Signs of the Times

Praise Reports

Legislative bodies in two states voted last month to define the beginning of human life – and human rights – at conception. On Feb. 17, North Dakota’s House of Representatives voted 51-41 to approve a bill that declares “any organism with the genome of homo sapiens” – even one not yet born – is a person protected by rights under the state’s consti-tution. Last Friday, the Montana Senate voted 26-24 to approve S.B. 406, a constitutional Personhood Amendment that states, “All persons are born free and have certain inalien-able rights. … Person means a human being at all stages of human development of life, including the state of fertilization or conception, regardless of age, health, level of func-tioning or condition of dependency.”

President Obama is not the only black leader making history. As of last month, a record five African Americans lead state legislative bodies, and the number of black state law-makers has reached record levels.

Pakistani troops have defeated Taliban militants in one of their strongholds overlooking the Afghan border after a grinding six-month offensive, the general leading the military operation said on Saturday. “There’s been a dismantling of the militancy, it’s not seasonal. They have lost,” Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan told reporters flown to the area by military heli-copter. “Their resistance has broken down.”

  • •Let’s hope and pray that this assessment is true.

In Arizona, runoff from a rush of melted mountain snow pushed the Roosevelt Lake res-ervoir to record levels Friday, surpassing a federal flood-control limit for the first time and triggering an immediate release of excess water. The water will flow down the Salt River’s normally dry stretches in Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix, resulting in periodic road closures at some river crossings until the lake recedes. The melting snow filled creeks and rivers across Arizona’s high country as the weather warmed. Water levels spiked midweek on the Salt, the Verde and on tributaries such as Oak Creek, which swelled quickly on its path through Sedona and nearby communities.

Dr. James Dobson Resigns as Focus on the Family Chair

Conservative evangelical leader James Dobson has resigned as chairman of Focus on the Family but will continue to play a prominent role at the organization he founded more than three decades ago. Dobson notified the board of his decision Wednesday, and the 950 employees of the Colorado Springs-based ministry were informed Friday morning at a monthly worship service. Dobson, 72, will continue to host Focus on the Family’s flagship radio program, write a monthly newsletter and speak out on moral issues. Dob-son began relinquishing control six years ago by stepping down as president and CEO.

Assisted Suicide

Terminally ill patients with less than six months to live will soon be able to ask their doctors to prescribe them lethal medication in Washington state. But even though the “Death with Dignity” law takes effect Thursday, people who might seek the life-ending prescriptions could find their doctors conflicted or not willing to write them. Many doctors are hesitant to talk publicly about where they stand on the issue. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that it was up to states to regulate medical practice, including assisted suicide, and Washington’s Initiative 1000 was passed by nearly 60% of state voters in November.

Obama Moves to Rescind ‘Conscience Clause’

Religion News Service reports that the Obama administration announced Friday (Feb. 27) plans to rescind regulations that allow healthcare workers to abstain from performing medical procedures they object to on moral grounds. The Bush administration authored the rule shortly before leaving office last December, primarily to shield those with religious or moral opposition to abortion. It said healthcare workers cannot be discrimi-nated against for refusing to participate in objectionable procedures, and facilities that did not accommodate employees with objections could lose federal funding. It is one of sev-eral abortion-related measures the new White House is seeking to overturn.

Weather Signs

Thousands gathered Monday in the Washington D.C. cold for a rally about global warm-ing. Organized by Capitol Climate Action, the protest to fight climate change came with the inopportune backdrop of the city’s worst snowstorm this year and below-freezing temperatures.

  • See, God does have a sense of humor!

Despite recent rains, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in California due to a severe three-year drought. The drought has forced farmers to fallow their fields, put thousands of agricultural workers out of work and led to conservation measures in cities throughout the state, which is the nation’s top agricultural producer. The declaration urges water agencies to reduce water usage by 20%. Mandatory rationing is the next option if voluntary cooperation doesn’t work.

Meanwhile, Bismarck, N.D. is on pace to break its snowfall record of 102 inches set back in 1996-97. As a result, a new flood outlook from the National Weather Service says the Red River is likely to top 30 feet in Fargo this spring.

A potent March storm dumped up to 14 inches of snow along the East Coast on Monday. The storm barreled through the Tennessee Valley and Southeast over the weekend, then overspread the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast overnight Sunday. Weather conditions were still so disruptive that the Federal Aviation Administration said airlines canceled a total of 1,140 flights

Across Texas, the nation’s No. 2 agricultural state, drought conditions are evaporating stock tanks, keeping many crop farmers from planting, forcing cattle producers to cull their herds, and dropping water levels in state lakes. Despite hurricanes Dolly, Gustav and Ike soaking Texas in 2008, almost every part of the state — nearly 97% — is experi-encing some drought. Parts of central Texas and the Hill Country — more that 8% of the state — are not only in exceptional drought – the most severe stage of dryness — but they are now the driest region in the country and the driest they have been since 1918.

