Signs of the Times (3/25/13)

N.D. Lawmakers Define Start of Life, Outlaw Abortion

North Dakota lawmakers Friday completed action to outlaw almost all abortions, voting to define life as beginning at conception. The Republican-dominated House also approved a so-called personhood amendment that asks voters to change the state’s constitution to recognize and protect “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development.” A third piece of legislation passed Friday by the House requires abortion clinic physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The legislation is aimed at shutting down the state’s only abortion clinic, in Fargo.

Slim Majority Now Favor Same-Sex Marriage

A Fox News national poll shows that 49 percent of voters now favor legalizing gay marriage, while 46 percent oppose it.  That represents a significant shift since the question was first asked on a Fox poll in 2003.  At that time, 32 percent said gays should be allowed to marry legally, and 58 percent were opposed. Support for gay marriage has increased by 27 percentage points among moderates since 2003, 22 points among independents and 21 points among Democrats.  Over the same time period, the number of liberals backing gay marriage more than doubled. There are smaller yet still significant changes among Republicans (+10 points) and conservatives (+13 points). Those most likely to favor legalizing gay marriage include those who never attend church (76 percent), liberals (72 percent), voters ages 30 and younger (65 percent), and Democrats (65 percent).  Groups most likely to oppose it include “very” conservatives (82 percent), Tea Partiers (75 percent), white evangelical Christians (70 percent) and Republicans (64 percent).

  • Same-sex marriage is a barometer of our steady march through the “beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8) leading up to end-time tribulation. Romans 1:26-27 is clear that gay sex, let alone marriage, is “vile.”

Supreme Court to Hear Two Gay Rights Cases this Week

The future of Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage rests in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear two unrelated lawsuits on gay rights this week. The cases address bans on same-sex marriage and limits on domestic-partner benefits for same-sex couples. The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in Hollingsworth vs. Perry, a case in which same-sex couples allege California’s 2008 voter-approved Proposition 8 violates the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Proposition 8 defines marriage as the union between a man and a women, and is identical to the measure Arizona voters passed that same year. On Wednesday, the court will hear arguments in United States vs. Windsor, which alleges that the part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as being only between a man and a woman violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. Because of this federal definition, same-sex couples, even in states that allow them to marry, aren’t eligible for any of the federal benefits heterosexual married couples get, including tax breaks and Social Security benefits.

  • Whether it’s this week or further down the end-time road, gay rights will trump God’s ordained natural order, just as Satan planned. However, this near-term victory is but another nail in his forthcoming coffin.

Starbucks CEO to Christians: “We Don’t Want Your Business”

At the annual shareholder’s meeting on Wednesday, Starbucks CEO, Howard Shultz, told Christians, and all who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life, “we don’t want your business”. It is no surprise that Starbucks supports homosexual marriage.  They have been sending liberal messages for years.  But this is beyond anything we have seen from the left or the right.  Shultz went as far as to tell shareholder who support Christian values to sell their stock and support other companies. According to Forbes, a shareholder raised a question about the significant drop in sales after a boycott from the National Organization for Marriage, who was protesting Starbucks support of homosexual marriage in Washington.

  • Where is the mainstream media on this one, after they excoriated Chick Fil-A over its support of traditional marriage? Tolerance is only for everything non-Christian. So let’s do as Shultz asks and boycott Starbucks.

Is Polygamy Next?

There is nothing in our current legal system or national moral climate that will stop polygamy from becoming the next liberal cause, asserts the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel. “Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would jettison the rationale and logic behind prohibitions on polygamous marriages, according to several friend-of-the court briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the traditional definition of marriage. Ultimately, there is no principled basis for recognizing the legality of same-sex marriage without simultaneously providing a basis for the legality of consensual polygamy or certain adult incestuous relationships,” reads one of the briefs filed by Liberty Counsel. “In fact, every argument for same-sex marriage is an argument for them as well.” The Netherlands is a microcosm of how the homosexual community hoodwinked this once-Christian nation. A former Dutch Member of Parliament has admitted that polygamous marriage is the ‘next logical step’ following the introduction of same-sex marriages in the Netherlands.

  • Once this door is ‘legally’ opened, all sorts of abominations will follow

U.N. Chief Warns of Growing Water Scarcity

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that by 2030, nearly half the world’s population could be facing a scarcity of water, with demand outstripping supply by 40%.One in three people already live in a country with moderate to high water stress. Over 780 million people today do not have access to improved sources of drinking water, especially in Africa. With more people moving to urban areas, water use is projected to increase by 50% by 2025. “Competition is growing among farmers and herders; industry and agriculture; town and country; upstream and downstream; and across borders,” the secretary-general said.

