Signs of the Times (10/1/12)

App Makes Children’s Bible Available in Closed Countries

Scandinavia Christian Publishing House has now made 85 children’s Bibles available as apps that can be downloaded and read on iPhones and iPads, with Android and Kindle formats on their way, ASSIST News Service reports. The apps are being sold worldwide, even in closed Muslim and communist countries where the written Bible and other Christian books are not permitted. “We are able to monitor global sales of our apps daily,” said Scandinavia’s Jorgen Vium Olesen. “In just one day, 300 Bibles and biblical books were downloaded in approximately 60 countries. There were 94 books in the USA, 25 in China, 23 in Saudi Arabia, 19 in the United Arab Emirates, nine in Malaysia, seven in Russia and four in Egypt. Some days, up to 52 are downloaded in Saudi Arabia alone. … We continue to see a high number of downloads in China. In Beijing in 2010 we were informed there are no restrictions on digital Bibles and children’s Bibles in China. If this freedom remains, it will provide a great opportunity to legally get Bibles into China using digital means.”

Evangelicals Rally in Philly

Thousands of conservative Christians gathered Saturday on Independence Mall in Philadelphia to pray for the future of the United States in the weeks before the presidential election. Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins topped a full day of speakers at ‘‘The America for Jesus 2012’’ prayer rally. ‘‘I don’t care what the ACLU says or any atheists say. This nation belongs to Jesus, and we’re here today to reclaim his sovereignty,’’ said Robertson, 82, who founded the Christian Coalition and Christian Broadcasting Network. Perkins asked the crowd to pray for elected officials including Obama. ‘‘We pray that his eyes will be open to the truth,’’ Perkins said. Organizers plan another prayer rally Oct. 20 in Washington, D.C., two weeks before President Barack Obama faces Republican Mitt Romney in the presidential election.

Obama/Napolitano Give Deportation Break to Homosexual Illegal Immigrants

The Department of Homeland Security is planning to issue a policy memo stating illegal immigrants with American same-sex partners are eligible for consideration of having their deportation put on hold. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano delivered the news on Thursday in a letter to 84 Democratic lawmakers who had pressed her agency to provide written guidance. The policy expected to go out next week falls under a federal program designed to focus resources away from low-priority deportation cases. Napolitano says the memo to Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices will state that binational same-gender couples in long-term relationships would meet the definition of family that government lawyers can use as grounds for deferring a foreign citizen’s removal from the U.S.

  • Satan’s goal to redefine God’s ordained family structure continues to accelerate with complicity by the Obama administration

Obamacare Hospital Fines Begin

Starting Monday, Medicare will fine hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge due to complications. The penalties are part of a broader push under President Barack Obama’s health care law to improve quality while also trying to cut costs. About two-thirds of the hospitals serving Medicare patients, or some 2,200 facilities, will be hit with penalties averaging around $125,000 per facility this coming year, according to government estimates. It adds up to a new way of doing business for hospitals, and they have scrambled to prepare for well over a year. They are working on ways to improve communication with rehabilitation centers and doctors who follow patients after they’re released, as well as connecting individually with patients. Still, industry officials say they have misgivings about being held liable for circumstances beyond their control. They also complain that facilities serving low-income people, including many major teaching hospitals, are much more likely to be fined, raising questions of fairness.

Economic News

U.S. manufacturing activity grew in September for the first time in four months, according to a closely watched survey of executives. The Institute of Supply Management’s monthly reading came in at 51.5. Any number above 50 indicates growth, and the September reading was the first above 50 since May. The three-month slump followed a string of almost three years of manufacturing growth. Monday’s reading bucked the trend of a slowdown in other major manufacturing centers around the globe.

Activity in China’s factory sector continued to slide last month, bringing more bad news for the country’s political class as they prepare for a once-a-decade leadership transition. The Chinese government said Monday that its official manufacturing index hit 49.8 in September. Any reading below 50 indicates that factory activity is shrinking rather than growing. The fate of manufacturing in China is considered a barometer of the global economy because of the country’s role as a powerhouse exporter.

