Signs of the Times (7/27/13)

Outspoken Atheist Seeks Position as U.S. Navy Chaplain

An outspoken atheist is generating controversy in his pursuit of a position as an official United States Navy chaplain, the Christian News Network reports. In applying for the chaplain position, 38-year-old Jason Heap points out that he earned master’s degrees from both Oxford University and Brite Divinity School, with substantial experience in human resources. He also successfully completed the necessary paperwork and all the required physical tests. However, in order to be accepted as a Navy chaplain, all applicants must receive endorsements from religious organizations approved by the military. According to the Department of Defense website, this list of “ecclesiastical endorsing agents” includes representatives from over 200 different denominations and organizations.

Although the majority of agents would be considered Christian, several other religions are included, such as Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Unitarianism. Heap claims that because he is endorsed by the Humanist Society, he should be offered the chaplain position, but the Navy does not recognize the Humanist Society as an endorsing agent. Humanists assert that well over 10,000 active servicemen identify as atheist or agnostic, and therefore, there should be like-minded chaplains available. House lawmakers late Tuesday approved an amendment to a Pentagon spending bill to prevent the appointment of nonreligious military chaplains.

  • Secular Humanism is the counterfeit ‘religion’ of the New World Order and they will continue to do all they can to undermine the Judeo-Christian foundations of America

Angry Atheists Strike Again

Angry atheists strike again – and this time they’ve gone further than ever before. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, well-known for relentless attacks on Christian symbols, is now attacking a Holocaust memorial – saying it shouldn’t feature the Star of David. They claim the symbol is “exclusionary” and a “dishonor.” The Star of David is a symbol of the Jewish religion, the Jewish people, and the Jewish state, Israel. And it is the symbol the Nazis forced the Jews to wear in the Holocaust. Six million Jews were murdered in the genocide of the Holocaust. The Star of David honors their memory.

  • Just as with the gay agenda, atheists & humanists will continue their attacks and ‘wear out’ the saints (Daniel 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, KJV)

Planned Parenthood Ordered to Pay $1.4 Million Fine

The Texas Attorney General’s office announced Wednesday that the nation’s largest abortion seller must pay $1.4 million for overbilling the state’s Medicaid program. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast submitted “repeated false, fraudulent, and ineligible claims for Medicaid reimbursements” through the Texas Women’s Health Program, according to a federal lawsuit made public last week. “No matter where a person stands on abortion, everyone should agree that Planned Parenthood has to play by the same rules as everyone else,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton. “It certainly isn’t entitled to a penny of public funds, especially if it is committing Medicaid fraud.”

  • Immoral principles lead to lawless behavior

Albuquerque to Vote on Pro-Life Bill

In a titanic effort that garnered twice the necessary signatures in half the required time, pro-life groups spearheaded by Project Defending Life have submitted 27,000 signatures to the Albuquerque City Clerk on a city-wide legislative petition to ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation. That number of signatures virtually ensures the proposed late-term abortion ban will be on the ballot in an upcoming election, possibly as soon as October 8. Albuquerque is the home of Southwestern Women’s Options, the largest late-term abortion clinic in the U.S. Project Defending Life’s Tara Shaver has obtained nearly a dozen 911 calls that document all-too-frequent abortion-related medical emergencies at that clinic.

Senate Passes Student Loan Fix

The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate approved a bill to tie federal college loan rates to financial markets to retroactively roll back an unpopular July 1 rate hike. The GOP-controlled U.S. House is expected to approve the legislation before the August recess. The legislation will affect seven million students heading to college this fall and will bring down interest rates for subsidized Stafford loans in the short-term. These rates doubled to 6.8% on July 1 because Congress could not come to terms on an agreement ahead of that deadline. Under the new legislation, undergraduates will be able to borrow at 3.9% for this school year; graduate students at 5.4%, and parents at 6.4%.

Halliburton Admits Destroying Gulf Oil Spill Evidence

Halliburton Energy Services has admitted destroying evidence in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and will plead guilty to a criminal charge, the Department of Justice has announced. Under the plea agreement, which requires court approval, Houston-based Halliburton will also face three years’ probation, pay the maximum fine possible and continue to cooperate in the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of the April 2010 explosion and fire on the drilling platform, which killed 11 rig workers off Louisiana.

