Signs of the Times (9/28/12)

Students Around the World Gathered for ‘See You at the Pole 2012’

More than three million students from at least 20 countries gathered on school grounds Wednesday morning for “See You at the Pole 2012,” the annual global day of student prayer, OneNewsNow.com reports. It was the 22nd anniversary of See You at the Pole, which is held on the fourth Wednesday of every September and is student-initiated, student-organized and student-led. Students from elementary school to college meet at their campus flagpoles before school to pray for their friends, families, teachers, school and nation. The theme for this year’s event was “Awaken,” taken from the prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21. According to Caleb Stanley, a high school senior and president of the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter in Oxford, Miss., “They try so hard to take prayer and take God out of school, and it’s just awesome to see all these students come together and … say, ‘No — we’re going to be close to God, and there’s nothing you can do about it to stop us.'”

  • The mainstream media continues to under-report or ignore altogether those who support Christian values

Obama Thanks Abortion Provider Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards recently provided another indication of President Barack Obama’s connection to the country’s leading abortion provider, according to Baptist Press. In a Sept. 10 tweet, Richards said: “Yesterday @BarackObama called to thank PP for all we’re doing. He knows how important this election is for @PPFAQ patients. Let’s win this!” Richards was one of 25 speakers at this month’s Democratic National Convention who spoke in support of abortion rights, and the Obama re-election campaign has referred to abortion in its TV ads more than any other major presidential candidate in history. Affiliates of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) reported performing 329,445 abortions in 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available, and received $487.4 million in government grants, contracts and reimbursements in 2009-10.

  • The blood on Obama’s and Planned Parenthood’s ‘hands’ assures that the curse of murder will continue to undermine the once great future of the USA

Anti-Islam Film Protests Dwindling

Islamic protesters have pushed barricades and confronted police in front of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok during a rally against a video produced in the United States that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad. About 300 police officers were maintaining order Thursday as around 200 men and boys rallied. The protest was organized by a group called the Muslim Group for Peace. It was the second time in less than two weeks that Muslims had gathered at the embassy to rally against the film, which has sparked demonstrations in many Muslim countries. Protesters said they want the U.S. government to punish the filmmaker.

Anti-Islamic Filmmaker Arrested for Probation Violation

The man identified as the producer of an Internet film that sparked violent protests across the Muslim world has been arrested in Los Angeles for violating probation for a 2010 bank fraud conviction. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was ordered not to own or use devices with access to the Web without approval from his probation officer, and any approved computers were to be used for work only. There were also restrictions placed on him in enlisting others to get on the Internet for him. Nakoula may have violated those terms after the film trailer was loaded onto YouTube. Nakoula had been arrested in 2009 after federal agents searched his home in Cerritos, Calif., on suspicion that he had engaged in a scheme to create fake identities and open credit cards in those names, then draw tens of thousands of dollars from the phony accounts.

Liberal Pastors Attack Hobby Lobby

A coalition of liberal Christian pastors and groups has come out against Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit challenging federal health care guidelines that require companies to provide insurance that covers the “morning-after” pill. The Rev. Lance Schmitz says more than 80,000 people signed petitions opposing the Oklahoma-based arts and crafts chain’s lawsuit. Hobby Lobby, which operates more than 500 stores in 41 states, says providing coverage for the morning-after pill violates its Christian owners’ “deeply held religious beliefs.” The petitions say Hobby Lobby’s owners shouldn’t use their beliefs to deny women access to birth control. The company says it has no objection to preventive contraceptives.

  • Liberal pastors who compromise or ignore Scripture are a bigger threat to Christianity than atheists and secular humanists

Student Debt Hits Record High

Even as the nation’s households have reduced their total debt in recent years, the proportion that owes student loans has increased sharply, an analysis of the latest available Federal Reserve data shows. With college enrollment growing, student debt has stretched to a record number of U.S. households — nearly 1 in 5 — with the biggest burdens falling on the young and poor. The analysis by the Pew Research Center found that 22.4 million households, or 19 percent, had college debt in 2010. That is double the share in 1989, and up from 15 percent in 2007. The increase was driven by higher tuition costs as well as rising college enrollment during the economic downturn. The biggest jumps occurred in households at the two extremes of the income distribution. More well-off families are digging deeper into their pockets to pay for costly private colleges, while lower-income people in search of higher-wage jobs are enrolling in community colleges, public universities and other schools as a way to boost their resumes.

QE3 Not Enough for Wall Street Addicts

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was hoping that QE3 (the third round of Quantitative Easing) would satisfy the wolves on Wall Street for a while. His promise to recklessly print 40 billion dollars a month and use it to buy mortgage-backed securities is being called “QEInfinity” by detractors. During QE3, nearly half a trillion dollars a year will be added to the financial system until the Fed decides that it is time to stop. This is so crazy that even former Federal Reserve officials are speaking out against it. For example, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker says that QE3 is the “most extreme easing of monetary policy” that he could ever remember. But the big Wall Street banks are never going to be satisfied. One equity strategist at Morgan Stanley says that he would not be “surprised” if the Federal Reserve announced another new round of money printing by the end of the year.

