Earthquakes

A strong earthquake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6, hit eastern Turkey on Monday, killing 57 people and knocking down houses in at least six small villages, an official said. The temblor struck six villages in Elazig province, toppling stone or mud-brick homes and minarets of mosques. The worst-hit area was the village of Okcular where some 17 people were reported killed and homes crumbled into piles of dirt. The government’s crisis center said around 100 people were also injured in the quake.

A magnitude-6.5 undersea earthquake shook the western shore of Indonesia’s Sumatra island on Friday, causing panic but no casualties or damage, an official said. The quake struck late at night 74 miles southeast of Pagai Selatan, an island off the western coast of Sumatra. The quake struck 6 miles beneath the Indian Ocean bed. There was no tsunami potential.

According to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the number of destructive earthquakes measuring between 6-8 on the Richter scales have increased in the 2000s by a factor of 10 over the number in the early 1900s and by a factor of at least 7 over the number in any decade of the 20th century. See the chart at http://www.thehorizonproject.com/earthquakes.cfm

  • Jesus’ warning sign of more earthquakes leading up to the end-times (Matt. 24:7) seems to happening right before our eyes (or under our feet).

Custodian of U.S. Mosques Promotes Slaying Americans

The custodian of most of the major mosques in America acts as a front for the radical Muslim Brotherhood in America, and publishes and distributes Islamic literature that exhorts Muslims to “kill” any Westerners who get in the way of spreading Islam, WorldNetDaily reports. “No political system or material power should put hindrances in the way of preaching Islam. If someone does this, then it is the duty of Islam to fight him until either he is killed or until he declares his submission,” asserts an Islamic publication distributed by the North American Islamic Trust. NAIT holds title to more than 300 mosques in America – including the large Islamic center outside Washington where the Fort Hood terrorist and some of the 9/11 hijackers worshipped.

American Approval of Israel Increases Dramatically

As recently as 2005, when the respected Gallup organization asked Americans if their sympathies lied with Israel or the Palestinians, 52% said Israel while 30% preferred the Palestinians. In February 2010, in answer to the same question: 63% chose Israel while only 15% said the Palestinians. Gallup concluded that Israel’s support is “the highest level in nearly 20 years.”

  • Americans are finally understanding that Islam is not a peaceful religion

D.C. Episcopal Bishop OKs Civil Marriages for Gay Couples

Religion News Service reports that, one day after the District of Columbia legalized gay marriage, the city’s Episcopal bishop said priests may preside over and bless same-sex civil marriages. They cannot, however, use the denomination’s marriage rites. “We are of equal value in the eyes of God,” Bishop John Chane said Thursday (March 4), “and any one of use may be called by the Holy Spirit into holy relationships…” The Episcopal Church voted last summer to allow bishops in states or jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal to “provide generous pastoral response” to same-sex couples, despite widespread opposition to homosexuality in the rest of the global Anglican Communion. Episcopalians are not yet permitted to use the marriage rites in its Book of Common Prayer for gay couples; Chane did not specify which rites priests should use, but said numerous other blessings are available. Bishops in Vermont, Massachusetts and Iowa, where gay marriage is also legal, have taken a similar approach.

States Sue EPA Over Global Warming

The Environmental Protection Agency, which is threatening to regulate carbon emissions if Congress won’t, is facing legal heat from states that say new regulations will kill jobs at the worst possible time. Texas, Alabama and Virginia, all led by Republican governors, have filed petitions since December, when the EPA ruled that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide endanger human health, clearing the path for the agency to issue mandatory regulations to reduce them. As the EPA grapples with the lawsuits, Congress is trying to block the agency from acting without congressional approval. Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., introduced legislation Thursday calling for a two-year suspension of potential EPA regulations. Rockefeller and other lawmakers from coal mining states oppose the EPA’s plan to target power plants and other industrial facilities.

  • Globalists like Rockefeller drop their ideology when it comes to home state issues, with re-election always foremost in the minds of politicians

Women Still the Target of Discriminatory Laws

Five years after a U.N. conference called for the revocation of laws that discriminate on the basis of gender, a new report released Friday highlights 36 countries that still have laws that treat women as second-class citizens. The international human rights organization Equality Now, which prepared the report, said the countries it highlighted represent just a sample of nations that have failed to repeal discriminatory laws against women regarding marriage, economic and personal status, and violent acts including rape. The report found it alarming that many countries, including Algeria, Israel, Japan, Mali, Sudan, Tanzania, and Yemen, have been unwilling to repeal laws that grant women secondary status within marriage. These laws include providing for unequal rights in marriage and divorce, prescribing male guardianship over women, permitting polygamy, and requiring wives to be obedient.