Many Home Buyers Paying in Cash

If you want to buy a house in Nevada you better bring cash. In June, 58% of the sales in the state were made in all-cash. But it’s not just Nevada. All-cash deals in Florida comprised 57% of home sales during the month; in the state of New York, it was 51%, and in Vermont, a whopping 80%.In markets like these, lingering foreclosures and depressed home prices are attracting private equity firms and other investors looking to buy before home prices go much higher. In other markets, where there are fewer distressed properties, the all-cash deals are a lot less prevalent. Nationwide, cash deals comprised 30% of home sales in June, down from 31% a year earlier, RealtyTrac reported. But in states like Texas, Utah and New Mexico, such deals were practically non-existent.

Housing Recipients Re-Defaulting in Alarming Numbers

Nearly one-third of the homeowners who got help through the government’s main foreclosure prevention program are defaulting again on their mortgages, according to a government watchdog’s report. The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) has worked on 1.2 million mortgage modifications since it started four years ago. Of those, more than 306,000 borrowers have defaulted again on their loans, and another 88,000 are at risk as well. The Special Inspector for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), which conducted the review, said homeowners are also more likely to default again on the modified loans the longer they stay in the program, with 46 percent of those involved in the program since 2009 defaulting on their loans again.

  • It wasn’t just the mortgage industry that caused the housing bubble to burst – people stupidly agreed to horrendous mortgage terms based on inflated real estate values. Now those same people are doing it all over again.

Economic News

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose by 7,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 343,000. The increase follows a drop of 22,000 the previous week. The Labor Department says the four-week average, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, fell 1,250 to 345,250. The Labor Department says the four-week average, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, fell 1,250 to 345,250. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They’re down nearly 8% this year. Employers have added an average 202,000 new jobs a month this year, up from an average 183,000 in 2012.

Orders for long-lasting U.S. factory goods rose in June, bolstered by higher aircraft demand and more businesses spending that signals investment plans. The Commerce Department said Thursday that orders for durable goods increased 4.2% last month. That followed a 5.2% gain in May. Commercial aircraft orders, which are volatile from month to month, jumped 31.4%. Excluding autos and airplanes, orders were unchanged.

Quarterly company earnings are coming in ahead of the estimates at the start of the quarter, with more than half the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 — 262 — reporting quarterly results and two-thirds of them topping expectations. Earnings are on pace to grow 4.5%.

Eurozone

New data show Spain’s unemployment level unexpectedly fell for the first time in two years, suggesting the country — and the Eurozone as a whole — may be turning a corner. The jobless rate in the second quarter still stood at an eye-catching 26.3%, with nearly 6 million Spaniards still out of work. But that’s an improvement from the previous quarter, when unemployment stood at a stark 27.2%. Germany’s closely watched Ifo business sentiment index rose for a third consecutive month.

The recovery in the U.K. economy is gathering pace as rapidly rising house prices encourage consumers to forget austerity and spend rather than save. Gross domestic product grew by 0.6% in the second quarter, double the rate of expansion seen in the first three months of the year. The dominant service sector got a boost from rising consumer confidence, but manufacturing and construction also contributed to faster growth.

Persecution Watch

A group of 39 students, including 11 female students have been excluded from a graduation ceremony and have instead been placed under harsh military punishment at Sawa military training center. Sources told Open Doors USA that the arrests came as a result of the students’ “Christian beliefs and for their commitment to Christ.” The youths are now enduring beating, forced hard labor and insufficient food and water. Sources said authorities are also threatening the students with long imprisonment and exclusion from university should they “fail to renounce Christ.” Since the beginning of the year, Christians belonging to groups outside of the government-sanctioned Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches have faced a widespread arrest campaign, and more than 200 men and women of various ages have been detained without charges under harsh circumstances.

Christian girls in Northern Nigeria are being abducted, kept in the homes of Muslim leaders and forced to renounce their faith. Professor Daniel Babayi, secretary of the Northern Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said that the issue was getting worse and that they are currently pursuing five cases. He said: “Christian girls below the age of 18 are forcefully abducted and made to denounce their faith… They have been kept in the houses of emirs or imams. When we report to the police, they tell you there is nothing they can do. The police have become very helpless. In some instances, they are part of the conspiracy.” Christians in Northern Nigeria are being targeted on a number of fronts as Islamist militant group Boko Haram wages its deadly campaign to establish an Islamic state. Churches have frequently been attacked and individual Christians murdered.

Middle East

The announcement by Secretary of State John Kerry that both the Israelis and Palestinians had agreed to direct peace talks has been refuted by sources on both sides. Since becoming Secretary of State earlier this year, he has made six trips to try to restart the peace talks. Yet despite his best efforts (some observers viewed his announcement as an attempt to strong-arm the parties into an agreement they had not reached), the Palestinians continue to refuse to even talk to the Israelis unless they first receive the concessions that they would hope to get from any negotiations. Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly said that Israel is prepared to begin talks immediately if there are no pre-conditions. This is the hurdle that Secretary of State Kerry has been attempting to clear without success.

