Archive for October, 2013

Signs of the Times (10/28/13)

October 28, 2013

Air Force Academy May Drop ‘God’ From Oath

The Air Force Academy is considering dropping the phrase “so help me God” from its honor oath after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a complaint, Fox News reports. The Academy’s Honor Review Committee met Wednesday to review the oath in response to the MRFF complaint, said public affairs director Maj. Brus Vidal. “They considered a range of options and some of those options will be presented to Academy leaders and, ultimately, the Academy Superintendent for a decision,” he said. The current version of the Academy’s oath reads: “We will not lie, steal or cheat nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and live honorably, so help me God.” Vidal told the Air Force Times they could either make no change, make the God part optional or strike the entire oath. “We value an inclusive environment that promotes dignity and respect for all,” Vidal told the newspaper. Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said, “Removing this voluntary affirmation expresses hostility toward religion. Further, it removes the solemnity and gravity of the oath, particularly for the many cadets who come from a faith tradition.”

  • The Air Force has been the most aggressively anti-God of all our military branches, but they all are falling in line with anti-Christian secular humanists and the gay agenda

Forced Flu Shots Are Outrageous

More and more hospitals and other healthcare facilities across the United States require that all employees get flu shots, and some workers are fired if they refuse. Even local and state governments are demanding mandatory routine flu shots. Last week, all Los Angeles county healthcare workers who come in contact with patients were ordered to get the shot or wear a protective mask throughout the entire flu season. “Studies have shown that if you vaccinate every single healthcare worker in a hospital, it doesn’t decrease the numbers of cases of flu at all … zero decrease,” says Dr. Brownstein, editor of Dr. David Brownstein’s Natural Way to Health. The vaccine is promoted to protect the most vulnerable groups — the elderly, young children, and the chronically ill. But evidence shows it fails on all three counts, says Brownstein

  • Yet another example of the oppressive growth of socialism in America where freedom of choice used to be a foundational principle

Federal Agents Raid Reporter’s Home, Takes Notes

Washington Times Editor John Solomon said Friday the Times is preparing legal action over the unlawful seizure of a reporter’s notes and documents. When Maryland police and federal agents raided Washington Times investigative reporter Audrey Hudson’s home on August 6, they were supposed to be looking for guns but wound up taking her personal notes and papers she had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Hudson had previously written stories exposing problems in Homeland Security’s Federal Air Marshal Service. Some of the papers that were taken in the predawn raid by agents in full body armor pertained to Hudson’s sources and research in the air marshals stories.

  • Homeland Security is turning into a gestapo-like force under the Obama administration

‘Jesus’ On Pastor’s Wife’s Tombstone Denied

Pastor Mark Baker, of Harvest Baptist Church in Ovid, Colorado, just lost his wife Linda due to cancer.  One of Linda’s last requests was that her tombstone would be inscribed with a Christian Ichthus fish with name of Jesus in the center.  Pastor Baker relayed Linda’s request to Shawn Rewoldt, the director of the city cemetery in Sterling, Colorado.  To the pastor’s surprise, Rewoldt told him that the Ichthus fish would be okay, but that he would not approve of the inscription of Jesus’ name on the tombstone. Eventually, Rewoldt admitted that he wouldn’t approve of having ‘Jesus’ inscribed on the tombstone was that he believed it might offend others.

  • Only Christianity is deemed offensive as the anti-Christ spirit increases its end-time influence (1John 2:18)

Public Prayer Taken to the Supreme Court

Praying and asking God’s blessing during public occasions is a long hallowed tradition in the United States. Today it is endangered. On November 6, the Supreme Court will consider a challenge to the long-standing practice of opening public meetings with prayer. Alliance Defending Faith, Bridgebuilders International and Arizona 10K have joined forces to defend the enduring legacy of public prayer. The case, Town of Greece v. Galloway, challenges the public prayer as an opening exercise in governmental meetings. Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) filed suit in 2008 against the town of Greece, New York, for opening town council meetings with community volunteer prayers.

  • We need a major prayer effort to defend public prayer

Obamacare to Force Millions to Lose Insurance

According to a recent report, more than 1 million Americans have already been notified that their current private health insurance policies are being cancelled due to the implementation of Obamacare.  If health-policy expert Bob Laszewski is right, this is only the tip of the iceberg.  He says that nearly 16 million Americans will have their current plans cancelled due to Obamacare. Insurance companies around the country are already dropping policies and it’s all due to Obamacare. Aetna is reporting that 1.1 million policies are at risk.

More Glitches in Obamacare Website

The federal government’s online portal to buy health insurance suffered another glitch Sunday when the data services hub, a conduit for verifying the personal information of people applying for benefits under the law, went down in a failure that was blamed on an outside contractor. The latest glitch came just days before Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the problems that have plagued the online health exchanges since they launched Oct. 1. Republican lawmakers signaled Sunday that their efforts to dismantle ObamaCare will go well beyond criticizing the problem-filled website, saying computer glitches are only the “tip of the iceberg” for the federal health care plan.

U.S. Reviews Spy Policies Toward Allies

The Obama administration says that treatment of allies is part of its review of surveillance policies, amid a report that President Obama put a stop to a program that spied on up to 35 foreign leaders. Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson for the National Security Council said that, “through this review, led by the White House, the United States is reviewing the way that we gather intelligence to ensure that we properly account for the security concerns of our citizens and allies and the privacy concerns that all people share, and to ensure that our intelligence resources most effectively support our foreign policy and national security objectives.”

Many European allies have expressed concern after learning that the NSA has been monitoring leaders’ phone calls. Germany’s interior minister says his country’s confidence in the United States is shaken, amid claims the U.S. National Security Agency monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. A Spanish newspaper has published a document it says shows the U.S. National Security Agency spied on more than 60 million phone calls in Spain in one month alone based on a document provided by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. President Obama denies having known of the spying on allies beforehand.

Americans On the Move Once Again

New U.S. Census data show that the great slowdown in migration caused by the recession is starting to give way. In 2012, “domestic migration” was as high as it’s been in the past five years — nearly 16.9 million people moved between counties, with long-distance interstate moves accounting for about 7 million of those, up nearly 5% over 2010. Americans are once again setting their sights on their favorite Sun Belt places, like Florida, Arizona and Nevada. New York state lost about 136,000 people in 2012. In Massachusetts, the net loss was about 15,600 people.

American Workers Lag in Skills

A recent international survey of workers in two dozen developed countries found that workers in the U.S. trailed many of their foreign peers in literacy, math, and problem-solving skills. According to the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills, Japanese workers rank first, followed closely by Finland, then a trio of European countries, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway. That contrasts with the U.S., which ranked in the middle for literacy and near the bottom of the 23 countries for math and technological skills. Historically, the quality of worker skills has fueled the American economy’s strong rate of growth.

  • The U.S. public school system has failed despite throwing more and more money at the problem. With its focus on undermining traditional social norms, it has become a bureaucratic cesspool of incompetence.

Food Stamp Cuts Coming Friday

Food stamp benefits are scheduled to be cut, starting next Friday. The cuts, totaling $5 billion, will mean less money for groceries for millions of people who rely on food stamps. Congress has the power to halt the cutback. However, experts say it’s highly unlikely at a time when Republicans are calling for even more drastic cuts to food stamps. Food stamp benefits were bumped up in the midst of the recession. The temporary provision expires Nov. 1. Some 47.6 million people, or nearly 15% of the population, get food stamps, according to September federal data. That compares to 26.3 million, or 8.7% of the population, in 2007.

Economic News

Banks are laying off thousands of people, but it’s because the economy is actually getting a little better. Bank of America’s announcement that it is laying off 1,200 people who work on mortgage refinancings was only the latest salvo. The company also said it will cut another 3,000 people who work on restructuring problem loans before the end of the year. Banks from Citibank to Wells Fargo to SunTrust are also laying off hundreds or more workers each.

A jump in demand for commercial airplanes boosted orders for long-lasting U.S. factory goods last month. But orders for most other goods fell as businesses cut spending. The Commerce Department said Friday orders for durable goods rose 3.7% in September, above the 0.2% gain in August. But a 57.5% jump in aircraft orders accounted for nearly all the gain. Orders for core capital goods, which include industrial machinery and electrical equipment, fell 1.1%.

The median price of an existing home this year rose to $212,100. As recently as 2011, it was $166,200, nearly $46,000 less.

Some economists say more inflation is just what the American economy needs to escape from a half-decade of sluggish growth and high unemployment. The Fed has worked for decades to suppress inflation, but economists, including Janet Yellen, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Fed starting next year, have long argued that a little inflation is particularly valuable when the economy is weak. Rising prices help companies increase profits; rising wages help borrowers repay debts. Inflation also encourages people and businesses to borrow money and spend it more quickly.

Middle East

A new report that says Iran may need as little as a month to produce enough uranium for a nuclear bomb is further evidence for why Israel will take military action before that happens, an Israeli defense official said Friday. “We have made it crystal clear – in all possible forums, that Israel will not stand by and watch Iran develop weaponry that will put us, the entire Middle East and eventually the world, under an Iranian umbrella of terror,” Danny Danon, Israel’s deputy defense minister said. Iran is developing and installing new and advanced centrifuges that enable Iran to enrich even low-enriched uranium to weapons grade uranium needed for nuclear weapons within weeks, Danon said.

An Israeli air strike hit two concealed rocket launchers in the Gaza Strip Monday, the military announced. Direct hits were confirmed. Palestinian security sources in Gaza told CNN that a training camp west of Gaza City was hit. Medical sources said no injuries were reported. The Israeli military said the strikes came after its “Iron Dome” defense system intercepted a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip above the city of Ashkelon.

Syria

The Syrian government has submitted a formal declaration of the chemical weapons in its possession and a plan for their removal, a crucial first step in an international agreement to destroy or remove its stockpiles and weapons. The declaration was in line with the deadline set by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international agency that is overseeing inspections of Syria’s chemical weapons. International inspectors have already been getting access to sites within Syria. Michael Luhan, a spokesman for OPCW said Sunday the Syrian government has so far been cooperative. The U.N. humanitarian chief bluntly told the Security Council on Friday that its recent appeal for humanitarian access in Syria has made little difference and implored the world body to exert more pressure on the warring parties to allow the delivery of aid to millions of people trapped in the conflict. The statement further laid bare how ineffective the Security Council has been in addressing Syria’s 2 ½-year-old civil war amid divisions between the United States and other Western powers, which support some of the rebel groups, and Russia, which supports the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Iraq

A new wave of car bombs hit Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 42 people and wounding dozens, officials said. It was the latest in a series of coordinated attacks targeting civilian areas that has killed hundreds in recent months. The bombs, placed in parked cars and detonated over a half-hour, targeted commercial areas and parking lots. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but such systematic attacks are a favorite tactic of al-Qaeda’s local branch. It frequently targets civilians in markets, cafes and commercial streets in Shiite areas in an attempt to undermine confidence in the government

Volcanoes

Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, has erupted, sending up a towering plume of ash visible in much of eastern Sicily. Etna’s eruptions aren’t infrequent, although the last major one occurred in 1992. Catania airport said the eruption Saturday forced the closure of nearby airspace before dawn, but authorities lifted the order in early morning. Several inhabited villages dot the mountain’s slopes, but evacuations weren’t necessary despite the lava flow.

Earthquakes

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck offshore of Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant early Saturday, triggering small tsunamis but causing no damage. An earthquake official with the Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake was an aftershock of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck the same area in 2011, killing about 19,000 people and devastating the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant. Tsunamis of up to 15 inches hit four areas along the coast. The epicenter of the 2:10 a.m. Tokyo time quake was about 170 miles off Fukushima, and it was felt in Tokyo, 300 miles away.

Weather

What happened to the hurricane season? The predictions back in the spring were quite ominous, with all of them calling for an above-average number of hurricanes. Yet, as of late October, with only a few more weeks left in a season that ends Nov. 30, just two hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic Ocean, the fewest since 1982. And for the first time since 1994, there have been no “major” hurricanes (Category 3 or above) anywhere in the Atlantic Ocean. The top reasons cited include an increased amount of dry, dusty air from the Sahara Desert as well as “sinking” air over the Atlantic, both of which worked to suppress hurricane activity.

Days of torrential rains have unleashed floods in southeast India that have killed dozens of people and forced the evacuation of more than 70,000 others from hundreds of low-lying villages. As of Saturday, 39 people had died in flood-related incidents in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states since the rains began last Monday. Many drowned when swept away by surging waters or were killed when weakened walls collapsed onto them. Hundreds of villages were inundated and crops were being ruined in the so-called Rice Bowl of India. Railway services have been suspended along routes where tracks were submerged or damaged.

A major storm with hurricane-force gusts lashed southern Britain, the Netherlands and parts of France on Monday, knocking down trees, flooding low areas and causing travel chaos. Four deaths were reported. Weather forecasters say it’s one of the worst storms to hit Britain in years. Gusts of 99 miles per hour were reported on the Isle of Wight in southern England, while gusts up to 80 mph hit the U.K. mainland. UK Power Networks officials said up to 270,000 homes were without power. At least 40,000 homes remain without power in northeast France.

Signs of the Times (10/25/13)

October 25, 2013

Experts Say ‘Start All Over” on Obamacare Website

Experts say the major problems with the Obamacare website can’t reasonably be solved before the end of 2013, and the best fix would be to start over from scratch. After assessing the website, Dave Kennedy, the CEO of information-security company Trusted Sec, estimates that about 20% of Healthcare.gov needs to be rewritten. With a whopping 500 million lines of code, according to a recent New York Times report, Kennedy believes fixing the site would probably take six months to a year. Several computer engineers said it would likely be easier to rebuild Healthcare.gov than to fix the issues in the current system. But it’s unlikely that the government would toss out more than $300 million worth of work.

Obama’s Democratic allies, including senators up for re-election next year, are joining Republicans in calling for an extension to the open enrollment period and clarification about when penalties will be levied on people who don’t obtain insurance as the law requires. The White House said Wednesday night that it will soon issue policy guidance making clear that people who sign up for insurance by March 31, 2014 will not face a penalty. More Americans reportedly are being kicked off their insurance due to ObamaCare requirements than are signing up for coverage via the newly launched health care exchanges, reports Fox News.

IRS Pays Illegal Immigrants $4.2 Billion

While the IRS was harassing and stalling Tea Party groups seeking nonprofit status, the Internal Revenue Service mailed $4.2 billion in child-credit checks to undocumented immigrants. Critics say midlevel IRS bureaucrats continue to abuse the Additional Child Tax Credit program by dispensing $1,000 checks to families in this country illegally. “The law needs clarification that undocumented immigrants are not eligible,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told Watchdog.org in a statement.

N.S.A. Program to Log Calls Is Renewed by Court

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court released a new legal opinion on Friday that reauthorized the once-secret National Security Agency program that keeps records of every American’s phone calls. Judge Eagan’s opinion, which was made public last month, held that the N.S.A. could lawfully collect the bulk data about all Americans’ calls without warrants, in part because of a 1979 case, Smith v. Maryland. In that matter, the Supreme Court held that call records were not protected by the Fourth Amendment because suspects had exposed that metadata to their phone companies and had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Judge Eagan’s opinion has been criticized, in part, because she made no mention of a landmark privacy case decided by the Supreme Court in 2012. That case, United States v. Jones, held that it was unconstitutional for the police to use a G.P.S. tracking device to monitor a suspect’s movements without a warrant. Although the Supreme Court decided the case on narrow grounds — citing that the police had to trespass on the suspect’s property when installing the device — five of the nine justices separately called into question whether the 1979 precedent was valid in an era of modern technology.

EU Leaders Meet About U.S. Spying Claims

European Union leaders are meeting Thursday in Brussels for a summit that may be overshadowed by anger about allegations that the United States has been spying on its European allies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the issue with U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday, after the German government said it had information that the United States might have monitored her cell phone. The German allegation comes in the same week that French daily newspaper Le Monde reported claims that the U.S. National Security Agency intercepted more than 70 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period. The two-day EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, is supposed to focus on the digital economy and economic and social policy issues, as well as concerns about EU migration. “A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field of intelligence gathering,” a statement Friday from Europe’s heads of state said.

No Army Training the Last 6 Months

Gen. Ray Odierno told a Washington conference Monday that the U.S. Army had not conducted any training in the last six months of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. And, he said, there currently are only two Army brigades rated combat-ready. That’s a total of between 7,000 to 10,000 troops and less than one-third what the combat veteran regards as necessary for proper national security. Since the Obama Pentagon began the troop draw-down two years ago under the president’s orders, more than 33,000 active duty soldiers have been cut.