Wildfires

Firefighters are working against warm and windy weather as they battle a wildfire that has already burned 6,330 acres on Fort Carson near Colorado Springs. It is 70% con-tained and may have been started by a training detonation of C-4 explosives.

Pestilence

Four Indonesians have died of bird flu, bringing the death toll in the country hardest hit by the disease over the past several years to 119. It accounts for nearly half the 256 human fatalities tallied worldwide. So far, most human cases have been linked to contact with infected chickens. But health experts worry the H5N1 virus could mutate into a form that passes easily among humans, sparking a pandemic that could kill mil-lions worldwide. Evidence that flu viruses are becoming more resistant to the drug Tamiflu has sown deep concern among doctors who are worried that their best flu treatment is losing its punch. Tamiflu resistance in one of the viruses that cause the most illness has reached almost 100%.

Economic Signs

The nation’s unemployment rate bolted to 8.1% in February, the highest since late 1983, as cost-cutting employers slashed 651,000 jobs amid a deepening recession. The Labor Department’s report shows America’s workers being clobbered by a relentless wave of layoffs unlikely to ease anytime soon. Both figures were worse than analysts expected

The federal insurance fund that protects most bank deposits is being drained by a sharp rise in bank failures and has dwindled to its lowest level since 1993, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported last week. Depositors are not at risk because the fund is backed by the government, but taxpayers could be forced to reach into their wallets if the decline continues. The fund held $52.4 billion at the beginning of 2008. One year and 25 bank failures later, the fund held $18.9 billion. So far this year, 14 banks have failed, draining another $1.7 billion from the insurance fund.

Troubled US mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae said last week that it lost almost 60 bil-lion dollars last year and asked the Treasury Department for a further 15.2 billion dollars in aid. The US government-controlled Fannie Mae reported a loss of 25.2 billion dollars in the fourth quarter driven mainly by the effects of a prolonged housing slump and a global financial crisis. For the full year of 2008, the company posted a loss of 58.7 billion dollars, almost 27 times higher than the 2007 loss of 2.1 billion dollars.

The New York Times reports that he economy is spiraling down at an accelerating pace, threatening to undermine the Obama administration’s spending plans, which anticipate vigorous rates of growth in years to come. A sense of disconnect between the projections by the White House and the grim realities of everyday American life was enhanced on Friday, as the Commerce Department gave a harsher assessment for the last three months of 2008.

  • It’s refreshing to see the liberal NYT owning up to reality

Stocks ended another unforgiving month with a steep loss, one that left the Dow Jones industrial average at less than half its record high. The Dow’s 11.7% loss in February was its worst since 1933, when it fell 15.6%.

The number of people who were late making their mortgage payments shot up 53% in the fourth quarter of 2008 from the same period in 2007. This was the eighth straight quar-terly increase. The percentage of mortgage holders at least 60 days behind on payments, considered a precursor to foreclosure, jumped to 4.58% nationally, from 2.99% for the 2007 fourth quarter.

The worldwide PC industry will experience its sharpest shipment decline in history this year as the global economy continues to deteriorate. PC shipments are expected to decline 11.9% to 257 million units in 2009. Until now, the worst decline in PC shipments was in 2001, the height of the tech-bust-fueled recession..

The number of U.S. consumers filing for bankruptcy jumped 29% in February from the year earlier, and the number is expected to keep rising as economic troubles deepen, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute

Automakers sold barely more than half as many new cars and trucks in February as they did a year ago. General Motors’ auditors have raised “substantial doubt” about the trou-bled automaker’s ability to continue operations. GM says in its report that auditors cited recurring losses from operations and an inability to generate enough cash to meet its obli-gations in raising substantial doubts about its ability to continue as a going concern.

The Treasury Department announced Tuesday it has provided $394.9 million to 28 banks in new payments from the government’s $700 billion financial rescue fund. The govern-ment is buying preferred stock in banks as a way to bolster their balance sheets in the hopes of getting them to resume more normal lending. The new payments bring the total to $196.76 billion, covering 467 financial institutions in 47 states and Puerto Rico.

Economic Consequences

With the U.S. dealing with an economic slide that has cost millions of jobs, the number of vehicle repossessions is expected to rise 5% this year. That’s after it jumped 12% to 1.67 million nationally in 2008, said Tom Webb, chief economist with Manheim Consult-ing, an automotive marketing firm. That followed a 9% increase in 2007, creating more opportunities for bad outcomes in an industry where armed confrontations and threats happen every day.

