House Votes to Reaffirm ‘In God We Trust’ Motto

In a 396-9 vote Tuesday night, the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States. The resolution, proposed by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), not only affirms the motto but also encourages its display in public and government buildings. Forbes said the motto had been under attack during the past three years, citing specifically an instance in which President Obama misstated the motto as “E pluribus unum” and refused to correct himself even after 42 members of Congress sent him a letter, as well as the fact that the White House website has the incorrect motto.

Biblical Blunder at White House Briefing

It was a blunder of biblical proportions. White House spokesman Jay Carney invoked scripture yesterday to back up President Barack Obama’s suggestion that God wants policymakers to get busy and create more jobs. Carney said Obama was trying to make the point that “we have it within our capacity to do the things to help the American people.” Carney said there was a Bible phrase stating “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” Someone caught the goof. A White House transcript of Carney’s briefing issued later in the day included the disclaimer: “This common phrase does not appear in the Bible.”

  • Many Christian also believe this Ben Franklin quote is Scriptural, but it’s not. The Bible says in many places that God often helps those who are helpless. He wants us dependent on Him, not on self.

‘Almighty God’ Gets Approval

Now that a court has given its stamp of approval, Kentuckians can legally thank “Almighty God.” A ruling by a three-judge panel of the Kentucky Court of Appeals favors two state actions thanking God. One of those actions came in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when state lawmakers issued a finding stating “the safety and security of the commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance on Almighty God.” The other — in legislation that created the state Office of Homeland Security in 2006 — required the executive director of that agency to acknowledge “dependence on Almighty God” in training manuals and on a wall plaque on the door of the operations center. A lower court had ruled against the latter action — specifically, against a plaque saying: “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) There was a lawsuit by some atheists saying that they were trying to establish religion by requiring the plaque. However, the court of appeals ruled it was just a part of the traditional American heritage, and that it’s okay for a government to say such a thing as ‘God Almighty.’

  • The question isn’t whether courts and government approve of Almighty God, but whether He approves of us

Christian Persecution Continues Unabated

Friday’s Barnabas Fund reports:

A Christian teenager was beaten to death by Muslim classmates at their school in Egypt after he refused to conceal his cross tattoo and necklace.

A Christian mother of four was slaughtered by a Muslim colleague in Pakistan after she resisted his attempt to rape her at the factory where they worked.

The Burmese army has attacked churches and fired at worshippers, while severe restrictions have been imposed on Christian activities, as the military continues its offensive in Kachin state.

  • Funny how the media neglects these stories, but would hype any attacks on Muslims

Supporting Israel is Not a Sin

According to some mainstream “theologians” support for Israel is a sin! In a blistering document from the Just Peacemaking Initiative of Fuller Theological Seminary, two professors make the outrageous claim in an “Open Letter to Christian Zionists” that the instability and coming outbreak of violence and war in the Middle East is the fault of those of us who support Israel! They wrote: :American Christian Zionism as it currently stands is sinful and produces sin.” Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is a command of God (Psalm 122:6) and it is never more important or needed than it is right now. The enemies of Israel have no concern about the theological correctness of their position—they know their “holy book” calls for the elimination of Jews…and they mean to obey that evil command.

  • While the secular government has led Israel astray, it is the past and future center of God’s Kingdom on earth and we are commanded Biblically to prayerfully support it through thick and thin

G-20 Summit Ends With a Whimper

The G-20 summit ended in disarray without additional outside money to ease Europe’s debt crisis and new jitters about Italy clouding a plan to prevent Greece from defaulting. In the end, only vague offers to increase the firepower of the International Monetary Fund— at some later date — were all the Eurozone leaders were able to take home Friday after two days of tumultuous talks. With their own finances already stretched from bailing out Greece, Ireland and Portugal — and the United States and other allies wrestling with their own problems — Eurozone countries had been looking to the IMF to help line up more financing to prevent the debt crisis from spreading to larger economies like Italy and Spain. Italy’s fate in particular is crucial to the Eurozone, because its economy — the third-largest in the currency union — would be too expensive to bail out. The implications for the world economy are stark: The debt crisis that has rocked the 17-nation Eurozone threatens to push the world economy into a second recession.