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Pollution Drops

The United States cut its energy-related carbon dioxide pollution by 3.8 percent last year, the second biggest drop since 1990, the Department of Energy said Monday. The only recent year with a bigger percentage drop was in 2009, when America was in a large recession. American cars and factories spewed 5.83 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2012, down from 6.06 billion in 2011. It is the lowest level for U.S. emissions since 1994. Carbon dioxide is the chief man-made global warming gas. The Energy Department said carbon pollution reduction is due to warm winter weather, more efficient cars and an ongoing shift from coal-power to natural gas to produce electricity.

Post Office $5.6 Billion Default Goes Unnoticed

With Congress and the media focused on the government shutdown and how to avoid default on the national debt, little attention was directed toward the U.S. Postal Service which earlier this month defaulted on a required $5.6 billion payment for the healthcare of its future retirees. The third default on the down-payment in just over a year underscores the necessity of much-needed reforms for the beleaguered Postal Service. Rep. Darrell Issa of California told Newsmax that without “the freedom to realign its infrastructure and operations in line with the changing way Americans use mail, the agency will remain insolvent.”

Economic News

The unemployment rate fell to 7.2% from 7.3%, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Employers added a disappointing 148,000 jobs in September, down from 193,000 in August and extending a summer slowdown in payroll growth. Businesses added just 126,000 jobs, while federal, state and local governments added 22,000. Employers added a solid 20,000 temporary workers. Barclays Capital says the weak report has prompted it to push back its estimate for when the Fed will begin to scale back its bond-buying stimulus from December to March.

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 last week. The Labor Department says the less volatile four-week average jumped by nearly 11,000 to 348,250. Weekly applications spiked three weeks ago as California began working through delayed claims and the shutdown caused temporary layoffs by government contractors.

Gasoline prices are likely to continue sliding for the rest of the year and could fall to $3.15 a gallon by Christmas, the lowest national holiday season average since 2010. That’s about 20 cents a gallon lower than current prices, now averaging $3.36 a gallon. With crude falling below $100, this opens the door for the declines to pick up steam.

Average sticker prices at the nation’s four-year public universities rose 2.9% this year, the smallest annual increase in more than three decades. Still, the smaller rates of increase this year — across public, private non-profit and for-profit colleges — are tempered by recent declines in federal grant aid.

A surprising number of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500, 57, have found ways to pay effective tax rates of zero, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ. The news comes months after after the Government Accountability Office released a report showing that companies in 2010 paid an average effective tax rate of 12.6%, well below the 35% federal corporate tax rate. Corporate giants such as telecom firm Verizon, drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb and power management firm Eaton, all paid effective tax rates of 0% during the past 12 months.

Persecution Watch

Thousands of Egyptian Christians turned out for the funerals of four members of a family gunned down as they waited outside a Coptic church for a wedding, in what the Christians said was the latest murder by Muslim terrorists. The shooting has worsened the panic among Egypt’s minority Coptic Christians, who have been discriminated against for centuries by the Muslim majority. The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of Christianity’s earliest branches and it predates the creation of the Muslim faith by centuries. The Coptics say they’re blamed for the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi and dozens of their churches have been attacked since the ouster.

In the Somali Federation, Christians remain marginalized, threatened and criminalized. Ranked No. 5 on Open Doors’ 2013 World Watch List, it ranks among the countries where Christians face extreme persecution — nearly always meaning physical violence. In every sphere of life — private, family, community and national — discovery of being a Christian means danger; often execution on the spot. An Open Doors field staff member gives testimony of Somali believers: “Amid the hardest times of persecution and executions of Christians, they have remained steadfast, holding on to their Christian faith secretly.”

An increase in violence against Christians in northern Iraq has increased the flow of Christians leaving the country. The north, generally considered a relatively safe area of the country, had become home for many Christians fleeing from the tumultuous central and southern regions. However, several bombings in the north in recent months have caused panic among the Christian community. On September 22, a suicide bomb went off outside the home of Christian politician Emad Youhanna in Rafigayn, part of the Kirkuk province, injuring 19 people, including three of Youhanna’s children. Several bomb attacks have also taken place in the northern city of Erbil, for which al Qaeda claimed responsibility. In early September, Christians in the village of Deshtakh complained that they were facing harassment from local police.

Syrian rebels are trying to capture an ancient Christian town north of Damascus, CBN News reports. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports the al Qaeda-linked rebels also seem to be targeting a main hospital in the town of Sadad, as well as damaging and desecrating Christian churches in the area.

A pastor in Mombasa, Kenya, who was shot to death while praying at his church this weekend was still holding his Bible in his hand when church members found him, CBN News reports. Charles Matole had received threats after many converted to Christianity during revival services in a coastal area of the country. Members of his church, Vikwantani Redeemed Gospel Church, found him slumped in one of the church’s plastic chairs on Saturday night with his Bible in his hand. On Sunday, another pastor, Ebrahim Kidata of East African Pentecostal Church, was strangled and left in some bushes 30 miles north of Mombasa.

Middle East

Israeli motorists traveling south from Jerusalem near the town of Beit Ummar in the land administered by the Palestinian Authority were shocked this past weekend to see a massive Nazi flag flying near the roadway. It is the second time in the past few months that this offensive expression of hatred toward the Jewish People has been displayed there. The reason the Palestinians have such an affinity for the Nazis is that they share the same goal—the elimination of the Jewish People. So this is nothing new. In a recent speech Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out the historic links between the Palestinian Arabs and the Nazis. He cited the evidence that Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was “one of the initiators of the Holocaust of the Jews of Europe.”

The Jerusalem Prayer Team notes, “Hatred of the Jewish People runs deep, not only among the Palestinians, but around the world. Anti-Semitic violent attacks continue to occur more and more frequently. Threats to destroy the Jewish People continue to be made. The enemies of Israel are not looking for new, smaller borders for the Jewish state—they want it to be completely destroyed.”

The Obama administration on Wednesday acknowledged a widening gulf with key Middle Eastern allies over nuclear talks with Iran, as Israeli and Persian Gulf Arab leaders pressed for drastic cuts to Iran’s atomic infrastructure that Tehran has insisted it will never accept. The differences came into stark relief as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to lecture Secretary of State John F. Kerry at a joint news conference, warning against a ‘bad deal’ that would allow Iran to retain any capability to make enriched uranium. Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies have joined Israelis in expressing growing dismay over U.S. suggestions that Iran could be allowed to retain a limited capability to enrich uranium as part of a comprehensive agreement ending the decade-old nuclear dispute.

Syria

Syria is nearing completion of a proposal for the removal or destruction of its chemical weapons, an ambitious operation that will probably require extensive international assistance, according to analysts. The plan could involve moving most bulk or precursor chemicals to a single location, where they can be transported out of the country, perhaps on ships, analysts say. The chemicals could then be destroyed or neutralized by international experts outside Syria. If some of the chemicals are unstable or in rusted containers, an already complex program would be even more risky. No final decisions have been made.

Meanwhile, some five million Syrians are now refugees in their own country, many living hand-to-mouth in vacant buildings, schools, mosques, parks and the cramped homes of relatives. Others are trapped in neighborhoods isolated by military blockades, beyond the reach of aid groups. Already desperately short of food and medicine as winter closes in, they could begin to succumb in greater numbers to hunger and exposure, aid workers say.

Iran

Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb in as little as a month, according to a new estimate by one of the Institute for Science and International Security. The new assessment comes as the White House invited Senate staffers to a briefing on negotiations with Iran as it is trying to persuade Congress not to go ahead with a bill to stiffen sanctions against Iran. The Obama administration has said Iran is probably a year away from having enough enriched uranium to make a bomb.

  • While Iran stalls for time, aided and abetted by the Obama administrations, they get closer and closer to building nuclear weapons despite all their denials to the contrary

Iraq

A string of attacks in and around Baghdad, including bombings at marketplaces and busy commercial streets, killed 14 people and wounded dozens on Wednesday, the latest incidents in a wave of violence roiling the country. Violence in Iraq has intensified since April to levels not seen since 2008. At least 450 people have died in attacks across the country so far this month.

Pakistan/India

An Indian official says at least 10 civilians have been wounded as Pakistani troops fired guns and mortar shells at more than a dozen Indian border posts overnight in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. Indian guards retaliated and an exchange of gunfire lasted several hours. India accused Pakistani troops of firing on at least 50 Indian border posts, calling it the most serious violation of a 2003 cease-fire accord. The countries have fought two wars over control of Kashmir, which is divided between them.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry is warning citizens against “disturbing the public peace” during a planned protest organized Saturday by women activists to challenge a ban on female drivers. The ministry noted that social networks have called for weekend rallies and marches. “The laws of the Kingdom prohibit activities disturbing the public peace and opening venues to sedition which only serve the senseless, the ill-intentioned, intruders, and opportunity hunters. It stressed that authorities will “firmly enforce the laws against violators.”

Somalia

AFP, a French news agency, reported on Sunday that a suicide bomb attack in a restaurant in the central Somali town of Beledweyne killed at least 15 and injured an unknown number of people on Saturday, according to Open Doors USA. The attack targeted the restaurant that is popular with African Union soldiers from Ethiopia and Djibouti and Somali government soldiers. Beledweyne is a strategic town 185 miles north of the capital of Mogadishu and close to the Ethiopian border. Al Shabab, the al Qaeda-linked extremist group responsible for the four-day siege on the Westgate mall in Nairobi in September, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Haiti

A humanitarian agency for the United Nations says the number of Haitians still displaced by the 2010 earthquake has dropped to 171,974, still a major crisis. That marks an 89 percent decline since the camp population peaked in July 2010 at 1.5 million people. Ninety-two percent of remaining camps are in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. A 7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti in 2010, followed by at least a dozen aftershocks, causing widespread devastation in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

Wildfires

A military training exercise ignited the largest of the wildfires that have ravaged Australia’s most populous state over the past week, investigators said Wednesday. More than 100 fires have killed one man and destroyed more than 200 homes in New South Wales state since last Thursday. Fire investigators found that a massive fire near the city of Lithgow, west of Sydney, began Oct. 16 at a nearby Defense Department training area, and that the blaze “was started as a result of live ordnance exercises” at the army range. The fire has burned 180 square miles and destroyed several houses, but no injuries or deaths have been reported in the blaze. Firefighters battling blazes that menaced the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia’s largest city, said Wednesday the worst of the crisis had been averted — but the threat is not yet over.

Weather

A greatly weakened Hurricane Raymond stayed parked at sea early Wednesday as its rains caused some flooding on Mexico’s Pacific coast and led authorities to evacuate 7,000 people in a village threatened by mudslides from two soaked hills. Raymond’s center was 120 miles south of the beach resort of Zihuatanejo early Wednesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. After spending much of Monday as a powerful Category 3 storm, Raymond was barely a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. Forecasters warned that Raymond’s rains still had the potential to cause dangerous floods and mudslides in the region, which is reeling from more than $1.7 billion in damage and about 120 deaths caused earlier by tropical storm Manuel.

A wintery cold front plunging down from Canada is shoving America’s fall weather down towards the Gulf of Mexico and replacing it with frost and in some places snow. Jack Frost is nipping at noses in the Midwest, where temperatures are 10 to 15 degrees colder than average, the National Weather Service says. A belt of hard freezes threatens crops, as it stretches to farmland in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys, extending possibly into the Carolinas and into north Georgia. The northern Plains, Great Lakes, Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley and Appalachians saw their first snow of the season. Sioux Falls, S.D. (0.4 inches), Waterloo, Iowa (1 inch), Davenport, Iowa (2.5 inches), Marquette, Mich. (2.3 inches) and Muncie, Ind. (1 inch) had their first measurable snow this fall.

Coastal cities in the Pacific Northwest have been dealing with rounds of heavy fog all week long. The fog has been so relentless, locals are calling it ‘Fogmaggedon’ and ‘Fogtober.’Seattle has seen 10 days with dense fog (quarter-mile visibility or less) this month. What is even more remarkable is the persistence of the fog. Through Thursday, Seattle has seen seven days in a row with dense fog.

New research shows that average summer temperatures in the Canadian Arctic over the last century are the highest in the last 44,000 years, and perhaps the highest in 120,000 years. The study is the first to show that current Arctic warmth exceeds peak heat there in the early Holocene period, the name for the current geological period, which began about 11,700 years ago. During that “peak” Arctic warmth, solar radiation was about 9 percent greater than today. The Arctic has been heating up for about a century, but the most significant warming didn’t start until the 1970s. “We expect all of the ice caps to eventually disappear, even if there is no additional warming,” said Gifford Miller, a researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Signs of the Times (10/21/13)

October 21, 2013

‘Judicial Oligarchy’ Ushers in NJ Same-Sex ‘Marriages’

A family advocate in New Jersey is blasting that state’s highest court for usurping the authority of voters and legislators by stepping in and deciding it’s time to legalize “gay marriage.” As of today, homosexual men and women can pair off and legally marry in New Jersey. In late September, Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled New Jersey’s civil union law discriminates against homosexuals. The state appealed to the NJ Supreme Court, but that panel refused to grant a stay pending outcome of the January court date. Len Deo, who heads New Jersey Family First, contends the issue of same-gender marriage should be decided by New Jersey residents and their elected representatives. But the court took over responsibility for the decision – and did so before the legal question is even argued.

  • The liberal media and courts have conspired against God to enact their shamefully immoral agenda

Insurers Getting Faulty Data from ObamaCare Exchanges

Insurers say faulty data from ObamaCare marketplaces is straining their ability to handle even the first wave of consumers who were able to sign up for health insurance using federally run exchanges during the glitch-ridden rollout of the new law. Executives at more than a dozen health insurance companies say they have received data from online marketplaces that is riddled with errors, including duplicate enrollments, missing data fields and spouses reported as children, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska, which has about 50 ObamaCare enrollees, said it had to stop enrollments from coming through automatically and hire temporary workers to contact customers to fix inaccuracies in submissions.

Insurers Avoiding Many State Healthcare Exchanges

So few insurers offer plans on some of the new government health insurance exchanges that consumers in those states may pay too much or face large rate increases later, insurance experts say. An average of eight insurers compete for business in 36 states that had exchanges run or supported by the federal government. Many state-run exchanges have far fewer than average,. Vermont has two, Kentucky has three and Nevada and Maryland each have four. Some insurers pulled out of the exchanges required by the Affordable Care Act as the Oct. 1 launch approached. That leaves an uneven patchwork of providers — ranging from one insurer in New Hampshire and West Virginia to 16 in New York. The difference also leads to a wide disparity in the numbers of plans, from just seven in Alabama to 106 in Arizona.

Obama Mad About Healthcare Website Problems

President Obama declared Monday that “nobody is madder than me” about the failures of the government’s health care Web site, but said the technical problems do not indicate a broader failure of the Affordable Care Act. Many people have had trouble signing up for health-care plans in the online insurances exchanges that are a centerpiece of the ACA, also known as Obamacare. USA TODAY reported that “the federal health care exchange was built using 10-year-old technology that may require constant fixes and updates for the next six months.” Administration officials say about 476,000 health insurance applications have been filed through federal and state exchanges. However, the officials continue to refuse to say how many people have actually enrolled in the insurance markets. Without enrollment figures, it’s unclear whether the program is on track to reach the 7 million people projecting by the Congressional Budget Office to gain coverage during the six-month sign-up period.

Lionfish Infestation in Atlantic Ocean

Lionfish are not native to the Atlantic Ocean but have begun to proliferate there. The venomous, fast reproducing fish are aggressive eaters and will consume anything and everything, gorging so much they are actually getting liver disease. With no known predators — except human beings — they can wipe out 90% of a reef. “The lionfish invasion is probably the worst environmental disaster the Atlantic will ever face,” said Graham Maddocks, president and founder of Ocean Support Foundation. They produce 30,000 to 40,000 eggs every few days and are sexually mature by 1 year old. Florida pet owners are blamed for their release into unfamiliar waters.

Economic News

U.S. debt jumped a record $328 billion on Thursday, the first day the federal government was able to borrow money under the deal President Obama and Congress sealed this week. The debt now equals $17.075 trillion, according to figures the Treasury Department posted online on Friday. The national debt is up from $10.6 trillion when President Obama took office in 2009. This debt obligation comes out to nearly $53,000 if every person living in the U.S., including children and unemployed had to pay a share. If every working American had to pay their share of the $16.7 trillion debt in 2012, they would be shelling out $123,000.

