Signs of the Times (7/17/12)

Republicans Turn Against Supreme Court & Chief Justice Roberts

Republicans have turned against the Supreme Court and Chief Justice John Roberts with a vengeance following the decision upholding President Obama’s health care law, a new Gallup Poll finds. Democrats, on the other hand, have a decidedly more favorable view of the usually conservative court, controlled 5-4 by Republican presidents’ nominees, and of Roberts, who was nominated by George W. Bush. Americans’ views on the court are split, with 46% approving and 45% disapproving. But 64% of Republicans have a negative view, and 68% of Democrats have a positive view. Views on Roberts are even more pronounced, following his decisive vote to uphold the health care law based on Congress’ taxing power. When Gallup last asked about Roberts during his confirmation hearings in 2005, he enjoyed a 3-to-1 favorable rating — and 67% to 4% among Republicans. NowRepublicans are against him, 44%-27%, while Democrats like him, 54%-19%.

  • Roberts’ convoluted reasoning is a sign that the New World Order globalists have gotten to him; he can no longer be trusted to uphold constitutionally protected free-market capitalism as well as individual freedoms

Business Fires Back at Obama Claim

Prominent business groups are joining conservatives and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in calling out President Obama for his recent comments about the relationship between government and business. The president made the comments Friday during a speech to supporters in Roanoke, Va. Arguing that successful business owners got help from others along the way and suggesting they should pay more in taxes in return, he noted how government often provides the infrastructure needed for success. “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” Obama said. “Somebody else made that happen.” David Chavern, chief operating officer of the Chamber of Commerce, accused Obama of slighting the remarkable achievements of extraordinary individuals. The National Federation of Independent Business said the president’s “unfortunate remarks over the weekend show an utter lack of understanding and appreciation for the people who take a huge personal risk and work endless hours to start a business and create jobs.”

  • Obama reveals the typical socialist-Marxist response to individual accomplishments, desiring that government control everything in order to level the “unfair” playing field. History has already amply shown that such totalitarian systems (e.g. Soviet Union, Mao’s China) are doomed to failure.

ICE Unit in Phoenix Reducing its Staff

A federal unit that answers calls from local police to identify and deport illegal immigrants has been scaled back, leaving the team shorthanded just as local police prepare to start enforcing Arizona’s immigration law. The unit operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was created in 2006 to respond to requests for assistance from local police 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in the Phoenix area, long a major hub for illegal-immigrant smuggling. But in June, ICE began reassigning members of the unit to help round up illegal immigrants in other states. It comes at a time when human-smuggling activity is down in the Phoenix area and the agency has shifted its priorities to deporting the most dangerous illegal immigrants. But some immigration-enforcement advocates worry that downsizing the unit could further hamper ICE’s ability to respond to calls from local police trying to enforce Arizona’s immigration law Department of Homeland Security officials have already directed immigration-enforcement officials in Arizona not to deport illegal immigrants identified through enforcement of SB 1070 unless they meet the agency’s priorities.

  • No surprise that the Obama administration would punish Arizona for its win in the courts by pulling staff out of Phoenix

Arizona Study Disputes Benefits of Medical Marijuana

A new University of Arizona study shows little or no evidence that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for anxiety, migraines, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, a finding that could hinder efforts to expand the allowable uses for the drug in the state. The researchers, working on behalf of the state Department of Health Services that oversees the state’s medical-marijuana program, reviewed dozens of scientific studies related to marijuana use for the four medical conditions and determined that most of the research was of little value in weighing the medicinal risks and benefits. The study could affect efforts by medical-marijuana supporters to expand the state’s program to include the treatment of anxiety, migraines, depression and PTSD.

ACLU Sues to Block Arizona’s 20-Week Ban on Abortion

The Center for Arizona Policy reports that, against the best interests of the health and safety of Arizona’s women, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights have filed a lawsuit to block CAP-supported legislation that prohibits abortion after 20 weeks. “Once again, we see supposed ‘pro-woman’ organizations fight to protect abortion-on-demand despite the serious risks abortion presents to new moms,” said Cathi Herrod, President of Center for Arizona Policy. “The medical evidence presented during committee hearings make it clear that abortions after 20 weeks present a much greater risk to the life of the women. There is also substantial medical evidence that preborn children can feel pain at this age.”

Scientology Faces New Troubles after Cruise’s Divorce

Behind the high-profile divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes lies a story much larger than two celebrities calling it quits. As the public face of Scientology, Cruise had become the leading advocate of a spiritual and religious empire that claims it can make people more successful, capable and better at personal relations. The latest scrutiny over their divorce is now turning into a public spectacle in which Scientology stands as a major participant. Its cultivated public image — carefully crafted through websites, videos, discreet celebrity endorsements, and visitor centers around the country — is being severely challenged. Many loyal, longtime Scientologists are leaving and the disgruntlement is gathering momentum.

