Signs of the Times (4/4/14)

The Jesus Film to Re-Release After 35 Years

According to JesusFilm.org, “Every eight seconds, somewhere in the world, another person indicates a decision to follow Christ after watching the ‘JESUS’ film.” Hailed by some at the most biblically accurate portrayal of Christ’s life and ministry, the Jesus film has been viewed billions of times and translated into more than 1,000 languages. Now the Jesus film has been re-mastered, re-scored, and re-released on Blu-Ray and in certain theatres. To find a showing near you, or to order the 35th anniversary edition on Blu-ray, visit JesusFilmHD.com.

Religious Freedom Bill Passed in Mississippi

Mississippi lawmakers passed the final version of the state’s religious freedom bill on Tuesday. Under the new law, state and local governments are prohibited from placing “substantial” burden on religious practices. The bill, which has been praised by religious freedom advocates, was passed despite opposition from LGBT activists, who have argued that the law could result in discrimination against the LGBT community. Supporters of Mississippi’s new bill, Senate Bill 2681, say the final version bears little resemblance to Arizona’s failed measure. An earlier version of the bill that was considered a few weeks ago was similar to the one that Arizona’s Republican governor Jan Brewer vetoed. In that case business groups feared the law would injure the state’s economy, and that ultimately led to the bill being disregarded.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds NYC’s Ban on Worship Services at Public Schools

An appeals court in New York City on Thursday ruled that the Board of Education was abiding by the law in prohibiting the Bronx Household of Faith from using public school facilities for worship services during off-hours. The 2-1 vote, a reversal of a 2012 injunction against the city, comes amid a decades-long battle between church leaders and city officials. The plaintiff’s attorneys say they are considering appealing, once more, to the Supreme Court. Robert Hall, pastor of the Bronx Household of Faith, said “This is about our rights. There seems to be an increasing attempt to marginalize Christianity in civilization.” The Court of Appeals’ decision potentially affects numerous other faith communities across New York City’s five boroughs.

In its decision to reverse the 2012 permanent injunction ruling of Manhattan Federal Judge Loretta Preska, the three-judge panel concluded that “the Board’s prohibition was consistent with its constitutional duties.” The judge who dissented in Thursday’s ruling, John M. Walker, Jr., wrote, “In my view, the Board of Education’s policy that disallows ‘religious worship services’ after hours in public schools — limited public fora that are otherwise open to all — violates the Free Exercise Clause because it plainly discriminates against religious belief and cannot be justified by a compelling government interest.”

  • Christians are not only being marginalized and discriminated against but are under relentless attack, increasingly goaded by the anti-Christ spirit (1John 2:18)

In NYC Most Black Babies are Aborted Rather than Born

In 2012, there were more black babies killed by abortion (31,328) in New York City than were born there (24,758), and the black children killed comprised 42.4% of the total number of abortions in the Big Apple, according to a report by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

  • The ‘tolerant, inclusive’ secular humanist pro-choice crowd isn’t bothered by the disproportionate effect of abortion on minorities because they also support the sustainability mantra of population control which globalists purposely employ against the lower-class, entitlement-dependent minorities.

Obamacare Hits Enrollment Goal with 7.1 Million Sign-Ups

A last-minute enrollment surge enabled the White House to meet its original sign-up target for the Affordable Care Act, a surprising victory for the Obama administration after a rocky rollout of the program that has become a political hot potato for Democrats and a rallying cry for Republicans. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that 7.1 million people had signed up on federal or state exchanges for coverage under the health care law now often known as Obamacare. The enrollment period began anemically in October with a faltering federal website and ended with a crush of people trying to beat Monday’s deadline to get coverage. Not everyone who has selected a health plan has paid for it yet, officials said.

