Signs of the Times (10/28/13)

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.

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