  • The debt load on taxpayers will continue to expand despite the efforts of some to enforce fiscal responsibility on a bloated, insatiable government, ultimately bringing the U.S. economy crashing down

Some fortunate federal employees will likely get paid twice for not working this month. Several states are expected to allow federal workers who collected unemployment insurance during the government shutdown to keep both those benefits and the back pay they’re set to receive, according to the Labor Department. Their decisions may add at least a few million dollars more to the shutdown’s still-untallied costs to taxpayers.

Home price gains are slowing after a strong bounce off the bottom, potentially marking a new phase for the housing recovery. Home values aren’t rising as fast as they were and even dipped in a few hot markets in September. U.S. home values were up 1.2% in the third quarter from the second. That’s down from a 2.5% jump in the second quarter from the first. Half of 30 major metropolitan areas saw values fall in September from August. Earlier this summer, all 30 of the metros were seeing month-to-month gains.

JPMorgan Chase and the Department of Justice have tentatively agreed to a $13 billion civil settlement to resolve several investigations into the bank’s mortgage securities business. Mortgage-backed securities and related derivatives were a key cause of the financial crisis, saddling financial institutions with losses as the housing market cratered.

More than half of fast food workers have to rely on public assistance programs since their wages aren’t enough to support them, a new report found. 52% of families of fast food workers receive assistance from a public program like Medicaid, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. That’s compared to 25% of families in the workforce as a whole.

Almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working, according to a study released Monday. That’s almost 15 percent of those aged 16 to 24 who have neither desk nor job. Other studies have shown that idle young adults are missing out on a window to build skills they will need later in life or use the knowledge they acquired in college. Without those experiences, they are less likely to command higher salaries and more likely to be an economic drain on their communities.

In the aftermath of a historic housing bust, rented single-family homes are on the rise in communities from coast to coast. At least a fifth of all occupied single-family homes were rentals last year in 32 of the nation’s top metropolitan regions. That’s up from seven metros in 2006. Millions of homeowners lost homes to foreclosure and were forced to become renters, while others delayed homeownership.

China’s economic growth rebounded in the latest quarter. The world’s second-largest economy grew by 7.8% over a year earlier in the three months ending in September, boosted by higher government spending. That was up from a two-decade low of 7.5% the previous quarter (in contrast to U.S. growth of just 2.1% last quarter).

Persecution Watch

Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed ten Christians in three villages in Nigeria’s Plateau state last week in what authorities called a cattle-rustling attempt. But a visit to the home where eight members of one family were killed revealed the presence of no cows. A state official was quick to deny that the attack was rooted in the ethno-religious violence that has convulsed the state, and military officials asserted that security forces recovered 20 cows and killed five of the rustlers in thwarting an attempted theft, but a Morning Star News reporter found no evidence of cattle ownership at the home in Kukyek village where eight family members were slain in the wee hours of Oct. 10th.

Middle East

The Islamist terror militia Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has called for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to be suspended and for a return to armed violence against Israelis. On Friday, senior Hamas official Issat al-Rishq further threatened that Hamas would try to abduct more soldiers following what it considers was the success of the Gilad Schalit kidnapping. Meanwhile, an Israeli campaign to warn residents of the Strip against cooperating with Hamas by delivering pre-recorded phone messages commenced over the weekend.  “Know that Hamas is spending millions of dollars on tunnels used for hostile and terrorist acts against the state of Israel,” the message said, according to an AFP report. “This money should have gone to infrastructure, education and health projects.”

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has rejected Friday a seat on the U.N. Security Council just hours after it was elected as one of the Council’s 10 nonpermanent members. In a statement issued through the state Saudi Press Agency, the Middle Eastern nation thanked those countries “that have given (it) their confidence” but said the 15-member body is incapable of resolving the world’s conflicts. The Saudi Foreign Ministry noted, in particular, that the Council had failed in its duties toward Syria. It said this alleged failure enabled Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime to perpetrate the killings of its people, including with chemical weapons, without facing any deterrents or punishment. The Ministry also said the Council has not been able to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict over the past decades and has failed to transform the Middle East into a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.

Egypt

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood faces a wave of trials unlike any it has seen in its history, threatening to put a large number of its senior leadership behind bars for years. The prosecutions are the next phase in the wide-scale crackdown on the Brotherhood following the military’s July ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, who goes on trial next month. Morsi’s trial, the most high-profile case, is setting the pattern for the others, aiming to show the Brotherhood leadership as directing a campaign of violence. Morsi is charged with inciting murder in connection to a protest during his year in office in which his supporters attacked protesters outside his palace.

Syria

Syrian rebels assaulted a checkpoint in a pro-government suburb of Damascus on Saturday, setting off a suicide vehicle bomb that killed 30 people. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that rebels led by the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, or Nusra Front, carried out the attack while trying to capture the checkpoint near the town of Mleiha adjoining Jaramana. It reported heavy fighting after the blast. Rebels control much of the countryside around Damascus but Jaramana, a Christian and Druse area, is mostly loyal to President Bashar Assad.

Iraq

A coordinated attack Monday against police headquarters in a former al-Qaeda stronghold in central Iraq killed seven policemen. The attack in the city of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, involved at least two suicide bombers and several gunmen. One bomber detonated his explosives-laden belt at the main checkpoint outside the Fallujah police headquarters, while the second blew himself up near the building gates as security forces engaged in a shootout with other gunmen.

Pakistan

The U.S. has quietly decided to release more than $1.6 billion in military and economic aid to Pakistan that was suspended when relations between the two countries disintegrated over the covert raid that killed Usama bin Laden and deadly U.S. airstrikes against Pakistani soldiers. The U.S. has quietly decided to release more than $1.6 billion in military and economic aid to Pakistan that was suspended when relations between the two countries disintegrated over the covert raid that killed Usama bin Laden and deadly U.S. airstrikes against Pakistani soldiers.

  • Under the guise of an “improved” relationship this is nothing more than giving money directly to Islamic terrorists.

Libya

Libya marks the second anniversary of the death of Muammar Gaddafi with the country on the brink of a new civil war and fighting raging in the eastern city of Benghazi, birthplace of its Arab spring revolution. Violence between radical militias and regular forces broke out on Friday night and continued yesterday, while the capital Tripoli is braced for fallout from the kidnapping earlier this month of prime minister Ali Zaidan. Federalists in Cyrenaica, home to most of Libya’s oil, open their own independent parliament in Benghazi this week, in a step that may herald the breakup of the country.

Yemen

Dozens of al Qaeda fighters attacked a military base Friday, killing seven soldiers in southern Yemen. Seven more suffered injuries in the assault in Abyan province and were taken to a hospital. The militants attacked the compound from three sides, drove a bomb-laden vehicle inside and detonated it. Abyan province was considered a hub for al Qaeda militants throughout Yemen’s political turmoil in 2011. After coming to power in February of 2013, President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi launched offensives against the Islamist extremists, uprooting its strongholds in southern Yemen. The militants had warned soldiers in brochures ahead of time not to defend Yemen’s government, which it accuses of being aligned with the United States.

France

Thousands of high school students are protesting in Paris over the expulsion of immigrant children and their families. Police have used tear gas against some of the protesters. The demonstration comes as the government is finalizing a report Friday into the treatment of a 15-year-old girl taken by police from a school field trip, then deported. The incident shocked many in France and inflamed the anger of high school student unions, which staged Friday’s protest. Most of them rallied peacefully, but a few threw stones and pens at riot police trying to slow down their march.

The United States’ ambassador to France Charles H. Rivkin has been summoned by the French foreign minister following claims made by the Le Monde newspaper group Monday that the National Security Agency spied on millions of French citizens. Le Monde made the allegations it said based on documents it secured from the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. According to the report, which was co-authored by the ex-Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, over a 30-day period between December last year and January 2013 the NSA’s top-secret “US-985D” program intercepted data on over 70 million phone calls made in France.

Mexico

Mexico’s government said Sunday it “categorically condemns” email spying, after a German news magazine reported that documents from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden say the U.S. gained access to the e-mail system of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon. A report posted by Der Spiegel said the documents describe an operation dubbed “Flat liquid” that claim to have accessed Mexico’s “presidencia” domain, which was also purportedly used by members of Calderon’s Cabinet. “This practice is unacceptable, illegitimate and contrary to Mexican law and international law,” Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said in a statement.

India

Police in a southern Indian port city on Friday arrested the crew of a U.S.-owned ship on charges of illegally transporting weapons and ammunition in Indian waters. Eight crew and 25 security guards aboard the MV Seaman Guard Ohio were arrested after they failed to produce documents allowing them to carry the weapons. The ship is owned by Virginia-based security company AdvanFort but is registered in Sierra Leone. The ship’s captain told investigators that the company provides armed escorts to merchant vessels traveling in pirate-infested waters in the Indian Ocean.

China

Visibility shrank to less than half a football field and small-particle pollution soared to a record 40 times higher than an international safety standard in the northern Chinese city of Harbin as the region entered its high-smog season. Winter typically brings the worst air pollution to northern China because of a combination of weather conditions and an increase in the burning of coal for homes and municipal heating systems.

Earthquakes

Mexico’s Baja California peninsula was rattled by a 6.4-magnitude offshore quake Saturday. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages. The United States Geological Survey says the quake occurred at almost 11 a.m. Saturday and was centered in the Gulf of California, between the Baja Peninsula and Mexico’s western coast.

Wildfires

At least one person has been killed and dozens of homes destroyed as nearly 100 wildfires continue rage across Australia’s most populous state on Friday. The fires hae forced hundreds of evacuations as the nation’s annual fire season got off to an unusually early start. The number of fires in New South Wales State had dropped from more than 100 overnight to 89, burning across 375 square miles. But 25 continued to burn out of control. The fires have killed one man, destroyed 208 homes and damaged another 122 since Thursday Firefighters were focusing on a major blaze Sunday near the town of Lithgow that stretched along a 190-mile front.

Weather

Hurricane Raymond strengthened to a Category 3 storm early Monday as swirled near Mexico’s already soaked southern Pacific coast, bringing the threat of heavy and possibly dangerous rains a month after Tropical Storm Manuel caused widespread damage with floods and mudslides. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the newly formed storm had stalled south of Mexico but a general northward drift was expected that would bring the hurricane closer to the coast. Mexican authorities rushed to deploy emergency crews and said they were considering ordering evacuations of low-lying areas. About 10,000 people already were living away from their homes one month after Manuel inundated homes and left behind drenched hillsides that posed serious landslide risks.

Signs of the Times (10/17/13)

October 17, 2013

Anti-Christian Sentiment Growing at Alarming Rate

Hostility cases against Christian Americans are growing at an alarming rate, according to a new survey from the Family Research Council and Liberty Institute, CBN News reports. The Liberty Institute’s Jeff Mateer noted that while last year’s survey was based on 600 cases, “this survey that we’re releasing right now is almost 1,200. So we’ve almost doubled in just one year.” One such case involved college student Audrey Jarvis, who was asked twice to remove her cross necklace, or at least hide it, at a student orientation. “My supervisor came up to me out of nowhere and asked me to remove my cross necklace because he thought it would be offensive to incoming freshmen,” she recalled. In another case, Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk got in trouble with his lesbian commanding officer when she ordered him to answer how he felt about gay marriage. “This is about religious freedom because I expressly stated that I had a religious conviction that wouldn’t allow me to answer the question the way it was posed to me,” Monk said. Former NFL running back Craig James found himself a victim of growing anti-faith sentiment when just one hour into a new job as a FOX Sports analyst, he was booted off the air. James and the Liberty Institute insist it was because a top network manager disapproved of a statement James made about gay marriage 15 months before in a political debate.

  • The end-time anti-Christ spirit is rapidly escalating, just as prophesied and Scripture (1John 2:18)

Shutdown Avoided, Uncertainty Lingers

The partial government shutdown’s finally over. The debt ceiling debacle has been averted. Obamacare remains virtually unscathed. The 16-day government shutdown took a $24 billion chunk out of the U.S. economy, according to an initial analysis from Standard & Poor’s. But even with an end to the latest Washington impasse, the economy will continue to be hamstrung by something just as damaging: uncertainty. The measure the Senate and House passed Wednesday night to end the standoff would fund the government and raise the nation’s borrowing authority for up to four months, leaving a cloud of uncertainty over the economy. A long-term resolution of the stalemate hinges on a sharply divided Congress’s ability to agree on a broad tax-and-spending framework — a goal that has remained elusive for years. Since the 2008 financial crisis, uncertainty — about budget battles, the new health care law, taxes and regulations — has shadowed the recovery, reducing business investment and hiring, and chilling consumer spending.

  • Mark your calendars, because we get to have this fight all over again in a few months. February 7 is the new date the Treasury Department will run out of ways to pay America’s bills.

So much for a “clean” bill. The measure passed by Congress to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling also contains some goodies and gifts tucked into the 35-page bill. There’s more money — a lot more — for a dam project on the Ohio River and millions of cash for Colorado flooding repair projects. And the wealthy widow of a late U.S. senator will receive a year’s pay as a death benefit. “These people are like alcoholics. They can’t resist taking a drink. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona to the Daily Beast. The top five pork items total over $3.3 billion in additional spending.

Stenographer Scolds Congress

Amid all the chaos of the last-minute deal in Washington, there was an unusual moment on the House floor moments after the bill passed. A House stenographer and well-known employee calmly took to a microphone and began screaming. “Do not be deceived. God shall not be mocked. A House divided cannot stand,” she said. “He will not be mocked, He will not be mocked, (don’t touch me) He will not be mocked. The greatest deception here, is that this is not one nation under God. It never was. Had it been… it would not have been… No. it would not have been… the Constitution would not have been written by Free Masons… and go against God. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God, Lord Jesus Christ.” After a few seconds, she was escorted away by the Sergeant-at-Arms.

  • A word from God that the media is calling an insane rant. There has always been a cloud of Freemasonry over the foundation of the U.S. Government and this anti-Christ undercurrent is now flowing freely and openly as it washes away the last remaining traces of “God Bless America.”

Obamacare Woes Continue

Elusive estimates of how many people actually were able to sign up for ObamaCare since enrollment launched more than two weeks ago are finally starting to emerge — and, as expected, show a slow start amid widespread problems with the main federal website. The federal government has not yet released its own enrollment figures. But private firms and analysts have taken a crack at it. One private-sector analysis showed that, during the first week, less than 1 percent of those who tried to register were able to enroll in a health care plan. The review showed 9.47 million unique visitors to the federal site during the first week, including 3.72 million who tried to register, with only 1 million successfully registering and just 36,000 completing the enrollment process. Officials still have time to fix the myriad glitches on the website, before Jan. 1 when health-insurance coverage begins, and ultimately mid-February, when analysts say most Americans will have to sign up in order to avoid a tax penalty.

Ministries File Class Action Suit over HHS Mandate

The Southern Baptist Convention’s GuideStone health plan and two other non-profit religious groups are suing the Obama administration over its contraception coverage mandate, which forces all employers to provide birth control coverage to employees, including drugs that may cause abortions, CBN News reports. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is suing the Obama administration on behalf of GuideStone, the Oklahoma-based Reaching Souls International and Truett-McConnell College in Georgia. The class action lawsuit actually includes more than 100 ministries that participate in GuideStone’s health benefits plan. The three organizations argue the contraception mandate is “an assault on biblical convictions and an attack on religious liberty.” The Obama administration has said churches and a narrowly defined category of religious organizations are exempt, but the administration is still threatening devastating penalties to many other ministry organizations, such as Christian colleges, missions organizations and family ministries. “The government’s refusal to treat these ministries as ‘religious employers’ is senseless,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “These people spend their lives teaching and preaching their religious faith — if they do not qualify as ‘religious employers,’ the government needs to get a new definition.”

Thirty Million Global Slaves

A new report claiming to be the most comprehensive look at global slavery says 30 million people are living as slaves around the world. The Global Slavery Index, published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, lists India as the country with by far the most slaves, with an estimated nearly 14 million, followed by China (2.9 million) and Pakistan (2.1 million). The top 10 countries on its list of shame accounted for more than three quarters of the 29.8 million people living in slavery, with Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh completing the list. In terms of countries with the highest of proportion of slaves, Mauritania in West Africa topped the table, with about 4% of its 3.4 million people enslaved, followed by Haiti, Pakistan, India and Nepal.

