Signs of the Times (3/5/12)

States Must Choose — Sharia or Constitution

A pro-national defense activist says the recent decision by Pennsylvania judge Mark Martin to throw out an assault charge against a Muslim man based on sharia law is the perfect illustration of why states must enact statutes banning foreign law from American jurisprudence. Brigitte Gabriel, founder and president of ACT for America, says the Pennsylvania case is hardly an isolated incident. “Actually [there are] 51 cases in American court rooms where Islamic law was considered above the Constitution of the United States,” Gabriel says, “especially in domestic law and in family law. And that’s simply unacceptable.” Her organization is spearheading a petition urging states to pass legislation called “American Laws for American Courts” (ALAC). Gabriel says 20 states are currently looking at ALAC, and she expects six states will pass it this year.

  • The influx of international and Sharia law into U.S. judicial decisions is rapidly increasing, further accelerating America’s decline into the global New World Order

Chance of Obama Re-election Spurs Gun Sales to New Heights

Gun sales are booming across Texas, and some buyers say their growing belief that President Barack Obama’s re-election is inevitable is fueling their race to bear more arms. So brisk have sales been that the rush has created a nationwide shortage of firearms and ammunition, the Star-Telegram reports. Alan Korwin, author of nine books on gun laws and operator of a gun laws website, said people worry that if Obama wins “he will go after firearms in a way we have never seen before.” He added the belief is fueled by perceived disarray in the field of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

NASA Hacked 13 Times Last Year

Hackers penetrated NASA’s computers 13 times last year, including one China-based breach that gained total access to and control of crucial systems and employee accounts at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the space agency’s inspector general told Congress this week. All told, NASA reported more than 5,400 incidents of malicious software or unauthorized access of its computers between Oct. 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2011. The agency suffered 47 attacks by “advanced persistent threats” — groups or individuals repeatedly attacking a computer or system. Only 1% of NASA’s portable devices are encrypted, and 48 were stolen between April 2009 and April 2011. In the November attack on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif., the intruders “gained full access to key JPL systems and sensitive user accounts.” Hackers traced to China-based Internet Protocol addresses stole personal credentials for 150 employees.

  • If the ultimate high-tech government agency is so vulnerable, just imagine what’s going on at all the other federal organizations

Mobile Phone Security Threats Rising

Nearly one in five mobile phone users have experienced some type of security threat with their device. Poison text messages, nearly non-existent in the U.S. a few years ago, grew 300% in 2010 and 400% in 2011, accounting for about 1% of all text messages. Variations of scams that infest the Internet, through PC browsers, have begun spreading on a meaningful scale through mobile devices. And it looks like the bad guys are just getting warmed up. Hackers are repurposing skills honed in the PC world to attacks on specific mobile devices. Particularly, handsets using Google’s Android operating system are frequently the target of hackers. In December, anti-virus company F-Secure tracked down 1,639 unique malicious Android apps — disguised as free apps and circulating on websites across the Internet. That’s up from 48 in January 2011.

BP, Plaintiffs Reach $7.8B Gulf Spill Settlement

BP agreed late Friday to settle lawsuits brought by more than 100,000 fishermen who lost work, cleanup workers who got sick and others who claimed harm from the oil giant’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster, the worst offshore oil spill in the nation’s history. The momentous settlement will have no cap to compensate the plaintiffs, though BP PLC estimated it would have to pay out about $7.8 billion, making it one of the largest class-action settlements ever. After the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989, the company ultimately settled with the U.S. government for $1 billion. BP still has to resolve claims by the U.S. government, Gulf states and its partners that could add billions of more to its tab. BP said it expects the money to come from the $20 billion compensation fund that it previously set out.

Central Banks Spend $9 Trillion

Never before have the world’s central banks sent so much money sloshing through the global financial system. From slashing interest rates and buying government debt to dangling cheap loans to banks and taking on their risky assets, central banks have taken extraordinary steps since the 2008 financial crisis to nurse the international banking system back to health. Over the past 3½ years, the central banks of the United States, Britain, Japan and the 17 countries that use the euro have pumped out so much money that their balance sheets have reached a combined $8.8 trillion. That’s a record, by far. Critics counter that the flood of cash has made the risk of a damaging inflation spike down the road more likely. And they point to rising prices for oil, food, gold and other commodities as evidence.

  • The price of printing money out of thin air will have to be paid at some point – we’ve just been postponing the inevitable

Economic News

The nationwide average for gasoline prices rose for the 26th straight day Sunday, topping the $3.76-a-gallon mark. The price of gas is up from $3.47 a month ago and $3.69 a week ago. The average price is 35 cents, or about 8.5%, lower than the record high of $4.114 set on July 17, 2008.

