Signs of the Times (7/3/14)

Planned Parenthood Awards Clinic for Exceeding Abortion Quota

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains has awarded one of its locations with an award certificate for its increase in the number of abortions performed. The Aurora Planned Parenthood clinic was congratulated “for exceeding abortion visits first half of fiscal year 2012 compared to first half of fiscal year 2013.” Life News previously reported that Planned Parenthood has abortion quotas; clinics are required to meet a certain number or they face scrutiny from the organization. Sue Thayer, a former Planned Parenthood Center Director said, “If there was a shortage of the number of abortions done at a clinic, that clinic manager had to have an action plan explaining why they were short that month and what she was going to do to make sure that it wouldn’t happen again.”

  • Planned Parenthood claims they want abortion to be safe, legal, and RARE. If so, why do they have quotas?

Court Gave NSA Broad Leeway in Surveillance

Virtually no foreign government is off-limits for the National Security Agency, which has been authorized to intercept information “concerning” all but four countries, according to top-secret documents as reported by the Washington Post. The United States has long had broad no-spying arrangements with those four countries — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — in a group known collectively with the United States as the Five Eyes. But a classified 2010 legal certification and other documents indicate the NSA has been given a far more elastic authority than previously known. The certification — approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and included among a set of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — lists 193 countries that would be of valid interest for U.S. intelligence. The certification also permitted the agency to gather intelligence about entities including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Poll Finds Obama ‘Worst President’ Since World War II

President Obama has topped predecessor George W. Bush in another poll, but not one he would like. In a new Quinnipiac University Poll, 33% named Obama the worst president since World War II; another 28% put Bush second from the bottom of post-war presidents. “Over the span of 69 years of American history and 12 presidencies, President Barack Obama finds himself with President George W. Bush at the bottom,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. Ronald Reagan topped the poll as the best president since World War II, with 35%. He is followed by presidents Bill Clinton (18%) and John F. Kennedy (15%).Obama received only 8% in the best presidents poll.

ObamaCare Data Problems Affecting Millions

The government’s health care fraud watchdog says the Obama administration has been struggling to clear up data discrepancies that could potentially jeopardize coverage for millions under the health overhaul. In a report Tuesday, the inspector general of the Health and Human Services department says the administration was unable to resolve 2.6 million so-called “inconsistencies” out of a total of 2.9 million such problems from October through December, 2013. The report says that most of the problems dealt with citizenship and income information supplied by consumers that conflicted with what the federal government had on record. It’s the first independent look at a festering behind-the-scenes issue that could turn into another health law headache for the White House.

Many Obamacare Enrollees Are Illegal Immigrants

A devastating new Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General report released on Tuesday reveals that the Obama administration has yet to determine whether 1,295,571 of the over 8 million Obamacare enrollees are U.S. citizens lawfully in the country. The finding, located on page 11 of the report, states that 44% of the remaining 2,611,780 application “inconsistencies” are related to verifying “Citizenship/national status/lawful presence.” Another 960,492 application inconsistencies were related to verifying whether subsidy applicants provided accurate income information. Moreover, the Inspector General report only covered the federal Obamacare exchanges to determine how the Obama administration resolved verification problems through December 2013. As for the 15 state-run Obamacare exchanges, the report says four–Oregon, Nevada, Vermont, and Massachusetts–are simply “unable to resolve inconsistencies.”

  • This was Obama’s plan all along to further entrench illegal immigrants into our welfare society

Obama: I Will Bypass Congress on Immigration

Conservatives railed at President Barack Obama’s announcement Monday that he would take executive action to reform the U.S. immigration system after hopes of passing legislation in Congress officially died. Republican John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, said the announcement was “sad” and “disappointing” and warned that unilateral action was not a solution. Boehner told Obama last week that his chamber would not vote on immigration reform this year, killing chances that a wide-ranging bill passed by the Senate would become law. Republicans have seized on the Central American surge to criticize the president’s immigration policies. Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith is warning Obama could face legal action is he goes too far on his own. “If the president insists on enacting amnesty by executive order,” said Smith, “he will undoubtedly face a lawsuit and will find himself, once again, on the wrong side of the Constitution and the law.”