Hackers Seize Control of Internet Appliances

From a command center in a nondescript high-rise here in the heart of Silicon Valley, security start-up Norse has been gathering shocking evidence of hackers usurping control of Internet-connected appliances, everything from web cams to climate-control systems. This latest expansion of cybercrime revolves around the IP address assigned to each computing device connected to the Internet. Cybercriminals have begun capitalizing on the fact that many of the mundane digital devices we tie into the web are easy to locate and wide open to hacking. “There’s only one way onto the Internet, and that’s through an IP address,” says Norse CEO Sam Glines. “The adversary just wants IP space to launch attacks and doesn’t really care if it’s a baby monitor or a server at a Fortune 1000 company.”

Proven: Air Pollution Causes Cancer

What many commuters choking on smog have long suspected has finally been scientifically validated: air pollution causes lung cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer declared on Thursday that air pollution is a carcinogen, alongside known dangers such as asbestos, tobacco and ultraviolet radiation. The decision came after a consultation by an expert panel organized by IARC, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, which is based in Lyon, France. The IARC had previously deemed some of the components in air pollution such as diesel fumes to be carcinogens, but this is the first time it has classified air pollution in its entirety as cancer causing. “We consider this to be the most important environmental carcinogen, more so than passive smoking,” said the IRAC.

Flesh-Eating ‘Zombie’ Drug Kills From the Inside Out

A flesh-eating drug that turns people into zombie-like creatures seems to have made its way to the United States. This extremely addictive injectable opioid is called krokodil (pronounced like crocodile) or desomorphine. It’s so named in part because users report black or green scaly skin as a side effect. This weekend five people were hospitalized in the Chicago suburb of Joliet, Illinois, with symptoms similar to cases reported recently by health care providers in Arizona and Oklahoma. Krokodil causes serious damage to the veins along with soft tissue infections, rapidly followed by gangrene and necrosis. There have been many confirmed cases of krokodil abuse in Russia and Ukraine. An estimated 100,000 in Russia and around 20,000 people in Ukraine are estimated to have injected the drug.

Fast-Food CEO Says Health Law Hurting Job Creation

The CEO of a major American fast-food corporation says President Obama was “wrong” when he claimed that the costs of ObamaCare are not hurting job creation in the U.S. Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc. which is the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, told Megyn Kelly on “The Kelly File,” that his company and others will choose to hire part-time employees instead of full-time employees because of increased costs from the health care law. “It’s very simple; if you increase the cost of something businesses will use less of it,” Puzder said. “If you decrease the cost they will use more of it. So if you increase the cost of full time employment, there will be less full time employees. If you decrease the cost of part time employment, you’ll have more part time employment.”

Economic News

World markets gave the U.S. debt deal a tepid reception Thursday, even as lawmakers opened the government for business and removed the threat of a costly default. Even in the U.S., stock futures were little changed after a strong performance on Wednesday. Stocks rallied in the U.S. on Wednesday as the debt deal took shape, but faltered as the details of the short-term, temporary resolution emerged.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped from a six-month high last week, but remained elevated. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 358,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. During the week ended Oct. 5, the first week of the shutdown, there were 70,068 claims from furloughed federal workers. Jobless claims are still dealing with a lot of computer glitches and other temporary factors.

Persecution Watch

The disappearance of at least some 20,000 prisoners of conscience from North Korea’s Camp 22 — a massive concentration camp — is a huge massacre of an already brutalized population. The camp was geographically larger than Los Angeles and thought to have once held between 30,000 to 50,000 prisoners. According to a story by Robert Park published in Forbes and the Chicago Tribune, satellite photographs indicate that guard posts, interrogation and detention facilities at the camp had been razed last year. By that time, those accused and exploited had been reduced to about 3,000. While an estimated 7,000-8,000 prisoners are believed by some observers to have been taken away at night via train to similar slave labor/death camps No. 16 (located in a secluded mountain area in Hwasong County) and No. 25 (near the city of Chongjin), the rest remain unaccounted for.

Iran’s continued mistreatment of its Christian minority was raised at a recent meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Attieh Fard, a lawyer specializing in human rights, urged President Hassan Rouhani to make good on his promises to the United Nations in New York by releasing the 42 Christians known to be in jail and the 45 awaiting trial. Fard said these figures represent only known cases and that the number is likely to be much higher, but that many have remained silent due to threats by the government. At least 300 Christians have been arrested for their faith in the past three years in Iran.

The U.S. Army has admitted it was wrong to use false information in a recent training module that named the American Family Association as a “domestic hate group.” Army spokesman Roy A. Rolan Sr. responded to a Jackson, Mississippi, reporter and said soldiers who attended an October briefing at nearby Camp Shelby will be notified that the SPLC’s “hate group” label is in error and should be discounted for what it is — false and deceitful. AFA notes, however, “Work remains to be done. We have documented cases of this type of false assertions against AFA being used in military training resources on other bases.”

A Wisconsin school district reversed its decision to limit Christmas music in December. Fifteen elementary schools in the Wausau School District recently cancelled all holiday concerts. And Wausau West High School decided not to perform its traditional Christmas concert. These schools were responding to a district directive aimed at silencing religious music. “Schools should not have to think twice about whether they can allow students to sing Christmas carols in a holiday production,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Litigation Counsel Rory Gray. “Courts have unanimously upheld their inclusion.”

Middle East

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates say they are seeking $10.8 billion in advanced U.S.-made missiles and other weapons as part of bids by Western-allied Gulf states to stay ahead of claimed military strides by rival Iran. Gulf nations regularly spend billions of dollars on U.S. military equipment and upgrades amid lingering regional tensions with Iran, which often conducts major military exercises and claims to have made advances in drone technology and other areas.

Iran

Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers ended on a promising note Wednesday, according to the United States, but analysts cautioned that Iran had not appeared to agree on any of the major demands of the West. Media reports that Iran had agreed to ‘snap’ inspections of its nuclear facilities were contradicted by an Iranian negotiator. And the Iranians continued to insist that any serious concessions to the West would not come until at least a year, by which time the United States estimates Iran may have mastered the technology and created the materials to build an atomic bomb. “The Iranian offer to limit the level of enrichment is not going to be sufficient,” said Gary Samore, head of United Against Nuclear Iran. “To ensure the nuclear program is for peaceful purposes as Iran claims, the number of centrifuges that enrich uranium must be reduced, and there must be constant oversight and inspection of Iranian facilities,” he said.

  • Iran, like North Korea, is only stalling for time and fully plans to produce nuclear weapons to annihilate Israel and counter the Great Satan of America

Syria

International inspectors have visited 11 sites linked to Syria’s chemical weapons program and destroyed “critical equipment” at six, the agency overseeing the elimination of the country’s stockpile said Wednesday. The team also supervised the destruction of unloaded chemical weapons munitions. The mission is to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, precursor chemicals and production facilities by mid-2014. Syria is believed to have some 1,000 metric tons of blistering and nerve gas agents and the inspectors still have to visit more than 20 sites.

Iraq

A car bomb killed 17 people and injured at least 66 more in a refugee compound in northern Iraq on Thursday. The explosion in the town of Muwafakiya caused some of the buildings to collapse, trapping victims under rubble. The town is 20 miles east of Mosul. Seven children are among those confirmed dead. The compound was home to displaced members of an ethnic Shiite minority and is near a Shiite mosque. Sunni extremist groups such al Qaeda have begun targeting the minority in Nineveh province in recent months. Iraq has seen a sharp increase in tension between its Shiite and Sunni populations since April when security forces raided a site used by Sunni protesters to demonstrate against the Shiite-led government.

Wildfires

Severe fires erupted Thursday across areas surrounding Sydney, Australia, in what some officials are saying may be the most serious bushfire emergency to threaten the New South Wales region in a decade. Thirty-six fires remain uncontained across the Sydney region as more than 90 fires had engulfed homes and caused widespread destruction. Though the Sydney region is no stranger to bushfires, the blazes infrequently occur with such gusto so early in the season.

Earthquakes

A powerful earthquake rocked the South Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea on Wednesday. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake measured magnitude 7.1 and was located 40 miles west-southwest of Panguna in Papua New Guinea. It struck at 8:31 p.m. at a depth of 36 miles. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami was unlikely. Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea. The country lies on the “Ring of Fire” — an arc of earthquake and volcanic activity that stretches around the Pacific Rim.

Weather

A typhoon caused deadly mudslides that buried people and destroyed homes on a Japanese island Wednesday before sweeping up the Pacific coast, grounding hundreds of flights and disrupting Tokyo’s transportation during the morning rush. At least 19 deaths were reported and nearly 40 people were missing. Hardest hit from Typhoon Wipha was Izu Oshima island, which is about 75 miles south of Tokyo. Rescuers found 16 bodies, most of them buried by mudslides. More than 350 homes were damaged or destroyed, including 283 on Izu Oshima. Some 1,100 rescuers were searching through huge piles of trees and destroyed homes swept downhill by mudslides in hopes of finding survivors. The mayor of the Japanese island devastated by a deadly typhoon apologized Thursday for failing to issue an evacuation order.

Signs of the Times (10/15/13)

October 15, 2013

Gender-Based Abortions Spark Outrage in England

A group of Christian lawyers plans to sue two medical doctors who have raised a storm of controversy for arranging the abortion of female fetuses because the parents wanted boys. Andrea Williams, CEO of the London-based Christian Concern, said her group would file suit against the doctors since the government declined to charge them. In an Oct. 7 letter to the attorney general, Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said the Abortion Act of 1967 “does not expressly prohibit gender specific abortions.” Starmer said the only basis for a prosecution would be that the doctors failed to carry out “a sufficiently robust assessment” of their patient’s health. Disclosures that women were being granted abortions based on the sex of their fetuses followed an undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph in February last year.

US Army Defines Christian Ministry as ‘Domestic Hate Group’

Several dozen U.S. Army active duty and reserve troops were told last week that the American Family Association, a well-respected Christian ministry, should be classified as a domestic hate group because the group advocates for traditional family values. The briefing was held at Camp Shelby in Mississippi and listed the AFA alongside domestic hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam. A soldier who attended the briefing contacted Todd Starnes of Fox News and sent a photograph of a slide show presentation that listed AFA as a domestic hate group. Under the AFA headline is a photograph of Westboro Baptist Church preacher Fred Phelps holding a sign reading “No special law for fags.” American Family Association has absolutely no affiliation with the controversial church group known for picketing the funerals of American servicemembers.

  • The intolerance/war against all things Christian is growing by leaps and bounds to ludicrous levels

Study Says Kids Raised by Same-Sex Couples Suffer

A key pillar in the propaganda of pro-homosexual activists is that children raised by same-sex couples do as well in life as those raised by opposite-sex parents. That notion took a direct hit from a study published by the Review of Economics of the Household, WORLD reports. The study says, among other things, that Canadian children living with same-sex parents were only 65 percent as likely to graduate from high school as those living in opposite-sex families. According to the study, “daughters of same-sex parents do considerably worse than sons.” The study, done with 2006 census data, is perhaps the largest of its kind. According to the study’s publisher, the “large random sample allows for control of parental marital status [and] distinguishes between gay and lesbian families.” They say it is “large enough to evaluate differences in gender between parents and children.”

Feds Dole Out Billions in Tax Credits to Illegal Immigrants

The federal government’s decision to pay out billions of dollars in tax credits to illegal immigrants likely was made by midlevel bureaucrats and has never received full congressional scrutiny, according to a study that the Center for Immigration Studies released Monday. The report, written by CIS fellow David North, says the Internal Revenue Service doled out $4.2 billion in what is known as the “additional child tax credit” in 2010 to those using an individual taxpayer identification number, or ITIN, which is usually a signal of an illegal immigrant. The issue has been known for some time. But Mr. North went deep into the data to try to look at why it’s happening, and said it’s a story of a tax credit expanding beyond its initial scope, and midlevel IRS managers twisting the law, leaving billions of dollars going to illegal immigrants.

Hospitals Cutting Thousands Of Jobs

Hospitals, a reliable source of employment growth in the recession and its aftermath, are starting to cut thousands of jobs amid falling insurance payments and in-patient visits. The payroll cuts are surprising because the Affordable Care Act (ACA), whose implementation took a big step forward this month, is eventually expected to provide health coverage to as many as 30 million additional Americans. “While the rest of the U.S. economy is stabilizing or improving, health care is entering into a recession,” says John Howser, assistant vice chancellor of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Shutdown Update

As of Tuesday morning, no deal to end the shutdown nor to raise the debt limit have been reached. Some optimism has been expressed over the Senate getting close to a compromise deal. A new House GOP plan was summarily rejected by President Obama. The Oct. 17th deadline is approaching at which time the government is projected to begin defaulting on its obligations adding renewed urgency to the negotiations.

Leaders at World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings on Sunday pleaded, warned and cajoled: the United States must raise its debt ceiling and reopen its government or risk “massive disruption the world over.” The fiscal problems of the United States overshadowed the official agendas for the meetings, with representatives from dozens of countries — including two of Washington’s most important economic partners, Saudi Arabia and China — publicly expressing worries about what was happening on Capitol Hill and in the White House.

Food stamp recipients are panicking as the federal EBT system continues to crash. EBT cards are “digital food stamps.” Nearly 50 million Americans are right now using EBT cards which are automatically refilled each month. Sunday, the EBT system crashed hard, causing food stamp beneficiaries across 17 states to be unable to buy food. “While the system is now up and running, beneficiaries in the 17 affected states continue to experience connectivity issues to access their benefits,” stated a food stamp official in an AP story.

If the shutdown continues into late October, November compensation payments to more than 3.8 million veterans will halt,” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said during a presentation before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Oct. 9. “These include thousands of veterans who have the most severe disabilities.”

Economic News

Tens of thousands of furloughed federal workers are now filing for unemployment benefits — even though they will likely have to pay all of the money back. The government shutdown has left more than 400,000 federal employees furloughed without pay. And while a bill that would pay these employees retroactively is expected to be approved, it’s not a done deal yet. Even if it does pass, workers wouldn’t get that retroactive pay until after the shutdown ends.

Another year, another small raise for millions of people who rely on Social Security, veterans’ benefits and federal pensions. Preliminary figures suggest next year’s benefit increase will be roughly 1.5 percent, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. The increase will be small because consumer prices, as measured by the government, haven’t gone up much in the past year.

Persecution Watch

A recent spate of attacks against Christians and house churches in China underlines the country’s relentless habit of persecuting Christians, even at the cost of its own reputation in the international community. A number of Christians in Lingao town, Lincheng county, Hainan Province, were violently beaten by urban management officers as they tried to prevent construction at a building site. The Christians were looking forward to a church that was originally intended to be constructed at the site, but when local government secretly sold the site to developers, they were left floundering in the dark. As they protested the construction, the violence began and several children and elderly people were injured, with two women going into a coma as a result of the retaliation. When the Christians informed the police, they refused to address the attack. Also, Li Shuangping, leader of Linfen house church, was abducted and beaten by agents of the local government.

Iran

The United States and five other world powers met Tuesday in Geneva for talks on Iran’s nuclear program in the hope Tehran is willing to open up its program to inspectors to verify that it is not pursuing an atomic bomb. The talks are the first test of Iran’s recent overtures to the West, which has maintained economic sanctions on Iran to get it to come to the table. New Iranian president Hassan Rouhani agreed to talks following a phone conversation with President Obama. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said there was a sense of “cautious optimism” ahead of the two-day meeting. Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Tehran’s chief negotiator, dined together on Monday evening in a “very positive atmosphere”.

Syria

The bombs can explode anywhere, at any time. But after two years of civil war, Syria’s unpredictable violence can still horrify. At least 20 people were killed, including a child, when a car bomb exploded Monday in northwestern Syria. The blast rocked the Idlib province town of Darkush, on the border with Turkey, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The death toll is expected to rise because dozens are wounded, including some in critical condition. Even humanitarian workers aren’t safe in the country. On Sunday, gunmen kidnapped seven aid workers in northwestern Syria, officials said.

Iraq

Iraqi officials have raised the death toll in Sunday’s attacks across the country to 44. Police officials say the attacks have also left more than 140 wounded. They say the deadliest of the attacks on Sunday was in the southern city of Hillah, where back-to-back car bombings hit a commercial market, killing 17 people and wounding140. Other attacks struck at outdoor markets and bus stations in the cities of Diwaniyah, Basra, Kut, Samarra, Madain and Mahmoudiyah, killing a total of 23 people.

