Signs of the Times (9/25/12)

Gay Marriage Advocates Lose in NY Elections

Last week, the voters in New York State finally got a chance to have their say. Powerful donors tried—and are still trying—to remake the Republican Party in their own image: namely, as pro-gay marriage supporters. The four Republicans who voted for gay marriage were hailed as heroes and showered with accolades—and massive quantities of cold hard cash. They were supposed to sail to victory, thus disproving the “myth” that voters care about marriage. But on Thursday, the voters got their turn, and to the shock and surprise of the pundits and establishment hacks, they tossed out long-term incumbents in both parties who had betrayed their constituents’ values and voted for gay marriage.

France to Ban Words ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ on Official Documents

France is set to ban the words “mother” and “father” from all official documents under new plans to legalize gay marriage and give equal adoption rights to homosexual and heterosexual couples. Under the proposed law, only the word “parents” would be used in marriage ceremonies for all heterosexual and same-sex couples, a move that has outraged Catholics. “This could have innumerable consequences. Afterward they will want to create couples with three or four members. And after that, perhaps one day the taboo of incest will fall,” Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the head of the French Catholic Church, said. The law will be presented to France’s President Francois Hollande’s cabinet for approval on October 31. Hollande has pledged to legalize gay marriage.

  • End-time craziness is soaring to new heights. Unfortunately, this is just the “beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8)

NYC High School Girls to Receive ‘Plan B’

A New York-based family advocate says making emergency contraceptives available free of charge to high school girls in the Big Apple is just another “end-run” around parental rights that ignores spiritual and emotional concerns. Plan B, the “morning-after” pill, can be obtained at 13 high schools without parental consent. The New York City Department of Education says parents can opt their daughters out of the pilot program — but that the program is needed to reduce teen pregnancy and unwanted pregnancies. Jason McGuire of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms tells OneNewsNow it is shocking how the schools are undermining parental rights and responding to promiscuity with contraception.

  • The undermining of the Biblical family unit makes it more and more irrelevant in today’s promiscuous society, just like Satan plans.

Anti-Islam Film Rally in U.S. Urges Peace

Sending a message of peace and unity, hundreds of people rallied Friday afternoon on the steps of Michigan’s largest mosque to protest the anti-Islam film that has sparked violence around the world. Under a banner that read “Repel Evil With Good,” a dozen Muslim and Christian leaders spoke to the crowd at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. They slammed both the controversial film, titled “Innocence of Muslims,” and the extreme response that has erupted around the Muslim world over the past week. The rally was the first anti-film protest in the United States, Muslim leaders said.

Arab Spring Reforms Leave Women Out

Nawal Al Saadawi has been at the lead of the fight for rights for women for decades, and like many here was exhilarated when women and men united in Tahrir Square to lead protests against dictator Hosni Mubarak. But more than a year after Mubarak’s ouster, not much has changed for women, she laments. “Things didn’t improve for women, and we are going backward,” said Nawal, 81, an author and activist. Many activists see a possible rollback of gains for women won over the past decades as Islamists take over the political process. In Egypt, women have been sidelined from power since only men were appointed to draft an interim constitution after the military council took control last year. The 64-seat quota for women’s representation in parliament was abolished.

No ‘Dreamer’ Driver’s Licenses in Arizona

After conducting a review, the Arizona Department of Transportation has concluded that the state will not issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants granted work permits under President Barack Obama’s deferred-action program. The decision is consistent with Gov. Jan Brewer’s Aug. 15 executive order telling state agencies to take steps to make sure undocumented immigrants who receive deferred action on deportation do not get driver’s licenses or public benefits. The decision angered advocates who believe undocumented immigrants granted deferred action should be able to get driver’s licenses. Without them, the immigrants cannot legally drive to work or school. The state may face a lawsuit from civil-rights groups who say preventing undocumented immigrants granted deferred action from getting driver’s licenses violates state law.

Arizona Taxpayers Pay for 53% of Births

Arizona taxpayers foot the bill for the delivery of more than half of all babies born here, a growing trend with a $200 million-plus annual price tag that has caught state leaders off guard — even though the numbers have been rising for more than a decade. The share of births paid for by Medicaid has been rising steadily since 1990. That growth hit a significant milestone in 2003 as it passed 50 percent, meaning that state-funded births outnumbered for the first time the number paid for by parents or their insurance companies. The share has since continued to inch higher. In 2011, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Arizona’s Medicaid program, paid for 53 percent of the state’s 84,979 births, while private insurance paid for 42 percent, according to state statistics. The remainder were paid for by individuals. The rise in Medicaid-covered births is not unique to Arizona. Nationally, state Medicaid programs on average cover about 40 percent of births.

