Signs of the Times (9/11/12)

As Time Passes, How Should U.S. Mark 9/11?

For most Americans, today is just another busy Tuesday. There are school lunches to pack, business meetings to attend, sports teams to cheer, an evening out to enjoy. The Sept. 11 attacks still elicit sadness, anxiety and anger for many. But as we enter the 11th year after that tragic day, it begs the question: How will the nation mark the occasion as the horrors of that day fade from our collective memories? In decades to come, will 9/11 anniversaries remain a moment frozen in the nation’s consciousness? Or will they be more like time-softened remembrances of other iconic tragedies in U.S. history: Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941), President John F. Kennedy’s assassination (Nov. 22, 1963) and the space shuttle Challenger explosion (Jan. 28, 1986)?

Media attention to Sept. 11 has already waned. Nearly 70% of Americans say they somewhat or strongly agree with this statement: “I have moved on from (the events of) Sept. 11,” according to a new American Pulse Survey. Half of Americans will observe today in an informal way and 12% will do it in a formal manner, according to the American Pulse Survey. About 30% said they will not do anything different today. Many Americans will mark the events of Sept. 11 by participating in a day of service.

  • Never forget – and always remember that it was Islamist terrorists who perpetrated this attack on the U.S.

World Trade Center Returns to New York Skyline

Eleven years after terrorist attacks destroyed New York’s World Trade Center, the replacement towers are finally taking shape and attracting new tenants — even though most of the site’s buildings are still under construction. The most prominent — the tower known as 1 WTC – is scheduled for completion in 2014, with 90 floors and 3 million square feet. It’s going to be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. 55% of the 3 million square feet has already been leased. The one fully completed building, the 52-story 7 WTC, has leased 100% of its 1.7 million square feet.

God Absent from Obama 9/11 Proclamation

President Obama’s proclamation marking the September 11th terrorist attacks did not include any mention of God. The president also failed to note how Americans sought solace in their religion in the aftermath of the Al-Qaeda attacks. Instead, the president called on Americans to participate in community service to honor those who were lost. “But as we mark the anniversary of September 11, we remember what remains the same: our character as a nation, our faith in one another, and our legacy as a country strengthened by service and selflessness,” the president wrote. He referred to people of all faiths coming together, but didn’t mention God specifically after Democrats loudly protested the inclusion of God in their party platform.

  • Obama only mentions God when its politically necessary and leans more toward the New Age philosophy that all roads/faiths lead to God

Democrats Say We Belong to the Government

WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farar notes “If you want to understand why the Democratic Party represents the gravest threat to America’s freedom, all you really need to know is that the convention planners in Charlotte didn’t see anything wrong with a video shown there Tuesday night in which they declared, ‘Government is the only thing we all belong to.’ This is the philosophy of the Democratic Party. This is the way the hierarchy of the party thinks. Democrats really believe in government – the bigger the better. But, more importantly, they believe the people are subjects of government. The government doesn’t belong to the people, rather we belong to the government.”

  • What ever happened to “by the people for the people” from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address?

Christian Pastor Freed in Iran

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was originally sentenced to death in his native country for his Christian faith, was acquitted of apostasy charges and released from custody. Nadarkhani, 32, was imprisoned for three years and waiting execution for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. His charges were lowered to evangelizing to Muslims, which carried a three-year sentence. He was released with time served, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington-based watchdog group that had been campaigning for the pastor’s release. Nadarkhani’s attorney, who also has been jailed, maintained that the married father of two faced execution because he refused to renounce his religion.

Three States Call for Repeal of DOMA

The Vermont attorney general says the state has joined New York and Connecticut in asking a federal appeals court to repeal the federal law that fails to recognize gay marriage as constitutional. Attorney General William H. Sorrell said in a statement Friday that the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman, has deprived same-sex couples of federal benefits and unfairly discriminates against them. He said the three states filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case pending in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. The states argue that they, not the federal government, regulate marriage and family relationships and that Congress hasn’t the authority to refuse recognition of gay marriage and essentially “unmarry” couples.