ObamaCare Makes it More Difficult to Buy Insurance Year-Round

Until now, customers could walk into an insurance office or go online to buy standard health care coverage any time of year. Not anymore. Many people who didn’t sign up during the government’s open enrollment period that ended Monday will soon find it difficult or impossible to get insured this year, even if they go directly to a private company and money is no object. Insurers are refusing to sell to individuals after the enrollment period for HealthCare.gov and the state marketplaces ended at the end of March. The federal law doesn’t prevent companies from selling policies to everyone all year. But insurers consider it too risky now that the law prohibits them from rejecting people in poor health.

Obama Administration Letting Criminal Immigrants Go Free

Last year alone, the Obama Administration let 35 percent of aliens with records of criminal conviction — around 68,000 — go free, according to a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies. The report cites internal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement data to conclude that the Administration is misusing “prosecutorial discretion” and jeopardizing public safety by letting too many deportable aliens go free. Out of nearly 722,000 encounters with illegal or criminal immigrants last year, ICE officials only filed immigration charges against 195,000 of them. The Obama Administration’s policies of “prosecutorial discretion” first went into effect in June 2011, and since that time alone, arrests by ICE have dropped by 40 percent, according to the report. This comes at a time when the Administration is claiming “record numbers” of aliens being deported. But according to the report, that claim is only made possible because ICE is counting the Border Patrol’s arrests as its own, something that has not been done in previous administrations.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Limits on Federal Campaign Contributions

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a major campaign finance decision, striking down limits on federal campaign contributions for the first time. The ruling, issued near the start of a campaign season, will change and probably increase the role money plays in American politics. The decision, by a 5-to-4 vote along ideological lines, with the Court’s more conservative justices in the majority. The ruling does not affect familiar base limits on contributions from individuals to candidates, currently $2,600 per candidate in primary and general elections. But it said that overall limits of $48,600 by individuals every two years for contributions to all federal candidates violated the First Amendment, as did separate aggregate limits on contributions to political party committees, currently $74,600. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for four justices in the controlling opinion, said the First Amendment required striking down the limits. “There is no right in our democracy more basic,” he wrote, “than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

$1 Billion Settlement to Aid Navajo Mine Cleanup

A $1 billion cleanup of abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Reservation could soon begin under a record U.S. Department of Justice settlement announced Thursday. The $5.15 billion settlement, described as the largest ever recovered for environmental enforcement, includes cleanup projects at several locations nationwide. It stems from a bankruptcy case involving Kerr-McGee, an oil-exploration and energy company that mined uranium and left behind 85 years’ worth of pollution across the country. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which acquired Kerr-McGee in 2006, will pay the settlement. In Arizona, uranium contamination — both to one-time Navajo miners and to people who live and draw water near the mines — has wrought untold health consequences. Victims frequently report kidney maladies or cancers, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has advised against using some wells that previously served rural communities.

NASA Suspends Most Ties with Russia

NASA is halting most communication with the Russian government except for the International Space Station, citing Russia’s violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty, according to a internal memo from the U.S. space agency. NASA confirmed the suspension in an online statement: “Given Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, NASA is suspending the majority of its ongoing engagements with the Russian Federation.” NASA also stated it is “laser focused on a plan to return human spaceflight launches to American soil, and end our reliance on Russia to get into space.”

Ebola Toll Rises in ‘Unprecedented’ Outbreak

An outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in West Africa has spread to Guinea’s capital and beyond its borders in an “unprecedented epidemic,” a leading aid agency reported Monday. A total of 125 patients are suspected of contracting Ebola and 80 have died, Doctors Without Borders said. Most victims have been in Guinea, but the World Health Organization reported Sunday that two deaths in Sierra Leone and one in Liberia are suspected to have been caused by the Ebola virus. “This geographical spread is worrisome, because it will greatly complicate the tasks of the organizations working to control the epidemic,” said Mariano Lugli, the Doctors Without Borders coordinator. The rising death toll in West Africa’s Ebola outbreak has sparked fear across the region with at least 80 already having died from the nearly always fatal virus.

