike in December, with a majority now in favor of such a move. Fed officials expect at least three rate hikes will be necessary in 2019, with one more in 2020. The Fed has been gradually raising rates for three years, finally restoring them to normal levels long after the financial crisis. “I am not happy about that,” President Trump said at a press conference in New York. “We can do other things with the money.”

According to the latest estimates released by Edmunds, new vehicle sales for September are expected to decline both on a monthly basis and year-over-year basis. The company predicted that 1,392,434 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in September, which makes for an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17 million. This will be a 5.4% decrease from last month and an 8.3% drop from September of last year. In addition, pending home sales also declined in August, dropping 1.8% from July  (almost four times worse than expected) and 2.5% year-over-year to its lowest since Oct 2014, the fourth month of annual declines in a row.

E-tailing giant Amazon said Tuesday it would increase its minimum wage on Nov. 1 to $15 for all U.S. full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary employees, including temps hired by agencies. That includes employees at Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired for $13.7 million in June 2017. Amazon currently has more than 250,000 employees, and plans to hire more than 100,000 seasonal employees this holiday season. The company had recently been the target of criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who said Amazon doesn’t pay its lower-level employees a fair wage. “We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos in a statement. Amazon also said it would begin lobbying for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25.

Uber will pay $148 million to settle an investigation into a 2016 data breach that the company was accused of intentionally concealing. The settlement with attorneys general for all 50 states and Washington, DC, will be split among the states. It’s the largest ever multi-state data breach settlement. The investigation was called to look into allegations that the ride-share company violated state-level notification laws by intentionally withholding that hackers stole the personal information of 57 million users in 2016. The breach wasn’t disclosed until late 2017, when Uber revealed that it paid the hackers $100,000 to destroy the data. As part of the settlement, Uber has agreed to develop and implement a corporate integrity program for employees to report unethical behavior. It also agreed to adopt model data breach notification and data security practices, as well as hire an independent third party to assess its data security practices.

Persecution Watch

Al-Shabaab terrorists murdered two Kenyan Christians travelling on a bus on 14 September after they refused to recite the shahada Islamic creed. The terrorists flagged down a bus travelling to the north-eastern city of Garissa and ordered the passengers to produce their identity cards. They separated three “non-local” (assumed to be non-Muslim) passengers and asked them to recite verses from the Quran and say the shahada Islamic creed. Recitation of the shahada is considered conversion to Islam. Two passengers who refused, a boy called Joshua who assisted the bus driver and a labourer from the town of Masalani, 100 miles south of Garissa, were tied up and then murdered. In 2014, 28 Christians travelling on a bus in Mandera country, north-east Kenya, were singled out and killed by Al Shabaab jihadists. Kenya is around 80% Christian and 10% Muslim.

Middle East

Over 100 improvised bombs and grenades were hurled at Israeli troops during Friday’s riots at the Gaza border, the military said Saturday. The Israeli army released footage of the violent demonstrations, which it said were the worst in two months, depicting attempts to breach and sabotage the security fence. Meanwhile in Gaza Saturday funerals were held for the seven Palestinians killed in the previous day’s violence, including two teen boys. At least 210 Palestinians were wounded. Tens of thousands of Palestinians protested along the Gaza border fence, throwing hand grenades, bombs, rocks, and burning tires in clashes with IDF troops, who responded with tear gas, live fire, and air strikes. The IDF said about 20,000 Palestinians took part in violent protests, spread out among a few locations along the Gaza security fence. The protest was one of the largest and most violent in recent weeks and comes following the breakdown of indirect talks with Israel over a cease-fire and warnings that the terror group Hamas, which rules Gaza, was gearing up for another conflict.

Iran

A 12-mile stretch of the Iraq-Syria border has become the epicenter of a battle between Iran and the United States for control of the Middle East. Militias backed by Iran have taken control of territory on the Iraqi side of the frontier and just over the border in Syria stands a military base containing thousands of Shia fighters loyal to Tehran, according to analysts. Their presence marks a key staging post on the so-called “Shia crescent” of influence from Tehran, across Shia areas of Iraq, through Syria to the Israeli border and Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon. It has prompted President Trump to rethink plans to pull out US troops once Islamic State is defeated

The State Department said Friday that it would temporarily close the U.S. consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra following a rocket attack in September blamed on Iranian-backed militias. Diplomatic staff and their families were being evacuated and consular services will be provided from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called it a “temporary relocation” in response to what he called “increasing and specific threats” from the Iranian government and militias under its control. He warned that the U.S. would respond to any more attacks. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called it a “temporary relocation” in response to what he called “increasing and specific threats” from the Iranian government and militias under its control. He warned that the U.S. would respond to any more attacks.

Syria

International observers were alarmed Monday by Russia’s announcement that they would be sending their S-300 missile defense systems to Syria. The decision comes after Syrian air defenses shot down a Russian Il-20 spy plane, killing 15 Russian servicemen. Russia said Israel is “solely” to blame for the downing of the plane. Israeli F-16s flew below the Il-20, in a move the Russians said used the plane for cover. The antiquated Syrian defenses likely aimed for the larger Il-20 rather than the smaller F-16s. Russia claims they need to place the S-300 in Syria to protect their planes flying over Syrian airspace. The S-300 uses technology that distinguishes Russian planes from those belonging to other nations. Russia claims they initially proposed placing the S-300 batteries in Syria in 2013, but relented after Israel protested.

