Signs of the Times (3/8/13)

Arkansas Lawmakers Pass Nation’s Toughest Abortion Bill

Overriding a veto by Arkansas’ Democratic governor, the state’s Republican-controlled House and Senate approved a bill to ban abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, the most restrictive such law in the country. The Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU of Arkansas promised to mount a legal challenge in federal court, while supporters said they were prepared to fight back. Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed the bill Monday, saying it “blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution.” Called the “Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act,” the bill requires testing to determine “whether the fetus that the pregnant woman is carrying possesses a detectible heartbeat.”

CDC Sounds Alarm on Deadly, Untreatable Superbugs

Health officials are raising concerns that it may soon be too late to stop superbugs. A family of “nightmare” superbugs — untreatable and often deadly — is spreading through hospitals across the USA, and doctors fear that it may soon be too late to stop them, senior health officials said Tuesday. “These are nightmare bacteria that present a triple threat,” said Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “They’re resistant to nearly all antibiotics. They have high mortality rates, killing half of people with serious infections. And they can spread their resistance to other bacteria.” So far, this particular class of superbug, called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, has been found only in hospitals or nursing homes, rather than in the community, Frieden said. But officials sounded the alarm partly because, if the bacteria’s spread isn’t contained soon, even common infections could become untreatable. Fortunately, CRE doesn’t spread easily from person to person.

These superbugs are “the biggest threat to patient safety in the hospital that we have,” said Costi Sifri, an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at the University of Virginia Health System. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like anything is slowing their spread.” In 2001, only 1.2% of the common family of bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae, were resistant to carbapenem antibiotics — the strongest class available. By 2011, that figure had jumped to 4.2%.CRE infections already are endemic in several U.S. population centers, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, which account for hundreds of confirmed cases. Smaller pockets of cases have been reported across much of the country, including Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina.

  • Pestilence is a major component of end-time plagues to come: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:7)

Health Care Spending Slows

Health care spending last year rose at one of the lowest rates in a half-century, partly the result of cost-saving measures put in place by the 2009 health care law, a USA TODAY analysis finds. Spending for medical care has increased modestly for five consecutive years, the longest period of slow growth since Medicare began in 1966. This respite comes just before a massive expansion of health insurance starts Jan. 1, 2014. Another 21 million people will get insurance, adding about $100 billion a year to total health care spending in 2014, according to the government’s actuary. Health care spending hit a record $2.67 trillion last year, but its share of the overall economy shrank, from 17.12% of gross domestic product in 2011 to 17.04%,

In 2012, the average price paid for medical care — a doctor’s visit, an operation, a pair of glasses — rose at about the same rate as other prices in the economy, an inflation rate of less than 2%.Total health care spending still rose 1.7 percentage points faster than inflation in 2012 because of an increased use of medical services, such as hospitals, home health care and drugs. However, even this extra demand for care was modest compared with past years, especially for an aging population.

  • Just when health care spending gets under control along comes Obamacare, a socialist welfare system that will add further spending and debt to an already overloaded economy

Drone Strike in U.S. “Possible”

Attorney General Eric Holder is not entirely ruling out a scenario under which a drone strike would be ordered against Americans on U.S. soil, but says he could only see it being considered in an extraordinary circumstance. Holder said a potential scenario might involve a president ordering such action “to protect the homeland” in a case like the 2001 al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington or the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. But he said the administration rejects the use of military force where law enforcement authorities provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat.

  • When the government says something is “possible” it almost always paves the way for its eventuality. Suppressing dissent will be a hallmark of the run-up to the Tribulation

Privacy Advocates Petition to Shut Down Drones

A privacy organization is warning that just about anyone in the United States could be monitored by a drone run by the Customs and Border Protection Agency in violation of privacy standards, and it has launched a petition to have the government shut down its operations until reasonable rules are adopted to provide guidance. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has created an online petition to David V. Aguilar, deputy commissioner of the CBP in Washington, asking to have the controversial drone program suspended pending the development of privacy regulations for drones used in U.S. airspace. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has customized its Predator drones, originally built for overseas military operations, to carry out at-home surveillance tasks such as identifying civilians carrying guns and tracking their cell phones, government documents show.

DHS Purchases 2,700 Light-Armored Tanks for Homeland Use

In addition to the 1.6 billion bullets stockpiled by the Dept. of Homeland Security, DHS (through the U.S. Army Forces Command) has also recently retrofitted 2,717 of ‘Mine Resistant Protected’ vehicles for service on the streets of the United States. DHS even released a video on their newly purchased MRAPs. These are light-armored tanks. What possible use would they have within America? Quelling dissent and preparing for the implementation of martial law in days to come, say many whistle-blowers.

