Florida Judge Strikes Down Obama Health Care Law

A federal judge in Florida struck down President Obama’s health care law today, saying it is invalidated by the requirement that nearly all Americans buy health insurance. Jordan Sekulow with the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), which filed an amicus brief in the Florida lawsuit representing 63 members of Congress and more than 70,000 Americans. “We [at the ACLJ] believe…that this is the most significant victory yet for those of us who are challenging ObamaCare,” Sekulow states. In ruling against President Obama‘s health care law, federal Judge Roger Vinson used Mr. Obama‘s own position from the 2008 campaign against him, when the then-Illinois senator argued there were other ways to achieve reform short of requiring every American to purchase insurance. However, Obama White House officials called the ruling “judicial activism,” and the Justice Department announced it would appeal: “We strongly disagree with the court’s ruling today and continue to believe — as other federal courts have found — that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.” Four federal judges have now reviewed Obamacare and split evenly on whether it is constitutional — now four appeals courts get their chance. In the end, it may be finally decided by the Supreme Court.

  • Judicial activism? After years of liberals using the courts to advance their agenda, now they cry foul?

Egyptian Clashes Continue

An estimated 250,000 people were jammed in the streets when President Hosni Mubarak appeared on state television in a blue jacket and black tie, the flag of Egypt to his right, and announced Tuesday that after 30 years and a week of protests he would not run for re-election in September. But in Tahrir Square, where the largest crowds had gathered, many were unsatisfied and said they would keep protesting. Anti-government protesters clashed Wednesday with supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the streets of downtown. At one point a group of dozens of pro-Mubarak demonstrators mounted on horses and camels charged into the crowd at Tahrir Square, swinging whips and clubs. Gunfire was reported Wednesday afternoon. Soldiers who are ringing the square did not appear to make any efforts to stop the clashes.

The clashes came amid earlier signs that the country was returning to normal after demonstrations that brought the country to a virtual standstill. Some police have returned to the streets, and there were efforts to remove burned out police vehicles from the area. Internet service has also returned. It is not clear what impact the clashes will have on efforts to stabilize the country. Anti-government protesters have said they are not satisfied with Mubarak’s statement and pledged to continue to pressure him to resign. Demonstrators who support the president began appearing in larger numbers Wednesday.

  • What started out as a genuine and positive pro-freedom movement is being steadily coopted by the Muslim Brotherhood and other violent and extremist forces. There is now a growing risk that the overthrow of the Mubarak regime could lead either to an authoritarian military regime, or a Radical Islamist regime.

Jordan King Fires Government

Jordan’s King Abdullah has dismissed his government and named a new prime minister to carry out “true political reforms,” the palace says. The AFP network says the Jordanian government resigned amid protests in the country. Jordan’s King Abdullah II, bowing to public pressure, fired his government on Tuesday and tasked a new prime minister with quickly boosting economic opportunities and giving Jordanians a greater say in politics. The country’s powerful Muslim opposition, which had demanded the dismissal of Prime Minister Samir Rifai in several nationwide protests inspired by those in Tunisia and Egypt, said the changes didn’t go far enough.

U.S. & Egyptian Militaries Have Much at Stake in Crisis

The U.S. military is hopeful that whatever the outcome of the Egyptian crisis, the two militaries will continue working together on protecting the region from threats. “We have had for decades a very close relationship with the Egyptian military, and we certainly hope that relationship can continue,” said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “They have been an important partner in the region, and thus far, they have acted very professionally in this crisis.” The U.S. military has a deep relationship with the Egyptian army that includes spending $1 billion annually to equip its forces and conducting joint operations to sending ships through the Suez Canal. Also crucial: Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, which has helped limit tensions in the Middle East.

Historic Lausanne Declaration Calls World’s Evangelicals to Action

Last Friday, the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization has released Part 2 of its call to action to world evangelicals. More than 4,000 evangelicals from 198 countries met in Cape Town, South Africa, in October for the Congress. Part 1 of the document emphasized the call to love because God first loved us. Christian Today reports that Part 2 builds on discussions at Cape Town, naming the most important priorities for evangelism worldwide. It makes a number of specific calls, including the call to proclaim the truth through word and deed, to be ethical in evangelism, and to return to “humility, integrity and simplicity”. Part of this return includes renouncing false gods and idols, including the idolatry of “disordered sexuality,” power, success and greed. The statement also calls for the worldwide church to unite. “A divided Church has no message for a divided world. Our failure to live in reconciled unity is a major obstacle to authenticity and effectiveness in mission,” it states.

