Jesus Calling® Has Hit Platinum Status

Over 1 million people have been drawn closer to Christ through a simple daily devotional, Jesus Calling ® (Thomas Nelson, 978-1-5914-5188-4, $14.99). Now this inspiring devotional has hit platinum sales status and is at the top of 3 bestseller lists. Written by missionary Sarah Young, these daily affirmations of God’s presence and love have brought peace and a deeper walk with the Lord for so many. Recently, Thomas Nelson introduced the Jesus Calling®: 365 Devotions For Kids (Thomas Nelson, 978-1-4003-1634-2, $14.99, October 2010). Written from Jesus’ point of view, each day’s devotion is penned as if Jesus were speaking directly to each person. Prior to the publication of Jesus Calling, I had begun “listening” to Jesus first thing in the morning; writing down what I heard in my mind. I began to compile the best of these writings into daily readings. After it was made available to the public, I was astonished to hear people say time after time each day’s reading seems to be written just for me,” recalls author Sarah Young.

Poll: 4 in 10 Americans Believe in Creationism

A new Gallup poll reveals that 40 per cent of Americans believe in creationism – that is, that God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago. The Christian Post reports that this is a slight decline from 2008, when 44 percent agreed with this point of view. Meanwhile, almost the same number believe in “theistic evolution,” or the viewpoint that God guided the evolutionary process to create life. Those statistics vary by church attendance, as 60 percent of weekly churchgoers agreed with a creationist viewpoint, and 47 percent of people who attend church at least every month also stood by creationism. Americans who seldom or never attend church are more likely to say God guided the process of evolution (39 percent).

Religious Americans the Most Generous

A new book, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us,” shows that the most religious Americans give more to a variety of charitable causes than their secular counterparts. In fact, the difference is so great that religious citizens even give more to secular causes. On average, those in the most religious donate $3,000 to charity annually compared to the most secular donations of just $1,000 per year.  When household income is taken into account, religious Americans are four times as generous as their secular neighbors.

Ariz. Hospital Loses Catholic Status Over Abortion Case

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stripped a major hospital of its affiliation with the church Tuesday because of a surgery that ended a woman’s pregnancy to save her life. Bishop Thomas Olmsted called the 2009 procedure an abortion and said St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center — recognized internationally for its neurology and neurosurgery practices — violated ethical and religious directives of the national Conference of Catholic Bishops. “In the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld,” Olmsted said at a news conference announcing the decision. “The mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph’s medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed.” “If we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible, we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case,” Hunt said. “Morally, ethically, and legally, we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save.”

Generals, Diplomats Warn of New START

More than 30 former defense or foreign policy government officials and related experts issued an open letter to the Senate Monday expressing their “professional judgment” that President Barack Obama’s proposed nuclear weapons reduction treaty with the Russians, called New START, “is not consistent with the national security interests of the United States,” and “should be rejected by the U.S. Senate,” which is considering it now. They argue that Russia easily could cheat secretly to our detriment, that it would restrict deployment of new U.S. anti-missile defenses, that it would reduce the survivability and flexibility of our our strategic forces and could be militarily destabilizing, that it permits a continued large Russian superiority in overall nuclear weapons, and that resulting insecurity among our allies about continued extended deterrence could lead to intensified production and proliferation of nuclear weapons—all unintended, harmful consequences, the opposite of the Obama Administration’s announced goals for the agreement.

However, the nuclear arms control treaty with Russia that is President Obama’s top foreign policy priority in the year-end session of Congress is poised for bipartisan approval in the Senate today after it won support from a swath of Republicans. In a vote Tuesday to end debate on the treaty, 11 Republicans joined 56 Democrats to back the measure — exceeding the two-thirds vote that will be needed to ratify the measure. A majority of Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, voted against ending debate. McCain and others have expressed concerns about the treaty’s impact on U.S. efforts to build a missile-defense system. McCain is negotiating an amendment to reinforce the commitment to that system.

House Sends Food Safety Bill to President Obama

The House has passed a sweeping bill aimed at making food safer following recent contaminations in peanuts, eggs and produce, sending it to President Obama for his signature. The legislation passed Tuesday would give the government broad new powers to inspect processing plants, order recalls and impose stricter standards for imported foods. The $1.4 billion bill would also require larger farms and food manufacturers to prepare detailed food safety plans and tell the Food and Drug Administration how they are working to keep their food safe at different stages of production. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the bill will give her agency new tools to make substantial improvements in food safety. Still, the bill came under fire from advocates of buying locally produced food and operators of small farms, who said it could bankrupt some small businesses.