North/South Korea

Troops from North and South Korea began removing some landmines along their heavily fortified border on Monday, the South’s defense ministry said, in a pact to reduce tension and build trust on the divided peninsula. Project details were agreed during last month’s summit in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. In a statement, the ministry said the two sides agreed to remove all landmines in the so-called Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom within the next 20 days. The deal also provides for removal of guard posts and weapons from the JSA to follow the removal of the mines, with the troops remaining there to be left unarmed. The JSA is the only spot along the 250-km (155-mile) -long “demilitarized zone” where troops from both Koreas are face to face.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho says his nation will never disarm its nuclear weapons first if it can’t trust Washington. Ri was speaking Saturday at the United Nations General Assembly. He called on the United States to follow through on promises made during a summit in Singapore between the rivals’ leaders. Ri says it’s a “pipe dream” that continued sanctions and U.S. objection to a declaration ending the Korean War will ever bring the North to its knees. Washington is wary of agreeing to the declaration without Pyongyang first making significant disarmament moves. Both Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump want a second summit. But there is widespread skepticism that Pyongyang is serious about renouncing an arsenal that the country sees as the only way to guarantee its safety. Pompeo is planning to visit Pyongyang next month to prepare for a second Kim-Trump summit.

Mexico

Authorities in Mexico disarmed and took control of the entire police force of the violence-wracked Pacific coast resort town of Acapulco on Tuesday. Mexican marines alongside state and federal police took part in the operation, which also led to the arrest of two local police commanders on charges of homicide. State security officials in Guerrero state took the action “because of suspicion that the force had probably been infiltrated by criminal groups” and “the complete inaction of the municipal police in fighting the crime wave. All police officers in Acapulco will be put under investigation and evaluated. The once popular resort town has fallen victim to violent turf wars between rival drug gangs, with the homicide rate standing at 103 per 100,000 inhabitants, one the highest rates in the world.

Earthquakes

A powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi Friday evening just hours after a powerful, deadly foreshock, apparently triggered a tsunami that hit the coast minutes later, the two events killing over 1,234 people with many still missing. The main tremor struck at 6:02 p.m. local time Friday evening about 35 miles northeast of Donggala, Indonesia – a town of about 300,000. The tsunami, confirmed by local agencies to be up to 6 and a half feet in height, struck Donggala and Palu, a coastal town of about 330,000 after the tsunami alert was cancelled. Entire houses were carried away by the tsunami and many families remain missing. Over 61,000 people have been left homeless and are growing more desperate by the minute as little aid as reached the affected areas, as of Monday. Despite a call for international aid, little has reached the battered area, and armed men are looting vehicles on roads leading up to the disaster zone.

Weather

Four days’ worth of rainfall and up to 3 feet of rain placed Hurricane Florence right behind Harvey as the second wettest storm in history. Florence’s rainfall was unprecedented for eastern North Carolina and make it one of the largest on record for the entire United States. Kenneth Kunkel, a meteorologist from the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, said that Florence’s rainfall was unprecedented for eastern North Carolina and makes it one of the largest on record for the entire United States, ranking second for total four-day rainfall in areas up to 14,000 square miles. Florence’s heavy rainfall in just a few days also was categorized as a “one in a thousand year rainfall event” by the National Weather Service. Days of standing water from Hurricane Florence proved to be the perfect breeding ground for a large, aggressive species of mosquito which are now plaguing many areas in the Carolinas.

Dangerous flooding persisted in the Southwest as the remnants of Rosa brought heavy rainfall to Arizona, including the Phoenix area. Some roads in Phoenix were closed as they became impassable. North of downtown Phoenix, an underpass at Interstate 17 and Peoria Avenue was shut down Tuesday morning. Thousands of homes and businesses were without power across the Yuma area Sunday afternoon. Drivers struggled to navigate water-covered roads. Trees were downed in the Yuma area on Sunday, and the southwestern Arizona city of about 100,000 was expected to see heavy rainfall continue in the coming days. “I’ve been working here 25 years and I’ve never seen anything like this, at this magnitude,” maintenance worker Josh Magna told KYMA.

Over 200 people have been killed in recent weeks in Nigeria by flooding that has inundated much of the West African nation. Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said Thursday that more than 1,000 other people have been injured, with more than 800,000 affected overall since late August. More than 286,000 people have been left homeless by the flooding. Heavy seasonal rains that began in July have caused the country’s two main rivers, the Niger and the Benue, to overflow their banks. The downpours are expected to continue through October.

Three people are missing after a rare powerful storm in the Mediterranean Sea brought torrential rain and 55 mph winds to southern Greece. The storm is referred to as a “medicane” by meteorologists because of its tropical storm-like characteristics. After moving into the southwestern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula on Saturday, with winds up to 55 mph, the Mediterranean storm has been moving slowly in a northeasterly direction, affecting Aegean Sea islands as well as Greece’s central mainland. The hardest-hit areas so far have been around the cities of Corinth and Argos in the Peloponnese and the northern part of the island of Evia, off central Greece

Signs of the Times

September 25, 2018

­He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2))

Atheist Group Says School Can’t Organize Prayer Support for Sick Girl

A Michigan high school has removed a video of community members praying for a coach’s ill daughter after complaints from an atheist group, reports ChristianHeadlines.com. In August, members of the community came together to form a “family circle” on the football field and support and pray for a young girl named Harper, who is the daughter of the Lake City High School head football coach. She is in the hospital suffering from a severe intestinal infection. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group, says the event was unconstitutional because it included a public prayer. The high school subsequently removed the video to avoid more controversy and a possible lawsuit. But members of the community are now upset. “Outside factors should stay out of our community,” Bruce DeBoer, owner of the Tasty Treat, told the television station. “At that point in time this was to help a young girl and everyone supported it.”