Huge burden on caregivers of military wounded

More than 1.1 million Americans are caring in their homes for relatives wounded or emotionally damaged in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to a RAND study made public Thursday. Some work 80 hours a week assisting their loved ones with bathing, dressing, eating, using the toilet, making medical appointments, managing finances or struggling through emotional difficulties. Researchers estimate that 800,000 servicemembers who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11 have suffered wounds, illnesses and injuries — the majority stricken with traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. In an aging American society, family caregivers have become a broader societal issue.

Chicago Board of Education OKs Kindergarten Sex Ed

The Chicago Public Schools district plans to start teaching children sex education in kindergarten, CBN News reports. Its Board of Education passed the new policy Wednesday, which mandates that teachers spend a set amount of time on sex education lessons at every grade level. Across the country, most public schools begin teaching sex ed in fifth grade, but under Chicago’s new policy, kindergartners will learn about basic anatomy, reproduction, healthy relationships and personal safety. “It is important that we provide students of all ages with accurate and appropriate information so they can make healthy choices in regards to their social interactions, behaviors and relationships,” said Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools system, which is the third-largest in the country. “By implementing a new sexual health education policy, we will be helping them to build a foundation of knowledge that can guide them not just in the preadolescent and adolescent years, but throughout their lives.” Parents will be able to opt their children out of the program.

  • The New World Order continues to promote unrestricted sex as the foundation to undermining God’s ordained family structure. Indoctrinating kindergarteners is beyond contemptible.

Marital Cheating Increases Dramatically in 15 Years

Last year, researchers at the University of Washington Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors who analyzed data on infidelity taken from the General Social Survey found that roughly 20 percent of men and 15 percent of women under age 35 admitted to cheating on their spouses in 2006 (the latest figures available), up from 15 and 12 percent, respectively, 15 years earlier, Fox News reports. According to David Popenoe, founder and co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, part of the problem “is that we’ve become an ‘anything-goes’ society, in which the indiscretions of politicians, sports figures, and pop celebrities are practically daily news.” Interestingly, research shows that infidelity rates are much higher among cohabiting couples — which are at an all-time high — than married couples who don’t live together first. Additionally, the study found that men under age 35 were two and a quarter times more likely to have cheated if they had seen an X-rated movie.

  • Whether its gay marriage, transgender rights or adultery, sex is one of Satan’s primary tools to break down Biblical principles as the basis for social order

Muslim’s Claim: ‘We are Above the Law of the Land’

A Council on American-Islamic Relations leader told a crowd at a rally for Islam that members of the faith should not be bound by American law. “If we are practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land,” said Mustafa Carroll, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth CAIR branch. The rally in Austin, Texas was part of a nationwide effort to hold “Muslim Capitol Day” events. According to the event website, Muslims from around Texas went to the capitol to “promote civic and political activism throughout the wider Muslim community.”

  • Implementing Islamic Shariah law is the ultimate goal of Muslims throughout the Western world

Credit Checks Hindering Unemployed

Employer credit checks are preventing the nation’s hardest hit job seekers from entering the workforce, a new study shows. One in four unemployed Americans have been required to go through a credit check when applying for a job, and one in ten have been denied jobs due to information in their credit report. While people tend to think credit checks are only conducted for senior level positions, the study found they are often used for entry-level, low-paying positions as well. Bad credit is often a result of unemployment and the loss of health insurance, which makes it difficult for people to keep up with the bills.

Economic News

The American economy added 236,000 jobs in February as the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest level in more than four years, the Labor Department reported Friday. After peaking at 10 percent in October 2009, the unemployment rate fell steadily for three years but had been stuck at just below 8 percent since last September. It was 7.9 percent in January.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 340,000 last week, driving the four-week average to its lowest level in five years. The Labor Department says applications fell 7,000 in the week ended March 2. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped 7,000 to 348,750.

The trade deficit in the U.S. widened more than forecast in January as demand for imported crude oil rebounded. The gap grew by 16.5 percent to $44.4 billion from $38.1 billion in December that was the smallest in three years. Sustained spending gains by U.S. consumers and businesses will probably keep driving up imports this year even as oil costs moderate.

It took 5½ years, but the Dow on Tuesday finally crossed over its record closing high of 14,164.53 set in October of 2007. The Dow, which closed Tuesday at a new all-time peak of 14,253.77, is just the latest in a long list of popular stock indexes that have made fresh all-time highs. After reaching a record high Tuesday, the Dow gained more ground Wednesday, rising another 0.3% to end at a new high of 14,296.39.