India

Pilgrims visiting a temple for a popular Hindu festival in India stampeded on fears a bridge would collapse, and at least 115 people were crushed to death or died in the river below, officials said Monday. Scores more were injured, and some bodies may have washed away. Hundreds of thousands of devotees had thronged the remote Ratangarh village temple in Madhya Pradesh state’s Datia district to honor the Hindu mother goddess Durga on the last day of the popular 10-day Navaratra festival.

Earthquakes

The death toll from a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck the central Philippine island of Bohol on Tuesday rose to 93, as rescuers struggled to reach patients in a collapsed hospital. Centuries-old stone churches crumbled and wide areas were without power. The quake struck at 8:12 a.m. and was centered about 20 miles below Carmen city, where many small buildings collapsed. Many roads and bridges were reported damaged, making rescue operations difficult.

Weather

India began sorting through miles of wreckage Sunday after Cyclone Phailin roared ashore, flooding towns and villages and destroying tens of thousands of thatch homes, but officials said massive evacuation efforts had spared the east coast from widespread loss of life. The storm, the strongest to hit India in more than a decade, destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of crops, but more than 18 hours after it made landfall in Orissa state, officials said they knew of only nine fatalities.

A typhoon blew out of the northern Philippines on Sunday after leaving 21 people dead, but officials remained on alert after another howler was spotted in the Pacific. Typhoon Nari also flooded farmlands and destroyed thousands of houses in provinces north of Manila before blowing away into the South China Sea. In San Miguel town in the Philippines’ Bulacan province, the sun shone on villages where floodwaters that reached up to roof-level had receded, allowing residents to return from emergency shelters to clean up, wash muddied belongings and repair damaged houses. Nari was the 19th of more than 20 storms expected to batter the Philippines this year. The last time a storm as powerful as Cyclone Phailin struck the eastern coast of India, 10,000 people died. This time, the evacuation of over 900,000 people saved many lives.

Western South Dakota ranchers are reeling from the loss of tens of thousands of cattle in last weekend’s blizzard, and many will dispose of carcasses in pits set to open Monday. Rancher Heath Ferguson said the storm killed 96 percent of his herd of 100 black Angus and Limousin cattle. Up to 4 feet of snow fell in the Black Hills area last weekend.

Signs of the Times (10/12/13)

October 12, 2013

Dean of Washington’s National Cathedral: It’s a Sin to Oppose Homosexuality

The dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., claimed during his weekly address this past Sunday that it is a sin to oppose homosexuality, the Christian News Network reports. The message was part of a weekend tribute to the homosexual youth at the National Cathedral, and a commemoration of the death of Matthew Shepard, whose slaying sparked the passage of the federal “hate crimes” bill signed into law by Barack Obama in 2009. During his speech, Gary Hall blamed churches across the country for influencing American beliefs about homosexuality. “We must now have the courage to take the final step and call homophobia and heterosexism what they are,” he said. “They are sin. Homophobia is a sin. Heterosexism is a sin. Shaming people for whom they love is a sin. Only when all our churches say that clearly and boldly and courageously will our LGBT youth be free to grow up in a culture that totally embraces them fully as they are.” He proceeded to claim that churches that oppose homosexuality produce a culture that is harmful to children. “It’s more than tragic — in fact it’s shameful — that faith communities, especially Christian ones, continue to be complicit in putting our children at risk and abetting the attitudes that oppress them, thereby encouraging the aggressors who would subject our children to pain, humiliation and violence,”

  • While violence against LGBT people is wrong, Dean Hall is guilty of blasphemy and has become a tool of secular humanists to water down the gospel which clearly calls homosexualism a sin (Romans 1:26-31, 1Corinthians 6:9)

California Governor Signs Bill Allowing Non-Physician Abortions

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill on Wednesday legalizing non-physician abortions, CBN News reports. That means a nurse practitioner, midwife or physician assistant can perform abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy, after completing specific training. Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups have strongly supported the legislation, but opponents say it basically legalizes back-alley abortions for profit. “This bill is not about helping women, it is specifically designed to trivialize what an abortion is, and its risks,”‘ CNN quoted Anissa Smith, spokeswoman for the California ProLife Council. “Reducing the medical standards for abortion … defies logic for those who say they care about women,” she said. “The often repeated mantra of those supporting abortions rights is that abortions ought to be safe, legal and rare,” said Rev. Gerald Wilkerson, president of the California Catholic Conference. “With this change in California’s law, abortions are merely legal — no longer safe and rare.”

  • California is leading the way down the slippery slope of immorality, accelerating toward the cliff of end-time lawlessness

Obamacare Funds 111,500 Abortions per Year

The Obamacare (Un)Affordable Care Act has begun paying for an estimated 111,500 abortions per year with our tax dollars, reports National Review. “An analysis by the Charlotte Lozier Institute published this week suggests that the number of abortions that will be heavily subsidized via federal premium tax credits and Medicaid expansion is likely to be between 71,000 and 111,500 per year. This approaches one in ten abortions performed in the United States. The number is split roughly 50-50 between abortions subsidized by Abortion-Subsidizing Plans in states that have not barred them from their exchanges and abortions newly reimbursable under Medicaid expansion in states that use their own taxpayer funds to underwrite them.”

Obamacare Website Cost $634M to Build

The Obamacare website, which apparently underwent major code renovations over the weekend, still rejects user logins, fails to load drop-down menus and other crucial components for users that successfully gain entrance, and otherwise prevents uninsured Americans in the 36 states it serves from purchasing healthcare at competitive rates – Healthcare.gov’s primary purpose. The site is so busted that, as of a couple days ago, the number of people that successfully purchased healthcare through it was in the “single digits,” according to the Washington Post. The reason for this nationwide headache apparently stems from poorly written code, which buckled under the heavy influx of traffic that its engineers and administrators should have seen coming. But the fact that Healthcare.gov can’t do the one job it was built to do isn’t the most infuriating part of this debacle – it’s that we, the taxpayers, seem to have forked up more than $634 million of the federal purse to build the digital disaster.

Shutdown Update

Utah’s five national parks are expected to open Saturday with state funds and other states are expected to follow. Governors in at least four states have asked for authority to reopen the parks within their borders because of the economic impacts caused by the closures. The Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore will reportedly open this weekend after the Obama administration said it would allow states to use their own money to reopen some shuttered national parks. All 401 national park units — including such icons as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Zion — have been closed since Oct. 1 because of the partial government shutdown. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees have been furloughed, and lawmakers from both parties have complained that park closures have wreaked havoc on nearby communities that depend on tourism.

Friday was pay day for many of the 2 million federal workers affected by the shutdown. For most employees, their paycheck was 40% lighter. Paychecks normally cover 10 working days. But for those affected by the shutdown, the paycheck only reflected six days of pay. And even some of those workers who remained on the job this week are seeing lighter paychecks until a budget on some sort is approved.

While our overgrown government continues to punish Americans by making a grand show out of the government shutdown — barring veterans from visiting memorials, even throwing people out of their homes — they are, at the same time, shipping our tax dollars all over the world in the name of “helping the poor” and humanitarianism. During this “shutdown” our government is furnishing foreign governments with our money while so many are agonizing here at home. The State Department confirmed that foreign aid programs for the world’s poor will continue even as states are cutting local aid programs for America’s poor for want of funds.

Obama Allows Illegal Aliens Onto ‘Closed’ National Mall

The National Park Service has systematically barred frail, aged veterans from their war memorials; closed off vista points on open roads lest anyone actually look at Mt. Rushmore; shut down privately-owned businesses; barred military prayer and mass; and evicted elderly people from their homes. Nevertheless, it has finally discovered a group that deserves constitutional protection from government Stasi tactics: illegal aliens. The same National Park Service that has gone gestapo on America decided that a pro-amnesty rally was such an important expression of free speech that it had to open the previously “closed” open-air, untended National Mall to allow illegal aliens their right to constitutional free speech.

20,000 Barrels of Oil Spilled in North Dakota

When a pipeline rupture sent more than 20,000 barrels of crude spewing across a North Dakota wheat field, it took nearly two weeks for officials to tell the public about it. The break in a Tesoro Corp. pipeline happened in a remote area, and officials say no water was contaminated or wildlife hurt. But environmentalists are skeptical and say it’s an example of a boom industry operating too cozily with state regulators. “It shows an attitude of our current state government and what they think of the public,” said Don Morrison, executive director of the Dakota Resource Council, an environmental-minded landowner group with more than 700 members in North Dakota. “It’s definitely worrisome. There is a pattern in current state government to not involve the public.” The North Dakota Health Department was told about the spill on Sept. 29, after a farmer whose combine’s tires were coated in crude discovered oil spewing and gurgling from the ground. Although the state initially thought just 750 barrels of oil was involved, it turned out to be one of the largest spills in North Dakota history – an estimated 20,600 barrels over 7.3 acres of land, or about the size of seven football fields.

Calif. Governor Vetoes Semi-Automatic Rifle Ban

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Friday that would have imposed the nation’s toughest gun ownership restrictions on Californians, saying it was too far-reaching. The legislation would have banned future sales of most semi-automatic rifles that accept detachable magazines, part of a firearms package approved by state lawmakers in response to mass shootings in other states. It was lawmakers’ latest attempt to close loopholes that have allowed manufacturers to work around previous assault weapon bans. Gun rights groups had threatened to sue if the semi-automatic weapons ban became law. “I don’t believe that this bill’s blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners’ rights,” the Democratic governor wrote in his veto message.

  • For a liberal CA governor to reject a gun control bill is rather remarkable and is a testament to the foolishness of gun control zealots

Economic News

A failure by Congress to raise the nation’s borrowing limit “could severely damage the global economy,” the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday as it trimmed its global economic forecast due to slowing growth in emerging markets.

Consumer confidence registered its sharpest one-week drop since the period immediately following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, according to recent Gallup polling. About three times as many people now say the economy is in poor shape as those who say it’s doing well. And consumers’ outlook for the future is also deteriorating quickly. Those who think the economy is likely to get worse outnumber those who think it’ll get better by a 69% to 27% margin.

The U.S. will pass Russia and Saudia Arabia as the top energy producer in 2013, according to a report by the Energy Information Administration published Friday. Since 2008, U.S. petroleum production has increased 7 quadrillion Btu, with dramatic growth in Texas and North Dakota, the report says. Natural gas production has increased by 3 quadrillion Btu over the same period, with much of this growth coming from the eastern U.S.

The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits jumped by 66,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 374,000. But the spike was largely because California processed a huge backlog of claims and the partial government shutdown prompted some contractors to cut jobs. The sharp rise comes after the average fell to a 6½-year low last week.

PC shipments worldwide plummeted 8.6% in the third quarter, the sixth-straight quarterly decline. Personal computer sales took a huge hit in the all-important back-to-school shopping quarter for students amid enthusiasm for tablets. During the quarter, 80.3 million PCs were shipped compared with 87.8 million a year ago.

Middle East

An apparent desire on the part of several European governments to move towards dismantling the regime of sanctions against Iran’s renegade nuclear program and normalize relations with the clerical regime in Teheran is viewed with alarm by Israeli officials. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made room in his schedule over the next few days to conduct several interviews with prominent European media outlets in an effort to sway public opinion against this course of action. Press reports ahead of next week’s nuclear talks in Geneva indicate that Teheran will demand a loosening of sanctions in exchange for what Israel calls “cosmetic changes” to their nuclear efforts, and many EU governments have indicated they will give the deal serious consideration.

Syria

Syrian villagers described watching rebels advance on their homes, as mortars thudded around them. By the end of the August attack, 190 civilians had been killed, including children, the elderly and the handicapped, a human rights group said Friday in its most detailed account of alleged war crimes committed by those fighting the Damascus regime. Human Rights Watch said the offensive against 14 pro-regime villages in the province of Latakia was planned and led by five Islamic extremist groups, including two linked to al-Qaeda.

Egypt

The State Department said Wednesday it would freeze hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for Egypt, most of it in military assistance because of the military takeover of the government and the continuing unrest. Secretary of State John Kerry says that “by no means” was the decision a withdrawal from relations. He says Americans should feel comfortable supporting a foreign government, but that Egypt’s current authorities have not met that standard. “Egypt will not surrender to American pressure and is continuing its path towards democracy as set by the roadmap,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said Thursday.

Libya

Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has been freed after being kidnapped by armed gunmen early Thursday morning in what opposition rebels say was an arrest over “corruption and security issues” following a U.S. raid Saturday that captured a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist. The Associated Press reported there were indications that Libyan forces intervened and that the prime minister was not freed voluntarily. “The revolutionaries have collected a lot of documents against Mr. Zidan about corruption and security issues. He knew about the American raid against Abu Anas el Libi and he did nothing to prevent that,” said Jamma Zubian, of the High Committee of Revolutionaries, based in Tripoli.

Central Africa

Church leaders in Central African Republic (CAR) issued a joint appeal for urgent action from the international community to prevent “genocidal interfaith civil war” in the troubled nation in the heart of Africa, Open Doors USA reports. Prominent church leaders representing all known denominations in the country issued the appeal on Oct. 6 after a three-day conference in the capital of Bangui hosted by Open Doors on the request of the local church leaders. Since the government of President Bozize was deposed in a coup by the Seleka coalition of Michel Djotodia in March, the country has been engulfed in lawlessness. “In this situation, Christians are specifically most affected,” the church leaders explained. An immense humanitarian crisis is in the making. It is estimated that at least 4.6 million people’s lives have been disrupted by the violence.

North Korea

North Korea refused to sign a non-aggression agreement that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered last week on condition of denuclearization. A National Defense Commission spokesman said the U.S. should stop sanctions meant to punish its February nuclear test and provocations including military exercises on the Korean Peninsula. Earlier this week, North Korea criticized joint two-day naval drills among the U.S., South Korea and Japan, which the allies said were aimed at improving readiness to maritime disasters. North Korea called the drills as a military confrontation.

Earthquakes

A moderate offshore earthquake gave a jolt to cities in far Northern California, but there are no reports of damages or injuries. The magnitude-4.9 quake struck shortly after 4 p.m. about 32 miles northwest of the coastal city of Eureka at a depth of about 6 miles. Eureka police Sgt. Rodrigo Sanchez says the quake gave the area a sharp jolt that felt like it lasted less than a second.

Weather

Alaska’s temperatures are rising twice as fast as those in the lower 48, prompting more sea ice to disappear in summer. While this may eventually open the Northwest Passage to sought-after tourism, oil exploration and trade, it also spells trouble as wildfires increase, roads buckle and tribal villages sink into the sea.

A typhoon that flooded villages and farms in the Philippines’ major rice-growing region Saturday has killed at least 13 people. Power outages affected Aurora province, where Typhoon Nari made landfall late Friday, and five nearby provinces due to downed poles and emergency shutdowns that were intended to prevent accidents. Nari slammed into the coast with 150 kilometer (94 mile) per hour winds and gusts of up to 116 mph. The typhoon drenched Manila overnight but caused no widespread flooding in the sprawling capital of 12 million that floods often because of poor infrastructure and clogged drainage and water canals.

Cyclone Phailin pounded India’s Eastern coast with wind and rain Saturday as officials continued a massive evacuation operation. As of 8:30 a.m. ET, Cyclone Phailin was making landfall near Gopalur, India, the Weather Channel reported. According to meteorologist Eric Holthaus of Quartz magazine, its estimated wind speed at landfall was 141 mph. The coastal state of Odisha evacuated more than 600,000 people ahead of the storm, now the strongest ever recorded in the Indian Ocean. The cyclone, which has been building up over the Indian Ocean since Friday, could bring a storm surge of 20-30 feet.

Signs of the Times (10/8/13)

October 8, 2013

Beleaguered Christians in Syria Gaining Converts

The war in Syria is one of the greatest crises seen in the Middle East in the last 20 years. It has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people, both Muslim and Christian. More than 2 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries. In the midst of this crisis, our persecuted family is boldly reaching out. And the reactions of Muslims have been astonishing. “When you hear about one Muslim coming to Christ, it’s a great thing, and everybody rejoices,” said a Voice Of the Martrys Syrian contact. “Today in Syria I’m not talking about one person. We’re talking about hundreds and even thousands of Muslims coming to know Christ.” Teams of believers are working in the refugee camps, providing Christ’s love while sharing material aid, such as medical supplies and Bibles, as well as spiritual aid.

