Around the World, an ‘Explosion of Evangelism’

According to OneNewsNow.com, statistics point to what some are calling a “Fifth Great Awakening,” because Christianity is on the rise just about everywhere in the world — with the exception of the United States and Britain. The global growth of Christianity has caused the largest “explosion of evangelism” in 20 centuries, citing Korea, Nigeria and Cuba as just a few of the nations riding the wave of growth. In the last 10 years in Cuba, more than 1 million people have come to Christ. In contrast, in England, four times more Muslims go to mosque every week than Christians go to church; in the U.S., the number of atheists and agnostics has quadrupled in the past 20 years and only 1 percent of college students attend church any given Sunday.

Arizona Abortions Down 30%

The Center for Arizona Policy reports that, “Abortions in Arizona dropped 30% in September 2011 compared to September 2010! Praise God! After the victory in the Arizona Court of Appeals and the announcement that Planned Parenthood would end abortion services at seven of their ten locations, abortions in September dropped from 1,053 September last year to 729 September this year.”

Once an Abortion Mill, Now a Pregnancy Resource Center

An abortion clinic in La Puente, Calif., that recently closed its doors for good will be transformed into a pregnancy resource center, OneNewsNow.com reports. Norma Murakami, executive director of A Women’s Care Center, credits the clinic’s closing to a pro-life campaign, 40 Days for Life, during which people prayed outside its doors and talked numerous women out of their scheduled abortions. Murakami is currently negotiating a lease for the new center, which will “take back the land” that was used for abortions for 30 years; she plans to “get rid of … any kind of reminder of what was there in the past.” The pro-life pastor of the nearby Calvary Chapel has offered support and partnership, and the new facility could open as early as December 2011 or early 2012.

Court Rules Against Same-Sex ‘Parents’

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review an important ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals involving natural marriage and family, thus allowing the appellate court’s pro-family decision to stand. The case involved unmarried same-sex partners in New York who unsuccessfully sued to change an adopted boy’s Louisiana birth certificate to state that the child had two fathers. The homosexual couple wanted to get the birth certificate changed to affirm facts which are biologically impossible. Matthew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, comments, “The details of this case illustrate the Pandora’s Box of disastrous consequences that emerge when we give legal recognition to unnatural relationships.”

Three in Four Pastors Say Mormons Aren’t Christian

As a prominent evangelical pastor and supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry is taking heat for calling Mormonism a cult, a newly released poll says most Protestant pastors agree that Mormons aren’t Christians, the Religion News Service reports. Seventy-five percent of pastors surveyed by LifeWay Research disagreed with the statement that Mormons were Christians. The poll was conducted in October 2010 but was not released until Oct. 9, 2011, the day after Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, called Mormonism a “theological cult” and told Fox News that evangelicals “ought to give preference to a Christian [candidate] instead of someone who doesn’t embrace historical Christianity.”

  • Mormons do not believe Jesus is the Son of God, but rather that He is Satan’s brother. Mormonism is most definitely not Christian

Senate Votes Down Obama’s $447 Billion Jobs Package

Despite President Obama’s exhortations, the Senate voted down his $447 billion jobs package Tuesday by failing to end a Republican-led filibuster. The bill died on a 50-49 tally, a majority of the 100-member Senate but well short of the 60 votes needed to keep the bill alive. The plan would have included Social Security payroll-tax cuts for workers and businesses and other tax relief totaling about $270 billion. There also was to be $175 billion in new spending on roads, school repairs and other infrastructure — as well as jobless aid and help to local governments to avoid layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police officers. Republicans opposed the measure over its spending to stimulate the economy and its tax surcharge on millionaires.

Congress Ends 5-Year Standoff on Trade Deals in Rare Accord

Congress passed three long-awaited free trade agreements on Wednesday, ending a political standoff that has stretched across two presidencies. The move offered a rare moment of bipartisan accord at a time when Republicans and Democrats are bitterly divided over the role that government ought to play in reviving the sputtering economy. The approval of the deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama is a victory for President Obama and proponents of the view that foreign trade can drive America’s economic growth in the face of rising protectionist sentiment in both political parties. The passage of the trade deals is important primarily as a political achievement, and for its foreign policy value in solidifying relationships with strategic allies. The economic benefits are projected to be small. Unions claim the agreements will actually cost U.S. jobs.