  • It is mostly Asian and Muslim nations that continue to treat women as inferior

Defaults on student loans rising

For more than a decade, the student loan default rate was in decline because the federal government toughened penalties for schools with high shares of defaults. Now, the rate is increasing again and not just because of the economy. Steep hikes in tuition are forcing student debt levels to all-time highs. Lenders have been generous with money. And many borrowers have discovered too late that their jobs don’t pay enough to easily cover loan payments or that one personal crisis can force them to renege on the debt. That debt rarely gets wiped out, even in bankruptcy. The problem is particularly acute in Arizona, which has the nation’s highest overall default rate on federal student loans: 9.8 percent in fiscal year 2007, the latest figures available.

State Parks take Budget Hit

Lawmakers in at least a dozen states have contemplated the closure of up to 400 state parks this year, according to a National Association of State Park Directors survey, says Philip McKnelly, the association’s executive director. The exact number to be closed remains a moving target, he says, as budget negotiations continue and compromises such as reducing hours and cutting staff are made to avoid closures. Government leaders are tempted to view parks as expendable, McKnelly says, although public recreation facilities are important during an era of unemployment and financial stress. “They think, well, this is just play, it’s frivolous … but this is the worst time to be talking about closing parks.” Arizona plans to padlock 21 of the state’s 30 parks, leaving people far fewer places to explore the history and beauty of the state.

Economic News

Regulators on Friday shuttered banks in Florida, Illinois and Maryland, boosting to 25 the number of bank failures in the U.S. so far this year following the 140 brought down in 2009 by mounting loan defaults and the recession. The pace of bank seizures this year is likely to accelerate in coming months, FDIC officials have said. The number of banks on the FDIC’s confidential “problem” list jumped to 702 in the fourth quarter from 552 three months earlier, even as the industry squeezed out a small profit. There were 25 bank failures in 2008 and just three in 2007.

Consumer borrowing broke a record stretch of declines with a small increase in January as a boost in auto loans offset continued weakness in credit card borrowing. The small gain, the first in nearly a year, could be a signal that Americans are regaining confidence in the economy. Auto loans experienced a 5.01% gain, while credit cards and other types of revolving credit fell 2.3%.

More than 600 General Motors dealerships slated to close have received reprieves and will be reinstated, the automaker has announced. Arbitration claims had been filed by 1,160 of the 2,400 targeted dealers to shut down.

Iraq

The head of Iraq‘s election commission says turnout for Sunday’s election was between 55 and 60% and the results of the pivotal parliamentary elections will be released within days. That’s down from the previous parliamentary election in December 2005, when roughly 76% of voters turned out, but higher than last year’s provincial elections when just over half of voters went to the polls. The election day’s death toll was 36, with rockets and mortars raining down on parts of Baghdad on Sunday morning, insurgents hurling hand grenades at voters and a bomb going off in a polling station. Iraqis hope the election will put them on a path toward national reconciliation as the U.S. prepares to withdraw combat forces by late summer and all American troops by the end of next year.

Middle East

A skeptical Palestinian leadership agreed Sunday to begin U.S.-mediated peace talks with Israel, effectively ending a 14-month breakdown in communications between the two sides. Sunday’s decision marks a first achievement for Obama administration diplomacy in the Israeli-Palestinian arena. Israel has welcomed the prospect of negotiations. Sunday’s decision by leading members of the Palestine Liberation Organization came a day before U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden begins the highest-level visit to the area by an Obama administration official.

Chile

Most Chileans are unhappy with their government’s response to the catastrophic earthquake and squarely blame President Michelle Bachelet for shortcomings, according to a poll published Sunday, with 72% of Chileans saying the government responded late and inefficiently to re-establish order after the earthquake. But some veteran aid experts are impressed by how quickly Chile has mounted a huge disaster-recovery effort.

The most powerful aftershock in six days sent terrified Chileans fleeing into quake-shattered streets and forced doctors to evacuate some patients from a major hospital on Friday. People raced into the streets in pajamas as a magnitude-6.0 aftershock struck Concepcion shortly before dawn. A magnitude-6.6 shock at 8:47 a.m. rattled buildings for nearly a minute. It was the strongest aftershock since a magnitude-6.9 jolt shortly after Saturday’s historic quake.

Huge piles of wreckage and tons of rotting fish and other debris blanketing the ground are turning the coastal towns shattered by Chile‘s earthquake and tsunami into nests of infection, doctors warned. As Chileans lined up for hepatitis and tetanus shots Friday on the opening day of an extensive vaccination campaign, doctors said cases of diarrhea are increasing from people drinking unclean water. The government faces other health care problems. Looting of pharmacies has made medicine scarce for people suffering from diabetes, hypertension and psychological illnesses, and 36 hospitals were heavily damaged or destroyed in the quake.

