Poll: 83% Say God Answers Prayers

Americans are overwhelmingly sure there’s a God who answers prayers. But that doesn’t mean they all favor an official annual National Day of Prayer — or that its goal should be promoting Christianity. President Obama signed the annual proclamation last weekend, inviting Americans of all religious stripes to pray on Thursday, the 2010 National Day of Prayer. This fits with most Americans’ views: 92% say there is a God and 83% say this God answers prayers, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. About 57% of adults favor the National Day of Prayer, and 38% said “it doesn’t matter.” Only 4.5% opposed it. Those who most strongly favor it were Republicans (76%); women 50 and older (71%); and Midwesterners (71%) and Southerners (63%).

  • It’s quite telling that minority views on religion, abortion and homosexuality are becoming the law of the land. Welcome to the end-times.

Graham to Lead Prayer Despite Ban

If President Obama fails to intervene to allow controversial evangelist Franklin Graham to lead a National Day of Prayer event Thursday inside the Pentagon, “it will be a slap in the face of all Christians,” Graham said Tuesday. And invited or not, he’ll stand in front of the Pentagon and pray, Graham said. The Pentagon had invited a private national evangelical group, the National Day of Prayer Task Force, of which Graham is 2010 honorary chairman, to lead an official prayer service there. The prayers are for the U.S. military; Graham’s son is on his fourth tour in Afghanistan. But the invitation was rescinded after mainline Protestants, Muslims and Jews complained that Graham offends and excludes many believers because of his strict views on Christianity and his comments that Islam is “evil.”

  • Evangelical Christians are the primary target of the New World Order with mainline denominations selling out to promote tolerance and inclusiveness instead of Christ.

Pakistan Muslim Group Responsible for NYC Bomb

A Muslim terror group in Pakistan that is vowing to attack U.S. cities and took credit for a failed car bombing in Times Square is emerging as a serious threat, terrorism experts said Monday. Hakimullah Mehsud, head of Tehrik-e-Taliban and a man Pakistani intelligence agencies once said was killed in a missile strike, appeared in two videos posted on YouTube and militants’ sites recently to say his group is preparing to move beyond fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Tehrik-e-Taliban spokesman Qari Mehsud claimed in a third video that the group was responsible for the Saturday night attack in Times Square, in retaliation for the killing of two top al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders last month, he said.

However, Pakistan’s army does not believe the Pakistani Taliban were behind the bomb attempt as the insurgent group has claimed, a spokesman said Wednesday. The attack is likely to increase pressure on the Pakistani army to launch a new offensive in the northern part of Waziristan, something it has been avoiding until now. Meanwhile, bomber Faisal Shahzad, 30, was taken off a flight back to Pakistan at John F. Kennedy International Airport. After his arrest, he told authorities he had received bomb-making training in a part of Pakistan where the Taliban is particularly influential. The no-fly list failed to keep the Times Square suspect off the plane. He reserved a ticket on the way to John F. Kennedy International Airport, paid cash on arrival and walked through security without being stopped.

Winds, Chemicals Help Disperse Oil Slick

Some good news swept through here Monday: Winds so far are keeping most of the Gulf oil spill away from shore, and chemicals are doing a decent job dispersing the giant swath of slick crude oil looming off the coast. Officials from Louisiana to Florida said they are still preparing for an environmental catastrophe in days and weeks ahead. The mammoth oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico has stalked menacingly close to shorelines but so far it hasn’t made any significant landfall as the best weather in days allowed work crews to continue their fight to contain the leak. Bright skies and calm seas allowed thousands of workers and local fishermen to drop thousands of more feet of boom tubular material used to corral spills.

Arizona‘s Immigration Law Spreads

A national grassroots organization that fights illegal immigration is boasting that Arizona’s controversial new immigration-enforcement law is an idea that’s catching on. According to a statement from the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, as many as 12 other states have legislators who are already pushing or considering drafting legislation similar to Arizona’s S.B. 1070, which requires local law enforcement officers during the course of a “lawful stop, detention or arrest” to ask for proof of citizenship or legal immigration status and turn those without it over to federal authorities for deportation. So far, 12 states – Arkansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pensylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Utah – are considering similar legislation.

Poll On Immigration Reveals Sympathy & Concern

Two-thirds of Americans want the government to do a better job of securing the borders, but they are sympathetic to illegal immigrants who have been working hard and staying out of trouble, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds. Eight in 10 Americans are concerned that illegal immigrants burden schools, hospitals and other government services, and 77% worry that they drive down wages, the poll finds. Yet 77% are concerned that stricter laws would mean illegal immigrants and their families who have lived productively in the USA for years would be forced to leave.

The seeming contradiction reflects the difficulty in grappling with the issue. “On the one hand, they don’t like the idea that people are breaking our immigration laws, that it appears we have a southern border that is out of control,” Tomas Jimenez, a fellow at the non-partisan New America Foundation said. “On the other hand, they think the people coming here who work hard, who have dreams of a better life, are really participating in an American tradition that is as old as this country.”