Senate Passes Democratic Budget Plan

An exhausted Senate gave pre-dawn approval Saturday to a Democratic $3.7 trillion budget for the next fiscal year that embraces nearly $1 trillion in tax increases over the coming decade but shelters domestic programs targeted for cuts by House Republicans. While their victory was by a razor-thin 50-49, the vote let Democrats tout their priorities. Yet it doesn’t resolve the deep differences the two parties have over deficits and the size of government. The Senate’s budget for 2014 would shrink annual federal shortfalls over the next decade to nearly $400 billion, raise unspecified taxes by $975 billion and cull modest savings from domestic programs. In contrast, a rival budget approved by the GOP-run House balances the budget within 10 years without boosting taxes.

Economic News

As federal agencies scramble to avert or delay sequester-tied furloughs, the Obama administration continues to spend millions of dollars on foreign aid to the Palestinians – and seek millions more, despite past efforts by Congress to freeze the money. The State Department confirmed this month the administration has moved forward with $500 million in aid, and is trying to secure another $200 million from Congress, even as federal agencies were scrambling to manage sequester cuts and cushion their staff from the impact of furloughs.

Eurozone

Cyprus clinched a last-minute solution to avert imminent financial meltdown early Monday after it agreed to slash its oversized banking sector and use funds raised by seizing bank assets from large deposit holders — which in some cases could amount to 40 percent — in troubled banks to secure a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout. The deal, described by the country’s politicians as “painful,” was approved by euro finance ministers in Brussels just in time. The European Central Bank had threatened to cut off crucial emergency assistance to the Cyprus’ embattled banks after Monday if no agreement was reached. Without that funding, Cyprus’ banks would have collapsed, dragging the country’s economy down with them and threatening the small Mediterranean island’s membership of the 17-strong group of European Union countries that use the euro — all of which would have sent the EU’s markets spinning.

Laiki, the country’s second-largest bank, will be restructured, with all bond holders and people with more than 100,000 euros in their accounts facing significant losses, with the guaranteed deposits being transferred to the nation’s biggest lender, Bank of Cyprus. It was not yet clear how severe the losses would be to Laiki’s large bank deposit holders, but he noted that it is expected to yield 4.2 billion euros overall — or much of the money that Cyprus needed to raise to secure the bailout.

  • Think your savings belong to you? Not if the government decides otherwise. Just a harbinger of things to come.

Middle East

Just before departing for Jordan on Friday, President Obama scored a diplomatic coup when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey for a 2010 commando raid that killed nine activists on a Turkish vessel in a Gaza-bound flotilla. The apology, long sought by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, eased strained feelings between Turkey and Israel, two vital U.S. allies in the Middle East.

Friday in Jordan, Obama focused on the civil war in neighboring Syria, with King Abdullah telling reporters that the conflict has already caused 460,000 refugees to flood his country and more are on the way. That is equivalent to 10% of Jordan’s population, and the total could double by the end of the year, the king said. He asked for more help from the international community as his country also deals with internal reforms in response to economic woes that are raising public discontent. Obama said he was working with Congress to provide an additional $200 million to Jordan this year to help deal with the refugee influx, but he remained steadfast in his refusal to pledge U.S. military assistance to the Syrian opposition movement.

American citizens’ support for Israel is at an all-time high, according to a Gallop poll measuring American sympathies between Israel and Palestinians. This information was released this week, coinciding with President Obama’s first visit to Israel as US president. 64 percent of the American public supports Israel, while only 12 percent of Americans support the Palestinians and only 23 percent of Americans are undecided.

  • The will of the people is of no concern to President Obama, who leads as a king more so than as the leader of a representative democracy

A day before Passover, farmers in southern Israel were suffering from another plague of locusts, entering the country from Egypt with biblical timing. The pests hit fields and greenhouses in the south as the Agriculture Ministry was working to prevent heavy damage to crops in the Negev and stop the insects from penetrating deeper into the country. Unlike previous swarms that have entered Israel in the past month, the locusts that hit Israel Sunday are yellow and fertile and, in this stage of their metamorphosis, pose less risk to crops because they eat significantly less. Once the insects lay eggs and they hatch, however, Israeli farmers will face the threat of this wave’s insatiable brood, who will eat anything green in their path.