Greece Rescinds Referendum, PM Survives Confidence Vote

Greece’s prime minister George Papandreou survived a confidence vote in parliament early Saturday morning, calming a revolt in his Socialist party with a pledge to seek an interim government that would secure a vital new European debt deal. Under international pressure, Papandreou Thursday gave up his plan for a nationwide vote on a bailout deal for his debt-ridden country that European leaders fretted would cause a financial meltdown. Papandreou also forced his political foes to back down on their opposition to the spending cuts and tax hikes that come with the bailout funded largely by Germany and other European nations. Polls indicate the bailout is unpopular in Greece, where in return for $180 billion in assistance, holders of the Greek debt must agree to take 50% less than they are owed. The deal also forces Greece to cut thousands of state jobs and raise taxes to tackle its budget deficit, and it expands the power of EU inspectors overlooking its finances.

Sun Blasting Massive Solar Flares

After years of quiet, the sun is coming alive with solar storms in a big way. The sun shot off a flare Thursday afternoon from a region that scientists are calling a “benevolent monster.” Thursday’s flare was not aimed at Earth. This active region, however, is now slowly turning toward Earth, and scientists say it will be directly facing Earth in about five days. The region will be facing Earth for about two weeks as it rotates. Solar flares send out bursts of electromagnetic energy that can occasionally disrupt communications and electrical systems. For the past several years, the sun has been at a quiet end of its cycle and only recently has gotten more active. Solar cycles go in an 11-year period. This cycle has had fewer storms than usual for this time in its cycle. But that may be changing.

CIA Monitoring Twitter, Facebook Posts

In an anonymous industrial park in Virginia, in an unassuming brick building, the CIA is following tweets — up to 5 million a day. At the agency’s Open Source Center, a team known affectionately as the “vengeful librarians” also pores over Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, and Internet chat rooms. From Arabic to Mandarin Chinese, from an angry tweet to a thoughtful blog, the analysts gather the information, often in native tongue. They cross-reference it with the local newspaper or a clandestinely intercepted phone conversation. From there, they build a picture sought by the highest levels at the White House, giving a real-time peek, for example, at the mood of a region after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden or perhaps a prediction of which Mideast nation seems ripe for revolt. The center predicted that social media in places like Egypt could be a game-changer and a threat to the regime. The CIA facility was set up in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission, with its first priority to focus on counter-terrorism.

  • However, this same technology can also be used to spy on American citizens and profile those whom the government deems ‘dangerous’

Tucson Sector Border Arrests Fall 40 Percent

The number of illegal immigrants arrested by the Border Patrol in the Tucson Sector fell by more than 40 percent last year, a significant drop that indicates illegal immigration has slowed considerably in Arizona. Arrests in the Tucson Sector fell to 123,000 last fiscal year. Arrests in the Nogales station, the largest in the Tucson Sector, fell by 43 percent to 18,000. The Obama administration has deployed National Guard troops and has been adding new fencing, technology and agents along the border to make it more difficult to cross illegally. They also have been beefing up immigration enforcement. In fiscal 2011, deportations were at an all-time high. Those factors, coupled with the grim U.S. job market, have driven the number of arrests down.

  • Administration officials are loathe to credit the stiffened Arizona immigration laws which have probably had the biggest impact

U.S.-Born Children Sue for In-State Tuition

A Florida lawsuit is highlighting a rare practice of forbidding U.S.-born students — citizens by birth — from getting in-state tuition because their parents are illegal immigrants. Five students, all born in the U.S. to illegal immigrant parents, sued the state last month for denying them in-state tuition rates even though they’d lived in Florida, graduated from state high schools and were entering state colleges and universities. They claim the higher out-of-state rates they were charged either forced them to drop out or take fewer classes, delaying their eventual graduation. The lawsuit illustrates a fractured, state-by-state immigration debate that questions how many rights children of illegal immigrants — born in and outside the U.S. — should be given.

In Maryland, which passed a bill granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants two months ago, a taxpayer revolt has produced 132,000 signatures on a petition for a referendum on the November, 2012 ballot to repeal the local version of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors). This is twice the number needed to get on the ballot. In Maryland, in-state tuition averages $8,416 compared to $24,831 for out-of-staters. Nearly a third of those who signed the anti-DREAM petition were Democrats, with another fifteen percent unaffiliated.

Police & Protesters Clash

Police and protesters supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement clashed in Oakland Wednesday. The confrontation began after protesters started a large bonfire in the middle of a downtown street. Police in riot gear moved in on hundreds of protesters as the flames shot more than 15 feet in the air. The protesters began hurling rocks, explosives, bottles, and flaming objects at responding officers. Several private and municipal buildings sustained heavy vandalism. Police warned protesters to clear out before firing several rounds of tear gas and “flash bang” grenades to clear the area. In the aftermath of the police actions, protesters with cloth wrapped around their faces to protect them from the stench of the gas marched through the area chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets.” Earlier, Occupy Wall Street protesters declared victory after thousands of demonstrators shut down evening operations at one of the nation’s busiest shipping ports.

