Signs of the Times (4/16/12)

Planned Parenthood’s ’40 Days of Prayer’ Angers Pro-Lifers

A prayer campaign launched by a California Planned Parenthood affiliate has angered pro-life groups who claim the counter-campaign mocks their own “40 Days for Life” effort. Officials at Six Rivers Planned Parenthood (SRPP) in Eureka, Calif., launched “40 Days of Prayer” last month and has offered up daily prayers for pregnant women and clinicians who perform abortions. “Today we pray for women for whom pregnancy is not good news, that they know they have choices,” read the prayer for Day 1. Day 18 offers prayers for “staff at abortion clinics around the nation.” The campaign, according to Liberty Counsel, an Orlando-based pro-life litigation group, is another “desperate attempt” to regain positive public attention and funding by mimicking a pro-life campaign.

  • Rest assured, God will not listen to murderous prayers: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)

New Netherlands Clinic Makes House Calls for Euthanasia

“If the patients can’t find death, just take death to the patients” — that’s the thinking behind the new End of Life Clinic that opened in the Netherlands in March. The clinic will sent out mobile “Life End” teams at the request of patients who wish to die under the country’s decades-old euthanasia law, WORLD News Service reports. The teams will cater to terminally ill patients whose primary care doctors have refused to provide euthanasia for religious, moral or other reasons. Each Life End unit consists of a doctor, nurse and equipment, and patients can choose a two-dose lethal injection or a drinkable drug mixture. Within its first month of operation, at least 70 patients contacted the clinic; its services are free for now but it hopes insurance companies will eventually pay. Each year in the Netherlands, there are 2,500 to 3,000 cases of euthanasia, representing 2 percent of all deaths in the country.

  • The end-time ‘culture of death’ is expanding its reach through satanic influence

Evolution’s ‘Weaknesses’ Can Be Taught in Tennessee

A bill that will allow Tennessee public school teachers to present the “weaknesses” of scientific theories such as evolution has become law without the governor’s signature, Baptist Press reports. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam returned the bill to the legislature April 10 without vetoing it or signing it, signaling that he wasn’t fully pleased with it but acknowledging that his veto could be overridden. The bill passed the House 72-23 and the Senate 25-8. The new law states that legislators believe teachers may be “unsure” about some issues, including “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning,” and that since a major purpose of scientific education is “to help students develop critical thinking skills,” state officials cannot prohibit teachers from “helping students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories.” Casey Luskin, an attorney for the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, said the law would protect teachers around the country who are “harassed, intimidated and sometimes fired” for presenting arguments against evolution, even if they back up their claims with evidence.

Hillary Clinton Overrides Congress to Send $147 million to Palestinians

In a rare move, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has personally overridden a Congressional hold on $147 million in US taxpayer money and sent it to the Palestinians. Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee had blocked the money from being sent due to continued terrorist attacks and the Palestinian Authority’s push for world recognition without negotiation with Israel. The Jerusalem Prayer Team notes, “This shocking move is yet one more indication that the current administration does not have Israel’s best interests at heart. It is more imperative than ever that believers stand with the Jewish state.”

Cuba Split Leaves Summit Without Declaration

Though physically absent, Cuba cast a big shadow over this Caribbean port at a summit of 30 Western Hemisphere leaders that ended Sunday. Leftist Latin American leaders repeatedly harangued the United States for continuing to insist that the communist-run nation be barred from the 18-year-old Summit of the Americas circuit. Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua were unequivocal: They won’t come to the next summit, set for Panama in 2015, if Cuba can’t come, too. Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, boycotted this summit over the issue. The United States and Canada were alone in opposing Cuban participation, and they also refused to endorse in a final declaration on Argentina’s claim to the British-held Falkland Islands.

Birth Rate for U.S. Teens is Lowest in History

A new federal data report released this week shows teen births are at their lowest level in almost 70 years, USA Today reports. The teen birth rate dropped 9 percent from 2009 to 2010 to a historic low of 34.3 births per 1,000 teens — down 44 percent from 61.8 in 1991. The decline was seen in all racial and ethnic groups. According to Sarah Brown, CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “young people are being more careful.” She attributes the decline to less sex and the increased use of contraception. The National Center for Health Statistics credited “strong pregnancy prevention messages” and says contraceptive use “may have contributed.”

  • Of course, the feds and media won’t mention the positive effect of abstinence education as well

Too Old to Drive?

