Personhood Amendment Drives Continue

Upon the release of their plans for a 2012 personhood amendment, a third effort is under way in Colorado among pro-lifers who hope to protect the pre-born. Keith Mason heads Personhood USA and told OneNewsNow that the proposed language will be different this time and respond to the “scare tactics” used by Planned Parenthood in previous campaigns, particularly in Mississippi earlier this month. “We’re listing out that this does not affect miscarriages, that this will not ban contraceptives that don’t kill unique human individuals, and things like that,” Mason explains. “It’s a little bit of a deviation from our normal personhood language, but the way the mainstream media picks on the lies of Planned Parenthood, we want to take that away from them.” The bill will protect a child — born or pre-born — no matter what his or her size or age. And personhood proponents are calling on the church to play a major role in gathering signatures.

A pro-family activist in California says a personhood amendment may stand a chance of passage in The Golden State, despite the recent defeat of a similar initiative in Mississippi. Backers of a California initiative that would define a fetus as a human being at the moment of fertilization have gotten the green light to gather signatures, and they have until April 2012 to collect at least 807,000 signatures to earn a place for the measure on the November 2012 state ballot. The effort comes on the heels of a similar measure that failed in Mississippi. California Civil Rights Foundation President Walter Hoye says the success of this amendment will depend greatly on its language. “It’s important to look at how these personhood amendments are written,”

Billboard Owners Refuse Evangelist’s Ads

It’s the ad for a new movie project that three major billboard companies in Southern California have refused – and all it has is words: “180movie.com – award-winning – free viewing – one million views in 22 days.” The ad is about the new work of world-renowned author and evangelist Ray Comfort of the Living Waters ministry, whose documentary, “180: The Movie,” has gone viral with more than 1.5 million views on YouTube over some six weeks. It’s also sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Other billboard companies haven’t actually refused – they just haven’t returned telephone calls seeking a deal, he said. These are the same companies that advertise atheists’ mockery of God and the Bible, and “promote strip clubs and porn conventions,” Comfort reported. Comfort also has handed out some 180,000 DVDs at 100 top U.S. universities to spread the message, and he’s working on plans to give away hundreds of thousands of copies outside of high schools.

Senate Moves To Allow Military To Intern Americans Without Trial

The Senate is set to vote on a bill next week that would define the whole of the United States as a “battlefield” and allow the U.S. Military to arrest American citizens in their own back yard without charge or trial. The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself. Under the ‘worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial’ provision of S.1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which is set to be up for a vote on the Senate floor Monday, the legislation will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who supports the bill.

Are Automatic Budget Cuts Really Automatic?

President Obama has said he will veto any congressional attempts to sidestep $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that will go into effect next year as a result of the Supercommittee’s failure to come up with its own spending cuts. But Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and a member of the supercommittee, says he thinks there is some space to “change the configuration” of cuts that call for slashing $600 billion in defense and $600 billion in Medicare and domestic spending. Toomey said that there was some common ground between Republicans and moderate Democrats to find cuts without raising taxes— a line that the GOP says it will not cross. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that the automatic budget cuts to defense spending are too extreme.

Occupy Protesters Defy Deadlines to Vacate Encampments

Wall Street protesters in Los Angeles defied the mayor’s early Monday deadline to vacate their encampment near City Hall, with about 1,000 flooding into the area as hundreds of tents remained standing as they have for nearly two months. A celebratory atmosphere filled the night with protesters milling about the park and streets by City Hall. Police presence was slight right after the 12:01 a.m. PT Monday deadline, but it began increasing as the morning wore on. At the same time, the number of protesters dwindled. Elsewhere, a deadline set by the city for Occupy Philadelphia to leave the site where it has camped for nearly two months passed Sunday without any arrests.

Invasive Species are Destroying U.S. landscape

America is under siege — not by a foreign power, but by invasive species slowly working their way across the nation, leaving a sometimes-devastated and often-changed landscape in their wake. Just as Dutch elm disease from Asia removed an iconic tree from the American landscape beginning in the 1940s, the emerald ash borer may conquer the ash tree in coming years. West Nile virus from Africa killed 57 Americans last year. And work crews often encounter giant Burmese pythons in South Florida. The latest addition to the list of non-native creepy-crawlies is the hairy crazy ant. The tiny foragers are believed to have come from South America. They are working their way through Florida and the Southeast. The ants can bite, but the biggest danger is that they’re attracted to circuit boxes. The reason isn’t known, but their sheer numbers can create an ant bridge between connections, shorting out entire electrical systems. “When they get into folks’ homes, it’s like a scene out of a horror movie,” says Jim Fredericks of the National Pest Management Association in Fairfax, Va.

