Signs of the Times (4/20/15)

Pray for America, Tuesday, April 28

On Tuesday April 28, 2015, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the Constitution allows homosexual couples the right to marry regardless of what individual states decide. Over 100,000 pastors and churches are standing together in prayer on Tuesday, April 28 from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, to ask the Lord to intervene with mercy on our nation, reports the International House of Prayer. The influential Christian political operative David Lane is also calling on these pastors to preach on the topic of biblical marriage on the Sunday before the big Supreme Court case.

  • IHOP is urging pastors and prayer warriors to get the word out to more churches and intercessors in order to have as many people as possible praying on April 28th

Dramatic 41% Abortion Drop in Kansas

The recent release of Kansas Abortion Statistics for 2014 show that the number of abortions continue to decline in the state formerly known as the Late-Term Abortion Capital of America. “Since Operation Rescue began working in Kansas in 2001, abortions have decreased an extraordinary 41 percent. “The tactics we developed over the years have been incredibly successful,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue, who relocated his organization to Kansas in 2002. “The Kansas abortion statistics prove beyond doubt that when abortion clinics close, lives are saved.”

Vatican Aligns with U.N. on World Governance

The U.N. general secretary’s is scheduled to appear at an upcoming Vatican event promoting a worldwide movement to combat climate change. Coupled with a pontifical paper calling for the establishment of a global political, economic and financial authority cultivated by the U.N. shows how the Vatican is working with the U.N. to create the one-world government prophesied in Revelation 13. The Vatican’s “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity” conference April 28, which will feature U.N. General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon, aims “to elevate the debate on the moral dimensions of protecting the environment” and build “a global movement across all religions for sustainable development and climate change.” Thomas Horn, co-author with Cris Putnam of “Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope is Here,” notes that an encyclical on global warming and the environment by Pope Francis is currently scheduled for June or July publication Horn sees the Vatican’s attempt to join forces with the United Nations on the issues of global warming and climate change as additional evidence the Vatican is following a blueprint “for structuring the world’s political and economic authorities into a centralized world government.”

  • Malachy’s ‘last Pope’ is fulfilling his prophesied role in bringing about the one-world government that heralds the ascension of the Anti-Christ to world domination

New York Times Columnist Suggests Rewriting Bible to Embrace LGBT Community

In a column for the New York Times, Frank Bruni writes that the view of “gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision” based on “ancient texts.” Bruni argues in the opinion column that the Bible keeps Christians stuck in ancient beliefs and suggests rewriting the Bible to be more accepting of the LGBT community. “It’s a choice,” Bruni says. “It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing. It disregards the degree to which all writings reflect the biases and blind spots of their authors, cultures and eras.”

  • Bruni fails to realize that the Bible is God’s Holy Word, ever true, never changing, spoken to (not written by) human authors.

More Migrant Misery in the Mediterranean

Hundreds of migrants were feared dead Sunday after a boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. The Italian Coast Guard said the vessel was carrying 500 to 700 people when the incident happened around midnight local time. The coast guard said at least 24 people were confirmed dead, but the death toll is expected to rise into the hundreds. A Portuguese-registered merchant ship approached and recovered 28 people before the 66-foot vessel overturned. A survivor of Sunday’s capsizing of a migrant ship bound for Italy from North Africa gave a chilling account of how smugglers locked hundreds of people in the hold of the ship as officials said the true death toll may never be known. Italian and Maltese ships are responding to two other migrant emergencies near the Libyan coast. Ships from the two countries were responding Monday to distress calls from an inflatable life-raft near the Libyan coast with 100 to 150 aboard and to another boat with 300 people on board.

U.S. Arms Fuel the Wars of Arab States

To wage war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is using F-15 fighter jets bought from Boeing. Pilots from the United Arab Emirates are flying Lockheed Martin’s F-16 to bomb both Yemen and Syria. Soon, the Emirates are expected to complete a deal with General Atomics for a fleet of Predator drones to run spying missions in their neighborhood, reports the New York Times. As the Middle East descends into sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks, countries in the region that have stockpiled American military hardware are now actually using them and wanting more. The result is a boom for American defense contractors looking for foreign business in an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets. But that also increases the likelihood of a dangerous new arms race in a region where the map of alliances has been sharply redrawn.

