Signs of the Times (7/9/12)

Hobby Lobby Placed Full Page July 4th “In God We Trust” Ads

Thanks to Hobby Lobby Ministry Projects for the “In God We Trust” full-page ads on July 4th in newspapers all across the country. The many quotes cited from our Founding Fathers show they truly understood that the independence of our country was won through the grace of God. Beginning Easter Sunday, 1997, Hobby Lobby has placed a full page message ad in all of the newspapers in which they advertise. Since then, they have placed a full page message ad each Christmas day and each Easter Sunday in our newspapers in which they advertise, as well as on July 4th, each will a call to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior

  • With so many companies backing the gay agenda, it’s refreshing that some still stand firm for God and for our country

Palestinians Lay Claim to Church of Nativity in Bethlehem

Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a noted Palestinian apologist, is leading the charge to have the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as a Palestinian landmark…and they are likely to succeed. The approval has been placed on the fast track after a vote that Ashrawi described as “a welcome recognition by the international community of our historical and cultural rights in this land.” Dr. Ashrawi claims she is “descended from the first Palestinian Christian—Jesus.”  Reminding the world that Jesus was born a Jew, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says, “the world should remember that the Church of the Nativity, which is sacred to Christians, was desecrated in the past by Palestinian terrorists.”

  • Palestine is an invented country that continues to invent outrageous lies to create fictional foundations for its ongoing – and largely successful – efforts to establish international legitimacy

North Carolina Legislature De-Funds Planned Parenthood

North Carolina will no longer fund Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider. Republican lawmakers voted to end all state contracts with private providers of family planning services, overriding Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of de-funding the group for the second time. The move redirects more than $343,000 from Planned Parenthood to county health departments. “Planned Parenthood is an abortion-centered, profit-driven business, not the caring health provider for women and girls they purport to be,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. “They neither need nor deserve taxpayer dollars. This budget amendment does not cut a dime of family planning funding. It does protect the consciences of pro-life taxpayers by sending funds to county health departments which do not perform abortions.”

Healthcare Sharing Ministries Offer Insurance Alternative

No so-called experts view healthcare sharing ministries as a solution to the problem of how to provide care for as many people as possible. But their ongoing existence represents a creative approach that has worked for a small minority for more than two decades. Healthcare sharing ministries stem from the New Testament concept that people must share one another’s burdens. In these ministries, members pay a monthly fee that gets dispersed to a member who needs help paying medical bills. Depending on the ministry, the money may go directly to the family in need or through the ministry. Most of those who opt to belong lack affordable insurance through an employer. Ministry members must attest they are committed Christians and live life accordingly.

  • The world’s various solutions to healthcare and welfare are outgrowths of the Church’s failure to take care of its own. These healthcare sharing ministries are a step back in the right direction.

Drones Moving from Battlefield to Homeland

Long a symbol of the nation’s high-tech war on terror, drones are moving from the battlefield and borderlands into everyday American life. Industry experts predict 30,000 unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, will be flying in the U.S. by the end of the decade. The expansion is driven by technological advances that have made them smaller, more sophisticated and cheaper, and new federal aviation rules that will open the skies to an array of drones by late 2015. Robotic aircraft promise great advances in everything from humanitarian relief and environmental protection to news gathering and real-estate marketing, industry supporters say. But as with many evolving and potentially intrusive technologies, the civilian drone invasion won’t arrive without controversy or questions about its impact on privacy and safety. Civil libertarians warn that anything that can be flown by a law-abiding person can also be used by a drug smuggler, terrorist or Peeping Tom. In the hands of an unscrupulous journalist or law- enforcement officer, the snooping possibilities are chilling.

  • And in the hands of Big Brother, the future is really scary

Wireless Carriers Flooded with Calls for Surveillance Info

In the first public accounting of its kind, cellphone carriers reported that they responded to a startling 1.3 million demands for subscriber information last year from law enforcement agencies seeking text messages, caller locations and other information in the course of investigations, the New York Times reported Sunday. The cellphone carriers’ reports, which come in response to a Congressional inquiry, document an explosion in cellphone surveillance in the last five years, with the companies turning over records thousands of times a day in response to police emergencies, court orders, law enforcement subpoenas and other requests.

