Signs of the Times (5/17/13)

Texas Doc Picks Up Where Gosnell Left Off

Kermit Gosnell may be behind bars, but his deadly legacy lives on. Just when the abortion lobby thought it could turn the page on the PR disaster of the Women’s Medical Society, a new “house of horrors” is making headlines–this time in Texas. There, the eye-witness accounts rival those of even Gosnell’s clinic, as three former employees described a staggering amount of violence, which would, on occasion, involve Douglas Karpen twisting off the heads of newborn babies. It was a routine procedure, Deborah Edge said of the born-alive killings–which usually involved cutting babies’ spinal cords or gouging them in the skull.

  • The light of truth is now shining on the baby murder factories for all to see its evil underbelly (Mark 4:22, John 3:19-21, Eph. 5:12-13)

More Immigrant Felons Freed than Initially Reported

Under pressure from lawmakers, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has disclosed new details about the criminal backgrounds of some of the approximately 2,200 immigration detainees let out of custody in February in anticipation of spending cuts, revealing that 32 of the 622 convicted criminals released nationwide had multiple felony convictions. The new details, released in a briefing made to a Capitol Hill investigatory panel, raised more questions about the decision in February by Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials to release 2,226 immigration detainees from facilities in Arizona and several other states in order to slow rising detention costs in the face of $300 million in automatic budget cuts which kicked in March 1.

During two congressional hearings in March, ICE Director John Morton insisted that only detainees who did not pose a threat to public safety were released and that all remained under supervision. But information released by DHS officials in response to requests from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations shows that ICE has taken back into custody 58 of the convicted criminals released nationally after a review showed the seriousness of their offenses.

House Votes to Fully Repeal Obamacare

The Republican-controlled House voted Thursday to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. The House voted for repeal 229-195, with votes cast almost entirely down party lines. Two Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of repeal: Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah and Rep. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina. With implementation of Obamacare set to begin later this year, the vote is largely symbolic. The Senate is highly unlikely to even take up a vote on repeal.

AFA Says AARP Supports Gay Agenda

The American Family Association is going after the AARP (American Association for Retired People) for contributing money to the “homosexual agenda.” “If you are a Christian and believe in biblical values, you can pretty much count on the fact that everything that you are in favor of, the AARP is opposing,” said AFA Executive Vice President Buddy Smith. AARP Pride is the organization’s site dedicated to resources on marriage equality, HIV/AIDS, nondiscrimination policies and other issues relevant to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Lawsuit Accuses IRS of Illegally Obtaining 60 Million Health Records

A lawsuit filed in California accuses the Internal Revenue Service of illegal seizure of 60 million electronic health care records belonging to 10 million Americans. The lawsuit – which was filed March 11, 2013, and surfaced Wednesday – claims that the “medical records contained intimate and private information of more than 10,000,000 Americans, information that by its nature includes information about treatment for any kind of medical concern, including psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual or drug treatment, and a wide range of medical matters covering the most intimate and private of concerns.” The suit said the 15 IRS agents involved in the raid did not have a search warrant or subpoena for the medical records.

Solar Flares Kick into High Gear

The sun has kicked into high gear and produced four so-called X-class solar flares over the past week from a solar spot that is expected to come more into alignment with Earth as the sun’s activity peaks this year and next. The intense solar storms are expected to last as long as until 2020. Until now, the sun has remained relatively dormant, but with four X-class eruptions in one week, it is beginning to reach its “solar storm maximum” in this latest 11-year cycle of activity.

Along with the radiation from the flares, there also is a coronal mass ejection, or CME. During a CME, billions of tons of highly charged particles are ejected to interact with Earth’s magnetic field, causing potential radio blackouts and the shutdown or destruction of vulnerable electrical grid systems and sensitive electronic components. Because the United States and other Western countries are technologically based societies, with critical infrastructures run by electronics, the increase in space weather activity takes on a high level of importance.