Protesters Block Migrant Buses in California

Protesters on Tuesday blocked three busloads of immigrant families being transferred to a federal facility in Riverside County. More than 100 people waving American flags and holding signs that opposed “new illegals” waited in the hot sun for the three charter buses to arrive at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection station in Murrieta, about an hour north of San Diego. The crowd blocked the street and forced the buses to make an unplanned detour to an undisclosed processing center in San Diego County. Tuesday’s scene provided a chaotic start to the federal government’s plan to help alleviate overcrowded facilities in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley by transferring immigrant families into Southern California. El Centro, Calif., is expected to receive a similar transfer of families Wednesday.

  • The “undisclosed processing center” is one of several detention camps set up over the past few years. Was this just in preparation for another illegal immigrant influx or for further detention roundups?

‘Sneak & Peek’ Warrants allow Police to Secretly Enter Homes without Notice

A little-known police tactic allows cops to covertly enter private residences, perform searches, seize property, and then leave quietly without notifying the homeowner. These searches, affectionately known as “sneak and peek” warrants, have been performed at a rapidly rising rate since 9/11. After seeking out a judge’s authorization, police are allowed to secretly break into private property without first announcing themselves or presenting the subject of the search with a signed warrant. Using this variety of warrant, officers intentionally wait until the subject is not present. The operations are performed covertly, and with the intention of masking the fact that any police activity took place. Often, the investigators leave the property undisturbed to avoid detection. After taking what they want and/or leaving wiretaps, cameras, or other planted devices, they exit quietly so as not to raise suspicions, according to policestateusa.com.

  • Some of these home invasions have resulted in the confiscation of legally owned guns

Facebook Experiments on Users

It was recently revealed that Facebook researchers performed a 2012 experiment in which the news feeds of nearly 700,000 Facebook users were manipulated to see if their emotions could be swayed by positive or negative updates from friends and family. The revelation triggered a torrent of outrage with many taking to Facebook and other social media to protest being the company’s guinea pigs. Facebook decided that users provided their consent when they agreed to the company’s terms of service. Had the researchers worked for a university, they would have been required to get consent from participants in a study. Andrew Ledvina, a Facebook data scientist from February 2012 to July 2013. Told the Wall Street Journal that, “Anyone on that team could run a test. They’re always trying to alter peoples’ behavior.” But Facebook can’t seem to bring itself to apologize for performing psychological experiments on its users, notes CNN. In her first public statement on the matter, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said that the outrage over the company’s controversial study was all a big misunderstanding.

  • Manipulating users’ emotions is reprehensible, but makes one wonder who else (besides our own government) is exercising illegal influence upon us.

Sexism Abounds in Technology Industry

In recent weeks, Google, Facebook and other major technology companies have released diversity statistics that show that women make up less than a third of their staffs. But it’s not just that men vastly outnumber women in the ranks and in the leadership of these companies. Women say they are subjected to sexist attitudes starting in computer science classes. Those attitudes persist throughout their careers as they are passed over for jobs and promotions. Some women end up leaving technology to pursue other fields. And fewer women are studying computer science. Many people blame technology’s growing gender gap on the industry’s “brogrammer” culture — a hybrid of “bro” and “programmer” that describes the frat-house attitudes and behavior of many male engineers and entrepreneurs.

Economic News

The labor market continued to gain momentum and defy a mixed economy in June as employers added 288,000 jobs, the Labor Department said Thursday. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1% vs. 6.3% in May. The economy has now gained 200,000 jobs or more in each of the past five months — the first such stretch since September 1999-January 2000. In June, businesses added 262,000 jobs, with professional and business services, retail and healthcare leading the broad-based gains. Federal, state and local governments added 26,000. The number of Americans out of work at least six months dropped by 293,000 to 3.1 million. Nevertheless, the long-term unemployed still make up 32.8% of all the jobless.