New VA Scandals Reveal Ongoing Mismanagement

Nearly a year after a scandal rocked the Department of Veterans Affairs, revealing that the agency’s centers nationwide were manipulating records to hide dangerously long patient wait times, the bad news just keeps on coming, calling into question the agency’s promise to clean house. Ignored claims, manipulated records, cost overruns and even one facility infested with insects and rodents are among the latest issues uncovered by a blistering VA Inspector General’s report. The auditor’s probe found that more than 31,000 inquiries placed by veterans to the Philadelphia Regional VA office call center went ignored for more than 312 days, even though they were supposed to be answered in five. Perhaps even worse, claim dates were manipulated to hide delays, $2.2 million in improper payments were made because of duplicate records, 22,000 pieces of returned mail went ignored and some 16,600 documents involving patient records and dating back to 2011 were never scanned into the system. “This report is as bleak as it gets, full of systemic malfeasance and deliberate data manipulation,” charged Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

  • A government agency clean house? Just a pipedream.

Republicans in Disarray over Attorney General Nominee

Senate Republicans do not want to be held responsible for rejecting the historic nomination of Loretta E. Lynch, the first African-American woman picked to be attorney general. But they also are in no hurry to see her confirmed because of her defense of President Obama’s immigration policies, reports the New York Times. Ms. Lynch is nearing six months in a state of suspended Senate animation, her nomination moving neither forward nor backward but instead becoming a bargaining chip in an unrelated battle. The inert situation shows just how Republican anger and resentment over the president’s immigration actions color issues ranging from Ms. Lynch’s status to trade negotiations to the nuclear talks with Iran. Republicans’ central rationale remains that they cannot trust the president.

  • Politics as usual yields the usual results – inertia. Partisanship on both sides of the aisle enflames issues unnecessarily resulting in a stumbling, bumbling government that can’t get out of its own way.

TVs, Refrigerators could be Portal to More Sensitive Info

Forget doors and windows, the easiest way for a crook to break into your home may be through the stainless steel refrigerator in your kitchen, or the big screen TV in the living room. Modern appliances are increasingly connected to the Internet, and each presents a potential path for savvy hackers to enter your home virtually and steal your identity, bank and credit card information and any other personal information they can use to line their pockets and leave you in the lurch, experts warn. The problem, they say, is that the technology that makes your house smarter – allowing communication between appliances, and even remote operation of everyday devices linked to home networks – has increased faster than the security measures needed to make it safe. Many of these devices are poorly protected at best and consumers have virtually no way to detect or fix infections when they do occur, say security experts.

Economic News

The U.S. has created 12 million jobs since the recession’s low point, but many are not permanent positions, an emerging new reality in employment. Some of these part-time employees have given up looking for permanent positions while others say they enjoy the independence and variety such jobs offer, An average of 46,400 Arizonans per week worked for temporary-help agencies in 2014, and about 213,000 worked for temp agencies at some point last year, according to the American Staffing Association. Temp jobs in Arizona on average paid more than $33,500 annualized last year, according to the association, though the typical worker wasn’t employed year-round.

Arizona’s cities, towns face a public safety pension crisis. Cities and towns all over Arizona are shuddering at the thought of paying down the unfunded liabilities of the Public Service Personnel Retirement system. The state pension system for police officers and firefighters has less than half of the money it needs to fund current and future retirement payments, an amount equal to $7.78 billion. Cottonwood, for one, has a $9 million of pension debt that has coming due. The average lifetime annual pension for a public-safety retiree is $53,236.

The wealth gap between the nation’s 40 richest colleges and universities and the rest is getting wider, thanks to strong investment returns and a tremendous fundraising advantage, according to credit rating agency Moodys. The top 40 include seven of eight Ivy League schools along with prestigious institutions such as Stanford, MIT and Duke. But half of the wealthiest schools were state schools, led by the universities of Texas, California and Michigan. The 40 richest schools have median cash and investments of $6.3 billion, versus only $273 million for the 500 other schools tracked by Moody’s. Harvard is the richest school with $42.8 billion assets, followed by the University of Texas at $36.7 billion.

The Chinese central bank lowered the amount of money banks need to keep in reserve by 1 percentage point, a move designed to spur economic growth there by freeing up more cash that could be used by banks to lend to small and mid-sized businesses.

