Signs of the Times (6/16/04)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Compares Homosexuality to Alcoholism

Texas Gov. Rick Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism during a discussion with Commonwealth Club of California members in San Francisco on Wednesday. “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.” His comments drew heavy criticism from gay rights activists.

  • Flaws in our genetic coding are due to “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations,” which remains part of the Second Commandment (Exodus 20:5). Genetic corruption is reaching critical mass as the end-times roll forward toward the Great Tribulation

Liberal groups Angry over Order to Teach Constitution

The South Carolina legislature has rankled liberal groups after requiring that a pair of public schools use state funds to teach the U.S. Constitution and other founding documents — on the heels of a budget fight over gay-themed books in the curriculum. State House lawmakers previously had cut funds from two public universities in retaliation for required-reading material containing homosexual themes. A revised budget passed by both the House and the Senate earlier this month, though, restored the money — but dictated that exact amount be spent “for instruction in the provisions and principles of the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers, including the study of and devotion to American institutions and ideals.”

Planned Parenthood Using Tax Dollars to Teach Young Teens about BDSM & Kinky Sex

In a series of undercover audits, Live Action investigators documented Planned Parenthood counselors and nurses advising their investigators, who the Planned Parenthood staffers thought were minors, on how to practice torture sex. In the videos, Planned Parenthood counselors encourage undercover investigators posting as 15 and 16-year-old teens, to engage in the sadomasochistic practices saying it was “totally okay.” Dave Jolly of LastResistance.com notes, “Planned Parenthood is the most anti-family, anti-Christian and anti-parental authority group in America next to the Democratic Party. They receive around $500 million of your tax money each year to murder unborn children, teach your young kids to have sex and how to keep you from knowing. They have gone so far as to show teens how to bypass abortion reporting and parental notification laws.”

Union: Fire Federal Employees for Displaying ‘Duck Dynasty’ Decals on Personal Vehicles

Two senior management officials at Eglin Air Force base are being threatened with termination for displaying Duck Dynasty decals on their personal vehicles. The American Federation of Government Employees union says the decals, which state, “I Support Phil,” are inappropriate. Alan Cooper, executive vice president of the union’s local chapter said, “These two particular individuals have a great amount of influence over individuals who may be gay, who may be African-American – and we have a concern they should not be in a position to exert that influence when it comes to promotions.” One of the unnamed individuals said that he is neither racist, nor homophobic, but simply a fan of the show. “I’m pro-family. I’m pro-life. I don’t have a problem with anybody who doesn’t agree with me.” The employee said that he will not remove the sticker from his vehicle because he has a right to freedom of speech.

  • The degree of intolerance exhibited by those who tout tolerance is mind-boggling. The end-time anti-Christ spirit has produced the double-mindedness described in James 1:8 making such people mentally unbalanced

Obama Releases another 12 Jihad Terrorists from US Military Prison

It was reported at the end of the week that the Obama administration released a dozen non-Afghan detainees to their respective homes from a US military prison in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama, in a letter to Congress released on Thursday, informed U.S. lawmakers that about 38 non-Afghan prisoners remained at the Parwan detention center outside of Kabul, down from around 50 a few months ago. A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a Frenchman, a Kuwaiti and 10 Pakistani prisoners were sent back to their respective home countries at the end of May. One of those men is openly declaring that he will once again engage the US in jihad, according to FreedomOutpost.com.

Spain Arrests Eight Islamist Terrorists, One a Former Guantanamo Detainee

Spanish police arrested eight suspected Islamic militants in Madrid in predawn raids Monday, for allegedly recruiting and sending radical fighters to aid the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The arrests come just ahead of the proclamation of Spain’s new King Felipe VI on Thursday in parliament, and the ministry last week raised the terror alert level from 2 to 3, to tighten security in the capital during the festivities. The suspected leader of the cell broken up Monday had been detained in Afghanistan in 2001 and later was a prisoner at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the ministry said. Just last month, police arrested six Spanish men in the Spanish enclave of Melilla, on Morocco’s north coast, on suspicion of recruiting and sending 26 radical Islamic fighters for terrorist groups in Syria, Mali and Libya.

