Signs of the Times (12/14/11)

Signs Point to ‘Catastrophic’ Flood

A pro-creation geologist says it’s no surprise that scientists are scratching their heads over the discovery of ancient whale bones on land along the Pacific Coast in Chile. Researchers have found the fossils of about 75 bus-sized whales, including more than 20 perfectly intact skeletons, over a hill in Chile’s Atacama Desert, and scientists are trying to figure out how they ended up there together — half a mile from the ocean. One scientist has hypothesized the region used to be a “lagoon-like environment” and that the whales died between two million and seven million years ago. Dr. Andrew Snelling, director of research at Answers in Genesis, tells OneNewsNow the answer is simple: the Flood. However, he continues, scientists’ evolutionistic worldview will not allow them to go there. “Because of this mindset of the evolution of millions of years, they’re not even asking the right questions, or not even thinking clearly about the observations that they’re making,” he contends. “It’s clear from the observations that these whales had to be buried catastrophically; otherwise, they would not be preserved in the way that they are found.” But when the evidence of the discovery is examined alongside scripture, Snelling says it all makes sense.

  • Secularists cling tightly to their closed-minded faith in evolution because of an anti-Christ attitude and spirit

Judge Dismisses Suit on AZ Prayer Proclamations

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s proclamations of a state “day of prayer.” Judge Roslyn Silver granted Brewer’s request to dismiss the March lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation. The foundation contended that the proclamations amounted to an unconstitutional government establishment of religion. Silver’s ruling issued Monday in Phoenix says the foundation and other plaintiffs lack legal standing to sue because they haven’t proved they were injured by Brewer’s proclamations in 2010 and 2011. According to Silver, it’s not enough that the challengers felt slighted at being exhorted by the proclamations to pray.

House Passes Payroll Tax Cut Extension

Defiant Republicans pushed legislation through the House on Tuesday night that would keep alive Social Security payroll tax cuts for about 160 million Americans at President Barack Obama’s request — but also would require construction of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline that has sparked a White House veto threat. Passage, on a largely party-line vote of 234-193, sent the measure toward its certain demise in the Democratic-controlled Senate, triggering the final partisan showdown of a remarkably quarrelsome year of divided government. The legislation “extends the payroll tax relief, extends and reforms unemployment insurance and protects Social Security — without job-killing tax hikes,” Republican House Speaker John Boehner declared after the measure had cleared.

  • It’s nice for consumers to have the extra paycheck dollars, but ultimately something needs to be done about the debt crisis before it’s too late (it might already be so). Increased taxes and decreased spending are required post haste.

Congress Pushes Multiple Deadlines to the Brink

Throughout the year, the House and Senate have exhibited symptoms of intense partisan rancor, inflexibility and white-hot rhetoric. But as Congress struggles to keep the government running past Friday, renew a payroll tax cut by Dec. 31 and extend unemployment benefits, Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.said he believes he has diagnosed the political malady afflicting Capitol Hill: “deadline-itis.” Congress repeatedly flirted with disaster in 2011. It careened to the brink with potential government shutdowns, a debt ceiling crisis and a failed effort by the Super Committee to make historic cuts. So with sands slipping through the hourglass this December, it’s only natural that Congress would once again find itself in this contorted position with only days to spare.

  • “Partisan rancor” is not just politically motivated, but rather the result of an expanding divide between socialists and capitalists; between those who want to continue increasing government’s role in everyday life and those who want to rein in out-of-control spending; between anti-Christian secularists and those who seek to affirm our country’s Christian foundation and heritage. This is an end-time divide that will not go away.

Bush No Longer the Economic Scapegoat

For years, President Barack Obama has diverted attention from his own economic decisions by blaming his predecessor, George W. Bush, for the nation’s financial woes, from deficits to debt to taxes to Medicare and Medicaid spending. But that strategy has reached the end of its effectiveness, according to a new poll that reveals more people blame Obama for the failed state of the economy now than blame Bush. A new poll from the public-opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies shows that 22.3 percent of registered voters say Obama is the “one person” most responsible for the nation’s continuing economic troubles with just 19.1% naming Bush.

Occupy Protesters to Continue Port Blockades

Thousands of demonstrators forced shipping terminals in Oakland, Calif., Portland, Ore., and Longview, Wash., to halt parts of their operations Monday. Heady with their successful attempts to block trucks and curb business at busy ports up and down the West Coast, some Occupy Wall Street protesters plan to continue their blockades and keep staging similar protests despite requests to stop because they’re hurting wage earners. The movement, which sprang up this fall against what it sees as corporate greed and economic inequality, focused on the ports as the “economic engines for the elite.” It comes weeks after police raids cleared out most of their tent camps.

Occupy Baltimore demonstrators who spent 10 weeks protesting economic disparity were removed peacefully from a downtown plaza near the Inner Harbor tourist district during a pre-dawn raid Tuesday. Baltimore City police in full riot gear moved into McKeldin Square about 3:30 a.m. to remove the protesters. City police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told WBAL-AM the scene was “extremely peaceful, very, very civil.” Demonstrators said about 30 people were camped out in the plaza at the time. No arrests were made. The city made it very clear that they were allowed to protest all day and into the night, but that camping is prohibited.