Congress Passes Stopgap Federal Spending Bill

Congress cleared a stopgap funding bill Tuesday to keep the federal government open into March, a temporary truce until Republicans and President Barack Obama rejoin the battle over the budget next year. The bill was passed by the House in the evening just hours after speeding through the Senate. President Obama will sign it Wednesday within a “24-hour grace period.” The measure would freeze agency budgets at current levels. That’s still too high for Republicans set to take over the House, who vow to cut many programs to levels in place when Obama took office. The measure is needed because the Democratic-controlled Congress — in an unprecedented failure to complete its most basic job on passing a budget — has failed to enact a single one of the 12 annual spending bills that fund the day-to-day operations of every federal agency.

FCC Set to Pass ‘Net Neutrality’

The Federal Communications Commission didn’t seem to make many people happy Tuesday when it voted 3-to-2 to restrict cable and phone companies from favoring some Web services over others. Several activists who support rules for an open Internet — also known as net neutrality — said that the FCC left loopholes that would enable Web providers to ensure that some video or communications transmissions will be favored over others. The FCC voted to limit such practices, but stopped short of banning them. That means innovators “face the prospect of being blocked, bilked or intimidated by the carriers who control the pipes,” says Andrew Jay Schwartzman, policy director of the Media Access Project, a public interest law firm. Vision to America observes that “nothing is broken and needs fixing. The Internet has been open and freedom-enhancing since it was spun off from a government research project in the early 1990s. Its nature as a diffuse and dynamic global network of networks defies top-down authority. Ample laws to protect consumers already exist.”

  • · The FCC says it aims to shape the way the Web evolves – and therein lies the problem. Government control over free enterprise is always a bad solution and leaves the door open to discriminatory practices, a key New World Order goal

Colorado River Water Deal Aids U.S. and Mexico

Mexico will leave part of its Colorado River allocation in Lake Mead for the next three years, slowing the decline of the drought-stricken reservoir and possibly delaying the onset of water rationing in Arizona and Nevada. The arrangement, announced Monday by U.S. and Mexican officials, was devised to give farmers in the Mexicali region of northern Mexico time to repair damage from an April earthquake that disrupted water-delivery systems. Mexico lacks the means to store unused water in its own country. But the more immediate benefits may be accrued north of the border, where water in Lake Mead is nearing a level that would trigger drought restrictions. Some projections suggest the reservoir could sink to that level by 2013 unless winter runoff increases or less water is released downstream. The two-nation agreement also opens the door to discussions about how the countries can more efficiently manage the river. The Colorado is divided among seven states and Mexico, but water demand has exceeded the water in the river in recent years, depleting reservoirs.

Automakers Sue EPA

Automakers and engine manufacturers are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over a plan to allow the sale of gasoline containing 15% ethanol. The Obama administration ruled in October that gas stations could start selling the corn-based ethanol blend for vehicles built since the 2007 model year. It’s an increase from the current blend of 10% ethanol. Automakers say they are worried the EPA decision would eventually lead to motorists unknowingly filling up their older cars and trucks with E15 and hurting their engines. The problem could be exacerbated if E15 fuels are cheaper than more conventional blends, prompting owners of older vehicles to use the fuel despite the potential engine problems. The EPA has said a congressional mandate for increased ethanol use can’t be achieved without allowing higher blends. Congress has required refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels, mostly ethanol, into auto fuel by 2022.

Recession Trims Final Census Count

The U.S. population totals 308.7 million, up 9.7% since 2000, the Census Bureau announced Tuesday. It is the slowest growth rate since the Great Depression. The growth of Sun Belt states that had soared in the early part of the decade slowed when the recession began in December 2007, a development that in an odd way helped struggling states in the Northeast and Midwest. Their losses might have been much greater had the migration to the Sun Belt continued at the same furious pace. “This is the very first decade that the West region is more populous than the Midwest,” Census Director Robert Groves at a briefing Tuesday. “In 1910, four of the five most-populous states were in the Northeast and Midwest.” Nevada’s growth slowed from a dizzying 66% in the 1990s to a still-impressive 35% since 2000 — the largest gainer this decade.