U.S. Has Over 5,000 Nuclear Warheads

The United States has 5,113 nuclear warheads in its stockpile and “several thousand” more retired warheads awaiting the junk pile, the Pentagon said Monday in an unprecedented accounting of a secretive arsenal born in the Cold War and now shrinking rapidly. The Obama administration disclosed the size of its atomic stockpile going back to 1962 as part of a campaign to get other nuclear nations to be more forthcoming, and to improve its bargaining position against the prospect of a nuclear Iran. The United States previously has regarded such details as top secret.

Drug Maker McNeil Knew of Contamination Beforehand

Food and Drug Administration inspectors found in April that McNeil Consumer Healthcare, which has voluntarily recalled certain lots of its children’s and infants’ Tylenol products, knowingly used bacteria-contaminated materials to make them, a report posted Tuesday by the agency says. McNeil, which on Friday announced the recall of 1,500 lots of children’s and infants’ Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl, has suspended production at the plant in Fort Washington, Pa., where they were manufactured. Though the known risk to consumers “is remote,” the FDA’s Deborah Autor said, “we have theoretical concerns” about the safety of the recalled products.

More Parents Refusing Vaccinations for their Children

Nearly 40% of parents of toddlers have delayed or refused a child’s vaccination. Refusing vaccines is becoming more common, according to a study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Vancouver, Canada. The percentage of parents who delay or refuse a shot rose from 22% in 2003 to 39% in 2008, according to the study, based on records and interviews of parents of 8,904 children ages 1½ to 3 and conducted through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Immunization Survey. Interviews with parents suggest that many are influenced by a growing belief that such vaccinations cause autism and other maladies, including death. Doctors, of course, dismiss these notions as myth and worry that rare diseases will now become more common.

GM, Treasury Accused of TARP ‘Money Shuffle’

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, says General Motors and the Treasury Department should have been more transparent about the automaker’s repayment of its massive government bailout. According to a national television ad, GM heralded its repayment of the $6.7 billion loan under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), claiming that the repayment is proof that the company is financially viable. But a special inspector general for TARP told the Senate Finance Committee that GM repaid its loan with TARP funds from an escrow account at the Treasury Department. In other words, GM used taxpayer funds to repay its government loan, which was financed by taxpayers.

Economic News

The number of buyers who signed contracts to buy homes surged more than expected in March, another sign that government incentives are propelling the housing market. The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday its seasonally adjusted index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes rose 5.3% from a month earlier. It was the highest level since October and a 21% increase from the same month a year earlier. The federal government has provided a big boost to home sales this spring by offering first-time buyers a tax credit of 10% of the purchase price, up to $8,000. There is also a credit of 10%, up to a maximum of $6,500, for homeowners who buy and move.

Orders to U.S. factories rose a surprising 1.3% in March, with widespread gains in many industries offsetting a big drop in commercial aircraft. Outside the volatile transportation category, factory orders were up the most in more than nine years. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that overall factory orders rose 1.3% in March. Excluding transportation, orders were up 3.1%, biggest gain since August 2005.

Stocks plunged around the world Tuesday as fears escalated that Europe might fail to contain Greece’s debt problems. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 225 points, biggest drop in three months. Stocks extended their retreat Wednesday morning.

Greece Austerity Turns Violent

The streets say it’s too much. The markets say it’s not enough. A 110 billion euro rescue program may have bought Greece some time to finally fix its ailing finances. But it has not ended the debt crisis gripping the 16-nation eurozone. Protestors tried to storm Greece’s parliament Wednesday and hurled paving stones and Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with tear gas as tens of thousands of outraged Greeks took to the streets to protest harsh new measures aimed at saving their country from bankruptcy.

Opposition to the government’s austerity package, which includes tax increases and a three-year wage and pension freeze, spilled into the massive protest rally. The public-sector workers union has called a strike, which shut most businesses and government offices, and canceled all flights at Athens International Airport. Communist Party protesters briefly occupied the nation’s best-known tourist attraction Tuesday, draping banners over the Acropolis reading: “Peoples of Europe Rise Up.” Greek fire officials say three people have died in a blaze that broke out at an Athens bank during rioting over government austerity measures.

Euro Continues to Decline

Investors keep pushing the euro down despite the announced plans to bail out Greece. You’d expect the euro to recover as the crisis gets resolved. But the Greek crisis has revealed the eurozone’s prime weakness: It doesn’t have a central bank to act as lender of last resort in an emergency. Currency markets were looking for more timely action from European central bankers and politicians. Traders also worry that the European debt crisis could spread — or that member nations might not act fast enough. Portugal, Italy and Ireland all have serious debt problems.

Iran

The likelihood that Iran will have a nuclear weapon in a year or less is “extremely high,” former Central Intelligence Director James R. Woolsey tells Newsmax. “I don’t think Iran has had much interest in anything except a nuclear weapon with their nuclear program,” Woolsey says. “Most of the estimates I’m hearing and was hearing last winter in Israel talk about sometime late this year, early next, for the possibility of a relatively primitive nuclear weapon.” Such a weapon could be a “so-called shotgun design, which is very easy to do once you have the highly enriched uranium,” Woolsey notes.