China Buying Up American Real Estate

The Chinese are on a real estate buying spree all over America. In fact, in some cases large chunks of land are actually being given to them. Small communities such as Thomasville, Alabama, are so starved for jobs that they are willing to give land away for free to Chinese companies in order to entice them to build factories. But in most cases, the Chinese actually have to spend money to acquire our real estate. And they are starting to make some really high profile acquisitions in some of our most expensive cities. In other cases, the Chinese are gaining control over vast tracts of U.S. territory by buying up our large corporations. For example, when the Chinese purchased Smithfield Foods, they suddenly owned 460 large farms and became the top employer in dozens of communities all over the United States. Dozens of companies from China are putting down roots in Detroit, part of the country’s steady push into the American auto industry.

IRS Chief says Tax Code Too Complex

The nation’s chief tax collector made a rare plea for overhauling the nation’s tax laws Wednesday, saying the Internal Revenue Service is eager “to do whatever we can” to help Congress simplify the tax code. John Koskinen told reporters he’s worried that the country could miss out on the best opportunity to reform the tax code since the last major overhaul in 1986. The two issues most in need of an overhaul, he said, are the taxation of American companies doing business abroad, and the alternative minimum tax, which Koskinen finds “impenetrable.” Koskinen said it’s a mistake to try to deal with tax expenditures — as the multitudes of credits, deductions and exemptions are sometimes called — one by one. He likened that approach to fighting a “guerrilla war” with special interests. “The advantage of doing it all at once is that the lobbyists can’t all get in the door at the same time,” he said.

Economic News

Employers added 192,000 jobs in March as milder weather helped propel the labor market out of its winter doldrums. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7%, despite a surge in job growth, because there were more people looking for jobs, including previously discouraged workers, the Labor Department said Friday. Businesses added 192,000 jobs, fueled by strong gains in professional and business services and health and education. Private-sector payrolls have now exceeded their level in December 2007, when the Great Recession began. Employment for federal, state and local governments was unchanged.

Also encouraging is that job gains for January and February were revised up by a total 37,000, meaning a winter of weak job growth was not as feeble as first estimated. January’s was revised to 144,000 from 129,000 and February’s to 197,000 from 175,000. The average workweek rose to 34.5 hours from 34.3 hours amid the better weather. And the number of Americans out of work at least six months fell by 110,000 to 3.7 million, though they still comprise 36% of the unemployed. A broader measure of joblessness that includes part-time employees who prefer full-time jobs and those who’ve given up looking for work, as well as the unemployed — ticked up to 12.7% from 12.6%.

USA TODAY’s analysis of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies headed by the same CEO the past two fiscal years shows 2013 median pay — including salary, bonus, incentive awards, perks and gains from vested shares and exercised stock options — jumped 13% to $10.5 million buoyed by soaring stock prices.

Everyone talks about the 1% — but who are they exactly? It takes at least $389,000 to make the club: That was the minimum threshold of adjusted gross income in 2011, the most recent year for which the IRS has final data. The 1% as a group pay a bigger share of income taxes than their share of adjusted gross income: As a group, the top 1% earned nearly 19% of all adjusted gross income reported in 2011 and paid 35% of all federal income taxes. The effective tax rate of the top 1% was 23.5%, well above the average tax rate paid by others. For instance, the top 50% of filers — who had an AGI of at least $34,823 — paid an average tax rate of just under 14%.

Persecution Watch

Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich will step down following uproar over his apparent opposition to gay marriage. In a statement released Thursday, Mozilla — which makes the Firefox Web browser — apologized for not reacting more quickly to the controversy surrounding Eich, who made a 2008 donation supporting California’s ban on gay marriage, The Guardian reports. The online dating site OKCupid urged a boycott, calling on users of Mozilla’s Firefox browser to switch to a different browser in protest.

  • The religious rights of Christians continue to be trampled under the intolerant gay agenda

Four people died Friday in a suburb of Cairo after Muslim brotherhood supporters opened fire on two churches in the area. The Islamist militants also set fire to parked cars during the attack. One woman was mauled and molested because she had a cross in her car. Eyewitnesses said that the Egyptian State Security did not intervene in the attacks. According to the Christian Post, the majority of attacks on Egypt’s Christians happen on Friday, the same day that Muslims gather for prayers in the mosques.