About 60% of the nation’s growth resulted from natural increase (more births than deaths) and the rest from immigration. Overall, immigration accounted for three-quarters of population growth during the decade. Census Bureau data found 13.1 million new immigrants (legal and illegal) who arrived in the last 10 years; there were also about 8.2 million births to immigrant women during the decade.

In a 10-year constitutional process called reapportionment, the Census Bureau said Tuesday that 12 congressional seats would move from one state to another. Most dramatically, Ohio and New York will each lose two seats. Texas will gain four, and Florida will gain two. Arizona and Nevada will each gain one seat. Arizona’s population is now at 6.4 million.

Congressional Payrolls Continue to Grow

Congressional payroll expenses have climbed much faster than the civilian federal work force costs that lawmakers are now clamoring to freeze. Many of the most vocal critics have overseen growth that rivals or outstrips the executive branch’s, according to data from Legistorm, a website that tracks congressional salaries. The lawmakers offered various explanations for their rising costs, with many saying they were simply going along with the budget allowances Congress sets each year for members. Some said they were working to hire the best staffs they could to serve their districts or had new demands such as the need to hire a social media coordinator. The issue of federal salaries came to a head last month when President Barack Obama took a page from the Republican playbook and proposed freezing civilian federal wages for two years. Republicans had offered similar plans earlier in the year that were widely panned by Democrats.

Phoenix Heading for Double-Dip Decline in Home Prices

Metro Phoenix home prices are headed for a new low. Median prices for the sale of existing homes have been falling since June, when a federal homebuyer tax credit expired and an increase in foreclosures helped drive down prices that had been steady for nearly a year. A new low would create a double dip in a market that has already been on a harrowing ride. Prices rose to about $250,000 during the boom of 2004-06 and then collapsed amid a mortgage crisis and an economic recession. They bottomed out at $119,900 in April 2009. Home prices ticked up after that, and the median hovered around $130,000 until last summer. Then, they fell again. At the end of November, Phoenix’s median resale-home price hit $121,500, the lowest it has been since April 2009.

Senator Issues 2010 Wastebook Detailing Wasteful Government Spending

Ever wonder where your tax dollars are going? How about upkeep for a pink, octagonal monkey house in Dayton, Ohio, that hasn’t been occupied for years? The Department of Veterans Affairs is spending $175 million each year to maintain buildings it does not use, according to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. Or $41,000 for a toilet? Uncle Sam paid $1.49 million to replace 36 malodorous chemical toilets with a “sweet smelling toilet facility” in Denali National Park in Alaska. Coburn’s Wastebook identifies 100 examples of pointless waste, theft, mismanagement and abuse in federal spending. The total cost to taxpayers? $11.5 billion, and Coburn acknowledges that’s only the tip of the iceberg. “Examples like these are too numerous to count,” writes Coburn. “Worse yet, they are costing us billions even as we borrow huge sums just to keep the government operating at a basic level.” According to Coburn, the U.S. government is “borrowing over $44,000 for every person in the country.”

Economic News

The U.S. government fell deeper into the red in fiscal 2010 with net liabilities swelling more than $2 trillion as commitments on government debt and federal benefits rose, a U.S. Treasury report showed on Tuesday. The Financial Report of the United States, which applies corporate-style accrual accounting methods to Washington, showed the government’s liabilities exceeded assets by $13.473 trillion. That compared with a $11.456 trillion gap a year earlier. Unlike the normal measurement of government intake of receipts against cash outlays, accrual accounting measures costs such as interest on the debt and federal benefit obligations. The government’s net operating cost, or deficit, in the report grew to $2.080 trillion for the year ended September 30 from $1.253 trillion the prior year as spending and liabilities increased for social programs. The cash budget deficit narrowed in fiscal 2010 to $1.294 trillion from $1.417 trillion in 2009. But the $858 billion tax cut extension package enacted last week is expected to keep the budget deficit well above the $1 trillion mark for another year.

