Signs of the Times (1/20/14)

Annual March for Life Wednesday, 1/22

The MARCH FOR LIFE in Washington, D.C., began as a small demonstration and rapidly grew to be the largest pro-life event in the world. The peaceful demonstration that has followed on this somber anniversary every year since 1973 is a witness to the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time, legalized abortion on demand. Last year, more than 500,000 concerned Americans took to Capitol Hill to demand equal protection for the first of all natural human rights, the right to life. The 2014 March for Life begins with a rally at 12:00 noon on National Mall (7th St. Intersection on Mall).  The march begins at conclusion of rally, around 1:00 P.M.

Dozens of Congressmen Speak Out Against Roe v. Wade

Nearly two dozen pro-life lawmakers took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to condemn the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Roe v. Wade Wednesday, just one week before the 41st anniversary of the infamous ruling, which legalized abortion throughout America, reports LifeSiteNews. Led by Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, 21 Republicans and a lone Democrat offered speeches commemorating the more than 55 million lives ended by abortion since 1973, urging Congress to pass stronger laws to protect the unborn, and calling on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Birmingham, Alabama Abortion-Free for Now

Birmingham, Alabama is abortion free for now, as the sole abortion clinic there, run by Planned Parenthood, has temporarily closed. If it stays closed this is the second closure of an abortion clinic in 2014. Sidewalk counselors report that the facility does not appear to have performed abortions since before Christmas. One counselor confirms that she has only seen a handful of patients show up in the past four weeks, none of which stayed long enough to have an abortion. Ed Carrick, Director of Birmingham 40 Days for Life, comments, “We’ve done numerous prayer campaigns outside of this facility. A final shutdown would not only be an answer to many years of dedicated prayer, it would be a miracle for the city. We give God the glory for every day Birmingham remains free of these clinics.”

Judge Strikes Down North Carolina Ultrasound Abortion Law

A North Carolina law that made women who wanted an abortion get an ultrasound, and then have the image described to them, is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Friday. The law required abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and place the image in the woman’s line of sight. The fetus would then be described in detail, even if the woman asked the provider not to. Supporters of the law had argued that it would promote childbirth. Oklahoma lost a similar fight in its own effort to require health care providers to perform an ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy. The U.S. Supreme Court in November refused to accept Oklahoma’s appeal over the law, which lower state courts had found unconstitutional.

Judge Strikes Down Photo ID Requirement in Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania judge on Friday struck down a requirement that nearly all of the state’s 8.2 million voters show photo identification at the polls, saying it imposes an unreasonable burden on the right to vote and that officials failed to demonstrate the need for it. The judge said the law is not constitutional because it does not require that a valid photo ID be convenient and available to voters. “As a constitutional prerequisite, any voter ID law must contain a mechanism for ensuring liberal access to compliant photo IDs so that the requirement … does not disenfranchise valid voters,” judge McGinley wrote.

NSA Collects Millions of Text Messages Daily

The National Security Agency has collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details, according to top-secret documents. The untargeted collection and storage of SMS messages – including their contacts – is revealed in a joint investigation between the Guardian and the UK’s Channel 4 News based on material provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The documents also reveal the UK spy agency GCHQ has made use of the NSA database to search the metadata of “untargeted and unwarranted” communications belonging to people in the UK. The NSA program, codenamed Dishfire, collects “pretty much everything it can”, according to GCHQ documents, rather than merely storing the communications of existing surveillance targets.

  • NSA abuses are widespread and will continue to be so because the information is necessary to establish greater government control over the masses

Obama Calls for End to NSA Storing Metadata

President Obama called Friday for ending the National Security Agency’s ability to store phone data from millions of Americans, and he will ask Congress, the Justice Department and the intelligence community to help decide who should hold these records. Metadata provides information about a certain item’s content, in this case phone calls. In his speech Friday on surveillance policy, Obama argued that the metadata program is a major counterterrorism tool, but changes can be made to reassure Americans that it is not being abused. In the near term, Obama will modify the program to require a judicial finding every time the government seeks information from the phone database. Obama will ask Attorney General Eric Holder and the intelligence community to deliver a report by March 28 on how to handle the program in the long term. The president will also consult with the relevant committees in Congress on their views. A special committee appointed by Obama last year has recommended that telephone metadata by held by a third party, or the phone companies themselves. But some phone providers have balked at the latter idea.