Biggest Jump Ever in Greenhouse Gases

The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday. The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago. The world pumped about 564 million more tons (512 million metric tons) of carbon into the air in 2010 than it did in 2009. That’s an increase of 6%. Extra pollution in China and the U.S. account for more than half the increase in emissions. India and China are huge users of coal. Burning coal is the biggest carbon source worldwide and emissions from that jumped nearly 8% in 2010.

Recession Drives More Americans to Poverty-Wracked Neighborhoods

The number of Americans living in neighborhoods beset by extreme poverty surged in the last decade, erasing the progress of the 1990s, with the poorest areas growing more than twice as fast in suburbs as in cities. At least 2.2 million more Americans, a 33 percent jump since 2000, live in neighborhoods where the poverty rate is 40 percent or higher, according to a study released today by the Washington-based Brookings Institution. The report, which analyzed Census Bureau data, shows the extent to which the U.S. lost ground in efforts to fight poverty during a decade marked by recessions, including the deepest slump in seven decades. The Midwest and South were hardest hit, suffering from manufacturing job losses and the housing bust. The report follows the release of data by the Census Bureau in September that showed the number of people living in poverty was the highest in the 52 years since the agency began gathering the statistic. U.S. household income fell to its lowest level in more than a decade in 2010 and poverty rose to a 17-year high.

Economic News

Government-controlled mortgage giant Freddie Mac has requested $6 billion in additional aid after posting a wider loss in the third quarter. Freddie Mac said Thursday that it lost $6 billion, or $1.86 per share, in the July-September quarter. That compares with a loss of $4.1 billion, or $1.25 a share, in the same quarter of 2010. Freddie’s losses are increasing mainly for two reasons: Many homeowners are paying less interest because they are able to refinance at lower mortgage rates. In addition, failing and bankrupt mortgage insurers are not paying out as much money when homeowners default. Taxpayers have spent about $169 billion to rescue mortgage siblings Fannie Mae and Freddie, the most expensive bailout of the 2008 financial crisis. The government estimates it will cost at least $51 billion more to support the companies through 2014, and as much as $142 billion in the most extreme case.

The unemployment rate ticked down to 9% from 9.1% last month. It was the first drop in the unemployment rate since July. The Labor Department said the economy added only 80,000 jobs in October. It was the fewest in four months and below September’s revised total of 158,000. October’s modest job growth is barely enough to keep pace with population growth.

The real unemployment rate is actually well above the official level of 9.1 percent, which only measures people who have applied for a job within the previous four weeks. The Department of Labor’s “U-6” number of 16.5% has received increasing attention lately because it includes people who have given up looking for work within the past year, plus people who have been cut back from full-time employees to part-timers.

Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, a hopeful sign that the job market might be picking up. The Labor Department says weekly applications dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 397,000, lowest level in five weeks. It’s only the third time since April that applications have fallen below 400,000. Weekly unemployment claims need to fall below 375,000 to signal sustained job gains. They haven’t been at that level since February.

The federal workforce appears to be immune to the country’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. While civilian employment has tanked, with 14 million Americans out of work, the number of federal employees has grown 12 percent since the official start of the recession in December 2007.

The Commerce Department says total factory orders increased for a third straight month, edging up 0.3%. Demand for core capital goods, the category that serves as a proxy for business investment spending, jumped 2.5%, largest increase since a 5.4% rise in March. The surge in demand for capital goods reflected significant increases in demand for heavy machinery and computers.

Israel

The past few days have seen a major increase in terrorist violence and attacks against Israel. Dozens of rockets and missiles—more than one per hour for much of that time—have rained down on southern Israeli villages and towns. At least one man—a Jewish father of four—was killed in this latest escalation of violence, and a number have been wounded. Several schools were forced to cancel classes, and one empty school was mostly destroyed by a direct rocket strike.

Gunman in the Gaza Strip opened fire on an Israeli crew working on the security fence separating Israel from the Strip on Thursday. There were no injuries among the Israelis in the incident, which took place near  Kibbutz Zikim in the Western Negev. IDF troops on the scene returned fire and two Palestinians were reportedly killed. The shootout is just the latest act of aggression against Israel carried out by Gaza based terror organizations.

