Signs of the Times (10/15/13)

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.

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