  • Smoke and mirrors, small step, data will still be collected and used surreptitiously

Senate Says No Doubt al-Qaeda Involved with Benghazi Attack

A Senate report on the Benghazi attack that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans bolsters Obama administration critics who suspected from the start that al-Qaeda was involved and that it was not a spontaneous protest that went out of control. The report, released Wednesday by the committee’s Democratic majority, said individuals affiliated with groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were in on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. compound. Whether the attack was ordered by a high-level al-Qaeda chief or planned on short notice by people on the ground remains unclear. But the report left no doubt that it was an organized terrorist attack — a fact denied for days afterwards by President Obama and former secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Most ObamaCare Enrollees Already Had Health Plans

The majority of the more than 2 million Americans who signed up for health insurance under ObamaCare through the end of December were already enrolled in employer-sponsored plans or had previously bought their own coverage, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Early data from insurers, brokers and consultants suggest that the marketplaces are popular with consumers who were previously covered elsewhere, raising questions about a law intended to expand coverage to millions of healthy, uninsured Americans to help offset costs. A survey by management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that only 11 percent of consumers who purchased new coverage under ObamaCare were previously uninsured.

Top Hacker calls Healthcare.gov Security ‘Shameful’

Security expert — and once the world’s most-wanted cyber criminal — Kevin Mitnick submitted a scathing criticism to a House panel Thursday of ObamaCare’s Healthcare.gov website, calling the protections built into the site “shameful” and “minimal.” Mitnick concluded that, “It’s clear that the management team did not consider security as a priority.” David Kennedy, CEO and founder of TrustedSec LLC which identifies and creates fixes for cybercrime, testified that most of the flaws they identified back in November still exist on the site, and said “indeed, it’s getting worse.”

Google Steps Up Fight against Bad’ Ads

Google yanked 59% more “bad” advertisements from its online systems last year as the world’s largest Internet search provider stepped up a battle against a barrage of counterfeiters, suspect downloads and other malicious activity on the Web. Google removed more than 350 million bad ads in 2013, up from about 220 million the year before. That’s almost 1 million suspect ads a day. The increase was partly driven by the overall surge in online advertising, most of which is legitimate. But as Google introduces new products, scammers adapt and develop new ways to game the system.

Fifty Years after Civil Rights Act Blacks Still Struggle

Fifty years after passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and on Monday’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the battle to end overt discrimination has been far more successful than the effort to attain economic, educational or social equality. Blacks have made huge strides in high school education but still lag in college graduation rates. Their incomes have risen and poverty rates have declined, but a mammoth wealth gap remains, along with persistently high unemployment rates. So great has been the increase in political power that the black voter turnout rate surpassed that of whites in the 2012 presidential race, and the number of black elected officials has risen sevenfold. But while school segregation and workplace discrimination have declined, many African Americans go home to segregated, often impoverished neighborhoods. Polling by the Pew Research Center shows that nearly nine in 10 blacks say discrimination still exists. One in three say they have experienced it within the past year; that number rises to one in two when it comes to the workplace or the voting booth.

Economic News

Housing starts dropped 9.8% in December after surging in November, the Commerce Department said Friday. Builders started construction at an annual rate of 999,000 last month, the third highest level of 2013. November’s 1.1 million rate was the highest level of the year. Overall, 2013 was the strongest year for home building since 2007. From its mining to the waste created when it is burned for electricity, pollutants associated with coal have contaminated waterways, wells and lakes with far more insidious and longer-lasting contaminants than the chemical that spilled out of a tank farm on the banks of the Elk River. Discharges from coal-fired power plants that alone are responsible for 50 to 60 percent of all toxic pollution entering the nation’s water.

China’s holdings of U.S. Treasurys increased $12.2 billion to a record $1.317 trillion in November, according to data released Monday on the Treasury Department’s website. Japan’s holdings rose $12 billion to $1.186 trillion. Foreign investment in U.S. debt has helped bolster our economy but gives foreign countries (including OPEC nations) unprecedented influence over America’s policies.

Research conducted by the British charity Oxfam has concluded that the combined wealth of the world’s 85 richest people is equivalent to that owned by 46% of all the world’s wealth. The report, titled “Working for the Few,” claims that the 1% richest people on the planet are rich to the tune of $110 trillion. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified income inequality as one of the greatest risks facing the world in 2014. The WEF annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland begins Wednesday.

  • New World Order globalists are in the process of concentrating wealth among the elites in preparation for the one-world government prophesied in Revelation 13

Syria

Syrian rebels “don’t have long” as they face not only the army of President Bashar al-Assad, but fierce attacks from the Al Qaeda fighters who once battled alongside them, an opposition leader told FoxNews.com. In recent days, the rebels have killed five top Al Qaeda leaders in eastern Syria, said Oubai Shahbandar, Turkey-based spokesman for the Syrian Opposition Coalition. He said taking on Al Qaeda, which is believed to be seeking to topple Assad not to bring about democracy, but to establish a base for terror operations, is stretching the Free Syrian Army to the breaking point. Shahbandar called on the West to provide military aid to the Free Syrian Army, and said time is running out. Assad’s forces are working with the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, giving the Free Syrian Army a wide spectrum of seasoned soldiers and militant jihadists to contend with.

