Signs of the Times (4/5/12)

School Removes “God” from “God Bless the USA”

Parents at a Massachusetts elementary school are furious after educators first removed the word ‘God’ from the popular Lee Greenwood song, “God Bless the U.S.A.” and then pulled the song all together from an upcoming concert. Fox 25 in Boston is reporting that children at Stall Brook Elementary School in Bellingham were told to sing, “We love the U.S.A.” instead of “God Bless the U.S.A.” After parents started complaining, school officials removed the song from the school assembly concert. Greenwood released a statement to Fox News condemning the school’s actions. Greenwood said the phrase “God Bless the USA” has a “very important meaning for those in the military and their families, as well as new citizens coming into our country.” He said it’s also played at every naturalization ceremony behind the national anthem.

  • As we continue to remove God from all things American, the once-lauded ‘American Way of Life’ continues to spiral down the drain. Might there just be a causal relationship?

Jewish Support for Obama Down, but Still Strong

The Jewish Values Survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 62 percent of American Jews would like to see President Obama re-elected in November. By comparison, only 30 percent want a Republican to win. The 62 percent for Obama is down from the 78 percent he received from Jewish voters in the 2008 election. David Rubin, former mayor of the West Bank town of Shiloh and author of The Islamic Tsunami: Israel and America in the Age of Obama, says “The American Jewish population, for the most part, is reflexively knee-jerk Democrat — and the fact is that even though the Republicans are much stronger on Israel, most American Jews are not strong on Israel.”

  • Obama is not only the least supportive president of Israel, but he is anti-Israel and pro-Muslim. Jewish voters need to wake up and stand up for their country and their God

Muslim Publishes Wife-Beating Handbook

A prolific writer on almost every topic of Islamic learning has published a handbook for Muslim men who want to beat their wives. Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi’s so-called “Islamic marriage guide” titled A Gift for the Muslim Couple, which recently sold out at a Toronto bookstore, advises husbands on how to beat their wives — instructing them not beat their women too “excessively.” Scolding her, pulling her by the ears, and hitting her “by hand or stick,” however, is good for discipline. It also offers tips on how to confine a wife and withhold cash if she acts up. Robert Spencer, director Jihad Watch, is not surprised that the book was sold out. “The fact is that Islam teaches that a man can beat a disobedient woman, should do so,” he reports. “It’s in chapter four, verse 34 of the Koran. We see that while this is widely denied by Islamic spokesmen in the West, it’s also widely practiced. The attitude portrayed in the book should make it easier to understand why the practice of honor killings is on the increase in places like Pakistan.”

  • How much more proof do we need of Islam’s satanic heritage?

Pakistan’s Muslims Warn Christians Not to Celebrate Easter

Pakistan’s Christian community has received threats and warnings from Islamic radicals against celebrating Easter, Asia News reports. In the Christian colony of Eidgah in Pakistan’s Sarghoda District, Muslims defaced Easter signs and decorations with black paint and threatened Christians not to continue in their preparations. When the Christians went to local police to file a report, no one at the station would do it, instead telling the Christians to leave. Some Christians replaced the Easter decorations, but on Palm Sunday, Muslims destroyed them again in another raid and threatened punishment against the Christian community. “For years, colony residents have come together to prepare Holy Week,” said local resident Yasir Masih. “For years, we have been threatened. Even though we reported it to the authorities, they didn’t take it seriously. This year, [the Muslims] have come to our streets and threatened us. We are not safe, and we are scared.”

Justice Dept. Ordered to Answer for Obama’s Supreme Court Comments

The Obama Justice Department has roughly 24 hours to explain to a federal appeals court whether the administration believes judges have the power to overturn federal laws — in the latest escalation between the two branches of government over the federal health care overhaul. A three-judge panel for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered the Justice Department to explain by Thursday at noon whether the administration believes judges have that authority. The challenge came after President Obama cautioned the Supreme Court against overturning the health care law and warned that such an act would be “unprecedented.”

U.K. Defends Expanded ‘Snooping’ Proposals

Britain’s prime minister on Tuesday defended controversial plans to monitor all calls and emails in the country, as a backlash over the proposals grew within the coalition government. David Cameron sought to downplay worries that the proposals for an extended surveillance network covering the public’s phone calls, texts, and web activity would erode civil liberties. Monitoring digital communication is “absolutely vital” in stopping serious crime and terrorism, he stressed. The proposed network has been criticized by members of Cameron’s Conservative Party as well as their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats.