Academy of Pediatrics Supports Sex Reassignment for Children

In a new medical policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics says it supports the surgical and hormonal transition of transgender children and teens. According to The Christian Post, the document discusses ways for parents and health care providers to affirm the gender choices of patients, including encouraging primary care doctors to install gender-neutral bathrooms in their offices and signs that show the office is LGBT inclusive. The statement also suggests diversity training for employees to be “helpful for educating clinical and administrative staff.” AAP is also recommending that doctors use the term “gender affirmation” instead of “gender transition” to discuss the gender identities of children and teens. The guideline also supports the use of chemical treatments to stop normal puberty, which gives time for the family to “explore gender identity, access psychosocial supports, develop coping skills and further determine treatment goals.”

  • Worldwide insanity continues to increase as society gives heed to the doctrine of demons (Now the Spirit [a]expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. 1Timothy 4:1)

271 Indian Christians Face Criminal Charges for Evangelizing

Two-hundred and seventy-nine Christians in a northern part of India have been charged with crimes, including trying to convert Hindus to Christianity with drugs and spreading lies about Hinduism. Previously, a court in August cleared the charges, but Deputy Police Superintendent Anil Kumar Pandey says the Christians are accused of “various criminal offenses, like fraud, defiling places of worship and prejudice against national integration.” Said Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians: “In Uttar Pradesh Hindu radicals have fabricated unfounded accusations against innocent Pentecostal Christians.” “There has been a surge in persecution against Christians,” he added. “Pentecostal pastors and Christian groups are under the constant watch of radical elements and the police.” According to religious freedom group ADF India, Christians in the Uttar Pradesh area experienced 26 attacks on them in just the first half of 2018.

China Leads the Way to Dystopian Technocracy

China’s chilling dictatorship is moving quickly to introduce social scorecards by which all citizens will be monitored 24/7 and ranked on their behavior, reports Technocracy News. The Communist Party’s plan is for every one of its 1.4 billion citizens to be at the whim of a dystopian social credit system, and it’s on track to be fully operational by the year 2020. An active pilot program has already seen millions of people each assigned a score out of 800 and either reap its benefits or suffer its consequences — depending on which end of the scale they sit. Under the social credit scheme, points are lost and gained based on readings from a sophisticated network of 200 million surveillance cameras — a figure set to triple in 18 months. The program has been enabled by rapid advances in facial recognition, body scanning and geo-tracking. The data is combined with information collected from individuals’ government records — including medical and educational — along with their financial and internet browsing histories.

Terror Attacks Declined Worldwide to 8,584 in 2017

There were 8,584 terrorist attacks around the world in 2017, a 23 percent decline from 2016, according to a recent State Department report. As a result, more than 18,700 people were killed, about a quarter of whom were the perpetrators themselves. The. death toll represented a 27 percent drop from the previous year. Much of the reason for the decline was the improved security situation in Iraq, according to Ambassador Nathan Sales, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism. More than half of all terrorist attacks worldwide took place in just five countries: Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Pakistan and the Philippines. And 70 percent of all deaths from terrorist attacks occurred in a different, if overlapping, set of five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria. The security situation in Afghanistan continued to worsen as a result of coordinated attacks by the Taliban, including the group’s affiliated Haqqani network, the report noted.

South/North Korea Sign Historic Agreement

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a broad agreement in Pyongyang on Wednesday that both said would usher in a new era of peace on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea agreed to take further steps towards denuclearization, including permanently dismantling its Dongchang-ri missile engine test site and launch pad and allowing international inspectors to observe the process, Moon announced at a joint news conference with Kim following the signing ceremony. Kim said the two sides have taken active measures to free the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons and threats and turn it into a “land of peace.” According to the text of the Pyongyang agreement, the North also said it was willing to take additional measures such as decommissioning its Yongbyon nuclear facility if the United States made further concessions. Momentum between the US and North Korea has sputtered since then, with Pyongyang hoping for a peace declaration officially ending the Korean War after 65 years and relief from punishing international sanctions, but Washington holding firm on demands for complete denuclearization first.

Trump Administration Cuts Refugee Admissions to 30,000

The Trump administration announced last Monday it will cut the maximum number of refugees allowed into the country next year to 30,000, citing national security concerns and the need to restore integrity to the system. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the administration is lowering the refugee cap from 45,000 in fiscal 2018 to 30,000 in fiscal 2019. It will be the lowest ceiling since the refugee program began in 1980. Former President Barack Obama raised the ceiling to 110,000 in 2017, and the U.S. allowed in almost 85,000 refugees in 2016 — the last full year of the Obama administration. But the Trump administration has taken a much tougher line on immigration and refugee entry, focusing on the need to fully vet those coming into the U.S. Pompeo said even with the cut, the U.S. will continue to be the most generous nation in the world when it comes to immigration.

Project Veritas Unmasks Anti-Trump ‘Deep State’ Antagonists

Project Veritas released a video Tuesday of a member of the anti-Trump “deep state,” a career civil servant who says on camera he is there to work not for American taxpayers but the Democratic Socialists of America. The government employee is identified as Stuart Karaffa, a State Department staffer and “a ranking member of the Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America.” The first video shows Karaffa “engaged in radical socialist political activity on the taxpayer’s dime, while advocating for resistance to official government policies.” He claims it’s “impossible to fire” federal employees, so he has little concern, and he also boasts that oversight of his activities is virtually nonexistent. Project Veritas said this is just the first installment of its undercover video investigation. Two more “Deep State” radicals are playing starring roles in another Project Veritas undercover video released Wednesday, with one admitting, “There’s a lot of talk about how we can like, resist from inside.” Allison Hrabar, a Justice Department paralegal, confesses using government-owned software and computers to push a socialist agenda. revealing that federal employees appear to be using their positions inside our government to resist or slow the Trump administration’s policies. “It appears some laws have been broken in the process,” Project Veritas explains.

