Signs of the Times (2/7/14)

The Origins Debate: Creationism vs. Science

The central question in the first-ever debate between Christian apologist Ken Ham and self-avowed agnostic Bill Nye was “Is creationism a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?” It was a sold-out crowd Tuesday night at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, where the debate took place. Ham, a former science instructor from Australia, explained that one of his biggest concerns is that secularists have hijacked the word “science” to force the teaching of evolution on generations of students. “Secular evolutionists teach that all life developed by natural processes from some primordial form, that man is just an evolved animal, which has great bearing on how we view life and death,” Ham stated. Nye argued that science must be embraced and creationism abandoned if the United States is to succeed. CNN correspondent Tom Foreman moderated the debate, which was live-streamed by Answers in Genesis and watched by an estimated three million people.

  • The winner of the debate? God, who was revealed to millions of unbelievers.
  • The almost three-hour debate is available via download or DVD at http://debatelive.org/

FBI Super Bowl Sex-Trafficking Sting Rescues 16 Youth

Forty-five people were arrested and 16 juveniles rescued in a two-week crackdown on prostitution in the New York-New Jersey area leading up to last Sunday’s Super Bowl, Federal Bureau of Investigation officials said on Tuesday. The minors rescued ranged in age from 13 to 17 and included high school students and children reported missing by their families, the FBI said. Arrests were made and victims recovered in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Some trafficked women reported seeing up to 50 clients a day during the Super Bowl, more than double the usual traffic.

Obamacare May Prompt People to Work Less

Many workers may opt to work less to retain their eligibility for Medicaid or federal subsidies under Obamacare, a new report has found. The Affordable Care Act could reduce the labor force by the equivalent of 2.5 million workers in 2024, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s annual outlook. The report says more people will likely opt to reduce their hours, or leave the workforce entirely, so that they stay under the income caps for Medicaid and federal subsidies. “The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor,” the report says.

  • Government interference in free markets always leads to unintended consequences

Obama Ending Restrictions on Islamic Asylum Seekers with “Loose” Terrorist Ties

Obama’s open invitation to terrorists is official. The Obama Administration is “quietly” ending restrictions on asylum seekers with incidental terrorist ties from Islamic countries. This means it will be much easier for those with outright Islamic terrorist connections to seek “asylum” in the United States. How is Obama doing this? Unilaterally, of course. He is the imperial President with a pen and his phone. Not only is this opening up the possibility of a massive influx of Syrian asylum seekers, it is also making it possible for Islamists from other countries to infiltrate the United States. This is more than dangerous, it’s deadly. Obama, is doing his best to see that the USA burns, notes FreedomOutpost.com.

Fracking Raising Water Supply Worries

The USA’s domestic energy boom is increasing demands on water supplies already under pressure from drought and growing populations, a new report says. The water-intensive process used to extract oil and gas from shale underground — known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking — has required almost 100 billion gallons of water to drill more than 39,000 oil and shale gas wells in the U.S. since 2011. More than half of those wells — 55% — were in drought-stricken areas, and nearly half were in regions under high or extremely high water stress, such as Texas, says Ceres, a green investment group.

  • There’s never a perfect solution in this fallen world of good and evil

Europe’s Widespread Corruption Revealed

A new European Union report says corruption on the continent is widespread and “breathtaking.” Germany was singled out in the EU’s first Anti-Corruption report for its “revolving door” from government work to corporate jobs. The EU report blasted countries for behavior it said cost the European economy around $162 billion per year. “The extent of the problem in Europe is breathtaking,” stated EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstoem, who presented the report. “The political commitment to really root out corruption seems to be missing.” The report also revealed that 76% of Europeans think corruption is widespread, with another 56% saying they thought the level of corruption in their country had increased over the past three years.

  • It is corruption that makes expanded socialistic government to be feared

Cancer to Skyrocket Worldwide, WHO Study Says

The incidence of cancer worldwide is growing at an alarming pace, and there is an urgent need to implement strategies to prevent and curb the disease, according to a report from the World Health Organization. New cancer cases will skyrocket globally from an estimated 14 million in 2012 to 22 million new cases a year within the next two decades, the report says. During that same period, cancer deaths are predicted to rise from an estimated 8.2 million annually to 13 million a year. More than 60 percent of the world’s total cases occur in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, and these regions account for about 70 percent of the world’s cancer deaths, a situation that is made worse by the lack of early detection and access to treatment. The number of cancer deaths in the U.S. rose from 300,000 in 1990 to about 550,000 in 2013. Tobacco accounts for 33 percent of all cancers in the U.S. And bad diet, obesity and physical inactivity account for 28 percent.