Middle East

The ASSIST News Service reports that Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood has given King Abdullah II notice that he has until October to bow to their demand to transform the moderate nation into a constitutional monarchy — or face Arab Spring street pressure for his abdication. Middle East sources report that Israeli and Saudi intelligence watchers are becoming increasingly concerned about the approaching climax of the conflict in Amman between Islamists and the throne. For Israel, an upheaval in Jordan “bodes the tightening of the Islamist noose around its borders — Egypt and Libya to the south and Syria to the north, with unpredictable consequences with regard to Jordan’s Palestinian population,” according to DEBKAfile. The Muslim Brotherhood has already set a date for mass demonstrations against the king to start on Oct. 10, and has ordered its members to begin working to mobilize at least 50,000 demonstrators for daily protests until the king bows to their will. Abdullah is reported to soon be meeting with Brotherhood leaders to personally appeal for calm.

Egypt

Coptic Christian families have fled their homes in the town of Rafah in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, fearing for their lives after receiving death threats from suspected Islamic militants, CNSNews.com reports. According to a local priest, Islamic militants dropped leaflets on the doorsteps of shops owned by Copts in Rafah, ordering them to leave town within 48 hours and making an implicit warning of violence if they failed to do so. Two days later, masked militants on a motorcycle opened fire on one of the shops before speeding off. No one was hurt in the shooting. When Christians met Tuesday with the province’s top government official — who was recently appointed by Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi — the governor promised to facilitate the Copts’ move to the nearby city of el-Arish but did not offer to protect the community to ensure that it stayed in Rafah,

Syria

Efforts to draw together the fragmented foes of Syrian President Bashar Assad could lead to direct talks between the leader’s regime and his opponents, a key official said after talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Friday proposed plans to broker discussions for a political transition in Syria — amid the paralysis at the U.N. Security Council which has cast a pall over the annual gathering of world leaders in New York. The U.N. and Arab League joint envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, would need to take the plan forward. Establishing a more coherent opposition is seen as a means of increasing pressure on the Syrian leadership amid Russia and China’s decisions to veto three Western-backed resolutions aimed at forcing Assad to end the violence.

Syrian forces are uprooting thousands of people and then demolishing their homes in part of a flashpoint city that has been the center of an anti-government rebellion, according to residents there. Tanks and bulldozers have been tearing down houses in the Mesha Alarbeen district of the city of Hama, the site of intense fighting during an uprising against the Syrian government. Once again, Hama is a stronghold of anti-government activists who have roiled the country for the past 18 months. The Hama Massacre of 1982 is fresh in the minds of Syrians. Acting under orders from Hafez Assad — the father of the current Syrian president — the Syrian military brutally suppressed a revolt in Hama.

Pakistan

Thousands of members of Pakistan’s radical Islamic groups rallied on Saturday in the southern city of Karachi against the anti-Islam film that has sparked violence across the Muslim world. Chanting “Down with America” and demanding expulsion of the U.S. ambassador, the participants gathered in the heart of the city’s business district, where prominent radical leader Muneebur Rehman demanded stern punishment for the filmmaker. But he asked the protesters to remain peaceful. Protests are dying down in many countries but continue in Pakistan, home to several powerful radical movements. Since 23 people died in Karachi last week during demonstrations against the film, however, marchers appear to have heeded calls by clerics and other public figures to avoid violence.

Afghanistan

An Afghan soldier turned his gun on American troops Saturday at a checkpoint in the country’s east, killing two Americans and at least two fellow members of Afghanistan’s army in a shooting that marked both the continuance of a disturbing trend of insider attacks and the 2,000th U.S. troop death in the long-running war. The string of insider attacks is one of the greatest threats to NATO’s mission in the country, endangering a partnership key to training up Afghan security forces and withdrawing international troops.

A suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan Monday killed 14 people, including three NATO service members and four Afghan police, and wounded 57 others. The bomber targeted a joint patrol of NATO forces and Afghan police, using an explosives-packed motorcycle. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack.

Iraq

A unit of U.S. Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq and more U.S. soldiers may soon be on their way, according to a New York Times report on the impact the civil war in neighboring Syria is having on Iraq’s “fragile society and fledgling democracy.” The Times reports that, “Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions” and that a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers has already been deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

At least 19 people were killed Sunday in a wave of bombings in Iraq, making it the country’s deadliest day in nearly a month. The country’s majority Shiite Muslim community seemed to be the main target of the attacks, with a Shiite shrine among the targets. The blasts seem to be part of a new increase in the level of violence in the country after a period of relative stability. There were seven explosions in and around Baghdad, which killed 14 people. At least 25 other people were wounded in the blasts in the city center, the Baghdad neighborhoods of al-Mashahda and al-Amel, and the nearby city of Taji.