  • The gay agenda continues to assault the traditional, Biblical family whenever and wherever it can in one of the strongest end-time markers

Border Patrol Stops Flying Illegal Immigrants to Mexico

The U.S. government has halted flights home for Mexicans caught entering the country illegally in the deadly summer heat of Arizona’s deserts, a money-saving move that ends a seven-year experiment that cost taxpayers nearly $100 million. More than 125,000 passengers were flown deep into Mexico for free since 2004 in an effort that initially met with skepticism from Mexican government officials and migrants, but was gradually embraced as a way to help people back on their feet and save lives. The Border Patrol hailed it as a way to discourage people from trying their luck again, and it appears to have kept many away. But with Border Patrol arrests at 40-year lows and fresh evidence suggesting more people may be heading south of the border than north, officials struggled to fill the planes and found the costs increasingly difficult to justify.

FBI Begins Implementation of $1 Billion Facial Recognition System

The FBI has officially started rolling out a state-of-the-art face recognition project that will assist in their effort to accumulate and archive information about each and every American at a cost of a billion dollars. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reached a milestone in the development of their Next Generation Identification (NGI) program and is now implementing the intelligence database in unidentified locales across the country. The FBI said that the technology could be used for “Identifying subjects in public datasets,” as well as “conducting automated surveillance at lookout locations” and “tracking subject movements,” meaning NGI is more than just a database of mug shots mixed up with fingerprints — the FBI has admitted that their intent with the technology surpasses just searching for criminals but includes spectacular surveillance capabilities.

  • The danger for abuse and loss of privacy is growing exponentially, especially as more domestic drones take to the skies.

Wind Could Power the Whole World

There’s enough energy available in the wind to satisfy the entire world’s energy needs, a new study says. The scientists used a computer weather model to show that there is enough wind to exceed the total demand by several times, even after accounting for reductions in wind speeds caused by the turbines. How many turbines? About 8 million, each operating at a height of 300 feet, would provide more than the world’s total power demands. The authors propose that half would be on land and half on oceans.

Food Banks Running Short of Food

Shoppers are not the only ones feeling the squeeze of rising food prices. Shelves are going bare in food banks and pantries as more market demand for food means the federal government is buying less fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products to give to needy families. As a result, food banks and pantries nationwide say they are giving out less food, even as record numbers of families turn to them for help. Under a program called the Emergency Food Assistance Program, the federal government buys surplus fruit, vegetables and meats and gives the products to food banks as a bonus. Growing populations worldwide have increased demand for food, while drought and severe weather have reduced the supply, leading to higher prices and reduced government purchases.

Tax Hike Cuts Tobacco Consumption

A giant federal tobacco tax hike has spurred a historic drop in smoking, especially among teens, poor people and those dependent on government health insurance, a USA TODAY analysis finds. President Obama signed the tax hike — the biggest to take effect in his first term — on his 16th day in office, reversing two vetoes by President Bush. The federal cigarette tax jumped from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack on April 1, 2009, to finance expanded health care for children. Since then, the change has brought in more than $30 billion in new revenue, tax records show. The tax increase’s size and national reach lifted prices 22% overnight, more than all state and local tax hikes combined over the past decade when adjusted for inflation.

Economic News

For the third time in less than four years, the Federal Reserve this week will likely move to inject a sick economy with a B-12 shot. Many economists say last week’s disappointing report on job growth in August means the Fed will likely announce Thursday that it will buy more Treasury or government-backed mortgage bonds to lower long-term interest rates and stimulate economic activity.

The Commerce Department says the trade deficit widened to $42 billion, 0.2% higher than June’s imbalance of $41.9 billion. Exports fell 1% to $183.3 billion, hurt by weaker sales of autos, telecommunications equipment and heavy machinery. Imports declined 0.8% to $225.3 billion as oil imports fell 6.5%.The deficit with China grew 7.2% in July to $29.4 billion, largest with any single country. The trade deficit acts as a drag on growth because the U.S. is typically spending more on imports while taking in less from the sales of American-made goods.

Growth in China’s factory production slowed to a three-year low in August, suggesting Beijing might need more stimulus to reverse a painful slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy. Growth in industrial production weakened to 8.9% from July’s 9.2%, still much higher than the anemic growth in Europe and the U.S.