More than 100 American cities could go bust next year as the debt crisis that has taken down banks and countries threatens next to spark a municipal meltdown, a leading analyst has warned. Meredith Whitney, the US research analyst who correctly predicted the global credit crunch, described local and state debt as the biggest problem facing the US economy, and one that could derail its recovery. Whitney told the CBS 60 Minutes program on Sunday night. “There’s not a doubt on my mind that you will see a spate of municipal bond defaults. You can see fifty to a hundred sizeable defaults – more. This will amount to hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of defaults.”

The U.S. Conference of Mayors reported Tuesday that trips to food banks are up 24% this year in all 27 cities it surveyed. Food stamp use is at record levels. And the number of working Americans barely getting by has jumped. Among those seeking assistance, 56% were in families, 30% were employed and 19% were seniors, according to the mayors’ survey. Participation in the federal food stamps program reached a record 42.9 million in September.

Financial companies led the stock market higher Tuesday after another big banking deal raised hopes that more acquisitions could be on the way. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at a two-year high. Corporate mergers have picked up strongly this year. That, along with signs of an improving economy and a tax cut package passed last week, have helped drive stocks up. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has jumped 6.2% this month and is up 12.3% this year.

Middle East

The Jerusalem Prayer Team states that President Obama is putting more pressure on the state of Israel than any previous US President. He is demanding that Israel give up Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem by the end of next year. His plan is to keep up the pressure until it happens. Israel is handcuffed because of the threat posed by nuclear Iran. Without US supplies and fly-over permission (the United States controls the skies over the Middle East), it is nearly impossible for Israel to take effective military action. The President is blackmailing Israel to deliver a Palestinian state in exchange for support against Iran. The United Nations, the European Union, the Russians, Chinese and the “Elders” (Jimmy Carter’s anti-Israel group) have come up with a plan. They are encouraging the Palestinian Authority to declare statehood now. In the last few days, 10 nations have recognized Palestine as an independent nation. The plan is to do this without Israel’s involvement so that Israel cannot have any say in the borders. Once this plan takes place, Israel will be isolated and suffocated economically. If this tragic plan to curse Israel succeeds, every nation that supports the plan will be cursed by Almighty God.

  • · The New World Order is determined to limit and eventually eliminate Israel and establish Satan’s throne in God’s capital on earth

Iraq

Iraq seated a freely elected government Tuesday after nine months of haggling, bringing together the main ethnic and religious groups in a fragile balance that could make it difficult to rebuild a nation devastated by war as American troops prepare for their final withdrawal. The new government led by Shiite incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki got off to a shaky start as disagreements among coalition partners prevented al-Maliki from naming 13 of his 42 Cabinet ministers. And this fragile coalition must address enormous and pressing challenges such as the heavy cost of rebuilding from the devastation seven years of war has wrought and lingering sectarian tensions that periodically explode into violence. Another urgent priority will be leading the country through the withdrawal of American troops, scheduled for the end of next year. More than 4,400 American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis died in a war that has yet to bring stability and prosperity to this oil-rich Middle Eastern nation.

Iran

Gasoline prices nearly quadrupled on Sunday and the riot police guarded filling stations around the capital as deep cuts in subsidies on fuel and other essential goods took effect. After midnight on Sunday, the price of subsidized gasoline jumped to about $1.44 a gallon from about 38 cents a gallon. Similar increases went into effect for compressed natural gas and diesel fuel, with subsidy reductions for other commodities expected to be phased in gradually. Security forces with riot shields took positions at gas stations in Tehran, bracing for a possible repeat of the unrest that followed the introduction of gasoline rationing in 2007, but there were no reports of violence. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the long-anticipated subsidy reductions in a live television interview on Saturday night, calling the reform ‘a great victory for Iran.’ Policy makers have described the program as a ‘rationalization’ or ‘targetization’ of Iran’s vast and inefficient subsidies system, but some analysts fear it could increase living costs for millions of middle- and low-income households. Mr. Ahmadinejad said that the government was spending $114 billion a year on energy subsidies. ‘If we can save one-quarter of that, it will amount to a vast economic transformation,’ he said. He said that the prices of water, electricity and natural gas would increase ‘gradually,’ and that the subsidy for bread would also be gradually eliminated.

Great Britain

A large-scale terror attack was aimed at British landmarks and public spaces, security officials said Tuesday as more details emerged and police searched the homes of 12 British suspects being held for questioning. The men — whose ages range from 17 to 28 — were arrested Monday in the largest counterterrorism raid in nearly two years. At least five were of Bangladeshi origin. Lord Carlile, the government’s independent watchdog for terror legislation, said Tuesday the alleged plot appeared significant and involved several British cities, but he did not identify the targets. Targets that were scouted include the Houses of Parliament in London and shopping areas around the U.K.