Obama, EPA Sued for Nixing Tougher Ozone Standards

Environmental and public health groups today sued the Obama administration for rejecting stronger ozone standards that scientists say could prevent asthma and other respiratory illnesses. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed tougher standards almost two years ago, but President Obama ordered the EPA last month to drop the proposal, drawing applause from industry groups and congressional Republicans. Strengthening the standards would have saved up to 12,000 lives every year, prevented 58,000 asthma attacks and avoided 21,000 hospital and emergency room visits, according to EPA estimates. Ground-level ozone is the main component of smog and the most widespread air pollutant. The EPA’s science advisers have called for tougher ozone standards, as have the American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, American Heart Association and American Medical Association.

Great Lakes’ Mercury Pollution Poses Health Risks

Mercury pollution in the Great Lakes region is much greater than previously reported, and people eating some of the fish there face potential health risks, a new report concludes. Despite general declines in mercury levels in the area over the past four decades, mercury concentrations still exceed human and ecological risk thresholds and are rising again for some fish and wildlife, according to the report. Also, new studies cited in the report suggest that mercury’s adverse effects on fish and wildlife occur at much lower levels than previously believed. The report, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, represents the work of more than 170 scientists, researchers, and resource managers.

Boston Police Arrest 50 Occupy Boston Protesters

More than 50 protesters from the Occupy Boston movement were arrested early Tuesday after they ignored warnings to move from a downtown greenway near where they have been camped out for more than a week. A local conservancy group recently planted $150,000 worth of shrubs along the greenway and officials said they were concerned about damage.

Anti-war and anti-corporate greed protesters have accepted an offer by U.S. Park Police in the nation’s capital to extend by four months their permit to demonstrate in Washington’s Freedom Plaza near the White House. The demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street took it further uptown — to the homes of some corporate executives. They walked along streets like Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue where some of the richest 1 percent of the population live in townhouses and luxury apartments.

As protests spread across the nation, they are raising hopes on the left of a movement to counter the Tea Party and to incite what Van Jones, a socialist activist and former White House aide, calls “an American Autumn.” To some, Occupy Wall Street’s growing presence also hints at something bigger: a new age of insurrection, in which aggrieved people protest what’s wrong with the world. There is a darker, underground current driving the protests that came to light this week – anti-Semitism. “The Jews control Wall Street,” some protestors shouted. Other carried signs with references to Hitler.

Foreign Insects, Diseases Invade U.S.

Dozens of foreign insects and plant diseases slipped undetected into the United States in the years after 9/11, when authorities were so focused on preventing another attack that they overlooked a pest explosion that threatened the quality of the nation’s food supply. At the time, hundreds of agricultural scientists responsible for stopping invasive species at the border were reassigned to anti-terrorism duties in the newly formed Homeland Security Department – a move that scientists say cost billions of dollars in crop damage and eradication efforts from California vineyards to Florida citrus groves. Many invasive species are carried into the U.S. by people who are either unaware of the laws or are purposely trying to skirt quarantine regulations. If tainted with insects or infections, they can carry contagions capable of devastating crops.

One such pest, the Asian citrus psyllid, which can carry a disease that has decimated Florida orange groves, crossed the border from Mexico, threatening the multibillion-dollar citrus industry in Arizona and California. No fewer than 19 Mediterranean fruit-fly infestations took hold in California, and the European grapevine moth triggered spraying and quarantines across wine country. New Zealand’s light-brown apple moth also emerged in California, prompting the government in 2008 to treat the Monterey Bay area with 1,600 pounds of pesticides. The sweet-orange scab, a fungal disease that infects citrus, appeared in Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, which all imposed quarantines. The erythrina gall wasp decimated Hawaii’s wiliwili trees, which bear seeds used to make leis. Forests from Minnesota to the Northeast were also affected by beetles such as the emerald ash borer, many of which arrived in Chinese shipping pallets because regulations weren’t enforced.

Economic News

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits was almost unchanged last week. The slight dip in applications suggests the job market isn’t getting much better. The report suggests layoffs have declined in recent weeks. But other data show hiring hasn’t picked up. On Wednesday, the Labor Department said companies posted fewer job openings in August than the previous month, first decline in four months.

n a second report Thursday, the Commerce Department said the trade deficit edged down slightly in August, although the imbalance for the year is running well above last year’s pace. The trade deficit with China hit an all-time high. The deficit dipped to $45.61 billion in August, the lowest gap in four months. For the year, the deficit is running at an annual rate of $564.3 billion, 13 percent higher than last year.

The number of U.S. homes that received a first-time default notice during the July to September quarter increased 14% from the second quarter. Banks are moving more aggressively now against borrowers who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments than they have since industry-wide foreclosure processing problems emerged last fall. Those problems resulted in a sharp drop in foreclosure activity.