  • Under the guise of national security, expanded government intrusion into civilian privacy will become an end-time norm

2.4 Million Human Trafficking Victims

The U.N. crime-fighting office said Tuesday that 2.4 million people across the globe are victims of human trafficking at any one time, and 80 percent of them are being exploited as sexual slaves. Another 17 percent are trafficked to perform forced labor, including in homes and sweat shops. The report estimates that $32 billion is being earned every year by unscrupulous criminals running human trafficking networks, and two out of every three victims are women. Only one out of 100 victims of trafficking is ever rescued. The U.N. commission called for coordinated local, regional and international responses that balance “progressive and proactive law enforcement” with actions that combat “the market forces driving human trafficking in many destination countries.”

Painkiller Sales Soar Across U.S.

Sales of the nation’s two most popular prescription painkillers have exploded across the country, an Associated Press analysis shows, worrying experts who say the push to relieve patients’ suffering is spawning an addiction epidemic. Drug Enforcement Administration figures show dramatic rises between 2000 and 2010 in the distribution of oxycodone, the key ingredient in OxyContin, Percocet and Percodan. Some areas saw sales increase sixteenfold. Meanwhile, the distribution of hydrocodone, the key ingredient in Vicodin, Norco and Lortab, is rising as well. Opioid pain relievers, the category that includes oxycodone and hydrocodone, caused 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008, and the death toll is rising, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. The increases have also coincided with a wave of overdose deaths, pharmacy robberies and other problems.

Shortfall of Mental Health Specialists at VA

As thousands of additional veterans seek mental health care every month, the Department of Veterans Affairs is short of psychiatrists, with 20% vacancy rates in much of the country served by VA hospitals. The vacancies occur at a time when the number of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder is increasing by about 10,000 every three months, what experts say is the cumulative effect of a decade of war. More than 230,000 servicemembers have suffered traumatic brain injuries ranging from mild to severe since 2000. The VA needed 266 psychiatrists as of last September and it was taking an average of eight months to fill each job, according to an internal report. The VA has expanded its behavioral care staff by 50% since 2005 to nearly 21,000.

  • The ‘cost’ of these two wars is far more than the billions of dollars spent militarily

Older Workers Capture More New Jobs

Older workers are snaring an outsized share of job gains in the economic recovery as they put off retirement amid shrinking nest eggs, changes in Social Security benefits and improved health. In February, employment for workers 55 and older rose by 277,000 from January, or 65% of the total 428,000 gains, according to the Labor Department’s household survey, which is used to calculate the unemployment rate. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, employment for those 55 and older is up by 3.9 million, even as total payrolls have fallen by 4.2 million. More-experienced employees are often more productive and earn higher salaries, generating economic growth that itself yields additional jobs, experts say.

House Democrats Propose Substantial Tax Increases

Liberal House Democrats of the Congressional Progressive Caucus unveiled a budget on Monday that would increase taxes by $4.7 trillion more than President Obama proposed in his own budget. Obama proposed tax hikes of $1.5 trillion, but the Heritage Foundation exposed that number to be closer to $2 trillion. They can’t take all that money from the top 1%. Taking every penny from them would yield a one-time grab of about $930 billion. They can only take so much from businesses without shutting them down, changing the way they do business or completely crippling the economy. So the rest of that $7 trillion will have to come from us.

  • We may have to pay some increased taxes to bail out our diseased economy, but there must first be some very real and very large reductions in federal spending.

Economic News

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell to a four-year low last week. The Labor Department says weekly unemployment benefit applications dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000. That’s the fewest since April 2008. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 361,750, also the lowest in four years. The average has fallen nearly 13% the past six months.

Businesses added 209,000 jobs in March, according to a report issued Wednesday by payroll-processing company ADP. Those job gains were slightly lower than forecasts for 217,000, and marked a slowdown from 230,000 private sector jobs added in February. The economy needs about 125,000 new jobs each month just to keep the unemployment rate steady.

Encouraged by job growth, the Fed’s policy makers seem more willing to allow the economy to move forward on its own, the Federal Reserve indicated that further monetary stimulus is unlikely, sending stocks into a nosedive Wednesday. Though Fed policymakers voiced some concern over U.S. economic growth and the pace of hiring, they showed no sign that they were ready to pump more money into the world’s largest economy.