Egypt

More than 98 percent of Egyptians backed a new constitution in a referendum, authorities said on Saturday, though the turnout was lower than some officials had predicted, with just over a third of the electorate taking part. The vote advances a transition plan the military-backed government unveiled after deposing Islamist president Mohamed Mursi last July following mass unrest over his rule. The death toll from street violence Friday rose to four, hours before authorities release the results of this week’s constitutional referendum. Fifteen people were also injured in the clashes, which began after supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi took to the streets in Cairo and other provinces to denounce the draft charter. Police fired tear gas and arrested dozens in their crackdown on demonstrations held without permits. Since a popularly backed military coup overthrew Morsi in July, Islamists have been staging near-daily protests against interim authorities they consider illegitimate.

Iran

Iran started suspending high levels of uranium enrichment Monday as an interim deal struck with six world powers went into effect, state media reported, making way for more talks and less financial sanctions. The nation stopped enrichment of uranium to the 20% purity level and disconnected cascades of centrifuges enriching uranium in Natanz, a top nuclear official told Press TV. The action is part of a six-month interim agreement that gives Iran and six other countries — the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany — more time to negotiate a permanent solution. As part of the agreement, it must eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium, dismantle some infrastructure that makes enrichment possible and allow broader and more intrusive inspections of its programs.

  • Iran is only buying time and sanction relief and remains determined to develop and use nuclear weapons to annihilate Israel. Verification is a must; they cannot be trusted.

Iraq

Iraqi authorities say a series of bombings across Baghdad, targeting marketplaces and two court buildings, has killed 21 people. The explosions came as Iraqi forces continue offensive military action against al-Qaeda and allied militants west of the capital. Police say the deadliest of Monday’s blasts hit an outdoor market in the south of Baghdad, killing seven people and wounding 13, continuing al-Qaeda’s attempts to undermine the Shiite government.

Afghanistan

The American University of Afghanistan says that three of its U.S. employees were among those killed in a Taliban attack on a popular Kabul restaurant that left 21 people dead, including 13 foreigners. The university, which has more than 1,000 students, was established in 2006 and has a number of Americans on its staff. The deadly attack on the restaurant popular among foreigners has raised worries that the assault could place pressure on the international aid community to reduce their presence in the country at a critical time. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has demanded that the United States must cease military operations and airstrikes, as well as resume peace talks with the Taliban, before he signs a security deal to keep some U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond this year.  Karzai’s deepening anti-American rhetoric comes as the Taliban intensifies its assaults ahead of the planned troop withdrawal and after Friday’s militant attack on the Kabul restaurant, the deadliest single attack against foreign civilians since U.S-led operations in Afghanistan began in 2001.

Pakistan

A bomb planted by the Taliban ripped through a vehicle carrying security forces inside a Pakistani army compound in the country’s volatile northwestern region Sunday, killing 22 troops and wounding 38 others The blast was a heavy blow for the Pakistani military which has been fighting a stubborn insurgency in the country’s northwest. Bombs and shootings have killed thousands of security forces and left thousands more wounded and maimed. The Pakistani military has been fighting for years against militants in the tribal areas who want to overthrow the government and establish a hardline Islamic state across Pakistan.

India

A pre-dawn stampede killed 18 people Saturday as tens of thousands of people gathered to mourn the death of a Muslim spiritual leader in India’s financial capital. At least 40 other people were injured in the stampede when mourners thronged the home of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the head of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Burhanuddin died Friday at the age of 102. The stampede occurred when the gates leading to the spiritual leader’s house were closed at about 1 a.m. The crowds surged forward, with many people getting crushed near the gates and with no way to escape.

Thailand

Two explosions shook an anti-government demonstration site in Thailand’s capital on Sunday, wounding at least 28 people in the latest violence to hit Bangkok as the nation’s increasingly volatile political crisis drags on. The blasts near Victory Monument, in the north of the city, were caused by fragmentation grenades — the same kind that killed one man and wounded dozens Friday in a similar explosion targeting protest marchers. The demonstrators, who control several small patches of Bangkok, are vying to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government and derail Feb. 2 elections she called in a bid to quell the crisis.