  • The prisoners Obama releases from Guantanamo go right back to their terrorist activities.

Number of Police Officers Killed up 40% over Last Year

Last week’s Las Vegas shootings that left five dead, including two on-duty police officers, coincides with a nationwide increase of officers killed in 2014. According to the Nationwide Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation, 63 officers have died on the job this year compared to 45 at the same time last year — a 40 percent increase. Previously, the overall number of officer fatalities had been declining. “In general, we’re seeing more violence in society and that violence in society leads to violence against police officers,” said Richard Beary, vice president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Comcast Turning Homes into Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

Comcast cable customers are having their home’s private Wi-Fi routers turned into public hotspots. It’s potentially an invasion of privacy, but the upside is Internet everywhere. It’s been one year since Comcast (CMCSA) started its monster project to blanket residential and commercial areas with continuous Wi-Fi coverage. Comcast has been swapping out customers’ old routers with new ones capable of doubling as public hotspots. So far, the company has turned 3 million home devices into public ones. By year’s end it plans to activate that feature on the other 5 million already installed. Outsiders supposedly never get access to your private, password-protected home network. Each box has two separate antennae.

  • What about hackers? No system is foolproof.

Economic News

Industrial production rebounded in May after a smaller drop in April than previously estimated, the Federal Reserve said Monday. Production at factories, mines and utilities rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6% after falling 0.3% in April. Total production was up 4.3% over the past year. Capacity utilization also rose to 79.1%, the highest this year.

Summer drivers beware: Prices at the pump could climb higher in coming weeks if the conflict in Iraq continues. As violence in Iraq escalated on Thursday, oil futures climbed to $106 per barrel — a 2% increase and the highest level since September 2013. If oil prices keep heading higher, that could translate into a jump of more than 20 cents at the pump within the next couple weeks.

U.S. savings bonds, a graduation gift staple for nearly a century, are on the verge of extinction. Americans bought over 40 million of the most popular savings bonds in 2000. Last year, the U.S. sold a mere 400,000 of them. Savings bonds, which have been around since the 1930s, are no longer an attractive investment. The interest rates are so low these days that people just don’t get involved in them anymore, analysts say. The fixed-rate “EE” bond offers a mere 0.5% interest rate for the next 20 years, barely better than putting money under a mattress. Bonds issued at the end of last year were yielding an even lower 0.1% rate.

Middle East

Israel’s military arrested around 80 Palestinians in the West Bank, including members of the militant group Hamas, early Sunday as part of efforts to locate three teenagers, including an American, believed abducted in the territory. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the Palestinian Authority for the Thursday night disappearance of the teens. The Palestinian Authority denied involvement. Palestinian officials say they are assisting Israeli forces, who examined surveillance footage Saturday. Netanyahu said an “intensive operation” was underway to prevent the teens from being taken to the Gaza Strip or elsewhere. Monday, Israeli troops rounded up dozens more Hamas activists, including senior figures, as part of a feverish search for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers who Israel alleges were seized by the Islamic militant group in the West Bank.

Ukraine

Russia on Monday cut gas supplies to Ukraine as a payment deadline passed and negotiators failed to reach a deal on gas prices and unpaid bills amid continued fighting in eastern Ukraine. The decision does not immediately affect the gas flow to Europe, but could disrupt the long-term energy supply to the region if the issue remains unresolved, analysts said. Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said that since Ukraine had failed to pay anything for the gas by Monday, from now on the company would demand advance payment for any future deliveries.

The Ukrainian government says 49 people died Saturday when pro-Russian separatists shot down a military transport. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said the plane was carrying equipment and food as well as personnel. The ministry’s statement said that the rebels “cynically and treacherously” downed the plane using anti-aircraft guns and heavy caliber machine guns. The Ukrainian health ministry says at least 270 people have died in clashes between government forces and armed separatists, who Ukraine says are supported by Russia.

Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia separatists clashed Friday in a southern port town, as the United States confirmed earlier reports that a convoy of armored vehicles including three T-64 Russian tanks moved into Ukraine from Russia and now are in the hands of the rebels. About 100 soldiers emerged triumphant from the previously rebel-occupied buildings in Mariupol, the second-largest city in the eastern Donetsk region, where armed separatists have declared independence from the government in Kiev.

Iraq

Iraq edged closer to the prospect of full-blown civil war Saturday, with Iraqis lining up to join the fight after a top Shiite Muslim cleric issued a call to arms against Muslim extremists who are continuing their military campaign to supplant the government. An al-Qaeda splinter group overran Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, as well as other towns in the past week after encountering little resistance from Iraqi troops. In Baghdad, a military recruitment center that has been swamped for the past two days with men eager to defend the capital from ISIL militants, who have vowed to take the city. Iraq’s security forces were able to halt the advance of Sunni Islamist militants north of Baghdad Saturday as thousands of Iraqi Shiites stood in line to join up with militias of their own.

Iraq War veterans in Michigan and across the country are watching with dismay, bitterness and even sadness as the same insurgency they fought against took control of two major cities — Mosul and Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit — last week. Nearly 4,800 U.S. and coalition military personnel were killed in Iraq and more than 32,000 were wounded. The war will eventually cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion, including long-term care for wounded veterans, according to a 2013 study by the Costs of War project, based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.

  • Obama pulled the troops out too quickly and didn’t leave a residual force thereby throwing away all the hard won victories. Now he’s doing the same thing in Afghanistan. What a legacy.

Iran

Diplomats seeking to avert the decade-long threat of war over Iran’s nuclear work will meet for talks this week with the clock ticking on attempts to resolve competing demands. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif convene the latest round of weeklong talks in Vienna today. Their aim is to reach a long-term accord before an interim pact expires on July 20. ‘The negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 is now in a very critical stage,’ Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said June 12 in Rome, referring to the six world powers with which the Persian Gulf country is pursuing talks. Negotiations stumbled last month when participants failed to begin drafting the text of a deal because of differences over how much uranium-enrichment capacity Iran should be allowed to maintain.

Afghanistan

Millions of Afghans braved the threat of violence Saturday to vote in a presidential runoff that will mark the country’s first peaceful transfer of power as it prepares for the departure of foreign combat troops by the end of this year. Despite a series of rocket barrages and other scattered attacks that Interior Minister Mohammad Umar Daudzai said killed 47 people, including 20 civilians and an election commission worker, the voting was largely peaceful. Daudzai also said 60 militants were killed. However, the government reported voting was not significantly disrupted by the time polls closed at 4 p.m. local time. Abdullah Abdullah, who emerged as the front-runner with 45 percent of the vote in the first round, faces Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, an ex-World Bank official and finance minister. Neither garnered the majority needed to win outright, but previous candidates and their supporters have since offered endorsements to each, making the final outcome unpredictable. The new leader will be challenged with trying to improve ties with the West and combating corruption while facing a powerful Taliban insurgency and declining international aid.

Pakistan

Pakistani military jets pounded militant hideouts in the northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan early Sunday morning, officials said, killing as many as 100 militants in the second strike on the region since a deadly attack on the Karachi airport a week ago. Many of the dead were believed to be Uzbeks and other foreign fighters. The Pakistani government has been under pressure to combat the resilient insurgency that has plagued the country for years after the shocking attack of the country’s busiest airport that left 36 people dead, including 10 assailants. Government efforts that started months ago to negotiate with the militants appeared to be going nowhere and the airport violence has made negotiations even less likely to succeed.

