Signs of the Times (12/20/12)

NJ Governor Vetoes Gay Marriage Bill

Governor Chris Christie’s veto of New Jersey’s homosexual “marriage” bill will stand — for now. The New Jersey Assembly passed the bill with a 42-vote margin, needing 41 to pass, but is far short of the 54 that would be needed to override Christie’s Friday veto. Len Deo of the New Jersey Family Policy Council warns that similar legislation could be approved at a later time and signed by a different governor. But with the current makeup of the legislature, Deo says that is not likely to happen because the majority of current legislators support same-gender marriage.

For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage

It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage. Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education. “The surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change,” notes the New York Times.

  • This transformation is the direct result of rebellion against God’s natural order and the attendant curses will eventually reap the complete devastation of society

‘The Vow’ Tops Times Best-Seller List

The Vow, Kim and Krickitt Carpenter’s amazing, true story of faith and commitment and the inspiration behind the No. 1 movie in the country, topped the New York Times non-fiction best-seller list in its first week of re-release. From B&H Publishing Group, The Vow joins three other film-related, faith-based books as national best sellers, including The Resolution for Men, The Resolution for Women and The Love Dare, Nos. 10, 12 and 13, respectively on the Times paperback advice list. “The phenomenal success of these books — each dealing with the importance of faith and commitment in the family — shows the great hunger for encouraging and inspiring messages today,” said Selma Wilson, B&H Publishing Group president.

Obama Bypasses Congress Again on Climate Change

President Obama, who said last month that divisions in Congress are “too deep” to tackle climate change, bypassed Capitol Hill again this week with another effort to reduce climate-warming emissions. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Thursday, accompanied by officials from Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico and Sweden, a joint effort to curb the short-lived emissions of pollutants including soot (also called black carbon), methane and hydrofluorocarbons that account for 30% to 40% of global warming. The United States plans to contribute $12 million and Canada $3 million over two years to begin the project, which will be run by the United Nations Environment Program. Scientists estimate that cutting these emissions can help prevent millions of deaths from pollution and lower global temperatures 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2050.

  • Climate scientists have proven to be wrong as often as economists and meteorologists, and Obama/Clinton have proved to be globalists intent on promoting the one-world government agenda using climate as an excuse

Voter ID laws Challenges Increasing

Challenges to voter ID laws are building as voters cast ballots in primaries and gear up for the general election this fall. Thirty-one states have voter identification laws, including that were enacted or toughened last year. Of the 31 laws, 27 are expected to be in effect for the general election this year. One has been blocked by federal action; three have later effective dates. Laws requiring voters to show identification at the polls have been around since 1970, but they are becoming more numerous and stringent. Once a voter registration card or utility bill sufficed. Now a growing number of laws require voters to show picture IDs. Most of the new laws have been passed by Republican legislatures. Opponents say they keep the poor, minorities and seniors — who often back Democrats — from voting because those groups are less likely than the general population to have government-issued IDs.

  • Voting is a critical function in a democracy, so minimal protections against fraud are more than warranted.

Economic Crisis Slows U.S. Population Growth

The U.S. population is growing at the slowest rate since the Great Depression after two decades of robust increases. For two consecutive years since 2009, the population has grown just 0.7% a year, down from annual increases around 1% in previous years and the lowest since the late 1930s. The U.S. gained 2.2 million people from 2010 to 2011 — fewer than the 2.8 million added a decade earlier — reaching a total of 311.6 million. Although the economy has improved, the downturn’s effect on birth and immigration lingers. The number of babies born from July 1, 2010, to July 2011 dropped 200,000 from the same period in 2008-09. The number of additional immigrants fell 150,000. The U.S. fertility rate had been close to the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman, but is now estimated to have fallen to 1.9.

Jobless File for Disability when Unemployment Benefits Run Out

Being unemployed for too long reportedly is driving people mad and costing taxpayers billions of dollars in mental illness and other disability claims. As unemployment checks run out, many jobless are trying to gain government benefits by declaring themselves unhealthy. More than 10.5 million people — about 5.3 percent of the population aged 25 and 64 — received disability checks in January from the federal government, the New York Post reported, an 18 percent jump from before the recession. Among those claiming disability, 43 percent are asking for benefits because of mental illness. Disability payments come from the Social Security Trust Fund, which is set to go broke in 2018.

