Signs of the Times (10/31/12)

Weather

  • End-time weather will continue to grow increasingly severe (Ezek. 13:11-13, 38:22, Rev. 8:7, 11:19. 16:21)

As of 7:30 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday, just under 6.1 million customers were still without power due to hurricane Sandy. On Tuesday morning, a peak total of over 8 million customers were in the dark. In some regions, power failures were nearly total. Governor Andrew Cuomo said 90% of Long Island families were without power Tuesday. One of New Jersey’s utilities reported 86% of its 1.1 million customers were without power Tuesday morning, and that figure was still 86% early Wednesday. As of late Tuesday evening, the total number of U.S. fatalities blamed on Sandy is 45 in the mainland United States plus one in Puerto Rico. Many of the victims were killed by falling trees.

Very early damage estimates suggest Sandy caused at least $10 to $20 billion in damage, and possibly as much as $50 billion in total damage and lost business. The higher number would make Sandy the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, behind Katrina. Damage ranged from storm surge flooding to direct wind damage to devastating fires fueled by high winds and the difficulties fire departments faced in navigating flooded or blocked roads. Behind the storm, cold air has moved into areas where power is out. Wednesday morning temperatures were in the 30s and 40s across most areas without power. Snow piled up more than two feet high in the central Appalachians.

Some New York City ground transit and airports are coming back to life Wednesday. The city’s massive subway system will stay offline for several more days as workers try to bring the inundated underground network back to life. New York’s bus service will resume a nearly full schedule Wednesday, but it probably won’t accommodate the 5 million commuters who rely on the subway every day. The rail operations center of New Jersey Transit was crippled by 8 feet of water and floodwater damaged at least 65 locomotive engines and 257 rail cars. It will be weeks before service resumes on the New Jersey coastline.

Sandy also killed 69 people in the Caribbean in addition to destroying or badly damaging thousands of homes. While Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas took direct hits from the storm, the majority of deaths and most extensive damage was in impoverished Haiti, where it has rained almost non-stop since last Tuesday. The official death toll in Haiti stood at 44 Saturday, but authorities said that could still rise. The country’s ramshackle housing and denuded hillsides are especially vulnerable to flooding when rains come.

Southeast Asia is dealing with the trail of death and damage from a powerful storm that has killed at least 34 people in the region over the past few days. Tropical Storm Son-Tinh was moving northeast along the northern Vietnamese coast on Monday after tearing the roofs off hundreds of houses and breaching flood defenses overnight in the Philippines. Son-Tinh was at typhoon level when it thumped into northern Vietnam late Sunday with winds as strong as 83 mph. About 19,361 hectares of rice and 70,932 hectares of other crops were submerged by floodwaters. The storm blew off the roofs of 47,400 homes.

CIA Tells Operatives to Stand Down during Embassy Attack

An urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command — who also told the CIA operators twice to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11, Fox News reported Saturday. Later, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied.

  • The handling of this incident is deplorable, from ignoring earlier requests for more security, to denying urgent calls for help, to the subsequent disinformation campaign and attempted coverup

Al-Qaeda leader urges kidnapping of Westerners

The leader of al-Qaeda has urged Muslims to kidnap Westerners to exchange for imprisoned jihadists, including a blind cleric serving a life sentence in the United States for a 1993 plot to blow up New York City landmarks. He said that abducting nationals of “countries waging wars on Muslims” is the only way to free “our captives, and Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman.” In an undated two-hour videotape posted this week on militant forums, the Egyptian-born jihadist Ayman al-Zawahri also urged support for Syria’s uprising and called for the implementation of Islamic Shariah law in Egypt.

3,000 Illegal Immigrants Applying Daily for Deportation Reprieve

More than 3,000 young illegal immigrants are applying daily to take part in the administration’s new deportation reprieve policy. Roughly 200,000 people have applied since the Homeland Security began accepting applications two months ago. The agency began accepting applications after President Obama in June made the policy change by Executive Order. The growing numbers suggest that whether Obama or Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is elected, either will have to further deal with the change. Romney has been critical of the administration’s policy, but has said if he is elected, he would not revoke permits granted under the change. He has also said his immigration reform plan would make deferred action unnecessary.

Gay Marriage Amendment Fight in Minnesota

The two principal campaigns battling over Minnesota’s constitutional amendment to ban same-gender “marriage” have raised more than $16 million combined, with opponents of the ban outraising supporters by nearly two-to-one. Most of Minnesota for Marriage’s haul since October 22 came from the Minnesota Family Council, a socially conservative group that pursues biblical principles in public policy. It contributed $500,000 last week, which was on top of $476,000 in previous donations. Minnesota’s six Catholic dioceses, which previously contributed $950,000 toward the amendment’s passage, gave another $100,000 this week. Grace Church, an evangelical mega-church in Eden Prairie, handed over $50,000. The total haul for the opponents of the marriage ban to more than $11 million since forming in 2011.