Economic News

Retail sales broke records during the Thanksgiving weekend, giving a needed boost to a long-suffering economy and raising retailers’ hopes for the best holiday shopping season ever. This year’s sales were up to $52 billion from $45 billion last year. A record 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 212 million last year. The average holiday shopper spent about $400 over the weekend, up from $365 last year.

Warnings that the debt crisis in Europe could cause credit to dry up across the global banking system, endangering the world economy, multiplied on Monday despite fresh efforts by European leaders to prevent the euro monetary union from fracturing. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development cut its forecasts for wealthy Western countries and warned that growth in Europe could come to a standstill. Europe’s politicians have so far moved too slowly to prevent the crisis from spreading, the organization said. The warning came just hours after Moody’s Investors Service issued its own bleak report on Europe’s rapidly escalating sovereign debt crisis. The credit agency warning that the problems may lead multiple countries to default on their debts.

The number of babies born to Hispanics dropped below 1 million in 2010, a nearly 11% drop since 2007 that reflects the tough times. Fewer people of all backgrounds are having babies because of economic concerns but the sharpest drop is among Hispanics, a booming population that contributes almost a quarter of all U.S. births and half of its population growth. Hispanic birth rates tumbled 17.6% in three years — from 97.4 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 to 80.3 last year.

Italy’s borrowing rates skyrocketed during bond auctions Friday, initially battering stock markets in Europe as the continent’s escalating debt crisis laid siege to the eurozone’s third-largest economy. Italy’s new government, under economist Mario Monti, is struggling to convince investors it has a strategy to reduce the nation’s $2.6 trillion worth of debt. Friday’s auction results are also likely to fuel calls for the European Central Bank to use more monetary firepower to cool a rapidly overheating financial crisis.

Middle East

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters on Wednesday that the natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean were being illegally explored by Israel and Cyprus and that Turkey favors a grand agreement in which the resources would be equally shared among all relevant parties, presumably including the non-recognized Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Lebanese Shi’ite terror militia Hizbullah. The internationally recognized government of Cyprus in Nicosia has declared that it will not be intimidated by Turkish threats and that exploratory drilling would continue, apart from long stalled reunification with the north.

Egypt

Voting has begun in Egypt’s first parliamentary elections since the ouster nine month ago of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak. The vote is a milestone many Egyptians hope will usher in a democratic age after decades of dictatorship. Voters stood in long lines Monday outside some polling centers in Cairo well before they opened at 8 a.m. local time, a rare sign of interest in political participation after decades of apathy. But the ballot has already has been marred by turmoil in the streets, and the population is sharply polarized and confused over the nation’s direction. Nine months after the popular uprising that pushed Mubarak out, protesters are back in the streets. This time, they are demanding that military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and his council of generals step down immediately, accused of bungling the transition. Nine days of clashes that have left more than 40 dead have heightened fears of violence at polling stations. More critically, the political crisis has cast doubt on the legitimacy of the vote, which is expected to be dominated by Islamic parties.

Morocco

The victory of an Islamist Party in Morocco’s parliamentary elections appears to be one more sign that religious-based parties are benefiting the most from the new freedoms brought by the Arab Spring. Across the Middle East, parties referencing Islam have made great strides, offering an alternative to corrupt, long serving dictators, who have often ruled with close Western support. The Islamist Justice and Development Party dominated Morocco’s elections, ensuring that King Mohammed VI must pick the next prime minister from its ranks.

Syria

The Arab League has approved sanctions against Syria to pressure the regime to end its deadly eight-month crackdown on dissent. Damascus slammed the move as a betrayal of Arab solidarity. At a news conference in Cairo, Qatar Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim said 19 of the League’s 22 member nations approved the sanctions, including cutting off transactions with the Syrian central bank and halting Arab government funding for projects in Syria. The League’s step was unprecedented against an Arab nation. Syria is facing mounting international pressure to end its violent suppression of protests against President Bashar Assad, which the U.N. says has killed more than 3,500 people since March.

Pakistan

Afghanistan officials claimed Sunday that Afghan and NATO forces were retaliating for gunfire from two Pakistani army bases when they called in airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, adding a layer of complexity to episode that has further strained Pakistan’s ties with the United States. The account challenged Pakistan’s claim that the strikes were unprovoked. The attack Saturday near the Afghan-Pakistani border aroused popular anger in Pakistan and added tension to the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, which has been under pressure since the secret U.S. raid inside Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden in May. Pakistan has closed its western border to trucks delivering supplies to coalition troops in Afghanistan, demanded that the U.S. abandon an air base inside Pakistan suspected of using unmanned drones and said it will review its cooperation with the U.S. and NATO.

Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that the nation’s forces will soon take charge of security in areas of the country that are home to half of Afghanistan’s population. The handover, expected to begin by early next year, is the second step in a transition that Karzai hopes will leave Afghan forces in control of the entire country by the end of 2014, when the U.S.-led coalition’s combat mission is scheduled to end. After that date, a much smaller foreign force will remain to continue training Afghan soldiers and police and battle militancy. Western officials and experts have expressed pessimism about the ability of Karzai and his armed forces to assume command of their country. If they fail, the militant Taliban could stage a comeback.

Iraq

A suicide bomber slammed a car packed with explosives into the gate of a prison north of Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 19 people.The attacker struck the main gate of al-Hout prison at 8:00 a.m. local time, when many employees and guards were on their way to work. Ten policemen were among the dead and the rest were civilians. The bombing in the town of Taji, about 12 miles north of the capital, is the third major attack in about a week in Iraq, and raises questions about the ability of the nation’s security forces to protect the country after U.S. troops leave in just over a month. A series of blasts struck an area west of Baghdad on Saturday where day laborers gather to find work, as well as a music and clothes market in the capital, killing at least 15 people

Philippines

A powerful blast killed at least 3 people and wounded 27 others in a budget hotel packed with wedding guests in the southern Philippines late Sunday. The explosion, suspected to have been caused by a bomb, ignited a fire that gutted the two-story Atilano Pension House in downtown Zamboanga. The blast was so powerful it caused much of the second floor to collapse, blew off the hotel roof and shattered glass panes and windows from nearby buildings. Zamboanga, a bustling city where U.S. counterterrorism troops are based, has been hit by deadly bombings blamed on al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants in the past..

Congo

Millions of voters in this vast, turbulent and pivotal country in the lush heart of Africa streamed into the polls on Monday and already many are bracing for serious unrest. Balloting was a bit bumpy, with many polling stations opening late, some missing ballots, countless people unable to find their names on the voting lists and loose ballots inexplicably lying around deserted offices. Joseph Kabila, 40, Congo’s president for the past 10 years, is incredibly unpopular in many parts of the country, especially the innumerable slums that dominate Kinshasa, the capital. But all signs point to him trying to hold onto power, at all costs. His soldiers have already killed several opposition supporters, including up to nine this weekend during an election-related fracas. United Nations officials and other election observers say Mr. Kabila’s men are stuffing ballot boxes, intimidating voters and bribing people to vote for the president.

Weather

As prospects for a major global accord on climate change look dim, the most that a United Nations climate summit will achieve this week may be to simply ensure that negotiations continue. Beginning Monday in Durban, South Africa, the 12-day U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change picks up where last year’s meeting in Cancun left off. What eluded negotiators then, and still does today, is a grand bargain in which 194 nations commit to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions that most scientists contend are contributing to a warmer climate.

  • The number of dissenting scientists is increasing while the impact of human causes on natural cycles appear more dubious. Most significantly, if this is an end-time development, there is nothing we can do to avoid the worsening weather conditions prophesied in Ezekiel 38:22, Rev. 16:21)

Murky floodwaters are receding from Bangkok’s inundated outskirts to reveal some scary swamp dwellers who moved in while flooded residents were moving out — including crocodiles and some of the world’s most poisonous snakes. Special teams from the Thai Fishery Department have responded to numerous reports of reptilian menaces. Thailand has long been a center for the breeding, exporting and trafficking of exotic animals, especially crocodiles. This year’s record monsoon rains, which prompted Thailand’s worst flooding in a half century and killed more than 600 people, also swamped some of the country’s estimated 3,000 crocodile farms.

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