With more older drivers hitting America’s roads every day, loved ones and lawmakers alike face the dilemma of whether — or when — to take away grandpa’s car keys. Roughly 10,000 Americans reach age 65 every day, and nearly 1 in 6 people will be in their golden years by 2020. And while many will continue to drive safely for years, the diminished eyesight and reflexes that come with aging will take a dangerous toll on others’ ability to operate cars, experts say. Striking a balance between road safety and respect for the independence of society’s elders falls to a broad coalition of family members and caregivers, state regulators, insurance companies and even carmakers. Many elderly drivers curtail driving voluntarily as their level of comfort at the wheel declines. For others, a string of fender-benders or more traumatic events may signal they waited too long. Family members are in the best position to judge an aging driver’s cognition, mobility and vision and get them off the road if necessary, but that can create emotional conflict.

  • Better for families to deal with the issue instead of abrogating their responsibility to the heavy-handed federal government

Economic News

The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.8% in March. That’s below February’s 1% increase but above January’s pace. Excluding car and gasoline sales, retail sales increased 0.7%, a healthier gain than February. The gain pushed retail sales to a record $411.1 billion, 24% higher than the recession low in March 2009.

The number of people quitting their jobs in February outnumbered the amount of workers who were laid off by companies for the first time since this economic recovery began. So-called quits jumped 9% over February 2011, pushing the number of voluntary departures into the majority. Quits go hand-in-hand with consumer confidence which has been rising steadily, if modestly.

Syria

President Obama has ramped up U.S. aid, including communications equipment and medical supplies, to Syria’s opposition in hopes of accelerating the downfall of President Bashar Assad, officials said Friday. After a year of violence in Syria, a tenuous truce has taken hold this week. Tens of thousands of Syrians protested against the government on Friday. Security forces used live fire, tear gas and beat some protesters, but there was no immediate sign of wide-scale shelling or sniper attacks.

Syrian troops shelled residential neighborhoods dominated by rebels in the central city of Homs Sunday, activists said, killing at least three people hours before the first batch of United Nations observers arrived in Damascus to shore up a shaky truce. The reported shelling in Homs is threatening the truce to which President Bashar Assad and rebels fighting to topple him had agreed. Both sides accuse each other of violating the truce at the center of the peace plan.

North Korea

Obama administration officials confirmed today that they will not move forward with a food aid program to North Korea in light of the regime’s failed rocket launch. “Their efforts to launch a missile clearly demonstrates that they could not be trusted to keep their commitments,” said Ben Rhodes, a spokesman for the National Security Council. Officials are concerned that the North Korean regime — seeking to save face after the failed rocket launch — may proceed with another underground nuclear test in North Korea.

Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood said Sunday that it will fight the banning of its candidate for president that has thrown Egypt’s move toward elected civilian rule into disarray and threatens a return to massive street protests. Ten presidential candidates were barred from contesting the nation’s top job in a decision announced Saturday by the presidential election commission, five weeks before the presidential race is set to begin in May. Among the 10 deemed ineligible to run, three were front-runners in the race for Egypt’s presidency. All three are appealing the decisions. One was banned for a previous criminal conviction, another because his mother is a U.S. citizen.

Pakistan

The White House has no intentions of ending CIA drone strikes against militant targets on Pakistani soil, U.S. officials say, possibly setting the two countries up for diplomatic tensions after Pakistan’s parliament unanimously approved new guidelines for the country’s troubled relationship with the United States. U.S. officials say they will work in coming weeks and months to find common ground with Pakistan, but if a suspected terrorist target comes into the laser sights of a CIA drone’s hellfire missiles, they will take the shot. It’s not the first time the U.S. has ignored Pakistan’s parliament, which demanded an end to drone strikes in 2008. What’s different now is that the Pakistani government is in a more fragile political state, and can no longer continue its earlier practice of quietly allowing the U.S. action while publicly denouncing it.

Close to 150 Taliban fighters armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades attacked a prison in northwest Pakistan before dawn Sunday, freeing hundreds of prisoners, including some suspected militants. The fighters freed 380 prisoners. At least 20 of them were “very dangerous Taliban militants.” The Pakistani Taliban have waged a bloody war against the government over the past several years and have killed thousands of Pakistani officials and average citizens.