Islam Filling Britain’s ‘Spiritual Vacuum’

A Protestant renewal organization isn’t surprised that a recent study from Great Britain shows that thousands of native-born Brits are converting to Islam, while Anglican Church membership continues to decline. A study from the Centre for Migration Policy Research at Swansea University that suggests that even though the media often portrays Islam in a negative light, more British citizens decide to adopt the religion each year. In fact, the study says 56 percent of the converts are white and 62 percent are female. Alan Wisdom, director of the Presbyterian Action committee and vice president for research and programs at The Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD), is not surprised by the report. “When you have a spiritual vacuum, something is going to fill it. And the Church of England, and Christianity in Great Britain in general, has become very weak in its proclamation of the gospel,” he explains. “On the other hand, Islam comes in through immigration originally, not afraid to call people to conversion, and the result is that numbers of Britons are converting to Islam. [So] it may be now that the numbers of Muslims who worship every week are greater than the numbers of people worshiping in the Church of England.”

  • A forerunner of what could happen in the USA if we fail to proclaim the Truth

Fox Sports Rejects Super Bowl Commercial Featuring “John 3:16”

Fox Sports has rejected a proposed Super Bowl commercial featuring “John 3:16”, a reference to a Bible verse that has been part of the culture of football in America for decades. Fans see it on signs in end zones after field goal and extra point attempts; on players’ tape and tattoos; and Tim Tebow was famous for writing it in his eye black. And yet, many fans don’t know what it means. In producing this commercial, Fixed Point Foundation hopes to encourage fans to look up John 3:16 and consider its meaning. The spot ends by directing viewers to a website (lookup316.com) where the verse appears along with a simple explanation. Neither the website nor the commercial sell a product, ask for money, or promote a political agenda. It doesn’t even promote the sponsoring organization. The idea is to encourage viewers to consider their source of ultimate hope and purpose.

  • Fox Sports rejected the commercial on the basis that it contained “religious doctrine.” Of course, it seems one can advertize just about anything else. Few movie trailers are deemed too violent or commercials too sexual for primetime. But religious messages, even ones that are part of the sport and encourage viewers to decide for themselves if the message is a worthy one, are unacceptable.

Hawaii Senate Bans Public Prayer

The State Senate of Hawaii has banned prayer by voice vote, becoming the first of all 50 states to fully ban the traditional practice of allowing visiting pastors to pray before legislative meetings.  Caving in to fears of an empty-threat lawsuit by atheist complainers at the ACLU, the Senators not only forbid speech by pastors who pray “in Jesus name,” but also forbid anybody of any religion to pray at all.

  • Such overkill seems fair on the surface, but fulfills Satan’s objective of promoting secular humanism

Home Depot Doubles Funds to Gay Activist Group

The American Family Association reports that Home Depot, through its Foundation, is now matching donations by its employees to further homosexual activism. GLAAD (a politically active gay group) announced on its website that The Home Depot has agreed to match all contributions made by company employees, despite a company policy to the contrary. The Home Depot policy states it will not match funds to “political groups” or “groups that have a primary focus of changing laws.” GLAAD is heavily involved in promoting same-sex marriage. Through its “Matching Gifts” program, The Home Depot is willing to violate its own policy to help promote GLAAD’s top agendas – homosexual marriage and more gay characters on prime-time network TV. AFA is asking Christians to boycott of The Home Depot until it agrees to remain neutral in cultural issues.

TSA Unveils ‘Generic’ Body Scans

The Transportation Security Administration began testing on Tuesday new software that will transmit more modest images of travelers’ bodies on some of its controversial airport screening machines. The new technology, introduced at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport for a 45- to 60-day trial, is designed to detect potential explosives and show them on a blurred “generic outline” of a person projected a monitor that can be seen by screeners and travelers. The outline will be identical for all passengers. The TSA will introduce the software at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Ronald Reagan Washington National in the next few days.

Social Media Users Grapple with Information Overload

A crush of popular social-media toys — Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Yelp, social games, Skype, YouTube and Quora, to name a few — has opened the lines of communication between millions of people as never before. However, people are drowning in a deluge of data. Corporate users received about 110 messages a day in 2010, says market researcher Radicati Group. There are 110 million tweets a day, Twitter says. Researcher Basex has pegged business productivity losses due to the “cost of unnecessary interruptions” at $650 billion in 2007. The consequences could be telling for major companies that ignore the conversation overload. Facebook, Google, Yahoo and others have noted the communications overkill, and they are revamping their services to ease the cacophony of communications on consumers. Consolidation of myriad online conversations and media is inevitable, says Aaron Levie, CEO of Box.net, software that helps businesses share content and collaborate.

Economic News

Fueled by a seemingly non-stop surge of corporate profits, the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 148 points to 12,040, the first time the much-watched measure has closed above 12,000 since June 2008. The 236 S&P 500 companies that have reported fourth-quarter earnings have posted average growth of 36%. So far, 76% of S&P 500 companies have beaten earnings estimates. Companies grew revenue 7.9% in the fourth quarter.

  • Corporate profits are rising because they have not hired back employees even as revenues increased, leaving the unemployment rate stuck around 9.5%.

Oil prices soared past a key threshold of $100 a barrel Monday amid fears that violence in Egypt could disrupt the flow of oil or infect other parts of the Middle East. While Egypt is not a major oil producer, its proximity to other oil-producing countries is rattling the market. Just as important, Egypt controls the Suez Canal and the Suez-Mediterranean Pipeline, which are two of the major chokepoints for oil transportation.