  • Solar activity is a key marker of end-time events (Joel 2:31, Matt. 24:29, Rev. 6:12, 8:12)

White Kids a Minority in a Few Years

White, non-Hispanic kids will no longer make up the majority of America’s youth in just five to six years, according to Census Bureau projections released Wednesday. Those projections, which include four different scenarios for population growth, estimate that today’s minority ethnic groups will soon account for at least half of the under-18 population, either in 2018 or 2019. Already, more than half of American babies being born belong to racial and ethnic groups traditionally thought of as “minorities.” By the time those kids grow up to become adults — sometime between 2036 and 2042 — everyone in the working-age population (ages 18 to 64) will be members of these former minorities.

U.S. Oil Boom Causing Energy Upheaval

Booming North American oil production is reshaping world markets and will help satisfy the growing thirst for oil in the developing world, according to the International Energy Agency. “North America has set off a supply shock that is sending ripples throughout the world,” said IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven. “This is helping to ease a market that was relatively tight for several years.” In its latest report, the Paris-based IEA forecasts that North America’s oil supply will grow by nearly 4 million barrels per day between 2012 to 2018, amounting to nearly 50% of global output growth over that period. The U.S. is experiencing an oil boom, in large part thanks to high world prices and new technologies, including hydraulic fracking, that have made the extraction of oil and gas from shale rock commercially viable.

Economic News

A continued decline in the federal budget deficit this year is resulting in a better than expected fiscal forecast for 2013 from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO projects a $642 billion budget deficit for fiscal year 2013, down more than $200 billion from its February estimate and the smallest annual shortfall since 2008. It is the lowest level of deficit spending to date under President Obama, who faced $1 trillion or more in annual deficits during his first term.

The number of U.S. workers applying for unemployment benefits for the first time rose sharply in the week ended May 11 after hitting a five-year low the previous week. First-time claims jumped 32,000 to 360,000, highest since March. The broader economy has been mixed with the government reporting this week that factory output fell sharply last month while retail sales unexpectedly rose.

A sharp fall in the cost of gas drove a measure of U.S. consumer prices down last month by the most since December 2008. Outside the drop in fuel costs, prices were largely unchanged. The Labor Department says the consumer price index fell 0.4% in April from March. An 8.1% fall in gas prices was the main reason for the decline. In the 12 months ending in April, overall prices rose 1.1%, the smallest annual gain in 2 ½ years.

A sharp pullback in apartment and condominium construction led to a big decline in overall home building in April, even as single-family home construction remained strong, according to government data released Thursday. The Census Bureau reported that housing starts fell 17% in the month to an annual pace of 853,000. The decline was driven by a 38% drop in starts of buildings with five or more apartments or condo units in them. Single-family home starts fell only 2% to a pace of 610,000. The single-family starts remained 21% above year-earlier levels. Building permits rose to an annual rate of 1 million from March, a five-year high.

The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 continue to set record highs and have put $13 trillion in paper profits into investors’ pockets.This week it has also driven the number of S&P 500 stocks hitting fresh 52-week highs to the highest level in almost 25 years.

Eurozone

Europe’s biggest economy Germany has returned to growth in the first quarter, narrowly avoiding recession. No such luck for France. The economy there is back in a technical recession after gross domestic product fell for two consecutive quarters. New figures released Wednesday showed the Eurozone’s economy continued to contract in the first quarter, keeping it in recession for a sixth consecutive quarter. Although Germany avoided recession, its 0.1% quarterly growth was weak, while France fell back into recession.

Persecution Watch

Muslims in Bangladesh have been obtaining Christian children from their parents in small villages, promising to educate them and provide them jobs. Instead, they have been sold into madrassas, or Islamic training centers. Corey Bailey of International Christian Concern (ICC) says police in Bangladesh have rescued 140 children so far, most of whom are Christian. “In this group, almost half of them were girls,” Bailey reports. “And of these girls, many of them reported to us that they had actually been sent to local hotels to work in the sex trade and that they had also been forced to be slaves in people’s homes.