  • This is what happens when the financial system becomes addicted to easy money.

Economic News

The economy grew at an even more sluggish pace last quarter than previously believed as a severe drought slashed farm production in the Midwest. The economy’s GDP, the broadest measure of its health, grew at an annual rate of 1.3%, revised down from an earlier estimate of a 1.7% annual pace, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

An even bigger surprise on the economic front Thursday was a report showing that orders for long-lasting durable goods plunged to its lowest level since January 2009, when the economy was in recession. Durable goods orders dropped 13.2% in August, Commerce said, after rising 3.3% in July. Most of the huge decline was due to a 101% drop in aircraft orders. Economists tend to pay more attention to core capital goods, which signal investment plans. Those orders rose 1.1%, the first increase since May, although it follows steep declines in the previous two months.

Consumer spending rose 0.5% in August — the biggest jump since February. But the Commerce Department said most of the increase went for higher gas prices. That meant less growth elsewhere for strained household budgets. Spending on items expected to last at least three years like appliances and automobiles, rose 0.3%. And incomes rose just 0.1%, reflecting weak job growth.

As the housing market climbs out of the cellar, home improvement sales are through the roof. Online purchases of home-related goods took priority over back-to-school-spending for families this summer. It’s a trend that’s also driving sales in brick-and-mortar home improvement stores from mom-and-pop hardware shops to Home Depot, which hammered out its highest quarterly earnings report last month in five years at $1.5 billion. The home-related sales stand out in an otherwise underwhelming shopping season.

Bank of America announced on Friday that it would pay $2.43 billion to settle a class action lawsuit related to its acquisition of Merrill Lynch, as the legal woes continue for the financial institution. In 2009, shareholders accused Bank of America of making false and misleading statements about the health of the two companies. In part, the plaintiffs accused Bank of America of hiding a major loss at Merrill Lynch just shortly before shareholders were set to vote on the deal. While Bank of America denied the allegation, it said it decided to settle to put the litigation to rest.

  • Chicanery in the financial sector is an ongoing problem grounded in greed and materialism, the false gods of the 21st century

UN Planning New Global Taxes

The United Nations is at it again:  finding new and “innovative” ways to create global taxes that would transfer hundreds of billions, and even trillions, of dollars from the rich nations of the world — especially the U.S. — to poorer ones, in line with U.N.-directed economic, social and environmental development. A 1 percent tax on billionaires around the world.  A tax on all currency trading in the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound sterling.   Another  “tiny”  tax on all financial transactions, including stock and bond trading, and trading in financial derivatives.  New taxes on carbon emissions and on airline tickets.  A royalty on all undersea mineral resources extracted more than 100 miles offshore of any nation’s territory. These latest global tax proposals have received various forms of endorsement at U.N. meetings over the spring and summer, and will be entered into the record during the 67th  U.N. General Assembly session, which began this week.

  • The steady march toward globalization and the one-world government prophesied in Revelation 13 continues, slowly but surely

Eurozone

The Spanish government and a ruling coalition in Greece met Thursday to move quickly on approval of new austerity measures amid mounting pressures to be more aggressive in addressing a crippling debt crisis in both nations. The two eurozone nations have few options: In order to get more financial aid from the European Central Bank, they must meet stringent austerity measure criteria. In Athens on Thursday, after weeks of fruitless efforts, the heads of the three parties in Greece’s governing coalition have struck a basic deal on a new round of harsh austerity measures required for the country to continue getting vital rescue loans, officials said Thursday. Greece has been in recession for five years.

In Madrid, the Spanish government announced the severest austerity cuts in the country’s history as it approved measures and reforms aimed at creating budget savings of $51 billion to get the country back on firm financial footing. Spanish officials announced the approval Thursday of the 2013 budget, agreeing to a freeze on public sector wages as well as cuts of an average of 8.9% in spending for government ministries, Officials also said they would raise pensions by 1% and planned to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 by the end of the year.

Thousands of angry Greek and Spanish voters outraged by another round of budget cuts took to the streets of Athens and Madrid on Wednesday, demanding their governments slow down budget cuts aimed at avoiding bankruptcy. In Athens, what started as peaceful protests by tens of thousands of strikers ended up with demonstrators throwing gas bombs and bottles at police officers. In Greece, the unrest disrupted flights and closed schools. Hospitals operated with just emergency staff. The budget cuts are an attempt to meet austerity targets demanded by the eurozone, the 17 nations that use the euro as currency, in return for financial assistance.

Middle East

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Thursday that Iran will have enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb by next summer and urged the world to draw a clear “red line” to stop it in its tracks. He said Iran already had completed the first stage of uranium enrichment, and then he drew his own red line on the diagram to highlight the point of no return — the completion of the second stage and 90 percent enrichment. “Iran is 70 percent of the way there and … well into the second stage. By next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage,” Netanyahu said. “From there it is only a few more weeks before they have enriched enough for a bomb.”