  • Personal privacy is now virtually nonexistent. The major concern is how Big Brother will use this information to squelch dissent and persecute freedom fighters and Christians

Natural, Organic Items Grab Bigger Share in Supermarkets

There appears to be a race to pure foods among the nation’s largest supermarkets as they ramp up their offerings, even launch their own brands of organics and naturals, and then heavily advertise the healthy choice. It makes sense, considering that sales of this segment of groceries are outpacing traditional grocery sales. Nationwide, natural and organic food sales grew 8 percent in 2010 versus the less than 1 percent growth in the $630 billion total U.S. food market. This segment has grown at about a 5 percent rate the last few years. With that growth and popularity comes a definite consumer advantage: Slowly but surely, the price of natural foods is falling.

Economic News

Five million jobs. That’s how many jobs the economy has still failed to recover since the Great Recession officially ended three years ago, according to the Associated Press. The nation lost nearly 8.8 million jobs between January 2008 and February 2010. Since then, it’s regained more than 3.8 million — less than 44 percent. The economy has added just 137,000 jobs a month since employment hit bottom. At that pace, it would take three more years for employment to return to where it was in January 2008.

President Obama is launching a push to extend tax cuts for the middle class, as he seeks to shift the election-year economic debate away from the dismal jobs market and toward the issue of tax fairness. Obama, in an address from the White House Monday, called on Congress to pass a one-year extension of tax cuts for people making less than $250,000 a year. The House GOP is expected to make its own push this month for an extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts due to expire at the end of the year, including reductions on wealthier income earners.

Greece

Greece’s three-party coalition government will try to get the economy out of its deep recession by encouraging private investment and making privatizations its “highest priority,” finance minister Yannis Stournaras said Saturday. “The privatization program aims at attracting important international capital that will be invested mainly in property development and infrastructure,” Stournaras told parliament. He said the government plans to give priority to 28 privatizations, including the state natural gas, water and betting companies, the development of the former Athens airport, other airports, yacht marinas, the state railways and the sale and leaseback of 28 state properties.

Middle East

The victories of Islamic parties in Egypt and elsewhere have forced the United States to embark on an untested strategy to engage with groups that have historically been hostile to American interests. In the latest triumph for Islamic groups, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected president in Egypt last month. Islamist groups have also emerged strong in Tunisia and Libya. Although the United States has had good relations with regimes where political Islam is prevalent, such as Saudi Arabia, its policy toward Islamic groups that are ousting long-standing regimes or pressuring them to change is evolving. Analysts are divided over whether the Obama administration’s policy is a risk that will backfire or represents a pragmatic approach to rapidly changing events in the Arab world.

  • Islamic fanaticism for establishing a global caliphate will not be assuaged through diplomatic negotiations, which countries such as Iran have shown they will use to yank our chain while advancing their extremist ambitions.

Egypt

President Mohammed Morsi has ordered the return of the country’s Islamist-dominated parliament that was dissolved by the powerful military.The Sunday decree from Morsi, a member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, also called for new parliamentary elections to be held within 60 days of the adoption of a new constitution for the country, which is not expected before late this year. Last month, the then-ruling military generals dissolved the legislature based on a ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court. Morsi’s move appeared to be in defiance of the military’s “constitutional declaration” announced on June 16 that gave it legislative powers and stripped Morsi of much of his presidential authority. On Monday, Egypt’s top court said its decision to dissolve parliament is final, laying the groundwork for yet more turmoil.

Afghanistan

The U.S. designation Saturday of Afghanistan as its newest “major non-NATO ally” amounts to a political statement of support for the country’s long-term stability and solidifies close defense cooperation after American combat troops withdraw in 2014. The declaration allows for streamlined defense cooperation, including expedited purchasing ability of American equipment and easier export control regulations. Afghanistan’s military, heavily dependent on American and foreign assistance, already enjoys many of these benefits. The non-NATO ally status guarantees it will continue to do so.