Jerry Dykstra, a spokesman for Open Doors USA, says that after American troops left Iraq, Christians seem to be an open target for Islamic extremists. “We know that there’s more and more violence there, there’s more and more Christians leaving. They want the Christians out completely.” At one point, many Iraqi Christians who did leave fled to Syria, but the conflict there is sending them back to Iraq, where conditions are much worse than when they left. That is especially the case in Mosul, the biblical city of Ninevah which has been largely Christian. “Many Christians are fleeing cities like Mosul and going to the northern part of Iraq, which is called Kurdistan,” the Open Doors spokesman reports. “And even there there’s a lack of security, and [there are] kidnappings, church attacks.”

Middle East

A senior Palestinian Authority official declared his support for dropping nuclear bombs on Israel. Palestinian Media Watch has reported that Jibril Rajoub, the deputy secretary of the Fatah Central Committee and the chairman of the PA Olympics Committee, declared on Lebanese television, “Listen. We as yet don’t have a nuke, but I swear that if we had a nuke, we’d have used it this very morning.” Rajoub has a long history of being involved with terrorist activities. Unfortunately, Rajoub is not the only PA official to support violence against Israel and the Jewish people.

Despite Palestinian leaders within Fatah continuing to openly call for violence against Jews and Israelis and rewarding Palestinian terrorists, western countries friendly towards Israel, including the United States continues to fund the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority. Last March, President Obama even released $500 million in foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority that had been frozen for the Palestinian Authority violating the Oslo Agreements by unilaterally seeking statehood at the United Nations in the absence of a peace agreement with Israel.

Syria

The leaders of Turkey and the United States are huddling in Washington on Thursday over how to handle the Syrian civil war, the raging conflict that has left an estimated 80,000 people dead and a few million displaced — despite more than two years of diplomacy to halt the bloodshed. President Obama and Prime Minister Erdogan, discussed how to strengthen the Syrian opposition, help the many people displaced by the war, and mobilize the international community to put more pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and forge a political transition. They spoke as the warfare in Syria raged Thursday. The opposition Local Coordination Committees in Syria said at least 63 people were killed Wednesday, including 45 in Damascus and its suburbs.

Also on Wednesday, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for a political transition in Syria. The resolution, which passed by a 107-12 vote, with 59 abstentions, also condemned the government’s increased use of heavy weapons and ongoing “widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” said a U.N. statement.

Afghanistan

A suicide car bombing tore through a U.S. convoy during rush hour in the Afghan capital on Thursday, killing at least 15 people, including six U.S. military advisers and two children. NATO says four U.S. service personnel have also been killed in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan’s volatile south. It was the deadliest attack to rock the Afghan capital in more than two months and followed a series of other attacks against Americans that has made May the deadliest month for international forces this year. There are a number of wounded as well. The powerful explosion ripped through a NATO convoy Tuesday in southern Kandahar province, the heartland of the insurgent Taliban.

Iraq

Car bombs struck Shiite neighborhoods of the Iraqi capital and a northern city on Thursday, killing 16 people, while gunmen in Baghdad shot dead the brother of a Sunni lawmaker. The attacks followed a wave of bombings Wednesday that also struck in mainly in Shiite neighborhoods, killing 33 people and raising concerns over a return to sectarian bloodshed in Iraq.

Iran

Negotiations held Wednesday in Vienna between representative from Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) aimed at setting up a mechanism to investigate the Islamic Republic’s renegade nuclear program failed to produce an agreement.

Nigeria

At least 20 insurgents were killed Friday as Nigeria’s military carried out an aerial bombardment of suspected militant Islamist camps in the country’s northeast. The raid by Nigerian Air Force jets and attack helicopters is part of what the military says is a “massive deployment” of Nigerian forces this week to tackle insurgent groups, especially Boko Haram. “Within those insurgents’ camps, we discovered that they have been storing sophisticated, high-caliber weapons including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons,” said defense spokesman Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade.