LGBT History Month Polluting Children’s Minds

Freedom Outpost News notes that “Schools across America are gambling with the very souls of the children in their charge, deliberately polluting them. October has been declared LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgendered) History Month, which is the ultimate oxymoron. It’s twisted perversion at its most harrowing. Its beginnings go back to the Garden of Eden and the complete destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah… [It] should be renamed ‘sin/abomination history month’. But when 2 percent of the population claim homosexuality and hold the other 98 percent captive, this is the end result.” President Obama declared June as LGBT History month, but the militants in the homosexual agenda declared October to be the month to ‘celebrate’ LGBT history. Legislatures are now mandating that this be taught in schools. California already took this step two years ago, but now it has spread across the nation.

  • Our public schools have become secular humanism indoctrination centers and are at the forefront of infecting our children and youth with unGodly, immoral concepts and practices

City Orders Residents to Remove ‘God Bless America’ Signs

Residents of a Florida city who have had “God Bless America” signs posted on their front lawns for months have been ordered by local officials to remove them. MyFoxTampaBay.com reports that the First Baptist Church of Bartow distributed some 300 signs to residents following a Fourth of July celebration. The city only permits residents to display signs during major holidays is starting to crack down on the displays. “Being a veteran, I felt like I was just kicked in the gut. I couldn’t believe it, that I couldn’t display my love for my nation by putting a sign up that says “God Bless America,” Bartow resident Marcus Seger told the station.

  • Such local ordinances are rarely enforced but serve as an insidious tool to advance anti-God agendas

A&E Adds Fake ‘Obscenity Bleeps’ to Duck Dynasty and Censors Out Jesus’s Name

A&E’s Duck Dynasty is the most popular show on Cable TV. People adore the Robertson family, which is close-knit, hard-working, funny, clean-living, and deeply faithful. The problem for A&E is that it doesn’t truly understand what makes Duck Dynasty so popular. In Hollywood, there’s little respect for clean-living, clean-talking people of faith. So Hollywood did what Hollywood does: it tried to erase these hallmarks of decency. A&E’s editors added “bleeps” to cover non-existent swearing, and then deliberately censored Jesus’s name.

Truckers Plan to Clog D.C. Beltway Friday

Tractor-trailer drivers will intentionally clog the inner loop of the Washington, D.C., beltway beginning on the morning of Oct. 11, according to a coordinator of the upcoming “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” rally. The organization declares that, “The American people are sick and tired of the corruption that is destroying America! We therefore declare a GENERAL STRIKE on the weekend of October 11-13, 2013!” Organizers of the three-day ride want to call attention to a litany of trucker frustrations and express their disapproval of national political leaders. Earl Conlon, a Georgia trucker who is handling logistics for the protest, said tractor-trailer drivers will circle the beltway “three lanes deep” as he rides with other participants to Congress to seek the arrest of congressmen for allegedly disregarding the Constitution. The truckers circling I-495 will keep the left lane open for emergency vehicles, Conlon said, but “everybody that doesn’t have a supporter sticker on their window, good luck: Nobody in, nobody out.” The trucks will be going the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit.

Shutdown Update

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was left playing damage control Friday after a “senior administration official” told The Wall Street Journal that the administration doesn’t care how long the government shutdown continues. “We are winning,” the unnamed official told the Journal. “It doesn’t really matter to us” how long the shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result,” the official said. Seven in 10 adults disapprove of the way Republicans are handling the wrangling over funding the government, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. That’s a 7-point jump since last week. More than half say they don’t approve of the way President Obama is handling the budget standoff, and 61% say the same about congressional Democrats.

The Pentagon on Sunday called back to work most of its roughly 400,000 civilian employees, based on administration lawyers’ legal interpretation of the recent government ‘slimdown’. Hagel said the decision to recall the workers is based on a Pentagon legal interpretation of a law called the Pay Our Military Act. “Attorneys concluded that the law does allow the Department of Defense to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members,” Hagel said. The Defense secretary also stated that members of the military reserves and full-time National Guardsman are among those being asked to return. The civilian employees were back on the job at the Pentagon on Monday, but about 500,000 federal workers are still idle in the government shutdown.

Native American tribes depend heavily on federal money to provide their more than 200,000 members with education, health care, housing and public safety. As the partial shutdown of the federal government continues, the tribes are expected to be among the hardest hit. Most of the medical services available are federally funded, the housing, the schools.

The Park Service appears to be closing streets on mere whim and caprice. The rangers even closed the parking lot at Mount Vernon, where the plantation home of George Washington is a favorite tourist destination. That was after they barred the new World War II Memorial on the Mall to veterans of World War II. But the government does not own Mount Vernon; it is privately owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The ladies bought it years ago to preserve it as a national memorial. The feds closed access to the parking lots this week, even though the lots are jointly owned with the Mount Vernon ladies. “It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

According to the Miami Herald, the National Park Service even went so far as to close 1,100 square miles of open ocean off the coast of Florida allegedly due to the government shutdown! The Herald calls this “prime fishing” area that will be closed “until further notice.”

  • In its desire to inflict unnecessary shutdown pain on U.S. citizens, the Obama administration is going to ludicrous lengths so absurd that it will only serve to shoot themselves in the foot

Majority Would Vote Against Raising Debt Ceiling

Soon Congress will have to vote on raising the nation’s debt limit so the federal government can borrow more money to make good on its spending commitments.  If it were up to the American public, they would vote no — with a majority saying the debt limit should only be raised after major spending cuts have been made.  A Fox News national poll asks voters to imagine being a lawmaker and having to cast an up-or-down vote on raising the debt ceiling:  37 percent would vote in favor of it, while 58 percent would vote against it.  Most Republicans (78 percent) and a majority of independents (57 percent) would vote against raising the limit.  So would almost all Tea Partiers (88 percent).  Over half of Democrats would vote in favor of increasing the debt ceiling (57 percent), while 38 percent would vote against doing so.

Least Essential Agencies Completely Shut Down: Make it Permanent?

Fiscal hawks say the silver lining to the partial government shutdown, which is entering its second week of scaled-back services, could be the picture of government waste it paints for taxpayers. A look through the shutdown contingency plans of the federal government shows some little-known commissions and agencies — like the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness — don’t have anybody reporting for work during the partial shutdown. The ability of the government to run without any of the people from any of these agencies on the clock is prompting some watchdog groups to question why, then, do the agencies need to exist in the first place?

The Denali Commission, a tiny Alaska-based economic development agency, gained some notoriety after it emerged that the group’s inspector general was petitioning Congress to de-fund it. But guess what agency survived the “shutdown?” According to its own contingency plan, because the commission’s staffers are paid under the prior year’s budget, all 14 employees are exempt from furlough, and “reporting to work.”

Amber Alert Website Brought Back Online After Outcry

The Obama administration has brought the Amber Alert website back online, following outcry over the site being taken down amid the partial government shutdown. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said a furloughed Justice Department employee was called back to work to restore the website. A senior Justice Department official told Fox News that the Amber Alert system itself was never taken down, and that only the website, which is maintained by federal employees, was off-line.

Obamacare’s Official Website Down for the Weekend

Bedeviled by technology glitches that frustrated millions of consumers, the Obama administration took down its health overhaul website for repairs this past weekend. Enrollment functions of the healthcare.gov site was unavailable during off-peak hours this weekend, the Health and Human Services Department announced Friday. The website remained open for general information. Technology problems overwhelmed the launch of new health insurance markets last week, embarrassing the administration just when the health care law was supposed to be introduced to average consumers. The government website launched this week to sell health insurance was overwhelmed by up to five times as many users as it was designed to handle, President Obama’s top technology adviser said Saturday. An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 simultaneous users were planned for, but instead the site has drawn as many as 250,000 at a time since it launched Oct. 1.

On Thursday, the government’s official Obamacare Facebook page was riddled with people expressing sticker shock over the government’s high cost premiums after struggling for hours to wade through the technical failures vexing Obamacare exchanges all across the country. “I am so disappointed,” wrote one woman. “These prices are outrageous and there are huge deductibles. No one can afford this!” The comment received 169 “likes.”

Read more at http://patriotupdate.com/2013/10/obamacare-facebook-erupts-citizen-sticker-shock/#zJhk5WuLM0le9fH3.99

  • “Americans have seen once again that Obamacare is not ready for prime time,” Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican, said in a statement. “A dysfunctional website is the least of that law’s problems.”

Obama’s Approval Rating Down in Muslim World

The Pew Research Center’s 2012 Global Attitudes survey found the approval of Obama’s policies in Muslim-majority countries dropped from an average 34% to 15%. In 2010 he was considered a great statesman, one who vowed to go further than his predecessors in solidifying relations with the Muslim world. But that was before he overlooked a military coup in Egypt, threatened to bomb Syria, and ramped up drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

Violent Crime Rate Rises for First Time in 20 Years

While violent crime rose just under 1% nationally in 2012, the trend for the past 20 years has been steady decline. Crime peaked in the late 1980s, fueled by the crack cocaine epidemic. Beginning in the early 1990s, crime began to decline. Although the exact cause remains unclear, experts have pointed to factors such as better policing, demographic changes, higher incarceration rates, a drop in cocaine use and the introduction of a variety of social programs.

U.S. Adults Lag Behind World in Basic Skills

Americans have been hearing for years that their kids are lagging behind the rest of the developed world in skills. Now it’s the adults’ turn for a reality check. A first-ever international comparison of the labor force in 23 industrialized nations shows that Americans ages 16 to 65 fall below international averages in basic problem-solving, reading and math skills, with gaps between the more- and less-educated in the USA larger than those of many other countries. The new test was given to about 5,000 Americans between August 2011 and April 2012. The results show that the typical American’s literacy score falls below the international average, with adults in 12 countries scoring higher and only five (Poland, Ireland, France, Spain and Italy) scoring lower. In math, 18 countries scored higher, with only two (Italy and Spain) scoring lower. In both cases, several countries’ scores were statistically even with the USA.

  • We spend more $/student than every other country but three, and yet lag well behind in end results. Bloated bureaucracy, low pay and restrictive regulations hamstring teacher creativity.

U.S. Falls to 17th in Economic Freedom

The Cato Institute has released its latest annual report on the “Economic Freedom of the World,” and it shows that the United States ranks only at No. 17. From 1980 to 2000, the United States was generally rated the third freest economy, behind only Hong Kong and Singapore, and in 2000 it was ranked second. But the rating dropped to No. 8 in 2005, to No. 16 in 2010, and to No. 17 in 2011, the most recent year for which sufficient data is available. According to Cato, “The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, the freedom to enter and compete in markets, and protection of persons and their property from aggression by others. Economic freedom is present when individuals are permitted to choose for themselves and engage in voluntary transactions as long as they do not harm the person or property of others.” To compile its report, Cato assesses the economic freedom within a nation based on five areas: size of government, legal system and property rights, sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and economic regulations.

  • Socialism continues to eat away at U.S. freedoms across the board, not just economically

Economic News

As the partial government shutdown hit Day 7, the anxiety level on Wall Street is on the upswing and stocks fell Monday as hardening stances on both sides of the political aisle over the weekend inches the world’s largest economy closer to its first-ever debt default. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 136.34 points, or 0.9% Monday. World markets kicked off the week nervously due to the U.S. debt impasse, with stocks falling in Tokyo and Hong Kong and most major European markets saw losses as well.

China and Japan — which hold a combined $2.4 trillion in U.S. debt — have called for a quick resolution to the crisis and expressed worries over the economic consequences of a default. In the first official response by China, Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said that a solution must be found quickly in order to “ensure the safety of Chinese investments” and provide stability for economies around the globe. Economists predict a default would do great harm with investors likely dropping the dollar, an event that would stress other currencies. Equity markets would surely take a hit, and transactions pegged to the value of Treasuries would be difficult to execute. In the past five months, the dollar has fallen 5%. Meanwhile, the euro has gained 3%, and the yen is up more than 5%.

Lockheed Martin will furlough 3,000 employees on Monday and potentially more in coming weeks due to the government shutdown. This announcement comes just days after United Technologies Corp. said that it will furlough 2,000 employees by Monday and more than 5,000 if the shutdown continues into next month.

Middle East

Israeli police announced on Monday that a recent drug bust at the Nitzana crossing from Egypt into Israel resulted in the seizure of 320 kg of hashish with an estimated street value of NIS 25 million. Police also announced the seizure of a large shipment of hashing which smugglers were attempting to bring into Israel from the Egyptian Sinai, where six Egyptian soldiers were killed on Monday during an attack on their patrol near the Suez Canal city of Ismailia. Shortly thereafter, in the southern Sinai town of Al-Tor, a suspected suicide carbomb attack on security headquarters killed three people and wounded 48.

Syria

Whether by a harrowing boat trip across the Mediterranean, a mountain crossing over the Turkish border or a flight to Germany, more than 2 million Syrians have fled their war-torn country to take refuge in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq as well as in the Gulf countries and in Europe. The problems they face in their new homes varies tremendously depending on the country. Some say they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Others worry about violence against foreigners. Many face bureaucratic hurdles to visas and bank accounts, and a hostile political situation on the ground.

Afghanistan

The United States and Afghanistan have reached an impasse in their talks over the role that American forces will play here beyond next year, officials from both countries say, raising the distinct possibility of a total withdrawal — an outcome that the Pentagon’s top military commanders dismissed just months ago. American officials say they are preparing to suspend negotiations absent a breakthrough in the coming weeks, and a senior administration official said talk of resuming them with President Hamid Karzai’s successor, who will be chosen in elections set for next April, is, “frankly, not very likely.” A complete withdrawal from Afghanistan could be far costlier than it was in Iraq. It would force European powers to pull their forces as well, risking a dangerous collapse in confidence among Afghans and giving a boost to the Taliban, which remain a potent threat.

Syria

International inspectors began destroying Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons and the machinery used to create it, a United Nations official said Sunday, racing under a tight deadline aiming to eliminate President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons program within nine months. The move kicks off the ambitious program, prompted by a chemical weapons attack in mid-August that killed hundreds of civilians on the outskirts of Damascus and brought a rare consensus at the U.N. Under a Security Council resolution in September, the first stage is to destroy Syria’s capability to produce chemical weapons by Nov. 1

Libya

A top al-Qaeda leader who helped plan the 1998 U.S. Embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania is in custody following a U.S. anti-terrorism operation in Libya. Pentagon spokesman George Little said Saturday that Abu Anas al-Libi is being held in a secure location outside Libya. The embassy attacks killed more than 220 people, and the FBI had offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his capture. Al-Libi, whose real name is Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, was linked to Osama bin Laden and could ultimately be brought to the U.S. to stand trial. He has been on the USA’s most-wanted fugitives list since 2000, when a New York court indicted him for his role in the embassy attacks.

Egypt

A string of violence hit three locations across the country Monday a day after more than 50 people died in clashes between Egyptian security forces and supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. A massive explosion struck a security headquarters in a southern Sinai town near popular tourist resorts, killing two and wounding dozens Monday morning. The attack – possibly a car bomb – was unusual for the south Sinai Peninsula, which has remained relatively undisturbed despite frequent assaults by militants on security outposts in the northern region. Also on Monday, gunmen killed six Egyptian soldiers while they were sitting in a car at a checkpoint near the Suez Canal. By Tuesday, the death toll from Sunday’s violence climbed to 55. That number could continue to rise, as some of the 250 injured could succumb to their wounds.

Iraq

Suicide attackers blew up explosives-laden vehicles next to an elementary school and a police station in a small northern Iraqi village on Sunday, killing at least 13 people, many of them children. Sixty-seven others were wounded. The attacks are the latest in a relentless wave of killing that has made for Iraq’s deadliest outburst of violence since 2008. The mounting death tolls are raising fears that the country is falling back into the spiral of violence that brought it to the edge of civil war in the years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Qatar

There’s nearly a decade to go before a ball is kicked at soccer’s 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. But the tiny Gulf state, which won the right to host the event nearly three years ago, is embroiled in controversy over the treatment of the huge migrant labor force within its borders and claims it is a “slave state.” The “slave state” claim came as Sharan Burrow, secretary general of the International Trade Union Confederation, warned that if current trends continue an estimated 4,000 migrant workers may die in Qatar as they toil on construction projects in the run-up to the World Cup. “They’re forced to live in squalor, they are indeed pushed to work in extreme heat, often left without enough water for very long hours and then they go home to cook food in unhygienic conditions, live 8, 10, 12 to a room, and even if they want to leave, if they’ve just had enough, they can’t go because the employer has to sign an exit visa or sign the papers to allow them to work for a better employer,” said Burrow.

Somalia

Foreign military forces carried out a pre-dawn strike Saturday against foreign fighters in the same southern Somalia village where U.S. Navy SEALS four years ago killed a most-wanted al-Qaeda operative. The strike was carried out in the town of Barawe in the hours before morning prayers against what one official said were “high-profile” targets. The strike comes exactly two weeks after al-Shabab militants attacked Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, a four-day terrorist assault that killed at least 67 people in neighboring Kenya.

Wildfires

Fueled by strong winds, a Southern California wildfire forced 260 residents and hospital patients to evacuate at a military base. Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton was not threatened by the fire, but a power outage prompted officials to evacuate about 30 patients to other hospitals in the area and stop accepting new patients. Service at the hospital was restored by late Saturday. The nearly 4-square-mile wildfire on the Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton was reduced to smoldering Monday as hot, dry Santa Ana winds faded and a cooling trend began as a storm approached.

Weather

A storm system that buried parts of Wyoming and South Dakota in heavy, wet snow on Friday also brought powerful thunderstorms packing tornadoes to the Great Plains. Breaking nearly century-old early autumn snowfall records, a storm system smothered South Dakota’s scenic Black Hills in South Dakota with up to 3½ feet of wet, heavy snow, leaving residents the challenge of digging out. Power outages and impassable roads plagued western South Dakota on Saturday. More than 25,000 people had lost power in the Black Hills area, and authorities were recruiting snowmobilers to help rescue about 80 motorists who’d been stuck overnight. The record-breaking storm that dumped 4 feet of snow in parts of western South Dakota left ranchers dealing with heavy losses, in some cases perhaps up to half their herds, as they assess how many of their cattle died during the unseasonably early blizzard.

Later in the day, thunderstorms rolled across the Plains, and witnesses reported seeing tornadoes in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. Twelve separate tornadoes were reportedfrom northeast Nebraska into northwest Iowa. Some of the greatest damage from tornadoes seemed to be in Wayne, Neb., a town of 9,600 where witnesses said at least four homes were destroyed and ten businesses damaged. At least 15 people were hurt, but none of the injuries was considered life-threatening.

Dozens of people were displaced over the weekend by flooding in Louisville and Jefferson County, including some by rescue personnel using boats. A potent storm front rumbling across the nation’s midsection was blamed for more than 6 inches of rain that drenched the region Saturday, swamping some low-lying neighborhoods with water from ankle-deep to waist-deep in spots.

Fast-moving storms have blown through parts of the Northeast, lashing states with heavy rain and high winds and knocking out power. There were over 140 reports of damaging winds in the Northeast Monday, most of them in a swath from New York City and the Catskills northeast into Maine. Utility crews have been working to fix scattered power outages affecting thousands of customers in eastern New York. The National Weather Service has warned of potential flooding along small streams and in poor drainage areas in Pennsylvania.

Signs of the Times (10/4/13)

October 4, 2013

Government Shutdown Update

With up to 800,000 federal workers facing life without a paycheck, guess who’s not among them? Congress. The 27th Amendment to the Constitution restricts any Congress from changing its own pay. While the intent was to restrain Congress from increasing its pay, the amendment also blocks Congress from freezing or cutting its compensation.

Visitors were turned away at entrances to the Grand Canyon National Park on Tuesday morning, as national parks were closed in the partial federal government shutdown. Visitors who already were staying at campgrounds or lodges Tuesday morning were allowed to stay until Thursday, and asked to make alternate plans in the meantime. All National Parks and Monuments are now closed.

Children are the collateral damage in the shutdown, and its duration could have a devastating impact on some. Pre-kindergarten classes under the Head Start program have been forced to close. Patients with incurable diseases have been turned away from the National Institute of Health’s Clinical Center. About 8.8 million women and children are at risk of not getting vouchers through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC.

Wheelchair-bound elderly veterans pushed aside barricades to tour the World War II Memorial Tuesday morning, in defiance of the government shutdown which closed all of the memorials in the nation’s capital, Stripes.com reports. The four busloads of veterans — visiting from Mississippi as part of a once-in-a-lifetime Honor Flight tour — ignored National Park Police instructions not to enter the site as lawmakers and tourists cheered them on. “We didn’t come this far not to get in,” one veteran proclaimed. After it was clear they had lost control of the situation, Park Police officials stood aside.

Health Exchanges Debut with High Traffic, Glitches

The opening of state- and federal-run insurance marketplaces Tuesday saw a combination of huge interest and balky technology that led to a series of glitches, delays and even crashes that marred the first hours of the centerpiece of President Obama’s health law. Some of the delays were due to high volume. About 6 million people visited the federal website HealthCare.gov Tuesday and Wednesday, said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The site is handling exchanges for 34 states that defaulted to the federal government for at least the first year. The agency did not release the number of Americans who actually bought insurance. The exchanges are the critical part of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that uninsured Americans buy health insurance. The open-enrollment period for insurance customers will last until March 31, 2014.

Debt Ceiling: Countdown to Default

Congress is sowing the seeds of a debt ceiling crisis: If lawmakers don’t raise the limit on federal borrowing soon, they will put the nation at risk of defaulting on some of its legal obligations. Much has been made of Oct. 17 as the drop-dead date. But the U.S. reached the debt ceiling in May. Since then the Treasury Department has been using special accounting measures to keep borrowing just under the limit. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said those will run out no later than Oct. 17. When they do, Treasury won’t be able to borrow and cover the ongoing deficit budget.

Postal Service Defaults on Prefunded Retirement Payment

The U.S. Postal Service has defaulted on a $5.6 billion payment for retiree health benefits that was due on Monday. The default had absolutely nothing to do with the federal government shutdown. Postmaster General Patrick Donahue told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs on September 19th that the default was going to happen. Postal officials have long complained about a Congressional mandate that requires them to set aside billions of dollars for a retiree health care fund each year. The Postal Service also defaulted on these prefund payments last year. In fiscal year 2012, the Postal Service lost a total of $15.9 billion, including $11.1 billion in defaulted payments that it owes to prefund health benefits for retirees. Postal officials point out that other federal agencies aren’t required to prefund for retirees this way.

UN Brewing New, Expensive Global Sustainability Goals

The United Nations is planning to create a sweeping new set of “sustainable development goals” for the planet that will likely require trillions of dollars of spending on poverty and the environment, a drastic reorganization of economic production and consumption — especially in rich countries — and even greater effort in the expensive war on climate change. It’s an agenda that its prominent boosters have declared will make the next 15 years “some of the most transformative in human history,” although the exact nature of the goals themselves, and how they are to be achieved, is unclear. The goals themselves are slated to become a program of the U.N.  — and all the nations that endorse them — in 2015, as part of what U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called  “a universal sustainable development agenda” for the planet. They are supposed to be endorsed at a global U.N. summit, the successor to the Rio Agenda 21.

Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the UN with regard to sustainable development. It is a product of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It is an action agenda for the UN, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments around the world that can be executed at local, national, and global levels. The “21” in Agenda 21 refers to the 21st Century. According to skeptics, the new program has the potential to become a “huge unworkable mess. William Easterly, an economics professor and co-director of New York University’s Development Research Institute says, says it is a “confused mashup of every development fad of the last 20 years” married to the aim of giving the U.N. a more central role in economic development.”

  • This will become the backbone to the emerging one-world end-time government that will enforce wealth redistribution, blur national boundaries and impose international rule-of-law (like the gun-control treaty the Obama Administration recently signed).

Fracking May Be Polluting River With Radioactive Waste

Fracking may be contaminating a Pennsylvania river with radioactive waste, a Duke University study published this past week shows. Scientists found elevated levels of radioactivity in river water at a site where treated fracking wastewater from oil and gas production sites in western Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale is released into a creek. The plant processes fracking flowback water — highly saline and radioactive fluid that is returned to the surface as part of the fracking process. The natural gas-rich Marcellus shale is seeing a drilling boom, part of a nationwide rush to use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, techniques to extract shale gas and oil. Studies have also shown that energy production, including the waste water associated with fracking — a method of injecting chemicals, sand and water deep underground to crack rock formations to release oil and natural gas — may release significant fugitive methane emissions, helping to drive climate change.

California Okays Drivers’ Licenses for Illegal Immigrants

California on Thursday joined the growing list of states that allow immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally to obtain driver’s licenses. The licenses, which are expected to become available no later than January 2015, will carry a special designation on the front and a notice stating that the document is not official federal identification and cannot be used to prove eligibility for employment or public benefits. Ten other states have enacted measures to give driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally, many of them in the past year, according to the National Immigration Law Center. Some of those states issue only one kind of license. But laws in many states, including Oregon and Colorado, create distinctions between the license given to immigrants and the one issued to other drivers.

Migrants Send Over $414B Home

Money that migrant workers send to their families and homeland is far more valuable to developing countries than foreign aid and is expected to grow 6.3% this year, a new World Bank study said Wednesday. Migrants are expected to send $414 billion in remittances home this year to developing countries, the study said, and the figure will likely surpass $500 billion by 2016. That makes remittance funds almost four times more important to developing nations than official foreign aid from governments, which the United Nations says amounts to about $126 billion a year. India gets $71 billion in remittances, the biggest benefactor from such funds. China got $60 billion, the Philippines $26 billion, Mexico $22 billion, Nigeria $21 billion and Egypt $20 billion.

Economic News

Slightly more Americans filed for jobless benefits last week, but the unemployment rolls could rise even more quickly in the weeks ahead if federal employees start filing claims during the shutdown. About 308,000 people filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week, up 1,000 from the prior week, the government reported Thursday morning. The overall initial claims figure remains near its lowest level since 2007 — an encouraging sign that layoffs are back to pre-recession levels. But businesses aren’t necessarily ramping up their hiring for new jobs.

Businesses added 166,000 jobs in September, payroll processor ADP said Wednesday, as employment continued a recent trend of more modest gains. Small businesses added 74,000 jobs; large companies, 64,000; and midsize ones, 28,000. Trade, transportation and utilities led job gains, with 54,000. Professional and business services added 27,000. And construction companies added 16,000. But manufacturers added only 1,000 and financial firms cut 4,000.

Persecution Watch

A local government official in central Bangladesh has halted the construction of a church, forced Christians to worship at a mosque and threatened them with eviction from their village unless they renounce their faith, World Watch Monitor reports. The Tangail Evangelical Holiness Church in Bilbathuagani village, Tangail district, about 70 miles north of Dhaka, was started Sept. 8 by a group of about 25 Christians who had been meeting secretly for three years. However, local council chairman Rafiqul Islam Faruk joined around 200 demonstrators Sept. 13 to protest against the start of the building of the church. The following day, the Christians were summoned to his office. More than 1,000 Muslims waited outside, following an announcement at all local mosques to gather at the chairman’s office. Mokrom Ali, 32, told World Watch Monitor: “The chairman and the imams of the mosques interrogated me for accepting Christianity. They asked me why I had become a Christian. It is a great sin to become a Christian from Islam. If I did not accept Islam, they would beat me, burn my house and evict me from the society. Their threats chilled me to the bone. That is why I pretended to accept Islam, but faith in Christ is the wellspring of my life. Now I am no longer a Muslim; I am a Christian.”

Jihadist members of Somalia’s al-Shabab took hundreds of hostages and killed 67 Christians at the Westgate Mall. People who identified themselves as Muslims, and who could give the name of Mohamed’s mother or recite Quranic verses were allowed to leave. Jihadists in Nigeria killed a pastor and his son and burned their church in the northern state of Yobe where Islamists are attempting to impose Sharia law. Two Christian men, Waleed Saad Shaker, age 25, and Nash ‘at Shenouda Ishaq, age 27, were traveling on a rural road in Libya when they were surrounded by a crowd of Muslim men. The Christians were robbed, tied up and beaten. Then the Muslims demanded that they recite the shahada, the declaration of conversion to Islam. When the Christians refused, they were shot.

Middle East

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, devoting most of his half-hour address to the threat posed by Iran’s renegade nuclear program. While giving a summation of the history of Iranian duplicity and obvious intentions to develop nuclear weapons despite the repeated denials of Iranian officials, Netanayhu pointed out that “the international community has Iran on the ropes” and urged the assembled diplomats to “keep up the pressure” on the clerical regime in Teheran until it dismantles its nuclear program. He added however that if all else failed, Israel was prepared “to stand alone against Iran…but with the knowledge that in defending Israel, we will be defending many, many others.”

Egypt

Thousands of supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi marched at the site of a former Muslim Brotherhood protest camp in Cairo Friday. Police and troops are on alert in the area, after protestors defied a security crackdown by gathering at the site where thousands participated in violent protests in recent months. Egyptian authorities had warned the Brotherhood that new demonstration camps would not be tolerated. Since the July 3 ouster of the Islamic president, the country’s military-backed government has moved against the Brotherhood, banning the group, seizing its assets and arresting hundreds of its supporters.

Iran

Iranians chanted ‘Death to America’ and burned the U.S. flag after weekly prayers in Tehran on Friday despite their new president’s outreach to the West and promises of moderation and easing of tensions with the outside world… During prayers Friday in Tehran, the master-of-ceremonies led the crowd into chants of ‘Death to America’ at least twice from the podium. The chant was then repeated several times by a group of worshippers who rallied after the ceremony, burning the American and Israeli flags, as they do almost every week.

Pakistan

A roadside bomb killed two soldiers doing relief work Wednesday in a remote region of southwestern Pakistan where a major earthquake killed at least 376 people last week, and gunmen carried out a pair of attacks on troops distributing aid there. Also in southwestern Baluchistan province but far from the earthquake zone, a bomb went off at the Pakistan-Afghan border, killing six people and wounding 11 others. A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into the compound of a rival militant commander in northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing 15 people. Gunmen first fired shots at Hanfi’s compound in Balandkhel village, and then the suicide bomber detonated his vehicle.

Somalia/Kenya

We’re not done yet. That was the message terrorists of Al-Shabaab gave to Kenya on Wednesday, as officials still sorted through rubble and clues left in the wake of the recent massacre that took 67 lives at a Nairobi shopping mall. Kenyan forces killed five terrorists, and 11 others are in custody over possible links to the attacks. The Somali militant group handed the threatening statement to regional media, which passed it on to CNN. Al-Shabaab made statements claiming responsibility, including saying on Twitter that it sent the gunmen in retaliation for Kenya’s involvement in an African Union military effort against the group, which is al Qaeda’s proxy in Somalia. Last year, the Kenyan military was part of a peacekeeping force that defeated Al-Shabaab forces to liberate the key Somali port of Kismayo.

Sudan

Fresh demonstrations against the government took place in Sudan on Tuesday, despite the use of teargas on protesters a day earlier. Students at the Ahfad University for Women near the capital, Khartoum, rallied for a second day, calling for the removal of President Omar al-Bashir and his government. A number of youth groups, political opposition parties, independent trade unions and a coalition of civil society organizations have called for the immediate resignation of the government and the dissolution of legislative bodies. They want the formation of a transitional government based on a cross-section of Sudanese society. Violent protests against the lifting of government gas subsidies in Sudan — a move that nearly doubled the price of gasoline — began last week.

Japan

Another day, another radioactive-water spill. The operator of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant says at least 110 gallons spilled when workers overfilled a storage tank without a gauge that could have warned them of the danger. The amount is tiny compared to the untold thousands of tons of radioactive water that have leaked, much of it into the Pacific Ocean, since a massive earthquake and tsunami wrecked the plant in 2011. But the error is one of many Tokyo Electric Power Co. has committed as it struggles to manage a seemingly endless, tainted flow.

While the continuing environmental disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has grabbed world headlines — with hundreds of tons of contaminated water flowing into the Pacific Ocean daily — a human crisis has been quietly unfolding. Two and a half years after the plant belched plumes of radioactive materials over northeast Japan, the almost 83,000 nuclear refugees evacuated from the worst-hit areas are still unable to go home. Some have moved on, reluctantly, but tens of thousands remain in a legal and emotional limbo while the government holds out hope that they can one day return.

China

Authorities say that death toll from an unusual spate of hornet attacks in central China has reached 41 people. The attacks plagued not only the city of Ankang, where 19 died as reported by the official Xinhua News Agency, but had killed 22 others in two adjacent cities. All told, 1,600 people have been injured, and 37 of them are in critical or serious condition in hospitals. The provincial government says it has mobilized a special medic team and trained more medical personnel to treat victims. It says hornets mate and migrate in September and October when they are most aggressive in behavior. Local officials have also said weather changes may have contributed to the ferocity of attacks.