  • Another false religion withers under closer scrutiny because under pressure it can’t deliver on its promises – ultimately it’s a godless religion with only demonic power behind it

Sea Piracy Falls in First Half of 2012

Sea piracy worldwide fell by 54% in the first half of 2012, led by a dramatic drop in Somali piracy. The International Maritime Bureau attributed the sharp drop to “pre-emptive and disruptive counter piracy tactics” by international navies patrolling in seas off Somalia as well as increased vigilance by ships including hiring private armed personnel on board. The bureau said 177 attacks were reported worldwide from January to June, down from 266 in the same period last year. It said 20 vessels were hijacked worldwide, with 334 crew members taken hostage and at least four crew members killed.

U.S. Debt Worse Than Eurozone Bailout Recipients

Per capita debt in the United States is higher than in all the European nations that have accepted bailouts to date. Based on official 2010 International Monetary Fund data released earlier this year, the U.S. debt per capita is $46,208. Here’s the same figure for the four European countries that have accepted bailouts: Ireland: $41,906; Greece: $38,159; Portugal: $19,686; Spain: $18,162. Fortunately for the U.S., the economy is much bigger than the corresponding economies in Europe. And people are still buying U.S. debt, helping keep U.S. interest rates far lower than they are in, say, Greece.

  • The U.S. economy is riding along on blind faith – when that erodes, the jig is up

Economic News

Inflation stayed cool in June, as the falling price of gasoline outweighed the a slight pickup in the cost of food. The consumer price index was unchanged for the month. That includes a 1.4% drop in the cost of energy and a 0.2% rise in food prices. The rest of the index, known as the core inflation rate, rose 0.2%. Core inflation for the last 12 months was 2.2%.

However, after a long tumble, gasoline prices have risen for the second straight week as the summer driving season heads to its peak. Regular gas prices averaged $3.427 a gallon across the country in the latest weekly survey by the Energy Information Administration, up from $3.411 last week. Just two weeks ago they were $3.356 a gallon.

Interest rates hit another all-time low Monday, which is great news for borrowers but keeps savers in the land of no returns. The bellwether 10-year Treasury note yielded 1.46% Monday, while the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to a record low of 3.56%.

Americans cut their spending at retail businesses for a third straight month in June, as a weak job market made consumers more cautious. Retail sales fell 0.5% in June from May, the Commerce Department said Monday. The drop in sales followed declines the previous two months. Retail sales haven’t fallen for three straight months since the fall of 2008, the height of the financial crisis.

The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service is within weeks of defaulting on a legally required $5.5 billion payment into a health benefits fund for future retirees. So far, it appears House leaders have no intention of preventing that from happening — they have postponed any action on relief measures until at least fall. While a default would be embarrassing for the Postal Service, the practical consequences, if any, are unclear.

China’s economic growth fell to a three-year low, and a potential recovery later this year will probably be too weak to pull the world out of its slump. The world’s second-largest economy grew 7.6% from a year earlier in the three months ended in June, its slowest growth since early 2009. That is far above Western levels but a marked drop from 2010’s explosive 10.5% expansion.

Ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service is downgrading the credit ratings for 13 Italian banks three days after cutting the Italian government’s bond rating. Moody’s believes there is a greater risk of the banks defaulting on its debts and “indicates a similarly increased risk that the government might be unable to provide financial support to its banks in financial distress.”

Middle East

The United Arab Emirates on Sunday inaugurated a much-anticipated overland oil pipeline that bypasses the Strait of Hormuz, giving the OPEC member insurance against Iranian threats to block the strategic waterway. The 236-mile Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline snakes across western desert dunes and over the craggy Hajar mountains to the city of Fujairah on the UAE’s Indian Ocean coast. Once it is running at full capacity, the pipeline could allow the country, OPEC’s third biggest exporter, to ship as much as two-thirds of its peak production through the eastern port city.

The Obama administration is bolstering the U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf by building a secret missile-defense radar station in Qatar, sending an additional aircraft carrier and preparing for its biggest minesweeping exercises in the region, the Wall Street Journal reported. U.S. officials told the paper the moves are aimed at “a possible flare-up” with Iran. The Pentagon’s moves reflect concern that tensions with Iran could intensify as the full weight of sanctions targeting the country’s oil exports takes hold this summer.

Syria

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Sunday it now considers the conflict in Syria to be a full-blown civil war, meaning international humanitarian law applies throughout the country. The assessment can form the basis for war crimes prosecutions, especially if civilians are attacked or detained enemies are abused or killed. The U.N. singled out government forces Friday for blame in the latest massacre in Syria, a frenzy of killing that raises new questions about whether diplomacy has any chance to end the crisis more than 16 months into the bloodiest revolt of the Arab Spring. As the violence turns ever more chaotic, analysts warn the effort by special envoy Kofi Annan has become nothing more than a pretense, with government forces, rebels, jihadists and others fighting for power.