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called once again for the end of Israel as he addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, CBN News reports. U.N. schedulers chose Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, to hear from Ahmadinejad, who stepped to the podium as Israeli Jews were preparing to wind up 24 hours of fasting and prayers. With U.S., Canadian and Israeli representatives boycotting his speech, Ahmadinejad said his country was threatened by “uncivilized Zionists … and the self-proclaimed centers of power who have entrusted themselves to the devil … are responsible for poverty, corruption, ignorance and oppression and discrimination in every corner of the world.”

  • How is it that the world gives a forum to a blood-thirsty terrorist who advocates genocide?

A few years back, Hal Lindsey, the best-selling non-fiction writer, wrote that “Palestinians” are not “a homogeneous people, but rather a mixed conglomerate.” Now Fathi Hammad, minister of the interior and national security for Hamas, a recognized terror group, has admitted as much, confirming that “half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudis.” The admission came in a video clip captured by the Middle East Media Research Institute of Hammad making a speech advocating for Arabs to give more to the people living in the West Bank and Gaza.

  • The notion that so-called Palestinians are an ethnic or national group is rooted in propaganda, not fact..

Syria

Two massive explosions rocked the heart of the Syrian capital on Wednesday, striking near the army and air force command headquarters and sending huge columns of thick black smoke over Damascus. The bombings were the latest to hit the city as the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime intensifies, highlighting the increasingly deep reach of the rebels determined to topple him. There were no casualties reported.

Activists say Syrian troops and rebels are fighting some of the fiercest battles of this civil war in the northern city of Aleppo. The clashes Friday are part of a new push by the rebels to drive regime forces out of Syria’s largest city and commercial capital after weeks of stalemate. The major rebel group in the city — the Tawhid Brigade — says on its Facebook page that its members have entered the Sheikh Maksoud neighborhood to fight pro-government Kurdish gunmen. Aleppo was once a bastion of support for President Bashar Assad.

Iraq

Officials say a prison break in central Iraq has killed 10 guards and two inmates and that many prisoners, including suspected al-Qaeda fighters, escaped after hours-long clashes with security troops inside the facility. Several convicts broke into a prison storeroom in Tikrit late on Thursday night, seized weapons and overpowered prison guards. Scores of prisoners had escaped by Friday morning when security troops regained control of the prison. Tikrit is 80 miles north of Baghdad. Prison breaks are common in Iraq and are a big embarrassment to the country’s Shiite-led government.

Somalia

Kenyan military forces made a pre-dawn beach landing on the last port city held by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia in an attack that could see the insurgents lose their last stronghold of value. Kenyan military spokesmen quickly claimed victory early Friday, saying their troops now control the city of Kismayo. Col. Cyrus Oguna, the military’s top spokesman, said the surprise attack met minimal resistance. Residents in Kismayo contacted by The Associated Press said that Kenyan troops had taken control of the port but not the whole city.

Earthquakes

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake rattled the southern part of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula Tuesday and was felt strongly in the city of La Paz.State civil defense director Carlos Rincon said there were no immediate reports of damages or injuries in La Paz, a tranquil fishing and resort city. About twenty minutes later, a 4.6-magnitude aftershock occurred about 24 miles north of La Paz. That quake was also centered in the Gulf of California.

Giant earthquakes that rocked the Indian Ocean in April had global effects, triggering sizable quakes off the Oregon and Mexican coasts and elsewhere, geologists reported Wednesday. The undersea quakes on April 11, which measured magnitude 8.6 and 8.2, struck about 300 miles southwest of Indonesia’s Aceh province. The larger quake was among the 20 most powerful recorded in the past century. The Indonesia quakes were so-called slip-strike quakes in which portions of the Earth’s crust slide sideways against each other. The unusual sideways motion of the quakes April 11 prevented them from raising large tsunami waves but appears to have more efficiently sent the “ground waves” they created traveling worldwide.

Weather

The nation’s worst drought in decades consumed a larger portion of the lower 48 states last week. The U.S. Drought Monitor’s new map shows 65.5 percent of the contiguous U.S. experiencing some form of drought as of Tuesday. The portion of the U.S. in extreme or exceptional drought – the two worst classifications – rose three-quarters of a percentage point to 21.5 percent. About 51 percent of the U.S. corn crop is classified as being in poor or very poor shape. Almost 34 percent of the U.S. soybean crop is considered poor or very poor.

An updated ground and aerial survey indicates about 301 million trees have died in rural Texas because of the 2011 drought. The 301 million figure does not include trees that died in cities and towns. Experts earlier this year determined another 5.6 million trees in urban areas died as a result of the devastating drought. The three-month extended review used ground inspections and before-and-after satellite images. The findings represent trees in rural, forested areas that died from drought, insect infestation or disease due to drought stress.

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