March came in like a lion for retailers, as warm weather and demand for spring fashions helped push sales up. Retailers from discounter Target to department-store chain Macy’s to outdoor sports retailer Zumiez reported better-than-expected sales during the month. Stripping out higher gas prices and the negative impact of foreign currencies, revenue at stores in the U.S. increased 5% and climbed 9% internationally.

Yahoo is laying off 2,000 employees as new CEO Scott Thompson sweeps out jobs that don’t fit into his plans for turning around the beleaguered Internet company. The cuts announced Wednesday represent 14 percent of the 14,100 workers employed by Yahoo, which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif. The housecleaning marks Yahoo’s sixth mass layoff in the past four years under three different CEOs.

China’s great wall of cash is pouring into the struggling U.S. property market, from multi-million-dollar mansions on the West Coast to venerable hotels on the East Coast. Buyers from mainland China and Hong Kong are snapping up luxury homes, often paying cash, in major U.S. cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. They’re coming by the dozens to buy foreclosed properties in downtrodden cities in Florida and Nevada. Chinese buyers are even starting to snap up pricey commercial buildings and hotels in Manhattan. A rising yuan — up more than 8% since mid-2010 — gives the Chinese greater purchasing power, and the mainland’s restrictions on property purchases encourages them to look overseas.

Middle East

When Israel defended itself against terrorist attacks, the Palestinian Authority claimed that it was Israel that committed “war crimes” and filed charges before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The American Center for Law & Justice presented oral arguments before the ICC, in support of Israel and its soldiers. Tuesday, the ICC has agreed with ACLJ’s arguments and has dismissed the case against Israel. The ICC agreed that the Palestinian Authority lacked standing to bring a case against Israel because Palestine is not a state. Successfully defending Israel at the ICC is a major victory, but now we must be ready for the terrorist-led Palestinian Authority’s attempt to gain statehood at the U.N., in violation of international law.

  • Palestine is not and has never been a state or a nation.

France

Preliminary charges are being filed against 13 Islamist radicals in France, a prosecutor announced Tuesday, saying some had been calling for Muslim Shariah law in the country, stashing weapons and hatching plots, one to kidnap a judge. Members of the Forsane Alizza group received physical training in parks and forests around Paris and religious indoctrination “in order to take part in a jihad,” or holy war. The group preached hate and violence on their Internet site which “called for an Islamic caliphate in France, the application of the Shariah and incited Muslims to unite to prepare for civil war, prosecutors charged. France also expelled a foreign radical imam Monday and an Islamist militant and others were in line to be forced to return to their homelands.

  • The U.S. also needs to crackdown on Islamist militants operating openly within our own borders. Hate crime legislation should not just be used for anti-Christian applications

Syria

Syrian troops launched a fierce assault on a Damascus suburb Thursday, days ahead of a deadline for a U.N.-brokered cease-fire, with activists describing it as one of the most violent attacks around the capital since the year-old uprising began. Activists say Assad wants to make gains on the ground before the truce is supposed to take effect. Syrian troops also launched assaults on several other towns across the country on Thursday, activists said. Syrian troops clashed with army defectors and shelled rebellious districts in the central city of Homs Wednesday, killing at least 11 civilians a day after the government claimed it had begun a troop withdrawal ahead of the deadline to implement an international truce plan. Activists said the renewed violence proved President Bashar Assad’s regime was not serious about implementing the cease-fire brokered by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan.

Afghanistan

Gunmen attacked an outpost of a government-sponsored militia in western Afghanistan and killed 10 members of the security force late Wednesday. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack. Militants armed with assault rifles stormed the outpost of the militia known as the Afghan Local Police in Farah province’s Khaki Safed district. A suicide bomber blew himself up at a park earlier Wednesday in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO service members. Afghan and NATO security forces have frequently been targeted in the surge of violence as militants fight to assert their power and undermine U.S. efforts to try to build up the Afghan military and leave combat responsibility to local forces by the end of 2014. The bomber was riding a motorcycle when he detonated his explosives at the gate of the park in Maimanah, the capital of Faryab province.

Iraq

Iraqi officials say a car bomb targeting a local police chief missed him but killed five people and wounded 15 in a Sunni town north of Baghdad. All the casualties were civilians. Although violence has dropped significantly in Iraq, security forces frequently come under attack by insurgents.