Oil prices slipped to near $106 a barrel on Monday, after last week’s 15% one-month jump, as China lowered its economic growth target, but simmering tensions over Iran’s nuclear program kept crude near 10-month highs.

A troubling new report asserts that Americans will see their water bills double or triple in coming years to cover repairs to the nation’s crumbling drinking water system. Fixing and expanding underground water systems will cost over $1 trillion in the next 25 years and users will have to pay the bill, according to the American Water Works Association.

The ratings agency Moody’s downgraded Greece to the lowest rating on its bond scale late Friday, following a deal with private investors that would see them ultimately lose an estimated 70% of their holdings in Greek debt. Moody’s noted that the risk of default remains high even if a bond-swap deal with banks and other private investors, due to be completed this month, is successful.

Eurozone

The unemployment rate in the eurozone is soaring, with the rate now at 10.7% for euro-using countries. Spain and Greece have the highest rates. Greece, which has been hit by rounds of austerity measures, had the second highest level of unemployment at 19.9%, with Spain earning the dubious honor of being at the top of the unemployment rates in the EU at 23.3%.

The leaders of 25 European countries on Friday signed a new treaty designed to prevent the 17 members of the euro currency zone from living beyond their means. The leaders hope the rules for budget discipline set out in the accord, known as the fiscal compact, will also lead to closer political and economic integration in the eurozone. Only Britain and the Czech Republic decided not to sign the agreement, a move that triggered concern over a rift in the 27-country European Union. The fact that not every EU state backed the new rules forced the others to set up the separate treaty, rather than integrating the rules into EU law.

  • ‘Closer political and economic integration’ is the New World Order’s overall objective, fostering fiscal crises to enforce their goals

Middle East

The ongoing conflict in Syria has left thousands dead, including hundreds of women, but a United Nations body dedicated to women’s issues has attacked only one country in this year’s agenda — Syria’s neighbor Israel. The Jewish state is the target of the only resolution dealing with a specific country under consideration during the Feb. 27 to March 9 session of the Commission on the Status of Women. The resolution calls Israel’s occupation of disputed territory “the major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development of their society.” No resolution on Syria has been issued, even though a U.N.-backed independent commission of inquiry has reported on what it called “widespread and systematic violations” by Syrian security forces, including sexual violence, rape, and torture, according to CNS News.

  • The systematic persecution of Jews throughout history is testament to irrational, Satanic hatred of the One True God

Syria

A Red Cross team plans to distribute aid to residents in part of a war-battered neighborhood in the central Syrian city of Homs on Monday, group officials said, following days of being kept out by Syrian forces. Fears that thousands of civilians in the Baba Amr neighborhood are suffering from severe cold and hunger have been mounting since government forces seized the district from rebels last week. Before its capture the district faced weeks of siege and daily shelling that activists say killed hundreds of people. The violence in Homs sent many families fleeing into nearby neighborhoods and villages, and the Red Cross distributed milk powder, medicine, food and blankets on Sunday to some 400 displaced families in the Abel village south of the city.

The number of improvised explosives used by rebels in Syria has increased sharply this year, suggesting to some military experts that more outside help is reaching regime opponents and the conflict may widen. The monthly number of IEDs reported in Syria jumped 134% from December to January, according to the Pentagon’s Joint IED Defeat Organization. The presence of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and the heightened level of fighting suggests that Syria has moved beyond a citizen revolt.

Yemen

Al-Qaida militants launched a surprise attack against army bases in southern Yemen, killing 106 soldiers, seizing weapons and parading 55 troops they had taken captive through the center of a town under their control. The battle in Abyan province shows how militants have taken advantage of the political turmoil created by the year-long uprising against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh who last month handed over power to a successor. The scale of Sunday’s attack points to the combat readiness of the militants as they launch more and more attacks in a region that the United States considers a key battleground in the war on al-Qaida.

Pakistan

A suicide bomber attacked the headquarters of a rival insurgent group in northwest Pakistan on Friday, killing 23 of its supporters in an outbreak of factional fighting. Elsewhere in the Afghan border region, fighting between security forces and militants claimed the lives of 41 others, an especially deadly day that showed the level of instability 10 years after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan heralded the unrest. Clashes among insurgents are quite common along the border, where tribal loyalties hold sway and the government has little or no control. Smuggling, kidnapping for ransom and drug production are all lucrative businesses for the militant groups.