European Union

It was perhaps inevitable that the Greek crisis would hijack the spring meeting of International Monetary Fund this week, but the damage to the international lending agency could grow much worse as the situation in Europe becomes increasingly acute. The standoff between a recently elected leftist Greek government seeking debt relief and authorities at the IMF and European Union dominated discussions at the meeting that brings economic policymakers from around the world. The IMF was unbending in their determination to follow through on further austerity measures before Greece would be given more bailout money, despite five years of grinding recession in Greece. The head of the European Central Bank said Saturday he won’t “even contemplate” the possibility of a Greek default on its debt repayments next month and that such an event would throw the eurozone into “uncharted waters.”

Persecution Watch

Fifteen African Muslims have been arrested after reportedly throwing Christians overboard from a boat that was taking 105 migrants from Libya to Italy. Fox News reports 12 Christians were thrown to sea; none of them survived. Witnesses said the Christian migrants from Nigeria and Ghana were threatened with being abandoned at sea by Muslim immigrants from the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali and Guinea Bissau. Italian police said the motive for the assault was that the victims “professed Christian faith while the aggressors were Muslim.”

  • It’s almost always Muslims as the aggressors. So much for the supposed peaceful religion

Middle East

Israel has agreed to release hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues and customs duties that it had withheld from the Palestinians for months, officials on both sides said Saturday. The agreement could ease a quarrel that began at the start of January, when Israel — reacting to the Palestinian Authority’s announcement that it would apply to join the International Criminal Court — said it would freeze the tax revenues that it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf. That revenue amounts to about $125 million per month, and the Palestinian Authority relies on that money to fund about two-thirds of its budget — including the salaries of civil servants — so the freeze had a significant impact on the Palestinians’ economy.

Islamic State

ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack Friday at the U.S. Consulate in the Kurdish Iraqi city of Irbil, according to several Twitter accounts linked to the terror group. At least four people were killed and 18 injured. All U.S. Consulate personnel were safe and accounted for following the explosion, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. The blast killed two Turkish citizens and wounded five. Irbil is the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government near the Turkish border.

A video purporting to show the killing of Ethiopian Christians by Islamic State-affiliated militants in Libya has been released online. The 29-minute video appears to show militants holding two groups of captives, one by an affiliate in eastern Libya known as Barka Province and the other by the Fazzan Province, an affiliate in the south. A masked fighter wielding a pistol says Christians must convert to Islam or pay a special tax prescribed by the Quran, before the captives in the south are shown being shot dead and the captives in the east are beheaded on a beach.

Senior Republican Sen. John McCain blasted Pentagon officials on Friday for dramatically downplaying the role of Ramadi as the key Iraqi city stood on the brink of being taken over by ISIS. “Disregarding the strategic importance of Ramadi is a denial of reality and an insult to the families of hundreds of brave young Americans who were killed and wounded during the Surge fighting to free Ramadi from the grip of Al-Qaeda,” McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a written statement. While not home to critical infrastructure like the massive oil refinery in Baiji, also under ISIS assault, Ramadi is just 70 miles to the west of Baghdad and in the middle of Iraq’s Sunni heartland. Despite its location, Joints Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey characterized the city Thursday as “not symbolic in any way.” He also said the city was not “central to the future of Iraq.”

  • The Obama Administration is desperately trying to spin the ISIS story so as to avoid the embarrassing truth that the U.S. pulled out of Iraq way too soon. ISIS owes a debt of gratitude to Obama for his inept leadership.

Boko Haram

The Islamic militant group Boko Haram is adopting ISIS’ bloody strategy of stamping out Christianity with a frightening fervor, putting Nigeria’s 70 million followers of Jesus in danger for their lives, fearful human rights advocates say. The militant group has launched murderous rampages across northeastern Nigeria, and into neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger. “Boko Haram is probably the most lethal Islamic extremist group in the world,” said Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute. Experts worry the attacks are part of a rising trend by the group to target Christians and other non-Muslims as it works to gain control of territories in West Africa.


At least 10 people were killed Monday after a bomb exploded on a van carrying United Nations employees in a semi-autonomous region of northern Somalia. Most of the victims are foreigners working with the U.N. who were traveling early Monday in a bus that belonged to the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF. The Al Qaeda-linked terror group al-Shabaab issued a claim of responsibility, according to its Andalus radio station.