Bolivia

Hundreds of miners, teachers and other workers have marched in Bolivia’s capital on the 11th day of protests called by the country’s largest union to demand higher old-age pensions. Miners exploded dynamite and protesters tried to occupy the plaza where Bolivia’s seats of government are located. Police forced protesters back with tear gas. There were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests Thursday, but protests over the past week left 33 people injured and more than 100 detained. Protesters are demanding that President Evo Morales’ government double pensions, which currently range from $21 to $28 a month. The government is offering an 81% hike.

Volcanoes

An Alaska volcano exhibiting “elevated seismic activity” has spewed ash clouds skyward — as high as 20,000 feet above sea level — an observatory reported Wednesday. As was the case a day earlier, the Pavlof Volcano was on “watch” status on Wednesday. The same alert levels also continue to apply to the Cleveland Volcano, which like Pavlof is in the Aleutian Island range southwest of mainland Alaska. Lava was reported flowing Tuesday at Pavlof and Cleveland. Alaskans and air travelers remained on alert Thursday due to the rumblings of the 8,000-foot Pavlof volcano emitting a “continuous ash, steam and gas cloud” that already extends up to 60 miles away.

Wildfires

Prosecutors announced Thursday they won’t file charges against loggers whose equipment apparently started a massive wildfire in northwestern Wisconsin, concluding there was no criminal intent or negligence. The fire began Tuesday afternoon in the woods near Simms Lake in Douglas County, about 40 miles southeast of Duluth, Minn. It consumed 8,131 acres, destroyed 17 homes and forced dozens of people to evacuate before firefighters contained it late Wednesday evening. No injuries have been reported. Firefighters from nearly 40 departments battled the blaze.

Firefighters had to battle terrain as much as flames as they worked to surround a wildfire entering its third day in harsh hills and mountains north of Los Angeles. Temperatures dipped Thursday and were expected to remain cool on Friday, but winds upwards of 20 mph continued to swirl, and much of the blaze that has blackened some 3,800 acres was in rocky, rugged, difficult-to-reach places, making containment a challenge. After a heavy aerial assault Thursday, the fire was 25 percent contained by nightfall.

Weather

Sixteen tornadoes ripped through an area of North Central Texas Wednesday night, leaving at least six people dead and over one hundred injured. The tornadoes drove hundreds from homes that were flattened by the turbulent winds and pounded by hail the size of grapefruit. Emergency teams rushed 18 bulldozers into the subdivision to clear the way for rescue teams and to look for people trapped in the debris. More than 250 people were evacuated, many by bus. Seven people remained unaccounted for, and 37 people were treated at local hospital while 15 people, including two in critical condition, were transported to hospitals in Fort Worth. The injuries range from lost limbs to minor bumps and bruises, according to local officials.

Starting this weekend and continuing into Monday of next week, a more substantial threat of severe storms, including tornadoes, will target parts of the Plains and Midwest. Saturday in northwest Oklahoma to South Dakota and southeast North Dakota forecasters expect large hail greater than two inches in diameter, damaging winds and tornadoes. Sunday those storms will move on to central Oklahoma northeastward to central/eastern Kansas, northwest Missouri, eastern Nebraska, western/central Iowa, and southern Minnesota.

North America — and the USA in particular — has the world’s wildest weather extremes: No other part of the planet can boast its ferocious weather stew of hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, wildfires, blizzards, heat waves and cold snaps according to the Discovery Channel. Our wild weather has always fascinated us, and was a shock to the early pioneers. “Europeans who settled America from east to west were progressively amazed by the spectrum of conditions they encountered,” wrote meteorologist and author Robert Henson in his book The Rough Guide to Weather.

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