Gas Drilling Protests Held Worldwide

Demonstrators in the United States and other countries protested Saturday against the natural gas drilling process known as fracking that they say threatens public health and the environment. Participants in the “Global Frackdown” campaign gathered in South Africa and France as well as high turnouts in cities in California, Colorado and New York. Other smaller turnouts occurred in many other countries and cities. The immense volumes of natural gas found by fracturing underground shale rock around the country has spurred a boom in natural gas production that has been credited with creating jobs and lowering prices for industry and consumers. But scientists disagree on the risks of hydraulic fracking, a process that injects large volumes of water, sand and chemicals underground to break rock apart and free the gas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and many state regulators say fracking can be done safely, and the American Lung Association says it can help reduce air pollution.

Prescription Drug Use Drops

Prescription drug abuse in the USA declined last year year to the lowest rate since 2002 amid federal and state crackdowns on drug-seeking patients and over-prescribing doctors. Young adults drove the drop. The number of people 18 to 25 who regularly abuse prescription drugs fell 14% to 1.7 million, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported Monday. In 2011, 3.6% of young adults abused pain relievers, the lowest rate in a decade. In 2011, 6.1 million people abused narcotic pain pills, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives, down from 7 million people in 2011, the survey found. Pain pill abuse dropped from 2.1% of the population in 2009 to 1.7% in 2011. Still, the number of people addicted to pain relievers grew from 936,000 in 2002 to 1.4 million in 2011. About a third of the addicts are 18 to 25, the survey found.

Economic News

A recent Tax Foundation study that excluded that group found the percentage of non-taxpayers has risen from 21 percent in 1990 to 42 percent today. The Tax Foundation estimates that the doubling of the non-taxpayer ranks is associated with more than $200 billion in additional entitlement spending. The foundation estimated the cost was $213 billion in 2010, transferred to those 58 million non-taxpayers. Analysts fret that the growing number of people not paying into the system is encouraging greater government bloat.

Home prices kept rising in July across the United States, buoyed by greater sales and fewer foreclosures. National home prices increased 1.2% in July, compared to the same month last year. That’s the second straight year-over-year gain after two years without one. Steady price increases and record-low mortgage rates are helping drive a housing recovery.In the 12 months ending in July, prices have risen in 16 of 20 major cities. In Phoenix, one of the cities hardest hit by the housing bust, prices are up 16.6% in that stretch. Prices in Minneapolis and Detroit have risen more than 6%.

Unemployment rates in August rose in 26 states from July, but most states showed lower rates than a year ago. Nevada continued to lead the country with the highest unemployment rate, 12.1% in August. Rhode Island had the second-highest rate, 10.7%, and California was next at 10.6%.Oil-rich North Dakota had the lowest at 3%.Forty-two states and the District of Columbia had lower unemployment rates in August than in August 2011, seven had higher rates and one had no change.

Several retailers plan to hire more seasonal staffers than last year in preparation for an incoming flurry of holiday shoppers and expected increase in sales, according to merchants: 36% plan to hire more seasonal employees than in 2011; 57% will hire about the same as last year.


European governments are scrambling to shrink yawning budget deficits as the euro crisis has pushed some to the brink of insolvency. Generous public pension systems have become prime targets for trimming and cutting. A majority of countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have ushered in some sort of social security reform in the past five years — mostly by boosting retirement ages. By the year 2050, Italy will usher in a legal retirement age of 69 — a drastic jump from 59 in 2010. Greece has raised its retirement age to 65, after decades of allowing many to retire in their 50s with full benefits. The USA guarantees average workers around 39% of their wages in retirement; in Italy, that number had been nearly 65%, and in Greece, 95%. Those rates have recently been slashed to curtail deficit spending, in which Greece allots 12% of its GDP for pensions, and Italy, more than 14% — the highest rate in the world according to OECD figures. By comparison, the USA spends 4.6% of its GDP on Social Security costs.

Germany’s Ifo index of business confidence fell for a fifth consecutive month, revealing the headwinds faced by even Europe’s biggest and strongest economy. Like the U.S., the concern is that a strong economy that is on the rebound in Germany will be weighed down by the rest of the European Union, half of whose members have already entered into recession. Germany’s economy grew 0.3% in the second quarter from the previous quarter, but a number of economists now believe the country is heading for a recession in the second half of the year.