Postal Service Delays Closings until May 15

The U.S. Postal Service has agreed to hold off on closing any more post offices or mail facilities until May 15, 2012, to allow Congress time to work on a plan to save the service. The Postal Service agreed to voluntarily enact a moratorium on closures, after a series of talks with senators. Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that reforming the postal service and getting it out of its debt spiral is his first priority when Congress comes back in 2012. Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said the postponement is a challenge to Congress to “put up or shut up.”

  • A little-publicized fact is that the USPS shows an operational profit. The big losses come from pension liabilities. These are sinking many state and local budgets as well. The notion of awarding high pensions after just twenty years of service is the elephant in the debt closet

Child Homelessness up 33% in 3 Years

One in 45 children in the USA — 1.6 million children — were living on the street, in homeless shelters or motels, or doubled up with other families last year, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness. The numbers represent a 33% increase from 2007, when there were 1.2 million homeless children. The report paints a bleaker picture than one by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which nonetheless reported a 28% increase in homeless families, from 131,000 in 2007 to 168,000 in 2010. HUD’s numbers are much smaller because they count only families living on the street or in emergency shelters. The worst states for homeless children are Southern states where poverty is high, including Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, and states decimated by foreclosures and job losses, such as Arizona, California and Nevada. The states where homeless children fare the best are Vermont, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Maine.

No Spike in Recession-Related Child Abuse

The recession has not resulted in more child abuse, which continues to decline, according to the latest federal figures. Between 2008 and 2010, abuse and neglect declined slightly, while estimated deaths dropped 8.5%, from 1,720 in 2008 to 1,560 last year, the Department of Health and Human Services reports. The estimated number of abused or neglected children fell to 695,000 last year from 716,000 in 2008 and 825,000 in 2006. Last year’s rate of abuse hit the lowest level since 1990, when the current tracking system began. More women abused children than men (53.6% vs. 45.2%). 51% of victims were girls and 49% were boys. 45% of victims were white, 22% were African-American and 21% were Hispanic.

Economic News

Americans spent more on autos, furniture and clothing at the start of the crucial holiday shopping season, boosting retail sales for a sixth straight month. Retail sales rose 0.2% in November, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That’s lower than October’s gain, which was revised higher to show a 0.6% increase. Still, more spending on retail goods is the latest sign that the U.S. economy continues to grow at a slow but steady pace.

Electric bills have skyrocketed in the last five years, a sharp reversal from a quarter-century when Americans enjoyed stable power bills even as they used more electricity. Households paid a record $1,419 on average for electricity in 2010, the fifth consecutive yearly increase above the inflation rate , a USA TODAY analysis of government data found. The jump has added about $300 a year to what households pay for electricity. Greater electricity use at home and higher prices per kilowatt hour are both driving the higher costs, in roughly equal measure: Residential demand for power dropped briefly in 2009 but rebounded strongly last year to a record high.

According to Edward Luce, the Financial Times’ Washington-based columnist, the true unemployment rate in the U.S. is closer to 11% than the 8.6% the government claims. The reason for the discrepancy is the definition of “unemployment.” To be unemployed, one must be “actively seeking” work. When you give up on the job hunt, you’re no longer “unemployed,” according to the government. In December 2007, the U.S. was employing 62.7% of its population. Today, the employment-to-population rate is 58.5%.

OPEC says its 12 oil ministers have agreed to keep the organization’s output at 30 million barrels a day. The agreement includes a voluntary commitment by producing nations to lower their outputs if world demand for crude drops. Iran had sought lower production — which would raise prices. But it apparently bowed to Saudi Arabia, which wanted to maintain current levels.

More than 407,000 jobs in the U.S. are due to Japanese automakers and their dealers, reports the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association. And nowadays, Japanese makers are producing most of the cars they sell in America in America — 68% altogether.


The European Central Bank sharply cut back its purchases of government bonds to only $841 million worth of Euros last week, underlining its determination to limit its support for indebted governments as they try to dig out of the Eurozone debt crisis. The amount of the purchases, published Monday, compares to $4.9 billion from the week before. The ECB, the chief monetary authority for the 17 countries that use the Euro, has kept the purchases limited despite calls from many economists to buy more. So far the bank has bought around $274 billion worth, a small fraction of the outstanding debt of the troubled countries.

Middle East

Christian Solidarity International (CSI) has issued a genocide warning for endangered religious minorities in the Islamic Middle East, Mission Network News reports. Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs USA said, “When you look at elections in Egypt where 60-some-odd percent of the vote went to the Islamic parties … there is fear among the church about what this means.” Nettleton said it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that the Middle East could experience an exodus of Christians, but he said there still remained a remnant church in even the most difficult areas.