The City Council of Harrisburg, PA, voted in favor of a municipal bankruptcy filing after rejecting financial recovery plans put forward by state officials and Harrisburg’s mayor. But the way forward for the cash-strapped capital remains clouded while Pennsylvania lawmakers ponder a state takeover.

Drivers across the USA are digging deeper into their pockets as more states and communities raise tolls or impose them for the first time to build and repair highways, bridges and tunnels. Motorists are paying more at such landmarks as Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge and the Holland Tunnel between New York and New Jersey. They’ll soon have to ante up on Interstate 95 in Virginia. Other states are raising tolls while others move to add or expand toll lanes on interstates.

The United Auto Workers said today it has reached a tentative agreement with Chrysler that would add 2,100 new jobs and calls for $4.5 billion in new investments at Chrysler’s U.S. plants. The deal now goes to a vote by Chrysler’s 26,000 UAW members in coming days. The deal is the UAW’s third: GM workers accepted their new deal and Ford workers are voting now on a tentative contract.

Europe

The Eurozone debt crisis has grown to threaten banks and the wider economy, European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet warned Tuesday. Speaking as head of the eurozone’s new risk-watchdog, the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB), Trichet told a European parliament Committee in Brussels that market fear about government debt has spread to capital markets around the world and is drying up bank funding. The EU plans to force the region’s biggest banks to raise billions of Euros in capital to better withstand market turmoil over the high debt in several euro countries, the European Commission’s president said Wednesday.

Many Greeks are not happy that they are being ordered by Europe to abolish their generous welfare state to rescue the European banks that have lent them billions of dollars. On Tuesday, trash filled the streets below the Acropolis as teachers, garbage haulers and government workers demanded that their socialist leaders refuse Europe’s deal. In Germany, people are furious that while they saved their money, the Greeks spent theirs, and it is Germans who must largely bail out the accused freeloaders or risk economic ruin. Slovakian lawmakers on Tuesday rejected participation in an expanded euro rescue fund aimed at shoring up confidence in the ability of euro members to survive the financial crisis. The European financial crisis has awakened average Europeans to the frightening possibility that the end is near for their post-World War II system of stiff taxes, guaranteed state jobs, early retirements and lavish benefits.

Egypt

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging Egypt’s transitional leaders “to guarantee the protection of human rights and civil liberties” for people of all faiths after the deaths of at least 26 people, mostly Christians. Sunday’s attacks on Coptic Christians were the country’s worst violence since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak eight months ago.As Coptic Christians mourned the death of protesters slain by security forces, Egypt’s military leaders faced unprecedented public anger Monday and growing doubt about their ability to oversee a promised transition to democracy.

Pakistan

Muslims in Pakistan’s Punjab Province shot dead an unarmed Christian man and injured 21 others, six critically, during an attempted land-grab, Compass Direct News reports. Forty to 45 heavily armed Muslims forcibly entered the home of Christian carpenter Adeel Kashif, intending to force his family out and take illegal possession of the property. When Kashif’s neighbors and others from the Christian village of about 250 gathered upon hearing the commotion, the Muslims suddenly opened fire on the crowd, killing a 25-year-old man and injuring many women and children. Police eventually managed to arrest 16 armed assailants, but the primary suspects remain free.

Iran

The Obama administration plans to leverage charges that Iran plotted to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States into a new global campaign to isolate the Islamic republic. U.S. officials say the administration will lobby for the imposition of new international sanctions as well as for individual nations to expand their own penalties against Iran based on allegations that Iranian agents tried to recruit a purported member of a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi envoy on American soil. The alleged Iranian plot to kill a Saudi ambassador in Washington shows that the ruling mullahs have no fear of the United States and that U.S. policy toward the Islamic republic must be more assertive.

Iraq

Iraqi officials said the death toll in a string of blasts targeting police in Baghdad has jumped to 23.Thirteen people were killed in western Baghdad when a suicide bomber rammed a police station. In the northern Shiite neighborhood of Hurriyah, nine people died when a suicide bomber also targeted a police station. And in western Baghdad, a parked car bomb targeting a police patrol exploded and killed one civilian.

Syria

Tens of thousands of Syrians thronged a main square of the Syrian capital and nearby streets Wednesday in a huge show of support for embattled President Bashar Assad, as he struggles to quell a seven-month-old uprising. Opponents charge such rallies are staged by the regime. Wednesday’s demonstration was intended to show that Assad still enjoys the support of many Syrians. However, international pressure is building on Assad to step down over his regime’s bloody crackdown on anti-government protests that the U.N. says has left nearly 3,000 people dead. The gathering was huge in comparison with frequent, almost daily anti-regime protests across the country since March which are often met by tear gas and gunfire from police and security forces.

