County Apologies for Citing Pastor’s Home Bible Studies

San Diego County has rescinded its citation and apologized to a pastor who was warned that he needed a permit to hold weekly Bible studies in his home. David Jones and his wife Mary had been warned that they could be fined $100 to $1,000 if they held religious assemblies without a major use permit. A letter from the county attorney rescinds the citation and says the permit is not required. In a second letter, Chief Administrative Officer Walter Ekard apologizes and assures the couple that steps are being taken so that similar religious gatherings won’t be issued citations in the future.

U.S. Evangelicals Pessimistic about Christianity in America

The Christian Post reports that North American Christian leaders expect the Gospel to continue its spread – just outside the U.S. “Evangelical leaders are very bullish on the future growth of Christianity, except in America,” said Leith Anderson, president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The most recent survey of 100 evangelical leaders shows that no one expects the number of Christians worldwide to decrease, but will be concentrated in other parts of the globe. Most expect the United States and Europe to diminish as Christian strongholds while more people come to Christ in the global south. Still, Anderson notes that Christians are more likely to be persecuted or ignored as a cultural influence in these regions.

Iran: Authorities Arrest Five Converts to Christianity

ASSIST News Service reports that Iranian security forces on May 21 raided an underground house church and arrested five Christian converts. Plainclothes security officers handcuffed and took the five Christians, who converted from Islam, to an unknown location. The officers also confiscated several Bibles. Mr. Javad Abtahi, the leader of the church, is among the detained Christians. This arrest comes after two Christian women were imprisoned in March. Marzieh Amairizadeh Esmaeilabad, 30, and Maryam Rustampoor, 27, who are also converts from Islam remain detained in the notorious Evin prison. “Our sources indicate that Marzieh and Maryam are still in prison and Iranian officials have not brought charges against them,” said Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern.

N.H. Governor Signs Gay Marriage Bill

New Hampshire’s governor has signed legislation making the state the sixth to allow gay marriage. The law will take effect in January, exactly two years after the state legalized civil unions. New Hampshire joins Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont and Iowa in recognizing same-sex marriages, though opponents hope to overturn Maine’s law with a public vote. Lynch demanded language protecting the rights of religious opponents of gay marriage before signing the bills. The revised bill specifies that all religious organizations, associations, or societies have exclusive control over their religious doctrines, policies, teachings, and beliefs on marriage.

  • No wonder I left the northeast. It’s become the secular/liberal bastion of the country.

Court to Government: OK to Diss Catholics

Authorities in San Francisco who called the beliefs of the Catholic Church “hateful,” “callous,” and an “insult,” – and urged members to disobey them – have been given the go-ahead by a panel of judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to express such hate because it serves a “secular” purpose. “The policy of San Francisco is one of totalitarian intolerance of Christians of all denominations who oppose homosexual conduct. My concern is that if this ruling is allowed to stand, it will further embolden anti-Christian attacks,” said Richard Thompson, the president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, which represented the Catholic League and several individuals in the church in their complaint against the city.

  • Riddle: When is a hate crime not a hate crime? Answer: When it targets Christians.

Obama Plan would Provide Health Care for All

President Obama says he’s open to requiring all Americans to buy health insurance, as long as the plan provides a “hardship waiver” to exempt poor people from having to pay. Obama opposed such an individual mandate during his campaign, but Congress increasingly is moving to embrace the idea. In providing the first real details on how he wants to reshape the nation’s health care system, the president urged Congress on Wednesday toward a sweeping overhaul that would allow Americans to buy into a government insurance plan. Obama has asked the House and Senate each to finish legislation by early August, so that the two chambers can combine their bills in time for him to sign a single, sweeping measure in October.

  • Socialism is no longer creeping. Under this plan we would be required to join a government insurance plan. So, the nationalization of the banking and insurance industry will accelerate if Obama has his way.

NRA Appeals Handgun Ban to High Court

The National Rifle Association is asking the Supreme Court to strike down strict gun control laws in the Chicago area, setting the stage for another high court battle over Second Amendment protections for gun owners. The NRA wants the court to rule that last year’s gun rights decision invalidating a handgun ban in the District of Columbia applies as well to local and state laws. The appeal to the Supreme Court comes almost immediately after a federal appeals court in Chicago said Tuesday that it is bound by earlier Supreme Court decisions which held the Second Amendment applies only to federal laws. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was part of an appeals court panel in New York that reached a similar conclusion in January. Judges on both courts — Republican nominees in Chicago and Democratic nominees in New York — said only the Supreme Court could decide whether to extend last year’s ruling throughout the country. The framers of the Constitution intended “to protect the right to keep and bear arms and other rights from state infringement,” the NRA said in a filing made available at the court Thursday.