Nigeria

Gunmen detonated a bomb Sunday near an Islamic boarding school in northern Nigeria and later exchanged gunfire with security forces, causing unknown casualties in the region’s latest round of violence. The explosion could have potentially killed more people, but the gunmen ordered the children out of the school before triggering the bomb. Sunday’s attack hit Zaria, a city in the northern reaches of Kaduna state that is the nerve center of Shiite Muslims in a country where Muslims are predominantly Sunni. Following the blast, soldiers and police flooded the area and opened fire on gunmen they suspected of planting the bomb, killing two people.

  • If Islamic extremists can’t kill infidels, they turn on each other

Bangladesh

Crowds of angry Muslims attacked Buddhist shrines and homes, torching some of them Sunday in Bangladesh to protest after a photo of a partially burned Quran was posted on Facebook. The protesters chanted anti-Buddhist slogans, blaming the burning of the Muslim holy book on a Buddhist boy. The boy is tagged in the photo but did not post it himself. The boy’s account has been deleted and police are not naming him. The violence began in Ramu in Cox’s Bazar, a town south of the capital Dhaka on the coast, early Sunday and it spread in the adjacent areas through Sunday evening.

Philippines

Britain, Australia and Canada have joined the United States in warning their citizens of a security threat in the Philippines, particularly in the capital, Manila. Philippine authorities say they have no information of a specific threat against Westerners but are treating the warnings seriously. On Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Manila said “reliable security forces” detected a threat specifically in suburban Pasay City where it maintains a residential facility and a Veterans Affairs office. It urged U.S. citizens to avoid gatherings that may be regarded as “American events.”

Kenya

Al-Shabab rebels pulled out of a key port city in southern Somalia, the group said Saturday, a day after Kenyan troops invaded and marched toward the city center and seaside port that long served as the militants’ key source of funding, officials said. Residents in Kismayo said they woke to find police and government headquarters abandoned by the militants, sparking a looting spree of the government and police headquarters. The Kenyan troops landed by boats in the northern part of Kismayo on Friday and moved toward the port, he said. He said that al-Shabab lost “many, many militants, including some key commanders” during battles on Friday that involved helicopter gunships.

An explosive device set off in a Sunday school class killed one child and seriously wounded three. Sympathizers with the Somali militant group al-Shabab were behind the attack at an Anglican church in Nairobi. Kenya has seen a series of attacks on churches ever since Kenyan forces moved into Somalia to fight al-Shabab last year.

Earthquakes

A minor earthquake measuring a preliminary 3.4 magnitude rattled a suburban community west of Dallas during the night but there were no immediate reports of any damages or injuries. The quake struck at 11:05 p.m. CDT Saturday and was centered about 2 miles north of The Dallas suburb of Irving. The quake lasted several seconds and was strong enough to have been felt near the epicenter and possibly as far as15 or 20 miles away.

Weather

Following on the heels of a deadly 2011, when almost 1,700 tornadoes killed 553 Americans, 2012 has been a remarkably quiet year for tornadoes across the USA. So far this year, about 750 tornadoes have been reported in the USA. At this time last year, about 1,500 had formed. An average year, to date, has about 1,200 tornadoes. Since accurate tornado records began in the 1950s, the year with the fewest tornadoes was 1987, when only 1,013 tornadoes were reported. The same weather pattern that created the devastating drought was a key factor in the quiet tornado year. For much of the year, a large area of high pressure sat over the West Coast and the Rockies, which kept storms from moving into the central USA, the nation’s tornado hotbed.

A tornado has swept through a fair ground in a Spanish town, knocking down a Ferris wheel and injuring 35 people, while the death toll from flooding in the southern part of the country rose to eight. Local media report the fair was closed to the public at the time of a thunderstorm and that all the injured were fair workers. Just inland from the coastal town, three more victims of Friday’s flash floods were found overnight.

A powerful typhoon headed to Tokyo has injured dozens of people, caused blackouts and paralyzed traffic in southern and western Japan. Japan’s Meteorological Agency warned of torrential rain and strong wind gusts, urging residents to stay indoors. The agency said the storm was packing winds of up to 78 miles an hour as it passed the Nagoya area in central Japan. Nagoya authorities issued an evacuation advisory to more than 50,000 residents because of fear of flooding from a swollen river. More than 10,000 people were also evacuated in Ishinomaki, a coastal city in northern Japan that was hit by last year’s tsunami.

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