Pakistan

A bomb ripped through a passenger van, killing six people in a violent region near the Afghan border Wednesday. The bomb was planted inside the van, but it was unclear whether it was a remote controlled or a timed device. Islamist militants have carried out scores of bombings in northwest Pakistan in recent years, often targeting civilians or those from tribes who do not support them. On Thursday, a Taliban suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a vehicle carrying a senior police official in a southern Pakistani port city on Thursday, killing two people. Nine people were also wounded in the attack. The target of the bombing, Malir police chief Rao Anwar, was unharmed.

Somalia

A suicide blast during a ceremony at Somalia’s newly reopened national theater on Wednesday killed at least 10 people and wounded dozens of others. The dead included the president of Somalia’s Olympic committee and the president of its soccer federation. The wounded included the country’s national planning minister. The national theater reopened for the first time in 20 years in a ceremony attended by many government officials. Wednesday’s ceremony was held to mark the first anniversary of the start of a national TV station. The Islamist terrorist group, al-Shabab, has continued to carry out suicide and roadside bomb attacks, killing hundreds.

  • How many people must be killed before people finally realize that Islam is Satan’s counterfeit of the One True Religion – despite its fake face of piety.

Mali

The rebel group that recently seized control of Mali’s three main northern cities, in a maneuver that effectively partitioned the country in two, announced a cease-fire Thursday, saying they had reached their military goal. The group was declaring the cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid to resume in the north. The rebels launched their insurgency in January, saying they wanted to establish an independent Tuareg homeland in the north, known as the Azawad. They only succeeded in taking small towns until late last month, when disgruntled soldiers stormed the presidential palace in the distant capital of Bamako, overthrowing the democratically elected president. In the confusion that followed the coup, the rebels launched a new offensive and succeeded in taking the capitals of the three main northern provinces: Kidal, which fell last Friday; Gao on Saturday and Timbuktu on Sunday.

Mexico

While Mexicans appear ready to boot out the ruling center-right National Action Party, or PAN, it’s not the Democratic Revolution Party they are turning to for change. Instead, it’s the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which governed Mexico for 71 uninterrupted years before the PAN nabbed the presidency in 2000, suddenly looking new, with a fresh-faced candidate and a strong lead in the polls. Mexicans voted for change 12 years ago when they tossed out the long-ruling PRI, which had been accused of electoral fraud, repression and economic mismanagement. But Mexico that has seen nearly 50,000 people killed in drug violence since the last presidential contest. The left’s PRD party seems out of touch with today’s Mexico. And though the PAN has had limited success in governing over the past 12 years, the violence supersedes all, opening the door again to what used to be considered the autocratic, repressive PRI.

Weather

Violent tornadoes pummeled towns around Dallas on Tuesday, flattening over 200 homes, flipping tractor-trailers and grounding flights, but few injuries and no deaths were reported. Starting about 1:30 p.m., severe storms caught residents by surprise and continued for more than two hours. Preliminary estimates show thirteen twisters touched down in North Texas. In suburban Dallas, 10 people were injured, two severely. Three people were injured in Arlington, including two nursing home residents. An entire wing at the Green Oaks nursing home in Arlington crumbled. The Red Cross put a preliminary estimate of damaged homes at 650. In Lancaster, where damage was especially widespread, around 150 people remained in a shelter Tuesday night. Some big rig tractor-trailer trucks were sent spiraling into the air.

It’s not just the “Tornado Alley” any more. Tornadoes are striking in more parts of the U.S., more often, a new study shows. Weather experts are enlarging the area of the U.S. they believe is regularly in the path of severe storms, tornadoes, and hail damage. Tornadoes and the storms that generate them account for 57% of insured catastrophic losses in the U.S. each year. New analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association shows that these storms are increasing in frequency, and the region of the country where they strike is growing as well.

A powerful storm with typhoon-strength winds and heavy rain halted air and train traffic in Tokyo and killed four people around the country. Winds of more than 89 miles per hour were recorded Tuesday as the storm swept across Japan’s main island of Honshu. The storm had halted commuter train service and grounded more than 500 flights in and around Tokyo on Tuesday. At two nuclear power plants in northern Japan, cooling of a spent fuel storage pool temporarily stopped because of power failures but resumed in about 30 minutes without affecting safety.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme

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