Signs of the Times (9/29/14)

American Public Supports School Prayer

Prayer and other forms of religious expression in public schools continue to have broad public support, according to a new survey released by Gallup. A solid majority of adults, 61 percent, favor allowing daily prayer in the classroom, while 37 percent are opposed. In addition, 75 percent are supportive of having prayer or other religious expressions as an official component of school graduation ceremonies, and 77 percent think public facilities should be made available to student religious groups after school. Those numbers have only dipped slightly since 1999, when 70 percent of adults supported school prayer, 83 percent supported religious components of graduations, and 78 percent wanted school facilities to be open to religious groups. Significant gaps exist not just between Christians and the non-religious, but also among different Christian groups, with Catholics much less likely to support religious expression in public schools.

  • But who cares what Americans want, certainly not the Obama administration which totally ignores ‘government by the people, for the people’

Southern Baptists Expel California Church for Supporting Gays

A church in California has been expelled from the Baptist denomination for its views supporting homosexuals. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee made the decision to disassociate with New Heart Community Church in a unanimous vote. Roger Oldham spoke for the committee saying, “We believe that, following the lead of Pastor Danny Cortez, New Heart Community Church has walked away from the Southern Baptist Convention’s core biblical values.” Charisma News reports that Cortez had officiated a gay wedding and supported the lifestyle of his homosexual son, but wished to remain a part of the Southern Baptist Church.

Las Vegas Parents Outraged over Kindergarten Sex-Ed Curriculum

Las Vegas area parents were angry and offended earlier this week when the Clark County School Board proposed changes to elementary school sex-ed curriculum that would expose five- to eight-year-olds to different sexual preferences such as homosexuality. Lessons would also teach kindergartners that “touching and rubbing one’s genitals to feel good is called masturbation.” “You want to teach my 5-year-old how to masturbate?” asked parent Julie Butler at a meeting held Monday to get community reaction to the proposals.

  • Public school indoctrination centers are determined to use sex to undermine God’s laws regarding sex and family structure

Obama Praises Muslim Cleric Who Backed Fatwa on Killing of U.S. Soldiers

President Barack Obama favorably quoted and praised on Wednesday in his speech before the United Nations a controversial Muslim cleric whose organization has reportedly endorsed the terror group Hamas and supported a fatwa condoning the murder of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.Obama in his remarks offered praise to controversial cleric Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah and referred to him as a moderate Muslim leader who can help combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL or ISIS) radical ideology. However, Bin Bayyah himself has long been engulfed in controversy for many of his views, including the reported backing of a 2004 fatwa that advocated violent resistance against Americans fighting in Iraq.

U.S. Carbon Emissions Rise

U.S. emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide have risen 6% in the last two years despite the Obama administration’s efforts to curb global warming, federal data show. Reversing several years of declines, its emissions from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) rose 2.7% during the first half of this year, compared to the same period in 2013, and 6% compared to 2012. This increase represents a setback for President Obama, who touted U.S. progress in cutting emissions at this week’s historic U.N. Climate Summit in New York, attended by representative from more than 120 countries. “Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution by more than any other nation on Earth,” he said, adding the U.S. is on track to meet his 2009 pledge to cut carbon emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. Energy-related carbon emissions had fallen 13.4% from 2005 through 201, but given increases in the last 18 months, that decline since 2005 now stands at 10.7%.

  • Once again, the Liar-in-Chief misrepresents reality, sacrificing truth for political expediency. Most of the prior declines were a result of the recession which reduced manufacturing as well as gasoline consumption

Citing Climate Change, Obama Fences in Huge Pacific Area

Weeks after the White House was warned that a plan to vastly expand a maritime preserve and no-fishing zone in U.S.-controlled Pacific waters would harm the American fishing industry and geopolitically advantage China, the Obama administration has gone ahead anyway—with some concessions to make the environmental medicine, administered by presidential fiat, go down more smoothly. The concessions did nothing, however, to assuage congressional Republicans led by Rep.Doc Hastings of Washington state, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, who accused the administration of taking “secret, unilateral action” to expand the preserve. He warned that “the economic consequences of this decision will be grave, further eroding the U.S. seafood industry and harming the well-being of the U.S. territories.” The decree that President Obama signed on Thursday boosted the size of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, a 77,000-square-mile preserve south and west of Hawaii, to some 490,000 square miles of protected area around a group of U.S.-controlled islands.