Haiti

U.S. troops are withdrawing from the shattered capital, leaving many Haitians anxious that the most visible portion of international is ending even as the city is still mired in misery and vulnerable to unrest. Haitians and some aid workers wondered whether U.N. peacekeepers and local police are up to the task of maintaining order. More than a half-million people still live in vast encampments that have grown more unpleasant in recent days with the early onset of rainy season. There has been no widespread violence but security is a real issue. A U.N. food convoy traveling from Gonaives to Dessalines on Friday was stopped and overrun by people, who looted two trucks before peacekeepers regained control.

Iceland

Icelanders blew whistles and set off fireworks in the capital as referendum results Sunday showed they had resoundingly rejected a $5.3 billion plan to repay Britain and the Netherlands for debts spawned by the collapse of an Icelandic bank. Voters in the tiny Atlantic island nation defied both their parliament and international pressure to display their anger at how their nation was being treated. More than 93% of voters said “no” in Saturday’s ballot, while only 1.8% voted “yes,” according to official results. The rest were blank or spoiled ballots. Many Icelanders who have been badly hurt by the country’s financial collapse say they don’t want to be bullied by larger nations seeking to profit from Iceland’s severe economic problems.

A rejection of the deal because of the public backlash creates another obstacle on Iceland’s difficult road out of a deep recession. A “no” vote further jeopardizes its credit rating and make it harder to access much-needed bailout money from the International Monetary Fund. Despite the vote, all three governments promised to work on a new agreement between Britain, the Netherlands and Iceland, which is depending on international assistance to help drag itself out of an economic morass.

Afghanistan

Dozens of Islamist militants defected to Afghan government forces Sunday after armed clashes erupted between them and their one-time Taliban allies in a northeastern province, two police officials said. Fighters for the Hezb-e-Islami militia, loyal to regional warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, pledged to join the government while under pressure during the fierce fighting with Taliban militants in Baghlan province. At least 50 militants and an unknown number of civilians have died in the battles that have raged for two days and continued Sunday night, as militants apparently fought over control of several villages where the government has almost no presence.

The man chosen to be the fresh face of good Afghan governance in Marjah, a town just seized from the Taliban, has a violent criminal record in Germany, but Western officials said Saturday they are not pushing to oust him. Court records and news reports in Germany show that Abdul Zahir, the man appointed as the new civilian chief in Marjah, served part of a more than four-year prison sentence for stabbing his son in 1998. He said allegations of a criminal record were “all a lie.” Zahir’s integrity is an issue because his job is to convince residents of the town in Helmand province that the Afghan government can provide them with a better life than the Taliban.

Pakistan

A suicide car bomber struck a building where police interrogate high-value suspects in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore on Monday, killing at least 11 people and wounding 61 more including women taking children to school, The attack broke what had been a relative lull in major violence in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country reviled by some militant groups for its alliance with the U.S. The bomb blast Monday comes amid reports of a Pakistani crackdown on Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives using its soil. Pakistani intelligence agents have arrested Adam Gadahn, the American-born spokesman for al-Qaeda, in an operation in the southern city of Karachi.

Spain

Tens of thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators have gathered in at least four Spanish cities to protest a new law that allows abortions without restrictions up to 14 weeks. Spain’s Senate approved the new bill late last month after it had been approved by the lower house in December. It is due to come into force later this year. The bill brings traditionally Roman Catholic Spain in line with its more secular neighbors in northern Europe. It replaces a 1985 law that in theory allows for women to be imprisoned for getting an abortion outside certain strict conditions.

Nigeria

A Red Cross spokesman says hundreds have fled from the central Nigerian city of Jos after a spate of new religious violence in nearby villages. The military moved into three villages to the south of Jos on Sunday afternoon. Red Cross spokesman Robin Waubo says they fear there have been more deaths in a region that saw more than 300 killed in fighting between Christians and Muslims in January. Sectarian violence in this region of Nigeria has left thousands dead over the past decade.

China

China says it expects new attacks by separatists seeking independence for the traditionally Turkic Muslim region of Xinjiang after deadly ethnic violence there last year. Despite massive pressure from security forces, separatists will continue to refine their methods and seek opportunities, the region’s governor, Nur Bekri, told reporters Sunday. Bekri repeated China’s claims that deadly July riots in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, were orchestrated by overseas activists for the rights of Uighurs, historically Xinjiang’s majority ethnic group, many of whom resent heavy-handed Chinese rule. China has provided little direct evidence to back up the accusation, and those activists have denied involvement in the violence, saying they believe in a peaceful struggle for greater Uighur rights.

Weather

A frigid Florida winter is taking its toll on your sandwich. The Sunshine State is the main U.S. source for fresh winter tomatoes, and its growers lost some 70% of their crop during January’s prolonged cold snap. Wholesale prices are up nearly five times over last year. That means you can say goodbye to the beefsteaks on that burger and prepare to pay more than usual for the succulent wedges in your salad. An unusually cold January in Florida destroyed entire fields of tomatoes — along with some green beans, sweet corn and squash.

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