Persecution Watch

Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians were forced to flee Qaraqosh, a historic Christian town near Mosul, when it was attacked by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) last week. The group has since announced the creation of a formal Islamic state – a caliphate – in territory under its control, intensifying the threat to the vulnerable Christian minority.

A Christian couple who converted from Buddhism have been hacked to death and their 12-year-old daughter’s eye gouged out in a savage attack in India. Elsewhere, in Bhubaneswar, the capital of India’s Orissa state, around 250 Christians have been left homeless after the authorities demolished their homes in Behera slum. A church building was also partially destroyed. A Barnabas Aid contact in India said that the 30 Christian families were not given time to vacate the area and were too poor to find alternative places to live. They lost most of their possessions as well as their homes.

Three Egyptian Christians have been sentenced to jail in separate cases: two charged under Egypt’s “blasphemy” law, the other accused of “disturbing the peace” by broadcasting information related to anti-Christian violence. The two blasphemy cases involve Kerolos Shouky Attallah (29), who was said to have defamed Islam by “liking” a Facebook page deemed offensive by Muslims, and Demiana Ebeid Abdelnour (25), a school teacher who was accused of insulting Islam during a school lesson. Kerolos was sentenced to six years in prison. Abdelnour is currently in exile. In the third case, Bishoy Armia Boulous (31) was sentenced on 18 June to five years in prison and given a fine of 500 Egyptian Pounds (US£70; £40) for “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information”. He was arrested on 4 December in Minya after reporting on the aftermath of anti-Christian violence for a Christian TV channel.

Middle East

The bodies of three Israeli teenagers kidnapped more than two weeks ago on their way home from religious school were found shot to death Monday. They were found in a city called Halhul north of Hebron in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting with his security Cabinet to discuss how Israel will respond. “Hamas is responsible, and Hamas will pay,” Netanyahu said in a statement. Early Tuesday, Israel carried out a series of airstrikes in Gaza, saying it struck 34 targets across the Hamas-controlled territory. The military said the airstrikes were a response to a barrage of 18 rockets fired into Israel since late Sunday. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Defense officials said Thursday that Israel has begun sending troop reinforcements to its border with the Gaza Strip amid the intensifying rocket barrages.

Israeli police discovered the body of a Palestinian teen in a forest west of Jerusalem Wednesday, leading to clashes with Palestinians and fears that the crime may have been a revenge attack for the murder of three Israeli teens whose bodies were found in the West Bank earlier this week. Hundreds of angry youths blocked the Holy City’s light rail and threw stones at Israeli security forces, who responded with rubber bullets. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the murder demanding that security forces apprehend the culprits quickly and reminding those who are rioting in response to the killing and those who might be quietly applauding it that Israel is “a nation of laws and everyone must act according to the law.”

Ukraine

Ukrainian forces began military operations in the east of the country Tuesday, marking a definite end to a unilateral ceasefire which had been in place for 10 days. The announcement came hours after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that his country would not renew a cease-fire with the separatists, vowing instead to “attack and liberate our land.” Violence flared Tuesday in Donetsk, one of the cities at the heart of the separatist unrest. About 160,000 refugees have fled the fighting in the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk regions, the United Nations says. Two-thirds have gone to Russia; about 50,000 are staying in Ukraine. The stream of refugees has become a torrent the past two weeks, even during the 10-day cease-fire.

Iraq

Iraq’s parliament met briefly Tuesday with a view to start forming a new government, and with the focus on whether Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki can stay in power. Another looming question, though, is should this war-torn country be divided into three sectarian zones as a way to bring peace? Last month’s blitzkrieg by Sunni Islamic militants across Iraq’s north and west has fragmented this country into distinct regions – the Shiite majority in Baghdad and the south, the minority Sunnis in the north and the semi-autonomous Kurds in the northeast. The United States is pushing al-Maliki to form a unified government with all three groups, but some wonder if that is possible at this point.