  • Our liberal activist judges will finagle some way or other to expand gun control

Swine H1N1 Flu

Health officials in Wisconsin, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Utah reported deaths from swine flu on Thursday. Wisconsin now leads the nation with 1,905 confirmed cases, followed by Texas (1,403), Illinois (1,151), California (804), and New York (646). Arizona stands eight with 547.

Smoking Declines as Alcohol, Drug Use hold Steady

A new report on substance abuse and mental health shows a small percentage of people are kicking smoking while alcohol and illicit drug-use levels remain steady. But the report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, out Thursday, also carries home the message that while all states have problems, there are big variations across the U.S. Smoking declined from 24.96% to 24.63% with the greatest decrease among 12 to 25 year olds. California is among the states with highest percentage of people who regard smoking as a health hazard (77.35%) and had the second lowest smoking rate (19.79%) behind Utah (17.51%). West Virginia, on the other hand, has the highest rate of cigarette users of all states (31.10%).

Alcohol still leads tobacco as the most commonly used substance. Rhode Island led the pack with a 64% usage rate, followed by Connecticut and New Hampshire at 62%. Utah was lowest at 31% followed by Mississippi and West Virginia at 37%. Rhode Island also led the states in drug use at 12.5%, followed by the District of Columbia at 12.1% and Vermont at 11.5%. Iowa was lowest at 5% followed by North Dakota (6.2%) and Utah (6.4%).

  • So, the northeast is the most liberal/secular and also leads in substance abuse. Do you suppose there’s a connection?

Internet Use Triples in Decade

According to a new report by the Census Bureau, Internet use tripled from 1997 to 2007. Sixty-two percent of U.S. households used the Internet from home; 18% did that in 1997. Among those using the Internet in 2007, 82% did so using a high-speed connection. Just 17% used dial-up. For individuals 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree, 87% used the Internet. Those without a high school diploma: 19%. 69% of whites lived in a home with Internet use; so did 73% of Asians, 51% of blacks and 48% of Hispanics.

Government Spending on Benefits Soars

Benefits, such as Social Security, food stamps, unemployment insurance and health care, accounted for 16.2% of personal income in the first quarter of 2009, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That’s the highest percentage since the government began compiling records in 1929. In all, government spending on benefits will top $2 trillion in 2009 — an average of $17,000 provided to each U.S. household, federal data show. Benefits rose at a 19% annual rate in the first quarter compared to the last three months of 2008. The recession caused about half of the increase, according to the report. The other half is the result of policies enacted during President George W. Bush’s first term. Following the 2001 recession — when costs normally decline — social spending soared to pay for the Medicare drug benefit, expanded health care for children and greater use of food stamps.

“The increase in social spending is still relatively modest given the severity of the downturn,” says economist Dean Baker of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research.  Adam Lerrick, economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, says the benefits’ explosion will eventually lead to an economic crisis. The safety net is working, advocates say. “We’re not seeing the hunger we saw in the 1930s because the food stamp program is doing what it’s supposed to do,” says Florida food stamp director Jennifer Lange.

  • Jesus said we would always have the poor among us. Until He returns, where do we draw the line on assisting the poor or destroying our economy?

Pentagon Faces $2.5 billion Budget Shortfall

The faster-than-expected growth in the size of the military has forced the Pentagon to overspend its budget and seek an extra $1.6 billion from Congress to make up for it. House budget officials have included the money in a supplemental war-time spending bill to help the Pentagon pay troops it has recruited two years faster than planned, because of the weak economy and the need for forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite exceeding the budget, the Army has been eager to expand because of the strain caused by fighting two wars for more than six years.

  • When is any government agency not eager to expand?

$100 Billion Bailout for IMF Tagged on to War Funding Bill

Democrats in Congress have agreed to provide a $100 billion credit line to the International Monetary Fund, tagging it onto the war supplemental intended for operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. The measure would also increase the U.S. member contribution to the IMF by $8 billion and authorize the United States to back the IMF’s plan to sell 400 tons (12.97 million ounces) of gold, according to lawmakers’ aides quoted in a Reuters report. This would fulfill Obama’s pledge to the G20 in April, to contribute toward a $500 billion boost for the IMF, which it says will go toward “helping poorer nations” during the economic downturn. However, what the the Treasury Department is really proposing is an international version of the Wall Street bailout; a $100 billion bailout for the IMF, which amounts to a bailout for European banks facing big losses in Central and Eastern Europe.