Roadside bombs and insurgent attacks Sunday killed 16 Afghan civilians, five policemen and two members of the U.S.-led coalition in southern Afghanistan where militants are trying to reclaim territory. A surge in Afghan and coalition forces during the past two years routed Taliban fighters from many of their strongholds in the south, but the insurgents stepped up their attacks this summer to take back key areas.

Syria

International envoy Kofi Annan raised hopes of a revived peace effort in Syria, saying he has reached a framework with President Bashar Assad and would hold talks with rebel leaders. Annan was traveling to Damascus’ key ally Iran later Monday for talks with leaders there. With violence growing increasingly intense and diplomatic efforts faltering, Annan has said Iran must be a part of a solution to a conflict that activists say has killed at least 14,000 people. It is unclear what role Annan envisions for Iran, a staunch Syrian ally that has stood by Assad throughout the uprising. Tehran’s close ties could make it an interlocutor with the regime.

Pakistan

Thousands of hard-line Islamists streamed toward Pakistan’s capital in a massive convoy of vehicles Sunday to protest the government’s decision to allow the U.S. and other NATO countries to resume shipping troop supplies through the country to Afghanistan. Pakistan closed the route in November in retaliation for American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani troops. After months of negotiations, Islamabad finally agreed to reopen the route last week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized for the deaths.

South Sudan

South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, turned one year old on Monday, but its anniversary comes amid high tensions with its northern neighbor and economic concerns. South Sudan became independent last year following decades of civil war. Border clashes have brought the countries to the brink of war and left South Sudan coping with a massive humanitarian crisis as people flee the fighting. In total, aid agencies estimate that at least 150,000 refugees from Sudan are currently in South Sudan. South Sudan obtained around 70% of the formerly united country’s oil reserves when it became independent last year. But the countries have been unable to agree on how much the landlocked South should pay to use infrastructure that remains in Sudan. South Sudan shut down production in late January after accusing Sudan of stealing $815 million worth of its oil. Sudan said it confiscated the crude to make up for unpaid fees.

  • Complicating the situation is the religious rivalry between Islamic Sudan and the Christian/Indigenous faiths of South Sudan

Weather

The record-setting heat wave that cooked most of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic finally relented Sunday. Now, it’s just back to regular, old summer heat. But it may be impossible to forget the havoc wreaked by the two-week heat wave. The heat sent temperatures Saturday soaring over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in several cities, including a record 105 degrees in Washington, St. Louis (106 ), Indianapolis (104), 105 in Louisville, 101 in Philadelphia, and 95 in New York City. The heat buckled highways and derailed a Washington-area train. At least 46 deaths were blamed on the heat, including nine in Maryland and 10 in Chicago, mostly among the elderly who died of high temperatures in homes lacking power because of recent outages. Thousands of mid-Atlantic residents remained without power more than a week after deadly summer storms and extreme heat struck the area, including 120,000 in West Virginia and some 8,000 in the suburbs around Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Fish are going belly up by the thousands and experts blame the heat wave. City of Knoxville officials in Tennessee, one of at least five states reporting thousands of dead fish, say that the record heat depleted the water’s oxygen levels and killed 10,000 or more small bluegills. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control says 5,000 to 6,000 gizzard shad died. Thousands of dead fish turned up at Dexter City Lake in Missouri. Elsewhere, hundreds of dead fish are popping up along the James River in North Dakota and about 200 dead fish were discovered in Dallas’ Turtle Creek.

Torrential rains dropped nearly a foot of water in the Black Sea region of southern Russia overnight Saturday, unleashing intense flooding that killed 103 people and forced many to scramble out of their beds for refuge in trees and on roofs. Many people were asleep when the flooding hit in the Krasnodar region, and the water rushed into the area around the hard-hit town of Krimsk with such speed and volume that rumors emerged that local officials had opened a nearby water reservoir. Muddy water coursed through streets and homes, in some cases high enough to flow over the hoods of cars and even as high as rooftops. About 5,000 residences were flooded.

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