  • The Emperor-in-Chief continues to employ executive orders to circumvent out constitutionally-mandated balance of powers that were meant to prevent this kind of unilateral action

DOD Planning to Let Illegal Immigrants Enlist

The Defense Department plans to let some illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children enlist in the military — a policy that comes as the Army is effectively firing active-duty soldiers due to budget cuts, reports Fox News. The Military Times reports that a program — called the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest, or MAVNI — which currently allows recruiters to search for foreign nationals with unique skills will be expanded to accommodate the new policy. The Defense Department now wants to let in some illegal immigrants who enjoyed a reprieve under a 2012 Obama administration policy. That policy applied to those who came to the country before they were 16 years old and spares them from deportation. The new program could become the first step in an effort to create a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants.

  • Loyalty to U.S. interests and military discipline could be compromised by this program

Interest Payments Crowding Out Government Services

In 2014, federal, state and local governments paid more in interest than they did to protect citizens through police and fire services. Transportation budgets also received less funding than interest payments did. Now that governments are borrowing in part to pay interest on older loans, they could be forced to reduce vital services in order to pay for wasteful spending that occurred years ago. Government spending is on an unsustainable path and taxes will need to go up as interest rates rise, reports Moneynews.com. The road ahead simply cannot be maintained with the current fiscal realities and the economy will suffer as taxes rise to fund governments at all levels, Moneynews concludes.

Economic News

The Commerce Department says consumer spending rose 0.5% in August after showing no gain in July. It was the best result since spending also expanded 0.5% in June. Helped by strength in wages and salaries, income rose 0.3% in August, slightly faster than a 0.2% July increase.

Subprime mortgage lending shouldered much of the blame for the last financial crisis. Now some observers are concerned that a recent jump in subprime auto loans could also mean disaster for markets. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the number of auto loans made to borrowers with credit scores below 660 has nearly doubled since 2009 – a much greater increase than in any other loan type. Other studies find repossessions climbing as well.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau., the nation’s poverty rate declined to 14.5% in 2013 compared to 15% in 2012. In total, there were an estimated 45.3 million people living at or below the poverty level last year. However, the Census Bureau notes that for the third consecutive year, the poverty rate did not represent a statistically significant change from the previous year’s estimate.

The Census Bureau also reports that the inflation-adjusted median household income in the U.S. was $51,939 in 2013, not significantly different from $51,759 in 2012. In 2013, real median household income was 8% lower than in 2007, the year before the Great Recession.

A brutal combination of falling stock and home prices has decimated wealth gains over the past decade. Net worth at the 50th percentile (median) totaled $56,335 in 2013, down 36% from $87,992 in 2003, according to a recent report from the Russell Sage Foundation.

The percentage of working-age Americans with a job is only 59%, relatively unchanged over the past five years and near levels not seen since 1984. The adult population increases by about 200,000 people each month, while the economy has only averaged a monthly gain of about 219,000 jobs in 2014. Wages and salaries as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product have been declining for over four decades, reports the USA Today.

An auto sales boom, the housing recovery and the oil and natural gas drilling frenzy are all forcing manufacturers to build or enlarge plants to supply these industries. Factory output is up 3.2% so far this year after rising 2.6% in 2013. Spending on non-residential structures — notably new and expanding factories — increased by 12.6% last month.

Multinational companies, which account for one out of every five U.S. private-sector jobs, reduced their U.S. employment by 875,000 from 1999 through 2012 while adding 4.2 million jobs abroad. By contrast, in the 1990s they hired 4.4 million Americans and 2.7 million people in other countries. Large multinationals are moving jobs overseas because they need to manufacture and sell products in countries like India and China, which have two to three times the USA’s GDP growth. The lower-skilled and semi-skilled jobs are much more subject to globalization and automation than the higher-skilled jobs. Multinationals, however, have been slashing higher-skilled jobs as well.

Education in Arab World on Hold

As school starts across the Arab world this month, hundreds of thousands of students from across the Middle East and North Africa won’t be going. Conflict, turmoil and even destruction have put these children at great risk. The situation is particularly dire in Iraq. There are 1.8 million Iraqis displaced inside and outside of the country since the Islamic State’s advance in June, and thousands have taken shelter in schools in Iraq’s Kurdistan region and elsewhere. Though the Islamic State has opened classrooms in Mosul — Iraq’s second-largest city — some parents are reluctant to send their children to school because of harsh new orders about education from the extremists. These include segregating students by gender, imposing strict dress codes and removing references to democracy and elections. Most of all, parents worry about the Islamic State’s brutality and what that means for their children.

Islamic State

President Obama acknowledged Sunday that U.S. intelligence officials “underestimated” the threat posed by the Islamic State and overestimated the Iraqi army’s capacity to defeat the militant group. The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has taken control of large sections of Iraq and Syria. To defeat them, he acknowledged, would require a competent local ground force, something no analyst predicts will surface any time soon in Syria, despite U.S. plans to arm and train “moderate” rebels.