Mexico

Thousands of teachers and students blocked Mexico City’s main thoroughfares during rush hour to honor victims of a 1968 massacre while pledging to fight to undo an overhaul of the education system. Wednesday’s protests and road closures are just the latest acts in what has become near daily disruption by demonstrations of the capital’s life in recent weeks. The education reform aims to break union control of the school system by requiring teacher evaluations.

Venezuela

Years of mismanagement, lack of maintenance, and frozen power rates have wrecked havoc with a electricity grid that is simply falling apart. According to Aller, the number of blackouts, classified as anything above 100 megawatts (which is enough to power a city of 200,000) have soared in the last decade. In 2004, they averaged about 40 a year. In 2011 there were 430; it 2012 they nearly doubled to 800. This from a country that has the largest proven oil reserves in the world.

Weather

Powerful storms crawled into the Midwest on Friday, dumping heavy snow in South Dakota, spawning a tornado in Nebraska and threatening dangerous thunderstorms from Oklahoma to Wisconsin. A foot of snow had fallen in western South Dakota’s scenic Black Hills by early Friday, thanks to a storm gaining strength as it slowly moves east from Colorado and Wyoming. Blizzard conditions were expected in the area, with as much as 3 feet of snow and wind gusts of between 50 and 70 mph. Although early October snowfalls aren’t unusual in the Black Hills, a storm of this magnitude happens only once every decade or two on the plains.

An estimated 10,000 walrus unable to find sea ice over shallow Arctic Ocean water have come ashore on Alaska’s northwest coast on a barrier island near Point Lay, an Inupiat Eskimo village 300 miles southwest of Barrow and 700 miles northwest of Anchorage. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency immediately took steps to prevent a stampede among the animals packed shoulder to shoulder on the rocky coastline. The agency works with villages to keep people and airplanes a safe distance from herds. Young animals are especially vulnerable to stampedes triggered by a polar bear, a human hunter or a low-flying airplane.

 

Signs of the Times (10/1/13)

October 1, 2013

Christianity in Danger of Becoming Extinct in Its Birthplace

Respected UK historian Tom Holland told a briefing in London this week that the world is watching the effective extinction of Christianity from its birthplace. In an apocalyptic appraisal of the worsening political situation in the Middle Eastern region, a panel of experts provided a mass of evidence and statistics for the end of the region’s nation states under the onslaught of militant Islam. The event, titled Reporting the Middle East: Why the Truth is Getting Lost, sought answers to the “anemic” coverage of attacks on Egypt’s Christians on 14 August. Pre-planned destruction of scores of ancient churches, monasteries, schools, orphanages and businesses had gone unreported for days across the West, said Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute Religious Freedom Center in Washington. “It has been the worst persecution in 700 years against the oldest, largest remaining Christian minority in the Middle East.” Meanwhile, the mainline churches are so liberal they dare not speak a word against Obama’s foreign policy, despite the fact that countless innocent people whom they should consider fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are being murdered and maimed

  • The New World Order secular humanists are using Islam as a surrogate in order to stamp out Christianity. With the mainstream media firmly in their control, coverage has been weak to nonexistent. Mainline Christian denominations have embraced New Age ‘tolerance’ at the expense of sound Biblical theology.

Obama Declares November National Muslim Appreciation Month

President Barack Obama held a press conference to announce that he is declaring the month of November ‘National Muslim Appreciation Month’ as reported by MinutemenNews.com. “The Muslim community deserves our full acceptance and respect,” Obama told reporters. “We have killed millions of Muslims overseas since the September 11th attacks. They are not all bad. In fact most of them are good. So from now on, November will be a month to celebrate the Muslim community, the Sunnah and the Quran.” Obama informed reporters about his future plans for helping Muslims around the world. “I will be working with Congress in making it easier for Muslims to earn a Green Card and achieve American citizenship,” Obama said. “Currently as it stands, obtaining a Visa or Green Card for a Muslim is very difficult. There are too many background checks in place and I plan to fix that.” Obama continued, “Muslims are hardworking people who are just looking to live the American Dream like the rest of us. Mr. Matei of the Muslim Brotherhood assured me they want to come to this country to help us, not harm us.” Khaled Matei who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood‘s Freedom and Justice Party told CNN he is pleased with Obama and his actions. “I spoke with President Obama by telephone yesterday and personally thanked him for what he is doing for the Muslim community,” Matei said. “This is definitely a step in the right direction I explained to him. Praise Allah.”

  • Obama is more than a liberal socialist, he is a New World Order dupe doing all he can to promote Islam at the expense of Christianity.

Government Shuts Down

Thousands of federal workers are being furloughed Tuesday because the government has shut down for the first time since 1996. Republicans and Democrats in Congress are in a stalemate over a stopgap spending bill and the insistence of House conservatives to strike a blow to President Obama’s health care law. The House voted 228-199 early Tuesday to start formal negotiations with the Senate on a bill to fund the government for six weeks. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is insisting that there will be no negotiations under the present circumstances.

Anyone deemed not essential by their agency or department has been furloughed representing more than 40% of the federal workforce. That includes about half of civilian defense workers. All active-duty military personnel are expected at work Tuesday. Still on the job are federal workers whose duties include protecting public health, safety or property. While the shutdown has begun, another clock is ticking. The federal government will run out of money to pay its bills by Oct. 17 if Congress doesn’t approve an increase to the nation’s $16.7 billion debt ceiling. Obama has said he won’t negotiate on this point, either.

Healthcare Exchanges Open Today (Tuesday, 10/1/13)

As the new health care exchanges open Tuesday, President Obama is warning that there will be initial “glitches,” but predicting ultimate success. The potential issues include crashed computers and long phone waits at call centers. The 45 million people who lack health insurance can begin the enrollment process Oct. 1, but they certainly don’t have to. The deadline to purchase health insurance or face a penalty is March 31, 2014. Every state has people called navigators who received grants to help guide consumers through the process. The new online exchanges offer the ability to easily compare different plans.

Pope Urges Reform

Pope Francis opened a landmark meeting Tuesday on reforming the Catholic Church, saying he wants a missionary church with a modern spirit that gives hope to the poor, the young and the elderly like his namesake St. Francis did. Francis convened his own parallel cabinet of eight cardinals from around the globe for three days of brainstorming on revamping the Vatican bureaucracy and other reforms. The move fulfills a key mandate of the cardinals who elected him pope to involve local church leaders in making decisions about the universal church. In the interview, Francis denounced the “Vatican-centric” nature of the Holy See administration and acknowledged that popes past had been infatuated with the pomp of the Vatican and its “courtesans.” He said the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the church into the modern world, had promised such an opening to people of other faiths and non-believers, but that the church hadn’t made progress since then.

  • Sounds good on the surface, just like secular humanism does, but we’ll have to wait awhile to see if it leads away from foundational Biblical principles

Near-Unanimous House Approves Religious Minorities Special Envoy

In an age when bipartisan political agreement is nearly non-existent, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly last week to create a special envoy for religious liberty in Central America and the Middle East, WORLD reports. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., authored the legislation that was approved 402-22. The nay votes came from 21 Republicans and one Democrat. “Religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia are confronting deadly threats every day, ranging from discrimination and marginalization to outright violence,” Eshoo said. “This legislation responds to the urgent needs of those Christians and other religious minorities. … A special envoy will help develop policy options to ensure the protection and preservation of these ancient faith communities.” The special envoy would advocate for religious minorities who often have no voice in politics. Wolf said the U.S. State Department is not doing enough to help them.

  • This is especially important for Christian minorities in Muslim nations

Global War on Drugs is Failing

The global war on drugs is failing, new research suggests, as the price of heroin, cocaine and cannabis has fallen while their purity has increased. A team of Canadian and U.S. researchers reviewed drug supply in the United States, Europe and Australia and drug production in regions such as Latin America, Afghanistan and Southeast Asia. They found that illegal drugs have become cheaper while their potency has increased, indicating that efforts to control “the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing. During the past two decades, the supply of major illegal drugs has increased.” In the U.S., the average price of heroin, cocaine and cannabis decreased by at least 80% between 1990 and 2007, while average purity increased by 60%, 11% and 161% respectively.

NSA Maps Americans’ Social Connections

For almost three years the National Security Agency has been tapping the data it collects to map out some Americans’ social connections, allowing the government to identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, The New York Times reported. Citing documents provided by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden, the Times reported that the NSA began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine some Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after NSA officials lifted restrictions on the practice. A January 2011 memorandum from the spy agency indicated that the policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States. The documents Snowden provided indicated that the NSA can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and tax data.

Increased Flooding in U.S. Forces Insurance Rates to Soar

A nationwide revamping of flood insurance rates underway, forcing premiums that were once around $500 per year into the $5,000-, $10,000- and even $20,000-a-year range and higher. The Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, passed by Congress last summer, made sweeping changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) – which has been the only provider of flood insurance for homes and businesses across the U.S. since its creation in 1968 – with the goal of raising rates to reflect the true actuarial risk of properties in flood zones.

The act does that by phasing out subsidies for flood insurance in the most high-risk areas. Before the act’s passage, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had sold more than a million policies at subsidized rates. After it passed, more than 430,000 policyholders had their subsidies immediately cut off; another 715,000 remained, but are expected to be gradually phased out. The NFIP was reportedly more than $18 billion in debt, with about $15 billion of that coming from the damage caused by 2005’s Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Economic News

Bank fees rose for the 15th straight year, with fees for overdrafts and out-of-network ATM usage hitting record highs. The average overdraft charge rose 3% in 2013, to a record $32.20. The average cost for using another bank’s ATM rose 2%, to $4.13 — also a record. Overdraft fees have risen so far that it’s cheaper to borrow $100 from a payday lender than it is to bounce a $100 check. The median price for a $100 loan from a payday lender is $18.

Amazon, the electronic commerce pioneer is planning to add more than 70,000 full-time seasonal U.S. jobs. The positions will be located within its fulfillment centers for the holidays and are intended to meet increased seasonal retail demand. The hiring boom for this year’s seasonal work is up 40% from a year ago, when the Internet’s retail giant hired 50,000 seasonal workers.

Wal-Mart Stores unveiled its largest ever warehouse dedicated to filling online orders Tuesday as the world’s biggest retailer steps up competition with web rival Amazon.com. The warehouse, based in Bethlehem, Pa., will be more than 1 million square feet and employ over 350 full-time staff when it opens in the first quarter of 2014. Another new online fulfillment center, based in Fort Worth, Tex., is 800,000 square feet and employs 275 full-time staff. It began shipping orders last week.

Middle East

US President Barak Obama hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Monday, giving assurances that his policy towards Iran’s renegade nuclear program remains unchanged by recent developments. “We have to test diplomacy,” Obama said. “We have to see if in fact they are serious about their willingness to abide by international norms and international law and international requirements and resolutions.” However, he added that he would demand the “highest level of verification” that Iran was holding up its end of any bargain reached. “It is Israel’s firm belief that if Iran continues to advance its nuclear program during negotiations, the sanctions should be strengthened,” Netanyahu said. “Iran must fully dismantle its military nuclear program.”

Iran

For years, Iran’s leaders have scoffed at Western economic sanctions, boasting that they could evade anything that came their way. Now, as they seek to negotiate a deal on their nuclear program, the leaders are acknowledging that sanctions, particularly those applied in 2010 on international financial transactions, are creating a hard-currency shortage that is bringing the country’s economy to its knees.

Flush with positive international media coverage of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s trip to the UN General Assembly last week which included a phone call with US President Barak Obama, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif gave an interview with ABC’s This Week on Sunday in which he declared that it was Israel, not his country, which threatened the Middle East with nuclear holocaust. “Israel has 200 nuclear warheads,” he thundered. “Israel is the source of insecurity in our region. Israel is the source of aggression and violation of human rights of the Palestinian people. It should not have the audacity to continue to lie to the American people and to the world and mislead everybody.”

  • Israel only has nuclear weapons because they’re under constant threat of being exterminated by all the surrounding Muslim countries. Israel has never threatened to destroy them unless it is attacked first

Syria

An advance group of international inspectors arrived in Syria on Tuesday to begin the ambitious task of overseeing the destruction of President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons program. Twenty inspectors from a Netherlands-based chemical weapons watchdog crossed into Syria from neighboring Lebanon on their way to Damascus, to begin their complex mission of finding, dismantling and ultimately destroying an estimated 1,000-ton chemical arsenal. The experts have about nine months to complete the task, which has been endorsed by a U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for Syria’s chemical stockpile to be eliminated by mid-2014. The inspectors’ priority is to achieve the first milestone of helping Syria scrap its ability to manufacture chemical weapons by a Nov. 1 deadline, using every means possible.

Iraq

A wave of car bombs struck mainly in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad on Monday morning, killing at least 51 people and wounding dozens more. The country’s Interior Ministry blamed al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, saying they are exploiting the political infighting and security shortcomings to stage attacks. The deadliest of the day’s bombings was in the eastern Sadr City district, where a parked car bomb tore through a small vegetable market and its parking lot. That was followed by a total of 10 parked car bombs, which went off in quick sequence in the Shiite neighborhoods of New Baghdad, Habibiya, Sabaa al-Bour, Kazimiyah, Shaab, Ur, Shula as well as the Sunni neighborhoods of Jamiaa and Ghazaliyah.

Pakistan

A car bomb exploded on a crowded street in northwestern Pakistan Sunday, killing 37 people in the third blast to hit the troubled city of Peshawar in a week. Another 75 were under treatment at the city’s Lady Reading Hospital. The latest explosion went off in a crowded market that is the city’s oldest bazaar near a mosque and a police station. Such attacks in Peshawar, which is the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, have claimed over 130 lives since the previous Sunday when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of worshippers at a church, killing 85 people. The Sunni Islamist militant group Jundullah claimed responsibility for the church attack, saying it targeted Christians to avenge the deaths of Muslims killed by U.S. drone strikes.

Yemen

Security officials say suspected al-Qaeda gunmen have overrun a key military base in Yemen’s largest province. The attackers are holding captive an unknown number of high-ranking officers and soldiers inside the base. The military has sent in reinforcements and troops are now surrounding the compound. Suspected al Qaeda militants killed at least 31 Yemeni soldiers and policemen in attacks in the south of the country on September, their deadliest in more than a year.

Nigeria

Islamic extremists attacked an agricultural college in the dead of night, gunning down dozens of students as they slept in dormitories and torching classrooms in an ongoing Islamic uprising in northeast Nigeria, the school’s provost said. As many as 50 students may have been killed in the attack that began at about 1 a.m. Sunday in rural Gujba. The other 1,000 students enrolled have fled the college that is about 25 miles north of the scene of similar school attacks around Damaturu. There were no security forces stationed at the college despite government assurances. Most schools in the area closed after militants on July 6 killed 29 pupils and a teacher, burning some alive in their hostels, at Mamudo outside Damaturu.

Kenya

Kenya’s government had been warned, including by Israel, of the high risk of an attack before the assault on a Nairobi mall by Islamist gunmen that killed at least 67 people, newspapers reported Saturday. Cabinet ministers and Kenya’s army chief had received information warning of a plan to carry out a major attack, the Daily Nation said, quoting a leaked intelligence report. The attack was orchestrated by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab group as retaliation for Kenya’s military presence in Somalia. The Westgate mall, popular with expatriates and wealthy Kenyans, is part owned by Israelis and had long been considered a prime potential target.

Weather

A November-like barrage of powerful storms pounded the Pacific Northwest with heavy rain and strong winds over this past weekend. Locally up to nine inches of rain has been measured in the higher elevations of western Washington. Many cities in the region have now recorded their wettest September on record thanks to the weekend deluge. Portland General Electric crews had a busy Saturday as strong winds caused power outages. PGE reports that more than 17,000 people lost electricity because of downed trees and power lines. Sustained winds of 50 to 60 mph were reported throughout the region, and 70 to 80 mph gusts were observed along the coasts and in the mountains of Oregon and Washington.

Tens of thousands of people were being evacuated from high-risk areas in central Vietnam on Monday as typhoon Wutip sank at least two Chinese fishing ships neared the coast. Chinese airplanes and boats scoured parts of the South China Sea on Tuesday looking for nearly 60 people missing after a tropical storm sank three fishing boats. In central Vietnam, people repaired homes and dragged away trees that were uprooted when Wutip slammed into the coastline late Monday. Two men were killed when a radio station antenna tower fell on them, Vietnam’s disaster agency said. Another man was killed when a wall collapsed. Close to 100,000 homes were damaged.