More than four years after Royal Dutch Shell paid $2.8 billion to the federal government for petroleum leases in the Chukchi Sea, a company vessel on Sunday morning sent a drill bit into the ocean floor, beginning preliminary work on an exploratory well 70 miles off the northwest coast of Alaska. Federal officials estimate Arctic waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas hold 26 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 130 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The U.S. government is selling more of its shares in insurer American International Group Inc., in a move that should decrease its holdings below a majority stake for the first time since the $182 billion bailout in 2008. AIG said Sunday that the Treasury Department is selling $18 billion worth of its common shares to institutional investors. The sale is the latest step to recoup taxpayer money spent on the largest bailout of the financial crisis.

Middle East

Dozens of Palestinian truck drivers have blocked the main streets of the West Bank city of Ramallah to protest rising prices. Nearby, about two dozen quarry workers also held a demonstration. The Sunday protests were the latest in a series of small but snowballing strikes against the Western-backed Palestinian Authority over rising prices and delayed payment of salaries to more than 150,000 civil servants. The Palestinian Authority, which governs Palestinians in the West Bank, is suffering a budgetary shortfall because the U.S. and Arab countries that sustain it haven’t paid all the aid money that they have promised.

The Jerusalem Prayer Team reports that, “Iran is much closer to having working nuclear weapons than we are being told by the liberal media. They already have enough enriched uranium for at least four “dirty bombs”—low-yield radioactive devices that could contaminate Israel’s major cities and kill thousands. But they are also on the cusp of enriching uranium still further so that a nuclear warhead could be mounted on one of their Shahab-3 missiles and detonated over Israel. The technical work for the triggering and control systems is basically complete. And with Iran’s recently increased centrifuge capacity at its underground Fordow facility, enriching the uranium to the level needed for a warhead could be quickly accomplished.”

With the Jewish High Holy Days coming up…Rosh Hashanah is next weekend…the Israeli defense and intelligence ministries are issuing warnings and alerts due to increasing threats of terrorist attacks both within Israel and around the world. It is known that Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei has issued directives for heightened activity against Israeli and Western targets.

Syria

A car bomb ripped through Syria’s largest city of Aleppo on Sunday, killing at least 17 people and wounding 40 in one of the main battlegrounds of the country’s civil war. Al-Qaida-style bombings have become increasingly common in Syria, and Western officials say there is little doubt that Islamist extremists, some associated with the terror network, have made inroads in the country as instability has spread. But the main fighting force looking to oust President Bashar Assad is the Free Syrian Army, a group made up largely of defected Syrian soldiers.

The U.N. refugee agency says the number of Syrian refugees seeking its help now tops a quarter-million. 253,106 people have registered or are awaiting registration as Syrian refugees. There are 85,197 in Jordan, 78,431 in Turkey, 66,915 in Lebanon and 22,563 in Iraq as of this week. Officials acknowledge, however, the real number of Syrian refugees is likely far higher since tens of thousands are believed to have not yet registered with authorities. Activists say up to 26,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising began in March 2011 against President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Afghanistan

A suicide bomber has blown himself up Saturday near NATO headquarters in Kabul, killing at least 6 people. Five others were wounded. The attack came as Afghans celebrated the 11th anniversary of the death of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the charismatic Northern Alliance commander who was killed in an al-Qaeda suicide bombing two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The alliance joined with the United States to help rout the Taliban after America invaded Afghanistan a month later.

Pakistan

Pakistani security forces pushed Taliban militants who came from Afghanistan back across the border after more than two weeks of fighting in a mountainous tribal region. The government says over 100 people were killed in the offensive. The violence in the northwestern Bajur area highlighted the growing problem of Taliban militants using sanctuaries in Afghanistan to attack Pakistan. Pakistan has called on Afghan and NATO forces to do more to stop militants from crossing into the country. Kabul and the international coalition have acknowledged the problem, but also want Pakistan to do more to stop militants holed up on its territory from launching attacks into Afghanistan.