Afghanistan

A suicide bomber in Afghanistan is responsible for the deaths of eight military personnel reports the Associated Press. The attacker allegedly attempted to enter an Afghan air force bus, but was stopped before he could board. In addition to the eight killed, 13 were wounded. The attack was the Taliban’s deadliest act of violence on the air force. It also marked the first attack of the insurgent group since the presidential front-runner Abdullah Abdullah’s motorcade was bombed in June; Abdullah survived.

Pakistan

The Pakistani Supreme Court has ordered government protection of religious minorities in the nation, including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and others. Religious minorities face persecution and violence in the Muslim-dominated region, but Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani said this would no longer be allowed. Under Jilani’s ruling, the government will be required to form a National Council for Minority Rights designated to protect churches and other non-Muslim places of worship. Law enforcement will specifically be responsible for church protection. The ruling is is in response to the bombing of All Saints Church in Peshawar that killed 127 Christians last year.

Nigeria

A car bomb in a marketplace in Maiduguri, the northeast Nigerian city that is the birthplace of Boko Haram extremism, killed at least 56 people on Tuesday. Witnesses and officials blamed Boko Haram extremists who are accused of a series of recent bomb attacks in the West African nation. The group has attracted international attention and condemnation since its April abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from a northeastern town. Last week, explosions ripped through the biggest shopping mall in Abuja, Nigeria’s central capital, killing 24 people; a medical college in northern Kano city, killing at least eight; and a hotel brothel in northeast Bauchi city that killed 10.

Hong Kong

Tens of thousands of people attended Hong Kong’s annual march for democracy Tuesday in what organizers said was the highest turnout for a decade. The march reflected growing dissatisfaction with the city’s leaders and the influence of Beijing. Some campaign groups vowed to hold overnight “sit-ins.” The July 1st rally commemorates the day in 1997 when the capitalist enclave and former British colony was returned to Communist Chinese rule under a “one country, two systems” arrangement that preserves liberties still restricted on the mainland, such as holding public protests. Police arrested more than 500 people holding an overnight sit-in after the rally. This year’s event follows an informal referendum by Occupy Central — a pro-democracy group — which drew almost 800,000 people, or one fifth of the city’s registered voters.

Wildfires

A rapidly-expanding wildfire, near the popular tourism area of Napa Valley, California, has burned nearly 6 square miles and has forced the evacuation of 200 homes. By early Wednesday evening, the Butts Fire in remote Pope Valley grew to 3,800 acres from 3,200 acres, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Authorities said none of Napa Valley’s major wine vineyards are threatened by the fire. More than 1,000 firefighters battled the blaze and hoped to get a better handle on it overnight. The blaze was 30 percent contained Wednesday night. Nine structures have been destroyed.

Weather

Wind gusts over 80 mph caused damage to trees and homes in Iowa and Nebraska during a severe weather outbreak Monday, before moving into the Chicago area. Dangerous winds scoured the region as tornado and flood warnings were issued. Several people were injured and police say a man in Fairfax, Iowa, just outside Cedar Rapids, died when a building collapsed. Hundreds of flights at Midway and O’Hare airports were canceled or delayed as the Chicago area was battered by two lines of storms Monday night. Chicago-area residents were struggling Tuesday with flooding of a major thoroughfare as well as power outages at hundreds of thousands of homes in the aftermath of violent thunderstorms that spawned torrential rains and hurricane-like wind gusts.

Four states in the U.S. are 100% in drought, all in the Southwest. California is the worst, with 100% of the state in severe drought and 36% in exceptional (i.e. historic) drought, according to the official Drought Monitor report. Nevada is second worst with 87% severe and 11% exceptional, with New Mexico at 86% severe and Arizona at 76% severe, but neither with any areas not yet in exceptional drought.

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One Response to “Signs of the Times (7/3/14)”

  1. STLloyd Says:

    I don’t leave comments or even “likes” often, since most often I can read the whole update in my e-mail, but I really appreciate the thorough and concise round-up you provide! Whenever I take a day off from posting (which I do more in summer) I can always come here to see what I missed. Thanks for your work.

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