BP announced Tuesday that it is resuming dividend payouts for the first time since the Gulf of Mexico oil well disaster, despite suffering its first full-year loss since 1992, and plans to sell off almost half its U.S. refinery business. BP said a stronger-than-expected end to 2010, in which high oil prices boosted fourth-quarter profit 30%, was not enough to avoid a full-year loss of $3.7 billion. t raised to $40.9 billion its estimate for the overall cost of the Gulf oil spill.

Russia

About 500 people demonstrated in a central Moscow square Monday to demand the ouster of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his “rule of thieves.” The rally took place peacefully, but police detained a separate group of 20 opposition activists nearby. About 60 protesters also were detained in St. Petersburg, one of a number of other cities where demonstrations were held. Prominent opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was arrested and jailed for 15 days following a similar demonstration a month ago, kept up his assault on Russia’s longtime leader as he addressed the protesters on Moscow’s Triumph Square. He compared Putin to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek, who is facing mass unrest after 30 years in power.

Iran

ASSIST News Service reports that seven Christians were released last week from Iran’s Evin Prison. Four women were released from Tehran’s Evin Prison on Jan. 29, and one woman and two men were released three days earlier. All seven had spent a month in prison without charges on the basis of their faith. Most had been in solitary confinement. One family was forced to surrender a trade license to post bail and fear authorities may arbitrary decide that bail has been broken, thereby destroying the family’s livelihood. All of the Christians were arrested as part of a government crackdown on house churches immediately after Christmas. Twenty-six Christians arrested at that time remain imprisoned.

Britain’s defense secretary says it’s possible that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon by next year. Liam Fox told lawmakers on Monday he disagrees with Israel’s newly retired spy chief, Meir Dagan, who said this month that Iran would not be able to build a nuclear bomb before 2015. Fox said the West has been caught out before, notably by North Korea, when it had been overly optimistic. He says the international community should act on the basis of the most pessimistic assessment.

Pakistan

A car bomb killed nine people close to the main northwestern city of Peshawar on Wednesday, the latest in a rash of attacks that are challenging recent police claims of progress there against Islamist militants. Twenty others were wounded in the blast on a main road leading to Pakistan’s border area with Afghanistan. Government and security force targets in Peshawar have been often attacked by the Pakistani Taliban, who have bases close to the frontier with Afghanistan. Pakistani security forces have traditionally had very little presence or authority in the tribally ruled region.

Weather

A vast, potent winter storm barreled across the nation’s midsection Tuesday, depositing dangerous amounts of ice and snow before aiming for the winter-weary Northeast. Before the snow ends in Chicago Wednesday afternoon, total accumulation might flirt with the city’s snowiest storm ever: 23 inches that fell Jan. 26-27, 1967. White-out conditions have forced the closure of I-70 across Missouri and I-44 from Springfield to the Oklahoma border. Thousands of airline flights were canceled as winter storm warnings flew from southwestern New Mexico to northern Maine, a distance of more than 2,300 miles. Life came to a standstill in a wide swath of the nation. Legislatures, schools and businesses closed, athletic events were postponed, and people stayed home. Blizzard warnings were in effect in nine states, from Oklahoma to Ohio.

The winter of 2010-11 is only about half over, but many spots are enduring one of their worst seasons on record for snow and cold. Seven major winter storms have already battered much of the central and eastern USA the past six weeks, with no sign of any letup in the weeks ahead. New York City has received 56.1 inches of snow so far. That’s more than five times the city’s typical average of 11.1 inches, to date. Tuesday’s snowfall of 13.2 inches was the greatest one-day snowfall ever recorded in Tulsa, where records date to 1900. The 11 inches of snow that fell in just 12 hours in Oklahoma City was more than the city usually sees in an entire year. Wind chills in the Oklahoma Panhandle fell to 36 degrees below zero on Tuesday, the lowest ever recorded. Temperatures that plummeted into the teens in Dallas were the coldest the city has seen in 15 years and shut down the airport for several hours. December was the coldest on record for many Florida cities, including Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Miami, Naples, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

Flooding in southern Malaysia has killed two people and more than 40,000 have fled to relief shelters as rains were still falling Tuesday. The Malaysian Railway said in a statement on its website that three trains to neighboring Singapore were canceled due to the floods, while others had been disrupted. Evacuations also took place due to flooding in southern Malacca state, central Negri Sembilan state, eastern Pahang state and Sabah state on Borneo island.

Tens of thousands of people fled the path of a monster storm bearing down on northeastern Australia as officials warned that the life-threatening cyclone had increased in strength overnight. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh urged residents of low-lying areas to evacuate quickly as gusts up to 174 mph (280 kph) were expected ahead of Cyclone Yasi, forecast to hit Cairns late Wednesday. “We are facing a storm of catastrophic proportions in a highly populated area,” Bligh told reporters.

  • End-time weather continues to grow more unstable and extreme

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