Surging stock prices and steady home-price increases have finally allowed Americans to regain the $16 trillion in wealth they lost to the Great Recession. The gains are helping support the economy and could lead to further spending and growth. The regained wealth — most of it from higher stock prices — has been flowing mainly to richer Americans. By contrast, middle class wealth is mostly in the form of home equity, which has risen much less.

Home prices jumped 9.7% in January from a year before and are on track for similar increases for February, market watcher CoreLogic says. The gain marks the biggest year-over-year increase in almost seven years and the 11th consecutive monthly increase. Only Delaware and Illinois experienced year-over-year price declines, down 0.1% and 0.4%, respectively.

Gas prices fell last week for the first time since December. The price of a gallon of self-serve regular averaged $3.759 across the nation, down a scant 2.5 cents from $3.784 last week. Oil prices declined below $90 a barrel this week.

Persecution Watch

Sudan’s president has pledged to preserve religious freedom in his proposed “100-percent” Islamic constitution, but Christians doubt the prospect in light of increasing persecution, Christianity Today reports. A government-led crackdown is forcing Christians to flee south into the Nuba Mountains, a region that borders the newly established nation of South Sudan, and ethnic Nuba Christians believe Sudan’s central government is attempting to eradicate Christianity from the region. Though the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has denied that it is discriminating against Christians, many recent reports have documented increasing attacks.

Officials at Florida’s Rollins College ordered a group of students to shut down a Bible study they were holding in the privacy of a dorm room — saying it violated the rules. The incident occurred in the midst of a campus battle over whether religious groups that require their leaders to follow specific religious beliefs are violating the school’s nondiscrimination policy. Four students affiliated with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship were holding an informal Bible study in the common area of a dorm suite when a resident hall assistant entered the room and asked the student leading the study to step outside. “He was told they were no longer allowed inside the dorm — even with the express consent of the students to do Bible studies,” said Greg Jao, InterVarsity’s national field director.

  • It is anti-Christian policies that are intolerant, bordering on ‘hate crimes’

Middle East

Mike Evans of the Jerusalem Prayer Team writes, “In a few days, President Obama will be going to Israel. This is his first trip to the Jewish state since he became president, and he is going with an urgent agenda—to divide the Holy City of Jerusalem and rush the creation of a Palestinian state with much of Jerusalem as its capital. He is hoping this will be the great international legacy of his second term in office. There is no doubt in my mind that if this plan succeeds, God will judge America in a way we have never seen in our history. Our nation is in the process of touching God’s prophecy and that is a very dangerous thing. The outcome of this plan does not just threaten Israel’s future, but that of America and every other nation that supports it as well. God will not allow us to contradict His Word in such an open and blatant way.”

Scientists estimate there are as many as thirty million locusts in the massive swarm that has ravaged crops in Egypt. Israel’s Agriculture Department is working to prepare a response, as the locust swarm is likely to move in Israel’s direction. Evans writes, “Pray for Israel—the locusts are coming! I’m sure you’ve heard about the new Bible mini-series being shown on the History Channel. The first program showed the plague of locusts striking Egypt during the days of Moses. Well, it is happening in real life…and Israel is in the crosshairs. Just as in Biblical times, the plague of locusts arrived shortly before Passover,” which commemorates events in ancient times including a “plague of locusts” in Pharoanic Egypt during the time of the Hebrew enslavement there.

  • The Bible mini-series broke all viewing records on the History Channel this past Sunday for its initial episode which continue this coming Sunday evening.

Eurozone

President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy is considering appointing a new technocrat government led by a non-politician as one way out of Italy’s political stalemate, Italian officials said this week. With no party able to control the upper house, the options for putting together a government depend on an agreement between at least two of the three main rival forces in parliament. Vito Crimi, newly appointed leader of the 5-Star Movement in the Senate, said the movement would not support a technocrat government. Italians may have had their fill of Technocracy when former President Mario Monti (a member of the Trilateral Commission) was appointed – not elected – to fix Italy’s economic problems. The first thing that Monti did was to appoint a 100 per­cent technocratic cabinet that included no politicians.

  • Technocracy is a New World Order objective to establish technology as the basis for governmental policies

Syria

The number of Syrians who have fled their war-ravaged country and are seeking assistance has now topped the 1 million mark, the U.N. refugee agency said Wednesday, warning that Syria is heading towards a “full-scale disaster.” The announcement came as troops and rebels fought street battles in Syria’s strategic northern city of Raqqa, and regime forces sent reinforcements in an attempt to push out opposition gunmen who now control most of the city. Syria’s two-year crisis has killed tens of thousands, left many more wounded and also internally displaced more than 2 million people.