Chick-fil-A Thrives in Third Quarter Despite Marriage Controversy

In the months since Chick-fil-A came under fire for its CEO’s support of traditional marriage, the fast food chain has thrived. Consumer use, visits and ad awareness were all up measurably in the third quarter despite gay activists calling for boycotts against the restaurant. According to a report by research specialist Sandelman & Associates, customer traffic was up 2.2 percent, market share was up 0.6 percent, and total ad awareness was up 6.5 percent. Additionally, Chick-fil-A broadened its regular customer base in 28 of 35 media markets. “There was a lot of talk that this would hurt Chick-fil-A, but it actually helped the brand,” said Jeff Davis, president of Sandelman.

Economic News

The housing market picked up more momentum in August, as the average home price for 20 major cities jumped 0.9%, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. The increase marked the fifth consecutive month of gains for the index. Phoenix has roared back the fastest, with a whopping 18.8% year-over-year gain in August. That marks the fourth month in a row of double-digit price hikes. Detroit prices rose 7.6% over the past 12 months and Miami’s grew 6.7%.Among the three cities to have year-over-year losses, Atlanta recorded the biggest decrease in home values, with prices down 6.1%. New York was down 2.3% and Chicago fell 1.6%.

The share of wealth controlled by the top 1 percent of households rose from 20.5 percent in 1979 to 35.4 percent in 2010 — a 50 percent increase. During this time (31 years), real median household income (adjusted for inflation) rose only 7 percent to $50,831, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This represents an annual rise of less than 1/5 of 1 percent. A recent report from the Center for Housing Policy indicates the combined housing and transportation costs for moderate-income households in the 25 largest metropolitan areas rose 75 percent more than income did from 2000 to 2010. Even more striking, these costs represent 59 percent of income on average for each area.

  • The increase in the wealthy and the expansion of the welfare-dependent poor is shrinking the middle class, just as the New World Order desires because they are the ones who are opposing socialism and globalism

During the 2010 tax season, Americans paid 9.9% of their income on state and local taxes. This number, according to a report this week by The Tax Foundation, is up from 9.3% in 2000, but is basically unchanged from 2009. Per-capita income in the U.S. fell from $42,539 in 2009 to $41,146 in 2010, while taxes fell slightly, from $4,160 in 2009 to $4,112 in 2010. Residents in New York paid 12.8% of their income on state and local taxes last year. In Alaska, residents paid just 7% of their income in non-federal taxes.

Ford Motor reported earnings remained steady from a year ago as strong results at home helped balance out the soaring losses in Europe. Ford’s overall net income came in at $1.6 billion, essentially unchanged the same quarter a year earlier. The company lost $468 million in Europe, bringing its losses there so far this year to just over $1 billion. n an effort to stem the losses in Europe Ford announced Tuesday it would close three plants cut 6,200 jobs Europe by 2014.

Chrysler reported third-quarter profits Monday that rose 80% versus a year ago, buoyed by strong sales in U.S. Chrysler’s third-quarter net income hit $381 million, up from $212 million last year, though down versus the first two quarters of this year.

Swiss bank UBS said Tuesday it intends to slash 10,000 jobs as the firm pares back its investment banking arm. The loss of 10,000 bankers represents more than 15% of the bank’s workforce. The layoffs are one of the industry’s largest staff reductions since the financial crisis ripped through Wall Street firms.

The Bank of Japan announced Tuesday that it would expand its asset purchase program by 11 trillion yen in an effort to stimulate its economy. The central bank said it would ramp up its current bond buying program from 80 trillion yen to about 91 trillion yen, a difference of $138 billion.

Unemployment in the eurozone rose in September to a record high of 11.6%, up from 10.3% a year earlier. Unemployment rates within the euro area vary dramatically from one country to the next. Spain, with its sluggish economy, has the highest unemployment rate of 25.8%, followed by Greece at 25.1% and Portugal at 15.7%. On the other side of the spectrum, Austria has the lowest rate at 4.4%, followed by Luxembourg at 5.2%, and Germany and the Netherlands at 5.4%.

Persecution Watch

A Syrian Christian pastor was shot and killed along with his wife and three children by a band of Sunni Muslim militants who stormed into a house church meeting earlier this month, CBN News reports. The Christian Aid director, whose name cannot be released for security reasons, described the martyred pastor, whose name was Sami: “I know he was a Muslim-background believer. He had been in training for a while, and he was given help by Christian Aid Mission. He was a very faithful, godly person that the leadership really trusted in, and they really thought a lot of him.” Thirty-two Christian families associated with Sami are now seeking help to flee Syria. Various mission groups report Syrian Christians are coming under increased attack by armed militants.

At least seven people were killed and dozens were injured in a suicide bombing Sunday (Oct. 28) during Mass at a Catholic church in northern Nigeria, ASSIST News Service reports. An explosive-laden vehicle drove into St. Rita’s Catholic Church in the Malali area of Kaduna. One local hospital said Sunday it was treating 14 wounded, and another hospital was treating 84 victims. According to the BBC, “The vehicle had been stopped at the security gate outside the church. The driver initially reversed, but then careened straight through the church wall and detonated the bomb. Members of the choir are thought to be among the dead and injured.” Kaduna, the dividing line between Nigeria’s majority-Muslim north and majority-Christian south, has been targeted by the Islamic militant sect Boko Haram as the group fights to create an Islamic state and implement sharia (Islamic law). At least 2,800 people have died in fighting since Boko Haram’s insurrection began in 2009.

But Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel asserts that this kneejerk reaction is wrong. “More often than not, what you find are these schools allow people to come to speak to people there and have lunch with those that they know and are associated with. He has every right to be able to be there, just like anyone else.” John and Linda Buchanan, whose daughter attends a middle school in the district, claim the youth pastor’s actions violate the First Amendment. In fact, notes Staver, the school district could actually be the one at fault. “If the pastor is the only one that’s excluded, then the pastor may well have a lawsuit against the school for being singled out and excluded.”

  • The anti-Christ spirit has inflamed many into irrational, demonic bias against all things Christian

Middle East

Palestinian terror militias in the Gaza Strip broke the fragile truce with Israel over the weekend by firing salvos of rockets into Israel, prompting retaliatory air strikes by the IDF. Schools were closed in Beer Sheba on Sunday as Grad rockets landed near the city, and the Islamist terror militia Hamas, which rules the Strip, announced that it had fired mortars at IDF bases near the border. Several small groups, including the Popular Resistance Committees, took credit for rocket barrages on civilian areas. One Hamas operative was reported killed and another wounded by IDF strikes as they were in the process of setting up a rocket to be launched.

The Supreme Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, has called for an end to all negotiations regarding Jerusalem and the beginning of “holy Jihad.” Saying “the Zionists only understand force,” Badie called for all Muslims to fulfill their duty and take up the cause of war for “the recovery of Jerusalem.” The Muslim Brotherhood has taken control of Egypt—Israel’s largest neighbor—and is threatening to void the peace treaty that Menachem Begin signed more than thirty years ago.

  • The Islamic enemies of Israel are fully committed to their purpose—the total destruction of the Jewish state and the Jewish people – treaties and negotiations will not change that objective

Syria

Syrian warplanes bombed a building in a Damascus suburb on Saturday, killing at least eight people in the first airstrike since an internationally mediated cease-fire went into effect, activists said. The attack came a day after car bombs and clashes left 151 dead, according to activist tallies, leaving the four-day truce that began Friday at the start of a major Muslim holiday in tatters.

Indonesia

Indonesia’s anti-terror squad arrested 11 people suspected of planning a range of attacks on domestic and foreign targets including the U.S. Embassy and a site near the Australian Embassy, police said Saturday. The suspects were arrested in raids Friday and Saturday in four provinces. The suspects belonged to a new group called the Harakah Sunni for Indonesian Society, or HASMI. Police seized a number of bombs, explosive materials, a bomb-making manual and ammunition.

Myanmar

The death toll from fighting between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar last week has risen to 84 and at least 22,500 people have been displaced by the sectarian violence. 129 people were also injured during the violence, which erupted on October 21 and has cast a pall over recent reforms in the Asian nation. There has been tension between the Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims since May, when violence began in Rakhine state after three Muslim men were arrested on suspicion of raping and killing a Buddhist woman.

Sudan

Two Iranian warships have docked in Sudan carrying “a message of support and friendship,” Sudanese state media said. The warships arrived less than a week after a weapons factory in Khartoum was bombed, killing two people, in what Sudanese officials said was an airstrike by Israel. The officials also dismissed suggestions that the weapons factory was manufacturing arms for Iran or its allies, denying “any link between the Sudanese military manufacturing output and any external party.” Israel has declined to comment on the attack in the east African country. No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing last Tuesday.

Earthquakes

The U.S. Geological Survey said a 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit in the Queen Charlotte Islands area, followed by a 5.8-magnitude aftershock several minutes later. The quake was felt in Craig and other southeast Alaska communities, but Zidek said there were no immediate reports of damage. A small tsunami created by the magnitude 7.7 quake was barely noticeable in Craig, Alaska, where the first wave or surge was recorded Saturday night. Residents in parts of British Columbia were evacuated but the province appeared to escape the biggest quake in Canada since 1949 largely unscathed.

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