A motorcycle-riding suicide bomber attacked a bank branch Saturday in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 33 people and wounded more than 100 in a deadly attack the country’s president said was claimed by the Islamic State group. The attack marks a major escalation in the country’s fight against an affiliate of the extremist group that now holds a third of Iraq and Syria in its self-declared caliphate. It also comes as Afghan security forces fight against the Taliban after U.S. and NATO forces ended their combat mission in the country at the start of the year, yet another challenge for the war-ravaged nation. The attack in Jalalabad, capital of eastern Nagarhar province, targeted a crowd of soldiers and civilians gathered outside the bank to receive their monthly salaries.


Two weeks after world powers and Iran announced a framework agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program, widening gaps between the two sides are emerging. As negotiators prepare to start working on a final agreement in Vienna next Wednesday, the United States and Iran are at odds on key issues that form the basis of the deal unveiled April 2 in Switzerland. They include when economic sanctions on Iran will be lifted, the number of machines Iran can keep to process uranium and length of the final agreement. The six world powers — the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — and Iran have set a deadline of June 30 for a comprehensive deal that would curb Iran’s nuclear program and ensure it is for peaceful uses. In return, sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy would be lifted.


Five Australian teenagers were arrested Saturday on suspicion of plotting an Islamic State group-inspired terrorist attack at a Veterans’ Day ceremony that included targeting police officers, officials said. The suspects included two 18-year-olds who are alleged to have been preparing an attack at the ANZAC Day ceremony in Melbourne later this month. Another 18-year-old was arrested on weapons charges, and two other men, aged 18 and 19, were in custody and assisting police. ANZAC Day is the annual April 25 commemoration of the 1915 Gallipoli landings — the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I.


Gunfights and blockades of burning vehicles broke out Friday in the border city of Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas, leaving at least three dead, Mexican authorities said. The government of the border state of Tamaulipas said federal police and soldiers had “detained members of a criminal gang that operates in Reynosa,” an apparent reference to Gulf cartel members. “Members of the same criminal group reacted (to the arrests) by attacking federal forces and carrying out blockades in the city,” the statement said. Officials said roads in the city were blocked with vehicles set on fire by gunmen. The state government said three armed civilians, presumably cartel gunmen, had been killed in the confrontations. Authorities said the situation was brought under control by late afternoon.


A strong undersea earthquake that struck between Taiwan and southern Japan on Monday sparked a house fire that killed a person outside of Taiwan’s capital. The quake caused buildings in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei to sway, and people there rushed into the streets. A person was killed in a house fire in the Taipei suburb of Xinzhuang that was sparked by the explosion of an electricity transformer box due to the earthquake. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the magnitude-6.8 quake’s epicenter was at a shallow point in seas east of Taiwan and south of Okinawa, near the Yonaguni islands. It said no tsunami was detected.


An out-of-control wildfire that broke out in a forested basin near a Southern California dam triggered the evacuation of about 300 homes late Saturday. The fire, which was reported shortly after 6 p.m. in the Prado Dam Flood Control Basin, quickly spread to at least 175 acres. Firefighters on the ground were hampered by difficult access to the raging blaze. The fire is fueled by thick brush in a riverbed that hasn’t burnt in years. The flames were about a half-mile north of a residential area along the border of the cities of Norco and Corona.


Days of heavy rain have overwhelmed communities across the South and flooded homes in Houston, Texas. At least 65 homes in Houston were flooded over the weekend, and a power outage caused nearly five hundred thousand gallons of sewage to spill onto the city streets. As much as 14 inches of rain rushed into the Sam Houston State University recreational center, smashing a glass wall and damaging equipment. Flooding was also reported near the airport in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where 1 inch of rain fell in 23 minutes. Several roads were closed and drivers were stranded on several roads and interstate ramps. New Orleans set an April record 10 straight days with measurable rain through April 18, tallying 8.54 inches of rain in that time. This ranks as the eighth wettest April on record. No less soaked, Mobile, Alabama has picked up 11.27 inches of rain over the past nine straight days of rain through Saturday.

Severe thunderstorms moved into the South over the weekend, bringing down trees and killing at least two people in Georgia and Ohio. Sunday was one of the most active severe weather days of 2015 so far with over 200 reports of severe weather. The severe storms that swept across the south on Sunday damaged trees and took out power lines. At least one death was reported. In Alabama, there were reports of tornadoes in several counties, as well as wind gusts up to 56 mph in some places. Golf ball-sized hail fell in Arkasas and Texas.

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