Middle East

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that Israel would not agree to reevaluate its peace deal with Egypt, days after the latest attack along the shared border killed an Israeli soldier and three gunmen. In a bid to restore security to the increasingly lawless Sinai peninsula, Israel and Egypt have agreed to temporarily waive limits on troops included in the historic 1979 peace deal, allowing Egypt to send heavier weaponry into the vast desert region which borders Israel. But there have been calls in Egypt for more permanent adjustments to the peace accords, a cornerstone of regional stability. “There is no chance that Israel will agree to any kind of change” to the peace deal, Lieberman told Israel Radio.


The growth of Christianity in Afghanistan is causing unrest among Muslim clerics, leading them to call for action against believers, Mission Network News reports. According to a recent report by the Mohabat News Agency, Islamic seminary students and Muslim clerics have “warned the country’s government against the spread of Christianity” and called on President Hamid Karzai to “limit the number of aid workers and Christian missionaries coming to Afghanistan” to keep Afghanis from converting to Christianity. Recent turmoil began after a Kabul-based TV station reported the conversion of several Afghans to Christianity and aired photos of them praying and being baptized. This reportedly sparked anger in the parliament, and some members asked to convict believers under sharia law — which decrees that if someone leaves Islam and converts to another religion, he or she can be executed. The Afghan church is completely underground; the last church building was destroyed two years ago and the small number of known believers risk their lives each time they gather in small house meetings..

  • Unreported by the mainstream media is a surge in Christianity in Muslim nations. Unfortunately, this is also causing a rise in persecution


Several bombs went off Tuesday inside a school in Damascus that activists say was being used by regime forces as a security headquarters. Activists said government forces use the school as a base to fire mortars at rebellious neighborhoods. State-run television quoted the director of the school as saying that two bombs exploded inside in the school, wounding seven people and causing minor damage. It said the bombs were planted by “terrorists” the term that the government uses for rebels. As Syria’s civil war intensifies, rebels have increasingly targeted security sites and symbols of regime power.


Two Libyan protesters were killed and dozens wounded early Saturday as hundreds of demonstrators attacked militia compounds in a surge of anger at armed groups in Benghazi whose unchecked powers led to last week’s killing of the U.S. ambassador. For many Libyans, the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was the last straw in one of the biggest problems Libya has faced since last year’s ouster and death of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi: the multiple mini-armies armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades that are stronger than government security forces. While the late Friday protests were planned in advance though social networking sites and flyers, the storming of the heavily armed militia headquarters took many by surprise. Protesters overtook a building used by Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia, set fire to a vehicle and offices after freeing three detainees held in an underground cell. The group is linked to the killing of U.S. Amb. Chris Stevens. Libyan president orders ‘illegitimate’ militias to disband and evacuate military compounds and state property within 48 hours amid growing public anger at the armed groups and violence in the region.


Witnesses say an explosion has struck near a Catholic church in north Nigeria, a region under attack by a radical Islamist sect. An AP journalist said the blast occurred at St. John’s Catholic Church in the city of Bauchi. The explosion occurred during an early morning Mass. A radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram has attacked churches throughout Nigeria’s north with gunmen and suicide car bombers. The sect is blamed for more than 680 killings this year alone in Nigeria, according to an AP count.


Residents of a rural San Diego County community were waiting anxiously to learn the fate of homes near a destructive 4-square-mile wildfire that has left one man dead. Authorities say the man ignored evacuation orders. Tierra del Sol remained under evacuation orders, though residents of two other small communities were allowed to return home as crews stopped the fire’s march forward. The blaze has been fanned by winds that gusted up to 30 mph, spreading it across more than 2,400 acres of desert brush near the U.S.-Mexico border. Its cause remained under investigation.


An avalanche hit climbers on a high Himalayan peak in Nepal on Sunday, leaving at least nine dead and six others missing, officials said. Many of the climbers were French or German. Ten other climbers survived the avalanche but many were injured and were flown to hospitals by rescue helicopters. Weather conditions were deteriorating and it was not possible to continue air searches of the mountain. The avalanche hit the climbers at a camp at 22,960 feet early in the morning as they were preparing to head toward the summit, which is 26,760 feet high.

U.S. forecasters say hurricane Miriam has strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane well off Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Miriam is packing top sustained winds of 120 mph, making it what’s classified as a major hurricane. The hurricane formed a day earlier in the eastern Pacific and was centered about 410 miles south-southwest of the southern tip of the Baja peninsula. The center says Miriam was moving northwest at 12 mph. No coastal watches or warnings are in effect, but swells will hit Baja’s southern and western shore during the next couple of days.

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