Iraq

Insurgents killed at least 92 people in a wave of attacks against Iraqi security forces on Sunday, gunning down soldiers at an army post and bombing police recruits waiting in line to apply for jobs. The violence, which struck at least 11 cities and wounded more than 350 people, highlighted militant attempts to sow havoc in the country and undermine the government. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but security forces are a frequent target of al-Qaida’s Iraq branch, which has vowed to reassert itself and take back areas it was forced from before U.S. troops withdrew from the country last year.

Iraqi police say a car bomb has killed eight people and wounded 32 outside a restaurant in the southwestern Baghdad. Authorities said the explosion happened in the mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhood of Baiyaa. It came hours after the Iraqi wing of al-Qaida claimed responsibility for countrywide attacks on Sunday. The militant group warned in a statement of “black days” ahead.

Iran

Iran’s currency hit a record low against the dollar in street trading, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported Sunday. The collapse of the currency is a sign of the effect of Western sanctions. Western countries have imposed economic sanctions because they suspect Iran is aiming to build nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies. On July 1, the European Union banned imports of Iranian oil, and the U.S. tightened sanctions against Iran’s banks. On Friday, Canada cut diplomatic relations with Iran over its nuclear program, support for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and the country’s poor record on human rights.

Volcanoes

The San Cristobal volcano spewed out a column of ash and gas 2½ miles high Saturday, leading Nicaraguan authorities to evacuate about 3,000 people from nine communities around the country’s tallest mountain. Residents reported hearing three powerful explosions in the volcano as the cloud began billowing skyward and ash drifted over nearby villages. The 1,740-meter (5,740-foot) volcano sits 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of Managua, the capital. It has been active since 1520. Nicaragua has been on alert since a strong earthquake shook neighboring Costa Rica on Wednesday and then a swarm of 17 minor tremors were recorded in the area around Lake Managua next to the capital the following day.

Earthquakes

Survivors of a series of earthquakes that killed 81 people and injured more than 800 in a mountainous area of southwestern China were desperately waiting for more aid to arrive Sunday as jolting aftershocks kept fears high and hindered rescue efforts. More than 200,000 residents were evacuated after Friday’s quakes toppled thousands of homes and sent boulders cascading across roads in a region of small farms and mines where some of China’s poorest people live. The first magnitude-5.6 quake struck just before 11:30 a.m. Friday and was followed by an equally strong quake shortly after noon, joined by dozens of aftershocks. Though of moderate strength, the quakes were shallow, which often causes more damage than deeper ones.

Weather

Tropical Storm Leslie’s outer bands buffeted Bermuda with gusty winds and rain Sunday as it slowly edged past the wary British enclave on a path that was expected to take it to Canada’s Newfoundland later in the week. As Leslie gradually spun away from Bermuda into the northern Atlantic, the Bermuda Police Service said there were no reports of any major damage or injuries.

Damaging storms that spawned tornadoes in New York City, darkened tens of thousands of homes in the Washington, D.C., area and flooded New England streets turned a normal day of rest into a day of cleaning up for many East Coast residents on Sunday. No serious injuries were reported when a twister hit a beachfront neighborhood Saturday on the edge of New York City and a second, stronger tornado followed moments later about 10 miles away. Residents got advance notice but still the storm took people by surprise. The unsettled weather, part of a cold front that crossed over the Eastern Seaboard, toppled trees and power lines and damaged buildings as it passed through. Wind gusts reached 70 mph in some places.

Tornado-like funnel clouds were reported in Fairfax County, Va., and in Prince George’s County, Md. One person suffered minor injuries during a partial stage collapse at the Rosslyn Jazz Festival in Arlington County, Va., and six people were evacuated from a Washington apartment building when a tree fell on it. Fairfax County officials reported three home cave-ins because of downed trees, a water rescue in the Potomac River and dozens of electrical wires down.

Four people, including a young child, were killed when strong winds accompanying severe thunderstorms blew through northeastern Oklahoma. Farther east, straight-line winds flipped a semi onto a cement barrier wall, trapping the driver inside for nearly three hours. The storms were part of a storm system and cold front that collided with triple-digit temperatures in much of the state on Friday. Wind gusts topping 70 mph were reported at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme

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