Chicago Police Solve Fewer than One out of Six Homicides

Chicago police solved fewer than one in six homicides committed in the city in the first half of 2018, continuing a troubling decline in the number of perpetrators being brought to justice in one of the nation’s most violent cities, data obtained by USA TODAY shows. Chicago’s homicide clearance rate – the percentage of cases in which police arrest or identify a suspect – fell from 17.1% in 2017 to 15.4% during the first six months of 2018, the data shows. If that rate holds through the end of the year, it would be the sixth consecutive annual decline. Police in the nation’s third-largest city are having even less success solving nonfatal shootings, according to the data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Police only cleared 50 of 900 nonfatal shooting incidents in the first half of 2018, a rate of 5.6%.

Tariff War Heats Up

China has fired back at the United States after President Donald Trump ramped up the trade war with his biggest wave of tariffs yet. The Chinese government imposed tariffs on U.S. goods worth $60 billion following the Trump administration’s announcement that it was hitting $200 billion worth of Chinese goods with new tariffs. The US tariffs start at a rate of 10%, before rising to 25% at the end of the year. They come into effect on September 24, and will apply to thousands of Chinese products, ranging from food seasonings and baseball gloves to network routers and industrial machinery parts. China’s new tariffs will be levied at rates of 5% or 10%, depending on the product, from the same date. More than 5,000 US goods will be affected, including meat, nuts, alcoholic drinks, chemicals, clothes, machinery, furniture and auto parts. However, China is running out of imported American goods to target, since the U.S. imports far more Chinese goods than it exports to China.

Economic News

What trade war? The Dow just soared to its first record high since late January. The milestone shows that Wall Street is mostly unfazed by the escalating trade clash between the United States and China. The S&P 500 also notched an all-time high on Thursday. The Dow has spiked about 3,300 points since a low on April 2, when investors were more worried about trade. They’re betting that the strong US economy will power through the outbreak of tariffs. Stocks spiked late last year and in January after Republicans enacted a sweeping corporate tax cut. If the Dow closes above 26,616.71, it will mark the 100th record close for the index since President Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The number of Americans filing applications for new unemployment benefits fell to a new 49-year low for the third straight week.

The median U.S. stock, when measured by share price relative to earnings over the past 12 months, for example, is almost 50 percent more expensive than at the top of the internet stock bubble in 2000 But it’s not just that one pricey data point that scares him. It’s the long list of other so-called valuation gauges that suggest record expensiveness. The U.S. stock market is also trading at a record valuation today relative to home prices. And thanks to much better performance compared to foreign shares recently, they are now 17 percent more richly priced relative to overseas stocks than they have been in 16 years. And in the post-war era, the total value of U.S. stocks relative to sales has never been as expensive as it is today. Analysts say that an expected return to more normal price levels relative to earnings will either occur due to falling stock prices or a continuation of strong earnings gains accompanied by a flat, trendless market.

Women on average make about 80 cents for every dollar a man does. In Silicon Valley, the wealth gap is even wider, extending to the most potentially lucrative currency on the planet: stock options. Women get half the amount of equity of their male colleagues at start-ups, giving them unequal access to the Silicon Valley’s wealth generation machine, according to a first-of-its kind study by an investor group and an equity management firm that are urging the technology industry to take action. For every dollar of equity for men, women hold 47 cents, according to the study of nearly 180,000 employees at more than 6,000 companies released this week by #Angels and Carta. Female founders have it even worse: They own 39 cents for every dollar of equity of a male founder.

Middle East

In his address to the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, President Donald Trump repeated his determination to forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, reiterating that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem advances that goal. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon immediately praised Trump’s remarks. “The president proves again that the US is on the right side of history. While standing on the side of Israel in the struggle for stability in the Middle East, the United States leads the United Nations into a new era that ends its obsession with Israel and pushes back against the Iranian regime,” Danon remarked. Regarding Iran, Trump said the 2015 nuclear deal was a “windfall” for the Islamic Republic, whose leaders “sow chaos, death and destruction.” “We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons,” he declared. “We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues.”

Syria

White House national security adviser John Bolton said Monday that the United States wouldn’t be leaving Syria so long as Iranian forces continued to operate there, suggesting the Trump administration had embraced an expanded mission in the embattled country beyond the defeat of the Islamic State. Bolton directly linked any future withdrawal of American troops from Syria to the departure of Iranian forces from the nation. Iran has joined Russia and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to back Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in a war in its eighth year. For years, the Pentagon has said the U.S. military mission in Syria would conclude once U.S.-backed forces defeated the Islamic State and secured the territory the group once occupied.

Syria inadvertently shot down a Russian military plane after an Israeli attack on Syrian positions, killing 15 people on board, Moscow said. Russian state media said Syrian anti-aircraft missiles shot the maritime patrol aircraft down amid an attack by Israeli jets in the Latakia region of north-west Syria. Moscow blamed Israel for putting its aircraft in the line of fire and said it only had a minute’s notice of the strike. In a rare acknowledgment of its military activity in the region, Israel expressed “sorrow” for the loss of Russian life, but blamed the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. The IDF said it had followed well-established protocols in communicating with Moscow, which are intended to prevent such incidents.

Iran

At least 25 people were killed and 60 others injured in an attack on a military parade in Iran’s southwestern city of Ahvaz on Saturday, Iran’s state news IRNA said. The dead and wounded were both military personnel and civilians including a journalist who was watching the parade. Terrorists disguised as Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and Basiji (volunteer) forces, began shooting from a long distance while inside the park, at the armed forces as well as civilians watching the parade. Three of the attackers were gunned down during clashes with the security forces and one other arrested. The separatist group the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz, which is aligned with Saudi Arabia, claimed responsibility for this attack. The attack happened in a province bordering Iraq that has a large ethnic Arab community, many of them Sunni. Revolutionary Guard’s acting commander Gen. Hossein Salami vowed revenge against the attack’s perpetrators and what he called the “triangle” of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States.