A new report from the United Nations has shed new light on the extent of persecution faced by non-Muslims in Iran. “In general, Christian religious practice is monitored and heavily regulated,” the U.N. report said. “For example, Muslim converts to Christianity cannot enter Armenian or Assyrian Churches, as all churchgoers must register with the Government. Authorities often place cameras in churches. Christians, especially converts, are careful to use certain euphemistic language in communications,” the report further stated. “When ministers or other visible Christian figures are arrested, they are most often pressed to reveal foreign contacts or financial connections/benefactors.” Of the 42 Christians arrested last year, most were convicted of participating in informal “home church” prayer services, associating with Christians outside Iran, or engaging in evangelical activity. The maximum sentence was 10 years in prison.

Middle East

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority were on life support this week as the PA threatened to abandon talks and seek action against Israel at the United Nations and other international forums. US Secretary of State John Kerry was in Jerusalem and Ramallah this week for emergency consultations with both sides in order to try and salvage the talks and extend the negotiations past their current deadline of April 30th. President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority defied the United States and Israel by taking concrete steps to join 15 international agencies — a move to gain the benefits of statehood outside the negotiations process. Mr. Abbas, who had vowed not to seek membership in international bodies until the April 29 expiration of the talks that Mr. Kerry started last summer, said he was taking this course because Israel had failed to release a fourth batch of long-serving Palestinian prisoners by the end of March.

As relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank hung by a diplomatic thread on Thursday, Israel continues to battle terrorists based in the Gaza Strip, with attacks into Israel from the Strip prompting retaliatory airstrikes overnight Thursday. The IDF confirmed that its aircraft had hit five terrorist-related targets, including two facilities belonging to the Islamist terror militia Hamas, which rules the Strip. The four rockets fired into Israel by Gaza-based terrorists Thursday evening were added to the hundreds already fired into the Jewish State since the beginning of 2014.

Syria

Syrian leader Bashar Assad is increasingly relying on a network of local militias and foreign fighters to defend his regime as his regular army has been eroded by defections and heavy casualties after three years of war. The local militias have grown to about 60,000 fighters. Assad’s regime has built the local militias with the assistance of Iranian advisers. U.S. officials say neither side is capable of outright victory.

The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has passed 1 million, the United Nations’ refugee agency said Thursday, making up almost a quarter of the country’s resident population, making Lebanon the country with the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world. The total number of registered Syrian refugees in all countries is 2.58 million, according to the United Nations. Other nations with large populations of Syrian refugees include Jordan and Turkey.

Afghanistan

A suicide bomber wearing a military uniform killed six police officers Wednesday inside the heavily fortified Interior Ministry compound in the heart of Kabul, authorities said, the latest in a wave of violence as the Taliban threatens to disrupt this weekend’s presidential election. The bomber walked through several checkpoints to reach the ministry gate before detonating his explosives. An Interior Ministry statement said the bomber was among other men in uniform entering the compound.

Two journalists working for The Associated Press have been shot in Afghanistan, one of them fatally, the news agency said Friday. The Associated Press said the slain journalist was Anja Niedringhaus, 48, an internationally acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize-winning German photographer. The second journalist targeted by the gunman was Kathy Gannon, a Canadian reporter based in Islamabad, the AP said. She is said to be in a stable condition and is receiving medical care. The two women were traveling in their own car in a convoy of election workers delivering ballots in Khost province, protected by the Afghan National Army and Afghan police, the news agency said. A unit commander walked up to their car as it waited to move, yelled “Allahu akbar” — “God is great” — and opened fire on them in the back seat, the AP said. He then surrendered to the other police present.