Korea

South Korea vowed Wednesday to “punish the enemy” if the North attacks it again as hundreds of southern troops, fighter jets, tanks and attack helicopters prepared for massive military exercises scheduled because of the high tensions. The firing drills Thursday near the Koreas’ land border will be the biggest-ever wintertime joint firing exercise that South Korea’s army and air force have staged. South Korean forces are on high alert even though the North backed down from its threat to again retaliate over separate firing drills the South held Monday on a front-line island in disputed western waters where a North Korea shelling last month killed four people.

Ivory Coast

France urged its citizens to leave Ivory Coast on Wednesday after the U.N. chief warned the former French colony in West Africa faces “a real risk” of return to civil war following the disputed presidential election. The United Nations and other world leaders recognize Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the Nov. 28 runoff vote. Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent who refuses to concede defeat and leave the presidency, said late Tuesday that “the international community has declared war on Ivory Coast.” Gbagbo said in a televised speech that he doesn’t want “any blood to be spilled,” but maintained he was president of the country. Over the weekend, he ordered all U.N. peacekeepers out of the country immediately in an escalation of tensions.

Spain

Spain‘s smoke-filled bars, corner cafes and restaurants are on the verge of extinction after lawmakers on Tuesday approved a tough new anti-smoking law that will rid the country of its reputation as one of Western Europe’s easiest places to light up. The bill passed in a 189-154 vote that also rejected a Senate amendment to allow casinos to have smoking areas. Starting Jan. 2, the interiors of all bars and restaurants will be transformed into no-smoking zones, bringing Spain in line with the European Union’s strictest anti-smoking nations and many U.S. states that ban smoking in enclosed public places.

2010 Deadliest Year in Generations

This was the year the earth struck back. Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed over one-quarter million people in 2010, the deadliest year in more than a generation. More people were killed worldwide by natural disasters than have been killed in terrorism attacks in the past 40 years combined

  • · This trend will continue as the end-times roll on, as prophesied in the Book of Revelation

Earthquakes

A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 has struck in the Pacific off southern Japan. Japan’s Meteorological Agency has issued a tsunami warning from the quake, which occurred about 80 miles off the Chichi Island in the Pacific Ocean. The offshore quake struck at around 2:20 a.m.at the depth of 6.2 miles. The agency issued a warning for a mild tsunami for nearby islands. There was no immediate report of any damage or injuries.

Weather

Storm-battered California braced for more intense rain and snow Wednesday after a wet week that has triggered flash flooding, knocked out power in some areas and buried ski resorts under several feet of snow. Pacific storms have dumped more than 12 inches of rain in the Santa Monica Mountains and nearly 6 inches in downtown Los Angeles since Friday, more than a third of the city’s normal annual rainfall. The soaking rain was generally welcomed in a region that has been plagued by years of drought that have prompted mandatory water conservation measures. But it created plenty of inconveniences. A stretch of the scenic Pacific Coast Highway north of the city remained closed after saturated hillsides sent rocks tumbling onto it late Sunday. At Mammoth Mountain ski resort, 13 feet of snow kept holiday skiers busy, but it clogged and closed mountain roads.

Major delays and cancellations persisted Tuesday at European airports including London’s Heathrow, and on the Eurostar train link, leaving thousands stranded across Europe as Christmas approached. The Christmas travel season turned angry and chaotic Monday as British officials struggled to clear snow and ice that paralyzed rail and air links and spawned cancellations and delays stranding thousands around the world. More than 48 hours after Britain’s last snowfall, some furious passengers with boarding passes for Monday flights were not even allowed into London’s Heathrow Airport. Inside, piles of garbage grew and some people slept on terminal floors. Other travelers waited in the cold for up to six hours to get inside London’s St. Pancras train station, where they had to wait still longer for Eurostar trains to mainland Europe. Chagrined British officials promised an inquiry into the failure to clear the remnants of a storm that dumped five inches over parts of England Saturday morning. Other European airports rebounded from weekend snowfall and resumed close to normal flight schedules by Monday.

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