Afghanistan

The Taliban launched a series of coordinated attacks on as many as seven sites across the Afghan capital on Sunday, targeting NATO bases, the parliament and Western embassies. Militants also launched near-simultaneous assaults in three other eastern cities. At least thirty-six attackers were killed as well as eleven policemen and civilians. Scores of suicide bombers assaulted the capital and three other provinces — Paktia, Nangarhar and Logar. The attacks were the most widespread in the heavily guarded capital since September, and demonstrated the insurgents’ resolve heading into the spring fighting season, when warmer weather typically brings increased attacks. The scale and scope of the assaults also raised doubts about the Afghan security forces’ ability to take over responsibility for the country’s security as the U.S.-led international force speeds up the handover in preparation for an end to the NATO mission in 2014.

Iraq

Iraqi officials say attacks across the country including a car bomb in a northern city have left five people dead. The explosion near the city’s university killed one and wounded 15, one of three attacks Sunday. A roadside bomb hit the car of a leader in the Sahwa anti-al-Qaeda Sunni militias, killing his son, in the town of Hawija. Meanwhile, gunmen blew up a Shiite family’s house in the Sunni-dominated Taji area, killing three and wounding two others. Violence has ebbed in Iraq, but Sunni insurgents still launch attacks to challenge the Shiite-led government.

  • Just like the Baptists and Methodists do

Somalia

The Somali Muslim terror group al Shabaab, which recently joined with al Qaeda in an attempt to implement sharia law, wants to rid the country of all Christians and is specifically targeting Christian converts from Islam, CBN News reports. Al Shabaab soldiers subject Christians to torture, punishment, humiliation and even brutal murders for refusing to conform to Islamic law. Somali Christian leaders estimate fewer than 200 Christians are left in the country of 10 million. One secret believer named Fozia said it was too risky to own a Bible, so she listened to nightly Christian radio broadcasts from neighboring Kenya. Some Somali Christians are receiving help from Voice of the Martyrs, who sponsors a safe house in a secret location in the Horn of Africa. At the safe house, Somali Christians and former Muslims seeking refuge have a place to eat, sleep and gather for worship, Bible study, discipleship and fellowship. “Pray that we Somali believers will live our lives closer to the kingdom of God,” Fozia said. “Pray that we will endure the weight of life in this Islamic nation.”

India

Islamic extremists in India attacked a Christian prayer meeting in West Bengal state, beating a 65-year-old widow and other women less than a month after they helped drive a young woman out of her home and village for her faith, Compass Direct News reports. On March 30, a mob of about 100 Muslims in Nutangram, Murshidabad district forced their way into a home where 11 Christians were gathered for lunch and worship. The mob shouted anti-Christian slogans and threatened to murder the Christians as they pushed, kicked and slapped them. 65-year-old widow Moyazan Bewa was beaten, and others received minor injuries. Hundreds of other Muslims gathered to watch as the mob chased the Christians outside and throughout the village and harassed them for about 90 minutes. “We pleaded with the radicals to let us go, and eventually they freed us while they were still shouting at us to leave Jesus or face more sufferings,” one Christian said. The Christians fled to the outskirts of the village and took refuge in a home; they filed a police complaint against the assailants but so far no arrests have been made. In the same area of Nutangram on March 9, Islamic extremists drove 22-year-old Rekha Khatoon out of her village after helping her parents beat her nearly unconscious because she gave thanks to Jesus for healing.

Russia

Thousands of protesters rallied Saturday in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan to support a hunger-striking politician who alleges a recent mayoral race was marred by fraud, the latest show of determination by opposition forces. The case of Oleg Shein. who claims the fraud denied him his rightful victory in the mayor’s race last month, has become prime cause for opposition figures who were at the forefront of this winter’s unprecedented huge protests in Moscow. Those protests and other large ones in St. Petersburg were sparked by reports of extensive fraud in December’s national parliamentary elections and continued in the March 4 presidential election. Vladimir Putin, the architect of Russia’s tightly controlled politics, won a six-year term as president in that election and showed disdain for protesters demands for changes.

Weather

A violent storm system unleashed dozens of tornadoes across the Midwest and Plains, leaving six people dead and at least 29 injured in Oklahoma Sunday morning. There were at least 120 reports of tornadoes Saturday and early Sunday, primarily in Kansas but also in northwest Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa. As the weather gripped the region, twisters or high winds damaged a hospital, homes and cut power to hundreds of thousands. The storms were part of an exceptionally strong system that the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., which specializes in tornado forecasting, had warned about for days. The center took the unusual step of warning people more than 24 hours in advance of a possible “high-end, life-threatening event.”

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