An annual convention of newspaper editors has been canceled for the first time since World War II, undone by the worst economic crisis since that harrowing era. The American Society of Newspapers Editors’ decision to skip this year’s meeting was an-nounced Friday, coinciding with the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News — the largest daily U.S. newspaper to shut down so far during a steep two-year slide in advertis-ing revenue that’s draining the life out of the industry.

More than 30,000 government employees — about 14% of the public work force — could lose their jobs and new taxes will be introduced as Puerto Rico attempts to shore up its ailing economy, the governor of the U.S. island territory announced Tuesday.

To curtail costs while avoiding the strain of layoffs, companies, colleges and state gov-ernments are mandating temporary hiatuses, commonly known as furloughs. Dozens that have used this tactic to save millions in payroll and other expenses. Employees given one-week furloughs are eligible to apply for unemployment compensation in some states.

More than half of the nation’s foreclosures last year took place in 35 counties, a sign that the financial crisis devastating the national economy may have begun with collapsing home loans in only a few corners of the country – namely, California, Arizona and Flor-ida.

New World Order Signs

In a passionate speech Wednesday to a joint session of Congress British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it was time to “seize the moment” and work together as a global community to conquer the many obstacles facing the world.

  • This manufactured financial crisis is meant to hasten the one-world government, as prophesied in Revelation 13.

Privacy advocates are issuing warnings about a new radio chip plan that ultimately could provide electronic identification for every adult in the U.S. and allow agents to compile attendance lists at anti-government rallies simply by walking through the assembly. The proposal, which has earned the support of Janet Napolitano, the newly chosen chief of the Department of Homeland Security, would embed radio chips in driver’s licenses, or “enhanced driver’s licenses.”

  • The “mark of the beast” is coming in some way, shape or form. This could be the initial version before the chips are implanted in our bodies, just as the Bible foretells (Revelation 16:2, 19:20)

Iraq Mission to End in August 2010

President Obama announced last Friday that the United States combat presence in Iraq will end in August 2010 after about 90,000 troops are withdrawn. The president said he plans to leave a force of 35,000 to 50,000 to advise Iraqi security forces, conduct counter-terrorism missions and protect U.S. personnel.

Gitmo Resolution?

New Attorney General Eric Holder returned from his visit to Guantanamo Bay surprised that the American military was doing an impressive job in keeping the terrorists behind bars. In comments made at a Department of Justice briefing, he called the facilities “good ones” and said that Guantanamo Bay is “well run.” He also admitted that the allegations of torture and abuse were severely overstated. “I did not witness any mistreatment of prisoners…What I saw was a very conscious attempt to conduct — for these guards to conduct themselves in an appropriate way” ? Despite finding out what we and most Americans already knew, the Obama Administration is continuing with their plan to close down Gitmo and bring these terrorists to our shores or to release them outright.

  • These misguided, liberal appeasement strategies will only backfire on us all.

360,000 Veterans May Have Brain Injuries

Pentagon officials estimated for the first time Wednesday that up to 360,000 among the 1.8 million troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan may have suffered brain injuries. Among them are 45,000 to 90,000 veterans whose symptoms persist and warrant specialized care. Persistent symptoms can range from headaches and sleep disorders to memory, balance and vision difficulties. Research suggests the vast majority of these troops recover.

Obama: Missile System may Not be Necessary

President Obama, in one of his first efforts to “reset or reboot” the nation’s icy relation-ship with Russia, said Tuesday he has told Moscow that the United States might not need to build a controversial missile-defense system in Eastern Europe if Iran halted its quest for a nuclear weapon. Russia has bitterly opposed U.S. plans, promoted by the Bush administration, to build missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic at a cost of at least $4 billion. The United States has been developing such a system on U.S. soil since the 1980s. In light of growing threats from rogue nations, including Iran, the Bush administration pushed hard for expanding the system into Europe.

Clinton: Palestinian State ‘Inescapable’

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton promised Tuesday to work with the incoming Israeli government, but delivered a clear message that could put her at odds with the country’s next leader: Movement toward the establishment of a Palestinian state is “ines-capable.” Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu opposes Palestinian statehood and has been critical of peace talks.

  • A Palestinian state is inexcusable, a violation of God’s plan and an appeasement of Muslim extremists. It will only serve as a further launching point in Islam’s goal of eliminating Israel completely.

Court Issues Warrant for Sudan President

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. He is the first sitting head of state the court has or-dered arrested. Al-Bashir’s government denounced the warrant as part of a Western con-spiracy aimed at destabilizing the vast oil-rich nation south of Egypt. African and Arab nations fear the warrant will destabilize the whole region, bring even more conflict in Darfur and threaten the fragile peace deal that ended decades of civil war between north-ern and southern Sudan. China, which buys two-thirds of Sudan’s oil, supports the Afri-can and Arab positions.

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