Excess Sugar Consumption Leads to Higher Rates of Cardiovascular Death

A new study — the biggest of its kind — is warning that America’s love affair with sugary food and drink is also doubling our risk of a heart-related premature death. While previous research has indicated that consumption of added sugars can negatively affect health, the new study — published in JAMA Internal Medicine — is the first nationally-representative study examining how added sugars affect rates of death from cardiovascular disease. The study found that risk of cardiovascular death increases by 56% for the top fifth in sugar consumption compared to the bottom fifth. Though previous studies had indicated that consumption of added sugars was harmful to health, the researchers hadn’t expected to see such a large increase in risk of death between the highest- and lowest-consuming groups.

CVS to Stop Selling Tobacco Products

Drug store giant CVS Caremark announced Wednesday it will no longer sell tobacco products at its 7,600 pharmacies by Oct. 1. CVS sells $1.5 billion in tobacco a year, but CVS officials said selling cigarettes while promoting wellness doesn’t make sense. CVS sees its future as an alternative to the doctor’s office, with 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners counseling customers about how to control their high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. “Any form of tobacco use makes those chronic conditions more difficult to deal with,” said Helena Foulkes, CVS’s president.

  • However, the drug chain will continue selling the Plan B drug, which can cause an early abortion

Treasury Secretary Warns that U.S. Default could Happen Quickly

The Obama administration warned on Monday it could start defaulting on the government’s obligations “very soon” after it runs out of room to borrow under a legal cap on public debt. Washington is due to reinstate a limit on its borrowing at the end of this week and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the administration can use accounting measures to stay under the new cap until the end of February. After that time, “very soon it would not be possible to meet all of the obligations of the federal government,” Lew said. Washington has danced perilously close to the edge of default several times since 2011, and this year some Republicans pledge to extract policy concessions from Democrats before they allow the debt limit to rise.

Economic News

The American economy added 113,000 jobs in January, a disappointing showing that is likely to spur fears that the labor market is poised for yet another slowdown. Before the report from the Labor Department on Friday morning, economists had been looking for the economy to gain 180,000 positions last month. The unemployment rate in January was 6.6 percent, compared with 6.7 percent in December.

For the next few years, deficits are looking better. But the interest owed on the country’s cumulative debt is set to nearly quadruple over the next decade. The Congressional Budget Office projects that interest will be $233 billion this year, or 1.3% as a share of the economy. By 2024, it will reach $880 billion, or 3.3% of GDP. That means interest will account for the lion’s share of the $1.1 trillion deficit projected for that year and will come close to what will be spent on Medicare. Historically low interest rates are expected to rise to more typical levels even as total indebtedness continues to grow.

Corporate profits are coming in much better than expected and growing faster than they have in a year, a huge relief to investors who were prepared for a letdown. More than half the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index have reported fourth quarter results that are well ahead of expectations with 7.4% growth.

The Senate failed to move forward on a three-month extension of assistance for the long-term unemployed on Thursday, leaving it unlikely that Congress would approve the measure soon and dealing a setback to President Obama’s economic agenda. The cloture vote was 58-to-40, falling short of the 60-vote threshold to break a Republican filibuster effort.

Persecution Watch

Christians at a church service in Northern Nigeria were targeted in a day of horrendous violence by suspected Boko Haram militants that left at least 138 people dead. The attackers descended on the church, in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state, as the service was coming to an end. The attackers, armed with AK47 rifles, killed two police officers who were guarding the building and locked the congregation inside. They detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of those who tried to escape. The militants then went on a four-hour rampage in the village from around 10am to 2pm. They then burnt down homes and seized residents, including women, children and the elderly, as hostages; some of them were later killed. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state came under attack. The militants blew up a busy market and shot people, including children. In a siege that lasted from 5pm until 1am the next morning, the entire village, including 300 homes and seven mosques, was burned down.

Middle East

Israel approved construction permits for more than 550 settlement units in East Jerusalem, officials said, escalating tensions with Palestinians amid negotiations. The city council committee Wednesday evening approved issuing the construction permits, which is considered the last stage before building of settlements can start. The areas targeted for construction in East Jerusalem are being disputed by the Palestinians, with new settlements considered illegal under international law. Palestinian officials said it will sabotage ongoing talks between the two sides.

  • The Palestinians had already sabotaged the peace talks, as they always do, with their unreasonable, ungodly demands.

