Signs of the Times (10/13/12)

‘Mix It Up’ Day All Mixed Up

On, Tuesday, October 30, over two thousand schools across the nation will be observing “Mix It Up” (MIT) day. MIT is a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools. A strong focus is directed specifically to elementary and junior high grades. MIT is a project of the fanatical pro-homosexual group, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). This is the same organization that launched hateful and malicious rhetoric toward the Family Research Council just prior to the August shooting of a security guard by a SPLC sympathizer. The SPLC is using this project to bully-push its gay agenda, and at the same time, intimidate and silence students who have a Biblical view of homosexuality. The American Family Association is joining other family-oriented groups in urging parents to keep their children at home that day if their local school is sponsoring the “Mix It Up” project.

  • The gay agenda is being force-fed to our children through the public school system. Christians need to resist and/or remove their children from these intolerant secular humanist indoctrination centers.

Christians and Divorce: Busting the Myth

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times: The divorce rate among Christians is basically the same as it is among non-Christians. The problem is, it’s not quite true. As Bradford Wilcox, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and Director of the National Marriage Project found that, active, conservative members of both Protestant and Catholic churches are significantly less likely to divorce — by 35 and 31 percent, respectively — than Americans who are religiously unaffiliated. The numbers often get skewed, says Stanton, because most studies fail to take into account the level of religious commitment and practice among those who identify themselves as Christians. Those who claim to be Christian but rarely darken the door of a church divorce at a rate 20 percent higher than secular Americans.

  • Those who call themselves Christian but are not (a significant proportion) undermine Christianity more than atheists and secular humanists

Refusal to Deport Illegal Aliens Unconstitutional

Two law professors, including one who served in the Bush Justice Department, have published a paper charging that President Obama violated the Constitution with his directive to law enforcement not to deport illegal aliens. Robert Delahunty of the University of St. Thomas [Minnesota] and John Yoo, a law professor at University of California at Berkeley and former U.S. deputy assistant attorney general, blast Obama’s moratorium on deporting certain illegal immigrants. The paper debunks the claim that the president has the Constitutional to not enforce civil laws crafted and passed by Congress. “It’s the duty of the president. He must always uphold the law,” Yoo said.

Obamacare Fueling Shift to Part-Time Workers

In an experiment aimed at keeping down the cost of health-care reform, Orlando-based Darden Restaurants has stopped offering full-time schedules to many hourly workers in at least a few Olive Gardens, Red Lobsters and LongHorn Steakhouses. Darden said staffing changes are “just one of the many things we are evaluating to help us address the cost implications health care reform will have on our business. Analysts say many other companies, including the White Castle hamburger chain, are considering employing fewer full-timers because of key features of the Affordable Care Act scheduled to go into effect in 2014. Under that law, large companies must provide affordable health insurance to employees working an average of at least 30 hours per week.

Germany to Take Custody of Homeschooled Children

A judge in Germany has ordered a couple to turn over custody of their four children to the state because their homeschooling practices fail to meet the government’s demand for “integration.” Judge Markus Malkmus in the German district court in Darmstadt ordered the four children of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich transferred to the state’s “child protective agency,” called the Jugendamt. Germany has a long history of persecuting homeschoolers, dating back to the era of Adolf Hitler, who claimed children for the state.

  • Obama says we all belong to the government

Costly Election Bails out Postal Service

The 2012 election season couldn’t have come at a better time for the U.S. Postal Service. While still low on cash, the postal service has enough to avoid insolvency this month, thanks in large part to the mountains of political junk mail and the influx of Super PACs paying top postage rates. Federal candidates, political parties and special interest groups are mailing out more fliers and postcards via the postal service in 2012 than in previous election cycles. The postal service is on track to surpass an original estimate of $285 million, which includes the haul from local races nationwide. It’s still not enough to save the postal service. But it’s enough to get the agency past an October cash crunch. The USPS has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. A key reason was a 2006 law that required the postal service to make annual payments of about $5.5 billion for 10 years to pay for future retiree health benefits.

Economic News

Claims for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week to their lowest level in more than four years, but the drop was due mostly to a technical issue. About 339,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the week ended October 6, down 30,000 from the previous week. That’s a dramatic drop in just one week and represents the lowest level of initial claim filings since February 2008. Much of the drop last week was caused by an anomaly, a Labor Department analyst told CNNMoney. One state posted am unexpectedly large decline in claims.

The long-battered housing market is finally starting to get back on its feet. Signs of recovery have been evident in the recent increases in home prices, home sales and construction. Foreclosures are also down and the Federal Reserve has acted to push mortgage rates near record lows.

The wave of foreclosures hitting the nation’s housing market has been much less severe than anticipated, with foreclosure filings at their lowest level in five years last month. Foreclosure filings — including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 180,427 properties in September, a 7% decline from August and down more than 16% from a year earlier. That’s the lowest number of filings since September 2007.

The U.S. government sued Wells Fargo over claims that the bank made reckless home mortgage loans for a decade. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Wells Fargo’s “intentional concealment” of bad loan information on some 6,320 risky loans caused the federal government to pay out $190 million on claims for defaulted home mortgages.

JPMorgan Chase reported record profits for the third quarter, with increased revenue in every business line. New mortgages and refinancings were a key driver of overall results, but performance was also strong in commercial lending, investment banking, credit cards and auto loans.