Libya

Islamic State is staging a resurgence in chaotic Libya, claiming more than a dozen attacks in the North African country this year and threatening to disrupt the flow of oil from one of the world’s most significant suppliers. The group’s re-emergence comes two years after Libyan forces backed by U.S. air power dislodged the extremist group from its stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte, and it erodes one of the signature victories in the years-long U.S-led military campaign against the militants. The latest attack came last week when gunmen wearing explosive vests and carrying assault rifles stormed Libya’s state oil company, one of the country’s most important and heavily guarded institutions. Explosions shook the building and two employees died in the assault.

China

Amnesty International is demanding China end its campaign of “systematic repression” and reveal the whereabouts of nearly 1 million predominantly Muslim people who have been “arbitrarily detained” in the country’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The organization released a report Sunday night that includes interviews with more than 100 people outside of China whose relatives reportedly have been tortured, detained, or forced into “re-education camps” from a rural region of northwest China, known as the XUAR. The human rights group called on world leaders to stop the Chinese government’s “vicious campaign against ethnic minorities.”

Environment

Scientists are worried that the ‘good’ bugs that are crucial to as much as 80 percent of what we eat — native bees, ladybugs, mayflies, fireflies, and yes, even lovebugs — are less abundant than in summers past. Yes, some insects are pests. But they also pollinate plants, are a key link in the food chain and help decomposition. “You have total ecosystem collapse if you lose your insects. How much worse can it get than that?” said University of Delaware entomologist Doug Tallamy. If they disappeared, “the world would start to rot.” Research has shown dwindling individual species in specific places. University of Nevada, Reno, researcher Lee Dyer and his colleagues have been looking at insects at the La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica since 1991. There’s a big insect trap sheet under black light that decades ago would be covered with bugs. Now, “there’s no insects on that sheet,” he said. Last year, a study that found an 82 percent mid-summer decline in the number and weight of bugs captured in traps in 63 nature preserves in Germany compared with 27 years earlier.

Smog-filled skies are a familiar sight to Southern Californians, but residents breathed dirty air for almost three straight months this summer. Southern California violated federal smog standards for 87 consecutive days beginning June 19, setting the area’s longest bad-air streak in the past two decades according to state monitoring data.   California claims eight of the country’s most ozone-polluted cities, including the No.1-ranked Los Angeles/Long Beach area. Besides threatening sensitive vegetation and ecosystems, ozone pollution can aggravate asthma, bronchitis or emphysema symptoms. It has also been linked to coughing and pain when breathing deeply, lung and throat irritation and wheezing and trouble breathing during exercise or outdoor activities. About 23 million people in the United States have asthma, which disproportionately affects children, lower-income communities and minorities, according to the EPA.

Weather

Ten days after Hurricane Florence roared onto land along the coastal Carolinas, hundreds of roads remain closed, thousands of residents remain out of their homes or under evacuation watches, and hundreds are still being rescued from rising waters. The death toll from the storm has reached 43, and tentative damage estimates in the range of $50 billion place the storm among the 10 most costly hurricanes in U.S. history. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said teams conducted more than 350 rescues over this past weekend, raising the total to more than 5,200 since Florence slammed through the state. Ten river gauges in the state still showed major or moderate flood stages. More than 400 roads remained closed across the state, although the last blocked segment of I-95 was reopened late Sunday. Parts of I-40 have slowly been emerging from the floodwaters, but other sections could remain underwater for another week.

Severe storms which packed some tornadoes tore through southeastern Minnesota Thursday evening, toppling trees and power lines, damaging homes and flipping airplanes housed in a hangar at a municipal airport. There were several reports of tornadoes in Faribault and Waterville, about 50 miles south of Minneapolis. Several small planes were flipped and damaged by high winds at the Faribault Municipal Airport. No injuries were reported but several homes were also damaged in the storms.

More than 8 inches of rain fell at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport between Friday and Saturday, causing one death and damage to dozens of homes. The Dallas Fire Department said at least 15 people were rescued from the rising waters at about 7 a.m. Saturday. Up to 45 homes in Everman, south of Fort Worth, were damaged by floodwaters as some residents were forced to scramble onto roofs to escape rising water. As the heavy rain pushed eastward, parts of the Ohio Valley also saw flooding Sunday. In central Kentucky, numerous roads were inundated by floodwaters, and in Scott County, several drivers had to be rescued after they became stuck in flooding.

Signs of the Times

September 17, 2018

­Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Pope Summons Bishops for February Abuse Prevention Summit

Pope Francis is summoning the presidents of every bishops conference around the world for a February summit to discuss preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children — evidence that he realizes the scandal is global and that inaction threatens to undermine the church. Francis’ key cardinal advisers announced the decision Wednesday, a day before Francis meets with U.S. church leaders who have been deeply discredited by the latest accusations in the Catholic Church’s decades-long sex abuse and cover-up scandal. The Feb. 21-24 meeting at the Vatican is believed to be the first of its kind. Earlier this year, Pope Francis faced what was then the worst crisis of his papacy when he repeatedly discredited victims of a notorious Chilean predator priest. He eventually admitted to “grave errors in judgment” and has taken steps to make amends, sanction guilty bishops and remake the Chilean episcopacy. Pope Francis will meet with a group of U.S. church officials led by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, at the Vatican Thursday amid growing criticism over the pope’s handling of sex-abuse cases.