Egypt’s new government has imposed the toughest border restrictions in years on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, sealing smuggling tunnels, blocking most passenger traffic and causing millions of dollars in economic losses. Some in Hamas fear the movement is being swept up in the same Egyptian military campaign that earlier this month toppled the country’s democratically elected Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi — like the Gaza rulers part of the region’s Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s military has said the Gaza restrictions are part of its security crackdown in the Sinai and has not suggested it is trying to weaken the Hamas government or bring it down in the process. Past predictions that Gazans fed up with the daily hardships of life under blockade will rise up against Hamas have not materialized.

Egypt

Egyptian authorities ordered that former President Mohammed Morsi continue to be detained pending investigation into a slew of accusations, further upsetting a fragile political scene more than three weeks after the elected president was unseated. The accusations against Morsi include that he conspired with the Palestinian group Hamas to carry out acts of violence in Egypt. Dozens were killed in violent clashes between security forces and supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi on Saturday morning in one of the deadliest spells of unrest since the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian health ministry said 29 people were killed while a field hospital put the number at 75. The violence began overnight when supporters of Morsi tried to extend a sit-in into a major road and police fired tear gas. Morsi supporters have held a sit-in for more than three weeks outside Rabaa Al Adawiya Mosque in Nasr City.

Syria

Syrian government troops gained ground in clashes Friday in two rebel-held neighborhoods in the central city of Homs, edging closer to a historic mosque and closing in on opposition fighters in the area. The advance came amid a wide offensive by President Bashar Assad’s forces and as Syria’s Western-backed opposition group met for the first time with the U.N. Security Council. With about 1 million residents, Homs lies along a main artery linking the capital, Damascus, with regime strongholds on the Mediterranean coast to the west. Homs has played a key role in the country’s civil war, now in its third year. Activists consider Homs “the capital of the revolution.”

Pakistan

The death toll from a pair of overnight bombings at a busy market in northern Pakistan rose to 49 on Saturday with 10 more people dying at a local hospital and 25 more listed in a critical condition.. The bombings struck Friday in the town of Parachinar, which sits in the Kurram tribal area that borders Afghanistan to the west. The market was full of people hurrying to buy items for their evening meal that breaks the day-time fast during the holy month of Ramadan. The Kurram tribal region, like much of northwest Pakistan, has been roiled by violence for years. Taliban militants trying to overthrow the Pakistani government have carried out a vicious campaign of suicide bombings and shootings against Pakistan security forces and other targets.

Tunisia

Angry anti-government demonstrations broke out Thursday across Tunisia after gunmen killed the leader of a leftist opposition party, raising fears of new chaos on the difficult road to democracy in the cradle of the Arab Spring. Just five months after a similar assassination plunged the country into crisis, two gunmen shot Mohammed Brahmi, leader of the Popular Current party, in his car outside his home. Tunisia is struggling after overthrowing dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. Many Tunisians are fed up with the government led by the moderate Islamist ruling party, Ennahda, which appears unable to handle a faltering economy, address popular unrest over unmet expectations and crack down on a rising extremist Islamist movement.

Weather

July marks the typical start of the annual monsoon season, and it has arrived in earnest this summer, bringing daily thunderstorms from New Mexico to southern California. The “drunken” monsoon pattern has weather systems moving east to west, the opposite of their typical direction. Though this has provided some relief to the drought-parched regions, they’re not out of the woods yet, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. Overall, 46.55 percent of the lower 48 states is experiencing some form of drought, almost all of it in the western half of the country.

Several communities in Oklahoma, including Oklahoma City, woke up to a flash flood headache Friday after a night of heavy rain. The National Weather Service office in Norman, Okla. says, at one point Friday morning, more than one inch of rain fell in just seven minutes. There are reports of multiple accidents on I-240 and I-44, including a semi that overturned and caught on fire around 4 a.m.

Call it weird, call it extreme, maybe even call it the new normal. Wild weather in the United States in the past decade has amassed a long list of toppled records and financial disasters, notes Weather.com. A new study confirms that everywhere except in the Atlantic Plains region, more rain and snow is falling during wet and dry seasons alike. The Atlantic Plains are the flatlands along the central and southern Atlantic Coast that stretch from Massachusetts to Mississippi. On average, the total precipitation in the contiguous United States has increased 5.9 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. What’s more, the timing has changed too. In some parts of the United States, dry seasons are arriving earlier and wet seasons are starting later than they did 80 years ago. Altering the timing of dry and wet season starts can significantly affect agriculture.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme

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