Middle East

The leader of the Shia militant movement Hezbollah in Lebanon said his group is responsible for launching a drone into Israel last week, and that Iranians made the drone. The Israeli air force shot down the unmanned device Saturday over the northern Negev desert. The drone, which was hovering over Gaza and had entered Israeli airspace, wasn’t carrying weapons or explosives. Nasrallah boasted that it wasn’t the first time Hezbollah has sent aerial drones over Israel.

Syria

The joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria was due in Turkey on Saturday for talks aimed at putting a lid on boiling diplomatic tensions between Damascus and Ankara. Lakhdar Brahimi’s visit to Turkey comes amid growing concern that Syria’s civil war could spill over into neighboring countries and destabilize the region. His arrival follows reports that Turkey used F-16 fighter jets to force a Syrian airliner en route from Moscow to Damascus to land in Ankara, where it was searched for weapons. The prime minister has said Turkey confiscated military supplies “traveling from Russia’s agency that exports weapons munitions and military supplies to Syria’s defense ministry.” Russia’s foreign minister said the material seized was radar equipment, not arms. Turkey’s prime minister sharply criticized the U.N. Security Council on Saturday for its failure to agree on decisive steps to end the 19-month civil war in Syria.

Fighters from a shadowy militant group with suspected links to al-Qaida joined Syrian rebels in seizing a government missile defense base Friday in northern Syria, according to activists. It was unclear whether the rebels were able to hold the base after the attack, and analysts questioned whether they would be able to make use of any of the missiles they may have spirited away. Nevertheless, the assault underscored fears of advanced weaponry falling into the hands of extremists playing an increasingly large role in Syria’s civil war.

Libya

The State Department’s top security official in Libya asked for extra security for the consulate in Benghazi in the months before the diplomatic post was overrun in a deadly attack but received no response from superiors, according to documents obtained by CNN. The disclosure comes ahead of a congressional hearing on Wednesday on the armed assault that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on September 11. U.S. intelligence believes the incident was a terrorist act, not a spontaneous protest of an anti-Islam film.

Jordan

The United States military has secretly sent a task force of more than 150 planners and other specialists to Jordan to help the armed forces there handle a flood of Syrian refugees, prepare for the possibility that Syria will lose control of its chemical weapons and be positioned should the turmoil in Syria expand into a wider conflict. American officials familiar with the operation said the mission also includes drawing up plans to try to insulate Jordan, an important American ally in the region, from the upheaval in Syria and to avoid the kind of clashes now occurring along the border of Syria and Turkey.

Pakistan

Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old school girl sought out and shot by the Taliban for blogging against them, was slowly recuperating Wednesday morning from the brazen attack that almost snatched her young life. Pakistan is a country numbed by the depressing regularity of extremist attacks. But the Tuesday morning attack stunned even the weariest. The chief minister of Punjab said he would bear the cost of Malala’s treatment, calling her “the daughter of Pakistan.” On Friday, an international team of neurological specialists said her condition was stable. She’s now breathes on a ventilator and they’re watching her closely. The Taliban is threatening to finish off a 14-year-old Pakistani girl whom it shot for helping other girls go to school — if she survives a wounding that has made her a hero to many Pakistanis.

A suspected U.S. drone strike killed 16 people and wounded six Thursday in one of Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal regions. The attack, which included four missiles, targeted a compound on the border of Orakzai Agency and North Waziristan. The compound belonged to Maulvi Shakirullah, a militant affiliated with the Haqqani network. The network is widely viewed to be fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan. A powerful car bomb went off outside the offices of pro-government tribal elders in northwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least 15 people. At least 30 people were also wounded in the attack in the town of Darra Adam Khel in the troubled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

Mali

The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution that gives regional leaders 45 days to provide specific plans for an international military intervention to oust rebels in northern Mali. The unanimous resolution marks a key step and speeds up preparations for a possible intervention to retake the region from al Qaeda-linked rebels. Mali plunged into chaos in March after a military ruler overthrew the president, shaking one of West Africa’s most stable democracies. The coup leader stepped down in May and transferred power to a civilian transitional government, but ethnic Tuareg rebels and Islamist militants took advantage of the chaos to seize the northern portion of the country. Months later, two groups with ties to al Qaeda toppled the Tuareg movement. The two groups now control two-thirds of northern Mali, an area the size of France.

Weather

A cold Canadian high-pressure system brought some of the chilliest air so far this season to the Northeast on Saturday morning. Record lows were tied or broken in Allentown, Pa. (26 degrees), Buffalo, N.Y. (30 degrees), Burlington, Vt. (26 degrees) Binghamton, N.Y. (26 degrees), Newark, N.J. (34 degrees), Hartford, Conn. (27 degrees) and Bridgeport, Conn. (33 degrees). New York City (38 degrees), Boston (35 degrees) and Philadelphia (37 degrees) all saw temperatures dip into the 30s. Temperatures fell into the teens in Saranac Lake, N.Y.

According to the National Weather Service, Seattle set a new record 80-day dry stretch, with only .07″ of rain from July 21 through October 8, over two and a half months since the last significant rain. Typically, Seattle has more days with precipitation each year than most U.S. cities. But 83% of Seattle’s days with precipitation are light precipitation days (less than 1/2″ total).

It’s been a soggy 2012 in Miami. And there’s a good chance it will become the city’s wettest year on record. Through Oct. 7, Miami International Airport, has recorded 83.14 inches of rain so far in 2012. That’s the wettest year to date on record, and just over six inches shy of the all-time record for an entire calendar year at that location.

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