Iran

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad acknowledged Tuesday that U.S.-designed financial sanctions are causing serious problems for Iran’s banking sector, as he appealed to lawmakers to keep his government together despite a massive embezzlement scandal. ‘Our banks cannot make international transactions anymore,’ the embattled president said in a speech before parliament to defend his minister of economic affairs and finance against impeachment charges related to the scandal… U.S. sanctions against Iran played an important role in the debate, in which critics sought to blame Ahmadinejad and his team for a lack of oversight in a $2.6 billion fraud case in which most factions seemed to be involved

Syria

Syria accepted an Arab League proposal calling for it to withdraw armored vehicles from the streets and stop violence against protesters in a bid to end the country’s seven-month-old political crisis that has led to the deaths of some 3,000 people. The agreement was announced by Qatar’s Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim, who urged Damascus to follow through with action on the ground. Syria has continued its bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters despite international condemnation and previous promises of reform.

France

The offices of a French satirical newspaper were firebombed today only hours before it published an edition on the Arab Spring featuring a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed. The cover of Charlie Hedbo shows a bearded and turbaned cartoon figure of the prophet saying “100 lashes if you’re not dying of laughter.” Islam generally forbids depictions of its founder. In recent years, other publications and cartoonists, particularly in Europe, who have drawn pictures of the the prophet Mohammed have been attacked.

Japan

Japan has made big strides toward stabilizing its tsunami-crippled nuclear plant but is now facing another crisis — what to do with all the radioactive waste the disaster created. Goshi Hosono, the country’s nuclear crisis minister, said Friday that Japan has yet to come up with a comprehensive plan for how to dispose of the irradiated waste that has been accumulating since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The crisis has spawned a huge amount of irradiated waste that will require new technology and “creative methods” to dispose of safely.

Cuba

Cuba announced Thursday that it will allow real estate to be bought and sold for the first time since the early days of the revolution, the most important reform yet in a series of free-market changes under President Raul Castro. The law, which takes effect Nov. 10, applies to citizens living in Cuba and permanent residents only. Cuban exiles will not be allowed to buy property on the island since they are not residents. The law limits Cubans to owning one home in the city and another in the country, an effort to prevent the accumulation of large real estate holdings. It requires all real estate transactions to be made through Cuban bank accounts so they can be better regulated, and says the transactions will be subject to bank commissions.

Nigeria

A series of bomb and gun attacks targeting police stations, mosques and churches left 63 people dead in northeastern Nigeria, a Red Cross official said Saturday. Attackers left scores injured — probably more than 100 — in the three-hour rampage in the Yobe state city of Damaturu. Gunmen first attacked the police headquarters and the anti-terror office before moving to churches and mosques. Most of the casualties are police officers.. The attack came the same day suicide bombers suspected to belong to a militant Islamist group targeted a military base in nearby Maiduguri. Three suicide bombers drove a stolen black SUV toward a Joint Task Force headquarters, but could not get through the gate.

Earthquakes

Three earthquakes that shook much of central Oklahoma were also felt as far away as Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. The U.S. Geological Survey says that a 4.7 magnitude earthquake struck at 2:12 a.m., with an epicenter about six miles north of Prague in southern Lincoln County. That’s about 50 miles east of Oklahoma City. A 3.4 magnitude aftershock was reported at 2:27 a.m. from the same location. Another 2.7 magnitude quake also was recorded at 2:44 a.m. Lincoln County sheriff officials say there have been no reports of injuries but several people have reported items falling off walls

Weather

Many schools are closed this entire week as crews continue efforts to restore power to about 760,000 utility customers who remain in the dark in several states Thursday. Last weekend’s storm dumped an inch to more than 30 inches of wet, heavy snow across the region and took down thousands of trees and wires, cutting power to more than 3 million homes and businesses. Some residents are still languishing in shelters that provided heat and meals. Connecticut, the hardest-hit state, still had more than a half-million customers without power. New Jersey still had 180,000 homes and businesses without power.

Floodwaters lapped Bangkok’s largest outdoor market Saturday as officials warned that no major barriers now stood in the way to prevent the water from reaching the heart of the Thai capital. Hoping to divert some of the mass of water still piled up in northern Bangkok, workers Friday night completed a 3.7-mile flood wall made from massive, hastily assembled sand bags. Thailand’s record floods swamped a major intersection in the northern edge of the city center and threatening the subway system. The water from the country’s worst flooding in more than half a century started in the country’s north in late July and has killed almost 450 people nationwide, and has been spreading across Bangkok’s north and west for more than a week. The government has asked residents in eight of the city’s 50 districts to evacuate. Residents in several other districts have been warned that they should be ready to leave. The water has yet to reach the city’s central business district.

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