  • Anything to prop up one of the lynch pins of the New World Order

Economic News

With companies in no mood to hire, the unemployment rate jumped to 9.4% in May, the highest in more than 25 years. But the pace of layoffs eased, with employers cutting 345,000 jobs, the fewest since September. With companies in no mood to hire, the unemployment rate jumped to 9.4% in May, the highest in more than 25 years. But the pace of layoffs eased, with employers cutting 345,000 jobs, the fewest since September, the fourth straight month that the pace of layoffs slowed. Still, the increase in the nation’s unemployment rate underscores the difficulties that America’s 14.5 million unemployed are having in finding new jobs.

The number of people on unemployment insurance rolls fell slightly last week for the first time in 20 weeks, and the number of new jobless claims also fell, the government said Thursday. The jobs report provides a glimmer of good news for job seekers, though both drops were small and the figures remain significantly above levels associated with a healthy economy. The Labor Department said first-time claims for jobless benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 621,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 625,000. The number of people continuing to collect jobless benefits fell 15,000 to 6.7 million, first drop since early January.

A pair of economic reports on Wednesday indicated only slight improvement in the service and manufacturing sectors, suggesting that any economic recovery will be gradual. The nation’s service sector shrank in May at the slowest pace since late last year. And factory orders rose in April. But the improvements fell short of economists’ expectations and disappointed investors.

Consumer and commercial bankruptcy filings are on pace to reach a stunning 1.5 million this year. The number of filings is up sharply from last year’s 1.1 million. Bankruptcy filings took a dramatic nose dive after a 2005 bankruptcy reform measure was signed into law to curb bankruptcy abuse and make it harder to erase debts. But filings are surging back in part because of rising job losses.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said Wednesday it has postponed its pilot sale in June of toxic bank loans, but said the overall program will continue to be developed. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said banks have been able to raise capital without having to sell bad assets through the FDIC’s so-called Legacy Loan Program. The loan purchase program is part of the bigger Public- Private Investment Program, which is designed to cleanse troubled assets from bank balance sheets.

Oil prices on Thursday set a new high for the year, buoyed by a weaker dollar. Benchmark crude for July delivery was up $2.69 to settle at $68.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The nationwide average gasoline price rose to $2.59 per gallon Friday morning.

Many retailers said same-store sales fell in May, as expected, as shoppers continue to spend cautiously, focusing on bargains and food. “There’s general softness across the board, as consumers continue to face rising unemployment, falling home values and rising gas prices,” said Ken Perkins, president of retail consulting firm Retail Metrics LLC. He expects same-store sales to fall 3.6% overall.

As Wal-Mart opens about 150 new or expanded stores in the U.S. in 2009, the company expects to hire about 22,000 people for new positions. Wal-Mart has more than 2.1 million employees in the U.S. and abroad. The company had sales last fiscal year of $401 billion.

Obama Calls for New Start between United State.2s, Muslims

Quoting from the Quran for emphasis, President Obama called for a “new beginning between the United States and Muslims” Thursday in Cairo, Egypt and said together, they could confront violent extremism across the globe and advance the timeless search for peace in the Middle East. “This cycle of suspicion and discord must end,” Obama said in a widely anticipated speech in one of the world’s largest Muslim countries, an address designed to reframe relations after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the U.S.-led war in Iraq. He said American ties with Israel are unbreakable, yet issued a firm, evenhanded call to the Jewish state and Palestinians alike to live up to their international obligations.

“And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” said the president. At the same time, he said the same principle must apply in reverse. “Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire.Islam is not part of the problem in combatting violent extremism — it is an important part of promoting peace,” he said. In an apparent policy shift, President Obama on Thursday invited Hamas — a designated terror organization — to “play a role” in the future of the Palestinian people.

  • Recognizing and, worse yet, inviting a terrorist organization to play any kind of role in major policy decisions is reprehensible. They will use such weakness to exploit us, because  extremism and jihad are part of the fabric of Islam as specified in the Quran.