Iraq

Iraqi security forces on Thursday thwarted an attack by an al Qaeda splinter group on a military base in central Iraq, killing 40 gunmen, Iraq’s Interior Ministry said. One Iraqi army officer was killed in the attack by members of the group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, according to the ministry. Also Thursday, a car bomb exploded outside a restaurant in northern Iraq, killing at least four people and injuring 13 others. Iraq has been beset with political and sectarian violence for months, often pitting Sunnis — a minority in Iraq — against Shiite Muslims, who came to dominate the government after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was overthrown in 2003. The United Nations said 2013 was the deadliest year in Iraq since 2008, with almost 8,000 people killed.

Egypt

Three bombs exploded Wednesday outside Cairo University’s main campus, hitting riot police deployed against near daily protests by Islamist students and killing at least two people — a civilian and a police general — and wounding seven others, including several top police officers. The bombings were the latest in a campaign of attacks targeting Egypt’s police and military that began with the ouster last summer of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. The attacks are taking place amid a fierce crackdown by security forces against pro-Morsi protesters and members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

South Sudan

According to a UN report, the conflict in South Sudan has left over 800,000 displaced and over 250,000 fleeing to find refuge in surrounding nations, such as Ethiopia. Although warring sides signed a ceasefire in January, Worthy News reports that some intermittent hostilities have continued (including killings along ethnic lines) and as the violence continues, things may continue to worsen for the South Sundanese people. The conflict has led to “a serious deterioration in the food security situation,” according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, leaving over 4 million people in need of humanitarian aid. The two warring factions are led by forces backing President Silva Kiir and former vice-president Riek Machar, respectively.

Earthquakes

An 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile Tuesday night, triggering small landslides, setting off a tsunami and killing at least five people. But geologists say an even larger quake in the region is lurking. “This magnitude 8.2 is not the large earthquake that we were expecting in this area,” said Mark Simons, a geophysicist at Caltech in Pasadena, California. “We’re expecting a potentially even larger earthquake.” It could be tomorrow. Or it could be 50 years. Chile sits on an arc of volcanos and fault lines circling the Pacific Ocean known as the “Ring of Fire.” Since 1973, Chile has had more than a dozen quakes of magnitude-7.0 and above. In 2010, about 500 people died when an 8.8-magnitude earthquake hit. That quake was so violent, it moved one whole city about 10 feet west. Coastal residents of Chile’s far-north spent a second sleepless night outside their homes early Thursday after a major 7.2-magnitude aftershock rattled the area.

Weather

Winter Storm Yona brought nearly a foot of snow to some places in and around the Twin Cities of Minnesota, making it one of the top three biggest April snowstorms the region has seen since 1891. Snow, sleet and ice also hit parts of Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. Snow will continue Friday from far northern Iowa into eastern Minnesota, northwest Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Severe thunderstorms dumped golf-ball size hail in the city of St. Louis around midday Wednesday; there were many reports of hail at least one inch in diameter in the metropolitan area, in some cases enough to completely cover yards in hail. Flash flooding caused motorists to become stranded in parts of the city. Hail up to baseball size was reported in parts of eastern Kansas Wednesday evening. Windshields were busted out at the Kansas Star Casino near Mulvane.

A powerful storm system brought drenching rains, hail and — in a few cases — tornadoes to a wide swath of the central United States on Thursday, causing damage but no known fatalities. The National Weather Service reported a number of twisters across several states, including reported tornadoes and monster hail, left damage across north Texas injuring at least four. Homes were damaged near Highway 69 in Hunt County, including damaged roofs and downed utility poles. The extent of damage from a reported tornado near Farmersville, Texas was not immediately known, but at least four people were injured when a farmhouse and a mobile home were destroyed northeast of the area near the town of Merit.

Drought-weary California got more bad news Tuesday. Though late-season storms slightly boosted the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, it’s still far below normal as the spring melt fast approaches. Coupled with this winter’s scant rainfall, the meager snowpack — containing only 32% of average water content for the date — promises a gloomy summer for California farms and many communities. The Sierra snowpack is vital because it stores water that melts in the spring as runoff. Communities and farmers depend on it during California’s hot, dry summers.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: