Signs of the Times (10/17/13)

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.

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