Libya

Al-Qaeda’s new leader is calling on Libyan fighters who overthrew Moammar Gadhafi to set up an Islamic state. Ayman al-Zawahri warns Libyan revolutionaries to protect their gains against “Western plots,” claiming NATO will demand that Libyans give up their Islamic faith. Islamic hard-liners have attacked about a half-dozen shrines in and around Tripoli belonging to Muslim sects whose practices they see as sacrilegious, raising religious tensions as Libya struggles to define its identity after Moammar Gadhafi’s expected ouster.

Mutassim Qaddafi has been captured on the outskirts of Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, the National Transitional Council (NTC) said Wednesday. Mutassim is the ousted Libyan leader’s fifth son, who served as National Security Adviser of Libya in Qaddafi’s regime.

Liberia

Liberian voters camped out overnight, forming lines 500 people deep outside voting stations Tuesday as polls opened in Liberia’s presidential election, expected to serve as a referendum on the performance of Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 72, won the Nobel Peace prize last week and was credited by the committee with maintaining peace in this nation on Africa’s western seaboard that only recently emerged from one of the continent’s most horrific civil wars. She is less popular at home, however, and is facing 15 opposition candidates.

Myanmar

Myanmar announced Tuesday it was releasing 6,300 prisoners in a widely expected amnesty by the newly elected government, but it was not clear how many of them were political detainees. The release of some of the country’s estimated 2,000 political prisoners has been hotly anticipated as part of liberalizing measures since Myanmar’s long-ruling military government handed power in March to a military-backed, civilian administration. The 6,359 released inmates were either old, disabled, unwell or had shown good “moral behavior.”

New Zealand

Rough weather has jostled a cargo ship stuck off New Zealand’s coast and worsened its oil leak fivefold to make it the country’s worst-ever maritime environmental disaster. Clumps of heavy oil from the Liberia-flagged Rena have washed up on pristine beaches near Tauranga on New Zealand’s North Island. The ship has been foundering since it ran aground Oct. 5 on the Astrolabe Reef, about 14 miles from Tauranga Harbour, and the government has demanded to know why the ship crashed into the well-charted reef in calm weather. The ship owner has given no reason for the grounding, but says it is cooperating with authorities.

Earthquakes

A powerful earthquake jolted Indonesia’s popular resort island of Bali on Thursday, causing widespread panic and injuring at least 50 people, many with broken bones and head wounds. The walls and ceilings of some temples and at least one school along the coast crumbled, and the roofs of many homes collapsed. The U.S. Geological Survey said the 6.0-magnitude quake was centered 60 miles of the island, 36 miles beneath the ocean floor. Although not strong enough to trigger a tsunami, the quake was felt on neighboring Java and Lombok islands, hundreds of miles away.

Seismologists say an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.5 has struck southern Greece. There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The Athens Geodynamic Institute says the quake struck Monday 108 miles south-southwest of Athens, in the southern Pelponnese region. Greece is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries.

Weather

Hurricane Jova slammed into Mexico’s Pacific coast as a Category 2 storm early Wednesday, killing at least five people and injuring six, while a tropical depression hit farther south and unleashed steady rains that contributed to 13 deaths across the border in Guatemala. Jova came ashore west of the Mexican port of Manzanillo and the beach town of Barra de Navidad before dawn with 100 mph winds and heavy rains, before moving inland and weakening to a tropical depression by afternoon. Mexico’s navy said it evacuated a total of 2,600 people in flood-prone areas hit by Jova, and set up kitchens at shelters to feed 1,600 evacuees.

Thailand’s worst floods in half a century have killed more than 280 people since late July, swamped more than two-thirds of country and inflicted billions of dollars in damage. Western Digital Corp., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of hard drives for personal computers, said severe flooding has halted production at its crucial Thai factory. Other technology companies including Microsemi Corp. and ON Semiconductor have reported production disruptions in Thailand because of the flooding.

Even as nearby fields wither and lakes dry up under a relentless drought, water continues to flow in San Antonio Texas’ second-largest city is weathering the state’s historic drought better than most cities because of innovative water conservation techniques in place for more than a decade. They include year-round water restrictions, dual-flush toilets in thousands of homes and businesses, and the keen eye of the “Water Police,” off-duty San Antonio police officers who drive around enforcing water-restriction rules. A first offense can cost $130. Amid the current drought, which has cost the state more than $5 billion in crops and cattle losses, San Antonio’s water-saving ways suddenly are drawing attention.

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