  • “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:7)

Syria

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely says he has confirmation that Syrian forces have used chemical weapons against rebel forces and civilians, and those weapons are likely stockpiles received from Iraq prior to the U.S.-led invasion 10 years ago. Vallely has met twice in the region with military commanders for the Free Syrian Army, which he describes as the largest and much more moderate faction among the rebels, which also include elements of al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. Vallely believes the chemical weapons are clearly the work of the Assad regime and that the regime will try to pin the blame on the rebels. But Vallely’s more stunning revelation is that he is virtually certain that Syria is in possession of Saddam Hussein’s old arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and some of those may be on display in this civil war. “If you go back to January through March of 2003, we had intelligence in the Defense Department that the Russians helped move, by convoy, a lot of the chemical and biological weapons into two locations in Syria and one in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon,” Vallely said. “We think Russia and Iran have enhanced their inventory. The vast majority of those chemical and biological weapons were from Iraq.”

Egypt

Egyptian protesters clashed with the president’s Muslim Brotherhood backers and ransacked three offices nationwide Friday as anger over allegations of beatings and power-grabbing boiled over into the largest and most violent demonstrations yet on the doorstep of the powerful group. Anger erupted a week ago when Brotherhood members beat journalists and liberal and secular activists during a protest outside the group’s Cairo headquarters. Protesters demand an apology, but the fundamentalist movement said its guards were provoked and acted in self-defense. After smaller demonstrations since last weekend outside the headquarters, thousands of activists thronged to the building and battled Brotherhood supporters with bird shot, rocks, knives, sticks and their fists Friday.

Pakistan

In his first address since returning to Pakistan from self-exile, former President Pervez Musharraf declared his intention to run for office, saying he defied risks to “save” the country. Musharraf landed in Karachi on Sunday after more than four years in exile. He faces criminal charges, and the Taliban have vowed to unleash a “death squad” to assassinate him. In 1999, Musharraf, then chief of Pakistan’s army, became its president in a bloodless military coup. He remained in power until resigning five years ago, a period that included the U.S.-led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan. Under his leadership, Pakistan attained respectable economic growth rates and established a generally favorable investment climate. Along with that came a growing middle class, more aggressive news media, and a more assertive judiciary. Musharraf supported the American war on terror and targeted the Taliban. The militants have accused him of pushing an American agenda in Pakistan.

Nigeria

At least 20 people have been killed by a series of bombings targeting buses in a predominantly Christian neighborhood in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano, International Christian Concern reports. The official death toll is expected to rise as security officials continue to examine the scene of Monday’s attack. Officials suspect the series of explosions were likely initiated by suicide bombers, though investigators are still collecting evidence to confirm that theory. Because the attacks took place in a Christian area of Kano, most officials suspect Christians were the target of the attack. The Islamic extremist group Boko Haram is suspected to be behind the bombings, but the group has yet to take responsibility. Since 2009, Boko Haram has been engaged in an armed insurgency in Nigeria’s northern states, attempting to carve out a separate Islamic state where it can institute sharia law. As part of its bloody campaign to drive all Christians out of Nigeria’s northern states, Boko Haram has targeted the Christian minority there by perpetrating suicide bombings at churches and killing Christians in their homes.

Australia

A little known policy slipped quietly under the radar in January 2012 as Twitter announced they will censor tweets if a country’s government requests them to do so. A year later, Australia became the first modern democracy to identify, filter and ban free speech while not in a state of War. In recent weeks, the censoring of tweets by Australian conservatives, or, indeed anyone who dares to either engage in political debate or offer opinion on the ruling Labor-Green alliance, has become so pervasive many have thought it was a bug with Twitter. Released to the press on 26 January, 2012, the company says: “Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country.”

  • Censorship is coming, all in the name of ‘national security’

Weather

The deluge of snow from the Rockies to the Midwest won’t go away anytime soon, no matter what the calendar says. Parts of eight states were under winter storm warning Sunday, despite the fact it’s not winter anymore. The storm threatens to pummel a swath from Missouri to Ohio with 6 to 10 inches of snow. Slick roads were being blamed for a series of crashes on Interstate 60 north of Indianapolis. The snowstorm had already rolled over parts of Kansas and Nebraska and was expected to continue barreling east. Flights were cancelled and the morning commute was a mess in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast corridor Monday morning as the winter storm dumped snow across the region. Some schools were closed, but a lot of students in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area were already on spring break.

The lowest dew point in Las Vegas in the last 50 years reached late Friday night. The dew point is the temperature at which dew forms from the moisture in the air. This past Friday… March 22nd… at 1156 PM PDT… the dew point temperature at the official Las Vegas climate station at McCarran International Airport was -23 degrees. This means the air was the driest it’s been since 1963.

The U.K. is experiencing its coldest March weekend in fifty years. According to the BBC, heavy snow over the past few days disrupted travel and forced closure of over 1,000 schools.  Power outages were reported in Northern Ireland and Argyll.  In the south of England, heavy rain triggered flooding. This scenario will persist at least through the first half of the work week, as chilly east winds continue to pour in from the continent.

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