Iraq

After years of following the paper trail of $51 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars provided to rebuild a broken Iraq, the U.S. government can say with certainty that too much was wasted. But it can’t say how much. “The precise amount lost to fraud and waste can never be known,” the report said. The inspector general’s investigation of criminal fraud has resulted in 87 indictments, 71 convictions and $176 million in fines and other penalties. These include civilians and military members accused of kickbacks, bribery, bid-rigging, fraud, embezzlement and outright theft of government property and funds.

Pakistan

Pakistani Taliban attacked an office of the security force’s intelligence agency in the country’s northwest on Monday, taking several hostages before police stormed the building and ended the siege. The attack took place in the city of Bannu just outside of the militant stronghold of North Waziristan in the rugged tribal region near the border with Afghanistan. Security forces caught two of the attackers while another was killed by police gunshots and a fourth exploded his suicide vest.

Afghanistan

Two troops with the U.S.-led international military coalition and three Afghan men died Monday in violence in southern Afghanistan. The Afghan men died when their car hit a roadside bomb in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province. The coalition said the two service members were killed in an insurgent attack in the south where Afghan and international troops are trying to retain control of territory they seized during the past two years. So far this year, 237 international service members have been killed in Afghanistan, including at least 168 Americans.

Nigeria

In the past three years, over 1,000 Christians in Nigeria have been brutally murdered by an extremist Islamic group known as Boko Haram and the United States has refused to classify the group as being a terrorist organization. Nigeria’s Christian leaders had asked the United States government to place Boko Haram on the list of terrorist organizations.  The radical Islamic group has vowed to eradicate all Christians from Nigerian soil and will continue to murder men, women and children in the process unless something is done to stop them. Instead of declaring Boko Haram a terrorist organization, the U.S. government only placed three of the group’s leaders on a terrorist blacklist and then said that it was more important to address social inequalities in the country first.  Christian leaders in Nigeria said the actions or perhaps lack of action by the United States has only served to make the group bolder and more aggressive in their pursuit to exterminate the remaining Christians.

  • The pro-Muslim, anti-Judeo/Christian Obama administration apparently condones the murder of Christians

Mexico

A gang of about a dozen armed people stormed into a church youth camp-out near Mexico City and went on an hours-long rampage of beatings, robberies and rape, authorities said Saturday. Seven girls were raped during the Friday attack and several campers were beaten. About 90 youths sponsored by a church group known as the Chains of the Holy Trinity were camping at an eco-park on the eastern outskirts of Mexico City. The office said that the attack lasted for hours, and that when the attackers left they stole two vehicles and other articles from the campers.

Police in Mexico City are reporting they have detained about 120 youths in what appears to have been one of Mexico’s first instances of flash mob violence. Angry youths who couldn’t get in to the Sunday concert promoted on social networks went on a rampage at local subway stations, damaging turnstiles and streetlamps, robbing people and tossing fireworks.

Wildfires

Lightning started 13 wildfires in northern Mohave County, Arizona, last week. The Hobble Complex of multiple fires has burned over 35,000 acres of cheatgrass and pinyon/Juniper. Roads around the complex fire were  closed for safety reasons. The plateau fire had burned 4500 acres of cheatgrass and pinyon/Juniper and was located 30 miles south near Snap Point in the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument. The Hobble Complex fires are now 75% contained due to rain. Most of the wildfires in the west are well contained due to widespread rain over the weekend.

Weather

Dozens of homes were flooded after rains drenched the Houston area this week and caused creeks to flow out of their banks. Cypress Creek was flowing 2 to 3 feet above its banks. Some Houston neighborhoods weren’t flooded but were impossible for residents to get in and out of due to flooded roads. Some areas got up to 10 inches rain in a 24-hour period last week.

One man is dead after trying to escape from a vehicle during a flash flood in Lake Havasu City on Friday night. A 38-year-old man and two other people were in their vehicle when it was caught in a rush of water. The two other occupants made it to safety after getting out of the vehicle, but the man was caught in the rapid flow of water and did not emerge from the water.

At least one person was killed and 10 injured in freak wave of tornadoes that swept norther and western Poland. At least 100 homes were destroyed in Kujawy-Pomorze and Wielkopolska provinces in Sunday’s unsually severe weather. Almost a thousand acres of trees were flattened in Tuchola Forest, a national park.

Most of the quarter-million people forced to flee massive flooding in southwest Japan were able to return home by Monday, but weather officials warned the danger had not fully passed from the record rainfall that left at least 28 people dead over the weekend. Thousands of homes and hundreds of roads were damaged, and hundreds of landslides were reported. The military airlifted food by helicopter to stranded districts.

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