Syria

At least 15 boys were killed when Syrian forces dropped a barrel bomb on a mosque operating as a makeshift school in Aleppo. Tuesday’s attack is the second barrel bomb raid in two days in the northern Syrian city, which has become a flashpoint of Syria’s civil war. “Each and every day that the barrel-bombing of Aleppo continues, the Assad regime reminds the world of its true colors,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a blistering statement after the attack. A suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of a Syrian prison Thursday and rebels stormed in behind him, freeing hundreds of inmates as part of an offensive aimed at capturing key government symbols around the northern city of Aleppo.

Syria has missed another deadline for destroying its chemical weapons Wednesday amid a British report that Bashar Assad’s regime is stockpiling the weaponry for use in case the country is partitioned. Syria agreed last year to turn over its chemical weapons to the United Nations as Western powers were threatening to attack the country for using the weapons on neighborhoods where rebels against his regime were hiding out. Hundreds of women and children died in the attacks in what President Obama had called a “red line” that would force him to consider military action. But Obama backed down after Russia offered to broker a deal with its ally Assad and get him to agree to relinquish his chemical weapons stockpiles.

  • Just like Iran, Syria/Assad cannot be trusted to adhere to agreements

Iran

The Obama administration conceded Tuesday that foreign firms are jockeying to be ‘first in line’ to do business with Iran once sanctions are loosened, despite U.S. warnings that even preliminary trade deals risk weakening the West’s economic leverage. Two senior administration officials were on the defensive before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to explain the parade of trade delegations visiting Iran long before a hoped-for deal to permanently curb Iran’s disputed nuclear program is complete.

Egypt

In just the last two weeks, Islamist militants have detonated a car bomb at the gates of the capital’s security headquarters, gunned down a senior Interior Ministry official in broad daylight and shot down a military helicopter over Sinai with a portable surface-to-air missile. But perhaps most alarming to officials in Cairo and Washington are the signs that the swift increase in the scale and effectiveness of the attacks may come from a new influx of fighters: Egyptians returning from jihad abroad to join a campaign of terrorism against the military-backed government.

Weather

For the second time in three days, the Northeast got socked with a pile of heavy, wet snow Tuesday — a foot or more of it in many places. The winter storm forced the cancellations of thousands of flights Wednesday, while commuters encountered messy conditions heading into work. More than 495,000 customers were still without power in Pennsylvania Thursday morning. The number is down from the height of the storm, when nearly 850,000 customers were in the dark. In New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Wednesday as some areas of the state were getting hit with more a foot of snow.

A third powerful snowstorm moved out of the Midwest on Wednesday and into the Northeast a day later. It whacked a string of states along the way, dumping 13 inches of snow in Kansas, more than 10 inches in parts of Massachusetts and 4 inches in New York. Utility companies scrambled to restore power to the Northeast early Friday as hundreds of thousands shivered in the dark. In Philadelphia alone, electric provider PECO said about 319,000 homes and businesses were without power early Friday.

The first in a series of disturbances moved into the Northwest Thursday. Up to 10 inches of snow was reported in Corvallis. A total of 3.8 inches of snow was measured in Portland, making it the fifth greatest single-day snowfall total in the city dating back to 1940. Another disturbance will approach and move across western Oregon Friday into early Saturday. Persistent moisture aloft will focus significant amounts of precipitation on drought-stricken northern California in the coming days.

The amount of the ice on the Great Lakes so far this season exceeds the long-term average for maximum coverage. About 70.7% of the lakes were covered in ice this week, up from 60.1% last week and a maximum ice of 38.4% in the same period of 2013 and 12.9% in 2012. The extensive amount of ice could mean a slow start to the 2014 shipping season in March.

  • Gotta love that global warming. End-time weather won’t necessarily be warmer, but it will be more extreme

While the remnants of Winter Storm Leon brought flooding to the United Kingdom and other areas in northern Europe over the weekend, a winter storm from a separate system slammed the southern portion of the continent with heavy snowfall and power outages. Now, with a third storm system on the way, Europe won’t see improving conditions any time soon. France has seen huge waves along the coast, as well as widespread flooding on land. High tides and large waves along the southern coast of England could create more problems for an already-soaked area. During this storm, hundreds of flood alerts have been issued across England and Wales. Ten people had to be rescued in Wales when their bus was hit by a large wave crashing ashore. The Arno River in Pisa, Italy threatened to spill over its banks. Parts of Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia have seen widespread power outages and downed trees. Forty percent of Slovenian schools were closed by the storm and at least 120,000 households were left powerless.

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