Iraq

A gang of gunmen wearing military-style uniforms killed 25 police Monday in a carefully planned early morning shooting spree in western Iraq. The killings began with the kidnapping of two police commanders from their homes in the western Iraqi city of Haditha at about 2 a.m. It ended with the gang raising the flag of al-Qaeda at a police checkpoint in the latest bloody strike against Iraq’s security forces. Officials in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, described a systematic plot to kill city police, with attackers disguising themselves in military uniforms and driving cars painted to look like Iraqi interior ministry vehicles.

Iran

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency on Monday said his organization has “serious concerns” that Iran may be hiding secret atomic weapons work, as he acknowledged failure in his latest attempt to probe such suspicions and listed recent atomic advances by Iran. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano spoke to the 35-nation IAEA board amid backdoor diplomatic maneuvering aimed at coming up with substantial joint pressure on Iran to end its nuclear defiance and address global concerns about its nuclear activities. The conference opened as fears grow that Israel may soon strike Iran in an attempt to destroy its nuclear facilities.

Russia

There were “serious problems” in the vote that returned Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency, the head of the major international election observer mission said Monday, adding fuel to an opposition testing its strength with plans for a massive protest rally. Putin rolled to victory as expected Sunday to return to the Kremlin and keep his hold on power for six more years, but opponents claim the voting was rigged. A rally has been set for Monday evening on Moscow’s Pushkin Square, one of the central city’s most iconic locations. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the election “was assessed negatively” in almost a third of polling stations observers visited.

China

China’s defense spending will see a double-digit increase again in 2012, as strong economic growth continues to fuel rapid military expansion. Defense spending will increase by 11.2 percent over actual spending last year. China’s official defense spending is the largest in the world after the United States, but actual spending, according to foreign defense experts, may be 50 percent higher, as China excludes outlays for its nuclear missile force and other programs. Military spending amounted to 1.28 percent of China’s economy last year.. By contrast, the ratio stood at 4.8 percent for the U.S. in 2010, according to the World Bank.

  • China has begun to play a larger role on the international stage. With its enormous trade surplus, we’ll be funding their military revival as well.

Congo

International experts fought Monday to prevent a fire from reaching a second arms depot in the capital of the Republic of Congo, a day after a blaze set off a series of explosions so violent they flattened buildings, killing hundreds and trapping countless others under the falling debris. The blasts buckled numerous buildings including two churches, and caused windows to explode in a 3-mile radius of the depot. Russian, French and Congolese experts are in the field trying to put out the fires before the fires reach a second depot of even heavier weapons. The death toll is at least 213, but is expected to rise as rescuers begin clearing the debris including from St. Louis Catholic Church where dozens of worshippers were attending Sunday Mass when the building buckled under the force of the blast. The cause is still under investigation.

Earthquakes

A 5.2-magnitude earthquake rattled the Indian capital on Monday as it hit the state of Haryana just outside New Delhi. The quake at 1:11 p.m. local time caused more than 10 seconds of tremors felt in and around the Indian capital. There were no immediate reports of damages or injury in the city of 16.7 million.

Some people in the San Francisco Bay area were awakened by an earthquake, though there have been no damage reports. A U.S. Geological Survey computer-generated report says the magnitude-4.0 quake struck at 5:33 a.m. Monday and was centered eight miles north of San Francisco in the El Cerrito area. The quake was felt throughout San Francisco.

Weather

A string of violent storms scratched away small towns in Indiana and cut off rural communities in Kentucky as an early-season tornado outbreak on Friday killed at least 39 people. Massive thunderstorms, predicted by forecasters for days, threw off dozens of tornadoes as they raced Friday from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. Twisters that crushed entire blocks of homes knocked out cellphones and landlines alike, ripped power lines from broken poles and tossed cars, school buses and tractor-trailers onto roadways made impassable by debris. Officials and survivors of the storms say warnings provided by weather forecasters and relayed through news reports, e-mail and other alert systems, coupled with neighbors passing the word house to house, kept the toll from growing higher. The storm outbreak of at least 74 tornadoes has the potential to be the USA’s largest ever recorded in March.

For many Americans, it was the winter that wasn’t, especially when compared with the Siberia-like weather of the past two years. Stunningly low snow totals and near-record warmth were the norm for many spots, primarily east of the Rockies. Except for the northwestern mountains, snow cover was rather sparse for much of the cold season. According to last week’s U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal website, 72% of California is in a drought, compared with 0% on this same date last year. In Minnesota, the Drought Monitor indicates 96% of the state is in a drought, compared with 1.8% last year. New York City enjoyed its second-warmest winter since records began in 1869, outdone only by the balmy 2001-02 season. From Jan. 1 through Monday, there were 3,854 daily record high temperatures set across the country, compared with 294 daily record lows.

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