  • While politicians continue to print and spend money, the entitlement generation continues to bleed government of every dime they can get, a disastrous combination pushing us toward economic oblivion

Businesses Flee California

Newsmax reports that “California is reeling. People and businesses are leaving, entire industries are threatening to disappear,” with “municipalities on the verge of insolvency.” The state faces a $13 billion shortfall over the next 18 months. High taxes, burdensome regulations and oppressive business practices have forced many businesses to flee the state for greener pastures. A 2001 survey by Development Counselors International ranked California as having the worst business climate of any state in the nation. The Pollina Corporation’s Pro-Business States study also ranked California last. In addition, Chief Executive magazine found California to be the worst state in the nation for business and the Tax Foundation ranks it 49th. Democratic Governor Jerry Brown’s solution? More taxes on high-income earners and an increase in the sales tax, that will only drive more businesses and more leaders out of the failing state.

Economic News

Oil prices jumped to a nine-month high above $105 a barrel on Monday after Iran said it halted crude exports to Britain and France in an escalation of a dispute over the Middle Eastern country’s nuclear program.

Gasoline prices have never been higher this time of the year. At $3.53 a gallon, prices are already up 25 cents since Jan. 1. And experts say they could reach a record $4.25 a gallon by late April. The surge in gas prices follows an increase in the price of oil due to tensions with Iran, a cold snap in Europe and rising demand from developing nations.

Global demand for gold hit 4,067.1 tons last year, the highest since 1997. The increase came in large part from a 5% increase in investment demand, largely from Asia. And as global central banks continue losing faith in paper money, they’ve continued to stockpile gold. Central banks were net buyers of gold in 2011. They bought 439.7 tons, a sixfold increase in demand year over year. That’s the most gold since the end of the gold standard in 1971.

Middle East

At least five more rockets fired from Gaza (the land Israel gave up for peace in 2005) struck southern Israel this week. No one was injured, although there was some property damage. The Jerusalem Prayer Team notes, “This is just one more reminder that the enemies of Israel will never rest while one Jew still lives. The campaign against Israel is not because of settlements or water rights or land swaps or the right of return or any of the other excuses routinely trotted out by the adversaries of the Jewish state. The drive to destroy Israel is fueled by a demonic hatred of [Jews].” Despite the fact that there are more than 200,000 missiles aimed at Israel today, President Obama’s new budget proposal cuts funding for Israel’s missile defense program by nearly 7%.

  • Obama is Israel’s least-supportive President in history

Syria

China said Saturday it favored a solution to Syria’s violence within the Arab League framework and based on the group’s proposals, a striking show of support just two weeks after Beijing vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution backing the league’s plans. The seemingly contradictory stances on the Arab League’s proposals appear to reflect Beijing’s desire for mediation but aversion to U.N. involvement that could lead to authorizing force as happened with Libya. China said they were willing to work with the Syrian government and opposition, the Arab League, and Arab countries to find a solution.

Syria’s state-run news agency reports that gunmen have assassinated a senior prosecutor and a judge in a restive northwestern province. SANA says gunmen opened fire Sunday morning on a car carrying Idlib provincial state prosecutor Nidal Ghazal and judge Mohammed Ziadeh. Syrian rebels control parts of Idlib province, which borders Turkey. It has been one of the regions hardest hit by a government crackdown on an uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Iran

A financial clearinghouse used by virtually every country and major corporation in the world agreed Friday to shut out Iran from its respected network, an unprecedented escalation of global economic pressure to halt Iran’s suspected drive for nuclear weapons. Expelling Iran from the SWIFT banking hub could put a sudden choke hold on its oil-dependent economy. The move was made under strong pressure from the United States and the European Union, which are looking for ways to derail Iran’s nuclear program quickly without a military strike. The EU has already imposed the first embargo on Iranian oil, to take effect this summer. The strongest-yet U.S. sanctions on Iran’s lifeblood oil sector are due later this year.