A handful of Western nations walked out of a major nuclear review conference at the United Nations on Monday just as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the podium to address the gathering. Ahmadinejad was the only head of state to deliver a speech on the first day of the month-long review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is held every five years. Representatives from France, Germany, Hungary Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the US, and several other countries responded by exiting the auditorium.

Afghanistan

Militants attacked the provincial governor’s compound in western Afghanistan on Wednesday, sparking street battles that killed at least five would-be suicide bombers. The Afghan Interior Ministry said police killed the bombers before they were able to carry out their attacks in Zaranj in Nimroz province, in extreme southwestern Afghanistan along the Iranian border. At least five police officers were killed or wounded in the fighting. Nimroz province is a major trafficking route for Afghanistan’s huge opium trade. Some insurgents fled into Nimroz province earlier this year when thousands of U.S., NATO and Afghan troops conducted an offensive to rout the Taliban from neighboring Helmand province.

Iraq

A convoy of college buses, filled with mostly Christian students, was attacked near Mosul on Sunday. At least 70 students were injured, some of them severely, and a nearby store owner was killed in one of the two roadside blasts. “We were going for our education and they presented us with bombs,” said Jamil Salahuddin Jamil, 25, a sophomore geography major at Mosul University, who was on board the lead bus. “I still do not know what they want from Christians.” The students were returning from the semiautonomous Kurdistan region and were passing through a checkpoint when a car bomb detonated. A roadside bomb exploded shortly afterwards. The convoy was accompanied by Iraqi forces because of the tense situation surrounding Mosul and outlying areas.

Mexico

Gunmen drove up to a soccer field and shot five men to death as they played early Monday near the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco. There was no immediate information on a possible motive for the attack. However, the area around Acapulco has been plagued in recent months by a bloody turf war between rival factions of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel. Disabled people, women, children and students have all figured among recent victims of violence in the drug war, which has killed more than 22,700 people since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against cartels in December 2006.

  • The end-time spirit of “lawlessness” is clearly on the loose in Mexico (Matt. 24:12)

Sudan

Darfur’s most powerful rebel group broke off peace talks Monday with Sudan’s government, accusing it of carrying out a new military offensive in the western region. The Justice and Equality Movement signed a cease-fire with the government in April and was taking part in talks aimed at finding a permanent political deal to end seven years of fighting. The violence in Darfur has ebbed over the past year and the talks under the mediation of the Gulf nation of Qatar are aimed at reaching a deal on the sharing of power and resources. The fighting began with a 2003 rebellion by groups accusing the government of neglecting the vast desert region. An estimated 300,000 people lost their lives to violence, disease and displacement.

Somalia

Islamist militants who have taken over a pirate town in Somalia say they plan to eliminate the piracy trade off East Africa’s coast. Militants from the group Hizbul Islam also say they will liberate foreign hostages and ships held by pirates if they find them. Dozens of Hizbul Islam fighters moved into the pirate den of Haradhere on Sunday. The incursion sent pirates fleeing with big-screen TVs piled into luxury cars bought with millions of dollars of ransom money. Pirates hold more than 300 hostages taken from ships attacked off East Africa.

Volcanoes

A new wave of dense volcanic ash from Iceland snarled air traffic Wednesday in Ireland and Scotland and threatened to spill into the air space of England. Ireland’s key hub, Dublin Airport, admitted defeat for the day and canceled all flights until midnight. More than a dozen other airports throughout the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland announced shorter closure periods as unseasonal winds pushed the engine-wrecking ash southwest back towards the Atlantic rather than northeast into the unpopulated Arctic.

Earthquakes

The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude-6.4 earthquake has struck of Chile’s central coast. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The area has been shaken by hundreds of smaller quakes since a huge magnitude-8.8 quake hit on Feb. 27, triggering a tsunami and killing 486 people. On Sunday, a 5.9-magnitude quake struck the area, one of more than a dozen perceptible temblors since Saturday. Tens of thousands of Chileans are still living in tents or temporary huts.

Weather

Rescuers feared even more bodies would emerge on Tuesday as muddy floodwaters ebb from torrential weekend rains that swamped Nashville, much of Tennessee and two neighboring states, killing at least 29 people. The Cumberland River that submerged parts of Music City’s historic downtown began to recede Tuesday after being swollen by heavy rain and the flooding creeks that feed into it. The Cumberland topped out about 6 p.m. Monday at 51.9 feet, about 12 feet above flood stage — the highest it’s reached since 1937. Businesses along Nashville’s riverfront lost electricity early Tuesday. Laurie Parker, a spokeswoman for Nashville Electric Service, said a main circuit failed before dawn, knocking out power to downtown businesses in a 24-square-block area, including the 33-story AT&T Building, a Hilton hotel, the arena where the Nashville Predators NHL team plays and honky-tonks in the country music tourism district.

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