Some 48 Syrians, most of them soldiers, and nine Iraqi soldiers were killed Monday in an attack near the western Iraqi town of Ar Rutbah, an official said, raising concerns that Syria’s civil war could spill over into Iraq. The Syrian soldiers’ convoy was ambushed by gunmen using roadside bombs and machine guns. Militant groups are very active on the border areas between Iraq and Syria. Some of these groups affiliate with al Qaeda in Iraq.

Egypt

At least four people were killed and hundreds more were injured in fresh clashes in the volatile city of Port Said. More than 150 of those hurt were still in the hospital. A government security building was set ablaze as police and protesters clashed. The violence snowballed throughout the weekend, as a March 9 verdict date neared for 52 defendants involved in a deadly riot at a soccer game in February 2012. Twenty-one defendants already have been sentenced to death for their alleged roles in the so-called “massacre at Port Said,” when 74 people were killed and 1,000 injured.

Malaysia

Malaysian fighter jets and soldiers on Tuesday waged an offensive against a group of armed invaders from the Philippines, who have staked a claim to a remote part of the island of Borneo, authorities said. Previous efforts by Malaysian police to turn the men back had ended in deadly clashes. The group of Filipino men, believed to number between 100 and 300, arrived three weeks ago on the east coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah, on Borneo, demanding to be recognized as representatives of a sultanate that used to rule the area. The standoff has touched on an unresolved territorial issue between the Philippines and Malaysia, as well as Manila’s efforts to improve relations with Islamic insurgents in the country’s south after decades of violence.

North Korea

North Korea vowed Tuesday to cancel the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War, citing a U.S.-led push for punishing U.N. sanctions over its recent nuclear test and ongoing U.S.-South Korean joint military drills. Without elaborating, the Korean People’s Army Supreme Command warned of “surgical strikes” meant to unify the divided Korean Peninsula and of an indigenous, “precision nuclear striking tool.”

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to boost sanctions against North Korea for its third nuclear test Feb. 12. New sanctions on North Korea have as little chance of stopping Pyongyang from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon as previous efforts, unless China gets more serious about enforcing them, nuclear experts and China watchers say. After the vote Thursday, China’s U.N. ambassador, Li Baodong, said his nation wants to see “full implementation” of the sanctions.

Kenya

When the ballot counting began this week, Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, surged ahead in the race for president and stayed out front as the margin narrowed early on Friday. Soon, the Obama administration and its allies could face a tough choice, made even more complicated by the appearance of taking sides against a candidate who may very well win. Kenyatta has been charged with heinous crimes, accused of using a vast fortune to bankroll death squads that slaughtered women and children. His running mate also faces charges of crimes against humanity. Kenyatta’s election would  put at risk all the strategic American interests vested in Kenya, a vital ally in a volatile region and a crucial hub for everything from billion-dollar health programs and American corporations to spying on agents of Al Qaeda.

Earthquakes

A strong earthquake has been felt throughout Taiwan, but no casualties or damage has been reported yet. The Central Weather Bureau says the quake Thursday registered at magnitude 5.6. The tremor struck about 23 miles north of Hualien city and it swayed buildings in the capital, Taipei. Hualien is about 110 miles southeast of Taipei.

Weather

An unyielding winter storm that ripped its way through the Midwest earlier in the week blasted east Wednesday, snarling traffic, closing schools and straining air travel for a third straight day. The Washington D.C. region was the latest target, with the city and suburbs bracing for 5 to 10 inches of snow and ice by Wednesday night. More than a foot could fall in some higher elevations west of the city. Federal offices and all area schools closed for the day. More than 3,000 flights have been canceled across much of the nation since the storm began its eastern march More than 90,000 customers already were without power in parts of Virginia. The storm dropped several feet of snow in West Virginia and Virginia and was blamed for at least four deaths on Wednesday night. All were traffic-related.

The storm earlier dumped about a foot of snow in parts of Illinois, Minnesota and North Dakota, and paved a white swath across the Upper Midwest. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport had 6 inches of snow Tuesday, besting a 1999 record for the date by 2.2 inches. Tuesday’s snow put a drag on air traffic in the Midwest, leading to delays and cancellations.

The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped, new federal figures show. Scientists say the rise in CO2 reflects the world’s economy revving up and burning more fossil fuels, especially in China. Carbon dioxide levels jumped by 2.67 parts per million since 2011 to total just under 395 parts per million. That’s the second highest rise in carbon emissions since record-keeping began in 1959. More coal-burning power plants, especially in the developing world, are the main reason emissions keep going up – even as they have declined in the U.S. and other places.

  • Regardless of human causality, end-time weather will continue to grow more extreme

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