Just over two weeks after U.S. President Barack Obama vowed “America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat” posed by ISIS, more than 50 countries have signed up, so far, to support the fight. They include new entrants Belgium, Denmark and Britain, which will all send fighter jets to Iraq to assist that nation’s government and the United States in the anti-ISIS military campaign. Even the foreign minister of Russia signaled Friday that his country is ready to back Iraq in fighting terrorists, “above all the Islamic State.” Most members of the anti-ISIS coalition have restricted their support to Iraq-focused efforts. A handful of Arab nations, however, have joined Washington in going after ISIS, from the air, in Syria.

The first female fighter pilot in the United Arab Emirates led a strike mission last week against the terror group, the UAE ambassador to the United States said Thursday. Airstrikes carried out by a U.S.-led coalition struck an oil refinery in Syria held by the Islamic State group Sunday, shaking buildings and sending flames shooting into the air near the Turkish border. Explosions lit the sky “for two hours” at the refinery in the northern Syrian town of Tel Abyad. On Sunday, U.S.-led coalition air raids targeted towns and villages in northern and eastern Syria controlled by the Islamic State group, including one strike that hit a grain silo and reportedly killed civilians.

The United States may be touting its strikes on ISIS targets in Syria, but one of the terror group’s fighters says the hits are trivial at best. In an exclusive interview with CNN, a Syrian ISIS fighter using the pseudonym Abu Talha said the militant group has been preparing for such attacks. “We’ve been ready for this for some time,” Abu Talha said. “We know that our bases are known because they’re tracking us with radars and satellites, so we had backup locations. We have revenues other than oil. We have other avenues, and our finances are not going to stop just because of oil losses.”

Ukraine

Seven Ukrainian soldiers were killed by tank fire Monday from pro-Russian separatists at the airport in the flashpoint city of Donetsk. Nine other soldiers were injured in the clash. In a separate incident, three civilians were killed and five injured in shelling overnight in Donetsk. Residential and administrative buildings were damaged as a result of artillery fire. Despite the ongoing violence in places such as Donetsk, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko insisted last week that a ceasefire signed with rebel leaders more than three weeks ago was holding.

Russia

If you want a measure of the price Russia is paying for the Ukraine crisis, look no further than its free-falling currency. The ruble fell another 1.6% against the U.S. dollar Friday, extending a slump that has wiped nearly 16% off its value since the start of the year. Russia’s oil-dependent economy was already slowing down before Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, and its support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine prompted the West to impose successive rounds of ever tougher sanctions. The measures are aimed at restricting Russia’s access to Western finance, advanced energy technology and services, and arms. Russia’s biggest banks, energy companies and a handful of businessmen close to President Vladimir Putin have been targeted.

Afghanistan

Ashraf Ghani was sworn in Monday as Afghanistan’s President, sealing the country’s first peaceful democratic transition of power. Ghani, a former finance minister, takes office after signing a power-sharing deal last week with his rival presidential candidate, Abdullah Abdullah. He succeeds Hamid Karzai, who experienced a rocky relationship with the United States during his 13 years in power that began after the fall of the Taliban. A senior adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday that Afghanistan will sign a deal Tuesday to allow 9,800 American soldiers to remain in the country past the end of the year.

A reminder of the challenges facing Ghani and Afghanistan came a few miles away from the presidential palace in Kabul: A suicide bomber targeting a police checkpoint killed four police officers and three civilians Monday morning. Elsewhere in Afghanistan, three suicide bombers killed four Afghan police officers Monday at a district police headquarters in the eastern Paktia province.

Iran

Iran and six world powers made little progress in overcoming significant disagreements on uranium enrichment in the most recent round of nuclear talks, Iranian and Western diplomats close to the negotiations said on Friday.”A senior State Department official said gaps ‘are still serious’ with just eight weeks to go before a Nov. 24 deadline. ‘We do not have an understanding on all major issues, we have some understandings that are helpful to move this process forward and we have an enormous number of details still to work through,” the official told reporters. “We still have some very, very difficult understandings yet to reach, and everyone has to make difficult decisions and we continue to look to Iran to make some of the ones necessary for getting to a comprehensive agreement,” said the official.