Pastor Faces Eviction for Hosting Home Bible Study

A semi-retired Lutheran minister in Fredericksburg, Virginia faces the possibility of being evicted from a senior living community because he’s been hosting a small Bible study in the privacy of his apartment, his attorney alleges. First Liberty Institute, a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases, is representing Pastor Ken Hauge. The pastor has accused the management of The Evergreens at Smith Run of a pattern of verbal abuse and harassment directed at Christians who live in the complex. “The threat of eviction follows repeated religious discrimination by The Evergreens management, including forcing Hauge to refer to his event as a ‘Book Review’ rather than a ‘Bible Study,’” First Liberty attorney Hiram Sasser wrote in a letter to the corporate owner of the community. Management also withdrew support of a social event because a resident said grace over a meal, and banned all religious activities from the community room.

Appeals Court Reinstates Missouri Abortion Restrictions

A federal appeals court handed pro-lifers a victory last week by reinstating a Missouri law that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals and that abortion clinics to be set up as “ambulatory surgical centers.” The 3-0 ruling Monday by the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s injunction that prevented the law from going into effect. The decision could suspend abortion services in Columbia, Mo., and prevent a Kansas City clinic from regaining its license, Planned Parenthood officials told The Kansas City Star. Pro-lifers say the law is designed to protect women who undergo abortions.

Mainstream Media Acknowledge Universal Microchipping to Come

At one time, the notion that the general population would be microchipped someday was a “conspiracy theory”, but now the mainstream media is coming right out and telling us that we will all get chipped. Last month, USA Today published an article entitled “You will get chipped — eventually.” Of course, it is being portrayed as “cool” and “trendy,” and a lot of people will be fooled by that, notes Charisma News. Someday identity chips will be required for the entire population, and the potential for tyranny and control are frightening. Permanent digital identification is increasingly being pushed as the solution to problems such as identity theft, tax evasion, illegal immigration and money laundering. And tech companies would love to have a universal way to confirm the identities of individuals on the Internet. But very few people are talking about the dark side of this technology – but the Bible does. “No one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name… And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” (Revelation 13:17, 14:11)

Florence Floods Isolate Wilmington, NC

Storm-weary residents of North Carolina struggled Monday to loosen the grip of Florence, the lingering killer that has closed more than 100 roads, cut off power to almost 500,000 homes and businesses and essentially cut off the city of Wilmington from the world. At least 17 people have died in the wreckage of the hurricane-turned-tropical depression that dumped 30 inches of rain in parts of the state since last week. In Wilmington, officials were planning to fly food and water into the coastal city of almost 120,000 people. The National Weather Service has measured 23.59 inches of rain at the city’s airport since Thursday. Florence dumped 30.58 inches of rainfall in Swansboro, North Carolina. This breaks the all-time record for rainfall in a single storm system in the state of North Carolina. The previous record was 24.06 inches, and it was set during Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Dams and levees in areas pelted by Florence were showing signs of distress as rivers overran their banks and authorities warned of more flooding to come. Landslides have become a concern as well — especially in North Carolina’s western mountains. Early Monday, the storm was centered about 145 miles west-northwest of Greensboro, North Carolina. Rescue efforts were complicated by the closure of roads, including parts of interstates 95 and 40.

U.S. Has Highest Share of Foreign-Born Since 1910

The foreign-born population in the United States has reached its highest share since 1910, according to government data released Thursday. The foreign-born population stood at 13.7 percent in 2017, or 44.5 million people, compared with 13.5 percent in 2016. The new arrivals are more likely to come from Asia and to have college degrees than those who arrived in past decades. The Census Bureau’s figures for 2017 confirm a major shift in who is coming to the United States. For years newcomers tended to be from Latin America, but a Brookings Institution analysis of that data shows that 41 percent of the people who said they arrived since 2010 came from Asia. Just 39 percent were from Latin America. About 45 percent were college educated, the analysis found, compared with about 30 percent of those who came between 2000 and 2009. The last historic peak in immigration to the United States came at the end of the 19th century, when large numbers of Europeans fled poverty and violence in their home countries. Some of the largest numbers came from Germany, Italy and Poland. That wave peaked around the turn of the century, when the total foreign-born population stood at nearly 15 percent. But after the passage of strict racial quotas in the 1920s, the foreign-born population fell sharply for decades in the middle of the 20th century. By 1970, the population was below 5 percent.

Detention of Migrant Children at Highest Levels Ever

Even though hundreds of children separated from their families after crossing the border have been released under court order, the overall number of detained migrant children has exploded to the highest ever recorded. Population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer, according to data obtained by The New York Times, reaching a total of 12,800 this month. There were 2,400 such children in custody in May 2017. Shelter capacities have hovered close to 90 percent since at least May, compared to about 30 percent a year ago. The huge increases, which have placed the federal shelter system near capacity, are due not to an influx of children entering the country, but a reduction in the number being released to live with families and other sponsors, the data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services suggests. Most of the children crossed the border alone, without their parents. Many are teenagers from Central America, and they are housed in a system of more than 100 shelters across the United States, with the highest concentration near the southwest border.

Migrant Arrests Up 3% in August

The number of migrant family members arrested for illegally entering the United States shot up 38 percent in August, according to statistics released last week, a surge homeland security officials characterized as a “crisis.” Border Patrol agents apprehended nearly 13,000 members of “family units” last month, the latest data shows, the highest August total ever recorded. The increase followed President Trump’s decision to back off the provision of his “zero tolerance” crackdown that separated children from parents in an attempt to deter illegal migration. Overall, the number of foreigners apprehended or deemed “inadmissible” at border crossings rose to 46,560 in August, up from 40,011 in July. Department of Homeland Security officials said the arrival of so many families was due to court-imposed restrictions limiting the duration children may be detained in immigration jails. The result, officials said, is that parents bring children as a way to win quick release from government custody and avoid deportation.