Cuba

The Organization of American States announced Wednesday it has revoked a 1962 measure suspending communist Cuba, reversing a landmark of the Cold War in the hemisphere. The action was taken “without conditions,” said Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Fander Falconi, but it does set “mechanisms” for Cuba’s return — including its agreement to comply with OAS conventions on human rights and other issues. Many countries pushed to readmit Cuba without preconditions, but U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had urged the OAS to require that Cuba made democratic reforms and improve respect for human rights.

China

Much in China has changed since June 4, 1989, when the world was shocked by images of tanks rolling into Tiananmen Square, followed by a military crackdown that killed hundreds, perhaps thousands of demonstrators. The poor, inward-looking China of that era has been transformed into a breathtakingly modern economic power that dazzled visitors at last year’s Olympic Games and is the United States’ biggest creditor. Prosperity has helped ease much of the unrest that once fermented in Chinese society, and many of today’s students say they worry more about jobs or relationships than their lack of freedom. In many other ways, though, China remains a country frozen in that moment two decades ago. The continued persecution that Chen and other dissidents who were at Tiananmen Square describe highlights the persistent fears of an authoritarian regime that, to this day, forbids almost any display of opposition.

Ahead of the anniversary, the government has taken steps to prevent any commemoration of the event it officially describes as a “counter-revolutionary rebellion.” Foreign journalists were barred from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on Wednesday as an Internet clampdown that blocked Twitter expanded to include more blogs on the eve of the 20th anniversary of a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests. Authorities have also shut photo-sharing site Flickr and confined dissidents to their homes or forced them to leave Beijing. China blocked attempts to mark Thursday’s 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre by swarming the plaza with police and blacking out foreign TV reports. In contrast, tens of thousands of people attended a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong — the largest rally since the first commemoration in 1990.

North Korea

The White House said Obama’s speech contained no new policy proposals on the Middle East. Laura Ling and Euna Lee, reporters for former Vice President Al Gore’s California-based Current TV media venture, were arrested March 17 near the North Korean border while on a reporting trip to China. The proceedings come at a time of mounting tensions on the Korean peninsula, with the communist regime launching a long-range rocket in April and conducting an underground nuclear test last week in defiance of international demands for restraint.

Pakistan

A suicide bomber killed at least 30 people and wounded 40 attending Friday prayers at a mosque in Pakistan’s northwest, violence that came as the country’s leaders urged a visiting U.S. envoy for more aid to stave off Taliban-led militancy. The attack also occurred as the Pakistani army said it had made more gains in the nearby Swat Valley, an operation that the army chief said had “decisively turned” in the military’s favor. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast at the Sunni Muslim mosque in the Haya Gai area of Upper Dir, a rough and tumble district next to Swat.

Mexico

Mexican police found 11 bodies — most with their hands and feet cut off — inside an abandoned car in the border state of Sonora Thursday in violence attributed to drug traffickers battling for control of the region. Sonora’s state prosecutors said in a statement that the bodies were discovered inside a sport-utility vehicle on a road between the towns of Caborca and Sonoyta along with a threatening message. The SUV had been stolen in Arizona. Meanwhile, federal police said Thursday they have captured two of 53 inmates who escaped from a prison in northern Mexico last month as its guards apparently stood by.

  • Jesus says in His end-time discourse in Matthew 24: “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (v12-13)

Weather

Southern California’s strange streak of early June weather was likely to continue Thursday, as dozens of lightning-sparked wildfires mixed with scattered rains in a storm that left two women dead. Both the fires and storm hit hardest in San Bernardino County, where a lightning bolt struck and killed a 40-year-old woman Wednesday. Four young men were burned when a bolt of lightning hit a chain-link fence and jumped to a large rock where they were sitting in San Bernardino. As the storm passed through San Diego County another man was injured when he was hit by lightning as he worked outside a house in San Marcos. Hail was reported along the coast in Del Mar, Pacific Beach and La Jolla. At least 19 small fires erupted in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Police say a 12-year-old Spotsylvania County, Virginia boy died and another boy was critically injured after lightning struck as they were playing catch. Severe storms battered parts of Virginia, flooding roads and knocking out power.

Severe thunderstorms blanketed portions of West Texas on Tuesday, dropping baseball- and golf ball-sized hail and prompting the issuance of some tornado warnings. a combination of hail and high winds caused damage to homes and businesses in Roby in Fisher County.

Storms with high winds and hail have turned several barns and at least one garage into piles of lumber in central Ohio’s Fairfield County. Straight-line winds of up to 60 mph were recorded along with hail as big as tennis balls. Flash flooding and power outages were the problems Tuesday evening across southern Ohio.

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