Hong Kong

Police remain in a tense standoff in Hong Kong with tens of thousands of pro-democracy student demonstrators, recently joined by the like-minded Occupy Central movement, which has announced the formal start of a campaign of civil disobedience in the Chinese territory. Riot police in Hong Kong on Saturday moved in to arrest 50 students who occupied the premises of government headquarters during a night of scuffles to protest China’s refusal to allow genuine democratic reforms in the semiautonomous region. At least 29 people have been injured, police said. The scuffles erupted at the end of the weeklong strike by students demanding China’s Communist leaders organize democratic elections in 2017. Tension over Hong Kong’s political future has risen significantly since control of the former British colony passed to China in 1997. Hong Kong’s young people have become vocal supporters of full democracy in recent years, fueled by anger over widening inequality.

Key traffic arteries in Hong Kong remained blocked Monday after a forceful crackdown by police failed to dislodge pro-democracy protesters from the streets of the financial capital. Police fired volley after volley of tear gas at protesters on Sunday, an unusually heavy-handed response that appeared only to galvanize public support Irand draw thousands of additional demonstrators into the streets. Armed with top-of-the-line phones on some of

the world’s fastest mobile networks, Hong Kong’s young protesters are able to organize themselves at a lightning pace older generations of activists could have only dreamed of.

Wildfires

As of Sunday, the massive King Fire was 89 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. Crews made progress toward putting the massive wildfire out for good as additional rain and high humidity aided their efforts. The 2-week-old blaze had burned almost 152 square miles of a heavily-forested region east of Sacramento. More than 4,800 firefighters remained on the scene as fire suppression and repair teams assessed the damage. The blaze, which has cost more than $53 million to fight, has destroyed about a dozen homes and nearly 70 other structures near Pollock Pines in El Dorado County. A man charged with starting the fire, Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, pleaded not guilty to arson. He remains in the El Dorado County jail on $10 million bail.

Volcanoes

Mount Ontake in central Japan erupted shortly before noon Saturday, spewing large white plumes of gas and ash high into the sky and blanketing the surrounding area in ash. Thirty-six people are dead after rescue workers found their bodies near the peak of Mount Ontake, local authorities said Sunday. Rescuers are still combing the mountainside for more bodies. The mountain is a popular climbing destination, and at least 250 people were initially trapped on the slopes. Military helicopters plucked seven people off the mountainside earlier Sunday, and workers were helping others make their way down the slopes.

At least eight people are dead, five injured and 300 homes damaged after a shallow 4.9-magnitude earthquake rocked a remote village in Peru on Sunday. Most of the victims were killed after their crudely constructed homes collapsed. Rour of the dead are children, including a three-month-old baby. Landslides in the area have made it difficult for rescue personnel to reach those affected. The quake was centered 25 miles southeast of Cuzco in the farming town of Misca in the Paruro region and was a relatively shallow five miles deep.

A flurry of small earthquakes rumbling near the Mammoth Mountain Volcano in California, have been categorized as “volcanic unrest” by the United States Geological Survey. Nearly three dozen earthquakes ranging from magnitude 2.6 to 3.8 have swarmed the area, northeast of Fresno over the last two days. Mammoth Mountain is in an area called the Long Valley Caldera. The center of the caldera has been uplifting slowly over the last several decades and seismologists continuously monitor it.

Weather

Metropolitan Phoenix was hammered by an intense storm Saturday that left thousands without power and almost entirely obscured visibility throughout the city. Strong winds, thunder and a cascade of rain pounded the city, littering streets with downed trees and causing damage at the Phoenix airport. Enough rain fell to create flash flood conditions on I-17 at Durango Curve, forcing authorities to close a section of the interstate. As much as 1.59 inches of rain fell at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, which broke the old daily rainfall record that was set in 1903. Throughout Phoenix, wind gusts exceeded severe limits, including the 67 mph wind gust recorded near Luke Air Force Base as well as the 71 mph wind gust recorded east of Peoria in Maricopa County. Flight departures and landings were halted at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for about an hour as wind gusts produced roof and window damage at one of the Terminals2.

Heavy rainfall in Florida flooded roadways on Friday afternoon, stranding several cars and even a school bus. As much as 4.41 inches of rain were recorded on Bannerwood Lane in Palm Coast, which is south of St. Augustine in northeast Florida. On Saturday morning, 9.08 inches of rain was reported in the previous 24 hours in the Palm Harbor area of Palm Coast. The heavy rain event may be the beginning of a long weekend of flash flooding, as heavy rain and thunderstorms remain in the forecast for much of Florida through Sunday.

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One Response to “Signs of the Times (9/29/14)”

  1. STLloyd Says:

    Reblogged this on Serve Him in the Waiting and commented:
    I like to reblog these concise and informative weekly summaries of prophetically significant news items so that more folks will know about this great source the Lion of Judah Blog.

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