India

Despite tougher laws against sexual violence, the grisly rape and murder of two teenage girls found hanging from a tree shows India has a long way to go to safeguard women in its male-dominated, socially stratified culture, critics say. The incident in Katra Sadatganj, an impoverished village in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is just the latest in a string of attacks. At least two other rape cases were reported in the past two weeks in the same state. The incidents are igniting debate about sexual violence against women and triggering outrage over lax attitudes about it, despite the strengthening of laws against rape last year. More than 240,000 sexual offenses against women were reported in 2012, according to Indian government statistics. But human rights experts believe that number is vastly underestimated because many women don’t report the crimes. India’s traditional hierarchy of social castes is a major factor in the people’s resistance to changing their attitudes.

Thailand

Fearful of a crackdown on undocumented workers, thousands of Cambodian migrants clutching children and towing their possessions in sacks and plastic bags, milled into a train station to flee possible persecution and arrest, allegations that the Thai junta vehemently denies. But it has not stemmed the tide of Cambodian workers heading to the borders. About 140,000 migrant workers have fled Thailand causing bottleneck congestion at the border. Thailand has been under the control of the military since a coup in late May. Although tackling illegal migration has been one of the junta’s priorities, unease over the issue and the sudden change in government may have fueled the migrant workers’ concerns.

Kenya

Attackers thought to be members of the Al Shabaab terrorist group shot and hacked people to death Sunday evening in the Kenyan coastal town of Mpeketoni. The group of attackers entered the town center and began killing people before moving into a residential area where they moved door-to-door. The Kenya Red Cross put the death toll from the incidents at 48. The Kenyan National Disaster Operation Centre said the gunmen also set fire to two hotels used as boarding houses. They also torched vehicles, houses and shops. The Disaster Operation Centre blamed the attacks on the Al Shabaab Islamist terrorist group.

Pestilence

A deadly plant disease, known commonly as citrus greening, has ravaged the Florida citrus industry this season causing orange juice prices to skyrocket. Up to 70 percent of Florida’s citrus trees are infected with the citrus greening disease, or huanglongbing, which is caused by bacteria deposited by insects and causes citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits to be discolored, bitter and misshapen. The disease has been a devastating blow to Florida’s iconic crop – as well as its 9 million dollar citrus industry – prompting the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday to announce millions of dollars in funding to combat the blight.

Wildfires

A smoky wildfire burning in southern California forced calls for the evacuation of some 500 homes, authorities said. The Kern County Sheriff’s office said late Saturday night that the evacuation call was for parts of the Wofford Heights area, which is about 30 miles northeast of Bakersfield. The blaze had grown to 1,190 acres by late Sunday night and was just 10 percent contained, federal fire officials said. The officials warned that smoke could cause respiratory problems for some people in the area. Some local roads are closed.

Weather

After a storm brought winds up to 89 mph and hail up to the size of grapefruit in parts of the Plains Saturday, Sunday turned out relatively quiet with only spotty severe weather. However, the relative lull will be short-lived, as Monday could bring another round of tornadoes and violent thunderstorms to the Plains and Missouri River Valley.

Torrential rains have plagued the site of the opening World Cup soccer game for the U.S. Three days of heavy rain in Natal—a coastal city of nearly 1 million people in northeastern Brazil—has inundated streets, blocked off roads and triggered landslides that destroyed or damaged 20 to 40 homes and forced the evacuations of at least 50 people. In response, the city declared a state of emergency Sunday, mobilizing emergency responders to deal with impacts from the heavy rain.

The Great Lakes were finally 100 percent ice-free on June 10, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Lingering patches of ice in parts of southern Lake Superior in late May and early June were the most widespread on record for that time of year. One of the coldest winters on record, followed by a persistently chilly spring, were the culprits for this persistent lake ice.

There’s a massive reservoir of water buried hundreds of miles beneath our feet in the United States that’s as much as three times the amount on the surface in all of the world’s oceans today, according to a scientific study released Friday. The water is believed to exist in what scientists call a “transition zone” in Earth’s mantle rock, about 250 to 410 miles below the surface. There, the water exists in a form that wouldn’t be familiar to us – it’s not liquid, frozen or vapor – but rather is trapped in the molecular structure of mantle rock by tremendous pressure and temperatures above 2,000°F.

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