The latest in a series of mysterious explosions in Iran took place overnight Sunday in a steel factory in the central Iranian province of Yazd. The explosion and subsequent fire reportedly killed eight people, including foreign nationals. Various reports over the years have indicated that the city of Yazd has been the site of activities related to Iran’s renegade nuclear program, leading analysts to speculate that this might be part of a wider covert campaign by Israel and other Western intelligence agencies designed to delay and damage it. A member of Iran’s parliament told reporters on Monday night that the explosion was an accident caused by old military ordnance which had accidently gotten mixed up with scrap metal being recycled at the facility, offering no evidence to support the claim.


Dozens of Israeli settlers entered an army base in the West Bank early Tuesday and lit fires, damaged vehicles and threw stones at a senior officer, the military said, in a sign of growing animosity between Jewish extremists and soldiers guarding the settlements. Troops subsequently dispersed the rioters and two people were in custody. The incident came only hours after a different group of settlers entered a closed military zone along the West Bank’s border with Jordan, crossing the border fence into no-man’s land and taking over an abandoned structure near a Christian baptism site on the Jordan River. Israeli security forces removed them, and police said all 17 people involved in the incident were arrested. The settlers were protesting the planned evacuations of unauthorized settlement outposts. There are about 300,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank, among some 2.5 million Palestinians.


Syrian dissidents and Western diplomats are urging Syrians to wage war against the government forces that have killed thousands of people to put down a protest movement against President Bashar Assad. The Free Syrian Army (FSA), a force of Syrian exiles who believe the Assad regime must be deposed militarily, is asking for help from the West much as the rebels received in Libya against Moammar Gadhafi. That NATO air campaign destroyed Gadhafi’s arms advantage and allowed rebels to fight back. Though the U.S. and European nations imposed sanctions against Assad’s regime, they have not yet discussed using air power to assist the Syrians. Gunmen believed to be army defectors opened fire on a military convoy in central Syria on More than 5,000 people are believed to have been killed in the Syrian government’s crackdown on protests, U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay told the U.N. Security Council Monday. Wednesday, killing eight soldiers in a retaliatory ambush after troops destroyed a civilian car.


Around 2,000 Libyans are protesting in the eastern city of Benghazi to demand transparency and justice from the country’s new leaders. The country’s new leaders have asked Libyans to give the new government time to get the country back on its feet after an eight-month civil war. National Transitional Council chief Mustafa Abdul-Jalil told reporters in the capital Tripoli Monday that there will be no forgiveness for those who committed crimes against the Libyan people.


Seven people died in Iraq as shootings and explosions targeted judges, security forces and liquor stores Monday. Gunmen in Falluja attacked a minibus carrying Justice Ministry officials and wounded six people, including three judges. When police arrived minutes later, two roadside bombs exploded and four people died. Three of them were police officers. Iraqi officials said two large explosions have damaged an oil pipeline in southern Iraq Tuesday and set off a huge blaze. Security official in Basra said the explosions were set off by bombs.


Egyptians turned out in large numbers Wednesday to vote in the second round of parliamentary elections that have become a stiff competition between dominant Islamist parties likely to steer the country in a more religious direction. Two Islamist blocs won an overwhelming majority, close to 70% of seats contested, in the first round of voting on Nov. 28-29. The secular and liberal forces that largely drove Egypt’s uprising failed to turn their achievement into a victory at the polls and were trounced. The final two rounds of voting are not expected to dramatically alter the result and could even strengthen the Islamists’ hand.


An earthquake measuring 7.1 magnitude hit Papua New Guinea on Wednesday afternoon. The tremor struck at a depth of 75 miles, about 137 miles north-northwest of the capital Port Moresby at 3:05 p.m. local time. Witnesses in Port Moresby said that people came running out of buildings, power lines swayed and parked cars rocked. The quake may have caused bigger problems for the nearest largest town, Wau, about 12 miles from the epicenter, and Lae, 55 miles away, with landslides the greatest concern for the mountainous region, but no official reports have been released as yet.


Canada’s environment minister said Monday his country is pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Peter Kent said that Canada is invoking its legal right to withdraw and said Kyoto doesn’t represent the way forward for Canada or the world. Canada, joined by Japan and Russia, said last year it will not accept new Kyoto commitments, but renouncing the accord is another setback to the treaty concluded with much fanfare in 1997. No nation has formally renounced the protocol until now. The protocol, initially adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, is aimed at fighting global warming.

A monstrous bloom of toxic algae looming across the Texas coast has shut down oyster season. Fueled by Texas’ ongoing drought, the algae — known as Karenia brevis— thrives in warm, salty water and has spread through the bays and islands along Texas’ 350-mile coast. The algae could cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in humans and is harmful to fish but not fatal to people. State health officials took the rare step of closing the entire coast for oyster harvesting — all 17,586 acres of oyster beds — before the season opened Nov. 1. The $30 million Texas oyster industry, having already endured destruction from Hurricane Ike in 2008, fallout from last year’s BP oil spill and the ongoing statewide drought, now faces one of its toughest challenges.

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