Ukraine

Anti-government protesters and police clashed anew Monday in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev after a night of vicious streets battles. Hundreds of protesters, many wearing balaclavas, hurled rocks and stun grenades and police responded with tear gas. The violence has seriously escalated Ukraine’s political crisis. The pro-Western protests in Kiev began Nov. 21 after President Viktor Yanukovych shelved a long-planned political and economic treaty with the European Union and then accepted a huge bailout package from Russian President Vladimir Putin instead. The protests swelled to hundreds of thousands — the biggest since Ukraine’s 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution — after riot police violently broke-up a small peaceful student protest.

Russia

An Islamic militant group in Russia’s North Caucasus claimed responsibility Sunday for twin suicide bombings in the southern city of Volgograd last month and posted a video threatening to strike the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. No one had previously claimed responsibility for the bombings, which killed 34 people and heightened security fears before next month’s Winter Games. U.S. lawmakers expressed serious concerns Sunday about the safety of Americans at the Games, which begin Feb. 7.

Central African Republic

The man chosen to lead what he says is 51% of the population of the Central African Republic, its Protestants, says that the conflict in the country has nothing to do with religion. Nicolas Guerékoyamé-Gbangou, a guest lecturer at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies this week, said that fighting between members of the disbanded Séléka rebel group and the anti-balaka (anti-machete) self-defense militias is not a battle between Muslims and Christians.c1″There is no Christian militia and there is no Muslim militia as well… This conflict is not religious at all,” he said, explaining that the anti-balaka militias developed from local village self-defense groups originally formed against cattle rustlers and bandits.

Environment

The chemical spill that contaminated water for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians was just the latest and most high-profile case of coal sullying the nation’s waters. For decades, chemicals and waste from the coal industry have tainted hundreds of waterways and groundwater supplies, spoiling private wells, shutting down fishing and rendering streams virtually lifeless, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal environmental data. But because these contaminants are released gradually and in some cases not tracked or regulated, they attract much less attention than a massive spill like the one in West Virginia.

Wildfires

The Colby Fire quickly burned through more than 1,570 acres of land at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains Thursday, right outside of Los Angeles. Approximately 3,700 people had been evacuated at the height of the blaze. The area is heavily populated and families watched the flames creep closer and closer to their homes. Hundreds of firefighters are trying to cut off the blaze. The Santa Ana winds that fanned a campfire into a wildfire that destroyed five homes and threatened foothill neighborhoods east of Los Angeles relented by Friday, halting the blaze in its tracks, while police held three men in custody after they allegedly started the blaze. Hundreds of residents returned to their homes Saturday night. The Los Angeles County Fire Department said the fire was 78 percent contained, with full containment expected Wednesday.

More than 90 wildfires are burning over Australia’s New South Wales state, but the danger has ebbed in neighboring Victoria and South Australia states. Many of the 93 fires burning across New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, on Sunday were sparked by overnight lightning strikes. Heat wave conditions across southeast Australia last week intensified wildfires that destroyed at least 25 houses and scorched 320,000 acres of grass and woodlands in Victoria and South Australia over several days.

Weather

Portions of nearly a dozen states have been designated as primary natural disaster areas by federal officials, putting an even brighter spotlight on the financial hardships farmers are likely to see in those areas due to an ongoing drought. The announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday included counties in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Oklahoma and California. The designation means eligible farmers can qualify for low-interest emergency loans from the department. While storms have dumped rain and snow in the East, droughts are persisting or intensifying in the West.

Major floods in the French Riviera have left at least two people dead and thousands more are stranded with no access to roads or electricity. Up to 8 inches of rain fell over the past 3 days in parts of southeastern France, causing flash flooding and sending several rivers out of their banks. The region that was flooded is part of the Var area, which is along the Mediterranean coast and is popular with tourists. Roads are washed out leading to some resort towns, including Saint-Tropez, and villages in Provence.

A BP study released this week says that greenhouse gas emissions worldwide will rise by 29 percent in the next 20 years, imperiling hopes that the world will be able to prevent the impact of dangerous climate change by the end of the century, the U.K.-based Guardian reports. The oil and gas company’s study comes at a time when the British government is “going all-out” in promoting shale gas fracking as an eventual replacement for coal-powered electricity. Shale gas exploration has boomed in the U.S. over the past decade, driving down natural gas prices here to historic lows. Because natural gas releases roughly half the carbon dioxide emitted from burning coal, it has been touted as a substitute for dirtier fossil fuels while usage of renewable energy ramps up. But the study found that the boom in shale gas won’t cut emissions after all – the coal that countries would have burned to produce electricity, they now export to other countries that burn it.

  • Regardless of what humanity does or doesn’t do, end-time weather will grow more chaotic and severe

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