$10 Million FEMA Budget Shifted to ICE

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency insisted Wednesday that the transfer of nearly $10 million of its budget to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will not affect the agency’s hurricane response and other disaster relief efforts. “We have plenty of resources, both monetary, staff and commodities, to respond to the storm,” Jeff Byard, FEMA’s associate administrator for the Office and Response and Recovery, told reporters during a morning briefing as Hurricane Florence barreled toward the Carolina coast. The budget transfer document from the Department of Homeland Security specifically mentions the money would come from FEMA’s budgets for travel, training, public engagement and information technology work not from disaster relief funding.

Poll Confirms that Americans Don’t Trust the Press

A major poll from Gallup and the Knight Foundation confirms that Americans don’t trust the press. The news media, like many other major U.S. institutions, has suffered from a decline in public confidence in recent years,” the report states. Sixty-nine percent of U.S. adults in the current survey say their trust in the news media has decreased in the past decade. Just 4 percent say their trust has increased, while 26 percent indicate their trust has not changed. Republicans (94 percent) and political conservatives (95 percent) are nearly unanimous in saying their trust in the media has decreased in the past decade. However, declining trust is not just confined to the political right — 75 percent of independents and 66 percent of moderates indicate they are less trusting than they were 10 years ago. However, a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows that voters trust the media over Trump by a 54-30 percent margin.

Heroin Use Down, Meth & Marijuana Up

Far fewer people started using heroin last year, but the decline among young new 18- to 25-year-old heroin users was almost imperceptible and this age group also saw a big jump in methamphetamine and marijuana use, according to a federal report out Friday. The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health emphasizes what it calls these “transitional aged youth” because they have higher rates of cigarette use, alcohol abuse, heroin use disorder and use more cocaine, meth and LSD than people both younger and older. With all the publicity surrounding deaths from heroin laced with fentanyl, addiction experts expected there to be a move away from heroin  – just as crack cocaine fell out of favor decades ago. Use of illegal drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, and opioids by pregnant women increased significantly between 2015 and 2017, the report found. About 7 percent of pregnant women reported using marijuana, with about 3 percent saying they used it daily. The report says marijuana use is linked to fetal growth problems, preterm births, stillbirths, hyperactivity and impaired cognition in newborns.

E-Cigarettes an Epidemic Among Nation’s Youth

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb dramatically escalated his efforts to stop an “epidemic” of teenage vaping, announcing Wednesday a massive enforcement action against retailers for allegedly selling e-cigarettes to minors and warning manufacturers of a potential ban of flavored e-cigarette liquids. Officials said the move against more than 1,300 retailers was the largest coordinated enforcement action in the agency’s history. The threatened ban, if carried out, would significantly upend the fast-growing industry. Preliminary data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey show a 75% increase in e-cigarette use among high school students this year compared to 2017. Much of the FDA’s sharp change in course is a result of the phenomenal success of Juul, which looks like a USB flash drive. In just three years, it has captured about 70 percent of the e-cigarette market. Juul delivers high levels of nicotine in a way that istn’t harsh, and it packages the product in a streamlined, clever way. Juul also developed a social media and advertising campaign that made a Juul e-cigarette “cool and hip.” In addition to nicotine, e-cigarettes also contain other harmful substances that may cause oral and oropharyngeal cancer.

Seven States Have Obesity Rates Above 35 Percent

Seven states boast adult obesity rates above 35 percent, a new report finds, while other states have seen their rates balloon rapidly. According to The State of Obesity 2018 report, no state showed significant statistical improvement in their obesity rates from a year earlier. Only two states — Hawaii and Colorado — and the District of Columbia had obesity rates below 25 percent. Seven states — Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia — had adult obesity rates above 35 percent. West Virginia held the highest rate at just over 38 percent. The report released by nonprofit organizations Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also found 22 states had obesity rates between 30 and 35 percent, while an additional 19 states had rates between 25 and 30 percent. Several studies have shown obesity has been linked to multiple diseases, from hypertension and diabetes to cancer. In May, a report from the World Cancer Research Fund linked 12 types of cancers, including breast and colorectal, to being overweight. The report says obesity costs an estimated $149 billion annually in directly related healthcare spending, and an additional $66 billion a year in lowered economic productivity.

Air Pollution Linked to Dementia

A recently released working paper by three Arizona State University economists makes the case that prolonged exposure to air pollution does not just cause respiratory problems, but also puts individuals at higher risk for dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The ASU researchers estimate, for example, that implementation of an Environmental Protection Agency standard on fine-particulate air pollution in 1997 through the Clean Air Act in previously unregulated counties averted approximately 140,000 people living with dementia in 2013. The size of particulates smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter allows those particulates to remain airborne for long periods, to penetrate buildings, to be inhaled easily and to reach and accumulate within brain tissue, the researchers write. They cite other studies that show the accumulation of particulates in the brain can cause neuroinflammation, which is associated with symptoms of dementia.

Economic News

Household income grew for the third straight year in 2017 but at a slower pace and poverty edged down in signs that the healthy economy continued to lift Americans across the financial spectrum. The median U.S. household income rose 1.8 percent to $61,372, the Census Bureau said Wednesday. That followed gains of 5.2 percent in 2015 and 3.2 percent in 2016. The number of Americans living in poverty was unchanged at 39.7 million but due to increased population, the poverty rate dipped to 12.3 percent from 12.7 percent in 2016, the third straight annual decline. Since 2014, the rate has fallen from 14.8 percent. And there were 28.5 million Americans without health insurance, or 8.8 percent of the population, a figure that was unchanged from 2016.

