Signs of the Times (10/1/13)

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.

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