A senior U.N. nuclear official said Sunday he hoped for progress in upcoming talks with Iran about suspected secret work on atomic arms, but his careful choice of words suggested little expectation that the meeting will be successful. A previous International Atomic Energy Agency mission returned from Tehran on Feb. 1 without managing to dent Iran’s wall of denial. Iran is now fueling its test reactors with nuclear fuel rods that they have produced themselves. Previously, Iran had been dependent on importing these advanced rods from other countries.  Officials in key parts of the Obama administration are increasingly convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear program, and believe that the US will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so.

Iraq

A suicide bomber detonated his car Sunday as a group of police recruits left their academy in Baghdad, killing 18 in the latest strike on Iraqi security officials by insurgents who are apparently seeking to underscore how vulnerable the country remains. Police recruits have been attacked time and time again in spectacular attacks where suicide bombers have infiltrated protection barriers and other checkpoints. Iraq’s police are generally considered to be the weakest element of the country’s security forces. Iraqi and U.S. officials acknowledged that Al Qaeda remains a potent threat in Iraq.

Pakistan

A campaign of high-profile kidnappings has provided the Pakistani Taliban and its allies with new resources, arming insurgents with millions of dollars, threatening foreign aid programs and galvanizing a sophisticated network of jihadi and criminal gangs whose reach spans the country. Wealthy industrialists, academics, Western aid workers and relatives of military officers have been targets in a spree that, since it started three years ago, has spread to every major city, reaching the wealthiest neighborhoods. Kidnapping is a centuries-old scourge in parts of Pakistan, from the tribesmen who snatched British colonists in the 19th century to the slum gangs that have preyed on Karachi business families since the 1980s. What has changed is the level of Taliban involvement. The Pakistani Taliban are unapologetic, saying the kidnappings earn valuable funds, offer leverage to free imprisoned fighters and are a political statement against longstanding American efforts to drive Al Qaeda from the tribal belt.

Yemen

A Yemeni security official says gunmen have blown up a voting station in the southern city of Aden one day before the country is to go to the polls to rubber stamp the vice president as the new head of state. The gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the station on Monday, then fled. No one was hurt, and police are searching for suspects. The attack underlines the security vacuum in Yemen after a one-year-old popular uprising seeking to oust longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Under a U.S.-backed deal brokered by Yemen’s Arab Gulf neighbors, Saleh’s deputy, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, is to become president after elections Tuesday in which he is the only candidate.

Korea

South Korea conducted live-fire military drills near its disputed sea boundary with North Korea on Monday despite Pyongyang’s threat to respond with a “merciless” attack. North Korea did not carry out the threat as it focuses on internal stability two months after the death of longtime leader Kim Jong Il and prepares for nuclear disarmament talks with the United States later this week. But with American forces scheduled to conduct additional military exercises with ally South Korea over the next few months, tensions are expected to remain high in the region.

Mexico

Officials say members of the hyper-violent Zetas drug cartel stabbed and bludgeoned 44 members of the rival Gulf cartel to death and then staged a mass escape, apparently with the help of prison authorities. Thirty inmates escaped during the Sunday riot, all of them Zetas. The two gangs were former allies, but split in 2010 and have been fighting turf battles in Monterrey and elsewhere.The governor of the northern state of Nuevo Leon says the prison’s director and three other officials have been fired and are under investigation for purportedly helping in the escape.

Weather

A winter storm that dumped several inches of snow across parts of the South, causing power outages, slippery roads and numerous accidents during the Presidents Day holiday weekend, moved out to sea Monday. Crews were working to restore power to tens of thousands of households that lost electricity as a result of the storm which brought as much as 9 inches of snow to some areas on Sunday as it powered its way from Kentucky and Tennessee to West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Meanwhile, Miami saw a record temperature of 87 degrees Sunday, which beat the record of 86 degrees set in 1957. Fort Lauderdale also reached 87 Sunday.

Last year’s most devastating tropical system — Hurricane Irene — was considered by some experts to be a “100-year-event,” a storm that comes around only once a century. Irene lashed the East Coast in August, killing at least 45 people and leading to $7.6 billion in damages. But a study out this week in Nature Climate Change says that these monster storms could now make landfall more frequently due to ongoing climate changes, causing destructive storm surges every 3 to 20 years instead of once a century.

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