U.S. employers advertised the most jobs on record in July, and the number of workers quitting their jobs also hit an all-time high. Americans are increasingly taking advantage of a tight labor market to find new, often higher-paying jobs. That could help push up wages broadly across the economy. The Labor Department said Tuesday that the number of job openings rose 1.7 percent to 6.9 million, the most on record dating back to late 2000. The number of people quitting jumped 3 percent to 3.58 million, also a record. Quits are typically a good sign that jobs are plentiful, because people usually quit when they have another job or are confident they can find one. Even as the number of available jobs rose, overall hiring in July was essentially flat, with about 5.7 million people finding jobs, the report showed.

Poverty rates in some of the nation’s most populous metropolitan areas are on the decline, according to new data released Thursday. The U.S. Census Bureau statistics from its American Community Survey (ACS) show a decline in poverty rates in 13 of 25 of the most populous metro areas from 2016 and 2017. For several metro areas, it was the third consecutive year for a decline, according to the ACS. The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area had the lowest poverty rate of 7.9 percent.

For the first time since 1973, the United States is the world’s largest producer of crude oil, according to preliminary estimates published on Wednesday by the Energy Department. The feat demonstrates how the US shale oil boom has reshaped the global energy landscape. American oil output has more than doubled over the past decade. The United States isn’t expected to cede its crown any time soon. The EIA expects US oil production to stay ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia through 2019. The achievement underscores the profound impact of rapid technological advances in drilling. Fracking unlocked vast sums of oil and natural gas that had been trapped underground. Drilling costs declined dramatically.

Middle East

A prominent American-born Israeli settler was stabbed to death by a Palestinian teenager outside a shopping mall in the occupied West Bank on Sunday. The dead man, Ari Fuld, 45, was well-known by settlers as an outspoken Israeli advocate on social media. He was planning a lecture tour in the United States in November, according to his Twitter account. A civilian shot the attacker, who was taken to a hospital in moderate condition. Israeli media identified the attacker as Khalil Yusef Ali Jabarin, a 17-year-old from a nearby Palestinian village.

Korea

North and South Korea opened their first liaison office near their tense border Friday in a bid to facilitate better communication ahead of an eagerly awaited summit between their leaders in Pyongyang next week. The opening – in the North Korean border town of Kaesong – is the latest in a series of reconciliatory steps the rival Koreas have taken this year. The office is the first of its kind since the nations were divided at the end of World War II in 1945. South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said during the opening ceremony that the new office will become the “cradle of Korean co-prosperity.” Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, said during the ceremony that the office would help the Koreas have “candid conversations” and further build ties.

China

The growing crack-down on unofficial churches in China deepened on Sunday (Sept. 9) when authorities closed one of the largest churches in Beijing. The Beijing Chaoyang District Civil Affairs Bureau informed Zion Church that it was “legally banned” for organizing events without registering as an official Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) church, Reuters reported. The church has faced growing threats from authorities, including eviction, since it refused to comply with a government order in April to install closed-circuit television cameras at its worship site. Bob Fu, president of advocacy group China Aid, said authorities are enforcing rules requiring registration as a TSPM church in order to exercise increased control over ideologies. He called the church closure part of a larger crackdown on Christianity across China.

Nigeria

A spate of attacks, in which at least 20 were killed in Nigeria’s central Plateau State over the last week of August, has shattered peace efforts by religious and political leaders in its capital, Jos. On Aug. 28, communities including a mining site at Wereh village (Ropp District), Abonong, Ziyat and Bek villages (Foron District), Nafan, Sagas, Rawuru and Rambuh villages (Fan District), all in Barkin Ladi, came under heavy attack by Fulani militants, reports Charisma News. Victims included a pastor and four members of his family. Rev. Adamu Wurim Gyang, 50, and his three children were set ablaze and burnt beyond recognition. His wife, Jummai, 45, was shot and left to die in a pool of blood. More than 14 were killed in that attack; 95 houses were burned down and 225 farm crops awaiting harvest were destroyed.

Weather

Typhoon Mangkhut struck the island of Luzon in the Northern Philippines early Saturday as the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, killing at least 65 people with hundreds missing, many believed buried under mud. About 87,000 people have been evacuated from high-risk areas and advised not to return home until the danger has passed. The most powerful typhoon to hit the disaster-prone Philippines this year slammed ashore before dawn in Cagayan province on the northeastern tip of Luzon island, a breadbasket that is also a region of flood-prone rice plains and mountain provinces with a history of deadly landslides. Mangkhut’s sustained winds weakened to 105 mph with gusts of up to 161 mph after it sliced northwestward across Luzon then blew out to the South China Sea. Mangkhut then barreled into southern China on Sunday, bringing with it strong winds and heavy rain, prompting Chinese authorities to issue a red alert, the country’s most severe storm warning. More than three million people have been moved to safety in southern China as Typhoon Mangkhut moved northward and continued to wreak havoc across the region Monday. Hong Kong was left reeling by ferocious winds of up to 107 miles per hour and gusts of up to 138 mph. The storm tore off roofs and scaffolding from skyscrapers, shattered windows, shook high-rise buildings and caused serious flooding in low-lying areas as waves of more than ten feet lashed the coast.

The Hurricane season has been causing devastation from the Pacific to the Atlantic as seven active store swirled across the globe last week – with high chances an eighth powerful storm will soon develop to break an all-time record. Overall, there have been 9 named storms in the Atlantic and 15 names storms in the Pacific since the official start of the hurricane season, way above normal. As one veteran meteorologist remarked, “in my 35 years forecasting the weather on TV, I have NEVER seen so much activity in the tropics all at the same time.”